Izumi Nase and Bearing Too Many Burdens

Having recently finished Kyoukai no Kanata, the character of Izumi Nase stands out to me as the most interesting character.  She heads the Nase clan of Dreamshade slayers (Dreamshade being the favored translation of youmu), which makes her responsible for all supernatural phenomena in the city where she resides and its environs.  Her younger brother and sister also have major parts to play in the story, but they do not bear the same burdens as Izumi Nase.  In essence, they get to lead normal high school lives; yet, they are not unwilling to involve themselves in dangerous situations for the sake of their friends.  *Spoiler Alert in effect from this point on.*  Izumi would have done well to involve them more thoroughly in her struggles, for one suspects she would have made fewer errors of judgment.  For two of which, Izumi Nase loses the respect of her brother and enters a self-imposed exile.

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Though I refer to Izumi’s deeds as errors of judgment, one would be hard pressed not to consider her a villain.  Despite us seeing several Dreamshades who strike us as rather human, she considers all Dreamshades as crops to be harvested or game to be bagged.  (In her defense, most Dreamshade hunters hold to this attitude.)  Also, she orchestrates the worst obstacles our heroes need to overcome.  Hiring Kuriyama to assassinate Akihito, causing Akihito to lose control of the Dreamshade inside him, and necessitating Akihito to rescue Kuriyama from a sealed world effectively peg her as the main villain.

Fire Illumination

Yet, one cannot help but see good intentions in these dark deeds.  Her intense sense of duty as the head of the Nase family leads her to act in the way she does.  But, she places too much responsibility on her own shoulders.  One is reminded of Kenshin Himura.  However, a crucial difference between the two lies in Kenshin separating himself from his dear friends in order to prevent them from coming to harm, while Izumi has no qualms about risking even family members for the sake of what she deems to be the greater good.

(Couldn’t resist adding this clip from Hot Fuzz.  A spoiler if you haven’t seen the movie.)

That duty has an excess might strike one as surprising, especially if one has the same mind as Robert E. Lee: “Duty is the most sublime word in the English language.”  But, perhaps the best example of the misdeeds caused from an excessive sense of duty might be one of Lee’s most famous opponents, John Brown.  The evils of slavery gnawed at Brown’s soul.  His frustration with the seeming permanence of the institution led him to move from legitimate actions like influencing public opinion against slavery and aiding the Underground Railroad to the crimes of murder and fomenting an unsuccessful slave revolt.

Akihito, like most people in this awesome show, is quite an oddball.

Akihito, like most people in this awesome show, is quite an oddball.

In a similar way, Izumi sees the danger posed by the Dreamshade residing in Akihito’s soul.  As a Dreamshade living in her town, taking care of this monster falls under her jurisdiction, and inaction never appears as an option for her.  The Dreamshade must be destroyed to prevent it from emerging one day and wreaking havoc upon humanity.  If it Akihito should one day lose control of it, the destruction it causes will lie on her head!  She deems merely keeping a close eye on Akihito and sealing back the Dreamshade when necessary too dangerous.  Although, Akihito neither has done anything deserving of capital punishment nor wishes to unleash his Dreamshade on the world, Izumi’s lack of faith in others and divine Providence impels her to ensure the destruction of Akihito and the Dreamshade at all costs.  (Of course, the anime never mentions Providence, but people who worry too much forget that not even a single hair falls from our head without God’s knowledge.)  Like John Brown, her sense of responsibility spills into hubris.

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On the other hand, what saved Kenshin from using unjust means–resorting to his manslayer self–during his battle with Shishio?  Other people.  Without his friends telling him not to turn over to the dark side for an illusory strength, he would have fallen to the temptation.  Izumi, on the other hand, stands tragically alone.  She does not delegate authority in such a way as to give people freedom of action nor does she confide in others about her plans.  Therefore, she herself turns to the dark side in both taking in a Dreamshade into her own body and resorting to assassination to solve problems.

Izumi's last stand

Yet, her very misguidedness calls for forgiveness.  The world we live in does not forgive weakness, which leads to people falling into the trap of relying on themselves too much.  As a matter of fact, that her own brother rejects Izumi at the end almost corroborates her notion that she rises or falls on her own strength.  A brother should be more inclined to forgive a sibling than disown them!  One can only hope that Izumi discovers that she cannot rely entirely upon herself in her exile.

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20 comments on “Izumi Nase and Bearing Too Many Burdens

  1. Cytrus says:

    Izumi detests youmu, and therefore she must also detest herself. Definitely not a healthy attitude.

