I’m really falling behind, but I’m glad to have finished reading Mio route. It’s a good one, actually, but it’s as hard to read as a poem. But being a route whose central motif is Japanese poetry, I think that’s the point, and it’s what makes the route so interesting, along with its musings on identity and agency.
Before I talk about that, the gimmick. If I could describe Mio and/or her route with a Classical music piece, the first thing that comes to mind would be that one piece from Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake suite. As for why Swan Lake, it’s because of the swan thing, plus Mio and Midori reminds me of Odette and Odile a little, which I’ll get into later. As for why that particular excerpt, it’s because it really captures this feeling of isolation often described in this route, and also I’m a pleb who haven’t actually listened to the entire suite. (I am so sorry.)
Anyway. For the route itself, there’s a lot of weird magical things going on, but without delving too deep on spoiler territory, here’s an excerpt from one of the bad ends (which I’m glad I read, or I’ll be scrambling for non-spoilery explanations here):
In other words, the world they are in is weird in a way that whatever’s going on is influenced by the whims of its inhabitants. Our enjoyment in reading this route for the first time hinges so heavily in how much we can suspend disbelief, and to be honest, I was pretty confused about what went on the first time I read this. But really, I think anyone will be able to make better sense of this route if we just read the bad end. Haha.
Now that I’ve got to reread this, though, I think it’s a really good one. Like I mentioned in Twitter, what I got here is that Mio truly wanted agency, and honestly believed that she can only gain that agency through isolation. But before I even delve in that, I need to mention an important assumption. The similar-looking Odette and Odile are often played by a single ballerina at the same time. Mio and Midori, I’d dare say, are rather one and the same, but it’s a little more complicated.
Midori is indeed Mio’s shadow and reflection – her personality is so starkly different because reflections always appear opposite to the object (Mio). But she’s also a part of her self; I’d like to say that she represents her desire for isolation: that’s why Midori takes the role of pushing Riki away from Mio. (Talking to yourself sounds like a pretty lonely thing to do, heh.)
That’s also why I don’t exactly agree that Mio hates herself. Her own self-esteem isn’t the problem her, but it’s the dilemma of losing a vital side of her if she decided to connect with others. She began thinking that way because people around her (her mom, the doctor) have willingly took away Midori. Her mom is happy to lose Midori. Not wanting to reject a part of identity for somebody else’s happiness, plus the added guilt of herself forgetting/rejecting that part of her, she decided that for her to maintain that agency, she’d rather isolate herself.
But as Midori said in the bad end, it’s not that simple:
No one wants isolation because it’s connections that makes us human. The swan can only be described as white by the blue of the sky and the sea, after all. So I said earlier that Midori is Mio’s desire for isolation, but that’s not the whole story. She keeps pushing Riki away from Mio, but it really comes off as her testing the strength of his feelings towards her, if she can love her unconditionally.
So the story of this route becomes about trying to find the middle ground between agency and connection for her, and here’s Riki’s conclusion:
With all that, I have yet to talk about the “awkward implication” that I mentioned earlier. It’s actually kind of my feminist reading on this:
I’m not really too fond of the idea that women need a man’s company to define herself. Buuuuuuuut I doubt that’s the point (though it could have been better if this was a more equal thing, though in hindsight Riki did define himself by his connections with the people around him i.e. Busters), so I’ll let this one slide, hehe.
Overall, good stuff. 4.25/5.