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

Admit it. This is something you’ve wished you could do at one point or another.

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

Inuyashiki: Last Hero is a fantastical story that revolves around two individuals who are granted superpowers. One, an old man, Ichiro Inuyashiki, uses his newfound powers to help others in need. The other, a young boy, Hiro Shihigami, uses his powers for himself, killing random strangers to feel human again. The story seemed to be setting Inuyashiki up as the obvious hero and Shishigami as the obvious villain. And then things got complicated.

Sad Old Man Gains Superpowers in Inuyashiki

In the latest episode, Shishigami’s new hobby of randomly massacring families has been discovered, making Shishigami a wanted man. When the details of his home address are leaked to the press, the media does what it always does and makes the incident into a sensationalized fiasco, turning their attention (and implied blame) upon his family. His mother is driven to suicide, completely destroying Shishigami’s world.

Understanding Inuyashiki’s Antagonist

Angered at the media that hounded his mother to her death, Shishigami slaughters a news crew that are mobbing his father. He then turns his attention to the internet rabble that has been egging the whole situation on from the safe bosom of internet anonymity. Using his alien hypertechnology, he searches for, and finds, the individual who leaked his address to the media. Shishigami then confronts the man and kills him through his computer monitor—uploading video of the killing to the message board where people who have been hurling insults have been congregating. He then proceeds to kill everyone who commented on the message board in the same manner, one by one.

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

It’s a rather fascinating episode if you unpack it. Shishigami’s series of murders of innocent families has been utterly reprehensible. To see him get his comeuppance after what he’s been doing feels almost like a promise. There is no mistake that he is the villain, and yet, seeing the effect his mother’s death has on him, one can’t help but feel a twinge of pity, if not for Shishigami, for his mother. And then, to see Shishigami take his rage out on the callous people who helped kill his mother feels almost cathartic.

The internet is a wonderful tool. But as all of us have been made well aware, the internet has its dark side too. Anyone who has browsed the comments section of almost any major site has eventually encountered a troll who enrages them. People who couldn’t care less about empathy and social norms. At times, we’ve all wished that we could reach through our screens and punch someone on the other side. It just so happens that in Shishigami’s case, he can.

And that’s kind of the point. Shishigami doesn’t do things because he’s necessarily, inherently evil. He does them because he can do them. He has been given the means and the opportunity, and if there is one thing that human nature has proved again and again it’s that, unless otherwise properly deterred, if people can do something, they will do something.

Shishigami feels that those people on the internet who sat back and enjoyed his mother being driven to suicide are responsible. For a normal non-powered human, there would be little that one could do about the situation. But Shishigami has the ability to do something about it, and the result is a wholesale slaughter of seemingly random people in broad daylight.

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

At this point, it is also probably worth noting the interesting dynamic at play with the whole internet crucifixion thing. While to see it happen to Shishigami and his mother seems cruel and inhumane, one cannot forget that it’s the exact same punishment the “hero” of the series, Inuyashiki enacted upon a group of hooligans in the very first episode of the series.

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

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