June 11th, 2014.
The Origin of Narrative Tension
So, Kurami and Fi had been brought over to Sora’s side. As Sora had told us, a game is won before it even begins. Which is to say that assuming Sora has all the details he needs, he already won against the Warbeasts. This bears repeating. This show’s tension isn’t about whether Sora and Shiro will win, but how. They withhold information, from their opponents, but mostly from us, the viewers.
I mean, this show isn’t about the conflicts as much as it’s about silliness aimed at us. Well, let’s beat up some Warbeasts and see a different reality’s idea of “video games”!
Thoughts and Notes:
1) Exchanging Memories’ Ramifications:
1) “Seeing your memories didn’t show me anything to make me think you could beat the Eastern Federation, can you do it?” – This is an interesting topic that this show in particular isn’t that interested in exploring (watch Kaiba if you’re looking for that) – We are our memories, to a large degree. It’s Sora going off of his past experiences (memories) that makes him think he’ll be able to defeat the Warbeasts. Kurami has those same memories now, so shouldn’t they have access to the same data with which to make predictions, if not the mental ability to win later on?
Also, Sora and Shiro have abnormal minds, but memories and personalities are still closely related. Kurami and Sora share the same memories, shouldn’t they be now closer in personality? I guess they handle it as “My memories” and “Their memories”, and not experiencing each memory as if they themselves lived it.
2) “Who is blank, that they’re able to do this to a Flugel?” – Kurami just got access to all of Sora’s memories. Including his prior dealings with Jibril, and all that being “Blank” entails. Where’s this question even coming from, eh?
2) Old Grudges and Old Friends:
1) Old grudges. Jibril’s stance makes sense, when you remember she’s essentially a vengeful god, as far as most people in the world are concerned. If we don’t notice mosquitos, we let them live. But should they draw our attention, we’ll destroy them with force vastly superior to what the task actually calls for. I wouldn’t say it’s the mosquitoes’ “fault” though. It’s just how things go. Elves try to live in peace, draw ire of a godling, and the godling strikes them down. Most people don’t think of all the bugs they crush under foot, do they now?
Being a human on whom life stepped, Sora is closer to the “ants” in question.
2) “Lick my feet, and I’ll forgive you, tee-hee-hee~” – Considering how they punished Steph, that’s more or less the level of discourse in this show. Shaming another, not truly asking for restitution. It’s all about honour, and shame, and sexual connotations.
3) “I’m ok with anything as long as Kurami doesn’t get hurt.” – Fil just might be a yandere. She doesn’t care for her whole culture collapsing, if her friend/lover will be better for it. Well, you can’t have a revolution by force, so you just need to find a way for games to affect change, and if she needs to keep it secret, it can explain why she turned to manipulating other kingdoms rather than her own, to bring about change. But why then did Kurami try to get all the humans subjugated by the elves? To protect them by gentle elves such as Fi?
1) You see, it’s not that Sora can’t win, but he can’t win like this. Kurami points out all of Sora and Shiro’s victories had been close calls. They’d been close-calls because they’d been designed that way. Sora beat Jibril that way to make her respect humanity, and the show had done so to make us keep interest. No one is interested in a fight which is over in half a second (Mahouka, we’re looking at you ;-)). So Sora simply has to stop toying with his food, eh? Then again, does it matter how he wins, so long he does? Not really.
2) So, Sora is Shiro’s wings, and Shiro is Sora’s. They can’t change, so the other will support them as they fail? Eh. I also don’t like it – “I don’t think you can win, because I only have your memories (and not Shiro’s).” But Sora doesn’t have Shiro’s memories either, and part of his memories are all the times Shiro came through, meaning the justification is there. I’m just overthinking it. It’s just there to pass information and memories when necessary, it’s not truly thought out in terms of always being active with regards to all the implications. Oh well.
3) “This riot didn’t just happen. I started it.” – I can see why. People were quick to trust their king, or think of themselves as the weakest race, with nothing to gain, nothing to lose, and no real hope. He’s forcing them to think what they want to achieve, and he wants to blast through their lack of belief in themselves. He wants to get humanity to recognize its desires, and to show to them they can achieve them. His speech to them was that their weakness will be their strength, but they still don’t believe. He’s fixing that by getting them emotionally invested.
Ah, get them to suspect us, think we’re in cahoots with the warbeasts, so they’ll look for cheats! A nice idea. But the Warbeasts, do they know how NEETs operate, or had they been lucky? To throw Sora and Shiro into “the outside world”? Well, the siblings should know it’s fake, but it’s hard to shake off the experience of one’s whole lifetime.
Shorter Notes / Asides:
- Jibril and the Sailor Moon fingers.
- Return of the baths! Ecchi-show galore! – NSFW.
- A game with an audience! Well, if humanity loses, it’s not like they could tell of what they’ve seen anyway… And of course, memory-wipe.
- Neat. They can hear the rules and decide to not play. This will give them information, that they cannot best the Warbeasts. But still.
- That Fi is watching means more than just “no obvious cheats”, because Fi isn’t an Imanity member, her memories won’t be wiped either way.
Post Episode Thoughts:
I think that’s what I always discuss with this show, the tension of conflicts. Do we have an assured victory, and then the tension comes from how we win, or is the tension going to come from whether we win? That was an option until they told us a game is over before it starts. But that it is over doesn’t mean anyone actually knows what the outcome will be.
When they discussed how knowledge is the most important thing, I pointed out that the conflict will be about being forced to fight with incomplete knowledge, because perfect knowledge would remove tension. And for a couple of episodes, that had indeed been the focus, fights in order to gain more knowledge.
Well, Sora and Shiro gained knowledge, enough that they thought it to be sufficient, but they didn’t knoweverything, and now it had come to bite them in the ass.
And here we are again, at a situation with incomplete knowledge, unsure whether or not we’ll win. Of course, it’s possible that after the fact Sora will explain to us it’s all part of his gambit, and he knew he’d win, but they’re not really trying to deceive people in the show, but us. And the goal of their deception is the same as the goal of their games – fun. Besides, Sora says he always knows he’d win, but he can just be trying to project confidence ;-)
This episode though had been some downtime, in terms of plot, and in terms of characterization, most of it could’ve been achieved in 5 or so minutes. It’s giving people who like the cast and their antics more time with them. As stated above, essentially, I don’t think it’s “the plot” that is the focus of this show, but the attitude.