I have been thinking a lot about Mayama recently. Why he’s so compelling, why he lingers on long after Keizoku and Beautiful Dreamer wrap up. Why a story that was so obviously crafted to show Shibata’s journey turned into Mayama’s, and how Watabe Atsuro managed to turn a character that could have easily been a two-dimensional revenge-seeking cop into a brilliant performance of light, shade and everything in between.
He’s compelling because he’s not The Knight In Shining Armour. If he is, his armour is dirty, scratched and second-hand; his horse isn’t white and he’ll be riding it with a gun in his hand, probably aimed at you. He doesn’t want to be saved, until he is - because in his own brand of crazy, it never figured to him that he needed saving. Salvation was what better people deserved, and the better version of him drowned along with his sister.
He sleeps with prostitutes because he’s a human with urges, after all. A human, something he would rather forget he is, so he does crosswords and smiles shit-eating grins during the day in order to let the dark envelop him after he finishes work. There’s no heads or tales with Mayama, because he doesn’t take chances. He doesn’t like the odds, or the black and white of certainty, so he dreams of red sheep and his sister and hopes that no-one can see him for who he was, and who he could have been.
It’s been a long time since he saw time as days, minutes or hours. Time is a relative concept, and to him, its passing is only marked by the constant waiting he’s decided to embrace. Waiting to catch Asakura, waiting to put his sister to rest, waiting to die.
He’s a telescope, a vendetta, a fish-tank and some white socks - little white socks, that poke out from under his pants like a small sign of humanity and a throw-back to the gung-ho rookie cop he once was. A guy who had A Future, who laughed when it was appropriate and not when faced with death or the shape-shifting absurdity that is Asakura.
He keeps fish to keep memories, and he trusts those fish to Shibata. He keeps his memories like he keeps his fish, and, eventually, he trusts those memories to her as well. Because she’s the only one who can keep them alive, and he’s the only one who can save her from Hades or Yomi or her own personal demons - not as formed, or as defined as his, but just as prevalent.
Together, they make something like a whole. Something without a middle, but two separate halves that create something worth hanging on to in the middle of an ocean halfway between the living and the dead.
Mayama without Shibata is Toma without Sebumi, and I think that’s what makes him - and the Keizokuverse - so compelling. Things that shouldn’t work, but just do - and Mayama, and Watabe Atsuro’s portrayal of him, sum up that conundrum nicely.