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Zombieland Saga 1

Memento Mori: How ZombieLand Saga Teaches Us About Our Life, Death, and Living

Studio MAPPA’s Zombie Land Saga (ZLS) is a hilarious, interesting, and refreshing take on two separate yet equally bland and tired genres: zombie horror and idol anime.  The fusion of these two genres, along with tackling mature themes such as PTSD, unethical practices within the entertainment industry,  depression, gender identity, and of course, death, Zombie Land Saga became a sleeper hit during the Fall 2018 anime season.

With the success of Zombie Land Saga, it’s no surprise that MAPPA is working on a second season of the show, churning out merchandise online, the voice actresses performing  songs from the anime throughout Japan, fans globally are giving their own creative spin on the characters through cosplay and fanart, and  making analysis videos on the series.

While roaming through the ZLS fandom side of the internet for analysis videos and essays, there was one thing that caught me by surprise: the lack of discussion around the overarching theme of death of the series.  Now, I get it: death is a sensitive topic, but I feel that it’s something we should talk about when it comes to this amazing series.

It might sound strange to you readers and listeners out there, but ZLS reminds me of how we need to appreciate life and respect death – not fear it.

PART 1

Death Has No (Age) Limit

“Death is not a hunter unbeknownst to its prey.
One is always aware that it lies in wait.
Though life is merely a journey to the grave, it must not be undertaken without hope.”

-Igor, Persona 3

Behind the (dark) humor of Zombieland Saga lies tragedy. The tragedy of seven girls who lives were cut short before reaching adulthood; with Lily being the youngest (aged 12), and, if we were to exclude the 20-something Tae, Junko as the oldest (aged 19). Like all youthful girls, Lily, Sakura, Yuugiri, Ai, and Junko were all youths filled with hopes, dreams and ambitions – only to die early deaths.

As a titan of the great idol wars of the 2000s, the prideful and unmovable Ai, along her group Iron Frill, dominated the music charts. No other idol group could reach their level of success. Each venue hall they performed at sold out: proof of their musical superiority.   Yet, on the night of her biggest concert of her blooming career,  Ai’s life was cut short when she (foolishly) stuck her hand out  towards the sky during a thunderstorm (Iron Grill were performing at an open air arena). Ai lived for a few minutes in excruciating pain and suffering before dying on arrival at the hospital.

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As one of the founding mothers of the 1980s Idol boom, Junko graced television screens and concert halls throughout Japan with her presence. Her powerful voice and air of mystery would lead her to nationwide popularity and stardom.  Sold out concerts.  Highly rated TV specials. High volume record sales.  Nothing was impossible for the rising starlet. However,  her rise to the top came to an abrupt, violent end. While on tour, the engines of the plane she was on malfunctioned midair; causing it to plummeted to the Earth.
Everyone on board was killed  – Junko included.

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Despite lacking proper training, Lily made it her mission to become an child actress to make her TV loving papa proud.  Lily was a natural; an artistic  prodigy even.  One could always expect to see her on a major prime-time show and big budget film.  There was no doubt that Lily could had grow into an extraordinary actress past childhood and into adulthood. Alas, the strain of a brutal workload, coupled mental shock of facial hair growth, and her father pushing her to her physical limits,despite her demands for rest, ultimately killed her. .lily_death

Sakura was a young bright girl with both scholarly and athletic success. Whatever she put her mind towards, she would go after it.    However, despite her relentless drive towards success, she was met with setbacks and failures; driving her into depression in her teenage years. One day, during a depressive episode, she caught an TV special featuring Ai’s rise to success with her band. During this special,  Ai brought up that she doesn’t view failures and mistakes as bad things; as they will help her with whatever comes next in life.

Touched by this, Sakura would attend Ai’s concert in Saga.  There, shebecame inspired by Ai’s marvelous performance to the point that she was able to pull herself out of her depression; deciding that she would become a singer like her idol.  She applied to join Ai’s group with this newfound inspiration and  reason for living.

Sadly, on her way to mail the application, Sakura was hit by a truck and died instantly.

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****

Death doesn’t care if you just pulled yourself out of years of depression.  Death doesn’t care if you’ve been happy all your life.  It pays no mind to women who are successful and women who are failures. It is merciless to both celebrities and average men alike.  Death doesn’t hold biases towards the young and the elderly. It doesn’t  matter to death if your smart or did stupid  things (like Ai).   We are all equal when it comes to death.

As you read above, there were three girls who were celebrities and one girl who was not. In the  world of Zombieland Saga, the world once knew of Lily, Ai, and Junko; while Sakura was a nobody.  In it , Lily, Ai, and Junko are in the history books while Sakura will forever be lost to it. 

But, at the end, death came for all four of them – despite their status and age.

 

PART 2
Memento Mori

“Do not act as if you had ten thousand years to throw away. Death stands at your elbow. Be good for something while you live and it is in your power.”
– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Memento Mori, or “remember: you too will die/you too are mortal.”  Within the Stoic community and philosophy, death is a topic that is covered and approached without fear.  The Stoics of Ancient Rome and Greece kept death in mind; not out of some twisted morbid curiosity, but they confidently accepted that it’s a normal part of life.  It’s a motto to guide a person to live in the moment and to think about the future: forgoing thinking about trivial, superficial things that will not matter in the long run.

With Zombie Land Saga, I believe we can approach this Stoic ideology with the anime itself.  Remember: the ladies of Franchouchou are zombies for a reason; not because of some weird shady music producer, but because they lived and died young.  Like you and I, they too, were mortal. We too, will die like our favorite singing zombie girls.  With this (and death) in mind, we must be aware of our own morality. We must act that as if each day is our final day. We are not immortal. We not not invulnerable.  We are all in the cross-hairs of death; waiting for it to pull its trigger.

As young girls in life, I am doubtful that Sakura, Lily, Ai, and Junko cared about death  as most young people do. When we were young, the thought of a  possible early death and planning for the future never crossed our minds.  We weren’t concerned with taking care of ourselves nor did we want to.  We foolishly believed that we had all the time in the world to do whatever we pleased; as if we could live into old age without flaw nor issues.  However, at some point , we figured out that we do have to take care of ourselves and that our time on Earth is limited. Sakura, Lily, Ai, and Junko learned the hard way that life is short — as many young people are learning that fact today.

Now, You may be wondering, why did I left out Saki, Tae, and Yuugiri thus far.
There’s a reason for my exclusion of those three.

Saki is somebody I believe took the Memento Mori mantra to the extreme. Saki was a gangsta. She lived the gangsta lifestyle and died because it.  In that respect, we can assume she had absolutely no fear of death. As a gangsta, why should you? You knew what you sign up for once you get yourself involved street activity. If you don’t escape it, the gang life  will either land you in prison or in a casket.  But Saki didn’t care. Hell, she prided herself on having guts and courage and respect people who are also full of courage like herself (as most gangstas do).  She probably knew that she would die young from being reckless; which is why she took a game of chicken (way) too seriously.

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Goddammit Saki

Tae is an oddball as we have absolutely no information on her. However,  according to Studio MAPPA, she was in her late 20s at the time of her death.  We can guess that by the time she died, Tae had understand the concept of life and that she will die.

Finally, there is the case of Yuugiri the Stoic (not her official title but bare with me here).

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And this is why Yuugiri is best Franchouchou along with Junko

Yuugiri is somebody we can assume clearly understands this stoic philosophy of life, death, and not caring about trivial things.  She’s a woman from the Meiji Restoration Era of Japan; an era in which Japan was littered with violence, political shifts, social revolution, social unrest, and rapid industrialization (to name a few things that were going on during that time period).  With constant history changing events unfolding in Japan, it makes sense for  Yuugiri to have calm, peaceful approach and mindset towards her new life as a zombie and the new era she is living in.

There’s no point in getting in your feelings over simple things when major events are unfolding in your daily life.

Example: During episode 6 of ZLS Lily was concerned that Yuugiri would be confused with everything in the modern world by asking her if she is okay and if she could follow what is going on (in terms of Franchouchou upcoming fan meet and greet).  Yuugiri replies that she will accept things as is and as they come; as being confused about anything wouldn’t help.

 

 

This is a philosophy we should take to heart as we’re on our life’s journey to the grave.  Why waste time worrying about things that you can never change as death lies in wait for us?  Is there any good questioning the things that we can never change? Instead, we must spend our time doing  things  that makes us happy and give us the best results every day. Think back of all the stupid things you had worried back in the past and ask yourself “was it worth wasted effort, and energy, and time directing my thoughts into those pointless things?”. I bet you’re kicking yourself  right now over them.  Did those things matter still in your current, present life?  Of course not! Focus on what’s important for today and for your future.

I’m not saying you should be careless about things nor pay no mind to issues that could result in major harm or  disaster in the future: that’s foolish! And I’m not saying you should accept absolutely everything that has an impact on your life. If there’s something that truly bothers you that you think could negatively impact you, do something about it.

Otherwise, don’t trip off the things that won’t matter 5 seconds or 5 decades from now.

Can you imagine if Yuugiri, or any other member of Franchouchou spent their time wondering why they came back to lives as zombies instead of reliving life itself and having fun as zombies and idols? They wouldn’t get shit done. They would waste their and Tatsumi time doing nothing but rotting away for eons.

Aimless wondering and wandering over pointless things doesn’t make you human.
It makes you a mindless zombie.

PART 3
There Is No Second Chance: Live Your Life

“A zombie that doesn’t dance is just a regular zombie. The others are zombies, but they’re trying to live. Just how long do you two intend to just rot?”
-Tatsumi to Junko and Ai, Zombieland Saga Ep. 3.

“You’ve got all the talent in the world, but the two of you girls are giving up without giving it a whirl!”

-Sakura to Junko and Ai, Zombieland Saga, Ep. 2

 

The ladies of Franchouchou were given a second chance at life thanks to their shady necromancer music producer who wanted to give seven people a chance to recapture their dreams.  Dreams that  they were never able to achieved due to their lives being cut short.  Through hard work, pain, and relentless challenges, Franchouchou were able to become idols in the country town of Saga, Japan.  Of course, such a story is a work of fiction; cute singing anime zombie girls will never exist in the real world. Once you’re dead, you are dead – there’s no coming back – no second chances at life. You do not get a reset. Nor do you net yourself a redo.

With that said, spend your time on earth wisely and work  bettering yourself: just like our favorite characters from Zombie Land Saga before their untimely deaths.

Both Junko and Ai became major pop idol stars as teenagers. Can you imagine how excited they were when they got their first record deal as kids?  Lily became a sensational television and movie star as a child and worked hard to make her father proud of her. Just think how much her dad smile when he saw her on the tube (as Junko would say). Saki and her biker gang wreak havoc on the streets and highway of not only Saga, but most of Japan itself. She was a street legend. Little is known about Yuugiri’s past life, but we can assume that thanks to her playing her role as the perfect courtier ,she was a legend of her time period.  Sakura, despite dying a few days afterwards, was able to pull herself out of and defeat her depression while working on her goal on becoming an idol singer.
And Tae…well, she was the leader of the Sailor Scouts and a pirate empress in her time.

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Source: https://www.pixiv.net/en/artworks/71839177

Meta jokes aside, we all yearn to live a great, long life.  During our lifetime, we must seek to achieve great things, hit milestones, and make an impact on the world around us.  It is important to set daily goals and make a great effort to accomplish them.  We must set up targets and aim right dead at the center.  Take risks, take a chance, and make things happen for you: You only have one life, one chance at writing the book that is your life story.

One final thing: You reading  means that you greatly value yourself and education. You understand that there’s more to life than to a mindless zombie consuming pointless things until death.  You understand that each second draws you closer to death and that you find ways to better yourself before death comes for you.

And to you for that, I say, thank you (but also read other people works for self-improvement, not just my essays).

Remember: you are mortal and you will die.

 

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A Black nerd empowerment podcast where Black nerds (well, all nerds, but Black first and foremost) can get together and talk freely about nerd culture while also acknowledging systematic white supremacy and racism in the nerd and Eastern otaku fandoms. Every Tuesday join @superlostfan108 and @weebtrashyuki the founders of http://www.swarthynerd.com for there very informative podcast talking about all things nerdy. No desperate boot licking self hating negus who were never accepted by Black norimes for being too weird for  their love of anime and comic books by the Black community allowed. Go drink bleach.
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Failure Isn’t Bad (Zombieland Saga)

Throughout her short seventeen years of life, Sakura Minamoto dealt with everlasting failures and setbacks that mentally wrecked her. In the third grade, she landed the intense star role of Snow White after months of relentless practice to master the role; only to become sick and bedridden on the day of the performance.

 

Gifted with superior athletic skills, Sakura was selected as captain of her school’s relay team.  She trained day after day in hopes of leading her school to victory against other schools in the Saga district.  Alas, on the morning of competition, she tore up her hamstring; forcing her to retire.

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This is why you stretch before any physical activities, children.

But, those past failures wouldn’t hold her back. Determine to eradicate her bad luck, Sakura (now a sixth grader), had her sights set on academic mastery; vowing to shut everything out of her life in order to enter the best high school in her school district. Friends. Family. Entertainment.   If it wasn’t a tool that’ll help her gain scholarly success, Sakura ignored it. Nothing mattered to her sans entering the ranks of the educated elites.

Two years later, Sakura’s near psychopathic drive towards success would pay off for her. She aced the mock entrance exams days before the real deal.  Finally! Victory was near.

Or so she thought.

On her way to take the real exams, Sakura ran across a few sick elderly women who needed her help.  Instead of ignoring the women and letting them die on the streets (which she should: they had their chance at life), Sakura decided to help these poor women out. However, this drove Sakura into an intense panic; as  she feared that she’ll be late for and miss the exams.

Thankfully, she was able to make it in time. But, the stress from the fear of missing the exams gave Sakura extreme test anxiety – causing her to fail the exam – and missing out on her chance of success once more.

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Should have let the old ladies lay there and die, Sakura.

***

Now in high school, the defeated , depressed, and hopeless Sakura rejected offers to hang out with friends, join any after-school clubs, and work on her scholarly and athletic gifts. Nothing mattered to her anymore. She knew that anything she attempted to try would only make her feel worse about herself.

 

Every day after school, she headed straight home; numbed to the world. She lay up on the couch, mindlessly watching TV and rotting away as life passed her by.  One day in peculiar, Sakura caught a TV special featuring the rise of singer Ai Mizuno: the center performer of the idol group “Iron Frill”.  During the special, Ai was asked about her work ethics, as well as why and how she works so hard.

Ai replied:

“I guess it’s because I don’t think mistakes or failures are a bad thing.  Because they always end up helping with whatever happens next.  And I really believe I’ll only be the best version of me once I overcome it all.”

Mistakes aren’t bad.  Failure isn’t bad. If you study your failures and mistakes, learning from them in the process, you’ll always better yourself.

