Author: Penelope-Z ( penelope_z )
Fandom: Weiss Kreuz (Weiß Kreuz)
Spoilers: Weiss Kreuz Kapitel, Weiss Kreuz Glühen, An Assassin and White Shaman, Verbrechen - Strafe OVAs
Schuldig: People’s desires are covered with a thin skin called reason. All I’m doing is peeling it off. (Ep 24: Zeremonie)
Yohji: I’m just another fuck-up. (Ep 14: Fliehen)
R.E.M could be singing “It’s the end of the world as we know it” in the background, because this seems about to happen, triggered by some nonsensical ceremony of mystical mumbo-jumbo, a powerful religious cult and a young girl in a coma. Upon a strange castle, built over the sea, two groups of assassins are engaged in a battle to the death, their goal to either preserve the existing order or plunge the world into chaos. It’s anime, what did you expect?
The castle collapses, the characters plummet down to their apparent demise, but finally a new day dawns, signalling the survival of humanity and the end of Weiss Kreuz. At least until the follow-up series Glühen, the OVAs, the Dramatic Precious CDs, the concerts, the--
Stop. Rewind. The castle is beginning to fall into pieces, but the two groups of assassins have not yet given up fighting, each member engaged in a personal duel with his opponent. As the floor breaks through, two of the characters, trying to strangle each other a second ago, finally lose their footing and fall in the gap that opens wide. The camera doesn’t linger, no dramatic slow-motion suspending their bodies in mid-air, neither of them is the protagonist after all, but this is the last time they are ever seen together.
Stop. Rewind through everything. Fast-forward through the follow-ups if necessary. The occasions where the two of them, Yohji and Schuldig, are in the same space and time can be counted in the fingers of one hand. Moreover, they are never alone, have never said anything to each other of significance other than “Die, bastard!” and they hardly know each other’s name.
Stop. Take a deep breath and fling remote control out of the window. Contemplate following it. How does one begin to justify or exult the merits of a pairing between two apparent strangers on opposite sides, a pairing that lacks not only subtext but even the most basic canonical interaction?
But as all fanon pairings function within an imaginary framework, a manifesto is not a call for proof, but rather an expression of personal preferences, a free interpretation of given elements and exploration of possibilities.
Failing that, there’s always smut to lure you in, and I can buy you chocolate as well.
Weiss Kreuz is a product of Japanese animation, or anime for short, a popular cultural phenomenon of Japan, characterised by an arresting visual style, rapid shifts of narrative pace and an enormous breadth of subject matter. As an artistic product anime functions almost as a bridge. A bridge between “high” and “low” culture, as it draws influence from Japanese traditions of high art, such as Kabuki theatre, but uses the immediate appeal of modern media to cater for a wide audience. A bridge between past and present, as it expresses the dual identity of a highly technological society moving fast into the future, but still enamoured and nostalgic for the traditions and values of the past. A bridge between national and global, as it reflects contemporary Japanese social currents, but with its increasing worldwide appeal, it’s a vehicle of expression of the anxieties and desires of all industrialised societies.
With anime, everything is “more.” The medium is much more fluid than the conventional live-action film, which generally works within a pre-existing context. Anime moves without constraints in the creative space of the artist’s mind. It is often criticised for being over-the-top and unreal, but one should take into consideration that we are moving within a new framework of reality, a “hyper-reality.” Allegory becomes visual representation. Nostalgia for the samurai code of ethics within an increasingly amoral society gains physical manifestation; an assassin executes villains with a traditional katana in the background of a modern Tokyo. Everything is more, more provocative, more tragic, more sexualised, more beautiful. And often more ridiculous.
The main characters of Weiss Kreuz (White Cross) are a secret group of assassins, brought together and operating under the orders of the mysterious Persia, whose identity is revealed in later episodes. Working together as florists in a flowershop during the day, they take up nightly missions, mostly to assassinate criminals that have escaped the clutches of law, due to their position of power, or neglect from the side of the law reinforcement. The nature of the assassinations varies; some are standard villain-of-the-day plotlines, some are missions entangled with the assassins’ pasts, revealing aspects of their personality and reasons they have chosen this morally dubious lifestyle.
Personalities in anime often follow a certain pattern, the characters are recognizable variations on a standard theme. Weiss are not different in that aspect.
The apparent leader, Ran Fujimija is a sullen and withdrawn figure, guided by strong convictions and a single-minded focus. He is closer to the samurai ethic than all the rest, the lone hunter within an absurd and unjust world, operating as an individual despite being part of a group. All members of Weiss share a tragic past, but it’s Ran’s that brings out most of the plot developments. An attack that killed his parents and landed his sister in a coma, urges him to seek revenge against the politician Reiji Takatori; his sister’s later abduction places Weiss against the even more powerful shadow organisation of Eszett.
