I give a quick overview and recap of Owarimonogatari, Noragami Aragoto, and Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry which aired during the recent Fall 2015 season.
I spent a lot of time preparing for episode 2 of AniFiles. Part of what I did was take notes on all the episodes I felt were relevant to the theme of the podcast, then write out a guideline script for the episode itself. I've decided to share that here because it has taken me so long to publish episode 2. Hopefully you find it interesting.
Rikka is depressed the whole episode.
Grandparent’s house where Rikka was brought after her father’s death is the enemy base of operation.
“I needed one thing to break through the barrier. The power of the Tyrant’s Eye.”
“On the night Papa died, I saw him. Beyond the Horizon, I saw Papa… He’s here watching us. He’s watching me from the other side of the Horizon.”
Start of episode
“You know well enough that there’s nothing you can do. That you have to accept it. What do you want? There’s nothing we can do.” – Touka
“I think she understands what you’re saying, Touka. But it’s exactly because she understands that she’s acting like this. Accepting something is easier said than done. There are so many things in this world that are hard to accept… You might not want to escape. You might not be trying to ignore the fact. But you might think, ‘Do I really want to accept that it’s all normal?’” – Yuka
“That is how real life works. That’s how everyone lives. That’s what it means to grow up.” – Touka
As Rikka is running back home on the train
On the train, when asked where she’s going, Rikka replies, “The Administration Bureau holds too much influence here, I’m retreating.”
Yuuta on becoming the Dark Flame Master
“Where did you find the power of the dark flame?” – Rikka
“It came to me when my friends were talking one time. They were all excited, talking about going out for fun, but I wasn’t. It was like I was different. I felt like I was alone, like I didn’t belong in this world.” – Yuta
Rikka uses her chuunibyo to escape from her feelings for Yuuta too. She blames the Administration Bureau for placing a dark singularity in Yuuta.
When Rikka tries to remove the dark singularity from Yuuta at the shrine, she can’t see her made up world. Rikka’s infatuation for Yuuta brings her out of her delusions. She can’t escape or run away when Shinka confronts her about it.
Yuuta apparently doesn’t have any idea about Rikka’s chuunibyo being an escape, saying, “I thought you were looking for the Unseen Horizon just because you thought it was cool or something”.
Sanae is “curious”.
“You don’t need a reason to love someone” – Isshiki
“Please, do something about it, I know she’ll listen to you. If you tell her to face reality she will.” – Touka
“I think Rikka is already facing reality, I think her eyepatch is like a shield to protect herself. I think Rikka understands everything, but she doesn’t know what to do with her sadness. That’s why she does what she does. By acting like that she’s holding on to something.” – Yuuta
“I don’t know, but she doesn’t want it to disappear. If she listens to what you and your mother have to say and accepts it, it’ll all be over. She doesn’t want that.”
“What’s wrong with it? The Horizon and the Tyrants Eye don’t exist. She’ll never see papa again no matter how hard she looks. What good is there in letting her keep looking? She’ll never find what she wants to see.”
“To let her keep looking… is irresponsible.”
“Togashi, I think you did the right thing.” – Shinka
Distinct lack of color, everything is blue and grey.
“Rikka, are you…” (really OK with this). Never mind, it would be irresponsible of me to keep talking. – Yuuta to Rikka after their encounter with Sanae.
Rikka starts making friends and getting along with her mom.
Eating dinner under the bridge
Yuuta notices how pretty the lights of the cars are driving across the bridge in the distance, “Pretty, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, but those are cars, they’re just headlights.”
“Yeah, but that doesn’t mean…”
“What is it?”
“Mama wants me to visit the cemetery with her, to visit papa’s grave. What do you think?”
“What do I think? Tell me what you think.”
“I think mama will be happy if I go.”
“Then why don’t you go? If you want to go, then…”
This is Rikka’s last chance to “keep living in denial”, her last chance to go back to her escapist world, but Yuuta is pushing her to face reality. After doing their pinky-touch and saying thank-you, Rikka runs back home, clearly upset.
