Episode 11 of Shangri-la, “Dreams of a Foreign Bird”, starts off with Karin humming a song whose origin she can’t remember. At the same time, Kunihito dreams of a long-haired blond boy singing the same song, picking up his battered dagger as a kid, and then confronting a caged canary as an adult where he finally hears his own prophecy: “Earth, follow the day and the night.” There’s also a bit about the world, except he’s woken up from his dream before he can recite the rest. He’s on a life boat with other members of the military: it seems that the attack against the Medusa by the Yamato Takeru failed miserably.
After the opening sequence, we see Karin talking to Zhang about how the markets have stabilized again. Among other things this might finally shut up complaints from Klaris, presumably because control of Medusa has been regained and they can start making money again in a stable market. Before disconnecting, Zhang asks Karin why she wants to make so much money, and while she dithers and mumbles to herself about her parents, Zhang just had to unintentionally make her green with envy about having to disconnect because he has to go out to eat with his own parents. Soon after, something odd seems to be happening as a kitten has just arrived in elevator 2.
On the ocean, Kunihito is wondering about what he heard in his dream. He isn’t going to get any answers, of course, but at least the ensuing conversation with his fellow survivors on the life boat tells us what happened. The Yamato Takeru may have been a state of the art aircraft carrier with mimetic camouflage, but a mere aircraft carrier was no match for the searing beam from the solar power satellite Apollon. In ATLAS, Shogo and Leon report to Ryouko how Apollon was hacked again, this time to attack the Yamato Takeru, and Ryouko wonders what else could be done to draw out the Medusa that is still protected by the typhoon caused by the Apollon. She also casually disregards the diplomatic repercussions from having a Japanese warship sneaking into foreign territory. For some reason, the idea using Apollon on Medusa in turn doesn’t seem to occur to her, unless ATLAS does not have control over Apollon or they want to take Medusa intact.
Back in Ishida Finance, Karin has no problem approaching the kitten. She definitely has severe social phobia, but at least she’s fine with anything not human. This is when a voice mail arrives for her. It’s from her supposed father talking about how he and Karin’s mother are fine, and that they might be coming to Japan soon, when he hopes they would be able to eat together. Karin is both happy that they may be having a meal together, but is sad that she won’t be able to actual go out to have a meal with them.
I had thought that at least Karin had grew up for a short while with her supposed parents, who had then left with the promise that they might meet again when Karin makes a ton of money. However, I may have been wrong about Karin having ever directly seen another human her entire life. But I don’t think I’m wrong to think that her supposed parents are not her parents at all: they sound like they’re hugely manipulative people who are using Karin for their own purposes.
Either that or they really are Karin’s parents who can’t stay with her out of some as yet inscrutable reason. This seems to be highly unlikely as the voice mail from the supposed father does not even show his real face and instead shows a couple of teddy bears. At least the teddy bear avatars for the parents might explain Karin’s huge love of teddy bears.
Karin is not the only one who is quite aware of her phobia. Someone has approached her chamber without triggering any of the security systems, appears on her screen, and tells her to come out. This person looks just like the boy who appeared in Kunihito’s dream in the beginning of the episode. And his voice sounds suspiciously like what Medusa sounds like, although I might just be mishearing. Karin’s response is that she can’t go out, of course, and the boy psychoanalyzes her about how she wants to go out and claim her freedom.
Karin frantically denies it all, but she probably knows it’s all true deep down. But the boy mentions an odd thing about Karin being himself. And then the image of the person disappears from the screen in a jumble of static. Oddly enough, a single leaf remains where he had been standing.
After the break, Karin complains to ATLAS about the apparent breach in security, except they have absolutely no trace of an intrusion. But there was definitely something, as Karin has physical evidence in the form of the leaf. Having now calmed down and knowing how the boy told the truth about her feelings, she wants to talk to him again. This is when the kitten walks out of sight and we start hearing the song again. Karin runs to find the boy singing, but before she can run away from the human presence, he asks her not to flee.
Meanwhile, morale is dropping with Kunihito’s fellow survivors, with one of them wishing he had met a certain girl again before leaving on the mission. This has Kunihito urging them not to talk as if all hope has been lost, and while he’s soon embarrassed by having been too uptight, he’s embarrassed again when asked if there’s a loved one waiting for Kunihito back in Japan and having to answer that he doesn’t have any. The scene immediately cuts to Kuniko, who cheerfully answers that she has no plan and no idea to an unhappy Takehiko asking how she plans to infiltrate ATLAS as the new leader of Metal Age. We all know what’s implied about Kuniko being shown in response to Kunihito being asked about a loved one …
Back to Karin, she is scared of the boy and confesses about how she is terrified of the outside and other people. But the boy points out that she is still talking with him properly, showing her that she may not be as scared as she thought. When she asks the boy about the song, he tells her that it ends with the canary remembering the song it had forgot, which seems to remind Karin of something from a long time ago. The boy talks about how he had also been afraid of encountering people, but while a cage was forced upon him, Karin’s cage is of her own making. The boy then mentions that he has to leave and simply disappears along with the kitten, but he contacts her over the network and tells her that she would regain something she had lost if she were to go to the playground outside at sunset.
