These were almost famous last words uttered by our protagonist Onosawa Mirai before the big one hit Tokyo last episode. I’m interested in the statement itself, determining whether it is merely a strong and/or dramatic way to cue the earthquake, or something that shows a bit of character for Mirai.
It gets really interesting, if you ask me.
Mirai is not easy to like. I may find her behavior and attitude forgivable or ordinary for her age, but my compassion for her doesn’t excuse her; that is, it’s good for her to be this way or live life holding an attitude like hers. It gets worse.
The radical change in terrain is a good detail paid attention to. Mirai’s self-redemption will be an uphill climb.
When I was younger I had a few lady friends with penchants for petulance and dramatics. They were much older than Mirai (university age), which made their behavior even more of a spectacle. Like her, they were dissafected with life for reasons including, but not limited to:
- not being pretty or popular enough
- their crushes won’t notice them, won’t see them that way
- their classes are too boring/too hard
- their grades aren’t good enough
- they don’t know what to do with their life (future/career)
- their parents don’t understand them
- nobody understands them
With such premises, I hear the mostly jocular statement:
I want to just die.
Let that sink in a little.
I’ve read from quite a few sources over the years that Japan has an anomalously high suicide rate. I never enjoy hearing such jokes because I never feel good about humoring them. They’re less funny, and more like trolling for sympathy or perhaps just attention in any form.
Now compare it with what Mirai just said:
The world should just break.
Do you see the critical (and very interesting) difference?
First, the fundamental similarities: both statements are very selfish, and both are statements of resignation.
The first one could be read as a cry for attention, for help, at the very least should the person making the statement die. She wants people to mourn her, for people to remember her fondly, and that it was a significant/meaningful death whether it was merited or not. It wishes no further violence than guilt inflicted on others.
The second statement is malicious, even if not willfully so. I qualify this because Mirai, or whoever is saying this is probably not thinking of particular people to be broken along with the world. Nonetheless it wishes violence upon the world very explicitly. It is an anger directed outwards. Within the narrative, the statement serves as a device to create the maximum regret potential for Mirai. It acknowledges no responsibility for one’s circumstances and shifts all the blame unto the ‘world,’ which should then be punished by ‘breaking.’
And so in the second episode the earthquake is portrayed with greater detail. The robot convention center in Odaiba becomes a dangerous, crumbling maze that Mirai, and then Kusakabe Mari (whose character design and probable age does remind me of Balsa from Seirei no Moribito; this is a good model to emulate I think, for the purposes of this show) explore in search of the missing Yuuki.
There are suspense and action sequences/moments during the course of this search, but I don’t think they do the show that much credit (i.e. Mirai’s ‘leap of faith,’ and a number of just-in-time evading the falling debris moments). I don’t think I watch this show for those things, but I suppose I don’t mind them too much.
What I find more interesting is how Mirai’s characterization remains consistent. The mistakes she makes are results of the compounding of immaturity, inexperience, lack of practical sense, dismay, and excessive guilt. I certainly did not expect her to suddenly behave rationally, or follow the advice of authority, given how she is with her own parents (the dominant authority figures in her life). She doesn’t trust Mari that much not because she finds her untrustworthy. I think it’s more of how Mirai feels that she doesn’t deserve her kindness (especially since they already ‘owe’ her for the gift for their mum) since she wished the world to break after all. As I mentioned, the girl is wrecked with guilt.
When she settles a little when they are among other survivors taking stock of the damage, she reverts to her default petulance, and vents her upset towards her mother, blaming her for their current situation. It is also interesting however, to see Mirai’s behavior this way:
She can’t handle the praise Mari has been giving her; calling her such a good sister to Yuuki. Mirai is not a liar, inauthenticity that serves self-image isn’t part of her symptoms.
She’s not ready to be treated like a good person. In her mind, she’s still the girl who wished the world should just break.
The set-up for regret: Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 01 [->]
I think it’s very interesting to watch the episode keeping in mind some earthquake science provided by The Deathseeker (Panther 2009/07/15)
Psgels is calling this show the anime of the season; the post also makes a good point re Mirai’s wilfulness is what found Yuuki, and not Mari’s sober and conservative advice; I’m not going to be that generous because they found Yuuki after Mirai finally agreed with Mari to head for the exits (psgels 2009/07/17)
Can’t stand Mirai? You’ll just love Chagum (also comes with Balsa!) [->]