Tasogare Otome x Amnesia 10 – to accept your own darkness
June 15, 2012 Leave a comment
Tasogare Otome x Amnesia is a tale of two people, one who lives a life filled with joy and happiness, while the other has lived a life full of pain, anger and resentment. In this series we have had both of their stories, but the twist here is that they are the same person, each living a different, but also, the same life. Yuuko is a character that is both easy to understand, while also being incredibly complex and difficult. We cannot simply say that one Yuuko is the true Yuuko, and while we may have seen more of the Yuuko, and less of Dark Yuuko, they are both equally important to the story and its narrative.
Shadow Yuuko is a character that represents in a physical form all the anger and resentment that Yuuko felt during her final moments; she is the very embodiment of pain and hatred. And yet at the same time, she is also a much more complex character, one who holds the complicated feelings of anger, guilt, sadness, and perhaps hope that Yuuko felt when she was sacrificed to appease the vengeful spirits of the land. Initially she was pushed away by Yuuko to hide in the shadows and keep all the negative emotions that she was so afraid of in check. However, with the appearance of Niiya, along with the mutual feelings of love, all these negative emotions, thoughts and feelings have once again come to the surface.
Yuuko as a character is tremendously afraid of her own emotions, so afraid that she pushed them to once side with such fore that Dark Yuuko was formed. We see the effect that Niiya’s appearance has had on Yuuko, with both positive and negative emotions reappearing at last. Her attitude towards Niiya was initially a sort of playful love, something that a child might feel, and while she was, and continues to be tremendously attached to him, there were different reasons for this. To Yuuko, Niiya perhaps helped her to find a place in the world; he became central to her sense of purpose in life. His ability to see her, and also interact with her both emotionally, and physically, as if she were a real human slowly became the way in which Yuuko rationalised her existence, giving her form and function.
And yet, his very presence also hurt her, or at least frightened her. Yuuko was scared, and remains scared of her emotions regardless of what they are, she is afraid of their destructive power and how even the most positive of feelings can become negative. By creating Dark Yuuko through forcibly pushing her emotions away, Yuuko’s view on the world becomes distorted, and unnatural creation of her own weakness and fear. Niiya is utterly central to her world, and yet she is afraid of the emotions, especially those she has never felt before that he creates in her. She is someone who has never truly felt love, at least not for someone outside of her family.
This emotion is incredibly strong and can be positive, yet it has the potential to be destructive and dangerous. To someone who was incapable of dealing with the strength and power of her own emotions, such a feeling is frightening, as if she is being swallowed by a great wave without any hope of escape. Her reaction was as emotional as it was violent, physically and psychologically pushing Niiya away in an attempt to maintain the unnatural equilibrium that has existed until his appearance.
However, both Niiya and Yuuko finally realised the importance that their emotions and their relationship has to the other. But, in doing so, Yuuko not only lets in the positive emotions that she has towards Niiya, but starts to remember and recognise the negative emotions and feelings that she has kept locked away for over fifty years. In a sense, by admitting to her own feelings of love and affection for Niiya, Yuuko has opened the floodgates to her past, and is in danger of being washed away in the ensuing flood. The effect of allowing fifty years of repressed anger, sadness, fear, loathing and spite loose is a dark and dangerous prospect, one that Yuuko attempts to escape from.
What is fascinating is the part Niiya plays in this, and while he may seem to abandon her at times, he consistently notices the problems that Yuuko faces. By attempting to save Yuuko from Dark Yuuko who appears to try and swallow her whole, thus consuming all the good that she has done in the world, Niiya is shown a glimpse of her past. We see that Yuuko was once a very emotional girl, someone who exhibited the childish playfulness that we have seen numerous times throughout the series, along with a more series and perhaps dangerous side to her character. What we see is the complete Yuuko, a complicated character who leads a relatively charmed life, and yet still worries about those who surround her.
