Violet Evergarden(TV,2018) produced by Kyoto Animation, is as you would expect from KyoAni, an incredibly beautiful work in all its aspects. But beyond its physcal beauty, there is a beauty which lies deep in the story.
Violet Evergarden is ultimately about war, and what war does to human beings. Realism is not the point. That a 10 year old girl, Violet is found alone on a deserted island, and who then after the threat of rape, single handedly kills all the soldiers who land on the island leaving only Dietfried Bougainvillea alive, certainly is not “realistic”. Violet is almost a super-hero with super powers if taken literally, but of course that would be a serious mistake. There is nothing “realistic” about this setup. It is part of the “given” to establish the world of Evergarden, a garden in a very “realistic” sense.
Violet is all soldiers, in all wars throughout all of history. War is about killing large numbers of human beings because that is the only way to win a war.
Mother’s Basement review of Violet Evergarden
As Mother’s Basement makes clear in their review of Violet Evergarden, the whole training of a soldier is to destroy empathy for the enemy, otherwise a soldier would never be able to kill, if their human feelings were allowed to intrude.
Make no mistake. Violet Evergarden is all about war, and its aftermath. Violet herself stands in for the universal soldier who marches off to war with bangels and buttons, and loud Patriotic hurrahs, and if lucky perhaps some part of her/him returns home, damaged, neglected, and alone; traumatized and broken in some vital places.
But her Major, Gilbert Bougainvillea brings out the issue, “What is love?”, a very profound question, and if we as human beings fully knew the answer, it might revolutionize the Human Race.
And it is at this point that the artists behind Violet Evergarden, Director: Taichi Ishidate, Writer: Reiko Yoshida, and Original Story: Kana Akatsuki, now intend to stick the shiv into your heart, because at the core of the the story is a koan, an intricate puzzle. At his death, Major Gilbert, as his last will and testament tells Violet in EP 9 “I love you” (愛してる, Aishiteru), but Violet does not understand what that means.
The story of Violet Evergarden, is then the hero quest of Violet seeking to understand what that statement meant then, and means now. War, after all is said and done, is the absolute negation of love.
If one answers the question, “What is Love?”, then the urge to kill would disappear.
Violet like the girls in “Gunslinger Girl” kill without remorse or feelings of any kind. And this is used as shock value, because obviously in a realistic sense, little girls, women in general do not kill. World Wide murder rates by gender show that 96% of all murders are committed by males.
War is conducted and run, and participated in by males. Women in history have fought viciously in defense of home and children, but as military men remind, you cannot win a war by playing only defense. An army must attack with an ultimate, all encompassing force and power, if it is to win and end the war. Otherwise it bleeds on and on and on with no conclusive outcome, much like the American Civil War, or the Western Front of World War I, or the Eastern Front of World War II, consuming bodies of blood and tissue like a tank burns gasoline.
Then what is Violet Evergarden ultimately about?
Violet Evergarden is not an anti-war screed because its core is that of love, and finding that love, and coming to understand that love.
Love is the answer, surely, but we fail to know the exact question, for if we did, it would end all war.
Love depends upon empathy which is the organic connections humans make with other humans, and even non-humans and things. Generally speaking, the more empathy, the more love.
As Violet grows through the TV series, she gains some understanding of empathy, and these connections grow until they break like a wave on the beach in the magnificent EP10.
And in a slight of hand, Ms Yoshida, while telling a story of Violet gaining humanity, she is at the same time provoking the emphatic passion in her viewers, and hopefully creating an increase in feelings for others, by those touched by Violet’s Hero Quest. To be touched, is to feel, and is a door to open hearts.
While all of this is imaginary fantasy, the feelings that Violet provokes in her audience are certainly real, and if one feels a work of fiction, one feels in real life. If the story of Violet Evergarden lives on in your life, then there is at least the chance that love might be increased as the Sun rises in the East, The Horizon of Love.
The artistic structure of Violet Evergarden is two fold, first is the obvious that each EP is its own self-contained story, and that makes the series very episodic but there is also a larger story arc which is the character development of Violet herself. Each episode moves the larger story forward in the TV series as Violet struggles to understand “I love you.”
TV Series(2018) Violet Evergarden (ヴァイオレット・エヴァーガーデン)
EP [1,2,3,4,14,5,6,] The Praeludium
[7,[8,9,]10,] The Core
[8,9,] The Heart of the Core
[11,12,13] The Coda
NOTE: EP 14 is an OVA made after the TV series, but in story time comes between 4 and 5. EP 14 is not absolutely necessary but if you intend to watch it, then it would be best to place it in its story time slot between 4 and 5
MOVIE 1: Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll(2019)
Transcription: “Eien To Jidō Shuki Ningyō” (永遠と自動手記人形)
MOVIE 2: Violet Evergarden: The Movie(2020)
Transcription: “Gekijō-ban Vaioretto Evāgāden” (劇場版 ヴァイオレット・エヴァーガーデ)
EP [1,2,3,4,14,5,6,] The Praeludium
The anime begins with a standard Praeludium much like a symphony or a Jazz piece, where the composer establishes all the elements of his/her story, the themes, the tropes, the very language of the piece.
