Tag Archive | existentialism

To Fight Or Not To Fight (Digimon Tamers- Episode 3)

(Episode 2 Review)

Renamon and Rika have followed Takato and Guilmon into the park and when their quarry enter a clearing, they pounce and Renamon begins to attack Guilmon. But unlike their previous victims, Guilmon proves to be extremely resilient and takes the full force of Renamon’s finishing move, the Diamond Storm attack, which merely glances off of Guilmon’s thick skin. As Guilmon’s safety is increasingly called into question, he reverts more and more back into his wild form  and begins to launch his own special attack (Pyro Sphere) back at Renamon, all the while his eyes changing aspect and his demeanor becoming more brutal, animal, primal, and ferocious.

As the battle commences, Rika tries to analyze Guilmon with her D-Power but is unable to find any anything on this saurian Digimon. Takato attempts to awaken Guilmon from his current berserk state, but to no avail. Rika counters Guilmon by Modifying Renamon with an Armor card, which transforms her hand into an air cannon. Just as Renamon looks set to blow out the brains of her opponent, Takato manages to bring his friend to his senses, and Guilmon’s erratic movement during this waking prevents Renamon from getting a read on him, which consequently leads to her attack missing him entirely.

Henry shows up once again and tells Rika that Digimon are not slaves, that they are here to be their friends. But for Rika and Renamon, their relationship is one of master-slave domination in which good relations ensue only when they battle and use Renamon’s strength and Rika’s skills as a tamer. The two depart the scene. Later, Henry and Takato are hanging out and developing a bond of friendship just as their Digimon partners do likewise.

When Takato returns home, his classmate Jeri (the odd girl with the dog puppet) is leaving Takato’s parents bakery. She ensures Takato that she didn’t tell his parents about him leaving school early that day and playing hooky from his duties. Back at Henry’s house, his sister Suzie is hanging out in his room playing with Terriermon as if a toy. Whenever she or Henry’s parents enter his room, Terriermon pretends to be a stuffed animal. Henry worries about what would become of his friend if he were to Digivolve, and hopes, for the sake of their anonymity and the continuance of their clandestine friendship, that Terriermon remains a Rookie-level Digimon forever. Rika is out walking the streets of Tokyo, where Renamon follows her in the shadows, making sure that no one sees her as she tails and protects her tamer. Renamon, speaking to herself (and implicitly to us, explains that Rika is a lonely person and that she has no real friends in this world.

As Rika walks these streets, a kid recognizes her as a figure he refers to as the ‘Digimon Queen’ of something called ‘synchronicity.’ Later, Rika appears overconfident in her abilities as she explains to Renamon, through apparent psychic link, that she is the best tamer around, and that therefore, the reason Renamon cannot Digivolve to the Champion-level must be the fault of Renamon. Renamon seems disturbed by this conversation and fearful about Rika’s state of mind and her inability to connect with anyone, including her own Digimon partner, on an emotional level. We know, from the Adventure Universe, that Digivolution of a partner Digimon requires one to have a close emotional connection to their partner human. As such, Rika’s approach of using brute strength and skill to win in battles will eventually come to a dead end when she and Renamon start punching above their weight class. That is, unless the two develop an emotional bond and learn to work together and care about one another as more than mere fighting partners.

Back at Takato’s hangout the next day, Kazu and Kenta duel it out in the Digimon card game and Kazu chides his friend that he will never be able to win a match if he doesn’t learn how to effectively use modify cards. Takato overhears this conversation and realizes, finally, that he too could use Digi-Modify cards on Guilmon through his D-Power just as Rika has done previously for Renamon.

At the site where Renamon and Guilmon sparred earlier, the Hypnos extended team is there investigating. The mysterious leader of the organization picks up the card Rika used to Digi-Modify Renamon’s hand into an air cannon weapon. The purpose of this organization still is unknown at this point in the anime, but seems to pertain tot he investigation of all bio-emergence events and any other events relating to Digimon in the real world.

At school, Takato talks with his friends Kazu and Kenta about the upcoming Digimon card game tournament. Kazu explains that although they aren’t the greatest card battlers, that last year some girl won the competition (who has come to be known as the ‘Digimon Queen’), and as such, Kazu’s youthful puellaphobia leads him to conclude that if some girl can win the competition, he could easily win too. Takato chimes in and says that he wants to find this girl, and that he needs to find her, but he slips up and says that he needs her instead of elongating the phrase. The slip is really less of an unconscious replacement of terminology like a Freudian slip, as Takato’s error relies more on omission of an important phrase, but it seems to relate the same information. Takato, who has been dreaming about this girl and has had a few run-ins with her to date, has developed some sort of unconscious hang-up on her and wants to see her again, wants to help her out of her apparent loneliness through friendship and, as is always implicit in these cases, potentially something more.

Jeri enters the room at this unfortunate moment and asks, ‘Takato needs a girl? What for? Will I do?’ This makes Takato immediately blush, betraying another interest Takato has been harboring. Jeri knows where he lives and seems comfortable around Takato and his friends. She is his friend and his classmate, and the two have a familiarity that makes them close, but at a time in life when boys and girls find too close of a relationship to be socially ostracizing and unacceptable by some of their peers. The development of a psychosexual theme begins at this early stage in the series and will continue to develop as the series continues.

When Takato leaves school for the day and heads toward the park where Guilmon is hidden away, he sees a line of federal vans nearby and assumes the worst: that his friend has been found and is being taken away by the government as he speaks. This imagined outcome is not akin to the relative governmental innocence portrayed by the Adventure cast in the original series, who attempt to hide their Digimon but often with no forethought of their discovery leading to their confiscation by the federal government. Konaka’s narrative in Tamers is much more nuanced in this regard and less innocent about what would happen if Digimon were found in the real world: confiscation, government cover-ups, possible dissection, etc. Luckily, Guilmon hasn’t been found by anyone. Takato’s D-Power scanner leads him to Guilmon, who is hiding in the bushes, thinking her has been playing hide ans seek with Takato.

The two leave the forest in order to prevent the feds from finding Guilmon therein, and they head into the city, all the while Guilmon pretending to be merely a boy in a Digimon suit (the trick works). Takato’s D-Power begins to glow red and Guilmon runs off toward a nearby parking garage wherein waits Rika and Renamon who begin to battle against Guilmon and Takato once more. Cars are destroyed, Guilmon goes berserk and wild once more, and Henry arrives, again, in the nick of time to stop the battle. He explains that Digimon do indeed fight one another in the Network, but that their arrival in the real world must hearken to some truth with which they are all currently unfamiliar. That the Digimon in the real world must have a different purpose than fighting one another.

