Kate (kate_nepveu) wrote,

Int'l Saiyuki week: Kou query

A quickie Saiyuki question in honor of the week. Spoilers through volume 3 only (please try and keep it that way in comments).

The question of attachment, independence, and fighting for yourself/others is very central to Saiyuki, and while I think I have a handle on the first two, I'm iffier on the last. In particular, Kougaiji's issues in volumes two & three have never quite made sense to me.

Here are quotes that I typed out back when I was doing the really slow re-read that led to the art posts. Citation is Tokyopop volume.chapter.page; brackets are internal thoughts, things in quote marks are dialogue.

As Kougaiji complains about Gyokumen's wasteful orders (2.8.72):

[I know what I have to do. To save Mother, I have to fight. But who the hell for?]

Somewhere nearby, possibly on the same page (I didn't write down the cite), Dokugakuji suggests that Kou's worried about "becoming that bitch's lapdog," which is apparently related.

As he stares up at his literal-figurehead mother (3.15.105-106):

[They're so different from me. Am I faltering in my resolve? That'd explain it. The truth is, I know how pointless this all is. Fighting them won't change anything . . . and neither will defeating them. Gyokumen Koushu doesn't work that way. The world will fall into chaos if she gets what she wants. Whatever the case.]


[Whatever it takes.]

"All I want . . . is to save you."

As he and Goku face off before the giant crab-thing, and Goku is canonically stronger than he was before (3.16.154-158):

"Who are you fighting for? What's driving you to get so powerful?"

"I don't know what the heck you're talking about. This -- this is all for me!"

. . .

[That thing I thought was different about them. Freedom, confidence, self. That's what makes them strong.]

After the giant crab thing is defeated, to Goku (3.17.182-183):

" . . . but I am sorry. I started to doubt the path I'd chosen. It's rude to challenge someone when you're not sure what you believe. But that's over. My goal is too important to be measured in terms of good and evil. Next time I'll risk everything . . . and you'll be on the floor. I'll win for myself."

I don't really understand what his problem is, especially the question in the first quote, "But who the hell for?" To me, it seems obvious: you want to free your mother, so you're fighting for your mother [*]. Sure, angst about methods, but not about who you're doing it for.

I should say that I kinda get his thinking at the end, a bit, though it all seems like distinctions without a difference to me: I interpret that whole line of thinking as, fighting for yourself where "yourself" includes the people and causes you've freely chosen to attach yourself to. It seems the only way to me to make sense of the various pronouncements on the topic, though maybe I'm misconstruing that too.

So, am I too Western to get Kou's early dilemma, or just generally too thick? Can anyone articulate this in a way that makes sense to me?

[*] As has been said elsewhere: "No, I said his mother. His mother. Look, it can't always be beautiful princesses, okay? These things happen." — "How the Four Traveled to India, or, Somebody's Been Sleeping In My Bed", by ciceqi, spoilers for vols. 1-9.

Hey, desdenova—I know you're swamped, but I think you had A Theory on the placement of the "Be There" arc, and if you had time to post about this week (not here, please, since spoilers past vol. 3), that would be really cool. Or whenever.

[Edit: vague spoilers for vols. 1-9 in the comments, as it really can't be helped. Sorry.]

Tags: manga, saiyuki

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