These 7 episodes are the preparation work for Violet to gradually come to understand something of feelings, and she begins to write excellent, heartfelt letters as she realizes the necessity of human connections and their quality.
The Praeludium is all story prep work, establishing the world of Violet Evergarden, and her character.
We see clearly Violet slowly change.
[7,[8,9,]10,] The Core A Symphonic Arc in four movements
The core Symphonic usage of all the elements of the Praeludium takes place in 4 movements.
This is the core and central establishment of the Violet story arc. The Heart of the Core is 8 and 9, and 7 and 10 act as framing stories for that heart.
吉田 玲子 (Reiko Yoshida) wrote the core EP’s 7-10, as well as EP 1,2,4,13 and the two Evergarden movies. She has written some of the most famous stories in Anime,
A Silent Voice
Liz and the Blue Bird
Maria-sama ga Miteru
[EP 7 – A Father’s Love
7 – A Father’s Love, the first movement as Violet leaps the pond stepping on leaves with Olivia’s frilly umbrella, and in gratitude, the Father, Oscar Webster gives Violet, Olivia’s umbrella
“Incredible piece of emotional animation with every piece in the frame in total motion!”
As one wag in the youtube comment section said, “The water here is more real, than real water!”
EP 7 is the left frame story of a playwright, Oscar Webster, who is trying to write a new play. He hires Violet to help with the transcription to text, but she brings much more. After suggesting a change in the plot of the play, she finds the core trope in a beautiful, frilly Blue umbrella which triggers Oscar’s emotional outburst. So Violet suggests further that she act out the jumping of the pond, stepping on leaf to leaf in order to cross while holding Olivia’s umbrella. And so we have that magnificent scene from the first video link which we presented, of Violet flying across the pond, and then skipping across leaf by leaf, yet that is not the point.
This is the vision of Oscar Webster and this is what he sees in his emotional mind as Violet is using the pond as a key to unlock certain closely guarded memories within him. So we are seeing through his eyes, and then ultimately, through his emotions, and as the depth of his hidden memories are stroked forward into consciousness, the emotions like a flood sweep over his soul, and we feel exactly what he is feeling. Oscars’s grief has held him imprisoned within, but now he is able to finish his play. In thanking Violet, he gives her Olivia’s umbrella which becomes Violet’s signature.
This is brilliant story telling, and it is why most fans of Violet Evergarden are so in thrall to this series. The Auto Memory Doll remembers more than what was actually packed into the story.
[EP 8 and 9]
Violet’s Military backstory – Very intense war violence unedited and in your face.
A return to the war and Violet’s backstory. Ep 7 and 10 intentionally frame the 2 movements in 8 and 9 “What does “I love you” mean?”
And now with EP 8 and 9, we return in a backstory to the war, and to the relationship between Violet and her Major, Gilbert Bougainvillea. This is edge of your seats, violent warfare action, but it is where Violet loses her arms and her Major, with the parting confession of love, from the dying Major “I love You” to the injured and bloody Violet who violently tries to save him before losing consciousness. These two combined, drive a red hot poker through your heart. No one is saved, and all is lost!
“Arms” are also weapons, and in losing her “arms”, Violet loses the weapons necessary to kill, and then “arms” are replaced with art and heart. This then becomes Violet’s hero quest to find out what her Major meant in the words, “I love you”.
EP10] – A Mother’s Love
There are not enough tissue boxes in the world to sustain one individual through all 14 TV EPs of Violet Evergarden, and especially EP 10.
A Mother’s Love, the final movement of the arc as Violet writes letters for Anna’s mother. This is the denouement of the Symphony where we see Violet come to terms and begin to understand the feelings of love. One of the most powerful, emotional 24 minutes in all story telling.
Number 10 is the right frame of an incredible single episode. If you read comments about this episode, you will see that it has reached epic, even legendary proportions. People who say that they have never cried in a movie before, breakdown in this one, and cry their eyes out. And we see what that experience of Anna and her mother, and of a Mother’s love for her daughter, has done to our Violet Evergarden. The very ending will gob-smack you. Not for the feint of heart. We have seen Anohana, Clannad Afterstory, Your Lie in April, Angel Beats, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Isshuukan Friends (One week friends), Nana, and even Kimi ni Todoke (From Me to You), but “Violet Evergarden” tops them all in the heart-feels department.
(You will need a couple of boxes of tissue for Episode 10
Loved Ones Will Always Watch Over You (愛する人はずっと見守っている) )
Anna comes to understand Mother Love, and in parallel, how Violet comes to understand the Horizon of Love through Anna’s heart. ((Mother Love X Anna) X Violet Evergarden)
[11,12,13] The Coda
The ending three episodes, form a coda or encore.
The story effectively ended with EP 10, but of course, we cannot end it there, as this would be much too abrupt. So we have a Coda, or Encore refrain of the war, only this time the violence is a Civil War between the War Faction and the Peace Faction. We clearly see in this Coda, how Violet has changed. Violet is instrumental in ending this Civil War through some non-violent methods, and we end the series with the signing of the Peace Treaty.
We are clearly shown that the answer to “What does “I love you” mean?” is not verbal, but must be lived out and applied in one’s day to day life.
