Although I haven’t been as pleased with Area no Kishi as I would have expected, I am still enjoying it well enough to keep with it. I’m fond of the sport and I was hopeful about seeing some real character clashes between the brothers and “Seven”. Unfortunately, the end of episode two threw in a fatal vehicle/pedestrian accident. Episode three then opens up on Kakeru waking up with his older brother’s heart beating in his chest.
Shocker? Definitely. As soon as I first heard about Suguru’s downgrade to vegetable status, I thought Area no Kishi was going to give us a miraculous recovery at the very end along with Kakeru’s victorious return to soccer. Instead, the character who has been raised up as some type of soccer god and perfect son and brother is handily wiped from the storyboard, living on in a heart transplant to save Kakeru’s life.
And here’s where the story turns supernatural.
Others around Kakeru begin to notice an uncanny resemblance to Suguru, one that they had not noticed before the accident. It is as if Suguru has somehow given a part of his soul to Kakeru. I was reminded here of some interesting articles I had read a good while back concerning organ transplants and spirituality. They discussed several odd occurrences tracing new behaviors in organ recipients to their donor counterparts, also referred to as body memory, or cellular memory. This thought claims that memories can be held not only by the brain, but by firstly, various organs of the body, or secondly, by all the cells of the human body. In some cases, transplant recipients experience drastic changes in personality or preferences, or even fall in love with his or her donor’s widow(er). There isn’t any hard science backing these theories, but there are plenty of testimonials given by organ recipients to strengthen these notions.
Due to the skepticism aimed at the validity of body memory, I was surprised to see it show up so blatantly in this anime. The first hint of it was properly subtle, with Kakeru’s strangely quick recovery. Not only has he regained his prior stamina, but he seems to have even more drive than before. The second comparison came a bit stronger, but still understated enough, with Kakeru’s eye contact and tone of voice mirroring that of Suguru’s. This is where I wish the anime had ended–uncanny, but compelling. Unfortunately, the episode closed with an over the top scene where Kakeru blasts a ball through a group of kids without hitting a single one of them and miraculously smacks the driver of a car who swerves and misses a little girl chasing her dog into the street. Whew. Yes, it was that long winded and cheesy. To top it off, Mishima then has to state the obvious by questionably calling Kakeru by his brother’s name.
Despite the forced close to the third episode, I am still very intrigued by the anime’s use of the heart transplant and want to see how far they’ll take it. I would prefer more delicate inclusions into Kakeru’s personal growth, instead of some ridiculous soccer move that doesn’t reflect himself at all.