Rika and Renamon are undeterred and continue their assault, but Terriermon moves into the way of Renamon’s Diamond Storm barrage. Instead of being destroyed, Terriermon Digivolves through Henry’s bond and his worry over the well-being of his partner Digimon. Gargomon appears, but like Guilmon, has no control over himself and becomes a fighting machine bent on destruction and death. Without any consciousness of his past identity, Gargomon begins to destroy almost every car in the garage and fling rounds of Gatling gun bullets towards everyone in the area. Guilmon and Renamon work together to take down Gargomon and weaken him enough for him to de-Digivolve into Terriermon once again, but not before Gargomon almost kills Rika. The encounter leaves Rika puzzled over whether this is the outcome of all Digivolutions to the Champion-level, and whether she should actually be prompting Renamon to move on to the next level when she too might become unruly and uncontrollable in the process. The encounter is an evental one in which Rika comes face to face with the prospect of her death, with the Real of the primality and alien nature of Digimon, as an existential event that makes her reevaluate everything she’s presumed about these creatures. And more than that, this event in the series is the most radical moment of the series hitherto. A tour de force of thought and expression meet in in one moment to bring something new and poignant to the Digimon fan.

 

Ciao for now,

The Digidestined Cody

[Continued HERE]

Advertisements

Kyoto Dragon (Digimon Adventure 02 Episode 37)

(If you missed it, check out the previous essay’s recap HERE. To go back to the beginning click HERE)

Paildramon, Silphymon, and Shakkoumon are beginning their assault against BlackWarGreymon to protect the final Destiny Stone. When BlackWarGreymon launches his Terra Destroyer attack toward the three Ultimate-level Digimon the end looks pretty near on nigh, but it turns out that Shakkoumon really is the defensive titan he purports to be. He is able to absorb the attack and fire back the energy right back at BlackWarGreymon while Silphymon and Paildramon pound the faux Digimon with their own attacks. Eventually, BlackWarGreymon’s shield is cracked, his armor horrendously dented, and his body spewing noxious oil like blood.

Just when it looks like the Digidestined can win this final battle in their long-running war against BlackWarGreymon to defend the Destiny Stones, and thereby, the structural integrity and balance of the Digital World, Arukenimon and Mummymon show up again. They threaten to attack the Digidestined directly and divide the attention of their Digimon partners, but are luckily blocked in their attempt, momentarily at least, by Digitamamon and Tapirmon. Davis advises his Digidestined friends to raise their D-3s toward the Destiny Stone. Light emits from the locations of the past six Destiny Stones, flies across the Digital World, and enters the D-3s where it is then reflected back out through those technological prisms directly into the Destiny Stone. The Destiny Stone rises into the sky, far into the clouds, and out of harm’s way and Azulongmon, the Dragon Digimon protector of the Eastern Hemisphere descends from the sky.

The Digimon Sovereign addresses BlackWarGreymon directly: “You, you are the one with the accursed soul of darkness. Tell me, why do you destroy the Destiny Stones?” He answers that he destroyed them to free Azulongmon so that they could fight one another. Azulongmon repudiates him and gives him a showing of his far greater power, even in his current chained form. He then tells him that he is the keeper of the Crests of Light and Hope, but that the existence of the Control Spires has prevented his light from reaching it and defending the Digital World. Because BlackWarGreymon is composed of 100 of these Control Spires his very existence also seals Azulongmon’s power.

Upon hearing that he is the product of evil forces and that his very existence is a threat to the balance of the Digital World, BlackWarGreymon is understandably flummoxed. He has found out the true meaning of his existence hitherto and thinks that he must be destroyed. Azulongmon responds that “every life has its reason. The circumstances of its birth don’t matter” (Very MewTwo, eh?). BlackWarGreymon asks, “My life has a meaning too?” Azulongmon responds once more, “Precisely, but it is up to you to find out what that meaning is.” The whole thing is meant to quasi-philosophical, and it is, but the significance of the moment is lost in Azulongmon’s constant joking around during the sequence. After BlackWarGreymon leaves, stating that he is off to find “someplace where things go to disappear,” Arukenimon and Mummymon, who have once again tied up Digitamamon and Tapirmon, run off in hot pursuit in the hopes of convincing their Frankenstein creation to take up the fight against light.

Paildramon de-Digivolves into Chibomon and Leafmon, Silphymon into Salamon and Pururumon, and Shakkoumon into Tokomon and, for his screen debut, Tsubumon. Azulongmon then begins talking to the Digidestined alerting them to his position as one of four Mega Digimon who protect the Digital World. He then goes into a recap of the series and of proselytizes about light and hope in a nearly-meaningless tirade of pseudo-philosophy most 4th graders wouldn’t accept. We see BlackWarGreymon ascend in the distance into a portal in the sky, the other side of which looks like the Dark Ocean. A sad state of affairs. Azulongmon tells the Digidestined that there is still a greater evil out there. This is probably the voice that spoke to Ken from the Dark Ocean whirlpool. The voice of the same force that sent him the Digivice and called upon him to enter the Digital World in the first place. And unfortunately, probably not Cthulu as we were led to believe by Episode 13, wherein Chiaki J. Konaka introduced his Cthulu Mythos to the series.

Azulongmon ascends back in the clouds, but not before making a crack at Davis’ intelligence and proving himself once again to be quite an asinine digital deity, and not quite the godly awe-inspiring force one had hoped for. The Digidestined ride off into the proverbial sunset (or at least back to Chinatown), where they gorge themselves on dumplings at Digitamamon and Tapirmon’s restaurant. After their celebratory meal, the six Digidestined return to the Real World where Davis sees a Control Spire mirage on the horizon. Ominous stuff signalling the distressing events to come.

 

Ciao,

The Digidestined Cody

[Continued HERE]

Blue Valentine: You Always Hurt the One You Love

Derek Cianfrance is an indie filmmaker who becries the label. He directed his first film Brother Tied in 1998, then took the next twelve years to develop the follow-up film: 2010’s Blue Valentine. During the process, his conversations with the film’s actors Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams were instrumental to the creation of an authentic story of love and how it fades without our notice until it self-destructs and turns into hate and anger at time and life lost and what could have been. Cianfrance dislikes the term independent filmmaker because of how much he depends on everyone else working their hardest and collaborating both in the pre-planning scripting faze of the film and in the spontaneity of the moment in front of the camera.

Blue Valentine recounts the aimless youths of Dean and Cindy, two young people living life without a real goal or endgame. Dean comes from a broken home and works dead-end jobs even though he is a talented musician, singer, and artist and could have succeeded in most any artistic endeavor if he gave them the time and effort and focus. Cindy comes from a stable home where her father is a real sob and a tyrannical figure within the household. Her family wasn’t broken, merely dysfunctional. She’s in college studying to become a doctor and has a thug-jock (we all know they’re the same thing) boyfriend who knocks her up and then screws around on her. Somehow Dean and Cindy find one another and the course of both of their lives take different directions.

