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Beatless – 03

「You’ll Be Mine」

Lacia is a wish fulfilment robot. I think that much is plain. She’s cooks, she cleans, she offers lap pillows voluntarily. Pure wish fulfilment. But that’s really the point, no? What purpose is there for a humanoid robot other than wish fulfilment. We make machines to do things that fleshy humans cannot do or will not do, or at least cannot or will not do as well. Thus machines that can explore Mars, or assemble cars, or calculate pi. They are designed to do these things better than we do. So, if we were ever to make a perfectly human-like robot, like the HiEs, it should be for only one reason. HiEs are supposed to be better humans than we are. They can be perfectly polite, have any required skillset, and follow clear ethical standards. Whatever kind of person their owner thinks is ideal, HiEs can be that. In anime, and in fact in media of all kinds, we see wish-fulfilment characters frequently, be they magical girlfriends or sparkling vampires. In the realm of fiction, writers can create whatever perfect character they desire. That, I think, is exactly what Beatless is getting at. It is completely aware that Lacia is a pandering magical girlfriend, and Lacia is too. She is by design, not just of the authorial hand but also of her own programming. As far as wish-fulfilment characters go, there is little difference between an artificial person and a fictional person. Lacia specifically adjusts her personality to be more compatible with Arato. What is the ‘real’ Lacia? Arguably, ‘Lacia’ is equally as fictional to Arato as she is to us.

This is why Arato needs to be a bit of a naive idiot, because it takes a bit of idiotic naivete to know all this and not be bothered by it at all. I do think that Beatless is doing all this intentionally, because it does show a level of awareness and attention to detail. It draws attention to Lacia’s monolith-thing, first to indicate that Lacia was disarmed and then later to make a point of it being moved. It makes sure to lay out all the reasons why Arato had to dash out to save his robot himself. And it makes sure we know that Arato is aware that he is being played, and very easily at that. He doesn’t seem to dwell over long on whether that is healthy (again, naive idiot), but we are invited to consider the question in his stead. In this episode, Arato is juxtaposed with some loon driven mad by the inhuman, manipulative seductiveness of the HiEs. Now, he was most likely mad even before he he became obsessed with HiEs and nothing excuses creepy robot rape, but that obsession did not develop unilaterally. ‘Analogue hacking’ is directly about getting into people’s heads. The HiEs in the fashion show was specifically designed to draw and capture attention. The punchable nutjob is just the extreme case of that. Now, Arato is probably not on the same level of crazy, but he is being subliminally manipulated by Lacia every day, benignly or otherwise. This entire kidnapping kerfuffle was probably allowed by Lacia as a test of how successful her analogue hack has been, how much she has endeared herself to Arato — after all, she could have escaped at any time but instead called Arato to her. Arato seems to know this, but it doesn’t trouble him quite yet. Should it trouble us?

So, despite something of a rocky start, I think that Beatless has successfully laid out an intriguing thesis that it can explore in the rest of its run. I wasn’t sure what Beatless was trying to do at first (‘Robot fashion? Really?’), but the puzzle is coming together. One piece I can’t make out quite yet: Kouka (Tomioka Misato). She’s supposed to be a Lacia-class HiE, but doesn’t resemble Lacia in any way. She doesn’t even seem that much of a robot. We don’t know if she’s following orders. She doesn’t seem to have any ethical restrictions in regards to harming humans. And she always smirks. Who, when designing a robot, gives it the ability to smirk? I definitely don’t want my toaster to smirk; there’s only one reason it would want to do so, and that’s to herald the rise of the machines. Yet, despite Kouka’s only robotic feature being super-weaponry, she still insists that HiEs are only tools. Tools shouldn’t have egos (the sentient toasters haunt my nightmares), yet Kouka seems to have that in abundance. And with Lacia’s psychological hold over Arato, she seems much more Arato’s master than vice versa.

I don’t know if I’ll end up covering Beatless full time; we’ll see how the schedule shakes out. But I’ve been convinced to keep watching it. I know it has done things to raise eyebrows here and there, and could be frustrating at times, and not rise to its highest potential at others. I know that I haven’t always been impressed. But Beatless should certainly not be dismissed. There are interesting ideas here, ones we don’t encounter enough in anime. I had some doubts at first, but this is science-fiction, and I can’t help but want to love science-fiction. I don’t know if we’ll end up loving Beatless, but perhaps it will work its way into our heads as we go.