And to celebrate, we have an Air Show, where letters are dropped from planes. Violet finally accepts that her Major is dead, and she writes him a letter. Violet now sees the Horizon. She has answered her question and by ending the Civil War, she shows clearly that she now has the answer.
In 10, we saw the emotions in their raw form, but in this ending, we see how those emotions have changed Violet forever. If you feel the Empathy of Love, if you see the Horizon, then you too can and will end all war and hatred forever.
There are of course, two Violet Evergarden movies which put the new Violet on full display, but strangely these are not necessary to the story arc of the TV series of 14 episodes, described above.
Both movies are nice, and satisfy, one’s hunger for more Violet, but are really just add-ons. Movie 1 is tangential to the story arc of Violet, while Movie 2 does add a new ending which puts the final closure on the Violet Evergarden story.
Being KyoAni, the quality is very high, but this reviewer found the movies to be unnecessary although many people like them. MAL ranks Movie 1 at 8.4 and Movie 2 at 8.66 where they ranked the TV series at 8.64
Movie 1: Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll(2019)
This first movie is not especially stellar. Violet Evergarden plays almost a supporting role in this story of Amy and Taylor Bartlett. Violet is present and she has an effect, but it is not really her story, and the movie does very little for her story arc.
Violet is employed as a live-in tutor for Isabella York to prepare for her presentation to society. This constitutes the first half of the story, and is rather moving and beautiful. Isabella is at first, put off by Violet, but warms to her over time, until there is considerable affection for Violet when Violet leaves after the Presentation Party and dance. Isabella used to be known as Amy Bartlett, living in dire poverty with an adopted sister, Taylor Bartlett. The York family removes Amy and renames her Isabella, but Taylor is sent to an orphanage. The second half of the movie is about Taylor, and this is where there is some considerable problems with the story of the Bartletts. Little Taylor is almost comical, and looks like a character straight out of a Ghibli film, plucky, unstoppable, determined, all the characteristics which Miyazaki likes in his female leads. But that is the problem. It is hard to take Taylor seriously because she does not feel tragic, and of course, the movie ends happy ever after.
Movie 2: Violet Evergarden: The Movie(2020)
Unseen by Pywackett Productions. Good, non-spoiler review at ANN
The bottom line is that “Violet Evergarden: The Movie” also ends happy ever after. And most people appear to very much enjoy this concluding chapter in Violet’s life. We have no criticism of that. Tastes in art are for each individual to enjoy as they see fit.
For a continued discussion of forms of love, please see
The video below is CGV (Computer Generated Video), and is not a live recording of the landing event, but rather a demonstration of all the steps the the landing system must perform to land the rover on the surface. Percy weighs in at around 2,000 pounds, and is about the size of a small car. This time around NASA installed microphones in the rover, but the sounds you hear on this video are simulated. If you turn on CC, some of the subtitles say what the sounds are from.
Also NASA was able to capture this real picture of the rover under its parachute, descending into the Jezero crater.
Many people doubt science and all of its predictions (of course they always go to their doctor when they are sick!).
If you are a doubter of Science, then you fire your rifle at a target 212.5 Million miles away (Mars), and then soft-land your bullet in the bulls eye of the Jezero crater using only the Physics of 1687.
That is what the Mars Perseverance team just accomplished in an historic feat of Engineering using only 334 year old technology for guidance! Beyond impressive for them people over yonder.
This is the most important rover that NASA has ever sent to another planet. After the analysis of considerable data from previous missions, NASA was able to specifically design a rover to search for evidence of past life. That rover is Percy which now sits on the surface of Mars while extensive checkouts are being performed.
Percy shows how advanced our technology has become when a landing operation which frankly looks like a Rube Goldberg machine, actually works exactly as planned, and puts the rover safely on the ground. Absolutely amazing, and this shows that when humans can find the ability to put away differences, and decide to cooperate, what then can be accomplished!
One of the most sophisticated and complex state of the art machines ever built. On the left of the video are the real pictures that the landing system took of its own landing. What is not said here is that it takes 11.2 minutes to receive a signal from Mars and it takes the landing system 7 minutes to land. When the lady begins to speak on this NASA video, the rover was already on the ground. No human being was involved in the landing. The computer systems conducted the landing entirely on their own initiative and decision making. The rover is 2,260 pounds, about the size of a small car and in this location on Mars, there are many dangerous locations to set down. The landing system with the sky crane and the jet packs, surveyed the ground first, and made its own decision about where it would be safe to set the rover down, and then did it. They even installed audio, but there was some problem in the recording of the landing sounds. It appears that there was too much data going back and forth, and the audio recording did not have priority. Once on the ground, the mics are now picking up the Martian breeze.
This is a stunning example of what can be accomplished when we work together!
WARNING ALERT: There is no intention here to offend anyone’s religious views, or to diminish one’s love for the story of Houseki no Kuni. You will find negative comments below. If you cannot handle them, then you should stop reading now, and forget about this blog. If you proceed to read this, then do not pretend to be offended because you have been warned.
