[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 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 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