Author Topic: Rikiga- what are you doing, man?  (Read 248 times)

secretagentfan

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Rikiga- what are you doing, man?
« on: May 14, 2014, 02:12:10 pm »
Sorry guys, I've been doing a lot of thinking on Rikiga lately and I'm still having great difficulty with placing his character. I was wondering if you guys could help me out? Maybe share some of your thoughts on the fellow? He's a fascinating character, and plays a substantial role in No. 6-- so why is there so little stuff on him? Trying to worm my way into his head I came to a few conclusions--

1. Rikiga has lived a full life outside of the immediate story of No. 6.

I mean wow. I'll try and summarize, but since it's kind of piecemeal thing I'm probably leaving stuff out or am inadequately explaining something-- please correct me!
His character has a major arc that occurred outside of what we, as readers see. He was a pretty decent reporter before the Latch Bill newspaper went bankrupt. He used to visit the city before the wall was built, had a crush on Karan, but never really pursued it. He turned to selling porno mags to make ends meet sometime after that. And then somehow after that he starts selling girls to higher, ****, No. 6 officials in order to pay off his booze. As for how he's made these contacts it's kind of unclear. He was probably well-knownish being a reporter but it's a tough call as to how he was able to be trustworthy enough to get this big city men wrapped around his finger. He also sleeps around. I don't know if payment's involved. His relationship with most women certainly isn't that loving. It seems pretty deceitful especially considering his character introduction with a woman screaming at him and threatening to kill him. Yeah, Rikiga and the ladies seem to have kind of a nasty relationship.

2. Rikiga seems to have a pretty different internal life that contrasts with his external appearance.

He's a drunk, kind of goofy, definitely greedy and a complete coward. Those are the sorts of things you notice when first meeting him. Even Shion is kind of disgusted by him at first meeting. But he's a info-gatherer and he's pretty darn good at what he does. He's sketchy as hell and pretty easy to manipulate if you get to him through someone he trusts. He's nice to Shion though, frequently worrying about him, acting kind of weirdly paternal in that he takes him out shopping and even offers Shion a place to stay in his WAY nicer house in West Block. (Dude has cake. Cake. Rikiga's not slumming it up, he's doing pretty darn well for himself. Yet he's drunk all the time and is a total loser in every sense of the word- so at what cost?) And yet for all his paternal-ness, he doesn't actively fight Shion in his staying with Nezumi. Which is weird, because Nezumi's sketch as hell too.
Another weird thing.
Rikiga only seems to know Nezumi as Eve-- weird considering the fact he's an info-gatherer but I guess Nezumi was pretty good at staying off his radar. But that means Rikiga visits the theatre fairly regularly. Not much of a surprise, Rikiga's the type to go for a whole bread-and-circus vibe in order to cope with the depressing reality of his existence. He's a real escapist.

3. Rikiga's love for Karan's pretty darn odd.

It's downright worshipful, and an odd little layer on his character. Internally he seems kind of guilty and dark and he covers that up with copious amounts of alcohol and women. But then when he talks about Karan he's goofy and kind of a total romantic which is weird. I get the vibe that it's not even about Karan but about how he thinks Karan is. He's the same with Shion. He writes them off as being total angels, but what does that make him? Maybe it's a way of expressing his internal guilt and basking in the rays of something that he knows he's not?
I really don't know.

Which is why I'm posing this question to you guys. What do you guys thing Shion and Rikiga's relationship is? How does it relate to Karan?
Because I am driving the struggle bus on this one.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2014, 02:13:48 pm by secretagentfan »

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Vox

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Re: Rikiga- what are you doing, man?
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2014, 02:41:17 pm »
Oooh I can tell this is going to be an interesting discussion.

I was just thinking about Rikiga the other day, actually. It's interesting to see how he fits in with the other protagonists in the novel (Nezumi, Shion, Inukashi, Karan, and Safu), or with Nezumi's little troupe of allies (Shion and Inukashi). Rikiga is old and he's not scrounging for money like the rest of them. He's really a bit of an outlier. It's interesting to me that Rikiga is considered their friend instead of just their resource or contact. At least, I think he must be their friend, because if he were just helping Nezumi and Shion for money he wouldn't have stuck around in the Correctional Facility for so long with Inukashi.

Something interesting to me is the way that prostitutes and Rikiga's women are treated in this novel. They're just sort of a fact of life. The only time anyone gets mad about Rikiga's sources of income is when Shion takes offense on Nezumi's behalf when Rikiga invites him to be a prostitute. Everyone pokes fun at Rikiga for his job, but nobody really condemns him for it.

I agree that Rikiga only really likes Shion because he thinks that Shion is a pure angel (a delusion that Nezumi is also under, I might add). I don't know exactly how he feels about Karan, though. I think that because she's a link to his more innocent past, he's able to be less of a greedy old coward around her - kinda like she brings out the best in him, which is what a healthy relationship is supposed to do anyway. I got some quotes from the epilogue, where they actually interact:

Quote
"Shut up!" Rikiga snapped. "Why don't you go off and gnaw on a chicken bone or something? Karan, listen to me," he implored. "I never dared use children or babies. I never used little ones to make my daily bread. That's the truth. Please, believe me."

"Of course I believe you," Karan said. "I can't imagine you looking at the young as a target for profits."

"Karan." Rikiga flushed and stepped closer to Karan. "Thank you. I feel like your trust in me is all the support I'll ever need."

"My, Rikiga." Karan retreated half a step before smiling serenely. "I never remember you as someone who could recite such a theatrical line. You spoke frankly and straightforwardly, and you were careful with your words."