For the wikipedia page of the manga, please see
This is a link to all the Land of the Lustrous blog entries here at Pywackett Productions
We were planning on doing a review of Houseki no Kuni – Land of the Lustrous (TV) but we came across this review video by Zeroloid, and we were fascinated by his analysis such that we did not think we could write a better review, and so we just referenced that video below:
Recently Zeroloid released another video review, but this time of the manga version of Land of the Lustrous up to chapter 93. This is also excellent but we have concerns after viewing the final two chapters 94 and 95. With CH 95, the author, Ms Haruko Ichikawa has placed the story into hiatus with no startup date as of this writing.
For the Zeroloid review please view the following link:
Houseki no Kuni Ch.82-93 Analysis – The Broken Bodhisattva
In some ways, this blog entry which you are reading is a review of both the Land of the Lustrous manga, and also Zeroloid’s review of the manga above.
Normally we at Pywackett Productions do not follow the manga story of an anime. Every interpretation of a story is different, and so in many subtle and not so subtle ways, a manga story and its anime are entirely different works of art, no matter their similarities.
But here we have violated our own rule. When it does not appear that an anime will ever be completed such as Bloom into You left everyone hanging, or the Chihayafuru series, with the anime so far behind the manga, we do then read the manga.
So when Houseki no Kuni anime completed its last episode 12, and no S2 appeared to be in the offing, we went to the manga. In fact in the following analysis of a possible S2, Sumera Bijani 2020-11-20
says that perhaps
“Despite there being enough material for a second season, Studio Orange has not announced a follow-up from the first season. This is quite an odd development considering how well the first season performed and how the sales of the manga almost doubled after its anime debut back in October 2017. Unless, of course, the anime’s sole purpose was to promote the manga series, which it has clearly succeeded in.” This could very well be true.
So we here at Pywackett Productions went into the manga and have completed all chapters up to the final CH 95 which put the story into hiatus.
And we were shocked down to our booties that the story should take this turn into monstrous depravity, almost torture porn of our little Phos, and without any seemingly redeeming benefits.
The suspicion here is that Ms Ichikawa has taken hiatus because she doesn’t know where she is going with this story. That, in fact, she has lost control of her own story.
We do not intend to be offensive but covering an inability to tell a tale with a lot of religious mumbo-jumbo is desperation, not authoring.
As mentioned above, we were exceptionally proud of Zeroloid’s analysis of the the 12 EP TV series such that we simply quoted his analysis, but in his new analysis of the manga, he seemingly takes all the religious stuff seriously and devotes a great deal of time to the “The Broken Bodhisattva” idea.
His 16:08 video from 0 – 14:16 is once again a brilliant analysis of functional elements of the Buddhist religion with a few emotional plea’s scattered like gems among all the head work.
01:22 “The Trauma Truck was never meant to carry loads this heavy”
If you have followed Zeroloid, his invention of the Trauma Truck metaphor is outstandingly beautiful and fully visually descriptive of what is going on in any particular scene. But to admit that it cannot carry Houseki no Kuni any longer is devastatingly telling.
04:22 “Cutting Bort’s hair was an actual crime, Ichikawa” Yes, it was
06:09 “This is insanity” Yes, it is
06:40 “Lustrated means to erase one’s existence” which is the meaning of Nirvana, to blow out the
candle of life. Because life is just so horrible and unsatisfactory, it is best to blow out of
existence this singular flame. Death without rebirth is the ultimate goal.
08:13 “Humans have a tendency to be self-destructive, to knowingly follow paths that are dangerous
and find no joy in the process.” Another brilliant observation by Zeroloid, and so, so true.
But at 14:16, Zeroloid leaves analytic mode, and says “Now for some closing thoughts” and this really hurts, because Zeroloid sounds like he is the Trauma Truck, and he is breaking under the load. We would recommend that all fans of Houseki listen especially to this portion of the Zeroloid video.
So as Zeroloid had said and as many in the Houseki literary review community seem to have coalesced around, is that Ms. Ichikawa appears to intend that after the 10,000 year learning curve on Earth of Phos absorbing Sensei’s memories, Phos will become the new Sensei, find all the gems again, and even finally a baby Phos, and everything repeats. We end with the Myth of the Eternal Return. Nothing ever changes, but just repeats for all eternity. All the vengeance, all the blood-letting, all the hatred and evil keeps repeating such that Absolute death, leaving forever this universe is the only option and the only good. Hoo-boy, that is some load in the Trauma Truck.
And one which we at Pywackett Productions do not accept because it breaks minds, and hearts, souls and trucks. We come from an entirely different literary tradition, where we “Rage, rage against the dying of the light” (Do not go gentle into that good night Dylan Thomas – 1914-1953). Perhaps Ms Ichikawa achieves enlightenment during her hiatus playing with her PS5, and she surprises everyone with some brilliant denouement which no one sees coming. Certainly the limitations of our vision, are not the limitations of a much greater universe of people and purposes. If so, we pre-apologize to Ms Ichikawa for doubting her, but come on, where is the evidence for any purpose or goal in what has been laid down already?
Until she can show otherwise, the assumption that she has lost control of her story stands.
Would you buy a used car from this man?
The Gems WERE enjoying their lives in safety, comfort, and happiness until the gas lighter sent his army of moon monks to attack and destroy the gems. And the Gems have no fore-bearers because they are genderless, something the Moon Creep seems to have forgotten. We also learn that this slime-ball is also Enma, the Buddhist god of the afterlife. Ah yes, more exposition that explains things in the story and clarifies all plot points.