Yohji Kudoh, an ex P.I. Detective is a laid-back and much more worldly figure, characterised by a sly sense of humour and an extroverted behaviour; he is intensely sexual, flirty and thoroughly attached to women. Ken Hidaka, an ex-football player is good-natured and open, perhaps the most innocent of the group, but also prone to outbursts of anger, relying more on instinct and emotion than rational thought. Omi Tsukiyono, a teenage schoolboy, is the most dedicated member of Weiss, raised and conditioned to become an assassin. The power of his convictions equals that of Ran, but instead of focusing on personal revenge, Omi’s beliefs lie in the nature of the group itself, the defence of the innocent through any measure, the morality of vigilante justice.
As it happens often in anime, the looks, personality and behaviour of the villains is a distorted reflection of that of the heroes. As the shapes of the main Weiss characters are finally given clear form after the first few episodes, the main villains appear, as a mirror image that both reinforces and parodies the nature of the heroes. Through a glass, darkly, the figures of Schwarz emerge; even their group name is an inversion, black to rival the white of Weiss.
Brad Crawford, an American gifted with the power of precognition, is the mysterious, focused and decisive leader to mirror Ran. Schuldig, a German telepath, extroverted, sarcastic, and with a love for mischief and cruelty, reflects aspects of Yohji. Farfarello, the Irish schizophrenic, who is unable to feel pain and hates God and religion, is the extreme expression of Ken’s irrationality and aggression, while Nagi Naoe and Omi are similar in age, share a love for computers and a restraint, cautious behaviour.
Ideology and interpretation
The morality of the show is a baffling mixture of contradictions. Despite being addressed to as “White Hunters of the night” the characters do not perceive themselves as heroes. Their own words demystify the nature of Weiss as a weapon of justice. Moreover, they consider themselves unworthy of love, affection and personal happiness and expect to be judged and punished one day, either by human law or a descend into hell. Nevertheless, the show elevates these feelings to a state of martyrdom, the cross of the title is what each member bears, the metaphorical cross of both their own sins and the sins of their victims. Personal choice has been abandoned, the future is beyond their control. The dark follow-up series is a more acute expression of this fatalism, the only escape from the dystopian reality of Weiss is through the complete loss of self, through death, through lunacy.
The theme is typical: the struggle of Man versus Authority. The enemies of Weiss are all expressions of modern-day anxieties, the fears of vulnerable human beings within a world governed by oppressive and incomprehensible outside forces. Masafumi Takatori, an insane doctor that is transformed through his own experiments into a monster, reflects fears of rapid scientific progress without the element of humanism. Reiji Takatori, who becomes the Prime Minister of Japan, is the repressive force of the government against the individual. Eszett, reveals the fear of religion, a religious cult seeking a Kingdom of Heaven dark as any dystopian nightmare, while Epitaph, the “evil” computer reveals fears of technological progress.
And finally Schwarz, mortal enemies to Weiss in the first series and reluctant allies further on. Among a series of grotesque and demonic in appearance villains, Schwarz retain not only a human appearance, but they are also physically attractive, gifted and intelligent. They too reject authority, both that of Takatori and of Eszett, and oddly enough reveal themselves as fighting for freedom, just as Weiss do. But Weiss fight against oppressive forces in an attempt to restore social values, they fight for the freedom of humanity. Schwarz fight both the oppressive forces and social values, they fight for a freedom from humanity. Their goal is ultimate destruction beyond reason or rational comprehension. Schwarz are the beautiful, alluring lords of chaos.
THE CHARACTERS ALONE
Meet Yohji Kudoh (alternative spelling Yoji or Youji), codename Balinese. Japanese, twenty-two years old, blond and green-eyed in the anime, though he has dark hair in his manga incarnation, a chain-smoker, tall, slim and handsome, with a wardrobe of cropped tops, designer sunglasses leather pants and Armani pullovers, at least according to the manga again.
Outgoing and laid-back, he maintains most of the time an excellent relationship with the other members of the group, though his teasing and sarcasm don’t always go down well, when his flippant manner and superficial treatment of a serious situation brings him at odds with his more sombre and focused allies. His sense of humour is almost callous; after watching a video of a wedding massacre that shocks the rest of Weiss, his comment is “Shame to kill such a cute bride.” Seeing an exhausted Omi, he teases him about spending too much time surfing for internet porn. He is also the first to demystify the nature of Weiss as heroes, when he rejects a mission because no pretty girls are involved, and then arguing that he is not a part of Weiss for his sense of justice. Nevertheless, Yohji is devoted to the other members of the group, particularly obvious in the episode Fliehen where he struggles to protect the rest, swearing not to let people that matter to him down and repeat the mistakes of his past.
What is his past? Not much is known about Yohji, aside from the fact that he used to be a P.I. detective, until his partner, and possibly girlfriend, Asuka was killed in a failed mission, partly due to his own actions. This marks a turning point in Yohji’s life, possibly leading him to join Weiss. The past later comes to haunt him, when the seemingly dead Asuka returns, as a possible amnesiac named Neu (New), the member of a third assassin group called Schreient. Neu tricks him into believing she remembers him, betrays and tortures him until he murders her.
