Kyokou Suiri Ep. 6: Entertaining lies

Human imagination is what drives Steel Lady Nanase, and this is precisely why the malicious spirit is immortal. Well, this isn’t exactly an original concept. There’s a reason people always want to make their mark in history. We live finite lives, but we’ll never be forgotten if our names written in history books. In essence, this is a form of immortality. Storytellers like the author behind Kyokou Suiri have simply taken this idea and taken it to an extreme. It’s tempting to go with Saki’s initial idea, i.e. shut down the wiki. But in doing so, you’d probably trigger the Streisand effect. Maybe if you suppress the information well enough — and for long enough — people will eventually forget about Steel Lady Nanase. Maybe. But until that happens — if it even happens — the spirit has free reign on the public.

So how then are you supposed to reverse public consensus? Saki is right in that the revealing the truth behind Nanase’s death won’t necessarily do the trick. Like I said last week, people want to be entertained, and unfortunately, the truth doesn’t always matter to us. Some of us tend to think that the truth inherently carries with it some sort of moral weight (“Look, I’m just brutally honest…”), but is this actually the case? Does it really matter to anyone how Nanase actually died? And for what reason she was killed? No, not really. Her life and death is — as sad and cold as this might sound — ultimately inconsequential to most people. Even in death, Nanase only begins to matter to people if she entertains.

This is the precise issue with the truth. It’s not that the truth isn’t important. It’s very important. But it doesn’t inherently entertain us. It doesn’t inherently tap into our emotions. News media not only recognizes this, it is built upon this idea. Misinformation spreads because fiction is generally more entertaining and engaging than the truth. Even when we listen to respected podcasts like This American Life, we aren’t just given a sheet full of facts. Rather, a story has to be told. We add flourishes, we exaggerate, we bend the truth… what got us here is pure fiction, so we have to fight fire with fire and invent a tall tale ourselves. Maybe several. You won’t stop Nanase by snapping her neck, but a few clever stories will do the trick. The pen is thus mightier than the sword.

Stray thoughts and observations:

— Kuro is very useful; he’s indispensable, actually. Kotoko needs him, and he needs her. But immortality alone won’t defeat Steel Lady Nanase. Likewise, no one will say that the ability to grasp the future isn’t useful or overpowered in some sense, but you still need to have the right imagination to wield it properly. After all, Kuro was just another everyday college student until he met Kotoko. He had the ability to do good, but there were no indications that he was actually utilizing it to any particular end. Although the scope of Kotoko’s work is relatively limited — she primarily deals with yokai-related predicaments — her actions do end up making the world a better place. I mean, you can’t argue against stopping a murderous ghost…

— Plus, at least Kuro’s abilities can be explained: he consumed the flesh of yokai. What, however, explains Kotoko’s unnatural intelligence? Did becoming a Goddess of Wisdom literally add 20 points to both her intelligence and wisdom stats? Or was she always this way?

— On a lighter note, Kuro feels comfortable enough to grab one of Kotoko’s knees. I know it’s just a knee, but this is also anime, a medium where we often meme about the lewdness of hand-holding.

— Saki points out that since ghosts do exist, arguing that they don’t is, well, lying. Yeah, but so what? Kotoko never said she was lawful good. She’s pretty pragmatic; I suspect she’s unlikely to get caught in lofty ideals. On the other hand, we have Saki, who feels uneasy about leaking personal information even if it would help Kotoko defeat Nanase. That’s kinda silly when the stakes are this high.

— Do we really gotta bind Nanase like this, though? Though this make me wonder… how far can we take this idea of speaking something into existence? If there exists enough pervs and deviants, can they speak into existence a insatiable succubus who will pay a night visit to each of her worship? Why be captivated by an urban legend of a vengeful spirit when you can just… oh, get laid.

