Tasogare Otome x Amnesia 11 – Acceptance
June 22, 2012 2 Comments
One of the main themes present throughout this series has been acceptance, or the lack of it. Central to Yuuko’s amnesia has been her inability to accept the darkness in her past and move on with her life. She is someone who took this inability to accept the darkness to the extreme, thus pushing her fear, hatred and pain away, thus creating Shadow Yuuko. It is in effect the central reason for her current predicament, along with being the idea, the very centre of the stories involving Yuuko and the academy. If she had been capable of accepting her negative side many of the stories and horrible things that surround her name may have never existed. And yet, while this is easy to say, it is significantly harder to put into action, and it is precisely because of this that Yuuko exists in the first place.
The memories that Niiya saw embody both pain, but also joy and happiness. Yuuko lived a wonderful life with a family, who cared for her deeply, and in the case of Yukariko possibly too much, and ignoring, or perhaps not even noticing the feelings with which Yuuko cared for those in the village. That Yuuko lived such a peaceful and wonderful life further adds to pain and tragedy of her death. The vast difference between her life and the pain of her death was too much for Yuuko, making her question her own beliefs and ideals. Seeing Yuuko begin to get angry, questioning reasons behind her sacrifice, cursing those who have killed her, and even cursing Asa who called out her name is heartbreaking. Even more so when she quickly questions her curses, attempting to suggest that it isn’t what she meant, and that all of this is a mistake. Yuuko is effectively slipping into the dream world, one of her own creation, free from sin, from pain, from anger and from hatred.
On several occasions the pain of her past has come back to haunt Yuuko (a curious but apt way of describing this considering she is herself a ghost), showing her that the life she is living is not complete. We have seen how her wish to remove all emotions that can be painful ended in her violently pushing Niiya away, thus breaking his leg. Yuuko’s fear of her past manifests itself throughout the series, both physically, but also mentally, with forced amnesia on specific memories and events. At first Niiya did not fully understand the reason behind Yuuko’s amnesia, thinking that it was perhaps part of something more mysterious or supernatural. However, over the course of the series, Niiya, along with the viewers have been gradually shown pieces of her past, fragmented memories and shattered dreams.
We now know that her amnesia is not something supernatural (even if she is a ghost), but rather it was brought on by Yuuko in an attempt to banish the pain in her past. By finally discovering, and seeing Yuuko’s memories, Niiya has come to understand the tremendous pain and hatred that her death created, and why Shadow Yuuko exists. And yet, finally seeing into her memories and uncovering the reasons behind Yuuko’s amnesia now once again separate Niiya from Yuuko. Because he has seen her past memories, along with all the painful experiences and destructive emotions that Yuuko pushed away with such force, she can no longer see Niiya for who he truly is. Because of her abject fear of the past, Yuuko forcibly created Shadow Yuuko, but at the same time cannot see Shadow Yuuko.
The eyes cannot see what the mind is unwilling to accept, refusing to acknowledge the existence of everything that Yuuko wishes to forget. By seeing and experiencing the pain in her past, Niiya is suddenly the same as Shadow Yuuko, embodying all the pain and resentment that Yuuko wishes to keep locked up forever. However, unlike the previous time when Yuuko forcibly pushes Niiya way due to the fear she felt when experience new emotions, this is slightly different. She does not forget about Niiya, but much like how students are incapable of seeing her, cannot see him, much like with other students being unable to see Yuuko, despite her presence, she is incapable of seeing Niiya.
In previous episodes we have learned that under normal circumstances the students of Seikyou Academy cannot see Yuuko because to them the presence of a ghost is illogical, and their minds do not let them see her. Niiya is naturally a special case, not only because of his apparent ability to see the supernatural, but because he shares an incredibly special, and very deep connection with Yuuko. There are however certain circumstances that allow those who cannot normally see ghost to be able to catch a glimpse of Yuuko. Within the haunted house there is the right sort of atmosphere to allow normal students to see Yuuko, or more accurately see what they fear the most. It is an environment that allows for the simulation of your worst fears and nightmares, with Kirie seeing herself as Yuuko, or more accurately a fake Yuuko, showing that she is most scared of herself.
However, what if the reverse was also true, and with the correct setting and set of circumstances it becomes possible to ignore what you have always been able to see. To Yuuko, her fear of the past, along with her inability to see Shadow Yuuko ends with her being incapable of seeing or even touching Niiya, despite knowing that he right next to her. The sadness that we see in Yuuko further helps to underline the importance that she places on Niiya’s company. Not only can he see her, but also he can touch and interact with her like a normal person, giving her a sense of place, and a sense of purpose. When she first loses the ability to see him that is sad, however, here there is some element of tragedy because she still knows whom Niiya is and yearns for him.
