「 機密事項〇八九ダイゾクショウ」 (Kimitsu Jikō Maru Hachi Kyū Dai Zokushō)
“Confidential File 089, Star Sign”
When I went into this series, I would never have expected one of the central themes to be parenthood. But here we are at episode 10 and more than the teases of alternate history and revenge, the experience of parenthood is the theme that binds together the disparate strands of plot that make up Jouran. We first saw motherhood through Hanakaze when she sought a new life for the sake of her unborn child, then we saw a motherhood of sorts through Sawa when she learned to care for Asahi, and now we see parenthood in Kuzuhara’s life.
Bad parenting can make one appreciate good parenting all the more. For Kuzuhara, he experiences bad guardianship when he is raised under the merciless claws of Nue after being orphaned and experimented on. It turns out, Kuzuhara is not Janome, but was one of his test subjects (and hence the scar on Kuzuhara’s back). Nothing is said about how he became Janome’s lab rat. Kuzuhara’s mother may have died of some foul play, with a bloody hole in her back. It is plausible her death was ordered by the shogun if she sided with anti-shogun factions. As punishment for being a rebel’s son, Kuzuhara was carted off to Janome’s laboratory. No definite explanation is offered and given this show’s record with writing the plot-line, I doubt we will be given more details.
Kuzuhara who has known bloodshed and betrayal enters a foreign world when he comes under the shogun’s orders to the Karasumori village and witnesses embraces that heal, not stab in the back. Towa’s care for her kids and trusting partnership with her crow teaches him something that Nue cannot-the love and trust found in caring for another. If the theme of parenthood was not already clear enough, it was emphasized with Kuzuhara’s encounter with the mother wolf that risks her life to defend her cubs.
It is unfortunate his lesson in love didn’t hit deep enough to propel him to defy the shogun’s orders to exterminate the village. I suppose being a member of Nue, he knows better than anyone that a refusal wouldn’t change matters because Nue would send someone else to finish off both him and the village. More shocking than the shedding of blood was Kuzuhara’s shedding of tears while he is murdering the villagers. Throughout this series, Kuzuhara has been portrayed as a stone-hearted man, which we understand now to be a cover to protect himself and Sawa from Nue that would extinguish any affection against them.
Between his tears and gift-giving to Towa, we saw a different, softer Kuzuhara. One of the beauties of parenting is that it doesn’t end with just one individual-it is passed on from parent to child and so on. We see this with Kuzuhara and his (sort of) adopted mother, Towa. His brief time of being fed and loved by Towa moves him to extend his own brand of protection to Sawa in rescuing and raising her.
The parallels between Sawa and Kuzuhara are obvious, with both of them witnessing their parents’ deaths, being raised by Nue, experiencing care and healing through others, and taking a child under their wing. Will Sawa also come to realize these parallels? If she realizes Kuzuhara has been in her shoes, will this give her compassion to spare him, knowing what it is to experience loss, healing, and guardianship? While Kuzuhara did murder her village and lie to her by pushing the blame onto Janome, will she fault him for this, when she did the same thing to Asahi in murdering Asahi’s parents (although she took responsibility, rather than blaming others). Their similarities could also highlight what she hates about herself-bloodshed- causing her to project that hatred onto Kuzuhara.