Human beings are interesting creatures gifted with thought, emotion and morality we stand as not only the dominate species but the most diverse one as well. We carry the basic functionality of any being such as sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch but as humans we’re capable of interpreting these senses to establish meaning to them. Once those meanings have been established though it is easy to quickly take them for granted. These basic functions and our ability to define them are linked so closely to our lives and most of us never even realize this. How many of us ever stop to imagine what it’s like to live without one of these senses? Better yet how many have thought about what it would be like to live without any of them? To literally feel and sense nothing. Could we even call that life? Sure we have the ability to live but without the capability to understand the substance of life there leaves little meaning to life.
Sometimes the very essence of life itself is something we all take for granted. Our whole existence has been established with the facts told through our senses. Without the knowledge of living apart from those senses we cannot truly know what we have really been gifted with. If something existed without those gifts though, would it really be considered alive? There’s few characters that I have come across capable of knowing the experience of having nothing and then everything. When these characters become associated with both sides their true greed comes to light and there’s only one desire that becomes important. It’s this desire that drives our character of focus today.
-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.-
Now I’ve written about various sorts of characters from men to androids to even monsters but Ankh still manages to stand out to me. The combination of his personality, over all goals, and the somewhat deep level of philosophic debate behind his very existence is what makes Ankh feel like a completely fresh and interesting character from the others that I’ve seen. Starting out we’re immediately shown Ankh’s selfishness and greed, fitting for a species referred to as the Greeed. He lusts for power, wishing to continue growing stronger in order to sustain himself. Ankh is a pretty rude person as well and is not what you would call tolerate of others, only ever seeming to bear the presence of others out of necessity and because of this he comes off as being more antagonistic than anything else.
Ankh is a rather intelligent person and is fairly conniving as well. He’s clearly the brains behind OOO and for the most part only seems to be manipulating Eiji in order to get what he wants. His strategic use of the medals in combat is irreplaceable and is often one of the deciding factors in Eiji’s fights. Ankh has also been shown to be fairly capable at taking in, analyzing and then adapting to his surroundings and current situations. Within hours of awakening from an 800 year slumber he was able to coerce Eiji into becoming his veritable puppet as well as find a host body to sustain himself and it was only a matter of days before he became fully accustomed to the human species’ growth and technology. Ankh’s adaptation to human culture far and away surpasses that of his fellow Greeed who only sought to even attempt to adapt after seeing Ankh’s ability to gain the upper hand because of it.
Now obviously due to Ankh being a Greeed as well as his level of intellect he’s highly knowledgeable on the logistics of desire. While Eiji was able to understand desire and how to cope with it, Ankh is far more understanding of the mechanics of desire such as how to create it, how to further it’s hold on someone, as well as the effects and repercussions of it. In fact Ankh can more or less see the desire within a person and what kind it is and unlike Eiji is more than willing to use this ability of his for an advantage. You see Ankh loves desire and is a being who has completely become enveloped within it. He often comments on how several of the desires they see over the course of the series are interesting or well established, showing not only understanding of people’s greed but a deep intrigue in it as well. From all of this Ankh displays a knowledge on the deeper working of humanity that almost surpasses the other characters including Eiji. It’s this knowledge of mankind that helps to play a part in his overall goal.
As I’ve stated several times Ankh is a Greeed, basically a homunculus created through the use of alchemy, Ankh in particular is one that contains the essence of the avian species. Being a homunculus, and there for not a functioning living organism, he has very dulled senses such as a lack of taste and a feeling of numbness in place of the sense of touch. This however is only true within his Greeed form as it would seem that as long as he is connected to his human host he is capable of knowing these basic senses. This is how Ankh develops little quirks like his obsession with ice cream, the sensation of eating something with flavor and feeling the cold from the ice is a rare and foreign experience for him. Such a new experience can become addicting, fueling Ankh’s greedy side. Thanks to his previously states inability to sense such basic things Ankh is capable of truly appreciating even the most insignificant of feelings. This is where we finally see Ankh’s true wish, to live. To actually be able to feel and sense things with a body of his own.
Despite Ankh’s antagonistic nature he is probably the most appreciative person when it comes to the idea of life, at least his own life anyway he is still fairly selfish after all. With the combination of his knowledge on humanity’s desires and his new found appreciation for the ability to live Ankh’s understanding of what it means to actually be alive grows beyond that of his fellow homunculi and becomes somewhat of an obsession of his. As I said being introduced to a completely new and favorable experience can become an addicting thing and thanks to Ankh’s greedy nature he’s fully accepting of becoming enveloped in his newfound desire. As such we see another of Ankh’s characteristics, that being his determination. He will stop at nothing to become truly alive and as such faces no qualms about betraying anyone and everyone.
