Meruem: a Hegelian Odyssey

Meruem is one of my favorite characters from Hunter x Hunter. He was powerful, cunning, brutal, sympathetic, and all so human as Nietzsche once exclaimed. I would love to write at length about how great of a character he is, but this is not what I will be doing in this essay. Instead, I will be writing an analysis of the Hegelian aspects of Meruem. Why Hegel one might ask? I chose to do a Hegelian analysis of Meruem, because I found an unmistakable parallel between the character development of Meruem and Hegel’s thoughts on self-consciousness.

Let’s begin with Hegel’s theory of self-consciousness. For Hegel, the most primitive form of consciousness is certainty at the level of sense experience. It is the experience of “this” or “here” rather than classifications like red or round. Such sense-certainty’s utterance, Hegel argues, is incoherent. For example, suppose I uttered the sentence “here is nighttime,” wrote it down, woke up the next day, and read it aloud. How is here nighttime? This is indeed very peculiar. Why does the truth of sense-certainty disappear when written down? Hegel explains that sense-certainty cannot be expressed because it is knowledge of the particular, and language expresses knowledge of the general or universal. (71) Here, there, and now cannot express sense-certainty, because there is more than one here or now – it is a universal. Wait! How do we then make sense of proper names one might ask? Aren’t they particular? Hegel’s answer to this question was that proper names are meaningless because they only refer to the name itself. One could push further on this issue; but I won’t pursue it anymore since this essay’s aim is to draw a parallel between Hegel’s theory and Meruem’s character rather than to criticize Hegel’s philosophy.

At the next level of perception, consciousness classifies objects according to their universal properties; this proves inadequate and so at the level of understanding, consciousness imposes its own laws on reality. Such laws include Newton’s laws. They classify raw sense data under concepts like gravity and force. They “are not things we see existing in reality, but constructs made by our understanding to help us grasp reality.” (74) Beyond this level of perception is the level of understanding in which consciousness begins to reflect upon itself. However, Hegel noted that, “self-consciousness…cannot exist in isolation. If a consciousness is to form a proper picture of itself, it needs some contrast.” (75) This means that we must be aware of something other than ourselves. Hegel explains that we have a desire to possess that other entity of which we are aware. We want to “transform it into something that is [ours], and thus strip it of its [sovereignty].” (76)

This all sounds similar to those who have witnessed Meruem’s character arc, as he first began as a being that merely satisfied his basic desires – sense-certainty and the particular rather than the universal. This is evident in the way he forcibly ripped himself out of his mother’s womb and immediately embarked on a search for food. According to Hegel, Meruem would be in the first stage of self-consciousness at this point. It is interesting to take note of the fact that Meruem did not speak very much during the first few days after his birth. He was simply performing whatever action seemed to satisfy his desires rather than reflect upon his actions or himself through language, which Hegel believes is juxtaposed with desires – desires are subjective and language is universal.

Sure enough, when we begin to see more of Meruem’s inner dialogue and conversations with other people he isn’t merely focused on his primal desires anymore. He has arrived at the next stage of self-consciousness. This is when we see him classifying human beings and chimera ants according to their properties. He is now interested in the differences between those who possess Nen and those who do not. Such contemplation eventually leads him to impose universal laws unto the world as we can witness from his rather extreme form of social darwinism – power is the only thing that matters. He tries to organize his underlings and the food he eats according to this philosophy. However, it is quite obvious that this mode of thinking is immature. It resembles a caricature of Nietzsche’s übermensch that people often tout as profound and enlightening. Such immaturity begins to be expressed through the desire to possess and destroy another entity. This can be seen in Meruem’s battles against chess masters and Komugi. But even such relationships are unstable as we see Meruem destroy the chess masters and grow agitated by the fact that he cannot best Komugi.

