Ever since the release of Yuri!!! on Ice, I’ve been itching to watch another anime with good representation of queer couples that doesn’t fall into the offensive yaoi and boy love genres, and No. 6 was recommended as the perfect show to do just that. I binge-watched it in a single day and absolutely adored it. The world-building is very well done, the characters are interesting and inhabit many shades of gray, and of course, the romance between Shion and Nezumi is so wonderful. I couldn’t have asked for a better couple in a more politically action-oriented anime.
Warning: There are some spoilers ahead involving the plot and characters of No. 6! Read at your own risk.
Shion and Nezumi first meet when they are twelve years old during a typhoon. Nezumi sneaks into his room, injured and on the run. Rather than hand him over to the authorities, Shion is compassionate and takes it upon himself to treat his wounds, and the two bond quickly. Nezumi is able to escape, and Shion and his mother are stripped of their luxurious life style as punishment and forced to move elsewhere.
Four years later, Shion is arrested on the suspicion of murder and conspirator against No. 6 after his co-worker dies of mysterious circumstances. Nezumi, having watched over him for the last four years, concocts a rescue and takes him to the “real world” outside of No. 6. Shion nearly dies from the same disease that killed his co-worker, but Nezumi is able to save him, and he undergoes a physical change. There, Shion has to wrestle with his desire to save his home with a possible serum while Nezumi has to reconsider his cruelty and desire for revenge.
Shion and Nezumi disagree about the fate of No. 6. Nezumi wants nothing more than to see its destruction after No. 6 was responsible for the genocide of his people. Shion, however, believes that the people of No. 6 should be saved rather than condemned to death, so he strives to find another solution. These differing ideals lead to several arguments throughout the show that challenges their morals and character. When Shion’s kindness is tested and he commits acts of violence, Nezumi casts aside his desire for revenge in order to preserve Shion’s empathy for others that he so greatly admires. Shion and Nezumi influence each other a lot over the course of the show, but not all of their interactions revolve around No. 6.
I could talk more about how Shion and Nezumi’s change and growth is so important, but I’d rather focus on something else about their relationship. Something that I really liked seeing was the ways they protected each other. These two are constantly putting themselves in danger for the other, and while it’s often very selfless and noble, there are also times when they make misguided and harmful decisions as well.
They’re drastically different people trying to understand and learn from each other, and with that mistakes are made. They are emotionally inexperienced with being supportive, resulting in saying hurtful things or keeping secrets and hurting each other as a result. Trust can be broken, and it takes time and communication to regain it. But luckily, their relationship is dependent on their mutual concern for each other, and so these issues are short-lived and allows them to overcome their problems. It’s a good balance that allows their actions to feel believable because of how realistic Shion and Nezumi’s relationship is presented.
As a result, No. 6 is full of many quiet, sweet moments between Shion and Nezumi that exemplifies how much they care about each other. The scene that reinforced this the most for me was in Episode 5. At one point, Nezumi decides to teach Shion how to dance, leading him along in a waltz. At first, Shion is uncomfortable and unwilling to learn, but he eventually lets himself get swept up in the moment. It’s a beautiful sequence that epitomizes everything about their relationship, and I’ve linked it below (in Japanese because it’s better in this case) for your viewing pleasure.
This dance between Shion and Nezumi is so simple yet so well done. The limited dialogue as the music swells and carries the scene; the visuals of the destruction of the world juxtaposed with the serenity of their waltz; their soft expressions and the way they gaze at each other. It’s so symbolic of how Nezumi cherishes the kindness Shion showed him when no one else did, and also of Shion’s admiration and respect for Nezumi and the realization that he doesn’t want to lose him. Their dance is a truly romantic moment that captures the beauty and vulnerability of their relationship. For anyone who wants to see another good example of representation where romance isn’t the focus, similar to Yuri!!! on Ice, No. 6 is the show for you.