Tag Archives: manga

Clash of Hearts

Emiya

There’s something about the way we fight.  Something about how we swing, or how we attack.  It’s something different than war.  It’s different from chaotic battle.  We might be blind as we strike at each other.  But we don’t need to see.

The air seems to explode and ripple with power every time our blades clash together, ringing clarion every time they meet.  Sparks fly into the air, and gusts of wind tear through our hair.

We don’t need to see while we battle.  Because this isn’t a battle with blades.  It’s a battle of the heart.  Our bodies move, and our swords follow, but what we really attack with is our minds.  Our hearts.  Our souls.

Why do we feel alive when we fight?  Why do we feel alive at the times when we’re closest to death?  Is it just the excitement?  Is it just the emotion?  I wish I knew the answer.  I don’t want to be a killer.  I don’t want to exact supremacy over another human.  That’s not what this is about.  That’s not what I want this to be about.

But something about fighting with my emotions, letting them guide and direct me…why does that feel so right?  Why is there something beautiful about the way I attack and destroy?  Why do I feel alive when I’m fighting a battle to the death?

Maybe…maybe it’s because, if I didn’t feel alive, I would lose.  I would just die.  We’d all die.

Or maybe there is something beautiful about destroying.  About fighting to the end.

But maybe the person we should be fighting against isn’t another human.  Maybe other humans aren’t the enemy.  Maybe they were never the enemy.  Maybe the person we need to be fighting against is ourselves.  Maybe there’s something beautiful about that; destroying what needs to be destroyed within ourselves.  Maybe that’s why we love fighting.  Maybe that’s why we think it beautiful.  We just need to realize where the fighting belongs.  We need to realize that fighting is for purification.  That unless we defeat the evil in ourselves, then evil in this world will prevail.   It’s still a fight to the death.  It’s still exciting.  It’s still beautiful.

It’s still a clash of the heart.


It’s a question I often find myself asking: why do we find the action (aka the violence) in certain books, movies, anime, etc. to be so fascinating and exciting?  Why do we “enjoy” it when two characters are killing each other?  I mean, if you think about it, that’s pretty twisted.  I’m extremely guilty of it.

However, I do believe that we naturally perceive the beauty of it all for a reason.

I forget which saint (or maybe it was a modern Catholic author) said it, but he described the Holy Spirit as One Who Destroys.  That’s why one of the symbols for the Holy Spirit is fire…fire destroys things.  We usually use fire to burn away whatever things are useless to us.  In the same way, the Holy Spirit destroys-literally burns away-the impurities within us.  He helps us to win that interior battle.

I’m still working out the logic of it all 🙂

Stay awesome,

Dom (Aul)

 

Why We Love Anime #1

Awww

Showing you just how awesome anime is…with epic pictures!


I’m not usually going to comment whenever I post a “Why We Love Anime”, but this picture deserves some attention.

First of all, I love this image.   It beautifully depicts what love looks like.  You can see how both Emiya (the boy) and Saber (the girl) are giving of themselves to each other.  Emiya is obviously giving himself entirely to Saber; he doesn’t even have the strength to stand.  His lifeless body is falling into her.  And she’s receiving him.  Both of them are covered in Emiya’s blood, embracing each other through the blood.  Love exists even through the pain.  That’s exactly how love between a man and a woman should like.

And look at the scenery around them.  What’s flying around in the sky? Crows.  Maybe vultures.  Either way, both of those birds are symbols for evil and death.  But look at Saber’s face.  Even though they are seemingly surrounded by evil, the sky dark and the world decaying around them, they are both at peace.  Because they’re holding each other, and real love exists between them.

I don’t know who drew this, but I tip my hat to you!

This is just another reason as to Why We Love Anime!

 

Fullmetal Alchemist Discussion: Is Equivalent Exchange Real?

Fullmetal Alchemist Wallpaper

Note: this will contain LOTS of spoilers.  And if you already know the story of FMA, feel free to skip to the section entitled “The Truth”.

Introduction

Fullmetal Alchemist, created by Hiromu Arakawa, is a great manga and anime for a few reasons:

1. Great character development. It’s hard not to feel for the characters in all of their struggles, hopes, triumphs, and defeats.

2. An exciting, elaborate plot, filled with complicated military strategies and rebellion, as well as a world of magic that could present a plot twist at any moment.

3. An incredibly realistic world, with scientific explanations for the “magic” upon which the series heavily focuses on. Not only are the scientific explanations, well, scientific, but even philosophical.

