revisiting the rokkaku arc (an analysis)
Listen, I will always love rokkaku arc for the sougo-focus and shippy reasons. In the same way, the Gintama Wiki says Sougo has only ever apologized to two women, Mitsuba and Kagura (though I’m a bit doubtful on this since he casually apologizes to people more or less, Kagura’s was in between a gag and serious, still hilarious though, sorry Sho-chan), I think he has only ever used keigo (polite speech) for Mitsuba, and Kagura. Though in Kagura’s case, it was after threats, but that’s it, that’s their literal dynamic. And this whole interaction is again just funny to me because rather than a wolf, Kagura has the guts to treat Sougo like a damn puppy.
But in all seriousness though. Sougo is always blank-faced or evil-faced. In Hijikata’s words, it’s as if he has no weaknesses. Whenever he interacts with any other character, he almost always comes out on top. Meanwhile, his sweet side is only reserved for Kondou and Mitsuba, and yet at the same time, interactions with Kagura have him shedding that blank mask. He gets casually annoyed like when he was a kid, when emotions would show more often on his face as compared to the deadpan face he dons on now (part of me thinks he became even more deadpan when Mitsuba died). You can see him get angry, and it’s always a tie between him and Kagura. If he embarrasses Kagura, she gets him back.
In this one conversation, Kagura says she hates him, but acknowledges his skill. More than that she cuts to the truth of the matter. She’s confident in saying that he’s not a murderer, so why is he pretending to be one? She wants him to tell the truth, not just for Kirie’s sake, but for his sake as well. For all that she says she hates him, the truth outs and instead shows her concern for him. (Which Sougo calls out-of-character for her; this later gets paralleled when Kagura calls him out-of-character for trying to say goodbye during the Farewell Shinsengumi arc. In conclusion, they’re both tsunderes ffs.)
And for Sougo’s part, because Kagura isn’t someone he can easily intimidate, because she’s so annoying that he can’t easily shut her out, he ends up giving away pieces of the truth. This is a secret he’s kept for over two years, but one way or the other, he opens up to Kagura.
*Also I just really love the fact that he calls her ‘ojou-san’, even if mockingly, instead of his usual ‘komusume’ or ‘gaki’.
In the same way, I think Kagura may be the only (?) woman (besides Mitsuba of course), that he’s given his gratitude to. Again for shippy reasons, I can’t believe they’re talking about how a woman’s heart easily changes, in this case Kagura’s heart. It’s serious fanfic fuel. Because in the same way, Sougo is opening up, Kagura’s opinion toward him also slowly changes. (I also love how between the both of them, Sougo is almost always the tsukkomi, which rarely happens otherwise.)
And this conversation is just so important. Sougo of course has the Shinsengumi. Even with Hijikata, and then later on with Gintoki, he shows a bit of vulnerability. But with Kagura now, he’s quite honest. He’s openly showing his vulnerability. And Kagura never exploits that weakness.
This, to me, is a really important aspect of their bond, shipping or otherwise. Because this conversation ties so well to the Shogun Assasination arc, and the Farewell Shinsengumi arc. Through this conversation, Kagura gets to know more about the Sadist, what makes him tick, what’s important to him. He’s not just a little shit, but someone with his own insecurities that he tries to fight against to protect what’s important. And Kagura can respect that, but more than that, Kagura is the person to reassure him about those insecurities. For all that Sougo admits he’s a killer, Kagura instead calls him a softie who can’t even stand the mere sight of a girl’s tears. This ties so well to when Kagura reassures Sougo much later on that Soyo didn’t hate him or wasn’t afraid of him.
But I disagree with Sougo when he says a ‘kid’ like Kagura wouldn’t understand. Because Kagura is an unbelievably intuitive person, and I love that so much about her character.
Kagura shies away from killing because she doesn’t want to lose to herself, and Sougo for his part probably sees her as someone clean or pure, and therefore someone who won’t be able to understand him, though it’s not her fault. Kids are supposed to be innocent after all. The Shinsengumi are supposed to dirty their hands so the innocent won’t have to. But that’s absolutely wrong. Kagura has Kamui as a brother. And though she shies away from killing, she absolutely understands what it means to protect something. And as someone who constantly fights to win against herself, Kagura is the one who can reassure ‘killers’ like Sougo, Kamui, and Nobume.
Sougo for his part, despite his reservations and his preconceptions about roles, still ends up unleashing his burdens to a ‘kid’ anyway. I guess in that aspect, Kagura is really an intriguing existence for Sougo. She’s not a fellow officer like Nobume whose hands are expected to get dirty. She’s not a villain like Kamui who he’s expected to defeat. She’s supposed to be part of the people he protects, a civilian, and yet he fights seriously against her, never underestimating her. By his own definition, she’s part of the people he’s supposed to get his hands dirty for, and yet despite his propensity to handle his problems himself, Kagura with all her bullheaded stubbornness manages to be there for him anyway, to support him one way or another. Maybe Sougo always thought he had to do it alone because he was the strongest, but he can’t pull that crap with Kagura because Kagura is as, if not stronger than him. Kagura doesn’t fall into a neat box or category for him. He protects and fights her, while she fights and supports him.
LISTEN, I WILL ALWAYS BE BITTER MITSUBA DIED. This arc also subtly ties with the Mitsuba arc I think. For one, Sougo mentions his aneue, although for gag reasons, Kagura still gets to find out that Sougo had an older sister who died.
For all that we joke that Sougo’s gag proposal answers Kagura’s wish to never have an empty house again, Kagura’s statements here answers Mitsuba’s words when she said Sougo was always alone because he was ‘selfish, obstinate, and stubborn’. I will forever and always be bitter that we didn’t get to see more of Mitsuba. She would have been reassured and unbelievably happy that Sougo despite the way he is, is no longer alone. It’s not even just his brothers in the Shinsengumi, but rather for all his faults, there are other idiots like him willing to fight for him, support him, and protect him. In Kagura’s words in the manga, ‘idiots travel in packs’. I just can’t even imagine what would have happened had Mitsuba met Kagura. I think somehow, she would have been deeply grateful for her.
I love Kagura so much. That care and sensitivity, not just towards Kirie, but also towards Sougo. She knows him so well, despite all of his efforts to guard himself and hide. All of their interactions thus far lead her to confidently say that he’d be happiest with someone there to fight and trying to kill him (and personally for me, I think he’s happiest when fighting Kagura, see: post-timeskip).
In other words, this was a great arc for character insights and relationship building, not just for Sougo, but also Kagura. It’s not even for entirely shippy reasons. That mutual understanding and constant support amidst that outward dislike (they’re tsunderes, I tell you) is just another thing that makes their relationship and interactions so compelling. For all that Kagura knows him so well, Sougo proves that he also knows her just as much as the Feigned Illness arc and Post-Timeskip arc would show.
And how many chapters and arcs later, it’s still Kagura who gives him the reassurance he needs, and with character development marching on, he even finds it in himself to be vulnerable for once and actively seek her out for that exact same reassurance that only she can give.
I just really love mutually hella supportive ships. And it’s for these reasons, that I really think they’re perfect for each other. I honestly think Kagura is a special existence for Sougo. She’s the recipient for so many exceptions and out-of-character moments for him, that I think even after the manga has ended, no other girl for him will do.
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