(Now, let’s not forget the fact that worse girl Ai is a stupid fucking idiot who got herself killed by sticking her arm out during a thunder/lighting storm while holding a mic at an open air concert on live TV/internet broadcast; therefore traumatizing her friends, family members, band mates, and fans for life. Plus, she made her parents cremate and bury her, so there’s that)

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You fucked up on a test.  Cool.  See what you were struggling with, study, and do better.  You got rejected by the girl or boy you liked.  That’s okay.  Be happy and reflect on the fact that you finally control your nerves, got over your fear of rejection, and you went for it. It’ll all be helpful the next time you ask different girl or boy who captured your heart out. You might get turned down from the company you’ve dream of working for since your youth.

Look, you will fail at something – it’s unavoidable.  Your return on invest for your efforts might wield negative results at the end.  Whatever you’re working on, sometimes, it won’t turn out the way you hope for.

And that’s okay.

You should embrace failure.  Appreciate it.  Respect it.  Failure means that it wasn’t the right time to execute your plan.  You selected the wrong moment for your course of action.  Something didn’t line up right. Your approach wasn’t correct. Even so, you should inspect what went wrong so that next time, you will do better and better; until the day you are successful.

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 “There’s no better than adversity.  Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.”-Malcolm X

Inspired by the TV special, Sakura attended their Saga concert. There, Sakura was captivated by Ai’s high spirited performance to the point she was moved to tears.   It was there where Sakura found the willpower to pull herself out of her depression; yearning to  attack success one more time.

One more shot.
One more try.
One more chance.

Sakura set her sights to become the girl that she always dreamed of.   She applied to join Iron Frill as an idol.  She wanted to perform next to the singer that – as cheesy and white girlish as it (always) sound – saved her life.  This was it.  She’ll no longer let the set-backs and disappointments of the past drag her down.  With the finished application in hand, the high-spirited Sakura ran out of the house to mail it…

…And then she got hit by a speeding truck and died on impact.
The End.
Thanks for reading!

(Just kidding.  Sakura lived for a few more seconds in the air from the force of being hit before dying.)

 

 

***

“Failure is deceiving; it’s a good thing! You want to and should fail –it’s the learning process!” -Grant Cardone, CEO and real estate investor

Sakura’s journey to success wouldn’t end at her death. In fact, her death (and zombification) was the start of her finally capturing victory. As the center of the all zombie girl music group Franchouchou, Sakura had to lead her team and new friends through failure after failure on the path of success.

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You could say that their first concert at the death metal show was a near flop.  First, Sakura was the only member of Franchouchou (or Death Musume as they were first called) who regained her human conscious upon awakening.  The rest of the girls were still in their mindless state.  This resulted in everyone (sans Sakura) not being able sing or play instruments – let alone perform in unison.

Second, they were dress in bright, colorful idol outfits; ill-fitting for a venue hall catering to savage and cutthroat fans of death metal.  Finally, the crowd wasn’t feeling them. They believed that Death Musume was mocking death metal with their idol get-up.

Death Musume proved their doubters wrong.

Thanks to their enhanced zombie  bodies and minds, Death Musume surprised the metal heads with their brutal, (literally) broken-neck style head banging, ghastly growls, hard hitting stage dives that would had injured or killed a normal human, and caused mayhem in the pits after the show.

Even if the show was a (so-called) “flop”, Death Musume gained the respect of the metal heads (whom normally dismissed idols).  They even earned two metal heads as loyal fans after the event. Fans who once were discrediting them admired their savage spirit so much that they followed Death Musume’s journey to success everywhere they performed.

 

Their second concert was almost a complete disaster (compared to the last).  Despite regaining their senses, Death Musume (now Green Face), weren’t in tune with one another.  Their movements were awkward and stiff (due to not building up chemistry with one another yet; not because they were zombies).  The audience seemed uninterested in their performance.   Tae had yet to regain her senses; so she was still roaming around mindlessly.

Worse, she tried to steal somebody’s dried squid snack. Sakura attempted to restrain her friend; only to cause Tae’s head to fly off her body into the crowd – therefore causing panic and confusion.

In panic, Sakura played everything off as a magic trick. While Sakura struggled to regain order, Saki started to dick around. The two girls started fighting over Tae’s head (Saki took Tae’s head off her body while Sakua tried to put it back on, annoying the latter). Pissed, Sakura snapped on Saki and snitched on the fact that they were all zombies. Saki snapped back: leading to the girls auguring on stage. Understandably, the audience was shocked.

Total disaster indeed.
But, most damages caused by disasters can always be fixed.

Tatsumi saw this as a chance to switch the show’s direction. Seeing Sakura and Saki argue as if they were rival rappers, he began to beat box.  Best zombie girl Yuugiri provided a melodic instrumental on her shimisen. Lily channeled her inner Flavor Flav and played hype girl.  Worse zombie girl Ai stood around looking stupid, awkward, and useless. Second best zombie girl Junko was also standing around looking stupid and awkward.  Sakura and Saki turned their argument into a rap battle.

Together, Green Face was able to take a losing situation, turn it around into something positive, and became victorious.
Franchouchou improved each passing day.
They didn’t avoid failure – they embraced it and turn it around – into success.

They failed to get a business sponsorship from a drug company (due to Sakura being an idiot). That’s okay; they cut a deal with a local restaurant a few days later; netting a promotion deal with them.  Tae accidently wore said restaurant’s mascot t-shirt after winning a sporting event instead of the shirts featuring their band’s name and logo (for promotional reasons). It didn’t matter: Franchouchou gained more fans from the sporting event.

Lighting struck the stage and the girls during their first major stage performance.  What would have killed any normal human the lighting gave Franchouchou (thanks to being zombies) not only gave the girls the appearance of angels, but enhanced their voices; giving their fans a musical experience they never forget.

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“Last night took an L, but tonight I bounce back.”
“If you’re a real winner you know how to bounce back!”
-Big Sean, Bounce Back

Like Franchouchou, you must use failures as a tool to net you a positive outcome. The path you were on turned into something else. But, you need to take advantage of that.  History is littered with people whom “failed” at one thing but was able to turn it around into greatness.

Japanese Horror and visual novel author Ryukishi07  Ryukishi07 first draft of the ever beloved Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni (lit. When They Cicadas Cry) murder-mystery visual novel series was a short play titled  Hinamizawa Bus Stop.  Inspired by a friend, he submitted the play to his college’s theater group for a contest.  He lost.  After college, Ryukishi07 tried to enter the video game industry with no luck.

Yet, despite the setbacks, he was determined to let the world know about the mysteries and horror of the small village of Hinamizawa. His passionate drive would pay off in August of 2006 when Ryukishi07 dropped Higurashi upon the otaku world at the massive Japanese anime convention Summer Comiket 2002. The game became a global sleeper hit; with the series branching off to light novels, mangas, two live-action movies, a TV series, remakes of the games, and of course, an incredibly successful anime adaption by Studio Deen.

Intelligent System was failing to keep the Fire Emblem series afloat.  After back-to-back failures with titles such as New Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, the series was at risk of being killed off by Nintendo.  Finding themselves on death grounds with the series, nearly everyone at Intelligent System that has ever worked on a Fire Emblem game pour their heart, soul, guts, creativity, love, and focus into  Fire Emblem Awakening. They truly believe that Awakening was going to be the final Fire Emblem game in Nintendo’s (and gaming) history.

If Fire Emblem: Awakening was going to ultimately fail, at least  Intelligent System had the balls to try to revive the series everyone counted out with everything they had.  And as we all known (despite what the old-school autistic elitist assholes in the fandom may say), Fire Emblem: Awakening brought the series back to life: saving it from total death.

See how you can turn failure into victory?

We live in a world where failure is viewed as a bad thing. If you failed, you’re nothing (according to lowly people with their inflated egos who will never fix their own failures).  In Japan, failure is viewed in such a negative light that young school students have killed themselves from the shame of failure (may they failed a test, failed to get into an elite high school, etc.).

They would rather end their life than to face society (after failure).

The American school system have mentality wrecked children for decades; because teachers, parents, and the education system paint failing as the ultimate sin. Who knows how many children in America are suffering from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety because of how aggressive we are against failure?

Social media is now on a level where people will share your failures and humiliate you for it within seconds.  We would rather mock those on Facebook or Twitter for their mistake(s) than to encourage them to recover and give them advice on how to do better.  A screw up can easily be shared and display on the world’s stage without a second thought. It’s a shield to hide our own failures.

Why display your shame to the world where you can cover it with another man’s shame?

Society is not only fearful of failure – it uses it as a weapon.

But, you can’t be scared of failure.  I’m not saying you should go out in purposely fail; that’s foolish.   I am also not saying that some failures aren’t your fault; because your own stupidity and unchecked ego/pride can cause you to screw up. If you’re doing something that is outside the realm of logic, and your friends/family are telling you so, and you can’t prove them wrong, then don’t do it. Because that’s truly is failure.

You need to go into something knowing that there’s a high possibility that you will fail and that you need to bounce back from the failure.  Beating yourself up over failure won’t  get you to success. Having a defeatist attitude because you screw up won’t fix the screw ups.  People will use your past failures to mock you; in order for you to give up.  But, you can’t allow that. Try again until success.

As Sakura said to Junko and Ai in episode 2, and this is the closing statement:

“Quit coming up with excuses on why you can’t win. If you got even a little chance, try to do that then!”

 

 

 

SELECTED RESOURCES:

[Alux.com] (Dec. 15th, 2018) How to overcome FAILURE and start from scratch? [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rs6PU5jQQBc

[Nino Brown] (Oct. 16th, 2019) Fail Your Way To  Success [Video File], Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DO99GJwtsOk

[Alpha Male Strategies – AMS] (Oct 3rd, 2018) Why I Love Being A Failure [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58wu8k4CjnI

Grover, Tim. “#1. When You’re A Cleaner… …You don’t recognize failure; you know there’s more than one way to get what you want.” Relentless: From Good To Great To Unstoppable

 

AFTERWORD:

I lied about the whole “Ai worse girl” thing she’s actually became my favorite character as I wrote this essay and re-watched ZLS due to her relentless drive to re-write her legacy after death.

Seriously, I wouldn’t spent nearly $25 on this shirt if I thought she was the worse girl:

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(Plus, I love how she G-checks Tatsumi when he’s on his bullshit)

I’m also going to work on another Zombieland Saga essay that tackles the  morality of men, how we should make the best of our limited time on Earth, and  and a touch of Stoicism to go along with it within the following months.

In addition, there will be an audio version of this essay in the near future.

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Rascal Does Not Dream Of Yet Another Light Novel Anime Adaption

Editor’s Note:
These are the mere free-flowing, raw, and unedited thoughts of mines on the first three or four episodes of the Fall 2018 anime “Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai” and my first impressions on it.  There is no structure nor order on how I talk about this show.

A boy wakes up next to a girl around his age sleeping peacefully in his bed.  He looks at her as she awakens and treats her with a “good morning”, in which she returns the greeting back.  As they slowly wake up and indulge in playful teasing and banter of their lack of sleep, I am taken by surprise at the fact that the first episode has opened with our lead male and female characters in bed; suggesting that they are in an intimate relationship.

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Additionally,  the male lead looks and acts like an alpha; a rarity in anime today, as most male teenage leads are doormat simps (just like 90% of male anime fans globally). Finally! A young male anime hero with balls! This is great!  Too great.  Too great to be true.

No, really, it was.  I accidentally downloaded the third episode, not the first.

Because I decided to get stoned out of my mind before watching this anime, I unwitty download episode 3; thinking it was episode 1. Sure, I spoiled myself by seeing Mai and Sakuta together in bed. However, it was a spoiler that I welcomed. I assumed that they got together by the end of episode 2 at the least.

I went back to KissAnime to download episodes 1 and 2.  Episode 1 starts to play and its opening shot was the same opener from episode 3, except with different dialogue.  Mai asks Sakuta if he is going to kiss her, in which Mai disappears and Sakuta awakens from his dream.  Said dream foreshadowing future events.

I shouldn’t be surprised by this at how bold of a move that was.  After all, Rascal Does not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai was written by light novelist Haijime Kamoshida (notable for his works The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, and the beautifully written original coming-of-age high school drama anime Just Because! from Fall 2017).

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Hajime Kamoshida

While I’ve never read The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, I’m a huge fan of Just Because! due to Kamoshida’s approach towards clichéd high school anime archetypes. Example: Rather than to write main character Eita as a new mysterious transfer student who enters a new school during the middle of his first year (like almost every other high school anime), Eita is a senior who transfers back to his hometown’s school district during the second semester (Eita moved away from his hometown during middle school).  Eita’s “new” classmates at his “new” school district are actually a few of his friends from childhood.  Komoshida effetely kills the “mysterious transfer student” idea off and replaces it with a character that’s already established and known by his peers in his city.

Komoshida is a clever writer in that sense, and Bunny Girl Senpai is no exception.

Before discovering that Kamoshida wrote Bunny Girl Senpai,  I had no intention of watching it. Even hearing the show’s name alone made me (foolishly) believe that it was going to be, yet another, fanservicery, run-of-the-mill, below-average light novel anime adaption with a disposable trash waifu. A trash waifu wearing a skimpy bunny girl outfit that Cleverworks will produce figurines of her in said outfit for the fanboys of her to jerk off to and nut on.

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Anything to pander to lonely otakus to get that second season.

These untrue, biased, stupid assumptions were slaughtered once I ran across Mother’s Basement video analysis on the show, explain that Kamoshida wrote the original novel, and discussing the themes of the show (such as bullying, facing rejection, social norms, etc.) So I figure I would give this show a watch.

Glad I did.

The first episode truly proved my earlier assumptions wrong.  I was an idiot to think that this show was going to be garbage!  Why did I allow myself to judge a book by its cover? In my defense, this current era of light novel anime adaptions is stale and bland.  This is not the mid-2000s anymore when we had hard-hitting, thought-provoking, and creative light novel anime adaption coming out left and right.

Remember when the iconic juggernaut The Melancholy of  Haruhi Suzumiya came along and kick everyone’s asses in 2006? That was a light novel anime adaption that not only define light novels and light novel anime – but it was the start of a generation of otaku culture. The success and global cultural impact of Haruhi Suzumiya laid the groundwork for other light novels to be adaptive into TV anime.

I miss those days.

(Of course, that Haruhi laying the groundwork for light novel anime statement is up to debate)

Currently, light novel anime adaptions are a mess. The Goblin Slayer anime spat in the face of its light novel ancestor with its ugly CGI, lack of character development that was found in the original, removing important story plots from the light novel, and a controversial brutal violent scene that was not necessary for a first episode.

Every year, we’re “treated” to another boring, uninspiring isekai (another world) light novel adaption that just has a different gimmick that doesn’t change anything or do anything groundbreaking.

Sword Art Online needs to be taken to the backyard and get shot in the back of its head so it can be taken out of its misery already like the dying, useless dog it is.

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10/10 Photoshop skills. I have a Ph.D.  in Graphic Design from the highly educated university St. Louis Community College Forest Park

Oh, how the era of the great light novel anime adaption has ended
…or so I thought.
Bunny Girl Senpai’s first episode changed my mind.