All characters of Weiss share tragic pasts, but Yohji, unlike the rest, is the least obviously victimised character. There is no external vehicle to vent his anger and frustration, nobody to seek revenge against other than his own self. While Ran is a victim of Takatori, Omi a victim of his family and Ken victim of his childhood friend Kase, there is no bogeyman under Yohji’s bed, Neu is a victim herself, a brainwashed sacrifice of circumstances.
Yohji more than any other character in WK, is an embodiment of the term Weltschmerz, world-weariness, or existential angst if you will. Sometimes these feelings become expressed through a numb depression; lying in bed he stares at nothing, next to an ashtray overflowing with cigarette butts. Before an important mission we see the four characters preparing themselves, reaching out for their source of strength. Ran visits his sister in hospital to remind himself of the need for revenge and re-affirm his goals, Ken exercises fanatically, Omi researches for information over the mission. Yohji sits alone in a coffee shop, imagining the ghost of Asuka and dreaming of a lost life. Weltschmerz, or possibly mono no aware, the sadness of things, the conception of the world as an ephemeral, fleeting image.
Other times the result is an outburst of helpless anger, directed at nothing, he is the individual lost in a reality that eludes his conscious control and rational comprehension, screaming “Who made the rules? Who made this world?” as buildings erupt and yet another girlfriend of his is on her way to meet her maker.
Because Yohji never lacks a girlfriend. He is most obviously sexually active character in the series, nobody else had the privilege of waking up in a tangle of limbs after a threesome, and he never ignores the possibility to flirt with any attractive woman in the vicinity. Sometimes his behaviour is almost smarmy, he offers flowers and dazzling smiles to a distraught woman, whose abducted son has finally been delivered home, he still attempts to woo Persia’s secretary Manx, after being elbowed in the stomach a number of times.
But beyond this carvivalesque parody of a playboy, Yohji seems to deeply care for women and not just as vehicles for sex, declaring that “a woman’s enemy is my own”, while men don’t merit such attention “I’m not going to die surrounded by a bunch of men.” One is left to wonder whether this behaviour is related to some subconscious self-hatred; women are different and therefore to be admired, men are like me, and therefore not worth as much.
A lover of women, and yet, in Glühen we watch him almost strangling one of his lovers, not clearly aware of his actions, almost in a trance, and there is a clear implication that he might have done that repeatedly in the past. Violence in this case is a subconscious attempt at self-punishment, deeming himself unworthy of love in his current state, he removes the possibilities with his own hands. Soon after that Yohji finally reaches a breaking point, and betrays Weiss, albeit briefly. All member of Weiss have at times rejected missions or abandoned the group, but the prevailing reason was a conflict between their own sense of justice and that of the group. Yohji is not interested in justice, he betrays Weiss at the offer of freedom, the freedom from his own self.
Yohji’s promised Holy Grail is the loss of self, complete amnesia and the possibility to start over. As Ran admonishes that Weiss must carry the burden of their past, Yohji reacts violently: “I don’t want to fight, I don’t want to kill, to betray or be betrayed. I don’t want to suffer any more.” If the archetypal hero is supposed to give up his personal needs and desires, and perform selfless actions for greater reasons, then Yohji does not seem fitted for the role. “You’re not suited for this job,” Shel, another lover-betrayer tells him. Yohji is an uneasy pawn on the chessboard of black and white, a possible anti-hero, acting neither purely from motives of self-interest or for a greater good, causing neither purely joy nor grief; his behaviour is triggered by an ambiguous mixture of motives and with often equally ambiguous results.
Meet Schuldig (and the fangirls go wild). Same age as Yohji, and with more or less the same physical proportions, German, with red hair and blue eyes in the anime, but green hair and golden eyes (yes, exactly that, not the other way round) in the manga, and a wardrobe that gives a whole new definition to the word colour-blind and reminding us that bandanas still live on after 80’s big hair rock.
All Schwarz yield some supernatural power and Schuldig’s is telepathy, an ability that both empowers and delights him “People’s thoughts taste like honey,” and threatens him, as he admits that some times he is not able to tell his own thoughts from the thoughts of others. The way he uses his ability varies: At times he simply reveals the information he gains over his opponent, he taunts Ran and Omi throwing back at them their feelings of shame and grief, dragging their inner selves out of their subconscious and forcing them to face what they are. He weakens his opponents by simply letting them see their own weaknesses, like a strange, malevolent voice of conscience. Other times he enters minds and prods them towards a direction “I’m just making a few suggestions.” Recognising a potential that lays dormant, he encourages it and directs to the path he wants. Finally, there are occasions where he resumes complete control over the mind, and consequently over the words and actions of others, forcing them to act against their conscious will. Such is the case of Sakura, a young girl in love with Ran, that becomes a living puppet under Schuldig’s mental power, to the point of attempting to kill Ran. Schuldig’s control is not complete though, and unable to last, Sakura seems at battle with herself and his plan ultimately fails.
Apart from the ability to read and control minds, Schuldig is also able to create momentary illusions to confuse his opponents during battle, and is also gifted with inhuman speed and ability to leap down from heights completely unharmed. Whether the abilities are inherited, enhanced through conditioning or result of scientific mutation is unknown.
