The world beyond the unseen wall “Okage: Shadow King” and the Tortoise problem
Note: This is a rough translation of an essay for Okage: Shadow King. It is a companion for the Okage review.
1 The thing that shreds the world][ 2 2 The way to trample down the classification table ][ 3 The definer’s “World”
1 The thing that shreds the world
Just one year before when I submitted my thesis I vaguely thought.
When trying to look a subject while casting a light on it, a shadow will certainly form making a part hard to see.
If we try to get closer to have a better look of a certain part, the overall perspective becomes hard to see.
If we look at the front we cannot see the back.
It is the same when thinking about something with words.
In the moment we adopt a general idea device for the sake of analysis, things will be left out from these thoughts.
Describing something is accepting that there are things that can’t be seen in it and make it a possibility. It is impossible to look at all the things at the same time so for now, the only option is to accept that there are things that we can’t see on one side before moving to the next.
The process of wanting to know something is also the process of closing the eyes at something.
When I wrote my thesis I felt like I understood something but in reality didn’t the things that I don’t know increased…?
Well, let’s move aside from this delirious talk that I though from this marc looking head, for now if we don’t break it down in some point of view, we can’t recognize the world.
Easy ways to break it down are names. The “Tama” that I keep in my parent’s house is “Tama” and at the same times is a “Siberian Husky”, a “Dog”, a “Female”, a “Mammal”, an “animal” and so on, it has many names.
Of course, I don’t say to Tama “Good morning, mammal”. Why? Because that is also the name that has Pochi and Koro that are in front of the house (they’re cats by the way) and even I share that name.
Something like “Good Morning” doesn’t cut and take out the partner.
In other words, to name is tying up the mutual as something close and at the same time making clear the difference between the things that don’t share that name.
If someone says “my foot hurts”, at least we’ll know that it’s not his stomach that hurts, by making conjectures the cause of the pain wouldn’t be food poisoning, right?
The name that was given to you shows “what you are” and “what you’re not”.
By calling a partner by some name you are ruling what they are/what they’re not.
That is something that I got to know in the past or the future (or perhaps will get to know) it indicates whether is different or the same from something.
For what purpose? In order to break down the world in a convenient way at that time.
If we couldn’t distinguish between “Red” and “Blue” by its wavelength, we wouldn’t be able to cross safely the pedestrian crossing. I wouldn’t like to eat all the mudrooms without distinction of the poisonous mushrooms and meet my death. We separate our living world in “areas of significance” according to our interest in the moment and live our everyday. (comment１).
That is why depending on the situation we make a suitable distinction, in order to not get a stomachache and die we recognize the fungus that is in front of us as a “poisonous mushroom”.
However, it’s not like the act itself of distinguishing something so suitably exists.
If we call out “My son” then the Pebble is also the tortoise’s son. If nobody disproves that then it becomes a suitable distinction way, and the baby of the tortoise that was just in the edge becomes non-existent. If it becomes like that we turn back the distinction of the tortoise…even if we recognize it as a pebble, it becomes an impossible history because “it looks stupid”.
Yes, this is the classification power that happens in “Okage: Shadow King”. A distinction that is being shared becomes one reality.( comment２). If we end up separating from a practical common convenience (maybe, by eating poisonous mushrooms most people would be troubled, right? Therefore it’ll be good to separate the mushrooms according to the presence or absence of poison, for instance), this power becomes quite arbitrary. If we say that the rainbow has seven colors or four colors, the rainbow won’t complain. What it’s said is a victory. But I wouldn’t like that it becomes a victory if someone says to me “you are stupid”, and get classified as that. Not to mention, if everybody says to me “you are becoming non-existent” there is no way that I will end up disappearing. If we think of “classification” as an influence given by others, there are classifications that we don’t want to accept in no way and that is forced on us.
And, I can´t say that “classification” is an easy choice for the person that does it. For the person that does it and the person that gets classified, a bothersome classification is probably not very pertinent. Even if that is something for the sake of only one partner, it doesn’t matter if for that person is something pleasant or not, if we try to arbitrary tie another person or thing for the sake of a stranger it will be more trouble.
“We must motivate all our thoughts, plans and actions; we must decide the problems that our thinking must solve, establishing the objectives that our actions must achieve are the interest of our subordinates.
