September 27th, 2013.
Giving Power to the People, on Being Scared.
Well, it’s time. Season finale is upon us. I expect some fighting, but not a lot. I actually expect Berg-Katze to just run/walk away – he’s not a fighter, though he seems one, he’s a manipulator. He’s a hope-destroyer.
1) So, a looter comes to your neighbourhood, someone gives you a gun, what do you do? You go and scare them off, shoot them if necessary. The police comes, you’re still only scaring the other side off, and the police tells you to let them handle the situation. What do you do? You’re already in a fight or flight situation, your blood is boiling and you’re in a mind-set predisposed to using violence as a solution, you’re also scared – people flinch and shy away from violence. So, you’re angry and scared, and you lash out at everyone, including the police. You also blame the police for forcing you into a situation where you’re forced to resort to violence, and you also fear them, so you lash out even more.
There are researches that show, should a person have a knife or a gun on them, they’re much more likely to choose violence as a way to resolve conflicts, much more likely to initiate and escalate violence.
1.5) Katze created the scare by loosing armed vandals at people, their property and their loved ones – then he gave the residents guns as well, and let them loose – which is what they blame the JDSF for – for not being loose cannons.
That the JDSF also turned to CROWDS was a really nice touch by the show – like the segments with the prime minister over the last two episodes showed us – everyone’s human. Everyone’s afraid, everyone feels put upon. Being human, being sociable, is hard – you have to trust the other side to not hurt you, and when you can’t trust them, and when you fear them, when you fear yourself, things fall apart. Relationships fall apart, communities fall apart, our “internalized humanity” (which is just our externalized relationships and the mores those external relations had passed on to us) fall apart.
2) Rui is at a loss – he’s used to doing everything alone, and he can’t do this alone. This being “Getting everyone to work together” – for you see, what Rui had wanted to do was foster individuality, but his method was to crowd-source, to have people rely on one another. What Rui really was after was initiative.
What Berg-Katze has done is tear asunder the ties between humans, the ties of trust – when you have no one to trust, you turn to yourself, but that also means you can’t work with, can’t listen to anyone else. This is exactly the situation Rui had put himself into for most of the show, so this is very fitting – he was Berg-Katze’s chosen human for a reason.
So why was Hajime smiling? Because to her “Being unable to do it on your own” isn’t the natural follow-up to “I can’t rely on others” which leaves you helpless and hopeless, but the opposite – “I can’t do it on my own? Time to ask my friends for help!” – Hajime turns being a single helpless person into an excuse to form relations with others, rather than a result of being unable to form relationships with others. A Mirrored image. A reason for joy, not despair.
3) “This is such an immature world… They continue to move forward while making numerous mistakes. People keep trying to find something to make today different from yesterday.” O.D. is 300 years old, and as such, this monologue really makes me think of some things said of Tolkien’s elves. Humans just create, many things don’t work out, but if you throw enough things at the wall, some of them are bound to stick. The elves take a different view to things, they have eternity, and as such, they sit and watch and think, and rarely actually take action – this is also epitomized by O.D. and Pai-Pai, who are content maintaining the status-quo, or not even that, just watching as the world moves around them, much too quickly. Humans don’t have much time, so they do with it what they can. But if you sit and do nothing, the world can come and take you by storm, when you can’t hide from it – which is the scene where Pai-Pai must go out and save the kindergarten, because even if you hide from the world, it keeps on moving.
4) The sweetest thing is the taste of others’ misfortune. I finally realized what Berg-Katze is! He’s a tabloid-writer! He’s a Youtube-comments troll! Heh. He incites lack of happiness, then points and laughs, to generate more sadness, and then is content. He’s a small time petty man. He happens to be physically powerful, but at his core? He’s a nobody, which is why he has to keep finding external sources to fill up his empty shell.
He doesn’t find happiness within him, which also means he can’t remain content within himself, but must find external validation constantly. He’s your standard 13 year-old netizen.
Katze to Hajime “Aren’t you annoyed? Wouldn’t you be happy if I went away?” – in the end, he’s the one who ended up running away from Hajime. He tells her he loves her for being honest, and if we take him at his word, I think the reason she can’t see him is because he won’t let her – he is ashamed of her, he doesn’t want her to see him. He wants to be happy, he wants tobe honest, he wants to be self-content (note, all these things don’t contradict wanting everyone else to die ;)) – he wants to be like her, which is why he won’t attack her, and why he can’t face her and must run away. She reminds him of the him he is not.
5) Berg-Katze, half impaled, having an impaling weapon, deep underground, surrounded by sigils. This reminds me so much of Neon Genesis Evangelion – Berg-Katze as the origin/mirror of humanity. But also, if Hajime is the sun, the face we reveal, then he is underground, the face we hide, the face we bury.
