December 6th, 2013.
Interesting as Monstrous, and Narrative Causality
Faith in the show fully in place, let us see where Hazama is going, and what Goto will have to say and do about it. Well, and that King Torture dude, who sure seems to hold a grudge.
Thoughts and Notes:
Act 1 – It’s All So Pedestrian:
- No one cares, at all. The monsters are focused on Samumenco, Samumenco is focused on the monsters, and everyone just side-steps the crazies. So, Hazama is happy, his “drug” isn’t attention or ass-kicking, like it was for Mari, but the feeling of “upholding justice”. And wow, no one cares, at all, it’s as if they’re in a side reality.
- “Let’s do it like usual!” – “Bring it on like usual!” – And then we move to the episode name – “Predetermined Quota” – just going through the moves. This is a commentary on two sentai-phenomena, the first is that the episodes are designed the same way, with the same moves, etc. and the second is where it’s even more pronounced – when they have shows at theme parks/on holidays, where it’s exactly the same. Think of Joji, and how Hazama spoke of learning how to fight early – the set of moves is extremely limited, and you can tell which move will be used and when, and how the stationery-scientist told Hazama his moves are too predictable which will lead to his death.
- “We need you to work with Flamenco-kun” and not “Flamenco-san” – He’s been reduced to just a child/odd relative. How the mighty have fallen.
- Mari doesn’t like fighting the same way more than once, so together with Masayoshi she explains stuff like Power Rangers perfectly – fight the same way, time after time, and before everyone grows too bored, have a new combination/Ranger appear, and repeat, for years on end. But today, we want things to change much more rapidly than that, heh.
Interlude – It’s Not Easy Being
- I see myself finding much use for this image – Goto facepalming. You don’t go and egg on the crazies, and if they’re meek and easy to handle, you are thankful. Silly girl.
- “So you’re taking her side.” – They’re both petulant children who want the monsters and Goto to cater to them. How do you know he’s doing well? They both resent him.
- Huh, how down Masayoshi-kun is after his fight with Goto, in a way, they both need Goto-san’s approval, his emotional support. He’s the one they’re doing it for, well, they do it for themselves, but he’s the one they seek affirmation from.
Act 2 – We’re All Monsters, The Morality of Interesting:
- Hm, interesting spiel by the scientist – the goal of the monsters is to have everyone just not notice the monsters, pay them no mind, and then they will be able to operate/run around when people don’t notice what they are really up to.
- What an interesting discussion, almost made me think of Fate/Zero – interest as monstrous, monstrous as interesting. People often talk of ambulance-chasing as ghoulish, and then we have sites dedicated to showing results of accidents, and stuff like Sadam Hussein’s execution which is basically a snuff film… “Would you die for honour as a man, or live an interesting life as a monster?” – But to not be interested by things, doesn’t that make you non-human as well? I think it’s a question of levels, whether you value your own interest over other people’s safety. Also, some would say it’s not a choice, as one lets you preserve yourself and the other doesn’t, but isn’t that sorto f the point of “honor”?
- But, there is something to think of in regards to Masayoshi here, he fights for what he finds interesting as well, it’s just that what he thinks is interesting involves beating monsters and maintaining the peace, but it still ends up being about what Masayoshi likes.
- News-man did come off as pretty cool, with saying how he has no regrets after that phone-call, showing he tried. That mask of King Torture’s, especially as he talks of “entertaining”, quite unsettling :3
- I’ve seen the idea of “Torture is a form of communication” before, or rather, talk of the intimate relation between torturer and the one they torture, something to think of? Not really, I think, but something to note.
Act 3 – Everyone Has a Role to Play:
Erm, wow, Hazama and King Torture’s little chat and anything that followed.
- As the stationery-scientist had told Hazama, it’s as if they live in a story, as if they live in a show, with show-logic. In his talk with Konno (the journalist), King Torture talked of how much they love the interesting, of how they love the story, and thus he’s talking of narrative causality. He has to build up the hero, he has to build up their rivalry, so that the hero in turn will re-affirm his existence, for without a hero, he can’t truly be a villain.
- Everyone has a role to play, everyone has lines they want to say – on one hand, they’re risking their lives, but on the other, they’re being controlled, being carried along by the narrative causality, as if an author is sitting behind the scenes and controlling their actions, as if this is Sophie’s World, or Breakfast of Champions (Kurt Vonnegut), and there is an author who is moving these semi-aware characters along (if I had to pick someone we know as that character, it’d be Goto’s girlfriend, pulling the strings, as an author-God).
- I’m actually surprised by the self-reflection by the mooks, the Torture Boys – it doesn’t matter that it’s not comfortable to you, we have our role to play! Even if it might not fit the story (though it does, especially for Stationery-Scientist to be able to pull his “sidekick-sacrifice-moment“, and “last-moment powerup“, but – they still operate within a world with logic. What really surprised me was their “Shylock’s Monologue“, from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice – for those who need some memory-jogging, point is, even if they’re non-characters, they are still people behind their masks, they’re still villains in their own right. This was a splendid moment from the authors, and the show, and blindsided me by how good and unexpected it’s been.
Post Episode Notes:
Well, this had been a truly great episode. I feel there’s much talk of narrative causality here, which I always appreciate, though we don’t know what King Torture is really after, Goto is still a great character and his relationship with his two troubling kid-friends is all sorts of precious. Also note how just like in episode 7, Mari wishes for something, gets it, and it’s not good. Be careful what you wish for, the show will give it to you, and life doesn’t always work out the way you want it to – you’re not the main character (of the world) :3
King Torture’s discussion with Konno, which showcases how Konno, Mari and Joji are villains just like he is is something I’ve talked of before, but it’s nice to see the show isn’t just throwing stuff out there but is aware of it, and yet, it doesn’t hammer you that Konno isn’t a villain now, but that him being so focused on the “interesting” had always made him a villain, and same for Mari. Except, we all like interesting things, notice how everyone chased Hazama when he was new, and now no one cares, in other words – we’re all villains, of a sort.
Finally, the speech by the mooks had been truly great. One of the best moments in anime this year.
And nope, I don’t know what they’ll do next episode, and I’m eager to find out :)
(For all those who love cooking up crazy theories about this show, my theory in this post is that it’s akin to Sophie’s World or Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions – there is an in-world “Author” (who is essentially God) who is manipulating the characters. And if it’s anyone we’ve already been introduced to as a character, then it’s Goto’s girlfriend)