Category Archives: [C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility

[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility 11 (Fin)

What’s worth saving, today or tomorrow? I think I’d have to go with Yoga and say tomorrow. The case for Mikuni’s way got weaker and weaker, as his numerous uses of Midas’ rotary press essentially bankrupted Japan. It was finally Yoga’s turn to stand up to him and fight to get Japan’s future back. The first half is almost non-stop action, as their duel reaches fever pitch. The combat system of [C] was always a bit dorky, but never boring, and this week was no exception. More than anything, it was basically what the whole series has been: ambitious, creative,  intriguing, and weird.

That said, there was a breakthrough, as Yoga saw Mikuni’s most powerful asset, Q, for who she was; Mikuni’s sister Takako. Q is a crazed demon-like fighter, but while fighting Mashyu, who all but became human thanks to Yoga, snapped her out of it. Yoga defeats Mikuni, and the latter ends up in a 2001-style time warping sequence in Takako’s hospital room. Basically, she wants him to stop fighting. She wants the future to unfold as it should, not be stuck in the present.

If all this sounds abstract, it is, but it was still cool. And the animation, while a bit choppy and far from perfect, was at least really bright and vivid. When Yoga reverses the rotary press, the financial district becomes all sparkly and pretty, like there are christmas lights everywhere. It is here where Mikuni says goodbye to Takako, and Yoga bids farewell to Mashyu, who now well and truly loves him. Their passionate kiss seems a bit strange after Yoga earlier saw her as a daughter-like figure, but whatevs.

When he returns to the real world, things look pretty good – the Sky Tree is back, and the city is clean and cared-for, people are prosperous. The teacher’s family appears to be back. Hanabi also seems back to normal, but doesn’t seem to know him anymore. In an interesting twist, Japan is now using dollars, the yen having literally vanished into nothingness (a nice tie-in with the opening sequence). But the financial district isn’t gone, and neither is Mazakaki, or his godlike boss, who makes a cryptic appearence here. Still, I don’t see Yoga going back to Midas anytime soon. He could never get back everything he lost. He’s learned the cost of playing around with the future. Rating: 4

P.S.: About a year ago this month, I snapped a picture of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Nihombashi. Coincidence? Well, yes, actually.

[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility 10

We’ve known for a while now that Kimimaro Yoga would eventually have to dael with Mikuni mano-a-mano, and this episode set up that climactic battle, which will have to wait until the final episode. This week, the question was answered: How can Mikuni be stopped? Mr. Goldteeth (Taketazaki) and Satou counsel Yoga on the need to acquire the “darkness card” from Mikuni; without it, he cannot start the rotary presses that make Midas Money, which saps the future from Japan.

Yoga doesn’t like Mikuni’s scortched earth strategy, nor his vow to die with his asset Q, if necessary. Yoga doesn’t want Mashyu to die; he even keeps her out of half of his deal with Kutsui. He’s acting more and more like her father, because, well, she is his daughter; his future by any other name. He eventually relents, letting Mashyu fight, and Kutsui is wasted. However, Satou underestimates Mikuni’s power and goes bankrupt, leaving Yoga alone, but bequeathing her cuddly asset Georges to him.

I’m not exactly sure, but something, possibly that, led to Yoga’s card turning black, giving him the power to reverse the presses. Of course, Mikuni has to be neutralized in order to prevent the endless cycle of starting and stopping the press. Meanwhile, Taketazaki is causing hyperinflation and crashing the yen, Mikuni’s power base, making me believe the victor of the coming final deal may have to rely on more than Midas Money to prevail. And then there’s Masakaki, pointing upward at where he gets his orders. Will whoever they are come into play before the end? I’m rearin’ to know. Rating: 4



P.S.: 
Shinjuku LOVE Sign Cameo FTW! I’ve been there…

P.P.S.: I’d be ridiculously remiss if I didn’t mention how totally and completely the soundtrack rocked this week. Epic, cinematic stuff befitting what’s on the line.

 

[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility 9

[C] finally makes its apearance as a menacing force of nature that devolves whatever civilization it comes into contact with. We saw a glimpse of this when the Tokyo skyline shrunk, but this week it happened all over East Asia; Singapore was totally wiped out and Shanghai became a shadow of its former self. Mikuni, backed by his guild, makes a deal with the devil (Masakaki) to secure funds to stage a last-minute buy that saves Japan from utter ruin, but at a humongous price. The GDP, economy, and infrastructure devolve more than a decade (this is obviously a reference to the real-life “lost decade”, birth rates plummet, and Tokyo is steeped in poverty and squalor.