In other words, We divide our interest into areas of significance which need a varying degree of knowledge depending on the interest, from already known/trivial areas.
Schutz, Collected Papers II “Phenomenological sociology” Kinokuniya Bookstore, 1980) ”
In the fairy-tale of Andersen “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. The kid just by saying “The king is naked”, the “finest clothes that fools cannot see” that was worn by the king and that everybody should admire became something that didn’t exist from the beginning. The dazzling embroidery they were praising and the texture that had them enchanted became something invisible for everybody in front of the reality called “the truth of a pure child”. Maybe the clothes won’t complain though. Furthermore, this part of the story is a reference to “Dream of the visionary” by Yoichi Uozumi.
[1 The thing that shreds the world][ 2 The way to trample down the classification table ][ 3 The definer’s “World”
2 The way to trample down the classification table
“Okage: Shadow King” is, after all, a history where things are “classified” by a certain character and the residents of this defined “world” dissent the “classification” of the protagonist as the center. Moreover, this objection of them comes from that “world” where they’ve been living and experiencing. The character that was defined as “Devil King” calls himself “Devil King” with a different meaning from the one intended of the definer. It is the same for the “Hero”. The source of the power they have to pass through the definer’s intention it’s a mutual exchange that the rulers also didn’t consider.
All of this looks like a conclusion. This theme is casually shown in every scene. If we look at it with that intention, by surrounding the letters of the package and the icon on the title screen one by one, the classification that can be seen from the annotated logo, the ghost and character names described as “light rabbit” “villagers with spare time”…the details of the things like that symbolizes the shape of this small “world”.
Also, the things that people say will never reach to Ochi, the story of “The Tortoise and the pebble” (I already ended up going ahead and wrote that though) is a subject that can be read as it is from this game.(comment３). And then, those gathered and decoded things, as the given ciphertext from every place is solved…in short, by walking around and investigating the solving degree becomes naturally easy.
This is why I really think that before reading this composition you should have an interest to some degree of this cleverly designed world and have some patience.
Then why the protagonist Ari could do something like that? What gave something that is not a role according to the “classification” to the Evil King Stan, Rosalyn, and the others?.
Ari is an “inconspicuous” boy. Even on the metaphor of the lack of presence, assuming the condition of the actual shadow (he received great praise in a strange shadow contest to the extent that he became the evil king’s vessel). He went along the Evil King’s ambition and ended up unable to act on one thing or another. That became a normal 16-year-old reticent boy that got stuck doing things he would and wouldn’t do. Because of that, he separates himself from the “classification” that defines the “world”.
It doesn’t matter if it’s his will. What matters is if he acted or not. By not acting and thinking over this and that, that in the end wouldn’t go beyond a “classification” like “villager”. Also, even by only acting and separating from his “classification” it would mean that he was just forced out. Just as the tortoise’s baby and the resident of Triste that are in a place where the eyes of the Parent Tortoise cannot reach, they are considered non-existent and go completely forgotten.
But, if those acts are something that affects others, perhaps it’s also connected to the change of “classification” of those affected.
The name displayed for the villagers change according to the response of Ari (a direct response doesn’t make much of a change regardless of the choices though).
For example, the heroine Rosalyn that becomes our partner didn’t appear to Ari as “Rosalyn” from the beginning. The “mysterious woman” that help them through changed to “Pondering girl”, “Determined Girl”, “The heroine with a miserable face” and finally became “Rosalyn” in the conversations with Ari and the others. That is the classification from Ari’s eyes (not the “classification” of the “classification power”). Maybe from Rosalyn’s side she went through the names, “The boy that is being attacked by a ghost”, “The boy that is there somehow”, “The boy acting suspiciously”, “The boy with the strange shadow”, “Wait, this shadow is that!” and gave the proper noun “Ari” as a classification for the boy in front of her eyes.
And then, by responding to that classification they were able to establish a mutual understanding for the first time. By giving something useful to “I’m in trouble, I’m in trouble, I’m in trouble!” it becomes “I’m saved, I’m saved, I’m saved!” The reaction according to the displayed classification as “name” (it starts according to the turn of interest to the target) is the thing that has the function of changing or not the classification. On the other hand, the subjectivity of the world and the subjectivity of the other world connects and gets mixed, it mutually reacts and brings change to the classification.
