「安堂直行」 (Andou Naoyuki)
Inuyashiki may only be three episodes in, but this show is already hitting with some serious force. For such an outlandish and arguably ridiculous concept, Inuyashiki has shown a remarkable capability of drawing out the best of two diametrically opposed viewpoints, showcasing not just the good and bad, but every little nuance in between. It may not keep up the pace going forward, but if this show can even remotely retain the impact seen thus far, it will be one of this year’s most memorable anime.
Probably the most intriguing aspect of Inuyashiki for me is not its dichotomous main duo as much as their developing complexity. Hiro is the obvious example, retaining that disturbing apathetic edge, but now featuring clear emotional connections. This was evident last week, but it’s on full display now, with Hiro not only pushing Naoyuki into actually going to school, but upholding his promise to protect Naoyuki from Naoyuki’s tormentors. Make no mistake, the kid is definitely sociopathic, but his friendship is genuine. While Hiro’s methods are assuredly wrong for the situation, there is little doubt from his actions that he cares deeply about Naoyuki’s well-being and seeing Naoyuki happy. Best evidence for this? The cold blooded murder at the end, Hiro didn’t do that just because some dog was barking, he slaughtered the family because of his frustration at Naoyuki rightly rejecting him. Similarly the two kids lived because Hiro very likely saw himself and Naoyuki in them. This guy may be concentrated evil, but he is certainly not one dimensional. Hiro is very much in search of a reason to live and until now thought he discovered it by fooling around and helping his childhood friend back to the proper path. With that friendship in ruins, however, Hiro is now back at square one and with no explanation for his apparent abandonment—not the best combination for a teenage sociopath. Expect Hiro’s extravagancies to only increase in strength and frequency from here on out.
What keeps Hiro so starkly defined of course is Ichiro, and once again we have the difference on full display. While Hiro gallivants off to deal with bullies, Ichiro rescues one lucky soul and saves an unfortunate family from a fire. He may also have helped a couple of cats out, but I cried too many manly tears then to ever admit it. Ichiro is very much the hero of this story, but he is not the hero per say. Hiro for example is completely wrong in his actions, but with Naoyuki he has the right intentions. The key facet of Inuyashiki is this difference between Ichiro and Hiro, one sees his powers as a gift from god, the other sees himself as a god. Now of course neither Hiro nor Ichiro consider themselves godly (Hiro in particular has no world changing desires), but both through their personal drives and new bodies are overtly upsetting the natural order of things. We may applaud Ichiro for saving critically ill patients for example, but is it the correct thing to do? Our morality says yes, but using those abilities will only draw attention to Ichiro, and with it an increasing inability to simply be an anonymous saviour—other interests would see to that. Cause and effect are heavily at work with both Hiro and Ichiro, with Inuyashiki effectively asking what changes (if any) will remain once both characters collide and inevitably leave the plane of existence. The answer may currently be lacking, but it’s clear the show has one in mind. With the memories both Ichiro and Hiro are leaving in their wake, for better or worse, their legacies will carry on.
Having set up the showdown to come and laid out the key differences between our duo, Inuyashiki seems ready to start getting down to business. I honestly don’t know what to expect going forward, but between Hiro’s subtle complexity and the sheer happiness felt watching Ichiro do good, I know it’s going to be one hell of a ride. There’s a lot of ground left to explore here, and we have only just begun.