「灰色の境界」 (Haiiro no Kyōkai)
What a strange episode of Subete ga F ni Naru. It’s definitely a bit unusual by anime standards, and, certainly, it runs against the style of that the show has established thus far. Generally speaking, some indulgences about genius computer science aside, Subete ga F ni Naru has, for the most part, fallen on the side of realism, and this episode may detract somewhat from the authenticity. At the same time, it was at least an interesting directorial choice; I wonder about the way it was done in the original novel, how much of it is a transliteration of the original text and how much of it was generous interpretation.
I am talking, of course, about the English conversation.
Is Magata Miki not fluent in Japanese?
No, compared to the English, Lego-mania was as tame as a puppy on Prozac. I mean, an entire act of the episode, the entire important conversation, in English! Proper English! Evidently, they were pressing home the fact that Magata Miki also received the same fancy foreign American education that her sister did. And that Souhei is also apparently fluent as well, because in fiction smart guy = polyglot. Unfortunately, we, the Western audience who are actually fluent in English (at least I’m assuming my readers have a comfortable level of English because… how are we communicating? The pictures? You like the pictures? Enjoy the pictures) will have a harder time suspending our belief because of the obvious stiffness in the performance; they seiyuu are trying hard, even sometimes too hard, but it’s not easy acting while using a language one lacks mastery in. But it’s better than pidgin, or comedic gobbledygook, and it’s definitely no worse than what was tried in the PSYCHO-PASS Movie (where they made their poor seiyuu play Asians quoting French philosophers in English). I’m sure if I was the average Japanese viewer I would already be suitably impressed, or at least not have enough English comprehension to care (in the same way that I’m not going to appreciate the acting in Japanese voices from the get go). Hey, proper dialogue. It’s all that can be asked for.
Trippier than the Lego was an expressive Souhei
I suppose the lab’s
cyronic coffin creepy rape machine virtual reality unit also deserves a mention (just because it’s the main development of the episode and the mid-series climax? Meh). You may remember me mentioning in episode 01 that Subete ga F ni Naru was very much like Owarimonogatari played straight, but now it seems we’ve come full circle. Woo, 3D backgrounds as metaphor! You can tell that Subete ga F ni Naru‘s source is a bit old, because in the modern age the proper metaphor for a virtual reality constructed out of blocks is Minecraft i.e. not a metaphor at all. Dr Magata/Michiru can be a Creeper. In more ways than one.
So it seems Dr Magata was creating some cross between the Singularity and Inception, and one of her personalities, Michiru, lives inside it. Interestingly, if you remember back to the messages left on Dr Magata’s computer, Michiru was described as the only one who isn’t ‘free’. Hmm. Between Souhei’s conversation with Miki and Moe’s conversation with Michiru it’s pretty clear how Magata Shiki views the bag of meat that is the human body (with one conversation being more positive than the other), and this virtual world does seem to be right up Shiki’s alley. Reality controlled by thoughts, superior information storage than human memory, wear your bathing suit everywhere; there’s certainly many charms to such an existence. At the same time though, one has cause to be suspicious about the entire exchange Moe experienced. Why did she forget what was arguably the defining moment of her life? Or the Saikawa-sensei who sat with her? Is there something deeper to it than trauma? Can these memories be fully trusted? And is it really an advantage for her to remember?
Looking ahead ~ out, damn spot
In all seriousness, I think Moe in Legoland was a great scene, with some interesting camerawork and the frenetic strings carrying the drama in the background (Kenji Kawai sure does good music). Since we’re halfway through the series, it’s appropriate we’re starting to get these big reveals—reveals not only give further insight, but also promote the greater mystery. Such is the purpose of well-done mid-narrative climax; they give us a temporary high to maintain the energy in the story, but also build towards something even bigger in the finale. For Subete ga F ni Naru, which has a story within a story, it’s more obvious. The tale of young Magata Shiki murdering her parents has come to a close, but it leaves us with an air of suspense still. With Shiki shifting between emotions rapidly, it makes us wonder which one of her personae was in the pilot seat at any given point. And she also foretells the ‘death’ of both herself and the director, and indeed it does seem to rung true. It has, right?
Well, more answers should be forthcoming from this point, especially since the diary that we were first shown in episode 01 has re-emerged (is it the same one? It has the same curious capitalisation and all). If this episode was but a taste of how the finale will play out, I think we’re in for a treat.