Hegel argued that, at this stage of self-consciousness, one needs to observe another self-conscious entity to grow. He believes that this allows one to see what self-consciousness is like. He believed that social interaction was crucial, for an isolated child would never develop mentally beyond the level of mere consciousness without social interaction. (77) We can observe such growth from Meruem as he interacts with Komugi. He begins to notice the majesty and complexity of other self-conscious beings. He wishes to be recognized as a worthy adversary and he becomes angered when he mistakenly believes that she does not consider him as one. Hegel explained it could destroy one’s identity if others fail to recognize his or her self-consciousness. Like nations that need to be acknowledged by other nations to be a full-fledged state, self-consciousness needs to be recognized for what it is, which peculiarly makes it what it is. A nation was already there, but recognition makes it more complete. (78)

Nonetheless, even such interactions can be toxic. Hegel believed that self-consciousness tries to be pure – detached from material objects – yet it is very attached to its body and others’ bodies. In order to show that they are not attached to such bodies, they try to kill each other. (79) One can observe this from Meruem’s bid to wager his arm and Komugi’s life over a game of gungi. Surely, such violence is pointless. If the loser dies, then the victor kills the person by whom they need to be recognized. Such insight led Hegel to write his famous master-slave dialectic. The victor keeps the loser alive so that he can have someone by whom he can be recognized – the master is dependent on the slave. This concept is quite revolutionary as it turns the usual thoughts regarding this relationship upside down – the master is the one who needs the slave, but the slave does not need the master. The slave shapes her ideas into objects and labor. Through this process, she becomes more aware of her own consciousness that is poured into her labor and the objects of her labor. Through such labor, she learns that she has a mind of her own. (80) On the other hand, the master sees the slave as a thing; therefore, he doesn’t get the recognition he needs.

Analogous to Hegel’s master-slave dialectic, Komugi the slave is confident in her own identity through her labor: gungi. We see her crying over the product of her own labor – her original gungi move– for it represents her essence. Meruem is destabilized by such confidence, since he had seen her as a mere thing rather than a self-conscious being. And once he begins to treat her as a self-conscious being he begins to contemplate his own identity – What is his name? What does it mean to be a King? In other words, he becomes more self-conscious.

Unlike Hegel’s odyssey, Meruem’s journey doesn’t end with the recognition that Mind or Geist is the essence of all reality and that our individual minds are parts of a whole that shapes and constitutes reality. His journey ends with the recognition that he can choose to be human, that he wishes to spend the rest of his life with Komugi. This decision isn’t so surprising if one realizes that Komugi herself is an existentialist figure. She embodies Heidegger’s argument that a worker who is absorbed in their work is more in touch with their Being. Komugi, as we have surveyed, is very in touch with her Being. She looks ahead to her death and believes her life to be finite, which Heidegger insisted was the essential nature of our relationship with Time. She sees her life as a series of choices that she makes for herself rather than what they tell her; hence, she sets up her own principles for her own life as we see from her vow to take her life if she loses a gungi match. It is all the more meaningful to take this into account and witness Meruem’s choice to be with Komugi rather than fulfill his genetic and socio-cultural destiny as a Chimera Ant King who must procreate with another female to continue the prosperity of his race. Instead, he chooses the person who is dearest and this very choice itself is a lesson she taught him – that life is a choice rather than what they tell you to do.


Peter Singer, Hegel: A Very Short Introduction

Michael Inwood, Heidegger: A Very Short Introduction

3 x 3 of my favorite anime shows

These are my favorite anime shows! I didn’t include any feature length films because I feel like they deserve a separate list.

3x3 anime shows.jpg

Space Dandy, Hunter x Hunter, Cowboy Bebop (top row from left to right); Bakemonogatari, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, Monster (middle row left to right); Samurai Champloo, Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, and Steins;Gate (bottom row left to right)

Hunter X Hunter

Hunter x Hunter has been in my life for a while. I read the manga as a child in Korea, and I kept up with it after I moved to the US. Yet, I would describe its presence in my life as sparse and skimpy. For one, I was too young to understand the complex world of Hunter x Hunter; furthermore, the frequent hiatuses interrupted any sense of continuity or significance. Therefore, even though I was aware of many of the major events in the plot, I wouldn’t say I really knew what the show was about. You might ask then, what made you watch the show? Well, there’s a very simple answer: YouTube! I follow a few popular YouTube channels that analyze and criticize anime; and all of them recommended Hunter x Hunter (2011). I had been craving a new show to watch, so I took their advice and dove into the wonderful world of Hunter x Hunter.