This was another “jumper” like episode three in its first half, going back and forth through the timeline, unfolding how Mikuni managed to do what he did. But it was only a band-aid, and Yoga doesn’t believe it was worth it. Satou agrees, and they both agree to work to restore the future they had lost. Enter Mashyu: Yoga learns from Mr. Goldteeth that his father had an asset called Mua that looked just like Mashyu. He changed his tune about his father, who clearly had far nobler designs than he initially thought. Similarly, Yoga gets the idea that Mashyu was meant to be his own daughter, but joining Midas meant selling her for collateral. Assets are lost dreams personified.

As much as Mashyu has grown, she is still only an asset. Yoga wants her to be a real girl, and he wants everyone still in his life to have their futures repaired. This includes a Hanabi and a store manager who have totally given up. Indeed, the whole country has, which is why no one is being born. He can’t accept this Japan, and he won’t let it stay that way. They tried it Mikuni’s way, now it’s time for him to spring into action. No more sitting on the sidelines, no more soul-searching. Only…what are they going to do? Rating: 4

[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility 8

The shit really starts to hit the fan this week, as the real world is beset by a pandemic of apathy and melancholy as Tokyo empties and decays at an alarming rate; far faster than I expected. After narrowly saving him from suicide, Yoga is distressed to hear that Ebara’s future has run out. The present is dying too. The guild’s previous measures proved ineffective. It’s a very unnerving course of events.

Yoga wants to pay to have Ebara’s future restored. He pleads with Masakaki to no avail; the bank just doesn’t work that way, and it’s above his pay grade. If the district runs out of money, it means all possibility in the future has been consumed, hence making the present or now not only irrelevant, but impossible. Mikuni and the guild attempt desperate measures, and a mention is repeatedly made to [C], whatever it is.

While in a Midas taxi, Yoga has a most unusual (and distinctively animated) dream about the birth of Mashyu, which could mean any number of things. Are assets like Mashyu and Q remnants of a Entre’s future that never was? The episode ends on a cliffhanger, as the counter runs down to zero and creepy, awful things start happening. Yoga seems powerless at this point, and all he can do is wait and see if the guild can salvage things. Rating: 4

[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility 7

This episode of [C] is reflective. First, we get the story of Mikuni’s past, which to a large degree explains his present methods and motives. His father taught him that when enough money is bound together, it ceases to be money, and becomes power. The lust for this power led his father to abandon a chance to save his own daughter’s life, and he forcably prevented Mikuni from taking action. Before breathing her last, Mikuni’s sister Takako told him to treasure things like “tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year”, because they’re all things she’ll never see.

After her death, he closed himself off, and got a visit from the Midas dude just a bit too late to save his sister. This got him off on the wrong foot with the financial district, and after fighting deals and learning the system, he began to believe Midas was directionless, merely mocking and playing with people’s destinies at will. It was chaos, and with the guild, he sought to bring order. He may have learned a lot from his father, but his father’s success, in effect, cost him his daughter’s life. Mikuni will be damned if he’s going to allow such a thing to happen again. And is it just me, or does Takako vaguely resemble his asset Q?

The second half is all about Mashyu’s adjustment to having Yoga as an entre, their relationship becoming close and oddly human (despite the fact she isn’t human), and realizing why people like Mikuni and Satou want him to lend them his strength. He’s seemingly the only one she sees in the financial district who is so completely unsure about everything, and yet, when he does act, it’s always significant in one way or another. He hesitates because he won’t act unless his heart is sure of it. A nice parallel to this is waving off Mashyu kissing him, because she needs to “like him 30 times more” to be able to kiss him.

While only four episodes now remain in [C], I’m glad the series took the time to paint two rich character narratives this week. Both Mikuni and Mashyu will be far more interesting to watch, judging from the new things we know about them, and we also learned about how Yoga fits into their respective pictures. It’s also a bit chilling when Yoga notices that the Shinjuku skyline is missing skyscrapers: when people lose their future in the district, more than people and power disappears. That just punctuated just how unnervingly, insidious and dangerous Midas can be. Rating: 4

[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility 6

Fight and win, or pass and protect the possibility of your future? That’s the choice the oft-reluctant to commit Yoga Kimimaro must make once confronted by Sennoza, a very wealthy and successful fellow entre. He’s 56-1 and worth more than 9 billion. In the real world he’s a celebrity philanthropist. He offers Yoga the same thing he offers all his opponents: pass on a deal with him. Doing so costs an amount equal to half the passer’s fortune, but Sennoza offers to front that money, so Yoga essentially loses nothing.

In the real world, mulling over his decision, Yoga is ‘kidnapped’ by Satou, who is armed with french fries, three flavors of hamburger, and information. Satou sees that Yoga isn’t just interested in money, and wants him to join her cause of bringing down the financial world, one system at a time. This includes the Starling Guild he just joined, but doing so would secure the future of the country and balance its economy.

