(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.)
Last week’s episode was quite interesting. It was a very tight premier, with amazing visual direction and “camera” control, a very good OST, and the making of a very solid thriller.
“Facility kids”, saving someone from bullying, and the game of cat and mice beginning. Let’s see where we’re headed. Full write-up imminent.
Screenshot album, 63 images.
Thoughts and Notes:
1) Freedom is the Freedom from Connections (Attachments part 1):
1) “You can die where you are, or become an accomplice.” and then of course “There is no turning back.” She’s been given a choice, purportedly. But whichever way she went, her old life would be gone in a puff of smoke. Then again, it’s not like she enjoyed her old life.
2) These shots look exactly like “Ground Zero” in NYC did in the newspaper shots back after 11/9/2001. That reminder about “Resemblance to real events” is very much intended in this shows. And sorry, it’s very much intended to look just like that. Nope, nothing to really say about it, just pointing it out.
3) Last episode I spoke of how Lisa’s mother is the tether that forces her to accept she’s still connected to this world, and look at her now – grasping Lisa. Mother is so very possessive, so very over-protective. She will not let Lisa spread her wings, she will not let her fly, unlike Twelve, who did ask her to fly.
Of course, that’s how Lisa sees it, but her mother cares very much. I remember when I was five years old and standing in front of a zebra-crossing with my grandmother, then I slipped her hand and ran across while a car came by. She was not at all amused :<
And now they are making her mother almost a caricature of clinginess and possessiveness, “You too are trying to run away from me, aren’t you?” Oh my, projection of one’s loneliness and weakness. Everything in service to “Children can change the world, adults hold them back” as a theme, and again, mirroring Nine and Twelve, held back at the facility, until they escaped.
4) I have to say, that light piano tune. I really like it. I might actually buy this OST.
2) The Way Thriller-Riddles are Constructed:
1) “Is it possible the bombers were also behind the blackout?” – And everyone begins whispering. Then we have the “If they could plan even for the reaction with the water, they must be very intelligent.” – Dunno dude, a chemical reaction that causes smoke leading to the water sprinklers? But sure, hindsight is 6/6 (meters, or 20/20 for you feet lovers).
This truly is a work written in a post-9/11 world, since even then much was made of the fact the buildings withstood the physical shock, but it was the heat of the fuel-fire that caused them to weaken. I can already see future crimes being blamed on this show, for giving people ideas or something. Without checking myself whether it’s feasible or not.
2) “VON” and everyone’s shocked. Well, we just found out that we have bombers who can take down buildings with everyday material, and are willing to bring chaos upon our great city, and they also have access to atomic fuel!!! Well, that gotta be mighty worrying. This… this was just them saying “Hello!” and now they’ve certainly got your attention.
I did wonder for a moment. This is all a puzzle, and that’s how thrillers are made. Something that doesn’t add up should be the first thing we think of, and try to fit. Was that the bomb to rescue Lisa? Perhaps. What matters is that Nine and Twelve probably wanted the police to piece it back together, to leave behind their calling card.
3) Freedom is the Freedom from Possessions (Attachments part 2):
1) Adults, looking to cover their ass, even if it could lead to additional casualties. Sucks living in anime-land, or perhaps even in our world, if it’s truly its reflection.
2) Freedom is a torn down building. In the background, tall, glamorous, and cold. Closer to hand, down to earth buildings huddled together. And true freedom, home? A run-down building. Away from care.
3) “Accomplice”, a word that means an equal, someone who actually played a part. Lisa is their mirror, will she be their conscience, or will they drag her under with them? And such terminology on my part, perhaps they seek to liberate her as well? Of course, we can’t really take these kids, these riddlers at their word.
Still kids, “Rock, paper, scissors”, the freedom of being away from the suffocating grip of adults.
4) “She doesn’t have enough guts to be of use to us,” said Nine of Lisa, and the guts these two have. Straight into the lions’ den, making a declaration to the cops. But the cops, they’re always suspicious, even of their kind, with a secret camera in their own coffee-break area ;-)
5) “Man, you shouldn’t assume all the fat people are experts on carbs.” – That’s some “fat cop doughnut” level humor here. It’s like we’re watching an 80s or 90s show. The feel fits as well, as well as the people working on the show.
4) The Way Thriller-Riddles are Solved:
1) An ex-detective, down in the archives. The true missing piece of the thriller-puzzle, opposition. Our heroes are only capable in that they can outrun and outsmart their opposition, meaning we need suspense, and we need an opposition we can believe in. That’s why we’re spending time here. Also, they used these two to show us the video with the threat organically, so I assume they’ll use them to show us what’s happening in the police station as well.