YouTube told me I would be impressed by these things: 1) Killua and Gon’s friendship 2) the adventure and 3) the animation and the action scenes. In this review, let’s begin with these things and see if my experience of the show lived up to the authoritative advice of my favorite YouTubers. So let’s get to the first question: What’s special about Gon and Killua’s relationship? Isn’t it common for shonen mangas to mess up rivalries and friendships? Yes it is. Look at Naruto and Bleach. However, Hunter x Hunter is fundamentally different from Naruto and Bleach. Unlike Naruto and Bleach, Hunter x Hunter is not a typical shonen manga. It does not have an invincible protagonist defeating every enemy. For instance, Gon, the main character, never really wins. He lost to Hisoka during the Hunter Exam and he lost to him again during the Heaven’s arena arc. But, for some reason Hunter x Hunter makes those losses epic and awesome. How? Well, the focus is not so much on victory but rather on character development. This makes it so that even though Gon lost we were exhilarated to see his vast improvement as a fighter.

Moreover, Hunter x Hunter’s characters do not partake in shallow relationships that feel contrived. Killua’s bond with Gon feels organic. Gon was Killua’s first friend, he has a bright and bubbly personality, and he rescued Killua from a life by which he felt trapped. We also see them go through so many trials and tribulations together –and also joy as they make jokes and goof around– that the gradual strengthening of their trust and love feels very natural. It makes sense as to why Killua cares about Gon. Not only does the relationship feel organic, it is also very personal to the viewers. The show takes a lot of time into probing into Killua’s psychology and how he feels towards Gon. We see how much he cares about Gon and how much he tries to be a better friend for Gon. Such frequent exposure to his psychology makes us care about him and his relationship with Gon. Since it invests so much time into their relationship, we become invested in their relationship as well.

On top of such solid rapport between the protagonists, we have the fascinating villains of Hunter x Hunter. These characters are so complex, funny, compelling, and unique that it’s honestly inappropriate to call them villains. Most of these are just characters who lead their own lives, with their own unique goals, who happen to cross paths with the main characters. Sure, none of these are upstanding models of good moral conduct, but they are not your typical villain who just “wants to see the world burn.” They have friendships, bonds, goals, and attachments that make their every move interesting and relatable. No wonder some of the most popular characters are villains –Hisoka, the Spiders, and Meruem.

So far it appears that my favorite YouTubers were correct: the characters’ relationships are indeed compelling and interesting. Could we say the same about its world –the place in which the adventure takes place? My answer again is yes. The world of Hunter x Hunter is complex and mysterious. For instance, Nen, the energy that allows the characters perform inhuman tasks, is very complicated. It’s not a simple system like the ki of Dragonball whose only feature is that those who have more ki are stronger. Unlike ki, Nen isn’t a system in which you simply climb up the ladder to become stronger. The system is set up in a way so that there are many different types of Nen users. Their types and abilities are determined by their personalities. These abilities are often not about overt strength, i.e., it’s not always about battle. To be fair, there are a lot of battles in Hunter x Hunter. But these battles are not about overpowering your opponent through brute strength or speed. It is more about using your unique ability to the fullest. This is quite apparent in the fight between Uvogin and Kurapika; it ain’t always about muscle. Lurking in the background of this complicated Nen system is the world of Hunter x Hunter itself. This is a world full of properties, institutions, assassins, games, bandits, and creatures that are so disparate and creative that it is nigh impossible to explain all of them in this review. I think the best way to somewhat grasp the enormity of this world is to look back at my list – “properties, institutions, assassins, games, bandits, and creatures.” Unlike a typical shonen manga that revolves around beating the Big Bad, Hunter x Hunter lets you take a peak at their political institutions, the kinds of games they play, and so on. This is further amplified by the nearly endless amount of details that turns everything in this whacky world into a coherent network.

Last but not least, the animation is superb. Coming from Madhouse, which gave us One Punch Man, Wolf Children, and Death Note, one can only imagine the quality of the animation. I was and I am still surprised by the quality of the animations for a show that spans over a hundred episodes. How is this possible? I am not so sure. But perhaps the long list of Korean animators might give us a clue as to how many people were involved in producing this masterpiece of show. I highly recommend it.


P.S. I plan on writing a Hegelian analysis of Meruem from Hunter x Hunter. This will be a long project so hold on tight. I think it’s going to be good!

Language

I feel very lucky to speak three languages. I didn’t choose any of them. I grew up speaking both Korean and English. I learned French because of my uncle; and I ended up majoring in French due to a series of unfortunate events. However, thanks to these involuntary choices I can now listen to the music of Serge Gainsbourg and savor his wordplay. I can relish the dry wit of Jang Ki Ha, the sensuous poetry of Baudelaire, and the violent sonnet of Yeats. 

