We're trying a new strategy to combat burnout in the face of our constant onslaught of deadlines. It's called "only work as much as you have to." We set a quota for today, we met it, and we stopped. It's that simple. Now, if it turns out we have too much work and we start running behind, well, we'll pick up the pace again, but for now we're just dealing with the motivational drop that comes from looking at the day ahead and seeing nothing but work. For now, this strategy allows us to work and
do something fun! We hope. We're having a hard time figuring out this "fun" business right now. When you're too tired, nothing is fun.
In the meantime, I wrote a whole bunch about Akira from Kamigami no Asobi InFinite on Saturday, and I figure now's as good a day as any to post it.
Okay, so let's talk about Akira. We've been playing his story over the course of the last however long it's been, so I don't know how much I'll remember, but I was hoping that doing the bulk of the report all at once would help make it more cohesive.
You may be wondering, "Akira? But that's not any mythological god I've heard of!" So I will tell you, it's Amaterasu. We don't think Akira was in the anime (although maybe we're just remembering wrong), but first of all, they made Amaterasu male. Apparently there are some depictions of the Japanese sun god that are male, so it's legit. Even if it weren't, the Japanese have never been above gender-bending prominent historical and mythological figures. So Amaterasu is male and is Takeru and Tsukito's older brother. He hasn't been summoned to attend Zeus's school, but he stops by whenever you're looking at the Japanese gods' stories, or, in the case of InFinite, at the beginning of the story to let you know he's a dating option. He's playing the role of Takeru and Tsukito's guardian, and he comes over to make sure they're doing okay. Or to make sure Takeru is doing okay, anyway.
His story starts out with Yui running around the school, desperately trying (and failing) to find Tsukito and Takeru, who have been summoned to Zeus's office. Thoth may have strongly implied that Zeus would zap them all with lightning if they didn't show up. Instead of them, she runs into Amaterasu, who demands that she give him a new name, too. ...That might be out of order. Oh no, it's right, because when you do find Takeru and Tsukito, he's all, "I just want to let you know, I go by Akira here." And he's all, "So Takeru, you can call me Akira! And Tsukito, don't bother." That's right, Akira has an inexplicable disdain for Tsukito, and that is reason number one that I don't really like him. I mean, he has his reasons, but he's still annoying about it, and Tsukito is one of my very favorites, so I dislike him in solidarity with Tsukito...who doesn't really care one way or the other. Takeru, on the other hand, is with me, but waaaaaaaay more, because he haaaaaaates Akira, and part of it is because of how he treats Tsukito now, and part of it is because of how he treated him and Tsukito in the past. For his part, Akira is desperate to get Takeru to like him, but he's totally stupid about it, because Takeru does not hide the fact that he dislikes Akira's treatment of Tsukito, so if Akira had any kind of a clue, he would start treating Tsukito better.
So anyway, Yui and the three brothers finally make it to Zeus's office, and I don't know if this was the main reason Zeus summoned them or what, but the meeting resulted in Zeus adding an extracurricular assignment to the Totsukas, which was to build a brotherly bond. Takeru was like, "Whatever, I have a bond with the brother that counts," and Tsukito was like, "If you say so, sir," and Akira was like...I don't remember exactly what Akira was like, but he wanted Takeru to like him, so I think he was amenable. When they left Zeus's office, Takeru expressed his desire to just forget the whole thing, and Yui was like, "But you're brothers! You must have a brotherly relationship!" and Akira was like, "Please like me!" and Tsukito was like, "We have to do it to graduate, and I don't want to cause any trouble, so let's just do it, okay?" (only with less emotion), so Takeru was like, "Whatever you say, Anii."
But he was still determined not to take any initiative. So Yui and Akira, being the only two who actually cared, went to the library to see if they could come up with a fun place for them to all go on an outing and build their bond as brothers. Akira was determined to go to the Andromeda Galaxy, and insisted that as a god (his powers were not suppressed), he could get them there at the speed of light. The galaxy was still several lightyears away, so Yui hurried to come up with a different idea. Her suggestion was that they climb a mountain and watch the sunrise as part of a summer solstice celebration kind of thing. Akira thought it was a great idea, and I thought it wasn't the best idea to convince the people who aren't exactly the biggest fans of the sun god, but since Tsukito didn't want to cause any trouble, they went along anyway.
