This was quite the episode, and not entirely what I expected this to be. I was all but certain that we’d see why Jirou left the Bureau. Well, we knew from the get-go, to defend superhumans and because the Bureau doesn’t allow him to do that according to his beliefs, and episode 9 showed us that they didn’t part on bad terms, but this episode didn’t really show us a reason, within the show. Nor did it show us where the two sides became enemies, or even when Superhumans became so detested by the common population. The preview, furthermore, makes it clear we’re not going to simply jump ahead to after this whole thing, but that time-skipping, at least to a degree, is going to continue. So, this was interesting, and curious.
Before we delve into the thematic breakdown, a few shorter points/asides: The V for Vendetta moment was interesting, and it’s also interesting because it stood for anti-fascism and anti-Cold War and suppression of information, both of which hover in the background of the show, as it deals with late 1960s’ anti-war movement, wars that were fueled by the Cold War. Another point is, man, Jirou and Equus really went all EVA Unit 01, didn’t they? And then the scientist creator-father wondering if his child-creation hates him. In a way, children are always Frankenstein’s Monsters, part your creation, part someone else’s, and part luck and the environment. The generational rift is a common theme in anime, and not just that aimed at younger people – it was a main theme in Shinsekai Yori too, for instance.
Well, final finally: Bad news, seems timeline updates will still be necessary in cour 2. Good news, you’ve got me.
(There’s an updated chronological timeline at the bottom of this post. Also, full episodic notes.)
So, what an episode, right? This episode definitely seems to occupy the same space and correspond with Gatchaman Crowds’s first season, which I just finished rewatching today, but I’m not going to reference that, but just talk about what it’s doing. This episode clearly was all about everyone’s masks coming off, even as underneath we kept finding more masks, because there’s nothing else to put on display.
Jin-Claude (Jean-Claude? :P) had been tricking Kikko from the get-go. He realizes that freedom, peace, and justice cannot coexist. But he’s always known that. Is he giving up? Is he saying he’ll do whatever since it’s a fantasy, a child’s dream? I think he’s saying he’ll do his best, even as he rails against others who hold the same ideal – not because he doesn’t believe in it, but because he resents those who can still believe what he’s no longer able to. I don’t believe he set out to do evil, but he’s willing to accept dirtying his hands for the greater good. The least amount of injustice he can manage. He’s a pragmatist, just like Emi, who doesn’t wish for her Jirou to try to be better, to try and save everyone, because that results in you being consumed by the flames of your own justice.
Jin was forced a mask on, of being “almost Jirou,” both literally and figuratively. He had to keep the mask on for Kikko. He was treated as an extension of Jirou, as his replacement, and that chafed. And this brings us to him and humanity. His end goal appears to have been “Justice, and peace for the superhumans, by going to war against regular humans, for a bit.” This is a common tactic in our world, a common mindset, “If you want peace, prepare for war,” as the Latin phrase goes (Si vis pacem, para bellum). But what sort of peace would this be? What sort of world? A world where the superhumans reign over the mortals, where the superhumans are safe because they are the ruling party. It seems this was also the world that Akita and his colleagues wished for, a world where superhumans reign supreme, as gods, as the next step in the evolutionary chain.
But this quest for power isn’t just Claude’s, and Akita’s. The superhuman police, standing in for all police, were also participant, “I will now show you how powerless you really are!” the ninja commander shouted at the protesters as they were dispersed by cold metallic hands. A cliched treatment of those in power? To a degree, certainly. But that’s the nature of conflicts, where after a while everyone on the other side is the enemy, even if on the outset you set out to protect them. You take away freedom, peace, and justice, to uphold your version of justice. You make it into us and them, you make it into black and white. And then, as Psykicker had said, those on the other side cannot be forgiven. Forgiveness which should be baseline, because the one on the other side is just like us, and could’ve been us.
