Minamoto and Mitsuba: A friendship formed after death

Art by @_natyjs on twitter

We all know of the typical motivational speeches and quotes from famous people, be it ‘Carpe Diem’ to seize the day or the colloquial ‘ you only live once’. In this lifetime that seems oh so long for the youth, yet incredibly short for the ones that barrel towards their last years, we are urged to enjoy life and make the best of it!

Sadly, not every person gets to peak happiness in their lifespan, and we hear stories from all sorts of people that tell us to use the time we have.

Live as if you would die tomorrow!

This basically eradicates all chance for something to happen after death, since we’re focusing on this life we have right now.

But that is not the only way things could go right?

At least in anime, we can have different outcomes to things we can’t quite grasp yet in our world. Reality is no longer chaining if we can write our own stories, and in this case we’re looking at a beautiful friendship that has bloomed not in life, but afterwards.

In the anime Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun, the world looks a little different from ours, and we get to see a glimpse of the supernatural with apparitions, ghosts, exorcists and other unworldly beings.

This actually isn’t the first time we’re looking deeper into the Toilet-bound Hanako anime and lore, and if you haven’t watched the anime yet I would strongly recommend reading Makii’s ‘Breakfast Anime’ post here since it is spoiler free and then watch the anime for yourself! We also have another Character Talk on Tsukasa Yugi, as well as a youtube video on it!

Make sure to check those out and come back!

With all of the supernatural things happening in Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun, after a while of adjusting the premise of wronged ghosts and evil apparitions doesn’t seem striking anymore.

With Hanako being a very unique part of the school’s wonders, destined to hold the balance of the rumours being spread and the supernatural world of the Kamome academy. 

Throughout the story we find that with the help of Yashiro, Hanako and Kou, the unusual trio works together to fend away any harm from the unknowing students. The viewer takes on a very observant perspective, creating the illusion that we are fighting right alongside them.

What do we learn?

A rumour is the backbone of any apparition.

Whatever is talked and hushed about by the students and faculty of the academy becomes the reality, which became a strong tool for our protagonist to change harmful activities of apparitions in a peaceful manner, a good example for that would be the “Mokke” or “Faeries” that were originally cute and mischievous little creatures but turned into terrifying and deadly apparitions due to their changed rumour.

So we know from that point that it is important not to view all apparitions as evil from the get-go, but make sure to look into the background of it all first right?

Well, there is another perspective that blooms now that differs in how to handle apparitions.

The exorcists.

The one who is supposed to rid the world of all declared evil would be an exorcist, in this case the ones that we see in the anime are Minamoto Teru and Kou, both part of the renowned Minamoto clan.

Teru, as the older brother and highschool heartthrob, has a lot of responsibilities and takes care of many things as we can see him be head of the students council and always on the go. Unlike his younger brother Kou who is still learning a lot about the craft of being an exorcist, he is very new to the turbulent situations he gets sucked into with Hanako.

In midst of all of these chaotic events, from altering rumours to invading school mysteries domains, Kou has to battle with two fronts. 

On one hand he is still an exorcist that has to learn to take care of all apparitions, but on the other hand he has witnessed the way Hanako takes care of both sides, the living and the dead. Showing his compassion and the possibility of an apparition having good intentions and no need to harm others. 

As Teru sees the development of his brother, he reminds him that apparitions need to be exorcised as they impose a threat to the students, which should invoke mistrust in all apparitions.

“There is no such thing as a ‘good supernatural’”, as Teru reiterates to Kou what danger they can bring.

Although he greatly respects his brother, Kou has realised that so far Hanako has done no wrong, and even though he still needs to learn a lot about his family’s legacy, he will deal with the apparition the way he sees fit.

These strong words and an obvious act of slight rebellion towards his brother’s codex brings us to the interesting dynamic that Kou builds with a certain apparition himself.

Such encounters of two people with very different mindsets can most definitely develop into very interesting dynamics, and we see exactly that happen as Kou finds out about Mitsuba.

Mitsuba Sousuke, who at his first appearance was merely known as a ghost who haunted the school lockers, would go around as students changed their shoes and ask them a chilling question.

“Do you remember me?

