「 銀色の希望」 (Giniro no Kibō)
Suddenly! Tears! Existential crisis! I’m not actually sure where all this is coming from; I’ll chalk it up to the recent shock of murders, and that Dr Magata continues to haunt Moe’s dreams, which really can’t be healthy for anybody. I think the key lesson of Subete ga F ni Naru will be that an obsession with Magata Shiki is doomed to end badly; more on that later. For now, Souhei is ends up having to act as the sensible adult of the two simply by default, even though most of his emotional stability is actually just a tobacco dependency. Moe, in comparison, spends most of the episode being extraordinarily rude, quite insensitive, and generally faux pas with a plate of cookies. But, to be slightly Doylist, somebody is needed to play this obnoxious role, or else we’d never be able to dig up all the information about the dark past of the Magata clan. Why do you exist, Moe? To advance the plot!
The butler, in the dining room, with the wrench
We learn much, especially about the co-tenants of Shiki’s mind. Turns out she did have a twin, but it was a fraternal brother, and he lives inside her head now (did someone mention Kara no Kyoukai last week? Yeah). And there’s the doll, Magata Michiru, also assimilated into the hive mind; you may recall that Michiru is also the name of last week’s robot. The only one who couldn’t ‘escape’. Curious. There’s plenty of material for speculation here, but for me the greater mystery is starting to be Moe, because there seems to be a significant backstory to her mood and her actions. Subete ga F ni Naru is doing a great deal to juxtapose Moe and Shiki, but to what end? What trauma is buried in her past? How did her parents die? I suspect if we figure out one of these characters, we’ll figure out the other.
The sighs of the Nietzsche wannabe
Less straightforward than The Mystery of the Dead Parents is the extended dialogue between Moe and Souhei in the second half of the episode. Not only do emotions run high during the entire exchange, making it reflection of the values of our two leads, they also talk about some fairly abstract, existential issues about identity, the Singularity, human nature, and mental development. There’s quite a bit to unpack, lots of ideas without any real conclusiveness, not helped by the fact that Souhei likes to be oblique and generally non-commital. To extrapolate, he has a bit of a nihilistic streak, but not enough to simply drop everything (including, I assume, a nice and tenured academic position) and go wild (is it cowardice?). And Moe is his opposite, impulsive and prone to draw snap conclusions (is it brash naiveté?). We’ve seen these traits from either of them before (hurrah for consistent characterisation), but when they come into conflict they are thrown into the sharpest relief.
For those of you who have found Souhei and Moe ‘unlikeable’ so far, I’m beginning to think that there may be a point behind it. Both are ugly humans in their own special ways, with an emphasis on their various vices and weaknesses. As is often the case with real people; we are judgmental creatures, and negatives leave the strongest impressions. But compare Shiki, whom the two have distinct opinions about. Now, I consider Magata Shiki mostly as a crazy sociopath. But is what we’ve seen of her so grotesque, so chilling, that she, so to speak, breaks the scale? Is her mind so completely alien to sensible people like you and I that she becomes ‘pure’, a singular being in and of herself? Is this the ubermensch, someone who sheep like us, bound by social norms, cannot understand and can only either follow or scorn? And if you mix Souhei and Moe together, would they not make something like Magata Shiki?
Looking ahead ~ the cult of Magata Shiki
I said for last episode that I’d be disappointed if nobody died in the weekly intermission and, yes, I wag my finger with disapproval at you, Subete ga F ni Naru. But thankfully, while the stakes weren’t raised there, we can always count on tension to rise from the usual sources: young Shiki gets even creepier! Just a normal girl? No, she’s befriended by cats; she’s a witch! And like Shakespeare’s witches, she has the tragic hero, our Macbeth, under her thrall, whispering dark truths. Or, more accurately, perhaps she is Lady Macbeth. ‘Don’t you deserve more? You can have more. You just need to take it. Any less is weakness.’
The murder mystery is interesting enough, but I do think more compelling is the darkness of Magata Shiki, and the fall of her ‘uncle’. It invokes horror and pity in the way that tragedy does. I don’t exactly look forward to gazing deeper into the abyss prepared for that poor man next week but, of course, I can’t tear my eyes away.