Schuldig’s past is even more veiled than that of Yohji. It doesn’t help that some of the fanon interpretations have become so well established and ingrained within the fandom, that it is impossible to distinguish what is fanon and what is canon any more. We know that at some point in his childhood or youth he probably spent some time within Rosenkreuz, an institute located in Austria, which raised and conditioned “gifted” or “mutated” individuals such as himself. He does not seem to hold any regard for other members of the institution, leading to the conclusion that he was probably not treated kindly, or was held there against his will. Not much else is known, apart from the fact that he has been a member of Schwarz for some time, as the group is older than Weiss, and that Schwarz used to be stationed in Germany before moving to Japan.
And the most important missing piece, that makes Schuldig possibly the most enigmatic character in Weiss Kreuz, is our ignorance of his personal motivations. Schwarz, like Weiss, all have an ultimate goal that they fight for, even though their ideals are destructive instead of creative. Farfarello is at war with God and religion, Nagi seeks revenge against the wrongs inflicted upon him by the world and Crawford reveals the ultimate goal of Schwarz as the destruction of society.
While Schuldig is definitely not in direct opposition with any of the above, nevertheless his behaviour does not seem focused towards a clear target. When acting individually he chooses complicated paths towards a goal, that prove to be less effective, but probably more pleasant to himself. There seems to be no real devotion or determination behind his actions, Schuldig does not appear to truly care for a different, a better or worse future, but lives completely in the present moment, in a world that seems less a battlefield and more a playground, without rules or reason.
If Yohji is charecterised by Weltschmerz, another German notion describes Schuldig acutely: Schadenfreude, the delight at the misfortunes of others. Schuldig’s emotional spectrum seems limited in a state of utter glee, he is almost constantly smirking and laughing. He delights in causing confusion and pain to others, not necessarily to further his own gains but out of an almost incomprehensible, cheerful cruelty. This happy sadism does not seem a result of hate towards other human beings, Weiss, despite being the positive figures are much more able to hate absolutely and hate with passion. Schuldig does not seem to hate Weiss or any of his victims, hatred includes acknowledgement and an almost grudging respect; the object of hate has power and importance over the person. Schuldig acknowledges and respects nothing, he delights at being cruel in the same way that a child delights in wrecking an ant hole; to spend some moments of amusement watching the ants run in panic.
If Yohji is not the archetypal hero, neither is Schuldig the archetypal villain. His behaviour and motivation reflect another mythical figure altogether, the character of the Trickster. The Trickster figure embodies human ambivalence and ambiguity through a cunning, unpredictable behaviour and the best known representative of that figure is Loki Laufeyiarson, Thor’s half brother in Norse mythology, Loki the flame-haired.
Paul Radin describes the mythical trickster as: “Trickster is at one and the same time creator and destroyer, giver and negator, he who dupes others and who is always duped himself. He wills nothing consciously. At all times he is constrained to behave as he does from impulses over which he has no control. He knows neither good nor evil yet he is responsible for both. He possesses no values, moral or social, is at the mercy of his passions and appetites, yet through his actions all values come into being.”
Not everything corresponds to the character of Schuldig, fair enough, he is not a mythical all-encompassing creature after all or a manifestation of the conniving human spirit, but beyond that the Trickster, Loki in particular, is the bringer of mischief and change, the contriver of fraud, the master of guile and deception, the one who laughs and is merry at the misfortune of others, all characteristics that bear an uncanny resemblance to Schuldig himself.
THE CHARACTERS IN PARALLEL
Behaviour and morals
Comparing the profiles of the two characters, many obvious resemblances in behaviour and personality come to light. They share a similar position of power within their teams, apparent second in commands but with a certain rebellious nature that disregards rules and a higher authority.
They share a sense of humour that borders on caustic and cynical, and seem easily amused at the discomfort of other. They have a playful nature, that rarely changes even in situations where there is reason for caution. They lack higher ideals, or even if they acknowledge a purpose beyond them, they seem to fail or are uninterested to live accordingly. Both live in the present tense, in the cruelties or pleasures of every day life, without searching for a transcended meaning.
They are self-centred and pragmatic, with their feet firmly on the ground, either after being disillusioned after chasing chimeras, or knowing that chimeras had always been an illusion. Their personality is fluid and layered, either by nature or out of a need for self protection. They can adapt and change to fit their environment and they are survivors, who won’t die for vague ideals. Out of this chameleon nature emerges the danger of losing themselves. Schuldig is in need to reaffirm himself over the thoughts and personalities of others, to define himself as a independent being, while Yohji has lost himself once after Asuka’s death, a second time after Neu’s death and desires to lose himself for a third time. With every step he is a different person, a survivor but ultimately a stranger to himself. Very little seems to truly matter to either of them.
