Aresol’s Archives: A Vagabond, A Hero, and an Empty Shell.

I haven’t been writing in my archives for a while now and while I wasn’t exactly interested in ending my hiatus just yet the recent finale of OOO seemed like too good of a chance to pass up. Over the course of this series I have watched as it has displayed some very intriguing takes on what a desire can become and the kind of harm that even positive goals can have on people. While the quality of the series can be debated it was never the less an interesting trip through a world of desires and dreams. So to celebrate the ending of a series that so many of us have come to enjoy I am presenting an OOO Triple Feature. So for the next three weeks I will cover three of the most intriguing characters that OOO has to offer, and so where else to start but with the lead character himself, Hino Eiji.

Where’s the line between dreams and desires? Most people might say that there isn’t one, that they’re one and the same. Others may never even worry about it and just carry on with their lives without a passing thought. There’s certainly a level of importance to the two. Desires motivate our most basic needs, they’re what will us to seek food, shelter, and even to live. Dreams give us goals to achieve and something that adds a purpose to our lives. Both motivate us, both push us to improve in one way or another. So what happens when you don’t have either? What happens when all you have and want is nothing?

-Warning: There are things past this point that are spoilers. You’ve been warned, so don’t come complaining if something gets spoiled for you.-

On first glance Eiji bares a lot of resemblance to past Kamen Rider Godai Yuusuke. He’s a kind and considerate young man that is never shy of helping others. In fact Eiji borders on being almost too helpful often giving everything he has into trying to help others. Eiji’s selflessness is what results in him being somewhat of a vagabond, only ever keeping whatever money he needs to buy the next days food or clothing while giving everything else away. This selfless nature of Eiji’s is due in part to his lack of personal desire. He shows no interest in himself or superfluous items and has no real specific goals. All of Eiji’s desire lies solely in other people’s needs and because of this at times it feels like Eiji is empty as a person. Really that isn’t too far from the truth, yes Eiji wants to help people but because he never focuses on himself he has little room for development and growth. In all intents and purposes Eiji is a tool, he uses himself to help others and while he is a very helpful and sometimes inspiring person he comes off as very blank and passive. Despite this though Eiji maintains a very diehard dedication to helping any of those within his grasp and is hard to sway from that task.

“If I don’t reach out my hand when I can, the regret would make me wish I were dead. I reach out my hand because I don‘t want that.”

Eiji is also a somewhat practical person because of his lack of self desire. Without greed of his own Eiji often seems to be able to look at people and their wants objectively, being able to see the need behind desires. He is capable of justifying the need of money and luxury without actually succumbing to such needs. Eiji’s practical outlook often comes off as being simple or oblivious and really this isn’t too far from the truth. Eiji isn’t always very subtle when it comes to things he doesn’t understand and can occasionally sound a bit blundering. While he maintains a pretty objective outlook on people’s desires he is nonetheless terrible at actually reading people’s emotions and will often not pick up on the obvious. He is also not very good at planning ahead or strategizing, often relying on Ankh to carry him through situations that require good insight. Despite all of this Eiji isn’t necessarily dumb as he’s just not what would be considered street smart as he lacks in instinctive knowledge.

Along with his practical outlook on desire, or perhaps hand in hand with it, Eiji is also shown to have a more reserved view on the concept of justice and morality. Due to his past Eiji is capable of seeing the harm that can come from people doing things with the idea of being right in mind. Since justice can overwhelm a person leading to false senses of power and authority Eiji goes about distancing himself from the whole concept of justice and doesn’t succumb to the idea that one view point stands above another. Once again this is thanks to Eiji being able to view things objectively, taking in any sort of view point and justifying it one way or another as opposed to something being strictly right or wrong. To Eiji it is more important to be happy than it is to be right.

“I’ve seen a lot of people who want to protect others but the desire to protect, their justice, kept escalating. People can be cruel when it’s for the sake of justice.”

It is because of his viewpoint on justice that Eiji’s heroism can be called into question. While he does help people in every way possible he doesn’t hold it as position or as something that needs to be done rather it’s something that he does almost out of a sense of guilt for his past. As I said Eiji does not protect people because he thinks it is right but rather because he wishes to see those around him happy, again almost drawing parallels to previous Rider Godai Yuusuke. Eiji’s constant way of viewing things in a practical form and always standing as more of a mediator though causes him to come off as almost dull or undeveloped at times. While Eiji does maintain viewpoints of his own, and he does express them, it’s not in him to shove his views on others which more or less keeps him from standing out much amongst his companions.

