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,
“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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.