Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei 9 – Does Watashi Even Exist?

BITCHSLAPPED

This week’s Yojouhan episode was another fantastic addition to the story thus far. It cleared up a lot of plot details while revealing a crucial part of the show’s philosophy. As the episode opens, Watashi is revealed to have taken on a rather sinister role in his quest for the “rose colored coampus life” and his “raven haired maiden”. But this transformation is far from a fundamental shift in his morals, no matter how it may seem. He still remains that same individual that we’ve been seeing in every episode thus far. The beauty of Watashi is that he never evolves as a character. Throughout every repetition we’ve seen, he remains the same individual. Instead, all we learn is more and more about his current character.

Whereas Watashi has consistently joined a “normal” club in every repetition (save for episode 4), this week he joins a rather.. different club, the Lucky Cat Chinese Restaurant Secret Society. This society is the dream of every conspiracy theorist out there. It has a hand in literally everything we do, reminding us that society isn’t the pretty and inviting place it appears to be. It apparently has 8 different branches, but only three of them are expanded upon in this episode – The Library Police (introduced in episode 4), the Print Shop (featured in episode 8), and the Cheery Cycle Cleanup Corps (seen back in episode 3).

Branches of the secret society… I wonder why the bottom one is cut off?

Yet Watashi, despite this grandiose dream in his head of rising to the top of the Library Police, ultimately fails (seem familiar?). Yet again a combination of fate and his own incompatibility with the activities of the club cause him to just fail at everything. He can’t ascend the ranks of the Library Police because he both can’t overcome Ozu and also doesn’t have the ability to “collect” library books like Ozu. Likewise with the Print Shop, a twist of fate causes Watashi’s supply of papers to get blown up by the fireworks that we saw back in episode 1. And of course when Watashi goes to work at the Cheery Cycle Cleanup Corps, he doesn’t have the physical strength. In the end, it turns out that Watashi is a failure at everything, and he continues to blame the person that he always blames – Ozu.

In every repetition, Watashi consistently plays the blame game. He always tries to pin it on someone else and calls foul, but evidently that’s a rather stupid way to live one’s life. Watashi has tried literally every club in existence to try to find his rose colored campus life, but he will never find it. He will never find it because he can’t find any meaning in his own existence. And strangely enough, the one to teach Watashi this fundamental fact is Higuchi. The lazy man who dodges the library police since forever actually gives meaningful advice! I think that what he talks about is important enough to add it in as a block quote:

You cannot use the word “possibility” without limitations. Can you become a bunny girl? Can you become a pilot? … Perhaps you could. But if you keep focusing your gaze on that which is unrealistic, you never will. The root of all your evil is in always relying on one of your other possibilities to get your wish. You must accept that you are the person here, now, and that you cannot become anyone else other than that person. There is no way that you can lead some worthwhile college life and feel satisfied… There is no such thing as that rose-colored campus life. Why? Because there is nothing rose-colored in this world. Everything is all a bunch of colors mixed up, you see.

A rather fatalistic view of the world, but an appropriate one. There is no ideal life, and you have to accept who you are and find your own way through life. Watashi kind of reminds me of a pre-realization Nishi from Mind Game, another one of Yuasa Maasaki’s works. He’s far too wrapped up in his own mind to even consider what’s going on in the real world. Unfortunately for Watashi, he hasn’t come upon any events that force him back into reality the way Nishi did in that movie.

On another note, did this scene throw anyone back to Mind Game?

Of course, there’s no way I can write a Yojouhan post without mentioning Akashi! She returns rather prominently after 3 episodes of limited appearances. Again the moth appears, and again Akashi freaks out. But even though she knows she loses her Mochiguman in the area, she stops Watashi from searching from it. The reasoning she gives is that “it’s always comes back to me, even if I didn’t search for it.” It’s very reminiscent of the red string of fate that ties Watashi and Akashi together. Watashi dresses up as a white Mochiguman in episode 7, and the white Mochiguman always comes back to Akashi… Even though Ozu picked up the Mochiguman this time instead of Watashi, it went back to him regardless.

Yet with regards to Ozu, this episode demonstrated that he is a much deeper character than we give him credit before. I originally thought that Ozu was the physical manifestation of Watashi’s death drive, but it turns out that Ozu is in fact living his life much more fully than Watashi ever did. Ozu is a man driven by passion. Watashi is a man driven by his own convoluted thought processes. The end of the episode features an extremely emotional scene, and it shows the true power of music in guiding our perceptions of a scene. There was this extremely soft and almost melancholic piano BGM that made me sympathize with Ozu. His climb to the top and his thirst for more power were driven for going on a date with his girlfriend. His involvement at Honkawa in episode 5 is revealed, as his motivation for sneaking into there was to steal the blimp so that he could see the five mountains with Kohinata.

Much sadder than any Shinkai Makoto film seriously.

It was an extremely touching scene, and one that really made me appreciate Ozu much more. The climax of the scene was when he just barely missed Kohinata, where his dream was left unfulfilled. In the end, Ozu even cut the black thread that tied him to Watashi. Their fate is no longer connected, and at the end of the day, Watashi is left with nothing. He cut the red thread that binds him to Akashi when he stole her birdman plane, and now even Ozu has left him.

And the black thread is cut…

Watashi truly leads an extremely pathetic existence. In every repetition, not once has he changed the eventual outcome of everything. With or without him occupying a role in every club, most of the events in each episode still come to fruition. The fireworks still go off, the movies humiliating Jougasaki still get made, the Proxy-Proxy War still continues, etc. Watashi’s presence in all of these episodes has ultimately been meaningless. Ozu and Akashi know what they’re doing. Their actions have been consistent across each episode. Ozu still joins the secret society and becomes Higuachi’s disciple, and Akashi is still an engineering student that eventually ends up in the Birdman circle. Only Watashi doesn’t know what he wants to do, and as a result he’s been living a transient existence – one where nothing he does matters. For all intents and purposes, he doesn’t exist in this world. He never approaches anything with passion, and he always finds some loophole that allows him to escape reality and blame.

Even at the end of this week’s episode, Watashi shows that he still hasn’t progressed at all from where he started. He still tries to pin the blame for his fate on someone else, and he doesn’t acknowledge that it’s his fault. However, it does appear that he’s taken Higuchi’s lesson to heart – that he realizes the folly of trying to achieve that idealistic dream of his. He’s so crushed that he’s apparently going to turn into a Hikkikomori for episode 10. Oh this’ll be fun =]

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4 Comments

  1. Posted June 22, 2010 at 2:10 am | Permalink

    Even our screenshots are similar! So what do you think of the proposed hypotheses as regards the timeline? :)

    • Posted June 22, 2010 at 4:45 am | Permalink

      That’s because I copied your post and messed with it a bit great minds think alike right? I seemed to have missed that post on your end somehow! I’ll read and comment =D

  2. Posted June 22, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I’m betting we’ll see a hikkikimori-type transformation for episode 10. Good points all around – it’s interesting too, how Ozu mentions the Mochiguman seeming to almost have a mind of it’s own, trying to be picked up.

  3. Posted June 22, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    I think it ties in to the red string of fate that Watashi has very nearly broken. They’re always tied together by the Mochiguman despite the different continuities that exist.

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