...And it was a success! They all talked and laughed, and had a pretty decent time overall. And Takeru was like, "Okay, that was fun, now we never have to do it again, right?"
Meanwhile, Akira had such a good time that he decided to reward Yui with another good time! And there was a bit of concern about what that might entail, but as it turns out, Akira collects kimonos, and he just wanted to give her one. Or maybe just try one on. I don't remember. (Athena remembers: he wanted to give her a bunch of them, and she was like, "No, I couldn't!" But he insisted, and she insisted, and instead she agreed to try them on.) But then they had a kimono fashion show, and while Akira is a man in this version, he's a very androgynous man, so she was like, "It was just like spending time with an older sister!"
During this time, she finally managed to get him to spill the beans about why he kept trying to pretend Tsukito didn't exist. Apparently, he was just petty and jealous. Tsukito's not their blood brother, but Takeru is always going to him for everything, and never cares about Akira. Meanwhile, Tsukito is so emotionless, he doesn't even care that Takeru cares so much about him. And that just makes Akira super mad, so he can't stand Tsukito. And yet it's also true that Akira blames himself for Tsukito's lack of emotions, so I really don't know what's going on with that guy, but he annoys me. (Athena suggests he's been running from the guilt all this time. Or he didn't realize that what he did was actually wrong until he came to the school and learned about love and stuff.)
But Yui manages to convince him to make an effort to build a relationship with both Takeru and Tsukito, so that's what he tries to do! And he was actually somewhat admirable in his attempts, because he goes with Yui to propose another outing, and he even asks Tsukito directly where he wants to go. Of course, Tsukito doesn't actively want to go anywhere because he has no emotions and no desires, but he's starting to develop some, so he tells Akira that he'll talk it over with Takeru and they'll get back to him tomorrow.
The next day, Takeru and Tsukito have spent hours deliberating, and they have a suggestion! I think it was called tourou nagashi, and I'm too lazy to look up what that is in English, but the point is, they make little boats and take them to the beach at night. They light candles on the boats and write a wish in them and send them out to sea, and if the candle stays lit until the boat goes out of sight? I think? then your wish comes true! Tadah!
So the night comes and they all go, and this part was really very cute. They send their boats out into the water, and they all talk about what they wished for, and Yui and Takeru were both like, "I wished that we could all graduate, of course!" and they asked Tsukito and he told them that he wished that Yui and Takeru could graduate, and they were like, "You didn't wish anything for yourself!? No, that's too sad!" And Takeru was reckless enough to go try to retrieve Tsukito's boat so they could change the wish. And while he was swimming toward it, he got pulled under! Oh no! Yui was about to go after him, but then! Tsukito ran past her! Awwwwwwwwww, he does
care about someone! It was so sweet.
And then they all worried about Takeru for a little while, and finally Tsukito brought him back, and he was like, "Guys, I'm a sea god. I'm not gonna drown." And they were like, "Oh yeah." And they all decided to help Tsukito come up with a wish, and they bonded and it was cute and they were all getting along and it was the best.
But then! Yui and Akira are having tea together, and he said, "Now that we're on the right track to building a brotherly relationship, isn't there anything else
you want to teach me?" Because he had asked her to teach him
about love, too. And the Thread of Fate showed up! Oh no! And, because that's how we've been doing it, we chose to keep teaching him about familial bonds, and he was all bummed about it because he'd gotten his hopes up or something, and of course that also means that the story is going to center on his relationship with his brothers, which now has to regress in order for there to be conflict.
First, Akira decided he's going to take his brothers on the best outing ever! But he doesn't tell them where they're going or anything, and Takeru and Tsukito have conveniently forgotten the bonding they did on the beach the other night. So Akira is trying desperately to build a relationship, and Takeru and Tsukito are not really cooperating. He tries to talk to them, and they basically give monosyllabic responses. So he's like, "Uh, I'm gonna go get some water. Yui, would you come help?" So she's like, "Seriously, why don't
you guys get along?" and Akira's like, "I did something awful to Tsukito but I can't tell you what it is because I'm too ashamed." And we were like, "Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh." And she says, "Well, maybe you can find some common ground." And Akira said, "I would
really like to hold Tsukito's bunny rabbit."
