Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Improving the site...

Okay, so I'm making some actual changes for once to the site layout, so don't be suprised if the site looks a little wacky for the next few hours or so as I experiment. Up until now I've been using the default blogger settings, but now I'm branching out. One of the most obvious changes is that now the entire post is not displayed on the main page - my posts have been getting longer and longer, so I felt I needed to shrink down the amount of information displayed solely on the front page. I'm also messing around with the borders right now, trying to widen up the body sections of the post so that more information gets displayed on a wider format.

I'm planning on using a Cowboy Bebop image for my header (since "Like Water" is an allusion to the episode: "Waltz for Venus"). I'm not sure how far I'm going to get though. Luckily I have the time to do this right now. In two weeks I'm going to be gone for a three week vacation, so during that time new posts will probably not happen, and if they do, they'll probably be short updates to let everyone know that I'm still alive.

And check out the second Inspiration post below! It's on Wolf's Rain, and its mythological/religious origins.

Continue Reading...

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Inspiration Part Two: Wolf's Rain

Note: This post goes into similarities between Wolf's Rain and Hinduism - I do not claim to be an expert on Hindu philosophy. There are undoubtedly many things that I'm not getting right, or which appear right only on a surface level. Please point those things out.

There have been a few forays by anime into mythology. The feeling of mysticism and fantastical unreality pervades Texhnolyze, for one. The series is so wrapped up in unreality that it is akin to dreaming...something the series promotes itself. Kino's Journey also gets involved, though as a spectator, not a participant. In fact, the entirety of Kino's Journey feels like reading a book of myths. Of course, in the short history of anime mythologies, the grandest, most epic in scale, is Wolf's Rain.
This is a different type of literary inspiration, tied to a general category rather than a specific work. In fact, in some ways you might say that Wolf's Rain is tied more to religion than literature. The entire series carries with it religious overtones. The mysterious Book of the Moon seems akin to the holy books of many religions, though in particular it seems tied most closely to Hinduism with its idea of cyclical renewal.

The ties between Hinduism and Wolf's Rain are numerous, and appear through various avenues. Numbers, personalities, personas, all of these contribute to the mythological air surrounding the story of four wolves journeying to Paradise. For one thing, the very fact that there are four wolves closely relates to Hindu beliefs. Each wolf embodies one of the four "stages of life" in the Hindu belief. Toboe occupies the first stage, Hige the second. The second stage is characterized by a satisfaction of "kama and artha," which are the physical aspects of life (pleasure and wealth) - both of which Hige finds primarily through his relationship with Blue. In Kiba we find the final stage, where he has detached himself from the world in order to prepare for the next world. Kiba's focus is on the next life, not the present one, and this coincides with general Hindu theology.

Another core concept that jumps out is the necessity for good and evil as a sort of balancing act. Just as Darcia says in Wolf's Rain that a Paradise created by Kiba would be imperfect because of its lack of suffering, hatred, etc. to create a point of reference for the pleasure and love, so does Hinduism point to each god having a positive and negative incarnation. This also ties into the "yin and yang" idea, the concept of light and darkness.

One of the most interesting things about Wolf's Rain is that each character in turn is unable to complete the journey because of an attachment to the physical world. For Toboe it is his attachment to humans, for Blue it is her anger, for Hige his attachment to Blue, and Tsume his attachment to attachment. In the end it is only Kiba, who has his eyes set on the otherworldly Paradise, who is able to complete it, and even he falls short.

Wolf's Rain is about the journey. However, it is more than that - it is the end of a cycle. The end of the series is also a new beginning, the beginning of a new world. One of the basic beliefs of Hinduism is the fact that Brahma continually creates and destroys the universe. In Wolf's Rain, Brahma's eyes are closing, as the world comes closer and closer to destruction. And at the same time, Kiba's quest is to open the eyes of the next Brahma, to create the new world. There is so much beauty in such a quest, to create a better world, to make things better. Unfortunately, the beauty is tainted. Darcia's death taints the perfection.

