Apprivoise! You are forever responsible for what you have tamed: The Little Prince and Star Driver.

takuto sugata wako

Allow me to introduce to you a guest writer: the lovelier half of The Untold Story of and Vega anime blog, AJtheFourth. Along with her real-life partner and fellow anime fan vucub caquix, she’s written involved essays on the currently ongoing Mawaru Penguindrum and is a fellow fan of Revolutionary Girl Utena.

The discourse on Mawaru Penguindrum cannot escape that of RGU, given Ikuhara Kunihiko’s direct involvement in both works. Not too long ago, a very different show had the similar circumstance of being part of the RGU discourse, Star Driver, which was written by Enokido Yoji who is credited for the series composition of RGU, and the script of 20 of 35 episodes.

I had my ambivalence about Star Driver, despite my enjoyment of the series as a whole (and I did enjoy almost everything about it), but here ajthefourth discusses a literary aspect of the show that I knew it had, but never really understood to what extent. Enjoy her post and check out her blog! Without further ado,

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“But I’ve been having this thought recently. Maybe it would have been better if I had never met you. It would be better if you had never come to the island.” –Wako Agemaki, “Star Driver”

From it’s opening cry of, “Apprivoise!” it was obvious that the series “Star Driver” had taken notice of key thematic elements presented in the beloved French children’s book, “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. “The Little Prince” tells the story of a boy who leaves his home planet, and his love, behind itn order to journey across the stars. He visits six different planets, all with strange, often foolish inhabitants, before landing on Earth. While on Earth, he meets a fox, and this encounter permanently and poignantly changes his perspective on relationships.

“To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….Men have forgotten this truth…but you must not forget it. You are forever responsible for what you have tamed.” –The Fox, “The Little Prince”

It’s important to note is that the French verb “apprivoiser” doesn’t mean to tame or break in an animal like the verb “domestiquer.” Instead, it has a slightly more romantic interpretation of a mutual “taming” or growing close to someone or something. It is thanks to these words from the fox that The Little Prince is able to understand the true value of his relationship with his rose, and also able to cultivate a friendship with the narrator of the story. In essence, it’s the nature of his feelings towards someone, and their feelings towards him, that make that specific person so significant.

The idea that this makes him vulnerable is also a recurring theme. The Little Prince is hurt by the rose’s standoffish nature and hurts the rose by leaving his planet; he feels pangs of sadness upon leaving the fox; following the prince’s return to his home planet, the narrator admits that, although he is glad to have met The Litte Prince, knowing that he will not see the prince again hurts tremendously.

takutoandthefox2

“In the past, I used to be more closed-off than I am now.” –Takuto Tsunashi, “Star Driver”

Takuto Tsunashi learns this lesson long before he energetically, and foolishly, attempts to swim to Southern Cross Island in search of the father who abandoned him. After experiencing the death of one of his closest friends, Natsuo, Takuto seemingly realizes that despite the fact that his friend is gone his memory and the time that he had spent with Natsuo were worth the pain of his loss. Instead of mourning his death, Takuto draws on Natsuo’s advice for inspiration, admitting that he wants to shine like Natsuo did. This becomes his mindset before Star Driver begins, which explains why Takuto always jumps headfirst into relationships with others. He never pauses, like many of us do, to worry about being hurt.

The Taming of Sugata:

“You’ve been putting smiles on our faces since the moment we met. Maybe that’s your first phase.” –Wako Agemaki

The key is that the protagonist in Star Driver isn’t Takuto Tsunashi. It’s Sugata Shindou, who, with good reason, has kept his emotions hidden from everyone, even his fiancée, Wako. It isn’t until Takuto arrives on the scene that Sugata begins to open up to others. In fact, one could make the case that if it weren’t for Takuto, Sugata wouldn’t have decided to apprivoise Samekh at all, keeping the cycle unchanged. It is thanks to Takuto’s “taming” of Sugata and Wako that they are all able to break free from the repeating story that Sarina expressed so beautifully and succinctly in “Eve of Legend.” However, in the end, it leaves the three main characters in what appears to be a never-ending love triangle.

