I was a bit surprised that after last week’s episode of Kiseijuu, which I thought was one of the strongest yet, there were only a couple of comments. Have folks started to sour on this series just when I think it’s approaching real greatness, or has the drumbeat of negativity from manga readers finally won the day? Or perhaps, as with a show like Kamisama Hajimemashita, when an episode does so many things right without looking like it’s trying very hard people just don’t have a whole lot to add.
This was another humdinger of an episode (at least to me), one that worked splendidly on a number of levels. I’m getting to the point now where I’m seeing the parallels with “Chimera Ant” more and more as I watch this story play out, which is something of a revelation for me and not in the slightest meant as a criticism of Togashi-sensei. We all have our influences, and it’s actually refreshing to know that there was a manga that so profoundly influenced what I consider to be among the most ambitious and accomplished arcs in manga history. Togashi did so much with his story that no one in shounen has done before, but even he was certainly inspired by those who came before – and Iwaaki-sensei is clearly one of them.
Was the confrontation-that-wasn’t between Shinichi and Ryouko the most important scene in the entire series thus far? It might well be, given how profoundly it impacts both the story and the viewer. There are very practical concerns here, starting with Ryouko’s words to Shinichi. She tells us that she’s killed 38 humans, though she didn’t need to kill that many because she could have supplemented her diet with “normal” food because parasites can survive without eating humans. She tells us that she created (her word) Gotou in the lab, and that Shinichi should stay away because he’s invincible. Most interestingly she also says that parasites and humans are “family – two halves of the same whole”. She adds that parasites are “fragile -the children of the human race.” And most fascinating of all, “Don’t bully us.”
I don’t know where all this would have ended up if there had been no interruptions, but just as Ryouko is about to give Shinichi a warning (or at least an alert) about Hirokawa, the police arrive, led by Hirama. As it is, it’s a game-changer on every level, pregnant with huge implications about humanity’s role in the parasites’ existence (and creation). But the series saves its emotional sledgehammer for last, giving Ryouko a shatteringly good death scene as the ED theme plays in the background. Hirama cleverly verifies Shinichi’s humanity, and after Ryouko’s attempts to confuse her identity don’t phase him, he verifies her identity with a bullet to the forehead.
You can say what you will about Hirama’s methods, but he’s bold if nothing else. He thinks nothing of giving the order to fire although Shinichi has warned him that Ryouko’s baby is human. But the lesson of Ryouko’s life is, effectively, a very human one – what gives her life meaning is the life of her child. She protects the baby by shielding him from the bullets, and slowly walks through the hail of gunfire (from those self-rearming – or magical – handguns) towards Shinichi. He realizes the truth before Migi does, but the clincher comes when Ryouko takes on the form of Shinichi’s mother and communicates her intent as clearly as she possibly could have. It’s a hugely powerful moment, all the more so when Shinichi’s tears make a return engagement and reveal what a cathartic one it is for him.
Even before the complicated events of the B-part, it’s clear that these developments have left the story in a state of flux. Ryouko has charged Shinichi with raising her son as a “normal human” (which should teach me to trust my first instincts), but it seems a stretch to believe the authorities would allow that even if Hirama wasn’t still harboring suspicions about Shinichi – especially given the baby’s obvious important as a research subject. And what does a 17 year-old high school boy know about raising a baby (though Migi is skilled with Google-sensei)? How would he explain all this to his father? And it’s not as though Gotou will have given up on killing Shinichi just because he failed on the first try (and only because he allowed Migi to have his head).
But once Hirama has played his trump card, those questions take a back seat to more urgent matters. That trump card is Uragami (Yoshino Hiroyuki). What we know about him is that he’s a prisoner, and apparently a serial-killer. What we can infer is that Hirama believes Uragami can detect parsites, and that he’d hoped Shinichi would show the same ability. The explanation for why is unclear, though the one that requires the least conjecture is that he has the same (or a similar) ability as Kana (though we still wouldn’t know why either of them had it). Hirama has been experimenting on Shinichi – seemingly for a while – and the final act is to have him be part of a group of bogus skeptics Uragami views in a sort of processional police lineup.
Uragami is a real piece of work – by all indications a complete scumbag and probably psychopath, and he thinks nothing of masturbating for the cameras when one of the psychics turns out to be a young woman. But he sobers up quickly (after he wakes up) when Shinichi appears before him. It very much seems as if the jig is up for Shinichi here, because Hirama seems to trust Uragami’s ability – though if Shinichi continues to deny the truth I’m not sure just how Hirama can prove it. Just how far will Hirama be willing to go here – is he bound by any sense of decency or convention, or would he think nothing of Inquisitional tactics to expose Shinichi’s true nature? Even without the complicating factor of Ryouko’s orphaned son, Shinichi’s situation is a real mess – but if nothing else, the experience he’s just been through seems to have given him a kind of inner peace that may give him strength to face the ordeal ahead. And by the looks of things, he’ll need it.