「獅子神皓」 (Shishigami Hiro)
So how about that new One Piece? Inuyashiki certainly set itself apart last week with that tearjerker of an introduction, but for round two? Well shock and awe only gets one part way in describing what the hell just happened. Blood, suffering, and a distinctive love for manga; Inuyashiki definitely knows how to make evil look evil.
While an antagonist was always necessary for Inuyashiki to get off the ground (hero shenanigans without one quickly grow boring), Hiro (Murakami Nijirou) definitely takes his role to its extreme. He’s senselessly slaughters without a care in the world, only has a thing (apparently) for manga, and makes no qualms about even trying to hide the evidence. It’s textbook sociopathy (not psychopathy, if that friendship is actually real) and a common antagonist archetype, but it serves a vital purpose here. Hiro through his actions provides the nihilistic foil to Ichiro, a boy who seeks that feeling of living by taking the lives of others rather than preserving them. Whether or not the means of indicating this were excessive (the bath/drowning scene in particular disturbed the hell out of me), there should be no doubt for anyone what this kid is: a remorseless killer who must be put down. Light Yamagi this is not.
What I particularly enjoy about Hiro’s setup though is what it represents beyond the foil. Typically stories often make older characters the villains while the youngsters fight in the name of good, a way of representing progress and personal growth. Inuyashiki, however, upends this script, having the geriatric Ichiro walk the path of redemption while the young Hiro indulges in selfish depravity. This for me is a very intriguing twist because of its altered focus, emphasizing the importance of life experience and the value of upbringing on the development of character in place of coming of age and self-discovery. Need look no further for an example than both Ichiro’s and Hiro’s use of their new bodies; one sees it as a way to help others in need, the other only as a tool for personal enjoyment. Both characters seek their own place in the world, both have their means of going about it, but both cannot coexist with the other—their incompatible mindsets guarantee it. While we likely have a bit of time yet before Inuyashiki reaches the true meat of its story, the central premise should be pretty clear now. For Ichiro or Hiro to live (spiritually as well as physically), the other must disappear. Permanently.
Having provided two strong and radically different episodes with only the possibility of more, consider Inuyashiki picked up for coverage. This show has tickled my fancy in all the right ways and hit my emotions in spots I did not think possible. While there’s always the risk Inuyashiki could crash and burn later on, I have my hopes up hard the best lies ahead. After all, the eagle eyed might have noticed Ichiro’s daughter is part of Hiro’s class. Oh yeah, you can bet the bank we have not seen anything just yet.