Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

Hallucination or Supernatural?

Formerly, Susumu Nakoshi, the protagonist of Homunculus, was a salaryman. Now, he lives as a nomad. Despite not having a permanent residence, he does not conform to the stereotypes associated with him. He is shunned by both the wealthy and the homeless. The author, Hideo Yamamoto, illustrates this by placing Nakoshi’s car between a park inhabited by people experiencing homelessness and a luxurious hotel. Nakoshi is offered a substantial reward to participate in an experiment involving trepanation, drilling holes in the skull. Although this is illegal in Japan, he initially hesitates but eventually agrees and gains the ability to see homunculi. These homunculi are believed to be manifestations of repressed emotions, visible when Nakoshi covers one of his eyes. The question arises whether this phenomenon is merely a hallucination or supernatural, and the manga leaves it open for interpretation. Overall, the story invites readers to draw their conclusions.

The homunculi that Nakoshi sees are often grotesque, revealing hidden aspects of people. For instance, a man with genitalia on his head or a Yakuza appearing as a child in a robot costume, they take various forms, symbolizing their closed-off and self-protective nature. After undergoing trepanation, these representations are meant to reflect Nakoshi’s mental state. The manga may shock readers, but its primary purpose is to depict Nakoshi’s altered perception. The concept of Homunculus is interpreted from various angles in the story. When Nakoshi sleeps in a fetal position, it resembles a Homunculus, a microscopic being from which a fetus is born—the homunculi Nakoshi might be based on this concept, representing how trepanation has influenced his perception.

Furthermore, the homunculi may symbolize humanity’s obsession with sex and love, depicted through enlarged genitalia, tongues, and hands. Nakoshi’s desires are not solely about sex but true love and acceptance. Fantasies about sexual satisfaction with himself may reflect his struggle to find someone who values him as a whole individual rather than just as a means for sexual gratification.

Unanswered Questions and Open Interpretation

Many people describe Nakoshi as selfish, misogynistic, and narcissistic. While that is a valid character interpretation, we can interpret Nakoshi’s nomadic life as his ego controlling himself. His sentence further reflects how he deliberately thinks he is neither part of the rich nor the homeless. Instead, he thought he was something better because he was making fun of both sides. His newly acquired power to see homunculi has also warped his mind, fanning the flames of Nakkoshi’s ego. When he lost his homunculi powers, he desperately tried to get them back. He committed successful self-betrayal. Later, he started raping teenagers, leaving his pregnant partners, and maybe even killing women because he considered himself a god who wanted to give others the power to see homunculi.

Conversely, we also have to interpret the sympathetic side of the character. From the beginning, we also know that Nakoshi does not belong to any group or anywhere in society. Instead, the homeless and wealthy’s rejection of Nakoshi causes Nakoshi to agree to experiment through trepanation. As we continue with the manga, we see Nakoshi going crazy until he finally sees the look on everyone’s faces. It symbolizes how Nakoshi is finally “accepted” into society. Sadly, in the madness, Nakoshi finds peace and acceptance. The ending is also a very debatable aspect of the manga.

Nevertheless, the author has intentionally left numerous questions unanswered, leaving them open to our interpretation. We can all agree that Nakoshi is going crazy. We learn that he continued to self-trepanate a year after he went mad. Nevertheless, the problem is that we do not see him as crazy. The manga is meant to be left up to our interpretation as each individual is defined by how we view the world. From an outsider’s perspective, we see the deranged Nakoshi, who has delusions about reality. However, from Nakoshi’s perspective, he is at peace and feels ready to be accepted in society.

Exploration of Occultism and Human Identity

Once again, Yamamoto likes realistic art. He uses large panels and total pages to highlight critical moments. Appreciate the full scale of detail that the drawings present to readers, such as the example where Nakoshi’s left eye is sewn up. He had to analyze his interpretation of the homunculi. Apart from that, using homunculi as a symbolic identity of the character’s identity makes the characters feel so real. The story slowly strips away the facades of the characters. It reveals their naked selves. One can only feel safe growing close to others if there is transparency for the readers. The process by which a character’s homunculi are translated takes the reader through a journey that enhances the emotional attachment we develop with the character. As bits and pieces of character are teased and brushed up on us, each character introduced has a unique backstory tied to their homunculi. Each character provides a very satisfying and individual layout. In doing so, the characters feel unique, complete, and whole, with each secondary character portraying a particular aspect of human flaws to the reader. The manga explores occultism, ESP, and the sixth sense through scientific analysis and methods to reveal the unknown hidden within us. Compared to other types of manga that are similar to the growth or age of the characters, a very complicated and different approach to finding the character’s identity.

It follows a tragic hero storyline, where Nakoshi’s curiosity to understand other people’s problems causes his downfall. A straightforward and well-developed plot that encourages the reader to keep turning the pages. Introducing the characters, Nakoshi tries to understand the characters. Then, the character is released from his troubles. However, Nakoshi ends up with more discomfort about identifying himself. Scene after scene manages to arouse the reader’s curiosity by revealing the various backgrounds of the characters. Gradually, pieces of the protagonist’s past and self are shown, and the reader can formulate their interpretation of Nakoshi. Gradually, the plot builds a sense of mutual uneasiness with Nakoshi. We reveal more about its obscure history until it finally reaches a climax. One may want a colossal burst of tension and feelings in the end. However, creeping into building a lackluster conclusion is a fantastic way to give the tragic hero a tragic ending. It aroused great pity in him. With fear, it is unpleasant to remain within us.

The Subconscious Mind and Self-Discovery

The concept of the subconscious mind is the central theme in Homunculus. The manga shows that individual biases and experiences shape our perception of reality. Thus, our subconscious mind plays a crucial role in the process. Homunculi represent parts of ourselves that are often hidden or suppressed from view. The process of self-discovery involves integrating and confronting these hidden aspects of ourselves.

Furthermore, homunculi can be seen as a metaphor for the search for unlocking and discovering hidden potentials within oneself. Nakoshi’s experience with trepanation allows him to confront his inner demons and explore the depths of his soul. It is related to the philosophical theme of identity, as Nakoshi’s interactions with homunculi help him confront his past traumas and form his self-awareness.

Homunculus is an excellent manga deliberately left up to our interpretation. After all, the manga’s goal is to reinforce the idea that each individual is defined by how we perceive the world around us. There is no right or wrong interpretation of what happens in the manga. That is what makes the manga so wonderful to read. Depending on our way of thinking and experiences, we perceive Nakoshi differently, and either representation is accurate. The manga gives us credit for digging deep for analysis and not caring about how one interprets the manga. It is equally rewarding and satisfying for everyone. Yamamoto must have made a big impression with the Homunculus. Despite occasional discontent with ourselves and our societal position, the Homunculus illustrates that our emotions and thoughts ultimately shape our role in life.

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