The money of soul and possibility control, or the responsibilities of being more than average

The nonsensical title is starting to make sense to me. That is if I stare at it and think about it really hard. But that’s what C does, it makes you think.

Needs more Masakaki
Needs more Masakaki

C is apparently the other Noitamina anime this season. And while I’ve really enjoyed Ano Hana (which along with Ao no Exorcist has made me rethink A-1’s suckiness), C touches upon bigger, more thought provoking themes. It can be dense at times, but the questions it raises about money and responsibility are things I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately, even apart from C.

I can relate
I can relate

You’re a college student in a non-prestigious college. Your dad was a deadbeat, your mother is dead. In between studying, you’re working part time jobs to scrape by. You have modest goals. A wife, a kid, just make enough to get by and be able to support the family. No visions about getting rich big, about taking over companies, becoming a big pop star or anything like that. You live a simple life, and when you die, the world turns and no one is worse the wear. But is that enough? If you had the talent and the opportunity to do more, is it wrong to not make the effort to do more?

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Enter Mikuni Souichiro. Smart, good looking, charismatic. Rich. Powerful. Money and power those two things always go together. What’s the problem with just being average when you have more? Because the more money you make, the more power you have. The more power you have, the more responsibility you have. Not many lives depend on the average konbini clerk. Much less than say, an average NFL football player.

Let’s take the NFL for example, currently embroiled in a lockout. A battle between billionaire owners and millionaire players. The flash instinct is to say, “fuck em. Those greedy bastards.” But it’s not just about the owners or the players. It’s also about the hundreds of thousands of jobs that are tied to those owners and players. A star NFL quarterback might make $10-15 million. And the average person will say, “damn that’s nice. Just for playing a game.” But that’s a misunderstanding. They’re not looking at the bigger picture. It’s not “just for playing a game.” If there’s no star quarterback, the team maybe goes from being a contender to being a bad team. Attendance drops in half. Accordingly, the team cuts costs. Investments to repairing or building new facilities aren’t made. This impacts the local construction economy, which results in layoffs. Marketing dollars are cut. Which impacts the local media industry. Jobs at marketing firms and media companies are lost. Thus, tied to that star quarterback’s performance and salary are countless jobs of average people, who have no choice but to be swept up amidst those with the power.

Living for the now vs. Living for the future

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One of the more interesting ongoing themes in C are the various viewpoints characters have. The “average” player in the Financial district only cares about making enough for themselves. Those with power have broader concerns. Mikuni seems like your prototypical shark, but he’s apparently trying to minimize the impact of the losses in the Financial District in the real world. He needs to continue winning, because losing would bring catastrophe to the world. Meanwhile, we meet Sennoza, someone who in the real world is focused on charity and philanthropy. He has a different approach from Mikuni in that, he wants to avoid battle if possible, but again, he needs to win, because the power and influence he yields would result in significant impact to many lives around him if he lost.

In Mikuni’s world, all you need is one man with enough money and power to control the losses of everyone around him. The Guild he creates is basically a large insurance policy. By enabling others to protect themselves from the worst, Mikuni is able to grow his wealth as well. Which is all well and good as long as Mikuni’s ideals don’t change. Or… a major disaster occurs that bankrupts the insurer. Think Wall Street, and the hundreds of millions of lives that were impacted when the financial crisis of a couple years back occurred. Sure, the markets have rebounded, but lost wealth is lost forever. Regaining it isn’t the same.

In Sennoza’s world, basically you have a system in which nobody loses. But then, nobody gains either. Instead you have a group of haves and have nots. And if everyone continually passes, that imbalance never changes. So it’s interesting that Sennoza believes that not having a future equates to making the present useless. Because in Sennoza’s world, nothing would change, and futures would more or less be set. That’s the other shoe dropping. If Sennoza loses, the futures of the third-world country children he’s been helping may be harmed. But Sennoza losing means someone else has won. And that winner redistributes future wealth to a different group of people. Life with the financial district is a zero sum game. Which is a bit different from life in the real world.

Or hell just blow it up

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Honestly, I had a hard time following Jennifer’s logic – even without the horrid engrish. But she seems to believe that the world would be better off without the Financial District. That’s probably so. The district is like a large casino, the world would be better off without it. But it also seems like a simplistic way of thinking.