And now the objective is Lustration into becoming a Moon Monk filled with light such that
losing all individuality, becoming identical to each other with no unique luster or coloration, is the goal of changing your race from Gem to Lunarian.
Now that sounds like oodles of fun. Reminds me of Sunday School where the preacher tells us about Heaven, where everything is beautiful White light, and how we will spend all eternity in the Celestial Choir singing the praises of the Almighty One. “Heaven is a place, A place where nothing, Nothing ever happens” Heaven(1979) Talking Heads
Of course the Moon Monks at one time, wanted the Gems for their unique luster and coloration as decorations for their Moon Heaven. But now after the 10,000 year hiatus, the New Sensei, “the new boss, just like the old boss” prays, and blows out the light, and we restart.
Pardon for being slightly underwhelmed. If we pray, will that blow this nonsense out of existence?
SPOILER ALERT: The following review contains spoilers! Beware!
WARNING ALERT: This Anime deals with very mature subjects. Young girls who have been severely abused are turned into cyborgs, and are trained as killing machines. The violence is extreme with graphic bloodletting. But there is no fan service, and never any visual image of actual abuse which is only briefly discussed. But many consider this Anime to be highly objectionable just from the obvious fact that very young girls kill with no emotional concern or care.
The following AMV gives you a very good example of what to expect from this anime.
Written by Yu Aida
Published by ASCII Media Works
Magazine Dengeki Daioh
Original run May 21, 2002 – September 27, 2012
Volumes 15 (List of volumes)
Anime television series Season 1
Directed by Morio Asaka
Produced by Takatoshi Hamano
Written by Junki Takegami
Music by Toshihiko Sahashi
Original run October 9, 2003 – February 19, 2004
The following Anime review sites give these ratings:
manga 8.381 S1 7.861 S2 7.708 S2 OVA 7.434
S1 7.42 S2 7.17 S2 OVA 7.01
This review of Gunslinger Girl is only for Season 1 (S1). S2 and the OVA are by different artists, and there is a shift in tone and emphasis.
Be aware that Gunslinger Girl is highly controversial even in hard core Anime circles due to the subject matter of the series. Extreme abuse of little girls is at the root of the story. While nothing is ever shown about this history, enough is said to give one a clear picture of the horrendous evil of every kind inflicted upon innocent little girls. As a result the girls are badly damaged both physically and emotionally and border on death.
A secretive government agency called the Social Welfare Agency takes these destroyed and damaged girls under its wing, rehabilitates them by a method of brainwashing called conditioning, and turns them into efficient cyborg killers who have no emotional response to the killings which they perform. This in and of itself raises substantial questions of morality of what is going on here by a legitimate government agency. These questions are never answered, and the entire series remains and ends ambiguously.
Little girls were chosen because they are easier to condition to absolute devotion, are very small as a target, and men generally scoff at the idea of a little girl being a threat. This is shown clearly in EP 1 where the criminals snicker at the idea of being afraid of a girl.
And yet the little girls kill with bone chilling efficiency and have no emotional reaction to what they are doing. Its almost like getting gold stars on a grammar school grade report. But it is not the elaborate choreography of the killings which is the focus of Gunslinger Girl(S1).
As our title indicates, much more is going on than the constant death and mayhem. These girls still have some humanity within themselves, and while their memories have been played, it seems and is clearly stated in the text, that the conditioning of the girls is very much like falling in love.
Each cyborg girl has a male handler who she is devoted to, and will defend even with her own life.
In the series this is played very much like the search for happiness finding only love. The girls are obviously Romantically in love with their handlers, and will even kill each other, if necessary to defend their fratello (played like a big brother-little sister relationship).
The dynamic of how this plays out among the six girls, and their handlers is what makes Gunslinger Girl so interesting. All of the characters are very well designed, with individual personalities and divergent emotional responses. But the common element is that the girls want their handlers to respond to their love and devotion. And in some cases this is an actual command under threat of death which these girls can easily dish out. All of the male handlers show varying differences in attitude, and emotional response to their personal cyborg girl. Some treat the girls like machines, others try to escape the situation only to be run down by their own agency, and others such as Jose, Josez, Giuse almost respond with love and caring. All of the girls hang on even the most insignificant indication of affection by their Fratello.
And this constant yearning, this incredible emotional need and search for happiness, gives rise to find a true and pure love which places the story into a very unstable tension which is also never resolved.
The end result is a pervasive mood of complete and utter sadness as only an unrequited love can produce in the human heart. It is painful to watch little girls suffering such pain, even more than the grotesque abuse to which they all were subjected. Because the yearning for love that all these girls suffer is palpable on the screen and on their faces. The viewer can clearly and cleanly feel the pain, suffering, and sadness. And ultimately it is a no win, no escape situation for all involved which then leads back in to a consideration of the overall morality of what is going on here.
And Gunslinger Girl refuses to moralize or to pass judgement.
It is not the constant violence and killing which takes center stage, but rather this mood of profound sadness which settles onto the human heart.
Gunslinger Girl(S1) is not a pleasant experience nor is it rewarding and fun or exciting. There is no resolution, there is no happy ending for anyone in this story. So if you decide to begin the series, please remember that this mood never shifts, changes, or remediates it’s own bleakness to such a degree that tears are probably the only release possible.
