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There was a topic on another message board discussing the nature of Nurarihyon's Fear and it was intended to facilitate an exchange of theories about what abilities we can expect to see in the future. The topic didn't really get anywhere, but since it was an interesting concept to discuss I was hoping people here would be willing to talk about it. I've spent some time reading through the topics here and the posters that frequent this board post some truly well thought out responses, so I'm hoping that I'll get to interact with all of you through this discussion. I'll start us off by posting my theory on Nurarihyon's Fear that I posted on that other board:
The main focus of this theory is to address how the introduction of Rikuo's Offensive Fear Mode is related to Meikyou Shisui and how the dichotomy between his Offensive and Defensive Modes is logically explained by Meikyou Shisui and has been foreshadowed from early on. First I will examine how Meikyou Shisui is rendered in this series and how it relates to the actual meaning of the phrase.
The meaning of Meikyou Shisui is to make your mind as clear and as still water such that nothing disturbs you. The reflection aspect of it is an indication that no matter what happens, it does not affect your mind, and thus you are left undisturbed. Because Meikyou Shisui has many meanings, it has been given several usages throughout the series thus far. I will go into the other usages as they come up, but for now I am only talking about its relationship to Nurarihyon's invisibility technique.
Based on Nurariyon's description of "his" Meikyou Shisui, the effect is brought about from the user, rather than some kind of change occurring within the victim; the first part of his speech was essentially a description of how Hatsu works. Hatsu has been explained as the activation of Fear such that the user's presence feels greater than it actually is. If you continue reading through the chapter I just linked it is further explained that Meikyou Shisui works as an area of effect type ability. In general that appears to be the way that Fear works, the ability emanates from the user; the user is the source itself and they are the cause of the effect.
That is Meikyou Shisui's effect when considering the invisibility aspect of it. The concept originates from the stilling of the user's heart/mind such that it is completely calm and reflects all around it. Because their mind is reflecting all around it, those affected cannot perceive them since they are only a reflection of all that is around them. This stillness of the heart/mind (the same kanji is used for both words in Japanese, the concepts tends to be recognized as one) has another usage, which comes into play in Matoi; I will talk about that later.
To compliment Meikyou Shisui, we have seen that Kyouka Suigetsu's ability is to create illusions. These abilities are meant to be used in conjunction with each other and it is likely that by doing so the user is able to move undetected after creating the illusion, which can be seen here. I would take it a step further though and say that Meikyou Shisui and Kyouka Suigetsu are one and the same, or at the very least Kyouka Suigetsu is an extension of Meikyou Shisui. Just speaking from what the two terms mean, not even in relation to the series, Kyouka Suigetsu cannot exist without a still water or pure surface for a reflection to radiate from. In that sense, the calm mind epitomized by Meikyou Shisui is a requirement of Kyouka Suigetsu and, speaking from the perspective of the series, it is why Rikuo learned Kyouka Suigetsu after Meikyou Shisui; Meikyou Shisui is a prerequisite for Kyouka Suigetsu.
My theory that the two concepts are the same is supported by Rihan's explanation of "his" Meikyou Shisui. What Rihan does here is clearly what we would expect from Kyouka Suigetsu, yet he explains it as "his" Meikyou Shisui. There are two explanations for this, but it is possible that both are correct too: Each Nurarihyon's Meikyou Shisui is different, which may be possible since when explaining the technique, each of them almost always refer to it as "my Meikyou Shisui." Or, as I suggested above, Meikyou Shisui and Kyouka Suigetsu are actually the same technique and thus there is no need to differentiate between the two. Speaking from the perspective of definitions again, if you have Meikyou Shisui then Kyouka Suigetsu will follow as a consequence.
Meikyou Shisui and Kyouka Suigetsu are concepts that are highly related to Zen Buddhism. If you do a quick search online about Meikyou Shisui (after sifting through all of the pop culture related results), you are most likely to find Meikyou Shisui associated with Kendou and the Way of the Samurai, which also draws much from Zen Buddhism. If our goal is to look for a source from which to derive theories on what to expect from Rikuo in the future, I think it would be best if we looked to the already established Meikyou Shisui/Kyouka Suigetsu concept and possibly the related concepts from Zen Buddhism.