Those simple moments such as meeting at the school gate, playing around while in class or even eating lunch become heartrending tragic. Demonstrating to us how important these little moments are to Niiya and Yuuko, moments that to others may be considered inconsequential can build and grow, becoming something irreplaceable. There are parallels to Niiya’s experience of Yuuko’s memories, being close, but incapable of touching her or helping her. In a moment of weakness he even considers letting Yuuko go, rationalising that she will eventually forget about him as he will forget about her, believing that he is doing what is in Yuuko’s best interest.
Kirie’s part in this series, while sometimes slight cannot be overstated, despite her misgivings and problems with Yuuko, she is nonetheless the person who constantly pushes Niiya and Yuuko together. In his moment of weakness, brought on by the pain at being close to Yuuko, but incapable of interacting with her, Kirie is the one who brings him back from the abyss. She loves Niiya, but fully recognises the importance of his relationship with Yuuko. Her goading and pushing forces Niiya to reconsider his actions, making him realise that he will never truly be able to forget about Yuuko, and that by leaving things as they are will only leave gaping holes in their hearts. The sequence with the notebook is a fascinating one, as if they are exchanging love letters from across the gap of space and time. The notebook itself represents the bond that has grown between them, starting from their first encounter, and following their hunt for clues about Yuuko’s past and the cause of her amnesia.
It is the notebook that connects their present, past and perhaps future, while also highlighting how far apart they are, despite being physically close. And yet, despite these feelings of love and pain, Yuuko is still incapable of fully accepting the darkness in her past, she is still unable to truly see. Therein lies the central flaw with Yuuko, the kernel of her amnesia and her inability to see Niiya. Rather than being incapable of seeing Niiya, she is unwilling, fearing the pain and resentment in her past, believing that to accept that would mean the destruction of her life. Yuuko sees herself and her past in much the same way as Kirie once did, and as Yukariko (the superintendant of Seikyou Academy and Yuuko’s younger sister) sees her. Yukariko can only see Yuuko as an evil twisted visage, a dark imitation of the sister that she loved dearly, as a malign and destructive spirit that must be appeased.
It is Niiya that changes all this, he is the only on who has been capable of seeing both Yuuko’s and accepting them as one and the same. He forces Yuuko to see him, and to see her one darkness; by threatening the memories that they have made together in the club room, Niiya finally gets her to acknowledge his existence once again. And yet, even when Yuuko can finally see Shadow Yuuko she attempts to once again hide away, pushing the darkness that she fears into a corner, attempting to act as if it never existed. Shadow Yuuko is the opposite, wishing to force Yuuko to not only remember, but be swallowed up by the negative emotions that she once pushed away.
To shadow Yuuko, the pain and resentment that she feels is terrible, constantly tormenting her, and it is something that she does not deserve. The years of pain, and repressed emotions have taken their toll, creating this warped being that both wants vengeance, but also wants to be loved and cared for. The sadness that shadow Yuuko feels as her sister Yukariko looks at her in fear, the pain of all the negative emotions and feelings that have become associated with her name, and the fear if being left alone. By pushing away all her negative emotions, Yuuko has created a twisted darker version of herself, one that is only capable of cursing and feeling hatred.
What is fascinating however, is Niiya’s ability to accept all that is Yuuko; he wishes to meet and to see for himself the darkness that had been in Yuuko’s heart. While Yuuko may be afraid of it, he is capable of accepting and loving everything about her, regardless of how ugly it might at first appear. He sees that Shadow Yuuko is not a vengeful or malign spirit, but is simply as lonely as the other Yuuko. And by accepting everything about Yuuko, no matter how dark and emotional, he is able to show both Yuuko and Shadow Yuuko that they are one and the same person. They no longer need to run away from each other or resent each other because there is finally someone who is able to see and accept everything about Yuuko.
It is the acceptance of her dark past, and the acknowledgement that regardless of the events surrounding her was able to meet someone to love and cherish that bring about this resolution. There is a certain catharsis as well in the knowledge that all those who used her as a human sacrifice were eventually killed by the plague. In a sense, showing that their fear eventually led to their own demise, and that by killing Yuuko they only brought about a more painful death for themselves. We also find out that by caring for Asa, Yuuko was instrumental in bringing Niiya into the world, with Asa turning out to be Niiya’s grandmother. It has now come full circle, with Asa, forced by the village elders to play the role of the Scarlet Woman naming Yuuko as the human sacrifice, thus leading to Yuuko’s death, while Niiya her grandson rescues Yuuko from her own darkness.
But, there remain certain unanswered questions, along with the implications of such a cathartic and important moment remaining unclear. To Yuuko and Niiya there seems to be a wonderful life ahead of them, and now that Yuuko is whole, she can now truly love Niiya. But, there remain central questions about her place in this world as a ghost, along with the implications of her being tethered to Seikyou Academy. There is a worrying moment suggesting a painful parting when Yuuko’s bell snaps and falls to the ground, perhaps symbolising the parting of ways between her and Niiya. But also, we see her first attempt to pick it up fail, with the bell passing through her fingers, almost as if she is finally moving on, having come to terms and accepted the darkness in her past. It is a beautiful, but also quite tragic love that may be a brief spark in an otherwise dark night.