K-On! 2: There is a God…

No, this is not my cliched way to say this show rocks: I mean it literally.  This show, for all intents and purposes, has a God in it.  Here she is:

...before the one you serve

...before the one you serve

I was reading Ascaloth’s post when I realized: what this episode makes really clear is that Tsumugi is rich enough to arrange pretty much anything she wants, in pretty much any way she likes it.

When they go to the music store and Yui stumbles on her “instant dream guitar”, we see Mugi thinking about whether to just buy it for her.  She doesn’t, so the girls go out to do their part-time work, whose quaintness and novelty Mugi enjoys the most, and then go back to the store.  Tsumugi then gets an 80% discount from the clerk, who realizes she is the President’s daughter.

It’ll be hard for you to gauge how much godly power Mugi possesses until you can visualize just how rich she is.  First off, let’s look at the store where they buy the guitar:

In Kyoto, originally

In Kyoto, originally

There’s a nice website with all of the “locations” in K-On! so far and where they are based on here (in Japanese, but the pictures tell the story).  The manga writer Kakifly is from Kyoto, and of course Kyoto Animation is doing this show, so the Kyoto influence is supreme.  Sadly, Kyoto dialect, pretty as it is, isn’t considered cool enough for anime so it’s not used!  This is a travesty, as watching K-On! in Kyoto dialect would be so cool it would probably heal several diseases and end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Anyway, the original music shop on which this is based is called JEUGIA.  The animators copied it in such detail that if you look at this episode ending, JEUGIA gets credited!!  JEUGIA is an old and venerable Kyoto company.  I’m sure the president of JEUGIA is well-off, though not ridiculously powerful.  But wait!

After Mugi tells the girls she’s got the discount, she explains her connections.  The English subs I have seen read something like: “This is my Dad’s company”.  In fact, what she actually says, literally translated, is: “This company belongs to our conglomerate”.  The word for conglomerate is keiretsu (系列), the gigantic octopi of doom that have controlled Japanese souls for decades (think Mitsubishi, Mitsui, Toyota).

If Mugi’s Dad were president of the music shop business, then she’d have simply said so.  It’d be possible for her father to be president of another side branch of the conglomerate, but then the clerk wouldn’t probably have recognized her eyebrows.  So all of this leads me to conclude that her Tsumugi’s is president of the conglomerate as such (these octopi always have a head = mother company).

And in real life JEUGIA is owned by the Daiei conglomerate, retail monsters that used to own one of the most successful baseball teams in Japan, and whose president used to boast that they sold everything except “opium and women”.  So by analogy, we can be sure Tsumugi’s father is immensely powerful.

Your Maker (and Breaker)

Your Maker (and Breaker)

It’s always very dangerous to have a God in a show.  How can that God resist the temptation to just take over?  Even more problematic, how can the creators of the show resist the temptation to use the God to plug up holes in the plot?

The case is different in Haruhi Suzumiya, because although there we have an overflow of super-powerful factions (Organization, Tsuruya Clan, Data Entities) they are all neutralized by the whims of the self-unaware goddess Haruhi.  In K-On!, Mugi holds all the power cards.  We even see her trying to copy Ritsu’s first pump in this episode.  What’s stopping her from hiring a couple of professional hitmen the next day, getting sweet Ritsu whacked, covering it all up, and then claiming the fist thingy as her own?  This is worrisome…

Aristotle and Nietzsche both criticized the playwright Euripides for his (over)use of “Deus Ex Machina” plot resolution (intro → conflict → climax → god comes from heaven → problem solved, yay!).  Then again, the Greeks believed in these gods so why ignore them?  And these days there are more than a few Tsumugis running around…

This is an issue that’s going to come up again and again in the show.  I think that they handled it well in this episode so hopefully they’ll continue to do so in the future…

PS: Ritsu was cool in this episode too (I hope she lives):

Being Ritsu

Being Ritsu

~ by Haloed Bane on April 12, 2009.

20 Responses to “K-On! 2: There is a God…”

  1. I guess if you said “Your eyebrows are huge” to Tsumugi, then you’d get a visit by the (quoth Hayate) “very nice people?”

    I think that as Haruhi had her ignorance, Tsumugi has her spoiled nature (that’s the closest in words that I can come to what she has). She doesn’t know what bargaining is, suggesting that she’s so used to buying things straight up because her parents are so rich. Thus we can infer that she is like Nagi from Hayate no Gotoku… she’s so rich that she’s higher up and doesn’t understand how powerful she is. However, unlike Nagi, her mellow personality prevents disasters from happening.

  2. In many shows, whether mecha or fighting… there’s always another gear, another technique, that will win the battle. Some shows triumph over this, some not so much.

    SPOILERS:

    Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is a triumph, because God is the robot the anime is named after. As a viewer I’ve been prepared for this incarnation and the fact that it appeared at the very end resulted in some enjoyable expectation on my part.

    Gundam 00 is not triumphant. I don’t think it’s a failure, only that the robots, the plan, always had it worked out. There’s always a literal device or ability that fixes the current challenge. Being an action show, it doesn’t have the same resources to smooth over the whelming ‘interventions of God and his plan’ the same way as Asimov’s ‘Foundation’ series did, which used looooong-winded dialogue (but entertaining!) to explain away the inevitable resolutions.

    END SPOILERS

    In Haruhi the world is saved by randomness, how Kyon comes to terms with dealing with his friends. The dynamic is good because it’s really up to him. All the interventions of the agencies with apparently tremendous resources are there just to keep him alive – so that he has a chance of being the person Haruhi needs (unconsciously or not).

