Soul Eater 78: Salvage the Future

[This post is sparking some controversy, and not the good kind.  It is being construed as a misogynist and bigoted statement on my part.  My intentions were otherwise, and I still hope that some out there might understand what I was trying to say and how I was trying to say it.  That said, nenena suggested I clarify things, especially the first two paragraphs.

I wasn’t trying to say that Liz was a reproductive accident (we don’t have any information on that), but that the circumstances in her life were such that accusations to that effect (maybe from herself, very likely from others) would definitely arise.  As such, she would be constantly confronted by this notion of  her life being an accident as opposed to the other “regular” folks.  Her very existence would be questioned and mocked.  After a time, she would probably give up defending herself from this accusation, even if she knew that it was false.  She would cope with these hurdles society was throwing at her and begin to eye those “regular” folks more critically than they ever regarded themselves.  She would come to realize that we are all accidents, not in the reproductive sense, but in the existential way in which, as Heidegger says, we are thrown into the world.

This is not to say that one cannot lead a bountiful middle or upper class existence without being deluded.  Not at all.  But what to many of us might be a gradual and relatively painless progress onto a better understanding of things, was a much tougher, much sharper dilemma for the Thompson Sisters in New York.  And they came through.  They made it and they’re awesome.

At no time in the post did I actually talk about Liz’s mom, but about representations of her that Liz and the world at large might have had of her.  My impression from reading the chapter was that they didn’t know her very well (I got that sense from the fact that her picture didn’t show the eyes) but that impression could be wrong.  In any case, my philosophical opinion is that there is no basis for being proud or ashamed of one’s parents.  Liz’s mom could have been a wonderful person, she could have been an awful person (her profession not having anything to do with these qualities BTW).   Either way it would not affect the way I look at Liz.  To the extent that, as Liz suggests, she was gorgeous then I have a positive image of her as I’m  a sucker for beauty.

Well, this is rather long.  Go take a look at this link for more discussion.  Below is the actual post as I wrote it.]

There is one advantage to being the child of a prostitute: you don’t have to go through all the trouble of disabusing yourself of the illusion that you are anything other than an accident.

Nihil

You don’t need explanations from Mom.  It’s easy enough to visualize a nasty customer, or two, or three coming along and disobeying the rules.  And out comes you.  If your imagination is not that good there will be plenty of people ready to tell things to your face and give you all kinds of details.  As if they had been there.  Everybody thinks they’ve been there and done that.   Whichever the truth of your past, everybody will think they know it inside out…intimately.  When you are the child of a prostitute you are a child of the world.  So it’s no good to explain things to them, which means you don’t have to make stories for yourself either.  This is without a doubt a great advantage.

For the rest of us, well, it will take a long time to figure this out.  We will cling on to this dream of having come into being for a reason and thus, with a purpose.  But it doesn’t matter with what precision Mom and Dad planned us, it matters even less what they expected from us…they will never, never get it.  We are all accidents.

Okubo does a great job with the Liz and Patty sequence in this chapter.  I don’t need to bring in Death the Kid because here he is just a cardboard prop for the drama that follows.  It’s all about Liz and Patty.  It’s tempting to say it’s all about Liz since we are experiencing this through her voice, but the Thompson Sisters are like yin and yang: Patty is silent precisely because it’s Liz’s turn to talk.  But she’s here all along and we won’t dismiss her.  She is an equal partner in this drama.

Okubo highlight Liz’s worldliness by having her use a mixture of slang.  It’s hard to pick this up in translation so I’ll point some things out.

When Death the Kid presents himself as a Shinigami, Liz thinks of him as a “bonbon”.  This is Kansai slang for a young man from wealthy family.  I’d never heard or read it before and I had to look it up.  “Rich kid” or “sugar daddy” are fine translations but they miss that exotic component that using a Kansai term brings.

Liz starts dreaming of giving Patty a better life with Death’s money, and she talks of dressing her up in a pretty “bebe”.  Here again I’m stumped.  The dictionary says it’s baby/girl talk for a dress or clothes in general.

Then Liz sums things up by telling Patty that they have become Cinderellas.  This hardly needs translation.  Now let’s recap: Liz uses a regional dialect to speak of Kid, employs baby slang to talk about Patty’s future dresses, and finally draws an analogy to a classic Disney film.  She is all over the place.  Which is fitting for a New York babe like herself.

new york rage

Her thoughts after this are as brutal as any we’ve come across in Soul Eater.  She wants to squeeze Kid dry.  She hates her mother, but she now scornfully thanks her for giving her and Patty their beauty.  It’s no wonder she credits physical beauty with drawing Death the Kid to her.  She doesn’t have much in the way of illusions, and one would have to be a dreamer to believe that beauty is not a factor.  Beauty is always a factor.  Always.

She’s not done abusing Kid.  Now she calls him an “amachan”.  Again, I’d never heard of this word before so I looked it up: “ama” is “sweet” as in “amai”, “chan” is the usual cute marker.  The word means someone who doesn’t have it together, one who isn’t strong enough to get things done.  Literally a “sweetie”, though not as a term of endearment, but as a name for just the sort of creature you do not want to be in a mad, dangerous world.

Her attitude toward Kid changes, and although we aren’t told specifically, my guess is it comes about abruptly and not gradually.  Death the Kid is a good guy, plain and simple, but he’s also tough.   Liz wasn’t reckoning on any of this.  Liz was born a Nietzschean nihilist, now she is taking the step beyond (not back somewhere more mainstream, mind you, but beyond).  She knew she was an accident, now she is learning that one can build over accidents.  One can even build in a rage.