Off the jump, we see the heroine parading herself around in a public library in nothing but a skimpy bunny girl outfit.  Such a daring, lewd, and perverted act performed by any woman would certainly create attention for her.

But for Mai, – a well-known and beloved actress – there’s no way anybody could ignore her. Questions and comments such as “is she doing this for clout?”, “is this for a movie?”, “is that actress secretly an exhibitionist?”, and “she has fallen so low…” are gonna be said and asked. Everyone is glued to their phones.  Everyone is addicted to social media. Indisputably, people seeking likes, views, and money for viral moments are going to document such an event on their smartphones.

Alas, she goes unnoticed.  No. For real. They don’t notice her. She even bends herself forward towards a salaryman in a way that her breasts are in his face. But since the salaryman doesn’t have the time or the love for these hos, he doesn’t give her an ounce of attention.  You know, maybe they’re just playing pretend.  Mai has done this so often at this library that everyone decided to act like she doesn’t exist because they don’t wanna give her any attention.

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Except they’re not playing pretend.
Mai doesn’t exist – both figuratively and literally.
She isn’t doing this for cheap thrills; it’s a legit cry for help.

Her existence is at risk and unless people notice her, she will die.

Moments later, Sakuta uses his main character powers to spot her walking about and confronts her. Mai, in return, copies Hitagi Senjougahara’s mannerism that she got from the Monogatari playbook and threatens him; demanding that he forgets what he saw and to never associate with her. And because the Monogatari playbook is public domain, Sakuta decides to steal moves from the Koyomi Araragi section and explains to Mai that he knows about her condition (due to personal experience) and that he can help her.

The condition? Puberty Syndrome: a rumored illness that causes sensitivity and instability among youths infected by it.

Mai believes him and accepts his help; thus starting the latest installment of the Monogatari series!
Kidding, of course. (That joke is getting old).

As mentioned (and me making fun of it) earlier, Bunny Girl Senpai (audaciously) borrows ideas from its influences (such as Monogatari) and other classic anime/light novel tropes, stereotypes, archetypes; using them to its advantage to add layers to each character personality. Therefore, the characters are more third dimensional compared to most others in anime that follow said archetypes and stereotypes.

Sakuta is your typical brash, blunt, and bold protagonist who doesn’t give a shit about following the rules, values, and order of society and freely operates outside of them (think Yusuke from Yuu Yuu Hakusho or Travis Touchdown of No More Heroes).  Because Sakuta is an outlier, he is outcast by his peers – even to the degree that his homeboy’s girlfriend tells the man to stop being friends with him; because it would ruin his and her’s high social standing in school (granted, Sakuta tells the girlfriend to fuck off).

 

This could be seen as social commentary, as Japan is a nation of conformity and holds value in being non-confrontational. Standing out and being a person who enjoys confrontation in Japan will get you mocked, ridicule, and disowned: three things I’m sure Sakuta has experienced in his young life due to his mannerism, but I doubt he cares.

“To be quiet, and do as you’re told…that’s the cowardly choice.”
-Gearless Joe, Megalo Box

His sister, Kaede, plays the annoying imouto, or little kid sister role. Kaede affectingly hugs her big brother often, loves getting him out of bed or get in his bed (even if he’s trying to sleep), and she is almost always at his side. She’s soft-spoken when around strangers but truly shines and becomes herself when Sakuta is around.

Pretty annoying, right?

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Kyon’s Sister

Well, Kaede is a victim of (cyber) bullying at her school. She received death threats from her former friends and cruel messages from her classmates telling her that she needs to kill herself. The relentless bullying and vicious messages caused Kaede to withdraw from society to the degree that she became a shut-in. She hates social media and modern technology; as we see her freezing up out of fear when she hears Mai’s phone rings in one episode. Because of her trauma,  Kaede sees Sakuta as a protector of sorts which results in her being close to him.

She finds comfort in her brother.

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All she had to do was walk away from the computer and close her eyes.

Mai, as we saw in the first episode, is clear fanservice bait. Even in the anime promotional art, she’s wearing her bunny girl outfit in public. For this, I can’t blame anyone for thinking Mai does this for attention or thinking that she was designed to be trashy waifu bait. The fanservice and waifu material bits are turned on their heads once you understand the grave reasoning behind Mai’s acts (and character design).

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Haruhi Senjougahara

Mai must do everything and anything within her power to court attention at all costs. Initially, the actress loved the peace and quiet that came with not being in the public’s limelight: something she had been under since childhood. Like any aspiring child actress, she was in “everlasting” bliss that people knew who she was thanks to her  TV and movie roles.  But, over time, the toll and stress of childhood stardom got to Mai and she wanted out of showbiz.

Her breaking point came about at the hands her manipulative manager and agent – her own mother.

During a commercial shoot for cereal (correct me if I’m wrong I don’t remember the full details), Mai’s mother and the video producer suggested that Mai should wear a revealing bikini. Mai refused: as she was in middle school at the time and was understandably disturbed by the idea. Her mom snapped on her; calling her own daughter a disappointment.  It was at that point where Mai decided to retire from show business and stray away from the limelight.

She got her one true wish – at the cost of her existence.

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“The limelight. The actor who steps into this brilliant light attains a heightened presence. All eyes are on him.  There is room for only one actor at a time in the limelight’s narrow beam; do whatever it takes to make yourself its focus. Make your gestures so large, amusing, and scandalous that the light stays on you  while the other actors are left in the shadows.”
Robert Greene, “The 48 Laws of Power”

(It’s ironic to think how Mai desperately worked hard to avoid any form of publicity and attention after her semi-retirement from the entertainment industry and yet, she was hunting it down once she realized that she could die if nobody acknowledges her.  Maybe I’ll do an analysis essay on that one day.)

Watching the first episode (and parts of the second), I’m reminded of the golden era of the light (and visual) novel to anime boom.  Text-based tales coming to life through animation.  Stories crafted by otaku who dare to explore deep themes and issues about society, cultural norms, and life. There weren’t just mindless cartoons that otakus would simply watch and enjoy.  They were shows with layers, messages, themes, and meaning.

It’s refreshing to see Bunny Girl Senpai bring such classic writing back into otaku marketed TV anime.

At the time of this writing, I am currently on episode 3. Sakuta is desperate to keep Mai’s existence alive. He has even gone as far as sacrificing his health by not sleeping (since anyone who’ve sleep after seeing Mai in her “invisible” state will have traces of her existence erased). Mai slips a sleeping pill in one of his caffeine drinks (probably deadly, but okay). She knows that this will erase her existence for him, but she doesn’t want him to put his health at risk – because of the fact she loves him.   In tears, she thanks him for all he has done for her, and fades out of existence.

She’ll come back of course; thanks to Sakuta’s no-fucks-given attitude, however.

Bunny Girl Senpai has been an interesting anime to watch so far.  The mystery of Puberty Syndrome keeps me wondering about how it impacts people and how it shapes society .  The cast has wonderful chemistry with each other, as Mai and Sakuta have amazing banter with one another that helps keep fans interested in their relationship.  Komoshida blending real-world issues such as bullying and blending in with sci-fi and supernatural elements is genius and I can’t wait to see how the writers of the show take his writing style to the next level.

I do hope this anime becomes a hit because I want to see more like it that is otaku driven and uses themes from anime to build layers for its characters.   With people praising it online I sure my hopes will come to life.

…even if it does borrows from Monogatari.
A lot.

-Yuki The Snowman.

 

P.S.

I’m actually caught up with the show and currently waiting for episode 8. I have a theory that the main narrative theme of Futaba’s arc is accepting yourself (as Futaba has to deal with the fact that the second Futaba is the personification of her repressed but true self and she needs to understand it’s a part of her personality). I’m lazy as hell so I didn’t feel like rewriting the bit about episode 3 or whatnot.

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Shadow Futaba

P.P.S

The most real shit I’ve seen in anime in a while love how Sakuta speaks excellent game on standing out and being your own person:

 

 

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Anime Analysis 0

Otaku no Hustle: The Hustling (and Entrepreneur) Side of Otaku no Video

Otaku no Video (lit. “The Geeks’ Video”) is Gainax’s 1991 two episode OVA (original video animation) celebrating otaku culture.  Set between 1982-1999, the anime follows main character Ken Kubo’s journey from an everyman college tennis player, to his transformation into a diehard otaku, aspiring entrepreneur, the CEO of his a multi-million dollar anime figurine/garage kit company, and finally, the president of a successful multi-billion dollar animation company.  Otaku no Video is celebrated throughout the otaku community; due to its overarching theme of otaku pride and positivity. However, there’s one theme of the OVA that isn’t discussed within the community: the hustle of Ken and his journey as an entrepreneur.

Join me as I discuss this underappreciate theme of  Otaku no Video and how it even relates to the real world of entrepreneurship.

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From left-to-right: Misty May, Tanaka, Ken, and Fukuhara.

PART 1
THE HUSTLE

‘While we out here, say the Hustler’s Prayer
If the game shakes me or breaks me
I hope it makes me a better man, take a better stand’
-Biggie Smalls, Sky’s the Limit (1997 hip-hop single)

Towards the end of episode one, Ken (frustrated with his girlfriend dumping him, not being able to find a job, and dealing with the negative stereotypes of  otakus) convinces his friend Tanaka to drop out of college and quit job hunting in order to start up an anime figurine manufacture company: Grand Prix (GP) . The ambitious friends worked and hustle non-stop; creating figurines out of their apartment and promoting the GP brand.  Months later, they were able to buy a property – setting up shop at a storefront and hiring old college friends (to work for them).

Their business massively grew and they start to scale; buying up more property to open new shops. The public and media take notice of their brand; with Ken and Tanaka’s brand appearing on TV, newspapers, and magazines.  Grand Prix grew into a power player within their industry – dominating the competition.

Finally, after a year of relentless growth, Grand Prix transformed from a small business to behemoth of a corporation.

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In the real world, a company coming up from a small business to a major corporation within a year is a mere fantasy.  However, the reality of business growth can be rooted in taking risks. Quitting a secured job and/or dropping out of college to one’s entrepreneur journey is risky.  Successful entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg know this well. They had to drop out of college in order to grow their business massively. Daymond John (founder of the urban clothing line FUBU and Shark Tank judge) quit his job at Red Lobster to focus on his brand (although he did wait until FUBU became a profitable business before quitting). The greatest of entrepreneurs had to surrender something in order to build their brand – just like what Ken and Tanaka did.

The otaku duo where met with overwhelming success in a span of a year.  Yet, like with many entrepreneurs, failure was waiting nearby.

 

PART 2
FAILURE AND COMEBACK

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‘Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is the part of the process of success.’
-Robert Kiyosaki

The impressive growth of the GP Company meant that Ken was able to expand the business overseas.  In order to increase capital, Ken (now a multi-millionaire), set his sights on China (in order to build a warehouse for mass production). Taking out a loan with a bank, Ken travels to China and buys land for the warehouse; overseeing the production of it. Back in Japan, the figurine industry starts to crash – putting Grand Prix at risk of going under. With the company in financial trouble and the morale of his employees fading, Ken at is in danger of losing his title as president of GP.

The downfall of the Ken begins.

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Fuck bankers. 

After the success of the warehouse in China, Ken is called to an emergency meeting at Grand Prix.  The meeting is a front to fire him as president – with the entire company in favor of it – including his best friend Tanaka. Ken is forced to work as a regular employee at one of Grand Prix’s underperforming location and he begins to lose hope in himself. Later, during an event at a Grand Prix store, Ken encounters Tanaka (who too was fired from the company on false embezzlement charges) and confronts him (about Ken’s firing). Tanaka begs for his forgiveness: explaining to Ken that he was manipulated by the bankers to vote against him.

Ken forgives Tanaka as he realized they were both screwed over (by the same people). Putting his anger aside, Ken asks Tanaka if he wants to start over again.  Tanaka agrees and the two join forces once again to build a new brand – separate from Grand Prix.  Together, Ken and Tanaka start up a Japanese Adult Video (JAV) business with cosplay porn as their specialty.

…Nah I’m just fucking around they open up their own animation studio.

Tanaka and Ken begin work on creating their new company: “Giant X”. Tanaka suggests that they create homemade anime marketed towards otaku to sell through mail orders (as well as selling merchandise at events for extra income). Tanaka recruits Fukuhara: a former employee of Grand Prix as an animator.  Together, the three start production on an original anime: Misty MayMisty May is a hit with the otaku market; putting Ken and Tanaka back in the national spotlight.  Giant X – like Grand Prix before – dominated its market and industry without resistance. Ken, with the success of his new company, buys back Grand Prix and becomes a juggernaut of a businessman. Later on, Ken opens the world’s first otaku driven amusement park: An amusement park for otakus by otakus.

Finally, at the end of the OVA, Ken is the richest man in Japan and one of the world’s wealthiest CEOs.

‘Last night took an L, but tonight I bounce back.’
‘If you’re a real winner you know how to bounce back!’
-Big Sean, Bounce Back (2016 hip-hop single)

Ken was able to bounce back from failure – like many entrepreneurs have done.   In business and in hustling, you’ll have your fair share of failures, mishaps, disappointments, what have you.  It’s all a part of the entrepreneur’s journey.  In order to become a successful entrepreneur, you must bounce back from failure and never give up. Richard Brandon, the founder of Virgin, has seven well-known failures. But he still works as an entrepreneur to this day. Walt Disney, one of the world’s most influential animator and businessman, was fired from his first cartoonist job.  His boss told him that he’ll never find success because he lacked imagination and his ideas were terrible.  Today, the Disney Company is worth over 92 billion dollars.

Failure doesn’t always mean the end.

Otaku no Video is a wonderful OVA on otaku pride.  It has inspired many fans around the world to love their nerdiness.  Gainax shows the world that otaku can break the stereotype that nerds are hopeless losers that won’t amount to anything in life.  However, what should be celebrated about this OVA is Ken’s grind from a young college kid to a rookie entrepreneur, to a successful businessman who failed but bounces back against all odds.  Although Ken ’s wild story and the man himself is fictional, we can learn from and relate to him.

We dealt with failures, setbacks, doubters, and disappointment, only to come back from all of them and shine brightly.  Our vision may seem wild and outlandish to some, but to us, they can come true – but only if we work our ass off for it.

We should be like Ken Kubo; staying focused on our goals regardless of what failure may come and embrace the hope of an unseen world far away.

‘I won’t let anyone block me!
I’ll go my own way!’
‘My goal is the world!’
‘I’ll be the greatest man’!
-Lyrics from Fight! Otaking! (Otaku no Video’s OP theme)

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Dragon Ball Super 0

Toppo: Pride Trooper of Destruction

As the Tournament of Power reaches its conclusion, I am constantly reminded of Dragon Ball Super’s 7th ending theme: An Evil Angel and Righteous Devil.  Towards the end of it, there’s a line that goes “Justice and evil both carry the same gun”.  I couldn’t help but think about the song when Toppo tells Frieza that “Justice…is worthless now” during their battle and Toppo’s resolve (to become a God of Destruction and forego his morals).  The theme of justice is played with Toppo throughout the Universe Survival Arc. Toppo is a proud warrior of justice; leading his Pride Troopers to battle after battle in the name of all that is righteous.