Recommended by Pywackett Productions but be ready with the tissue and the tears!
This playlist on youtube is some of Pywackett Productions’ Favorite music. This is taste and opinion only. Your personal list would be different, and that’s OK! A favorite list is not a list about Truth, after all!
Please turn on CC for subtitles where appropriate.
Also we at Pywackett Productions would like to take non-trollish comments from those playing this link so feel free to discuss with us.
It has always been curious, this world of Fandom, not so much that people like certain works of art and performers of those works, but rather the intensity of those likes which can border or even cross over, fanaticism.
We constantly hear stories of Fan Stalkers, and the often violent reactions of fan comments on various blogs and websites is constant and obvious.
We have for the last 9 years, been following a manga story called Chihayafuru (ちはやふる). Written by MS. Yuki Suetsugu, her story began on December 28, 2007 and is still ongoing whose current published content stands at 44 Volumes across 230 Chapters as of October 24, 2020.
Pywackett Productions has published several analyses of this story here on this blog under the category URL
In all those years, we have tried to find a blog or website where the fans really wanted to discuss the story as a story, a work of art but such a search has always ended in failure. So in somewhat of a frustration, we opened this blog as a place to publish and encourage such a discussion.
The story of Chihayafuru concerns itself with an obscure Japanese card game called Karuta, and a young girl, named Chihaya Ayase (綾瀬 千早, Ayase Chihaya) who falls in love with the game and devotes all her time to becoming the Champion Queen. The story has a very large cast of supporting characters which makes for a very interesting, and enjoyable read.
Three characters stand out, two male friends whom Chihaya has known from childhood, Arata Wataya (綿谷 新, Wataya Arata), and Taichi Mashima (真島 太一, Mashima Taichi); and also a female opponent
Shinobu Wakamiya (若宮 詩暢, Wakamiya Shinobu) whom Chihaya wants to become her friend. As of Ch 230, Chihaya is in a Karuta Championship competition with Shinobu who is the reigning Queen and current Champion. Their match is a 5 game series, and stands at 2-1 in favor of Shinobu with two games to play. But although Chihayafuru is all about Karuta, this is not what occupies the vast majority of the fan base.
Go anywhere on the internet searching for Chihayafuru and you will find fan discussions, not about Karuta, but rather with whom Chihaya should/will fall in love! Any objective student of this fan base must immediately confront the obvious, a story about a card game and a championship for that card game, and a young girl who has shown not the slightest interest in Romance.
In fact, there has in 230 Chapters, been zero, nada, none, NO Romances of any kind. There has been not one date even and only a forced, partial kiss once, with failed results. We have seen a few confessions, but no acceptances of those confessions nor have these intimate moments lead to anything remotely Romantic.
An objective observer would have to scratch his or her head in perplexed anonymity trying to jibe the story with its fan base. The fans seem to be hypnotized by Chihaya’s love life of which there is none to date. And not only that but, the vicious fights and name calling that go on in these fan discussions is scandalous at best. Basically there are two groups fighting with each other, who hold differing views on with whom Chihaya should be Romantically linked, AKA the (Arata Wataya X Chihaya Ayase) shippers and the (Taichi Mashima X Chihaya Ayase) shippers.
But the Chihayafuru Fandom, is certainly not unique. Consider any story or even any work of art, and people will come down all over the map of opinion. Some like it, some don’t. For some, the work of art really and truly moves their feels, and for others a nice Potato Soup will have more impact on their emotional life.
There is no universal right and wrong about a work of Art. After all, all Art is imaginary!
Many people become emotional during a movie. The Tyrannosaurus Rex is coming down the street
and there is the emotion of fear. When children are afraid during a monster movie, do mothers still say,
“It’s only a movie!”? That may be so but tell that to your personal feels. Why does one laugh and cry at a movie? After all mother is right, IT IS only a movie, complete fiction, and totally imaginary!
Yet human beings feel a work of art, and express those feels in an emotional response all the while with full understanding that what they are experiencing is total fiction, a product of pure imagination.
Stories are entirely imaginary. There is nothing real about a story, yet our hearts believe in the characters and their motives, and we bleed with them when they are hurt. Curious how the imaginary can have real world, pragmatic effects.
Our hearts believe where our heads do not. That is why we have always found the critic who says that a story violates physical reality to be like, “Dude, why are you wasting your money on a piece of art which you will not enjoy?” You experience a piece of story art or any art for that matter with your heart so why do you allow your head to butt into a potentially wonderful, emotional experience? Leave your head at the door when you enter the theater, and let the artists have they way with you totally.
Then if you do not have a wonderful emotional experience, you can call that work of art “bad” not because it violates physicality but because it did not move your feels. It is no criticism of a space opera because the ships move faster than light speed, “Well, that’s impossible, so I will not enjoy this story.” type of head reaction. That’s just silly in our minds, and a waste of good money for the tickets.
The unreal, the imaginary, possesses a reality all their own.
As Death says in the Hogfather, “If you do not believe in imaginary things, how are they to become?”
The belief in the imaginary is the ability to transcend physicality, and this allows the unreal to effect change in the real. We do not build anything until we imagine what that thing will become.