Not only do I appreciate such disparate works of art, but I also consume all kinds of food, media, and culture. Language is a meme that is unique. It exposes one to cultures and ideas in ways that are unimaginable for other memes. For instance, I am treated as an insider by Koreans because I can speak Korean; I can speak to artists on the Pontes des artes, basking in the Sein’s reflection of the Sun; and my English prevents me from being treated as a hopeless foreigner which entails certain advantages in the United States. 

Bilingualism seemingly makes one brighter. It certainly is the case that it provides me a colorful palette of words and phrases. I would not be surprised if such colors make my mind sharp and bright. The world I see is not of iron and grey, blunt and dull. My world is comprised of manifold hues, flavors, and textures. Language enriches my life. 

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and the original manga Fullmetal Alchemist is one hell of a series. It has always been and continues to be my favorite animation, manga, and story. Today I re-watched the movie that followed the end of the Brotherhood series, Fullmetal Alchemist: the Sacred Star of Milos.

The movie tackles the usual themes of Fullmetal Alchemist: the value of truth, imperialism, death, and hints of feminism. I believe this movie, especially after having seen the Brotherhood series multiple times, concisely captures these themes. It shows us the dangers of blindly pursuing the truth, and how it can be corrupted by power and greed. It shows us the devastating impacts of imperialism through the plight of Ishvalans, alluding to the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq. The movie goes a step further and shows us the abominable condition of the people of Milos –commenting on the humanitarian crisis in Palestine.

I believe one of the most important themes –and whose importance I had just realized – is Death. Fullmetal Alchemist bids us to think of our lives as finite. This is the reason why we were introduced to the Philosopher’s stone and human transmutation in the original series; and it continues to persuade us to think of it as so in this movie. What does it mean to have a finite life? Well, it means that this is the only life that matters. It means that we have a limited amount of time. Instead of thinking about what lies beyond, we come to focus on the precious and small amount of time we have left. This is something Heidegger tried to teach us in Being and Time, and he would agree with Hiromu Arakawa –the author of the manga– that it is mistaken and inauthentic to ignore our finiteness.

Another astounding fact about this series is that Hiromu Arakawa is possibly the most successful and critically acclaimed female mangaka in an industry dominated by men. I believe her awareness of such a fact allows her to write compelling female characters that are unseen in other Shonen works. This is probably one of the reasons why Fullmetal Alchemist is appealing to so many. We have a female general like Olivia Armstrong who is ambitious, commanding, politically savvy, selfless, and caring. No wonder she trains and leads the strongest army in her country. We also have Izumi Curtis who is probably the strongest human being in the series and a brilliant alchemist who guided the main characters as a teacher and a mother. She isn’t merely just a strong person though. She is a sympathetic character who failed to have a child with her husband and tried to bring it back by performing a human transmutation –causing the loss of her organs and the pain of seeing her child die again. This kind of complex and compelling characterization of women can be seen in this movie as well. Julia is a rebel who fights to take back her country. She is troubled by the implications of using a Philosopher’s stone. She is troubled by the egregious deeds of her ancestors and family members. Yet, she musters up the courage to not only keep fighting but to use her life and the Philosopher’s stone as a means to protect her people. This is not something you see in mainstream Shonen manga.

Some may say that these themes were already explored in Brotherhood. My answer: so what? These are timeless questions that we need to keep asking ourselves. If you do not see them as such, I would be tempted to say that you wasted your time watching the series.

Last but not least, let’s talk about the animation. The animation of Brotherhood was superb, and the same studio animated the movie as well. It showcased a slew of different styles, beautiful landscapes, and even some 3D animation. The colors were vivid and it really helped hit home the exotic nature of this adventure film. I greatly enjoyed this film and I recommend it alongside Brotherhood and the manga.

Economics is not a science.

Economics is not a science. Its predictions affect the data itself, which is like an astronomer’s observation of the Sun affecting the actual rotation of the Sun. It is very bad at predictions: 2008. Economists do not agree with each other to a degree that doesn’t exist in other sciences. Economics relies too much on “soft” fields like politics, sociology and history to be a science. Economics does not follow the scientific method –engrained in the scientific method is the process of testing hypotheses with repeatable, falsifiable, and parameter-controlled experiments. In other words, you can’t mess around with a country’s economy.

This doesn’t mean that Economists have nothing important to say. It is just that we ought to take their advice with a grain of salt.

