Angel Heart – episode 18

July 20, 2006 on 1:02 am | In Angel Heart | Comments Off on Angel Heart – episode 18

“Family Ties”

Xiang Ying’s dream memory takes her further into the origins of Kaori and Ryo’s relationship, thus destroying many senses of continuity with City Hunter. It’s enough to make my brain overheat and almost (but not really) envy those in the Angel Heart audience who have never seen its progenitor.

I’m forced to view these characters by comparison with what I thought I knew because they do share fundaments. The new revelations about the identity of Ryo, however, are quite a shake.

Xiang Ying, through her dreams, recognises many controversial truths about Ryo: that City Hunter was founded by Makimura, and that it was Kaori who bestowed upon him the name of Saeba Ryo rather than “Nippon Taro”.

The revelation of City Hunter’s origin is a good boost for the character of Makimura, under represented as he has been in the City Hunter anime franchise. Think of him as a vigilante with something of a skill for covering his tracks but not much of a talent for dirty fights.
He can cover his tracks from everyone with the exception of Ryo, the perceptive fellow who seems to know every person’s secret simply by gazing at them. Their partnership comes together as a result of Ryo’s fighting skills and Makimura’s knowledge of things that need to be done. This is the beginning of Ryo’s road to redemption: by not killing Makimura when charged with that job, he doesn’t have a place in the underworld with any of his many names.

The other side of Makimura that we get to see is his emotion for Kaori, which has naturally been one sided in every representation before this. Somehow Kaori came to know that Makimura was not her real brother, and so both of them have been fighting to keep the other with all of their efforts. The fact that both sides of the equation want to maintain their relationship so fiercely proves that the blood relation does not matter to either of them. It adds a bittersweetness to all of the proceedings to realise that both of them are dead.
The revelation that Kaori knew of her birth (perhaps not the criminal circumstances, but definitely her adoption) can transfer itself to the later episodes of City Hunter 2, where she meets her elder sister and subconsciously understands that they have a bond. There what held her back was not just an allegiance to the memory of Makimura, but the fact that she was now legitimately a part of the City Hunter team. You can’t simply take Kaori out of any situation that she wants to be in, and that is her strength. That even applies to her existence as Xiang Ying’s heart.

The portrayal of Ryo is something of a concern right here as we were supposed to get the impression of him as an untrusting, deeply troubled, serious and violent person. Yet, the moment he returns to Kaori’s house with an unconscious Makimura, he has already begun down his mokkori path! He’s perceptive, but he’s happy. I’m never going to be able to reconcile the serious Ryo with the mokkori Ryo, at least not at the point of his origins.

This is a sweet episode with many back story revelations but also a great ending. I hope to see more Kaori, even more Makimura, in episodes to come!

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