Watching the new series Voice of Fox, I’ve been struck—especially come episode 4—just how much the scenario reads like a page from the thought of Carl Jung. The story follows Hu Li, who is the “ghost singer” for Kong Que: Kong is a rising star known for his amazing moves, looks, and voice—except that voice isn’t really his. Hu Li has signed a contract to be Kong’s professional singing voice, and part of the agreement stipulates that he must never let it be known that ‘Kong’s’ voice is really his. The plot kicks off when Hu Li becomes aware that someone knows his secret…
Here’s where Carl Jung comes in. Central to Jung’s thought is the idea of “individuation”, the process whereby an individual both discovers and constructs (“negotiates” if you want to sound fancy) their own identity. Individuation lasts your whole life, and is of course going to be highly personal, but Jung thought it tended to follow certain trends in people. Everyone has a particular psychological trait that is strong in them, and so from an early age they tend to rely on that trait—and to repress its opposite trait. As we mature, the repressed trait begins to make itself known in the unconscious, and the individual has to come to terms with it.
In Voice of Fox, Hu Li’s dominant trait is logical thought. His choice to be a ghost singer is eminently logical: His mother is in a coma, and her medical bills are astronomical; the (rather sleazy) company promoting Kong Que has promised to cover the bills as long as Hu Li fulfills the contract. In Jung’s terms, Hu Li is a Thinker.
But what he desires is to be a singer in his own right. The repressed trait for a Thinker is Feeling: emotions, desires, libido, and the like. In episode 3, when the power goes out during Kong’s performance, Hu Li stands on the stage with him (in the dark) and sings to give the illusion that Kong is continuing to perform. Thus in episode 4, Hu Li begins to wrestle dramatically with the longing to return to the stage and sing again, this time openly.
First, this takes the form of a dream, in which Hu Li sees himself kicking Kong Que off the stage and revealing himself as the real singer. Everyone praises him—until his mask falls off and they see the scar on his face.
Every student of Jung (or Freud) knows the value of dreams and the images that appear in them: they are messengers of the unconscious. And from a Jungian standpoint, the meaning of this one is quite obvious: Hu Li wants to reveal who he is (the voice), but also he wants to hide who he is (the scarred boy). Hu Li’s desire and fear are in conflict. That’s pretty much a textbook case for a step in individuation right there.
Second, he starts to have this waking, recurring vision of a creepy ethereal figure:
The appearance of this figure is ambiguous: bright, as one would associate with an angel or heavenly figure; but also creepy and tempting, as one would associate more with the demonic. Jung thought that as the repressed trait tried to break into consciousness, it would be seen by the conscious mind as something heavenly and/or demonic—an otherworldly figure outside the control and power of the rational mind. And here we have such a figure explicitly articulating Hu Li’s own desires.
Speaking of the otherworldly, the unknown person who has figured out Hu Li’s ghost singer role goes by the name “SKY”. It might be a stretch, but the sky is the traditional location of Heaven. And here we have a person whom Hu Li does not know, but who clearly knows him, revealing his true desire to him—and they are named “sky”.
Episode 4 seems to be setting up Hu Li’s childhood friend, Chuyun, as “SKY”, or at least as someone who has figured out his secret. She is another voice encouraging Hu Li to go onstage and make his dream come true. Jung proposed that as the repressed trait tried to make itself known to the conscious mind, whether in dreams or fantasies or any other method, one of the images it would make use of is the “Anima”, the person’s ideal form of the opposite sex. I think it’s safe to say that Chuyun could well be Hu Li’s Anima:
While the show is clearly setting up Chuyun to be the main love interest, Hu Li seems rather oblivious to her as anything other than his close childhood friend. That sounds rather stereotypical for an anime protagonist, but there might be a slight justification in Hu Li’s case: He’s pretty well preoccupied with several part-time jobs, worrying about his mom, and trying to keep his singing role secret in addition to everything expected of a normal high school student. I mean, high school’s rough enough without all the extra stuff. But from a Jungian perspective, Hu Li’s “love obliviousness” is simply another way of showing how his feelings currently dwell in the unconscious and are trying to break out.
Finally, Hu Li’s avatar of choice, the literal mask he hides behind, is a fox. And in Japanese lore, the fox is a tricky animal: changing its appearance, or the appearance of other things, in order to deceive other people. Among other things, it’s said to make leaves look like money and then buy things from hapless vendors, who only discover the deception later. Is it plausible that the money that both Hu Li and the talent company are chasing will turn out to be leaves after all?
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