The Role of Zakuro and EndskyCertainly, if we were to view the events involving Zakuro alongside the themes & philosophies presented by Subahibi, then perhaps we’d crudely and twistedly,declare that Zakuro had a ‘good fate.’ After all, she died believing that she was a hero — in her internal world, she lived a fulfilling, meaningful life. Because her ‘internal world’ is the only type of world which truly matters for her (as it is her reality), we could consider this a ‘good’ ending right? After all, we do celebrate martyrs who die noble deaths.
Admittedly, this isn’t quite a satisfying interpretation. In order to understand Zakuro’s role within the work, we first need a better understanding of the world of SubaHibi. SubaHibi, while ‘grounded in reality’ (in that most of its supernatural occurrences can be attributed to the human mind/psychology), it is still by no means, a work grounded in a conventional reality. In order to understand the scope of SubaHibi, we’ll need to further examine one of its endings:
In the ‘Tsui no Sora’ (終の空) [Endsky] ending, Ayana brings up the idea that the events of SubaHibi, and all of the existences within SubaHibi, were grounded in one soul. Or to put less abstractly — everything that happens in SubaHibi is grounded in the internal world of one individual. After all, this explanation seems to make some sense. Within SubaHibi, there were several points of interest, that seemed ‘off.’ For example, Zakuro and Mamiya Tomosane seemed to have some impossible points of interest. In particular, Mamiya Takuji and Zakuro both had experienced/intimate knowledge of the exact same lines of discussion (‘anxiety is the invisible enemy’) on top of the rooftop. Zakuro had actually been part of the exchange, whereas Mamiya Takuji was not there to witness the event, and had watched this in anime-format through Rururu. In this instance, it seemed as if someone was manipulating the events of the world.
This suspicion seems to be correct. SCA-Ji, SubaHibi’s writer, had written a work by the name of Tsui no Sora prior to Subarashiki Hibi. In Tsui no Sora, we’re supposedly given evidence:
Note: The following section will have spoilers to Tsui no Sora. The summary of the given chain of events is drawn from my discussion with ‘Ayana-san.’ I personally haven’t read the story, so for the purpose of this discussion, I will assume the events to be as presented.
In July of 1999, there was a naive girl who loved to read stories. She had read such an extraordinary amount of them that she had gradually began to lose track of reality. She began to match patterns in the real world with patterns found in the stories she read. Her view of the world kept turning further and further ‘upside-down,’ until finally, she decided that she is and always had been, inside a ‘story’ of her own — A dream, or more specifically, a dream in which she was fully aware — a lucid dream. Nothing was real, she wasn’t her real self, and the sky seemed strange unlike any other. Everything was an illogical landscape, and she needed to find a way to wake up, to reach the limit of this world. On July 20th, this naive girl attempts suicide. Nonetheless, she fails — and is hospitalized for her failed attempt. Her doctors subsequently transfer her over to a mental hospital, where she’s then diagnosed with schizophrenia. She had believed that her lucid dream had become her conscious reality.
In being diagnosed as mentally-ill, all lifestyles which we’d call ‘normal’ have ended for someone like her. No more can she live a convenience store lifestyle, an apartment lifestyle, or a classroom lifestyle. The only lifestyle remaining for her is this final resting place — the mental ward. As a mental patient, she’s expected to spend the rest of her life, not ‘happy,’ but merely living until her expiration. But, she doesn’t accept this reality so easily (a reality of no continuity, of no happiness). Lying in the mental ward, she consistently practices lucid dreaming in order to ‘wake up’ as her true self.
At first, she dreams only of a white world in which she is the “soul.”For a while, this becomes her world, and nothing changes. Nonetheless, in 2005, a boy with developed PTSD transfers into the same ward as her. The boy’s name was Mamiya Tomosane. They converse, and slowly, the girl learns of the boy’s traumatic past. He had a sister, who had fallen off a cliff — he was powerless to protect her. The girl then begins to dream, envisioning a world in which the boy’s sister had survived. But, she couldn’t do this without changing reality as it was — indeed, she appealed to a deus ex machina, she created a girl by the name of Minakami Yuki — a girl who would die in place of the boy’s sister.
