“Between killing and dying, there’s a third way: live.” – Christa Wolf
After this last episode of Re_Hamatora, literally every single question we’ve had regarding the series and plot was revealed, here and now. To be honest, there were quite a number of episodes you could have skipped to watch and epic finale.
I’m not even going to mention Saikyou anymore because she’s just a bored rich lady that gave the original villains a means to do these crazy things (i.e. Moral). She ends up committing suicide anyway which is an anticlimactic ending to her side character.
Don’t worry about the world plunging into an apocalyptic disaster because it literally only lasts for ten minutes but as Art gazes into the nihilist world he’s created, he reflect on his past and through his perspective, we are given a glimpse into his childhood at facultas with Art and his brother, Skill. The inherent social problems with the minimum in season one clicks perfectly with Art’s underlying jealousy towards the minimum-holders as well as all his motivations in season two. The theme of ethics almost mixes in with quasi-religious dialogue which complicates things more than they need to but let’s break it down…
The minimum manifests from the human Ego. Humans are probably the most egoistic creatures out there. Having a minimum boosts your ego considerably over those who don’t have minimum. Potential minimum-holders themselves must compete with each other in Facultas to graduate from the academy, the main setting of the back story that spurs the characters to action in the first place. All this conflict stems from the root of minimum, human ego.
Consequently, this has caused Art to set out on a quest to destroy ALL ego and minimum and despite his good intentions to “fulfilling” a promise to his brother, ironically, it is his own human ego that even leads him to think he has the right and the abilities to pronounce judgement over those whose ego has manifested sin unto the world.
I did however like the contrast between Hajime and Skill’s minimum. I would argue that Skill’s minimum manifested from his love for his brother and his desire for his brother to have a minimum. Luckily, or unluckily for the brothers, Art was hit with a blast of Skill’s minimum just before Skill died. Whether that was Skill’s last gift to his brother, or a freak accident, we’ll never know. Skill’s minimum explosion collided with Hajime’s nihilist wave and they cancelled each other out. Skill’s heart was also implanted into Nice in order to save Nice after he was shot trying to escape with Hajime. Both plotlines collide brilliantly with one another throught Nice when he ends up meeting Hajime even though he initially went looking for Skill.
We get to see Skill’s minimum manifest itself in strange ways this episode. With his heart implanted in Nice, he’s saved Nice from his mortal wounds in episode eleven and some fragment of him comes out to speak with Hajime. Even Art catches a glimpse of Skill before Skill’s minimum, reverts the world back to normal. After these scenes, arguably, Nice could trigger Skill’s minimum (if he hasn’t already done so to save the world in this episode). As Hajime and Skill’s minimums are completely opposite from one another, Hajime’s trigger is despair while Skill’s trigger is hope. This little dichotomy also reflects human nature as a whole, not just minimum-holders and non-minimum holders caught up in this socially polarized world that they’ve constructed for themselves.
Re_Hamatora is a story intensely driven by its characters and I’m impressed at how Hajime and Nice were written to be catalyst characters to each other. Nice’s feelings for Hajime spur him into action this episode. Hajime is Nice’s breaking point in matters big or small. Hajime on the other hand, in many ways, can’t live without Nice. The writers of Hamatora give Nice some great dialogue in the climax of the series that really drives the point of the human-ego conflict, straight home. Art wants to eradicate all human ego and minimum but can’t seem to wrap his head around the fact that his minimum was a gift from his brother. Naturally, it takes a genius like Nice to piece together these abstract concepts and motivations.
The concept of Ego is also a very intriguing concept. It’s not only ego in terms of human pride, even though that seems to be the bulk of Art’s explanations behind the minimum, it’s also your desires, your emotions and your dreams. In that sense, Nice is right; the world can be a beautiful and crazy pain in the ass. If we didn’t have human ego, the desire to improve ourselves, the desire to achieve certain goals, we’d have a pretty boring world. At the same time, the flip side it that too much human ego can produce nightmarish results i.e. Facultas Academy, Saikyou’s twisted forms of entertainment and Art’s misguided attempts to change the world.
