Wednesday, June 27, 2012

.hack//Sign: Can't give up.

.hack recap: Bear thinks it may be necessary to find Tsukasa in the real world.  We have not seen Mimiru since the cliffhanger ending of the last episode.

(I recommend actually buying .hack//Sign since my words don't really do it justice.  One can get either the DVD this episode is on, or the full series as a set.)

.hack//Sign, Episode 3: Folklore, 6:08 - 7:07

So, you read right, there's less than a minute here.  Remember what I said about short posts without much in the way of content?  This is the first of those.

If I didn't want to take things in chronological order I'd probably put this with the short clip from 8:38 to 8:35, the scene from 11:36 to 13:19, and the one from 15:43 to 16:05, which would make for a more coherent thought.  But I do want to take things in order which makes things a bit more complicated.

Between those scenes I might want to group together are scenes dealing with Tuskasa's past, his metaphysical relationship with Aura, what DVL wants of him, Sora's relationship with the Knights, the larger flow of events in the world, the key of the Twilight, Silver Knight's antipathy toward Tsukasa, what Tsukasa does in his free time, and the domestication of the Guardian.

That would be a lot to squeeze into one post just to get this whole sequence together, so I'm not going to do it, but the problem is that this is really the introduction to the sequence, and since all it does is set things up, it doesn't leave me all that much to talk about.  I may very well have similar problems in the next couple posts as well.


We last saw Mimiru at the confrontation at the end of the previous episode.  An event that has had a conspicuous lack of explanation.  We don't know how that ended.  We don't know on what terms the various parties left.  We don't know if she was injured, or if Bear was.  We don't know if Tsukasa was ok.  We don't know if they parted with an, "I'm so, so sorry," or an, "I hate you," or nothing at all.  We have no idea.

We now see Mimiru in a dungeon.  The one where she first met Tsukasa.  She's sitting in front of the unopened treasure chest that is theoretically the reason for coming into the dungeon, staring off into space.

Bear approaches, breaking her out of thought, and says he knew she'd be there.

From this we know a few things, one is that Bear knows this is where Mimiru met Tsukasa, another is that Bear knew she'd be thinking about him.  We might also be able to infer that Mimiru has come here before to think about Tuskasa and this is her Tsuksasa thinking place.

Bear in mind that we are not very far into the series yet.  It's been about a week.  Maybe a bit less, definitely not much more.  If Mimiru already has a, "Thinking about Tsukasa spot picked out that implies a lot of time spent thinking about him over a relatively short time.  Bear's been doing the same.  As I said elsewhere, they're the sort to dive in.

But the problem is, this isn't as simple as rescuing a drowning man.  Tsukasa isn't convinced there is a problem, isn't the easiest to get a hold of, and isn't the easiest to get along with.  Also, as revealed in the confrontation at the end of the last episode.  He's dangerous.  Not him, personally.  As an individual he's nearly helpless, but his guardian is like a pet shark.  Except the pet part is debatable (it doesn't follow orders) and the thing floats so staying out of the water doesn't help.

One imagines dealing with him might be disconcerting, it's definitely frustrating.

Bear asks how it's going, Mimiru says it looks hopeless.  Then explains what she's been doing.

Mimiru: I've been calling him but there's no response.
Bear: He might have jumped to another server.
Mimiru: Maybe.

It's worth noting that when we first met Mimiru she was upbeat and extremely loud.  Or maybe it was loud and extremely upbeat.  Either way there was joy, excitement, and volume.  Here she's quiet, like someone half lost in thoughts that all lead to negative conclusions.  Her own description, hopeless, describes her tone of voice.

Bear changes the subject, he's come to the conclusion that he needs to find out what's going on with Tsukasa's player in the real world, but doesn't know how to find out.

Bear: Do you know where he accessed from?
Mimiru: We've never had that kind of conversation.

There's some disagreement between the subtitles and dub on the tense and mood of access in Bear's quote but given that the series has stumbled over the subjunctive in the past, I'm not going to try to pull any deep meaning from that.

Bear considers that, and concludes that Tsukasa probably isn't likely to have that kind of conversation anyway, and Mimiru, well:

Mimiru: I give up.  I'm just going to forget about it.

If she were capable of following through on that idea she wouldn't be Mimiru.  I don't want to discount her personal agency, or make some kind of nature over nurture argument, nor am I talking about Fate.

Mimiru comes to the stage a fully developed character, someone who has lived her life a certain way all of that comes into play here.  It's a Jackie at the crossroads kind of choice:
When it comes to it, this kind of moral crossroads is rarely experienced as a difficult dilemma. A choice must be made, but that choice will almost always by based on the kind of person making it — based on the character and habits and practice that have shaped that person up until this moment of choosing. A good Jackie will take one path, a bad Jackie will take the other.
Except in this case there is difficulty, because Mimiru will eventually make this choice based on the kind of person that she is, the kind of person her past choices have formed her into being, but right now everything seems to be pointing in a different direction.  Reason and logic and maybe even self preservation are telling her to do one thing, her character, her ethos, is pulling in another direction.

She's sort of like Neoptolemus in the Philoctetes by Sophocles, pulled in one direction by immediate circumstances and another by her character she will eventually find the force of her character irresistible and do what she is the sort of person to do.  It's not to say that Mimiru couldn't change her ethos, but she can't do it overnight.  She can't do it just because Odysseus tells her to.

Moving away from the Philoctetes reference, she's got plenty of good reasons to not want to be involved with Tsukasa.  He's a jerk.  She didn't start playing the game in order to help people with their literally impossible problems.  She has no obligations to him whatsoever, and

Mimiru: I'm tried of being twisted around his little finger.