Them and the others
Both Yohji and Schuldig are social and talkative, the most extroverted members of each team, almost the heart of their team, forging bonds that bind the rest of the members together. Their body posture usually indicates complete relaxation at the presence of others, and they often reach out physically towards the other members. The desire to touch is especially surprising in the case of Schuldig, one would assume that a telepath would reject or be uninterested in physical closeness, when he can just as well intrude and touch a reality lies beyond the skin and bones. But they still behave similarly, they intrude into the personal space of the others, they stand close, their hands linger on the others’ shoulders, they often loom over Omi or Nagi as they are bent over their computers.
Both are also interested in the lives of others, and one would say meddlesome into their affairs. In Yohji’s case this behaviour can be interpreted both as a sign of an affectionate nature, but also of an insecure personality, that needs to be liked and admired by the people that surround him. He is also disappointed when his attempts are ignored or rejected, he threatens Ran that he is going to lose his friends if he does not open up to them.
But there is clear line drawn between the way he behaves towards friends and enemies. All characters in WK seem to have a standard weapon of choice, that seems to reflect up to a point an aspect of his personality. Not in Yohji’s case. Yohji’s weapon is a piece of wire hidden in a device in his watch, which shoots out on his command, moving though the air in leaps and curves that almost defy the laws of gravity, and which he uses to wound, strangle or trap his opponents. In contrast to his physical nature, he is almost never in direct proximity, and does not even look at his victims as they die. Rather than a murderer, Yohji behaves as an executioner, looking ahead as the enemy chokes to death behind him, impassive and expressionless, drawing a line between himself and his “job.”
There are only a few occasions when he is actually touching his opponent. The first one is his murder of Neu, a personal battle, the result of passion, anger and despair, and he can’t or won’t separate himself from his actions. The second one is the unsuccessful attempt to kill Schuldig in the last episode of Kapitel, suggesting again that this is a combat for something of personal importance, not a job, a necessity, an execution.
In Schuldig’s case, the lines between friends and foes are not that clearly drawn. He is intrusive and curious about the lives of the other member of Schwarz, though his motivations are not necessarily gallant. He also intrudes constantly into the minds and lives of the people surrounding him and that of his enemies. He behaves initially as a benevolent friend to both Ouka and Sakura, seeking to gain their trust. This behaviour is not necessary, he could have used them as pawns of fished the information from their minds without the need to create a whole show.
The motivations can be various. His playful, mischievous nature definitely enjoys creating a game of illusion and deceit, the process for Schuldig seems to be always more important that the final outcome. Schuldig might also desire to be genuinely liked, just as he desires to be genuinely hated, both are an affirmation of power over the other individuals, no matter if they are friends or enemies.
Schuldig, more than anyone else, is defined and dependent on the people that surround him, they are his source of power. The gifts of the other members of Schwarz work individually, but Schuldig’s ability is reduced to nothing if placed outside the framework of society. He needs the presence of others, needs to control and manipulate them, to be liked or to be hated by them in order to define himself.
Guilt and Sin
As no parent would probably be cruel enough to name his child Schuldig (Guilty), we can assume that the name is a pseudonym, especially seeing that another member of Schwarz goes by a pseudonym as well, Farfarello, whose true name is Jei. We don’t know whether the name Schuldig was chosen by himself, or given to him by his superiors at Rosenkreuz or Eszett, but either way he seems to have embraced and accepted it completely.
The name seems initially absurd for such an exultantly amoral character, but one should take into consideration that the word is Schuldig (to be guilty of) and not Schuldbewußt (to feel guilty). The admission of guilt is not necessarily accompanied by any feelings of remorse.
Similarly, Yohji has chosen another word to identify himself with, the word Sin, tattooed on his arm, with the line “When you gonna learn” added below. Whether the word sin refers to his hedonistic lifestyle or the murders he has committed is not clear, but it possibly means both, seeing that sex and death walk hand in hand in his life. Unlike Schuldig, Yohji’s admission seems to be accompanied by regret, or at least the desire to change and escape from the circle. Yohji does not lack a moral code after all, even though he might lack strong enough convictions and desire to live according to his ethics.
But beyond the remorse or lack thereof, the fact remains: The characters have both chosen a word with a negative meaning to identity themselves, they have embraced and branded a single concept completely into their identity. The meaning of this action can be interpreted as awareness, self-awareness. They clearly see who or what they are. Being possibly the only characters in each time without grand scopes in their lives, they are not blinded by “the things beyond” in their understanding of themselves.
While the other members of Schwarz and Weiss are guided in their actions by a higher concept that lies beyond them, the seeking of revenge, of truth, of justice (one could argue that Schwarz and Weiss seek the same goals, they just interpret them in different ways) there is no abstract ideal that defines either Yohji or Schuldig, nothing apparent at least.
Therefore they are able to know and understand themselves as independent units, their actions are theirs, their choices are theirs, and they assume complete responsibility for them. Their eyes are open.
The concept of love
Self-aware he might be, but there is one concept that affects Yohji in his understanding of the world and human behaviour, the ideal of love. “If I don’t believe in Asuka, who would I believe in?” he mentioned in the one episode where he seems to lose his usual pragmatism and rationality. And he would probably have been completely blinded by this ideal, if he hadn’t be repeatedly betrayed by it, and finally coming to perceive it as something eluding his grasp, and its pursuit meaningless.