At the end of Wolf's Rain we see a world similar to our own - in fact, it is our own. The world we were born into, it seems, is the world born of the sacrifices of wolves. This mythological take on human history has its roots in one of the world's oldest religions (and perhaps more - there are many Buddhist ties in the story as well). The message is quite clear - Kiba's journey will continue, perhaps forever as the cycle continues, or perhaps until he opens the true Paradise.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Inspiration Part One: Haibane Renmei

Note: Okay, first off, my apologies for being so late with this. I said Wednesday would be the day I did this, and now it's Friday (technically) and I finally have posted this. Well, it's going to be a multi-part post, first of all. I'm going to first do this piece on Haibane Renmei, then follow it up with Wolf's Rain, and hopefully finish up with one of my favorite anime films: Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade. I hope you enjoy this little series of posts.

Definitive links between literature and anime are hard to find, if for the simple reason that most Americans haven't read enough Japanese literature to catch them. It's like a foreigner trying to catch all the movie references in Scary Movie (any of them, and yes this is a poor comparison to what I'm about to dive into) - for the average person it's just not possible. There are a few cases that should be more apparent than most, and one of those is Haibane Renmei. It's an interesting case - Yoshitoshi Abe crafted a beautiful, one might say almost ingenious, world with a level of mysticism and depth matched only by the intensive beauty of his characters. You'd never guess that the world, at the very least, is for the most part ripped in its entirety from a printed work: that of Harkuki Murakami's Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.

To summarize the anime: Haibane Renmei follows the beginning of the life of a young haibane named Rakka, who enters the world in a cocoon and seeks to find her purpose in a mysterious world with a very interesting set of rules. When she wakes, or is born (depending on how you view it), she finds herself in a town surrounded by a towering wall, with two distinct classes - humans and haibane. The humans live out their lives in the town, while the haibane ready themselves for their "day of flight" - an enigmatic event that no one quite understands. All that is known is that on the "day of flight" a haibane leaves the town forever. There are many locales within the town: a library, where many ancient artifacts can be found, a mechanic's shop (for clocks, mainly), a bakery, etc. There is also the dangerous forest, which the haibane avoid for religious/superstitious reasons. Haibane Renmei is, like most anime, character-driven. Rakka and her relationships with the other haibane drive the story and serve to show a progression, how she matures and her character changes over the course of her stay in this new world.

Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (hereafter referred to as: HWEW) on the other hand is two separate stories. One (the hard-boiled wonderland one) centers around a man who works as a living encode/decode device. He finds himself embroiled in a far-fetched plot in a techno-futuristic version of Tokyo that is not all that it appears. The other (the end of the world one) deals with a man (perhaps the same one...) trapped in a town with a huge wall around it, a library, where many ancient artifacts can be found, a dark forest that everyone in the town avoids for some very interesting reasons, etc.

I think after those two summaries the general similarities should be glaringly obvious. Abe's work borrows the entire "town" concept from Murakami, though with some very distinct differences. First though I'll go a little deeper into the similarities - the wall, for one, is huge. In both, it's impossible to surpass, and dangerous to try to circumvent. It serves as an obvious symbol of containment, and to some extent constraint. And, well, this is where the similarities end, for the most part. You see, Abe and Murakami took very different paths to tell their stories.

For Abe, his story was about new beginnings and redemption. There are two principal characters in his story, in a way mirroring Murakami's work, Rakka and Reki. The first character embodies the "new beginning," and carries Abe's concept of maturity. Rakka's sense of wonderment at her surroundings, and especially her handling of Kuu's departure serve to demonstrate this. We watch her grow over the course of the series, at first unable to support herself, until finally at the end she is the one who supports the others. The second character embodies "redemption." Reki spends her whole life in the town trying to atone for her sins, sins she does not even realize herself. It is not until the end of the series that we discover why she has been punished, and how she can escape.