This is what makes this opening quote by Wako especially poignant. It summarizes the main theme or question that both Star Driver and The Little Prince pose to their respective audiences: Is it better to brave loving someone despite the very real risk of being hurt or the knowledge that you could potentially hurt them? “Star Driver” and “The Little Prince” seem to think so. What about you?

The Glittering Crux and Asteroids 325-330:

In addition to main themes of the book being addressed by “Star Driver,” there are several other key references which tie into these themes as well as overall character development, beginning with the six classes within the Glittering Crux Brigade. The title of each of these: Emperor, Vanishing Age, Bourgainvilleae, Adult Bank, Science Guild, and Filament, all correspond to the six people that The Little Prince encounters on various asteroids before landing on Earth: The King, The Conceited Man, The Drunkard, The Businessman, The Geographer, and The Lamplighter. Upon further inspection, the heads of their respective classes often tie in with their personalities and character development.

HeadConceitedman

Reiji Miyabi and the Concieted Man:

“Conceited people never hear anything but praise.” –Narrator, The Little Prince

The Conceited Man is one of the first people that The Little Prince meets on his journey. The prince is baffled by this person, who is unable to even converse properly with The Little Prince due to his ability to see beyond his own vanity. From his first moment in the series (as he breaks the North Maiden’s seal) Head, or Reiji Miyabi oozes this same kind of confidence that blinds him to all other things. It’s this confidence (along with cybody powers) that has kept him in a sort of suspended animation for years; as his former friend Ryousuke says, “His heart has been stolen by Zero Time.” This confidence not only makes him blind to others’ attempts to ruin his plans, but also makes it impossible for him to look past what he wants towards what he may actually need, specifically when that comes to companionship and relationships. He abandoned his own son in search of a true mark and Samekh, he cast several chances at romantic relationships aside in order to further his own ambition (the North Maiden, Takuto’s mother) and even when the opportunity for smaller relationships are presented to him within the story, for example: when Sugata begins to talk to him, he again casts these aside, seeing only his ambition.

KanakoBusinessman

Kanako and The Businessman:

“I know a planet where there is a certain red-faced gentleman. He had never smelled a flower. He has never looked at a star. He has never loved any one. He has never done anything in his life but add up figures.” –The Little Prince, “The Little Prince”

Kanako’s association with “The Little Prince” is a bit of a stretch, but only because she ends up eschewing many parallels she may have had with The Businessman, becoming a better person in the process. In the beginning of the series, through Simone’s eyes, she is presented as a character possessing many traits in common with “The Little Prince’s” businessman; she is ruthless when it comes to money, she constantly tracks her stocks and foreign investments much like The Businessman counts and records the stars, and she seemingly threw away her chance at loving someone to marry a rich, far older man, symbolizing a commitment to money over relationships. However, the series progresses and we see that Kanako actually has a rather large heart, even going as far to admit that the reason she owns such a large yacht is so that she could evacuate everyone on the island in case of a cybody emergency.

MidoriGeographer

Professor Green and The Geographer:

Professor Green is another character who manages to reach outside of her role, albeit only for an episode. The Geographer is a scientist who makes it abundantly clear to The Little Prince that his job is an observer and data collector, not someone who actually takes part in his own experiments or explores anything. For the majority of the series, Professor Green is someone who remains in the background, helping to develop things of scientific significance, like the cybody regeneration system, but never having the wherewithal to actually test them out using herself. However, in her spotlight episode, Professor Green decides to ignore the strictures that have been placed on her, and instead, chooses to use her power recklessly and selfishly. This turns out to be her undoing in her fight against Takuto, but gains her a relationship, and a bit of humanity, in the process.

