Kaiki Deishuu is a very interesting man. A fake, fraud, con-man. On the surface he appears to be what is best described by one of his old friends (Kagenui) as a “petty villain”. Pale skin, lifeless eyes, and a sullen look. Greedy, selfish, and self proclaimed evil doer. The ends justify the means for Kaiki, and the ends usually involve making money. But there is so much more to Kaiki Deishuu beneath the surface that we see through his thoughts, actions and past. This is a breakdown of how Kaiki Deishuu became the perfect anti-hero. Monogatari Series spoilers ahead.
Some Backstory On Kaiki Deishuu
We know of two major details regarding Kaiki’s past.
First, in college he was a member of the occult research club that contained both Oshino Meme and Kagenui Yozuru. The same club that was led by Gaen Izuko. The most notable achievement of this club was the creation of Ononoki Yotsugi the tsukugami (basically ghost doll). All of this basically tells us that Kaiki both has knowledge of the supernatural and connections to other specialists – both of which play a large role in his actions later on on his life.
Second, we know that Kaiki was the first person that Senjougahara Hitagi approached while looking for a solution to her infliction, the crab god. What we learn from Senjougahara is that Kaiki tore apart her family (although she acknowledges it would have fallen apart at some point anyways), swindled money from her father, and failed to cure her. As a result of this she bears a grudge against Kaiki, and constantly refers to him as a fake, fraud, con-man and liar. There is much more to this story that we will come back to.
Kaiki Deishuu The Antagonist
The first time we see Kaiki is in front of Kanbaru Suruga’s house. In a brief meeting with Araragi Koyomi he is portrayed as very sinister and dangerous. Araragi notes that he seemed similar to Oshino Meme and Guillotine Cutter, both of whom are specialists dealing with the supernatural.
A short while later, we find out that Kaiki had been confronted by Araragi Karen. Kaiki was responsible for selling curses to the local middle school population, as well as “cures” to the curses in a large scale con operation. Kaiki stung Karen with the poison of the wreathe-fire bee and escaped. When confronted a second time by Araragi Koyomi and Senjougahara, Kaiki gave up with no hesitation, promising to leave town forever.
This is a pretty basic synopsis of what happened in Kaiki’s first major appearance, and these scenes have many important details that will allow us to better understand Kaiki.
Who Is Kaiki Deishuu?
Kaiki Deishuu is many of the things that other characters claim he is. He is a con-man, liar, and a fake. He loves money, and can be described as selfish and evil.
His knowledge of the supernatural is very likely not as extensive as other specialists. He himself is not a specialist, and the closest name he gives himself is “Ghost Buster”. Unlike other specialists, Kaiki doesn’t believe in the supernatural. This is what makes him a fake – he deals with ghosts but he doesn’t believe in them. Kaiki describes himself as someone who doesn’t believe in ghosts, but is still afraid of them.
Instead of real powers or ability, Kaiki uses what he calls instant hypnosis. He convinces his victims that they have been afflicted by an apparition, when in reality they haven’t been afflicted by anything. He also refers to this as “fake apparitions”. When Kaiki “stings” Karen, she becomes immobilized; to which Kaiki remarks that she must have an active imagination for the poison to be working so well. When confronted by Araragi Koyomi, Kaiki says the following: “Don’t involve me in your delusions”. This further tells us that Kaiki truly doesn’t believe in the supernatual, he only uses it as a way to make money for himself.
There is one more attribute of Kaiki that is not directly mentioned; his most defining characteristic.
Kaiki is a man of conviction. He has very strict personal beliefs that heavily influence his actions – sometimes to a point that is not logical. In fact, this personal honour has so much influence on Kaiki that it is likely the reason why he distances himself from others. It’s sort of an odd trait to think about. He makes a conscious attempt to avoid relationships specifically because he knows how far he will go to protect them. It’s likely the “how far he will go” portion that scares Kaiki about himself.
One quote from Kaiki that summarizes his character is this: “Unfortunately, I am very much human. I’m willing to sacrifice my life to protect what’s dear to me.”. Not very characteristic of a villain. Kaiki mentions that he loves money because it is valuable yet replaceable. He says that he hates things that are valuable and irreplaceable. Relationships could be an example of something valuable and irreplaceable. Senjougahara mentions that Kaiki “didn’t like his life to show signs of living” – which is probably a way of describing how he lived in a way that kept him from getting close to anyone.