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    • You can say that again, which is a shame because she is quite cool in her own way. But, if she loved herself more, she likely would have refrained from villainy; and then the anime wouldn’t have a conflict. xD

      Between the quirky characters, the action, and some ridiculous lines, Kyoukai no Kanata was a lot of fun. I’m glad that I finally got around to it.

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  2. GoodbyeNavi says:

    I enjoyed Kyuokai no Kanata and hated that it ended. Though I found Kuriyama annoyingly cute and lacking in terms of personality; the rest of the characters redeemed the show.That does include Izumi. She could be seen as a villain but was what she did wrong. per se? We all have different thoughts regarding morality but she is/was in an unenviable position. It was her “duty” to protect and that sometimes comes at “by any means necessary.”

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    • Yeah, I loved Kyoukai no Kanata also; but, I suppose it might be a good thing that they restricted it to twelve episodes–less chance for the story to become unwieldy. And Kuriyama was quite annoying, though more likable toward the end of the anime.

      Concerning Izumi’s actions against Akihito, I’d say that she was definitely in the wrong. Sure, his existence was dangerous, but he had yet to commit any crime himself–which stands as the only reason to deprive someone of life. Scrapped Princess deals with the same topic, and I would say that neither Akihito nor Pacifica Casull (even if she is annoying) deserve to be executed because they might bring about grave harm. Of course, the temptation to prevent future calamities by killing them is certainly there, and both Izumi and the king fall into it.

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      • Cytrus says:

        I don’t think Izumi thought Akihito “deserved” to die, no more than people deserve to die from cancer and the like. Rentarou didn’t think Kayo deserved to die when he pulled the trigger on her, either. In the end, the key point is the character’s hope for a peaceful solution, or the lack thereof.

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      • “Deserved” might be the wrong word in this case. Perhaps, “ought” is better. Both Kayo and Akihito threatened to change into monsters at certain times. Although it was possible to seal back the youmu the first time Akihito’s youmu threatened to emerge, the last time saw no possibility of that. At which point, the death of either cannot be helped.

        However, Rentaro is not culpable in the same way Izumi is, because Izumi orchestrated the circumstances which brought Akihito to the point of no return. Basically, Izumi would not be culpable if she had not been both trying to kill Akihito before the loss of his humanity was threatened and also been the cause of him losing it during that period where youmu become weaker.

        So, Rentaro ought to kill Kayo because she was transforming into a monster. On the other hand, Izumi ought not have caused Akihito to change into a monster. Basically, Izumi should have followed the proverb “Let sleeping dogs lie,” and only dealt with Akihito when he ceased to be human. Especially since Akihito had no desire to change and did his best to suppress that evil entity!

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      • Cytrus says:

        I agree on all your points from a bystander point of view, but I can understand Izumi’s point of view. Akihito had turned into a youmu several times already, proving that his goodwill was not enough to stop the process. They had sealed him without killing as many times as was safe and possible, more, actually, considering Hiroomi’s wounds. With the youmu growing stronger with each recursion, next time half the city would be dead.

        Thus Izumi saw that the chances of another recursion were near 100% (since it had already happened several times while Akihito was still a teenager, and he had decades ahead of him). She also saw that her chances of “dealing with Akihito when he ceased to be human” were near 0% (which was why Kuriyama was called in). Thinking like that, the situation before her was as black and white as the Kayo issue.

        In terms of logic, she was right.

        The main issue here is that if it were us in her shoes, we might admit to seeing no good solution and consult with others before moving onto target elimination. But Izumi is so isolated that to her, her conclusions are final truth. And “I can’t deal with it” becomes “it can’t be dealt with”. You are right to bring up her exile towards the end of the show, but that is merely confirmation of the mental exile she has been in from the very beginning of the series. It is telling, (and to me, shocking) that a random murderous psychopath was the one who knew most about Izumi, understanding her better than her own family.

        Too bad we do not know the circumstances behind her becoming a youmu hybrid, since I suspect that’s where things went awry with Izumi unable to reconcile her deep rooted hatred for the species with the awareness of her own situation.

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      • Very true. And I think Izumi’s attempts to destroy the youmu actually led to it being more effectively sealed inside Akihito by the end of the show. So, some good was drawn from her attempts on Akihito’s life.