BenioLamplighter

Benio and The Lamplighter:

“When he lights his street lamp, it is as if he brought one more star to life, or one flower. When he puts out his lamp, he sends the flower, or the star, to sleep. That is a beautiful occupation. And since it is beautiful, it is truly useful.” –The Little Prince, “The Little Prince”

The Lamplighter is a man who sees 1440 sunsets a day, because his planet turns so quickly. He tells The Little Prince that at one time, his orders to light the lamp made sense, but now that the planet is so small, he is exhausted and all he wants to do is sleep. Yet, he continues to perform his duty of lighting the lamp 1440 times a day. In Benio’s case, she is one of the Crux who does not have a true mark, her family lost it long before. Yet she still feels compelled to live up to, and to carry on the tradition of having a mark, even going as far as to be the first defeated Crux member to volunteer for regeneration, despite the danger, simply to prove that she’s not useless.

KeitoDrunkard

Keito and The Drunkard:

For Keito, her task of sealing Sugata and watching over him is painful for her to perform, and yet she still does it. One of the saddest people that The Little Prince meets is The Drunkard, who says to the prince that he drinks to forget the fact that he’s drinking. The cause and effect are wrapped up in a seemingly endless cycle, provided that The Drunkard, like Keito, chooses the cause of his misery to also cope with it. The Drunkard is presented with an opportunity to end his misery when The Little Prince arrives on his planet; however, he chooses to continue drinking instead. Keito’s shameful task ends when Sugata, followed by Takuto, both take action to break the larger cycle of Samekh and the cybodies. Towards the end of the last episode, Wako mentions something about Keito lamenting the fact that she is no longer only infatuated with Sugata. It shows a bitter nostalgia for the comfort of the now-broken cycle, but also tells us that Keito has finally begun to move forward in her life.

With all of these allusions to “The Little Prince” present in “Star Driver” this inevitable question arises: Is it necessary to know “The Little Prince” in order to understand the intentions of “Star Driver?” At its core, “Star Driver” is a series about relationships (both romantic and otherwise) and how different people react to them, participate in them, or cast them aside. It’s certainly not necessary for one to have read “The Little Prince” to be interested and pick up on what “Star Driver” has to say about people and their approach to relationships. However, it certainly helps to drive the message home, and provides a lot more meat to several of the periphery characters.

________________________________________________________________

avatar AJtheFourth

AJtheFourth wrote this post generously for We Remember Love. I’d have written it myself but I wouldn’t have done as good work. I’m just happy to be the one to present it here. Her blog is The Untold Story of Altair and Vega.

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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21 Responses to Apprivoise! You are forever responsible for what you have tamed: The Little Prince and Star Driver.

  1. Whoa! Great post I haven’t read the fable that you compared it to but wow! Still amazing I really liked the break down of the Crux members nice 😀

    I do enjoy the story for Stardriver really fun to follow, yeah its a bit slow to actually get into but after the first few episodes I was hooked on it. Sure there were lots of talking and fighting themed episodes, but we do get plenty of slice of life themed episodes so it does mix up the pace for non hardcore mecha fans.

    • ajthefourth says:

      Okay, I’m well-aware that I’m going to get roasted for saying this on a mecha blog (apologies in advance, Ghost!) but one reason why it’s a bit harder for me to get in to a mecha series than other series is that the first episodes of mecha series tend to be rife with random terms that are incomprehensible to me. It doesn’t help that these series tend to jump into the thick of things right away, so the impression that I come off having is one that everyone else knows what’s going on but me. Admittedly, I felt this way about Star Driver’s first episode.

      And the I watched the second…

      And third…

      And by the fourth I was following it religiously, breaking down the relationship and mecha charts and eagerly awaiting releases every Sunday. I’m not sure the method by which you got hooked on the series, but I’ll agree with you that once you get past the slow start it’s a very entertaining little show.

      Oddly enough, I liked the episodes with better fight scenes than the slice-of-life ones…it’s a wonder. ^ ^ Thanks for the comment!

      • This is because you’re watching contemporary mecha shows where a lot of tradition and tropes are taken for granted. If you want a crash course, Igarashi also did Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann so watch that and I’ll give you a commentary on what’s being referenced and I promise you we’ll cover all the important traditions.