On that last remark of reason #3, we find why so many people appreciate Fullmetal Alchemist. It’s so philosophical in a way that touches the hearts of its viewers, encouraging and even enjoining them to contemplate the actions or principles of the main characters.

Hiromu Arakawa has created both a world and a group of characters that take on moral dilemmas and complex, ethically-blurry situations from a philosophical dimension. One of the most prominent philosophical themes/questions that Fullmetal Alchemist focuses on is that of Equivalent Exchange, or rather, as it is called most officially, “The Law of Equivalent Exchange”.

Alchemy and the Law of Equivalent Exchange

Edward and Alphonse Elric activating a transmutation circle
Edward and Alphonse Elric activating a transmutation circle

Alchemy is the type of “magic” used by “alchemists” in Fullmetal Alchemist. Actually, it’s a mixture of science, art, and magic. It’s not like the alchemy performed by the “pre-chemists” of Medieval times–although there is obviously a heavy relationship between the alchemy of history and alchemy of Arakawa’s world. Alchemy in Arakawa’s world is performed by first drawing a “transmutation circle”. The transmutation circle enables both the “alchemical power” of the earth and all matter to be harnessed and a manifestation of the alchemist’s transmutation to be formed. Once the transmutation circle is drawn, the matter or objects that the alchemist will use in his transmutation are placed within the circle. Next, three basic actions must be performed by the alchemist:

  1. The alchemist must understand the atomic or molecular structure of the matter in question.
  2. He or she must first use the alchemical power/transmutation circle to break down the matter.
  3. He or she forms something new from the broken down matter.

In other words, the three basic actions are Comprehension, Deconstruction and Reconstruction.

However, there are two “laws” that apply to alchemy, and ultimately to Equivalent Exchange. One of them is the Law of Mass Conservation, a law that exists in the real world, outside of the universe created by Arakawa. The Law of Mass Conservation, as it applies to alchemy, means that the amount of matter going into the transmutation will equal the amount of matter once the transmutation is finished. The second is the Law of Natural Providence, which means that if you are transmuting something made of steel, you can only produce something with the characteristics similar to steel; for instance, you couldn’t transmute steel and create water.

Both of these laws form the basis for the Law of Equivalent Exchange. Put simply, the Law of Equivalent Exchange states that:

In order to obtain something, something of equal value must be lost.

For instance, a transmutation cannot be performed if no matter is placed within the transmutation circle; the circle must be “given” the matter it will transform.

The Law of Equivalent Exchange relates directly to alchemy; it is seemingly a scientific principle of the alchemical arts. However, in Fullmetal Alchemist, Edward and Alphonse (Ed and Al) take Equivalent Exchange further and (in a most philosophical manner) seek to apply it as a moral code: a principle to be followed in the face of every complexity and endeavor a person could work through and towards. Thus, Equivalent Exchange is applied to actions. Many would agree that, perhaps, this “law” certainly makes sense. Equivalent Exchange technically states that if you want something, you need to put in the necessary amount of effort to get what you want.

That makes sense, right?

The Taboo and the Quest

Ed and Al fail to apply the Law of Equivalent Exchange when they try to resurrect their mother. At this point in their lives, Ed and Al are only children, and–having been abandoned by their father–their mother meant everything to them. After their mother dies, the brothers begin studying alchemy in earnest in order to learn how to perform a Human Transmutation. However, Human Transmutation is strictly forbidden by every alchemical authority; it is impossible to accomplish, and extremely dangerous. You cannot resurrect someone from the dead.

Ed and Al are reckless, however. They will try to bring back their mother no matter what. They gather every elemental component of the human body, and then each of them contribute a drop of blood. Thus, the brothers believe that they themselves will lose nothing as a result of Equivalent Exchange; they have provided the means to make a body (via the elemental components), and their drops of blood are for creating their mother’s soul.

Try as they might, two drops of blood don’t equal the value of a human soul. The transmutation fails, and Edward’s leg is taken from him as Equivalent Exchange tries to make up for creating a human soul. Alphonse loses his entire person. Shocked by their failure, Edward quickly sacrifices his arm and manages to bring back Alphonse’s soul and bind it to a suit of armor. It would seem like, after the transmutation, Edward and Alphonse have given so much to resurrect their mother. Surely they have given enough to bring her back.

Unfortunately, they are rewarded with a creature that isn’t even human.