There are many examples in which we see this “conviction” part of Kaiki demonstrated.
The most prominent example of this is when Kaiki is approached by Senjougahara to deceive Sengoku Nadeko. There is a scene where Kaiki is in the washroom trying to manufacture a reason for why he could take the job. He knew he had no logical reason to take the job, as he was not offered very much money and it was potentially dangerous. But he managed to create a very weak reason to accept the job – Senjougahara and her boyfriend Araragi had connections to Kanbaru Suruga, who is the niece of Gaen Izuko and daugher of Gaen Tooe.
Kaiki lies to Senjougahara about being in Okinawa. When she calls him out on this and tells him that she will be flying to Okinawa, he proceeds to fly himself to Okinawa in order to make it seem as if he did not lie. There is also a scene later on where Kaiki says to Senjougahara “I’ve never lied to you”, and she replies “I know”. It’s pretty interesting to think about – a con-man purposely not lying to his client.
Kaiki turns his back on Gaen and her network, which we know has benefited him in the past. He could have taken the 3 million yen offered and abandoned the job to deceive Sengoku, but he didn’t. Granted, he still took the money, but the prospect of going against Gaen is notable.
We learn from Ononoki that in the past Kaiki had broken up the cult that Senjougahara’s mother was a member of, for very little compensation.
Why is Kaiki Deishuu, a man who is supposed to only be driven by money, doing these things? The connection to all of these events is Senjougahara Hitagi.
Kaiki And Senjougahara
Senjougahara describes him as a con-man, a fake and a liar. She holds resentment for what Kaiki did, something she says she will hold for the rest of her life. But what really happened between these two?
Senjougahara approached Kaiki hoping that he would save her from her infliction, the crab god, that removed her weight and emotions. Kaiki probably met her with the intention of scamming her – but it’s hard to say for sure. Now we don’t know the full details, but I believe that at some point when these two were meeting Kaiki began to develop a connection with Senjougahara. I don’t know what the nature of this connection was, whether it be pity, friendship, love, or something else. The important part is that Kaiki began to consider Senjougahara as someone that he valued.
Kaiki mentions that back then, Senjougahara “shone like darkness” and was “someone well worth deceiving”. Senjougahara in middle school was athletic, humble, friendly, and an achiever. This is a personal theory, but I think that Kaiki was trying to teach her to be more skeptical and not trust others so closely. This may be what created the connection between the two – Kaiki’s desire to teach Senjougahara about the world (at least some version of his own view of the world).
The connection is an integral part of Kaiki’s story. He probably made a genuine attempt to help Senjougahara with her infliction – but he is not a specialist, and never was. I believe that by breaking up the cult that Senjougahara’s mother was a member of, Kaiki was trying to help Senjougahara. Whether he understood the cause of the crab god or not, he would have known that Senjougahara’s mother and the cult were having a negative impact on her life.
The problem is that this failed, Senjougahara’s mother joined a new cult, and her family broke apart. Kaiki admits that he didn’t fully understand the nature of the relationship between Senjougahara and her mother. Senjougahara cut ties with Kaiki, branding him a fake, a liar, and a con-man. This failure is something that Kaiki would carry with him moving forward.
Until he was provided a second chance: a job to deceive the snake god Sengoku Nadeko, and save Senjougahara’s life. This was an opportunity that Kaiki could not pass up, and that is why he did everything he could to come up with a reason to accept the job. That is also why he turned his back on Gaen, and risked his life to deceive a snake god. A chance to redeem himself.
One other important thing to note is this: the reason Gaen was asking Kaiki to abandon the job was because of his past with Senjougahara. Kaiki is normally very good at what he does – a good example being when he deceives Sengoku’s parents multiple times. The problem is that when it came to Senjougahara, Kaiki failed. And if he failed once in the past, there was a chance that he would fail again. In fact, the way this topic was covered by Ononoki made it feel like failure was inevitable.
After assuring Senjougahara that he would succeed, Kaiki proceeds to the North Shirahebi Shrine to complete his job and deceive Sengoku Nadeko. The plan was to tell her that Araragi and Senjougahara had died in a car accident the night prior, so that Sengoku couldn’t kill them because she would believe that they were already dead.