This touches into the small spiel by the Immortal Family’s child, which also ties it into modern Japanese politics, where people uphold stringent policies that aren’t based on their own life experiences, but carried forth as a legacy of our forebears. Legacies and our past are valuable (which this show being based on the country’s past should make clear, that it holds to this idea. Also how it keeps showing vignettes where one’s past plays a part later on), but it’s important to be able to step forward, and base our actions on what we see, rather than what we’re told. Should Japan avoid war, or should it allow itself to join the international arena as an equal player? This is a very relevant topic in Japan, and here we have two different sides, “We’re against war because we’re told it’s bad. But we didn’t actually consider it ourselves, and it might be necessary to fight to protect evil,” as Jirou does, but also “See how fighting leads to pain, and how even good causes might be co-opted.”
This is a media discussion, of course, so media’s role in this is important. And here we come a full circle. It’s about masks. What did Imperial Ads want? To be honest, I’m not terribly sure just yet. Did they want the law to pass, so superhumans will be regulated, and freedom will be quashed, while they are able to sell fantasies of superhumans to everyone else, or did they want the law to not pass, so Superhumans will still be a rogue element? I’m not sure. But I do know their game was to paint superhumans and the government as evil.
Either Claude wins, and he pushes forth a superhuman uprising, which turns the country into a military zone in the name of peace where rights are quashed, or Claude loses, and the government’s evils are left without redress, and all the protesters are put down by the government. They push for agitation and tearing down the safety (and cages) of the current national order. Why? Good question. Are there ever any good reasons to such acts? Perhaps they are indeed interested in selling the dream, of justice, of freedom, and of peace. And what better environment to sell such a dream, such a fantasy, than a world devoid of them all?
Or perhaps they just want to be Earth-chan, the ones others turn to in order to see what is right. To tell people how to tell their lives. And what do you know, that’s where we’re at, in 2015, which the show might be commenting on.
A few final words on the cour as a whole, and this episode’s structure: I found this episode to be an amazing spectacle, but I found it a bit more disorganized than the show as a whole. I’m still going to give the show 7.7/10, which is very good, but this episode was weaker, even as it kept my eyes glued to it. It’s not just about the answers I expected, but its messages seemed less clear as it kept referencing other moments. And then the final act of everyone coming to save Jirou seems to not have made sense, until you remember my comment on Earth-chan – once Claude was revealed as evil, his enemy must’ve been good, and worth saving. But it also worked the other way around, Jirou who kept believing in superhumans and protecting them is good, which helped cement Claude as evil, because even as the show keeps speaking up against it, the characters in the show still mostly believe, believe in the dream, the dream of justice, and a world that can be simplified into black and white.
About the show… it’s not a mystery show. It’s not a show driven by its characters. We know who, and what, and why. It is to a degree following them on their journey, but mostly about discussing the themes of black and white justice, and how to be a better you. And I’ll see you next season.
Note: Shinka Calendar seems to correspond to the Showa Calendar. Year 19 = 1944, or World War 2, etc.
- Unknown Time – Jaguar (Yoshimura Hyouma) forms the Superhuman Bureau. Episode 10.
- October 14 – Jiro’s father meets GaGon in the Pacific Isles, loses “Maria”, a native shapeshifter? A month after World War 2 broke out. Episode 4.
- December 16 – Mironu of the Japanese Immortal Family is captured by the American forces on Hawaii after his submarine is sunk. He joined the Japanese army in order for his family to avoid the family census. He’s been experimented on and tortured for decades. Episode 9.
- August 17 – GaGon faces off against American Superhumans in the Pacific Ocean. 9 months after Pearl Harbor.
- Year 19 – A war of some sort (World War 2’s equivalent). Referenced in episode 3.
- August 20 – Hitoyoshi Magotake finds baby Jirou in a crater in Hiroshima, with a shadow the dragon’s shape. Reference to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Jirou is “the child of the atom,” and a human weapon. Episode 13.
- November 29 – Invisible Kaiju appears, Emi chooses to appear as an adult, Jiro’s father finds him naked and unconscious. Episode 4.