The belief in the imaginary as Becoming allows the real as Being. The imaginary becomes the real.
This leads belief to a consideration of time where we put Being into motion. Traditionally Being is a fixed, timeless, unchanging thing, like in most religions, a Faith which leads then to fixed dogmas and doctrines which themselves are unchanging. But as (“No man ever steps in the same river twice”) Heraclitus maintained, change is a fundamental fact of reality.
Without the fundamental belief in change, you are locked into the chain of causation, and everything about your life is fixed and immutable. There is “no free will” type of thing. You have no real choice!
The Future is fixed and immutable. Fate governs all.
But imaginary things have a way of moving the feels which can then move the will into a changed state of behavior. As Death says, if you cannot imagine something which does not exist, how will you then make that something become.
This is why you react to an imaginary story in the movies or novels. Your heart knows what your head does not, it is necessary to believe in imaginary things in order to break the chain of causation.
Art is certainly created in the real world so its causation is the result of a real individual effort. But where does the work of art reside? Where does it exist?
Consider Michelangelo’s sculpture in David.
The reality of David is that it is a block of marble with considerable chipping having been performed.
And, if so, where is the Art of David? Where does the statue exist? Michelangelo’s chipping has resulted in a physical object which suggests a human being. But that suggestion comes from the structure or form which has been imposed upon the physical marble. But considered as such, the structure or form is not real. That same form could be and has been imposed on many different physical objects. The Art of David is imaginary in the very same way that all fictional stories are imaginary.
Beethoven’s 9th Sympathy exists in thousands of different versions with every copy being a physical instantiation of an abstract, idealized imagination. Which one of the versions is the real work of art? Well, its all of them. Where do stories exist? Books? But that is just ink marks on paper bound together into something called a book. Where do words exist?
One way of looking at this dichotomy, is to use an idea from the mathemagicians. When they encountered something so impossible such as √-1, this hardly phased them, being the creative people that they are, they just invented a different number scale. Now the x axis is for the real numbers and the y axis is for the imaginary numbers such as a + bi where a and b are real and the “i”s imaginary.
As an example, we then include the following diagram ignoring all negative values:
On the X axis, we place all real things which obey fundamental physical laws, and on the Y axis we place all imaginary things. A movie is created on the X axis, but the creation, the movie itself, is on the Y axis.
The block of marble is on the X axis, but the statue of David is on the Y axis.
As another example, lets consider a movie, and in particular, the movie Tootsie(1982) [Warning: Spoilers follow].
This movie was made by many human beings. Its production was mechanical. Business decisions were made as to how it would be released. The movie grossed a certain real figure in dollars. It was seen by many real people.
All of these factors in making the movie are on the X axis above. They are real and can be legitimately debated as to truth value. While we may debate what the number is, we all know that there was a single discrete dollar figure that was the total gross. Likewise you can make many statements as to its construction. “Dustin Hoffman was the real actor playing Michael Dorsey in the movie” is a true statement. “Leonardo DiCaprio was the real actor playing Michael Dorsey in the movie” is a false statement.
But many other elements of the movie are on the Y, Imaginary Axis. Tootsie(1982) is a work of fiction. The story and all the characters in the story are fictional, imaginary, they do not exist, and you will find the standard boiler plate, “Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.”
Dustin Hoffman (a real male actor) plays
Michael Dorsey (an imaginary male actor, a character in the story) who plays
Dorothy Michaels (an imaginary female actor, a character in the story being played by Michael Dorsey) who then plays
Emily Kimberly (an imaginary female character being played by Dorothy Michaels who works as a hospital administrator in the soap opera, “Southwest General”)
NOTE: Emily Kimberly is on the Y axis relative to Dorothy Michaels who is on the X axis. Dorothy Michaels is on the Y axis relative to Michael Dorsey who is on the X axis. Michael Dorsey is on the Y axis relative to Dustin Hoffman who is on the X axis. There are even those who would say that Dustin Hoffman is on the Y axis relative to a super intelligent pan-dimensional being who is on the X axis of a super simulation like the Matrix. The imagination has no limits in this recursive process and it certainly is possible to become lost in this imaginary world
This is a tour de force of acting where Mr. Hoffman plays three different characters each playing the next with a gender change even and its hard to understand that while nominated, Mr. Hoffman did not win the best actor award that year.
But the point is that Dustin Hoffman is a real human being who is an actor. That individual exists in real space and time on the X axis. But Michael Dorsey, Dorothy Michaels, and Emily Kimberly are characters in a story which is in the Movie Tootsie(1982), and as a work of imagination, those characters exist on the Y axis. They are imaginary.
In the x,y chart above, please note the point indicated by (2,3). It is at this point that the x and y axes intersect with each other. Your feels during a movie are within your body which is on the x axis, but those feels are being generated by an imaginary event or character on the y axis. If 2 represents you and your feels, 3 represents the exact event or character in the imaginary story. The point (2,3) is where they come together. Think about this: a totally fictional, imaginary event moves your feels, and perhaps inspires you to change in some way. You then go out into your life, and actually effect some sort of change because you have been inspired by an imaginary thing. This is breaking the chain of cause and effect, and allows an imaginary ideal such as justice or mercy or truth or goodness, to become real as Death says. You first must believe in a wonderful world, how else will a wonderful world become?