        That said, nothing about Star Driver is very mecha. It’s anti-mecha in a way, given its Utena-style duels. The robots are stand-ins for Magic Girl transformations really. But this is not a very important distinction, though it’s used to justify how the finale played out which is my biggest complaint about the show. I hated the final episode.

        • ajthefourth says:

          Yeah, the only mecha I’ve watched are Giant Robo (which is in my top anime because it’s fantastic) Do You Remember Love?, Star Driver (if it counts), and Code Geass (if it counts) and Neon Genesis Evangelion (the series in it’s entirety and the first two more recent movies).

          People keep telling me I need to watch Gurren Lagann. Also, Eureka Seven. Also, Macross in its entirety. Out of all three, I’d say that I’d be the most eager to watch the latter first, simply because I absolutely love the movie.

          From now on, I’m putting my mecha education in your hands…hehe (kidding). ^ ^

          • Matt Wells says:

            SDF Macross is great at avoiding the problems of terminology and technobabble you seem to encounter with other shows. Macross introduces a ton of technical concepts in the first few episodes, but always at a pace the viewer can keep up with, clearly defining their technical boundaries and limitations. It avoids the cardinal sin in mecha of info-dumping and deus ex techina, which should be enough to warrant a viewing. If you loved the movie, you should adore the TV series.

            Gurren Lagann is a great crash course in basic super robot internal logic and tropery, and Eureka Seven will really resonate with you after you watch Macross. Macross Plus is another great choice; a straightforward story told well, and it doesn’t deviate much from the tech developed in both the movie and original TV series. Great animation and music to boot, and the robots are a thing of grace and beauty.

            If you loved Giant Robo and are searching for another straightforward, yet emotionally satisfying show, I would highly reccomend Tetsujin 28 (2004). The mecha designs are ridiculous, but it crashes Murder Mystery ala Detective Conan into a Cold War thriller, with giant robots thrown into the mix. It even has the same mad genius/director as Giant Robo, so I would definitely check it out based on your tastes.

            A fantastic article madam, you’ve reminded me of how much I need to read The Little Prince in its entireity one day, and how badly I need to look into Star Driver. Keep up the good work!

          • ajthefourth says:

            To Matt: Ooh, thank you for this great list and thanks for the compliment. I’ll have to add Tetsujin 28 to the ever-growing backlog.

            Now to speak about something I know a bit more about, haha. You should read The Little Prince at some point. Yes, it is a children’s book, but it has themes that are meant to especially resonate with adults. As Draggle hints at below, a lot of it is about rediscovering that childlike, whimsical approach to the world, which perhaps may tie in nicely with our somewhat childlike desire to see fantastic giant robots tear things apart in our cartoons. ^ ^

            Thanks again for the comment!

  2. draggle says:

    Very cool, you make a pretty convincing case. I hadn’t even realized apprivoise was French. To extrapolate further, perhaps the Little Prince is also where the title of the show comes from, especially since the show has very little to do with stars?

    “All men have the stars,” he answered, “but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems. For my businessman they were wealth. But all these stars are silent. You–you alone–will have the stars as no one else has them–”

    “What are you trying to say?”

    “In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night . . . You–only you–will have stars that can laugh!”

    You could probably draw parallels between Sugata’s “death” and ascension to heaven and the Little Prince’s encounter with the snake as well.

    That said, Star Driver seems to have a number of structural similarities with the Little Prince, but I’m not entirely convinced it derives too much thematically from Exupery’s work. It does deal with taming in the sense of friendship and love, but I’m not sure that’s particularly unique to the Little Prince. The two things I appreciated the most about the Little Prince were how it all came from the perspective of a child and made grown up matters of consequence seem so absurd, and also how it showed the importance of the imagination. I didn’t really get much of either of these from Star Driver. But I can certainly see the connections with taming and the residents of the planets.

    • ajthefourth says:

      The Little Prince has a special significance to me personally as it was the first book I was able to read in French (and is probably the only book I can still read in French without help…sadly enough).

