No, wait, not the kind of temptation pictured above.
If you have been watching the show, you know that Black Bullet took its riveting setting and has been going weird places and doing weird things ever since the first arc ended. Still, it has its moments of brilliance. One of those was the commentary on temptation contained in episode eleven of the show.
The episode treats us to a reunion with our favorite villain pair from the first arc. The show never tried hiding that the Hiruko pair are both evil and completely insane, nor that where they now stand is where Rentarou might end up should he lose to the anger and despair in his heart. Kagetane urges Rentarou to join him from the very beginning, offering Rentarou various incentives as well as showing him the dark sides of the society Rentarou has sworn to protect.
However, during that first arc, there was little doubt that Rentarou would be refusing the offer. While the government’s neglect led to many deaths among the Cursed Children, Kagetane’s alternative was that of killing even more people in much more direct ways while spouting clichéd villain lines. This, of course, made sense as generating bad publicity was in Kagetane’s job description at the time.
But Rentarou’s recent meeting with the pair was nothing like those before it – there was no shouting or fighting involved. To the contrary, it was a moment of respite in a dangerous journey.
In many ways, Kagetane’s timing could not have been better. Rentarou has just been betrayed by the system he protects. He was punished for doing what he thought was right, and the people in charge were not subtle about turning his family and teammates into hostages. He is sent alone on a suicide mission, one he might accepted anyway if provided with the proper support. But the language of threats seems to be the official one in this world.
Rentarou’s mission is about to meet its premature end – godly as his offensive abilities are, half of his body is still human. And as Rentarou climbs out of a river, wet, tired, wounded and about to become dog food, the Hiruko pair arrive just in time to save the day. It seems that for once, Rentarou has had enough and decided to give up on it all – and the two heard that and responded to the call.
In Rentarou’s darkest hour, the “other option” the Hiruko pair represent might have come to his mind. But of course, the two before him are flesh and blood. They bring with them power and destruction, necessary to get Rentarou out of his pinch, but also the warmth of a fireplace, the safety of mutual protection, the sweet scent of food and the bandages to cover Rentarou’s wounds.
It is a great irony that for that one moment, Rentarou’s only light in the world comes from the darkest part of his soul. But then, is it not the wat temptation works for all of us?
Each person has their own weakness. We can tell right from wrong when confronted about the issue directly – like Rentarou confronted his foes in the first arc of this story. But when we are lost on the way, betrayed, hurt, hungry, exhausted… that is when our weaknesses sneak up on us. And they offer comfort and healing.
Me? I reach out for sweets when lady luck seems to hate me, and for condescension when people do not think or act the way I would like them to. Those are two different vices, both with their own hazards, but they both feel good in the short term.
The question is, will we be able to wake up next morning, and walk away from that fireplace?
Like with Rentarou’s new little troupe, the power of temptation lies not in direct confrontation with the force of our will, but in the fact that, quite accidentally, it always seems to be heading in the same direction we are.