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"Castle-topplers whisper idle nothings to entrap their guests. Yet they become ensnared by their own traps."
With how the world is today, people often tend to deceive themselves to make sense of it. Reality is harsh after all. Especially if you grew up in a unsuitable environment for a child, as in the case of one young girl in Moyoco Anno’s Sakuran. The title takes a look at the lives of courtesans living in one of the craziest sex districts in history, Yoshiwara, Edo, Japan. You get to learn about the women being forced to work there and how they are groomed to lie to get ahead. At the same time, those women are prone to being lied to as certain men proclaim that they love them. It makes you wonder whether it is human nature to be full of deception.
Sakuran’s tale covers a young girl who rises up the ranks at a brothel in Yoshiwara. She earns the name, Kiyoha, as a result of her popularity. The story steadily picks up when Kiyoha meets a florist named Sojiro. He has a reputation of feigning heartbreak to pick up women. Sojiro manages to drive Kiyoha’s heart wild after a intimate moment with her during an appointment at the brothel she worked at. Over time, she became obsessed with seeing him and this angered the brothel. Sojiro leaves Kiyoha after finding out that she was truly in love with him. Kiyoha goes after him, but finally understands Sojiro’s true nature after seeing his face one last time. According to her words, his face was that of a “smiling ogre”.
How often do we use deception? Pretty much almost every day. We use it in conversations, to make ourselves feel better, to conduct research on topics, and also to win at certain activies (i.e playing poker). Deception is often a result of one’s self-esteem being threatened. People lie to create a vision of themselves that looks worthy to others. At the same time, they begin to deceive themselves and have their perception of truth distorted.
In Sakuran, Kiyoha tried to tell herself that love is nothing more than just an “amusement”. She was hiding her jealousy of the courtesans in her brothel who were loved by their clients. After all, she was trained to be as deceitful as possible to survive in the business. Yet even after meeting Sojiro and hearing about his reputation, why was she enamored by him even after being deceived? Because in her heart, Kiyoha wanted romance to exist. She lived her whole life alone and felt that being with only a male partner chosen from her desires was the one way out. Kiyoha was lured in by the delusion of love created by her naivety.
You have to wonder if Anno is critical about humanity to a certain extent with regards to the concept of love. There are folks who argue that the idea of “romantic love” is a social construct put out there to give people false hope. People sometimes forget that the spark can fizzle out and relationships can start going in a downward spiral. We are often told that romantic love is the greatest feeling in the world. It is, yet it’s not always guaranteed to be ever-lasting. A final note is that it is suggested that a bit of delusional love can make us happy. Creating some “illusions” helps get us to live up to our partner’s ideals (and vice versa) and makes us grow as long as you both understand the big picture. Since being deceptive will be always be a part of our DNA, does this mean we will always be conflicted when it comes to delusions?
To quote a poem from BLEACH, "Do not fear deception, for the world lies atop deception."