Hey guys and welcome back to another OWLS post! I know, it’s been a few months but hopefully that hasn’t made me rusty. Actually, because it’s been a while since I last wrote an OWLS post I feel…excited? Now then, chances are you’re all here because Auri linked you all to this post but if you somehow found my blog through other means and are confused about what OWLS is, I recently updated the OWLS info post on my blog. But to sum it up real quick, we’re a group of bloggers and youtubers who try to spread the message of acceptance regardless of our differences (ie. race, nationality, orientation, gender, etc) through the use of blog tours where we talk about our experiences, beliefs, and analyze media
And this month, as the COVID-19 lockdowns vary in stages around the world (I hear many places are now attempting to go back to “normal”), OWLS has decided on the theme of ADAPT. What does this mean?
Right now, we all have lost something or gained something in return during this dark time. Our lives have been completely altered due to coronavirus. For this month, we will be talking about anime series and other pop culture media where we have characters having to adjust to changes in their environment. Whether it’s adjusting to a new school or heading towards an isekai fantasy world, we will be discussing characters that had to make changes within themselves in order to adapt to the circumstances they are in. This will also give us an opportunity to express our own personal lives as we try to adjust to a “new normal.”
Like every tour, I think OWLS has been doing a fantastic job talking about the topic. Jack kicked off the tour by talking about Rei from March Comes in Like a Lion and how he had to be flexible in life (not just in shogi) in order to reach a form of success. We also had some members like Pinkie talk about how adapting without altering our essence is important, while members like Mel talked about how sometimes we have to adapt in order to survive. And, of course, Auri posted before me and talked about Skip Beat’s Sho and how he had to adapt as a celebrity by combining both concepts of keeping his own identity but changing his methods in order to survive in the industry
One of the things I like to do when doing tours is try to add to the conversation and as you guys may have noticed, I always struggle with this. So while I had an idea of what I was going to talk about (the flexibility that everyone before me has mentioned one way or another), I didn’t know how I would go about talking about this. Especially since I’d already written a review for the show I wanted to use…in the end, I figured I’d use it anyway. After all, the other was a review and this would be a more in-depth look at one of the series’ concepts
Like always, this OWLS post contains spoilers
Witch Hunter Robin is an anime I watched and fell in love with early in my weeb career. It’s a box set that has been on my shelf collecting dust up until a few days ago when I decided it was time for a re-watch. The series follows Robin Sena, a 15 year old craft user who can summon fire. Originally working at SOLOMON’s main branch in Italy, Robin is transferred to the Japan branch called STN-J after one of their members gets hunted. There isn’t much information released about this person at the beginning except that she was named Kate, was Amon’s partner, and was later hunted. Because of this event, the STN-J is surprised to hear (and are uneasy about the fact) that their replacement hunter is a craft user
Another fact that initially isolates Robin from her new colleagues is how witches are hunted. While SOLOMON headquarters usually has their hunters kill witches, the STN-J – through a combined use of hunters that incapacitate witches and “the Factory”, a team of hazmat suited people in specially armored vehicles – captures and imprisons witches, a practice that they believe makes them more humane. While this sort of incapacitation would normally be difficult for non-craft users, the STN-J has developed a substance called “orbo” that hunters wear in order to negate the craft if used directly against their person
Luckily, Robin is able to slowly charm her colleagues with her naivety, work ethics, and well gifted pastries
The series progresses on a case-by-case basis where Robin learns how the STN-J works and gets to know the rest of her team. She also learns (after her partner Amon coldly gifts her a pair of glasses) that maybe, no matter how much it bothers her, she might have bad eyesight, which would explain why she can never quite set her targets on fire like she intends. After finally coming to terms with this, Robin begins to use her glasses more frequently and her powers grow, causing worry at SOLOMON headquarters
What does it mean to be a witch?
One of the things that confused me in the first few episodes of this series was the term witch. To me, Robin was a witch. After all, she could wield fire, however, Robin never considered herself a witch. I began taking note of why this would be the case and later found it interesting when the reason was revealed
Robin grew up as an orphan and was taken care of by the Roman Catholic Church, which is affiliated with SOLOMON headquarters. Specifically, whenever a craft user is initiated as a hunter, they are questioned and tested by an inquisitor to see if they have the mental capacity to distinguish right from wrong and to see if they can contain their powers. After all, it wouldn’t be good to have them suddenly turn on their colleagues. This distrust seemed to be present for generations in humanity’s history (as we later learn). Why? Because eventually ALL witches lose control of their powers, turn psychopathic, and go on killing or rampaging sprees
Those that passed these “exams” were few and even though they could be considered “stable” when tested, it wasn’t uncommon for them to later be considered a threat. This was what happened to Kate, who was hunted because she’d lost her sense of self to her power. This is also what happened to Robin, who one day, mysteriously finds herself on the receiving end of a witch hunt
The difference between these hunts is that in Kate’s case, Amon hunted her, and in Robin’s case, he helped her escape, believing that she wasn’t the threat headquarters claimed her to be. Trusting her, Amon sends Robin to be cared for by his older brother
What does it mean to be a hunter?
