Kaito Shizuki was one of the first Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty cards I saw spoiled. I was excited to see a new three manavalue planeswalker and already planning which deck I wanted to put him in. When new planeswalkers are introduced I get excited to read the lore surrounding them. I started reading the Kamigawa story on Wizard’s website as soon as I could. The chapters, or episodes, were released over several days. The more I read, the more I was confused by the blue/black color assignment for Kaito. Kaito does not embody blue or black. Kaito is blazing red! Join me as I explain why, but beware, there be spoilers here.
Passion fuels Kaito to a fault; he lets his emotions drive his behavior and fighting. In episode three, Tamiyo indicates it is Kaito’s arrogance that inhibits his fighting, but I think it is a combination of his unwillingness to commit to training during his formative years at the palace as well as a mind clouded by his quest to rescue his best friend, the emperor. Even though he was trained among elite imperial soldiers, Kaito has a more chaotic fight style than the disciplined soldiers. Kaito is an opportunist, using what is available to him in the moment to his advantage.
Unlike his sister, Eiko, Kaito postponed committing to an area of study as long as he possibly could before ultimately leaving the palace. This immaturity aligns with the red trait of living in the moment, not planning for the future. Kaito wants to be accepted for who he is, not who they want him to become. Kaito shows a blatant disregard for palace rules throughout the story. It is seen early on when he steals food from the kitchen, enters the restricted area of the library, and using rooftops to access places at the palace he was not permitted to enter. Later in the story, Kaito goes against the philosophy of the palace by suggesting the use of restricted technology to deal with the foreign threats.
Kaito embraces the ideology of the Futurists, but I don’t think he does so in such a way that indicates he is blue-aligned. Kaito believes technology should be embraced and all living folk should have access to that technology to improve their quality of life. Kaito is not an intellectual or researcher contributing to the advancement of technology so I don’t think his sympathies warrant placement in the blue color pie. Advanced technology allows people to live life to the fullest, what is that if not red?
Kaito is driven by a strong sense of loyalty; when he loves he loves strongly. Before the emperor was kidnapped, Kaito had intended to commit to life as a Samurai so he could stay close to those he loves. Kaito had an opportunity to escape the grasps of Tezzeret and Jin-Gitaxias, but he couldn’t leave Tamiyo behind; if he truly belonged in black he would have likely been able to leave behind the planeswalker he had recently met with little internal struggle. During the battle in the kami forest, Himoto refused to meld with Tameshi’s robo-creation even when it would have protected the kami. Himoto was born from the bond between the emperor and Kyodai, the spirit dragon. I believe Himoto agreed to meld with the Tameshi robot and join Kaito in his quest to bring her home because it felt the strong love and loyalty Kaito emanates for the emperor.
The emperor and Kaito grew up together. Sparring partners by day, giggling children by night. The emperor is as white aligned as they come: the greater good outweighs the individual. The palace seeks to maintain a peaceful relationship with the kami of the realm by regulating the technology used by its citizens. The more technology and cities advance, the more it encroaches on kami land. The more technology advances, the more easily it is to be weaponized by wrongdoers. The emperor is a highly skilled, disciplined fighter and she does not let her emotions fuel her actions or behavior. I wanted to highlight these aspects of the emperor because I love how she and Kaito balance each other. While Kaito and the emperor have conflicting world views, they share a close relationship. The emperor is unequivocally white and I think that strengthens the argument for Kaito being red. Much like the guild boros on Ravnica, red and white are enemy colors, but they overlap and complement one another in several areas.