Based on the predetermined theme of Meikyou Shisui I believe that the Nurarihyon bloodline's techniques will continue to be derived from this or similar concepts. I won't get into Zen Buddhism now since that is much more speculative and the evidence for Meikou Shisui variations is much more abundant. I'll start with the the newly introduced dichotomy between Rikuo's defensive and offensive Fear modes, which will also explain the concept behind Meikyou Shisui: Sakura, Zan, and Rihan's Hyakka Ryouran. It has been established that Rikuo's defensive mode is his default mode and given what Meikyou Shisui means it is logical for a technique based on it to be rendered as defensive. But as the main theme for all of Nurarihyon's abilities, it would be odd for the ability to be completely dropped from his repertoire in his offensive mode, which is not the case as we have seen Meikyou Shisui: Zan.
I believe that the concept behind the offensive mode is based on the inverse of Meikyou Shisui, which would mean the disturbance of a calm mind such that there are ripples in the water. If the activation of Meikyou Shisui, meaning that the mind is in a state of calm without any ripples of disturbance, results in a defensive technique then it stands to reason that the inverse may be true as well, i.e. a chaotic ripples on the mind result in an offensive technique. In fact, this concept seems to have already been introduced into the manga as early as chapter 8 through the description of Meikyou Shisui: Sakura. The flames appear as a result of the disturbance of the otherwise calm status of the sake within the sakazuki and continue to burn until the ripples stop, or return the state reflected by Meikyou Shisui.
Because this concept is a manifestation of Meikyou Shisui, we know that there techniques within the concept that reflect the opposite of a calm mind. It is logical to assume that this concept can be extended further into the manifestation of techniques similar to the Meikyou Shisui and Kyouka Suigetsu that we're used to. This is further suggested by the idea that through Meikyou Shisui, youkai of the Nurarihyon bloodline can enter, and bring others, into a manifestation of their heart. If you examine Rihan's inner world, the water that would represent the concept Meikyou Shisui is appropriately depicted with the water appearing completely still (excluding the ripples generated as they walk through it). Since we have seen this inner world within Rihan, who appears to have only shown a form similar to Rikuo's default defensive mode, I would argue that Rikuo's offensive mode is a result of disturbing his otherwise peaceful inner world. It is this peaceful inner world that allows for techniques such as Meikyou Shisui and Kyouka Suigetsu and since Rikuo's inner world is disturbed in order to use his offensive mode, those two techniques are unusable to him.
Now I will turn to how this relates to Sakura, Zan, and Hyakka Ryouran. As I have already explained, Sakura is a technique that results from the disturbance of Meikyou Shisui, but if that is the case why is it usable while Rikuo is in his defensive mode in which his inner world is in a state of Meikyou Shisui? The answer to this is the same as why the Kasane version of Matoi requires that the user align their heart with the heart of other using the "heart of Meikyou Shisui" , why Sakura's flames are usable during Matoi, why Matoi is only usable while in the defensive mode, and why Rikuo is able to use Sakura's flames without the sakazuki while in offensive mode. Sakura is used by creating a disturbance of Meikyou Shisui in a medium, in this case the sake within the sakazuki. While the water of Meikyou Shisui is calm and motionless, fire is always in motion and is chaotic; thus it is for that reason, as well as the classic dichotomy between water and fire, that as the inverse of Meikyou Shisui, Sakura is a technique that manifests itself as the opposite of water. Therefore, while Meikyou Shisui in itself represents a defensive concept through the stillness of water, which is symbolic of the mind, the inverse of that is represented by the chaos of flames. This inverse is necessary to provide an offensive outlet for Meikyou Shisui since it is necessary for the characters to have a method of attack characteristic of what they represent.
Matoi is only usable while in defense mode since it requires the user to allow themself to be taken over by the other youkai's Fear and, in regard to Izutsu, it disables use of the user's Fear techniques. As Kuro explained, the Kasane method requires using the "heart of Meikyou Shisui" to align both peoples' hearts, which as shown on the link above, requires a still mind and by definition Meikyou Shisui indicates a calm mind. Rihan's Hyakka Ryouran appears to me to be an extension of Sakura, and thus Zan, as Rihan is utilizing the sakazuki as a medium to manifest a disturbed Meikyou Shisui.