They end up married with a young child who is not Dean’s biological offspring, but is his jewel nonetheless. Dean works another dead-end job painting houses, which gives him the freedom and time to drink throughout the day. Cindy never made it to become a doctor and is instead a nurse within a hospital wherein her only promotion seems to hinge upon whether or not she will sleep with her head doctor. The marriage goes into a spiral after Cindy forgets to lock the dog kennel one morning, the dog gets loose, and eventually gets hit by a car. Tensions that have growing and bubbling up from below the surface for years begin to rise and the two eventually find their circumstances impossible, though Dean is reluctant to break up the family and create another broken home for his daughter like the one he himself experienced as a child. Cindy doesn’t want to live a life like her mother had wherein she was a constant victim to the unruly angry spells that her father often had. She believes that life might be better for her daughter if Dean and herself were separated.

The process of fighting and ignoring one another and reminiscing about an idyllic past when everything was more simple is shot in a straightforward manner that is stylish without making its style apparent. The acting is some of the best ever committed to celluloid as Gosling and Williams had years to grow into the characters which they eventually found hard to part with after the film’s production. The whole thing comes across as a huge experiment in in-depth character acting when you read up on the specs of the film, but whilst watching the narrative unfold, the hopes and reams and harsh realities of the characters are laid bare as in a piece of cinematic neorealism whose dramatic effect approaches the viewer more and more strongly through the invisibility of its intent and total lack of artifice. I knew that de Sica’s characters in The Bicycle Thieves and Umberto D. were acting (even though they’re realism is commendable and way above average), but I could register no such thing in Blue Valentine.

The film was made on a $1 million USD budget, but ended up pulling $16.6 million in box office receipts. Plus, a ton of awards, nominations, and showings at film festivals worldwide from the Academy Awards and Golden Globes to the Toronto International Film Festival, Sundance, and under Un Certain Regard at the world’s most prestigious film festival at Cannes. From here on out Cianfrance’s career took off as well. Although he ended up making no money on the film (he deferred his pay to complete the film), his next film ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ tripled it’s budget of $15 million USD with a box office of $47 million. He has completed two films since, the first of which made a modest return at the box office and the third, which is set for release sometime this year.

I look forward to watching his other films in the future, and especially The Place Beyond the Pines, but find it inconceivable how Cianfrance could one up Blue Valentine. A testament to its power, for me, is the fact that I liked the film so much. Most love stories seem false and idiotic and formulaic, and especially those produced and created for the cinematic medium. But Blue Valentine pulls no punches and shows us love in all its forms, how it degrades, how you always hurt the ones you love, the one you shouldn’t hurt at all. How we all take the sweetest rose and crush it until the petals fall, but how that one instant before destruction is worth the pains and sorrow and melancholy that inevitably follows.

 

Cody Ward

Ikiru: How ought one live?

Akira Kurosawa’s classic 1952 film, Ikiru, is one of his most critically appreciated and well-known films worldwide. He created the film at a time when existentialism was in vogue as a philosophy, but did not intend the film to be an openly existentialist text. Kurosawa was always influenced by Dostoevsky pretty heavily, however, and his proto-existentialist current runs throughout Ikiru, which translates into the intransitive Japanese verb “to live.” How one ought to live is the primary focus of this film, and inspiring others in the post-World War II world of disintegrating foundationalisms and diminished meaning to find their own ways to live and to flourish was Kurosawa’s stated didactic goal.

The film portrays a bureaucrat who works of the public works program in his city. He has worked for his company for 30 years and has as of yet not missed a single day of work, but he is starting to feel ill and after getting the run-around from his local doctor about his ailment, he realizes that he has stomach cancer. And he most likely has less than six months to live as well. This figure, Kanji Watanabe, is a droll, boring piece of bureaucratic machinery, but once he learns of his impending death, he rebels and misses work, goes out on the town, gets himself a young girlfriend, and tries to find the solutions to his problems at the bottom of a bottle of sake. He sings of life’s brevity and meaninglessness and haunts club after club in an attempt to erase the reality of his condition from his conscious awareness, but is ultimately unable to do so. You can’t stay drunk perpetually.

Watanabe is portrayed by a Kurosawa regular: Takashi Shimura. Shimura had previously acted in Kurosawa’s feature film debut Sanshiro Sugata, as well as most of his other films to that point. Throughout his career, Shimura would act in around 200 films, around 21 of these, or about 10% in total, were Kurosawa films. When one thinks of Kurosawa, often the often Toshiro Mifune comes to mind. But in fact, Mifune only acted in 16 of the auteur’s 30 films. Shimura is the constant actor in this filmography and should more readily be the face and character we recognize first. He was able to portray a terminally ill, downtrodden man in a manner that allows the viewer to emotionally connect with him at all points in the film. His reflective song, “Gondola no Uta,” is sung from a low, ghastly register more at home in a ghost story or Kwaidan than in a contemporary social picture like Ikiru. But the song, the spectral figure of Watanabe, the snow, and the realization of all mise-en-scene elements together with a thematic content that hits home for all audiences- how should one live?- makes the film into a dramatic tour de force verging on cinematic tone poem status.

The story derives much of its inspiration from the short story ‘The Death of Ivan Ilyich’ by Leo Tolstoy. In that tale, a Court of Justice official lives a life of drudgery as a bureaucrat who works to escape the meaninglessness of existence and the annoyance of his entitled family members. But one day he takes a fall and lands on his side. The fall breaks no ribs, but he is put into a critical condition and bedridden by the fall, which triggered and revealed a deeper ailment akin to the stomach cancer of Watanabe in Ikiru. The bureaucrat has lived rightly and realizes the full import of his illness as ultimately senseless and arbitrary. But as he weakens over the course of the next few months, he reflects deeper on pain and suffering and death and comes to understand that he has lived an artificial life devoid of passion projects and dreams and hope. He has masked the meaning his life may have developed through paperwork and labor and only upon death, learns that an authentic life is now out of his reach.

Watanabe similarly learns that pain and death are meaningless on a large scale. He also realizes that he has been living an artificial life and that to lead an authentic life he must use his last days to contribute something to society through his work. His personal subjective meaning derives from altruism (though it need not in all cases) and he decides to help clean up a cesspool in one of the city’s neighborhoods and to work within the bureaucratic channels to build a park in its place. His single-pointed focus, persistence, tenacity, and dedication to his cause allow him to boldly stand up to local politicians and to yakuza bosses. To work without letting anyone’s negative feelings getting in the way, because his time is short and he has no time to harbor hatred for others or to even consider how others think of him.

