Real Talk – Alderamin on the Sky and Yatori’s Giri/Ninjou

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I cried. I’m still crying.

Heeeyyy. Finally, a Real Talk that’s not covering Monogatari — but rather another obscure (and still ongoing!) show. As this is still pretty much a new thing, Real Talks are posts where I relate certain concepts that I picked up from wherever, to specific occurrences in anime; which just so happens to be Alderamin on the Sky this time around.

Honestly, I find Alderamin on the Sky to be very much underrated. The show is good (don’t worry, very minimal spoilers up ahead I promise). But I’m not posting here today just to recommend it.

Episode 11 of Alderamin featured one of my favorite lines ever now, in a dialogue between Ikta Solork and Yatorishino Igsem — the two pivotal characters of the show. Setting the stage real quick for you guys; the featured scenario finds Ikta asking Yatori a hypothetical question:

“[…] when you’re ordered to kill me… if you can’t refuse it, how are you going to do it?”

To which, Yatori answers —

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*cue heavy sigh*
Maaaaan. I can’t remember the last time I’d been hit so hard by such a loaded declaration.

But, as it turns out, this sort of thing is quite common in Japanese literature in cinema — particularly works that depict samurai and the yakuza. This “thing” I’m referring to is none other than the Giri/Ninjou conflict at play.

*Giri/Ninjou is only one of a collection of theories revolving around the Japanese cultural identity called nihonjinron.

Giri (義理) means the sense of duty or obligation of and as a person towards the country, his family, the company he works for, and so on. Giri manifests itself in all sorts of things really — for instance, some of you guys might have seen in anime the occurrence of what’s called “giri-choco” or the chocolate that girl’s give out on Valentine’s that connote nothing more than that “they’re obligated to do so” by virtue of Japanese social customs.

Ninjou (人情), on the other hand, is literally one’s feelings as a human being. Not to be confused with “a person’s feelings”, ninjou is more so about the sense of humanity — encapsulating not just personal feelings, but also one’s sense of compassion and empathy.

Giri/Ninjou resolve either in congruence or in conflict with each other, as one’s feelings will not always align with his/her social obligations (see also honne/tatemae). The typical example given regarding Giri/Ninjou is one where a feudal lord orders his samurai to cut down, possibly, a loved one — wherein the samurai is torn between his obligation to follow the orders of his lord and his personal feelings towards killing someone he loves.

Going back to the scene above we also see the conflicting Giri/Ninjou inside Yatori, as she reconciles the hypothetical scenario given to her by Ikta.

The Yatorishino that Yatori alludes to here is her ninjou — the Yatori that is the right hand to Ikta’s left; the friend; the ally. “Yatorishino” represents Yatori’s sense of humanity. Igsem is her giri — the “burden of obligation” she got by bearing the name of a distinguished family of infantrymen.

Yatori is Ikta’s friend. She is also an Igsem serving as a soldier of the military.

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In as much as duty precedes, or comes before, one’s desires and compassion, Yatori is an Igsem before she is Yatorishino.

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Note that she doesn’t directly say that she herself would fulfill the duties of a soldier, but simply states that the Igsem family has always done so.

Thus, Yatori will first have to cast away her very sense of humanity to bring herself to kill Ikta. She will destroy her very being, tear apart her soul and grind to dust before feeding it to the flames. All in the name of Igsem; her duty as a soldier of the military.

And what does our lazy general have to say about all that:

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Like Yatori said, every soldier knows that there may come a time that they may be given an order they don’t want to do but they still have to. Ikta will think about the Yatori he lost, until the soldier Igsem ultimately cuts him down.

Dammit. I’m crying again.

2 thoughts on “Real Talk – Alderamin on the Sky and Yatori’s Giri/Ninjou

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