Saturday, September 15, 2012

.hack//Sign: Bad Therapy

.hack recap: We last saw Mimiru discovering that you can't be logged in for more than a few seconds without overhearing a rumor about Tsukasa.

(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.)

[So just a short post for today, I've got two pretty decent nights sleep behind me, but given how long my sleep was lacking before that I'm still not exactly up to … normal? Sufficient? Awake? Whatever. Plus, as I type this I realize that I'm already passed the deadline I had hoped to meet by half an hour.

So expect this to be low on content, and low on polish.]

.hack//Sign, Episode 4: Wanted, 6:00-6:51

We begin with Mimiru in the place of mountain and cloud, sitting on a wooden bench looking down.

BT enters:
Have you got rocks in your head, or what?

I had to look up the expression “rocks in your head”. Initially wondering if it might be something translated literally from the Japanese. I mean, I'm familiar with “beans in your ears” but “rocks in your head” I've never heard of.

I wondered if it might refer to Mimiru's obviously down state. Rocks in one's head would presumably weigh the head down and contribute to an always looking down thing that tends to accompany certain forms of depression and sadness. The downward tilt of her Mimiru's head is part of how one can tell she's not exactly in happy joyous mental places.

It does not.

The phrase, which is English, appears to have two origins separated by centuries. The more recent one is simply the idea that you have rocks instead of brain. The other refers to a practice from the middle ages of conning people with mental illness by claiming to treat the problem by removing rocks from the person's head. (Make a small incisions, use slight of hand to 'remove' rocks, take person's money.)

So either it's a slang term for being stupid, or it's a slang term for mental illness wrapped up in a history of exploitation via misdiagnosis.

Or to put it another way, she either said, “Are you an idiot, or what?” or, “Are you crazy, or what?” It's not just slang, it's insulting slang. On the one hand we have her positing that Mimiru lacks a brain, on the other we have her positing that Mimiru is among the mentally ill by using a phrase that originated from the exploitation of the mentally ill.

The dub simply has her say, “You're pathetic,” and, given that BT is very clearly not referring to pathos in any technical way, leaves a lot less open to interpretation.

The point here is this, one sentence in and BT is already putting Mimiru down.

Now Mimiru doesn't have rocks in her head, but she definitely needs someone to talk do, and in the absence of a friend a therapist might do, BT doesn't qualify. Failing that, I've heard that some people go into the woods and talk to the trees, but you've got to be careful, you never know who else they might tell. After all, look what happened with the whole Midas affair and the barber was only whispering into a hole in the ground, which are traditionally much more reliable secret keepers than trees.

Anyway, before we get into anything else, there's a question to be asked about why she doesn't have a friend to talk to:

Mimiru: H-huh? Where's Bear?
BT: The old man couldn't come.
Mimiru: Why?
BT: I don't know. The mail I got from him read, “I'm sorry, but tell her I have to cancel my promise to see her today.”

We last saw Bear talking Subaru and, to a lesser extent, a mostly disinterested Silver Knight. He was saying that he didn't think the problem would be solved by chasing a character around on the net. He's believed this for a while. He also, from the conversation, learned that Tsukasa had at that time been logged on continuously for the past ten days. That may be the first time he got a definite start date for Tsukasa being trapped within the game, regardless he isn't here right now.

Mimiru: Drat. I wanted to ask him something, too.
BT: Is it about Tsukasa?
Mimiru: Yeah.

While Bear and Mimiru do appear to do things together beyond think about Tsukasa, before the matter of Tsukasa brought them together as the only two people actually trying to help Tsukasa, Mimiru was a solo player.

It's a fair bet that anything she wants to talk to the point of disappointment when she can't is going to be about Tsukasa. If nothing else he's the only part of their relationship that isn't part of a game. Any playing they do together doesn't really matter, except to them, when they're not playing. But Tuskasa is the one thing in the game that they've encountered that keeps on mattering well after they've logged out.

Until Tsukasa can log out as well, his problem will be there 24-7. Mimiru and Bear don't have to worry about what happens to their characters when they're not playing, but they do have to worry about Tsukasa, because he's always playing and can't stop.

And now people are taking notice of him.

BT: There are rumors springing up everywhere.
Mimiru: So you've heard them too.
BT: There's no need to listen carefully if he goes and does something so flashy.

It's noteworthy that all he seems to be doing is roaming freely and letting the Guardian protect him. He may not even know that everyone is talking about him. He can't check the message boards, and keeps his distance from other people, so he really has no way to know what's going on in the rumor mill.

Mimiru: I wonder what's up with him.
BT: You haven't heard from him since?
Mimiru: Nope. Not at all.

The last time would be when Bear showed up in her place, Tsukasa tried to share his wondrous achievement of getting the guardian under control (at least apparently so) and basically got lectured at until he felt the need to beam out.

So, in essence, she hasn't heard from him since she stood him up. That her designated stand in pissed him off probably doesn't help.  Tsukasa doesn't actually seem to hold that against her, but Mimiru doesn't know that.


I'm probably going to leave it there for now, but I would like to note BT's general demeanor.

Before Mimiru even sees her:
Have you got rocks in your head, or what?
   Insulting, condescending.

After Mimiru says what's troubling her:
There are rumors springing up everywhere.
There's no need to listen carefully if he goes and does something so flashy.
   Dismissive of Mimiru's concerns.

Finally:You haven't heard from him since?
   This one is interesting to me because it's information that might be useful to BT. It's not an insulting question, it's not conveying factual information while giving away as little as possible. It's a question that seems to be asked because of a genuine interest in the answer. It's hard for me to not see this as BT getting some information she can use out of the conversation.

That seems to be her guiding star: what's of use to her.


No comments:

Post a Comment