So they finally get to their destination, which is the school's version of the Amano Iwato, where Amaterasu hid herself away after Susanoo threw a flayed horse into her chambers. That didn't seem to be the significance of it in this story, but I didn't quite catch what the significance was
supposed to be. Like, "It's part of our mythology! Isn't that neat?" It also functioned as a handy plot device later, because the Amano Iwato can only be opened from the inside. Dun dun DUN! But I'm getting ahead of the story.
Everybody was like, "Wow, this is
a neat place!" and then Yui urged Akira to ask about the bunny, and Tsukito's like, "Whatever (no attitude, though; he just really doesn't care)," and they all bonded over petting the bunny.
After they got home, Akira had a wonderful idea! It was a surprise. The next day, surprise! he was the new assistant teacher. And for some reason his main role as assistant teacher was to convince the class that they wanted to have a school festival. They put Yui in charge of the whole thing, and he decided to be her assistant, so on the night of, they went around all the booths and Akira made an enemy out of everybody by not knowing how to read a room. For example, Loki had a shooting gallery with rigged guns, but Akira used his god powers to hit all the targets anyway. As for Akira's dear little brothers, they were running a karuta game, and Yui was like, "Aren't you going to play?" and Akira was like, "No, I'm too angsty to ask my brothers to let me join their circle," and he walked away very sad.
I don't remember the chain of events after that, but Akira decided it was time he rectify what he did to Tsukito. (Athena reminds me that it was Zeus telling them that everyone can graduate! but only if the Japanese gods decide to give up on the whole brotherly bond thing, because they were all totally stupid about it, but I still blame Akira.) We were sure this meant he had cast a spell or something on Tsukito that took his emotions away, and now he was going to undo the spell. I was still sure of that when Akira took out a mirror and whispered something to it, and then was acting very cryptic and sayonara-y to Yui.
Fortunately, Yui does
know how to read the room, but since Akira disappeared, she couldn't ask him for more information. She went to the library instead, but all she could find out was...
...And that's where Gaston called and we went out for chicken and waffles, so that's where that reports stops. I'm trying to decide if I want to finish it now or later...
Okay, I'm pretty close to the end, so I might as well finish it now. Yui found out that the mirror was the Yata no Kagami, which is one of the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan, but her reference material didn't offer any more explanation than that. Fortunately, Takeru arrived just in time to explain. (And he did it under orders from Tsukito, who, through his developing emotions, learned to realize when people were not being themselves, and he realized that Akira was acting weird and got worried. Awwww. I love Tsukito.) But first, he actually explained what Akira did wrong all those many years ago! And what he did was...
Nothing. No, like, literally, that was the problem. When Akira and Tsukiro and Takeru were born, they were all given their realms to rule over, and Tsukito's was the hardest because it was all dark and lonely and stuff, and as the sun god, Akira was up in Takama-ga-hara, so he could see eeeeeverything, and he could see how much Tsukito was suffering(?), but he didn't do anything to help. Meanwhile, Tsukito...I don't know if he lost his emotions because of the bleak situation he was in, or if his bleak situation just never gave him the motivation to ever develop any, but the point is, now here he is without emotions. (Only he has them now, because of the school and stuff.) Then when Takeru was really struggling with his own issues (see our review of Takeru's story), Akira didn't do anything to help, even though he was in a position when he totally could have, but Tsukito did sort of help, and that's why Takeru latched on to him.