Edward looks upon the creature that he and Alphonse created
Edward looks upon the creature that he and Alphonse created

The plot of Fullmetal Alchemist then becomes Ed and Al searching for ways to fix their bodies. Ed has vowed to return Al’s soul to his body, and Ed would also like to get his arm and leg back. Both of them understand that fixing their bodies will require another Human Transmutation. But, egged-on by stories of the legendary Philosopher’s Stone, a super alchemical-amplifier, they believe that returning to their bodies is still possible. Ed and Al still believe that if they sacrifice enough, if they try hard enough and put enough effort into their quest, they will be rewarded in the end.

The Truth

Fullmetal Alchemist 2003-2004 Cover
A cover of the 2003-2004 Fullmetal Alchemist anime

Although the general plot is the same as Arakawa’s manga adaption of Fullmetal Alchemist, the anime Fullmetal Alchemist, which aired between 2003 and 2004, mostly contains episodes that are different from Arakawa’s original story-line. This version of Fullmetal Alchemist, in spite of how it lacks authenticity in its relation to Arakawa’s version of the story, heavily focuses on the internal and emotional struggles of Edward and Alphonse, as well as the credibility of the Law of Equivalent Exchange.

The anime Fullmetal Alchemist displays Ed and Al’s quest not only as an adventure, but a search to discover the truth–the truth about alchemy and the Law of Equivalent Exchange. Ed and Al have religiously believed in the laws of alchemy, and especially in Equivalent Exchange. As stated previously, the brothers believe that if they give enough effort to their quest, they will succeed in the end. According to the Elrics, that’s how life works; if you persevere and work hard, it will pay off. It’s Equivalent Exchange.

It’s hard to ignore the fact that there is a certain beauty to the Law of Equivalent Exchange, if it is indeed real. In the anime Fullmetal Alchemist, it’s difficult not to identify with the reasoning of Ed and Al (but specifically Ed). The Law of Equivalent Exchange makes every action that we take towards a certain goal worth something. There is also a beautiful sense of simplicity in regards to the logic of Equivalent Exchange. Edward seems especially connected to this part of Equivalent Exchange; the peace and confidence of mind that comes with knowing that he’ll be rewarded for all of his struggles. The audience of Fullmetal Alchemist finds themselves hoping that Ed and Al are right; hopefully, Equivalent Exchange is real.

Dante, the antagonist of the 2003-4 Fullmetal Alchemist, confronts Ed about the Law of Equivalent Exchange.
Dante, the antagonist of the 2003-4 Fullmetal Alchemist, confronts Ed about the Law of Equivalent Exchange

The truth about Equivalent Exchange finally comes to light when Ed confronts Dante, the main antagonist of Fullmetal Alchemist. Dante is a powerful alchemist that has survived for centuries, using the power of the Philosopher’s Stone to transport her soul into a new body each time she starts growing old. However, as Ed points out, every time she “jumps” bodies, she loses a part of herself through Equivalent Exchange. As a result, her soul can’t remain in the bodies she uses for very long.

But then Dante replies: Equivalence? Don’t tell me you still believe in that naive theory.

And the following discussion ensues…

Ed: It’s no theory! It’s the absolute law of alchemy! No, of the whole world! To obtain anything, something of equal value must be lost. You couldn’t have gotten anywhere without knowing that.

Dante: A beautiful story, told to the oppressed and to make children do their lessons. The truth is, the Law of Equivalent Exchange is a lie.

Ed: Impossible!

Dante: “To gain, something of equal value must be lost”; conversely, if you give something up you will always gain a prize of equal worth in return.

Ed: Exactly. That’s why people work hard at anything they do, because it pays off.

Dante: Wrong. People work because they believe it will pay, but “equal effort” doesn’t always mean “equal gain”.

Ed: …Like what?

Dante: Consider the State Alchemy exam, which you passed with flying colors. How many others took the test that day, spent months, years preparing, some working much harder than you, but you were the only one who passed? Where was their reward? Was it their fault that they lacked your natural talent?

(Later in conversation) Dante: People can say there’s a balance, a logic that everything happens for a reason, but the truth is far less designed. No matter how hard you work, when you die, you die. Some spend their lives trying to scratch their way to the top, but still live in poverty, while others are born into wealth without ever working at all. It’s a cruel and random world, and yet the chaos is all so beautiful.

