Letter exchange is featured prominently in Inu x Boku SS, an anime that primarily deals with various aspects of social relationships. Ririchiyo has trouble expressing herself without resorting to her aggressive, harsh defense mechanism. Miketsukami has little self-esteem, self-respect, or even sense of self. As far as relationships are concerned—social or romantic—neither has any tangible bond of note.
In one (or rather, the only) gripping Miketsukami monologue, he talks about wearing masks as an escape. He pleases everyone through playing specific roles, whether that be the spineless servant or the boy toy.
In some ways, I am very much reminded of our online presence in this social age. Hidden behind avatars, profiles, and resumes, we are able to carefully create these personae, who are usually distinct from how we act in person. For example, our tweets do not correspond completely to our conversations outside of the digital world. Similar, maybe, but still different. Traits may be exaggerated, toned down, created, and silenced. (I certainly do not talk about sex all the freaking time when I am away from my laptop, as I do here.) We, to the best of our efforts, shape how we appear to others.
It is easy to see this in the context of status updates. Moreover, I imagine we all do this in any social situation, digital or not. The social age simply allows most of us to more easily manipulate words. In the same way Miketsukami manipulates women—he has his fox-like charms and fake smiles—we have our cartoon heads.
But taken another way, are we not really revealing our true desires, our ideals, through these written characters? Are these really masks or actually extensions of ourselves?
Ririchiyo and Miketsukami eventually find solace in letter writing.
Miketsukami describes a gradual process of finally finding himself as he writes these letters. This carefully created personality, then, really is not a mask. Rather, it is what he aspires to be—the kind and caring fiancé to Ririchiyo. And in sculpting this image, his self identity grows to match this ideal. On the other hand, Ririchiyo’s words via pen and paper is a far more intimate portrayal of her feelings than her speech in person. Writing, whether old-fashioned or typed, offers an unparalleled level of preciseness.
Miketsukami and Ririchiyo represent two paradigms in their approach to letter exchange: the former seeks fraud, and the latter seeks frankness. Yet somehow, they both converge to create this genuine relationship and sense of selves. If Whorf and Davidson are right—that language determines thought and belief—our identities are then at least somewhat limited by our linguistic abilities. These letters thus hold that much more significance as Ririchiyo and Miketsukami’s sole medium of honest self-expression.
The same holds for many of us in this social age. In fact, “in real life” is mere rhetoric. For us denizens of the internet, internet life is part of our real life. It is a place where we find ourselves. It is where we are most able to express ourselves. And most importantly, it is where we are who we say we are.
- Ryan A. writes a brilliant post about Ririchiyo’s personality in his post:
Inu x Boku’s Tasteful Tsun: Ririchiyo Shirakiin’s Vicious Lip
- Maybe I have too much pent-up sexual frustration…
- Vucub Caquix was the first to champion his distaste for “IRL” to me some time back.