So now that the backstory is out of the way, Yui tells Takeru that Akira was going to try to fix it! With a mirror! And Takeru was like, "Wait, not the Yata no Kagami?" and she's like, "Um...I think so?" and he's like, "Oh no! That mirror's bad news! It only shows the truth!" And we were like, "Okay, not seeing a problem here..." And he says, "It grants wishes, too! But at a terrible price! The wisher has to confront the darkness inside himself!" And we're like, "Okay...so...?" And he goes on, "And they usually can't take it, so they're destroyed!" And again I was like, "But Akira is, like, sort of the hero of this story, so he can hack it, right?" But apparently, because Akira is the most powerful person in Japanese mythology, the power of the darkness inside him is likely to do some serious damage to his surroundings, too. And then I was like, "Okay, I guess that might be a problem."
So they race off to find him! And Yui says, "Akira, you can't do this!" and he says, "It's too late! The mirror has already activated! Just let me resolve this matter in peace!" And he disappeared! Dun dun DUN! So Yui and Takeru and Tsukito realize the only way to get to Akira in time is to ask for Zeus's help, and Zeus is all, "Uh...no." And there was some dramatic thing about how they wanted to save their brother because they cared and stuff, and Zeus was like, "Finally! Okay, here's your god powers back. And as an added bonus, I'll teleport you to where Akira is."
Shockingly (by which I mean no one's surprised), Akira went to the school's version of Amano Iwato--you know, the cave that only opens from the inside. He figured it would contain the mirror's power and nobody would get hurt...but you know, thinking about it, if the cave opens from the inside, the power of the mirror could have opened it. I don't think he thought this through very well. But fortunately, it didn't. It just possessed him and made him fight the three people he cared about most in the world. Oh, and as an added deus ex machina, the sword pendant that Yui had was another of the Three Sacred Treasures (this was probably also mentioned in our Takeru review), which conveniently was the only thing with the power to fight the mirror. (It grew back to normal sword size.) So they fought and fought, and Akira attacked Tsukito and Takeru, but Yui has to go break the mirror, but her friends are in trouble, oh no!
The Thread of Fate shows up, and now we have a choice between going to break the mirror, or going back to help Tsukito and Takeru. We chose the former first, because, oddly enough, it was the choice that took the fewest brave points. It did have the happier ending, though. So Yui goes and breaks the mirror, and she looks back and there's Akira, using his powers to heal Takeru and Tsukito. Once he gets that taken care of, he only has one thing left to do to assuage his guilt. He takes out the lightsaber he was using to fight with...and turns it on himself! Oh no! (Actually, we were pretty annoyed by it. I felt like he was just making bad decisions all over the place. We were like, just get it over with so we can all move on with our lives.)
And just as he thrusts it into himself...Takeru jumps in the way! Awww, he cares about his brother enough to risk his own life to save him. So they had a touching conversation where Takeru and Tsukito told Akira that they loved him, and then, as usual, there was a party! It was a "congrats grads" party, but also seemed to be thrown in Akira's honor? And they all lived happily ever after.
On the other hand, if you choose to go back and help Tsukito and Takeru, you end up battling Akira himself, and he almost kills you! But Tsukito uses what little energy he has left to jump in the way! And he gets hurt instead, because it wasn't a "parrying his oncoming attack" sort of jumping in the way so much as a "becoming a human shield" sort of jumping in the way. And Akira's fighting and fighting, but he's still conscious, even though the mirror is in control, and he's fighting that, too, and then! his sun god powers win the day and he manages to shatter the mirror through sheer force of will.
So they all march happily out of the cave, but when you get to the exit, Akira doesn't want to come out, because he doesn't feel worthy, so Yui and the guys are all, "Don't be silly, of course you're worthy! And if you still don't feel that way, you can work to correct it!" And then Akira's pretty mopey about the whole graduation thing, and you meet him out by the flowers where you always meet him, and he says, "We're going to have to go back to our worlds and never see each other again," and then he does just that and the end.
So there you have it. We're still working on the romantic endings. Maybe someday we'll post about them. But for now, I think we're going to watch Attack on Titan.
Today I'm thankful for a new strategy that makes work less daunting, Little Boy Cat and Boots the Kitten all snuggled together on the patio, the tasty peach gummies we got from Tokyo Treat (a couple of months ago...we're going through them slowly because we have no idea how to fit things into our routine), the cute pins our friend gave us at Disneyland yesterday, and it being time to go watch some anime.