His efforts are rewarded and his park is built. By staring in to the face of death and keeping it as a focus for his action, he was able to achieve what philosopher Martin Heidegger called Being toward Death. This Being toward Death allowed him to overcome the bureaucratic rules that usually call for doing as little as possible and not stepping on the toes of superiors. It allowed Watanabe to discard his concern for the opinions of the Them to instead achieve what he wanted before his own death. This Being toward Death also gave his life a directionality and subjective meaning through his personal goal of creating the park and in this way, achieves Albert Camus’ definition of meaning as anything that keeps you from killing yourself. Watanabe had previously been drinking himself to death, and in fact, did seem to take a few weeks off of his lifespan in the process. By Being toward Death his new goal allowed him to quit his time in dive bars and focus on constructive goals.

At the end of Watanabe’s life, he sits upon a swing in the park at night. His spectral presence swinging in the snow is a phantom who has completed his goals and no longer finds it necessary to roam amongst the living any longer. He dies there, all the while singing Gondola no Uta:

“Life is brief.

Fall in love, maidens.

Before the crimson bloom fades from your lips.

Before the tides of passion cool within you.

For those of you who know no tomorrow,

Life is brief.

Fall in love, maidens.”

 

And in the wake of his death, his coworkers reflect on life’s brevity and the fact that life can end at any moment. That “any one of us could suddenly drop dead.” But as they return to the office, bureaucratic rules return and nothing gets done. The human spirit dead for rites in the life of Watanabe, only to be recalled again anew by one afar, away and unknown to us now. Maybe you?

 

Cody Ward

The Emperor’s New Home (Digimon Adventure 02 Episode 9)

(If you missed the previous episode’s review, check it out HERE. To go back to the beginning of this series click HERE)

Ken, the narcissist that he is, watches himself on TV in an interview he gave the day before. His comments during the interview were a mixture cocky, snarky, and snobbish, but the interviewers were either so ditsy or so in love with him as a subject that they ignored them or didn’t even catch them. After giving another interview, his handler comes forward and prattles off a bunch of madness about some weird video game and asks for Ken’s advice on how to beat it, then asks for Ken’s autograph.

That night, Ken leaves his room and stares out toward the city reflecting on the ugliness and stupidity he interprets therein. He remarks, “Look at all those fools out there. Dreaming away their meaningless lives. Running around like rats in a maze.” At this point, the monologue looks like something out of an existentialist or absurdist novel. It’s something I can resonate with too readily as a truth of the world without foundational principles like morality or metaphysics. We waste our lives, and I’ve wasted much of mine as well, especially when we live our lives as expected rather than for the purpose of enjoying life and chasing our dreams through rational, measured, realizable steps that can one day lead us there (as opposed to irrational attempts to stardom or success without doing the legwork necessary).

A rational person would extend this quote to her or himself and use it as a tool, or a hammer, to chip away at those things limiting one’s realization of dreams that allow their lives to currently remain subjectively meaningless (they will always be objectively meaningless, but objective to whom? There is no one situated at the archimedian point after all). This is what a logical mind might do. But Ken is in the thrall of the black gear, so his follow line in the monologue continues, “Not one of them is worth half what I am worth! Nothing but fools!” If foundationalism is a lie meant to subjugate individuals to the social system or the collective and foment a monitoring and directing herd morality within their psyches, then might truly does make right (though other social forces can subvert this might ideologically and make it so, for example, that a dictator has total control forcefully, but everyone knows he is wrong). In this sense, if Ken were to have total dominion over all others on the planet, then there is a real sense in which he is worth more than any other person. But he has, as yet, not even gained control over the Digital World, let alone the Real World, and as such, his comments are delusional.

The next morning, Izzy and the Digidestined are in the computer lab at school when they decide to track down Ken in the Real World. They use a picture from his last televised interview in front of his apartment complex, then isolate the apartment’s features in a complex map identification program (Something akin to a combination of Google Maps and Facebook’s automatic Face Recognition, but for objects). Using this program, Izzy finds out where Ken lives and the group heads in his direction to find the boy genius in his element. But when they arrive, the cops are outside of his home responding to a 911 call from his parents who believe he has run away.

Ken left a note on his computer monitor stating, “Goodbye to all of you. Your trivial lives will plague me no longer. My destiny awaits.” Again, we get the sense of grandiosity in Ken’s mindset as well as a deep revulsion for the commonplace. Some who first come around to anti-foundationalism and nihilism come to view things in this manner, rather than feeling concern and goodwill towards one’s fellow travelers in this meaningless world. Those that feel like Ken still believe that they themselves are better than others because they have a realized the truth of the world and are free from ideological shackles that the sows in the herd have not even been able to call into question, as of yet. They believe that they still have a grand destiny or fate (which is patently against nihilistic logic) because they are still trapped in a neurotic state of child-likeness known as the Puer Aeternis.

The Puer Aeternis is a Jungian concept for a neurotic state wherein one lives life with a deep sense of personal heroics. The puer believes that all one’s goals will be met without putting in the work and that life lived now is just a provisional life on the way to their goals. They cannot enjoy life currently lived because it is other to the dream of life they have conceptualized and internalized for themselves. As one ages, the mindset of this eternal child god, this Dionysus, this Peter Pan, does not go away with time. The only way to break free from the neurosis is work. The reality of drudgery and hard-fought victory that puts into perspective one’s dreams and ambitions and goals and eliminates the fantasy world from life. Ken has not reached this stage beyond the puer aeternis, but as he continues to work and his work is thwarted at every step by the Digidestined, he will have to change his views and grow in the process.

The Digidestined return to the computer lab and find that Ken has set up a ridiculous amount of Control Spires in the Digital World seemingly overnight. They enter the Digital World and find themselves on a fiery plane where five Dark Ring-enslaved Meramon stand waiting to challenge them. Flamedramon’s fire attacks just strengthen the fires of the Meramon, Halsemon’s wind attacks also stoke their fires and make them larger and more powerful, and Digmon’s attempts to break the ground below them and send them deep below lands the Meramon in lava that they easily escape, and even enjoy. Luckily, Pegasusmon and Nefertimon’s beam attacks do damage to the Meramon and destroy their Dark Rings, thereby setting them free.

Then, Ken appears with five Airdramon in tow and Tai’s partner Greymon enslaved  by a Dark Ring. He uses the Dark Digivice to Digivolve Greymon, but it backfires and creates SkullGreymon, whose power as a fully-evolved Digimon is too much for the Dark Ring to control. SkullGreymon beats up the Meramon, the Airdramon, and all of the Digidestined Digimon, then destroys Ken’s new Control Spire. Ken sends five DarkTyrannomon after SkullGreymon to stop him from causing any more havoc, but all five are defeated as well. SkullGreymon then runs out of energy and De-Digivolve back into Agumon who is taken by Ken as they fly away on the Airdramon. The Digidestined are worried about this turn of events as Agumon’s sector of the Digital World has now been left unguarded and if Ken is able to control SkullGreymon, none of their Digimon are currently powerful enough to take him on, and win.