My Thoughts on the Ending…
To be honest I really didn’t like how Art survived. Naturally, his minimum would have revived him even if Nice had killed him. However, I had hoped initially that the last serum Art injected into himself would somehow suppress his minimum long enough for him to actually die. Another question comes to mind here, “Can Art die at all? Or is he just immortal?” I feel like it’d be really hard for all the characters to go back to their regular everyday lives as if NOTHING really happened. I understand it’s the writers’ intentions to take the plot full circle so our characters reunite but this isn’t some Shakespearean romantic comedy where all the characters gather and get married at the end.
Everything in Hamatora built up this ugly society so warped by the existence of minimum that I really thought at the end, all minimum would just disappear and the world would become minimum-less and everyone would go on their happy everyday lives. Because the series has built up the minimum to be tied to ego, here, a key part of each individual’s identity and personality, without ego and without minimum, people just turn into brainless happy zombies. You can’t exactly live like a regular person with your minimum or your ego. Despite all the problems that “ego” and “minimum” has caused the world, it’s not a perfect world, but it’s what we’ve been given and we strive to do more, achieve more and be more every day. I think this is the poignant message that Hamatora has attempted and somewhat succeeded in delivering.
It almost seems unfair to Nice and the others that Art is still alive and about just six months after he plunged the world into hell. The series has tried to paint Art as a misguided and misunderstood anti-hero of sorts but NO, for the most part of the series, he was trying TO KILL the main characters. The ending in Re_Hamatora just seems undeserving of such a flippant ending. It would have been better if Art consciously made the choice TO LEAVE even after he’s been forgiven. It’s so very Nice-like for him to punch Art in the gut and joke about his suicide and death but it all just didn’t sit well with me that Art was back in the group like nothing had happened. Art’s sudden flip from good to bad and Nice’s joke just seems like poor timing on the writers’ part.
Thoughts on the Series as a Whole…
Re_Hamatora also annoys me in that we really didn’t get any insight in the series’ intentions and the characters’ motivations until this dramatic ending. Most of season two has been holding out on us with explanations and back story tells. They haven’t devoted enough time to truly getting into each characters’ personality. Does Nice really have no problems as a happy-go-lucky minimum-holding genius? The only time he ever seems upset is if something happens to Hajime. Season two isn’t so much about destroying all minimum to achieve a utopia.
It’s not even about the good guys fighting the bad guys. It is more or less reconciling that chasm between Nice and Art through their difference in abilities, outlook on the world and their friendship through the years. Nice and Art are constantly trying to save EACH OTHER in the series. Nice wants to pull Art back from the shadows while Art wants to kill Nice to absolve him of his minimum sin. Beyond the plot square that Nice, Art, Hajime and Skill have created in the core of the series (which again is not revealed until the last episode), the other characters just seem to fall redundantly in the shadows as people who are obligated to appear in the second season to either showcase the side effects in minimum or kill time with comedic filler.
Overall though, there were so many mysteries to the series and we have so many questions lingering that the big reveals of Re_Hamatora episode twelve came off as amazing climax points. This is one of those series where the ending reconciles many of the doubts and discomforts you had with the series episode by episode. Perhaps I’d be less concerned about the pacing in Re_Hamatora should I have watched the second season all at once instead of following it weekly, forced to sit through the subtle and ambiguous scheming of the characters. I will admit though that the second season reveals a lot more about the minimum-holders that the first season did not. No doubt that fans of the first season (who think the series is more or less about superheroes solving case mysteries), will be pleasantly surprised or weirded out by how the series takes a turn for the dark sides in season two. Re_Hamatora is one of those season twos that’s hard to recommend to people. It’s one of those continuing seasons that you really need to watch as a fan but approach at your own risk.
What are you pondering today?