As I said, no one’s ever passed on Sennoza, and only one person has ever beaten him: Mikuni, natch. Mikuni finds his theories interesting, but unproven and unrealistic. Yoga continues to mull right up to the opening of his deal with Kennoza, and kind of half-heartedly decides not to pass. Sennoza attacks with ruthless abandon, crippling and eviserating poor Mashyu within seconds. It seems like its over for Yoga and his cute asset. This was another episode with some nice, if relatively inconsequential, exchanges between them.

Interestingly, the climax of the battle where Yoga turns the tables isn’t shown; only the aftermath, with Sennoza and Yoga on an empty baseball diamond, Sennoza the loser. It’s clear that he’s likely lost much or all of his fortune, but isn’t bitter, angry, or remorseful. IN fact, he seems to be glad to be rid of so much evil Midas cash. It would seem, at least this week, that Yoga agreed with Mikuni: fighting and winning (barely) is the tried-and-true method. But there’s still Satou’s route to consider. She and Yoga were followed by an ominous Crown Majesta – perhaps that was Mikuni keeping an eye on them? Rating: 4

[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility 5

This episode elaborated on Mikuni’s and the Starling Guild’s mission: to balance the two worlds, the ordinary and the financial. Both are realities that aren’t going away, and so Mikuni would rather dirty his hands keeping the balance and the peace than the alternative. There are other, less charitable “men of means” who let greed rule their desicion-making. They enter into extremely violent and expensive deals that make a huge impact on the real world. Negating those effects is also an expensive job.

It’s hard to argue with Mikuni’s strategy, he and the guild are wealthy enough to shoulder Japan’s national debt singlehandedly, and he does this for no other reason than to minimize the suffering of the innocent. Bad deals can ruin not just the lives and futures of the entres involved, but the countless people their real world ventures support. Case in point, when an fat-cat entre loses big, he is indicted for embezzlement in the real world and his pharma corp goes bust. Mikuni has to buy off their debt to prevent 10,000 people from being kicked to the curb.

The first time Yoga tries to minimize the damage in a deal, he barely loses rather than barely wins. He is unnerved when afterwards his driver tells him sometimes even a minor loss in the financial world can have a disproportionally large negative effect on the real one. Fortunately, for Yoga this consists only of appendicitis for his aunt and a failed test for him. Hanabi is unaffected. But he’ll have to be careful in the future if he wants it to be livable. His poor professor is now alone, his wife having left him, and his place is a mess: a walking, talking admonition. However little future is lost is lost for good.

For now, Yoga still seems to harbor a vague dislike for Midas money, and he isn’t altogether unjustified in doing so. But nor can he find an alternative to what Mikuni and the Guild are doing, so he joins. He also seems to be perhaps the only entre who treats his asset as less of a tool and more of a sidekick, even feeding her ramen. But I hope Yoga takes a clearer stand one way or another and stops waffling about his role moving forward. Rating: 3.5

[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility 4

Yoga’s opponent turns out not to be his father, but one of his professors, Ebara-sensei. Thanks to quick thinking from Mishu, Yoga is able to defeat him, and he learns exactly what defeat means. The fight was continually dotted with a scene in the real world where Ebara’s wife is in the class, pregnant with their third child. But when Yoga meets with Ebara after class, his wife isn’t pregnant anymore, and they have no other children. For Ebara, those children were the future he put on collateral when he became an Entre.

Yoga feels terrible, but Ebara doesn’t blame him; he lost fair and square, but he will have to live with the consequences. Interestingly, the only other person with memories he ever had children is Yoga, his opponent. So he doesn’t want Yoga to lose. Moreover, Mikuni has created an organization – the Starling Guild – that seeks to maximize profit by minimizing the effect of deal outcomes on the real world. Now it’s more clear why Yoga’s dad committed suicide – he had gained so much, that when he went bankrupt, so much of his world changed, he couldn’t deal. Mikuni seeks to avoid that, and puts on quite a show doing just that.

For him, deals is more about winning and losing. It’s about preventing Midas Bank from overly influencing real world events. When Starling Guild has 50% share – and the promise of never going bankrupt is a good recruiting tool – they believe they can start influencing events in the financial world, turning the tables so to speak. What is interesting is that Masakaki allows this behavior; you’d think he’d want to amass as much “future” as possible.