For Murakami, his story was about identity and the significance of the subconscious. What defines us as beings, how do we cope with that reality, and how does our subconscious (our "me") affect us and our decisions. I have not read this book enough times to comment thoroughly on this issue, but let's just say that his work is powerful and creates a sense of the identity crisis that Japan is experiencing today. It asks some of the universal questions: "why am I here?" and "what is my purpose?" while letting the reader decide the answers for him or herself.
How do the two link together other than through the surface construct of the town? Mainly, it lies in the idea of the subconscious. In HWEW, there is only one "haibane" per se - the main character. He is alone in the town, the only being that does not belong. In Haibane Renmei, there are numerous haibane, and their interactions dictate how they act. This is a central difference, as well as a tie between the two. While HWEW concentrates on how the individual acts, Haibane Renmei serves to dissect how our relations with others form us and influence our decisions as people. The main character in HWEW acts alone, the haibane act together.
There is also the nature of the town itself. While in HWEW, we can surmise that the town is the main character's subconscious, in Haibane Renmei, the distinction is not so clear. There are many theories - perhaps the town is a type of purgatory, a place for people who have yet to become full and complete beings repent for their sins or reach a higher state of enlightenment, perhaps the town is a place for beings about to be sent to earth to interact and come to realize the sorts of trials they will experience on earth. Regardless, it is a place of interaction between numerous individuals, not the isolated tomb in HWEW.

As I've stated numerous times, the primary difference between the two works is that one centers on the individual, the other on the interaction of the collective. Both are important concepts, and the fact that both are tackled in relatively similar worlds make Haibane Renmei feel like the spiritual successor to HWEW. It's as if Abe took Murakami's work concerning why we act the way we do, and then decided to apply its rules to interaction between people. Both results are beautiful, and neither should be missed. Experiencing both has given me a level of appreciation for the works that I would not otherwise have enjoyed - if you have the chance: read the book and watch the anime.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Okay, so tomorrow this will become an actual post. I feel like I've been getting worse and worse at updating on time, as the weeks have passed. Last week I missed posting on Tuesday, and put it off till Wednesday also. Well, starting next week I will post on time again! As for this week, I'm going to be discussing literature that served as inspiration for anime series.

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Five Most Memorable Scenes in Anime

The main thing that got me thinking about writing this post is the fact that tj han over at Riuva keeps on talking about Last Exile...and I love that series. There are many reasons for this, but one of the things I love most about it are the memorable scenes - from Mullin's heroic effort to prevent the departure of the Guild pod, to the charge of the Silvana on the Guild mother ship. And then this got me thinking, what are my favorite scenes in all of anime? After a bit of thought, and a lot of digging through my collection, I've finally nailed down a list of my five most memorable scenes in anime.

Please note that this isn't in any particular order - the numbering is just for the sake of separating each scene. I think my favorite of these five is the Wolf's Rain one.

1. "You're all dead!" - Kenshin

So everyone knew that Kenshin was a badass, but this scene is the one that most vividly displays just how big of a badass he is. Who else can get away with saying the following:

"Armor won't save you, lay down your arms, or die!"
[retort by Shinsengumi drones]
"You're all dead!"
And then we see Kenshin lay waste to a half-dozen Shinsengumi in the span of twenty seconds. Beautiful.

2. "You were smiling...ten years ago, you were smiling as you watched us die...." - Alex Rowe

The greatest revenge moment in anime history...ever. You can practically feel the hate as Alex crushes the life of Maestro Delphine. If this hadn't happened, Alex would have been one of the most unfulfilling, one-dimensional characters ever created. However, because of this the fact that time stopped for him on that day really gets driven home. And now that he's accomplished his one purpose in life, he's ready to die. Everything really makes sense after he kills Delphine.

3. "I want to return there one more time." - Gren to Spike

This scene has the distinct pleasure of having what is probably the most beautiful, poignant dialogue of any single minute of anime. As the climax of a complex web of emotions that have been twisting together over the past two episodes, and in some cases over the course of the series up until this point, this scene captures the mood of Cowboy Bebop perfectly. We have Gren, the betrayed warrior, and Spike, two of the most beautiful characters created in anime. Gren captures the best of the dialogue in this scene - what is there for Spike to say? The memories of Titan still resonate deep within Gren, and he desires to go back to that more innocent, youthful time, when he was still an idealistic child.

The references to Spike's eyes, and the past/present natures they embody sends chills running down my spine every time I watch it. "She said you get the strangest feeling, looking into his eyes." And we also get yet another glimpse of Julia, that beautiful enigmatic figure that has been slowly built up over the past thirteen episodes - and here Watanabe executes with master form, building her up even more, into this melancholic angel. Gren's words epitomize what Julia is: "so beautiful..."