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From analyzing Toppo’s personality, he holds justice, morals, and honor with the utmost respect.  He fights fairs: preferring honest play over cheap tactics.  This is shown when Toppo snapped on Android 17 for attacking the Kamikaze Fireball (during their transformation).   He questioned the motives of the Tournament, The Grand Priest, and Zeno-Sama.  Toppo doesn’t feel right about fighting in a tournament designed to wipe out multiple universes; a tournament in which countless lives will end upon each universe’s erasure.

Toppo and his Pride Troopers initially entered the tournament to punish those who they deemed “evil”.  While survival was ideal, targeting evil doers were their prime goal. However in episode 104 of Super, Toppo started to change his mind.  With seven of his men gone and his universe at risk of deletion, Toppo decides that the Pride Troopers must kill their ideologies of justice and ethics in order to live.

There’s no place for justice and heroism in a war of survival.

Towards the end of the tournament, Toppo is struggling against Andoird 17.  After analyzing 17’s combat style (and discovering 17 has infinite energy), Toppo decides to end his battle with 17 with one blow.  However, he fails and is forced into a beam struggle with the Universe 7 warrior.    During the struggle, Frieza attacks Toppo from behind.  Frieza taunts Toppo while blasting him with Death Beams. Bored with Toppo, Frieza attempts to blast Toppo off the battlefield; enveloping him with overwhelming energy.

Despite the struggle, Toppo survives but is heavily wounded.

Frieza taunts Toppo once more.  He mocks the man, calling him trash.  He then points out how shameful it must be for Toppo to have his prized uniform of justice in shreds.  It’s here where Toppo snaps.  Coldly, Toppo replies that justice is worthless.  After seeing his men fall and the destruction of six universes before him, Toppo comes to a resolution.  Justice is worthless.  It has no use on the battlefield.  Justice doesn’t translate to survival.

In order to survive,  Toppo gives up on justice.  This same man who praised it with pride now sees it as a waste. A liability even.  Toppo decides to ascend to godhood: A God of Destruction.  Destruction – like war – is neutral.  It doesn’t care about silly ideas like good or evil, justice or injustice.  All it cares for is annihilation and death.

What good are both justice and playing hero if both things never ensure survival?

‘There’s only one difference between heroes and madmen: It’s whether they win or lose.’

-Lambdadelta, Umineko no Naku Koro ni

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Dragon Ball Super 0

Jiren’s Respect

“Respect is earned, not given” is a controversial statement.  Some believe that respect should be given to all – regardless of who they are or what they have accomplished.  Others think that respect should only be earned through hard work, talent, skills, etc. In high levels of competition, respect is earned only if one is impressed by the superior flair of another person (most of the time).  In the Tournament of Power, we see Jiren giving his respect towards both Goku and Vegeta: calling both men warriors.  Jiren doesn’t use this term lightly, nor does he use it freely.

For Jiren, calling you a warrior is his sign of respect and admiration.

In Episode 122,  as Jiren squares off against Goku, the two engage in conversation.  Jiren asks Goku why does he seek to become stronger.  Goku simply replies that he doesn’t know why; he just wants to.  Following, Goku asks  Jiren if he too wants to be stronger.  Jiren states that what he wants is beyond mere, selfish thought of strength. This is a change from how Jiren initially viewed Goku (from their first fight).  At first, it appears Jiren had no respect for Goku.  But, after proving his worth against Jiren, we can assume that he’s a little curious about Goku’s strength and goals.  It should be noted that Jiren calls Goku by his name: “Son Goku”, rather than a title like “Saiyan” or “Assassin” (as he did with Hit during his battle against him).

With this, it’s safe to say that Jiren respects Goku.

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In Vegeta’s case, Jiren gives him the title of “Warrior”. As  Belmod and Khai both stated, Jiren calling Vegeta “warrior” is his  sign of respect Now, originally Jiren viewed Vegeta as arrogant. He even dismisses his brash fighting style as too prideful – taunting his Saiyan heritage in a sense. When Vegeta was able to hold his own against Jiren, that’s when Jiren was able to show his respect towards the Saiyan Prince.

Jiren’s respect doesn’t end there.

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When Goku fought Jiren in Ep. 123, Goku overwhelmed Jiren. Not by brute strength, but by tactics and strategy.  Using a combination of teleportation, Ki landmines, and Destructo Discs (or Kienzans for you purist weebs), Goku was able to knock Jiren out of the ring.  This forced Jiren to use a hint of his true power to recover and combat against Goku.  In turn, Goku tapped into his reserves; going Super Saiyan Blue with Kaikoen x20 stacked.  Vegeta tapped into his hidden power, breaking his shell and limits.  The fact both Goku and Vegeta drew out power beyond their limits could suggest that Jiren want to see both warrior’s true power in combat.

Jiren sees them as truly worthy warriors. Goku and Vegeta have earned Jiren’s respect.

 

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Jiren using a hint of his true power against Goku

 

 

Dragon Ball 0

The Pride of Vegeta: Ego is the Ally.

“Indeed, I am arrogant.  But, to me, that’s precisely what my pride as a Saiyan is!”

After his ego and pride were belittled by Jiren, Vegeta felt that he had to defend who he is as a person.  As a proud Saiyan Elite prince, Vegeta dedicated his life to the art of combat, surpassing others, conquering planets, and of course – breaking his limits.  It shouldn’t  shock anyone that Vegeta took offense to Jiren’s criticism.  Is Vegeta arrogant?  Perhaps to some. However, I don’t see it as arrogance. I think he’s confident and prideful of what he has accomplished over the course of his life.  After all, he has every right to act as such. Vegeta earned his high self-esteem and self-worth through hard work.

Hard work thanks to his greatest ally: His ego.

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All champions have big egos.  Without a big ego, they would have never become a champion.’
From Victor Pride’s article The Importance of Having a Big Ego

Why does Vegeta have a big ego?  Well, it stems from a few factors. Prince Vegeta is a Saiyan.  Saiyans are naturally physical, competitive warriors.  Vegeta is also a paragon and of royal blood.  He achieved master-level combat skills and knowledge as a child.  Seeing his power, King Vegeta (his father) took him under his wing and the two conquered (and destroy) planets for years.  Now mind you, Vegeta did all of this before he hit puberty – and he wasn’t finished yet.

Even as a child, Vegeta proved himself to be an outlier.

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Being controlled and abused by the tyrant Frieza also impacted his ego.  The Saiyans could have been a prosperous race if it wasn’t for Frieza.  Frieza murdered King Vegeta.  He betrayed the loyalty the Saiyans by killing them and destroying their planet.  Following that, he reduced Vegeta’s status to that of a common, low-ranking lackey – completely disregarding his royal heritage.

To say Vegeta was bitter towards Frieza’s treatment is an understatement.

Then, you have the case of Kakarotto – or Son Goku.  Son Goku was thought of a low-class Saiyan who would never amount to anything (in the eyes of the Elite Saiyans).  Vegeta was disgusted at Goku (due to Goku’s kindhearted nature – unnatural for Saiyans).  He didn’t view him as a real Saiyan – nor worthy of becoming a Super Saiyan.  Even after believing that Goku was the Super Saiyan of legend, Vegeta held resentment towards Goku  for obtaining such status and power.  Vegeta was convinced that only he – a  royal Saiyan Elite – deserved the title and power of the Super Saiyan.

It was his birthright.  And Kakarotto took it away from it.

Yearning to not only obtain the Super Saiyan transformation but also surpassing Goku, Vegeta spent three years’  training to acquire his goals.  He worked mercilessly – even to the point of death. It was at that point of near death is where Vegeta finally gained the power of the Super Saiyan.  After years of pain and suffering, the prince reclaimed his title of the prince of three Saiyans.  He even “surpassed” that blasted Kakarotto!”

(And by surpassed I mean Goku caught the heart virus and was out of commission for most of the Andoird conflict. Therefore, Vegeta was the strongest due pure “luck” on his end).

Vegeta didn’t stop there.  Super Saiyan wasn’t enough to quince Vegeta’s competitive thirst.  After Goku told Vegeta that they must go beyond Super Saiyan, Vegeta took this chance to prove himself as the superior Saiyan.  Vegeta trained for another year in the Room of Spirit and Time (or the Hyperbolic Time Chamber for you FUNimation weebs). Then, he gained power that exceeded Super Saiyan: Super Saiyan Grade 2 (or simply, Ascended Saiyan).

Vegeta yet again surpassed Kakarotto!  Oh, how Vegeta praised himself for his efforts. And then a few hours later, Vegeta was curbed stomp by Perfect Cell. See, Vegeta – although proud of yet another accolade – let his ego get the best of him.  Cell tricked Vegeta into obtaining his Perfect form and made the Prince his bitch.

That was funny.

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Let’s fast forward seven years.  With Goku dead, Vegeta had nothing better to do.  Well, besides training (because of that competitive nature).  Vegeta got news that Goku was returning to the living world for the 25th Budokai Tenkaichi Tournament. He sees this as a chance to finally beat Goku once and for all.  See, Vegeta never got over the fact that Goku was the better warrior.  Vegeta was envious that Goku achieved so much (despite him being a low-class Saiyan).  Vegeta wanted to prove once and for all he was the best.  And he could have if shit didn’t go south during the tournament (the Majin Buu and Babidi conflict).  During the Majin Buu conflict, Vegeta allowed his jealousy to get the best of him and let Bababi brainwash him into Majin Vegeta.

All because he wanted to show his superiority towards Goku.

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The evil prince has returned!  At last, Vegeta could dominate Goku in combat…by killing a bunch of innocent people and allowing the release of Majin Buu.  Then Vegeta realized that his ego is problematic and that he had to sacrifice himself to take out Majin Buu – all because he fucked up.

Okay, so maybe Vegeta had some minor issues with his ego.

In the real world, high-level athletes, performing artists, and businessmen are viewed as egotistical. Their self-sense of pride are off-putting to some – but they have the right to be prideful.  These people pour countless hours into their craft.  Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players of our time, is viewed by many as arrogant. But when you won six Championships rings, brought money to your team’s city, and created a multi-million-dollar brand, you earned the right to be arrogant.  Kanye West, a rapper hated for his ego, won over 92 awards over the course of his career.  He better be egotistical. Entrepreneur Tai Lopez, (in)famous for his “Here in My Garage” video (where he showcased his then-new Lamborghini)   was criticized for showing off the luxury sports car and the thousands of books in his personal collection.  Then again, when you are the investor and advisor to over 20 successful multi-million dollar companies,  I think it’s okay to show off your trophies – and how you earned them through knawledge.

These guys have earned the right to be egotistical, cocky, and arrogant, whatever you wanna call their high levels of self-esteem.  Why?  Because these guys worked their asses off to get to the levels of where they are today.  Vegeta is like that.  Vegeta worked his ass off to maintain his Prince and Elite status.  He dedicated his life to push himself beyond his limits. He earned Super Saiyan 1, Ascended, Super Saiyan 2, Super Saiyan God, and Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan.

It’s understandable to see why Vegeta was angry at Jiren’s remarks about his ego.  Vegeta had to back up his pride – the thing that drives him to better himself.  Vegeta himself stated that he can never throw that away.   It what makes Vegeta.

Vegeta is an arrogant man.  And what’s wrong with that?

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‘Being humble doesn’t work as well as being aware.’

-Drake, (From his 2014 single The Catch Up)

 

FURTHER RESOURCES:
The Importance of Having a Big Ego:
https://boldanddetermined.com/big-ego/

Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday (the inspiration for the article’s title):

DISCLAIMER: I am not associated with Amazon nor Ryan Holiday. I do not make any money off this.

Sailor Moon 0

What If Chibi-Usa Never Meet Hotaru Pt. 1 (Original Manga/Crystal)

Chibi-Usa and Hotaru: two inseparable best friends. After a fateful meeting at a park (or a lab run by a crazy ass mad scientist depending on which version of the story you prefer), these girls became close, great friends; mending each one’s loneliness.  Chibi-Usa was Hotaru’s first friend in her life; a life plagued by sickness, isolation, and pain. It was Chibi-Usa’s kindness and warmth which led Hotaru to awaken the powers of Sailor Saturn and save the world from destruction (at the cost of her life). Who would have thought that Chibi-usa losing her hat and finding Hotaru would have led to the world being saved?

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But, what if Chibi-Usa never went to the park that day?  What if her hat never flew off her head? How would the events of the Sailor Moon Infinity arc had played out if they never met? Well, to answer these questions alrighty guys it is Yuki here and I will analyze this what if scenario!  I will explore how character interactions among the Sailor Scouts would have changed, how the series moving forward would progress, and if Hotaru and Chibi-Usa never becoming friends would have resulted in a positive, neutral, or negative outcome.

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What if these two never met?

Given the original manga and it’s Crystal anime adaption differs from the 90s Toei anime adaption of the manga, the best way to think about this situation is to split it into two plotlines: Plotline A and Plotline B. Plotline A handles the Naoko Takeuchi’s original vision of the events of the Infinity Arc in which Chibi-Usa never met Hotaru at her father’s lab. This plotline also takes notice of a more depressed Hotaru than compared to her 90s anime counterpart.

Plotline B follows the Toei Animation’s vision of the Sailor Moon Inifity arc where Hotaru isn’t nearly as depressed and sick as she was in the manga;  As her father is more active in her life and covers how his sacrifice of his free will may  influenced Hotaru for the better.

I must also note that while this what if theory focus on using logic to provide an accurate prediction, I will use some creativity to ensure the path to the final battle between the Sailor Scouts and Death Busters happen almost per normal as in the anime and manga.

 

With that out of the way let’s get started.

PLOTLINE A

 

With Plotline A, we have to take account and remove the event in which triggered Chibi-Usa and Hotaru’s friendship in the original manga: Chibi-Usa’s hat flying off towards Tomoe’s Lab (where she first met Hotaru).  With this event removed, we can say that Chibi-Usa would have finished her day in the park with her family and return home.  Hotaru would have her coughing fit, recovered and return home as well.  Thus, they would have never met.  It’s logical to theorize that Hotaru’s life and depression would have grown increasingly worse.  Hotaru herself stated in the manga and Crystal anime that Chibi-Usa’s friendship made her life better.

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The trigger.

Remember: Hotaru doesn’t have any friends (thanks to her creepy powers from Mistress 9).   Her body is covered in scars from the injuries that she suffered from as a child (from the explosion at her dad’s lab) which she is self-conscious about (as she covers her body with dark colored, long sleeve shirts and long pants).  She’s also frail and sick from the cybernetic implants and the Mistress 9 alien egg inside her body. She has little interaction with her father Souichi outside of him working on her implants. Judging from those factors, it’s safe to assume her mental state is poor and her outlook on life is shit.

