Where is SELF? Or rather, what is SELF? Let’s look at the chronology:
2006, Unknown date:
Satoru, after many years of investigation, becomes acquainted with the existence of a “Transcendental Will (Or rather, intelligence)” that gives a subjugation-like influence over the minds and wills of humans. Although he would hesitate to call it a theory, but instead, more occult-like, Satoru considers it to be the true culprit behind Sayaka’s “murder.”
2009, Date Unknown :
Jumping at the opportunity of the Awazumi incident, Satoru builds confidence in his own thinking. Borrowing Inubushi’s words, he christens the “Transcendental Will (Or rather, intelligence)” as “SELF.” Can such a being really exist? Was this evidence of its existence, or was this an illusion created from his desire for it to exist?
Soon, Satoru devises a plan. A plan to lure “SELF” to this world ——The “YUKIDOH Plan”
2011, Date unknown:
Satoru completes his time-space transfer equipment based on the information in the terabyte disk, and makes major amendments to his “Plan […] To seize “SELF” in this time-space plane, and confine it.
It’s clear that Satoru hates “SELF” because he thinks it killed his sister Sayaka. He spends 5 years trying to lure SELF and trap it. So it’s no wonder that Satoru detests the very thought of SELF and he refers to it with contempt:
“Enomoto”「Even though the memories of That Guy were transplanted into you, you understand nothing, even now…」
“Satoru”「Who… is That Guy…?」
“Satoru”「Why did things turn out like this?」
“Enomoto”「That’s the one question that I can’t answer.」
“Enomoto”「To be more accurate, I don’t want to answer.」
“Enomoto”「The very thought of That Guy is annoying, you see.」
TIP 088 (That Guy) tells us this:
For this person, there is no past. For this person, there is no future. To be more accurate, the concept of time does not exist for this person.
For this person, the past, the present, and the future are all condensed into a single point.
Point. Emptiness. 0th dimension.
Three concepts that overlap.
This person exists in a place devoid of everything.
That absolute will is the only thing there.
An absolute will.
To summarize, SELF / That Guy / Transcendental Will has the following properties:
- It has the power to manipulate humans
- It is zero-dimensional and transcendental, “outside” of their realm
- Its actions are not restricted by time
- Its memories were transplanted into [ORE]
- Its memory is imperfect and restricted to what Kokoro learns in her route
So what is SELF? It is a being whose perspective is aligned with the player. Or as a shorthand, you might say “SELF is the player”. The last point isn’t actually correct, but the analogy is useful in understanding SELF’s position in the story.
Let’s address these points in reverse order.
5. Imperfect Memory
As mentioned in the previous post, [ORE] only knows about things we learned from Kokoro. He knows bits about Satoru’s relationship with Mayuzumi from what we learned as Kokoro, but we don’t know why they broke up because it was never brought up. He knows about Inubushi’s history because Kokoro read the file. But “Satoru” doesn’t know about his own parents because it was never brought up in Kokoro’s chapter.
4. Memory Transplant
Something interesting to note is that SELF doesn’t give [ORE] all of its memories. [ORE] doesn’t know what will happen in the future. He doesn’t know he’ll meet Kokoro on the 7th day, he doesn’t know he’ll see a murdered man on the 4th day, and he’s initially unfamiliar with Kokoro’s face reflected in the window.
3. Not restricted by time
The player can jump between choices, rewind, fast forward, jump between shortcuts, load and save. We exist outside of their time. From the perspective of the characters, we experience events on both as both Kokoro and [ORE] “simultaneously”. Changes in Satoru’s route are instantly propagated to Kokoro’s route, and vice versa.
You are not in the game, you are sitting on the other side of a monitor. To the characters in the game, you are “nowhere”, and hence you are “nothing”.
Kokoro becomes aware of SELF in her epilogue and some of her bad ends, noticing that there is “something standing behind her”:
I felt it. Behind me was the shadow of the existence that had beckoned us into this situation. In the evening… lit by the dawn… It had neither volume nor mass.
――A point. A hollow nothingness.
1. The power to manipulate humans
By making choices on behalf of the characters, you can guide their actions directly. You guide Kokoro through the snow and decide her fate. You prevent Satoru from getting stabbed and shape his feelings towards the other characters.
