Daydream Sanctuary Features

Sunday, April 17, 2011

C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control (Just a Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokémon Ripoff?)

Because the battle featured in the first episode of [C] happened to involve monsters and cards, people can't help seeing it being very similar to other card game series like Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh!

Is [C] really just some Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! wannabe?
Or is it just "A Card Game Series for Grown-ups"?

But before that....
Are Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and [C] merely card games in the first place?

If we're talking about the anime adaptations of all these series (I wouldn't be surprised if there'll be an actual card game based on [C] in the real world. Heck, the Midas cards are already available for sale), in my opinion, all three titles are more than just a card game.

They are symbolisms and metaphors of the real world. Within those episodic battles, there's a plot that covers various themes and tells a great and interesting story.

Pokémon isn't just some game for children.

Pokémon battles aren't really that different from cock fights and dog shows. Humans collect able animals, then raise and train them to be eligible for competitions. If his pet wins the game, most of the glory and fame goes to him. It's a sense of achievement to the player while a form of entertainment to the audience.

Isn't it similar to Pokémon Trainers collecting Pokémons then train them to be able to fight against their opponents' Pokémons? The most victorious Pokémon Trainer is declared as the Pokémon Master. Cock Fights reward money; Dog Shows present awards.

But a Pokémon Trainer's goal isn't just to win competitions. Their primary goal is to collect Pokémon and take care of them. So many episodes of Pokémon focused more on the development of relationship between the main character and his Pokémon. Winning is not a big deal if a Pokémon Trainer's pet has to die in exchange.

In other words, Pokémon is more about the love for animals, especially pets. We learn about them (Yay! Pokédex!), preserve/collect them (Gotta catch 'em all!), take care of them (Pokémon Center~), raise them (Evolution!), and adore them (Pika Pika! [ugh... I hate Pikachu though.. how about this:] Char! Char!)

Yu-Gi-Oh! is in a much higher level... more dangerous as well.

You lose in a Yu-Gi-Oh! duel if you lose all your life points. In another sense, it means you die. A duel in this series is like a war between two armies. The players are the commanders while the monsters are their pawns. The leaders tell the soldiers what to do and come up with the strategies. They know their men's potential; they try to make up for their weaknesses and make full use of their strengths. They outsmart their enemies and if they win, they could sometimes have the opportunity to take something from their foes. Winner has it all.

Duelists try to win as much as possible to become the Duel Master... which you can call the Game King (literal meaning of the series title). Kingdoms that have won in many battles have conquered a lot of places. The one who rules them all is none other than the King.

In Yu-Gi-Oh!, aside from a Game King, there's another type of King: A Pharoah. Don't you know that the card game is just a backdrop and a plot device? The main plot of the series is about finding the secret behind a Pharoah's lost memories and his name. It's a mystery and adventure series, with a lot of puzzles and dark elements, and also rich in Egyptian mythology references.

[C], on the other hand, is hell more complicated than the other two.

The youth plays a lot of games, an example would be card games. Some have friendly rivalry with their opponents; but there are some who treat their opponents as deadly enemies. Losing is not a big deal to some; but to others winning is all that matters. There are players who desperately want to be on the top... the most successful.

Grownups still play games, but this time in the form of business. The market is their battlefield, and the one with more clients/consumers, higher sales and greater income wins. There are corporations in an equal competition with each other, but those companies who couldn't compete against the more established/stables ones end up on bankrupcy.

Unlike a child's game, losing in the financial world is a big deal. If you lose money, you won't be able to afford the things you need to survive... much worse if you even ended up having a lot of debt.

Losing in the financial arena is more than just being defeated in a game.
It's also more than just dying in battle.
You lose your money, properties, and other things you worked hard for.
Lacking in material things can make you lose your family, friends, and other loved ones.
You can lose yourself... your future... your soul.

Winning in this financial game, on the other hand, is something positive.... but also unlike a child's game, the one on the top isn't exactly just someone most successful in the game... but the one with the most money. So if the victor is greedy and craves for more money... he'll get all the money that he can until he's satisfied... (but greedy people don't get satisfied). He becomes selfish... the other people suffer... and it will result to chaos.

[C] shows battles between corporations in the real world through duels between players in a fantasy world. It's explaining economics with a card game as its medium.

There's a Player (Entrepreneur) who engages in these Duel (Deals) using Monsters (Assets) for earning Points (Profit). The more Wins (Cash) he has, the more successful he is.