While Ankh may be able to feel and live as a human it is unfortunately a short lived experience. After an emotional confrontation with Eiji Ankh begins to rethink his companionship with Eiji and during this time is attacked by Dr. Maki resulting in the Core Medal that house’s Ankh’s consciousness to become cracked. As Ankh is left to die he is accompanied by a noticeably upset Hina. Seeing Hina’s worry over his life he gains a sense of satisfaction with his death and agrees to help Eiji fight one last time. During their final fight Ankh sacrifices his body to allow Eiji to transform one last time and the stress from the battle breaks Ankh’s Core. Appearing a final time before Eiji he remarks on how he was satisfied that they would consider a hunk of medals such as himself meaningful enough to be able to die. Through this Ankh is capable of realizing his goal, to live by dying. Something without a life would never have the possibility of dying, just being destroyed, but the fact that other’s would care that he would be destroyed is what gave it meaning. Ankh could live and die because others cared that he could, not because of his senses or lack there of, not because of his consciousness but because of what he meant to the lives others.
Ankh’s range of development is an interesting one having started as a somewhat basic level anti-villain and progressing through a range of archetypes. Ankh’s methods and actions in the series inevitably help others but builds towards fulfilling his own selfish goals. It should be seen that while Ankh is a source of some good his intentions are never as such showing him to be far more villainous than merely selfless. Still when it’s revealed that Ankh’s goal is merely to live his archetype becomes swapped to be something of an anti-hero doing both good and bad things in search of a relatively harmless goal. Though while the idea of simply being alive may seem harmless Ankh is nevertheless a Greeed created for things such as destruction and is by his very nature insatiable, so it is not completely a sure thing that he would never a more harmful desire once his current one is fulfilled. Overall Ankh walks this very strange median of being not quite villainous but certain not heroic. Ironically this makes him more human than many characters, by our very nature we are imperfect, we are selfish and greedy but still capable of a lot of good. We as humans create a lot of good but just as well we can create a lot of harm and really Ankh is almost a perfect mirror of this fact.
While I have covered about all I can with Ankh and Eiji’s relationship in my last article Ankh does have at least one other fairly intriguing relationship. When it comes to Hina the two have a rather conflicting relationship as the body the Ankh inhabits is that of Hina’s brother, Shingo. Since Ankh needs the body in order to maintain the benefits of being human he is unwilling to let it go, despite this though Hina still manages to develop friendly feelings toward Ankh. Over the course of the series Hina begins to view Ankh as a friend creating a conflict within her as she cannot maintain a friendship with Ankh while longing to have her brother returned. Ankh himself maintains a fairly disconnected relationship with her as he does with everyone for the majority of the series, he is however noticeably affected when Hina expresses her desire to have her brother back. This can of course be construed in a variety of ways either being derived from Ankh’s greediness and need for the body or somewhat more unlikely, but no less eventually true, situation of Ankh having grown attached to her and the others. Nevertheless it is with Hina’s influence that Ankh comes to his final resolution regard his life supporting the idea that his feelings for her had grown friendlier and more welcoming.
I would be remised if I did not mention Lost Ankh. This character is the result of Ankh being split from his original body with the remains of his body forming it’s own consciousness. Their relationship is a basic one, both wish to absorb the other in order to be whole. While the two don’t exactly have a huge relationship in person it is shown the Ankh still becomes unsettled by the presence of the other Ankh. During this time Ankh shows signs of worry and panic, emotions that were not always evident previously. This is all largely due to his concerns about being absorbed and not knowing which side will inevitably prevail. Regardless of his worry his determination remains evident when the two finally merge, showing his outstanding levels of willpower.
It’s not uncommon to meet a person that would debate Ankh’s ability to actually live. The idea of life is something of a mixture of complexity and simplicity. There are those that view it simply by its mechanics, those that live are able to do so because their structure functions in a way to allow them to. Then you have those that focus on the more phenomenal aspect of it being the idea of sentience and consciousness representing true life. Obviously one side may seem more logical than the other but both are debate equally within philosophy nonetheless and are affected greatly by the belief aspects of those debating it. So what does this mean for Ankh? Well, Ankh doesn’t function in the technical sense he’s just an assortment of medals linked to a consciousness. This creates the debate on whether Ankh truly had life because he was conscious or didn’t because he could not function. Honestly though, if I interjected my own opinion I’d say the best thing is to remember Ankh’s own decision. He lived because he mattered.
Every one of us has our own life with our own experiences and our own loves, but can all of us say that we are alive? Even with all of those experiences, desires, and dreams or ours without a meaning to it, without a purpose behind any of it is there still a life to be had? Really I can’t answer this, I can’t tell you what your life means or if it even means anything, I can‘t even say this for myself. The only solace any of us can really have is the hope that we some how, some way mattered to someone else. Even if we never amount to any of our dreams and even if we lose all desire as long as there’s one person that cares I think that it all won’t be for nothing after all.