Hi guys! I did promise I’d write a post about Rashomon’s significance to Koi wa Ameagari no You ni so here it is! It took some time to write this because I had to stop half way through and write an essay for uni. When I started writing this post, episodes six and seven weren’t out so I’ve not included the events that transpired in those two episodes within this post. Only events up until episode five have been included.
It was a chilly evening. A servant of a samurai stood under the Rashoømon, waiting for a break in the rain. No one else was under the wide gate. On the thick column, its crimson lacquer rubbed off here and there, perched a cricket. Since the Rashoømon stands on Sujaku Avenue, a few other people at least, in sedge hat or nobleman’s headgear, might have been expected to be waiting there for a break in the rain storm. But no one was near except this man. – Rashomon by Ryunosuke Akutagwa
The opening of Rashomon appears more than once throughout Koi wa Ameagari no You ni, both in spoken words and visually. It is interesting that this scene from this short story was chosen. The connection between the short story and anime is not that difficult to see for anyone who has read it – it’s the story of different perspectives. The tale presents different perspectives of characters who only consider themselves and nobody else. It illustrates how this is a narrow outlook and that one should perceive, not from one, but from multiple angles and try and understand others in this manner than through their own views. However, looking at the story this way has its limits both to the reading of the actual short story and the anime.
Before I get into this, I’ll give a summary of what Rashomon is actually about. It follows the story of a samurai’s servant who has been laid off work and has taken shelter from the rain under the gate called Rashomon, a place where corpses were abandoned. He is contemplating turning to a life of thievery to survive in the hard times. He decided to go up the stairs that led to the tower over the gate and spend the night there. On reaching the top, he saw an old woman ripping hair off a corpse. He became horrified and angry and questioned her to find out she uses the hair to make wigs and sells them to survive. The women whose hair she was pulling out used to sell snake meat to that guards claiming it was fish. The old woman’s act made the servant angry and so, he took all her clothes claiming ‘then it’s right if I rob you. I’d starve if I didn’t’ and vanished down the stairs.
What Rashomon is about at its basic is different perspectives. Each of the characters mentioned in the story were, in a sense of the word, thieves who did what they had to in order to survive in hard times. One lady stole from the dead, the other stole through trickery and the servant stole from the living. None are better than the other and none is worse than the other. It is just a matter of perspective and how each of these characters perceived their actions depending on their own situations. Apply this to the anime and something similar can be seen. Tachibana’s love for Kondo and his response to her are a matter of perspectives. She thinks she’s in love and Kondo has yet to come to terms with her confession completely, being completely taken aback by it. Kondo brushes her off but doesn’t give her a clear answer, leaving Tachibana to interpret where he stands. His perspective on their relationship is different to hers because they are looking at it from their own point of views. Just as the characters from Rashomon failed to see the point of views of the people they were robbing, so Tachibana and Kondo fail to see the perspectives of one another. This can also be extended to the side characters in the anime. Tachibana’s trouble with her friends, or the boys that have an interest in her all see things from their own perspective, not understanding what type of person Tachibana is and nor does Tachibana understand who they are. They don’t even seem to try. It’s a matter of perspectives. None of these characters try or want to see things from the other’s perspective and are glued to their own.
Whilst this approach is insightful, looking at the short story or the anime in this way is narrow a sit only looks at one theme. It dismisses too much information that both mediums provide, and providing a limited analysis. Therefore, I’d like to take a different approach to see if anything else can be uncovered.
First off, let’s take a look at the opening sequence of Rashomon that I quoted above. It sets the scene of the story, giving us the relevant information needed to understand where the story is situated. It was a ‘chilly evening’ and a ‘servant’ was ‘waiting for a break in the rain’. Immediately we are told it’s cold, placing the setting in the colder months. ‘Servant’ tells us the character’s social status. He isn’t someone who is well off and since he has been ‘discharged’, has lost his way of income. The story described the contemporary hard times in Kyoto in the first few paragraphs from which it can be gathered that this servant isn’t going to get a job so easily. It’s interesting that it is at this moment that he decided to take shelter under Rashomon. Rashomon was the largest gate in Kyoto but it did fall into disrepair, being used as a hide out for thieves and robbers and a place where bodies were dumped. This is the gate this servant was at. The other thing we are told was that he was ‘waiting for a break in the rain’. He had been forced under the gate to take shelter from the rain. Whether coincidence or fate, the servant had been led to the gate of misdeeds at a time when he was contemplating to turn to such actions. That in itself is interesting. It is as though this servant has very little choice into what life has in store for him. By taking shelter under Rashomon, he sealed his fate as a thief even though he was still torn when he arrived at the gate.
The other thing to note about the opening is that we are told almost immediately that ‘no one was near except this man’ even though there should have been ‘a few other people’ since the gate stands on ‘Sujaku Avenue’ or Suzaku Avenue. Again, this can’t have been a coincidence. Decisions come best to people when they are alone so it makes sense for the place to be deserted at the one time the servant is at crossroads. Suzaku Avenue was a significant road that led to the Imperial Palace. The one in Kyoto, which is the one the story refers to, let to the main gate of the Heian Palace. It is named Suzaku because it refers to the Guardian God of the South as the avenue would link the southern cities to the palace. So the servant is at Rashomon, a gate at the southern end of Suzaku avenue and there is nobody in sight. Suzaku avenue can in a way be seen as a path leading to decisions because of the purpose it serves. It was one entrance into Kyoto and led straight to the palace in the capital. A straight road would then suggest a straight path for a person but that does not seem to be the case. The servant is actually at cross roads on a seemingly straight road. The juxtaposition of where he stands mentally and physically is ironic for this reason. However, that is only in appearance. As the servant’s path has already been decided by being him here, rather than his future being complicated and ambiguous, it seems that he is more likely to follow a linear path of thievery, a straight road just like the avenue.