Yoga is weary of his potential, much to the chagrin of his asset – but a lot of that is due to the guilt of defeating people and what it means. He isn’t heartless. So his goal in future deals will not be to “win” outright, but strive to simply “not lose” and thus not totally ruin his opponents. Rating: 4

[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility 3

This episode is a bit of a “jumper” – dancing from one POV to another, and from another timeframe to another. But it holds together quite well; despite being a bit bemused and dizzy at times, I was never lost about what was going on. And a lot went on. First, there’s a mole of sorts – from the IMF – is in the Far East Financial District. She’s called Satou, she liked lollipops (and to eat in general), and is investigating Yoga, Mida’s banks newest Entre.

Meanwhile, Yoga visits his aunt, who shows him his father’s lifebox (my term, not the shows – a lifebox is a storytelling device that efficiently helps the audience learn about a person or their past). His diary only contains numbers…and a drawing of the design on a Midas bill. Yup, his dad was an entre too, and it’s the reason he abandoned his wife and Yoga. This sends Yoga into a brief angsting session (even drawing his hood over his face so he can cry angsty tears).

But Mikuni sets him straight: he believes Yoga wishing for a normal, predictable life is the same as Mikuni’s father operated: solely for one’s own sake. Yoga’s dad fought and earned in the District for the sake of his family. He sacrificed his normal life so that Yoga could have one. Mikuni strives to earn for the greater good. When one makes money and spends it, others benefit from the spending. Saving only helps the saver (this is not exactly ironclad economic theory, but whatevs.)

Honestly, with their almost identical eye and hair color, I suspected Mikuni could have been Yoga’s father, but Yoga’s deal opponent at the end could be his father. Whoever Yoga’s father turns out to be, or was, if he’s dead, Yoga has the classic “go in his footsteps” or “step out of his shadow” choice to make. Meanwhile, Satou and the IMF are concerned about the Midas money flowing into reality…but fear stopping that flow carelessly could have dire consequences, financial or otherwise. Rating: 4

[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility 2

This week Yoga is acquainted with his “asset” (Mashu, a cybernymph, of sorts) and has to fight in his first “deal” (duel) with another fellow player of the game. Losing means going bankrupt, which isn’t pleasant, either in the financial or real world. Fortunately, Mashu is an extraordinarily strong asset, and with her guidance he’s able to win. Also fortunately, while she’s scantily clad, she’s not a squeaky-voiced goofball, but actually quite surly, and fanservice is kept to a minimum.

Winning means a payoff. A considerable one, as when he returns to the real world (the whole ordeal was like a dream), he finds more than 33 million yen in his bank account and starts spending a little freer. His friend Hanabi notices his unfrugal-for-him behavior. He’s also able to talk with Mashu just by talking to the funky card he’s been given. He also suddenly sees banknotes that look normal to everyone else as strange, sinister, black notes from the Midas Bank.

One of his potential rivals, Mikuni, is the only other person his asset Q can recall winning his first deal. She also points out that it was while he was trying to save her, just as Yoga was treating Mashu like a human. But while Mikuni’s gained ambition and rises to challenges, Yoga still wants a normal life with normal pay, and no more. It’s pretty clear that aiming that low could get him hurt in the financial world. While not nearly in as dire a situation as Deadman Wonderland’s Ganta, Yoga nevertheless has stepped into something much bigger than himself, and must adjust to survive. Rating: 4

[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility – First Impressions

Okay, it’s official: this season rules. At least as far as first episodes go. Control: The Money of Soul and Possibility is definitely the weirdest series, but that’s why I likes it. It starts a little cryptically; laying everything out without too much explanation, but that’s okay. Sometimes the best way to get things started is to just jump in.

As for our protagonist, Yoga, he is trying to make his own way in cold, unyielding capitalist Tokyo. He dreams of a fixed income with a fixed lifestyle; nothing too fancy, just a modest life with a wife and kids. What we all want, right? But he works numerous jobs while taking university classes, and only has $80 in the bank. Not enough to even go out for drinks. And certainly not enough for a girlfriend.

So up pops a surreal clown-like banker-dude who offers membership into a surreal bank. Yoga initially refuses, but when he suddenly finds 500,000 yen ($6,000) in his account and withdraws some of it, the bait is basically taken. Yoga is a scrupulous fellow who slipped up due to simple human greed, and now he’s by default a member of Midas Bank, which takes one’s “future” (read: life) as collateral in exchange for cash.

It also involves fighting other bank members with elaborate weapons and summoned entities in a crazed-out cyber-dimension, as well as pretty elf-like sidekicks. We don’t know much more about all that, but I’m sure we’ll learn soon. There’s a lot to like about Control: it’s got big, interesting ideas and a big budget to express them. The opening and ending (school food punishment) are the best this season. Looking forward to how strange Yoga’s life is going to get. Rating: 3.5