Kuroshitsuji Analysis and Appreciation Post: Derrick Arden's Path to Depravity
The reason I also titled this as an appreciation post is because I love how much intricate detail Yana Toboso put in the manga for both just the page itself and for such a minor character: It’s almost like she placed a story within a story summarized in just that one page, and reveals more about Derrick Arden’s character that we don’t really get to see much of beyond the scene of his murder (Yana Toboso, you wonderful human being! We fans shall protect your beautiful soul from whatever demons may attempt to claim it!)
Moving on to the actual analysis though, I will be going over Arden’s Cinematic Record it by bit. So with that said, let’s start from the beginning. Of course, the Derrick Arden we love to hate was not always the school bully: Just as any other human being, he was once a young kid taking his first steps into the world. In fact, he was a bit of the cutie pie, and later on we get…
still a… cutie… pie…
In the second image though, even with Arden still being very young, look at what he’s being made to study. Yes, I understand that he’s a noble and is set with higher expectations in his curriculum than regular people, but those books look like what high school students would study with in today’s world–not at all small children, and in the previous image where he’s shown reading something it’s only a small children’s book. With him still being a young child, that’s a large jump to go through. Now, we don’t know what’s being said, but it’s very obvious that his father expected him to be able to handle this easily when he really couldn’t. (NOTE: I’m not saying any of this in his defense–I’d be the first in line to kick him in the jaw if I could as his background doesn’t excuse his actions–but I understand what it like to have parents that expect a lot out of you at a young age and be criticized for not fitting their idea of ‘one’s best work.’) When you’re young and receive heavy criticism, that criticism can hit hard because you haven’t adapted a thick enough skin to handle it and can affect how you respond to/avoid criticism in your future.
As ridiculous as it sounds, allow me to make a comparison with him to Kyoya from OHSHC (Ouran High School Host Club). Like Kyoya, Arden was born into a rich, important family and was expected of much at a young age:
“I’m the heir to a prestigious marquessate, aren’t I? So every successor who attends this school has to be a prefect. I was soooo revolted by the thought of it! Getting thrown into a place like this when I didn’t even want to set foot in here.” –Derrick Arden
“I am not like my untroubled brothers, who simply had to go along on the route they were promised and keep heading upward. It’s because I am the third son that I cannot relax. I will certainly fulfill the expectations placed upon me, and yet always respect my brothers, and never step too far forward. How far can I demonstrate my abilities without exceeding the limits of being the third son?” –Kyoya
“Keeping yourself at the head of the class while your at school is an accomplishment your brothers have achieved. You must know that it will take more than that to satisfy me.” –Kyoya’s Father
What separates them though is the paths that they underwent to meet those expectations placed upon them by their fathers and their own private goals. Kyoya had a strong desire to battle for some means of inheritance out of what little could be gained by pleasing his father: Derrick Arden was already given that as the family heir. Kyoya is studious and hardworking, and his school catered to the students in many ways: Arden isn't as studious and possibly not as naturally gifted as Kyoya, and viewed Weston more so as a prison. Kyoya manipulated other students for his own gain before meeting Tamaki, and even still manipulates people for gain even if he’s more selfless than he once was: Arden resorted to bribery and abuse to get what he wanted, and used his money and status for corrupt means, having discovered at a young age that it was all he could do to meet his parents expectations without pushing himself over the edge. Kyoya eventually decided to pave his own path, even if it was against his father’s and his brothers’ wishes: Arden is still trying to live up to his father’s demands, even if what he’s doing is morally wrong in order to fulfill them.
My reason for this comparison is, even with Arden being the horrible person that he is, he’s still just that: A person. A person who allowed himself to be manipulated by his own power, and his own desire to meet another’s to such an extreme that it warped his sense of morality. It turned a sweet little boy who made flower chains and slept with a teddy bear into a monster. He’s a person that could’ve been any person on the face of this planet, or who himself might’ve had another course paved for him if any one thing had been different. A simple talk with his parents–if they were truly willing to listen–about how he felt might’ve turned his views around and maybe his life wouldn’t have ended as it had.
Instead, things only got worse:
The cycle continued: Arden was applauded and praised for the work his parents assumed he had done himself, and in turn he was only given more work as a result. He was continuously pushed farther. Now, look at those stacks of books surrounding him–and this is still before he went to Weston. The ages of the students at Weston range anywhere from thirteen to nineteen: If we assume that Arden was placed at Weston as soon as he was old enough to attend, that means he was studying more than college students would–even if that pictures is a perfect depiction of what it feels like–before he was even in his teens. No, he didn’t have to work at a factory and still be expected to complete his school work like the children in the lower classes did, but that’s still terrible to try to make a workaholic out of a child–even if its just paperwork. It’s a lot of stress and mental strain. Again, as a result, Arden paid someone else to do it as a means of escaping that, because he found that it was a pattern that worked–and was possibly the only one that he felt worked for him.
And after his introduction to alcohol (not shown) we finally have a disgruntled Arden being sent to his prison. The rest of his story we pretty much already know, although with the way Weston works it’s also possible he was subjected to peer pressure, forced to work as a fag when he first stepped in before he got someone else to it, and mingled with the wrong crowd.