2) Ha! The Sphinx’s riddle! :D
“If you solve this riddle, then the next bomb is yours.” – See, this is the real riddle, and the devious of being exact with one’s words. “The next bomb is yours,” meaning, it’ll blow up in their hands ;-)
“This is Greek pronunciation, not the Egyptian pronunciation.” – Dear God, if they somehow make this an important plot-point, I’m going to shoot someone :P Then again, that’s how riddle writers, of whom thriller-writers are a sub-set work, they find seemingly irrelevant details and pin the whole story’s solution on them. I hope this will be a red herring, cause that’d be a bit much…
Ok, this might be worthwhile, thematically – bringing up the Sphinx to mention Oedipus Rex, a prime example of “generational fear”, of how adults fear their children, and that fear is what ends up bringing their downfall – such as by caging and experimenting on kids, who then escape and seek compensation, and perhaps to inherit the land. Of course, Oedipus ended up gouging his own eyes out… and then we also had the sordid tale of his children, in Antigone.
3) You know, I know Japan is a different culture, but I was sort of amazed they didn’t have even one cop who immediately shouted the answer to The Sphinx’s riddle :<
4) Oh, Nine and Twelve planted that camera. And the cops didn’t notice.
5) This is the danger with real life puzzles, you may think you’ve solved the riddle, but not only do you not have the right answer, you’re not even answering the right question. A good riddle is one you just know when you’ve solved. But when you don’t even know the riddle, “The next bomb will be yours”, then you’re outta luck. I wonder if Nine and Twelve counted on the cops thinking that’s the answer, or it’s just the cops thinking themselves into a corner. I’m sure we’ll see.
Ah, of course. They wanted to clear the police building of people. Though, you’ve always got people behind – maintenance, receptionists, archivists.
5) The Final Piece of the Puzzle – A Worthy Opponent:
1) A second version of the riddle? That’s new to me. Googled it, wikipedia claims there was a second riddle, but this is what it says of it:
There are two sisters: one gives birth to the other and she, in turn, gives birth to the first. Who are the two sisters?” The answer is “day and night” (both words are feminine in Greek). This riddle is also found in a Gascon version of the myth and could be very ancient.
Of course, we’re here for a thriller, so we’ll put all of the historical inaccuracies aside for the sake of the story. Let’s find out where “2-4-3” is.
2) “You’re an accomplice, but not an ally.” – In other words, Lisa had been yanked out of her old life, without a new one to welcome her. Harsh. This isn’t my impression of Twelve, so I think he’ll give her a way to join them, or to break free.
I think they might be trying to break all of her attachments, shatter her sense of security, so she couldtruly join them, once she’s been liberated, from society, and her final attachment – to her life.
4) “I’m waiting” – Nine wants a rival. He needs Shibazaki – he can’t show what he’s worth and better himself otherwise. The Sphinx’s riddle, alongside the theme of adults here is an interesting one. Children are the future, but they are born from past sins. How we treat the children is the past that will come back to haunt us in the future, so treat your children well, eh? What’s the worst that could happen to Nine? He’ll lose his sight of the world…
Post Episode Thoughts:
This is still a very solid thriller. The stakes are raised, but for that to have weight, it’s not enough just for us, the crowd to know that (though that is still a major source of tension, especially in the Hitchcockian manner), but the people within the setting, the ones who are set to pose opposition to our “protagonists”, must also be aware. And now they are aware, oh yes. This episode didn’t tell us much of Nine and Twelve, or of Lisa. That wasn’t its goal. Its goal was to truly introduce us to the fourth main character, Shibasaki, ex-detective, and soon to be ex-archivist.
It also helped that action within the series keeps piling up, and war had been declared. But why? That’s the last piece of the puzzle. What do our characters wish for? They are the Sphinx, and they want to gobble up humanity. They ran away, and now they’ve come once more to punish society. Honestly, this motivation matters to the characters, and will matter a lot in the inevitable showdown between Nine, Twelve, and Shibasaki, or perhaps even between Lisa and the others, or Nine and Twelve. The reason will give things weight, but to the series as a whole? It might not matter as much. Thrillers are about cadence, about almost-getting there, about the rush, and the show is handling these very well indeed.
Now, I’ve spent a lot of time about “Generational friction”, to me it’s something within the show, but it’s more of a meta-point in anime. Anime quite often depicts adults as helpless if not corrupt, and children as the potential saviors. It has less to do with some subversive messages and target-audience, and more that this is how “Coming of age” stories are constructed. The children need both reason and space to act. I still find it a very interesting subtext topic to discuss, and the outright fear one could see that adults hold from children in some anime, or how children should despise authority, is inescapable. I’ve seen it linked to the rigid structure of social progress in Japan, but who knows. It’s a side-topic.
I do feel it’s more relevant here though. Children escaping facilities? A mother that constantly holds her daughter back? Children who challenge authority, and a child who committed patricide? It’s too much to ignore.
“We must pay the penance for our past actions” can be read in all of it, and it definitely feels like another common theme, not just in anime, but stories in general. You know which stories in particular? Tragedies, such as the aforementioned Oedipus Rex and Antigone – they’re 100% paying for one’s past decisions. Heck, even stuff like Richard the Third, where his mother bemoans not killing him as he was born.