Kamisama no Memo-chou ~ some vague notion of virtue
August 20, 2011
Episode 7 of Kamisama no Memo-chou (God’s notebook) really surprised me. All previous mysteries have been resolved in one or two episodes, so, this being the third episode, and the initial mystery seemingly resolved, I expected a quick wrap-up. Instead the mystery deepened, and we ended with a cliff-hanger. I love it when a show defies my expectations (in a good way)!
The first twist in this episode was around the perceived character of the Yondaime, AKA Souichiro Hinamura. Along with Narumi, I have been under the impression that the Yondaime is a good guy. Renji, the seeming villain from the past two episodes, tells a story that shakes that assumption. According to Renji, the Yondaime selfishly used a woman to save himself, causing the death of the woman that Renji loved. Furthermore, the Yondaime cowardly covered up evidence of his selfishness, by disposing of her body like unsightly trash, preventing Renji from having the opportunity to even say goodbye. Narumi doesn’t want to believe this, but the Yondaime tells him the story is true, and that he and Renji are now enemies.
When I first watched this episode, I thought Narumi was mostly acting as a busybody, and that his tears upon finding that he couldn’t fix the relationship between Renji and the Yondaime were a bit much. But while rewatching the episode to grab screenshots it occurred to me that Narumi feels that if Renji and the Yondaime’s brotherhood can be broken, then so can his own bonds with the Yondaime, and that relationship is really a surrogate for his relationship with his father. Narumi has never had any friends; he always drifted and believed himself alone, but his relationship with Alice’s detective agency, and with the Yondaime’s Hirasaka group, is his first attempt to trust that he can build such bonds with other people.
Narumi, as I have said before, is an interesting character, because he doesn’t understand personal boundaries. Some say that he is a typical bland protagonist, but I don’t see that. His inability to (or inexperience with) relating to other people has left him desensitized to the personal boundaries most take for granted. This has been shown repeatedly, from the very first episode, in which he alone is willing to ask deeply embarrassing questions of the schoolgirl turned prostitute. Once again, Narumi keeps pushing into places that he is warned to stay out of, places away from which anyone with proper socialization would stay.
Alice gives an interesting lecture to Narumi during this episode. She says that he is “attempting to give form to the thoughts of another”. She warns him that this can “lead to wretched outcomes”. Narumi’s unformed sense of personal boundaries is dangerous, but she also admits that his ability to tread where he shouldn’t has proven useful in the past. In a way, Narumi reminds me of Masa, from House of Five Leaves (Sarai-ya Goyou). Like Narumi, Masa lacked “good sense” and asked questions that were far too personal. He also stated things that caused others to be uncomfortable, not because they were not true, but rather because they were. In this comparison the Yondaime, head of the Hirasaka yakuza group, becomes Yaichi, the head of the Five Leaves yakuza group. Both have white hair, are quick to anger, have painful secrets that they can’t quite forget or forgive themselves for, and both have a begrudging soft spot for Narumi/Masa.
Miscellaneous surprises and treats
I wasn’t familiar with Hiyashi Chuuka, so I looked it up. It is a cold noodle salad, topped with eggs, ham, cucumber, and a sesame oil / vinegar sauce. So Alice orders a plate of cucumbers with oil and vinegar for lunch. While looking up Hiyashi Chuuka, I found this music video. The music is very ambient and tranquil, and the visuals are the making of Hiyashi Chuuka, but processed through some sort of kaleidoscope filter.