At the train station
The idea of building up to the point of no-return is emphasized by Sanae showing up to try to stop Rikka from going to see her father’s grave.
After the train leaves, “Why didn’t you tell her? Master wanted you to tell her not to go. To tell her, “I’ll search for the Unseen Horizon with you, so don’t go.” Master said she could maintain the Tyrants Eye this long only because of the Dark Flame Master’s presence. You were an anchor for her heart. That’s why she called me when the Dark Flame Master said that the Unseen Horizon existed. She called me when you were joined by the contract of lovers. She was crying, master was crying. My Master, the strongest, crying. She believed in you. Why didn’t you tell her that the Tyrant’s Eye is the strongest? To be engulfed by the flames of darkness? She waited, she waited and waited, master waited so long for you to say that. Why didn’t you? Why didn’t you?”
“What, what good would it do? What good would it do if I said that and it made her happy? There is no Unseen Horizon, her father is in a grave. I can’t do anything about that. No matter how much she wishes, no matter what kind of world she imagines, no matter what kind of powers she believes she has, if it doesn’t exist, it doesn’t exist! Have your attacks ever worked on anyone?”
“Shut up! They don’t work on humans, but they will work on demons.”
“Have you really ever summoned a weapon? You haven’t. No matter how much you want, no matter how much you believe, they don’t exist.”
(Sanae runs off crying)
“No, that’s not what I wanted to say.”
“The club president is one of those passionate types that go, “Let’s make something only we can make!” Or, “Let’s show everyone that the new generation has potential!””
“Ah, I know what you mean.”
“Well, there’s nothing wrong with being passionate, but whenever I hear him, I always think something like, “Ugh, eighth-grader syndrome.””
“Is that really eighth-grader syndrome though?”
“I guess I wouldn’t really call it that. It’s more like, “I’m different from everyone else, and I’m special because I realized that.” It’s like he’s stuck on that train of thought. I mean, the two of us thought we were done with eighth-grader syndrome and that we’d become normal high schoolers right? But that was just us coming up with our own ideas of what a normal high schooler was, and getting stuck on that train.”
“What are you trying to say?”
“Nothing really, I just thought maybe everyone always has a case of something.”
On the roof at Rikka’s grandparent’s house
“Do you want to stay in this boring reality, or do you want to come with me and change that reality?”
On the beach
“This is the Unseen Horizon. Those lights are watching you. Tell him what you wanted to say, what you never had a chance to say.” – Yuuta
“Good bye. Good bye papa.”
Yuuta turns Rikka’s escapism into an outlet to help her deal with her emotions instead of running from them.
All the major characters, Yuuta, Rikka, Shinka, and Sanae had “chuunibyo”, eighth grader syndrome which is a form of escapism. However both Yuuta and Shinka try to escape from their embarrassing escapist past, while Rikka and Sanae are still in the midst of their chuunibyo. In this way all of the major characters are expressing some form of escapism at the time the story takes place.
Pairs of characters
Yuuta and Shinka are escaping from an embarrassing past while Rikka and Sanae embrace it.
Yuuta and Rikka are both missing father figures, Yuuta’s moved away for work while Rikka’s died.
Shinka and Sanae were both active in online supernatural communities.
Yuuta and Kumin don’t think escapism is as bad as everyone makes it out to be (although it takes Yuuta all season to come to this realization). *What about Touka & Shinka?
Is it our duty to help people experiencing trauma?
Most people see Rikka’s extreme and unusual behavior and avoid her because she’s “weird.” No one stops to question what circumstances lead a high school freshman to behave in such an eccentric way. Rikka’s family, her sister and grandparents never take her to a psychiatrist to get professional help. Even Yuuta who is familiar with 8th grader syndrome, and who presumably has some idea of the trauma that would cause it tries to distance himself from Rikka at first. Actually, we find in episode 9 that Yuuta didn’t even consider trauma as the cause of Rikka’s eight-grader syndrome. Yuuta says, “I thought you were looking for the Unseen Horizon just because you thought it was cool or something.” Yuuta had his own circumstances behind his eighth-grader syndrome, and has so much to worry about in his own life that he can’t know all of Rikka’s past and be responsible for her as well as himself.
