[OWLS Blog Tour] Reason Living: Kei Okazaki

Hey hey hey Owlets!! It’s Archi-Anime’s turn for the September tour stop on the OWLS blog tour. Just a friendly reminded that OWLS: Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-Respect, is a group that hopes to spread the important message of respect and kindness to every human being. Our monthly blog tours that reflect this message of tolerance and self-acceptance, through various analysis of the anime medium; although it is not limited to anime.

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September’s theme is “Treasure”:

There are moments in our lives where we lose our sense of self-worth and value and as a result, we find ourselves deep in darkness or drowning in the ocean. However, every person in this world is a treasure—we treasure ourselves or we are treasured by others—and at times, we may need to be reminded of that.

For this month’s topic, we will be exploring pop culture characters who have suffered from mental illnesses, depression, and/or suicide. We will be discussing how these individuals cope with these issues, the reasons for their emotions, and how they handled the situations they are in.

***Mental illness, suicide, and depression are pretty serious topics and we hope that our OWLS post will give you some solace.

This month’s theme is a rather difficult topic to tackle, as it’s not easy to talk about in general. But it needs to be discussed, mental health is incredibly important. I considered skipping it due to the heavy nature of the topic, but I thought it’d be a good time to go outside of my comfort zone to discuss this especially in light of what happened to one of my favorite singers in July, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park. His death sparked the discussion in OWLS and thus September’s blog tour was born.

As I was brainstorming as to what I wanted to go with this post, I had picked the anime Orange right off the bat, but I still contemplated…where there other anime’s that dealt with this topic that I’d seen? So I asked one of my best friends, and he reminded me of the route I had JUST finished in a video game.

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In July, a video game called Collar X Malice was released on the PSVita, and I’ve been completely engrossed in playing through it. It’s an otome that’s got some pretty dark themes of terrorism, murder, death, etc.  In light of what happened with Chester and upon learning one of my close friends had lost her Father to suicide, one of the pursuable characters for the heroine in the game felt a little too real. Due to my other friend reminding me of the quasi-traumatization I received from his route, I thought this character served the perfect example of the theme “treasure.

 

WARNING: Triggers of self-harm and suicide are prevalent in this post as are HEAVY SPOILERS for the game as this serves as character analysis.

Kei Okazaki, is one of the five pursuable characters within the game. He is a member of a specific branch of the police, the SP (Security Police).  His character can be described as a bit of an airheaded, sleep-loving, warm-smiling enigma. However, underneath that somewhat fluffy facade is an incredibly perceptive guy that takes his work seriously with a twisted idea of what it means to live.

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Twisted World View

“My own life gains meaning because I can protect someone else.” – Kei Okazaki

Okazaki believes that his life is only worth something if and only if he were to sacrifice his own life for someone else’s.  And it can’t be just anyone, it has to be someone worth protecting, someone “special”. It’s a really twisted world view, and also appears that he doesn’t value his own life overall.

“There’s no value in a meaningless death.” – Kei Okazaki

After an incident in which he’s hospitalized protecting the heroine Ichika, they have an argument since they can’t seem to see eye-to-eye on his views. Ichika questions how could he not care about dying. To her it just seems this “someone worth protecting” is equated to someone that would be in a dangerous situation in which he could get killed. Ichika expresses concern and worry for Okazaki, and questions that if he were to die protecting her, she’d not only sorry but also guilt because she’d be the cause for his death. He still holds his ground saying that, he doesn’t want any of that, but he knows she’ll be okay and that Ichika will eventually forget him sooner than later, and that if sadness is all that will remain, that’s still okay because she’s alive and that alone is worth dying for.

In an effort to change things around, Ichika refuses his protection, saying that she doesn’t want to be protected by someone who’s only living to die. He doesn’t understand why she’s so upset with the fact he wants to protect her. But, how did he get to this point of de-valuing his life? To the point he felt he was unimportant and insignificant. How does he begin to learn to appreciate life, and learn to value what it means to live? Can he learn to appreciate his own life and treasure it?

