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Kanan and the 'Fridge

elsane has some interesting things to say about Kanan in Saiyuki, and why she's not just another woman in the refrigerator, here.

(She also discusses a featured character in House, Amber, by way of comparison, but I'm not all that familiar with that show.)

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( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
lawless523
May. 4th, 2011 04:07 am (UTC)
Thanks for the link. I am familiar with the Amber/Wilson storyline, although it didn't bother me as much as it did elsane, in part becaue I didn't much like Amber to begin with and in part because of the way House summed up Wilson's relationship with her: "You're dating me!", which confronted some of the reason why there's House/Wilson shipping. (I have since stopped watching House for other reasons.) But what elsane says about her being used as a plot device in this storyline is correct; I just happened to think that Amber was a plot device the entire time she was on the show.

But I digress. I feel a out of step with the general fandom consensus, but I not only never was angry with Kanan for her choices, I felt they were rational. There's every possibility that Kanan knew, heard, or suspected what Gonou had done in order to rescue her (at least to everyone he met in Hyakugan Maoh's castle) and was repelled. I know I would be; it would be very hard for me to look at someone the same way knowing he'd mercilessly killed everyone on his way to avenge me whether it was necessary or not and whether they had anything to do with my captivity.

If abortion wasn't a possibility -- and the series never suggests it was, either because of Kanan's religious upbringing or for other reasons -- and she had to carry the baby to term, there's every reason for her to believe her life and the life of her child will be a living hell. Look at Gojyo and how people react to halfbreeds. I've read about women who've borne babies as a result of rape used as a tool of terrorism, and in many instances, the babies are neglected and unloved because they resemble their fathers and remind their mothers of the most horrific event of their lives. If I were her, I would not believe any reassurances from Gonou that he would love the baby because it was hers, and all the words and good will in the world likely wouldn't prepare him for the emotional impact of watching her rapists' child grow up. Also, he doesn't have to carry his rapist's baby inside his body for nine months, nourishing and protecting it.

Moreover, suicide under such circumstances is well within Japanese cultural norms. See a somewhat similar storyline (sans mass murder on the husband/lover's behalf) in Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, in which the wife of one of the farmers, who'd been handed over to bandits as a concubine the previous year to enable the village to survive, chooses to go back into the burning hideout rather than escape when she spots her husband; it's implied that she does this due to her horror at her disgrace (and possibly at being used this way by the village she lived in) and being unable to face the future as a result.

Kanan's suicide not only ends her suffering and disgrace as a result of what Hyakugan Maoh did, but the baby and Gonou's as well. Admittedly, it doesn't take into account how it would make Gonou feel about losing her, but if he's a murderer too, and she knows it, she might think the two things offset each other. As much as it may hurt Gonou, what he did not only was extreme and awful, it may well have been, from her standpoint, futile. Would he have been happier if he'd rescued her and she hated and berated him for it the rest of their lives? Or he rescued her only to lose her anyway when she left him? I think those would have left longer-lasting scars in the long run than what she actually did, which was to permanently remove herself from the situation and from his life. There might well be some self-loathing involved there, too.

ETA: You can tell I've thought about this way too much.

Edited at 2011-05-04 04:08 am (UTC)
smillaraaq
May. 4th, 2011 11:42 am (UTC)
I also tend to think there is a very good chance she's not completely compos mentis at the time -- according to Saiyuubito, it took Gonou a *year* to make his way to Hyakuganmaoh's castle. He's already seemingly unhinged by the time he makes it to the castle dungeons, and that's without having spent a year being imprisoned, raped, and in all likelihood being psychologically tortured too -- remember that Chin Yisou nearly *broke* Hakkai after just a few days, and he's had access to Kanan that whole time? He takes such a practiced, sadistic delight in emotionally brutalizing Gonou, and he's of course the son of a powerful youkai infamous for torturing women, so I find it very easy to imagine that he'd quite happily toy with any other victim that fell within his reach. And as strong-willed as Kanan was, that might have made her all the more interesting of a target to him -- breaking her spirit would be a challenge.
lawless523
May. 4th, 2011 04:01 pm (UTC)
Good point, although in this case, I go with the manga, according to which it was a month or two, over Saiyuubito. It's heavily implied that Kanan and Gonou didn't live far from Hyakugan Maoh, and his castle was within a reasonable walking distance of Gojyo's. I cannot imagine that it took Gonou a year to find it and get in, not to speak of the practicalities of how he fed, clothed, and sheltered himself in the meantime. In any event, I'm sure she was emotionally distraught, but that doesn't mean that her decision wasn't rational.
lady_ganesh
May. 6th, 2011 01:44 am (UTC)
It would have to be more than a month or two, IMO, or how else would she know for sure she was pregnant? Hard to count months when you're locked in a cage, and your periods probably don't come regularly then anyway.
lawless523
May. 6th, 2011 01:48 am (UTC)
You're right, that's a problem. I'd forgotten about that. (Though two months might be enough to know.) But a year doesn't make sense to me for the reasons given.
lady_ganesh
May. 6th, 2011 01:50 am (UTC)
I knew right away because I was exhausted and feeling like crap, but that would pretty much be her default state, I think, so.

Yeah, it does seem really long.
smillaraaq
May. 6th, 2011 03:04 am (UTC)
I tend to handwave it all mentally by assuming Kanan was abducted in one calendar year and Gonou didn't make it to the castle until sometime the next year, but it wasn't necessarily a full 365 days later...
lady_ganesh
May. 6th, 2011 09:55 pm (UTC)
That makes sense! I LIKE THAT, LET'S GO WITH IT.
smillaraaq
May. 6th, 2011 10:27 pm (UTC)
Give me a running start and I can rationalize ANYTHING.
smillaraaq
May. 6th, 2011 03:07 am (UTC)
Yeah, and even if she wasn't totally out of her head...isn't that just the sort of thing you can picture Chin Iisou trying to *make* her think, just for the cruel fun of it?
chomiji
May. 7th, 2011 01:37 am (UTC)

God, Chin Yisou ... I really don't think a lot about evil characters, but once I read through the various comments here, I found myself thinking, "How would Kanan ever know that Hakkai had killed the villagers as well?" and then, "Because Chin Yisou would tell her. He'd enjoy it. He'd know she was smart enough not to simply rejoice in the fact that her betrayal by them had been avenged."

smillaraaq
May. 12th, 2011 01:56 am (UTC)
Chin Yisou is totally a pulling-wings-off-flies-for-funsies type, only he likes it best when the "flies" are sentient beings so he can be even more exquisitely refined in his cruelties. Considering how much he enjoys taunting Gonou/Hakkai, I have no doubt whatsoever that he'd cheerfully have done the same to Kanan with any hurtful information at his disposal, and/or tell her lies calculated to fill her thoughts with fear and doubt, anything to pile mental/emotional torment on top of the physical. And don't forget, in Saiyuubito we heard that his fixation on Hakkai grew in part out of his past contact with Kanan -- which makes all too much sense; how would he have known to torment Gonou about his sister also being his lover if he hadn't somehow pried the information out of her? The siblings seem to have been on the downlow in the village where they lived, so there's nobody else who could have told him...
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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