No. 6 – EP6: the beginning of the end

And finally I’ve about caught up, just in time before the next episode airs! It’s great, but I sort of feel sad since I haven’t been drawing fanart for this series although normally I would for something that has caught my eye for a while.

Anyway – this episode feels like a lead-up to the many climactic events to come. It wasn’t too thrilling, but we can’t ignore the fact that some major changes did occur! A really long post, now.

Safu returns to No. 6 with a heavy heart, already knowing what lies ahead – seeing her grandma in a coffin. But she doesn’t quite expect the sort of reception she receives upon returning – having an art book confiscated at the customs to No. 6. It is somewhat questionable, as we can see in the look in her eyes, but she complies anyway.

While her journey to the Twilight House seems uneventful, a part of her seems to be disconnected with her surroundings – there is a sense of uncertainty and unease, and being unable to appreciate this few scenes of what once was her home, as if she has become a stranger to home after merely a few weeks/months in study. The granny who talks to her at the immigrations area earlier seems to be hinting at something with the idea of ‘wind’, but we’ll probably understand it in time to come. (Not too much point to spectulate for because we’re following a novel here so derp, unless you want to guess how much the anime cuts out from the novel.)

Upon reaching the House, however, what greets her is simply what she didn’t quite prepare for; how Safu’s grandma is really cold – she is dead, right – and so Safu naturally breaks down. Do note though that I find it odd why the whole body is completely covered with flowers except for Grandma’s head. I mean, sure, bury a person in a coffin, but to be buried first in flowers like that – it feels like they’re hiding something.

And once when we get to Grandma’s possessions, Safu finds something odd – there is something missing, although the watcher/assistant over her has no idea at all. Safu begins to wonder if her grandma was truly happy, when we recall in EP1 that she mentioned how life was almost meaningless for her as she did nothing but the same activities day in day out. This seed of doubt continues to grow as she continues to look over Grandma’s personal possessions, notes that other than the knitting needle which Safu’s grandma had one and was highly treasured which makes it odd that it’s missing, Grandma’s scarf is strangely clean. There is absolutely no trace of her physical presence.

This sets off several alarms, and Safu immediately tries to contact the next person she is closest to, Shion, only to discover that she can’t contact him – he’s wanted for murder, according to No. 6 data, and Safu is in absolute disbelief. There’s only one other way to verify things, and that is with Shion’s mother, Karan.

Karan’s busy sending off Lili again (Yoming’s niece) when she notices that Safu has come by to visit her. Her initial gladness at seeing Safu is eventually laced with sympathy and surprise when Safu breaks the news of her grandma’s passing, and her relentless questioning on Shion.

Once in the house, you see Karan first putting up what looks like a really cautious front – she doesn’t say anything, doesn’t really do anything, not until Safu prods her long enough to guess where Shion is and that he’s mainly alive. This makes Safu decide to leave No. 6 and search for Shion in the West District, which surprises Karan in this sudden show of ‘determination’ and stubbornness. As Safu tries to convince Karan why she should let her go, she eventually drops the bomb; she confesses that she loves Shion.

No doubt this is shocking to Karan since it looks like she doesn’t know about it too much, and it is shocking for Safu as well, who has always kept her feelings somewhat in check and isn’t too emotional as we’ve seen thus far – more controlled, calculative even. With this outburst though Karan lets go of her fear and trusts in Safu to go, perhaps in the best interests of Shion – but then Safu stops her and says that it isn’t for Shion’s interests. Rather, it is out of her selfishness, Safu’s selfishness, that she wants to go to Shion’s side.

It is nice to see how Safu is greatly fleshed out in this episode, and not just being the typical girl waiting around for I-don’t-know-what-to-do-next. This honestly builds up the credibility of her character which we’ve been seeing merely glimpses of.

And just as she turns to leave, Safu asks Karan who Shion is with, since it is sort of obvious that our dear clueless boy wouldn’t survive out there alone. Karan replies, in a somewhat uncertain manner, with this person called ‘Nezumi’. Safu looks a little surprised, which leads us to recall back in episode 2 when Shion saw Safu off before her studies and ran off – did she hear Shion calling for Nezumi? Or, as what we saw in the dream/nightmare sequence in the previous episode; does she have some idea of who Nezumi is to Shion?

