「２ｃｈの人たち」 (nichan no hito tachi)
“People of 2 chan”
I don’t know what impresses me more, the number of serious themes Inuyashiki managed to shove into a single episode, or the spastic fit 4chan must be experiencing right about now. Truthfully this show has amazed me since its inception, but with the turning point reached this episode it has truly started to utilize its subtle complexity and abandon most pretenses of simple black and white. We might have our villain and the hero opposing him, but Inuyashiki is determined to muddy those waters something fierce.
As firmly expected, Hiro ran from the police instead of allowing himself to be captured, a response in line with his personality. The kid may be a sociopath, but until now he’s largely been operating in a safe space devoid of consequences. No one knew who (or what) he was, no one ever confronted him, and his powers seemed to give him the world—combine that with the teenage conception of “nothing bad could ever happen” and it’s chaos incarnate. No wonder Hiro ran first and considered the consequences second, he has never learned any differently. The issue with such impulsive action though is the effect on Hiro’s mother, who I imagine few will think deserved any of what happened to her. This unfortunate turn is just one example of the ubiquitous debate popping up whenever a (mass) murder occurs: to what extent are the parents responsible for the child? Should they bear all responsibility due to their rearing, or is the child solely to blame? Law enshrines several legal ages for this reason (ex. the age of majority), but the court of public opinion as well shown cares little for such technicalities. If the pitchfork crowd cannot find the intended target, they procure a scapegoat, and that very often (and wrongly) is the suspect’s parents.
While Hiro undoubtedly brought this fate down upon himself, it does not excuse the actions of the pitchfork crowd. Inuyashiki deserves some kudos for featuring this aspect, it’s not often any show is willing to give a nod to 2/4chan culture, let alone critically. These communities have done plenty of good (particularly identifying animal abusers), but Inuyashiki shows how rapidly and how permanently their quintessential tools of doxing and mass media can ruin someone’s life. Give an eager sleuth 20 minutes and an internet connection and he’ll find out more about you than you knew possible and post it on more sites than you knew existed. Inuyashiki may be playing up the example (and Hiro’s victimhood) out a little too heavily considering previous episodes, but it does not take away from the impact such people and communities are shown to have on notable events. As Inuyashiki indicates, blame is not easy to assign when hundreds—if not thousands—of people can spontaneously influence how an event plays out or the fate of specific actors. No one Hiro killed this week deserved to die, but they sure as hell did not deserve getting off scot-free either. There is no easy answer to this conundrum, but showing that the villain isn’t always obvious is a good first step to properly plumbing the depths. No matter how Inuyashiki ends, it’s already got a place in my heart for the questions it tackles.
Considering Hiro’s “awakening”, however, I imagine the next big shift will be with Ichiro. Our lovable grandpa may be saving lives and providing choice comic relief, but that showdown with Hiro is looming and we need a reason for him to actively pursue the kid. I’m not saying Inuyashiki family murder is in the cards anytime soon, but I’m hard pressed to think of a more obvious target. Doubly so if eldest daughter wound up posting naughty things about Hiro. There’s a surprising number of ways left for Inuyashiki’s story to unfold and I honestly have no idea which one is more likely. Who knew Thursdays would wind up being my favourite day this season.