There is an obvious power imbalance here.  Tsukasa called, Mimiru came.  She brought uninvited backup, but she came.  Mimiru has called, and called, and Tsukasa hasn't responded in the least.  They meet when he feels like it, the meetings end when he feels like leaving.  He has controlled every conversation except for that one time, she does seem to be wrapped around his little finger and it's hard to fault her for not liking the situation.

On the other hand, she's worried about him.  She knows there's something wrong and she wants to help.

As much as she might want to because of all the frustration, she can't just walk away.  She doesn't have it in her to abandon a person in trouble.  People change, but not that fast.

So even as she walks away, and leaves behind the place where she met Tsukasa, she oscillates between trying to wash that kid right out of her hair and wondering where he is and why he doesn't respond and just generally showing concern.

Bear, for his part, seems amused by this.  Yet it's not as if he won't eventually have a crisis of faith of his own.


So, next time expect another short post, color my world.


On an entirely unrelated note, GameSpy and IGN are evil, they torch archives and destroy homes, they are a pestilence that can somehow stab you in the back.  They are a blight upon the world and there is surely a special place in Hell reserved for them.  In fact, it might be the only place in Hell, for who but they could deserve eternal punishment?

Yes, I did discover their latest affront to humanity while writing this post, why do you ask?



  1. For me, GameSpy was a dealbreaker in '99 - force a GameSpy client install, I don't buy the game. Has it got even worse?

    1. I know the two mostly via the Planet- Network.

      Once upon a time the forums attached to those were vibrant places. Each with it's own population and culture and in all honestly I didn't give a damn about any of them outside of the Planet Deus Ex forums.

      The commentariat at Slacktivist and the Slacktiverse reminds me of them somewhat, but a forum rather than based around a blog.

      And so it was that it produced volumes on every topic and basically Talmudic reference material for the game the forums were built around. On the not game related side of things I remember discussions of narrative, religion, politics, philosophy... and, you know, everything.

      Years of an in international community with a high intellectual standard talking about everything from the deadly serious to the silly. And once a thread fell far enough from the top it was archived forever. And could be reference material for all future conversation.

      That was the system at work.

      So a while back IGN/Gamespy decided to 'upgrade' the boards. This involved moving it over to a new system. They never moved the archives, but neither did they leave them up. Instead one day, without warning, the archives disappeared. Also the new system was more buggy, more difficult to navigate, and generally set up in a way that discouraged people from using it.

      Only things that were very recent, or had been kept active until very recently remained. Since much of the most interesting stuff had been said years before, eventually settled, allowed to move on to the archive, and then just repeatedly linked back to, it was mostly lost.

      I remind you again, this came without warning. No backups were ever made. And they acted like they had done us a favor with the 'upgrade'.

      Sometime in the last ten days they deleted everything else.

      Apparently there was a warning this time, but since I only checked back in there every so often I didn't catch it in time.


      Once upon a time I was involved in another forum that was going away, and the process was rather different. Those in charge said, "Hey, we're shutting down, so that you don't have to manually back up everything you like here if you don't want to, you can, if you would like, download this massive file that backed up everything."

      That's much better than, "Oh, by the way, we deleted almost everything, did it on purpose, and are only telling you after it's done," as was the case in the first offense. Also better than the: "We're going to delete absolutely everything, good luck backing things up yourself before we do," as was apparently the case in the most recent one.

      Regardless, I still haven't forgiven them for torching the archives without warning (and also without apology) seeing that they've now wiped out everything reminds me of last time and pisses me off further.

  2. When I say "I give up", I usually mean "I need to walk away, cool down, and try again later". I say it often, but I don't usually mean it - it's just a simple way to express excessive frusteration.

    Although (having not watched .hack, so only knowing it from your descriptions) it seems a little soon for Mimiru to be so worried about him as to refuse to give up on him. It would take a lot for me to give up on a close friend, or a sibling. But caring enough about every annoying stranger I met to refuse to give up on helping them seems like an unhealthy lifestyle.

    1. [Chrome, you are annoying as all hell. Stop eating my comments.]

      He's not just any annoying stranger though. He's someone who's consciousness is trapped in a game while his body is left who knows where. (In a hospital bed in a coma, but they haven't figured that out yet.)

      He's much more in mold of drowning person you happen to walk by during your stroll on the beach/docks than random annoying stranger. That's the difference. Only a few people know that he's in mortal peril, of those who know even fewer care. Mimiru is one of the one who cares, and she's not going to give up until he's not drowning anymore.

      The complicating factor is that, in the game, Tsukasa doesn't seem like the drowning person. He just seems like another person. Even if you know, as Mimiru, Bear and BT do, about his situation there's still the fact that he acts like things are vaguely normal. But even so, he isn't just some random jerk with emotional problems, though he is that too, he's also someone in serious danger.

      Eventually, Mimiru's concern for Tsukasa will be very much because they're friends, but at this point it's much more in the good Samaritan kind of mold.

      In the parable the Samaritan didn't start to help the stranger and then abandon him on the side of the road because he got frustrated. He might have been tempted to, especially if the stranger was a jerk, but he stuck with it until he got the stranger to safety.

      It's that kind of obligation that I see Mimiru as unable to abandon here. She knows that this is a person in need of serious help, she knows that something is seriously wrong, and as much as she might be tempted, she's not going to walk away from helping him partway though.

      And in addition to the concerns about his body, there's also the fact that in him she's bumped into someone who is wrongly imprisoned and hunted within that prison.

      The point is, Tsukasa is much more than the odd annoying stranger.