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tomoyoichijouji in denno_coil

What's STILL bothering me about Dennou Coil

Hi everyone! Tomoyo Ichijouji here, and I've joined this community as of a few days ago. Even though, I actually have been watching this show since the beginning of this year, and finished the show last week.


Man, this show started out so interesting and I'm glad it didn't disappoint! In fact, I think it got significantly better in the latter half of the show (and that's saying something, since I did very much enjoy the 1st half!), since I think a few of the characters were developed much better in the latter half. I started genuinely liking a few of the characters in the 2nd half, whereas in the 1st half I didn't dislike anyone, but the only one I somewhat liked was Haraken. But although the ending was incredible and did wrap things up very nicely, I feel that there are still so many things left to explore and answer!

Last spoiler warning, if you haven't seen the end and don't want to be spoiled, read no more!
Some things about this show are still haunting me, and in a way in that I want to know what other people have gathered watching to be sure I haven't missed something.

We meet three 'dead' people on the Other Side: Kanna, Nobuhiko, and Dr. Okonogi. All three of their cases have to do with what's still bothering me about the show's events.

According to the blog entry here (thanks for putting that up by the way, that really helped to put some things together in my mind), Kanna's consciousness remained after the car killed her physical body, having tried to avoid her digital one. But that means that Kanna WAS still alive on the Other Side, and that the one Haraken spoke to was by all means likely actually her. Perhaps it's impossible for someone to survive inside the system without their body, but I point to Dr. Okonogi's case.

Yasako's grandpa recognized Yasako and Densuke, and Yasako recognized him as her grandpa before he materialized his appearance. (Interestingly, after she recognized him) We hear from other people in the show specifically that Dr. Okonogi went to the Other Side while alive to try to access 4423, the experimental Space he created for Isako, and that his physical body died while he was still inside. The grandpa Yasako meets is decidedly from after his death, as he explictly mentions having died. Plus, he also mentions that he still needs to go help Amasawa Yuuko. This is just after 4423 was engulfed by the darkness that was or became Michiko. He could possibly have disappeared from the Other Side after that, but then again there was the wrist bell he wore that appears on Densuke in the last part of the show after he dies. Interestingly, you hear it all throughout Yasako's first attempt to save Isako. Was this given to Densuke by Dr. Okonogi? Or was it Dr. Okonogi acting through Densuke and the bell a symbolic indication of that? Either way, it seems like Dr. Okonogi remains an unspoken force to the end of the show, at least.

If I'm right in understanding the past of these two, then in fact these people ARE still living in the Other Side, and thus, are not truly dead. Yet, they are treated as such in the real world and even Haraken, after meeting her once and she tells him that he should go on in the real world without her, leaves her be. She seems to disappear after giving Haraken her message, but it's possible she still exists afterward. Is this, instead of perhaps a comforting illusion programmed by Dr. Okonogi or a projected likeness from Haraken's own memories, a disembodied person showing altrustic self-sacrifice, trying to keep those in the physical world from suffering their same fate? And if the Coil Domain was destroyed (as in the blog rendition of the show states), does this mean that she, Dr. Okonogi, and anyone else taken in were truly killed off completely? It's a disturbing question that is part of what still haunts me about the show.

Last but not least, Nobuhiko -- or rather, the Nobuhiko in 4423, who is centered around another aspect that still bothers me about Dennou Coil. Is he himself actually called "4423"? Let's call him "Yonyon-niisan" to eliminate confusion. Yonyon-niisan is stated to have been created as "a virtual brother" by Dr. Okonogi as a part of the 4423 Space. Thus, unlike Dr. Okonogi or Kanna, he is definitely not the original Nobuhiko. This matches up with the revelation that Nobuhiko died in the car accident, and didn't have his consciousness separated from his body. But if Yonyon-niisan isn't a disembodied 'real' person, he seems like some kind of person, despite having been programmed by Dr. Okonogi. He gives Yasako and Isako their names before they are ever given them by people they know later in Daikoku, and this seems pretty complex for 'just' a program. When he talks to Yasako, he is pretty honest about his origins if a little vague. He says that the place was for a certain child so she could heal. Yasako interprets this like a doctor's role, and he assents to this characterization. Dr. Okonogi is also a doctor, and creates this place for the purpose of doing that job. He says that eventually the place will fade and he won't see Isako anymore; "that's the rule". He says this to Isako also, in the way that "soon, I can't be your brother anymore". From this interaction, we can tell that Yonyon-niisan is aware of his purpose, and that he must leave her eventually if she is to recover fully. Also, it's pretty clear that these thoughts don't sound like something Nobuhiko would have said; he died in a car accident, right? Plus, Yonyon-niisan's purpose seems to revolve around Isako, while Nobuhiko I'm sure had a life outside and other people to think about.