- January 34 – Flashback sequence. Giganto Gon breaks Jiro out of the laboratory where he’s held. Jiro wants Giganto Gon to destroy everything. Episode 5.Robot-GiGantor defeated by Rainbow Knight who saves Jirou (Episode 8), baby GaGon meets his adoptive brother. Episode 4.
- March 38 – Rainbow Knight kidnaps Daitetsu Maki and other superhuman kids, to protect them and/or gain money for their release. Dies for it. Episode 8.
- Unknown Time – Jaguar (Yoshimura Hyouma) forms Infernal Queen, also known as IQ, or Advocates of Free History to better the future by removing evil. Episode 10.
- July 40th – Judas is part of the criminal organization The Diamond Eaters, confronts Earth-chan and vows to become good. Episode 7.
- January 41 – 6 months before Kikko joins. Grosse Augen first appears as a Kaiju vanquisher. Call for “more magic” instead of science within the Bureau is made. Episode 4.
- June 30th 41 – The Beatles play in Japan, their powers bring forth more superhumans, or at least open the potential for some. Mountain Horse group becomes superhumans. Episode 6.
- July 41 – Kikko joins the organization, Jirou goes against orders and saves Grosse Augen. Episode 1.
- Between July and August 41 – A month after Kikko joins, just before Fuurota joins. More Kaijus appear, various superhumans fight them off. We meet Earth-Chan and Kaiju-using robbers. Grosse-Augen “replacement” takes up the burden. Episode 4.
- August 41 – Fuurota joins the organization, kills the bug species. Kikko with the organization for one month.Episode 2.
- November 41 – 3 months after Fuurota joins, humans confirmed as creating Kaijus. Mini-GaGon and Kaiju-lovers introduced as Fuurota’s friends. Episode 4.
- February 42 – Bombing incident with android detective. Episode 3.
- June/July 42 – Master Ultima returns from Mars, Bureau leaders revealed non-humans, expose their own Kaiju-creating ring. Jiro unleashes his arm. Episode 4.
- July 42 – USA throw away a Space Kaiju’s remains near Okinawa. Kaiju-sympathizers grab remains and begin agitating against the establishment and the Superhuman Bureau. Episode 5.
- August 42 – Protests by students begin, Jiro forced to become a Kaiju, faces off against Mega GaGon. Mega GaGon killed. Episode 5.
- September 42 – The Immortal Family cause an explosion, which they emerge fine from, and escape, apparently to alert Mironu who has been missing. The Superhuman Bureau find out the Americans are aware of immortal Japanese, and they know they’re missing a member. Episode 9.
- October 42 – Mountain Horse group tries their luck as superhumans and quits it. Fuurota infiltrates the Sugimoto media group. Episode 6.Same time – The superhuman Bureau recruits Judas after his release from prison. Face off against Earth-chan and try to get her aid in changing public opinion to sway protests against Japan joining the Earth Defence Force (against evil space-men). Earth-chan is given the ability to dream. Ullr (Kikko’s familiar) plots with Emi. Episode 7 (References October 8th 1967 Haneda protests).
- November 42 – Mountain Horse band brings down Sugimoto Media Group’s plot to block superhumans’ powers. Dee of Mountain Horse band dies. The Bureau now knows of the Sugimoto group as their enemy clearly.Episode 6.
- December 42 – Kikko meets up with Nakagawa Jin, who researches superhumans and The Devil Realm, and who gives her special medicine. Episode 12.
- January 43 – Daitetsu Maki, now Otonashi Yumihiko and the other kidnapped kids (presumably) are an unregistered superhuman group, BL Club, who stage thefts by “The Eye of Lucifer”, Rainbow Knight’s old nemesis. Yumihiko and Jirou speak of morality. Superhuman Bureau is asked to stop opposing the FDE. Episode 8.
- April 43 – IQ (Infernal Queen) appear to take out the Superhuman Bureau who they deem evil for controlling superhumans, working with Americans, and lying to the public. Jaguar (Hyouma) #3 takes kills his #2 version, IQ’s leader, and his Time Patrol watch becomes the basis for the Time Travel research program. Episode 10.