You may wear your sackcloth and ashes in extreme cynicism about such Pollyanna views, but the truth remains. You have been inspired by a wonderful thing, to become a wonderful person.
Inspiration takes place in real time with real people, so where does it come from? The (2,3) point above suggests that inspiration comes from the world of imagination which in the model above is placed on the y axis. All thought and art resides in the imagination on that y axis. The (2,3) point is the light bulb in your head suddenly coming on, its that ah-ha experience of sudden realization. Its the very moment that one realizes that they are Free to change themselves and the world, and then set about doing so.
In the anime Aria, S1-EP5, we have a wonderful conversation between Alicia (blond), Akari (pink), and AI who is off screen. Akari is telling this story to AI in an email from Mars (Aqua) to Earth (Manhome) which lays out what this story is all about which is belief in wondrous things.
In this conversation Alicia makes this comment about Akari
The full conversation goes somewhat like this:
In this scene, Akari has a profound emotional response when the Imaginary makes sudden contact with her Real person. This moment is the (2,3) point. And of course all of this is imaginary to us so what the artists seem to have intended is that this same feeling in Akari is reproduced in you the audience. If you are in sync with the story, you will indeed feel what Akari is feeling, and your heart will be moved.
No guarantees that any work of art will move you in proscribed ways, but the artists do want to have their way with you, and if you are open, and non-judgmental, hopefully you will feel Belief as it moves your emotions.
The (2,3) point is the point of the Aria anime. Throughout the story during its three seasons, and two OVAs, Akari whose love for Aqua is unbounded and unqualified, experiences the Belief which is her love for Aqua.
This is symbolized in Akari’s encounters with Cait Sith, the giant cat-king who in some ways represents the protective deity of Aqua. The real of Akari touches the imaginary of Aria, and then that touch will touch you. Provided you have left your head to commiserate with someone somewhere else.
If you try to make this all work rationally, it will of course completely fall apart, because the process by which your feels are moved is not rational, or real in any way. You have to allow the Imaginary to make itself Real in your heart, and then you carry the ball from there.
This is the (2,3) point on the graph. Aria will hit that mark if you allow it to do so.
If perhaps the (2,3) point is not made clear by Pywackett Productions, then consider a wonderful movie, “Your Name.”(2016) by Makoto Shinkai.
At the very end, the last scene, Taki and Mitsuha finally meet on the steps to the Suga-jinga shrine in Tokyo. But because they cannot remember each other, they pass on the steps, Taki climbing up on the right, and Mitsuha descending on your left.
The Suga-jinga shrine, and these steps actually exist and look something like this:
Because they don’t know each other, they are at first embarrassed to speak, but at the last minute, Taki turns at the top and says one of the most clichéd lines in all romance stories. Mitsuha then turns and responds. And in unison, they ask for “your name”.
This is a very good scene as an example of the (2,3) point, where the imaginary touches the real, and the Suga-jinga shrine steps have become something of a shrine itself to be visited by fans of the anime.
It is doubly intentionally ironic, in that the Suga-shrine itself, is an example of (2,3) where the divine touches the real.
The (2,3) point activates your feels, and floods your emotional self with wonders and warm and fuzzies. For all of our history, these points have been blindingly brilliant, and overpowering. Religions and religious movements originate in these (2,3) points. Moses and the burning bush being a very famous example.
But the universal bottom line is that our deep feels are touched which is the essential point of the (2,3) point.
Imagination has no limits except for your horizons!
The imaginary is totally beyond all the laws of physics. Cause and effect cannot affect the imaginary, but the imaginary, by inspiration of human emotions, can then become a First Cause in Human affairs. If this were not so, then Star Wars ships could never exceed the speed of light and the god Zeus would fall off his cloud and Superman could not fly.
Akari is constantly moved by the imaginary forces of Aqua, and her feeling reaction to this emotion, then makes her the wonderful person that she is.
All persons who allow themselves to be moved by the imaginary, can then approximately approach that imaginary. I.E. You see a character do something on screen, and then in your life, you are inspired to become like that MC and then to do that very same action.
The Imaginary then moves the Real.
This is a function of Belief, the acceptance of the Imaginary into your life. Belief should be clearly distinguished from Faith. You believe this or that to be true but in real terms, Belief can be wrong.
Faith is never wrong. And that is why Faith is a problem.
In Fandom, the emotional attachment to the imaginary is so profound, that it takes on the character of a Faith Community. In the Chihayafuru example above, the (Arata Wataya X Chihaya Ayase) shippers and the (Taichi Mashima X Chihaya Ayase) shippers often act as if their ship is the only right ship, and the other side is not only wrong, but so wrong-headed as to be morally retarded. And so intense emotions are raised. After all, we think that others should have the same Faith as we do. You see this same phenomena in your BFF. “I love the new movie X” you say to your BFF, and are shocked when he/she responds that they did not like the movie. In fact you are hurt, that your BFF, who you thought you knew, who you thought shared all your same feels, who you thought was a member of your Faith community, suddenly turns on you (in your eyes only). And then things can get really nasty, as we see every day with strangers on blogs and comments sections, having an argument about a work of art, a work of the imagination.