Love for Yohji, when he believes in it, is the empowering force that gives meaning in the absurdity of the universe, that offers forgiveness and justifications. Ruminating over a string of meaningless lovers that he has claimed to love, he recognises that he has used them, while trying desperately to fool himself: “I wanted to believe I loved them. If I believed in it, I wouldn’t be the bad guy.” But his last lover-betrayer forces him to see clearly: “You can never truly love anyone, you use the words to protect yourself.”
Yohji realises and accepts the fact, love is a momentarily blindness, but self-awareness comes rushing in. He cherishes the meaning and value of love but does nothing but abuse and distort it, betray and be betrayed by it, it is a higher ideal for him, but lies complete beyond the person that he is.
“Want to jump with me, Juliet?” he shouts, throwing Shel off a building to her death. Either a cruel mockery, or a desperate attempt to give reason and importance in a meaningless affair and a meaningless death. If Yohji is a hopeless romantic, he is rather more hopeless than romantic.
At the same time, even though he rejects that love can be connected to him, it still remains an ideal concept. He shows both interest and compassion in regard to the affairs of Ouka and Omi, as well as Tot and Nagi, observing their behaviour with a nostalgic eye.
He teases them “It’s hard to be around amateurs in love,” but innocent love attracts his attention like a magnet, to an almost voyeuristic point. Ideal love is innocence, both sexual and emotional. The search for love is a search of return to the state of innocence, a time machine into the past. The illusion of Asuka that guides him through life is not the memory or a person, not only the symbol of love manifested in a person, but also the embodiment of his longing for his past, the desire to return to what he had once been.
Similarly, Schuldig shows a curiosity for both the concept of love and the way it defines and affects the behaviour of others. He is immediately attracted towards Nagi’s affair with Tot. “Have you fallen for her?” he asks immediately when he becomes aware of their relationship. He mocks Omi for his attachment to Ouka, “You’ll die in front of your lover, I’m jealous,” and later comments that “Love is a very fragile thing.”
Schuldig’s words are an obvious mockery, dripping with sarcasm, love is a trap that people fall into, forgetting their instinct of self-preservation. After all, he is able to glimpse into people’s minds, and therefore he is much more pragmatic towards what others conceive as romantic ideals, the more baser instincts and desires that form the illusion of love.
But beyond his acceptance or rejection of the concept, it still holds an attraction for him, as all ideals that move in different spheres, beyond the shell of “oneself,” beyond logic and self-preservation. Schuldig is able to see the mechanisms that make a person tick, but he does not necessarily understand the powers that move the cogs and springs. He mentions that “people’s desires are covered with a thin skin of reason,” love, platonic or sexual being one of the most defining desires of mankind. But at the same time, even if he can peel away the reason, he does necessarily comprehend the nature of desire. His cynicism towards love does not seem to root from personal experience, as in the case of Yohji, but from, well “interpersonal” experience. It’s not entirely too far-fetched if that his curiosity towards love, is the same curiosity that guides Farfarello to mutilate himself even though he cannot feel pain, something that is so foreign to him, that it ultimately becomes desirable.
THE CHARACTERS IN CONJUCTION
And after all the comparing of similarities and differences, examining, re-examining and cross-examining of the characters, I think I’ll stop before giving them an anal probe as well, and will now try to give some personal reasons about the way I understand and imagine this possible pairing and the reasons I like it.
The black and the white
At first the pairing seems odd and forced, two random strangers thrown together, probably just for the sake of smut one would criticise. But it’s not. The canon gives us with enough understanding and guidelines to realise how the character can possibly interact with each other, even though we are not offered much interaction within the series. Parallels are constantly drawn to watch, compare, and interpret and I would go as far as say that subtext can exist without a need to actually see the characters together.
If the characters had been of opposite sex, a possible relationship, or some sexual/romantic tension would have been inevitable. Quite a few characters of Weiss Kreuz are drawn to, or fascinated by their opponent self. Nagi falls in love with Tot, just as Yohji is involved with Neu, both of them their mirror opponents of the assassin group of Schreient. Even Ken and Schoen, despite an obvious hatred, still engage in a flirty exchange as they compliment each other’s fighting skills during battle.
Beyond Weiss Kreuz or Japanese animation, the love/hate relationship between enemies is archetypal, characters who share enough similarities and differences to be seen as opposite sides of the same coin, essentially the same and always apart. A danger apparent in such ying/yang pairings is that the characters choke to death within the limited space of the archetype. The idea strips them of their complete personalities, they seize to be people and become symbols, the sketchy figures of the hero and the villain.
I like Y/S because the characters do not conform completely to the archetype, neither of them is the original hero or villain, and their characters are complex, both flawed and strong enough to shine through and not become engulfed in the two-dimensional white versus black.
Black in the territory of white
Though little seems to hold Schuldig’s interest, something does: Weiss. He is the member of Schwarz most actively interested in Weiss, as enemies, as bizarre speciments of the human race that arouse his curiosity, as play toys to spend his time. The other Schwarz seem to ignore them until Weiss get in their way or attempt to endanger their plans.