And their debate ends there. Ed doesn’t seem entirely convinced with Dante’s reasoning. But he’s obviously discouraged, able to think of no reply to Dante. He can see the truth in her words. No argument is needed to reaffirm Dante’s words. Equivalent Exchange, it seems, has been proven wrong.

Faith

Ed's father, Hoenheim, leaves Edward after confronting him about Equivalent Exchange.
Ed’s father, Hoenheim, leaves Edward after confronting him about Equivalent Exchange

An episode later, Edward is once again told that Equivalent Exchange isn’t real, this time by his own father, Hoenheim. Hoenheim leaves without giving Edward an opportunity to argue, but as Ed watches his father leaves, we hear his thoughts, cast out to Hoenheim and the audience.

Ed: I can’t agree with you. I know that if I try my hardest, I’ll be rewarded, and I believe that applies to all of us. It doesn’t matter who you are. If you work hard, it pays off. I know Equivalent Exchange is true.

And, as if he can hear Ed’s thoughts, Hoenheim replies mentally: But this world…

Ed: If it’s childish to believe in this, so be it. I’d rather be a child than follow a doctorate of cynicism and chaos…apathy. I thought that I didn’t care, Dad–that I didn’t need to believe in things. But I was wrong.

It is interesting to note that now we have a popular contradiction, insofar as recognizing Truth goes. Hoenheim and Dante both believe that Equivalent Exchange isn’t real. Their argument is based on reason. Edward’s argument is a bit more personal, but still authentic all the same. Ed’s argument is based on faith.

Edward Elric Dying

When it comes to dying in the 2003-2004 Fullmetal Alchemist, things can get a little complicated. In order to complete this discussion, I need to lay out, in an orderly fashion, what happens:

  1. Edward is sent by Dante over into our world through “The Gate of Truth”. He has an alternate-self living in London during World War I. He, as his alternate-self, dies when a German zeppelin crashes.
  2. As a result, Ed comes back into the world of Fullmetal Alchemist as himself. However, he is soon after killed by the Homonculus Envy. Ordinarily, he would go back into our world to his alternate-self…but his alternate-self has already died. Thus, Ed will seemingly really die.
  3. But then Alphonse, who’s been turned into a Philosopher Stone himself, sacrifices himself in an effort to bring Edward back. He is successful; in this case, Equivalent Exchange prevails, since a life is traded for a life.
  4. Once Edward returns, he immediately proceeds to drag Alphonse back, body and soul, as an eleven year-old boy. And from this action the ultimate fulfillment of Equivalent Exchange occurs.

Edward should’ve died. Having sacrificed himself for Alphonse, and having no alternate-self to go to once beyond the Gate of Truth, it is seemingly impossible for Ed to survive. But then he finds himself back in London, as himself, with his father once again. And Edward is, rightfully so, confused. Why did he survive? He traded a life for a life. Why is he still alive?

It is Ed’s father, who, having rebuffed the notion of Equivalent Exchange earlier, provides an answer for Edward.

You boys had a long journey. All the people you helped along the way, all the hardships, the pain of losing friends you loved, the determination, sweat, blood…don’t you think that might’ve been the price you paid?

And so it seems that, in the end, Equivalent Exchange really came through for Edward after all.

The Answer

Is Equivalent Exchange real? Reasonably speaking, no. Unfortunately, the world just doesn’t work that way. However, it is definitely good when we are able to work for something, and be rewarded in the end. Perhaps it is straight-up idealism, and perhaps belief in Equivalent Exchange is childish, but it is a “law” to be respected, and in some cases, encouraged. To believe in Equivalent Exchange requires faith…even if you’re an agnostic, science-loving, 4’11 alchemist!


I guess I don’t really have an answer.  What do you think?

Stay awesome,

Dominic (Aul)

 

Now that I’m back…

Edward silly face.png
YEAH! I’M BACK!

Now that I’m back, I don’t want to spend too much of my time blogging about my book series.  I want all of you to get to know me as a person and a writer, not as a salesperson.  Obviously, this means that from time to time I will have to blog about my book series, because The Golden Lands is a big part of my life as a person and a writer.

So what else will I be blogging about?

Here are the Big 2:

  1. Anime.  Anime is awesome.  Literally.  Whether you’re simply viewing it as a form of art, or as a new form of story-telling, forming characters, a plot, etc….it’s awesome.  So I’ll be blogging about anime and using anime artwork to inspire my posts.
  2. Being a Christian teen.  Maybe that sounds a little weird since I’m going to be blogging about anime and my book series…but in order for you to know me as a PERSON, this is something extremely important.  What’s more, I’m positive that you’ll be able to benefit more from me writing about certain Christian ideals than you EVER would if I were just writing about my book series or anime.

