The concept of Yoko Taro’s Manga, You won’t die is not particularly new. Child soldiers in the media have been used as a storytelling tool since military dramas have existed. Although it has many similarities with the project of another creative director, that of Hajime Tabata Final Fantasy Type-0. Both are political critics of the decisions of the higher powers to exploit the younger generation to fight their battles for them. Take orders, ask questions later, rinse and repeat. These are the lives of our main characters.
It should be noted, You won’t die is based on a poem of the same name by Akiko Yosano. During the Russo-Japanese War of 1904, Yosano’s younger brother was conscripted to the front lines. In response, she writes You won’t die addressed to him, begging him to come home alive. It would later become an anti-war anthem.
Both You won’t die and Final Fantasy Type-0 use the subject of child soldiers forced to fight on behalf of those in power. But what sets the two apart is that it’s not just a group of teenagers in combat gear, it’s the fact that they are mentally immature adolescents. Type-0 has twelve students who make up the legendary Class Zero. Renowned for having special abilities, they take on the toughest missions and are prodigies in themselves.
Throughout the game, the player has the opportunity to chat, shop, train, and attend classes between missions. Just through simple interactions and their day-to-day lives, it’s easy to forget that these are actually child soldiers, and not just teenagers living their best lives. Type-0 introduces the player to the apocalyptic setting, but takes you through the story as an unseen member of Class Zero. We don’t have to immediately speculate anything is wrong with their stance, characters in school uniforms with weapons aren’t a rare trope, after all.
But You won’t die makes it very clear from the start that these students, who attend a “special abilities” high school, are not considered soldiers, but fodder. On their first deployment, assigned students are excited to visit a new country for the first time and help their country.
In the early chapters, less than half of the original cast survives. One of the victims, Usuki, was introduced as an important figure and posed as the leader of the expedition. When the students are left with no leader and no response from superiors, they realize that the adults who sent them never wanted them to survive.
In Type-0 and You won’t die, the main characters interact in the same way as they would with normal teenagers. Ace gets teased about Arecia being his “mom” and Mashiro’s habit of “baby” Kuroi, so he doesn’t get in trouble. This creates a sense of familiarity in its world-building and allows the player/reader to identify with it. It can be easy to forget that their life is far from normal. Class zero are made up of super humans as mentioned before, but we were never shown their lives before they became class zero in the game.
You won’t die does a great job of creating a visual for the reader to see. The “special abilities” high school markets itself as a school for the gifted, and so overachievers apply and attend training programs to be fair considered. But it’s not something you work into, if they see your powers manifest, you’ll be accepted. How do you get these powers? I hope one of the mandatory vaccines you received as a child “worked”. It’s a way to instill paranoia.
Article 9 of the actual Japanese constitution states that the Japanese military cannot hold offensive military weapons. In other words, if the JSDF decided to embark on a military expedition, they could not carry arms. You won’t dieThe US government circumvents this problem by sending superhumans abroad armed with a simple katana. To further emphasize the flawed system, only under 19s can handle such abilities. But if Intel is all the Japanese government is looking for, and they have long-distance communication anyway, it shouldn’t matter if the deployment live or die…right?
Cost of immaturity
One of the biggest effects of war as a whole is that when you grow up in an environment with it, your mental maturity fluctuates. After being conditioned to consciously think about survival, your brain puts other priorities aside. But other than that, your brain is still developing, and the decisions you make on the spot won’t always be the most informed.
Botan, Usuki’s lover acted as his second in command but upon his death, his first instinct was to try to “put him back together”, intending to fulfill his promise to always protect him. Mashiro asks everyone to get along, even though they were just trying to kill each other seconds before. There is a big disconnect.
At the end of Type-0, Class Zero gather to mourn the future they wish they had after the war. Deuce declares his desire to learn more about plant life and the environment. Most of us accumulate this knowledge during our elementary school years, but these children only knew war. Worse still, none of them even acknowledged that knowledge was missing from their lives.
Superpowers aren’t always “super”
Final Fantasy Type-0 has the l’Cies, who are humans chosen by the crystal to receive immense power. In exchange, the bearer risks having their humanity taken away. Class Zero is already exceptional in its abilities, but being “chosen” and transformed into l’Cie at the whim of government leaders is one of the subplots of Type-0 – the thirst for power at its best.
You won’t dieActors have flawed powerful abilities. Kuroi has the ability to see and hear the thoughts of those around him to the point of madness, and develops an obsession with Mashiro, the one person whose mind he could not read or manipulate. Asagi’s brain power is exceptional in that he can make accurate predictions and analyze data in seconds, but this drastically ages his brain to dementia, and he has to regularly remind himself not to forget. not people. You could say that the benefits outweigh the risks, but let’s not forget that, like in real life, not everyone on the same team is a good guy.
Both Hajime Tabata and Yoko Taro have a great command of portraying and executing morality in fiction, so much so that they can take the concept of school kids fighting every day and turn it into something what’s more. This is the reality of the world we live in.
“Older men declare war. But it is the young who must fight and die.” — Herbert Hoover
MORE: Best Yoko Taro Games
Sources: The Constitution of Japan, culture in criticism