The girl goes onto to have this lucid dream continuously. It would be a dream which would loop past a certain point. While the girl would have the ability to interfere, or to ‘guide’ the events of the dream, she herself would be unaware of the nature of the world (that it is a lucid dream). Within these dreams, on one hand, she plays through Tomosane’s memories (as she interprets them). She exists in his world as a guide, in order to ‘fix’ his continuity. In this world, the boy wouldn’t be broken as his sister would survive. In this world, the boy could grow to become the hero, to protect the sister. On the other hand, she conceals the fact that she’s living within a re-occurring lucid dream. Perhaps as a means to secure her own happiness, she chooses to consciously forget certain truths, allowing for the illusion of her internal world (As a never-ending lucid dream) to hold. In this sense, all of the unexplainable parts of SubaHibi have explainable portions — but they don’t subsist, in so far to obfuscate what the girl doesn’t want herself to know.
Predictably, this is a story of Otonashi Ayana’s internal world.
Explanation: Now, this was a rather succinct (and likely, incomplete) summary. But, there are some main points to this (some of which, may have been missed).
The events of SubaHibi take place within the internal world of Otonashi Ayana. Ayana’s internal world is not reality as you and I know it, her reality, or internal world, is her lucid dream (which never ends insofar as providing her with a type of ‘ true continuity’). Within this lucid dream, a boy by the name of Mamiya Tomosane doesn’t live and breathe (although he may exist). The only thing living and breathing within this world is a girl by the name of Otonashi Ayana. When the audience is given a perspective of Mamiya Tomosane, we’re not actually shown the perspective of the living and breathing Mamiya Tomosane. Instead, we’re shown the perspective of a theoretical entity by the name of Mamiya Tomosane, or an entity existing as Otonashi Ayana’s interpretation of the living and breathing Mamiya Tomosane. We could also interpret Ayana’s Mamiya Tomosane as a part of her lucid dream’s subconscious (or even as her herself).
As we know, Otonashi Ayana only conceived of the entity by the name of Mamiya Tomosane through her conversations with the living and breathing version of him in the hospital ward. His characteristics, and past history were likely drawn from their frequent conversations that occurred over the span of a few years. In this time, Ayana learns that the living and breathing Mamiya Tomosane is effectively ‘broken’ (as a result of his inability to save his sister). So then, in crafting this internal world (i.e. in having this lucid dream), Otonashi Ayana accomplishes a few things.
On one end, her internal world exists to provide her own life with a type of meaning. Generally, when an individual looks at a patient confined to a mental hospital, they might think that life is ‘over’ for that individual — they could not possibly be happy. In creating an internal world (whose by Wittgenstein’s definition, is as rich, as meaningful as any other world), she frees herself from this prejudice. If we’re to look at the events of SubaHibi, we’d see a vibrant story — while it has its cruelties, it has with it, a certain type of beauty and elegance. To deem that all of these events are ‘worthless’ (because they don’t ‘happen’) seems inane on several accounts (most obviously, Wittgenstein’s philosophy in itself denies the notion of a comparatively worthless internal reality). To instead, view the events of SubaHibi as a ‘phenomenon’ occurring within the mind of a hospitalized girl on the other hand, is profound (as it seems to present a notion of the human mind that’s not only compelling on level of complexity, but wonderful on level of achievement & progress, of camaraderie, and of love). Indeed, Ayana certainly ‘disproves’ the thought that a hospitalized patient cannot obtain happiness. In fact, it’d be the case that the more an individual appreciates, or finds a certain beauty with SubaHibi as a whole, the more the individual loves or finds a certain beauty with Ayana (As she’s quite literally, the cause of the work).