- June 43 – USS Antares, a superhuman-powered submarine is brought over by the USA over to Japan. Turns out it makes use of enslaved superhumans. Phantom Sword Claude destroys it, revealing said fact. Jirou turns down an offer by Imperial Ads who say they only want human Superhumans. Protests and revealing to the public the American wrongdoings, a scheme to officiate Superhumans as part of law enforcement agencies is pushed forward by the former Defense Minister who’s behind Imperial Ads. Episode 11.
- August 43 – Kikko sees Claude killing medical personnel, turns into devil form, finds out she knows Claude.Episode 11.Immediately After – Golubaya Laika, a Soviet Superhuman who’s anti-war flies towards Japan, is shot down by the American-siding Master Ultima for passing over the facility where the Japanese and Americans experimented on superhumans. Jirou finds out his father framed and killed The Rainbow Knight who tried to save kids from being experimented on. Claude is revealed to be Jin, Jirou’s childhood friend, who was experimented upon. The Chief is revealed to be an alien who’s trying to help humanity ascend via superhumans. Kikko helps Claude.Episode 12.Immediately After – The truth of the Japanese-American Superhuman experiments is revealed to the public. The government tries to suppress said information. Chief Akita believed dead, Jin (Claude) and Kikko believed guilty, and are missing. Episode 13.
- October 8th 43 – American Fuel Tanker ignites protests by Japanese anti-war students. Episode 13 reference.
- October 21st 43 – World Peace Day (our world’s is in September 21st), Chief Akita kills and assumes the spot of the pro-Imperial Ads politician who can pass or deny the revised Superhuman Secrecy/Rights Law. Students go on protests against the government for the experiments. Government uses force to crush protests, Claude is revealed to be evil and Jirou defeats him. Emi suppresses Devil Queen Kikko. Earth-chan is broken. Rule-changes denied, and Jirou leaves the bureau. Episode 13.
- ~Year 44 – Kaiju wave of attacks dies down. Episode 5 reference. Likely a reference to the 990 days of the protests following the Haneda Protest ending. Episode 7.
- September 44 – Mironu of the Immortal Family is released by the Americans who follow him to try and eliminate the family. The Superhuman Bureau and Jirou try to defend them but are defeated by the American robot, the family survive on their own. Jirou clashes ideologically with the Bureau members. Chief Akita’s absence is noted upon. Episode 9.
- October 44 – Jiro tries to recruit Mountain Horse and they decline. Jiro’s quest is revealed as gathering superhumans to take on the Superhuman Bureau. Superhumans appear to be illegal. Fuurota goes and meets him. Episode 6.
- ~Year 45-46 – Osaka Earth Expo, relevance unknown. Episode 6 reference.
- April 46 – Jiro is an enemy, ex-Grosse Augen helps him, Kikko declares love. Episode 1.
- November 46 – Jirou takes on the role of the fugitive in order to protect superhumans. Episode 13 preview for cour 2.
- February 47 – Male android returns. Android detective now fugitive. Episode 3.
- April 47 – Judas, Jirou, and Megasshin (fused android) more break into a lab to retrieve Earth-chan’s stasis/broken down form, vowing to return her to her former glory. Episode 7.
- October 47 – Jirou fights Yoshimura (time-controller, “Jaguar”), Restored Earth-chan intervenes, and then so does Daitetsu. Episode 8.
- August 48 – Bug lady comes back for Fuurota, he learns what he’s done, gets saved and comforted by Jirou. Episode 2.
- 25th Century – Jaguar (Yoshimura Hyouma) is sent back in time, as a member of Time Patrol. And as someone who tries to save superhumans, and as someone who tries to build a different future. Episode 10.
I haven’t really shared my “as I watch it thoughts and notes” for this show, but I wrote quite a bit this time, so I guess I will. I’m not going to prettify it as much as I usually do, but maybe you’ll find it of interest:
Thoughts and Notes:
Time for cour-finale, and also the only arc that lasted 3 episodes. Clearly this will be the moment where Jirou splits off from the Bureau, where secrets are revealed, lines are drawn, and then crossed. Let’s go.