 

Moving forward, logic dictates that the story should continue as normal. Kaolinte would start her search for the Three Talismans and the Silver Crystal (per Pharaoh 90’s request).  The Inner Scouts conduct their research on Professor Tomoe and the Infinity  School; as they believe he and the school are behind the strange creatures (the Daimons) attacking citizens around Tokyo.  Next, the Outer Scouts will still attend Infinity School to investigate the Death Busters and Professor Tomoe.  Finally, Mamoru and Rei will have their visions of the world’s destruction.

Logic also dictates that the Outer Scouts will theorize that Hotaru is Sailor Saturn – the goddess of destruction. They inform the Inner Scouts and Sailor Moon about Sailor Saturn and their plans to seal her away to prevent the world’s end.  However, they won’t reveal to the Inner Scouts that they believe Hotaru is Saturn until the time is right.  There is no change from the original story sans Chibi-Usa and Usagi visiting Hotaru, which never happen in this theory.

You may be thinking “But Yuki!  Chibi-Usa’s  Silver Crystal was key in Mistress 9 gaining full power! Mistress 9 saw Chibi-Usa Silver Crystal and went all giddily!  How will Mistress 9 get her hands on the Silver Crystal if that never happened!?”  Well, I thought about this problem.  We have to get a little creative here, but it should solve the problem.

We can take a wild guess that Kaolinite communicates with Pharaoh 90 who tells her that he believes one of the Sailor Scouts holds the Silver Crystal.  Not Sailor Moon, but maybe Chibi-Moon.  It’s possible that Mistress 9 could have sense the power of the Silver Crystal and the Holy Grail during the Sailor Scouts’ battle against Cyprine and Ptilol.  Mistress 9 and/or Kaolinite then can confirm that either Sailor Moon or Sailor Mini-Moon indeed have the Holy Grail and the Silver Crystal in their possession

Yea, it’s a bit of a stretch and borderline fan fiction, but we need that Silver Crystal to ensure  that Mistress 9 gains full power.

The story proceeds normally.  After the battle against Cyprine and Ptilol (and Sailor Moon gaining her Super Sailor Moon upgrade), the Outer Scouts give their warning about the awakening of Sailor Saturn – which will lead to the destruction of the world.  The Outer Scouts then reveal that Hotaru is not only the daughter of Souichi Tomoe, but also Sailor Saturn herself.

They plan to kill Hotaru before she can awaken as Saturn.

 

Now, while the Inner Scouts have no emotional connection with Hotaru in this what if story, they still think it’s disturbing that the Outers want to kill a child.  The Outer Scouts think nothing of it.  Pluto tells everyone that Hotaru wasn’t supposed to survive the lab explosion (which killed her mother and scared Hotaru physically and mentally), and that the only reason why she’s alive is because Professor Tomoe outfitted her with cybernetic implants. The cybernetics implants – although being advance technology – has shorten Hotaru’s lifespan. The implants are also destroying her body, thus making her frail.

The Outer Scouts believe that killing by Hotaru, they will put her out of her misery and prevent Saturn’s awakening.

Despite the Outer Scout’s “reasoning”, the Inner Scouts protest against their idea as in the manga. Chibi-Usa, despite not knowing Hotaru, doesn’t feel right about killing somebody who isn’t that much older than her.  Therefore, she sides with Usagi and the Inner Scouts.  The Outer Scouts are dead set in killing Hotaru (which logics still dictates) and go through with their plans. Chibi-Usa follows the Outer Scouts to Hotaru’s house in hopes to prevent the killing.

The events here happen similar to the manga.  Chibi-Usa spots The Outer Scouts hiding in a tree outside Hotaru’s room.  Chibi-Usa spots Hotaru lying on the ground and fears that Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto have already killed her.  Chibi-Usa runs up to the window …only to be taken surprise by Hotaru waking up.  “Hotaru” is alive!  But Chibi-Usa won’t be for long.

“Hotaru” summons a burst of energy so powerful that it destroys the windows of her room (the glass should shred Chibi-Usa to pieces but whatever).  The sheer force of “Hotaru”’s energy is felt throughout the area with Professor Tomoe taking notice. “Hotaru” doesn’t seem to appear like this frail, weak girl that the Scouts view her as.   She starts to transform: not as Sailor Saturn – but as Mistress 9.  Mistress 9 proceeds to attack Chibi-Usa, snatch her Silver Crystal, and Chibi-Usa dies.  Okay she doesn’t die (just yet) but still.

Mistress 9 runs off with Chibi-Usa’s Silver Crystal, but not before attacking the Sailor Scouts.  The story resumes as normal. The Sailor Scouts retreat and recover (as Mistress 9 is far too powerful for them right now). Mamoru and Usagi take their child to the hospital, and then to Mamoru’s place (to use his own life force to keep Chibi-Usa alive).  Finally, the Sailor Scouts prep for their battle against the final members of the Death Busters.

Meanwhile, Professor Tomoe and Mistress 9 are having their fun little chat. Tomoe praises his self for his superior work and brags about turning his daughter into a robot and planting Mistress 9’s alien egg inside her.  Hotaru is heartbroken and angry about this just like in the manga.

While they’re chatting, the Sailor Scouts storms Infinity School and engage in battle with all remaining enemies. Mistress 9 swallows the Silver Crystal and gains a massive power boast.  Professor Tomoe brags about creating superhumans while his daughter (now a spirit) looks at him with disappointment, betrayal, and disgust.  Later, Sailor Moon and the Outer Scouts confront Dr. Tomoe. Tomoe transforms into Germatoid and talk some good shit.  Sailor Moon blasts him away – killing him in one blow.

So much about him being a superior superhuman.

The Inner Scouts get ROLFstomped and steamrolled by Mistress 9 and die. Their spirits are in another realm. Hotaru notices this but doesn’t do anything. She has no connections with Chibi-Usa nor the Inner Scouts.  She’s still in shock that her dad put her through such turmoil throughout her short, young life.  At this point, she doesn’t care that she’s dead.  She just wants an end to her pain.

Mistress 9 engages in combat against the reminding Scouts and overpowers them – even a Super Sailor Moon.   Mistress 9, now in her true Daimon form, starts to wreak havoc on the planet.  The reminding Scouts use their powerful attacks against the monster, but she only absorbs their powers.  Master Pharaoh 90 appears and merges with Mistress 9.  Fused with his partner, Pharaoh 90 starts to cover the world in darkness.  Seeing no other way to defeat this oncoming threat, Sailor Moon summons the Holy Grail. Just like in the manga, she plans to suicide bomb herself inside Pharaoh 90 to save the world.

This would work if Sailor Moon was more power than Pharaoh 90.  But she isn’t.  The only way to defeat Pharaoh 90 and save the world is by summoning Sailor Saturn.  The Outer Scouts don’t want to do this, but they have to .  Maybe Saturn had a change of heart and won’t blow up Earth.

…Nah.

The Outer Scouts’s start to react. They raise their Talismans high towards the skies.   The Holy Grail appears as well: reacting to the power of The Talismans. The lights from these scared items ascend to the skies with force.  The world is veiled in darkness.  The earth shakes, the wind stops, and the sea is wild.  The earth begins to rot.  The Sailor Scouts wait.

Their only hope: Sailor Saturn.

Finally, Sailor Saturn has been summoned.  She does her epic speech on why she’s the best Sailor Scout, on how Hotaru was supposed to die years ago, her role as a bringer of destruction, and her thing about her being an uninvited guest (she loves to smoke everyone’s else weed and drink everyone liquor but she don’t match people on blunts and don’t bring her own bottles to parties so nobody invites her to shit).

She reveals that she will bring down her Glaive to the world and destroy it.  Everyone starts to freak out.  They beg her to stop and think about what she’s doing – but she refuses.  If Pharaoh 90 isn’t stop, then who knows what he will do once he destroys Earth.  A single planet with what, Billion people on it vs. an entire galaxy filled with countless lives.

I think you know where I’m going with this one.

Saturn, having no choice, lowers her Glaives.  Silently, she speaks three words:

“Death Reborn Revolution.”

The world is torn apart as auras surround everyone and everything.  Everyone says their final goodbyes and what not as the world ends.

Negative outcome.

You might be wondering “Why this is a negative outcome”.

Well, for a few reasons:

  1. Hotaru pretty much had nobody who cared about her. Yes, her dad took “care” of her by making sure she was “healthy” or what not, but he was a piece of shit that used her pain for his advantage.  As noted earlier, she barely had any interactions with him (as he was busy with work).  It doesn’t help that Souichi turned Hotaru into a cyborg and implanted an alien egg inside her against her will.  Hell, the dude bragged about it.
  2. Chibi-Usa befriending Hotaru influence her for the better. Chibi-Usa treated Hotaru like a human and show kindness towards her. Chibi-Usa was the only person who was nice to Hotaru and treated her like a human despite her health issues.  Even when Chibi-Usa freak out about Hotaru’s cyborg body, she regerted her actions and wanted to apologize to Hotaru.  No Chibi-Usa being friends with Hotaru means no Hotaru telling Chibi-Usa she loves her and  that she appreciated her love at the end of Infinity.
  3. Hotaru pretty much was borderline suicidal throughout the Infinity arc as she questioned why she is even alive if she has to suffer. Her body was falling apart, she had an alien in her, and she was growing weaker each day.

Honestly, this is why Chibi-Usa befriending Hotaru is important for not only for the Sailor Scouts, but for Hotaru’s own mental health and the sake of the world. Chibi-Usa helped Hotaru get her mind off her own worries for a little bit through their interactions.  Hotaru had someone whom she can hang out with and depend on.  Chibi-Usa made Hotaru’s life felt it was worth of value.  Because Chibi-Usa helped Hotaru, Hotaru returned the favor by not only saving Chibi-Usa’s life (by saving her soul and protecting it), she saved the Sailor Scouts and the world.

Yeah, Chibi-Usa may be a bit of annoying brat and a pink little shit, but she did become utterly selfless upon meeting Hotaru.

Now, if I want to be positive and make this a somewhat good or neutral end, Hotaru could had recovered the souls of the Inner Scouts  as she heard a voice (Saturn) telling her she must fight back against Mistress 9 and protect the Innners from her. Maybe Hotaru would have had a change of heart and saw that life was worth living or something.

Other than that,I do not see any positive outcome that suggest the world would had been save if it wasn’t for Chibi-Usa becoming friends with Hotaru.

This concludes part 1.  Part 2 to come soon.  In the meanwhile, please watch this Dragon Ball “What-If” analysis which inspired this Sailor Moon what-if article.

Dragon Ball Super 0

The Emotional Brilliance of Dragon Ball Super Ep. 118

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The word “tragedy” for the episode title of DBS Ep. 118 is fitting.  Beerus losing his twin brother, Champa.  Universe 2 was destroyed e despite their cheer and support for their team.  Piccolo had to defeat warriors of his own race to survive. Valdos was in grief as she saw her hand pick warriors and good friend Champa disappear from existence.  And finally, Vegeta’s anger as he saw once again, his proud warrior race destroyed.

This was truly tragic.  Hiroshi Yamaguchi’s genius writing of Episode 118 should be celebrated and analyze. He graced Super with such emotions that haven’t been felt since the Future Trunks arc.  It must be brought up!  Since I love me some good writing, I decided to break down why this episode is so brilliant. Let’s go!

PART 1: The Beautiful Power of Love

‘Without love, it cannot be seen.’
-Ange Ushiromiya, Umineko no Naku Koro ni

 

Episode 118 opens up with the revelation that Team Universe 2 was broadcasting the tournament to their citizens. The people watched in despair as Ribbranne admits she – and the rest of the Kamikaze Fireballs – were defeated.  She begs her beloved fans to cheer on the final three warriors with their supportive love.  As requested, they start to cheer and send love. The power of their love empowers Zaolin, Zarbuto, and Rabna and pushed them to defeat Universe 7.  They mentioned that the weight of Universe 2’s love is a heavy burden, but they must bear it to save their universe.  This shows us that  Team Universe 2  is loved by this fans.  This can be proven not just story-line alone, but visually as well (as many of their fans were wearing t-shirts  with members of Team Universe 2 printed on them)

With this power of love, Team Universe 2 takes charge towards Team Universe 7.

Time passes and Universe 2 is struggling. During their last stand, Zaolin, Zabun, and Rabunra summons a black heart of love.  I love the symbolism used in this seen.  Obviously, the heart is the symbol of love, but one should note the color of the heart: Black. Going by color theory, the color black is used as a symbol of death.   If an Universe loses in this tournament, they’re erased.

Being erased means death.

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Universe 2 explains how the Black Heart entraps its victims with it crushing, unbearable weight.  The weight of the hearts forces itself to sink to the ground. We can take two things from this.  One: the weight of this heart is the burden that Team Universe 2 must carry to protect the people they love. It represents the trust, faith, and love of the people has towards them.

Two: The sinking is symbolism of Universe 2’s defeat and death – not the defeat of Team Universe 7.  You see, Goku is a simple man.  While he (barely) understands the power of love, he prefers guts and spirit over it.  He’s not going to let love bring him down. And so, Goku overcomes the burden of Universe 2 with a Super Saiyan Blue Kaioken Kamehameha.  The Kamehameha breaks overpowers Team Universe 2, knocking them out of the ring.

Universe 2 is defeated – and destroyed.

 ‘It’s so beautiful.  The moment before imminent destruction.’
Sailor Saturn, Sailor Moon Infinity

Universe 2 has fallen.  Yet, despite destruction approaching, they accept their fate with grace.  The Universe 2’s citizen still happy and celebrating their warriors. The Kamikaze Fireballs perform one final formation; thanking their fans for their loving support.  Then, we have Kakunsa’s final line:

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It’s like the real world: When a love one dies, it is just their body that is dead. The precious memories, love, spirit, support, and bonds, they are still alive in the hearts of the people they touched.

Those feelings will never die.

Universe 2 kept their pride, spirit and love to the bitter end.  They refused to wallow in grief.  Instead, they chose to show love.  They reminded true to themselves, touching the hearts of those they impacted.  A sad approaching event turned into short lived happiness and grace.

PART 2: The Emotional Connection of Universes 6 and 7

While the destruction of Universe 2 is depressing, the true tragedy lies in the destruction of Universe 6: Universe 7’s twin universe.  Bear in mind that members of Universe 7 have personal connections with Universe 6 (Goku and Hit having respect towards one another, Vegeta as Cabba’s mentor, etc.).  In the real world, fans have grown to know and love Universe 6 since their introduction during the Unvierse 6 vs. 7 Tournament arc. Seeing Unvierse 6 being destroyed was a heavy toll for the fans.

 

After Universe 2 charges at Goku and Andorids 17 and 18, there is a scene where Champa is mocking Universe 7 (as Goku is struggling to fight against Universe 2) Valdos chime in to remind him that Universe 6 is at near defeat and follow up with her usual jests and jabs.But   More on that later.  Let’s focus on Piccolo first.