        Izumi felt a ton of pressure to do something to prevent a calamity. And Akihito is dangerous–willy-nilly. So, her motivations are perfectly reasonable. But, from what I remember of the show, the times when the youmu either comes dangerously close to emerging or does so is the result of Akihito being weakened in some way–whether it be from Kuriyama stabbing him over and over again or Izumi’s spell. (I forget the circumstances behind the occasion which occurred before the action of the show.) So, one might reasonably expect the youmu to stay sealed sans some evil force acting upon Akihito. (I have doubts about there being a 100% chance of the youmu finally gaining complete control one day.)

        I certainly do come at it from the perspective of a bystander, but the maxim at stake is that it is never right to harm the innocent or the righteous. Akihito has this youmu through no fault of his own and does not will unleashing it upon the world. One is given no reason to doubt his innocence or good intentions surrounding this. So, one can’t contrive his elimination!

        Be that as it may, I admire Izumi’s sense of duty and persevering in doing what she thought was the right thing. She deserved better than exile and estrangement from her family.

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      • Cytrus says:

        Yes, all the emergences of the youmu within the show were the result of extraordinary circumstances or direct intervention. However, I operate under the assumption that such are not necessary for the youmu to come out because if that’s not the case, Izumi’s gain/risk calculus doesn’t add up at all. She had to bring the thing out just to kill it, after all. And if the youmu was not that volatile, either giving Akihito protection or driving him out of her territory seem like much better solutions. As the past incident(s) with Akihito’s youmu are shrouded in mystery (the movie is supposed to cover them, though) this is merely an assumption, but I find it consistent with the decisions the characters make.

        So yeah, if that were to be cleared up properly, it would change a lot regarding this discussion, one way or another.

        Izumi probably doesn’t operate on the maxim of not harming the innocent or the righteous – hers is a dark world ;). Though zombie situations like this (or more clear-cut) where inaction also leads to harming other innocents certainly make it difficult to carry the maxim through.

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      • Indeed! Poor Izumi! Though, I’d say all zombies are inherently nocent rather than innocent. Slay them all and quarantine the infected!

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  3. […] Looking at Izumi Nase from Kyoukai no Kanata, Medieval Otaku points out how dangerous it can be to take too many burdens upon oneself. [Medieval Otaku] […]

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  4. David A says:

    Very interesting!

    I watched that series last year.

    What I disliked:

    The bits of fanservice (including Izumi practising the trick she used on Akihito on a girl first, hahaha, she just had to do that because what?), and the incestuous brother. Is obvious now, considering post 2012 KyoAni shows, that they are trying catering to various “sections” of the fandom. How sad. (They ruined Chuunibyou second season with yuri and some yaoi hints. I dropped the series halfway, more or less).

    What I liked:

    Character design (except some clothing, like Izumi’s shorts), Art direction, and parts from the story. It wasn’t that bad as some people say. Speaking of character designs, is a good evolution of the 2008-2009 KyoAni style. It has two branches, the style used in this series (more realistic) and the one in Chuunibyou, that has a moé focus.

    Back to Izumi, this phrase form the last paragraph sums up the situation: “relying on themselves too much.”

    On the topic of recent series, well, being more selective has been useful for many things: checking older works, focusing on better productions, and , motivation to do my own work. Studying more about traditional painting, drawing, and I want to study about writing and storytelling too. Maybe that is like studying aerospace engineering for building R/C planes, but, in a situation where R/C planes are trendy and more known, is a way to get to a wider public. And still, I could build something better with the new knowledge.

    Aaand, that connects with a frequent topic in D.M. Dutcher’s blog.

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    • Yeah, yuri and yaoi are completely unnecessary. I love the Japanese; but when I see certain things about their culture, I cannot help but remember certain ways St. Paul described immorality among the Greeks in his letters. God have mercy on them!

      Ah, David, you are so unfavorable toward fanservice that I sometimes wonder how you can watch anime besides Studio Ghibli works and a few others! Not a bad attitude to have, but anime is filled with it, and I suppose the modern world is filled with immodesty as well. (I still remember the stunned disbelief I fell into the first time I saw someone outside in short shorts and a sports bra. That fashion statement should be illegal!) Though, Japanese society is curiously more modest than American society in terms of dress. I have heard that Japanese will actually imply that a woman is in a state of undress if they show the slightest cleavage or their skirt is too high. One wonders if the animators feel compelled to show more skin than they see on the streets of Japan?

      And the amusing thing about Izumi’s outfits is that they seemed a little frumpy to me. Her shirts are always baggy and I could not help finding her plaid shorts a funny fashion statement.