1) Truth and Hiding Thereof:
- (Last episode’s cliffhanger was August 43)August 43 confirmed.
- “Strange Power Risk Management Office,” which doesn’t have to admit superhumans and non-humans exist. And “risk management,” rather than caring about them as people.
- Revealing Japan’s secret lab involvement, as if it weren’t condoned and pushed by the government. The Imperial Ads people, with the professor, knew of this, and were aiming for this.
- See, but they needed the police, as an impartial side. And the Imperial Ads people are orchestrating it all, though they moved against Superhumans to begin with.
- And this is clearly trying to quash news, after a minister said, “If that’s true, that’d make us evil.”
- Shiba Raito has a point. They asked them to do this. This is truth, and justice, so how can they be asked to not reveal it? The truth has to be known, which explains why he too went rogue.
2) Grief and Vengeance:
- Those dark clothes, so Chief Akita is dead, or is he “dead”? And what happened with Claude and Kikko back then? Hmm. Well, time-skips, right?
- Also, interesting that Mr. Jaguar knew nothing of it, with his time-traveling experience, but this is his oldest self, and the one involved with the Bureau, so we’d need a 4th one that doesn’t exist for him to know it. But did Emi not know? I wonder.
- Fuurota isn’t a kid anymore. Reading the newspaper. And Mr. Jaguar giving the commands, as one of the founders. Two months before the new law passes.
- “Avenge the chief. Everything else comes after.” So, justice will have to be held back for revenge, unless you consider revenge a form of Justice as well. But is he worth avenging? Were the others in the right? And Emi’s “But he wasn’t human!” But neither are you, and it doesn’t matter, only what you do.
3) Angry Young Men:
- October 21st, year 43. So, we skipped two months ahead.
- “This was the final push, now the youths raise their voice in anger.” Watching this immediately after my Gatchaman Crowds rewatch makes it clear how much the two shows draw from the same vein. Then again, “young versus old” is often an undercurrent in anime.
- Here’s GaGon’s little brother. Last we met him was August 42, but they met in January 34, so guess he’s old enough to work now.
- Youths are taking over the world! No war!
- Professor Jin, or should we say, Claude.
- World Peace Day, hm.
4) Peddling Dreams:
- Back to selling fantasies. All about money. So, opposing the government and making use of “justice”, just like how the Bureau used Earth-chan, for their ends.
- As to the tanker, will stopping it really change anything? Of course not, but it’s a symbol, that might lead to a severing of ties, and to different politicians being elected.
- “Once they are admitted as superhuman, human laws no longer apply.” So the new rule says “Human rules for humans,” and superhumans can be experimented upon, but also steal, etc.
- And here we go, “By defining them as superhumans, you can create any segregation law you wish.” They’re not human, so you also don’t have to give them human protection. And dissenting thinkers too. Hiding under the guise of civil rights, but acting towards the opposite.
- “That idea never crossed my mind,” didn’t it, and he’s shocked at the new possibilities, or he’s scared he might be uncovered?
- So Akita is still there, still watching, and he won’t accept this betrayal of everything he’s tried to accomplish. Kikko being ordered dead might’ve been the final straw.
5) Happy and Angry Asides:
- October 8th had protests for halting the tankers.
- World Peace Day today is September 21st.
- So, Claude and Hoshinoko can reach balance, or balance the world, if they become a couple? Hm.
- Dat Ullr lech.
- “She sees humans only as tools through which she would obtain the energy of happiness,” but that means her goal is to spread happiness. Also, that face and Kikko don’t seem alike. So Kikko might be different.
- Emi wants Jirou to be happy with her, but he wants it all, to save all his friends, and make them good, and fight the good fight, and…
- “When you’re with her, you try to become the person she wants you to be,” an ally of justice, a better person. Is that so bad? It’s love though, so it troubles Emi.
6) Protesting for Peace:
- Very V for Vendetta.
- People coming to look, but who does their presence support? They want to be told what’s justice first, they’re in need of an Earth-chan equivalent.