Triggered

As stated, Okazaki works as a member of the Security Police, they’re considered to be an elite team, whose main job is to protect the representative of political parties, foreign dignitaries, while performing other security duties as well.

Two years prior to the present timeline in the game, Okazaki is a rookie and brand new to the SP team. He was on his first job which was to protect the Prime Minister. The team was placed on high alert at the Prime Minister’s house, but something went awry and explosions occur on the property. Okazaki had found a fallen man, and was going to save him amidst the flames. His colleague stopped told him, that this person wasn’t worth saving, that he was already past saving. Okazaki believed he could make it, but his colleague insisted that the rookie calm down and not be overcome by his emotions, that he needed to keep a clear head and be rational. Another explosion rocked the property and Kei’s colleague pushed him out of the way of the rubble coming off the house that was falling apart, and in his dying breath they had the following conversation:

Tsukushima: “hah..hah…haha..It wasn’t supposed …..to be like this…this is your fault Okazaki. It all went wrong because …of you.”

Okazaki: “But why…why did you protect me?

Tsukushima: “Hey..Okazaki, don’t be like me. As an SP…you find a death that has meaning to you”

At the end of the event, Okazaki blamed himself for what happened. He blamed himself for the death of his colleague because he hesitated and couldn’t keep a clear head under pressure.

“It was meaningless. In protecting me, he had gained nothing.
Why had I been allowed to live?”

His colleague’s last words to him sent him on a a path of destruction Okazaki had interpreted his worlds to be that he shouldn’t have protected Okazaki; that his death was meaningless because Okazaki wasn’t important. The regret that his colleague expressed was what took a hold of Okazaki and ultimately became his obsession. Okazaki doesn’t feel neither guilt nor suicidal thoughts; he experiences insecurity and worthlessness. His self-loathing came from his inability to protect anyone that day, and that he was saved instead. To him, it appeared he didn’t have the full conviction of being able to put his life on the line to save others as an SP officer. Then there’s his colleague telling him in his dying breath that he blames Okazaki. His last words to him are of resentment, so how could he not have succumbed to self-loathing?

Renewed Purpose

After he meets the heroine, Ichika Hoshinori, he believes she is the person he’ll sacrifice his life for. He believes that her life is more valuable as she plays an important role to the X-Day cases. However, the more time he spends with Ichika, his world view starts to change as he’s starting to develop feelings for our heroine. After he’s pushed away by her, and constantly rejected by her does he realize that his obsession to protect her is not because she’s the ideal candidate but that he has actually fallen in love with her.

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During their arguments over his twisted ideals Ichika gets really angry, and decides the only way to get him to see differently is to get him to realize: He needs to want to live.  She finally says something that catches him:

“Dying while protecting someone is just cowardly. You’re not fulfilling any duty. Isn’t it your job to both protect someone while surviving any challenge?”

Ichika then rattles off other random theories like, if he ends up dying, she’d forget about him and end up falling in love with someone else, she’d be happy and that’d be none of his concern. That he’d miss out on his favorite horror films that come out with sequels, and the fact they wouldn’t spend time together anymore. Her random theories start to chip away at his ideals because if he’s really honest with himself he’s not fond of those outcomes at all.

Then to really drive her point home she says:

“Even if you sacrifice yourself to save me, I could make a stupid mistake and die the next day. Wouldn’t your death be totally in vain then? You’d have died protecting nothing. There would be no glory, no proof you ever lived.”

Ichika may be coming off as harsh by being blunt and rough with her words, but she has to forcibly make him realize all outcomes if he continues his path of destruction. He realizes that if he dies he can’t enjoy all the things he currently enjoys doing with Ichika. It’s hard for him to just let go of his death wish. But, the thought of missing out on creating more moments with Ichika makes him realize that his ideals are incredibly selfish. He’s gained so many things that he’s begun to treasure and now he’s afraid to lose them. Ichika makes him promise her, that no matter what danger the heroine is in, he has to find a way for the both of them to survive, and that he’ll live.