So there you have it!  Once again, I hope you haven’t forgotten me.

Stay awesome!

Dominic (Aul)

P.S. Just an update: I changed the way my blog looks and works.  Please visit my blog and tell me what you think of everything.  The homepage of my blog is a static page now, so all of my posts can be found in the page entitled “Blog”.  Thanks!

It’s Been a While!

Screen pic

Hey there!  It’s been quite a while since I’ve blogged.  I’ve heard from blogging experts that you shouldn’t apologize for not blogging…but…well, here we go.

I’m sorry!

I have to admit that I’ve been busy recovering from a knee injury (I had to get surgery, then I had to rehab it, etc.).  I’m doing fine though.  Of course, I also have to admit that part of my absence could largely be attributed to laziness.

Now, what kind of a writer/author allows himself to grow so lazy!  Tisk tisk…at me.

So, I’ve been gone for a long time.  But I haven’t been entirely lazy during my absence.  If you go to my blog, you’ll realize that a lot of things have changed.   First of all, I’ve FINALLY gotten my blog to look the way I want it to.  It looks exciting and peaceful at the same time (which is weird, but that’s just like me :D).

The second thing you should notice is that the homepage is a static page, explaining what my blog is about.  The most important thing for you to gather is that now ALL OF MY BOOKS WILL BE GOING ONTO MY BLOG.

The next important thing for you to notice is how I’m going to be writing about more than just my book series.  I want to share with all of you my thoughts on being a young Christian man, all my thoughts concerning writing, all my thoughts concerning anime, and just about art and the world in general.  There’s a lot to talk about, and I don’t want to limit myself to blogging just about The Golden Lands (however great it is :D).  I’ll still give you updates on my writing endeavors/achievements.  But I want all of you to get to know my as a person, as a writer…not just a guy trying to sell you his work.

I hope this post finds you well.  And I hope you haven’t forgotten about me!

Stay awesome, dear followers!

Dominic (Aul)

Bleach: The Hollowfication Question

Number one pic

Sometimes we see this when the main character of a story is fighting against an enemy of seemingly unsurpassable might; with no other power to turn to, the main character resorts to teaming up with evil in order to defeat evil.  And maybe, maybe, he’ll even draw his strength from this person or source of evil.

BACKGROUND OF BLEACH

(If you already know all of this, I would encourage you to skip to the section in bold which reads “The Question”)

Ichigo Kurosaki is such a main character.  The manga and anime Bleach is easily one of the most popular Japanese comics and television shows out there, particularly in the shonen (boys) category.  The story follows the adventures of fifteen year-old Ichigo Kurosaki, who becomes a Soul Reaper in order to protect his family from the hunger of a Hollow: a fallen soul/spirit of the underworld.

Ichigo as a Soul Reaper battles a Hollow
Ichigo as a Soul Reaper battles a Hollow

Ichigo is plunged into a life of protecting innocent souls from Hollows, as instructed by Rukia Kuchiki, the Soul Reaper that gave him his powers as a Soul Reaper.  Soul Reapers have the duty of saving souls from Hollows, sending those souls to the Soul Society, and purifying the Hollows so that they too may be admitted to the Soul Society.

THE ZANPAKUTO

Every sword that a Soul Reaper has—called a “zanpakuto”—possesses a spirit in itself.  This spirit, in both its form and personality/countenance, is a reflection of the Soul Reaper that wields the zanpakuto.  There is also an element of mystery encompassing the nature of the spirit which is within every zanpakuto.

The spirit of Ichigo's zanpakuto, Zangetsu
The spirit of Ichigo’s zanpakuto, Zangetsu

These spirits have minds of their own; and although they cooperate with their Soul Reaper in order to further the advancement of power their Soul Reaper is able to unleash, sometimes the spirits might endeavor to control their Soul Reaper.

Once a person becomes a Soul Reaper and possesses a zanpakuto, his soul becomes intertwined or merged with the spirit that fills his sword.  The Soul Reaper draws strength from his zanpakuto, and the spirit of the zanpakuto teaches the Soul Reaper how to wield and unlock the power that the spirit possesses.  This bond between Soul Reaper and zanpakuto is intense.

