If you’ve never read Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, it is primarily about a young man who kills because he wants to be extraordinary. Raskolnikov’s motives are a little more nuanced than that, but in the interest of time, my initial statement will suffice. At the start of the novel, he kills an old woman — a mere louse in his eyes — because he wanted to prove to the world and himself that he could stand apart from normal men and their morals. He would not allow himself to be bound by such trivialities. Luckily, he never manages to kill again. As it turns out, Raskolnikov is not nearly as extraordinary as he initially believed.
On the other hand, Hiro is extraordinary. He does not attempt to rationalize his crimes through cold logic and a perversion of moral philosophy. In fact, he doesn’t try to rationalize his crimes at all, because morality doesn’t even factor into the equation. He is unconcerned with rights and wrongs. Unlike Raskolnikov, he is all emotion and no logic. His actions are almost entirely predicated on what will best make him feel good. Hiro tells Shion about a recurring trauma: one day, long before the start of the story, he saw a man jump in front of a train. Hiro felt something that day — he calls it a light — and ever since he became a machine, he’s been chasing that feeling. Unfortunately, it only ever returns when he kills.
When Raskolnikov confesses his crimes to Sonya, she doesn’t run in terror. She doesn’t look at him with hate or disdain. Instead, she sits beside him, shoulder to shoulder, and she cries. “What have you done, what have you done to yourself? … There is no one, no one unhappier than you in the whole world.” Sonya serves as the redemptive, Christ-like figure in Crime and Punishment. She absorbs all of the suffering around her and returns only infinite, boundless compassion even to the lowliest characters. Naturally, she does not abandon Raskolnikov. Instead, she offers to follow him wherever he goes. Even when he is sentenced to prison in Siberia, she stays with him. Only through her is he finally able to repent.
Shion takes Hiro in when he is in need of a loving home. And even as rumors and accusations swirl around her, she continues to believe in him until he finally confesses his crimes to her. But even after coming face to face with a soulless, heartless killing machine, Shion does not turn away and reject him. Hiro declares that the entirety of Japan is now his enemy, and he will kill every last person in the country. He then threatens to drop her from the sky, thereby killing her. And yet, Shion does not beg for her life. Instead, she cries for him: “No. Don’t leave me. Don’t leave me and grandma behind.” Even after everything he’d told her, she doesn’t see him as a monster. Rather, she sees him as a part of her family.
But like Sonya with Raskolnikov, Shion isn’t blind to the horrors of Hiro’s deeds. She wants him to turn himself in. She wants him to repent for his sins: “You took away the people important to them, took away their dream, Shishigami.” Hiro is surprised. One minute, she wants him to stay with her forever; another minute, she wants him to accept punishment for his crimes. “What do you want me to do exactly?” he asks. Shion replies, “I’m sad because there’s nothing that can be done!” All of a sudden, the sun comes up. This visual metaphor suggests that perhaps through Shion, Hiro has found another light worth chasing.
For the rest of the episode, he begins to live vicariously through Shion. Through Twitter, he seeks out the sick and the terminally ill. Clad in nothing more than a hoodie to poorly conceal his identity, Hiro travels across the country as a Christ-like figure and heals people. He asks for nothing in return, because all he needs is Shion’s happiness. “This is amazing, Shishigami,” Shion proclaims. In return, he asks, “Does this stuff move you?” Like his victims, Hiro doesn’t care about the people he helps. It’s just a means to an end. So in the end, the parallels between these two and Dostoevsky’s classic characters are imperfect. There’s no real redemption to be had. Not yet, anyway.
No matter what, Hiro is still extraordinary. He can’t repent for his sins when he can’t understand the difference between right and wrong. He’s just a machine whose prime directive is to maximize some sort of happiness quotient. Shion can only be a redemptive figure in his life so long as she continues to exist by his side. Should she ever disappear for any reason, one can easily imagine Hiro going back to his old ways. So naturally, their short-lived bliss is about to come to an end. The authorities have tracked him down, and a SWAT-like team looks to raid Shion’s home in next week’s episode. How much longer can the girl embody Sonya’s infinite compassion and follow him to hell and back?