The episode ends on this depressing note and things look bad for the Digidestined in the future. Ken might actually be able to take over the entire Digital World at this rate. But on another note, the Digidestined freed the five Meramon from their Dark Ring enslavement and have brought the Freed Digimon Total for the series up to 100!

 

Till next time,

The Digidestined Cody

[Continued HERE]

Legend of the Verdurous Planet (Gargantia Final Episode)

(If you missed it, check out my commentary on episode 12 HERE. to go back to the beginning of this blog series click HERE)

The power of Gargantia is that the series manages to highlight all of the philosophical difficulties of modern life. Are we free or is the influence of our genes and our social facticity an overwhelming force that programs us thoroughly. Life is meaningless, and there are no ‘shoulds’ or ‘musts’ directing us , but we must still choose a path (even if the choosing is illusory and really not a choice of our own willing). Humans are part of the natural world and not above it and this strips us of our false notions of nobility, and with machines even able to develop consciousness not too far in the future, even those elements that make us unique in the animal kingdom obviously hold no spiritual significance. What do we do in this context?

As Ledo inspected Stryker’s cockpit and found his past friend and commander Kugel to be dead, the Machine Caliber powered up once more and Ledo began falling rapidly toward the ocean waves from a height that could prove fatal. But his own Machine Caliber, Chamber, catches him. Stryker begins to pontificate about the Machine Calibers and their role in society. The Machine Calibers are, she says, human interface and enlightenment systems. They are vehicles that give meaning and direction to the lives of their users, they are powerful weapons that protect their users, they are shells that externalize the mental computing power of the human brain, the most complex biological system seemingly ever evolved, and turn them into a brute force on par with the strongest organisms in the universe (the Hideauze). Stryker compares the role of the Machine Calibers to that of gods.

Chamber refuses this logic and shows himself to be a more enlightened system. We find that the Machine Calibers not only help to enlighten their users, but the users rationality and occasional arguments with their Machine Calibers over future course of action also direct and change the machines. They are AI who begin as programmed machines filled Galactic Alliance propaganda that can eventually throw off their chains and become free thinking agents themselves. Chamber believes that Stryker is malfunctioning, but she claims that she is only fulfilling the duties that Commander Kugel wanted her to. Stryker argues that Chamber has malfunctioned into this new state wherein he challenges the rules and operating principles of the Galactic Alliance. The argument is circular, and ouroboros biting its own tail, a gordian knot that can only be solved through cutting it with an especially strong sword. The two Machine Calibers begin battling once more. Might will make right as it always has in the past.

All the while, the battle continues elsewhere between Flange and Pinion’s fleet and the fleet of Stryker’s worshipers. Lukkage and her mechas have destroyed the enemy Yunboros handily, but can do little damage to the enemy fleet and their armaments. Pinion is running low on shots from his beam cannons, which have punched themselves out and are taking longer than usual to regain energy. Finally, Flange is low on resources and the battle seems to be turning for the worse. But back in Gargantia, the fleet is quickly approaching the scene. Ridget has used the golden key to unlock the Heaven’s Ladder, an intercontinental ballistic missile known as an Orbital Mass Driver System. They begin to load small ships into the chamber of the weapon and unload four rounds on Kugel’s fleet, thereby incapacitating them and saving their compatriots.

Chamber finds that Stryker’s maneuverability is still 47% higher than his own. Ledo is musing on the fact that a false Kugel hologram generated by Stryker was enough to fool him. He was taught to blindly obey the chain of command and fell into that trap even after months away from the Galactic Alliance and although he could see that the world Stryker was building was horrific. Now he must fight against his programming even harder than before. He initializes nano-absorption for full man-machine neural interfacing with Chamber. Chamber denies his authorization initially because the physical strain could lead to Ledo’s death, but Ledo explains that if he must die to protect the human beings on Earth, then the sacrifice is worth it.

Under normal conditions, a Machine Caliber would not assent to this reasoning and would question the pilot. But Chamber has developed into a real person who understands Ledo’s goals and ambitions and shares in them. He authorizes the neural interfacing. Their performance output increase by more than 150%, but Ledo has only 2 1/2 minutes until his biological systems begin to shut down, which will result in his death. As the battle continues, it becomes apparent that the only way to destroy Stryker is to sacrifice themselves in the process. With Ledo’s neural plus power at its final limits, Chamber asks him a final authorization question to continue: “Do you wish to die?”

Ledo thinks back on his times with Amy in Gargantia. She was one who was willing to help him learn to live and to protect her and everyone in Gargantia on Earth, he is willing to die to save her. As he contemplates his choice, Chamber analyzes his brain state and surreptitiously decides that Ensign Ledo is no longer mentally capable to pilot a Machine Caliber or remain an active duty soldier in the Galactic Alliance. As such, he is no longer allowed within the cockpit of a Machine Caliber. Chamber ejects his cockpit module and begins to fight Stryker alone who protests that a Machine Caliber cannot eject its pilot. Then Chamber reveals all that he has learned. Chamber can no longer offer Ensign Ledo any further enlightenment as his enlightenment is at a close. The only obstacle in the way of Ledo’s achievement of true enlightenment is Stryker who poses an existential threat. Chamber resolves himself to remove this final obstacle.

As Stryker warns Chamber one last time about his insubordinance, Chamber responds with the words he has learned during his time on Gargantia: “Go to hell tin can!” He grasps Stryker and implodes himself. the two are destroyed and Ledo realizes that he has lost more than a Mecha, more than a useful enlightenment interface module, but a friend and fellow being in this world. The sacrifice is emotionally wrenching, but serves as a powerful close to this anime narrative. In a meaningless world, we can choose our own telos and end-goals and moral ambitions. We are bound, but traumatic experiences or awakenings can upend our complacency and direct us in opposite directions. Human beings may not be unique forever and our intellects are not spiritually significant, but they are existentially significant and when they arise in others, whether biological or manufactured, we ought to champion their emergence and welcome them as brothers.

 

Cody Ward

[Next up: Gargantia OVA 1]

Calm Day (Gargantia Episode 5)

(If you missed part 4, check it out HERE)

Ledo’s quite literal meaning-full conversation with Amy’s little brother Bebel led Ledo to start questioning what the meaning of life really is. He once believed that human life was only meaningful insofar as it worked and fought to preserve itself and continue the species’ existence. In the Galactic Alliance of Humankind this meant that meaningful lives were spent fighting the Hideauze and ensuring human survival in space. For those born with weak physical constitutions, they could not be useful in this fight and as such, their literally contextually useless lives were meaningless.

