“I only have a future. I can only keep going if I want to understand anything.”
-Koto, Kyousogiga, episode 7
When Koto breaks into the Shrine sanctuary that houses her mother, she is confident and does not flinch, even in the face of what appears to be a sticky situation. Koto reunites with her mother straightforwardly, with little excess emotion in spite of the fact that she is beaming with excitement. When the two are targeted shortly thereafter, Koto reacts instinctively. She grabs her mother, holding her closely, and proceeds to put personal questions, and feelings, aside in order to safely deliver her mother to her waiting siblings in the Mirror Capital.
The entirety of Koto’s life has been a maze of questions and answers with no context. As a child, Koto learned not to hide her tears, but to move forward following an outburst. She is far from emotionless, and vigorously expresses herself before moving on with her life – shown beautifully in the “rescue” of her mother, Lady Koto – to further seek out her own answers. This is the only way that she knows how to live, and her process of finding these answers is often driven by force. She forces her way because she knows no other and, as a consequence of her ignorance regarding her own personal situation, this leads to inevitable chaos or destruction.
“‘You know, right? I don’t have to talk about it.’ Kinda like that. He’s always been like that. There’s no way I’d ‘know.'”
-Koto, on her father Inari, Kyousogiga, episode 7
Koto is rarely stopped from asking questions, but the answers she seeks are never provided to her. She knows that Inari of the fox-mask is her father, but doesn’t know the extent of how she came to be. She recognizes the place that Lady Koto inhabits – a sanctuary built by Shrine, the organization that both Koto and Inari work for – but she doesn’t know how Lady Koto came to be there, or what it means for either her or Lady Koto. She can answer the questions of her siblings, but cannot give reasons to contextualize the facts that she provides. Koto was forced to mature quickly – a result of Inari’s upbringing, her being bullied by others, and the shared absence of both her mother and father – but she lacks a great deal of social grace and awareness. In many ways, Koto is still a child.
Furthermore, when Koto is finally able to meet her mother, the person that she had been searching for her entire life, she is not only unable to glean the answers that she wants, but she is tasked by Lady Koto to save the monk from “the dream that traps him.” Instead of offering an answer or explanation, Koto’s mother only serves to inspire further questions, which Koto is then unable to ask. Additionally, when they are able to speak privately as mother and daughter, Lady Koto asks her daughter for a favor, rather than answering any of her questions.
“I’ve got lots of things I want to ask too! But no one tells me anything! I’ve had it! I have my own problems!”
-Koto, following a conversation with her mother, Kyousogiga, episode 7
Kyousogiga does a wonderful job of projecting a similar feeling of confusion on to its viewing audience. Episode 00 begins in media res, providing answers to questions that we have yet to ask. They mean nothing to us other than a lovely assault on our senses. As the series progresses, it offers answers with the briefest of flashes at what it all could mean, or what fits where within the story. Like Koto, the more questions that are answered by the series, the more questions I formulate, as the the full context has yet to be provided. The series gives us the choju-giga scrolls and I scramble to relate them to Myoue’s drawings. The series gives us pomegranates and I instantly think of the Rape of Persephone in Greek mythology. I laugh, I grin, I cry at what Kyousogiga has to offer me, without fully comprehending why I am so moved.
Perhaps Koto will arrive at a similar conclusion about her own life as I have with Kyousogiga – that I bring my own meaning to the table while organizing the crumbs that the series drops for me to follow, and my reaction is primarily based on my own experiences – however, this her family, and they’re keeping her on a need to know basis. Like any parent, Inari continuously tells Koto that she “knows” or that she’ll understand when she becomes older, shying away from the responsibility of informing her, or fully acknowledging her as his daughter. He tells her to toughen up and face forward. Lady Koto asks her to save the monk. Myoue (née Yakushimaru) asks her to kill him. Yase and Kurama use her to bring their mother back. Still searching for meaning, Koto is left to bludgeon her way through the Mirror Capital by force. Her destruction is not without consequence, and now that Shrine has been tasked with tending to the mess, I can only hope that the cleanup will also involve giving Koto more answers, along with reuniting the family that she longs for.