      The little sister complex of Hiro’omi seemed as more a way to drive humor than anything else–just like Akihito’s glasses fetish. If there was any degree of seriousness to it, the show would have been unwatchable.

      It sounds like you have a full plate of things to do. For studying writing, the two best works I found on the subject are Stephen King’s On Writing and Terry Brooks’ Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writing Life. One could read other works on writing, but I myself prefer not feeling constricted by works which prescribe overarching formulas rather than techniques. One does learn the most simply by reading good fiction and attempting to write one’s own.

      Good luck on all your endeavors!

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      • David A says:

        Yes, certainly they are weird. But still, the best of the pagan people according to Saint Francis Xavier.

        About fanservice, things like bikinis, and similar don’t bother me that much. But, what about other people? I guess other people is more sensible, so I try to be careful when discussing series. The fanservice I avoid, is what could be called ecchi. That is, erotic situations, nudity, ridiculous things like exploding clothing, etc.

        Is curious if they are like that. Why the animators do that? an outlet? really they need an outlet? is not real, after all. About immodesty, I’m somewhat accustomed to a recent trend. Girls displaying their bras, side-opened shirts, etc. Short shorts are more common now. How sad.

        Back to Izumi, yes, I agree her style has frumpy elements. The incestuous brother is not at the same level of the recent series, yes. But still, unnecessary and pandering to certain fans. Years ago, yaoi and yuri still was more borderline. Now, one can see posts in anime blogs discussing the appeal of incest, and people stating their taste for incest, twin incest, etc, etc.

        And thanks!

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      • You’re welcome! Be sure to read Cyrtus’s response too, as he clarifies Japanese style to some degree. It seems I was thinking of the professional class more than the those of high school and college age. But, manga and anime are media where anything goes, so certain repressed desires might show up there.

        That sounds like a very good policy on fanservice. And some bloggers do become very weird on the topic of incest and the like. Just…why? Are taboo relationships really that interesting? I can only imagine that culture has become so sexualized that normal romance bores people. Sort of like how T. S. Eliot describes sex as a game of chess in The Waste Land.

        And the Japanese might indeed be the best of the pagans. Unfortunately, the Japanese of modern times are much more difficult to engage on religious topics, making them more difficult to convert than those belonging to Japan when it was known as “the Land of the Martyrs.” Thanks again for reading!

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      • Cytrus says:

        If I may have your forgiveness for chiming in.

        Short shorts and the like for females were common at the Japanese university I studied at. I was most surprised to see the students sticking to those fashion statements in winter, when I felt chilly even in a pair of trousers (reminds me of KyoAni’s Kanon adaptation, with the girls going around with short skirts mid-winter).

        Short skirts must also be common in junior high/high schools, seeing as many schools set an official limit of how much a school uniform skirt may be shortened before being against the rules.

        That said, young fashion is obviously not appropriate for adult women.

        With cleavage, you must remember that cleavage is not a traditional Japanese “sexy spot” that women are expected to reveal. The nape of the neck has served that purpose in Japan – note how kimonos leave that area openly visible, which is considered appealing and inviting in Japan. So unlike the West, revealing cleavage will often seem weird not only in the “degree of skin exposure” sense, but also in more fundamental terms. Japan becomes more and more westernized by the day now, but not everybody accepts or is used to the changes.

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      • Feel free to chime in as you wish! I don’t have a first hand experience with Japan, so I like learning about the country from those who have.

        It sounds like Japanese high school girls like to have their skirts as short as the girls from my high school. And I had no idea about their partiality for shorts and short skirts even in winter!

        Concerning cleavage, I remember watching a video where a woman said some Japanese female co-workers told her that “she must be cold, very cold.” Since this was during the summer, she realized that they were subtly implying that she showed too much cleavage though the cut was not low in her opinion!

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      • Cytrus says:

        A fine example of Japanese subtlety :D! Things get tough when, for reasons of cultural differences, you don’t get those hints and end up wondering why people seem to be mad at you xD.

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      • Yeah, a friend of mine says that it’s pretty easy to make a Japanese person angry at one without realizing that one was being offensive. One or two faux pas can ensure a Japanese person will never willingly speak to one again! xD

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  5. […] Looking at Izumi Nase from Kyoukai no Kanata, Medieval Otaku points out how dangerous it can be to take too many burdens upon oneself. [Medieval Otaku] […]

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