- Children growing up on “We don’t want to go to war again” from their parents who actually fought, without understanding the root causes. So, today’s Japan and its anti-war rules, as a legacy that’s adhered to because it’s a legacy, not because it’s understood/right.
- Judas, who said he won’t fight.Of course, trying to define justice by the side Earth-chan would’ve supported.
- Earth-chan appears, and everyone wants to know. “If you keep fighting, I will punish both sides!” Will get her no friends. It’s keeping the status quo, which is what she’s always done in the end. It’s saying peace is most important, but the students want change.
- And here we are, “It’s better to know which side is right clearly, isn’t it?” Rather than get down to the details and see greys.
7) Grand Justice, Petty Evil:
- “Superhumans aren’t about covertly defeating petty evil, but about changing the world together!” Justice must be seen, and going for grand acts rather than each person doing their best around them. Going for top-down rather than bottom-up change.
- “Those who’ve done X can’t be forgiven!” – Black and white justice, strident. More than it speaks for justice, it speaks of vengeance.
- Shiba can’t go against Fuurota, because he’s noble and innocent, even if he ends up supporting the wrong people here. Because he’s believing in a dream of innocence.
- Superhuman Bureau working with the Police’s Superhuman Ninja. All the elements of the government working together.
- Those mecha-cars look vicious. It’s the teeth.
- Inhuman methods to disperse protests. Impersonal. Masked. Clanging metallically.
- “Haha! Now you will learn how powerless you truly are!” Not what a policeman, a servant of the people, and protector of justice, is supposed to say, is it?
8) Mirrored Masks Fighting:
- So in the end Claude is fighting for superhumans as above the others, as bringers of justice, peace, and freedom.
- Jiro versus Jin, two of the same type.
- Right, Jin is what the labs were about, about creating superhuman soldiers. Jirou is what they wanted, a freak of nature, a lucky break. Science is often like that, but then it’s about replicating it. Also, that’s what American wanted from Japan, a source of science and people. A base. An alien invasion.
- War, so much for Claude’s lofty ideals.
- So, Emi wants to be rid of her, and plugging Ullr into Kikko’s mouth, LOL.
- So that broke Jin, the contradiction in his desire, but he still preached for it, hm. Awakening from the dream is hard.
9) Never Black. Never White. Always Grey:
- “There is no single answer! If you insist on fighting for the humans, you must fight the humans for now, and create a world where superhumans can live in peace!” Short term war and injustice for a better future, but can justice be had via injustice?
- “Superhumans protect humans, and the humans accept them with thanks and open arms.” A fantasy, a lie. And we know that’s not how it turned out.
- Title drop, “It’s sweet on the ears, because it’s all a fantasy. Dreams and ideals that can never be achieved,” though that’s how Claude sold his own words.
- So, Kikko fell for someone who was duplicitous of her, a fake-Jirou, as designed. He wants to attain his place by destroying the original, just as superhumans are to do to humans?
- “I deny all that you are! Freedom, peace, justice, everything!” And the masks come off.
10) Atom Boy’s Fall-out:
- Very EVA Unit 01.
- “Do you hate me?” Says the scientist-father to the child-creation, so very NGE.
- And so, who will save the one who saves others, who’s intent on saving them all? The truth to his dream’s death.
- The dream is alive! Everyone he helped. Standing for the government’s upsides, and its individual workers. Lest all go to ruin.
- It’s also because Claude was revealed evil, so his enemy is just, and vice versa.
- But, there was a price to pay. Earth-chan lying in ruins.
- Rule-changes denied, as Imperial Ads desired. So, they set Claude up to fail. Or, they won either way.
- Jirou thinks Akita would’ve never forgiven him, but he changed his mind.
- Emi made a wish, which was granted in a manner different than she intended.
- August 20, Hiroshima, 1945, Jirou is the atomic bomb, the dragon landing in Japan. If you missed superhumans are the equivalent of the atom in this show, or that he is at least.
- Preview – November 46, which is 1971. “Is justice just a fantasy”? And “Evolution/Deification era,” superhumans as gods.