On the contrary, the shape and nature of names and things expect a response from some direction. That might be a course that makes the classification stable or a course that might change it. The written stone “Tomb of the Ancestors” is a message as the “response as the ancestors of somebody”. That is why kicking it over or digging a hole is a little hard.
As for what I said in the beginning, recognizing the world as it is without classifying anything is difficult, maybe it is because the persons or things that exist in this world are living normally and yet they are useless. People make a suitable classification on the spot, they react to it according to that classification, and regarding that reaction, they fix that classification even more or they modify it. In other words, the classification is able to change according to the interaction.
Whether the person himself wanted it or not, Ari jutted out from the “classification” (He didn’t make a normal reaction with the meaning expected by the definers) he repeated the interactions from here and there in the “world” as existence. That changed each subjective classification, but also affected the direction of change of the “worlds” “classification”
Of course, it’s not that he separated from the “classification” by himself. Even though Stan is “The great evil king’s reincarnation” he had to borrow a human’s shadow, even though Rosalyn is a “Heroine”, she had the trait to be treated as a comic-relief heroine.(comment４). It is somewhat a little out of place but if it went without a change, the persons that would probably know if the “classification” would remain as it is or if the quiet “classification” would disappear outside would meet, sharing the action and repeating the interactions. (With an item exchange or a low-level quarrel). Every time this incomprehensible group passes, the “world” separated little by little from the “classification” becomes something incomprehensible. Each one is a small disturb…attached to the every day, if it’s left alone it eventually will be no more than a wound that will be restored. But, according to this chain of encounters, the wound will grow to become a breaking tear of the “world”.
Ari stands in the center helplessly and goes on a trip without choice. There is also no expectation of his power. But, he refuses to disappear in a corner of the “world”, he gathered the ones that were separated by the “classification”. As for the abolishing of the “wall” of the “world”, it was by no means a small event. That is why the anger towards Ari when he returned wasn’t that intense, and why Epros was interested in Ari.
“The tortoise and the pebble story” it’s heard from various places from chapter 3.
If you search in every corner you can understand why this history spread and why nobody is able to finish because they crack up laughing.
The tortoise confused its own baby with a pebble. Of course, the tortoise loved its baby and wanted to protect it in a secure territory. In the moment it lost it the tortoise made a “thing with black spots like that” the “response has its own baby”, the “pebble” classification became a “baby tortoise”. And then, the real baby tortoise separates from its classification.
Maybe the tortoise doesn’t see its baby anymore. When inside the territory there is only “baby tortoise” and “not here”, the “baby tortoise” that lost its classification can only become something non-existent.
Even if the tortoise redefines the pebble as “pebble” the baby tortoise cannot get back its classification. If so, the tortoise would probably look for its missing baby. Without even noticing if its son is by its side.
Naturally, the baby turtles might pretend to be “pebbles”. But, “the pebble I thought was my baby” is neither “my baby” nor a “pebble”. The baby tortoise must insist that it’s the “baby tortoise” in order to be the “baby tortoise”. It may not be heard nor seen but waits patiently like the Ari from chapter 5. Afraid and standing still in a corner. Or perhaps, the territory itself is nothing more than that and the baby tortoise can become something other than a “baby tortoise” or “something non-existent”.
That is why Marlene kicks down the “classification”, breaks the “world’s” “wall” and for the first time shows her true self.
If Stan didn’t enter to a vessel with an appropriate shadow, if Stan didn’t go on a journey to exterminate the fake evil kings because was treated as a strange shadow, and then if the “ended up becoming non-existent” Ari didn’t want to take back his existence, this travel wouldn’t exist in the first place. In other words, the existence of the character that dropped the bottle, that gave the evil King map and gave advice to Ari is huge. The Ari that separated from the previous assigned “classification” meets the Separated Ari. That chain of encounters expands the “world” to the world.
Maybe this chain was occurring little by little in some place. The trifling encounter with Stan inside the bottle and the heroine Rosalyn is just like how Rosalyn became the parasol comic-relief heroine. The genealogy of extrusion brought by Polac 300 years before in the “world’s” time perhaps was received like this.
