CHARACTER: Rokudō Mukuro
SERIES: Katekyo Hitman Reborn!
TIMELINE: 329 – Awakening Complete: wherein Spade invites Mukuro for a tea party, but before Mukuro can arrive in the flesh (so to speak), the City makes him a better offer.
HISTORY: Pre-Manga History & Manga Events (disregard anime specific arcs: arcobaleno trials & inheritance succession).
Possibly necessary addendum:
→ REINCARNATION /vs/ EXPERIMENTATION? The root of Mukuro's abilities is unclear. He claims to have lived six lives, traveled through Hell six times, with the memories carved into those six skills. He states his body experienced this. In the memory of his slaughter of the Estraneo Family lab technicians, the young Mukuro removes a bandage over his eye, and there is clear stitching around it. This suggests that rather than his having actually been reincarnated, he gained his skills through the eye, through the experimentation, which fits the setting. It doesn't fit his mature attitude, with supplemental materials describing him with the aura of “a historical warrior”, with his seemingly innate and immediate grasp of the skills – he appears to move swiftly from that hell to destroying Lancia's life. However, Reborn! is a shounen, and unexpected maturity/intelligence/skill in that genre isn't proof of anything extraordinary. As the personality section will note, Mukuro talks a big talk – always coming back from the dead / from Hell when, obviously, he's been alive the whole time – so it's possible his insistence upon having been reincarnated is part of that. It's possible the implantation of / experimentation on his eye/ himself brought with it a surplus of knowledge, it's possible it drove him insane, it's possible he was already unique in certain ways but not others – all one can do is speculate. Meanwhile, Daemon Spade, the first Mist guardian, has a fancy, pupil changing eye of his own without indication of tampering. But, given that it's been 300+ chapters and certain guardians still haven't gotten a
personalitybackground, chances are further information will never come. The mystery suits the character, but makes establishing fact tricky.
ABILITIES: The illusion within the illusion within the illusion within the pineapple
As with the other guardians, Rokudo Mukuro exemplifies the Mist, exemplifies the illusion. Creating something from nothing and nothing from something; within the truth hides the lie and within the lie the truth; the mist deceives, yet the reality of an illusion is dependent upon the reality of the illusionist – the belief, the truth. Consequently, he is both obvious and unknowable, direct in word and motive, contradicting in act, honest and misleading.
While an antagonist, Mukuro is arrogant, cruel, and negligent of human life, outright speaking his belief that humans are nothing more than “toys” or “tools”. He has absolutely no problem using the bodies of his “subordinates” past their breaking point, stabbing children to possess them, or committing any number of other heinous acts. His disdain for humanity, rooted in the mafia, spurs his goal of starting a world war so to bathe the world in darkness and blood – but first, first, the mafia must be completely destroyed. His fifth state, that of humans, he considers the ugliest and most dangerous, because as he (again) says, “I hate this world.” When asked if he bears a grudge against the mafia, Mukuro abstains on the grounds that there's been enough talking, in the process acting above such a petty thing. However, considering his background, and his acknowledgment of desiring vengeance, yeah, the boy's got a grudge. A small admission (without admitting it), but a significant, early sign that whatever Mukuro might say, however he might act, he may be that human himself.
As a protagonist – except, to hear him (or Reborn, or anyone except maybe Tsuna) say it, he never became one. When working on the same side, he dismisses the hero as too naïve (for protesting Mukuro's having seemingly killed his opponent [the damn baby got away]), and insists, even ten years into the future, that his sole motivation for colluding is to be in a better position to posses the hero's body and wreck the world.
Regardless of the role he's occupying at the moment, Mukuro approaches said moment with an air of amused superiority. Claiming to have lived six lives, he yields an impression of having seen it all, of it being difficult if not impossible to surprise or disturb him – yet it does happen, and his arrogance has lead to his underestimating opponents and losing on two occasions separated by ten years. He is often laughing, his laugh expressing a variety of emotions: interest, surprise, amusement, irritation, irritated amusement, anger, ellipses, and so forth. He behaves as if, outside of his overarching goal, participating for entertainment's sake. If not entertainment, then interest, having a marked curiosity – all the better to information hoard, to know, and Mukuro does seem to know an awful lot. This extends to all manner of things, particularly within his first goal of the mafia.
When asked about his ruse with Kokuyo Junior High, posing as students, Mukuro explains “because it's fun” and that he likes the uniforms. His sense of humor is strange even to those who follow him; whether he's playing amused or genuinely amused or irritated-amused can sometimes be impossible to discern. He plays a good game, having talent with acting even outside of illusions. With the Kokuyo ruse, there is also a component (foremost in supplementary novels) that has not since been shown as he's been imprisoned: a desire to enjoy freedom, to take a moment, to relish the simple things. Or, not explicitly: that the imprisoned Mukuro takes walks in illusions, in dreams, in fields with wide, endless skies, tells a similar story.
His arrogance is immense but not unfounded; Mukuro is incredibly powerful, incredibly driven, and for all that he despises humanity, very intuitive. At times it looks as if he need only look at a person to know his or her game, character, or flaw. Often citing the latter as expected, as proof of how rotten humanity is; yet for all his jaded talk, some things have disturbed or surprised him, only swiftly covered, as befitting an illusionist. Capable of swift reactions, swift turn-arounds, quick, clever strategy. Speaking of talk, he talks big. He operates a mile-wide flare for the dramatic, emphasizing his roots in Hell all too often. Shot himself with the possession bullet, now he's in your buddy? He died, stopped by Hell, had to come back and finish business. Hasn't been around because of that small prison detail, and it's exhausting to possess Chrome? Been awhile since he's been back from the other side of the cycle. Where did he get those killer illusion skills? From Hell. Where'd you get that dumb shirt? From Hell. (Warning: inaccurate final example). The fact it's almost never actually hell starts to punch holes in the entire gig.
