The Oversubscription and Bankruptcy of Hope (Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 06)

tokyo magnitude 8 06 mari mirai yuuki what about sangenjaya

While there were a few things worthy of sustained interest in the episode, and that it still gave me a feeling that it ended sooner than the 20 minutes it lasted, it felt strangely uneventful. Nonetheless, I felt provoked and gave in to some thinking about a favorite piece of disaster literature.

In the story, Mirai makes good about finding things she can do. In this case, she pillaged a scooter and made Yuuki an accomplice. Mari, remains a strong moral center and cheerfully has the vehicle returned. The issue of pillaging during disaster scenarios needn’t be elaborated on the kids, instead she tells them that they can’t reach home via motorbike. There’s an inauthenticity to this, and it has to do with hope and the way this plays out in the narrative.

Consider that existence itself is humiliated. Consider that human beings, have no essential purpose (they may invent one or believe that they have one, but this is subjective to a spectacular degree). There is no particular absolute reason a human being is born. My child will be born because my wife and I want to start a family, but any other narrative as to what the purpose of the life of this new human being will be entirely a fiction: mine, my wife’s, expectations from our own parents, etc. Is any of this the truth?

tokyo magnitude 8 06 mari bleeding

Albert Camus considered this purposelessness, which is exacerbated by the experience of life — which is marked by suffering: boredom, privation, and conflict. For him, even death is accidental (well, it can be — considering how a magnitude 8.0 earthquake is a rather unplanned way for most people to meet their ends). He took on the myth of Sisyphus, a being in Greek mythology who was punished by the gods by being made to bring a boulder up a hill every day. At the end of the day, the boulder rolls back down the grade.

This, to him is a metaphor for human existence. Every day we roll up our boulder up a hill, and then it rolls down again, and we do this until the day we die. There is no hope. This is the representation of life. To hope that things will change, despite how the rules are constructed, is inauthentic (delusional). This is the bankruptcy of hope. And yet, that’s what almost everybody does. They hope for the best, in the face of the worst.

Camus is no doomsayer. In fact, he finds this revolting. Yes, revolting! He revolts against existence; first by asking us to imagine Sisyphus as a happy man. Camus imagines the Sisyphus in us human beings being able to stare at our hills and boulders and choose it.

the plague albert camusThis all plays out in what I consider his best work, The Plague. The main protagonist is Dr. Bernard Rieux, for the purposes of this post I’ll make him our Sisyphus. The town of Oran in Algeria is beset by a plague and is quarantined. People are dying at an alarming rate and medical supplies are no longer forthcoming at some point. And even with such supplies, the plague itself resists the available medical ability and technology available at the time. At one point Dr. Rieux watches a young girl suffer her death throes for hours and hours before finally expiring.

The question put on Dr. Rieux is what’s the point of resisting? What’s the point of ministering to these hopeless cases? There is literally nothing that can be done to save them. Dr. Rieux shows a bit of character, and acknowledges one important thing: that he is a doctor, and ministering to these people is what a doctor does, and that’s what he’ll continue to do.

Fucking GAR. The boulder, the hill. That’s what we have as humans. We can have our way out — that is to either live on painkillers until we die, or just take death by the hands and end it all immediately. But Camus endorses to carry the boulder and bring it up the hill with dignity in the face of humiliation, wholly without hope. To hope is to lie, that is to do things out of a promise that was never given.

tokyo magnitude 8 06 sangenjaya is in flames mobile phone tv news stream

Mari is confronted by this. Sangenjaya is in flames. Aftershocks still hit at least twice an episode (and each of the past episodes depict half-days of the narrative; don’t make me do the math). Is there really hope that her daughter and mother are still alive? Rather, there is no way for her to find out. Is there a way to find out that the Onosawa parents are still alive and/or capable of taking care of Mirai and Yuuki? In this episode, there isn’t.

In the context of Camus and the Sisyphean human condition. I imagine Mari choosing not so much hope, but to fulfill her destiny: that is to be a mother, a daughter, and a GARdian. In the face of a magnitude 8.0 earthquake and its aftershocks; a broken city and its privations, she will do right by everyone. MILFquake is BADASS.

