THE SILVER CASE: What Is Uehara Kamui?

Screenshot from "NAGARE." Meru, a conventionally attractive wide-eyed woman wearing a heart-shaped necklace, is in the left window. The right window shows a chat log:
TurtleGuy: really?
Meru: Out of everything you've seen and heard since yesterday Of all the information and knowledge What I'm telling you now is probably the most shocking, but it's also the most and only true thing you've heard
Meru DMing Tokio in a very non-sexual sex chat.

The more important Ayame Maspro Shelter Kid is Meru, a major character in Placebo. In addition to being a self-identified “useless Ayame,” Meru is associated with Kamui as well: she appears in “TIGIRI” as an administrator of a Kamui Net mirror, here a seemingly ordinary chatroom rather than a radicalization pipeline despite her stern appearance and the scary music. She forges a relationship with Tokio because of his status as a “failed” Kamui like hers as a “failed” Ayame, even joking that they meet because Ayame and Kamui want to be together. Meru also has an obviously liberatory role. Even as she is unconsciously made to agree with the dictatorship as a result of how oppression and isolation warps the minds of all ward residents, she remains firmly against it. Among other things, she plots to steal the experimental data from Mikoshiba and the ruling class and, in “SIZUKU,” hacks into a computer to transform herself into a weapon called the Meru Drops, wielding which allows Tokio to defeat police state agents in the Red Room. “He can feel her power. He can feel her hot, hot, hot power.”

Screenshot from "TIGIRI." In the window is a CG cyberspace room consisting of five pillars in a room glowing a light blue. A central window shows Meru, dressed in a form-fitting black bodysuit unzipped to her navel, standing between two of the pillars. Her shadowy eyes are rather intimidating. A dialogue box captioned "Select Text" lets the player choose one of three dialogue options. The highlighted one reads, "does anyone know?"
A dialogue option in one of the puzzle conversations with Meru.

Whereas Sakura and Tokio apparently had normal upbringings after being released from the shelters, Meru leads a life of extreme deprivation. She spends years as a child prostitute, as mentioned, and is still under 20 when she dies. Beginning in “NAGARE” the player reads Meru’s anonymous online diary in each of the Placebo reports until “YUKI.” In “YOGORE,” these describe her experience being sold by the Ayame Maspro to a service that “rented” her for sexual exploitation until a member of the RA Bureau, Kamijo Yasushi, took her in and later gave her a home as one of a camgirl Trinity, her “sisters.”

Like Tokio, Meru struggles with her identity and has nightmares about the shelters. She does not want to be Ayame. She envies Milu, not a Shelter Kid, who is able to live as her full, authentic self. In “YOGORE,” Meru even considers Miru, a chatbot, “much more like a real person” than she is. She goes so far as to self-identify as a computer program in “NAGARE.” Meru uses software similar to motion capture to conceal her physical voice and body from others except for Kamijo, Yagisawa, and Tokio so that others perceive her, visually, as Milu. “Basically, I escaped from my own physical being, fused with the virtual Meru, and followed the process to becoming a new, independent kind of ‘identity’.”

However, in this way, Milu’s voice and image obstruct Meru’s identity. “‘I’ – as in, my previously separated body and mind – started to finally come together. But as ‘Meru’. While I was becoming a person who had emotions, it was only when I was acting as Meru. […] I started feeling differently about Milu. […] And it also annoyed me that she was Meru’s original as well.” The person identified as Meru does not want to live vicariously through Milu but to live as herself. This leads her to increasingly intense fantasies about Milu and Miru’s deaths so that the Milu–Miru–Meru Trinity can be resolved to a single authentic identity, her own.

Screenshot from "YOGORE." In a text window titled "Winds of Baku," the following is visible: "I thought it would be funny if Milu were to be adjusted. I thought about what would happen afterward. Miru should die, too. She may be a program, and if so, she should be deleted. If that were to happen, only Meru would be left of the three. A total victory."