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22 June 2014 @ 06:12 pm
Their destiny was foreordained… Or not? Part 1: CLAMP  
Back in a far, far past in ancient Greek and Roman time our ancestors assumed there was something called Fate, a supreme entity against which even Gods had to bow their head.
No one could change what fate decided and any attempt to go against fate would simply either fail or would become the cause for that particular fate to happen.
Later on though, came the idea that fate wasn’t foreordained, that humans are free to chose their destiny and fantascience took it in strides going as far as assuming that, with the proper element X (equipment to go/affect the past or knowledge of the future), you can change either your past (and therefore your present and your future) or just your future (by making different choices in your present).

Now… where does CLAMP stand in this? Which theory is embraced by them? And how does this reflect in their ‘fate centred’ work, ‘X’, and more specifically in Seishiro & Subaru’s story?


If we look at a recent work like ‘Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE’ we’re informed rather early on in the story that past can be changed.
Shaoran and Co. reaches Shara, then, due to some vicissitudes end up in Shura, which nothing else is if the past version of Shara, and with their interaction with the people of Shura, end up changing the future of the country so, when they ends up back in Shara, things are different.
Evidently Shura/Shara’s past/future wasn’t set in stone as it could be altered.

But that’s recent works, one might think, what about past works done around the time X was planned?

’RG Veda’, the first CLAMP work, contained a prophecy and lot of talking about how that particular foreordained fate couldn’t be changed. We’ll see most of the prophecy will turn true… but not the very last part. It will be ironic to see through the manga how people, who doesn’t want the prophecy to become true, will ‘try to stop it’ in manners that actually instead help the prophecy to become true but the key point is: in the end the full prophecy won’t come true so destiny wasn’t set in stone.

In short the first and the one of the last works of CLAMP implied that fate, even the foreordained one or the one that had already happened, can be changed. It’s not easy but it can happen.

But… but… you might think, Ichihara Yuko in ‘xxxHOLiC’ said:

この世界には偶然なんてないわ。あるのは必然だけ
“Kono sekai ni wa gūzen nante nai wa. Aru no wa hitsuzen dake”
“There is no such thing as a coincidence (guzen) in this world, there is only the inevitable (hitsuzen).” (Ichihara Yuko, “xxxHOLiC” Chap. 1)

… and this sentence seems to imply, in its translation, that everything is sort of foreordained, already decided, inevitable in short.

So does this means that at least in one manga fate is inevitable?

Not really. Yuko herself will later say something that can make us doubt about it:

“If you believe that your destiny is decided, then most likely, it’s decided. If you believe that nothing is decided, then most likely, nothing is decided. It’s how a world is. A world looks infinitely large, but actually, it’s pretty small. The scope of what you can see; the scope of what you can hear; the scope of what your fingers can touch; the scope of what you can feel… And that’s all. The world isn’t what it is but what you make it.” (Ichihara Yuko, “xxxHOLiC” Chap. 4)

Later on though Yuko will also explain of the ties that stop people from changing their fate:

“Living beings… …are bound by all sorts of things. Ties decided by nature… …the flow of time… …these vessels we call our bodies… …this self awareness we call our hearts. These are chains common to all living things. But…there are bonds only humans can use.” (Ichihara Yuko, “xxxHOLiC” Chap. 22)

“She tied her bonds herself.”... “Yes, they’re scary, you know. These words. You can’t take them back once they’ve left your mouth. You can’t act as if they were never said. And without knowing how tightly they can bind… …people continued to use these chains. ‘Words’ have life. And in time, they can even bind one’s right to live.” (Ichihara Yuko, “xxxHOLiC” Chap. 23)

“‘Words’ aren’t limited to binding only yourself.” (Ichihara Yuko, “xxxHOLiC” Chap. 24)

“‘Words’ don’t only bind yourself, they bind other people too.” (Ichihara Yuko, “xxxHOLiC” Chap. 24)

“It’s easy isn’t it? To be tied down by pessimistic words. ‘I can’t.’ ‘It’s impossible.’ If you say those words, or allow others to say them, it’s so easy to fail. If your condition makes you happy, then you can stay this way. Is this ‘sense of ease’ more important to you than the joy you feel when you accomplish something you were ‘sure would go well’?” (Ichihara Yuko, “xxxHOLiC” Chap. 24)

If the girl who had tied herself with those words had been unable to free herself, or even better had decided not to free herself, or also had gotten to the point where it would be too late for her to try and change herself, her fate would have been set in stone. By herself. And by the circumstances that lead her to take such decision, yes.

Yuko however puts a big emphasis on people’s free will:

“Family is other people. No matter how close your blood relationship is…no matter what your relationship may be… Anyone other than you is not you! And so you have to think it over and decide for yourself! Take away other people’s wants and needs, and decide is this something that is necessary for you! It may cause hardship to others…but you want it. That’s your free will right there! But you ignore that and decide based on someone else’s advice, because decency demands it, because people say it’s awful, you will fail to quit. No one could succeed that way! You don’t understand what you’re trying to do. With that as your background, how do you expect to make a promise to yourself?” (Ichihara Yuko, “xxxHOLiC” Chap. 7)

As you can see she doesn’t say she can’t do a thing because it’s fate but that’s she can’t succeed because she’s not following her free will but resting her decision on someone else.