Which is why, if a Soul Reaper isn’t careful, the spirit of his zanpakuto might turn on him.

THE HOLLOW WITHIN

Ichigo's inner Hollow is exactly like Ichigo but all light and darkness is reversed
Ichigo’s inner Hollow is exactly like Ichigo but all the light and darkness of his appearance is reversed

Ichigo’s zanpakuto, and the spirit accompanying it, is named Zangetsu.  Originally unknown to Ichigo, there is another side to Zangetsu—a darker side.  Zangetsu is one with a Hollow; they are the same person, but one side is good while the other is evil.

The evil side of Zangetsu was said to have been “born” when Kiskue Urahara—Ichigo’s hippy-of-a-mentor—forced Ichigo into regaining his Soul Reaper powers by using a method called “Encroachment”.  Encroachment caused Ichigo to run the line between turning into a Hollow himself, or becoming a Soul Reaper (since he had lost his power as a Soul Reaper).  The result on the surface appeared to be that he became a Soul Reaper again—clean, plain and simple.  However, underlying his transformation was the merging of Zangetsu with Ichigo’s inner Hollow, who was brought about by Encroachment—as a side effect, so to speak.

Ichigo's Hollow mask begins to form as he undergoes Encroachment
Ichigo’s Hollow mask begins to form as he undergoes Encroachment

Yet, it proved to be a much bigger “side effect” than Ichigo expected.  When Ichigo battles Byakuya Kuchiki, captain of Squad Six of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads, in order to save Rukia from being executed, Ichigo is suddenly possessed by his inner Hollow.  The Hollow saves Ichigo’s life, but states that Ichigo is too weak to be using Zangetsu/himself.  At the time, Ichigo is unaware that the Hollow and Zangetsu are the same person.

Ichigo is possessed by his Hollow as he fights Captain Kuchiki
Ichigo is possessed by his Hollow as he fights Captain Kuchiki

Ichigo regains control of himself.  But ever since his battle with Captain Kuchiki and his possession by his inner Hollow, Ichigo is now always subconsciously aware of the Hollow within himself.  And the Hollow wants to come out—to control and possess Ichigo.  The struggle to maintain control of his own body and soul steadily grows more intense for Ichigo.

At the same time, Ichigo’s enemies become greater too.  After Ichigo saves Rukia from being executed in the Soul Society, Captain Aizen of Squad Five rebels against the Soul Society.  Aizen is incredibly powerful, and he plans to completely wipe out Ichigo’s hometown and kill the king of the Soul Society.  Aizen is also surrounded by an army of Arrancars—Hollows with the abilities of Soul Reapers—and the Espada, who are high-ranking, super strong Arrancars.  These Arrancars, along with Aizen himself, present a huge threat to Ichigo, his friends, and both the members of the Real World and the Soul Society.

Aizen in all of his evil glory
Aizen in all of his evil glory

Ichigo knows he isn’t powerful enough to defend everyone he cares about.  What’s more, whenever he fights and uses more of his own spiritual power, the chances of him being possessed by his inner Hollow skyrocket.  His resolve being torn down by the emergence of his inner Hollow, and the threat of exceedingly strong enemies, leaves Ichigo confused and unsure of how he can protect his friends.

THE VISOREDS

Shinji and the rest of the Visored crew
Shinji and the rest of the Visored crew

Shinji Hirako, along with his team of rogue Soul Reapers, invite Ichigo to become a Visored; a Soul Reaper that learns to subdue, control, and use the power of his inner Hollow.  They are called Visoreds for the Hollow masks they wear, which are the center of their power.  If Ichigo learns how to control his inner Hollow and use its power, he’ll gain an immense amount of spiritual strength.  Without the knowledge of how to maintain his inner Hollow, and facing the danger of Aizen and his Arrancars, Ichigo turns to the Visoreds for assistance.

In the end, Ichigo goes within himself and battles his Hollow, defeating the dark form of Zangetsu and therefore being able to harness his energy.  The Visoreds continue with his training, and Ichigo gradually learns to control and use his inner Hollow.  The more he battles, the more power he possesses, and the more he relies on using “Hollowfication” as the source of his might.

THE QUESTION

Is it right for Ichigo to resort to using the power of his inner Hollow for the sake of fighting Aizen and saving his friends?  Zangetsu, or the dark side of Zangetsu, is clearly something evil by nature.  His appearance, his motives, his methods—everything about Ichigo’s inner Hollow possesses some sense of malice and morbidity.  Ichigo fights his Hollow and conquers it.  Nonetheless, the Hollow doesn’t go away; instead, he allows Ichigo to draw power from him.  This power is clearly something dark; Ichigo joins with the evil-side of his soul in order to produce intense spiritual attacks.

