No. 6 8 – Not Sure If Want …
Suspension of disbelief is a fickle thing. Everyone has his or her own standards; some folks are just more or less accepting of things than others. For me, a lot depends on timing — the earlier a strange concept is introduced, the easier it is for me to accept it as part of the world a story is building, and the less likely I am to think of it as some bullshit the writers are pulling out of their collective asses.
Obviously there’s a lot of farfetched stuff in No. 6, but let’s pluck two examples: The parasite bees and the magical singing. The former is acceptable to me because it’s introduced relatively early, and while not really explained all that much, it’s not an especially foreign concept in science-fiction, so I can roll with it. (There’s certainly been far crazier things that have grown inside people in fiction, especially if you’re a fan of body horror.) The latter, well . . . the first hints came in episode five, which, to be fair, isn’t that long ago in terms of episode count (though the wait between episodes makes it seem longer), but seeing this in action in the latest episode is getting to the point where I’m thinking, “OK, this is slightly too much for me.”
Logically, parasite bees and magic singing powers are at least equally ridiculous. And from the story’s point of view, all this forest magic has been around longer than the man-made bee virus. But that’s the fickle nature of suspension of disbelief — I always have story structure somewhat on my mind, and suddenly having Nezumi with magic powers (in terms of how we see it from the outside) is kind of . . . eh to me. This is especially so when taken in combination with Safu’s connection with Nezumi from episode five (and another blatant connection again in this episode). I have a sneaking suspicion that there will be a, “You thought everyone from that forest died that day, didn’t you? Well, you were WRONG!” moment and Safu will also have magic powers. I was wary when that connection was initially revealed, and this does not make me any less wary . . .
Karan likely being involved in the creation of No. 6 (or whatever sciencey things she may have done before) is something else that could be interesting or potential train wreck territory. At the very least, it might explain why Karan and Shion were banished to some poorer area of No. 6 rather than outright murdered by the establishment after Shion’s initial “transgressions”. Maybe there’s a sense of loyalty there, even though the city still has to make an example of them to keep their ironclad laws going. But, yeah, we’ll see if there comes a point in time where Karan comes up with some sort of magic solution to help bring down No. 6 because she helped create it, or something like that. Eh.
Despite my trepidations with the story, I’m still enjoying No. 6 for a couple of reasons: I think the relationship between Shion and Nezumi produces some interesting things (and it’s a refreshing sort of relationship, at that), and I also like the tone of the series. The difference between No. 6 and its false utopia science-fiction noitaminA precursor, Fractale, is that the latter seemed almost desperate for the audience to view it as some sort of rousing adventure with serious ideas, while No. 6, although it has a serious tone of its own, also has a somewhat weird, campy feel to it. I mean, you can’t take something with parasitic bees, magic singing and that weirdo singing with grave seriousness.
I think someone on Twitter may have compared No. 6 to Logan’s Run early in the show’s run. (If it was one of you readers, then speak now or forever hold your peace. If I am just making that up, then I am totally taking credit for it.) Logan’s Run is a science-fiction movie with an ostensibly serious story about a man whose eyes are opened to the insidious nature of the utopia for which he works, but it’s executed with an incredibly camp feel to it; whether it’s intentional or not, I don’t know, but it’s definitely there. Maybe No. 6 is a story sprung from the same camp — it certainly has a host of strange elements to it.
Of course, that doesn’t really excuse any failings the show’s writing may have had up to this point, or may have afterward. Just me trying to mine a bit more enjoyment from the show.