I hypothesize that at his core, Yonyon-niisan is like Densuke. They were both created by Dr. Okonogi, and both originally for the purpose of bring Isako back to this world mentally whole. Densuke eventually was given to Yasako instead to guard her, and after meeting Dr. Okonogi again, also to block the path to 4423 that Densuke had inadvertently lead her on. While both are purely digital entities, they seem to possess a will of their own and are sentient. They both have ingrained sense of duties that were given by Dr. Okonogi, but it seems really a sense of duty rather than just executing a program.

In this way, is Yonyon-niisan's final farewell also a self-sacrifical gesture, if the disintegration of 4423 means his total annihilation? He knew it all along and accepted this 'rule' as he called it, but if he is a sentient being as well, one would have to really appreciate the sacrifice he willingly makes for Isako's future.

But then all of this would be even more in the air if in fact Coil Domain was not completely destroyed. Plus, the ending, where Densuke is seen by Yasako and Kyoko, without glasses. Since we know that Densuke seems to exist somewhere in the Other Side even after his death in new Space, and in the last episode the quote was "According to urban legend, there is a place cyberpets go to after they die", does this mean that they really did see Densuke, in the place that they go to after they die? Is this the Coil Domain? If they can see it without glasses, is this linked even more tightly with the 'real' world, or does it have anything to do with both Yasako and Kyoko having Imago?

Ultimately, I think that the show leaves enough unsaid and enough set up that things aren't fully concluded, there is more to the story of the glasses. Isako goes/returns (did she live there?) to Kanazawa at the end, where the Loophole Nexus was and where Yasako's dad was doing work towards the end of the show, interestingly enough. What's she doing there? Just going back home and being a good girl, or is she still investigating? We know that Megamass still is covering up a lot of things, and it seems really unlikely they released her entire story. They did a whole lot of horrible things to her, and other people, that are unaccounted for, even though Yasako's dad was involved in the internal audit that uncovered the truth of Kanna's accident. We still have the Coil employees and especially Sousuke (albeit with a broken pair of glasses) still on the loose. They probably have the most knowledge of the Coil Domain that rivals that of Megamass, and perhaps more. What will they do from here? Plus, if the Coil Domain still exists, what of the people, real origin and digital origin, that still exist there as well? Is there any way for them to get out here...like Densuke seemed to for a moment at the end...?

WOW, that was long. But I think I got out a lot of thoughts that were crowding my head about the show that were pestering me. I'd love if I could get some other thoughts about this from people, see if I can piece more things together. ...I'm seriously considering putting together a sequel fic for this if I can understand more of what happened in the show, and consequently, what gaps and questions remain. Sorry if I'm unclear on something, ask me for clarification if needed, and thanks so much everyone for being fellow fans that could make any sense of this drabble!

Comments

Whoa, long list of questions. =P Putting in my own two cents for a part of this, will look over the rest once my brain is more awake (need to sleep because I'm waking up early in a bit, lol). It's also been a while since I've seen the series, so I hope I don't mix anything up!

Is this, instead of perhaps a comforting illusion programmed by Dr. Okonogi

I don't think Dr. Okonogi programmed this (my assumption here is that the project was customized for Isako, so it wouldn't make sense if the likeness of a person Isako doesn't know is integrated in the program); the Coil Domain was able to act independently without him after his death, and I don't believe that he has the the means to further make adjustments to the C-Domain once he was absorbed by the system.

or a projected likeness from Haraken's own memories, a disembodied person showing altrustic self-sacrifice, trying to keep those in the physical world from suffering their same fate?

If Kanan was a projected likeness produced by the Coil Domain, I don't think she'd ask him to go away from her and back into the real world where she's certainly dead (for me, this seems highly uncharacteristic of a program that may symbolize clinging to 'safety' as a form of coping with fear); instead, she'd try to draw Haraken in.

And if the Coil Domain was destroyed (as in the blog rendition of the show states), does this mean that she, Dr. Okonogi, and anyone else taken in were truly killed off completely?

I would think so. At this point, they seem to be integrated into the Coil Domain. Even their consciousness is seen or felt in the form of data in an outdated digital world. It would make sense that they would cease to exist once the world that they're part of is gone.

