Five didn’t win. Last week’s episode was all about forcing Twelve to betray Nine. She wanted Nine to feel isolated and, more importantly, betrayed. She even figured that Twelve might be too ashamed of what he had done to lend Nine a hand. But in the end, she was wrong… sort of. Twelve was too ashamed to help Nine, but once again, Lisa is the wild card. Lisa is the the normal one, so she helps Twelve understand Nine’s feelings. So with some prodding from Lisa, Twelve finally comes around and tries to help Nine. It doesn’t really matter that he kind of failed; Twelve delays Five a bit, but she eventually catches up to Nine anyway. It also doesn’t matter that the girl has her target cornered with nowhere to run. She has a gun, and he is handcuffed, so it looks as though Five has all the advantages in the world. But still, she had already lost. She had lost as soon as Twelve showed up. In the end, Twelve still has Nine’s back, and Five has nobody. Even the US government is getting fed up with her and her antics. More importantly, her own physical health is abandoning her too. But why now? I suspect it’s because she slowly starts to believe she won’t win. Without that, she just doesn’t have the will to continue, and the will to live is very important. Hell, it’s the only reason why she’s survived this long.
Five attributes her life to Nine: “I was able to survive until now because of you. Yes. You are the one who let me live.” She has survived all this time just to get some sense of closure, and this is closure on two levels. Like I’ve said last week, Five is a bit resentful that Nine and Twelve had escaped the Settlement without her, but Five needs one other bit of closure: she just wants to beat Nine at something. This sounds simple on the surface, but bear with me. Nine and Twelve have each other, right? As for Five, she has her obsession with Nine. As unhealthy as it is, it is still something. It is still her one way to relate to Nine. On the other hand, the rest of their peers had nothing. They were told they had no family, they were told they had no name, and they were told that nobody loved them. And just to top it all off, they were all savants of some sort, so they likely had a difficult time just relating to each other. These kids had nothing to live for. Yes, their physical health deteriorated as a result of the medication they had been given, but mentally, they had no reason to fight for their lives. They had no reason to push on. This is the one crucial thing the conspirators behind the Athena Plan had overlooked. Sure, you can try and strip these kids of their humanity. But you won’t get compliant super soldiers. Instead, you just get people with no will to live.
Unlike the other children, however, Five did have something to live for. She had fun playing games with Nine, and you have to imagine that at this Settlement, that tiny bit of fun was the only joy Five ever felt. As you’ll recall, even Twelve admitted that eating meals at the Settlement felt like a chore. Nothing was supposed to be joyful. Nothing was supposed to feel good. Still, I can imagine Five feeling a bit of a thrill every time she got to match wits with Nine when they were kids. As a result, I’m not surprised she became obsessed with Nine. Her feelings for him are not exactly love, because love is too complex of an emotion. We have to remember that these kids suffer from some form of the savant syndrome. As a result, I think it’s highly unlikely that Five has ever really developed her attachment to Nine above anything more than just a mere obsession. Love is thus out of the question. She does give him a brief kiss on the lips right before she commits suicide, but there isn’t any passion in the act. It’s almost like… mimicry, if you will, i.e. I’ve seen others do this, so I’ll do it too. Ultimately, Five had unresolved feelings she couldn’t articulate. She felt betrayed by Nine — since they played games together at the Settlement, why did he escape with Twelve and not her? — but at the same time, she just wanted to beat him in a game at least once.
In another world, they would have likely beeen close friends or perhaps even lovers. But in this world, Five can’t articulate her feelings nor can she even develop them. So instead, they come out as these silly, childish need to play unrealistic games. Hey, we used to play games, and I liked playing those games with you. I bet you liked them too! Since you always beat me, let me invent silly games for you to play. We’ll see if you can beat me on my terms! ‘Cause let’s be honest, if Five really wanted to catch Nine, she probably could have done so easily. At one point, she had the support of two different governments. Take the incident at the airport. If Five had just sent everyone at her disposal to catch the guy instead of playing some ridiculous chess game with him, don’t you think she would’ve succeeded? A lot of us questioned the realism of the scenario, but as it turns out, Five never even really wanted to catch the guy. She just pulled the wool over her keeper’s eyes and pretended as though she was on a mission to fulfill their objectives. Five then took advantage of the situation to play games with Nine. In her own mind, she probably even thought she was doing him a favor. She more than likely saw how easily Nine was stumping the Japanese investigators, so it’s like, “Yo, let me throw my hat in the ring.” In the end, she just ran out of time and decided she didn’t have a good enough reason to keep going. Five accepted that she couldn’t beat Nine, so she lost her will to live.