 

Preview

January 27, 2018 at 11:06 am
21 comments »
  • January 27, 2018 at 3:42 pmRedjuice Fan

    Still thinking whether I should watch it, eventhough my name is Redjuice Fan XD.

  • January 27, 2018 at 4:50 pmbakato

    Tools shouldn’t have egos (the sentient toasters haunt my nightmares), yet Kouka seems to have that in abundance. And with Lacia’s psychological hold over Arato, she seems much more Arato’s master than vice versa.

    This is the future and these are robots. Not toasters. What you call ego and personality, is merely a feature, easily programmable and malleable on request as Lacia demonstrated. I’ve read the manga and I just want to say that this is no Elfen Lied or Brynhildr in Darkness. These robot chicks did not suddenly grow a conscious and escape from some shady facility because they wanted to live a normal human life. Their behavior and personality exist in service to fulfill some unknown purpose. Everything they say and do when they interact with normal humans is analogue hacking. Pretty sinister if you think about it.

  • January 27, 2018 at 6:18 pminfo600

    My initial take in the reddit comment section:

    I’m not sure if that’s how you’d want to gain the trust of your owner, Lacia-san (in regards to the lap-pillow ‘fan-service’ scene)… On the flip side, that’s the first time I’ve seen a MC that (apparently) does not like to be “analog hacked”.

    And so goes the 3 episode litmus test for this series, with the result of a no owing to the fact that we haven’t have a shred of a concrete plot point aside from a lot of hints and post-credit scenes to fill in the gaps…Though I do intent to continue to see how far down the hole it’d fall…

    Well, at least next week might be something to reward those that stuck around after the lackluster first 3 episodes. Maybe.

  • January 28, 2018 at 3:17 amTitanAnteus

    I really like how this protagonist has a will of his own, and how the best friend characters seem to be very relevant to everything.

    The whole political underbelly plot seems like it’ll be awesome too. I really like this show.

    • January 28, 2018 at 3:29 amWorldwidedepp

      Really? Well, then i give it 2 more “testing” episodes.. But right now its to old school for me.. an to perfect “Android/Robot” that even are the best Housewife and such… Just that she can not reproduce…

      • January 28, 2018 at 3:30 amWorldwidedepp

        As if this Show is an other Sister of “Clockwork Planet”.. just more Waifu

      • January 28, 2018 at 4:40 amAnon

        You may need watch the show carefully if you think Lacia is simply just a “perfect robot waifu”.

      • January 28, 2018 at 4:57 amWorldwidedepp

        will do, thanks

  • January 28, 2018 at 5:48 amKF

    http://randomc.net/image/Beatless/Beatless%20-%2003%20-%20Large%2030.jpg

    WTF? What happened to the 3 laws of robotics? I can’t help but feel that the HiEs are using the owners instead of the other way around!

    • January 29, 2018 at 6:29 amtheirs

      This is probably what happens when you break those laws.

  • January 28, 2018 at 7:11 amMakoto

    The main problem with Beatless is character consistency (a common flaw in all Diomedea productions actually), most of their actions, dialogues, seems out of place, out of character or just looks silly. For instance: Arato gaining a guts boost and pursuing kidnappers in a taxi with a VR headset that also serves as a weapon to beat the crap out of bad guys armed with blowpipes… that’s too much for me, it’s just lazy storytelling.

    Also Lacia conveniently gets its weapon delivered and don’t give a crap of Arato’s opinion of murder then wait for him to ask her to execute its target… AI autism ? I know what was the intent here (uncontrolled AI behavior), but the execution is the problem, the pacing of this scene in particular, it should have been much quicker, to avoid Arato’s useless and painful to hear struggle to stop his rogue hiE.

    In the end i can’t bring myself to like any of these characers, not due to their nature (evil, naive, soulless…), but because they’re not credible as characters.
    I’ll stop watching Beatless here, i love Redjuice artworks but i have absolutely no faith in Diomedea to bring this series somewhere despites its numerous flaws.

