This is a Story About a Woman Called Yumeko…

Midari and Yumeko

Yumeko understood Midari (Russian roulette, Zener ESP card deck), who lost a pretty ugly bet to Kirari. Most people write Midari off. I even wrote Midari, off at one point. I feel guilty about that now. But Midari has a good heart. She saved Yumeko, in Ep. 4, of Season 1, and she didn’t want Yumeko to face Kirari and endure the same fate she did.

Basically, if the Debt Swap game was about wrongs committed in between the genders, then the episodes about poor Midari’s story are about wrongs that women commit against each other. Obviously, however, there is no perfect world.

Midari and Yumeko are similar, but not the same. Midari is formidable because she has less fear, making her immune to several motivations most people have. Midari is a genius, a gambling One Punch Man. However, the weak side is sadness and ennui. Thus, her motivation to feel something, with the things most people fear most, is an uncommon motivation – but still a motivation.

Yumeko was able to exploit this. If a person has one motivation, once that motivation is figured out – however obscure that motivation is – their moves become predictable and the game has no risk. Hence why Yumeko became truly upset because the ESP game wasn’t gambling. Yumeko hated that Midari’s game had no risk, because even with scams, Midari rigged it so that she would lose.

0% or 100% probability are not your friends. If you eliminate all risk, even at the last second, you lose all reward. A world without risk is a world without change: a perfect world, but also a dead and frozen one.

To the uninitiated – compared to someone like Mary – Midari and Yumeko might as well be the same. I like Midari and Yumeko. I like that they don’t hold back their feelings of pleasure. They claim them and own them. You can afford to have a lot of fan service if the story is strong. Yumeko is empowered, and everything she does is consensual. She is happy and having fun with her life, naturally. That makes an enormous difference; that’s the difference, not the fan service itself

Kakegurui is so sexualized, that it’s funny. It’s fan service and it’s funny spicing up a show that would normally bore most people with probabilities and gambling math. It’s also sex positive. The women are owning their own sexuality. You can tell; there is a difference. All of this also fits with Yumeko’s confident, take no prisoners mentality.

1) Strong women owning their sexuality is good, like I said. 2) If done tastefully, and subtly (or in an obviously absurd way, like Kakegurui does), not all fan service is bad; some of it is fun. 3) Spicing the more theoretical gambling parts up, with desire, makes sense.

How are Midari and Yumeko different? Midari constantly always focuses on the end result – which is better than most people – but Yumeko also is concerned with the probabilities to get to the result. This is the mark of a true gambler.

Following the dual theme of each episode, Yumeko and Mary both end up separately being the Woman that Refused (more Yumary shipping). Midari tried to protect Yumeko from the darkness of Kirari – who is dark, (except for when it comes to Sayaka and Batsubami) – but Yumeko is strong enough to face Kirari on her own. Midari was just trying to protect Yumeko from Kirari.

Every game has had a scam in it and Yumeko easily sees through the scam and wins or ties, under both the constraints of the game and the scam. Yumeko is fiery. Plus, you don’t get enough genius or gambler female characters. Yumeko never underestimates anybody. That’s her real secret to winning.

I just wanted to see the hand in the $100M betting war. Three of a kind, jacks. An amazing game. I love poker, so I understand a little bit how Yumeko feels, how risk – and reward -excite her. Yumeko’s hand wasn’t even a full house – but she just needed it to be stronger than a 3 of eights. Nice.

Yumeko didn’t even need the Opposite Day twist to win; she won with the normal hand rankings of poker. Manyuda doubled down on just having the right to choose. He should have folded. When he chose to play with the normal hand ascendancy, he still lost, to a middle tier hand.

Life Without a Body – The World of Altered Carbon

Altered Carbon (the Japanese version) posits something not seen before: the complete division of the mind and the body – which seems to also be the secret to immortality.

In Ghost in the Shell – except for a few individuals, like Major Motoko, with full cyborg bodies (shells) – most people in the world still have their own bodies and souls (Ghosts). Only their brains are enhanced by being cyberized, like having a powerful digital and electronic prosthetic, for the brain. You don’t need AI, if you can just use the creative benefits of a natural brain.

A cyberbrain is nowhere near as transferable as a stack – which is like the Ghost, of Altered Carbon: it holds the memories, the consciousness, the personality and the mind of the person.

In Altered Carbon, the stack – the soul, the Ghost, or the mind – is the only true marker of life. If the stack dies, only then does the person die – not when the body dies i.e. so-called “true death.” Isn’t a great deal of self-hood and identity tied to the body? Life isn’t an online role-playing game, where you can just change your avatar’s skin. Altered Carbon posits that the mind can live on, without the body, stored in the cloud or uploaded to a new sleeve (body), but what kind of existence would that be? I am not for or against; it is just a possible downside.

Have we already reached the limit of the body’s aging capacity, at 120 years or so? The rush to give up on the body has been at the heart of most major religions, for centuries. Only in the digital age can this neo-Platonic era desire finally inch closer to becoming a reality.

Regardless, Altered Carbon hypothesizes that immortality can be found in something medicine definitely cannot do yet: transplanting the brain from body to body, like a liver, a kidney or a heart.

The brain, in addition to the usually problems of genetic distance and immune rejection, has its own special considerations with the blood brain barrier and other central nervous tissues, such as the retina, the spinal cord and the cranial nerves, traveling the length of the body, and being decentralized throughout the body, not just confined to the head. 

The brain in the vat experiment remains a figment of philosophy (Rene Descartes) – but since Source Code, and James Cameron’s Avatar, there hasn’t been a major fictional example of this thought experiment, until Altered Carbon: Resleeved.

If all of your consciousness gets uploaded to the cloud, why does destroying or damaging the stack equal “true death”? Memories must be the only thing in the cloud then, and the key essence of the person, his or her animating principle (soul) must only be able to be housed on the stack, not in the cloud or elsewhere.

Where Ghost in the Shell succeeds is that it deals with the philosophical, and digital problems of a cybernetic life – false memories, people with two ghosts, one ghost with multiple bodies, ghost or cyberbrain hacking, hive minds over the Internet, viruses and worms (like Stuxnet) and military networks. Altered Carbon’s plot seems to only deal with the usual quandaries of organized crime and powerful conglomerates.

If your only choice was to die forever or be uploaded to the cloud and have a chance at being plugged into a new body, even a cyborg body, of course one would choose reanimation. However, living completely on the cloud (San Junipero), existing as a hologram or in a video game, without a body – as a young, healthy person – is definitely not the first choice or ideal.

Look at Al, in Fullmetal Alchemist: he is stuck in the spirit world, beside the Gate, and he is like the steampunk version of having your soul stuck in the cloud. Yes, Al’s consciousness, in the physical world, is bonded to a suit of armor – a cyborg – but he desperately wants to get back to his real body. Such natural concerns cannot be so easily overcome.

Gravity’s Rainbow called organized religion the process of getting other people to die for you. Q: What would make a bunch of soldiers willing to die? A: The promise of being re-sleeved, of getting new bodies, from the spirit world or “heaven” – the cloud. Neoplatonic ideas, from the tail end of the Roman Empire and right after its demise, get a new life in cyberpunk probable future realities.

Usually these promises, of returning back from the dead, end with people coming back wrong – see, for example, the marionette army, animated by damaged souls, reaped by dark alchemy, in Fullmetal Alchemist – or the usual myths of vampires and zombies. The immortality potion, which creates zombies, in Kingdom, is another example. The myth of the undead super-soldier is not without major flaws.