 

Piccolo (along with his son Gohan) are struggling against the Universe 6 Nakemians.
Gohan and Piccolo’s victory over the Nakemians means that Piccolo will, by proxy, wipe out his own people.  Nakemians from another universe, but they’re still Nakemians. Back in DBZ,   Piccolo had to liberate his people who were suffering under Frieza’s rule.  For Piccolo to have to wipe out his own race is a heavy burden – but it’s either his universe or theirs.

The Universe 6 Nakemians go on the offensive against Gohan and Piccolo.  The father/son duo is overpowered, with Gohan jumping in to protect his mentor and father figure. .  Piccolo asks for Gohan’s forgiveness (as he let the fear of the Nakemians’ overwhelming power get to his head).  This mirrors Dragon Ball Z when Piccolo had to risk his life to save Gohan’s.  To see Gohan protecting Piccolo can be consider full circle in this sense.  The two regain their composure fire back at the enemy.


Gohan, along with his (real) father  Goku, both charge up their respective Kamehamehas against their enemies in unison.  Both engage in a beam/energy struggle against Universe 2 and 6.  Gohan is grabbed by Pirana in a failed attempt to stop and attack Gohan.  Piccolo backs Gohan up with a Special Beam Cannon, stopping them. At the climax of the distinct Father-Son Kamehameha, Gohan and Goku overpower their enemies at the same time.

Universes 2 and 6 have dropped out.

The defeat of Universe 6 is a victory for Universe 7, but it’s not something to be celebrated.  As I mentioned earlier, Universe 6 and 7 are twin universes.  Members of Universe 7 (such as Goku and Vegeta) formed personal relationships and bonds with members of Universe 6.  Goku lost Caulifia – a girl he promised he would train and mentor.  You can even say that Caulifia looked up to Goku as an older brother. Piccolo defeating Universe 6 means that he – by proxy – helped wiped out members of his own race.  Vegeta was promised by Cabba that he’ll give him a tour of Planet Salada to see the Saiyans of that race.  Vegeta was longing to visit the King of the Saiyans of that race; since Vegeta himself is of royal blood.  Vegeta will never have get that chance (assuming he does not win the chance to use the Super Dragon Balls).

What make this disheartening and tragic for Vegeta is that this man just witnessed the total destruction of his people once again.  Vegeta grew up experiencing the Saiyans of Universe 7 suffering and dying under Frieza’s rule.  To find out there were full-blooded Saiyans still existing in other universes made him happy.  Now, they’re gone.

He isn’t happy.

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Then there’s the tragedy of  Beerus and Champa.  Yes, the twins did fought and get into arguments, but they’re brothers; that’s natural.  While they didn’t show it, you can tell they still loved each other.  Even if Champa was being goofy towards Beerus at the bitter end, he still loved him. Even if Beerus was stoic about his brother’s death, you can’t say he wasn’t hurting inside.  Beerus want to show it, but he has to keep it together for his team’s sake.

And that’s hard.

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‘I was always thinking of you.
The reality that squeezes my heart
I was always longing to see you
And I’ll continue to forge ahead with that memory’
70cm Squared  Window by Rottengraffy (DBS ED 10)

 

The destruction of Universe 6 reminds me of two lines from the full version of  Dragon Ball Super ED 7 “An Evil Angel and Righteous Devil”.   The first: “Either destroy yourself or destroy everyone else.”  Piccolo had to destroy Pirana and Saoneru.  Gohan, a man who finds no joy in being maliece and hurting/killing others, had to help Piccolo do it.  It was either their universe losing, or defeat Universe 6.

The second line reads “Winning or losing doesn’t benefit anyone – Everyone is simply hurt, crying at the end.”  I’m reminded of this line by Valdo’s grief of losing Champa.  Yes, she did make jabs and jokes at him. Yes, she did call him out on his bullshit at times.  But she did care about him.  She did enjoy his presence…even if she made fat jokes towards him from time to time.

It’s safe to say that those two were good friends, maybe even best friends.

This is Dragon Ball and no good popular character stay dead or erased forever.  There’s the chance that somebody will use the Super Dragon Ball to bring everyone back to life and everything.  I just wish with the emotional driven episode we got with Hiroshi Yamaguchi’s writing that this arc could had been a series finale arc.  Perhaps Toei should had introduce this tournament arc after there was an arc were we got to know all the universes in this tournament a little better.

Just to have that stinging pain of losing them in the Tournament of Power/Unvierse Surivivial arc.  Even people who hated Universe 2 (myself included) were upset and sadden by their deaths.  They went out carefree and happy.  They stay true themselves and rather than cry and complain about hteir last moments of life, The Kamikaze Fireballs and Hellios decided to just be graceful and be themselves.

That in itself, is tragic.

That’s the emotional brilliance of Episode 118. This is why many of us are consider this as the best wrirrten episode of the tournament so far.  It reminded us how the emotional power of Dragon Ball in general.  Dragon Ball is a simple Shouen  action battle anime series that’s more logical than emotional.  But there are times were the emotions do reveal themselves and they hit hard when they’re showcased.  I hope Hiroshi Yamaguchi returns to Super to write yet another emotional episode.  His writing surprising works for Dragon Ball Super.

He deserves so much respect for this episode.

 

Character Connection 0

On Characters Connecting With The Audience

It was February of 2001.  I was watching Outlaw Star for the first time.  Gene, the lead character, was struggling to perform a spacewalk to repair his ship; as he was experiencing traumatic flashbacks of his father’s murder (who was killed by space pirates during a spacewalk). Story-wise, I was lost,  but the episode was interesting enough to hook me into the series.  The episode ended and the ED starts to play.   A single guitar chord rung out multiple times, followed by a woman’s vocals:

‘Oto no nai mahiru
Kaze ha tada akarui
Sukoshi nemutasou ni
Hanabira ga yureta

Nani ge nai kono omoi
Nee, hito ha donna kotoba de yondeiru no’

While I didn’t understand Japanese at the time, I was taken away by the sadness of not only the song itself but the sorrow in the singer’s voice.  I didn’t need to understand Japanese to understand the pain of the woman singing.  Fast forward to episode 21. After arguing with Gene, Melfina runs off to an empty, rocky landscape to clear her head and indulge in some short-term peace and quiet.  As she stands on a short cliff overlooking the barren, rocky field, Melfina starts to sing:


‘I don’t know what words I can say
The wind has a way to talk to me
Flowers sleep, a silent lullaby
I pray for reply
I’m ready

Quiet days calm me
Oh, serenity
Someone please tell me
Oh what is it they say?
Maybe I will known one day’

Melfina was singing the first ED in English (although not a direct translation).  With the song in English, non-Japanese speaking Western fans were given a personal insight into her character and pain.  As an artificial creation (or bio-android), Melfina struggles with and questions her existence (as explored throughout her character arc).  The normal people that she encountered will never understand how she feels. They will never relate to her pain and struggle.

Melfina will never have anyone that she can relate her sorrow.

Some of you reading this may experience this feeling of unrelatable sorrow.   You may be going through some things that many will never experience — and therefore, they can’t connect with you.  Let’s take African-Americans for example.  We can never truly express our pain and suffering to other races; as they never experienced the trauma and hardships of being Black in America.  Outside of race, let’s use people who struggle with mental health.  People with mental health problems find it difficult to explain to those without any mental problems on how they feel.  When they attempt to do so, they’re usually met with “Oh, it’s just all in your head” or “Well, at least you’re better off than others.”

It’s frustrating.

As a story-telling medium, anime must convey realistic emotions with its characters that the viewers can connect with.  Combining elements such as visual, music, sound,  and plot, the artist can craft ways for the viewer to become invested in a character they find interesting.  The artist must be clever enough to manipulate our emotional connection with a character subtlety.  Art must speak to a person by using a direct link to make it feel real.  The right buttons must be press. This is why some fans of Dragon Ball find themselves connecting with Son Gohan.  They may find themselves as a fan of his character because they can relate to his studious, bookworm nature.

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Let’s take this a step further.  Chances are, if you’re a fan of the anime and manga series Watamote, you will find strong correlations with the socially awkward otaku  Tomoko and her levels of anxiety and yourself.  Tomoko, as much as she wants to be popular, can’t with her anxiety holding her back.  While a simple task of ordering food at McDonald’s is easy for most of us, for some, interacting with a cashier is a brutal, painful challenge.  It’s a draining task of combating your nerves and trying to stop yourself from overthinking (that the cashier is judging and mocking you).  As you attempt to speak, your voice is low, quiet, and shacky.  You’re looking down at your feet because the thought of making eye contact terrifies you.

The following thoughts flood your mind:

‘Is she judging me?’

‘I hope she won’t make fun of me.’

‘She probably thinks I’m too stupid to order food.


‘They’re going to make fun of me in the back.’
(Spoilers: they do. Take it from somebody who worked in the food industry for years.)

You know that scene where Tomoko struggles to order food? I’m sure some of you can understand and relate  Tomoko’s situation during that scene.  It’s not a fun place to be in: interacting with others praying to God that they won’t judge and/or belittle you.  Again, like with Melfina, Tomoko’s awkwardness and anxiety work with her character and you –  the viewer – connecting with her because it’s rooted in realism.

In Bakemonogatari, lead heroine Hitagi Senjougahara is a self-described tsundere with severe trust issues.  She closes herself off from most if not, all people (sans her father) due to her mom – whom she trusted – setting her up to be raped by members of the ult she was involved with.  Her parents divorced soon after and  because of it, Senjougahara feels that she’s a burden on their family.   Following that, she ran into six con men who claimed they could solve her issue (her weightlessness and burden). She was ripped off by each man, furthering her mistrust in others. With these acts of betrayal and rip-offs, Hitagi does not open herself up to anyone: fearing that they will take advantage of her.  It wouldn’t be until years later when, with the help of Ararargi (series’s main character) not taking advantage of her trust, she was able to trust and open herself to others.

 

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In life, there are some who wall them self off from others –  because of trust issues.  It’s hard for them to open themselves to others. It can take people years for them to start trusting others again. Even if they do find someone to trust, they still have their guard up until they can feel like they can truly trust them.  Hitagi’s oddity of the crab makes sense once you break things down.  Crabs have hardened shells and sharp claws to defend themselves from predators.  Crabs attack anyone who attempts to get near with claws.  Remember: Hitagi did attack Araragi with a pair of staples (a symbolism of a crab’s claws) and was still defensive around him as she thought he would run his mouth about her oddity to others.  She did warm up to him and lower her guard over time.

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Anime is a storytelling medium.  As such, it’s the job of the creators to give us the emotional connection to characters. Through clever crafting due to the creator, it’s possible for a fan to feel a direct connection with a character; especially if said character acts similar to that one person.  If you spent your teen (or later) years feeling socially awkward and struggling with anxiety like Tomoko Kukori, chances are that you’re going to find that personal connection with her. That’s how art and character connection work – with realistic characteristics from said character.

Everyone, thank you for taking the time to read this article.  If you like what I wrote, please give me a link, leave a comment, and feel free to share.  Tell me, which characters have you connected with and what, to you, makes a character relatable.

 

Anime Analysis 1

Higurashi and the Power of Friendship FINALE: Satoko (And The Unity of Hinamizawa)

‘I won’t show pain.
Never…

I’m not crying…I don’t cry…
Hide my feelings…smile!’

“Sukizuki Nii-Nii” by Mika Kanai (Satoko’s image song)

With all the hardships she went through, I’m pretty convinced that Satoko is Higurashi’s punching bag (and it’s pin cushion). To say that her young life is rocky is an understatement.    To start, she killed her own parents (whom she believed were trying to kill her) by pushing them off a deck. The village of Hinamizawa treats her like an outcast.  Her uncle Teppei abuses and belittles her. Finally, her beloved brother (who would protect her from the abuse) is missing – leaving Satoko all alone in the world.  Well, she has Rika, her best friend. The two  are for each other greatly; as if they were sisters.  The hardships they’ve suffered in young lives drew them closer to one another, creating a everlasting bond between the girls.

Rika and Satoko are inseparable friends.

 

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Expect for that one timeline where Satoko was a bullying bitch to Rika.

One day, Satoko went off on her own without telling Rika (which alarmed her) and haven’t return since. She fears the worse – her Uncle returning to the village; therefore forcing Satoko to move back with him.  Acting on this fear, Rika decides to confirm or deny her worries, and makes her  way to the Houjou’s house. Rika arrives, with Satoko  showing up behind her (who was returning from an errand at the “request” of Teppei).  While Rika is relive to see Satoko “safe” and alive, she is shocked at her physical and mental state.  Satoko appears drained.  She’s not her normal, happy, and cheerful self.

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Alarmed, Rika hits up Oisihi’s line.  She requests  to get in contact with her friend Mamoru , hoping he can  save Satoko.  However, Mamoru was away on vacation, ending her plan before it could start.  Rika then decides to visit  Dr. Irie and Miyo  at their clinic.  Rika figures she could convince the two to mobilize their personal militia (the Yamainu) to kill Teppei (in order to save Satoko, or at the very least, rescue her without violence).  The two decline the request; stating that the Yamainu couldn’t move to attack due to the police investigating Teppei (he was the pimp of Rina, who was found murdered days prior).  At best, they would have to wait until after the Cotton Drifting Festival to attack Teppei – which by then would be too late (due to the time loop).

Rika snaps.

The next morning, Rika’s classmates are asking why Satoko hasn’t shown up to school.  Rika (who is visibly depressed)  ignores them,  but decides to inform Chie-Sensei on the situation.  Chie-Sensei figures she should contact Child Counseling Center (an even worse version of the terrible real world child protective services [CPS] ) to see if they can intervene. Rika see this as hopeless, since Satoko filed false reports of abuse on her previous step-fathers, but Chie decides to take action regardless.

Chie  visits the Houjou household in an attempt to talk  Teppei into letting her speak with Satoko and get her back to school – which fails.  Chie returns to the school, telling The Club about her lack of success.  Shion goes off, demanding answers on why Chie backed down against Teppei. In her rage, Shion decides that rather than wait for the legal system to make a move, she would kill Teppei  and rescue Satoko herself.   She doesn’t want Satoko to suffer anymore hardships.

Shion attempts to leave but is stopped by Keiichi.  He tries to talk sense into her, telling the girl that she’ll only regret killing him later. Shion ignores him and threatens to kill him first (if it means getting to kill Teppei).  Mion tries to stop her but is quickly stopped by Rena.  Rena has faith that Keiichi will calm Shion down and convince her to see the errors of her idea.   Shion picks up a chair and smashes  Keiichi’s head with, which calms her down.  As Hanyuu attempts to cheer Rika up (since they’re able to prevent their friend from killing Teppei), Rika refuses to believe that things will resolve in a happy ending.

Rika’s depression and doubts reminds.

Later, Mion, Rena, and Keiichi discuss strategies to save Satoko without bloodshed.  Rena mentions that she was scared that Keiichi was going to mimic Shion’s actions and ideas of killing Teppei.  This is funny, given Keiichi actually did kill Teppei in a timeline before (which Keiichi tells the girls he had a feeling that she once did kill the him) They come up with the conclusion that it is best for them to fight without resorting to harming Teppei.