Memes everywhere, man…

— There are some peculiarities concerning Nanase’s death, but the police still ruled it an accident bordering on suicide. That’s what they’re supposed to do as professional investigators. Obviously, the public is not beholden to the same standard. Peculiarities alone are enough to make the public question whether or not her death was truly an accident. Luckily for Kotoko, she has an information network full of yokai. Even if there were no human present to see Nanase die, there’s a good chance that a yokai did. And sure enough, when our trio goes to question one, they soon learn that Nanase’s death truly was just a boring accident-slash-suicide. She didn’t intend to kill herself, but she didn’t try to avoid death either. In any case, this again plays into the idea that our imagination can sometimes lead us astray. When confronted with an irregularity that we can’t readily explain, we start conjuring up all sorts of theories. We are compelled to bridge the gap in our knowledge. We have to fill in the blanks even if this involves inventing a fanciful story… like how someone murdered Nanase first, then knocked a bunch of steel beams onto her face But oftentimes, the simplest (and most mundane) explanation is the right one.

— I’d say our heroine is a little too old to be a mahou shoujo…

— There are some complaints about the supporting cast being nowhere near as interesting or colorful as Kotoko. I won’t argue against that. Kuro is pretty boring at the moment. He also stays pretty boring in the manga. If he needs time to come into his own, it won’t happen in this adaptation and it probably won’t happen for a while in the manga either. This is an ongoing story which hasn’t even wrapped up its second major arc.

— Moreover, the nature of Kyokou Suiri’s storytelling forces it to spend episodes upon episodes on explaining and elaborating upon Kotoko’s ideas and concepts. 24 minutes is not a whole lot of time when you have to assume that a sizable portion of your audience has no idea what you’re talking about. As a result, this leaves little room for character development, especially in a one-cour series.

— Moreover, Kotoko plays a role akin to the eccentric detective in this arc. Her methods are certainly unorthodox. As a result, someone has to play the straight man, and that responsibility falls mostly on Saki’s shoulders (with a few interjections from Kuro every now and then). The latter has to be the straight-shooter — the one who tries to poke holes in Kotoko’s plan via plain ol’ common sense (read: boring). Again, I’m not defending the fact that Saki and Kuro are boring. I just don’t think it matters that much in this series, but I’m probably biased.

— So where does Kuro come into play? We’ve already proven that he can’t defeat her through sheer strength. Well, Kotoko’s going to come up with a bunch of lies… and Kuro’s going to help her pick a timeline in which her lies are the most effective. It’d be pretty scary if they could use this on a much larger scale… and maybe that’s where the story is ultimately headed. How is it possible that a hamfisted urban legend like Steel Lady Nanase proliferate to such an extent? The person behind the scenes — and all signs point to this person being Kuro’s cousin — must have quite an ability in their arsenal, and if our heroes don’t apprehend them, they’ll aim even higher next time. Sadly, we probably won’t get to this in the anime adaptation unless Brain’s Base decides to make up its own ending.

— Kotoko wants to fool around, but Kuro is all business. He’s a reliable rock that she can lean upon. Too bad rocks don’t get horny. Maybe his grandma torturing him also deleted his libido or something.

— At this point, we learn a small twist about Kuro’s “precog” abilities. He can’t really predict the future. Rather, when he’s about to die, he can choose one future outcome among many. Kuro can’t pick a future that is too far off, though. You can thus see why he ultimately ended up not being too useful to his evil family.

— But what happens if there are two people with the same ability? What happens when they try to pick two incompatible futures at the same time?

— Kuro certainly doesn’t give Kotoko any assurances about their relationship. He doesn’t think he can get back together with Saki, and he believes that his ex feels the same way. As a result, Kotoko has nothing to worry about… but that’s not something that your girlfriend would want to hear. After all, he’s not actually choosing her over Saki. He’s simply saying that he can’t do so.

— Nevertheless, Kotoko thinks to herself, “Kuro-senpai’s attachments to others can seem rather weak. So weak that I can see him leaving me one day and seeing it as a favor. He’s such a pain. Why can’t you be true to your feelings?” His personality — as boring as it is — makes sense given his history. He had to watch most of his siblings or cousins die. His grandma — probably the only parental figure in his life — experimented on him like he wasn’t human. God only knows where his actual parents were at the time. The one girl he thought he could fall in love with broke up with him because she couldn’t help but see him as a monster. And finally, the one surviving cousin he has is probably evil now. So when you take all of that into consideration, wouldn’t someone in Kuro’s shoes come to the conclusion that they should give up on relationships in general? At best, he’s only going to be protective of Kotoko. Anything deeper than that is just a pain.

Please refrain from posting spoilers or using derogatory language. Basically, don't be an asshole.

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