(Note: Episodic notes are still mostly to be found on the Episodics Notes’ page, but up to a couple every week will have their write-up appear on the main page, when I think they warrant it. For those who don’t know, I take the notes as I watch the episode, and merely re-order them afterwards.)
Well, the message of the last two episodes had been two-fold. First we have had our message about how family is important, and how you get to choose your family. People aren’t replaceable, even if Asuta might think so. The second is about obfuscation, about seeing the truth, about lying. Well, dunno where they’ll go with this, but let us see together.
Thoughts and Notes:
1) Yasu: On Self-Identification and Growing Up:
1) Foolish Yasu. He really gives a strong vibe of an annoying teenager poseur, which if Pepel (the general) is truly his father, makes sense. But even if he’s not truly his father, they’re all family, and until Jimon had come along he was figuratively at least the youngest child. He wishes to think of himself as cool and powerful, but/because he’s a nobody. The knife, the cool pose with the cigarette, all of it.
2) Heck yeah, I called it. Yasu only smoked because it was part of the image he was going for. He doesn’t want to change, meaning he doesn’t want to give up on his image, but also doesn’t care enough to make it into reality.
3) Ok, let’s think for a few moments about this small chat Yasu had with Pepel. He’s been cast away, after Kate said people aren’t so easily replaceable, but you only have so many strikes before you’re out, and yet, isn’t family about giving someone more chances? Then again, smokers aren’t people, so how could they be family? Well, the KuruKurus and Robotika aren’t humans either :3
Looking at it some more, what Yasu wants isn’t just “the bad boy image”, he wants to be like his father, he wants to return to the past where they’ve been family. Pepel gave him a lighter, he handed him off a symbol of manhood, that’s a rite of passage right there, but now he doused his fire off, symbolizing their parting of ways. Also, that statement, “First you have to learn how to light a fire” – first you must find bravery within yourself, you have to learn how to change the world. Lighting a fire within people as Kate had done, but also fire as the bringer of progress for mankind. There’s a reason so many mythologies have tales about how fire had been brought to us.
4) Interesting, above we portrayed Yasu being handed the lighter as a rite of passage, where he becomes aman, and he certainly thought of it that way, but look at the second recollection we have “Only kids try to portray death as something macho” and then “I quit smoking. Can’t be a kid for the rest of my life.” – In other words, cigarettes, AKA “death-sticks” are death that is being made out to be macho, which brings us back to the one who said “smoking is a gentleman’s activity.” Smoking brings your death, and used to be depicted romantically in Hollywood. To smoke is to be a child. To grow up Yasu had to smoke, but thenquit smoking, the true rite of passage, but he prefers remaining a child, being “macho”, seeming macho.
5) LOL. We’ve always seen how quick Yasu is to appear and disappear, that was amusing. Well, consideringhow pissed off Kate seemed, and considering how scary their first encounter with her had been, who can fault him? He truly lacks a spine. It’s no rite of passage for him, he didn’t do something because he believed in it. Also, Kate, with your ultimatum, and with Yasu’s action now, how do you feel about that “Fear can never inspire action!” line from before?
He’s still very far from being a grownup.
2) Kate: Leadership Isn’t a Kid’s Game!
1) The cognitive dissonance here, heh. The overlord reprimanding her subjects. You know, I wonder if at some point we’ll discover that Kate had a rough life, and everyone else is just here to make sure she never feels sad again. Of course, that doesn’t contradict her ruling them with an iron first, and being adamant about changing the world. Heck, it wouldn’t surprise me if the opposite is true – everyone in Zvezda but Kate had a sad life, and she’ll recreate the world so they would have a place to belong, and so no one else would feel sadness.
2) Ok, the mood here is all too serious with the shift to blue, but I’ve been laughing quite a bit. If anything, it reminds me of the “Say what, say what one more time!” from Pulp Fiction. “I dare you to smoke, I double-dare you, motherfucker!” By the by, I have an extremely sensitive sense of smell and abhor the scent of cigarettes, so I can understand Kate. My sense of smell making me queasy when people drink coffee nearby is more of a problem…
3) “Fear can never inspire action” – the opposite of what Kiryuin Satsuki (from Kill la Kill) says, but then again, it can inspire inaction, which is what a dictator might want. Kate is an anarchist. Well, her next line made me laugh, “If you’re not brave enough to yell at them, bash their head in!” – but of course, that’s quite an escalation, right? Well, if you yell at them, they might yell at you back, but if you kill them, they won’t get to yell at you back! Perfect sense! (Please don’t try this logic at home or at work.)
The grand orator had moved the heart of the citizenship. It is time to take action. No, I don’t really know what to say, but I’m having a hard time stifling the giggles here. She wishes to drive them to action, and she had.