While on hole-filled stories: Joushima Ken, Kakimoto Chikusa, and newly, Dokuro Chrome. The intensity of their devotion looks to others to be suicidal and stupid, as Mukuro dubs them tools and uses them thusly. When escaping from prison, he tells Chikusa and Ken to split off as they'll be burdens to him. Yet – he sacrifices himself to allow them their freedom. True: it'd be hard to find minions that loyal, but Mukuro possesses most with ease. To Sawada Iemitsu, Tsuna's father, he agrees to become the Mist Guardian in exchange for the man's looking after Ken and Chikusa, doubtless pursued by authorities to that point. It might be speculated, perhaps, that as Mukuro offered them, in their words, “a place/home to return to”, they too were his. This could be bolstered by his experience with Chrome in the future, where only if they are synchronized in bringing forth the illusion they believe most in, will it succeed, and thus materializes Ken, Chikusa, and Mukuro to stand with her, prompting him to comment, “Just as I thought, this is what you believe in as well.” As well. It could be, for doubt is frequently thrown on Mukuro's relationship with Chrome. It's possible he simply says what would best soothe her, anticipating her belief, having enough skill to feign it. It's possible that, upon meeting Nagi in his walk, a girl betrayed to die by her family, his suggestion that they were similar was merely pretty words aimed to gain her trust. He'd have you believe it.
Whether Mukuro has truly transcended human concerns and ties, merely looking out for his “tools” and the roles they play in his objective, or he's not quite shed his human skin (if anything, gained a few cells and hairs since Tsuna pummeled him); whether he acts just so to distance himself from hated humanity (while, perhaps, being confronted with slivers of it that are more than bearable), or genuinely feels no attachment; it can be hard to say. He's not telling.
It isn't polite. How negligent... it seems certain people never learned common courtesy from their parents. I don't usually have the patience to educate children, but at the moment, I'm in a very good mood. Let's start, shall we? The crash course in etiquette:1. One mustn't steal people to other worlds without their permission
2. If one must, one ought to greet his or her captives cordially upon their arrival
3. One shouldn't inflict changes onto a person's body without his or her permission
Your turn. I'd like to know, what would you suggest?
The apple tasted just as he remembered it. That first bite, teeth piercing skin and fruit, sweet juice dribbling down his chin. Only after they had taken and eaten, the boys who had not yet learned to trust. Something in the first charmed; his hand was empty when he reached again. He wanted the stretch, and the leaves whispered as the branch lifted, enough so he'd need to flex his toes into the green, damp grass. Enough so his fingers spread, so the muscles on his arm shifted taught over bone, his neck bent back. Sunlight dappled through the leaf canopy, sprinkling into his eyes, and he squinted.
Mukuro stretched, plucked the apple, and bit. A worm, small but thick, squirmed in the new space. He swallowed, and his hand was empty, and he slid to a seat at the base of the tree, allowing the rough bark to scratch through his shirt, along his back. His hand held an apple and he bit. Juice dribbled down his chin; he wiped it with the back of his hand, it dried sticky, then didn't stick at all.
He liked to stretch his legs, to believe he stretched his legs, to know he did not stretch his legs. To taste and swallow the fruit, to believe he tasted and swallowed the fruit, to know he neither tasted nor swallowed the fruit. To clench his hand in the grass and rip free the blades (sometimes they were blades that cut, blood trickled over his palms and through his fingers and it stung until he bored of it). If in a particular mood, the stalks were people, not materialized but by metaphor, and he dropped them to the dirt and ground with his fist, or huffed and puffed and blew and they drifted along the air, dandelion seeds or dust or germs, disappearing with distance and interest. Sometimes, he scratched a dog beneath its snout and under its ears, tossed a ball for it to fetch, or a yo-yo. Sometimes he played with the yo-yo, until he tore off pieces for chewing gum.
Walking was simple, unless he'd recently materialized through the girl. All of it took effort: possessing, taking form, fighting. After the last battle, he'd been unable to walk for days. Not without options; as his illusions were ever with her, it was simple to know through her, to watch through her, without seizing control. To watch them, the boys bickering and unchanging, constant. (But they had learned to trust, and only him). To learn of Sawada Tsunayoshi. He liked to watch, liked to wander, to have his other means – but often he liked best to listen to her tell it, her words quiet, first tentative, soon easing into eager. He knew how she would look, the color on her cheeks, the inflection in her voice; his cute Chrome.
She wore the ring and stood for him in that circle, the circle of fools and children and self-proclaimed carnivores, of strength and inexplicable, unceasing innocence, ignorance.
Sometimes, he wandered through the night, lit by stars and moons halved and quartered and full, walking until he sat at a fire, until he built a fire, smoke heady and crisp, wood cracking, the flames rising orange and warm. Mukuro cupped his hands over the flames, as if cold, as if seeking heat. He plunged them into the flames. His skin did not blacken nor curl but glowed brighter, and he almost, just nearly, allowed himself the memory of desperation, of inconceivable loss, of his fury and spite and hatred coating him, melting away beneath the unyielding pressure of the boy's hand.
His fingers danced into, out of the fire, which did and did not burn. Beneath his breath he laughed, the sound of it quiet and hungry.