「魔と聖」 (Ma to Sei)
“Demon and Saint”
So here’s the dilemma I’m facing after the 4th episode of this series. I find myself laughing, repeatedly and uproariously, and not being sure whether I’m supposed to be laughing at all.
Ah, No. 6… Sweet, clumsy, innocent No. 6. You really are a throwback to a simpler time in anime, where “realism” wasn’t so coveted and everything (including the dialogue) tried to be larger than life. The problem is I’ve been conditioned to what anime has become, and while this show would have felt as normal as stink on a monkey ten years ago, watching it now I’m totally aware of just how anachronistic it is.
Thing is, though, that I’m still enjoying the Hell out of it. It’s nice to have a series that feels like something different, as preposterous as it often is. I’m not sure if it’s even intended, but the dialogue is frequently hilarious. It almost has a film noir feel sometimes, like the entire scene in Rikiga’s office. And the prostitute, my goodness, her dialogue to Shion was like Mae West. And then Nezumi comes storming in, “He belongs to me! I’m not interested in picking up girls…” And then he kisses her – “Keep the change.” How can you not laugh at that, for all it’s “undertones”? And Bogart himself would have been proud of that last tine.
I’ve been reading the novel behind the anime – stopping a few scenes before the anime does, so the latter is always fresh – and it’s interesting how the dynamic between Shion and Nezumi plays differently in print even though much of the dialogue is the same. And when I say the same, I mean quite literally – BONES has often translated it word for word, though they are starting to change the order of the scenes. It’s fitting that Nezumi is an actor because in the book the dialogue between the boys is very theatrical and grand, but the same words on screen come off as sweet and absurd to me. Shion’s reactions to Rikiga’s proposition that Nezumi become a danshou (rent-boy) were hilariously over the top – practically strangling the man his Mum sent him to see and then breaking down in tears? And then there’s the conversation between Shion and Nezumi while he was was washing Dogkeeper’s “employees” – it perfectly captured the rhythm and tone of a bickering old married couple.
That scene with Dogkeeper was memorable for many reasons, not least of which was her confession that Nezumi sang her “mother’s” soul away “like flower petals on the wind”. You have to admire the courage to write a line like that, It was pretty shocking to see her turn on Nezumi so violently after that, but it proved the point she made – that attachment was a weakness in this urban jungle they live in, and Shion had become an attachment for Nezumi whether he cared to admit it or not. Pair that with Shion’s closing admission that he wants to stay in No. 6 because he “finds himself drawn” to Nezumi, and the depth of the hold these two have over each other is clear.
In contrast, the relationship between Shion and his mother is refreshingly straightforward and touching in an understated way. I’m glad she isn’t simply tossed aside by the plot as so many similar characters have been – she’s clearly a very good Mom and she and her son have a very deep and abiding love for each other than even Nezumi is coming to respect. There’s more to Karan than that, too – she has at least one friend who has connections and hates the government. She has a connection on the outside in Rikiga, and she appears to have some connection to the founding of the city, too.
And finally, there’s Safu, narrating a rather biblical sounding preview for an episode titled “Angel of Death”. Couldn’t help but get some very negative vibes for her character’s fate from that title paired with those words and images, but that’s absolutely a blind stab in the dark based on initial reactions so please don’t read anything into it.