Of course, Densuke's appearance at the end of the series leaves us with room for doubt -- who knows, it's also possible that the Coil Domain is no longer accessible with any device, but children with Imago may still catch glimpses of it.
1st out of two comments (sorry, I've REALLY been thinking about this too much)

it wouldn't make sense if the likeness of a person Isako doesn't know is integrated in the program

No, but the overall intention of "allowing someone to say one last goodbye to someone that has died" is exactly the same. (Except of course, Kanna may actually BE ALIVE in this case. :/ ) If that isn't actually Kanna's consciousness, the program itself may have picked up Kanna from either Haraken's memories or Kanna's glasses themselves (or both), since Haraken is wearing them when visiting her. Plus, it's clear that many data belonging to her exists in that obsolete space that even Haraken was able to tap into. So the Kanna on the other side could be the one from the real world or 'the one from Haraken's heart' as he hypothesizes in the end.

the Coil Domain was able to act independently without him after his death

It sounds like you're saying that the Coil Domain and 4423 are one and the same. While they're definitely connected, they seem to be two different places and have different origins. Coil Domain was created long before Dr. Okonogi created 4423; it was created by the Coil employees at Megamass before they were fired and disbanded. Dr. Okonogi presumably had a connection to this C-Domain and created an experimental space, the rows of torii and the playground namely, as an add-on to it that was presumably only for Isako. Plus, even after Dr. Okonogi's death, and right before he says goodbye to Yasako, he says he still needs to go to Isako to cure her. Presumably this is before she wakes up in earnest in the hospital room, and apparently he needed to intervene still, he implies. Why else does the bell that he wears during that time appear on Densuke? He has to still have an influence on that world, whether in person or by a Null who retained his personality and will.

instead, she'd try to draw Haraken in.
Unless the part about Dr. Okonogi's program being carried out in a similar fashion about saying goodbye to 'dead' loved ones is true. Then there are still the two possibilities.

for me, this seems highly uncharacteristic of a program that may symbolize clinging to 'safety' as a form of coping with fear
You're talking about Michiko here. The Coil Domain seems to be separate, and since Kanna is found in the Coil Domain rather than 4423 they aren't necessarily connected.

I would think so. At this point, they seem to be integrated into the Coil Domain. Even their consciousness is seen or felt in the form of data in an outdated digital world. It would make sense that they would cease to exist once the world that they're part of is gone.

THIS is in fact the part that, if entirely true, would disturb me about the series the most. It practically doesn't make sense. If Haraken cared so much about saving Kanna from the Other Side, would he have simply given up after Kanna said, "It's too dangerous, you have to go back and leave me", if she honestly still WAS there? This seems to assume that she is in fact a ghost that is only a lingering memory. Unless her existance is very unstable -- unlikely; she managed to survive there for a year, pretty intact it seems! -- then in fact it IS self-sacrifice and resigning herself to oblivion. If this were in any other context, this would surely feel very wrong.

It's a different case in a way for Isako, because Yonyon-niisan WAS there to let her say goodbye to her brother, because Nobuhiko honestly didn't exist anymore in any shape or form. He cannot be saved at this point. However, if Dr. Okonogi and Kanna are still alive, they can't simply be written off as ghosts that are already dead. Otherwise, Isako really DID kill Kanna this time, if her departure meant the destruction of both 4423 and the Coil Domain. This show seems to emphasize that someone's mind is an integral part of their being alive. Heck, obviously travelling to the Other Side didn't make the other kids in the shwo dead. Thus, just because Kanna's and Dr. Okonogi's physical bodies are gone, that couldn't mean that their minds still trapped in the Coil Domain have no worth as human beings anymore!

(continued on next comment)
(continued from previous comment in thread)

I'm not quite sure what the show means precisely when 'consciousness is separated from the body'. Are the neurons still firing in the brain of the person, or is it actually shutting off when people separate from it? When someone dies while separated from their body, if their brain dies, then if the consciousness inside the Other Side is still rooted in the brain that representation suddenly becomes unmanned, so to say. Kanna and Dr. Okonogi are, leftovers of people who died and left their cyberbodies unmanned; their thoughts, personality, and will may have been left and are taken in by the empty husks, developing into beings of their own that resemble their former identities in appearance and behavior. If not, then their mind can be totally contained within the system, and essentially they have now become living beings inside of it. But either way, these are some kinds of thinking, intelligent (if not breathing) beings that they're meeting here, and who are dying as the obsolete space is destroyed.

But of course, this is assuming that 4423 is the same as the Coil Domain, which seems to be in doubt. Just because 4423 might be gone, the C domain might not be. In fact, the ending with Densuke and the hint in the last episode's urban legend (which in the show has a reputation for being eventually true) seems to imply otherwise.
Interesting post! But I don't really understand why Yasako and Haraken's giving up of their loved ones is puzzling: I thought that some part of them knew that these people had in fact already died, and so it wouldn't be so hard to accept that they couldn't return to the real world with them, i.e. I'm saying that Haraken was in denial about Kanna's death and he was more concerned with making up for his mistake that with bringing her back to the life. The world of Dennou Coil seems to me to presume that once the physical body dies, the person is dead to the real world and cannot return. Isako only held on to her hope because she was of the belief that her brother's body still existed, that he hadn't died per se, which is why learning that his body was a fake had such a big impact on her.
I don't really understand why Yasako and Haraken's giving up of their loved ones is puzzling

No, that's not what I find puzzling. What I DO find puzzling though is if the Kanna and Dr. Okonogi are the people they seem to be in the other world. You are saying that any and all of the people that appear in the obsolete space are not the original people's consciousnesses and only appear and act like them.

