i named this blog after this song so i may as well write a fuckin’ essay about it while i procrastinate. tl;dr– the owl and the tanager is a subverted predator/prey allegory placed against a narrative of a young gay couple struggling with the destructive force of homophobia. enjoy you thirsty gays
tfw you press play on your computer and you had paused right before sufjan hits that low chord and sings “you said you’d wait for me…” at the end of the musicnow 10 years version of the owl and the tanager/barn owl night killer
The name Ainu comes from the word ainu, which means human. Their land is called “Ainu Mosir”, or land of peaceful humans. A common phrase is ainu nenoan ainu, which directly translates to human-like human; meaning they as people are humans in the rawest form.
Their culture greatly respects animals as they’re believed to have other worldly visitors residing in them (spirits, gods, demons etc). The bear, striped owl, and killer whale are the most revered and seen as deities. Occasionally they’re called a bird cult.
Kaneki recites a poem where it talks about gods of the Ainu people. I won’t go into too much detail on the mythology of the creation and birth of the deities but basically he references this by mentioning the lineage of the gods. Before he recited the poem Kaneki says Hide’s name and speaks of how it’s impossible to fulfill what he asked of him (to face Arima and fight with all his power). I’ll come back to this in a bit since there’s more to it.
The Horned Owl of Ainu Mythology
In Japanese culture owls are seen as a symbol of luck (of course wisdom too) and protection against hardship and misfortune (Yoshimura), but on the other hand horned owls are seen as the bringers of suffering (Eto).
Yoshimura (owl) vs. Eto (horned owl)
This comes from the Ainu belief that the little horned owl was a being that fell from the gods’ good books and became cast aside and cursed. Having the owl fly across your path at night is seen as a sign of impending misfortune (remember Eto flying in during ch. 136?).
“The Ainu look upon [the little horned owl] as a demon who really desires to harm mankind, and they naturally consider him to be a bird of evil omen.”
The story behind his downfall told that the little horned owl was sent down from the heavens by a god, where he lived to produce a lineage of children on the Ainu land. They lived happily in the mountains but once the Ainu people began hunting in the mountains, the mischievous owls entertained themselves by tricking and ultimately causing all their attempts at catching prey to fail. This caused a great famine and growth of disease that killed many of the Ainu. The god saw this and decided to pass judgment on the owls’ actions. He spoke to them saying, “As you have done this evil deed your clothes and goodness of heart shall be taken from you. You shall henceforth posses hearts like noxious weeds, you shall shed many of your feathers, and suffer much from the cold. You shall live in the holes of trees, desire to enter people’s homes, and be tormented by man.” The horned owl and his children were then hunted and their meat consumed by the Ainu. It is said the owls are envious of human dwelling as they’ve lost their place with the gods and are now unable to exist with the humans.
Now if we break it down some
As you have done this evil deed your clothes and goodness of heart shall be taken from you. You shall henceforth posses hearts like noxious weeds, you shall shed many of your feathers, and suffer much from the cold.
Eto’s shown us that she’s a pretty bitter and cruel person just by looking at her actions.
On multiple occasions she’s shown half nude, wearing bandages (feathers) that are slipping off her body.
You shall live in the holes of trees, desire to enter people’s homes, and be tormented by man.
She’s the Leader of Aogiri Tree (aka Parasol Tree), which is also an invasive species of plant that’s difficult to rid of (ironically her kagune looks like tree branches).
She has the tendency to interfere in other people’s families and relationships so she can relish the process of breaking them.
Because of her mixed genes, Eto was rejected by the humans and ghouls, hunted by V, and eventually in her teens listed as the most wanted target by the CCG.
“[The little horned owl] is also said to be able to tell a good man from a bad one at sight. When caught, the people say that he will not look at a person if that person be of a bad disposition, but will keep his eyes merely closed, just peering through the slits between the lids. This act is called ainu eshpa, i.e., “man-ignoring.” If the person before whom the bird is brought be of a good character, he will stare at him open-eyed. This act is called ainu oro wande, i.e., “searching out the man”….”
Eto’s eyes are usually shown hidden behind her mask but are shown open wide and attentive whenever she takes on an assertive and manipulative state.