On another end, Otonashi Ayana’s internal world serves to also provide a meaningful life, or existence for the boy by the name of Mamiya Tomosane. Within her internal world. Mamiya Tomosane isn’t permanently broken — he lives a rather fulfilling life. While we might argue that it’s a ‘dream,’ the main point to take away here is that according to Wittgenstein, it might be the case that a ‘dream’ is as real as any other type of reality. In Ayana’s internal world, he’s a wonderful person — he has caring friends, and he’s able to protect his beloved sister.
In this sense, even though the two of them live and breathe within the bounds of a mental hospital — elsewhere, they live full, vibrant, and meaningful lives.
So, the ‘nature’ of the work is a surprising one at that. Retrospectively, we could recall several clues that led to this conclusion. Most obviously, this explains some of the ‘impossible’ events within the work (the synchronization of the rooftop scene). In less obvious ways, if we’re to assume that the world of SubaHibi exists as the mind of Ayana, then we could possibly suggest that certain plot events were the result of the mind of a teenage girl (e.g. yaoi and yuri a result of an adolescent girl’s fascination, Yuki’s being a bookworm as a reflection of Ayana herself). We could go insofar as to comically suggest that the art style of the work is gothic — which is mildly feminine.
The Meaning within Subahibi
So now that we’ve established this, let’s discuss once more, the main themes of SubaHibi. Recall back in the earlier arcs of SubaHibi, Zakuro & Yuki had gone on a Gondola Ride. In a sense, the ride was one which depicted commonplace ideals (a school, family, a part-time job perhaps). SubaHibi, through its story, manages to convey on one end, that an individual need not fulfill ‘commonplace ideals’ in order to live a fulfilling life. Indeed, as long as an individual has continuity, an individual can acquire happiness. In a sense, this message is profound — even if an individual lacks family, even if they lack wealth, or even if they lack what we’d call a ‘simple pleasure,’ most individuals at birth, have what we’d call the possibility for happiness — they have continuity. The ‘requisites’ of happiness is subsequently, quite low.
While I haven’t discussed it much, the theme of self-acceptance is also one of major importance within SubaHibi. Otonashi Ayana had accepted her position as it was (being confined to a hospital), but she didn’t give up on a chance for happiness — she didn’t try to throw away her life once more. Nonetheless, it’s not to say that Otonashi Ayana’s life is a perfect one; she lives in a continuous, never-ending lucid dream after all. But, the important part is that she chose to salvage her existence, she had made the best of what she had. She had deceived herself into crafting a rich, meaningful internal world as a means of escaping from whichever world (i.e. the dreary hospital without hope of happiness).
Furthermore, in the case of Ayana’s Mamiya Tomosane, he had regained continuity only after having accepted himself as he was — he had accepted his past events.
As discussed, everything occurring within SubaHibi occurs within Otonashi Ayana’s internal world. It’s not to say that Zakuro doesn’t exist (as she certainly does within the world of SubaHibi). But, her plight isn’t as ‘crude’ as it is (as she’s something similar to a fleeting thought in a lucid dream than a person). One interpretation for her existence is that she’s meant to symbolize a younger Tomosane, one who fails to accept reality (she doesn’t confide in Kimika her best friend, and she fails to recognize and stand up to the bullies). As a result of these denials, she faces a series of unfortunate events, and subsequently, breaks. In a sense, she’s very similar to Tomosane (as he was when Yuki sacrificed herself to save Hasaki). So, her role within the story is up for discussion. On one end, we could say that Zakuro’s a mere lingering part of Mamiya Tomosane’s unstable mind placed within his internal world to direct him to any given dream ending (as we know, Zakuro often plays the role of a pivotal plot device). On another end, we could say that she doesn’t exist altogether, that her perspective throughout her route was merely Mamiya Tomosane’s perspective, as a means to move on. Whichever the case, her existence is important, but not for the reasons initially thought.