I'm not disagreeing with this interpretation, in fact I think it may be the most likely one; that would mean that it isn't TRULY possible for the consciousness to completely separate from the body, only for it to be projected somewhere else.

But, that explanation leaves a few things confusing. The Dr. Okonogi that toddler Yasako meets knows that he 'died' in the outside world, and also states that he still needs to go help Isako, indicating that he didn't finish the job while he was alive in the physical world. But then it seems like he still has an influence in the digital world, since first, he brings Isako out of 4423 despite being dead, and second, it's very heavily implied that he has an influence in bringing Yasako back from her first attempt to rescue Isako, with Densuke wearing Dr. Okonogi's bracelet, and revealing memories only Densuke and Dr. Okonogi retained from his and Yasako's meeting. Is this, then, NOT Dr. Okonogi but a vestige of him that retained his memories and will? Could we argue that this one is still a sentient being, whether the original Dr. Okonogi or not?

Then I take this further to Kanna and 'Yonyon-niisan'. Kanna may or may not be the original Kanna from the physical world; let's assume that she isn't. Then she's some digital being that tells Haraken to go back. Or perhaps only a reflection of what Haraken wants to see and hear. It's not so clear for her, because we don't see very much individuality from her so she could just be a program for all we know. I throw in here though that Dr. Okonogi wanted people to be able to say goodbye to those that they miss by talking to a reenactment of that person digitally; maybe Isako's program happened for Haraken, too?

But Yonyon-niisan is my main argument. It wouldn't be a stretch to say he's self-aware; he knows why he's there in 4423 and all the rules that come with it. He doesn't just stick to a program, though; he realizes that Yasako doesn't belong there, and what she must be consequently. He also realizes that something's going wrong with Isako and that it was a danger to Yasako, and even though Yasako isn't really his main concern he urges her to get away. At the end, we see the dark outline of Yonyon-niisan as silent but ever-present as Isako plays with Michiko and Michiko's rendition of Nobuhiko (these are shown always as separate entities). We see Yonyon-niisan's last help for Isako as he prevents Michiko from blocking Isako's way, telling her 'this is our true goodbye'. (I study this line very carefully, and though it's all blurry, it always seems to me he looks determined at first but then a little sad as he says this). The show makes clear this is not Nobuhiko, but he was never disconnected from his digital self like Kanna, Dr. Okonogi and Isako were; there was no chance for his consciousness to get stored in the system. Thus, even if Nobuhiko is already dead, Yonyon-niisan, if we think he's a sentient being, could be 'dying' to save Isako if her leaving 4423 means his own complete destruction (which, if that were true, he seems to have accepted and taken upon as his duty).

In that case, digital beings, sentient and as real as the show says at the end feelings are, are sacrificing themselves for our sake. Densuke does this. But I might note that we see Densuke again at the end, without glasses. If Densuke exists right up there with Yonyon-niisan and the rest of these digital beings, then could that mean that "according to urban legends, there is a place that digital pets go to after they die", where these beings might go to as well?
You are saying that any and all of the people that appear in the obsolete space are not the original people's consciousnesses and only appear and act like them.

Nope, I think that they could be either and that there is a lot of ambiguity involved, so much so that both explanations could be operating for different characters. Kanna, for one, I'm more inclined to put in the 'ambiguous' box, where she could either be a figure produced by Haraken or a 'ghost' (vestige of consciousness), while Dr Okonogi is more convincingly a consciousness who remains in Coil space and doesn't entirely fade away. This is not because he displays a will of his own, but because he knows of events (mainly, Okonogi's search for Isako) that the program of 4423 could not have known or taken into account either at the time of its creation or due to the other human occupants of the virtual space - your "revealing memories only Densuke and Dr. Okonogi retained from his and Yasako's meeting".

Coming to Amasawa Nobuhiko... now, the problem here might be the limitations of a computer program: how far can you program a computer to think like a human, and just how much of the supernatural enters into this show's scheme? (The answer to the first question determines the scope of the latter.) Is it possible that we can program free will into a computer program, such that the program retains the kindness and unpredictability of a human being, and some of his affections and memories? Let's say, that Nobuhiko cares for others and that he loves his sister, and this love for his sister in fact exceeds his need for self-preservation. Then might not his sacrifice make sense from a logical point of view?