In the distant past, Rikiga was not the same as he is now.
Something else interesting I just remembered is that Karan actually married an alcoholic. Rikiga knows this. I think it must make him hopeful to know that.
I almost wonder if he hasn't started seeing winning her as a game? But that's quite a bit cynical.
It doesn't really matter anyway, because I don't think Karan wants to get married again.

Quote
"Yeah, you're right," Rikiga said angrily. "I am a monkey. Just the sight of a dog maddens me to no end. Every time I see one, I feel like tearing it apart with my teeth. Roar!" Rikiga raised his arms and lunged at Inukashi. Inukashi laughed mockingly while he nimbly danced out of reach.

Look, he's playful. He might be a greedy old man, but he's not totally boring, at least.

Quote
He hoarded artwork and handiwork, electronics, paintings, jewellery, furniture, medical machines, cars, clothes, office supplies, and even toys; when things began to settle, he sold them at high prices and made a handsome profit. Now he directed and managed a publishing company and printing company, issuing a weekly informational magazine and a daily paper.

He's also got a wicked business sense. He's not an idiot.

I don't know, Rikiga is a pretty big puzzle. *shrugs*

Weisel

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Re: Rikiga- what are you doing, man?
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2014, 04:19:36 pm »
I'm always interested in why people have certain vices, so I'm going to talk about Rikiga's alcoholism.

I think I can understand why he's constantly drunk. I mean, how many times is he actually sober compared to being drunk in the novels? Anyway, it's definitely an escape. He's clearly not happy with his life, but I can imagine he's not willing to change his ways based on the thought "but what else is going to reliably bring me enough income?" He's good with business, that's for sure, and the most profitable businesses in the West Block are generally the least savory. So with his business mindset, he'd of course keep doing that kind of work as long as it's profitable. He doesn't want to give up that stability of knowing he'll be living comfortably the next day, week, month, year... But he knows what he's doing is incredibly immoral. And I think he knows he should stop, but he also knows he's too much of a coward to give up his own stability for the sake of following ideals, especially when no one else around him is doing that. So he keeps playing the game he hates so much despite himself. He's intelligent enough to look at his own life and see exactly that this is all happening, but doesn't have the courage to change it. And so he drinks to cope.

It seems like a ridiculous thing to do from an outside perspective, but it's not something a person just immediately decides to do. It's not a matter of "I think I'm going to get completely plastered every single day," but rather a habit that starts out small. "I'll have a drink after I get this awful task done." "Today's been rough, so I'll have a drink." "I'm stressed out, but a drink should help me relax." "I'm unhappy right now so I'll just have a few drinks to cheer up a little." So those little thoughts apply themselves more and more until it goes from being an occasional activity to a daily habit.

Writing this out, I can just imagine Rikiga falling into this cycle. He probably drank socially when he was a lot younger, like a fair amount of people do. And then as things started changing in No.6 in worrying ways, he probably had some tricky and even risky reports to make while getting around the city's new policies. I can see Rikiga treating himself to a few drinks once he's gotten through some of those jobs. And with the newspaper he worked for going out of business, that probably brought on more drinking. It likely took some time to decline into failure and I imagine Rikiga tried his best not to let it happen considering that his job was at stake. Fighting to keep your job in a hopeless fight is pretty stressful, but a few drinks would take the edge off of it, right?

...I think you all can see where this is going. By the time he started doing business on his own, alcohol was maybe even a part of his daily life. He probably continued using it as a crutch while he got himself established, and once he was making a sound living for himself, he definitely had to be drinking every day. Not only did he have the means to support the habit, but he had the reason to keep the habit. He's not an evil person. He could see how wrong it was to be making a profit the way he was. But drinking helps with the unhappiness, so... Yeah. He's gotten to the point of having a glass of booze to wash down his breakfast every morning.

And the whole deal with Karan? My theory on it is that he sees Karan as the epitome of a "good" person. It likely started as a sort of crush when they were younger, but grew into something more when everything else around Rikiga got uglier and uglier. Karan remained in his memories as a good person, and that stood out from the horrible things and people around him. So to him, this woman he had a thing for before has become the last good thing in his life, even if he hasn't seen her for years and years, and he probably doesn't want to think of her as any less than that. So with everything said before about the alcoholism and the realization of his own wrongdoings, I think Rikiga hates himself to some level. But if Karan would accept him, if someone purely good could love him, it'd mean he wasn't actually a bad person, right? Having Karan love him would be his delusional salvation.

As for Shion, it's definitely all because of Karan at first. But I think over time, Shion has just sort of made his way into Rikiga's heart a little just like he has for Inukashi (and a lot for Nezumi) simply because of his nature.

Well, that's my thoughts on it all for now. Maybe I'll think of more later.

secretagentfan

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Re: Rikiga- what are you doing, man?
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2014, 06:13:38 pm »
I keep writing more junk in my head but not typing it out and forgetting it like a doof. Apologies.

Vox: Ooh, it's really interesting that Rikiga came into his wealth by hoarding items and selling them at high prices. I had missed that part of him. He's definitely got a business sense. Dude's got a good nose. And Rikiga is really funny, maybe not intentionally all the time, but I see him as a comedic character which is weird because he's such a dark fellow.

Weisel: All good points-- Rikiga probably eased into alcoholism, everyone treats him like a drunk but he's still in a highish position of power and maintaining it barely sober. Which is weird, and interesting, and kind of follows the idea that Rikiga wasn't always this bad and just sort of eased into alcoholism.

Though I'm not really sure about Shion. I mean, Shion does have a way of worming into people's hearts, but I'm just not picking up on as much development in that department. I really think Rikiga only starts viewing Shion as actually not an angel but a person would be post correctional facility. 

I need to find evidence for that though-- which I will. At a later hour.