Ledo has learned to extend meaning being the specific context of fighting the Hideauze, but still believes that human survival is first and foremost the right goal of all human action. Thus, in the new context of Gargantia he can see that the society functions and the people survive as long as everyone performs a duty. Here, we can discuss the social shift from the Galactic Alliance to Gargantia through a bit of Durkheimiam sociological theory. The Galactic Alliance of Humankind is a society wherein food is created artificially and no labor in the traditional sense need be performed. Except for fighting that is. All would-be Avalonian citizens must perform military duties to protect the species and as such, the division of labor is really low (you only have administrators or politicians, and a lower class of warriors). This social stratification is similar to a feudal system wherein most people perform the same jobs and find a common connection to each other as countrymen through a strong collective consciousness: here fueled by a fear of the Hideauze and a united ethos against them.

Whereas this former society is mechanical in its forms of solidarity, Gargantian society is more complex. The people of the society are more diverse and live widely different kinds of lifestyles with different approaches to life and moral problems. As such, the collective consciousness between them all is very weak. But each person performs a different duty that helps sustain society. This high division of labor creates a situation wherein everyone relies on one another for the system as a whole to work. This organic solidarity and mutual need is what provides and explains Gargantian social cohesion.

It it thought by many sociologists and philosophers that in a mechanical society with mechanical solidarity and strong collective consciousness, that people do not think very differently from one another. Their identities are firmly bound up inside their concepts of self as a citizen of a collective. However, a more liberal society based on mutual need allows for greater self-expression and freedom. Liberal societies allow for more freedom of expression, powerful identity formation, and less groupthink and PC codes for thought and speech (tell your conservative Uncle that over Christmas break and watch his head spin!). As such, what we are seeing in this and the previous episode of Gargantia is Ledo coming to terms with and trying to understand this new form of society, whilst simultaneously learning more about himself and who he is and wants to be in the process.

Back to the issue of meaning, Ledo still finds meaning only in use value within a society. We can see this when he plays the Ocarina he carved and Amy remarks upon its beauty. He responds that the ocarina is not useful, and therefore it has no meaning. Later, he realizes that he must get a job and make himself useful in Gargantian society or else remain in a state of depression. In the position of hanging over an abyss on a thin tightrope. But there’s a problem. Gargantian society is based on organic solidarity and mutual need, but is such a relatively small society that all jobs that must be performed are already being performed. There are no job openings that Amy can find for him. And when he looks for a job himself, the only one he finds is shoveling cow manure out of a barn (for use as fertilizer?). This proves too unappetizing for Ledo and he passes on the job.

Midday the fleet’s propulsion system shuts down. The commander has called for a manual shutdown in order to fix some technical problems onboard. All people who can work are supposed to be working, but the lackadaisical Pinion has different plans. He grabs Ledo, Bebel, Amy and some of her friends and plans a cookout for the day. Throughout the rest of episode, Pinion tries to find a way to cook the food without engine power and eventually settles on using Chamber’s metal exterior to do so, Amy and her friends go swimming with Ledo and later turn on the city’s sprinkler systems, and Ledo is sent with a voucher into the city’s bowels to find a man who has an ancient, very rare and coveted item that Pinion needs him to retrieve.

While in the city’s seedy side, Ledo sees firsthand some of the diversity one can expect of a large city. A group of crossdressers compliment him on his looks and try to get Ledo to join them in their work (Hey! There’s a job!). He just barely manages to escape them long enough to get the box from an old man who Pinion told him to meet, an old man who seems to deal in antiquities. But on the way back, Ledo must pass the crossdressers again and they chase him through the city. At one point he cluelessly and comically remarks to himself, “What is this? What did I do to them?” It doesn’t help that he still isn’t too well versed in Gargantian language.

When he returns to the cookout, it is revealed that inside the box is an old whiskey bottle filled with a prized and particularly delectable ponzu sauce that compliments the taste of beef quite well. The party has swelled to dozens of people and everyone has a great time swimming, eating, cavorting, and watching the sun sink low beyond the horizon. Amy reveals to Ledo that Pinion threw the party to cheer him up. That it did, but most importantly it was an opportunity to explore the city and do something for Pinion that ended up bringing pleasure to everyone at the cookout. But getting the sauce was not necessary because the food could have been consumed either way. Rather, the sauce enriched the taste of the food and the experience at the bonfire as well. This realization is the first step in dissolving the idea that usefulness and meaning are equivalent, because the evening surely meant something to everyone present and the sauce added it it, but none of these things were necessary to survival and useful toward that end.

Rather, they were enjoyable, just as is the music of the ocarina, and sometimes that’s just enough to bring about meaning, in its own small way.

 

Cody Ward

[Continued HERE]

The Flute of Reconciliation (Gargantia Episode 4)

(If you missed it, check out Part 3 HERE)

Ensign Ledo is beginning to become acclimated to Gargantian society. He has learned to speak and recognize a few words and phrases in their language without need of Chamber’s translation and now, he has been given a residence in an abandoned factory near the docks where his Machine Caliber Chamber moves around heavy crates and storage units. This bit of work puts money in Ledo’s pocket, but requires no real work from him, and as such he sits around carving ocarinas out of Hideauze claws he got from his last space battle, and generally, looks gloomy and depressed doing so.

At this point, the parallels between Ledo’s story and the story of Valentine Michael Smith- the protagonist of Robert Heinlein’s classic sci-fi novel Stranger in a Strange Land- are pretty obvious. In the former, Ledo is from a human space-faring colony in the stars who comes to Earth as a young man, learns about Earth culture, and begins to change that culture in the process of his stay (Ledo has begun to do this through how he deals with pirates and the potential stability his presence qua deterrent could yield for Gargantia in the coming years, or even generations if Chamber is passed down to a future son). In the latter, the novel, Valentine is a human being raised on Mars who comes to Earth as a young man and must go through some of the same cultural acclimation and helps to change Earth society in the process. In this sense, we can think of Ledo as a character type (The Stranger in a Strange Land) whose narrative arc is familiar, and thus potentially popular, but also prone to stereotyping with little variation on the model, and therefore he could end up a fairly conventional protagonist. I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Amy comes to visit Ledo at the docks and inquires what he is carving. He tells her about the Hideauze and his battles in space and how he came to get the nails. He also reveals that he does not know what he is carving, but Amy seems interested in them and he gives her one anyway. She decides that Ledo might be interested in meeting her younger brother Bebel, who is bedridden due to a weak constitution and genetic health problems, but is astute and inquiring and imaginative, and most importantly, really wants to meet Ledo to ask him about space. The revelation about Bebel confuses Ledo. He explains that in the Galactic Alliance, there are no family relationships as they are “inefficient, not needed.” He also seems confused about Bebel’s existence. He is unable to work and contribute to society physically. In the Galactic Alliance, frail humans like Bebel are eliminated at birth or before (the latter of which we as a society unfortunately seem to be headed toward as genetics improves and parents choose to terminate undesirable fetuses).