Schuldig’s interest is much more personal, he constantly meddles in their affairs without any obvious gain for Schwarz. He declares “they are my prey, they must suffer” or “I’ve seen your faces finally, I’ll come for your lives one day” and even compliments them, “Weiss are quite good” he comments after watching them defeat Schreient. He obviously delights in torturing them, but it’s possible that he is also curious to understand them, people who believe and try to act according to their convictions while he has none.
But why Yohji? Schuldig’s usual object of attention and torture is Ran in the manga, and Omi in the series. My own reason derives from the fact that neither Omi nor Ran are able to defend themselves from his manipulations. Torture has its merits, but I tend to lose interest in a pairing when a character is constantly victimised by the other.
Yohji is not by any means powerful enough physically to be an opponent for Schuldig and it remains to be seen whether he might have enough mental power not to be puppeted by Schuldig if he chose to control him. But he has a strange weapon against manipulation, the lack of hope. By the end of the series Yohji has nothing substantial to fight for.
Schuldig hurts and controls Weiss by either involving a third party, Ouka in the case of Omi and Aya in the case of Ran, by revealing to Weiss aspects of themselves they suppress, a brother-killer, a criminal, or by confronting them with their own ideals and proving them inadequate or wrong.
Yohji is different altogether. There is no third party left that he cares for, he is the first to realise that his ideals, like the concept of love are delusions, there is no rigid and absolute truth in his life that Schuldig can snap like a twig. He is also self-aware, worldly, and posseses a sense of humour, he is able to laugh at himself and his own misgivings. Therefore he poses an interesting challenge, powerful in his own weakness, and Schuldig does not have an easy hold over him.
Blending the boundaries
Yohji is the only member of Weiss consciously crossing over to the enemy territory and betraying his companions. Though he does change his mind and the sense of duty within him prevails, even momentarily, the choice had been made. Therefore it’s not impossible to imagine a future lapse, seeing that little holds him to his previous life apart from the friendship and protectiveness he feels towards his comrades. He is the least reluctant to approach the enemy, to fight under a different guidance, especially since joining Weiss was probably incidental.
Schuldig crossing the boundaries towards Weiss seems less likely, but it’s also a part of the nature of the Trickster. In world mythology the fluid Trickster, who keeps changing shape and experimenting with a thousand identities, in a seemingly never-ending search for himself, often emerges finally as an accidental hero. The hero qualities lie dormant in him until he is forced or decides to exercise them, and becomes hero-benefactor, without losing any of his previous characteristics.
Seeking redemption seems far-fetched for Schuldig, who is entirely too comfortable in his own skin and not particularly schuldbewußt, but seeking self-gratification is not, and lacking convictions Schuldig can chose to fight for any side if the circumstances appeal to him. And redemption is not beyond his grasp either, with a simple body count of victims, Yohji emerges as the most tainted of the two, a dozen of strangled victims while Schuldig, unlike the other Schwarz, has not killed anyone in the original series, and is actually the least murderous character of both groups.
The fragmented mirror
If Yohji and Schuldig are an inverted mirror of the other, then the mirror is not simply distorted, the mirror is fragmented. It’s the shards and pieces that correspond, various singular aspects of behaviour, personality and attitude, while the complete image remains unclear as we don’t know much about Yohji and next to nothing about Schuldig. One is left to wonder if the similarities are accidental and unimportant, or if bringing the shards together we can form an inverted face.
At the same time the pieces fit. Coming from completely different paths, one can imagine a curious meeting at the crossroads, as the characters see who or what they could possibly have become under different circumstances. Schuldig, of no attachments and convictions stares with curiosity at a face that desperately wants to believe in something. Yohji, with happiness eluding his grasp, is confronted with a lazy smile of self-contentment. The sadist in one sees secret desires for self-punishment in the other and purrs. The two characters in the constant verge of loss of self, find a new definition of what they are or can be, because nothing is more powerful that being confronted with your own inverted image. Can I be you, will you be me? They talk about the weather. They bitch about each others clothes. They go rent a hotel room.
The Harmonics Arc by Aoe:
Something me in you, Deep inside of you, The Space Between
The first story that comes to mind in order to introduce the S/Y pairing, this is a long, and sadly unfinished trilogy, taking place within the Kapitel timeline, but offering alternative versions of the most important events. The relationship between Schuldig and Yohji is the core of the story, developing from an uneasy truce to an equally uneasy friendship and hints of romantic entanglement, with a slow and careful pace, while the writer doesn’t ignore any of the other major characters or sidetrack from the plot arc.
The psychological insight is excellent, Yohji is spot-on, Schuldig less so, but the slightly off-key characterisation is given a valid reason. There is obvious care in the treatment of all characters, apart from Crawford, who is forced into the role of a two-dimensional villain, but even in that role he is still appealing, cloaked in an aura of mystery and cruelty. It could all have been first class melodrama but it’s not, due to the narrative style; effortless, objective and with a touch of humour.