However, I would separate Yonyon-niisan's eventual sacrifice from his protection of Yasako. His sacrifice can be explained by sophisticated (relevant) programming and/or a projection of Isako's consciousness, but his helping of Yasako would be programming that is extraneous to the known purpose of the program, which doesn't really make sense for the most part - unless the module inherits its parent's properties and the structure of the greater program is so sophisticated as to be magical? which, in my view, it is... that would bring me to the view that Yonyon-niisan's behaviour is programmed to be human-like. I'm not sure if this line of reasoning is convincing for you, though.

How far we want to believe in spirits is variable. I suppose most fans would at least partially do so, but I think the central message is not whether the virtual is real or not, but the real feelings we have for them, and how we choose to act upon these feelings and the set of ethics with which we treat the environment around us.

[ignore my pat conclusion and please go on...]

Part 1 of 2

Let's say, that Nobuhiko cares for others and that he loves his sister, and this love for his sister in fact exceeds his need for self-preservation. Then might not his sacrifice make sense from a logical point of view?

I say Yonyon-niisan and not Nobuhiko because we actually don't know much about Nobuhiko at all; the only one we actually see is his digital replica, who presumably acts enough like him to be similar to him at least for Isako to be convinced. So we can't say *anything* about Nobuhiko himself. But if you are indeed talking about sacrifice, that contradicts the argument that this Yonyon-niisan is not Isako's brother. Because to say otherwise is to say that Yonyon-niisan cares about her despite not really being related to her. That's still likely, so we'll go on from there.

that would bring me to the view that Yonyon-niisan's behaviour is programmed to be human-like

What this implies is that he only appears to be human and be sentient but is in fact not. I'm leaning toward thinking otherwise. Yasako cared about Densuke as much as a real dog, and heck, he probably had a lot more intelligence than a real dog anyway. While you might say that Densuke isn't human 'enough', the show certainly deems him real enough for him to be mourned as much as a real dog. He exists as much as the people inside the obsolete space, and the show makes a big deal out of asserting the realness of the things that exist there. Yasako mourns Densuke and says goodbye to him; in a very similar way does so Haraken to Kanna, and Isako to Nobuhiko, AND Yonyon-niisan.

However...I'm pretty sure she was still trying to deal with saying goodbye to Nobuhiko, and still didn't even realize that it was Yonyon-niisan still playing that role for her.

This leads to something that I suppose for sci-fi fans shouldn't be too farfetched: sentient, self-aware beings were created inside the digital system, i.e. artificial intelligences/AI. That may not take away their original directives even though they could be corrupted or changed (I really think Michiko, for example, is the result of Isako's obsolete digital body gaining its own consciousness growing out from Isako's feelings being imprinted into the system as Isako tries to leave them behind). Thus, it brings me back to what I was disturbed about in the first post: I fear there's an undertone the 'real' people's lives are more valuable than 'digital' people. If both are sentient beings, this shouldn't be the case.

If we can't tell the difference between them and people, or if the differences wouldn't disqualify a real person from us considering them real, then heck, we have no business considering them as 'only' programs; otherwise we should consider 'real' people as much as programs then. Otherwise it's just discrimination as to where the consciousness was born.

(continued on next reply)

Part 2 of 2

I think the central message is not whether the virtual is real or not, but the real feelings we have for them, and how we choose to act upon these feelings and the set of ethics with which we treat the environment around us.

I can't help but feel it's wrong to deem digital beings as expendable while physical beings must be saved, if both are sentient. I'm not talking about self-sacrifice; I'm talking about others' regard for the people being sacrificed.

If we flip it around and ask about the feelings of the digital beings, take Yonyon-niisan, it seems like Isako wanted to save her brother, but if his body is gone, then if we take that without the body the person's consciousness ceases to exist anywhere, then she knows (when she's not deluding herself) that he doesn't exist anymore, and the one she sees is someone who only looks and acts like him. While it's probably true she can't do anything for him in the state she's in, where she can't even get herself out safely, I wonder if, since I presume she realizes afterward his identity as a 'surrogate' brother, she cares about him as what he, not as fake Nobuhiko but Yonyon-niisan, a being who pretended to be her brother so he could cure her? I wonder if she had known who he really was after waking from the car accident, she'd have gone a different approach to save him from the unstable space, not trying to bring back a comatose brother but to save the existence of someone who cared about her. But of course perhaps she wouldn't care about a replica, even a sentient replica, as much as her brother.

Dr. Okonogi has no one pining after him but it seems he can take care of himself in the Coil Domain just fine. Or perhaps little Yasako helped to refresh his memories and self? Even then, he still remained years later, maybe not even in a digital body entirely but as a will that helped Yasako get out once again.