But SELF can also affect the characters indirectly:
- At the end of the first day, the characters have the option of eating stew, rice porridge or chuuka-don. Regardless of what you choose for Kokoro, everyone choose the same option.
- If you let Yomogi guard the rations, Kokoro will give the can to Yomogi without issue. However, if you let Kokoro safeguard the rations, she will still try to give the rations to Yomogi, but he’s the one that rejects her offer. Our choice didn’t affect Kokoro, it affected Yomogi instead.
SELF’s thoughts and decisions don’t just affect Kokoro and Satoru. They leak out and affect the entire world unconsciously. This is an important point in the next post.
Aside from [ORE], there is another entity in the story that uses a foreign first-person pronoun, but this one is much more subtle. The only point in the game we find a reference to this entity is during one scene early in Kokoro’s route:
Nothing had been lost; there was nothing to begin with.
Not a thing.
There wasn’t a single thing here.
There was nothing else other than this pure emptiness.
But, if indeed there was nothing here whatsoever…
Then what about [WATASHI], the person experiencing this emptiness?
Who is this existence known as [WATASHI]?
This emptiness… is like 0.
Does 0 really exist?
If it really exists, then what is this 0?
If it doesn’t exist, then when does 1 actually become 1?
And like that, from that interval between a 0 and 1…
――[WATASHI] was forcibly ripped out.
It’s also mentioned in the game’s opening movie:
The labyrinth of memories that’s killing [WATASHI]
So what is [WATASHI]? The use of katakana implies that this is another foreign personality, similar to [ORE].
Some have speculated that [WATASHI] is an artificial personality created by SELF, similar to [ORE]. However, I believe [WATASHI] directly refers to SELF. That means the scene quoted above is actually talking about SELF “awakening” from the nothingness, not the creation of a new being.
In either case, the basic idea is that [WATASHI] follows Kokoro around, allowing us to observe, collect information and occasionally make choices that affect Kokoro. The information learned from [WATASHI] is then fed into [ORE].
The reason why I believe [WATASHI] is SELF and not a separate creation is that the labyrinth of memories is killing SELF, not one of SELF’s creations. We’ll explore this in the next posts. Furthermore, all the characters are embodiment of Jungian archetypes. SELF represents the Self, but if [WATASHI] really is a separate entity, then what archetype does this mute entity represent?
Finally, the promotional material asks:
What is consciousness?
What am I? (What is [watashi]?)
Yes it’s lowercase (ie. written in kanji, not katakana), but it reinforces the idea that SELF refers to itself as watashi.
Enomoto explains the function of the space-time transfer device using coffee. He likens Satoru to black coffee saying he’s pure, while Kokoro’s consciousness is like coffee with milk, contaminated and impure. The blond man’s body is occupied only by [ORE], but Kokoro’s body is a mix of [WATASHI] and Kokoro’s wills
Satoru uses the proverb “sekijukansei”, or “red accepts blue entirely”. In the story and user interface, red has been associated with Kokoro, while Satoru is blue. You see that in the text during their endings, the borders of the text boxes and in the silhouettes on the “New Game” menu.
Red accepts blue because blue was created from red. Without the information obtained from Kokoro and [WATASHI], [ORE] would not exist since he would have no memories or personality to impersonate. Satoru only exists because of Kokoro.
Satoru shines a light on this on the 7th day. Look at the characters used to write their names. “Kokoro” can be written as (心) or as the radical (忄). If you take out “Kokoro” (忄) from Satoru (悟), what you’re left with is “I” (吾) or [ore]. This is the same pronoun the real Yukidoh Satoru uses to refer to himself.
In other words, Yukidoh [ore] is transformed into “Satoru” [ORE] because of Kokoro.
Author of the TIPS
The TIPS that appear during Kokoro’s route are written from the third-person perspective, whereas the ones in Satoru’s route are sometimes written in the first person using the pronoun [ORE]. The difference is because [WATASHI] is merely an observer and is distant from the characters, while [ORE] truly believes he is Satoru and takes it personally.
SELF / That Guy is an entity that is aligned with the player’s perspective. In the simplest sense, you can say “SELF is the player”. It has at least two known manifestations. The first is [WATASHI], a being that observes Kokoro and occasionally influences her. That information is then used to create [ORE], who has taken over Blondie’s body and believes himself to be Satoru. Yukidoh hates SELF, and we’ll explore why in the next post.