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Friday, December 19, 2008

Fatalism and the girl who leapt through time


About the Anime:

The 2006 anime film toki wo kakeru shoujo is about Makoto, a girl who until recently, lived a boring, normal life. She did the same stupid things with the same stupid friends. However she accidentally discovers a strange capsule which grants her the ability to jump through time. She then uses it to fix everyday mishaps such as failed confessions, burning stoves, fistfights and flying bikes, whose outcomes unfortunately do not conform to her expectations.

This anime deals with fatalism because it drives a single message again and again; “When something happens, it happens”. This means that things occur, irrespective of the people involved, or the manner in which they occur. Yes, Makoto had the ability to “fix” mishaps, but the film makes it a point to show that even though the mishaps were supposedly averted, they happened to somebody else. Examples of these are the case of the exploding sink, in which it was our hero who originally put the matchstick down the sink, which caused it to explode due to the gas leak. However, when she tried to fix it by going back in time, a classmate of hers did the exact same thing and a small explosion happened nevertheless. Another, more emphatic example was the bike accident, in which the main character was the one who originally had the accident and almost collided with a train, but when she went back in time to avoid dying, her friend used her bike and was the one that (almost) crashed.

Such examples imply that for the creator of the film, time moves in a linear way. For every period in time, there is a corresponding event. These events, although abstract, are absolute. Perhaps, it is best explained by the story of Chiaki, her other friend, and the one who came from the future. He came from an era which had developed a time-travelling device, and the reason why he came to the present age was to see a portrait that was destroyed in his present time (which is in the future, for us). He ultimately never sees the portrait as it was under restoration (in our time), another example of the basic message. For him, it was “To never see the portrait, regardless of when he tried to”. It is as if he was fated to not see that particular portrait.

Going back to the bike accident, which was to me the main example of fatalism in this film. Both the main character and her other friend were saved by time jumping on two separate occasions. Both of them should’ve died in that accident. However, during the second one, it was Chiaki who intervened, exhausting his “time leaping tickets” in the process. This means that he saved a person by going back in time, but exhausted his remaining energy to go back to his own time instead. As a result, he got trapped in this world (which makes him as good as dead in his world). However, the film ends with our main character going back in time to go back to the time where Chiaki still had tickets to go back to his time, which he eventually did. I think that the accident was meant to produce a loss in life. First, the main character which should’ve died, but didn’t, then the other friend, who also didn’t, then Chiaki, who can be considered dead twice in two worlds. The message in this entire scenario was simple. “If you are meant to lose someone, you lose them, regardless of whom and how you lose them”. Although no one died and no accident occurred, Makoto lost Chiaki, who went back to his time.

Commentary:

I personally do not believe in fate, as I consider those who believe in it as cowards who do not have the mental conditioning to create their own circumstances. In fact, I mock people who claim that they are what they are because of fate, or because their “God” willed it to them. It seems to me that fate is merely an excuse to do nothing to overcome one’s personal shortcomings, and it’s probably true that those who relied on their fates to guide themselves ultimately stopped living as free humans. I tell you, people. Fatalism will bring us nowhere, because Fatalism requires us to surrender control of our lives to who knows what? This makes us total zombies of ourselves. Instead of making efforts to be responsible for our own circumstances, we merely pass it on to beings whose existence we aren’t sure of. We have this thing called “free will”. It’s about time we start using it, or keep doing so.

Superstitions, Horoscopes, Palm lines, Time travel, Dream interpretations, Eschatology and Religion… These are all manifestations of our primitive desire to be servile and surrender control of our power over our own circumstances. This has led us to nowhere but the most total form of slavery. I call upon all of you to do your own share. Reclaim control of your lives, be responsible for your own circumstances and rid yourselves once and for all of this primitive fatalism. Be free, humans!


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