The next morning, The Club visit the CPS office to influence them to rescue Satoko.  CPS tells everyone that they’re working on it, but Keiichi calls them out on their bullshit;  Stating they failed to act upon the first reported case of abuse.  He tells  the case worker to not believe Satoko’s words,  as she hasn’t shown up to school.

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Reflecting on the situation at hand, Rika breaks down in tears.  She starts to beg Keiichi to save Satoko and not give up. His words gave Rika courage and inspiration to fight.

Rika’s hope is restored.

‘Gift of the silver tongue.  They say it’s the mark of a good officer.’
-Revolver Ocelot, Metal Gear Solid 2 (2002 Konami video game)

The next morning.  Keiichi and The Club rally their classmates save Satoko.  Keiichi – the magician of words – utilize his talents to convince everyone to save her.  He reminds the class of Satoko’s suffering, unhappiness,and how much she needs them. Keiichi ends his speech by informing the class that CPS  weren’t taking the matter serious. It’s up to them to fight for Satoko.

With his zeal, Keiichi is able to successfully recruit his classmates into his army.

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With his unit, Keiichi marches forth to the CPS offices to negotiate against them.  The two groups go  back-and-forth, with Keiichi’s unit not backing down.  Despite their efforts and emotional appear, The Club loses.  Yet, they will not give up hope. They must regroup and try again.   They can not give up.  Keiichi’s unit needs the support of everyone, no matter what.

Keiichi gathers new allies from all over Hinamizawa.

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After a successful night of enlisting new recruits, Keiichi and the others go over their new battle plan against CPS. As they talk, they’re surprise and relive that Satoko has  returned to school.  However, Satoko looks like hell: She show signs  of physical, emotional, and mental abuse. Everyone surrounds her, happy to see her again, but thigns don’t seem right.  Satoko lies about having a fever. Cleary a cover up for abuse given nobody asked if she was sick.

Keiichi questions Satoko, asking her if thing are hard for her, which she denies. Satoko then  mentions her brother; Telling Keiichi while it’s hard for her, she must stay strong for Satoshi’s sake.  Keiichi gives Satoko a friendly, yet sorrowful smile and praise her for her hard work.  As a reward, he pats her on the head.  Satoko starts to weep as Keiichi and everyone else reach out to her.  They want to help their friend; they don’t want her to think that she has to suffer alone, but she refuses the help.

Until she has a trigger.

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Satoko hears footsteeps in the distance.  This alone causes her to have a panic attack (as she thinks her uncle was coming to hurt her again).  They manage to calm her down with injections (to combat her HImiizawa Syndrome) and let her rest.  Rika and Keiichi talk  about what they should do.  Rika reveals that Satoko was forced by her uncle to stay with him; as he threatened to burn and destroy Satoshi room.  This enrages Keiichi, who now wants to kill Teppei.  Rika manages to talk sense into Keiichi by calming him down.  Keiichi regains his focus. At this point, they can’t afford anyone to lose it this far – victory draws near.

The Club regroups with new allies.  They march back to the CPS.  While talking to Hanyuu, Rika analyze the events leading up to this point.  She realize that while she has been rooting for her friend, it was just at the sidelines.  Rika was just a mere spectator, refusing to take center stage .  She takes it up to herself to fight at the front lines.  She plans to convince Satoko to admit to the abuse.

She can no longer just stand by and watch her best friend suffer any longer.

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After the meeting, Keiichi receives word from Chie that they have stir up ill will from the elders who still hold a grudge against Satoko’s family (as they opposed the village during the Dam Wars).  The villagers believe that Oyashiro will curse them for allying themselves with The Club, but Keiichi continue to fight undisturbed.

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Keiichi stands up and steps up to the elders.  He outs them for bullshiting around, preventing Satoko’s resuce, and letting the conflicts of the past impact the present and future.  He gets bold – demanding the elders to tell him if they are his foe or ally.  The rest of The Club then expose the elders’ connections with the government (as they were getting favors from them).  They know that the elders don’t wanna lose that connection.  Using this to their advantage, the Club forces the elders to play with their cards. Keiichi’s relentless spirit and logic works:  He successfully recruits the elders to his side.

With the elders and youth in his army, there’s one more person whom Keiichi must convince to fight in his war – Oryou Sonozaki – the head of the Sonozaki clan:  The elder who still harbors hatred towards the Houjo family’s past sins.

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Keiichi confronts her.  He presents his case to her in hopes that she’ll let go of her anger towards the Houjous for just a little bit to help Satoko.  When she doesn’t bulge, Keiichi threatens to kill her and  make Mion the new head of the family. This isn’t a smart move on  our talented magican of words as Oryou threatens to kill him.   Keiichi tries again, begging her to change her mind.  She still won’t buldge but it isn’t hopeless.  Shion and Mion’s parents seem supportive of helping Keiichi’s cause, which pisses Oryou off.  Keiichi goes off on her once again, which doesn’t piss off Oryou but her daughter, Akane.  Akane tells Keiichi to fuck off and return once he matured.

Keiichi’s effort (and perhaps his stupidity) pays off:  Oryou agrees to join his side and save Satoko.

The next morning, CPS is bombard with phone calls from the villagers of Hinamizawa.  The pressure and heat is on and the CPS office can feel it.   Supporters from not just Hinamizawa, but other villages and towns join forces to express their concerns of CPS delaying efforts to investigate the case.  Somebody even pulls up on the rally with a protest van equpired with speakers.    The CPS director starts to freak out.  He’s corner and knows it.

Victory is in sight…or so it seems.

Oishi pulls up on Keiichi’s protest.  He informs them that their assembly is illegal and they must stand down and break up, or risk arrest.  Keiichi refuses.  They cannot give up.  They’ve come so far and worked effortlessly.  Surrender means defeat;  not only for theme – but as Satoko well.

Inside the office, the director is planning to escape, but is thwarted.  Central office is calling.  Elder members of the Sonozaki clan have reached out physically to the central offices.  Learning this, the director surrenders to the demands of the people.  With the pressure on, he decides to take action and calls the Houjou household.

Meanwhile, Satoko is assaulted by Teppei…

After beating her, Teppei answers the phone.  The director requests him to speak to Satoko, which he agrees to.    Before handing the phone to Satoko,  Teppei violently grips her shoulder and tells her to tell the director that they’re a happy family.  He threatens to burn Satoshi’s room down if Satoko betrays him.

Satoko speaks with the director while Teppei behind her, installing fear in her.  Keiichi speaks to Satoko first.  He tells him how the village is rallying for her.   He promises her that nobody will ever bully or harass her again, even if she is a Houjou.  The same village that once outcast her  and her family is now rooting for her.  They want to see her safe and sound.  For a second, Satoko ponders if there is any hope for her to live a happy life in the village that once rejected her.

Keiichi then puts Rika on the phone to talk to her best friend.

Rika reiterates Keiichi’s statement. She promises her that nobody will mistreat her again.  Rika tells Satoko that she almost gave up, until Keiichi show her otherwise.  Rika then tells Satoko that she knows that she was doing all of this to atone for her sins.  She tells her that if she wants to make up for that the sins, t she must also ask for her friend’s help. It is the job of Satoko to reach out like her friends did for her.  Rika hands the phone over to the director.

The director asks Satoko if there have been any problems with her and Teppei since she returned to live with him.  There is a tense pause followed by stuttering from Satoko.

“He…He-help me!” At last, Satoko admits she needs help.  She stands up to Teppei, telling her abuser that this is her and her precious “Nii-Nii” (older brother) house; she will do anything to protect it – even if it means forcing him to leave.

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Teppei snaps. He slaps her, knocking the girl to the ground.  He then picks her up from her hair and slams her to the ground, threatening to kill her.  Before he can do further damage to her, the police force their way in, arresting Teppei and saving Satoko.

Satoko steps out of the house, greeted with the sight of her friends: friends whom all joined forces to save her.   Satoko spots Rika, runs over to her arms and break down crying.

Satoko is finally free.  With her courage, Satoko was able to stand up to her abusive uncle and confess she needed help.

Satoko has finally reached out to her friends.

Series concluded.

Dragon Ball Super 0

“Winning or Losing Doesn’t Benefit Anyone” – Dragon Ball Super 103 Raw Thoughts

After defeating Obuni of Universe 10 (as well as being the direct cause of that universe’s erasure/death) Gohan examines a pedant on the arena floor left behind by him.  Inside, there’s a picture of Obuni, his wife, and infant child. The shot switches back  to Gohan – his facial expression and silence tells the tone and emotion of his actions. Gohan not only just kill a family man like himself, but an entire universe.  An universe full of innocent people caught in the “crossfire” of this tournament.

This sets in hard for Gohan (and the audience) once the pedant itself is erased from existence.

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Gohan isn’t someone with a malice heart,  nor is he a person who enjoys harming others for pleasure.  He is a very emphatic man who deeply cares about the well-being of others.  We can assume that he did not want to defeat Obuni and wipe out/kill his universe; but Gohan had to do whatever it took to ensure the survival of his own family, friends, and universe. Even still – no matter how you want to twist it – Gohan is responsible for the loss of countless lives with his action.

Meanwhile, as Gohan is reflecting on his actions, Universe 10’s angel Cus is visibly upset at the destruction of her universe and warriors. I’d even go as far to say that she might have been on the verge of crying.  It’s clear that Cus treated Gowasu and Rumsshi with respect and kindness; given her positive interactions with them.  Cus enjoyed the presence of her warriors as we saw her cheerfully  dancing with them for a Gowasu’s GodTube’s channel and taking pictures with each warrior.

To her, those warriors and Gods weren’t just pawns she was using in order to win.   Those were people whom she viewed as friends.  People she cared for.

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This brings me to the title of this post.  “Winning or Losing Doesn’t Benefit Anyone” is taken from a line from the full version of Dragon Ball ED 7 “An Evil Angel and Rightous Devil”.   The verse from the line itself reads as follow:

‘Angels and devils: even if the devils were really angels,
Righteousness and evil would still hold no meaning.
Winning or losing doesn’t benefit anyone –
Everyone is simply hurt, crying in the end.’

The Tournament of Power was created in order to balance out good and evil in the multiverse.  The eight universe in combat each have horrible mortal ratings (some worse than others) and thus, in order to ensure this  balance, the losing universes must be wiped out.

However…

As the lyrics state, what benefit does winning or losing bring to others? What benefits are gained for the sake of of the greater good if innocent lives are lost in the process – Lives whom which weren’t fighting in this tournament? Lives treated as expendable.

We saw this with Cus, who I believe was about to cry as she witnessed her friends’ existence being erased.  We saw this with  Gohan reflecting on him (unwilling) killing Universe 10.  Hell, Universe 10 was Gowasu’s universe.  Gowasu was Goku, Vegeta, and Trunks’s ally during the Zamasu incident.  While Goku is an idiot with selfish desires, he does care about his friends.  Imagine how Goku will feel about Gowasu’s existence being wiped out.

In fact, let’s take any positive outcome out and create a dark, depressing ending.

Let’s say the Super Plot Balls aren’t  able to bring back all the universes that were erased, or that the Zenos won’t bring them back for their own selfish reasons.  Then what?  How Goku going to feel about people he respect from different universes (such as Hit and Caulifia) not being revived – all because he wanted a fight.

The more emphatic victors of the tournament are going to feel like utter shit for causing the loss of countless innocent lives.  The angels who have a wonderful (or at the very least good) relationship with their Gods and warriors   gonna be sadden.  I wouldn’t be shock if Cus or any other angel with a good heart will revolt against their father (the Grand Priest) and the Zenos.

Yea, all the universes with the low moral rating and evilness are gone.  But if people are going to question if their actions and you got Angels who’re upset that their universes are gone, then what benefit does that bring to anyone?

‘You know who suffers then? The people.’
-Levin (Fire Emblem 4: Genealogy of the Holy War)

RESOURCES:

An Evil Angel and Righteous Devil Lyrics:
http://www.lyrical-nonsense.com/lyrics/the-collectors/aku-no-tenshi-to-seigi-no-akuma/

Full music video of An Evil Angel and Righteous Devil.

My analysis on the TV version of Dragon Ball Super ED 7:
https://yukithesnowman.com/2017/02/17/an-evil-angel-and-righteous-devil-dragon-ball-super-ed-7-lyrics-theory-analysis/

anime 0

Kakegurui – Power and Freedom (THEORY)

With episodes four and five’s plot of Mary and Yumeko teaming up to regain their humanity and lives,  I figured that now is a great time to drop a theory I have on two possible narrative theme elements of Kaegurui; The theme of power and freedom. Both episodes (including manga spoilers) and the ED provided me with more than enough evidence and clues to support these claims.  Hell, I’ll throw in some theories I have about Yumeko’s personality because why not.

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The first phase of the ED opens with separate, close focus shots of Yumeko’s ass and bouncing breasts; branding Kakegurui as a series of near hyper sexuality. Next, we see Yumeko walking in the rain unprotected.  She doesn’t appear to mind the rain, or the problems it brings.  This tells us that Yumeko is carefree: She loves taking risks and finds comfort in being reckless.   In short, she marches to the rhythm of her own beat.

 

In the background, there is a peony flower –   the Japanese symbol of daring bravery and wealth.  People with bravery and wealth are powerful.  Yumeko is a brave girl; she’s not bothered by high risk stakes or manipulation by outside sources. In fact, she enjoys it.  To say she gains pleasure from it is a statement not far from the truth.  Hyakkaou itself is rich in wealth, bravery, and power.   Seeing the peony flowers in various Kakegurui manga covers and promotional materials is no coincidence in that sense.

 

The peony cycles through four colors: red, green, yellow-green, and purple.

In color theory, red is use for power.  Now, what are the Hyakkaou students gambling for? Status and power above all.  But, before you get the power, you must get the money. This leads us to the next color – green.

Green – most associated with money – and greed.  Money makes the world go round.  Money never sleeps like Wall Street.    If gambling is the backbone of  the school than money is  the lifeblood.  The student body is made up of the children of some of the richest and most powerful connected families of Japan.

Power is everything.  Money rules all.

‘You gotta  get the money first. Then when get the money,  you get the power.’
-Tony Monata, Scarface (1983 American film)

‘All my life I want money and power.’
-Kendrick Lamar, Backseat (2012 American hip-hop single)

Next is yellow-green.  We already analyze green, so let’s focus on yellow.  Yellow represents logic, analysis, and brain stimulation.  Gambling itself is a mental game; As you much analyze and read your opponent’s moves. Logic can greatly dictate the flow of a gambling match (if you’re extremely smart and/or know how to play the system that is).  Yellow can also represent joy and happiness – something Yumeko tend to indulge herself in a lot through gambling.

Finally the color purple.  Purple represents royalty, power, luxury, and nobility – four things in which the upper-class students either have obtained or inherited. The lower-class/livestock yearns for these four things they lack.  Purple is also a mysterious, yet beautiful color. This works with Yumeko, as we do not know neither her origins, nor background.  She’s also rather beautiful as her male peers were captivated by her beauty at first sight (and it’s implied Ryota has a crush on her based on her beauty).