The Endings

As with most otome’s there are numerous bad ends and one good end. I’ll discuss both because they’re significant in different ways.

The Bad End

Okazaki_BadEnd

Heroine misses her shot, and is killed in a gunfight. Okazaki goes completely mental at her loss and as you see in the image above, he contemplates suicide as all their unfulfilled promises are broken in an instant. However, he has one promise to fulfill. He has to keep living, even if it means without her, since she kept her promise of fulfilling her goals till the end. As he sits with her body and contemplates death by his own hand, he can’t do it because of that last promise: to live. But in the end that conviction isn’t strong enough either, because he has no strength to fight anymore and ends up being killed soon after.

The bad end didn’t sit well with me at all as I watched him waver between life and death. He was so quick to revert back to his old thoughts of self-loathing and ultimately considered taking his own life. Reading and watching his reasonings to completely give up made it clear that in this end, all his words meant nothing and that he didn’t treasure his life at all or the promise that he made to Ichika.

The Good End

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Ichika takes a bullet for Okazaki, and fades into unconsciousness. Before that she makes sure he knows that she wants him to live and that she loves him. He thinks she’s going to die, and tells her he won’t forgive her if she dies because he doesn’t want to hear her say those words as if they’re her last. Ichika wanted to say it aloud just so that she voice out the things that she was clinging on to as her strength to survive. When she regains consciousness in the hospital, he expresses how it felt to have to witness the possibility of her dying, and that he was angry at himself for not protecting her. But he realizes his mistake in telling her he would never forgive her if she died. They make a new promise to live long lives together, and remind each other again how much they love one another.

Honestly, it’s romantic, but in the end I still question Okazaki’s motives. Is he really living for himself? Or has he found a new reason to live through Ichika. I know he wants to protect what’s important to him, but I can’t help but wonder if Ichika really got her point across. The fact that he said he wouldn’t forgive her if she died made it seem like, how was that any better than what his colleague had said to him. Why would that be the last words to say to someone that was on the verge of death? Fear still grabs him in this end, but at least he put up the fight to live for both their sakes.

Final Thoughts

I liked Okazaki, but the self-loathing and dark themes actually made his route particularly rough for me to get through. Especially when I made it to that bad end. Needless to say it was a little traumatizing. In the end, I was glad he learned what it mean for him to value his life as it were a treasure. I was especially glad that Ichika had the conviction to show him the will to live and that she treasured him enough that she didn’t want him to throw his life away.

It also goes to show how strong an effect others’ words has on us. Even small things said in passing can eat and gnaw at someone’s self-esteem ultimately triggering them to self-loath and feel they are unworthy and unwanted. The despair that Okazaki feels due to his colleague’s dying words are bound to mess anybody up.  It’s always important to be wary of how you say things whether it be in jest or even the intonation of how it’s said. You just don’t know what small details a person are to pick up on. It’s easy to say disregard what people say, but sometimes people can touch on an insecurity without realizing that it will trigger you.

It’s incredibly important to treat everyone with kindness, you don’t know what inner demons people are fighting just below the surface. And if someone is trying to reach out and shows some signs of instability, its even more important to reach out and let them know that they are treasured by someone. It just takes one person to show that they care.


That just about wraps up my tour stop here at Archi-Anime. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Feel free to leave any in the comments!

There are quite a few more posts coming up left from the rest of the OWLS members. Please be on the lookout for Taku’s (animecafehost) post this Wednesday.

And don’t forget to check out Scott’ (MechanicalAnimeReviews) OWLS post last week on Rie Kiriyama’s Loss & Recovery.

Also, as a friendly reminder us OWLS are having a giveaway this month! Check it out here, and don’t forget to sign-up! 🙂

Also, if you haven’t don’t forget to follow us on facebook as well as our twitter @OWLSbloggers and our official blog as well as our Facebook page And if you’re interested in becoming an OWLS member, you can contact us here.