Everything about her ensnares the senses–the silky strands that strangle the heart, those eyes which see into the depths of the soul, her overwhelming sugary scent, a voice dripping with promised wantonness, and her ravenous appetite for sweat and flesh. She oozes sexuality, and begs satiation from any one willing. She is the jorougumo, the spider woman, and she has skittered underneath the doorways of currently airing Hyouka and Tasogare Otome x Amnesia.
Japanese mythology warns of a 400-year-old giant spider with the capability of transforming itself into a beautiful woman. Even analyzing the kanji making up the name, “Jorōgumo is written as ‘絡新婦’ (literally meaning “binding lady”) or ‘女郎蜘蛛’ (literally meaning “whore spider”)” (Wiki). Her victims are spun into her silk webs, for either her or her sack of children to feed upon.
My first encounter with one of these creatures was in xxxHOLiC kei, where Watanuki Kimihiro has his eye devoured by a jorougumo. What particularly struck me about her was that she was not strictly a villainous character. Despite her seemingly ill treatment of Watanuki and the Zashiki Warashi, she does not take what she has for granted, nor does she act out without reason. Watanuki incurred a spider’s grudge in his thoughtless act of brushing apart its web. The jorougumo is simply taking proper action. Her later reprimand of Watanuki’s unnaturally selfless actions bespeaks her own inability to be selfish due to the nature of what she has become.
This sympathetic aspect to xxxHOLiC‘s jorougumo really raises a question about the inspiration for the ancient myth. I cannot help but see it as a twist on a woman’s limited influence on the man or men of the household. Much as the spider sets up her web and draws victims to her, the housewife is expected to stay home and tend to its duties and her children. I find it only reasonable that the next course of action for an attempt at control is to make a move through someone who does have power–namely, the man. And yet for these actions, these women are pegged as conniving and lustful.
Yuuko: A Reflection of The Beholder’s Fears
Tasogare Otome x Amnesia hosts one of the most unique female protagonists of this spring season. Yuuko is also one of the first self-proclaimed ghosts that I have seen in an anime, as others usually are not revealed to be so until other characters have carried on for quite a while in the belief that they were alive and tangible. At first glance, she appears to be a high school student like any other, albeit more attractive and sexually confident than what I would normally expect. This is the appearance that the viewer and the male protagonist see. However, alternate appearances are revealed through the eyes of side characters Momoe and Kirie. To the former, she is the classic image of the white-clad ghost; to the latter, a mixture of cracked and rotting flesh at one moment and a spider seductress in another.
While the more horrific sides are argued to be mere reflections of the believers’ fears, it’s still difficult to shake away the above sight when remembering Yuuko’s fervent desire to forever remain by Teiichi’s side.
Eru’s Ensnaring Emanations
Most recently aired Hyouka is, for all intents and purposes, a high-school-set mystery. And yet, there’s something uncanny in the overly shiny eyes of its characters, and, in particular, Eru’s ability to enchant Houtarou in a scene of rapidly growing and entangling hair scattered with luminescent flowers. The striking quality of that scene upon the audience is evidenced in numerous other bloggers’ initial impressions, where the same screenshot seems to be circulating from post to post. Even I admit that it was extremely difficult to resist using that same image here, since it perfectly displays the web-like resemblance of Eru’s hair. Is her ability to sway Houtarou’s decisions an indication of a manipulative personality, or are we to attribute it as a sensation of Houtarou’s own feelings of attraction to her?
“A Dusk Maiden’s perception” by chaostangent