Immortality: the MIRAIZER Concept and its Implications
Juan Ponce de Leon, Spanish conquistador and first governor of Puerto Rico, was mortally wounded while hunting for the Fountain of Youth in Florida in 1521. He didn’t find it.
It’s a pity Mr. Ponce wasn’t into the Chinese Classics. If he had been, he would have been familiar with the glorious conversation between Xuanzi and Shusun on immortality (State of Lu, 586 BC). Xuanzi was descended from a long line of powerful men, and he asked Shusun if this, the preservation of a prestigious lineage, was the meaning of immortality. As sophisticated a thought as that sounds (compared with “Fountains of Youth”), Shusun wasn’t at all happy with it. No, he replied, plenty of families maintain themselves over time. True immortality can be best achieved by virtue; secondly, by achievement and thirdly by words.
Of course, what’s implied here is the importance of Memory. Virtuous deeds, glorious deeds and famous words can live on forever just as long as they reside in the memories of men. Or rather, it is the persistence in Memory that certifies their power.
Leiji Matsumoto’s 1970s manga Miraizer Ban takes this flow Memory → Immortality to the next, sci-fi level. Mr. and Mrs. Idai are scientists working on technology that will allow immortality and eternal youth. On the day of the final experiment, the machinery malfunctions and explodes, leaving their son Ban Idai an orphan. Soon after this, Ban restarts the experiment and becomes its first subject. This time it works: Ban Idai becomes Miraizer Ban.
A Miraizer is a human being who enjoys, besides his own memory, the memories of all of his direct ancestors and descendants. Miraizer Ban, for example, can remember everything that his parents experienced and remembered, and his grandparents, great-gradparents, all the way up to pre-human ancestors. At the same time, he is able to access his (unborn) children’s memories, and his grandchildren and so forth.
That’s one aspect of a Miraizer’s nature, but there’s another. Once a Miraizer dies, eventually one of his descendants will be born a Miraizer as well, with the same abilities. Only one Miraizer can exist at the same time, so for example, none of Miraizer Ban’s children will be born a Miraizer, but it is possible that a grandchild born after he’s dead, or a great-grandchild, will be.
Things get complicated (and interesting) because of the interplay between these two requirements: 1) the Miraizer “gene” is linear, so if I am a Miraizer I inherited it either from my father or my mother, but not both and 2) Humans reproduce sexually, which means everyone has not one but two parents. As a result, each Miraizer in a single line will possess a substantially different set of memories. Let me give an example:
Albert is a Miraizer. Albert marries Angela and they have two children: Bob and Becky. Bob inherits the Miraizer gene but is not a Miraizer himself (if he were, there’d be two of them, which is impossible). Bob marries Beatrice and they have three children: Carla, Christopher and Cindy. Carla, born after Albert’s death, is a Miraizer.
To some extent, and due to their awareness as Miraizer, Albert and Carla will be the same person. It it a similar case to reincarnation. However, notice how their memories will be different. Albert will possess all of his parents’ and ancestors’ memories. Carla will share these memories as well. On the other hand, Albert will also have access to his daughter Becky’s memories and all of her descendants’. Carla will be lacking these, although to compensate she will carry her mother Beatrice’s and her ancestors’ memories.
Notice that even though Bob isn’t a Miraizer at all, both his father Albert and his daughter Carla will have access to all of his memories. Imagine your father and daughter knowing every intimate detail of your life!! Something similar happens in the manga, where a man is charged by his government to eliminate the next Miraizer Ban, only to realize that his own son is Miraizer, and thus his enemy knows all of his personal secrets.
The power any Miraizer wields is immense. Let me give a hypothetical example from history. The Hundred Years’ War was fought between England and France for possession of the throne of France, because English royalty had an extremely solid claim to the title. The English King Edward II married Isabella, daughter of the French King Philip IV. Their son, Edward III, claimed France as his own.
Now, imagine that Edward II was carrying a Miraizer gene, and that his son, King Edward III was a Miraizer. What this means is that Edward III would have had access to his grandfather Philip IV’s memories, that is, to all of the military and political secrets of his enemy France. Edward III would have probably conquered France with much ease.
In the actual Miraizer story, the line of Miraizer Ban becomes so powerful that it ends up being universally hated, and the governments of the world actively seek out the next Miraizer Ban in an attempt to destroy him or her at birth. We can see why.
Ban Idai becomes a Miraizer in 1976, so you might be wondering how applicable it is to discuss medieval Miraizers’. As it turns out, this story shares with the Leijiverse the notion of Time as a Ring. The farthest point in the future is in fact this moment that just passed us. As such, there are protozoa Miraizers and coelecanth Miraizers in the story, descendants of the Miraizer Ban that was activated in the Seventies. Take a look at my Time and the Leijiverse series for a tortuous introduction to these issues.
1) The conversation on the Three Immortals is from the Zuo Zhuan, a Chinese Classic of which I possess only excerpts. The dearth of decently priced Chinese Classics is a crime! I’m still looking for an affordable, unabridged Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
2) My thanks to Kritikita for setting up the family tree!
[June 6th Note: Reading on in the manga, I have realized that some of my premises in this post were wrong; in particular the condition that only one Miraizer could exist at one time turns out to be false. Once I have digested the new information I will post again on this subject!!!]