Avvesione has a more detailed analogy of [C]'s card game to the real world:
I see these Deals as corporations warring against each other. The Entrepreneurs are like the CEOs and Assets themselves are the corporations. They brawl, physically, in order to achieve a financial victory, while the real life counterparts do battle in the market itself. The corporation with the larger funds at its disposal is the stronger fighter and the CEOs dump their money into these corporations to win in the economic arena. Just like in the real world, two companies compete and usually the dominant one will win causing the losing company to decline even the point of being bought out or declaring bankruptcy.
[C] teaches Economics and Finance to its audience in a more imaginative and lively manner. It presents the market battles literally yet manages to hint the dark sides of the financial world through its characters (what sweet words our banker has been saying) and system (your future is your collateral).

Economics lessons through action shounen stuff is more fun than lengthy lectures, in my opinion. Besides, younger ones could relate more easily in this method.

So I don't get people's complains on [C]'s card game approach.

It just so happened that there are popular card games that people are very familiar with, and their battle systems are quite similar to [C]'s. However, as I've mentioned earlier, [C] just uses the card game stuff to explain Economics.

Scamp seems to have similar concerns in regards to such complains, and I also wonder about what responses the complainers will give to these questions:
So what, you want the bor­ing old eco­nom­ics lec­tures like in Spice and Wolf, where you sat through the eco­nom­ics because you were a good viewer who real­ised you had to pay atten­tion to this stuff to get through to the Horo X Lawrence scenes later on? Or do you want eco­nom­ics explained via the medium of demon girls sum­mon­ing mon­sters with your bank bal­ance used as life points? Sounds like a no-brainer to me.
I find the economic lectures in Spice and Wolf interesting, but to compare it with [C]'s style of lecturing, I've gotta say that Spice and Wolf's way is boring ^^;

Besides, it's more fun and challenging to know the lesson through an interesting/fictional medium rather than being told about it directly. For instance, in fairy tales, moral lessons are taught through stories... it did not directly state the moral lesson. And for that, children appreciate the fairy tales more than just parents telling them what to do and not to do.

See my point?

Explaining economics with just fighters using monsters to battle against each other with their bank balance as your life points is certainly dumb, in my opinion.

Do people see [C] being as simple as that? Oh gawd, please try to see more of what [C] is about to realize that the series is much more than that.

So what is [C] exactly about? Well, its main theme has a very huge hint for that: MONEY

Arabesque has written a wonderful essay to elaborate that:
[C] is really about money and everything related to money. How it affects us as humans, how much value we put on it, how it can control us and the world around us. Sure it does come out to say as much to us, quite bluntly at times, but then there are moments where it doesn't even need to. It just shows us.

For example, the scene where the man jumps in front of the train. The man who jumped done so so he wouldn't have to end up living the rest of his life as a beggar, which shows us that without money, some would choose to part this life than be without it. But then we notice the reaction from the train passengers.

There is a slight shock from one of them about a man jumping and killing himself, but other than that no one really acknowledges or even thinks about how a human just died. Even some of the reactions are blaming the man for getting late now that the train had stopped. Some of the passengers even skip into the reason why he done so, and immediately think how the economy isn't doing well. The first thought, the first plausible reason for why someone might kill themselves is because of money. No one thought that it could be an accident, or even a murder. The first thought was money. Not even if he had lived.

The way it shows us the integral effect of money in humanity, how humans are so tied up with money that they rather die than live without it. How it can control us, how it can even show the true desires. Even with the old co-worker behind the counter, how admits that without money, one would end working a job of sitting behind the counter. It's easy to understand what the scene was going for, to show us that this man would tell Kimimaro that he would keep the money even if it wasn't much. While I'm sure the scene will end up being taken as a sign of greediness of man, if taken with the previous one where Kimimaro tells the old man how he is nothing compared to how much he supports his family, the scene ends up being more how money can bring about selflessness and honesty from others. The old co-worker told Kimimaro the truth so that he wouldn't end up in his situation.
[C] doesn't only discuss the flow of money, but also the philosophy of money, and people's psychological behavior towards it.

I'm relieved that [C] (so far) isn't forcing a biased/close-minded interpretation of money. Yes, money can be used for bad things... but then again, money is also necessary to survive.