And she also put emphasis on other bonds that tie people, bonds that, differently from the words and beliefs over mentioned, can’t be untied:

“It doesn’t matter. The bonds of fate have already been tied. We have become involved… …you and I. No matter how unimportant the meeting…how small the outcome… …it will always have some later effect on you. There is an unbroken series of connections that follows the life path of any person. It can be the smallest of things. It can be the shortest of moments. It may never be remembered. It may have never been recorded. A bond of fate never disappears once tied.” (Ichihara Yuko, “xxxHOLiC” Chap. 1)

Foreordaining feeling? No, if you read the whole dialogue well it’s more likely a feeling of consequence. The meeting (between Yuko and Watanuki) will have consequences that will surely affect Watanuki’s future. It’s a mere cause-effect relation.

In short, what the whole “There is no such thing as a coincidence (guzen) in this world, there is only the inevitable (hitsuzen)” is supposed to mean isn’t that ‘everything had already been written and we’re merely following a foreordained path’ but that ‘everything that happens to us is a consequences of our previous decisions, is meaningful and will contribute to make us take the decisions that will lead us through a certain path’ or, in short “There is no such thing as things happening at random, everything is the consequence of something and will become the cause of something else”. Watanuki didn’t end in Yuko’s shop by accident but due to a long chain of events and decisions that, in the end, lead him there and will influence his future decisions and therefore his future. Yuko will mention often how Watanuki must decide, how she’ll respect his decisions. If everything was already decided there would be no decision to respect as there would be nothing to decide. Watanuki would have only a possible choice and nothing could influence him to take a different one.

Instead Yuko goes and imply that a path can be altered easily so one should be wary:

“Any prediction true or false should not be made lightly. It can still alter a person’s path.” (Ichihara Yuko, “xxxHOLiC” Chap. 12)

Really, there’s little that’s set in stone in xxxHOLiC, although we can see change doesn’t come easily. Watanuki will go through a long journey before changing his ways.

So let’s go back to the definition Yuko gave of Hitsuzen.

“A naturally foreordained event. A state in which other outcomes are impossible. A result which can only be obtained by a single causality, and all other causalities would necessarily create different results. So reads the Kodansha Japanese desk dictionary, second edition.” (Ichihara Yuko, “xxxHOLiC” Chap. 1)

When we read this most of us generally assume that, with ‘Hitsuzen’, Yuko means something foreordained because that’s the first definition given. But it can merely be she means it’s the product of a single causality which would fit better with how she wants Watanuki to pay attention to all the consequences an action can have as they end up leading the people’s path.

And now we move to ‘Tokyo Babylon’/’X’.

‘X’ makes pretty clear that people blindly believes in the ability some have to foreordain the future and doesn’t even try to discuss it. Basically it turns true what Yuko said:

“If you believe that your destiny is decided, then most likely, it’s decided.”

In fact we see that when Sorata is foretold he’ll die for a woman he doesn’t say: ‘no way, I’ll do my best to protect her and stay alive at the same time’. He’ll merely ask the HoshiMi to pray so that she’ll be a beautiful woman, at least. In short, by accepting his destiny was decided, Sorata basically set it in stone, or tried to.

Daisuke is also a similar case, as he wanted to die for Hinoto and, when she tried to save him, instead than trying to think of a way that would save them both, he deliberately chose to let himself get killed. It’s interesting how Daisuke’s ‘fate’ played out. If Hinoto hadn’t tried to save him, putting her life in danger, he probably would have fought harder for his life because, by dying right then, if without Hinoto being involved, he couldn’t have fulfilled his dream of dying to protect her. Sure, he had no chances against ‘KAMUI’ but we know for a fact that ‘KAMUI’ doesn’t kill those who wishes to live so all it would have taken for him to stay alive was to wish to live… but as soon as Hinoto came into play his own wish to die to save her flared up and… that’s what he gets.

But, you might say, there’s also Hokuto’s case. Kakyou tried to save Hokuto and change her fate and failed. Surely this meant Hokuto’s fate was set in stone.

Well, it was. By Hokuto as it’s her will that will lead her to face Seishiro.

So, what about Kakyou? Couldn’t he have changed her ‘fate’?

If changing your ‘fate’, your ‘path’, is difficult, as it requires breaking stuffs that tie you to a certain path and to use your will to pursue a different one, acting differently from what you’ve been doing till now, I figure changing someone else’s fate is even more difficult. You can affect it, of course, Hokuto wouldn’t have done what she did hadn’t Seishiro done that to Subaru and hadn’t Subaru reacted in such way, but it’s not so easy to change it at your will. But what probably matters the most is that Kakyou took the wrong path to try and change Hokuto’s fate.

There are two ways to affect a path: one is to toss yourself in the middle of said path, hoping you’ll be a stone big enough to alter significantly the course of that flowing river that’s the path a being is following, the other is to try and influence the will of a person, in short persuading this person it’s okay for him/her to let your words and actions bind her so that he/she will let them pull him/her toward another direction.

