Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The School's Trees: NAGISA!!!!

Apparently I made quite a following back at university, because a lot of my friends from there have watched Clannad. Most of them really love it, but they always remark upon one thing: the end is deus ex machina. As I'd explained earlier, that's not how I see it. The ending is so incredibly planned and told to you over and over again that if you don't notice it it's your own fault. The writers frequently tell you that the ending is not only possible, but it's the only ending that can be. Repeat after me, kiddies: THE ENDING IS NOT DEUS EX MACHINA. A deus ex machina is where the gods come out of nowhere and rescue the protagonist, and everything ends well. Clannad defies this definition to a T. Everything is planned, and the ending is well within "the rules". Nothing sums this up like the ending the first half of Clannad, where Nagisa finally finds out about her parent's pasts. Tomoya is the first to find out so that way he can help steer Nagisa away from her search.

Unfortunately, however, Nagisa finds out the night before the play, and that goes as well as you can imagine. Nagisa has trouble accepting the idea that her own dreams are worthwhile, and this is the nail in the coffin for her. She gives up. So she stands, on the stage, unable to do anything, until Akio comes in:

Quick story time: When I first watched this speech, my jaw dropped. It wasn't that I didn't know what Akio was saying, I had just never thought of it that way before! To me this was a completely new way of thinking about parenthood, the best way that I'd ever heard. We didn't give up our dreams. We changed ours to yours. That is a parent. Something about that has dramatically impacted me ever since, because I have a dream. I want to be an iconographer. I want to be someone who makes images of God for other people to pray with so that they can go to Heaven. I also want to be a priest, someone who helps guide people to Heaven through my example and prayers. This is the first time that I asked "Is that enough? Is it enough to only want things to that make me happy? Even if they're done for the sake of everyone?" To this day I can't answer that question. I hope to be able to someday, but for now all I can do is follow my dreams and hope that, in fulfilling my dream, I can make my children's dreams possible as well. The fact that Akio was not given that chance is something that I haven't missed. Nagisa was too sick for Akio to do what he wished, but it didn't matter, because Nagisa came first. She was Akio's dream, even moreso than theatre. And that's the way it should be. I'm sure that if Akio had the chance to keep doing theatre he would, if it meant that Nagisa could be taken care of. But those two dreams couldn't be compatible for him, so he threw away the theatre.

Oh well, I'll know if/when I get there.

A brief explanation of Nagisa is in order. I'm sure quite a few of you are wondering "Why the hell is Nagisa like this? She's got such awesome parents! How could she be this weak?" Fortunately I can shed light on this in a way that many people can't. My last year in highschool I relapsed with Lyme's Disease. That basically means that if I don't take care of myself I have three ending options: A) Go blind   B) Go crazy  C) Have all those things happen AND I die in slowly, with all my nerves on fire. For the next four years I grappled with this disease. During that time I lost (for limited times, thank God) the ability to trust my senses, my ability to walk, my ability to think clearly (if at all), and the ability control my emotions. The disease is in control now (thanks to the smart managing of what I eat, turns out the disease damaged my body so I can't have dairy or eggs without getting depressed and tired), but one thing sticks with me: fear. Nothing will take away your courage faster than finding out that your very body isn't reliable. It doesn't matter how strong the people around you are, or how much they believe in you. Your body failed you, and that changes everything. For if your own body won't work with you, then what will? Certainly not the world, because it made the rules that your body can't live up to. Certainly not your friends. They can't understand because their bodies don't fail them in that dramatic of a fashion. And sure as hell not God, who gave you the body that fails you so often. If your body can't help, what can?

That's Nagisa's problem. Nagisa's body has done nothing but fail her for a long time now, and so she won't trust in her dreams. Why would she WANT to? Her body can't carry them out, so why bother wishing? And if others have dreams why be so presumptuous as to cancel them out with your own, since the possibility for failure is so high? Better to fail at your own dreams and let others carry on. This is what keeps Nagisa back. This is her fear. Her body has failed her before, and so she doesn't want to get in the way. She almost wants to  die, so that others can carry on with their dreams. She has gotten so used to the idea that her body makes it impossible that she's willing to just lay down arms at the first sight of trouble! The fact that Nagisa even voiced her wishes at the beginning of the show at all shows tremendous strength and willpower. Contrary to what you may think, Nagisa is not weak. Her ability to carry on in the face of her failing body is a sign of grace and power. This is evidenced by Nagisa completing her dream after the pep talk/bashing of Akio and Tomoya. She didn't realize that everyone else had bet the farm on her, and that she needed to succeed. For the first time in her life, it didn't matter how bad Nagisa's body was. Others depended on her, and she couldn't let her own weakness get in the way.  For once Nagisa had a true reason to reach beyond herself, and she did so.

As important as it is for the characters, Akio's speech is possibly the most important speech of all of Clannad. In it he details the importance of children in a family, and that a parent's dreams (and happiness) depends on the child doing whatever he wants. In essence, a parent surrenders himself completely to his child for the child's sake. KEEP THIS IN MIND, BECAUSE THAT MEANS A LOT OF OTHER THINGS AS WELL. Like a bunch of little light orbs that you've been seeing  for awhile....but more on that later. The stage is set, and the ending's key component has been revealed. You may not see it yet, but that's perfectly fine. For those of you who've watched this show please go and check up what I've just said. You'll find that not only does it work but it's the only way. The ending is not deus ex machina, because Akio's speech exists. 

A note of appreciation to Clannad Central and to all the people that I randomly steal stuff from to get this blog to work. Thank you for your had effort, it won't be wasted!

A second note: I know I'd said before that you guys wouldn't hear anything out of me, because of my schoolwork. Well surprise, I'm sick! There's a bug going around in the house, and I'm the last one to get it. So, I decided that since I couldn't iconography done that I'd lie in my bed and type. I hope you guys are happy ;)

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