The New World Order Timeline by Aoe and Shoori:
New World Order, Old Souls, A Long Time Coming
Post-Kapitel storyline, taking place within an alternate universe, assuming that Schwarz have managed to conduct the ceremony that would plunge the world into chaos. A lot of the developments are not particularly of my taste, especially the rushed conclusion of the first part after an impressive built-up, or the introduction of quite a few original characters and the characterisation of some of the original ones.
Still, it’s a very pleasant read, dramatic but never losing its humour, featuring some imaginative plot developments and though not all the characterisation is particularly of my taste, it’s still consistent and well-executed. It’s a challenge, to follow characters through decades, focusing both on action and on the mundane parts of everyday life, offering interpretations of what they can possibly become in the future, and the story travels the distance very well.
Mud, Debt and Fears by Minerva Solo
Meet Yohji and Schuldig after Kapitel, the two inhabitants of Loserville. Unemployed, desperate, impoverished and suicidal. Circumstances have thrown them together as they take up residence in the same, unbelievably run-down block of flats, where they tolerate each other's presence out of loneliness, engage in verbal sparring, and try to ignore the building up of sexual tension, until they decide to head for greater things and try to rob a bank. Funny, touching and sad at the same time, the rushed happy ending slightly spoils the mood, but the overall enjoyment factor is high.
Dragon Tears by Tayla Firedancer
Apparently the first Y/S fic written. Funny, sweet, a little dose of angst, smut, frustration with an all-pervasive feel-good factor; it’s not demanding but within its limits it makes its own sense. The characterisation is good; I always enjoy a competitive edge in the relationship, laced with humour and sexual frustration and the story delivers exactly that.
My Happy Ending by Mami-San
Fluffy fluff, but still appealing, as all happy endings are. Assuming an established relationship between the two characters, the story develops from a purely sexual relation to emotional entanglement in a quiet and simple way without tears and melodrama, but with the characters becoming accustomed to, embracing and finally needing the presence of the other.
Cicada by Sylphide
Some parts of the story feel cliché, deathfic, the use of rape as a plot device to trigger hurt/comfort, but there is a lot more to the story than that. There’s a tragic, hopeless feel even from the beginning, as an uneasy friendship unfolds between the two characters, both of them vulnerable and open, disillusioned with life and almost eager to embrace their own defeat. Beautiful writing.
The Coming Storm by Kiriko Moth
On the other end of the spectrum, a little piece of nastiness, with an impressively cruel Schuldig. Schuldig x Yohji x Aya but with S/Y as the main pairing, it’s more or less a PWP of mental and emotional manipulation, bringing out a complete sadist in Schuldig and closeted masochistic tendencies in Yohji.
White by Torch
A short piece, beautiful, unfocused and strange. You're never really sure about what is going on, if Yohji is dreaming, or Schuldig is playing with his mind, which one of the variations is reality and which is illusion. Time moves in circles, every new loop revealing something more, but never enough.
General WK links:
Aya no Weiss Kreuz corner
Great anime and manga gallery, general information and links
Mission 01: Weiss Kreuz
Again general info page, character summaries, episodes list, seiyuu and images
Anime News Network
For general info and updates on all anime, including WK
Fanfiction archives and writers
WK like many anime fandoms, generally suffers from a lack of a centralised archive. Here are some places, where S/Y fics can be found among others.
The Temple of Lunacy
WK archive and fic recs.
Boys Next Door
The Weiss Kreuz fic section of the Boys Next Door page.
Go to the Ebony and Ivory section for fan fiction, and beware of a mixture of excellent and crap fics
The Minna no Kudou Yohji - Uke slash fan fiction contest
Cause I like bottom!Yohji. Sorry--
Homepage for Aoe and Shoori’s WK fan fiction, a lot of S/Y but a variety of other pairings as well
Patterns of Blood
Homepage for WK fics by Mami-san, with some truly excellent fics
The Green Room
Viridian’s homepage, great fics, great recs
Schuldig and Yohji related links
Schuldiger als Sünde
Schuldig shrine, with possibly everything you might need, character info, downloads, images and artwork
Good Yohji shrine, info and character analysis
Guilt and Sin
weiss_kreuz general WK community
wk_fiction WK fics community
wb_yaoi WK yaoi community
wk_100 100 word drabble community
schuldigxyohji S/Y pairing community
Bibliography for this essay:
Anime, from Akira to Princess Mononoke - Susan J.Napier
The Universal Myths, Heroes, Gods, Tricksters and others - Alexander Eliot
Introducing Mind and Brain - Angus Gellatly and Oscar Zarate
Sweet Muscular Jesus, I think I’m done!
Acknowledgements: This essay would not have been the same without olympia_m and toscas_kiss snickering every time I mention my favourite WK pairing, and lasultrix warning me: “Murder is beginning to seem almost commonplace. Man talks about Schuldig/Yohji too long, you shank him and make it look like the Sicilians did it.”
But the greatest thanks goes to my laptop for breaking down constantly and forcing me to re-write the same essay three times. Cause what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger! *waves fist* Or something. Probably kills me.