I’m going to write this based on the manga as I’m not a fan of the anime. Arata Kangatari is a story about Arata, a boy from 21st century Japan who switches places with a boy from a fictional world called Amawakuni where he finds himself on the run as a fugitive accused of “Himeou’s” murder. For all intents and purposes Himeou is the government in this story. Each of her guardians or “shinshou” owns a “hayagami” which allows them each a different power that she keeps them from abusing. This Spotlight is about Kannagi, the initial antagonist of the manga. Let’s all look at his track record.
- Attempted to murder Himeou (Who looks like a young child)
- Blamed the attempted murder on Arata
- Threatened Kotoha in order to flush him out (A teenage girl)
- Sent Arata to Gatoya (A prison where human rights are nonexistent)
- Other stuff that the reader finds out about later
To top off this list, he’s a good deal older than he looks, by about a hundred years at least. Obviously there’s nothing good to say about Kannagi at the beginning of the manga. But no one’s trying to fool you into thinking that he’s a decent human being either. Predictably he ends up joining Arata’s group… after being cut down to size. Of course this wasn’t Arata’s doing. This was one of the other shinshou, Akashi.
While Kannagi is busy wrongfully prosecuting and hunting down Arata, Akashi kills all of his workers, destroys his house and starts decides to torture him until he forks over rights to use his Hayagami because you need the target’s consent to take their hayagami. You can’ just kill them and take it. If they die the Hayagami picks a new user on its own.
Arata started acting all main charactery and stepped in to intervene. Akashi laughs, taunts and leaves. Kannagi takes the first chance to attack Arata anyway. Yet after this Arata still thinks he should join them. Kannagi beats him up, but joins anyway.
He doesn’t change when he first joins them. He’s about as obvious in his intentions as Starscream from Transformers.
In terms of character I compare him to Kadowaki. Kadowaki is almost a complete opposite in terms of his actions. He started out as Arata’s friend. In middle school they got along great until some event of really minor importance bruised Kadowaki’s ego.
Apparently this little bump to his ego was more important than his friendship with Arata ever was because rather than tell him that he was insulted he ran a whole campaign of making his life miserable. He spread rumors about him. He vandalized his desk and locker and pretty soon he had plenty of helpers that had little else to do but harass Arata by doing stuff like dumping trash on him.
Of course, we’re supposed to feel sorry for Kadowaki because his mother left him and his father slaps him for saying stuff that he deserved to be slapped for saying. This guy has such desperation to hang on to his own self inflated ego there’s no low he won’t stoop to for it. There’s so much self pity going on it emanates from the pages as you read. How do you get to killing innocent people over an incident that happened on your track team in middle school? Kadowaki was everything I expected Kannagi to be, and then less.
I initially disliked Kannagi but I got used to him being there. I still don’t like him. I still think he’s a jerk. But the character spotlight is more how the character works in the story.
At no point is his past used to excuse his actions. It shows it as why he does it but there’s no “It’ must be so hard for you,” or other backwards logic that seems to hang around Kadowaki. Kannagi’s motivations are explained but not excused.
As the series went on he gained some respect for Arata and humility. He also admitted to the fact that he was the one who attacked Himeou and not Arata and he genuinely has his back even though he makes the occasional joke about betraying him that no one takes seriously anymore. In short, Kannagi is a good example of someone letting go of their ego and learning to respect those around him.
He’s not likeable but he doesn’t come on too strong and he completes the show. Every main character needs a right hand man.
Next character is Squid Girl.