「酒に酔う」 (Sake ni You)
“Drunk on Alcohol”
The most common definition of moé I see is that it’s the quality that invokes the desire to protect. It’s the number one defence mechanism of kittens everywhere; their large heads and round eyes deceives us into taking them in even though all we’ll get in return is a scratched up sofa. it’s the same deal with human babies too, most evident when you look at all the photos your most annoying co-worker has of their kid that they keep wanting to share on Facebook. Yumemi this week was certainly overflowing with the moé juice. Every time she tripped and fell was bound to illicit an audible d’aww from viewers, or perhaps a giggle of schadenfreude. I must have described Yumemi’s naivete as childlike before, and as Planetarian moves outdoors (while still being very dialogue heavy; this was a visual novel, remember) Yumemi’s childishness becomes all the more apparent in her simple guilelessness.
I think that Yumemi had actually gone beyond that now, and it was time for Planetarian to make full use of its science-fiction setting and the fact that Yumemi is a robot. Robots in sci-fi have traditionally been a handy way to invent an alien logic system to contrast our own human thought processes, and in that way Yumemi plays foil to basically the entire post-apocalypse setting. She is not simply naive; she is in fact locked into being able to see the world in a very specific way. And she is not childlike, because children are inherently selfish until they manage to learn some empathy, whereas Yumemi hardly has a self-preservation instinct, warning the junker against tripping before being ironic. She’s just very dedicated to customer service, I suppose. Or perhaps it’s just a product of the good-natured optimism and her sincere wish for a better tomorrow.
I would say that those three qualities—her unique world view, her love and dedication for humanity, and her desire to see a better tomorrow—all play into each other and makes her an impossibly positive character in an otherwise bleak setting. She is a wellspring of hope forlorn in the post-apocalypse. Planetarian argues that this hope is intoxicating, in ways that alcohol cannot match. For a while our junker is drunk on it as well, dreaming of a higher calling, of more people able to taste a sip of that hope as well. And then, reality decides to sober him up with a glass of tomato juice and a kick in the nuts.
Again, those three, great and positive qualities that define Yumemi. Are those actually, really, pragmatically sustainable? This episode forces onto Yumemi a choice: either stay in this sarcophagus, and let herr planetarium’s light go out with her, or abandon her city and her planetarium, but perhaps take its light with her. A sacrifice is demanded of our cute little robot either way. She does make it, but how much does she understand her choice? How desirable is understanding, anyway? Can she maintain the rest of her innocence? There’s one episode left, preceded by a cliffhanger at that; what else will be asked of her yet?
‘Please, do not divide the heavens in two.’