On my last post about Re:Creator’s I argued that while Sota annoyed me as well I believed that handled correctly he could be a good character if not a likable one. And he stepped up to the plate. Which is why I’m so fucking mad that other people are still bellyaching about him. There will be spoilers, you’ve been warned.
In case you haven’t read the post linked above one of the main points I made with regards to Sota is that it’s not his fault Setsuna killed herself even if he blames himself for it. He doesn’t owe her anything, the world doesn’t owe her anything, he didn’t make that decision for her. The responsibility for Setsuna’s suicide lies with her. In the latest episode they dug into the backstory of Setsuna and Sota a little and explained that Sota felt they were drifting apart as Setsuna got more popular and started working with well known people while he wasn’t enjoying the same success. That is fucking normal. He committed no sin here, it’s natural for friendships to have their rifts and for people to drift apart – sometimes temporarily, sometimes for good. What happened next was that she was accused of plagiarism and relentlessly attacked on social media and Sota didn’t stand up for her.
This is where most of the Sota haters say things like “he should of stood up for her.” This fucking triggered me. It’s FUCKING NORMAL for people to not jump into defend people from mass harassment because it can in fact escalate the harassment, which is what Sota feared, or it can see the defender get harassed badly as well. This is not a Sota problem – this is problem with the internet and mob justice in general. Remember when that scientist who landed a probe on a comet was harassed to the point where he broke down in tears during a public apology because of the shirt he was wearing? It’s the same shit here. Silence is the path of least resistance and it’s the one most people take. Trust me I’m in the middle of working on a local campaign and the opposition is filled with angry shitheads who bombard every social media post we put out with loads of harassment, they’ve tried to make public all the information about me, the Campaign Manager, they can get their hands on, they have stolen and vandalized signs and harassed businesses who show support for our side of the campaign, sometimes to the point where managers break down in tears.
Nobody wants to deal with that. I don’t have much of a choice because fighting against these assholes is part of my job description but unless you’re like me or are morally motivated enough to make a stand, most people just do what they can to avoid the harassment until it blows over. It sucks that Setsuna was confronted by a mob of anonymous assholes online, and that their harassment caused her to commit suicide is an indictment of internet mob justice and harassment campaigns. But at the same time, it’s still not Sota’s or even the mob’s fault she committed suicide. I’m not feeling the need to commit suicide from this harassment, and in most high profile cases of online harassment mobs people don’t commit suicide either. Setsuna was exceptionally weak and that’s her fucking problem. Make no mistake my fury is directed more so at the harassers than Setsuna, they are shitty people who deserve all the bad things that happen to them because they can totally ruin people’s lives and careers. However Setsuna is still the one who chose suicide as her response, that was her choice and she owns all the responsibility for it. Long story short anyone who blames Sota for not standing up to an online mob of harassers is either a cyber-hero who lacks empathy for all non-cyber heroes or has never stood up to such a mob and thus lacks appreciation for bad it can get or just how much of a fucking hassle it can be.
“But wait,” you say, “he said he felt a satisfaction seeing Setsuna being taken down a peg,” he’s awful. First off he admits it was an ugly feeling and he is deeply ashamed for feeling it, implying he normally wouldn’t feel this way and it’s not reflective of his normal character. Which is normal. People say and feel things we don’t really mean, or rather that we would never seriously embrace in our normal state of being, all the fucking time. The important thing here is that so far as we know he didn’t act on this feeling, he just felt it. Or do you mean to tell you’ve never felt or said something in anger, hurt, jealousy or what have you that you’d never seriously give the time of day if you weren’t anger, hurt, jealous or what have you? I call bullshit, it’s human to have feelings which go against our moral code of conduct. The second thing to remember is that he was in fact jealous at the time, he was hurting in his own way and that’s the catalyst for why he felt the way he did. Again though that had nothing to do with his actions, he said he didn’t stand up for Setsuna because he was afraid of making things worse, not because his envy was so potent he didn’t lift a finger to spite her. How he felt in a moment of weakness is irrelevant to how he acted, and as such to call him awful for it is woefully inaccurate.
Also Sota already manned up in the episode before that. In a battle where characters who could kill him in one second with no effort whatsoever were throwing down, Sota stood his ground and tried to stop the fight. I do think he should have just told Aliceteria that Altair killed Mamika but even so he did his best to reason with her and bring the fight to a halt and when that didn’t work he refused to budge even when she charged at him, the only reason he didn’t die was because Meteora knocked him away. That takes fucking balls and anyone who calls him a pansy after that needs to seriously reconsider what the hell they’re saying. Sure he’s still struggling with his own weaknesses and short comings after standing in front of Aliceteria, but this is ONCE AGAIN fucking normal. He’s not an unstoppable badass, he’s a kid and one who lost a close friend and blames himself for it at that. He has plenty of reasons to be fragile and unsure of himself, especially since he’s been caught up in such a crazy turn of events and is surrounded by pros and heroes, people he doesn’t feel he can ever measure up to. Which is to say that Sota is an impressively nuanced and well-realized character, one of the most complex and devastatingly human characters of the entire season.
While I’m on the subject of character I want to mention that Aliceteria’s character got a massive upgrade in the fight described above. Previously she just seemed willfully blind to the fact she’s fighting to worse of the two sides in this conflict. That does hold true but the reason for it is because she has lost all of her bearings. Imagine for a second you meet God, or something you hold great faith in, and he turns out to be far less impressive than you expected. That would shake you up a bit. Now imagine that on top of that you find out there are tons of gods and all of them are making worlds like yours so they can have stories. This is what happened to Aliceteria, she believes everything she ever knew is a lie and can’t come to terms with her new reality and as a result clings to an ideal, justice, because it’s all she has left. If it turns out she is fighting on the side of evil she will break, she’s already losing herself as it is. In other words she’s doing what Sota did with Setsuna, refusing to face something because doing so might break her entirely. Which is to say she’s also be given a great deal of believability and nuance as a character, improving her place in the story and showcasing that yes, Mother’s Basement was right, this show does in fact have great characters.
Ok rant over. My fury has been vented. I recommend this show now more than ever. See you in the next one.