3) Smoking is a Symbol – Smoking as a Mirror of the World:
1) Hm, notice how they show us the world through the lens of how smoking is terrible. Considering how the previous episode had begun, with small acts being noted for their dire symbolic significance (sending ude sweet buns to the parliament!), then it sort of makes sense. This is all about symbolism, it’s all about shifting the paradigm, shifting how we perceive reality. And of course, how things are taken out of proportion and made ridiculous. Of course, Kate’s actions are only symbolic, for they are running around and chasing individual smokers. If you want to change the world, and change the ruling order, then you must go after the companies that sell cigarettes. You think of conquering the world, don’t you? So think big, act big!
2) “If you don’t want me to smoke, don’t leave ash-trays. If I see an ash-tray, I will smoke.” – Oh, I absolutely love that reasoning. Makes me fume. Smokers would smoke regardless. I see people sitting in malls where smoking isn’t allowed, under signs, and smoking. Yet the bins have an ashtray, so why is that? Because they’d have smoked regardless, and this way we’ll at least have less leftovers all over the place. But do listen to her words Kate, you need to attack the system.
And yeah, you wouldn’t want our overlord angry. They did make that woman “yap” quite annoyingly indeed.
4) Smokers as Inhuman, Smokers as True Believers – A Powerful Theme:
1) This screenshot is actually important. Remember that dude that said “It’s like they came here from outer space”? When you set out to fight a group, it’s “best” to paint them as non-humans, as outsiders, to whom whatever you do is justified. We don’t have “smokers versus non-smokers” here, but a city’s residents versus smokers, who aren’t also residents – they are enemies, they are scum. That’s a common way to depict those who oppose one’s stances, and it leads to awful behaviour. Only Asuta had tried to remind Kate that the smokers are humans as well, albeit terrible ones.
2) By the by, seeing the smokers in hiding brings forth an interesting question, and issue. Being smokers puts them at risk of dying, right? So why not simply stop smoking? But this is the old argument – smoking is unhealthy and can reduce your life, and yet people keep on smoking. Sure, if people had such an immediate death by smoking hanging over them they probably would give up smoking, but this is symbolic, people smoke even though it could lead to their death. On the other side, Yasu identifies as a smoker, it’s part of his identity, as he himself professed.
How much of a difference between people like them, and those who would be jailed or beaten up for their freedom of speech, or freedom of religion? Of course smoking isn’t equivalent to those things, but then again, is it? Rights are rights, and this is again, symbolic. Any law limits your rights, and the law knows it, and merely judges it worthy in certain situations. The line we draw between what is acceptable and what isn’t is always somewhat arbitrary. Same for those who choose where to obey the law and where to disobey. They’re portrayed quite similarly to people on the run for voicing anti-dictatorial opinions, or on the run for their faith, and I think it’s done on purpose.
3) The last few moments of the episode had shown hard-core unrepentant smokers to not have the souls of humans (see above for “treat the enemy as non-human”), and the person leading the charge against Zvezda, or one of them, is shown to be a smoker. This is not insignificant.
Shorter Notes / Asides:
- Heh! Obey the signs and laws set down by our ruler, punk! Everything here is so literal. Also, now I understand why this building looks so jumbled and organic – it is. Each part is modular, and can be ejected at a moment’s notice, should someone fail to flush the toilet or smoke.
- And when you’re the leader, lead! No time for half measures, no time for indecision! Though the statement by scientist girl before, about how the kitchen is more valuable than their lives, not very big on “family”, is she? Well, being angry and blowing off steam doesn’t mean you have to take her seriously here.
- And so, we’re going on a mission to eradicate all smokers! The transformation sequence was so precious, seeing as someone actually has to dress her up ;-) The one thing that bothers me is that they’re leaving their food behind, and they were hungry to begin with. Wasting food is a sin, Kate. But I guess we must annihilate all smokers first!
p>Post Episode Notes:
I’m not quite sure what to make of this episode. In general, I don’t think of this show as a comedy. I think it’s highlycomic, but I don’t think of it as a comedy, especially as everything is played straight. What happened in this episode isn’t going to just be brushed away, it’s truly something that happened and that had affected the population and the balance of power. But still, this episode was quite focused on the funny.
On a more serious level, this episode had quite a few things going for it thematically – painting people who disagree with you as non-humans as a precursor to visiting violence against them, who do you battle in order to eradicate an issue you find problematic, on how important image can be to people (important enough to die for), and who is to say what rights and beliefs we’re willing to give up, and where the line is drawn between acceptable and unacceptable.
I thought to myself, “Ok, so we’ve had all these interesting themes, but what about the plot?” and then I thought back to a recent show I truly adore – Gatchaman Crowds. The plot is only there in order to have a vehicle for the show to explore more themes, rather than as a goal in and of itself. Sekai Seifuku isn’t a show that’s plot-focused, and what truly remains for us to do is watch it for its thematic exploration, for its social commentary, even when it’s couched in humor. Even? Especially.
I enjoy this show, but even if we do look for plot, and deeper themes, it might be a bit hard to try and break them down on an episode by episode basis. But seeing as that’s what we’re doing, as we can’t marathon the whole thing just yet, I’ll be here every week to try and do that, for you, with you.