The Ethics of Psycho Pass

Psycho Pass references a slew of literature ranging from the bible to poststructuralism. Its characters, similarly, embody a variety of philosophies as well.

SIBYL represents transhumanism and utilitarianism. They believe technology will transcend humanity to greater beings, and that the net aggregate happiness of the population is more important than protecting rights of every individual.

Masaoka represents a Rousseauian view of human nature. As referenced by his life choices and his reference to Rousseau, he is skeptical of the Enlightenment project to better humanity through reason and science. He is skeptical of the absolutism with which SIBYL judges its dissidents. He believes it is wrong for a machine to make such decisions with no human insight. Accordingly, he often relies on intuition rather than the deductive powers of machines. He is wary of technology’s corrosive nature, yet he sees value in his son’s desire to fit into this system. He guides him through the series to not make the mistakes he made, and he sacrifices his life for his son. He was a complicated romantic who could not let go of his communitarian values, such as the ties and obligations to his son.

Makishima, like Masaoka, also rejects the Enlightenment project. Yet, instead of merely criticizing the system like Masaoka, Makishima wishes to deconstruct it. He lays bare the inconsistencies and flaws inherent within the system, similar to Derrida’s project of deconstructing logocentrism. He shows how the system’s own method of discerning unstable indivudals produces monsters like him. However, unlike Deconstructionists, Makishima practices an affirmative type of philosophy: he wants you to become authentic. Analogous to Sartre’s view of authenticity and freedom, he wants to see the “splendor of people’s souls” when they are making decisions for their lives themselves. This sounds very Kantian, but Makishima isn’t interested in Kant’s maxims, as demonstrated by his willingness to murder and slaughter for this goal. To Makishima, ethical standards that tell what one ought to do contradict such radical freedom.

The most interesting philosophy amongst the characters from Psycho Pass is Akane Tsunemori’s. She seems to firmly believe in the Kantian notion of intrinsic human dignity and the values of democracy: she prevents Kogami from murdering Makishima and she boldly tells the SIBYL system that humanity will create a better society based on democratic values. Nonetheless, she accepts the utilitarian argument that the SIBYL system is generally doing good by keeping most of the population happy and satisfied. Despite its flaws that directly contradict her democratic and kantian values, she decides to let the SIBYL system continue until she and the rest of humanity can find a better system. She sees value in working within the system.

How can this be so? Well, that’s because Akane is human. Human beings do not make ethical judgments based on a single ethical theory. Akane cannot bring herself to let Kogami disrespect another rational being, even if that person is Makishima. She cannot let those who benefit from the SIBYL system suffer; she cannot let her life’s story become one that abandons her friends and millions of people. She believes that the telos of a society bids its citizens to come together and decide on what is right. The same can be said about us. We are sometimes Kantian, sometimes Utilitarian, and sometimes Aristotelian. We like to be respected, we like to be happy, and we care about our characters and how the story of our lives will unfold. We are byzantine creatures, and perhaps this is why Akane resonates with us so much.

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit

Moribito is fantastical. The story unfolds as if it were a lore or a fairy tale passed down for generations. It is full of magic and mystery, yet unlike any Western fairy tale. For instance, the supernatural of Moribito is supervened upon its natural world: i.e., whereas the supernatural hides from the ordinary in the West, the supernatural in Moribito’s world occupies an invisible layer of reality. It appears that the world of Moribito is composed of many grids stacked up on each other –similar to Michel Foucault’s view of knowledge. Interestingly, the nature of this world’s knowledge and history accords to Foucault’s view of each as well: history and knowledge are shaped by the powerful.

Despite some of its gloomy undertones, Moribito is, at heart, a moving tale of courage and compassion. Each character musters up the courage to sacrifice their lives to protect the ones they love. This seems typical of Japanese anime, but I believe Moribito breaks from that convention. If one watches the show, one finds that their bravery comes from humanity rather than inhuman fearlessness; it is full of weakness and doubt. This is evident from its focus on maternal love, nurture, loyalty, family, and friendship. Moribito is not simply a story about a hero fighting monsters to protect their friends and lovers. Much of the show’s conflicts come from human beings.