(also notice the reference of wisdom and then to a deity from Eto)
Kaneki’s Poem continued…
The important part of the creation story that I mentioned is that the world/land, plus two gods, were formed from the rising mists of the oceans. The two gods married and produced many gods including two shining gods, or the Sun god and the Moon god, who rose to Heaven in order to illuminate the dark places of the world.
Okikurumi (aka Chikisani), who was briefly mentioned in the poem, is one of those many gods. He is the son of the goddess of elm trees but is heavily associated with fire because of his temperament and fiery personality. This also has to do with his hair resembling the color of flames (oh look who that sounds like).
At one point Okikurumi descended from Heaven to help humans. Basically he taught them how to build, farm, hunt, create fires etc., everything that was needed for civilization while supporting the Ainu whenever they needed him. He married and stayed in the village with a human, but eventually had to part ways with her in order to return to his true nature as a deity.
Now looking at Hide we know that his Tarot card is the Magician (No. 1)…
which is also the card that represents the bridge between the world of spirits and the world of humans, just as Okikurumi was during his time with the Ainu.
Extra note: I ended up adding Hide to the same post because I think Eto and Hide are somehow tied together. How I haven’t figured out yet…
We know that Eto is a different species of ghoul, so is Hide the same, being born half ghoul ? Or are we going back to the Washuu theory and say that he’s the CCG(?) (the gods’ of the Ainu) and she’s the leader of Aogiri (the cursed little horned owl and offspring)?
I'm a Hufflepuff, but I'm also harsh and cruel and careless - does that mean I won't fit in with all the other Puffs?
No! Definitely not.
You have to replace that ‘but’ with an ‘and’ bc you’re an absolutely great Hufflepuff and you’re harsh, cruel and careless. You’re still a part of our badger family (I just hope you aren’t too cruel and harsh and careless, please don’t hurt others on purpose just bc you can or want to)
my type - saint motel // run away with me - carly rae jepson // superhuman touch - athlete // eros and apollo - studio killers // bombshell blonde - owl city // my number - the foals // dangerous woman - ariana grande // miss jackson - panic! at the disco
(track listings are subject to change as 8tracks occasionally removes tracks and i occasionally add/remove tracks. also i made a ton of changes to Nathaniel’s right after episode 23 came out and haven’t changed it since so please forgive me if it feels like it’s entirely about that)
tracks:Round and Round;Imagine Dragons | New Perspective;Panic! At the Disco | Tonight, Tonight;The Smashing Pumpkins (cover) | Can’t Hold Us;Macklemore and Ryan Lewis | This Is Gospel;Panic! At the Disco | Summertime;My Chemical Romance | Silhouette; Owl City | Stereo Hearts;Gym Class Heroes | Let It Rock;Kevin Rudolf | The Only Hope for Me is You;My Chemical Romance | Homecoming Heroes;The Head and the Heart | Vagabond;Misterwives | Youth;Daughter | Car Radio;twenty one pilots | A Song Dedicated to the Memory of Stormy the Rabbit;Andrew Jackson Jihad | Friends;Lightning Love | Human;Daughter
tracks: Human;The Killers | Horizons;Puscifer | Rainbow Veins;Owl City | Flaws (The Chainsmokers Remix);Bastille | Where the Moss Slowly Grows (cover);Tiger Army | Melectric;Ramona Falls | Five Years’ Time;Noah and the Whale | I Lived;OneRepublic | You And I;Ingrid Michaelson | Best Day of My Life;American Authors | I Bet My Life;Imagine Dragons | Swing Life Away;Rise Against | Vanilla Twilight;Owl City | The End of All Things (acapella cover);Panic! At The Disco
tracks: Jesus of Suburbia;Green Day | Lillian(Violet);The Dear Hunter | Chameleon Boy(cover);Blue October | The Bird and the Worm;The Used | The No Seatbelt Song;Brand New | Paper Scars(cover);Lovedrug | Skulls;Bastille | Paradise;Coldplay | Perfect(cover);Simple Plan | Slipping Husband;The National | The Mute(cover);Radical Face | Flaws;Bastille | This Isn’t The End;Owl City | All These Things That I’ve Done;The Killers | Garden Party;Owl City