This phase of the ED continues for a few bars of music, which builds up as the vocalist and instruments are layered in the melody.

There are quick, close focus shots of Yumeko’s chest, skirt, opened shirt, and finally, her lips.  The animation of her lips sync with the vocalist singing “tagitte shimau wa!, or, “I’m overflowing!” in English.

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Now, we’ve heard Yumeko say this line before in episode 2; as she gets aroused through gambling. Gambling excites Yumeko profoundly.  Perhaps a bit too much  however.

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From episode 2. Yumeko has issues.  Not Midari level issues.  But issues.

The ED transitions into phase two.  The peony flower has exploded into red pedals. The pedals start to rotate around Yumeko.  Now, remember that red means power. Who has the power in Hyakkaou? The student government has the power of course.   Now, could that possibly mean that Yumeko will break up the student council’s power game, and have them wrapped around her fingers as the series progress?

These lyrics of the ending theme seem to suggest so:

‘So have your way with their souls.
Make them dance in the palm of your hand!’

Then again, this could also be a reference to how the student council control the lower class; removing their humanity, treating them as livestock, and dictating their lives through the Life Schedule Plan (more on that later).

After that, Yumeko tosses her blazer aside carelessly; her dress shirt open, revealing her cleavage and pink bra.  Her arms are spread slightly.  She walks with fluidity as she sways her hips back and forth, still soaked by the rain.  Liberated from her “restrains” (the blazer and buttoned shirts), she wears a wide smile; As if she’s happy that she can be free.  Perhaps this symbolize that in the future, she’ll finally be happy that she can be her true self – a fearless, limitless gambler.

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There’s a bar of rest in the music, followed by an upskirt shot from the ground up.  The downbeat directs us to the final phase. Yumeko’s arms and hair are raised high above her head. She walks with more confidence in each step.  Multiple lights sync with the percussion, alternating between blue and pink at each bar.  Five or six peony flowers appear in the background, each rotating like roulette wheels while the pedals of the original peony still dance around Yumeko.

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The imagery increases with intensity, working in synergy with the music’s crescendo. The animation transitions to a set of poker chips ascending; This might hint that Yumeko will raise above the ranks of Hyakkou and the student government.

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Finally, the ED ends with a focus shot of the Yumeko’s face. It’s blushed, her lips are parted, and her hair a mess. She appears she just been pleasured sexually for some odd reason (sex sells I guess).  Also, note how her hair are red –  just like the peony pedals.   Perhaps she gains power and triumph over the student government overtime.  Maybe I’m thinking way too deep into the shot, but whatever.

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By analyzing the ED, I’ve theorized two the possible themes of Kakegurui are freedom and power.

Freedom plays a large role in the series. Students yearning to free themselves from their “pet” and “livestock” statues,  as well as debts they owe to others.  We first see this through Ryota and Mary’s game from the first episode. Of course, Ryota lost to Mary and became her pet as a result.

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Later, after her defeat against Yumeko, Mary is force to surrender her life, and live the life that the student council crafted for her: the Life Schedule Plan (getting married to a senator, baring his children, etc.).

 

She enters a debt forgiveness gambling match with Yumeko (also suffering the same fate as Mary).  The two join forces to lower their debt, thus one step closer in retaining their humanity and freedom.  During this match, we’re introduced to Nanami, a young girl reduced to livestock status.  She’s  forced to partner up with minor villain Kiwatari.  After realizing  that she was coerced (as well as emotionally and mentally abused) into working for Kiwatari, Yumeko convinces Nanami to grow a backbone, fight for herself, and free herself from Kiwatari.  Despite losing the match (coming in second place) and still having debt, Nanami gains a sense of freedom and confidence for herself.

 

As for the theme of power, it’s quite obvious.  From episode 1 to the recent episode 5 (and the manga of course), power and status is played heavily in the series.  Mary has power over Ryota for a time.  Yumeko displays her power through extreme wit and intelligence.  Students with status and money have power over the pets.  The student government (made up of high ranking gamblers and students with political and financial connections) rule the school through their power.  We see the fincinal status and connection with Itsuki (as her dad is the CEO of a toy company) and the political pull  and ruling of the current ruthless  Kirari Momobami.

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Power is everything in Hyakkaou.

‘No one man should have all that power.’

Kanye West, Power (2010 hip-hop single)

How did you like my analysis and theories?  Think I’m spot on or am I’m just overthinking an ED and the music?  I’m excited how things will play out in both the manga nad anime, as things are starting to get wild in episode 5.  I’ve yet to read the manga but I heard from a friend that it’s nuts.  Let me know what you think in the comments!

FURTHER READING AND RESOURCES:

http://www.ncpgambling.org/help-treatment/national-helpline-1-800-522-4700/
The National Council of Problem Gambling.  Just because a fictional character makes having a gambling addiction fun doesn’t mean it is in real life.
http://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/meaning-of-colors.html

http://www.color-wheel-pro.com/color-meaning.html

http://www.thelanguagejournal.com/2012/10/hanakotoba-japanese-secret-language_18.html

http://peonypaintings.blogspot.com/2013/07/japanese-peony-flowers-meaning.html

http://www.lyrical-nonsense.com/lyrics/d-selections/layon-theline/
English and Japanese lyrics for the ED.

Mother’s Basement analysis of the OP of Kakegurui.  Although this further inspired me to do this ED analysis, I wasn’t initially inspired by the video.  I was more inspired by Anime Live Reaction analysis of  Dragon Ball Super ED 7 to analyze anime lyrics and ED.

NOTE:
If you’re wondering why I haven’t done days 29 and 30 of the “30 Day of Anime Challenge”, it’s because I’ve been too heavily focus on other major projects right now.  They will return soon.

anime 0

FREEWRITE/THEORY: If Hotaru Never Met Chibi-Usa

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What if this encounter never happened?

So this great theory dawned on me while I was shit posting on my Facebook page with Sailor Moon memes: If Hotaru never met Chibi-Usa during the events of the Infinity Arc (doesn’t matter which version), not only would Hotaru would had grew more miserable with her life, it might had spelt doomed for the entire world.  One of two things would had happen:  Either the world would had been destroyed by Mistress 9 and Pharaoh 90,  as none of the Sailor Scouts were powerful enough at the time to stop the Daimons, or Sailor Saturn would had awaken and under Hotaru’s influence, would had been like “ha ha ha fuck my entire life and this world” and destroyed the planet.  I mean, would you wanna continue living life if you were Hotaru with absolutely no friends, no mother figure,  an abusive father (or an abusive Kaorinite depending on the version of the series) and a degenerating body that’s falling apart?

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How Hotaru managed not to hang herself or  blow her brains out at this point is beyond my superior analytical mind (I mean Japan has strict gun laws but that’s another story).

. Think about it:  Prior to meeting Chibi-Usa, Hotaru had a terrible life. I wouldn’t be shocked if she had a rather pessimistic view on it.  I mean, if you saw your own mother burning to death, had your limbs damaged to the point of having them replaced with robotic ones by your sociopath father, have an alien space bitch overlord’s egg inside your body, an uncontrolled split personality, and dealing with being bullied relentlessly at school, you probably have a fucked up view on life as well.  Chibi-Usa befriending Hotaru and making Hotaru feel a lot more positive about herself was lowkey the best thing to happen to the Sailor Scouts and the world.

 

The only positive outcome I see from any of this is in the 90s anime series.  Hotaru would probably save the world as Sailor Saturn only to save her father who wasn’t an abusive piece of shit unlike his Crystal and manga counterparts. Other than that, she would had either died as Mistress 9 completed destroyed her body (and would had went on to destroy her literal sprit), or died as an result of ending the world as Sailor Saturn.  Sailor Moon was not powerful enough to take out both Mistress 9 and Pharoh 90, as Saturn herself stated in the 90s anime that Moon wans’t that powerful.

I would go more in-depth with my theory but I gotta get ready for work in like  30 minutes of the completion of this writing.  Plus I wanna get this out of my head before I forgot about the theory.  Also sorry for the bad grammar and spelling errors I gotta get ready to work like now.

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FREEWRITE: Haruhi Suzumiya and Law 6 of the 48 Laws of Power

‘Law 6: Court Attention at All Cost’

-Robert Greene, author of the 48 Laws of Power

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To say that Haruhi Suzumiya (The Melachonholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) is a bit of an attention whore is a grave understatement.  Haruhi lusts for attention.  She demands notability.  She wants all eyes on her like Tupac.  To Haruhi, the world should  and must revolve around only on her. (of course, she’s God after all, so she’s not. She’s not wrong to think that [despite unaware of her godly reality wrapping powers]). Every day, she makes an effort to be noticed, to have people know her name, and who she is.  She doesn’t care if people speak of her in a negative light; it keeps her name circulating. She loves it.

Haruhi  doesn’t want to fade in the background.  She does not want be average, or one of faceless many in the world. Haruhi’s drive is to become extraordinary and different from the rest of the world.  To understand this drive, we must look at her flashback scene from episode 13 of season 1.

‘So I figure I would change myself in middle school. Let the world know that I wasn’t a girl content with sitting around and waiting.’
-Haruhi Suzumiya

As they’re walking home from school, Haruhi tells Kyon the story of her family going a baseball game as a child. Haruhi was amazed at the sight of the overflowing, sold out stadium. She believed that the entire population of   Japan came together at the venue to watch baseball.  When she asked her dad about the number of people in attendance, he told her around 200,000 people. These people, including herself, only made up very small fraction Japan’s population (around 128 million during the show’s original run in 2006).  After returning home from the game,  she did the math, breaking down the attendance , compared it to the entire population of Japan, and discovered that it only made one two-thousandth of the population of Japan.

Haruhi was just one of many. A  drop in the massive and everlasting ocean.

Realizing this, she no longer felt special.  Haruhi was just like everyone else; doing the same shit (brushing her teeth, eating breakfast, going to school, etc.).  Life became boring. What’s life when you’re just like everyone else? Maybe in the world, there was somebody amazing, unique, and extraordinary And yet, it wasn’t her.

At this  revelation,  Haruhi  had to  stand out from the rest of the world. She to get up and demand change by her own will. To  not become content with being average.  She had to make her mark in the world by any means. To court attention at all cost.

 

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Be obsessed or be average.’

-Grant Cardone, American CEO, Author, and motivation speaker

 

Later, Haruhi set out to achieve her dream of being noticed and not average. On her first day of high school, she proudly introduces herself and states that she isn’t interested normal humans.  Rather, she wants to meet with time travelers, aliens, and espers. This caused a stir in her homeroom, making people think just who the fuck is this childish girl, and why does she still believe in such things at the age of 15?

Throughout the series, Haruhi attempts (and mostly succeed at) various actions to be noticed.  She devolved a system to change her hairdo by style (she even went as far to wear a different hair ribbion each day).  She stripped down from her school uniform into her gym clothes, not caring if her male peers were watching. She attempted to join every school club, only to dip out from each and forming her own club: The SOS Brigade. She stole the show at her school festival, filling in for a sick guitarist ( revealing that she’s an amazing musician in her own right). All in the name of courting attention.   She places herself at the center of it all, regardless of what others may think.

It’s her world.  She just want all the attention.

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‘A normal life’s boring’

-Eminem, American Rapper

Haruhi’s World art source:
http://photobucket.com/gallery/http://s634.photobucket.com/user/MawsCM

Anime Analysis 1

THEORY: On the Source of Kale and Her “Legendary Super Saiyan” Power (Part 1)

It’s safe to say that Kale (the new Broly-inspired female Super Saiyan of Dragon Ball Super) stole the spotlight of episode 93 of Dragon Ball Super with her powers and Legendary Super Saiyan influenced transformation.    Clearly she’ll be an astonishingly teammate of Universe 6 for King Zeno’s Tournament of Power, just as long as she can showcase the same raw, brute strength that she has shown Cabba and Caulfia during their training.  Now, we know  that her power is prominent compared to her Saiyan friends, there’s no debate about it (not yet at least), but what is the source of it?

I have two theories I came up with: From either being bullied in the past or jealously towards Cabba.   To start off, let’s go with my first theory: her being bullied. When we’re first introduced to Kale, we can see that she’s very timid, shy, and socially withdrawn; common traits of children (as well as teens and adults) who’ve been bullied.

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Children who’ve been often bullied tend to have a lot of anger and rage build and bottled up inside.  Like her inspiration Broly, what does Kale has a lot? Rage.  Pure rage.   But unlike Broly, she probably knows how to hide it “well”…or at least somebody starts taunting her with cruel words.  Cabba  learned this the hard way.
Since anger is a great tool to transform into a Super Saiyan, Cabbas uses this tactic to help Kale achieve this state.   And by “help” her, I mean he starts insulting the poor girl with horrible words and phrases such as “useless”, “pathetic excuse for a Saiyan”, and “stupid”.  Kale starts crying, losing whatever reminding confidence she had and doubts herself.   She states that Cabba is right; she is a useless no-good Saiyan, and that she’ll only get in Caulifla’s  way in the tournament (Kale got some unresolved self-esteem problems).  Caulifla is rather pissed, upset at Cabba for making her student cry.  She tries to calm Kale down and wants her to stop beating herself up, but it’s too late.

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Kale gets emotional and loses all logical sense and reasoning.  Cabba’s words totally had an effect on her, as she starts transforming into a Super Saiyan, but not just any ol’ average Super Saiyan.  Cauifla notices Kale’s transformation is a little wee different compares to her own and Cabba’s.  Cabba tells Kale that she doesn’t need to put out so much energy, but Kale has completely lost it.

Kale  finishes her “Legendary Super Saiyan” transformation, directs her attention towards Cabba, and vows to kill him first, marking him as her first victim.  She’s pissed.   When bullying victims had enough, they will snap. They’ll   go after the source of their pain and anger, and attack.  It can be assumed that Cabba’s words  were the last straw for her.

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I assume in her young life, Kale was often bullied and teased.  Maybe she had a vicious tormentor that called her useless and pathetic  at any  chance.  Maybe, this tormentor got her on a really bad day, and she was already piss off about something.   The tormentor does their usual bullying  towards her.  Kale may have been like “please stop”, but the tormentor just laughs and laughs,  insulting Kale further.  All the anger that she bottled prior starts to overflow and she can’t contain it.

Kale snaps, transform into her monstrous state, and attacks the bully violently.  I doubt she killed them (she seems like a very sweet girl who wouldn’t purposely kill somebody), but did enough damage to scare the fuck outta her tormentor into not trying that bullying shit towards her again.

After she regain herself and transforms back to normal, she saw the damage she caused, regretted her actions (despite the bully being a piece of shit), and vows not to allow herself to get that so angry  that she transform into that state again.

Of course, this is just all my headcanon/theory, and we may not yet get an official in-depth backstory about Kale and her powers in the immediate future.  Anyway, that’s it for part one of my theory about Kale’s.  Part two will explore how I think jealously and a possible crush Kale has on Caulifa might be the source of her powers.

Until then!