Last episode was definitely interesting. We’ve been told flat-out that the kids are going to die, win or lose. That means that here we see what they care for. Nine cares for the truth behind their situation to come out, and for justice to be done. Twelve repeats what he said in the first episode when they first saw Lisa, how they used to be too weak to save their friends, but this time they’ll do it, this time they’ll save someone else. But what about Five? Does she wish to destroy her former friends’ dreams, does she wish to win, or is she just trying to have fun and not be lonely before she dies?
Shibazaki and his allies are circling around the truth, and the nuclear bomb wielded by terrorists who do not wish to kill anyone is still looming as a specter over everything else. Two episodes to go, and it’s time to start tying up the various threads, and have confrontations, to continue the one we’ve had last episode – where we’ve had Twelve choose Lisa over Nine, or rather, Twelve choosing the future over the past, twice.
Thoughts and Notes:
1) Turning Yourself In Makes it Easier to Talk to Cops:
1) Nine turns himself in, meaning he thinks it’s his best option at this point. He also trusts Shibazaki, so there’s that, and this might force Five to stop doing shit all over the place, and she couldn’t pull stuff and blame it on him. Well, there’s still the nuke, which he can use, and it’d be so much easier to discuss things with the police directly, rather than over videos, eh?
See? See?! He even asked for Shibazaki. Something that is true for all these serial-killers, or even mastermind thrillers without serial killers is that they all want to make a connection, with their opposition, with those like them on the other side. Five sort of made us forget it, but they didn’t want to make a connection with her, even though she’s the most similar one, she wanted to connect ith them. And we’re back to what the show was all about in its first half – reaching across.
2) In custody, handcuffed, Nine makes the demands. Again, as I said earlier, it just makes things much simpler for him, to be able to engage directly with the police.
3) And a small moment, remember how we’ve seen Shibazaki smile, and his boss told him he knew he couldn’t quit, and I tied it to how he’s someone who can’t let things go, including cases? Now the show’s tying all these things together on its own, in how his smoking is related to his detecting, and how he can’t let his self go, how he must keep chasing the leads. A persistent personality.
4) Yes, it’s the question of what everyone wants to do with their lives, when they end. Seems Five wants to have Nine. Is it to have him accept her, entertain her? Will she destroy him out of hatred, or out of jealousy? But he’s going to die, just like her. Perhaps she doesn’t know. Hm.
2) Nationalistic Pride, Turning People into Tools:
1) Ah, World War 2 once more. Don’t forget, Shibazaki knows all about how the adults hated summer, and now he’s meeting another old man of the sort, who was affected by the nuclear bombing. We’re tying all the small moments that were mentioned before. So, Japan got nuked, and now it has its own nuke, that’s the sort of poetic justice that Sphinx is coming for, by using said bomb against those who made it. Sphinx reveals the truth, which is what Japan wanted to hide, and in so doing will rob its freedom even more.
The old schemer said the kids made a foundation for the country, that makes it sound as if the kids were involved in the creation of the bombs? I wonder. This, by the by, is the same logic that was used in Post World War 1 Germany, and in series such as Ghost in the Shell and many others – Japan’s demilitarized state is a thorny issue for many people, and it’s even prevalent in current Japanese politics, where militarization and breaking off from the old order are often brought up, revision of history books, etc.
2) And yes, “patricide”, but they’re Sphinx, not Oedipus, but guess we’re all too deep in this myth anyway. They’ve come to kill the one who created them, responsible for him. But kill? Just like when the cops cheated in one of their face-offs, they’ll take away his secrecy, they’ll reveal the truth, to make him gouge his eyes out. Sphinx won’t just reveal it to the world, they take what they tried to create, undo it. Undo the thing that was their goal, which would be the fitting punishment. To destroy their hopes.
3) So, the Americans’ goal, speaking of Japanese nationalism, and which reminded me the point I really wanted to make, is to reveal Japan’s bid for military power, independence, and as the old man said, dignity, why? So they could take all these things away, and keep Japan in its undignified position. What it really made me think of alongside with how the kids were used for their country’s sake is what the first episode and especially the pre-season preview made me think of, alongside the concepts of terrorism and the allusions to Fight Club – the place of an individual relative to their country, and society. Terrorists as those who try to shake the population out of its placid state, or to assert their individuality. Especially relevant for Nine and Twelve, whose individuality, whose names were robbed from them so they could serve their country.
3) Treating Your Allies as Tools While They Do the Same:
1) “You should steal what you want,” said Five, and Five, and her handler, both want Nine. So they plan to “steal” him. Of course, what her handler is ultimately after is the nuke, or rather, Japan’s dignity, so the USA government is looking to “steal” Japanese dignity and independence. That’s how the USA, and the old Japanese schemers, are looking at the situation. Also, Five really has no boundaries, suggesting orchestrating an attack on foreign ground, and this isn’t even the CIA, but the FBI.
