Yomawari: Midnight Shadows’ Mr. Kotowari is quite complex
In the Yomawari games, players are introduced to a world of spirits. Most of these creatures are actively hostile. In Yomawari: Midnight Shadows, being irresponsible can very quickly get Haru or Yui killed. But there are instances that show that hostility does not necessarily serve as an indication of morality. Of all the otherworldly residents seen in the game, Mr. Kotowari is an excellent example that proves this is a foreign and wild environment where creatures will act upon their natural impulses, ones that just happen to be hazardous to human health.
Editor’s note: spoilers appear ahead.
Mr. Kotowari is one of the many spirits present in Yomawari: Midnight Shadows. However, he is unique in that he is eventually named and stands apart as an actual character. While he is initially an antagonistic force, his actions eventually show that he is neither good or evil. This is a spirit that is there. He exists; his purpose is to cut things, something that should be evident by the fact that he is a gigantic pair of shadowy scissors. Also, that one of the first times we encounter him is by a random hand laying in a pool of blood in the street that he might have just cut off of someone.
After all, the very act of cutting ties with someone is neither a good or bad action. Depending on why and how you are doing such a thing, it could be positive, negative or completely neutral. So is taking something that is one piece and breaking it into two. Mr. Kotowari feels like a spiritual manifestation of that very concept. When he is chasing after us in Yomawari: Midnight Shadows, his primary goal is to take things apart. Of course, when this involves people it is a very bad thing. But he can easily be guided into cutting cords, destroying cabinets and making slices that greatly benefit us.
Clearly, he is a monstrosity the first times we meet Mr. Kotowari. He stalks Haru relentlessly. He does not stop until either she provides him something, like a doll, or gives him the opportunity to take a whole item and divide it. He certainly looks horrifying. This is not a creature you feel like you could trust. But his lack of malevolence shows through as you play through Yomawari: Midnight Shadows. Repeatedly, he can be evaded or tricked into assisting you.
The turning point is when Haru finds herself pressured by spirits to commit suicide as Yui did. She is in the exact same place. There is that same cloud of depression. But unlike Yui, Haru cries out. “I can’t take it anymore!” This summons Mr. Kotowari to her aid. He cuts the tie between her and this force. She has the opportunity to keep going, while this spirit gets the satisfaction of cutting another thing.
But the neutral nature of Mr. Kotowari and his intentions comes through clearest at Yomawari: Midnight Shadows‘ conclusion. When Haru faces the corrupted version of Yui’s linger spirit for the final time, the red thread of fate appears around her hands. They are both trapped by this relationship. Neither can move forward. Mr. Kotowari appears to make the final cut. Yet, this comes at a cost. While it takes their relationship, it also takes Haru’s arm. It does the job and allows Haru to escape and Yui to return to her senses. The two girls are able to let go and their otherworldly experience is over.
Yomawari: Midnight Shadows presents a world filled with spirits we do not understand. It is nearly impossible to comprehend what each one is capable of without actually engaging them. But, while they do not behave to our expectation and are almost all hazardous, the game also shows us that their malevolence may always be due to them be inherently bad or good. Mr. Kotowari shows that they may have a neutral mindset. Their individual actions are the ones that may be bad or good. And, even then, an action that may be construed as violent could prove to be one that serves the greater good.
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