(spoilers from Stigma of the Wind, Death Note, Code Geass)
Jugo Kannagi faces a difficult decision as the children in the family slowly grow up. At the age of 18 and 12 accordingly, Kazuma Kannagi and Ayano Kannagi fight at the successor’s ceremony. The winner gets the sacred sword and power over the family when Jugo dies. Ayano wins the battle but doesn’t become the head of the family, as Jugo’s plans openly reveal to have Kazuma as the true heir.
At first, there is an issue in the ceremony as a whole. According to science, women’s and men’s abilities are not the same. Women’s abilities in most fields do tend to stay closer to the average peak, meanwhile men’s abilities diverse more to the extreme low and high.
But that’s with adults. Growing up, girls usually have average scores, skills and retain that through adulthood also. Meanwhile, boys are known to underachieve in childhood/teenagehood, but later scatter more into “low” or “high” skill areas. Getting into the “incapable” or “genius” area accordingly.
In other words, during the ceremony battle, Ayano is showing average skills. Years later, as she is 16, she continues to show an average skill according to her age. She is a good fire-magic user, that’s all. On the other hand, we see that at the ceremony Kazuma falls into the “hopeless” category, however, 4 years later comes back as a genius wind-magic user, a Contractor, and overall, a competent warrior.
We know how Jugo Kannagi has trained Kazuma to become a genius; what plays and efforts were used to change his character and then return him into the household.
However, if the wrong system of skill evaluation wasn’t used at the exam, Kazuma could probably be brought up at home quite successfully, without the “China” experience.
So why was the wrong exam used? It is quite common for the successor to be chosen in the battle with other rivals. However, it poses tons of problems:
1. Inappropriate time of the exam.
We see that Kazuma was a “green fruit”, picked up too early, and therefore didn’t bring the right results. He must’ve had more time, as honestly also Ayano, at the age of 12 quite unaware of the meaning behind her powers and more of a child-user.
Sometimes the time doesn’t allow kids to grow up, they must take the “final exam”, while not being prepared. The situation for this is also being showed in Code Geass, as Lelouch at the age of 10 was too young to lead Marrianne’s bloodline and too young to compete with older brothers who were approaching their 30s. Therefore he simply lost.
A similar situation is shown with L’s successors in the last 12 episodes of Death Note. Near and Mello are too little to confront their older rival: Light, who took L’s successor’s place.
2. Lack of test specifications
A test between the successors is mostly done “without rules”, as we see in the examples above. If you know wrestling sports, there are weight categories, meaning that people of lesser weight will not have to battle those with a natural advantage. But there aren’t any specifications to the successor’s tests which at the first glance makes them unfair.
Age is a fair requirement (as we saw in 1.), but also other skills, such as ability to be friends with people and leadership skills. Neither of those are tested at the successor’s ceremony. In other words, a fair test should consider the following possibilities:
1. None of the participants being capable to take the job.
2. One of the participants being capable to take the job.
3. Several of the participants being capable to take the job.
4. All of the participants being capable to take the job.
The most common ones are the “none” and the “one” option, as being an heir to anything is a hard job to do, and usually, people are not fit for it even if they think otherwise.
We see that in Code Geass the none option takes place when Lelouch is 10 years old. The Emperor plans not to pass his seat on in the first place, partially due to the lack of prepared successors. That situation changes in the 21st episode of the second season. (Refer to Code Geass articles to see how Charles prepared Lelouch to become the next Emperor and why he got chosen in the first place.)
In Death Note at the time of L’s Successors only one person can replace L, and that person is not in the house of Wammy.
And in Kaze no Stigma… at the time of the exam none of the participants are fit to succeed Jugo. Ayano is just a child, and Kazuma is the same, both have yet to bloom and show results.
So why such an exam even takes place?
3. The secret of an outdated exam
The house of Wammy made the exam and found that two students will be able to succeed L: Near and Mello. Near then kills Mello through other people’s hands and becomes the only option. Does it make him a worthy successor of L?
In Code Geass, the game of power takes place with people “giving up their claims to the throne” or being killed as a result. The first successor is Odysseus, a person who is the most unfit and stagnant, a no player at all. The second one is the most promising player Schnitzel, who controls his older brother and many other figures. Does that game make either of them fit for the throne?
Same with the little battle between Ayano and Kazuma. Which one of the little children who showed off their powers is fit to replace Jugo’s wisdom and leadership? How often do we even see Jugo sway his sacred sword around or using any force at all? Zero times.
That’s because in all three cases the winner of the “exam” loses the game. According to the “exam results”, they win, which means they are better than others.
But being better than others doesn’t necessarily mean: “good enough”.
Bypassing the exam
We see that most people when looking for heirs or even life itself decide differently, bypass the exam.
Emperor Charles trains the 17th heir to the throne as his primary one, L trains Yagami Light as his primary student and his successor, and Jugo trains Kazuma instead of his own daughter.
In theory, Kazuma actually had to become the heir, as he was simply older than Ayano. However, he lost that privilege when failing the exam just as Lelouch lost his when he gave up his claim to the throne. Both are being restored by their teachers so they can prove themselves again.
The value of traditions
But if that’s the case, what’s even the point of the exam? In Jugo’s case, tradition is everything. And successor’s ceremony is most certainly a tradition.
Every stable system is a conservative one and a sudden change in one side causes then the backlash to the one with an amplitude just as powerful. And when the system is shaking, the house won’t stand. Either the enemies will barge in, or some natural disasters.
In other words, Jugo cannot ignore the tradition even if that leaves him with one useless heir and another exiled one. But Jugo doesn’t “break the system” to get his way and preserve the house. If he forces Kazuma’s way in, he’s risking to start shaking it in one direction, and then the backlash will blow in another in time.
Jugo keeps Ayano as a nominal clan leader but is absolutely determined to marry her and Kazuma. Given their nature, Ayano who is younger and a weaker mage will submit to Kazuma and will follow his decisions.
Yet the traditions of the Kannagi’s house won’t be broken. The house continues to stay strong.