Area no Kishi and Transplanting the Human Soul

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.

11 thoughts on “Area no Kishi and Transplanting the Human Soul

  1. I am in complete agreement. That final scene was over the top and unnecessary. Not only that, but I don’t believe it would work in real life. Assume that he did kick the ball so that it hit the car. How can he be sure that when the lost control, the car would stop before it hit the girl?

    Now on the positive side, that is really the only example of them being that OTT. I do have hope, therefore, that that was an aberration. I’ll keep on watching, but I’m not impressed with the “body memory” angle.

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    • Yeah, I was wondering how others would react to the sudden change in attitude for not only Kakeru, but really for the whole tone of the show. I didn’t find Area no Kishi ridiculous until the very end of the 3rd episode. But that’s what makes “Kak-uru” so awesome after recovery, right? That we know that he won’t miss? :p

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  2. Stupid episode. Stupid.

    I absolutely hated the turn the anime took in episode 3. Like you, I felt it went way over the top with the final scene, but I thought the supernatural angle was just terrible to begin with. How can I root for a character who powered by his dead brother? It’s so silly.

    I do appreciate the discussion you gave regarding organ transplants, though. It makes me think that this subject can be approached in an entertaining and slightly more realistic way in an anime – but it wasn’t done that way in Area no Kishi.

    I’m really hoping that somehow we not only get back to the more soccer-centered storyline in the next episode or two, but that the mystical/spiritual connection between the protagonist and his brother somehow becomes more of an emotional thing than physical. Otherwise, I’m out.

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    • I definitely had zero expectations for a something so arguably supernatural. I am disappointed in the message of the episode, being that Kakeru succeeds not because of his own personal growth in body and spirit, but because of some forced influence. I feel like it may have worked if yes, the anime had chosen to go the subtle route and kept to the uncanny resemblance. Slight body movements, facial expressions.

      What I would like would be for the show to step away from the overt body memory thing and to give Kakeru some time away from the sport. I think taking a break may show him just how much soccer means to him now that he no longer has it in his life. His professed dreams have always been about his brother’s success, but now he no longer has that (or so he thinks).

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  3. “They discussed several odd occurrences tracing new behaviors in organ recipients to their donor counterparts, also referred to as body memory, or cellular memory.”

    While I haven’t seen many studies as far as organs holding memories and such, a few years back there was a big blowup in the scientific world about the idea of genetic memory, which actually became the premise for the Assassin’s Creed video game series (takes place in the future, but through accessing genetic memory, you re-live your ancestor’s lives as assassins). I haven’t seen too much recently on the topic, but I think there was another discovery of some sort relating to genetic memory a few months back. Can’t exactly remember what, unfortunately.

    The idea of genes holding memories I can definitely agree with, but I’m far more curious about this idea of organs holding memories. While I’m not sure if there is any hard science to back up the idea, seeing that the gene memory hypothesis doesn’t seem to be false, I don’t think it’s too farfetched. It really makes you wonder just where memories are being stored. Or, perhaps, that different types of memories and thoughts are stored in different locations (memories of actual events you go through, memories of your thoughts and emotions on events, your feelings towards other people, etc.). While I’m a skeptic about “souls” being real, it makes you wonder what parts of you make you who you are socially, emotionally, and now, physically. Not to mention, it makes us realize just how much we still don’t know about how our own species works and functions.

    Sorry I can’t really relate it back to the anime or anything (since I’m not watching it), but I do find the topic incredibly fascinating.

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    • Ahhh, I didn’t think about Assassin’s Creed–thanks for reminding me about it! There’s definitely an interesting discussion comparing how genetic and body/cellular memories affect a given person. I’m not science-minded in the least, but I do find several topics about it fascinating. Despite how advanced we are medically and how amazing our technology is now, you’re right, there is still so much that we don’t know about our own bodies.

      Thanks for stopping by, Riyoga🙂 (I’m slowly working through Shana 2!)

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      • No problem. I still need to work on commenting on other blogger’s stuff more often.

        And good to hear about Shana! Hopefully you make a post or throw in a small comment in another post about your thoughts on rewatching the season once you finish (like what you did last time).
        So far Shana 3 has definitely lived up to my expectations, and in recent episodes, even surpassed them.

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  4. Seems like others have already discussed what I was thinking about.

    Your lambasting the over-written ending had thinking about the creative process in anime and in other collaborative works. I wonder how much of that current ending was the initial ending of the anime, and how much were target demographic revisions.

    As for organ memory, I wonder. I wouldn’t be surprised considering other living creatures pass on genetic memory, but at the same time I wonder why haven’t we heard more about the issue? It seems with an organ donor system such as in America, these shared memories would occur more often.

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    • I am very curious about the ending scene and how differently the anime and manga portray the whole heart transplant thing. Because of the awkwardness of the anime episode, I’m thinking that maybe the manga had the scene at a later part in the story. It feels like such a rushed transformation given the earlier subtle similarities.

      Considering target demographics, I agree in that it feels like two completely different genres are being mixed: sports drama and high fantasy. I think they can definitely be used together successfully (Hikaru no Go–a board game, but felt like a sport), but that didn’t feel like the case here.

      After searching around a year or so ago when I first heard about body memory, and again now, I actually found a good amount of discussion regarding the topic. I believe it was Mary Roach in her book Stiff who listed a couple of people, among many, who had false notions about their donors. In one case, a recipient was convinced that the heart came from an african american, when in fact the donor was a young caucasian male. It’s situations like this that cast the most doubt on the validity of body memory.

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