2) Five really did a number on Twelve. But man, talk about a huge turn-around from him. “I don’t deserve to face him,” doesn’t it mean you have an obligation to, to say you’re sorry? Of course, asking for forgiveness is something we do for ourselves, quite often, not for the other side. But acting as if it has nothing to do with him – betraying a cause you believe in doesn’t necessarily mean you no longer care, that’s just an attempt to protect your own fragile heart from disappointment should it fail, perhaps due to your actions.
3) In the end, Five is just a tool, she’s just what she was made to be. Tools, they can be disposed of. Yes, Clarence wasn’t happy with the situation in the airport, or with this attack, but he still cleared them, so it should come as no surprise that he’d be willing to pull the gun on someone who’s supposed to be an ally – just as the Japanese are supposed to be America’s allies.
Clarence of course missed the fact that the opposite is true as well. Five only was with the Americans because they were a tool for her as well, to have fun, to crush people. And you discard tools, or allies, you no longer have use for. I mean, he just did the same, and then was surprised when it was done back at him.
4) Inscrutable Decisions:
1) Hm, that Five scene, so she wanted to beat Five, but having failed she wants him to live for her, but he’s about to die as well. Five, mostly random and inscrutable to the very end.
2) I found that last “cliffhanger” moment interesting, and bizarre, it almost feels as if we’re missing something, though it could be that this happened because Nine “lost” Twelve as a restraining and calming presence. What do I mean? Nine and Twelve’s goal was to make the truth known, to have their dead friends “avenged” by revealing what was done to them, and for what purpose. They used “terror” as a way to get heard, and worked very hard to ensure no one will get hurt (though it’s still unrealistic how no one got hurt). Cancelling the press conference might have meant that they wouldn’t get the truth out, but why set the bomb free then? They’ll harm innocents, and the truth will still not come out that way.
Here are my thoughts: 1. Against doing this, he released a final video, why not break down the truth within it? Then again, it might still happen as next episode begins. 2. By using an atomic bomb, the authorities will not be able to cover it up, including that the bomb was made in Japan, and Shibazaki has enough information, and maybe Nine sent some more information out, so it’d come out either way. Still, just releasing the information in the video would’ve made the most sense based on how Sphinx operated up to this point, this bomb? That’s so much like Five.
Shorter Notes / Asides:
- We’ve had a reference to the underworld in a past episode. Shibazaki sent his underling to fetch cigarettes he knew he will not obtain, so as to distract him as he went down the abyss, and here the gate opens.
- Shibazaki, the voice of justice, and a central power within Greek Tragedy, someone who will follow their credo, no matter the cost, because they believe it to be just.
- Kurahashi won’t let Shibazaki see Nine in order to protect him, so he will be the one to take the fall should something happen, just as Shibazaki protected the angry young detective. And then he lets him have it, cause what are friends for if not to let you risk your life and career when you say that’s what you want to do? ;-)
- American demands of dignity and honour! Agreeing to negotiate with a terrorist is not The American Way, heh.
- The return of the Engrish! And the constant beat that was with us in the very fast-paced action of episode 7.
- Unlike Nine and Twelve, Five’s a killer. She has underlings, but they enact her orders, but she does have the determination to pull the trigger herself.
- Twelve on his bike, always coming to someone’s rescue.
- Having betrayed his cause once, Twelve will permit himself to use violence that may harm people. It helps that they’re not innocents.
Post Episode Thoughts:
Aside from the ending, which I’ve discussed in subheader #4, this episode actually spent quite some time returning to ideas and moments from the first three episodes of the series, something which last episode began with Twelve choosing to rescue Lisa because he’s running out of time. References to going into the gates of hell, what Sphinx or Oedipus is after – essentially, pointing out that it’s a Frankenstein’s Monster kind of tale, that these people have created monsters, and now these monsters will come asking for their dues, and just like in the tale of Oedipus, they’ll come and collect what you tried to save when you took their lives from them. Oedipus took away his father’s life (and his wife), and the kids will take Japan’s independence and dignity away, by making use of the bomb that’s designed to restore these very things.
A theme I thought would be central to the story but wasn’t at least appeared for another moment, the call for individualism, for raising your head when society tries to crush you down. It was somewhat ironic here, as Japan saw her head brought down so tried to bring it up, but in order to do so had literally robbed the individuality of some of its citizens, who are now trying to shock the rest of the population out of its stupor in order to be made aware of the truth.
I do find the whole nationalistic angle interesting to discuss, because of how prevalent it is in current Japanese political debate and historical discussions, but also because you keep seeing signs of it in a lot of anime, even Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, and some could say all the series and movies dealing with creating super-powers by the military have something to do with it, though that’s also just an easier way to come up with premises, and more complications, I guess.
Twelve decides to come back. The kids are running out of time. Tokyo is running out of time. Now it’s truly time for “terror”, with an atomic bomb having been loosed, and the public made aware of it. Something about it doesn’t make sense to me, so I’m still waiting for Nine to reveal how nothing bad will happen and it’s just another bid to get the truth out there.