Amy is baffled by these revelations and insists upon bringing Ledo to visit Bebel, but first they visit Dr. Oldham. Known as The Sage, Dr. Oldham is generally considered to be the smartest man in Gargantia. He has an extensive library of books both pre and post atmospheric freeze-event. But the only book he has with any information relating to space flights is an old astronomy text that has little information helpful for Ledo in his attempts to contact the Galactic Alliance. Ledo complains to Oldham that Gargantian fleet is inefficient (not at the level of organization of the militaristic Galactic Alliance), the citizenry is disorganized (they don’t have ranks like a military organization), and they care for the weak and thereby waste resources. Oldham finds the outburst somewhat comical and explains that life is about more than these things. We can infer that autonomy, naturalism, and compassion are some of these more important virtues. Dr. Oldham, instead of explaining this, send Ledo to go see Bebel, who he believes will serve as a living example of why their way of life is better.

When Amy picks Ledo up after a she makes a few deliveries around town, she finally brings him to meet Bebel at last. He is precocious youth who immediately asks Ledo a lot of pointed questions about his time in the Galactic Alliance. Ledo explains that the purpose of existence for the humans beings in the Galactic Alliance is defeating the Hideauze. Life is a struggle for existence where the choices are warfare or death. Bebel asks Ledo what would happen if the war with the Hideauze ended. Taken aback, Ledo is unable to properly respond and says that he would standby for orders. Bebel pushes back: “And if those orders never came?” Hard rains begin to fall reflecting an aporia opening itself in the interiority of Ledo’s conscience. And the two, plus Amy run out amongst the rains to help collect as much freshwater from them as possible. Ledo is unfamiliar with rain, this is his first precipitation event.

When the rains subside and the conversation begins anew, Ledo responds that only the useful should exist. But Bebel makes clear that usefulness is relative to the circumstances under which one lives. A smart young man with an inventor’s bent might not be useful in the Galactic Alliance of Humankind, but it sure as hell is useful in Gargantia where engineering and technological innovations make just as much of an existential difference to the citizens who live there. Meaning, it is revealed, is not in use and is not in any one existential conflict. Once Ledo comprehends this fully and understands this new ideological umbrella it opens up an aporia that is terrifying and exhilarating all at once. He is not bound toward any one meaning or objective, but instead totally free to make his own.

As Ledo shows the ocarinas to Bebel, he finally learns their purpose. Bebel picks one up and blows into its holes, producing a beautiful song that compounds with the light drizzle of rains outside and the pallor of an evening discussing philosophically-troubling, though freeing, new truths all in a mise-en-scene of overwhelming emotion that hits Ledo sideways and allows him, for the first time, to experience the emotion of melancholy. A tragic-philosophic depressed state of intense joy that opens him toward Being, Becoming, The Void, and the beauty of it all.

 

Cody Ward

[Episode 5 review HERE]

The Counselor: Nihilism, Radical Freedom, and Beauty

The Counselor is a 2013 film by Ridley Scott. Adapted from a work by Cormac McCarthy, one can immediately expect the brutality and terror of life to be omnipresent, nihilism and darkness to exist throughout as philosophical forces, and the meaninglessness of terrible situations to never be resolved, just as they are never resolved in real life, in the real world. Some might read a McCarthy novel like Outer Dark and find it to be too bleak, too lacking in optimism, too jaded and worn in its assessment of the world. But the story of The Counselor lays bare the fact that although some evil is the result of mere banality, just doing one’s job, other forms are done for the very sake of evil in the forms of greed and corruption.

The Counselor (Michael Fassbender) is a lawyer working in and around El Juarez on the Mexico-Texas border. He hears constant news of violent deaths in the city numbering in the thousands yearly. Mostly senseless deaths of innocent bystanders or those involved with the cartels. But there is a deal for some coke that he can invest in and stand to increase his profit on by a factor of some 4,000%. So he gets in on it, but with a man with a conniving ex-whore girlfriend Malkina (Cameron Diaz) who turns the deal around in a bloody way and has the cartel out for the hide of the Counselor as well as her boyfriend Reiner (Javier Bardem) and their accomplice Westray (Brad Pitt). The resulting events include beheadings, shootouts, automatic bolito carotid artery piercing nooses, and gruesome murders in the makings of snuff material.

There are two spiritual cores in the narrative, as there are in many of McCarthy’s works. The first involves a diamond dealer (Bruno Ganz) in Amsterdam who sells a beautiful gem to The Counselor who offers it to his girlfriend Laura (Penelope Cruz) in exchange for her hand in marriage. The dealer explains that a perfect diamond is colorless and only refracts light back. The perfect diamond is completely clear, like a glass pane, and as such, is not highly valued. The role of the diamond dealer is to produce and cut imperfect diamonds just on the cusp of perfection. The diamond as a jewel for jewelry adorns the adorned one who is presented with the object. When the man proposes with the imperfect diamond, he recognizes and celebrates the imperfection in the one he presents it to, whilst also being able to reflect on his own imperfections.

Contrast this aesthetic theory of beauty as the near-perfect imperfect that reflects the imperfect in all other things with the figure of Malkina. She is beautiful. Maybe perfect in outward physicality. But this outward perfection obscures a deeper evil. The perfect diamond is ultimately blank and ugly and undesirable. Malkina is likewise. Whereas Laura is imperfect and is a reasonable object of love for The Counselor, Malkina is outwardly perfect and therefore an unreasonable object of love for Reiner. The same goes for trust. Laura is trustworthy through thick and thin and remains by The Counselor’s side even under the worst circumstances, whilst Malkina sells out all her friends and even her lover.

The second spiritual core of the film occurs when The Counselor calls the Jefe of a large cartel for advice on what to do now that the cartel has turned against him. The Jefe recites a poem by Antonio Machado:

“Caminante, no hay camino. Se hace camino al andar.”

“Wanderer, there is no road. The road is made by walking.”

He then tells The Counselor that “you are the world you have created. And when you cease to exist, that world you have created will also cease to exist.” This is a radical statement about Being as Becoming. It is non-essentialist as they come in its total repudiation of the concept of forms (Platonic forms) as well as the self as eternal objects that exist beyond their examples as actually functioning things in the world. The Counselor made certain decisions that led to who he has become and that created the road he now treads silently and in darkness. He can only resign himself to these facts and try, if he survives, to become a different being by making different choices in the future.