Yeah, you could easily analogize all of this to 'spirits' and I think the creator very much imagined along these lines (how many parallels can you think of between the obsolete space and the underworld?). But without any reference to spirits or the supernatural at all, I really don't want to devalue any kind of sentient consciousnesses, 'real' or digital, because they're both people. Because if it were the 'real' Nobuhiko, Isako's actual brother, that destroyed himself to save Isako (if Yonyon-niisan were actually destroyed), wouldn't we mourn him right alongside celebrating Isako's safe return? 'Real' Nobuhiko should be as important as Yonyon-niisan, if both are sentient beings.

...I'm really obsessing over this too much, but it's crucial for my ultimate understanding of the series, and could mean the difference between me loving this show and actively protesting it or something. XD;;

Re: Part 2 of 2

[When I said 'Nobuhiko' above I really meant Yonyon-niisan, sorry; was lazy to change all the references to him after I remembered.]

Ah, I understand now, so it's an ethical problem. Hmm. Not qualified to comment but I'll give my opinion.

I fear there's an undertone the 'real' people's lives are more valuable than 'digital' people. If both are sentient beings, this shouldn't be the case.

'The real is more valuable': yes, this is the view people in the series and in real life are supposed to take, the adult way of looking at the world, but the series interrogates and deflates it to a great degree, I think. I came at the series with this inherent assumption, and near the final episodes, I found this assumption first confirmed (by the Yasako-mother anvil), and subsequently, questioned (by Yasako herself). But that's the surface level of the text, I don't know at this point if there is a deeper layer.

Where characters are concerned, I just see characters making very reasonable choices given the information and limited time and point-of-view they have - granted, that doesn't excuse the writers from bigotry, should such be the case. Isako never cares about the entity beyond who he pretends to be, that is, her brother. She acts based on the belief that he is her brother, and she struggles to keep the memory of the two of them, still together and happy. That struggle does not permit the thought of him being anything other than her idea of her brother. Yasako obviously loves Densuke as her dog and after a while it ceases to matter whether he exists in the real world or not. He is real to her and he protects them, and that's truth as we see it.

What I'm kind of wandering towards is that it would be a tall order to address discrimination, and would be a whole different show altogether. I would say that the Illegals are Othered throughout and when they show a human side, it's some remnant of humanity/sentience peeking through an otherwise degenerate and degenerating race - who were created by an overreaching Science, most probably. On the whole, Illegals are not meant to be trustworthy or reliable. The show is confined to the narrow point of view of the children, and we see about as much as they see and feel - complicated ethical questions boil down to trusting one's own feelings and going with what's good and true.

I would not deny that humanity or sentience is privileged, whether it appears in humans or Illegals, but I mightn't venture to say that the series discriminates against sentient Illegals, for any spark of humanity in them is still presented as sympathetic and even lovable (Densuke). What I would dearly love to know now is whether sentience can be consistent in Illegals - we don't have adequate evidence to say so either way, can we?

And how do we tackle the issue of Illegals harming live beings just by touching them? Since the reverse does not happen, isn't it reasonable for us to want to protect humans more in 'obsolete' space? (Just as the long-necked Illegal gets our sympathy in normal space.) Don't we, as humans ourselves, have a natural prejudice for the survival of our own kind, and is it really wrong for the series to not attack this too much? (This is a personal question.)

Sorry if some parts don't fit, I'm evidently hopelessly muddled and working things out for myself as I go along. :)

Part 1 of 2

(Thanks for continuing to discuss this with me, btw. I'm having such a hard time finding Coil fans that are willing to discourse lengthily on stuff like this, even here on the one active Coil LJ, that I'm really pouring my heart out XD It's no wonder we hardly find fanfiction about this, I wonder how much most viewers even think real hard about this kind of stuff...)

Hmmm, that's a good point about that it's from the limited point of view of the children. I also really like your explanation for why Isako wouldn't think about Yonyon-niisan as anything but her brother. I feel like a lot of things, especially matters that pertained to the adults in the show, were very vague and left much more unexplained than things relating to the children. (E.g., the former Coil employees, what in the world was behind Yasako's father's 'intracompany audit' etc.) And it's also true that Illegals are as they are described -- "illegal" and not "supposed to be there" by the rules that are laid out by the system. They're referred to directly as like 'lost, homeless children'. And yes, also you said that they are portrayed sympathetically by the show, and this almost, to me, very subtly implies a tragedy behind the everyday practice of updating systems and deleting the outdated data, when that data becomes more than the sum of its parts.

