Inu-Oh and the Magic of Gender Expression

inu-oh ending explained

In the 1970s and 1980s, there was a musical trend that took great pride in blurring the barriers between gender expression. Acts like David Bowie, Queen, Kiss, and Twisted Sister became well-known for adopting a bright, androgynous aesthetic to go with their music, and it was known as glam rock—and during the 1980s as glam metal.

By introducing a sound of decadence and vapidity and a look that was a performance of gender fluidity, this style was perceived as a kind of defiance and a way to distinguish itself from the revolutionary rock of the 1960s.

We also observe this in the anime movie INU-OH from 2021. This comes as no surprise given that the film’s main theme is the way traditions are challenged and altered as communities and individuals advance. Inu-Oh and Tomona, the two major characters, are men on a quest to convey tales of warriors who did not receive the shogunate’s approval.

They want to end the curses that befell those who came before them. They do this by emulating the music and performance of glam from the 1970s and 1980s. Tomona, who starts wearing cosmetics, dresses in traditionally feminine attire, and grows out his hair, helps us particularly perceive the trend of it.

inu-oh music

There are other ways to interpret this gender expression in the movie, though. The first is related to those theatrical, rock, and metal roots. These are typically settings that openly experiment with looks and aesthetics, and practitioners frequently include them into their performances. Rock and metal are typically devoid of the normal gender presentation that underpins other genres of music and theater in order to appeal to specific consumers. These subgenres are about disobedience. They are about “sticking it to the man.” A fundamental act of rebellion is refusing to live up to social standards of what a man or woman should look like in favor of expressing yourself freely. It’s about rejecting the past and embracing a new future.

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Throughout the movie, Tomona and Inu-Oh are engaged in this activity. Each of them begins as a member of a society that has certain expectations of them. For Tomona, the expectation is that the biwa actors will act out the shogunate-approved tales.

He is instructed to maintain his head clean-shaven and wear simple clothing. Inu-Oh expects to remain anonymous. Due to his physical imperfections, he isn’t supposed to perform Noh dances and shouldn’t be seen. He wears a mask to hide his face and is frequently seen wearing one.

Each boy is instructed to remain hidden and follow the guidelines established by others. Their choice of appearances contributes to some of their freedom from these expectations. As they start their own troupe, they start dressing in a flashier and grander fashion, incorporating makeup, intriguing hairdos, and clothing from other aesthetics.

This viewpoint emphasizes gender expression more as an act of expression and resistance rather than as an extension of gender identification. Inu-Oh and Tomona are performing in this fashion as a tribute to the glam aesthetic and the revolutionary spirit.

inu-oh whale song

The second perspective on gender expression in the movie is connected to gender identity. This opinion is bolstered by the fact that Avu-chan, who plays Inu-Oh in the movie, self-identifies as non-binary. Tomona is portrayed as a pervert throughout the entire movie; his previous professors call him a “prostitute” because of the way he looks, and others in positions of authority look down on him as he disregards the limitations that have been set for him.

People dislike Tomona’s gender expression yet still enjoy his performances despite how unsettling it is. As the shogunate enforces the law and Tomona continues to defy them, this ultimately results in violence. He won’t cease recounting the exploits of warriors who have perished in the passage of time, and he won’t assume a typical biwa player’s demeanor.

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he cruel treatment of Tomona for daring to be different by individuals who don’t even want to try to understand him may serve as an example of how society handles gender nonconforming people to some viewers. It’s also a perfect example of some people’s happiness at being finally permitted to play around with their appearance. With his more androgynous appearance, Tomona appears much happier.

Many individuals may relate to his journey of self-discovery because of how closely his gender expression is tied to his art and personality.

In the movie, gender expression is merely another unfair law against which to resist. While Inu-Oh abides by this regulation, maintaining a male presence, Tomona does, and he is penalized for defying social convention. The two interpretations of this movie are obviously connected by its end.

The message behind the story’s usage of gender expression is the same whether you see the movie as a tale of rebellion or a tale of gender identification. Each person has the right to self-expression and to be heard. All Inu-Oh and Tomona want to do is share the experiences of the voiceless, and through their performance, they discover who they are.

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