Nonetheless she leaves, forgetting her scarf in the process – really conveniently so – and only to encounter the Bureau of Public Safety/Peace/whatever translators call it who take her away by force. Karan happens to see all this when she realises Safu has left behind her scarf, goes after her, and hides in a corner after spotting from a distance the screaming Safu, who is denying any wrongdoing. But as we know, so long as you start to disbelieve in the ‘utopia’ No. 6 is…you’re going to be lead down a spiral of crap.

The last moment as we see Safu scream for Shion, the scene cuts over to him – he’s busy reading to the young girl!Karan now, who pouts upon thinking that Shion is thinking about another girl. (But honestly though, he’s way too old for you, and his relationships are more cplicated than enough. Silly girl.) Just then Nezumi returns home, and informs Shion that Dogkeeper has asked for him.

We find a most unlikely party of Shion, Dogkeeper, Rikiga and Nezumi at the dog-rental hotel as Shion and Dogkeeper are digging a grave to bury Dogkeeper’s ‘uncle’; a dog which had recently just died. As we know by now Dogkeeper was raised by dogs, hence seeing any one of them die is quite sensitive to her. Unfortunately the only one really cooperating is Shion; Rikiga is being a douchebag while carrying the dead body, resulting in harsh remarks spouted from Dogkeeper, and Nezumi is being even more of a jerk when he insults Dogkeeper. This results in the grave digging being abandoned as Dogkeeper runs off to chase kill go after Nezumi, and Rikiga dumps the body. Shion is merely left agape in the midst of digging.

Now we zoom back to Karan – who is evidently flustered and very confused on what to do, judging by her face. Perfectly timed, a rat from Nezumi appears (haha lousy pun) and Karan immediately writes a note to Nezumi, knowing and hoping that he’ll do something, since he did save Shion.

Cut back to Shion and Nezumi again spending more random time together in the hideout – Nezumi is reading, while Shion is busy massaging his hands after the grave digging. Digging is harder in winter, since the ground is hard, but it does make you wonder how the schtick it can be winter when the sky and the ground look so cheery and bright. Hmm. Anyway, Shion ends up talking about how he still is planning on helping the people in No. 6, going as far as even preparing stuff with Rikiga for that.

This completely pisses Nezumi off, as he scarily, calmly, walks over to where Shion is sitting, and kicks him down. If you have forgotten, Nezumi clearly hates No. 6 to the core, for a reason we’re not too clear of here in the anime. While Shion is not looking too perturbed since he believes that Nezumi won’t kill him as Nezumi hovers above him in a threatening manner, Nezumi is even more pissed at how certain Shion is that he won’t kill him.

As if to prove a point, Nezumi flicks out his handy dandy trusty penknife, and presses it gently and hard enough to bleed Shion at his jaw. He’s angry, and he means it. Shion, on the other hand, still wants to know and understand Nezumi’s hatred of No. 6 and actually pulls Nezumi back, even though Nezumi thinks that the discussion was over.

The confrontation continues to drag out as Nezumi turns to leave the hideout, and Shion pursues him out, endlessly questioning him. He doesn’t get why everything has to be black and white for Nezumi, why is it that he always has to choose. Nezumi deals an ultimatum to him – him, or No. 6.

Shion’s head begins to work on another level as he figures out something, and yes he does – since Nezumi hates No. 6, why don’t we just get rid of the notion, concept that is No. 6? This could be done by breaking down the walls, the barriers that seperate the two – but Nezumi halts him, stops him in his naive tracks. Shion is merely thinking about himself, about those close to him, but not beyond that. The logic of breaking down the wall would result in severe, dire consequences for multitudes of people, and this method merely solves problems personally for Shion albeit too well. Nezumi says that eventually, they will have to become enemies at this rate; but now Shion stops him in his tracks, promising that no matter what, he wouldn’t become Nezumi’s enemy.

Nezumi is wordless as he returns back to the hideout and rests inside – it is quite tumultuous, dealing with someone like Shion – but what happens next is probably another great hill to overcome. A rat arrives after he tinkers a bit on the nearby organ/piano keys, with a message…from Karan.

The message, as we know by now, is about Safu – Karan hopes that Nezumi can do something to save her. Initially we see Nezumi move towards the door, wanting to inform Shion since it’s his best girlfriend after all – but then he stops. And thinks.

