Make no mistake about it: that was a fucking bloodbath. Eminently predictable, yes, but pretty shocking just the same. And it felt like it lasted about five minutes, there was so little time to breathe. Normally if I say there was very little about the episode that surprised me one might take that as a criticism, but it isn’t in this case, for the very reasons I elucidated last week – Kiseijuu has very much become a tragedy, at the expense of being a thriller. As with others of its type, the real dramatic punch comes from watching how the tragedy plays out.
Of Yamagichi I said that he was the “hotheaded and trigger-happy human needed to make the situation really dire”, and that he wasn’t “remotely concerned about any collateral damage that might occur.” Well, right on the nosey there – not that it was hard to spot. In terms of setting up a tragic clusterfuck, Yamagichi is the straw that stirs the drink – the last ingredient needed to make this explosive situation go off. He’s clearly and openly prioritized wiping out as many parasites as possible over limiting human casualties – indeed, he seems not concerned about human casualties in the slightest. First he orders “shoot to kill if you see anyone suspicious”, and later amends that to a what-the-hell “Just shoot anyone you see.”
It must be said that it’s this utter lack of concern for human casualties that gives the assault a leg-up for awhile – it clearly catches the parasites off guard. They have a few stratagems up their sleeve, like mixing their numbers up with the human “evacuees” in a line so that they can’t be distinguished on the scanner, using human shields to make a break for it, or getting themselves shot at in front of the truck they’ve determined is the home of the equipment being used to ID them. And if the operation had observed normal military (never mind police) protocol about bystanders, it might just have worked. As is, it only held things up a bit and forced Yamgichi to raise his atrocity level.
The flip-side to this is that there’s stuff on the parasite side that the attackers aren’t aware of, too. They don’t know that their heavy-caliber shotgun shells aren’t going to work on Goutou, for example (as to whether they’ll work on Hirokawa, even we don’t know that – but he doesn’t look too worried). And of course the parasites aren’t thinking in terms of collective welfare here, as Hirokawa and Goutou are only too willing to see their own wiped out in the process of figuring out what the attackers are capable of. It’s hard to see a whole lot of difference between sides here from a moral standpoint, to be honest – though there are clearly soldiers and police (including the unlucky slob who’s been made Uragami’s minder) who are shocked by Yamagichi’s lack of concern for civilian lives.
As all this is happening, Uragami seems to be having a lot of fun – until he gets a look at Goutou, anyway. Of course he doesn’t give a rat’s ass who gets killed, and even has a human hostage shot just for kicks. Clearly he loves the power his ability gives him over the authorities, though one suspects he’s biding his time and looking for just the right moment when the chaos is such that he can make a break for it himself. In fact he sees a kindred spirit in Yamagichi, a human for whom killing is a routine matter.
By contrast, Shinichi isn’t having a very good time at all. He actually has very little to do in this episode – he’s stuck in the paddy wagon the whole time – but that doesn’t mean there’s no drama going on inside him. Migi flat-out refuses to assist in the systematic elimination of those of his species in city hall, and to be honest I can’t blame him. But it isn’t solely a matter of Shinichi vs. Migi, as Shinichi is plenty divided himself. Ryouko’s words are weighing heavily on him, even if he doesn’t understand exactly what they mean. There’s a massacre going on outside that he seems powerless to stop, and the realization is dawning on him that he may have a responsibility to try and prevent further ones, because he’s uniquely placed in-between the two warring sides. It may not be enough any longer to simply protect his secret and lay low – but even if that’s true, what can Shinichi really do?
Goutou is clearly a beast – he wipes out a squad armed with the tank-killer bullets with no trouble apart from irritation at how easy it was. But Hirokawa is a complete mystery – both what it is about him that makes him so formidable, and what his goals are. His “I feel there’s no real point in running at this stage” is as cryptic as Hirokawa himself. And Gotou’s response of “I’ll just do what I want” seems to indicate a divergence of intentions here, perhaps an actual parting of the ways between the two of them. Cooperation doesn’t seem to come naturally to the parasites to begin with, so perhaps Hirokawa’s ultimate aim was something else, or perhaps he simply underestimated just how anathema social structure is to his kind. In any event his decision to calmly withdraw to the council chambers and await his attackers is a puzzling one, and it – as with Hirokawa’s face – reveals nothing about what’s really going on with him. But I suspect we’re going to find out very soon indeed.