Because she is now labeled a witch, Robin is forced to keep a low profile and begins to work as a messenger for Amon’s older brother, Nagira, who “works as an attorney” but really works against the government by helping witches like Robin
During her time with Nagira, Robin begins to question what it means to be a witch. In one instance, she babysits a young girl, believing her to be “normal” but soon comes to realize that the girl is a craft user (after she accidentally uses her craft). As a hunter, Robin believes that the girl will be a danger and instinctually thinks “hunt”, however, she is no longer a hunter and her job then is to care for the child. She thinks about what the girl has told her, how her name will change after today and how she will be moving far away. Robin recalls the conversation the girl had with her mother before she’d been assigned the role of babysitter and begins to realize how similar their situations are
In another instance, while investigating “the secret of the craft”, Robin meets a couple who has lost their child to the STN-J. Having a history of craft use in their family (“seeds”), the STN-J kept strict tabs on the family and when the girl showed signs of awakening, the Factory quickly came to collect her. The woman, immediately takes to Robin because of her resemblance to her lost daughter and invites her to her home. Being treated so kindly, Robin creates an attachment to the couple, which later (when she finds they have been hunted) causes her to question why innocent and kind people were being hunted
Were the people Robin had killed and hunted before just like the people she had met? Was she really ridding society of bad and dangerous people? Did SOLOMON push these people to become “witches”? These are some of the questions Robin begins to ask herself as she finds herself on the other side of the equation
As the series comes to an end, we learn that the STN-J took a wrong turn somewhere. That they decided to do things their own way, regardless of what SOLOMON headquarters wanted and it all revolved around orbo production and the extermination of all witches; however, it wasn’t just the STN-J’s administrator Zaizen that was in the wrong. We also had Father Juliano, who allowed his fear over Robin’s growing power take over rationality and caused him to order her hunt. If only both of them had been more flexible in their beliefs, that craft users and normal humans could live together and that they were all human, then things could have been different for many of the witches the cast encountered
Unfortunately, the series ends without really showing us if there was a change in the task force but it was implied that there would be an attempt at change with Robin as that pillar of hope
Adapting our views to create a better society
I don’t have much else to add to the conversation that OWLS has been having this month. I also believe it’s important to be flexible and to create the necessary changes based on the environment around us in order to “survive”, but I don’t believe that our environment is always “right”. Take the protests over police brutality towards POC, but especially towards black people, that are happening right now. People are outraged over how ingrained racism is in our society, how white officers can get away with killing black people over their “fear” or “worry” or whatever other excuse they use to justify their actions, how these actions are seen as “ok” because they are “keeping order” and “keeping us safe” – I don’t even know how they themselves can believe this!
I think we can all agree that it isn’t just us that need to adapt but how our society and government works that needs to change (which I hope and believe will then also trickle down onto the inflexible people)
I don’t endorse the use of violence because I like to think that humanity is smart enough to use words to solve their problems, but I also have to (sadly) admit that maybe we aren’t. Otherwise we wouldn’t be in the situation that we’re in, not just with the protests becoming violent, but even with COVID-19. How we can discriminate against nurses and doctors and call them heroes at the same time BAFFLES me. I recall my brother asking me, if I were qualified, would I join nurses and doctors in helping patients during this time and I said no and I would still say no, especially now. I’m not such a nice person that I would put myself and my family at risk for people that don’t care and that will later turn on me because I’m what…saving peoples’ lives and risking my own for their sake? (I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t want to be a doctor). Or even just how cutthroat people have been with our vulnerable population
It’s hard to change the mentality of a community, an industry, society, etc. – especially when that mentality has been a certain way for generations and is keeping a certain group of people in power – and it’s disappointing to see us take so many steps back just when I thought we were moving towards progress, but I think it’s possible if we work together. That sounds so cliche but I think that’s our problem, we just aren’t united…and we may never be. Way to contradict myself but I like to fall on the side of pessimism because it feels more realistic. If we haven’t been able to rally together to get rid of this hate for hundreds of years, is it even possible in the near future? In the next hundred years future? I hope it is and soon
Is it wrong of me to want the people who don’t want to adapt to be on the receiving end of what’s causing harm (infection, police brutality, etc)? Maybe. I don’t feel very good about these thoughts, but sometimes the only way to get people to do something is for them to experience the problem so that they can finally understand it sucks to only be surviving when we should be living
Well, I’ll end it here. I think I’m a little too frustrated right now, not because I’ve been home for too long, but because I keep seeing people not caring. I guess being nice really can only get you so far. I hope this was a satisfactory way of ending this month’s ADAPT tour because, yes, I was the last one on the list! The roundup will be up on the OWLS blog soon and next month’s theme will also be announced. Be sure to follow the OWLS blog and Twitter to keep updated on what’s happening next. And if you want to join, be sure to use the Contact Sheet on the OWLS blog
Until next time!