  3. “What’s stopping her from hiring a couple of professional hitmen the next day, getting sweet Ritsu whacked, covering it all up, and then claiming the fist thingy as her own? This is worrisome…”

    lol wat?!?!😛

    So far we only have seen Yui’s family, who has a carefree life. I’m interested in seeing other girl’s family situation.

  4. @fangzhao

    See, I’m not so sure that Mugi is that clueless. In the first ep she struck me to be the Mikuru/Miyuki type, but after this ep not so sure. It’ll be fun to see!

    @ghost

    i like your analysis. here, btw, buried in the third comment of a post, might be the best place to announce to the world that I, [insert animekritik’s name here] did not like Gurren Lagann. And I saw the whole thing, mind you, Gainax fanboy that I was.

    Essentially, every creator of fiction is a God, and s/he must learn how to skillfully restrain himself, just as much as actually creating.

  5. Thanks. May I ask re your dissatisfaction with TTGL? Is it related to the discussion in this post?

    Another anime/manga that I enjoyed that has issues with deux ex machina is Skip Beat. It is remarkable in that it is enjoyable despite all the insurmountable obstacles that she (Kyoko) triumphs over due to personal reserves of talent and insight but also the timely interventions of angelic (not literal, but almost) benefactors.

    Related post here: http://scrumptious.animeblogger.net/2009/04/12/skip-beat-is-crap

  6. @balance

    The safety of Yui, Mio and Ritsu keeps me awake at night..What is Tsumugi planning???

    @ghostlightning

    I don’t know why I didn’t like Gurren. I loved Eva, Gunbuster and FLCL, I liked Diebuster. This just bored me. Maybe I was expecting a more mature storyline..Oh, and I hated the priest boy whatever his name was.

    I did read the scrumptious post. Talk about mixed signals coming from over there…

  7. Ayt, but since you mentioned Rossiu – who I quite dislike as well, I wrote an intense post about him some time ago – particularly on the subject of ethics that I may interest you in:

    http://oihayaku.com/the-choices-of-commander-rossiu

    That blog is dead so feel free to post your thoughts here.

  8. Ui probably has training in various martial arts/weapons to protect her big sister, and would probably go Rambo in the event of Mugi-sent hitmen.

    Good call on keiretsu, too.

  9. @ghost

    Well, gosh, yes, that’s a nice post. Of course you realize by now that I would dispute ethics all together, but the “ethical dilemma” of Rossiu’s is a pretty sophisticated topic for Gurren to tackle. I didn’t like Rossiu from the very get, his character design is totally Disney afternoon show, and his “priestliness” is yucky. Dinosaur dude got a job, right, that’s why Oi Hayaku stopped??

    @schneider

    I hope they don’t mix martial arts into this!! We have enough of it in anime. I prefer them all to be rather average, even mediocre people. Which is why Mugi is such a threat!!

  10. It’s safe to say that OH!’s founder moved on to other things. Ethics is disputable if the ‘right’ is insisted upon as absolute. If ‘right’ is framed as a socio-cultural norm then ethical reflection/discussion is worth discussion.

    My ethics are christian/roman catholic not because they are ‘correct,’ but only because I chose them arbitrarily, and customized them ruthlessly (lol).

  11. @ghost

    Fine. Just as long as it’s clear that “free will” is as empty a concept as “ethics” so the words “chose” and “arbitrarily” are merely conventional. Strictly speaking, you had no choice..

    BTW, whatever happened to that phil. thread lelangir et al were setting up?

  12. The status of that project is up to lelangir and Pontifus (who I’ve distracted with another project LOL).

    Free will needs to be qualified, sure. The sum of all human decisions are determined by the ‘machinery’ of human beings: biology and psychology interfacing with external contingency. And yet I personally have experienced a free choice process, though I lack the means to articulate it (i.e. one can ‘accept’ the tendencies and habits one has, or ‘resist’ it and continue to be controlled by it anyway; there’s a distinction here beyond the rhetoric, but I don’t have the chops to satisfyingly present it in a comment).

    It is my access to personal happiness and joy (and power), and the linchpin for accountability and responsibility.

    But whatever, all of this is empty and meaningless, and that it’s empty and meaningless being empty and meaningless.

  13. Hah. A very unconventional, and eye-opening review. This is what a review should be like. Of course money can’t solve everything, so there should still be some very human difficulties the girls have to resolve.

  14. @ghost

    But see, whether you choose to “accept” or “resist” is already determined by the events that occurred before. Free will is always redundant. I’m not disputing the “feeling of free choice” or “will” as such, but its actual freedom. Kant saw this very clearly and his refusal to accept the consequences was much berated by Nietzsche.

    @moritheil

    i could think of all sorts of issues that money cannot solve (terminal illnesses, grave family disputes, Yui’s idiocy) so yup, I agree with you. Thanks for reading.

  15. I find this portrayal of Mugi to be far more amusing than anything the show has done with her so far.

  16. Kaioshin, Call the writers and see if you can get them to put me on the job!

  17. I was going to try and figure out how to word my comment, but Kaioshin took the words out of my mouth😛

  18. […] 13 years since I was in a band), the Gibson Les Paul that Yui bought through divine intervention [->] is still a dream of mine to […]

  19. […] derive that god is dead [->], at least in this image. Tags: k-on!, philosophy, […]

  20. […] anime several times: in posts like Micura Asahina Regina Otacorum (metaphor: Mikuru is Christ), K-On! 2: There is a God (metaphor: Tsumugi is God), Kyon Falls from Heaven (metaphor: Kyon is Lucifer) and so forth.  The […]

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