“Did the Shinigami kill us?” she asks.

He did, in a way.  But Liz is bound to get her revenge.  Not by draining him of his wealth, not by taking away his power, but by doing something far more insidious and far more beautiful.  Need I say more? ♥

~ by Haloed Bane on September 25, 2010.

13 Responses to “Soul Eater 78: Salvage the Future”

  1. Jesus, so one can’t have an opinion without being called sexist. Especially when your article is clearly not sexist. I mean I know nenena has sprouted some stupid shit off her mouth…but this takes the cake.

    • I hate controversy, so I just hope that with the explanation those who didn’t understand what I was trying to say will now.

      You shouldn’t mention cake, now I’m hungry🙂

  2. BTW, I guess this opinion is now sexist.

  3. So far, Ohkubo has mostly used the Sin Chapters for creative laughs. The Lust chapter caused surprise nosebleeds, mass genderswap and the razzing of the usually composed Tsubaki, and Wrath had everyone yelling at the top of their lungs, which I found hilarious for no reason. Gluttony had the kids eating hunks of an enemy while it was *still alive*, which forced me to laugh in a sort of “Oh dear God” way (I still swear that’s right between Hitchhiker’s Guide and David Lynch).

    Of course, it’s not all funny; Maka underwent some horrible brainwashing in the Envy chapter, so hateful and so full of damned lies that watching her accept it was chilling. Soul’s nightmare seemed less damaging, but it came from a nasty dream-copy of his own brother, and if that ain’t creepy, I don’t know what is.

    But Liz confessing/imagining her past sins, past misjudgments and attitude problems has been the most touching moment so far. I love Liz and Patti, the worry-wart and the psycho pixie, partly because they are the freest spirits in Shibusen. They’re not working like dogs to show up their dad, they don’t have secret feelings of inadequacy, they don’t want to dissect everyone they meet, they don’t have lost loves, broken homes, OCD or psoriasis. They were discovered, like old-time Hollywood movie stars; by chance they mugged a Death God, he said “Excellent! I’ll take both of you!” and they just rolled with it. Liz was the last person I would expect to feel bad about herself, and that’s exactly why it hit me like it did. She stands there in the middle of Greed, remembering how she was gonna milk Kid for everything he was worth, and…now he’s gone, he might not come back ever, and she’s looking at all that stupid money scattered all over the ground.

    I’m telling you, I got *sniffly*.

    HOWEVER, since the various Sin Levels have driven all the other kids half out of their minds, I’m taking Liz’ recollections with a grain of salt. Some weird ambient force might be making feel guilty all out of proportion.

    • I totally agree with your assessment of Liz and Patty. They are the healthiest of the bunch. The only thing Liz usually worries about is Patty, and Patty worries about nothing. Well, Liz worries about ghosts too, but I almost think that’s out of concern they’ll hurt Patty.

      We need a lot of salt with Okubo! His characters’ speech and thoughts are clearly shaped by their personalities (just like folk in real life). It’s not your typical kid’s story where you can assume anything the hero says happened just the way s/he said it. The circumstances, insecurities, madness all play a role. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the near future we get the scoop from Death the Kid on how he met the sisters…and more surprises turn up.

      • Re: The scoop on how Kid met the sisters
        Ever since you posted that, I’ve been thinking about it. I’m having a hard time imagining how that went, from his point of view. He’s practically adopting two strange criminals who just tried to mug him, but everything’s going to be fine because ________? What? “Because I said so”? We saw his father do about the same thing with the fairly dangerous Crona–“Oh, let the kid run around the school, see what happens. What could go wrong?” Are gods unusually prone to laissez-faire attitudes, or is it something they picked up from humans?

        Anyway, I would like to see how this three-person partnership played out, from Kid’s point of view. Also from Patti’s. I’m having the worst time of all imagining her POV. But there’s a whole story of it’s own waiting to be told here. It can’t have gone very smoothly. Kid probably has the wrong idea about Liz and Patti (“They like me, but hey, why wouldn’t they!”) and Liz and Patti obviously don’t trust Kid as far as they could huck a grand piano. And SE has shown, over and over, that if the weapon and the meister aren’t being above board with each other, they can’t sync up worth a damn. Imagine the sisters’ panic when they can’t do the job they were hired for! Imagine Kid blaming himself, but not for the right reasons! You could write a whole series about it.

        • Patty’s POV indeed! Okubo should do a whole chapter from Patty’s POV. The topic could be anything, it’d be very interesting.

          But what you say at the end here is really interesting. If Liz, Patty and Death are not totally open with each other they will fail. But can they do so? Two’s company, three’s a crowd, right? It’d be much harder with three…

  4. animekritik,

    I know that you didn’t like the controversy, but I’m glad that you edited your post. I was very surprised and disappointed when I read the first version of your post, but I didn’t comment because I don’t like internet drama. I think you handled yourself very well given the circumstances. Thank you for editing this post.

  5. Once, you didn’t need to edit your post, it was jut femi-nazis looking for sexism where there wasn’t.

    Anyways, keep writing.

  6. I think this post stands better without the preface. Attitudes to the world’s oldest profession run very deep, and it’s hard even for the people involved in sex work to escape the brainwashing.

    But I understand why you had to put it in. It’s hard to predict another person’s reaction to these things. Don’t let it get you down. 😉 Cheers.

    • To you and the last commenter:

      The great thing about a preface is you can read it, digest it, throw it out, ignore it etc depending on your need.

      It is hard to predict people’s reactions, and even harder to understand a writer’s intentions.

      But we all have to do our best!

  7. […] Salvage the Future […]

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