I came at the series with this inherent assumption, and near the final episodes, I found this assumption first confirmed (by the Yasako-mother anvil), and subsequently, questioned (by Yasako herself)

I actually came to that part with Yasako's mother with considerable disquiet. What she said felt...false to me. I felt as if this show, if it were as deep as it seemed to be, wouldn't stop at just that, because the world is moved, civilizations falling and rising, by things that don't exist in the physical world but in our minds. Besides, it seems almost like the 'parent lecture' that was a result of the glasses scare that made all of them take them away from their children (they obviously recovered when all of them get their glasses back sometime before starting middle school). In addition, it is Yasako's questioning that causes her to embark on the most epic and climatic quest of the show, and is actually the key to getting Isako back, by realizing it IS real and going to deal with it, face-to-face. That's one thing that struck me as special about this show, and also as very profound at the same time as it might be radical.

(continued on next reply)

Part 2 of 2

Don't we, as humans ourselves, have a natural prejudice for the survival of our own kind

And there are countless stories dedicated to ceasing this kind of 'tribal-mindset', which is exactly the cause for most of the atrocities that have happened within our own species, i.e. genocide. Genocides happen because people believe that sentience is either inconsistent or nonexistent in those peoples, and they aren't even digital. True that this 26 eps seems to not be focused on this sort of thing (in fact it seems to be almost exclusively individually focused, what with the magnifying glass on Isako in the last few eps), but it sure seems to dance around the idea (with the concept of the lost, homeless Illegals mentioned above)

Now, if these beings are threatening our wellbeing, then it has nothing to do with whether they're sentient or not, it has to do with protecting ourselves. People have killed other sentient people, many of whom would be considered good people but were put into horrible situations, to protect themselves and most would never blame them because of it. But there are those in the world who really don't believe in killing of any sort, even for their own or others' protection, and would go to far lengths to find a way to stop the harm without taking a life. I don't know if I'm one of these people (considering some of my reactions to things, probably not), but I am one of those people who would rather give the benefit of the doubt rather than risk heartlessly killing a sentient being. (If it's reasonably questionable that a robot is sentient or not, then by golly I'm not going to take a chance. Otherwise by all fairness I should question humans' sentience, which seems ridiculous to most.) Either way, sentience is separate from virtue. A perfectly sentient being could be the most depraved thing out there, but you judge that one on its depravity, not its sentience.

Of course, even with this attitude, it wouldn't change what happened in the story (which is still vague; for all we know, all three of Dr. Okonogi, Kanna replica(?), and Yonyon-niisan still survive like Densuke probably did). But it would make us appreciate the full extent of what happened, and all of the entities that made it so.

Because I have to admit, the one I feel the most heartbroken for right now is not Isako, but...Yonyon-niisan. ;_; Doesn't anyone miss him? He did so much for Isako, but for all we know he's ceased to exist...

I can't help but wonder if Isako, who goes back to Kanazawa at the end of the show, where the Loophole Nexus was, is actually investigating further into the Coil Domain and Megamass, who still is unaccounted for putting her through all that crap; even if Kanna's incident is fixed, hers sure ain't. Plus, even though Densuke dies as much as any digital pet can die during the show, we saw that he still survived in the Coil Domain to rescue Yasako, even after the Coil Domain *seemed* to dissolve into nothingness (I really don't think it means it's been erased, as Tamako says 'I don't know' when asked what happened to the Coil Domain). Then of course there's the strange incident at the end, where he is seen without glasses. o_O It would be pretty lame and contraditory to the show's core message if that was just a symbolic hallucination. Besides, Kyoko saw it too, and confirmed it with a very sober expression. If Densuke survived...why not Yonyon-niisan or Dr. Okonogi (who really does seem to be still the same person he was when he was alive in the physical world)? The fact that the magnifying glass was on Isako in the finale, leaving the rest of the world open for exploration and finding answers.......I say a continuation would have a lot to draw from, wouldn't you?

Re: Part 2 of 2

Sorry for disappearing, I thought I'd leave LJ comments till the weekend but I failed as usual!

Now that you point it out, yes, the 'adult matters' were left unexplained, hehe. As children we can't know much about the adult world, and in a way a lot of things are out of their control. The story only exists as far as the children are in it, apparently. It's the children's story, after all.

In addition, it is Yasako's questioning that causes her to embark on the most epic and climatic quest of the show, and is actually the key to getting Isako back, by realizing it IS real and going to deal with it, face-to-face. That's one thing that struck me as special about this show, and also as very profound at the same time as it might be radical.

In absolute agreement here. Okay, except about the part about it being radical... that depends on who you're talking to. It wouldn't be to you. :)

And there are countless stories dedicated to ceasing this kind of 'tribal-mindset', which is exactly the cause for most of the atrocities that have happened within our own species, i.e. genocide. Genocides happen because people believe that sentience is either inconsistent or nonexistent in those peoples, and they aren't even digital.

Yes, it is true and sad.

Now, if these beings are threatening our wellbeing, then it has nothing to do with whether they're sentient or not, it has to do with protecting ourselves.
Either way, sentience is separate from virtue. A perfectly sentient being could be the most depraved thing out there, but you judge that one on its depravity, not its sentience.

