「清廉な心」 (Seiren na Kokoro)
Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru excels at putting itself in impossible situations. That’s what made the original series stumble on the finish line, maybe—if the final episode of Yuusha no Shou can hit a home run, it will save it all. But how? There’s no good solution, and any solution I can think of would amount to a last-minute deus ex machina. Doesn’t mean there isn’t one. I hope there is. I just don’t see it, which means the chance of failure is high.
Let’s go over a few options.
They could save Yuuna and save the world. Somehow. I’m cool with the Taisha looking like assholes to the end, they are—even if their job is truly impossible as well, sacrificing all these girls to save the world, they’re still going about it badly. Probably because they’ve been made so callous by what they’ve had to do. But there are only a few hints as to how this might be accomplished. It would jive most with the series’ tone and inclinations, though, so it remains the most likely path, even if it’s the one with the highest likelihood of failure.
The Shinkon could be completed, Yuuna dies, and humanity becomes the people of god, rendering themselves safe from attack by becoming other than human. This would certainly be interesting, though it would deny YuYuYu’s essential idealism in exchange for a world where the assholes of the Taisha were right. Think Evangelion’s Instrumentality, except—well, basically that. Probably no tang, but I can’t promise that. This would be unexpected, but probably the path I least want them to take. They would sacrifice everything, and for what? Doesn’t seem to be worth it. For the writers, that is—from the people’s perspective, the Taisha’s perspective, I get it. I hate them for it, but I get it. Even if I don’t know what decision I would make.
Or they could reject Shinjyu-sama’s plans entirely, and the world could be engulfed in fire. For a series shot through with hope, this would be the ultimate rejection of itself, as its final chips fall upon “Humans are shit,” “Humans are unworthy,” and “Idealism even is the answer is death.” YuYuYu is idealistic, but in a hopeful way, not in a “Give me freedom or give me death!” kind of way. This would perhaps be the most interesting path to take, and the most unexpected, but I don’t know if I would want me magnum opus to end with this kind of message. Humans are irrepressibly optimistic, even in the face of all that life throws at us, much of it of our own making. It would certainly be fascinating to see the flames engulf the world and the screen fade to black, though. That’s for sure.
It’s possible to thread this needle, even if they choose the first option. Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica did it in its original run (I still need to watch those movies), with a remarkable turnaround that made perfect sense, even as everything felt so bleak just a moment prior. It’s possible. But it’s hard. It’s damn, damn, damn hard. That’s why most writers don’t attempt it. Pulling it off would be phenomonal, but what a task the writers have set for themselves. I hope they had a plan all along. If they were winging it, I doubt it will work.
This sequel is asking some heavy questions, even more so than the original. What is the worth of humans? Are they worth saving? At what cost? And is it important that they remain human after the fact? These are meaty questions, ones I don’t even know where I’d come down on; every fiber of my body rejects the sacrifice of Yuuna, but absent that, would throwing away their humanity really be that bad? As we real life humans accelerate our modification and augmentation of the human body, we’ll have to ask those questions. Ghost in the Shell is coming faster than many of us realize. Would a spiritual version really be that bad? Or should the whole thing be burned down, because the foundations are too rotten, built as they are upon the corpses of innocent girls.
What does that say of our world, that’s built on the corpses of trillions of beings, human and animal alike?
Heavy stuff. I’ll be interested to see how they answer these questions. And I’ll brace myself for disappointment, because wow, the writers have forced themselves into as much of a corner as Yuuna was. But I’ll hold out hope for a great ending, and for an ending of hope after all this darkness.
- The dialogue in this episode showed a deft hand, from Sensei dodging when Yuuna initially asked if the people would still be human after the Shinkon, to how Yuuna betrays that her entire self-conception is wrapped up in being a hero, to her spouting the clauses mindlessly because she’s cornered, she’s not thinking anymore, she’s given up. Because she just wants to end it. I was on the edge of my seat.
- I wonder if the curse was there to force Yuuna into this…
- Needless to say, Shinjyu-sama is an asshole of a god. Like the ancient Greek/Norse/etc gods that toyed with humanity for shits and giggles, only here Shinjyu-sama has the entire world by the balls. What a sadistic asshole.
My SECOND novel, Freelance Heroics, is available now! (Now in print!) (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Sign up for my email list for updates. At stephenwgee.com, the latest post: The Last Jedi SUPER SPOILERY Review.