In episode 10, Touka finally convinces Yuuta to try to “help” Rikka get over her eighth-grader syndrome. We don’t get to see the whole encounter, but we get enough of a picture to know that the confrontation isn’t pretty. The episode ends with Rikka singing her father’s favorite song in the talent show and taking off her eyepatch to reveal she’s no longer wearing the yellow color contact, so we know that Yuuta reached her, and she’s trying to “grow up.”
Episode 11 begins with a distinct lack of color in the scenery, setting the mood as for the episode as being slightly depressed. Having given up her delusions at Yuuta’s request, we see the depression that people who build escapist fantasies tend to develop (Holahan, Moos, Holahan, Brennan, & Schuute, 2011) appear in Rikka. Even when things seem to be going well for Yuuta and Rikka in their relationship later in episode 11, we find that everything is not OK in episode 12. People can be depressed without us knowing it, and by setting a depressed tone, then shying away from it, then bringing it back, we get an insight into Rikka’s frame of mind and also an insight into who the people around her perceive her frame of mind. Depression isn’t always obvious.
In late episode 11, Yuuta pushes Rikka to “move on” and go to her father’s grave with her mother. In episode 12 we see this culminate in Rikka agreeing to move back in with her grandparents because it seems to make her family happy. When she does, she doesn’t tell Yuuta or any of her friends, and we see her crying out to Yuuta when she’s alone in her room.
The point Chuunibyo is trying to make here is that we never know how “helping” someone will actually affect them. Trying to enforce some semblance of normalcy on people who are outside society’s definition of normal can and probably will have unintended consequences and side effects.
Yuuta corrects his “mistake” of trying to fix Rikka by re-breaking her in some sense. In episode 12 Yuuta shows up at Rikka’s grandparents, this is partly to win her back as a trope of the traditional romance genre, but he also tells her that it’s OK to be who she is, even if society isn’t OK with who she is. The difference is that Yuuta gives Rikka a chance to use her eighth-grader syndrome as an outlet for her emotions rather than an escape from them. At the beach at the very end of episode 12 Yuuta says, “This is the Unseen Horizon. Those lights are watching you. Tell him what you wanted to say, what you never had a chance to say.” Rikka having previously been forced to confront reality, knowing that the Unseen Horizon isn’t real, falls back into her delusions to say, “Good bye. Good bye papa.”
In the post-credit sequence we see that Rikka is back to her old self, climbing down the balcony on a rope, dressed eccentrically, and wearing her eyepatch. We see through both Yuuta and Rikka’s expression that they are happier and prefer it this way. This is the show’s final statement that we’re not obligated to help the people around us, because even once we feel like we know and understand them, we don’t fully know them. Our intervening in someone’s life may cause more harm than good. We should love people for who they are and support them, whether they’re trying to deal with life head on or deal with it by releasing their emotions in the form of an escape.
What makes this interesting is that the show does not say that it’s OK to run away from reality like Rikka does. The whole show Yuuta and Shinka are annoyed with Rikka, even if Yuuta also finds her charming in some ways. Rikka is finally OK at the end of the show when she uses her delusions as a way to face reality and cope with her emotions, rather than to run away from reality and ignore them.
Holahan, C. J., Moos, R. H., Holahan, C. K., Brennan, P. L., & Schuute, K. K. (2011, February 8). Stress Generation, Avoidance Coping, and Depressive Symptoms: A 10-Year Model. Retrieved from National Institute of Health: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3035563/
I talk about the anime Chuunibyo (roughly eighth-grader-syndrome) and what it has to say about using escapism as a means to deal with and run from trauma, and whether or not it's our responsibility to help people dealing with trauma.
I talk about Homura, continuity between episode 12 and episode 01, and personal relationships in Madoka Magica.