It looks like Landon feels the same way:
Another bit that’s cool about the first episode is the fact that we’ve yet to get any sort of “money is evil” nonsense. Sure, money’s at the root of all this crazy shit, but so far it’s just a matter of fact. You do need money to make anything of yourself in the real world. That’s just how things work and hopefully no one tries to contest that. It all comes down to what you do with that cash and what you’re willing and not willing to do to get what you want and need. That’s far more interesting than the “OMGMONEYBAD” nonsense I was worried this would turn into. Not that it can’t go down that route in the future if it decides to get lame like that, but so far it’s nice to see an anime avoiding the usual delusional idealism. The last thing we need are more crazed anime kiddies running around trying to keep everyone from punching shit, spending money, and fucking other human beings.
People are connected to money. Having money can give them control.

Notice this sentence (or phrase, in case it's incomplete) in the ED theme?:


Control over what? There are a lot of things. Landon provides an example of what we can control, and how money is connected to it:
what is your soul if it isn’t your “potential.” In C, in order to rake in the dough, you gotta wager your future potential. Win and you get to keep your future and make some cash. Lose and your future is fucked– and some other jackass claims it in the form of Yu Gi Oh-styled health points. If you wanna ignore any sort of spiritual angles, your future is the best representation of your soul. No one can fuck with your past. It’s already happened. The only intangible, identity-defining aspect of a person that can be changed and controlled is “what in the hell is gonna happen to me in the future.”

So we have a world where people can give up control of that one aspect of themselves that A) has yet to be defined and B) can be shaped by others to suit their own desires, and they put it on the line in a high stakes game that might make their life better, but otherwise will likely result in them becoming fully subservient to whatever powers that be who control these money games.

Your future is something you can control. You try to earn money to gain more control over it. But the collateral in the Financial District is your future. You are giving in something that you control for the sake of gaining control. Isn't it quite ironic? Haha!

CPAnime elaborates [C]'s concept of collateral:
First, the concept of collateral, though I view it as more of a legal term. Generally, collateral is something you promise to give up should you fail to perform on a stated obligation. In the context of this show the thing that you might have to give up is your soul should you not repay the loan granted to you. Now this seems like a generally straight forward concept. However, if you combine some contract law to this show you can up with a whole bunch of different possibilities. The one I am hoping that the show utilizes in some way is the concept of a surety. Simply put, someone else, the surety, could promise to pay the debt of the debtor should they not have the money to pay back the loan to the lender, in this case the Financial District.

However, the Financial District doesn’t necessarily seem interested in money, but in souls, as the references to hell her plentiful in this opener.
Loaning from Chaos Bank of the Financial District is somewhat like having a Contract with the Devil, isn't it? Masakaki kept on persuading Kimimaro to accept his offer... he does it in such a flashy and convincing manner... like the way a Devil would seduce and lure his prey. They're not choosy on victims, but of course they like those they could manipulate. Once the poor victims had given in, there's no turning back.

The difference between the Devil's Contract and the Banker's Loan is that you will always definitely suffer with the Devil because your soul is asked for exchanged; with the Banker, on the other hand, you only suffer if you fail to pay back your debt. It's also like that in real life, unless you're a victim of a pyramid scam... its victims are just deceived from the very beginning, and they won't gain anything at all despite the promises and sweet talks. Yeah, those are devils in the human world.

If the religious references are still not obvious from that, don't tell me you still haven't noticed the series' favorite number?: 666 - the Mark of the Beast.

Landon adds:
Plenty of conspiracy types have suggested that the current way banking plays out, with credit cards and the like, are the proverbial “mark” that everyone is required to have in order to function in the Antichrist’s society. That’s just one of the nutjob theories that’s been floating about for ages
In popular culture, 666 is commonly known as a symbol for AntiChrist. But don't you know that the number can also be related to money and perfection matters?

Form Wikipedia:
  • The sum of all the numbers on a roulette wheel is 666.
  • 666 was a winning lottery number in the 1980 Pennsylvania Lottery scandal, in which equipment was tampered to favor a 4 or 6 as each of the three individual random digits.
  • In the Bible, 666 is the number of talents of gold Solomon collected each year (see 1 Kings 10:14, 2 Chronicles 9:13).
  • In Kabbalistic Judaism the number 666 represents the creation and perfection of the world. The world was created in 6 days, and there are 6 cardinal directions (North, South, East, West, Up, Down). 6 is also the numerical value of one of the letters of God's name.

From the first episode alone, [C] has already covered so many topics and themes, and suggested interesting concepts and ideas. It's imaginative and thought-provoking. Its story has full of allegories and deep meanings.

Yet [C] just started...

Seeing how big and complex [C] is, are you still going to say that it's just imitating those popular card game series?

Pokémon has Trainers engaging in Battles; Yu-Gi-Oh! has Duelists fighting in Duels;
[C] has Entrepreneurs making Deals.

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