Category Archives: anime

Destiny and free will in anime

In anime series Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, protagonist Judai Yuki duels destiny at least three times.

The first time, he goes on a voyage to rekindle his spirit, infusing his deck with power from outer space (“Neo-Space”) to defeat Edo Phoenix.

Next, Judai defeats Sartorius, antagonist of Season 2 who plays with a deck focused on determining outcomes that favor him and put Judai at a disadvantage. Sartorius wonders beforehand whether Judai is unique in his ability to defy destiny.

In Season 4, Judai and Sartorius duel again. Judai says Sartorius of all people should know that destiny cannot be controlled. This does not stop Sartorius from attempting to determine Judai’s fate: a loss, so that Sartorius’ sister Mizuchi can be saved.

With his back against the wall, and with his destiny all but decided, Judai turns things around with the Monster “Miracle Flipper”. Miracle Flipper allows him to tip the scales and escape Sartorius’ fate-deciding combo and win the duel.

Miracle Flipper’s card art

Judai is simultaneously able to fight destiny, but recognizes the futility of trying to controlling it. Still–he shows that one can overcome seemingly-hopeless situations, ones that may be imposed on us from the outside.

Philosophically, exercising our free will in a deterministic universe consists of choosing between genuine alternative paths (even if the end is already decided). If destiny cannot be controlled, determinism’s role is set in stone.

Perhaps being able to affirm our free will and win life’s games means pulling out a miracle when losing seems inevitable?


Tai (Digimon) and Darrow (Red Rising)

At the end of Digimon: Tri, leader of the “DigiDestined” Tai shares his doubts about the value of fighting with his best friend, Matt. In the third book of Pierce Brown’s Red Rising series–Morning Star–protagonist Darrow faces similar doubts as he finds himself fighting his friend, Sevro.

It is natural for characters like Tai and Darrow to question the worth of struggling. Both of these characters do so prior to the climaxes of their respective stories. One must contemplate what is worth fighting for, especially so close to the end.

But, the end beckons all worthy heroes. They cannot run! They must plod on ahead and overcome doubt in favor of achieving a peaceful end. Tai and Darrow both had to end their respective battles to move into more promising futures.