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The scenes in which Kimimaro chats with his 60-year old unmarried, scraping by co-worker are pretty powerful for me, because they stand in such stark contrast to the power brokers we typically see Kimimaro with. And actually, just by being a part of the District, Kimimaro himself is to some degree a power broker. At some point, Kimimaro’s dealings will make or break this old man.

Instead of the omniscient narrator device, it’s been interesting learning about the District through Kimimaro. What he knows is what we know. Nothing more, nothing less. So we can put ourselves in his shoes to determine how we would react.

Would you have taken up Mikuni’s offer to join the guild? I would’ve. I don’t trust Mikuni completely, but it seems smart to try to cover yourself from catastrophe.

Would you have taken up Sennoza’s offer to pass? I probably would’ve. Like Kimimaro, I wouldn’t want to lose. But the cost of winning seems to be too high, even if as Mikuni says, those without futures still live each day, precious moment by moment.

Would you take up Jennifer’s plan to rid the world of the District. Ah…

Would you make Mashyu your wife? Well, if all you have to feed her is ramen, she’ be a cheap date.

Hotness
Hotness

6 Replies to “The money of soul and possibility control, or the responsibilities of being more than average”

  1. The questions that C raises are very interesting. Even with average animation and some annoying CGI, the plot propels you towards different dilemma of how important money is. Of course, it’s all about which party you would like to join but I would definitely stay away from Jennifer because her reasoning is not well thought out. She’s doing her job yet even after seeing so many saves by Mikuni, treats him as someone evil/dangerous. I won’t say that Mikuni is a Saint but he has that grey area going for him and his respect points have been increasing since he challenged Kimimaro of not living an average life. At least his mindset is pretty solid but I’m watching this for Kimimaro because I think he will come up with a better balance of not only saving the economy but not gamble their future to such high extents.

    1. Yeah, it’s a shame the production values have been so low, and actually, I could do without most of the battle scenes, as watching the shoddily animated fights aren’t as interesting as learning about some of the logic behind some of the fights… I hope Jennifer’s theory gets explained better later, because I think the nuclear option is oh so interesting. And in the long run, weaning the world off the financial district would be for the best, even if it comes at a great cost for those in the real world. I guess a real world comparison would be if governments didn’t bail out the banks a few years ago. As much as people were affected, the worst effects would’ve been exacerbated and we would still be well in the doldrums. But maybe complete catastrophe might’ve been better for us in the long run, rather than how we currently prop up the economy through deficit spending, ensuring that we’ll go through a similar crash in the future.

  2. I do like the philosophical musing suggested by the three choices that have been presented. The thing that bothers me about C is that it seems to be preaching a philosophy of elites saving the world. Now this isn’t something particular to this anime, but I still find it annoying. If the professor hadn’t become an entre, maybe he could have had one kid and an averagely happy life with his wife; is that really so bad?

    Similarly a society that hangs its hat on uber-wealthy athletes because maybe the rest of us can get jobs cleaning up the half-eaten hot dogs that litter the bleachers after a game … is that the best we can do for the bulk of society? I know it is better than the lives of poverty and despair that many in this world cope with (certainly it is better than living through warfare and famine). I just get sick of the worship of elites that seems to elevate them to the position of maybe saving us and maybe destroying us.

    I don’t particularly have faith in Jeniffer’s plan, but destroying the system has a real appeal to me.

    1. My understanding of the world is that everyone is pulled in to some degree. They’re chosen. So I don’t know if the professor even had an option to not become an entre.

      I don’t think C is worshipping the elites. Actually, I think C does a good job of showing the fallibility of the elites. Mikuni is probably the best example of this. I don’t think he looks at himself as a savior like Sennoza did. Sure he’s helped people – creating the guild, taking over the pharmacy company – but that’s just been a side effect from the stability he’s been trying to build. That stability helps others, but helps him the most since being such a major player, he has the most to lose. I gather that’s why he finds Kimimaro so interesting, because he’s trying to do the same thing at a much smaller scale. Not trying to save or destroy anyone. Just trying to maintain as much status quo as possible.

      1. Perhaps I’m making too much of it. It does go back to your thesis, though. The only reason I’m thinking this deeply about it is because the show encourages serious thought.

  3. So far, C’s turning out to be my second favorite series of the season. Spotty production values aside, the different points of view on the Financial District and economics on a whole are nothing short of fascinating. While the fights seem out of place, and Yoga somehow coming to be the pivotal figure in it all was completely expected, the conflicts presented as a consequence of the mere existence of the Financial District are interesting and just a little scary in their execution.

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