So, what’s wrong with this picture?

In order to answer the question of whether it is right to use evil to fight evil, we need to look at the situation from a logical perspective.  All of this can be simplified by this basic moral truth:

The end doesn’t justify the means.

This logical statement works could be explained with this example: Say a man wants to become rich.  Becoming rich is the “end”.  Let’s say further that the man’s “means” of achieving his “end”—becoming rich—is robbing a bank.

The example with the man is similar to Ichigo’s: both ends are good.  Ichigo wants to protect his friends and save the world; the man wants to become rich.  Nothing is wrong there.  But if we say that “the end justifies the means”, then, according to that statement, any means found necessary is “okay”.  Why?  Because the end, in-and-of-itself, is something good.  However, we can see that this is flawed from a moral perspective.  Just because the end is good, that doesn’t mean it’s right to reach the end using immoral means.  That’s a problem.  We could win all wars by torturing the enemy’s citizens until the enemy surrenders—winning a war: good; torturing people to do it: bad.  (#lameexample…I know)

So here’s where the truth comes in: The means justifies the end.

This is a logical/moral principle that encourages people to build good upon good.  A good means should bring about a good end.  Let’s go back to the man that wants to be rich, but make the example different; now his means is getting a job and working hard, and watching his everyday budget: good.  The end?  He becomes rich: good.  That’s the way it’s supposed to work.  Not everybody will become rich, of course, if they work hard and watch their budget.  But you get the idea.

But then, what’s wrong with Ichigo?  What’s wrong with his means?

The main thing wrong with the story, in that Ichigo obtains his source of strength from his inner Hollow, is that the line between what’s good and what’s evil becomes blurred.  Ichigo takes on the form of something evil, bringing down his own good character, for the sake of something good.  This can lead some people into confusion: is that what heroes do?  They join themselves with evil to do good?  Do heroes turn into monsters or evil spirits for the sake of what’s right?

The answer is simple.

And ah: monsters and evil spirits don’t do what’s right.

“No, but Ichigo does.”

In a sense, Ichigo does do something good.  After all, his end is pure.  But his means is not.  Evil doesn’t produce good.  We can become stronger through dealing with a form of evil that surrounds or threatens us.  But evil is never the producer of good.

This might sound like a story from the Bible, to some viewers.  Joseph, the son of Jacob, (the one with the swagged-out, colored-cloak) is sold by his brothers into slavery to the Egyptians: bad.  However, he rises through the ranks of Egypt to become second-in-command and help his family in a time of famine: good.  The “bad” stuff—being sold into slavery—didn’t produce the good—Joseph becoming second-in-command and helping his family.  In the story, God gave Joseph a way to react to the evil, so to speak; a loophole.  But the evil didn’t create the good.

Nevertheless, Ichigo clearly endeavors to do the opposite.  He draws upon the power of evil and assumes an evil form itself.  A flaw, or falsity, therefore, corrupts the nature of the story of BleachBleach, whether or not the author Tite Kubo intended this, preaches that we can reach into ourselves and pull out our “inner Hollow” and use it for good.

If we think about it, we can see how this negatively morphs society’s perception of heroism.  If Ichigo is equated with being a hero—the one who “defeats the bad guy”—and at the same time is merged with a form of evil, isn’t there a chance those people that look up to Ichigo will think it is right to merge with evil to produce good?  To the people of the anime world, Bleach is saying, in however an indirect way, that the face of a hero…well, may indeed look like this:

Ichigo in his "Hollowfied" form
Ichigo in his “Hollowfied” form

The face of something good is portrayed using the face of evil…doesn’t this seem twisted in any way?  Doesn’t that bother you, or seem wrong?

Ichigo’s means? Using evil.

Ichigo’s end? Saving his friends and the world.

Logical? No.

Moral? No.

The means justifies the end, not the other way round.


Tell me what you think and share your thoughts…I’m really looking forward to hearing your take on this!

Dom

P.S. My first book in my series The Golden Lands (fantasy/anime based) is still free at Smashwords.com!

P.P.S. Just a shout-out to my really smart dad who helped me with all of this logic and philosophy 🙂  You know your stuff, Dad!