You should read Wolf Guy – Ookami no Monsho, it’s awesome, in a grisly, manly, action-filled display of ferocity. This post is not an endorsement of the manga, for that you had better read this badass post by Omisyth. But if you’re too lazy to check that out, you probably don’t deserve this work. You’re lucky I’m feeling generous so here’s one good reason to read Wolf Guy:
A (were)wolf takes on a crazy fricking lion in a park in Yokohama! Now READ IT, if you don’t then be warned that there are spoilers from this point forward.
While it is nothing new to read about story of a character who deals with how different he is from other people, it can be quite interesting reading how he deals with how superior he is to other people. He knows it, and has contempt for those who are different (read: weaker) than he is.
Inugami Akira is different. He is a werewolf, but does not think of himself a monster. A monster is, to deep insult befitting to those who hurl it. He is a wolf, to him a noble animal. I find it rather comical to raise animals in a hierarchy or value system by anthropomorphizing them. Calling a wolf ‘noble’ – a completely human concept only traps the speaker within his own humanity. This is another important conflict in Inugami.
I find this very interesting. Humans ascribe value to non-human things by giving them human traits and attributes. What is to be noble anyway? Take away the heredetary definition, it means the subject possesses many outstanding qualities. This is general enough, and not necessarily anthropomorphic. But let’s look at the qualities of the wolf. (c/o Wikipedia)
- wolf weight and size can vary greatly worldwide, tending to increase proportionally with latitude as predicted by Bergmann’s Rule. In general, height varies from 0.6 to 0.95 meters (24 to 37 in) at theshoulder. Wolf weight varies geographically; on average, European wolves may weigh 38.5 kilograms (85 lb), North American wolves 36 kilograms (79 lb), and Indian and Arabian wolves 25 kilograms (55 lb).
- wolves rely on their stamina rather than speed for hunting. Their narrow chests and powerful backs and legs facilitate efficient locomotion. They are capable of covering several miles trotting at about 10 kilometers per hour (6 mph), and have been known to reach speeds approaching 65 kilometers per hour (40 mph) during a chase. One female gray wolf was recorded to have made 7-meter (23 ft) bounds when chasing prey.
- Wolf saliva has been shown to reduce bacterial infection in wounds and accelerate tissue regeneration.
I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult to ascribe nobility based on those physical characteristics.
- Occasionally, single wolves are found in the wild, though packs are more common. Lone wolves are typically old specimens driven from their pack or young adults in search of new territory.
- While most breeding pairs are monogamous, there are exceptions.Wolves will usually remain with their parents until the age of two years. Young from the previous season will support their parents in nursing pups of a later year. Wolf cubs are very submissive to their parents, and remain so after reaching sexual maturity.
- Wolves are territorial animals. Studies have shown that the average size of a wolf pack’s territory is close to 200 km2 (80 sq mi). Wolf packs travel constantly in search of prey, covering roughly 9% of their territory per day (average 25 km/d or 15 mi/d). The core of their territory is on average 35 km2 (14 sq mi), in which they spend 50% of their time, Prey density tends to be much higher in the territory’s surrounding areas. Despite this higher abundance of prey, wolves tend to avoid hunting in the fringes of their territory unless desperate, due to the possibility of fatal encounters with neighboring packs.
- The majority of killed wolves are dominant animals, due to their greater assertiveness in confronting other packs. In rare cases in which a stranger is accepted into the pack, the animal itself is almost invariably a young specimen of 1–3 years of age, while the majority of killed wolves are adults.
So, the old and the weak are driven out of the pack and end up dying alone. They are often monogamous, and the kids are submissive to parental authority. They perhaps do not efficiently use their territorial habitat due to conflict avoidance. The weaker wolves band together to kill the stronger wolves.
By what standard can we say that the attributes above are outstanding, and abundantly so?
Inugami Akira likes being a wolf, and imagines himself noble, by distinguishing himself as not human. He identifies certain behaviors observed from human beings, and to not do such is to be noble. Among these are ‘taking pleasure in violence,’ (that is, bullying and beating up others), war and murder. These behaviors are to him, are those of a monster. The wolf is noble the way humans would like to be called noble, and humans are monsters the way they vilify the wolf. This is the truth of Inugami Akira’s life.
In the encounter between Inugami in werewolf form and the lion, Inugami viewed it as a fight between noble being and monster. The lion is monstrous in its crazed violence because captivity broke him. Captivity in a zoo, for the pleasure and gratification of humans caused the lion to lose its nobility and become a monster. Inugami blames this squarely on humans, and sees this as evidence of their monstrosity. A lion in the wild will not, at least in Inugami’s imagination, kill for the sake of killing. It will avoid fighting unless truly threatened. The lion in the park was beyond all this, and Inugami had to fight it to the death.
The principal antagonist in the manga is Haguro, the son of a yakuza boss. A powerful physical specimen, Haguro survived multiple gunshot wounds as a child, and has a disconcerting lack of ability to display emotion. This physical power and this lack of emotion inspired others to call him a monster in awe. Haguro rather enjoyed his reputation as a monster and relished displaying it in acts of brutality and violence upon his enemies and subordinates.
Then Inugami decided to reveal his true form to Haguro. It was an enlightening experience, to say the least.
Haguro laughed at himself with disdain after Inugami spared him. He now knew what a true monster is like. Now see here, Haguro sees monstrosity simply as the capability – in terms of physical tools to render violence upon others. Inugami sees monstrosity as the willingness to do so. In Inugami’s thinking, only human beings have this kind of will, independent from a survival instinct, a will that is gratified by the infliction of harm.
The thing about Wolf Guy, is that the conflict really isn’t between two monsters. It is more the conflict within Inugami – that he is confronted with the fact that he is human too, and has a need for humans. He hates humans and himself, the human part. More than anything this attraction and need is represented by his homeroom teacher Aosaka, who in turn is rather helpless against her own attraction to Inugami.
It certainly would be if I didn’t include at least one image of Aosaka-sensei.
What is a monster? Wolf Guy wouldn’t be the first, or even the best manga to raise the question. However, the path to the answer is full like the moon that makes you howl while reading; full of voluptuous violence, and something like the opposite of aggression and yet produces the same effect.