Aoi Bungaku 03: Who’s Afraid of this Monster?

aoi bungaku 03 youzo the father figure

Fear is all about relationships, in that fear can describe a relationship: Ikari Shinji is afraid of his father. Kyon and the SOS-dan are afraid of Haruhi. The third episode of Aoi Bungaku, of the ‘No Longer Human/Disqualified as Human’ arc is titled ‘Society.’ It is interesting for a number of reasons, to me it all goes back to our protagonist Youzo.

In the previous episode we are shown how he sees himself as a monster, and how his monstrosity is anchored in deceit. More than anything he is a liar, the kind that makes much of half- and quarter-truths to get by in life. This lie catches up to him. As an ‘artist’ it is the image he is most able to paint.

The visage of his ‘monstrous’ self-portrait hounds him relentlessly.aoi bungaku 03 youzo chased by the monster self

But see here: If Youzo is a monster, who’s afraid of him? Is there anyone who really should?

More than anything, we are shown a weakling. His lies are woven as survival tools as opposed to preying tools. Look at the most violent thing he’s ever done: the supposed murder of the woman who called herself Mayumi. Was this premeditated? Was this something done in cold blood?

No, there was no murderous intent. If anything he was along for the ‘ride’ and was more than willing to kill himself as well. More than anything, his crime was to survive — at least in the eyes of society. And this is the subject of this episode, how society — the web of relationships among a collective of individuals drive the fear that undermines Youzo’s attempts to ‘live more like a human.’

The philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once held that there is no mythological or religious hell, instead he said that “Hell is other people.” This episode does not exemplify this as much as it exemplifies how Youzo’s mind seems to be at effect of this idea.

aoi bungaku 03 father lion mask failures as humansaoi bungaku 03 horiki society is society

One thing he does well, is to get the good graces of women. He asks, “Why are women so kind to me?” His current benefactor, a bartender who indulges his inebriation and takes him to her bed responds, “It is because society is so unkind to women.”

This statement confuses me. I don’t see a logical clarity how the former justifies the latter. What do they see in him? My theory is that they see a child, an afraid child. To take care of an afraid child isn’t only a manifestation of their maternal instinct; it can also be read as a (misguided, in this case) attempt to make the world better — to show an abandoned child that the world isn’t as cruel as they both know it.

A delusion? Perhaps. Certainly the women Youzo has interacted with did not exactly grow or benefit from the experience. He took without giving. It is rather sad to think about Shigeko who saw him as a father figure. If she was abandoned prior to Youzo she wouldn’t have felt it so acutely. I don’t think she’d be left unscathed watching her Youzo degenerate in real time.

aoi bungaku 03 a layered statement that's a lie

And yet, Youzo never runs out of women who don’t see the monster in him. Shigeko asks her mother, “Why does daddy drink so much?” she gets this reply: “He doesn’t do it because he wants to. He’s too good a man for that.” On my part, I don’t think Youzo’s deception is this effective. Shizuko must take responsibility for this.

I think it’s because that the monster is something that preys on Youzo himself. It is of no real threat to others. Looking at the women who chose to be with him, the ends they met are things I can’t absolve them of responsibility for.

Note:

If there’s anyone who knew how to treat Youzo, it was Horiki. Horiki exploited Youzo. He played him like a flute. Maybe he’s the monster? He’s not that scary either. Only Youzo had something that Horiki always seems to be able to take away.

Also, I really like how the soundtrack works. At first I thought the contemporary music didn’t ‘fit’ but strangely or not, it does. More than this — it makes the story seem current, though I posit that the theme is timeless enough. Normally I would only like to hear era-appropriate music; in this case, Jazz perhaps.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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4 Responses to Aoi Bungaku 03: Who’s Afraid of this Monster?

  1. 2DT says:

    The anime version of “No Longer Human” might be more appropriately called “A Series of Portraits of Showa Era Women.” The argument could be made that it’s an inappropriate alteration of the original work, but I still find it interesting. More interesting than the non-human Youzo himself, even.

    Anyway, you just gave me a hook for talking about this show. Cheers.

    • I’ll want to read that post very much. The portraits themselves are very faintly drawn relative to that of Youzo… or, in a larger group portrait they contrast rather awesomely, defining each other to tell a striking story.

  2. ayame says:

    I loved that episode back then. The scene in the snow is the most memorable for me. My 2 cents on the dialogue

    He asks, “Why are women so kind to me?” His current benefactor, a bartender who indulges his inebriation and takes him to her bed responds, “It is because society is so unkind to women.”

    I’m a woman myself and understand it in another sense than yours. We’ve been hurt from society. I don’t think we see other people hurt as our children- we see ourselves in those people. As human beings that can sympathize with others, we try to protect others from harm and at the same time we save ourselves from hurt. It’s like healing our own wounds.

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