Elsewhere in ATLAS, Soichiro reports that the insertion of a Japanese military warship has remained undetected, which means no diplomatic repercussion but also disappoints Ryouko about not having getting the chance to have fun seeing the foreign minister eliminated. Soichiro also wonders if it’s OK to leave a certain person related to a Digma alone, obviously referring to Sayoko, and Ryouko is quite sure about leaving her alone. This does have Shogo remarking that Soichiro has a point in that the treatment of the Digma should be done cautiously. Leon uses this as a chance to ask for permission to browse information concerning the Digmas, which is granted by Ryouko.
At evening, while Kuniko seriously thinks about what should be done and Kunihito is finally found by a rescue plane, Karin is ready to take a step outside. She has to actually look up when the sunset is beforehand, though. At the playground, Karin manages to fully remember the song that had her puzzled throughout this episode. She also remembers it being sung to her by what appears to be her mother when she was a baby. Climbing on top of the jungle gym, she takes notice of the building she has been staying all her life, which is when she is congratulated by the boy for finally managing to get outside. Karin is also very grateful to the boy for helping her remember the lullaby sung to her by her real mother. Whether Karin’s real mother has any relationship to her supposed mother remains to be seen.
The boy is glad for Karin, and murmurs to himself that it’s good-bye and that Karin was his only something, except he disappears before he can mention what that something is. In the Moon Palace, Mikuni gets sad upon learning from Miko how the prettily singing canaries are trapped in the palace like her. And Leon is disappointed about not learning anything new about the Digmas with how the more important information remaining locked down, although we do get to see that Kunihito might be officially designated Digma-3. Leon does learn about Digma-0, the prototype Digma that was defective and had died five years ago without ever leaving the research facility. And the image of Digma-0, whose code name was Kanaria, shows the boy that had appeared in front of Karin and in Kunihito’s dream.
The episode ends with Karin happily singing the lullaby she has regained, with the kitten watching over her and soon disappearing, while Kunihito appears to have a dream about opening a door and freeing canaries from their cage.
This episode has shown us a tremendous wild card in the form of Kanaria. Not only does it throws us a wrench in the nice plot structure that has been building around Kuniko, Mikuni, and Kunihito, but it may also be an enormous wrench in the plans of Ryouko and Hiruko. At least I’m sure it is one for Ryouko, although I don’t see how Kanaria and Karin might fit into the statements of Hiruko.
Kanaria was a prototype Digma up to five years ago, but what is he now? I suspect that he’s actually a projection, considering how his feet seemed to be faded out throughout the episode. The kitten is clearly closely connected to Kanaria given how it was with him both in the past and in the current. I think the kitten might be projecting Kanaria, and for that matter, I suspect the kitten might be Kanaria, with him somehow having copied some of his personality into the kitten. I also think the projection might actually be done by somehow manipulating Karin’s virtual reality interface which she seems to overlay over the physical world: she seems to have such an interface with how she reacted to Kuniko in episode 5. On the other hand, Kanaria might be more like Hiruko in that he was actually a real manifestation of a spirit (whatever spirits are in Shangri-la). I wonder if there’s any special significance to how his pupils turned normal when talking about Karin making her own cage, whereas they were red throughout the rest of the episode.
What is Kanaria’s relationship to Karin? Karin is Kanaria’s only … what? Is Karin Kanaria’s daughter? Sister? Hope? Odd how Karin’s playground has pictures of canaries on the ground … I’m thinking Karin might be Kanaria’s quasi-clone, conceived by an internal faction within ATLAS opposed to Ryouko and Hiruko, separated from her real mother soon after birth, artificially aged to a useful physical state, and manipulated to be a neo-carbonist controlling Medusa. She might be a Digma that Ryouko knows nothing about. I had thought that Karin might represent a significant but unrelated outside element for the central triangle of Kuniko, Mikuni, and Kunihito, but it looks like Karin is much more closely involved than I had expected. At least I’m hopeful that whatever remained of Kanaria might have been able to set Karin on her own path in this episode. And I was cheering when Karin took her first step outside.
And unless Kanaria turns out to be Karin’s mother (who says Momoko and Miko have to be the only transsexuals in the show?), Karin might be yet another Digma whose mother we know little about. It would be really funny if Kuniko, Mikuni, and Karin all end up having the same mother, although this would be very unlikely. For one thing, I very much doubt Sayoko had other daughters given how I suspect she’s Mikuni’s mother. On the other hand, maybe we should suspect something about how Kunihito is the only one who has a mother. Unless his mother we saw in episode 6 was not his biological mother …
For that matter, what are Digma? They no doubt are extremely important to the plans of ATLAS, and they seem to be more than human (with the exception of Kunihito). This episode suggests that their fate also seems to be closely woven together somehow. Other than that, I have no clue. It’s odd how Ryouko didn’t seem to be curious in the slightest about what happened to Digma-3 in the aftermath of the Yamato Takeru debacle, though. I would have at least expected a query from her.
This post is showing something bad about the mystery in Shangri-la: Because of the mystery, I suspect far too many details are significant in some important way, making me write them all down, which means that my posts about Shangri-la are getting way too long! Seemingly paradoxically, this is precisely why I am so greatly enjoying the show! And the impression I have so far suggests is that all the details would indeed have significance sooner or later, which would just be awesome if this turns out to be the case, even if I’m totally wrong about what they all mean. Not that I would suddenly turn against the show if the small details really were just small insignificant details …