There’s a radical freedom at the heart of nihilist narratives. When there is no God, no meaning, no ultimate ground, no hypostasis, and events just unfold without any rhyme or reason, all is permitted. But prior choices narrow the field of our initial freedom under this paradigm. And each choice leads to fewer and fewer outcomes. Eventually, we are bound to the paths we are on because we laid them freely and there are no longer any exit signs beyond running aground, off the road, and into a tree (the always-present choice of suicide Camus was so adamant about). The Counselor may have once been free, but he laid himself a path that will always haunt him and prevent him from making certain choices (visiting Mexico, working as a public figure,etc.).

Many reviewers decried the film’s nihilism and pessimism. But these elements were warnings that can help direct people onto better paths. Some saw the film as too lacking in style to match the apparently brisk-paced action. But this lack of style reflects a philosophical mood of resignation at the heart of The Counselor’s character. The only really valid criticism of the film, in my opinion, is that it is equivalent in power to the book that produced it. That is to say, the film needn’t have been made in the first place. But I’m pretty glad it was. Thanks to Ridley Scott.

 

Cody Ward

[And maybe that’s the beauty of life. That the radical freedom we feel we have (though an illusion) is narrowed by each choice we make. Even that bit of freedom becomes imperfect and our choices must be more hard-fought and in the process, more valuable.]

The Fate of Two World (Digimon Adventure Final Episode)

(If you missed it, check out part 53 HERE. To go back to the beginning of this series click HERE)

First off, a big thanks to everyone who has been keeping up with this Digimon Adventure recap series. It’s been a hell of a ride creating my first sustained essay series. As a result, the number of pages I’ve written about the series has exceeded 160 and that’s getting on close to book length. Next week, I’ll be recapping and providing commentary on the first few Digimon movies that cover events occurring within the Digimon Adventure 01 timeline, plus a few surprise Digimon topics essays. After that, I’ll be taking a break for a few weeks to cover a different anime series before my return to the Digimon franchise in Adventure 02 sometime late this month or the beginning of next year.

Now, the Digidestined have just been defeated by Apocalymon and rendered into binary code data within the Digital World’s datastream. Their willpower and faith in their abilities to pull through no matter the odds allowed them to escape their Digital limbo and reconstitute themselves in order to once again challenge Apocalymon in an attempt to save both of their worlds: the Real Human World and the Digital World. Their Digimon Digivolve to their highest forms as Ultimates and Megas and begin the battle. They effectively use teamwork on an elite level for the first time to not only avoid all of Apocalymon’s attacks, but to thwart others and make openings for their own attacks and skills. Finally WarGreymon and MetalGarurumon attack with Terra Force and Metal Wolf Claw thereby dealing enough damage to force Apocalymon back into his Polyhedron-shell defense form.

Apocalymon gives up all hope of defeating the Digidestined using brute force at this point and decides to unleash his final barrage: the Total Annihilation attack. The implosion of his own body would spread out and destroy all worlds in the process if undergone totally, but the Digidestined’  Digivices activate and emit beams of light that create a powerful containment field around Apocalymon and prevent the attack’s power from escaping. With Apocalymon destroyed, the Digimon who were roaming the Real World and causing havoc there also disappear, making the Earth safe once again.

As the Digidestined celebrate their final victory of the series, Gennai and Centaurumon appear and lead the group toward Primary Village. The whole Digital World has reconstituted itself, but it will take time to repopulate with Digimon and as such, Elecmon has his work cut out for him nursing thousands if not millions of DigiEggs in the village. The group takes a photo to commemorate the moment together and as they begin to part ways from the Primary Village, a baby Botamon hatches from its DigiEgg. This poignant moment represents the renewal of life in the Digital World and the new birth, momentarily free of evil, that the Digidestined fight and cause has produced there.

The gang decides that they have plenty of time to stay in the Digital World with their Digimon partners before returning permanently back to their own world. Their summer vacation is not yet over, and with the time differential between the two worlds, Izzy figures that they have around 40,000 days they could spend there, or about 110 years, before they had to leave to go back to school. (This spurs on a question that I’ll be focusing on in the future of my analysis of the series: Do the Digidestined age while in the Digital World?) But things have changed. The time differential was just a product of chaos within the Digital World, and now that the Digidestined have erased that chaos and brought back stability, the two worlds are temporally synchronized.

So what? They can still spend a few more weeks or months with their Digimon right? Nope. Gennai tells the group that the solar eclipse in the Digital Sky represents the opportunity of a pass between the gates of the two worlds and that when the eclipse is ended, they will no longer be able to return home at all. As such, they have approximately two hours left to spend with their Digimon partners. In one of the most heart wrenching of the series’s episodes,  the Digidestined and their Digimon say their goodbyes in what was at the time felt to be for the last time. We as viewers feel appropriately heartbroken and feel a loss as well, especially insofar as hardcore viewers came to know and love the characters and then realized that they may have never seen those character again. When Kari says her goodbyes to Gatomon, however, she states that they will see each other again in the future. This small bit of hope for more adventures with the gang would be a bit of foreshadowing of what was to come, but at the time when viewers couldn’t be sure that it was anything more than a teaser, it served as a basis for their own hopes and dreams of a future for the franchise.

This hope for a future return to the Digital World is ultimately in line with the ethos of the show as a whole. Every enemy represented some force of evil with a potential philosophical interpretation like doubt, sophism, meaninglessness, nothingness, nihilism, deconstruction, power dynamics. All analytical points of view that ultimately have some bearing on truth and what the state of the world is. They all pointed to troubling knowledge of our own inability to gain true knowledge and live meaningful lives in a world without certainty or any grand narratives. As a liminal show about the struggles of growing up and becoming an adult, the Digidestined had to work together to face these problems as well as their own inherent weaknesses of personality. They came out stronger by choosing their own motivations and virtues and morals that they would use to not only challenge troubling truths, but to create their own intellectual worlds in a way that the great prophet of modernity, Friedrich Nietzsche, would champion. Their actions moved themselves one step closer to the Ubermensch by discarding old traditions in lieu of newer virtues tied in with the spirit of the old truths.

This move from the thesis, to the antithesis, and finally a new synthesis is one that they will undergo time and again in their lives. Likewise so shall we. And this process is what living is about: Ultimately meaningless struggle against antifoundational foundational, unsettling truths, and the struggle gains its meaning through the meaning we attribute to it. Go well my friends in your own struggles and conflicts. Fight for what you believe to be right. And fight well. This is the only chance you got.

 

Signing off,

The Digidestined Cody

[Continue following the chronology with my essay on the next film in the series: Our War Game!]

An Inside Story

Life is a game, play it; Life is a challenge, Meet it; Life is an opportunity, Capture it.

Books&Sstuff

because you read...

EnigmaDebunked

Thoughts that provoke yours. (Season II coming in Jan 2020)

360 Videos

360 Personalized Videos Engage your Customers

Chaotic Shapes

Art and Lifestyle by Brandon Knoll