      It’s true that you don’t get the same child-like whimsy, imagination, or absurdity of adult affairs; however, I think our difference of opinion comes from what each of us had to take away from the story personally. I tend to focus on human relationships more than anything else, in nearly everything that I watch, read, listen to, etc. Therefore, the themes that spoke to me on a personal and visceral level were the themes of love, friendship, and human relationships.

      The Little Prince show us adults that are wrapped up in their own affairs, dull, and closed-minded to what others, especially a child, may have to say. I can’t help but think, what with the book’s attention to personal relationships and love, that one of the reasons it is saying that adults are often so closed-minded to a child’s thinking, is that a child experiences things far more immediately and emotionally. As you grow to be an adult, you’re taught to keep these feelings protected and closed off in light of other things. The two themes that we each came away with from the book actually tie in together quite nicely.

      Thanks for the comment! ^ ^

  3. Krizzlybear says:

    That was a great post. You outlined the parallels in the second half in a very straightforward way. I’ve never read the little prince, but you made it very understandable. I probably would think that people who haven’t watched star driver will be able to understand as well. Good job, you should feel proud. A-S won’t be the same without you!

    • ajthefourth says:

      Thank you! I wanted this post to be comprehensible to someone who had watched Star Driver in its entirety, but possibly had not read the book, so I’m glad that you understood it! I’ll just have to disagree with the fact that someone who hasn’t seen Star Driver might be able to understand. ^ ^ Thank Ghost for allowing me to host it here and putting up with me presenting him with a gigantic wall of text!

  4. Jac says:

    As someone who enjoyed the show but never connected the dots, i salute you.

  5. rxsiu says:

    Wow, that’s a REALLY great comparative commentary of Star Driver and The Little Prince. I never read TLP, but do know of it, so I totally agree with your final words. You’ve enlightened me as to the origin/inspiration of Star Driver. For that, I thank you.

    • ajthefourth says:

      Thank you! Admittedly, Star Driver has its flaws as a series, but I thought that perhaps by providing this commentary, I could possibly flesh out a few more of the themes that it was trying to integrate within its story. At the very least, I feel that the whole idea of taming within personal relationships ties in nicely to how the characters interacted with each other throughout the story, even with the pacing being a bit rushed at the end. Thank you for commenting!

  6. Salinea says:

    Ce post est fantastique 😀

  7. Curuniel says:

    Great post, I had just recently watched the first two episodes of Star Driver and decided it didn’t interest me – you may have convinced me to give it a few episodes more! I love it when people point out these literary connections for me (now if someone would just make a Greek mythology or epic inspired anime…).

    • ajthefourth says:

      As I had said in another comment, it admittedly took me a bit to get into Star Driver as well. I hope you do end up liking what you see, even if you don’t end up loving it as much as I did (and still do).

      Ah…funny you should mention Greek mythology…as the recent series Tiger and Bunny has a lot of shout-outs to Greek gods in its architecture, company names, and a few other things. I’m not sure where they’re going with it, but it’s a good series to watch regardless.

      Thanks for the comment! ^ ^

  8. Anya says:

    Extremely late to this, but great post! I did read The Little Prince, but it was a thai translation (had to read for a mandatory thai class in my high school) and it was many years ago so it rarely ever pops up into my consciousness. You did a good job of comparing the Crux branches. I wonder if the maidens are analogies to something from TLP or something else, since I really like Mizuno. Though since Keito is also a Crux branch leader maybe not.

    • ajthefourth says:

      As I stated in previous comments, my love for The Little Prince stems from having to read it for French class, and it being the first book I ever read in a foreign language. It’s kind of awesome that you were able to read it for Thai class. ^ ^

      I think the maidens are their own entity as a group (North, South, East, and West), and two of them (Kanako and Keito) happen to also be references to The Little Prince from their respective Glittering Crux branches. I loved Mizuno and her relationship with her “sister,” and was a bit sad that they weren’t seen from again in the series.

      Thank you for the comment! Sorry I took so long to respond, I ah…didn’t know it was here.

  9. Pingback: 12 Days of Anime, Day 7: APPRIVOISE! Ginga Mahou Bishounen! « Forty-Four Fennecs

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