If Shion knows, he will run to No. 6. If Shion goes, he’ll just charge in mindlessly, carelessly, naively, and get himself killed. As these thoughts pass through his mind, we see that Nezumi seems almost…worried that if Shion leaves him, something will happen. This attachment is already growing subconsciously, and Nezumi doesn’t even realise it. He grips the message in his palm, plans beginning to form in his head…

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Seeing Safu’s development was one of the greatest points in this episode. While it is a pity that she’s already so easily taken away by the Bureau, I really enjoyed watching how she has expressed her emotions, thoughts and actions through her words. It was really nice to see her growing anxiety and how Bones animated it when she was outside thw Twilight House. Actually seeing her voice out that she is selfish – wasn’t that obvious from the beginning what type of girl she was? – was pretty daring of her, though I’m sure Shion would have by now been more than able to reject her time and again.

Also, regarding Safu’s grandma – again, I have no idea of the novels, but suspecting the Twlight House to be some shady experimental place for the parasitic wasps is highly probable. There’s one too many alarms going off when we first see the nurse in charge of the old ladies just suddenly die in the previous episode – how did she get infected? And what’s more, it was a predicted sample. It’s even more odd when it came to Safu’s grandma; the massive amount of flowers that are completely burying her body from view. It could be just typical burial rites to enshroud the body in flowers, but if they’re hiding something – which is likely – it’d be necessary.

Then with the personal possessions – big big hints when there’s no knitting needle, there is completely no smell of the physical body although death was quite recent. Unless of course the needle was dropped somewhere, and probably due to a surprise/shock incident since we know that Grandma wouldn’t leave that needle lying around, would she? And the scarf would only need to be wash if there were traces of something important left on it, so all the more doubt is casted on the illustrious Twilight House.

Shion talking about breaking down the wall surrounding No. 6 is a really typical way of bringing down physical barriers – like, in real life, the Berlin Wall for example – but Nezumi brings up a valid point that there may be ‘hell on earth’ when such an event happens. The Berlin Wall went down, and while it may have taken time to reconcile it largely avoided any bloodshed or ideological clashes. But we’re dealing with No. 6 here. That, against a place like the West District, it is kind of obvious who would survive. The battle-worn, wild, trained monster ‘warrior’, or the gentle, docile, obedient ‘servant’?

However while it would serve little purpose if all hell broke loose, what if Shion had put breaking down the wall as a form of ‘punishment’ for the No. 6 residents? (Then again, Shion wouldn’t. He’s too…nice.) If it were to be treated as such, perhaps Nezumi might have been more willing/cooperative? That is, if he doesn’t have any better plans to go about.

Part of me feels like laughing whenever I see Nezumi and Dogkeeper argue. It feels that sometimes, they bicker for the sake of bickering and looking like enemies, but honestly why would Nezumi have tolerated her presence all those years till now? Sure, Dogkeeper has information, but I’m pretty sure that there are many other information brokers out there in the West District. So part of me wonders about their really funny, strange and twisted relationship of dancing around each other in a constant battlefield.

Going on to Nezumi, I also find that his character is becoming more and more attached to Shion, however much he tries to deny it. Sure, we can see him constantly threatening Shion, even going as far as nicking him with his favourite penknife (come on, it’s his favourite since he only uses it everywhere sheesh) but having Shion intrude into his space, his life now and since 4 years ago has changed him. As Dogkeeper mentioned; Nezumi isn’t sentimental, isn’t emotional. But everything we’ve seen so far, when it comes to Shion, Nezumi is all that. He smiles, rages, laughs, gets irritated, worries… His ice is starting to melt off fast, but if anything it’s this same ice that’s encased him and protected him from the outside world. How he is going to react to this and change to ensure his and Shion’s security will probably be gradually revealed. This is already starting to surface, though – note how he’s really worried for Shion, if he had told him about Safu immediately. He thinks carefully, and seeing how he surveys how Shion’s presence is all over his place, he’ll do something to ensure that Shion will be safe. (And thus Safu will be too. Somewhat.)

Our dear dorkhead, though, causes so many problems. He has a really convenient way of thinking, ensuring that everything of concern to him doesn’t get hurt, but beyond that scope he is utterly clueless to the possible devastation he would cause if it is not done right. Nonetheless we do know he is starting to become more and more unlike the Shion we’ve known in the beginning, and if we follow the novel brief translations so far (which are up to volume 5 by now, by the way – check LJ for them) we know something major enough is going to happen.

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Just in time for the next episode, though – in the previews, there’s so much to look out for, such as the changes surrounding Karan, who’s the drowning person, the surprises that change Shion’s and Nezumi’s relationship…and of course, why the kiss? Till next time, folks!

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