Stray notes & observations:
— Speaking of the kids having a tough time articulating their feelings and relating to each other, this is why Lisa is so valuable. Twelve was so wrapped in shame, he didn’t even want to save Nine. He even dragged Lisa to an amusement park to distract himself from the current situation. Luckily, Lisa is not a savant nor does she suffer from savant-like syndromes: “Stupid Twelve! When you came… that time… I was really happy! That’s why Nine will… I’m sure Nine will be, too….” To us, it seems plainly obvious that Nine would appreciate Twelve’s help, but we have to remember that the kids involved in the Athena Plan are likely emotionally stunted.
— Nine turned himself in at the start of the episode, and thanks to Twelve’s betrayal I think he lost a bit of will to live too. The press conference was basically Japan’s one last chance: let me take center stage and reveal the crimes of the Japanese government to the entire nation. He even asked for Shibazaki, because he likely thought the detective was the only adult he could trust. Even so, I think Nine knew at the back of his mind that he wouldn’t make it to the press conference for one reason or another, so he armed the atomic bomb ahead of time.
— You might think, “If Nine had simply wanted to reveal the truth — and this is the truth about both the Athena Plan and Japan developing an atomic bomb in secret — to the whole world, why not just make a video and put it online?” Well, a press conference makes everything legitimate. On the other hand, if you see an online video where some kid claims all these things I had just mentioned above, would you believe it? I wouldn’t.
— Furthermore, Nine has nothing to protect himself against Five. He probably felt that Five has both the know-how and the resources to eventually catch him. Her only setback appears to be her worsening health, which Nine knows nothing about. So in Nine’s mind, he likely feels that the safest place for him is to put himself directly in the custody of the Japanese government. It’s a gamble, but there’s a small chance Five and her American keepers might not want to directly and openly challenge the Japanese government. Nine is wrong about that, but then again, he is wrong about a lot of things. Until their brief talk at the end of the episode, I don’t think Nine ever had even the slightest inkling about Five’s true intentions. He probably thought she only wanted to catch him for the American government. There’s this fundamental disconnect between him and Five that alludes to the fact that had the Athena Plan even succeeded, how well would these kids honestly work with each other?
— We finally see Shibazaki’s wife, and they seem to be on friendly enough terms. I’m somewhat glad Lisa didn’t turn out to be his daughter. It would have made things a little too… coincidental, I guess?
— Shibazaki doesn’t want to endanger Hamura’s life any further, so he sends the guy on a wild goose chase for some difficult-to-find pack of cigarettes. The young guy even visits eight different places in search of them and still hasn’t realized what Shibazaki has done. I get the feeling that Hamura isn’t too bright:
Hamura: “Shibazaki! Why did you go off on your own?”
Shibazaki: “Because you were too slow.”
— So Shibazaki goes to meet Mamiya, and this old man also hides himself behind high walls. Souki Aoki lives alone, and Mamiya is decrepit and bedridden. These powerful men in Japanese society are so concerned with protecting themselves, they’ve inadvertently imprisoned themselves. It’s a sad, pathetic existence when you also consider the fact that they’re likely living in fear. After all, should their crimes ever come to light, heads would roll. These men are not only living in fear of retribution from those who are even higher up in the food chain than them, and but they are also living in fear of the public ever finding out about their sins. They have thus gotten their comeuppance in a way. Mamiya’s appearance is not pleasant, and I like to think fear played a part in twisting the old man into the wretched form that he has now.
— Mamiya did what he did in order to help restore Japan’s independence: “However, this country remains a defeated country. Even now the spirit of the country is still that of a loser, without a shred of dignity.” But what is a country’s dignity? Japan’s economy is only third to the US and China. Not only that, Japan is often at the forefront in technological developments. So honestly, what does it even mean to have a spirit of a loser? In the 21st century, does a country still need to be victorious in the battlefield in order to be considered a winner? I suppose those like Mamiya feels shame in the fact that Japan’s foreign policy continues to be dictated by America’s whims, but still, is this shame so bad that you’d go and develop an atomic bomb of your own?
— Regarding Mamiya, Shibazaki said he had initially planned to “settle this even if it meant finishing each other off….” I wonder how his wife and daughter would feel if they heard him say that. This wouldn’t be the first time, however, Shibazaki has jeopardized both his career and his life to defy the conspirators, so perhaps they’ve already come to accept that this is just how he is.
— According to Clarence, the US wants “evidence that at the same time [Japan’s] constitutional interpretation changed, they started producing atomic bombs behind closed doors.” Even if the atomic bomb doesn’t go off, it looks like shit is about to go down between the two nations. I just wonder if we’ll get to see any of it in next week’s episode.
— The animation quality took a bit of a hit this week.
— Clarence tells Five that they have not been on good terms with the Japanese government ever since the incident at the airport. Five then suggest that they stage “[a]n attack from an armed group of unknown affiliation.” I’m surprised Clarence went along with it. Come on, people aren’t dumb. Gee, we stonewalled the Americans, then this “armed group of unknown affiliation” just showed up out of nowhere! I wonder who they could be! Plus, who else would want to get their hands on a domestic terrorist this badly?