Talk about an underdog. I mean, let me lay this out for you: Hoshi no Samidare (otherwise The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer — yeah, I know) is about a giant hammer poised to smash the world at the whim of “the Mage,” Animus, and the dysfunctional crew assembled seemingly at total random to deal with this threat.
Only the leader of these defenders of the Earth wants to smash the world herself, and Amamiya Yuuhi, the Knight of the Lizard, has decided he’ll do whatever it takes — even if it means fighting his allies — to help her fulfill her dream. Oh, but Samidare wants to wreck the world not because she hates it, but because she loves it. It’s hers, by God, and she intends to possess it by freezing it at a point in time, so to speak. And all this puts Yuuhi at odds with his “pet” talking lizard, Sir Noi Crezant, who would much rather go the route of the more traditional champion of justice.
If you are not yet convinced beyond all doubt to read this manga, you are saner than I.
At any rate, all this results in much more interesting character dynamics than you’ll find in most contemporary fantasy shounen/seinen action manga. And this one happens to be very good at demonstrating the commingled horror and beauty of the world — later on, when other animal knights start showing up, it begins to feel like a crazier Bokurano — so you never hate Samidare and Yuuhi for their crooked goals. In fact, it’s not terribly hard to see where they’re coming from.
I won’t explain in too much detail, as I’d rather you read it and work through the nuances yourself. But I will show you a moment that made me feel good, and bad, and everything else. The context is that the animal knights are assembled at last, and it’s time for Samidare to give the requisite Epic Speech.
Inspiring, maybe, but not very heroic. That is, “fight to save your own asses!” is not such a heroic credo, in the traditional sense. Then why are these people so quick to buy it? Because they’re too human to be heroic in the traditional sense, of course. None of them wants to die; self-protection probably sounds like a fine thing to fight for, and anyway, it’s hard to say at any given time how many of them would really sacrifice themselves to save the world.
It’s not that Samidare isn’t much concerned with the fate of the world. She’s especially concerned with it; the world must end by her hands alone, and to make sure that happens, she has to get rid of Animus. In fact, she knows she’ll probably end up at odds with most of these people, and if they happen to get themselves killed in the line of duty before she reveals her plans, it’d save her (and Yuuhi) the trouble of doing it later. But she’s seen people die at this point, and she probably doesn’t want to watch these people die as well. They may become her enemies, but they aren’t yet, and she doesn’t hold the future against them. Maybe telling her knights to protect themselves at all odds isn’t the best tactical maneuver on Samidare’s part, but then she isn’t an impartial machine.
Here, specifically, is Moment the Eleventh. Loving the world and hating the world — I don’t think that’s paradoxical at all. It just amounts to appreciating all the world has to offer. There are good things and bad things; there are good things because there are bad things, and vice versa. And the line between love and hate is thin, at any rate, or so I tend to think. Love/hate, good/bad — these are binaries. Each term gives its opposite meaning by contrast. Is it possible to love the world without hating it? Is it possible to love anything without also having the capacity to hate it? Basically what I’m trying to say is that I get this scene. It makes perfect sense to me, or it resonates with me emotionally, or both, I can’t really tell which.
Love, like life, is fleeting; Samidare just wants to be in control of how it all ends, which is, depending on how you construe it, the most important part, the part that allows the rest of it to have meaning. If she’s responsible for the end — for death — she’s responsible for everything. Of course she’s totally crazy, and mostly unconcerned with whether her plans might inconvenience anyone else, but that’s part of why she’s so enjoyable to read about.