Image source: アニメ「いぬやしき」公式@2017年10 on Twitter

He’s a superpowered family-murdering sociopath. And yet, take a step back and Hiro Shishigami has all the makings of your standard series hero. So why isn’t he one?

[Note: This article contains spoilers for Inuyashiki: Last Hero.]

In Inuyashiki: Last Hero, two individuals who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time are gifted(?) with alien overtechnology that turns them into mechanical superbeings. Ichiro Inuyashiki and Hiro Shishigami are two sides of the same coin, with Inuyashiki taking the role of the selfless hero who literally flies around to help those in need, and Shishigami as the cruel heartless villain who will slaughter entire families just because it makes some part of him feel human. That said, looking at the characteristics of Shishigami, and there’s evidence that under different circumstances, he would be the template hero character.

Understanding Inuyashiki’s Antagonist

First off is his name, Hiro Shishigami. Hiro is a not uncommon name in Japan. In Japanese, the character for his name means “pure” or “unsoiled radiance.” Even in English the name has a similar sound to the word “hero”—something people who watched the TV series Heroes may recall (side note: The character Hiro in Heroes also had a best friend named Ando… Perhaps it’s coincidence, perhaps not). Hiro’s last name, Shishigami, in Japanese means “lion god.” Could there be a more template hero name?

Then there’s Shishigami’s personal life. As an individual, he’s relatively handsome and doesn’t appear to be a failing student in any particular way. He comes from a broken home, yet retains a loving relationship with both his mother and his father—and stepbrother and stepsister. Despite his indifference to those outside his immediate friends and family, he is genuinely kind and caring towards those inside and will do anything to protect them.

Image source: アニメ「いぬやしき」公式@2017年10 on Twitter

With a background like that, after getting caught in an alien explosion, you could almost see someone like Shishigami becoming the hero of his own series. The only difference is that unlike with your regular series, Shishigami has not been presented with an antagonist. He doesn’t become a hero because he has no reason to. In fact, when presented with the concept by his friend Ando, Shishigami says it sounds too much like a hassle. That’s because there is no real existential threat.

It’s only when presented with a true threat that Shishigami steps up and actually acts heroic. Learning that his mother has cancer, Shishigami cures her. He then tries to give her the best life he can. He decides to buy a new apartment for her and tells her that their financial troubles are over. That she doesn’t ever have to work again. And it’s after all this, after doing what he believes is genuine good for someone he loves, that he decides to stop his random killings.

Image source: アニメ「いぬやしき」公式@2017年10 on Twitter

Granted, Shishigami’s methods are morally questionable if not outright wrong in most cases. His solution to protect Ando is to kill his bullies. The money to buy the apartment was probably stolen by hacking ATMs instead of through online trading like he says. But when it comes to saving his mother’s life, his actions are identical to Inuyashiki’s. We can see that Shishigami has the same potential to be a “good guy.”

I could totally envision a case in which the aliens that gave Shishigami and Inuyashiki their powers turned out to be an invading force and Shishigami standing up to fight them in order to protect his friends and family. It’s just that it didn’t turn out that way. They were given godlike powers and then tossed back into the real world with really nothing to do but use those powers.

Shishigami has awakened to the possibility of being a decent person, but seeing how episode five ends, whether he’ll be able to actually go that course is questionable. Seeing the way the episode opening theme shows scenes of Shishigami and Inuyashiki trying to blow each other out of the sky, it’s inevitable that the two will have a showdown at some point in the future. That said, it’s interesting to realize that, had the news of Shishigami’s mother’s cancer come sooner, or if some other greater threat had appeared, Shishigami could have been just as much of a hero as Inuyashiki.

Inuyashiki: Last Hero can be viewed with English subtitles on Amazon Anime Strike.

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