Further Reading

The Plague (wikipedia) [->]

The Myth of Sisyphus (wikipedia) [->]

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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28 Responses to The Oversubscription and Bankruptcy of Hope (Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 06)

  1. Sorrow-kun says:

    Nice metaphor, but two points. First, I didn’t think Mirai and Yuuki stole the bike, I thought they borrowed it. Second, to get a bit philosophical, isn’t continuing to push the boulder up the hill just a way to distract oneself from the hopelessness of it? It’s kinda like an anesthetic: busy yourself in work so you don’t have the chance to reflect on how futile it all is. I can see how it’s undesirable… it’s depressing. But it’s like living an empty lie. I’ll stop here. This is the sort of dilemma that philosophers probably think about for years.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Thanks.

      First, the metaphor is entirely by Camus; I just like it a lot and use it every now and then. Second, I’m just making fun of Mirai (because she’s my friend lol pillage, they did take it in the spirit of borrowing and I give them the benefit of the doubt).

      Third, Camus does not see it as a distraction. He acknowledges the futility and distinguishes the act of rolling the boulder up willingly as revolt.

      It is different say, as the advice that Ayu’s pottery teacher from Honey and Clover advises: “to move one’s hands” (in the face of uncertainty and futility).

      • Sorrow-kun says:

        No, I meant “borrowed” with permission. Maybe I’m wrong and I don’t have the episode at fingertips to check, but they were talking about a bike store earlier in the episode IIRC, and the impression I was under was that it was attended.

        And, you’re right, on second thoughts, there is a difference. To acknowledge and accept the futility, and I guess to embrace it and fight against it, that takes courage. It’s a paradoxical idea, fighting against futility (which is probably why I didn’t get it at first). That’s why it’s so courageous to do so. Probably, the majority of us choose the second route, to busy ourselves in the intricacies of work sufficiently that we forget its futile. It comes back to the idea of “don’t think, do”, the words of the great Hawthorn coach, John Kennedy. I think too much, it’s one of my worst flaws. I have great respect for people who can just “do”, who don’t need to think so much.

        • ghostlightning says:

          It could happen that way, though I don’t that Ayu (?) mentioned the bike shop any earlier than when she was talking to Mari.

          Camus has been my hero that way, for a long time now (I’ve read this book back in 1998). He wasn’t comfortable being called existentialist and did not enjoy the favorable attention of Sartre. Nonetheless he was a man of action, testifying on behalf of compatriots, beyond just being a novelist and essayist.

          I think I go beyond Camus in a way. I say this in that there is no grimness in my facing the futility. I face it with the cheerful happiness of a nihilist who sees an empty and meaningless space as a blank canvas to create happiness no matter how fleeting or lacking in absolute significance.

  2. 2DT says:

    Her purpose is an invention, but the invention has power.

    I can dig that. Exploded, traumatic consciousness is a deep subject, and the things people decide they are when they believe they have nothing left is always interesting.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Abstractions aside, Mari could technically ‘delude’ herself to thinking her loved ones are safe, that the children’s parents are safe, you mean?

      I can see how that can work. In the face of uncertainty, to choose to believe the possibility that provides the greatest incentive for action. If wrong, one can always despair later,

      • 2DT says:

        More like her decision to be the guardian and moral pillar of these children. What reason does she really have, except 1) that she can, and 2) a belief that one must still be decent and good even when everything’s fallen apart? It’s just as valid for her to ditch the kids and do her own thing, but she chooses to say “I am the protector,” and the decision alone is what empowers her. Does that make sense?

  3. animekritik says:

    you say that hope is false etc etc but the general tenor of your post is full of hope, don’t you think?

    What is dignity? You know better, you know that there is no such thing, not really 😉
    Defiance to what? The abyss? You ARE the abyss!

    Camus is nice, but my personal hero in these matters would have to be Osamu Dazai. Drowning in a river with your mistress is a cool way to go…

    • ghostlightning says:

      Nope. No hope.

      The ‘heroism’ of Camus is ultimately dashed on the rocks of insignificance/futility. He is only significant because of people like me who write about him.

      However, he nor I do not advocate suicide.

      Life can be lived powerfully within the context of empty and meaningless. A powerful life lived is still empty and meaningless in the absolute sense, but it may (as I imagine in Camus’ case, and in mine) be filled with tremendous utility. So if you value what Dazai did, that’s your boulder to push, your cross to bear.

      Valuing dignity may make me just another Ozymandias, but whatever.

      • animekritik says:

        I don’t get what you mean by “powerfully” then… Or, in other terms, what would a powerless life be and what criteria would you use to define it??

        • ghostlightning says:

          I think this is where we will diverge in opinion. Power in my view is an experience of freedom. I remember you mentioning that there is no such thing.