In his emotional turmoil and fear for Hokuto’s safety Kakyou chose to try and toss himself in the middle of Hokuto’s path, forgetting the weight of his own ties and trying to break through them without the slightest trace of a plan. It’s not he didn’t save Hokuto because fate didn’t allow it, he didn’t save Hokuto because, simply put, it was impossible for him to escape and reach her in time (the anime will try and make him a little smarter, so that he’ll think to a better escape route and will get closer to his target though I think the anime ended up being unrealistic, but that’s a talk for another time). Kakyou didn’t manage to affect Hokuto physically (by moving her out of the way of Seishiro’s blow or by dragging her away from where Seishiro was) nor, and that’s probably even more important, to change her will.

In the end Kakyou won’t manage to interfere with Hokuto’s fate because simply he won’t manage to affect it. He won’t be present when needed. He could have as well gone within. We can appreciate his effort, and we do as he tried his best… but that’s all there’s to it, sadly. He failed not due to fate but due to his own circumstances. He likely changed his own fate a tiny bit though, as if he hadn’t tried escaping he wouldn’t have ended up in a coma and then moved in a hospital, but probably that’s of no consolation to him. It wasn’t his fate what he wanted to change with his actions, at least not in that way.

And this bring us back to Daisuke’s death. According to Kakyou, Hinoto foreordained Saiki’s death and she said she wanted to prevent it though but, unless she foreordained it few minutes before it happened, she could have prevented it by not letting him go there, for example, or by summoning him back before he met ‘KAMUI’. In the end, unless her time was really too limited to do something, it’s not that Hinoto couldn’t save Saiki, it’s that she took the wrong actions to save him. Going back to ‘KAMUI’ and how he acts in order to fulfil the wish of the person he’s facing, maybe she could have saved Daisuke merely by lying to him and telling his she was in danger and he was the only one who could save her. Daisuke would have wished to live merely to go back and save her (possibly dying in the process) and ‘KAMUI’ would have probably let him go. It’s tragic to think how easily Daisuke’s destiny might have been changed… though there are also Hinoto’s ties to consider, meaning her darker self. With Daisuke’s death Hinoto’s soul becomes weaker. It’s possible that the path to Daisuke’s death had been planned by Hinoto’s darker self who somehow managed to stop Hinoto from making the right moves to save him in order to destroy her further so she could take more control. Still, this won’t make Daisuke’s death foreordained, merely ‘set up’. And considering how many things Hinoto’s darker self set up I wouldn’t be surprised if this one was also part of her grand scheme.

And now we go to another ‘foreordained’ case, Kotori. Kotori is actually foreordained more than 1 future. The first 2 that come to people’s mind are the one in which she’s being killed by Kamui and the one in which she’s killed by ‘KAMUI’. Not a big difference you might think but… there’s more. In Vol 6 we see Kotori (and Hinoto) dreaming again about her future. We see two Kotori, one gets killed, the other merely fall but, as she realizes with her fall she would cause the destruction of Earth, she decides she prefers to be the one to be destroyed in place of Earth. In short Kotori is given a decision: to die or to escape death at the price of Earth. Yes, it’s still not a wonderful decision as it’s hard she’ll survive if earth is destroyed but nobody said that you can have endless choices. More often than not crossroads doesn’t present you with endless possibilities and there are plenty of factors that, by that moment, tie Kotori’s life to unpleasant decisions. She’s friend with Kamui and sister of ‘KAMUI’, fundamental for the both of them who’re about to be involved in a battle for the future of the Earth. We know she’s about to see things that will be so traumatic for her she’ll turn insane (in the manga, in the anime she’ll go into some sort of coma) and this will happen not in a far future but just in a short time, maybe in less than a hour. Maybe at this point there can’t be much of a choice for her. It’s simply too late. Maybe there never was one, as a choice that allowed Kotori to survive could have had drastic repercussions on the world’s fate and if the world get destroyed then what would be of Kotori? Yet, even Kotori is given a choice, although small, and her fate will be tied to her decision about it. Again, not one fate set in stone just people’s will.

And what can we say about Kamui? It’s made clear right from the beginning he has two futures. At first it doesn’t seem much, it seems he can only chose on which side he should stay as fate seems to have already decided the winner because ‘KAMUI’ will insist there’s only one future but we know that Kotori insists there are 2. And we know that if Kamui were to become aware of his own wish, he could chose another future. Kakyou knows, Hinoto knows, ‘KAMUI’ knows, Subaru knows, hell, by now even Kamui knows.

So why everyone insists there’s only one future?

Not because there’s one but because nearly no one believes Kamui will manage to realize his own wish (which he apparently subconsciously decided he didn’t want to see) and change the future. So basically Kamui has the possibility to change the future but subconsciously, so far, he decided not to and, as long as that’s his will, nothing can change. Again, what’s set in stone is what he, so far, is wishing. What is hitsuzen is the consequence of the causalities that are being created by his actions. And the actions of the people around him and to which he’s tied.