Another critical difference between Moribito and other supernatural shows is that the main character is a strong, female warrior. Balsa is stoic and courageous, yet kind and altruistic. She has an unwavering sense of duty and morality. Her stoic personality is complemented by the sensitive men around her – Tanda and Chagum. I believe that Chagum especially brings out the best of her, as she act as both his martial arts teacher, mother, and roel model.

Not every character in this show is flushed out and the animation can be quite strange sometimes due to its use of 3D animation. Nevertheless, the action scenes are exquisitely animated, and the way it sketches the world’s landscapes and supernatural entities is a treat to the eyes. Hence, these minor flaws do not detract much from the overall quality of this show. I really wish there will be a second series that delves deeper into the mysteries of this world. Moribito did an excellent job at not giving too much information, thereby keeping the supernatural ever more mysterious. Although this leaves the audience begging for some answers, it doesn’t ultimately disappoint us because the show gave the major characters’ relationships a satisfying closure. In other words, a perfect starting point for a new season!

Announcement!

Dear Readers

I will be working on an essay on Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood and the Fullmetal Alchemist manga. This essay will be on the various philosophical frameworks that exist within the FMA universe. For now, I have spotted three: Aristottelian Ethics (Virtue Ethics), Pragmatism, and Existentialism, as I briefly mentioned in my review. I will re-watch much of the show to make even more interesting observations. This will take some time, so I apologize for not being able to post more regularly on Anime.

I really want to do this for my favorite show and manga, and I think it will be better for me to write more than just reviews. I think the reaction to my in-depth analysis of Johan Liebert from Naoki Urasawa’s Monster proves that this will be worth it for you too. FMA is my favorite show (brotherhood) and manga. I will also write another in-depth analysis on the conspiracy of FMA and its similarities to the real world. I will probably write more in-depth analyses on this series, since it is my absolute favorite and I frankly just know this series very well –I started reading the manga 10 years ago. However, like I said before, these will take me quite a lot of time. I will finish them as soon as I can.

In the meantime,  I will be posting reviews of Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit and a new song called Marx Rebel Fiend Funk. These will be posted pretty soon, so I hope you enjoy them.

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

Hiromu Arakawa’s Fullmetal Alchemist is a masterpiece that will stand the test of time. It is larger than life yet deeply personal. It touches on loss, the meaning of life, cultural diversity, the dangers of science, Nazism, the Iraq war, and the list goes on. Arakawa seamlessly weaves so coherent a story from such divergent threads that it mirrors the skill of a first-rate novelist. She is a brilliant world-builder and her characters are exceptional.

For instance, Arakawa’s representation of women breaks with convention. There are strong, independent women like Izumi Curtis, Riza Hawkeyes, and Olivia Armstrong. These characters are complex and unique, as one can notice from each character’s distinct source of independence – confidence (Izumi), resolve (Hawkeyes), and leadership (Armstrong). There are tenderhearted mothers like Gracia Hughes and Trisha Elric; and those who cannot be captured by such umbrella terms like Winry Rockbell, Maria Ross, and May Chang. I suppose it’s only natural for Japan’s most successful female mangaka to embody such an ambitious project – to portray the totality of womanhood: thèse, antithèse, et synthèse. Furthermore, she gives plenty of time and space to include the backstory of every character. None of them has an uninteresting backstory and they all somehow play key roles in this mysterious world.

Despite the presence of alchemy, the world of Fullmetal Alchemist is very similar to ours. It is full of racism, hatred, war, greed, love, compassion, and courage. Alchemy is used as a metaphor for power, knowledge, and science. It seems magical at first, but one soon realizes that its rules cannot be bended much like the laws of nature. Even though they have such a powerful tool, we keep encountering those who wish to go beyond its limits. Alchemy is, arguably, a reflection of our weakness. As the philosopher Julian Savulescu noted, humans are much better at solving abstract problems than learning how to work together as a whole. Edward’s final decision in the show alludes to Arakawa’s message that we do not need to rely on knowledge and science to lead a meaningful life. Instead, we need to accept the human condition. Similar to Aristotle’s notion of the Good Life, Ed and Al choose to pursue virtues like friendship, altruism, humility, and compassion. Humanity was not meant to know everything, and the human condition bids us to focus on the Good rather than the Truth. It appears that Arakawa is a pragmatist– knowledge is useful insofar as it is practical.

The animé-adaptation successfully captures the strengths of its illustrious source through fast-pace, quality animation, and stellar opening and ending themes. This animé is one of my favorites, and I absolutely recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good work of art.