Now on to Meikyou Shisui: Zan. If Rihan's Hyakka Ryouran is similar to Zan, why is that Zan does not require the use of a medium? The reason is simple: As Rikuo's offensive mode is a result of disturbing his inner world, which I believe to be the "Heart of Meikyou Shisui" that Kuro refers to, in exchange for giving up the standard Meikyou Shisui and Kyouka Suigetsu, which require a calm mind, he instead becomes able to utilize Sakura's fire without the need of a medium; with his Heart of Meikyou Shisui disturbed there is no need to use a medium to manifest a disturbance. Something else worth mentioning about my idea that the "Heart of Meikyou Shisui" is the term for the inner world is the fact that Kuro was the one to introduce this term and the requirements for the Kasane method to Rikuo. It is more than a coincidence that Rikuo learns about this from Kuro and that we are shown the events of Kuro in Rihan's inner world, which too resulted in the Kasane Matoi.
If we are attempting to speculate into what we can expect from the Nurarihyon bloodline in the future, there is much evidence that indicates that we should look to Meikyou Shisui. If we analyze the techniques from this theme, Matoi was something that could have been easily predicted. Kendou teaches that using Meikyou Shisui will allow you to reflect your opponent and thus allow you to predict them. Going with that idea, Matoi is a reflection of the user's ally, so we can see how Meikyou Shisui relates to that. We can take this even further to predict that Meikyou Shisui will allow Rikuo to learn techniques that allow him to predict his opponent, or perhaps even copy their abilities in the style of a "reverse Matoi."
What are your thoughts on this? What are your theories on their abilities?
When I saw your post, my first response was "zomg a wall of text " but I'm thankful I read the whole thing. It was very well put-together, informative and interesting. Thanks for the wonderful post I hope you'll hang around the Mago section here on MH and post more often, too
Reading your post, I kinda feel like I have nothing much to add (or that the quality wouldn't be up to par) as I agree with you on just about everything I really like your theory about the "reverse matoi," though I don't suppose Rikuo would really be able to "copy" their abilities per se, but rather take on elements of it, like how when he did Matoi will Yuki Onna, his blade had ice, but with Zen it had poison. I'm interested to hear what you think on how Rikuo will be able to make use of his opponent's fear, when it was previously said that Matoi could only be used when there is a degree of trust between both parties. Or do you think Meikyou Shisui would allow for this clause to be skipped altogether?
Thanks a lot for reading through all of it. I realize the wall of text may deter some people from reading it all, so I appreciate you sticking through to the end.
If Rikuo ends up being able to use the opponent's ability rather than just reflect it, I would imagine it to work similar to Izutsu Matoi in that it would result in a single large attack, rather than something that is sustainable like Kasane Matoi. Even with Izutsu Matoi, in addition to the requirement of mutual trust, Rikuo must "understand" the partner's Fear to be able to use it. My theory contends that Meikyou Shisui would allow Rikuo to quickly understand the opponent's Fear, which may result in him being able to do something similar to Matoi with their Fear.
Also, because it has been said that there are various types of Matoi, it is also possible that there already exists a variation for use with the opponent's Fear. Even if Rihan didn't develop that though, Rikuo may end up developing his own variations of Matoi in addition to learning all of Rihan's. So as of right now I'm not ruling out the possibility that there will be a Matoi variant that uses the opponent's Fear. But rather than focusing on the usage of Matoi, my theory more so concerns the application of Meikyou Shisui and the possibility of it being used to create something similar to Matoi, that's what I meant by "Reverse Matoi."
A quick little summary of this post:
-My theory is concerned with the application of Meikyou Shisui rather than Matoi. I've got some ideas about Matoi that are unrelated to Meikyou Shisui that I may post later though.
-I am not ruling out the possibility that the prediction and/or copying abilities that I mentioned will come from a type of Matoi that uses Meikyou Shisui to copy the enemy. We know there are various types of Matoi and we've only seen two so far.
-It is very possible that Meikyou Shisui will end up being used for predication and Meikyou Shisui in combination with Matoi will be used to copy the enemy.
Thanks a lot for your response! I'm looking forward to posting here more often!