[1 The thing that shreds the world][ 2 The way to trample down the classification table ][ 3 The definer’s “World”
3 The definer’s “world”
Well then, the origin of the definer’s power that appears in “Okage: Shadow King” was the “classification power” but how did the definers get such power?. It was because they established a part of the world as territory (“world”) and they “classified” the outside and inside. But how did that became a “power”?
Even inside the territory things can’t be created from anything. Even by placing apart from sight the things that already existed and making them “non-existent”, it doesn’t mean that they can erase the existence itself. The classified things probably won’t get classified but the people and the city will continue to exist
Even the evil kings are not something that was created from nothing; they just got in that kind of mood. Even the power that was original of Stan got separated. That is why the definers can’t erase existence. In chapter 5, he says “that boy fortunately also disappears from the ‘world’ ” but because he tough that Ari wanted to disappear he couldn’t erase him and also couldn’t stop his return.
In other words, even if the “classification” is redefined it is not a creation. The definers do not create the “world”, they just cut it down and arrange it. That is why they were obsessive with the “wall’s” maintenance, they know that if the “wall” is lost there is a wide world beyond. In this wide world, the “classification” made by the “Wall’s” creator holds no significance.
That is why the “Power of classification” isn’t a big deal. It is just “try to get out of the ‘classification’ it’s very easy”.
Having that power is to consider the things that are only inside the recognition frame for the time being just like the immovable “wall”.That is why people are quite settled inside this frame (and that is why they like being there quite a lot).
We only concern with the classification table “We (public servant) categorize the people from the town under the report we send according to their traits (village office/capable clerk)”, and not only admire if what was written is correct, we also feel uneasy, as if something changed with the appearance of the new “classification”.
For example, “I am AB blood type but I heard that AB type people have split personalities so I must have that too. I didn’t know that!” is falling into the same mistake, Feeling “The uneasiness that something changed” as a true feeling and responding according to that, becomes a true reality. Therefore the “power of classification” works strongly.
The established things in the world’s library are only reflecting how things are in the “world”. It’s not that the people in the library are forcing an arbitrary classification to the residents; they are only reflecting faithfully the report and describing the “world”. They’re also simply acting the role that they received just like the public servants. It’s not that Ari was forced out because he wasn’t on the classification table, he wasn’t on the classification table because he was forced out of it.
But the classification occurs at fixed intervals, according to the trusted things as a table, brings the above mistakes and makes the “power of classification” something powerful. It is internalizing the classification as “classification”. That is why the “wall” is the work of the world’s library. Even if you cannot see it, if you throw a ball to space and it bounces back you would think that there is a wall there, right? The response that occurs in the daily life of people also bounces back as “classification” and people accept that as their own definition, therefore, the “wall” was established as the “wall”. That is to say that if the residents don’t think about their hard to change “classification”, the “wall” would stop being the “wall”
Therefore, the collapse of the “wall” becomes the “Recognition change of the people”.
Even if the world’s library doesn’t send the classification table, the people might end up building the wall anyways. As we do frequently. Perhaps, we’ll lose the “beautiful, strange and full of wonder’s” world that we’ve been protecting and maintaining. But at least in that world, Rosalyn and Stan would get tired of the low-level quarrel, laugh and stand still in a daze, the world would be terrified of destruction by hearing that the evil king appeared, that existence would finish even without the desperation of elimination.
At this time it wasn’t a matter of fate that made the “evil king” and the “hero” to become a mutual existence and fight. “Okage: Shadow King” it’s not trying to turn over or deny the promise that is common in the RPG, instead it surpasses it in a quite polished way (comment５).
When thinking like this, we could say that the reason for the ghost researcher Kisling that was pursuing the dualism problem (“Light and Shadow”, “justice and evil”, it is important to abolish this dualism, build a new paradigm and bring the true reality to the world of the people, for that reason he looks at the aspect of those deeply alienated by the structure of this society) to join Ari and the others in their actions was a dreadful sharp insight.
The interest of Kisling might have been an ontological thing like “why the ghosts are ghosts?” instead of a mode of life or a trait thing like (the ghost (when they enter to the battle they are rabbits, or elephants or kombu)). That kind of interest on those problems in that “world” is quite separated from the average though.