After my recent second-reading of MOON., I’ve found myself with a lot to say about it. Too much, in fact to limit to one post, so I’ll spread it out over time.
Since we’re so early in the topic and this really is quite an important late-game scene, I’ll put it in spoilers for now:
The first thing I wanted to talk about was the fucking psychedelic scene succeeding this line:
Beginning with this image:
and ending with this one:
The first time I read it, the pure fucking insanity of this scene totally masked how well it was written into the narrative for me. I didn’t fail to recognise that it’s a brilliant scene of course, but it was so overwhelming that it left me confused as to it’s purpose in the narrative, even once Doppel-Ikumi went through the trouble of spelling it out for me.
The first thing you notice about this scene is the total change in art style from anything we’ve seen before in MOON. However, I’m honestly more interested in how Doppel-Ikumi’s Theme is what’s playing in the background. That should have been my first hint, to be completely honest. It serves a greater purpose than just facilitating her appearance at the very end of the scene. We’ll get back to that.
The idea that Ikumi killed her mother, is quite well foreshadowed earlier in the game. Especially given how unreliable a narrator Ikumi is concerning her own past. The evidence even stacks up against her further following this scene, in Youko’s backstory, when we find out that killing a beloved family member is a guaranteed way to qualify for Class A. Doppel-Ikumi’s strong insistence that Ikumi didn’t kill her mother is quite compelling evidence that she didn’t, and even though there’s no absolute way to know for sure, the presentation of this entire scene strongly implies that Doppel-Ikumi is right.
In order to prevent facing the idea that she killed her own mother, Ikumi’s thoughts fly off in a totally schizophrenic direction. Trapped in a literal labyrinth of her own thought, Ikumi loses her grasp on reality. The correct path out of the labyrinth involves avoiding a creature called “shame” with undecided features. It is perhaps unsurprising when, on your quest to avoid the “shame”, going so far as to buy a drainboard for no particular reason, Doppel-Ikumi shows up. It’s also not surprising that Doppel-Ikumi, the one who most often forces Ikumi to face her shame directly, is particularly affronted by her efforts to avoid this nebulous shame that shouldn’t even exist. This small scene also does a good job of highlighting how Doppel-Ikumi and the Elpod aren’t fundamentally against Ikumi, but rather the opposite, which is only natural when you think about the nature of Doppel-Ikumi’s existence on the most basic level.
The major question one should ask themselves when reading this whole scene is “why isn’t this more like a Minmes scene?” You’d think that in a situation like this, Ikumi would lose herself in her happy memories of her mother. But Doppel-Ikumi spells it out at the end. “You can’t acknowledge that you killed your mother with your own hands. …because you, meaning us, most decidedly did not kill your mother with your own hands.” Ikumi can’t acknowledge that she killed her own mother precisely because she, in fact, did not kill her own mother. If she had, I expect we would have seen a more Minmes-like scene. However, because she didn’t, she’s pulled into a more Elpod-like scene with the same exaggerated story-telling and self-confrontation. This is especially obvious in her ridiculous efforts to avoid and protect herself against the shame.
This scene totally brings several things into focus, particularly the Elpod and Doppel-Ikumi, but it also properly serves as the part of Ikumi’s self-denial over killing her own mother, even being presented in a very specific way to subtly support the fact that she actually didn’t kill her mother. If anything, the way this scene says fuck you to subtly on the face of it masks the brilliant subtly of it in it’s purpose in the narrative (maybe even to too extreme of a degree). Unfortunately, the scene makes it too easy to write off the brilliant subtly of some aspects of the narrative as just part of the total lunacy of the presentation.
With the serious analysis over, this scene immediately boosted Doppel-Ikumi up to one of my favourite characters, second only to the subject of a future post: Youko Kanuma