Spiral (Junji Ito): The Reason for everything. Part 3.
13."The House" (鬼のいる長屋, Oni no iru nagaya, Demon in the Row House)
Reproduction has been jeopardized on all levels - girl’s popularity, flirting, boy’s interest in girls, attraction, manliness, pregnancy, offsprings - there’s nothing left but a flat sea and a switched off lighthouse.
At this catastrophic point, Shuichi could have given up on Kirie, he does not and a new step can be made towards an explanation for all this mess.
I’m still talking of the same dynamic : The fact that Kirie wouldn’t follow Shuichi in Mirodiyama because of a terrible secret. The refusal brought their relationship to its knees, but because Shuichi insists on remaining loyal to Kirie, she has to confront herself to the problem a bit more. Maybe she doesn’t remember. I’ve regularly heard of people suppressing traumatic memories, but could she suppress the fact that she was pregnant ?
The chapter focusses on Kirie’s family again and on their home. Necessarily, for my interpretation to be meaningful, the chapters that revolves around them should depict the incestuous crime.
As I said before, the oven was a metaphore for Kirie’s uterus. One thing that I had not understood until now is that the dragonfly pool is most probably her libido. So, the father took earth from the pool to make pots and plates, to create. He raped Kirie and she gave birth to Mitsuo.
Shuichi destroyed the oven. And in the previous chapter, the house, the home, the structure of the family was destroyed by the storm. Eventually, Kirie and Shuichi fell in the pool of the dragonfly and conquered it I supposed. This episode is necessarily a step forward as Shuichi sacrifices a woman to save Kirie and she notices it. Before that woman she thought she wasn’t a worthy of being considered a woman. There are plenty of clue of this, her general humility is a lack of self esteem.
Now, her family moves to one of the old shacks that were already described in the chapter « Twisted Souls » that was about a forbidden love, most probably incestuous. This shacks were built in a very ancient era, in immemorial times. Immemorial means « so old that its origin is unknown. »
The family moves back to a time « before » something, at the unknown origin of something. Obviously, my point here is that, the truth about Mitsuo is to be found in these shacks.
As usual, the father doesn't care about anything but his spiral plates and pots. How come he is the first one to catch the disease when he is the one who was absent all day ?
And what is to be found in there ? A horny demon (Démon in French, Monster in English) that terrifies Mitsuo and spies on Kirie. A mother and a son who suffers from a « strange » disease. Incest again, this son’s father is probably dead and he never managed to leave his mother’s home. Now he is dying from this morbid relationship and they both live away from the community, they’ve become parias because of their transgression.
Beyond the cliché situation, another element that convince me that the sick mother and her son are in an incestuous relationship is the fact that the son should die exactly when the Goshima family moves in. The mother is sent to an hospital on the next day. This is an incredible coincidence and it’s far more likely that it’s their arrival that triggers this development.
Two things happen. Someone spies on them through a hole in the wall ; most probably the younger more handsome neighbour, not the sick one.
The old woman stumbles outside and Kirie helps her strand up.
=>The son, sick with the disease of incest spies on Kirie, a girl victim of the same thing, that he thus believes to be compatible with him. This surge of hope makes him a healthy young man again, the one whom we discover was spying on her. I’m not sure I’m being clear here : there is an ambiguity on the identity of the person who’s spying on Kirie through the hole at the beginning. Even though we learn later on that it was the handsome neighbour, this ambiguity is meaningful. The handsome neighbour and the sick son are, metaphorically, one and the same. It’s spying on Kirie that transforms one into the other.
Also, the young heroin changes the power dynamic between these two by helping the mother stand up. She reminds the woman of her age.
And so, the sick man dies, because he changes into the healthy one, and the old morbid woman is sent to an asylum.
What’s left is a young hansdome neighbour who’s attracted to Kirie. The problem is that, the Goshima’s family is affected by the same plague as his and the young man has put himself in a dead-end. His frustrated and desperate hope and libido explodes and he becomes the horny monster that attacks the family at the end of the story.
Even a man who’s suffered the same trauma as herself cannot save Kirie.
Now, the monster is the handsome neighbour as much as the sick young man… but it also is Kirie’s father in that this new aggression is an echo to the original one of which the father was the culprit.
Quite a few elements support this idea.
On page 419, just before the monster goes through the wall, Kirie’s father is at his worst. He is lying on the ground, screaming in pain and everybody is worried. Kirie exclaims that it must be coming from the house, that it is some sort of virus which might be all over the floor and walls.
The walls of the house are horny = The being that supports the family on a material level is arroused by Kirie = The father.
The house stands for the family. Just like the thin walls of « twisted souls » meant that both families were secretly mingled, the contagious walls and floors of « The House » stands for the disease that strunk the Goshima family.
Suddenly, a wall explodes and the monster appears. It is covered in horns. The sexual meaning is obvious : he is horny. Also, his horns destroyed the wall, his sex drive destroyed the home. So again, it’s Kirie’s father raping her when she was younger. The demon catches a rat and devours it : he feeds on small, powerless creatures… the rape of Kirie.
He makes a few steps, stumbles ridiculously on a mattress and falls next to Kirie, on a mattress. He then calls her name and stalks her lustfully.
But suddenly, both Kirie’s parents intervenes and shouts « Get out » in unison. This could mean that her father was not the culprit. But I think he is for a lot of the reasons I’ve developped until that point. I just think that the re-enactement of the traumatic event allows the father to « correct » his own behaviour. He can acknowledge that Kirie was a victim and unwilling.
Suddenly a spear of wood is thrown in the neck of the monster which dies instantly. Question : Who threw this spear ? Who had the strength to do that ? The father couldn’t stand up to save his life. The mother ? And it wouldn’t have been worthy of being showed ?
Simply, the crime was acknowledged and the metaphorical monster lost his