Needing to Know in Kyousogiga

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“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.

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“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.

5 comments

  1. I am really so touched by this series. What it has done distinctly is take clearly in account the children’s feelings. It’s so human and logical to do so and I’m very happy to see this being presented. I’m hoping for an explanation and apology from the parents, though that might be too much for a Japanese series. We’ll see.

    1. I’m unsure if you’ve read a charmingly direct poem by Philip Larkin called “This Be The Verse,” however – aside from the fact that I, like so many others, love the line, “They fuck you up, your mum and dad” – it frames parenthood for me as such: if you don’t want to completely mess up your kids, the only way out of the gig is to not have kids.

      I’m torn between the parents’ side and the children’s side in Kyousogiga. On the one hand the parents were not allowed to be parents in the way that they wanted to, before they were torn from their family. Thinking that Lady Koto’s borrowed body would bring destruction to the Mirror Capital, they chose to leave together. The three children that they left behind were suddenly without parents; however, they and their home was not destroyed. For the most part, I do think that Myoue and Lady Koto’s intentions were well-meaning, even if their actions do not reflect this. Additionally, Myoue had always been pursued by Shrine, and I doubt that this would have changed, regardless of whether Myoue had children or not (as an aside, why Shrine wanted Myoue so isolated is still a mystery).

      That being said, they disregarded Yakushimaru’s wishes and made him not only immortal but forced him to be their son. Additionally, they drew Yase and Kurama into existence, and had Koto (presumably naturally). Of course, the child never chooses to be born (hence the quotation from the Philip Larkin poem) and this idea is mimicked a bit in the drawings coming to life.

      I’m looking forward to see what the series does do with the wayward Myoue/Inari and Lady Koto. Thanks, as always, for the comment.

      1. Yes, of course I’m aware of ‘This be the verse’. BUT. I disagree with this: “if you don’t want to completely mess up your kids, the only way out of the gig is to not have kids.” Not true. I’ve met 2-3 people who had good to great parents who respected each other and their children. In fact one of these friends is so close to her parents that she might play a BL eroge game and she’ll nag in the open about it if she gets disrupted. Yes, usually the fact that someone wants children means by itself that doesn’t feel complete, meaning (s)he needs them to feel whole and that’s not exactly good for any healthy relationship. That doesn’t mean someone can’t be the least worse parent one can be.

        “Thinking that Lady Koto’s borrowed body would bring destruction to the Mirror Capital” – that I admit I hadn’t grasped. Yet, I’m unsure why they had to leave their family behind. The minimum they could do was to explain. As it stands, we can talk about a quite cruel abandonment. Don’t take me wrong. I’m not trying to bash the show. I find both Lady Koto and Myoue very charming characters. Their actions though are not only mysterious but questionable, too.

        It’s my pleasure to engage in a conversation with you🙂 You have always interesting things to say.

        P.S.: Ain’t it weird how we saw the pomegranade being chewed? Ok, symbolism, but the pomegranades in my country should be peeled off and have the ‘seeds’ extracted .

        1. Sorry this response took so long. Today is my first day off in a week.

          Eating a pomegranate like that would be rather difficult, I would imagine. ^ ^ I eat them the same way that you do.

          Don’t worry, I don’t think that you’re trying to bash the show. I do believe that the explanation is coming. As to whether it’s an acceptable one, I’d say that it’s for Koto to decide for herself, which is the thing I find the most charming about the series: it’s up to Koto to push forward and choose her own meaning/path. Even if we, as an audience, disagree with what the parents have to say in the end, I’m more curious as to Koto’s reaction/response.

          Thanks for talking with me! Your comments are always great. ^ ^

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