Inuyashiki Ep. 7: Hiro and Shion, Raskolnikov and Sonya

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?

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3 Replies to “Inuyashiki Ep. 7: Hiro and Shion, Raskolnikov and Sonya”

  1. In my opinion, this show is one of the most poorly written, nihilistic, misanthropic pieces of garbage I’ve ever seen. It is just appallingly bad.

    It offended me that the author clearly wanted us to sympathize with Hiro the sociopathic serial killer, and now it has somehow managed to offend me even more with Hiro turning on a dime to become a redemptive force – for reasons that aren’t even slightly convincing.

    You haven’t really expressed an opinion about Inuyashiki, however. What do you think of it?

    1. I haven’t touched the source material so I can’t comment on it. As for the anime, I think MAPPA wants to be neutral about Hiro. I think they want the audience to draw their own conclusions. And a certain audience might sympathize with the killer and blame his circumstances instead. I’m reminded of how Persona 5’s Adachi seemingly has a legion of apologists. On the other hand, I find Hiro’s redemptive arc hollow. That is primarily why I compare him to Raskolnikov. He doesn’t understand morality, so naturally, his attempts to right his wrongs follows the same fallacious logic as “an eye for an eye.” Oh, I’ll just try to save as many people as I’ve killed. No, it doesn’t work that way. You still have to face punishment for your crimes. You still have to repent and understand why it’s wrong to (in Shion’s words) take away your victims’ dreams. And likewise, Shion tries to be a redemptive character, but she’s a poor Sonya. She cannot convince (at the moment anyway) Hiro to turn himself in. She’s immediately taken by his “good” deeds, unaware that he’s only saving people for her. Does the story succeed in conveying this? I don’t think so. I think it gets too caught up in the self-indulgent details. Like that episode with the rapey yakuza boss. I initially praised the show for its stark portrayal of evil, but since the second episode, it has perhaps become too gratuitous with its violence. Recent episodes have focused too much on Hiro and not enough on what actually makes us hopeful. In other words, we don’t get enough of the old man. So yeah, I can understand why it seems as though the story is sympathetic of Hiro. With just these seven episodes, the overall narrative feels very imbalanced.

  2. Seriously, I never understand the need of anime that think it’s more mature than it actually is to make the audience sympathize with the scum of a human being villain. The creators of those anime do understand that there is a big difference between understanding and sympathizing, right?

    Not to mention, the villain that they shove to our throats aren’t the kind of villain that is interesting to understand. Let alone sympathize. This is just your generic edgelord, smartass teenagers who think he’s more mature than he actually is (like the anime itself) throwing a tantrum.

    He isn’t sympathetic because there is nothing for the audience (or at least me) to latch on to or root for. I mean why would I want to support Hiro or him to win? He is also not interesting enough to fascinate me and make me support him just because I want to see what he’ll do next.

    If Inuyashiki is a campy show and Hiro is acting like a quintessential British super villain or at least Dick Dastardly, I guess I could find him interesting, but he isn’t. Hell, if he acts like the good, old Hannibal Lecter or at least like Joker from the Dark Knight, he could be interesting, but he isn’t.

    He is lame to look at, his actions are hollow, and nothing he says is interesting. Seriously, this animu is lame. I’ve read enough Japanese stories about some angsty, edgelord teenagers with super powers who are angry at the world and society.

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