She is someone who does lash out at those around her, but out of concern, or perhaps exasperation at a situation where everyone is more concerned with their own wellbeing. She continues to care for a young girl, despite her sister’s pleas to stop, fearing that Yuuko may contract the plague. It is a complex web of feelings and beliefs that surrounded Yuuko in the past, one where interweaving emotions only further adds to the complexity of the situation. Yuuko is doing what she believes to be right, while at the same time her sister Yukariko (Kirie’s Grandmother) is afraid of loving a sister who she loves dearly.
What we see through Yuuko’s memories is how the fear of the plague, along with the belief that by building their school on top of an old shrine has angered the gods, thus damning the village. The village elders are driven by abject fear, not only for their lives, but also their reputations; it is a fear that pushes them into an extreme situation, one, which eventually leads Yuuko to her death. Yuuko lives after WWII, a period of rebuilding and growth, and one where the old ways of Japan are forcibly pushed to one side, although not forgotten. She lives in an age of science and mechanisation (as she herself points out), but at the same time, the old beliefs in the gods remains strong, particularly amongst the elders of the village.
They are pushed by their own feelings of fear and anxiety to offer a human sacrifice to the gods of the land in the hope that they will be appeased. They choose Asa (the girl who Yuuko is caring for) as the Red Woman, the messenger of the gods who will ultimately choose the human sacrifice. It is a clash of cultures and ideals, one where the power of long held beliefs in the gods and the power that they have over the minds and hearts of humans push the good nature of Yuuko to one side. In a sense, Yuuko is not killed by any one person, but by their belief in the power of the gods, it is the clash of cultures and ideals that kills her in the end.
Yuuko is a tragic character, someone who deeply cared for her village and the people in it; someone who was willing to offer herself up as a sacrifice in order to save the lives of others. At one point the Yuuko of the present suggests that she willingly gave herself as a sacrifice, and in a way this is indeed true, although at the same time she was forced by the madness of the elders. When she is thrown into the pit below the school, the first thing that Yuuko asks is how sacrificing someone to the gods will cure anyone’s sickness, thus demonstrating her ability to reason, despite her predicament. It is a sad moment when Yuuko continues to believe that by becoming the sacrifice she is able to save Asa and Yukariko from a similar fate, as if her death is serving a higher purpose.
What lends this scene power is the presence of Niiya, someone who sees all this, but is unable to stop it. He loves Yuuko, and has to sit there and watch her die, watch her feelings of love be twisted into those of hatred. But once again we see how the situation itself begins to twist and distort Yuuko’s feelings and the purpose that she has given herself. Changing her emotions and feelings of love, twisting them into fear, hatred and a thirst for vengeance. She has both given herself over to this fate, while at the same time holding a strong desire to live, calling for a doctor, for help, for anyone. It is a sad moment when we see the birth of Dark Yuuko; along with the separation of herself from the negative emotions that Yuuko continues to feel, as if in doing so she will find peace.
It is clear that Yuuko’s death was a painful one, both physically and psychologically; it was something that changed her life, and afterlife forever. Such feelings of hatred and fear were so scary to Yuuko that she pushed them away in order to find peace, and yet, by doing so created Dark Yuuko. We have come to recognise that Yuuko both hated those who killed her; while at the same time felt glad that her death has saved those she loves. Neither feeling is false, and neither Yuuko is the real one, rather they are two sides of the same coin, light and dark. However, by continuously running away from the negative emotions that she felt before her death, Yuuko has only made the darkness in her stronger.
What is quite clear however, is that Yuuko is not perfect, she is a person who feels hatred, fear, anger, and resentment, but she has been incapable of reconciling with tese feelings, thus giving rise to Dark Yuuko. At the centre of all this is Niiya, a person who at first may appear inconsequential in the face of the overwhelming power that Yuuko’s negative emotions has, but is nevertheless incredibly important. Yuuko must reconcile with her past, forgiving those who did this to her, while at the same time forgiving herself and coming to terms with the darkness in her past. But in order to do so she needs Niiya, he must be capable of accepting everything about Yuuko, thus allowing her both sides of her to finally come together again. Without his support, and ability to accept everything about her, no matter how dark, painful and terrible, the Yuuko that we have see throughout the series will be swallowed up by the darkness of her past.