Throughout most of the series Eiji’s sense of heroism and protection mostly extends to those around him rather than to the city or the world. This is again part of Eiji’s practical way of viewing the world as he has realized the futility of trying to protect more people than you can. Still he continues to risk his life protecting anyone he can if only because it’s the least that he can do. Eiji didn’t always hold this viewpoint or even his vagabond ways, at one point Eiji’s dream was to acquire the power to protect everyone. In his youth he grew up quite wealthy and had decided to use his wealth to help people in a small 3rd world country, but because of his interference dispute arose and people died. From this Eiji became a broken man, discarding his dream out of a mixture of futility and guilt, from this he forced out all desire so that no more harm would arise from his greed.

Now the argument can be brought up that Eiji cannot truly be without desire, as it is claimed within the series, if he still has the want to protect people. This may not be a strict case of Eiji lacking desire but rather a case of denial. Eiji clearly wants to help people with his power but because of the guilt that lies within him from his past he denies himself of this desire by discarding all personal material and settling to only protect those within his grasp. Eiji keeping his desires hidden within him becomes a thing of both interest and concern for several characters, most of which try to help him remember the thing that he had wanted. It’s this harboring of his personal wants that makes Eiji the target of the Purple Cores and is what slowly transforms him into a monstrous Greeed. It’s not until an emotional bout with Ankh that Eiji is able to realize that being OOO has finally given him the power that he had desired so long ago. This is again where Eiji’s thoughts on justice come into play again as he becomes obsessed with growing stronger to help more people. His need to help overruns even his prior nature and drives him into a greedy frenzy showing clearly the dangers of desire even if it is to protect others making Eiji‘s stance on justice and morality all the more true.

Eiji eventually comes to an understanding of his own dream to protect others, coming to the conclusion that no matter what power he has he can never protect the world alone. The final message Eiji is able to accept, from Ankh no less, is that even he needs help and that without it even the simplest dream can never be achieved. Still in the end Eiji remains in his own vagabond ways with a clearer goal in his heart an a better appreciation for the people he calls friends.

Eiji is almost the antithesis of the world around him, being without desire for most of the series he is set apart from the otherwise greed filled world. That being said Eiji also manages to show a danger with the world itself, that being to lose all importance of wants or dreams. While the world may be filled with desire it is nevertheless a necessary evil within our lives. Despite his fine understanding of the world Eiji is regardless almost that which the world doesn’t need, a lack of necessary desire. In short Eiji is a character that doesn’t really fit the world that he inhabits but instead almost grows into one that does.

Now the cast of OOO is a rather small one and while Eiji maintains a relationship with more or less everyone his most noticeably impacting relationship is with the Greeed Ankh. To say that these two have a strenuous relationship is putting it lightly as it’s most a partnership built on a mixture of necessity, negotiations, threats and bribery. The two walk the line between best friends and mortal enemies and for the most part only barely manage to put up with each other. Eiji needs Ankh to have access to Core Medals and to eventually free the body that Ankh forcefully inhabits. Ankh needs Eiji to act as OOO for protection and to collect the medals necessary to sustain his life. As this tense relationship develops things only get more complicated with more stipulations being added on. Beyond both needing each other it eventually becomes a fact that both sides are the only ones capable of stopping each other, Eiji being the only one capable of stopping Ankh’s Greeed form and Ankh being able to stop Eiji’s berserk PuToTyrano form, resulting in an even more tense relationship while creating a better understanding between the two. Despite all of this the two manage to maintain a working and even a household relationship through their need for each other and even become acquainted with each other’s quirks and habits. Still it is frequently stated by both sides that the other is disposable and when the time comes both will do whatever necessary to exceed the other. That being said at the end the two do show a general fondness for each other with Eiji even thanking Ankh for everything he’s done and both manage to establish a somewhat pseudo form of friendship.

In the end Eiji developed beyond his simple exterior, showing a deeper and somewhat sadder character than his usual smiling and caring attitude had displayed. Throughout his story we see a broken man, an empty shell of his former self and by the end while Eiji may not quite be in touch with his personal goals he has nevertheless taken that first hard step forward. Eiji’s tale is one of finding one’s purpose in life and coming to accept it and it’s repercussions.

It’s through Eiji’s story that I feel a lot of us could find some form of connection. As we grow older we inevitably face the harshness of reality and sometimes we reach those points where we feel loss, guilt, worry and pain. Everyone is capable of greed and desire but it’s only what makes us all the more human and in the end it‘s not about the desires we have but how we accept and act because of them. While our dreams and desires can give us purpose in life, though, even dreams can fade with time and the pain that comes from that is a terrible one. Life is a journey of struggle that much is true but when we finally find that purpose in our lives and accept our flaws and our guilt then looking back on everything even the struggle doesn’t seem so bad.

-Aresol-

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