As rumours spread fast, Kou was able to catch him red handed and immediately made it his mission to take care of him.

With advice from Hanako who told him Mitsuba would have regrets that needed to be resolved, he grabbed the ghostly boy and asked him what his regrets were.

Completely contrary to how he looks with his pink attire, Mitsuba didn’t  let himself get bullied by Kou’s harsh approach and so began a chaotic relationship between the two.

The interesting thing about Kou is that he wasn’t ready to give up and wasn’t deterred by Mitsuba’s first defensive layer, instead as he found out that his last wish was to take a picture of something special he jumped at the opportunity to help the ghost.

According to his teachings, he should’ve just exorcised him immediately, just as he threatened to do so with Hanako the very first time, but instead he took time and effort to try and understand Mistuba even though his life was long over, giving him a chance to feel listened to.

Here, the first blossoms of an entirely unique friendship start to form, one that has no ties to being dead or alive but instead one that started with the dedication of Kou and Mitsuba needing to belong somewhere.

Speaking of Mitsuba, his bitter remarks towards Kou from the beginning of their encounter and his feisty attitude quickly dissolved into a more calm demeanor when Kou took the effort to walk around with Mitsuba all day with encouragement and a healthy optimism.

It turns out that Mistuba had been sitting around the lockers and asked the students if they remembered him because he was part of Kou’s class in their first year, which came to a surprise for the exorcist. 

He learns that Mistuba had to change his personality drastically as he was a victim of bullying in elementary school and when that didn’t help he tried to be his true self again but still failed to make any friends or lasting relationships. As he died because of an accident, he suddenly realised that no one from school remembered him and that he was all alone.

His wish to take a picture was not his true wish in hindsight.

As Kou told him that he was sorry for not recognizing him as a ghost, he made sure to promise they could be friends from now on even if Mitsuba was dead.

This made Mitsuba’s true wish emerge, as he just wanted to make friends at the end of the day.

Pairing with Kou’s empathetic nature, the next events twist into a dark and traumatizing direction, as the beautiful friendship between two opposing characters who should be enemies by design, is cut short by Tsukasa Yugi who took Mistuba’s wish in the literal sense.

As “the bent neck boy at the school entrance”, Mitsuba loses his mind and all of the precious time he had with Kou as he attacks him and has to quickly be fought by Hanako to which he just disappears and only leaves his beloved camera.

He disappeared, yet Kou still had to mourn the loss of his friend as he was traumatized in the last seconds of seeing him. After giving everything he could to help Mistuba and after truly realising that they could become friends even now, he has to say goodbye to him at the end of the day.

Although this might sound like the end, we get another reconnection of the ‘after death friends’ as Mitsuba has been recreated by Tsukasa and made him the 3rd Mystery. While his personality is still the same and he starts to connect with Yashiro, he does not remember his past and even Kou is erased from his memory.

This of course upsets Kou, which only shows us how quickly their bond has formed and how much Kou wanted to be Mistuba’s friend.

Although they have found each other against all odds and even after death, the friendship of Mitsuba and Kou had sadly been severed by the interference of Tsukasa and therefore found its tragic end. 

The wounds stings even more when one thinks of what this friendship represents.

It embodies something so genuine, something so real that it could even go against the normally contrasting relationship of a ghost and an exorcist, a friendship so strong that it gave Mitsuba the feeling of belonging and being able to be his true self, one that could let the young Kou rethink his work as an exorcist and find the heart to help someone in need.

True friendship doesn’t get swayed by outside factors if both parties truly want to be there for each other.

A true friendship will even go against death, which shows the beauty of this one, that sadly had to find an abrupt end.

But even so, Mitsuba could finally have someone he could truly call his friend, but it was Kou who lives with the remaining memory of a lost dear one.

When we look at such relationships, we can decipher it and take part of it to our real lives as lessons to be learned. Even if we can’t commune with ghosts in this life, Kou’s resolve and Mitsuba’s past give us hope that friendships and safe spaces can develop even later in life, when we think it’s now impossible.

And a simple act of kindness is all it takes to make a friendship start to flourish.

What would you think is the true core of a friendship? Leave your opinion in the comments if you want to!

Until then, see you next tea time~

-Nissa

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