          Well, let us suppose there isn’t. The experience of freedom (power), even if it is not technically truly ‘free’ is preferable to the experience of resignation, no exit, being trapped, etc. I propose that this feeling is distinct from hope in that hope is a function of anticipation of the future, and the feeling|experience of freedom is rooted in the present (or the immediate past).

          A powerless life will be that of resignation; the context being there is an acknowledgment of how existence is described by Camus (pointless and absurd). Or, imagine Sisyphus bringing his rock up the hill whining and complaining the whole way: “It shouldn’t be this way! It shouldn’t be like this! It’s not fair!”

  4. X10A_Freedom says:

    Loved your 3rd to 5th paragraph, although wikipedia gave me a very different impression of Camus (anyone taking your selected quotes 100% seriously wouldn’t be as proactive as Camus himself!). My personal take on life is similar to what you wrote, with anime being the distraction to enjoy myself.

    Hope is an illusion. I refuse to hope my student visa application is successful.

    My stay with relatives in the Philippines made me think as well, wondering why they were so happy to see me, to treat me to so many things (incl the plane ticket). While I forced myself to appreciate them, I no longer feel affilation with “people”, “family” compared to say 5 years before for some unknown reason. For the record, the wireless internet at NAIA was lightning quick.

    Enough digression and back to Magnitude 8.0. While I found the content to be important in shaping Mari’s character and the story itself, I felt it was good stuff which were poorly put together. The way the story is told and was presented wasn’t instantly compelling for some reason I cannot pinpoint. Although my take on Mari is much simpler than your association with Camus! She is stressed, worried and wants to find out about the status of her family ASAP, but she also knows rushing over there would probably not make much difference to the outcome itself, and at the end of the day, dumping Mirai and Yuuki on the spot is cruel and she knows it.

    • ghostlightning says:

      I agree in that the episode itself doesn’t seem to be as well put-together as the others, and especially jarring after a rather superb 5th episode! I don’t know what it exactly it is either.

      Your take on Mari is solid. The invocation of Camus is entirely my own whim — to read a narrative from a particular lens that I am fond of.

      We do read and interpret using different filters, it’s just a matter of whether we can distinguish the particular filters we use. In my case, most of the time I can distinguish; and in times like this I actually can do choose a filter on purpose.

      I’m glad that you find what I wrote here interesting. Camus’ text has been very influential for me over the last decade. The lack of affiliation you feel… it happens. You feel like you’ve changed, while these people who have been so kind to you have a relationship with a ‘you’ that may not even exist anymore… but they hope that you are that person, even if only because that’s the person they know, the person who would be happy and proud to be affiliated with them.

  5. kadian1364 says:

    Ghostlightning sir, I must commend you on writing quite the excellent post despite a subpar TM8.0 episode.

    To choose to shape one’s own attitude in the face of any reality, to exercise one’s will despite the inevitability of an unconquerable fate, there’s an unequaled quality of courage about that. It’s pretty romantic in a sense.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Thank you.

      It is romantic, in the sense that there’s a heroism to it to emulate. There’s GAR to it too. A lot of the depictions of GAR heroes are neck deep in hope rhetoric however, but hope is such an addictive drug that I don’t blame writers and creators to draw from it’s well.

  6. animewriter says:

    Nice article, I wouldn’t say that Mari has a unrealistic amount of hope in regards to her daughter’s, her mother’s, and even the children’s parents safety. So, I think that Mari just realizes that rushing forward won’t change the end results one way or another.

    In Voices if a Distant Star one the main issues is whether or not Mikako can reach someone with her cellphone are they really part of her world, and in TM8.0 we see that since most of the modern means of communication have broken down the characters’ world has greatly shrunk while their uncertainties have greatly grown.

    I tend to look at Mari’s behavior in a more Confucian light, Mari knows her place and duty towards the children and she not going to abandon them. A long time ago, when I was still in the military, my commander gave a lecture on courage and moral courage, and he said that anybody could display courage when everybody was watching but true courage is doing the right thing when nobody is watching over you. So, even though Mari could abandon the children and nobody would be the wiser she displays true courage by sticking with them.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Good points and well said.

      I like your example with Voices…; that’s a great invocation of hope vs. hopelessness in the context of this post.

      The thing is, with regards to Confucian values as well as what your commander advocates — it is morally driven. Dr. Rieux’s ministering to the sick may be morally driven, but it doesn’t have to be.