4. "Sieg Zeon!" - Admiral Delaz from Gundam 0083

Admiral Delaz is a stunningly tragic figure, as most Zeon characters are. He has worked his whole life to leave the imprint of Zeon on Earth, and now that he finally has the chance, with the goal so close, he is betrayed by Cima and her mercenary fleet. This is one of those moments when anime gets the opportunity to display devotion at its finest, and that's why this scene left such an impact on me. Delaz is so fully devoted to his ideal, to the idea of Zeon, that he is willing, and does in fact give his life for it. His final cry: "Sieg Zeon!" is the epitome of how the phrase should be used, as a defiant statement against the enemies of the Duchy.

5. "There's no such place as the ends of the earth there's nothing at matter how far you walk, the same road just keeps going on and on...but in spite of that...why am I so driven to find it?" - Kiba, last episode of Wolf's Rain

Unlike most of my friends, I immediately fell in love with Wolf's Rain. The series just had such an impact on me. The characters were all likeable and interesting, the series itself had such a great concept, and the journey - everything was about the journey. That's what made this scene so powerful. We've been with the cast of characters for thirty episodes, we've been through all their trials and struggles to reach the end, to reach Rakuen (Paradise). And what do they, and by extension we, have to show for it? Nothing...a blanket of snow, everyone dead.

But that nothingness is illusory. The fact is, something was gained - a sort of Paradise was found. After Kiba's memorable lines, the lunar flowers bloom, and the promised Paradise begins to open. The cyclic nature of life is revealed. Few anime manage to capture as many deep, compelling themes as Wolf's Rain, and even fewer deal with religious issues so delicately (Evangelion for one is the total opposite - it's like getting a Kabal hammer to the face). This scene gracefully sends off the beloved cast and leaves us with a promising message of hope for the future: perhaps one day we will reach the true Rakuen.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Being Otaku

I'd been thinking about something new and interesting to write about that wouldn't sound so similar to my usual smattering of posts when suddenly inspiration struck me - I hadn't written a single thing about anime fans themselves. Now this is a rare topic to address as most bloggers I've come across do not devote any posts specifically to this issue, but rather mention attributes of otaku in general. I'd like to take this opportunity to establish some trends that I've seen over the past decade or so that I've been an anime fan, and what they mean for the future of anime.

Now, what this means is a lot of text, and very little in the way of as a distraction I've placed a smattering of images from various anime series, such as: Fate/Stay Night, Blood+, and Ergo Proxy.

I remember my first time attending the Anime Expo in Los Angeles like it was yesterday (in fact it was ten years ago). I was eleven years old, and had just discovered what anime was a few months prior. My experience with the art form was limited to Robotech, Ranma 1/2, and a smattering of other titles I happened upon at the local video rental store. After some begging, I persuaded my mom to take me to LA for the expo (a forty-five minute drive from our house). When we arrived, after I got over the initial excitement of actually being at an anime expo, I realized something...I was the youngest person there by at least seven years. The second youngest person at the expo was at least eighteen, easily topping my eleven.

Fast forward six years - I'm attending my fourth anime expo, and once again I'm standing in the same ridiculously long line, waiting to pay my way in (you'd think by that time I would have figured out to pre-register). My second and third attendances were much like my first, in that I was the youngest person to attend (2nd time: 13 years old, 3rd time: 15 years old). This time I was not. Even more disturbing was that the youngest kid there was probably, at most, eight years old. What happened in the two year time span since my last expo? A few things...for one, Pokemon.

As time has passed, the average age of an otaku has rapidly decreased. In the past it wasn't uncommon for the average to be in the mid to high twenties range, if not even the thirties. Several key events have opened up the fanbase, and rapidly decreased the age of the average otaku down to the teenage level: the advent of highly popular anime TV shows, the influx of manga, and the digitization of fansubs.

Three anime series in particular hit it big on American television: Sailor Moon, Dragonball Z, and Pokemon. The third of those shows had the greatest impact of the three. Kids quickly became attached to the "monsters" of the quirky Japanese series. This attachment translated into huge sales success - Pokemon has the distinct pleasure of being the only anime series to ever succeed at the box office (the first movie grossed approximately eighty-five million USD). And as these kids grew up, they found they wanted more of what Pokemon gave them.

