Kyokou Suiri is a 2020 supernatural mystery anime with a lot going for it as it pans out to be one of the better shows of a Winter season that is perhaps not as enthralling as its predecessors. Be that as it may, In/Spectre gives us 2020’s first dose of anime that is equal parts mystery and supernatural; and it has a little extra when it comes to the main characters Kotoko and Kuro.
In/Spectre follows the exploits of Iwanaga Kotoko, a girl who was once abducted by Yokai as a little girl. They begged her to become their Goddess of Wisdom, which makes her an excellent advisor and median in Yokai affairs. Kotoko then meets Sakuragawa Kuro, a university student going through a break-up with a long-time partner; and she finds something about him particularly attractive. Maybe there is more to Kuro than meets the eye?
When Kotoko first meets Kuro, she is smitten with him and thinks to herself that he looks like a goat. When one gets a little bit deeper into In/Spectre, we learn of Kuro’s unsettling regenerative abilities and his frightening appearance to various Yokai.
Perhaps there is a link between Kotoko’s goat comment and Kuro’s condition; one which elicits the fear of every Yokai he comes into contact with; as well as throwing him into a whirlpool of enigma as far as his identity goes. Just what are the Yokai seeing when they look at Sakuragawa Kuro?
What is the Black Goat?
The Black Goat is an occult reference that uses the symbolism present in the concept of “the goat”. The term can be used in reference to the devil; a character greatly represented by this animal. The Black Goat is also a reference to the Greek god Pan. Goats are also seen as symbols of sacrifice with some negative connotations, especially if we think of them as animals used in dark rituals and the summoning of high-level demons. In the Christian Bible, a “scapegoat” is an animal that is used to carry the sins of the community; and it is later driven away.
The Hebrew term for this animal is Azazel; which is also the name of the fallen angel who taught humans many things, including war, witchcraft and deception. In some understandings, this fallen angel is the same fallen angel who influenced Adam and Eve’s original sin.
In astrology, the goat Capricorn is a half-goat, half-fish monster of the sea and in tarot, the Capricorn zodiac sign is attached to Card no. 15—The Devil. Capricorn is very notably a chimera because of its half-goat, half-fish constitution. In many mythologies, chimeras are incredibly terrifying beasts, with creatures like the manticore, the cockatrice, the sphinx, Ammit the devourer and even the seven-headed dragon in the Christian apocalypse known as Armageddon.
Yokai can be thought to be supernatural entities of all kinds and this includes demons, monsters and even ghosts. In many stories, particularly that of Kyokou Suiri, Yokai have long and interesting histories that come together to create various kinds of lore and culture around the various supernatural entities and occurrences. Some Yokai even fulfill roles of leadership and protection; which means that hierarchy exists in Yokai societies.
An example of this can be seen in the second episode of Kyokou Suiri, in which Kotoko goes into the mountains in order to speak with a local water god. The god’s status was obvious as it was able to order lower-level Yokai to do menial tasks; like cleaning the river.
This is speculation based on various ideas; however, is it possible that the Yokai in the Kyokou Suiri series are terrified of protagonist Sakuragawa Kuro–whom Kotoko, the Yokai/Human ambassador sees as a goat–because Kuro is some kind of high-level Yokai that has the basic appearance of a goat and is capable of assimilating the abilities and physical features of other Yokai into his own body?
The Demon Lord
This is a fun conjecture about the true identity of Sakuragawa Kuro; however, what if Iwanaga Kotoko’s initial impression of Kuro was her seeing his true appearance? Perhaps Kuro’s true form is that of a Yokai known to many as the harbinger of evil and destruction—The Devil himself. Kuro’s ability to consume Yokai and take on their abilities makes him terrifying in his own right, but if we consider Kotoko’s heart-eyed comment about Kuro in their first meeting and how Yokai handle themselves around Kuro, it is very possible that Kuro is a Yokai of incredible ability capable of eliciting the same fear-based awe that you’d expect from someone seeing a creature that is so many different things at once, like a chimera.
In/Spectre is one of the more eye-catching titles of Winter 2020 and with good reason—it looks good, has decent characters and watches like a supernatural detective story! However, the building of character, particularly when it comes to Sakuragawa Kuro, leaves us guessing and taking shots in the dark to find the truth. What do you think the truth is behind Kuro’s abilities and nightmarish appearance to the Yokai? Drop a comment below and let’s hear your thoughts!