Saturday, August 7, 2010

The School's Trees: Y'Know, I Don't Like Cats..(Katsuki's Arc)

My apologies for being late once again, but finals and a friend's wake make meeting deadlines a little difficult. Pray for the soul of Angela, please? She died Monday.

Katsuki's arc is, by far, the strangest arc in Clannad. It's strange because it has nothing and everything to do with the plot, and is inconsequential yet essential. Do not let the fact that this arc is only two episodes long and only shows about 10 or so minutes of the main characters fool you. This is possibly the most important arc in the entire anime. Why? Because it shows the rules of how the lights work. And that's necessary to see how Ushio is allowed to allow Tomoya to bring Nagisa back. But, before that, I'd like to look at the tradition of animals-become-humans in Key's history, most notably in Kanon

Makoto 

As some of you might not be aware, I'm gonna bring this up: most of Clannad is not original, but are plot devices borrowed from earlier Key works. I won't say all of the stuff they borrowed (for fear of spoiling a really beautiful ending in Kanon), but one of the things they borrowed was the animal becoming a human thing. They borrowed it from their work Kanon, which showcases a fox-girl known as Makoto. In Kanon Makoto is a fox who is befriended by the main character during his summer break. She (the fox) falls in love with the main character and wishes to be with him, and somehow that wish is granted. Enter the redhead in the above picture. Eventually the spell wears out and she regresses into fox-dom, saying her trademark "Awu!" more and more often. Eventually she dies and disappears, never to be seen again. It was beautiful. It was sad. I hated it. 


Why?

Her voice in Japanese is so bloody annoying!!! I hate, and I mean hate, that "awu!" sound that she makes! Gah! I was almost cheering when she died, if only because I didn't have to hear that bloody sound anymore. Makoto almost ruined Kanon for me, and I was desperate to see what the rest of the anime had to offer. Shortly thereafter, Kanon proved itself in my eyes. Granted, that took 12 episodes, but hey. Belief is a good thing...

Anyway!

Katsuki is Key's latest take on this concept, and as far as I'm aware it's their last. And just as well, because this arc is beautiful. From start to finish this story is hilarious, poignant, heartbreaking, heartwarming, it's all over the place. Katsuki shows up to Sagara while she's in highschool, and tells her that he can grant any one wish for her. It takes two episodes to convince her,but the journey along the way is nothing short of amazing. Kaktsuki shows that he's an animal in a very subtle way. He's loyal to the point of stupidity, doesn't entirely understand human interaction, and doesn't self reflect in the way that most humans do. Katsuki acts like a very sweet cat, even in human form, which is why the following scene a bit heart wrenching...



This covers the first rule of making a wish: Be specific. Sagara and Katsuki had no idea that Katsuki was a cat, so she only asked for him to love her forever. Katsuki's form was not permanent, but a temporary shell granted to him by The Light so he could accomplish his mission. To ask for the wish to be granted would take away his "shell", and would return him to being a cat. It's a sad moment, but unfortunately neither one of them knows, so therefore they can't make the proper wish. But are they really supposed to to? I mean, Katsuki was a cat to begin with, and therefore his destiny wasn't supposed to stay intertwined Sagara, nevermind any human. To have him stick around as a cat already "bends" the rules of the world, but to have him stay human? This brings up a tentative second rule: The wish must be made personally. It can't be just whispered to the heavens, but to a real person standing in front of you. This is one of the most genius things in Clannad, because how many people have had their wishes granted by a random occurence? Not very often. But by people? Almost all the time. Katsuki becoming a person was a natural part of the process, and shows some amount of intelligent design in the wish making process. To have something this complex and personal implies a personal God looking over the scene and letting it happen.


"But God denied the wish", you might say. "If God existswhy did He deny the wish? "It certainly seems like God "screened" her wish, decided it wasn't the best for her, and changed it, doesn't it? The why's summed up later, when Tomoya tells Sagara that she needs to continue to live and find as much happiness as possible. This brings up the third of these rules: The wish made must give you true happiness. If there's a better way, God will take that instead, while granting your wish in a way that doesn't interfere with your greater happiness. While Katsumi was supposed to be in Sagara's life for a time, the fact that he's a cat originally means that he shouldn't (and couldn't) be there for Sagara in the way needed. He already showed a lack of understanding in human interaction, but imagine as time went on and they had kids. Can you imagine a human that was formally a cat attempt to take care of children?  I mean, licking can be fun and all, but it's a tad bit ridiculous when you do that to your own kids. Not that we ever saw Kastumi do something like that, but you get the idea. Also, Kastumi was able to say "When you took me down like a pro wrestler, I could smell your scent" without a hint of blush as he did. Guys, would you like to try that on your girlfriends without the least bit of innuendo there? Go on, go and say it to her, come back, and tell me how that went.


OK, did she think you were being gross and that you were coming onto her, while you felt horribly shamed for existing? That's a sign that you're not a cat, but a normal guy. Relish the shame, guys, relish the shame.


All joking aside, what I'm getting at is this. Katsumi was never intended to be human, and so therefore wasn't built like one. As much as he loved Sagara it really was the love of a pet for his master. Need proof? Look at the sentimental ending for this arc.






In short, what Sagara was asking for wasn't the best option, so God took her request and granted it in the way that He could: Katsumi would become a cat again, and would follow Sagara forever. While it isn't the ending that we were looking for, it is proof that someone is on the other side of curtain, pulling strings so everyone can become happy. Sagara got what she really needed: a pet that she could be kind to all the time. And Kastumi got what he wanted: a kind and loving master. And God, in His infinite wisdom, allowed that to be so. While we don't necessarily see at the time why God allows certain things to be a certain way God sometimes needs to deny us of what we think we want so that He can give us what we really want. This is the heart and message of this arc: God will always give us what's truly in our hearts.


God is good, even when we don't understand why. And for that I am thankful.

A thanks to Clannad Central for uploading the videos for me separate of Brandon (and hopefully Sean). I had a lot going on this week in the form of finals and my friend Angela's death. I hope you guys don't mind (not that you have a choice), but I'm going to talk about her a bit. 


I had left McDonald's three years ago, proclaiming that I'd rather be homeless than work there again. It wasn't that the people I was working with were bad. I hated the job itself. So when I became desperate three years later, I realized that my earlier proclamation was... not as strong as I'd anticipated. I was back in McDonald's. And that alone made me want to puke. I wanted nothing to do with that place, and was bitter that the circumstances of my life had led me back to the one job that I couldn't stand.


Angela made that place bearable for the first few months as I readjusted. She was kind (even when I wasn't,) let me know when I screwed up (even when others wouldn't), and asked me an incessant amount of questions about myself (especially when others wouldn't). In short, she became my friend. I warmed up to her, and in consequence, the other people in the store, and before I knew it working there was just a chore that was lightened by the presence of people that I knew and trusted. While I never hung out with her outside of work I thought of her often and hoped that, whatever she was doing, she was happy and at peace.


Imagine my surprise on Thursday when I found out that Angela had died Monday. 


I won't get into the details on a blog (I'll only say that she wasn't a suicide), but please pray for her. She is my friend, and I hope to goodness that she'll be waiting for me when I go Home, because I think she'd want to be there. Thank you for your patience, understanding, and prayers. God bless.