Gaen’s worries came true, and Kaiki failed to deceive Sengoku. These were Kaiki’s words regarding this failure: “Sengoku Nadeko so easily saw through my lies… because she never trusted me one bit to begin with. So there was nothing to deceive in the first place.”. Kaiki had failed to truly understand Sengoku’s character and just how much she had closed her heart off from the world. You cannot betray someone’s trust if they do not trust you in the first place.
Interestingly, this was foreshadowed by Hanekawa. When speaking about Sengoku she mentions that “words don’t reach her”, and that she felt like Sengoku snubbed everyone around her. Kaiki also uses the word “snubbed” when describing the situation in which he failed to deceive Sengoku, which is likely to make a connection to what Hanekawa said and his failure to understand Sengoku.
What Kaiki proceeded to do after was his true redemption – he managed to convince Sengoku to return to being a human. Not with lies and deception, but with truths and hope. Kaiki knew Sengoku’s embarrassing secret that she hid from the world – that she liked to draw manga. The words Kaiki uses in this moment are truly amazing, and resonate with me because I have nothing but respect for people who create (as you can see in my post about re:creators / creation).
Kaiki says the following two statements: “Creation is an embarrassing process, and dreams are embarrassing as well.” and “If you don’t think about becoming one, you’ll never become one” (referring to manga artist). These statements are as true as it gets – which make them all the more amazing when spoken by Kaiki.
Succeeding in his job, saving Senjougahara, and redeeming himself. Kaiki walks off, only to be killed by an angry middle schooler who he had probably scammed during his con operation. In the end, Kaiki dies having redeemed himself.
Overall Kaiki Deishuu’s tale is a great story about an imperfect man who had many flaws managing to redeem himself of his past failure. He really is a interesting character, antagonist, and anti-hero.
One Remaining Question
The one question that I am left with is “what were Kaiki’s plans regarding Kanbaru Suruga?”. It’s possible that this was answered in the books, just as it’s possible I got some details wrong above due to the information I have being solely from the anime.
Kaiki mentions Kanbaru Suruga three times in the anime:
- When he is first introduced, outside Kanbaru’s house. Here he mentions that he was curious in seeing the house that Gaen Tooe’s daughter (and Gaen Izuko’s niece) lived in. He also mentions that he didn’t sense a very strong aura, and that there wouldn’t be very much money to be made as a result.
- Kaiki uses Kanbaru as his ultimate reasoning for why he would accept the job to deceive Sengoku. He mentions that Senjougahara likely knew Kanbaru, and at the very least Araragi knew Kanbaru. He doesn’t state exactly why though, he just uses the statement”for Kanbaru’s sake” as his reasoning.
- Later on during the job when recapping his day, Kaiki mentions that he ran into someone named Numachi Rouka and discovered she was now a resident in town. He says this knowledge may come in handy in the future, when he becomes acquainted with Kanbaru Suruga.
It’s hard to say for sure what Kaiki’s plans were regarding Kanbaru Suruga. Maybe he just wanted to meet her. Maybe he had some sort of connection with her mother, Gaen Tooe; it’s a name that isn’t mentioned very much in the anime. Kaiki may be the only one to actually say Kanbaru’s mother’s full name like that, I can’t remember for sure. Either way, it’s something that we never really find out.
If you scroll up and look at the earlier picture of Kaiki’s notebook, you can see a definite similarity between how this house is drawn and Gaen Izuko above – only the “hat” on this picture is facing the other way. I think that the “house” represents Gaen, either Izuko or Tooe, or both, and the little face on top of the house represents Kanbaru. Just a cool little detail I noticed.
That’s it for this post. I know I made it sound like I was done with the Monogatari Series with my post on Owarimonogatari, but I caved and ended up re watching the entire series, starting with Kizumonogatari. I remembered liking Kaiki Deishuu as a character, and as I was watching I realized that I missed so many details about him when I first watched the series. As a result I couldn’t help but make note of some details I noticed about him and it ended up becoming this full blown 2500+ word post about him. I think it’s fair to say that he is my favourite character in the Monogatari Series.
I also think that this series is one that is more enjoyable the second time through, because it becomes so much easier to understand everything – details, timeline, characters. I definitely recommend giving it a second go, especially if you don’t have anything else you really want to watch anyways.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading!