「C」: Dream as though you will live forever, live as though you will die today

The noitaminA timeslot and its Fuji TV producer got a tonne of flak last year for some of the shows that showed up in the timeslot. Fractale is one. 「C」 – or, to use it’s subtitle as well, 「C」: the money of soul and possibility control – is another. I don’t really remember all the different things they lambasted 「C」 for, but some of the criticisms that stand out were that the female character designs were generally too ‘moe’, and the one-on-one bouts were a little too reminiscent of shounen fighting anime like Dragonball and Bleach.

Personally, I wonder if this preoccupation with how 「C」 represented a further step away from the noitaminA they wanted to see blinded these viewers from looking for value in the show itself. Frankly speaking, 「C」 is arguably the only anime – perhaps even the only TV show – of 2011 that has presented questions so relevant to life in the countries of the developed world.

Let me start with a question: what is money? How would you describe it to someone who has absolutely no idea what it means? Somewhat simply, perhaps, you might say that it’s a way of measuring how much something is worth, which people use in exchange for things they need or want. It’s usually in the form of paper notes and metallic coins, which all denote a different, set amount of worth/value.

Your assets are your futures…whatever that may mean…

But is that all it is? Why, for example, do we accept the value that a paper note denotes, rather than it’s actual value (which would be close to nothing)? This comes up in the second half of the series: it’s about trust. We value these notes because everyone else does as well. And the trust we place in it makes us place greater confidence in things that cost more, even if they might actually be inferior to something that is ‘worth’ less.

Another thread that might be interesting to think about is to do with politics. To put it bluntly, it’s about money being used as a weapon. Bribes and sanctions are the carrots and sticks of economic make. In fact, that money can be used as a weapon, e.g. in the form of economic sanctions, was the line of thought from which this series first sprang into the mind of director Nakamura Kenji (he made a comment about this in one of his early interviews for one or another of those anime magazines).

What is money? Is it just notes and coins?

In sum, what is money? Is it trust? Is it power? Is it the future? What do you think?

There are many other questions that 「C」 raises. Why do people work? Should people live for the present or for the future? As ‘god’ notes in the final episode, everyone thinks about ‘what’s right’ and ‘what’s wrong’, they all try to find the correct answers to these basic questions. But there is no right answer – or, to put it another way, all answers are right. Everything that people do will end up contributing to a hopefully better world, a better future. (At least, that’s what optimists would argue.)

Though, of course, I don’t think we can actually reset the world like Kimimaro did, by reversing the Midas money press…

And what does it symbolise?

My ultimate point about 「C」is as follows. This isn’t a series that was created to answer any of these questions. Nakamura Kenji and the other creators aren’t trying to say that the free market (as represented by Sennouza) is definitely better than Keynesian policies (as represented by Mikuni). The market and the political economy probably aren’t as simple as depicted in the show (not that I would have a clue, to be honest). Rather, I’d argue that 「C」is trying to get us to think about some basic questions about how the modern world works, instead of just taking everything for granted like we always do.

That, wouldn’t you agree, is something quite worth thinking about?

p.s. There’s quite a lot of ‘hidden’ information that may be of interest. What I personally found quite fascinating were the QR Codes that show up at the start of each ending theme, especially the ones about the relative abstraction of various forms of expression. Well worth checking out, IMHO.

p.p.s. Sakurai was crazy as Masakaki…and all his counterparts…

He's rather disturbing…but it's a fantastic performance, honestly ^^

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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