Two fine distinctions to make. Gotcha. I'm reminded of the same theme in Macross Frontier. Recent episodes have been heartbreaking.

Of course, even with this attitude, it wouldn't change what happened in the story (which is still vague; for all we know, all three of Dr. Okonogi, Kanna replica(?), and Yonyon-niisan still survive like Densuke probably did). But it would make us appreciate the full extent of what happened, and all of the entities that made it so.
Because I have to admit, the one I feel the most heartbroken for right now is not Isako, but...Yonyon-niisan. ;_; Doesn't anyone miss him? He did so much for Isako, but for all we know he's ceased to exist...


Hehehe. And the 'fleas', don't forget them.

I can't help but wonder if Isako, who goes back to Kanazawa at the end of the show, where the Loophole Nexus was, is actually investigating further into the Coil Domain and Megamass, who still is unaccounted for putting her through all that crap; even if Kanna's incident is fixed, hers sure ain't.

It would be in Isako's personality to not give up the investigation. I can't imagine her settling down to a normal teenagerhood. I thought the reason she gave Yasako sounded weak anyway (I can't be around other people, I'll lose sight of what I want?), so unless it was lazy writing, Mitsuo was setting her up for an offscreen continuation of her story. Isako's story is a sad one, really... how can she ever find peace?

It would be pretty lame and contraditory to the show's core message if that was just a symbolic hallucination.

When I watched it, Densuke's reappearance was reassurance that he truly lived and will still live on in their hearts, which is the simpler message to take away rather than your more disturbing one, but with some thought yours is the more plausible explanation -- I think I just wanted a pat conclusion to the show! It's highly possible that the old domain can never really be erased and lives on somewhere in the world....

Isn't it sad that Dr Okonogi's contribution to science should result in so much tragedy and unintended consequences? Scientific inventions always seem to expand beyond the creator's control and gain a life of their own, as it were, and efforts to contain the mess are never entirely successful. On the other hand, dennou glasses are important to medical science and I'd guess have many other applications, so it's a double-edged sword.
I implied that people may think that the ultimate 'truth' about the digital world is that it's only an illusion, that how Yasako's mom sees the situation is the 'correct' way to deal with it, which the show almost directly negates. Perhaps it's probably a widely-held belief about such worlds; you know, probably many other stories have the moral at the end, "Don't get too attached to false made-up worlds, otherwise you mess yourself up". While you have it quite right that I don't find it radical in the least (in fact, I was internally cheering when they finally demonstrated something I've thought about for a while), others may.

Yeah, the 'beard-people', and 'Long-Neck'. ;_; Well, the beard people are 'somewhere'; they kinda left on their own, right? But it seems to be clear that they didn't commit suicide or anything, so....where did they go? Does it have anything to do with where other obsolete digital beings might go? :o

Isako's story is a sad one, really... how can she ever find peace?

I think, in a way, she found peace when Yonyon-niisan allowed her to say a final goodbye to the fettering attachment she had to Nobuhiko her brother. Now she has the full capacity to go forth with her considerable intelligence, and her true bravery this time, to find out the truth about the Coil Domain and Megamass if she so wished. (Oh, this reminds me: I feel that Isako's comment about "You were the one who truly gave me the name Isako" wasn't in fact a denial of Yonyon-niisan's time spent with her but the fact that she lived up to her name not when he first called her that, but when Isako ran towards Yasako away from Michiko's prison.) Besides, if Isako really meant what she said "I can't be around other people, I'll lose sight of what I want" -- what DOES she want? The show implies in the end that her searching for her brother was actually her losing sight of her true path -- maybe now, she can search for her real goal in earnest.

And actually, that was almost my point about not having a total closing of the points in the show, sort of a justification of my possible attempt to continue the story of the show, since I'm almost sure Mitsuo isn't going to make another one (but if he is, GIVUS IT NAOW kthx XD)

All knowledge and application of it comes with unintended consequences. In fact, all ignorance and inaction comes with unintended consequences too, except it's much more tempting to lay the blame on others because it's easy to say that "I didn't do anything so I'm not responsible". Being a scientist and physician-to-be myself, this is a mindset that I'll never take. (Thus it really makes me appreciate Dr. Okonogi as a true physician at heart and a hero for going so far as to risk his own life to save his patient's.)

I feel that you need to take responsibility for what's under your control, and the best way to do this is to know as much about the world around you as you can to be able to make educated decisions.

From what we can see in the show the glasses are as ubiquitous as computers and e-mail nowadays, so to entirely give up glasses in that time is like us giving up those. Not happening. XD And the question of whether we would if we could, I answer with the knowledge/ignorance responsibility thing again.