|“||Here's the World War One flying ace. His mission: to find the Red Baron and shoot him down||”|
–Another would be hero dog, dreaming big, just like Wanta
He cannot present a threat, largely. He cannot contribute to the household in any real way. He cannot give his opinion on anything at all, and if he could, it would likely be overlooked, even by the one he loved best of all.
But Wanta is defined by his loyalty and his reliability. His first action, told in flashback prior to his first real appearance in-series, was to pull Mayu away from her likely suicidal intentions. He saves a life by becoming a life that needed saving, keeping a shattered girl alive by her need to care for him.
Even before he and Mayu moved into Maple House on a full-time basis, Wanta provided an important insight into the true nature of the main character. The awoken Lucy, so casually savage and murderous, does nothing more to Wanta than sever the leash he is tied to, harming him not at all. Besides Kouta, this is nearly the first sign that Lucy is not a monster on all levels.
Very soon after, the small dog becomes a sign that even the bad things in the series need not endure forever. A sort of beacon of hope. Taken away by a woman claiming to be his original/true owner, Wanta is forced to become the capstone of Mayu's bad day as her makeshift life on the streets crumbles around her. But this bad day evolves into the beginning of her new life and happier times ahead, capped off once again by the return of Wanta. Unexplained is how he got away from the brusque person that grabbed him, and un-depicted is his undoubtedly tender reunion with Mayu. Yet shown in full is that Wanta's place is with Mayu, and now also at their new home, Maple House.
When an annoyed/enraged Bando physically threatens Mayu for information about Lucy/Nyu, Wanta futilely bites at his heavy boots, not even really registered by the violent man. But he is there, and neither Bando's size nor his own will keep him from telling the former soldier to back off--even if that former soldier wasn't really listening.
Whatever a dog understands about the Human world, in Wanta's case, it can be assumed to be a fair sight more than what Nana did upon her departure from the Diclonius Research Institute. The new girl called him a creature and almost seemed to be attempting to converse directly with him as a dazed Mayu regained consciousness. Like as not, as Nana moved and settled into Maple House, Nana was as much guided by Wanta as he was cared for by her. At least in the anime, her first chore is the feeding, or in this instance comical over-feeding, of the small dog.
Wanta's small size comes again to haunt him, twice within the course of about a week, but if his bites and growls are dismissed by the attackers, his impact on the scenes involved is still great. When the loathsome Unknown Man violates Maple House almost by his mere presence, Wanta found himself shoved aside, seemingly killed by this monster in a casual gesture. Yet if Wanta cannot directly protect Mayu, he is still a further annoyance to the intruder, since Mayu, who he reasons should be concerned only for herself, focuses solely on her first friend. Further, the despair his apparent loss causes Mayu ends up so deep, she is able to briefly bank her resistance against this and call for critical aid just in time. Notably, warrior and hero of the moment Bando is not surprised when Wanta simply gets back up, hale and hearty. Needless to say, even as a heartsick Mayu follows an angry Bando to the beach, Wanta is close behind her. To his apparent astonishment, he becomes a stand-in for no less than Lucy herself, as Mayu comforts her dying crush, telling him he has taken down his foe at last.
As Mayu attempts without success to convince Nana to go home, despite her worries about being a danger to the others, Wanta next chooses to channel that greatest of all canine heroes, the collie Lassie. Sensing that the dangling conversation is going nowhere fast, Wanta leaves the shelter and makes his way back to Maple House, where he gains the attention of Kouta before immediately starting his return. Following Wanta, Kouta finds his wayward daughters, even declaring how important Nana is to him and forever ending their minor feud. Like Kouta, the dog seemed more interested in having their misfit family back in place than taking credit for it.
But just as with Wanta, Kouta's record as the defender of their home was shaky, and in fact, he had already brought the wolf to their door. This slip can be excused by several factors, chief among them being that he did not dwell in the realm of shadows and secrets, although by then he had some inkling of a darker world outside his experience. Another is his arguable mental diminishment, discussed elsewhere in more detail. But while a rational character analysis can forgive Kouta not checking to see if the increasingly desperate Arakawa was following him, Kouta might well be far less forgiving of himself. While no part of the series ever credits him with realizations about his role in angering young Lucy or other aspects hidden from him, it is far from impossible that he came to realize these matters in time, or even in the back of his mind as they occurred. So as armed soldiers, led by Nousou and the Agent, with the Mariko clones Alicia, Barbara and Cynthia in tow came to invade their home, Kouta might well have wondered if his actions brought this horror upon them. So it was that when Wanta, the smallest, and most vulnerable member of the household was batted aside by a soldier he bit at (and to appearances, bit through combat gear) Kouta gained both rage and focus, just as Mayu had done a few days earlier. While his goal was dubious, his path to pursuing it was quite savvy, threatening the arrogant Nousou as leader of the troop, and even shifting his threat when Nousou taunted his capabilities. In the end, this defiance only resulted in his shooting by the Agent. But this shooting in turn roused the fearful, shaking Nyu into an act thought impossible for her, ending the assault at a hideous cost to everyone. So it was that while Wanta was no more able to defend their home than Kouta himself, the former being hurt pushed the latter into taking actions that led to his severe wounding, which woke the sleeping power within Nyu, and so much more.
Wanta's next moment in the spotlight comes at the sad climax of the series, as he joins Mayu and their family in witnessing Kouta's heart-rending execution of the girl they called Nyu, really a mercy at this point, but still an agony for the Humans to endure. Ascending the remains of the Enoshima Sea Candle, the group deals with one last group of soldiers almost comically not understanding their upcoming fates, and then Lucy/Nyu's goodbyes with Kouta before leaving the hateful DNA Voice alone inside their shattered common form. After the entity itself pleads to be killed, Kouta gives in, while the ladies tear up and keep back. Surprisingly, at least as depicted, there is no need to restrain Wanta. Dogs are often curious about grisly scenes like these, and the scent of blood and muscle can draw them over, perhaps eventually forcing the owners to put them down, should they gain a taste for Human blood. Again though Wanta's unusual intelligence and sense of place tells him this is a family member meeting their fate and that the scene should be respected, or let alone.
Wanta's final scenes are the final scenes of the modern-day portion of the series, before the epilogue set a decade later. Wanta begins to wander Kamakura, with a newly confident Mayu calling to him but no longer panicked by his mere absence. After Kouta returns home from his extended stay in the hospital, the dog is sighted watching Mayu and Nana in reunions tender and awkward, and gives a clue that a supposedly dead character may be alive before cutting to the transition and finale involving mainly Kouta and three new characters. No information exists as to whether Wanta is still alive at this point, but while small dogs can have shorter lifespans, this one is special.
For Wanta is not just Mayu's friend or a family dog. His presence is a marker. The series gets going full force about the time he first appears, and his last appearance is at the end of the present day adventures. Wanta is the guide to and guardian for the series, a small furry R2-D2 or C3P0 joining us as we watch the series from the outside. Wanta never turned back a single attacker, but we feel comforted and safe during a dark grim series to have him at our side.
|“||Wanta? You're Okay?||”|
–Mayu, learning anew how tough her friend really is.