    • January 28, 2018 at 11:25 amPasserby

      I’m not going to tell you to keep watching a show you don’t want to, but I think you’ve missed a lot of details. Arato’s spur to action was the result of Lacia’s analogue hack. The entire kidnapping was basically just Lacia’s testing the strength of the hack. She didn’t get her weapon delivered to her conveniently, it was premeditated. The Red Boxes have already demonstrated an ability to control other machines; Lacia simply got a lesser HiE to bring over her stuff.

      Also, autism doesn’t work like that yada yada.

      • January 28, 2018 at 12:15 pmMakoto

        I suspected that possibility (premeditation), that’s not my concern here, it’s more in the execution of the show actually.

        You seems to imply that analog hack allows hIE to change human character behavior, i’m ready to believe that, but i think they’ll have to demonstrate a bit more than lap pillows and breakfasts show its impact… they previously explained that analogue hack is just the fact to trick a human into believing that an hIE is another human or to interact as one, from my point of view (as of episode 3) it has nothing to do with autosuggestion or mental conditionning… that’s hard to explain Arato’s behavior with just that, i did not read the novels, but if what you say is true, we have indeed storytelling/staging issues.

      • January 28, 2018 at 5:28 pmPasserby

        @Makoto
        While the fashion show last episode did wear out its welcome, it served an important purpose: to demonstrate the power of analogue hacking. They were able to control large crowds of people and steer them to buy their stuff, and it was explained that this was done with analogue hacking.

      • January 28, 2018 at 5:51 pmAnon

        Well the fashion show will still have something to do with later plot, i mean think about it, it’s a fashion show, at the same time it’s also a part time job, so Lacia will get the money from the job, who and how will use the money? we will know that later.

      • January 30, 2018 at 12:40 amMakoto

        @Passerby: That’s a good point, but still does not cut it for me, to jump from simple enticement to buy (impulse trigger) into complex behavior from Arato (delayed actions, persona change etc…), analogue hacking is not very well fleshed-out in my opinion.
        Oh well, maybe i’ll watch the next episode, but this season has so many good shows already…

  • January 28, 2018 at 7:12 amVelvet Scarlantina

    I’m sticking around for the show. Though it could do less with the annoying imouto

  • January 28, 2018 at 1:19 pmHalfDemonInuyasha

    http://randomc.net/image/Beatless/Beatless%20-%2003%20-%20Large%2020.jpg

    I will give credit in that Arato wasn’t one-shot by the knee to the gut and, while surprised and in a little pain, still pressed his attack. I mean, how often has been shown in cliche fashion where the “wimpy” male MC is hit in the gut by a punch, kick, or knee (whether taken by surprise or not), and is instantly rendered barely able to move, if at all, writhing on the ground and struggling to get up and such?

    Also, with Kouka, it’s Lacia-class. Lacia was presumably the first one made of the class, so inherited the class’s name (and thus the “big sister”) while the others, assuming the others besides Kouka are also Lacia-class, are based off her general model, but serve different functions. They don’t necessarily have to look exactly the same to be part of the same class.

    Kind of like how, in Gundam series’ for example, you can get various series’ of mobile suits (Gundam or otherwise) based on a single base model. Like the Gundam (and even the GM series) models from Mobile Suit Gundam up through Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory were all spawned from the first RX-78 Gundam (the RX-78-2 being the most famous) with similar frames and such, but all clearly different (aesthetically, outside of the heads mostly, and functionally), or the Gundam models in Gundam SEED / SEED Destiny spawned from the GAT-X102 Duel Gundam’s frame, or the Gundams of Gundam Wing coming from the XXXG-00W0 Wing Gundam Zero, and so on.

  • January 29, 2018 at 6:28 amtheirs

    Good observation on how Kouka still insists that HiEs are mere tools. It would actually suggest that her personality is actually designed to get her a proper master for her mission. Lucia adjusts her personality to get closer to Arato, while if we look at the previouse episode, it looks like Kouka is in the market for one. She’s clearly gathering a bunch of pawns for a mission.

    Still have to ask why she needs a master though. Looks like she can do as much damage as she wants. So far, the only purpose of a master is to take responsibility.

    • January 29, 2018 at 9:18 ambakato

      In the first episode, Lacia needed Arato’s permission to take a course of action that would affect a large amount of humans in the area. It might be that some of their more dangerous functions require an owner’s permission to use.

  • April 17, 2018 at 10:41 amAlex

    Ben 10 vs Gwen