      All choices can be made free of moral considerations. To behave morally, at times is like having morals dictate one’s actions instead of ones free will. The ‘right’ alternatives do the choosing for you. I think Mari is within this paradigm. I’m not saying this is wrong, only less than ideal given my valuing power and freedom over most other things.

  7. baka~ says:

    despite not being able to frequent to your blog, reading some of your posts always have that delicious aroma of insight that makes the trip worth it.

    while i somehow understand the resilience that you seem to portray with sisyphus, the boulder and the hill, i could not entirely grasp the concept of the story when compared with mari’s and the plague’s. although the three have the similar concept of, dare i say, fighting against fate, i noticed that the three of them have different attitudes as to how they fought against it and wonders which among the three characters have a stable “build”. if this is how i understood things so far it would be like:

    sisyphus – as stated also by the previous posts, i came to understand him as one who thinks of “happy thoughts” to preoccupy himself of the current situation becoming oblivious to the hardships he experiences.

    rieux – fought throughout and seen the end yet realized that they merely suppressed the plague, not end it. since not being able to read the book proper, my mind asks the emotion he had on the last scene. did he acknowledge the well-earned celebration that the people indulged themselves? or was he looking down on how foolish the people were, thinking that it’s too soon to celebrate? was his realization at the end viewed in an optimistic or pessimistic light?

    mari – even on earlier episodes, she was depicted to be a selfless character with a positive outlook on things yet this episode really dropped down a hammer on her indomitable will. i guess she’s a decent mix of sisyphus and rieux (based on how i understood their stories) where she probably occupies herself with the desire to help others in order to forget her worries but i wonder how she would be at the end? i wonder how she could cope up should her ideals betray her when they decide to give her a sad end.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Thank you.

      Well, the thing is that a post like this (and a post like this is well within the scope of what I do) is speculative; and my method is really filled with exploration via conjecture. Also, the fact that I am comparing an unfinished narrative to two finished ones should be telling as far as ‘correctness’ or ‘appropriateness’ is concerned.

      That said, and while I think your analysis is valid, I differ with.

      Sisyphus isn’t a man distracted by ‘happy thoughts’ while in revolt; or at least that’s not how I imagine him. I think you are correct to assume that he is so some of the time, given that he has eternity (where all probabilities become infinitely likely to happen at least once). However, I don’t think that distraction is his primary methodology to avoid/resist despair.

      I don’t think Rieux eventually judged the people. His thoughts were our access to the scene, and are touchstones for the readers to make the judgments. I personally think that every time we reach the summit with our heavy rock we can celebrate as much as we want, for whatever it’s worth. All things are temporary, collective happiness and relief too, will pass. Why not seize it when it’s there?

      Mari’s story is incomplete, but I did think it interesting to use a Sisyphean/Camusian perspective in reading her story, particularly on her choices in the context of hope and despair.

  8. baka~ says:

    well it would really be difficult to tell how one’s way of thinking is if he had to endure an eternity of hardship. i guess there may be times where sisyphus indulges himself in the thought of happiness in order to go on yet in the end or even, along the way, he might realize the pointlessness of it all and feel despair. the question then, what realization would come to him to make him go on? i could compare sisyphus’ story with archer of fate/stay night.

    if you’ve played the visual novel you’ll learn that archer had an optimistic side into his lifelong mission of saving people that he carried even in death granting him the honor to become a guardian that pops up when humanity is in the brink of extinction. as he did his immortal guardian duties, he eventually realized that the ones he need to kill in order to save humanity are other human beings. he came to realize how he contradicted himself whenever he killed a few to save the many making him pissed as to how naive he was before during his younger years

    with respect to your point of view regarding rieux, i can’t really tell what the emotion were unless i got my hands on a copy and experience it myself. as of now, based on your stand, i guess he resembles emiya shiro based on his ending in the visual novel of Unlimited Blade Works where he accepts how hard his future would be but still recognizes his need to do so, somewhat coming up to terms with himself and refusing to accept his ominious self betrayal

    • ghostlightning says:

      I’ve finished Fate but not Unlimited Blade Works and Heaven’s Feel. The examples you cited do seem apt. Quite an interesting reading of Fate/stay Night. Maybe you can write it as a post in the future.

      • baka~ says:

        laziness has been one of my greatest weakness but i might think about it… reformating the main drive that contains the game itself might entice me to relive the adventure -_-”

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