Surprisingly, the medium through which the newest generation has found anime is not the television medium, but rather through print: manga. Tokyopop's introduction of the graphic novel on a nationwide scale brought about an amazing transformation. Where there used to be a small section devoted to roleplaying games, American comics and Japanese manga, suddenly there were shelves specifically for Japanese manga. The appeal of manga to teenagers has spawned an entirely new generation of fans, and captivated the interest of girls, who traditionally have been the most opposed to anime. The introduction of yaoi manga in America on a broad scale is evidence of the high numbers of girls now interested and involved in the otaku world.
Finally, there is the digitization of fansubs. This ties into the larger issue of overall digitization throughout the world. Online communication has already become the method of choice for most people, and many people prefer to get their information from online rather than print sources. The distribution of fansubs online has sucked many people into the anime scene, as people reacting to: "hey, free (albeit illegal) stuff," have over time come to love the art form and what it has to offer: appealing and moving stories.

A lot of hardline otaku have condemned the new crop of otaku for many reasons. However, the teenagers and children represent the next generation of otaku who will carry the art form into the next generation, and hopefully bring greater acceptance into the American society at large.

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Exam Week

Okay, so it's exam week, and I can only get so much motivation in-between exams (and only so much time) to write a blog entry. Thus, this week's entry will be postponed...however, it is in the works, along with about three others, so the end of this week and the beginning of next will see a rush of entries that my blog rarely, if ever, sees.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Ergo Proxy: So Empty...or...Why Pino Kicks Ass!

Update (10 May, 2006): Alright, finally got the full range of images in here...

We're up to episode 9 now in Ergo Proxy, and I'm sorry to say that I'm very disappointed (as are others, check out: anime otaku for his take on this). The first episode showed so much promise, with its darkly stylistic vision of the future and some of the most beautiful animation I have ever seen. Things picked up over the course of the next two episodes, as the show threw new twists at the viewer - from the appearance of Vincent's charm in Real's home, to Vincent's panicked escape from the Romdeau Proxy. And it all came to a very satisfying cliffhanger in episode 4, as Vincent fell from Romdeau and into an even more chaotic world.

Here we are, five episodes later, and I can't get over how much I don't care about the characters. The pacing and character development have left me utterly disconnected from the main cast. In fact, what surprises me most about this is that the only character I do like so far is one of the machines: Pino.

So let's talk Pino. What's not to like? She wears a rabbit suit, genuinely acts like a five-year-old kid, and is simply the cutest little robot ever. I'm not going as far as saying that I want her for a daughter, but she is simply adorable. And because we all know that looks aren't everything, she has personality to boot. While I felt absolutely nothing approaching sadness or loss when Queen died, I did appreciate the adorability of Pino as she touched Queen's face. Pino is just so likeable it almost makes me wonder why the series isn't centered on her more than the other characters.

Whereas Pino is adorable and personable, we have the rest of the cast. What started out as a cast of complex, real human beings has now become a sadly one-dimensional group. To begin with, let's examine Vincent Law. Originally he began as a bumbling immigrant with an unknown past - and now he has somehow morphed into an angst-driven whiner. See episode 9 if you want confirmation on that. The "cool factor" of the beginning episodes, where every time he opened his eyes was another "oh-my-god-he-is-so-cool" moment, is gone, and what we're left with is Vincent the amazing magical proxy boy. A proxy boy with an obsession problem, as I'm about to point out. His love for Real, while genuine in the series, has almost no basis for its existence. We barely see the two interact, except when Real first meets him and basically calls him an idiot. She only follows him for the most rational and emotionless reasons, yet somehow we are supposed to believe that in the approximate hour that Vincent has spent interacting with her he has fallen completely and hopelessly in love with her. Unless Real and Vincent have a much longer history that he somehow understood when he first met her, there isn't nearly enough support for this pairing. It's definitely natural, but not after fifteen minutes.

Speaking of Real - she and Raul, the two primary members of the supporting cast thus far (well, Real will probably end up as a primary character, but so far she only serves as a figment of a love interest for Vincent), have displayed their own shortcomings over the past five episodes. Real was the snobby, yet stylish aristocrat, and Raul the ambitious, overly rational bureaucratic warrior. In both cases, neither character has been given enough screen time past the first four episodes for the viewers to fully appreciate the complexities of their characters.

