Last week I was talking about how Seikai Suru Kado broke character and did a complete 180° turn to become a JRPG, and that’s no more evident to me than when I sit down and try to write one of these posts. I’ve been enjoying Kado as science-fiction, so each week I’ve been discussing the its vision of the future, critiquing its worldview, and debating its philosophy on technology and social progress. Now? I’m not exactly sure, as Kado moves from sci-fi towards fantasy. I consider sci-fi a sub-branch of fantasy, and we really should talk about the distinguishing elements at some point, but for now it’s sort of like the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars. It’s not a bright line, but generally sci-fi wants to look plausible, and therefore Star Trek will babble on about positrons and whatnot. But fantasy just needs you to accept the implausible, and therefore Star Wars can play around with magical space wizards.
You can see how moving to one to another may be jarring. A big plot twist near the climax of your story is not inherently a bad thing, and I’m not going to say that Kado made a huge mistake in direction until I see it all pan out. But it does need to be handled with care. Let’s take Star Wars again. It’s more fantasy than sci-fi. We accept ‘the Force’ as a core conceit of the movies. But then, the prequels introduces ‘midichlorians’. It tries to explain the Force. Why? Doing so simply undercuts the fantasy that was built up in episodes IV to VI. The end result is a compromise between fantasy and sci-fi, but it doesn’t make the Force seem plausible, nor does it enhance an acceptable fantasy. Kado may be doing the same thing, but in the opposite direction, introducing more fantasy into it’s sci-fi. It’s certainly possible that Kado juggle both sci-fi and fantasy well, but it’s much easier to do it badly. It’s certainly more ‘out there’ now. Before, we could talk about hypothetical responses to a friendly alien encounter, and maybe the implications of an unlimited power source. Now? There’s something about ascending to a higher plane of existence, dangers of transferring three-dimensional human meatbags to the 37-layered anisotropic wonderland, and other things that go over my head. I don’t know if I’m just not versed in alien superphysics, but none of that sounds like a plausible hypothetical I’ll ever need
to consider. So now I’ve got nothing to talk about.
To be clear, I’m not saying this was a bad episode, in an of itself. Tsukai’s backstory is definitely necessary. We got a bunch of drama and special effects. We even got a bit of romance, or something like it (because Shindou has the personality of boiled celery and is incapable of chemistry with anybody). There are many entertainment vectors there. Again, I would play Kado: The Videogame. But was everybody looking for a videogame? Hmm.
Well, I think we’ll get back to the philosophy eventually. There was some talk of Tsukai being a ‘naturalist’ and competing views in the anisotropic, Shindou at last finds enough spine to speak up, Za seems to be growing doubts and may perhaps finally be open to the idea of being mistaken. It’s certainly possible that this can all be settled with honest debate, without resorting to the lasersword argument.