For me, this scene appears multiple times throughout Koi wa Ameagari no You ni. One of the first times we see it is when Tachibana first goes to the café as a customer. Like the servant she has just been laid off club activities and is at a cross road mentally, and needs shelter from the rain. It’s interesting that the road Tachibana was walking down was straight and the café fell on her path, just as Suzaku avenue is straight with the gate at one end. Both the servant and Tachibana seek shelter from the rain when contemplating what they plan on doing next. In a sense, this puts the both of them in the same position because both need something to help them make that decision as to what the next step should be.
The next time we see this scene is Kondo reciting it on his drive home in the rain after Tachibana’s confession. Simply put, Kondo is at a crossroads, being completely stricken by the confession. How should he answer to her? What should he do? However, it seems that this is not the only thing he was thinking about. It is worth pointing out, that the line Kondo specifically quotes was being alone on Suzaku Avenue. Kondo feels alone at this point in his life. That makes sense, he is divorced and lives alone. However, this is probably a reference to his mental and emotional position in life rather than a physical one. Kondo feels alone emotionally. Tachibana said something to him that brought these feelings to the forefront. He feels alone because even though he has people around him, they don’t truly know or understand the type of man he is. Tachibana’s the same. The man she fell in love with was the Manager who gave her free coffee complete with a magic trick to brighten her mood. She doesn’t see Kondo as a man outside his job, but as someone who is his job. That’s not actually seeing the person at all. The fact that Kondo feels at crossroads isn’t something new. He has probably felt this way since the anime began but by showing his emotions straight after the confession helped emphasise his feelings and how the confession isn’t something he can deal with easily. It’s left him at a loss because it’s not that he is unsure about the confession, but that he is unsure about himself and where he stands so he doesn’t know how to respond to it.
The other time this scene comes up is in Tachibana’s class. It is being read in the background as Tachibana doodled away on her book. What it emphasised this time around was Tachibana’s mental position. She has gotten Kondo to agree to go on a date with her and now this is being recited in the background foreshadowing that the date is not going to be straightforward experience or give straight answers but, it will leave them at another set of crossroads emotionally.
Moving away from this opening scene, now I’m going to take a look at the events in the story and their relationship to the anime. I want to now turn to what actually transpired between the servant and the old lady and how that relates to the anime. The servant saw the old lady stealing hair from a dead woman which resulted in his anger causing him to steal from her, the path he was contemplating but knew was morally wrong. And there’s the link. Tachibana and Kondo’s first meeting was when he served coffee to her with a magic trick and she fell in love with him (or so she believes) resulting in her chasing after him and his ambiguous position to her confession. They currently stand where the servant stood upon finding out what the woman was doing. They are standing at a fork – pursue or drop? The servant chose to fall into thievery though he knew it to be wrong. Will Kondo concede to Tachibana’s “love” even though he understands this to be socially unacceptable? It remains to be seen. My view is that it won’t happen. Unlike the servant whose actions were socially unacceptable, Tachibana and Kondo’s relationship will not actually be realised because whilst the servant’s actions were instant, that is not the case with Tachibana and Kondo. Instead, like how the reader receives a lesson from Rashomon, Tachibana will receive a lesson from this part of her life.
The other thing I want to touch on is what I mentioned regarding the servant being at Rashomon. Like I said, whether coincidence or not, by being there with that mind set, his path was already determined before he realised it himself. Arguably, the interactions and complicated relationship that is developing between Tachibana and Kondo was also determined the minute Tachibana stepped into that café and Kondo served her coffee. However, it can also be argued that this is not necessarily the case because whilst the servant was contemplating thievery, Tachibana was lost as to what to do next; she had no direction in mind when “love” presented itself to her. The servant already knew the path he wanted to take but simply needed a push, the opposite is true for Tachibana, an opportunity presented itself and now she is pushing for it. The circumstances, though look similar at first glance, are quite different hence it is unlikely for the anime to follow a linear path as was the case in Rashomon.
So, the connection between Koi wa Ameagari no You ni and Rashomon is there and is much more than just a matter of perspectives. Whilst perspectives play a huge role in characters understanding one another, Rashomon offers much more than that which can be applicable to the anime. The anime presents a character’s perspective that is quite narrow, focussed inward, on themselves, rather than on others, resulting in decisions that benefit them. However, like Rashomon, the anime also presents indecisions and how events can influence how those indecisions turn to decisive actions. The relationship between the two is quite interesting and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface with this especially since I’ve based my reading on what had aired. When the anime ends, it will be interesting to see if my view changes and if that in turn, changes my understanding of the relationship between Koi wa Ameagari no You ni and Rashomon.
What do you guys think is the connection between Rashomon and Koi wa Ameagari no You ni?
If you want to read the short story or other short stories by Akutagwa, you can do so here. It’s a pretty good collection of some of his short stories.
The information regarding the gate can be found here.