Screen time is the main problem here - or rather the use of it. After what basically amounts to six episodes of Vincent, two of Real, and one of minor characters, we still have not seen many facets to any of the individuals except for Pino. All the members of the commune barely even seemed human, and as such I couldn't appreciate them, or their deaths. There is a definite emphasis in Ergo Proxy on story and style over character development, and it's hurting the feel of the show. The characters don't have any real driving motivations - there is a journey taking place, but unlike the one in Wolf's Rain where the characters are driven to it for their very purpose, in Ergo Proxy you can't help but feel (and Vincent says) that it's practically an afterthought. Okay, that might be a novel approach, but it fails in terms of holding attention and creating characters that viewers can connect with.

I began this season with so much anticipation - the first three or four episodes even confirmed my hopes...or so I thought. But in the end, Ergo Proxy has thus far failed to be the worthy successort to Samurai Champloo that I had hoped it would be, and instead has become just another mediocre science fiction romp.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Advent Children

I know that the movie has been fansubbed since last year, and I saw it back then, but this blog didn't exist then...and the American release of the movie hadn't yet occurred, so I feel this blog post is actually well timed.

Advent Children has gotten a lot of flak amidst all the mindless squealing of FF7 fans. "It's just eye candy," and "ooh, shiny," and "story ripped straight out of" (good site, by the way - you have to dig for the good writers though). Some have even gone further, and regard it as "total crap." Now, obviously, I have to disagree with all this.

To set the record straight, I never beat FF7. I got through the first two discs and stopped because I hated the pacing of the dungeons (the only Final Fantasy game I ever beat was X). However, thanks to the magic of the internet, numerous fan created stories, and even more fan created sites, I learned the story backwards and forwards without even really intending to. So I knew who that person with the black spiky hair was (Zack), why everyone was wearing the red ribbons on their arms and other various parts of their body (Aeris' death), what the huge twist of Cloud's character was (Zack...again), etc.

Now, without even having beaten FF7, I fell in love with this movie. It's more related to an anime style production than live-action, which is part of the reason why I like it so much. The characters, while lacking most of the overly exagerrated facial expressions of anime, definitely draw most of their influences from anime in both design and execution. The battle scenes have anime written all over them, from the first time Yazoo vaults over Cloud on his motorcycle, to the instant Cloud first leaps above five feet into the air, and refuses to come down. Even more than all this, the story is stylistically a traditional anime.

Most people who disliked Advent Children disliked it because they felt the story was too weak. I agree that for a ninety minute movie, it definitely fell short of what I'd expect (and the Bahamut battle with the twenty second reintroduction of the entire cast didn't exactly help), but I did come away satisfied. The main reason for this is that the movie concentrates on a central theme, and pushes towards that theme at the expense of all else. Yeah, here I go again...what theme: forgiveness.

After Aeris' death, we know that Cloud never forgives himself. It's written all over him, during the entirety of the game (or at least the portion I played) and especially in the movie. That's what defines the movie, and director Testuya Nomura makes this clear in his interview. How do you get around to forgiving yourself; how do you stop blaming yourself for something that no one else blames you for? The movie is Cloud's journey to find the answer to those questions. The turning point occurs when he says: "I'm going to try."

That's what I loved about the movie - forget the brilliant use of CGI, the oodles of treats for squealing fanboys (like myself), and even the lackluster overall plot. When it comes down to it, Advent Children does one thing exceptionally well: answer that question. My post on NANA just a week or two ago dealt with the theme of not understanding love. Well, in Advent Children we see a perfect example of someone who goes through a journey towards understanding. The way I see Cloud's battles with Kadaj's gang isn't: "why isn't he beating the crap out of them? He should just grab sack and move on, and stop being such a wimp!" To me his physical battles are a metaphor for his internal struggle, and as he gets closer to the answer, he grows stronger.

Sephiroth says, in the final climactic battle, "what do you cherish? Give me the pleasure of taking it away," and in Cloud's mind we see images flash of Aeris, followed by Tifa, Marlene and Denzel. Tifa, Marlen and Denzel are his family (see the prequel story: Way to a Smile for more info on this), yet he refused to open up to them. Tifa says, "why do we (the connection Cloud, Tifa, Marlene and Denzel share as a family) have to lose to a memory?" By forgiving himself, Cloud overcomes his inability to connect with others, and finally takes a place within the family structure, a place he left vacant on his own accord.

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