6) Ok, so let’s note how this went down: Rui gives people CROWDS but keeps it under-wraps, Katze subverts it by spreading it. Rui gets everyone to join GALAX, Katze subverts it by giving everyone CROWDS. Now Rui is supposedly subverting it by giving everyone CROWDS himself. The difference? Beforehand he always talked about how everyone should trust and follow his lead, while not extending trust to anyone, but now, now he trusts people do have initiative, do have a good heart, and will do the right thing when shown trust.
Now, I don’t think this is logical, to just give everyone huge powers, behind anonymity – unlike internet communities where you can be recognized, discussed in past episodes, here they truly are anonymous and non-accountable. And, well, some rotten apples can stink up the whole cart.
Upsides though? Two of them – the first, everyone else isn’t attacked by CROWDS, so they can go and use CROWDS while deciding to use it for good, and not in a state of fear. The second is – let me tell you a secret, people already have the power to hurt others, and do untold harm upon them. So long he gives CROWDS to everyone, he keeps everyone at the same power-differential. The only problem with this is that you can do more harm before you’re taken down as a CROWDS, simply because you have more power – more property damage, more damage to human bodies.
The main question now is – how do you tell apart the good CROWDS from the bad? That’s also the issue the JSDF met. But if many CROWDS come in, whoever tries something will be taken down. And if the vandals stop because they want to be like those arround them, then success – I mean, many theories claim people don’t commit crimes because they don’t want to meet punishment. Likewise for the vandals – they’re only acting out because they suddenly have more power than those around them, take away the power differential and it’s as if we live in a society where the rest of society and law enforcement can stop you again.
7) Yes, it’s all due to Rui’s couragerous decision. It doesn’t make it the right decision, or the smart one – decisions are judged based on the situation where they are made, not the results, which are often down to luck and unknown. Especially when they admit they couldn’t imagine how things would turn out (though part of it is Rui referring to the CROWDS making their own game to defeat the Neo-100 rather than awaiting for outside initiative).
8) Hajime will always be Hajime <3 (Also, it doesn’t matter if you wear a mask, because everyone wears a mask, and everyone is still themselves, under the masks, with the masks – again, so-called anonymity, but online most of us are recognized individuals, who recognize and are recognized by others. We’re just us, because we don’t have any other option)
9) See, “CROWDS should become licensed”, heh. CROWDS-cops! I’m not sure how I feel about “I’m not the sole leader of this country.” – this statement showcases the tension in representative democracy – you’re chosen because you can’t have everyone shouting all at once (though with GALAX, a greek city-state democracy might be viable once more), but even though you’re not the leader in as much as you’re the “Stand-in” for the people, their representative, they still chose you to act as the sole decision maker because otherwise, things don’t get done.
I’m not sure how I feel about looking at GALAX for opinions – very elections-savvy, but you should have your own stance – which he did say, but only after X got him the report. It’s a very fine line here, but he is a politician, after all.
- OD writing to Berg-Katze. Does this mean Berg-Katze could also read what the Gatchaman wrote to one another, including J.J.’s missives, all this time? I’m not sure, since it didn’t seem Rui followed the correspondence. Then again, being so digital, I wonder if he even looked at his analog Note.
- “Do you think I’ll fly into such a trap?” – as an aside, it means he doesn’t want to just go fight OD, he wouldn’t have a problem going to Hajime and the rest of the humans, I think.
- Come on, Rui has his note, the Gatcha-music is playing. Rui better spread his wings guys!
- I bet we’ll see cop-CROWDS soon.
- I wonder what the update points give him, aside from making everyone follow the action in Tachikawa and give him GALAX-ratings and new sign ups. Honestly.
- Ok, seems I gave the Neo-100 too much credit, they aren’t smart enough to just pretend they’re the new Tachikawa CROWDS and stop rampaging around. Then again, what do they really have to lose? It’s just a game.
- Heh, Berg-Katze really is a juvenile netizen, once no one rises to his bait, he’s exposed as powerless, and a word he’d really hate, as a 13 year old boy, impotent.
Post Episode Thoughts:
A season finale is still an episode, and as such, I usually don’t like analyzing the whole show in this place, since I like to let it sink, and to let the episode get the place it deserves.
Well, the prime-minister “The more things change, the more they stay the same” touch was nice. I quite liked Hajime remaining Hajime to the end. Honestly, the CROWDS part striked me as foolish, but well, Rui had been around Hajime for a long time, so it makes sense he trusts others now. Would’ve appreciated seeing some more Utsutsu and Jou right now, to see how the country, the police, JSDF are handling the CROWDS situation rather than a small mention – but honestly, even just getting what we did is more than what most shows give us.
The show’s message? There’s a hero in all of us, what do we need to be that hero? Nothing, just be ourselves. I still think discussing the show’s themes is much more interesting, which is what I’ll do. This episode’s themes were mostly related to the end of last week’s, and to the 26-arc – what people do when under pressure, when pushed against the walls – combined with how power isn’t really power if it’s not more than others have.
Final score 8.9/10