There are some experienced people out there who can write about shows like [C] on a weekly basis. I am not one of them, at least not for a long while. As much as I’m loving it at the moment, it’s a show that really takes a while to completely sink in. It’s a show that I feel is better talked about in complete retrospect, rather than in fragmented weekly episodes. Nevertheless, here is a tremendously late post encompassing the first half of Kenji Nakamura’s [C] Control: The Money of Soul and Possibility.
The series is just about at its half way point. The story has so far been following Kimimaro, an average student who is suddenly plunged into the world of the financial district, a world with its own set of rules and morals. In the financial district, Entrepreneurs and Assets engage in deals using Midas money as currency. While I’m no economics expert, the financial district is tantamount to free market capitalism. Deals between Entrepreneurs can be viewed, in a way, as business advertising. By “going public” and allowing investors to buy stock, the two opponents are basically competing with one another as if two competing firms in real life would.
Of course, these “battles” highly stylized with flashy attacks and special abilities. In episode 4, we see the physical manifestation of Pacman Defense, Poison Pill, Freezout, and Employee Buyout. In episode 5, we see such tactics as Insider and Trojan Horse. Apparently, all of these names are legitimate tactics coined in real world economics. Of course, the main character has to have plot armor (and plot weapons) so he gets Scorched Earth. What is Scorched Earth? Basically “Charizard use flamethrower” and proceed to win.
As with a lot of shows, the notion of sacrifice/risk/reward/equivalent-exchange, whatever the hell you want to call it, is ever present. Entrepreneurs can invest in his or her asset through flations of varying power. The greater the Entrepreneur is willing to risk, the greater potential for reward. One wins a deal by either attaining a higher profit margin by the end of the time limit, or by making the opponent go bankrupt. Midas money attained from these deals manifest themselves in the real world as “dark money,” or at least that’s what I refer to it as. The show has yet to reveal much regarding this dark money, other than it is unapparent to non participants. Personally, I think dark money originating from an Entrepreneur disappears (or is returned to the Midas bank) when said Entrepreneur goes bankrupt. In the same way a real bank may foreclose on your house, the Midas bank forecloses on your life.
The collateral needed to participate in the financial district is the participants “future.” This of course, eventually leads up to the big reveal in episode 4. One’s future is implied to be everything that came about as a result of funds attained from the financial district. At first, I immediately thought of it as simply taking away the dark money from the real world so that anything you would have gained via dark money would suddenly disappear. This may not be the case, as that would make Kimimaro’s solution that much easier right? From the get-go, he wants out of the financial district. All he has to do is not use any of his dark money, go bankrupt, all the dark money disappears, and he continues with his life. Sure he may have used a little bit of it at the start when he accidentally withdrew some funds, but it still a small sacrifice for a fast solution.
However, things probably aren’t as simple as that due to the presence of the ambiguous word “future.” Also, the collateral says specifically “your” future. Does this mean the dark money will not affect anyone else who comes in contact with it? Does this essentially mean that black money stays within the real world, and that only your gains are deleted? If so, where does that money go? Back into the system? In a zero-sum system, money lost is always gained by someone else, and vice verca, hence the name (ideally of course, I know that’s not how it exactly works in real life). There’s also the Assets themselves, which until now, have not really been thoroughly explored. They appear to simply be summoned familiars that serve little purpose besides obeying their masters. However, by the end of the show, I believe these Assets will become much more prominent, perhaps even adding another dimension to this struggle that is still yet to present itself.
This of course brings us to the guild, first seen in episodes 3-5. These people are basically damage control. They keep the effects of the financial district on the real world to a minimum by tactfully winning only by slight margins. However, their influence seems to extend further than that as Mikuni is a wealthy businessman in real life, even buying out a rival business in debt to neutralize the effects of the Midas money. So what exactly does “control” mean? It’s quite obvious that the guild intends to “control” the financial district, something which is quite shockingly portrayed as more of as in a state of anarchy rather than the stable “invisible hand” system we all learn about in high school economics. Right now, it seems the ultimate struggle in [C] is how to achieve this level of control and as far as I see it, there are several different ways.
Someone like Mikuni could strive to become the richest Entrepreneur ever, thus creating a monopoly of sorts. A price setter that would literally CONTROL the financial district via buying power alone. In the very first episode alludes to this slightly when during the show’s opening deal. The beginner says “I need money.” Mikuni promptly responds “So do I.” Anyone he challenges would be forced to lose since if Mikuni loses, the world would fall into global depression. Currency values would drop, and even the most striving of opponents wouldn’t go that far.
Also, what does the term “possibility” fit in all this? Does the title imply somehow controlling possibility itself? A lot of economic themes are present in this show already, and I wouldn’t be surprised if sometime later they decide to delve into the psychological aspects as well. If my wild guesses turn out to be true, and that dark money remains within the real world, that opens up the possibility of mass cohesion amongst the participants of the financial district in an effort to have everyone essentially “win” a little, and usurping the zero sum system. I would love to see them explore the intricacies of multiple decision theory as a means of “controlling possibility.” The show still has more than half of its episodes left to go. Only time will tell.
On the surface, [C] is a flashy, sometimes quirky, shounen fighting series resembling Pokemon of all things. Below the surface, [C] may very well turn out to be a show that explores the intricacies, both positive and negative, of a free market system. Don’t take my word for it though. If there’s one thing I fail at most, it is speculation. To this day, I boast a 99% failure rate when it comes to predicting outcomes of any sort. The 1% is due to me successfully guessing the ending of Diebuster, ironically a GAINAX show, and even then it was merely wishful thinking which just happened to resonate with the nerds over in that studio. However, if there’s one thing you can take away from this post other than baseless speculation, it’s that [C] is definitely a show to be following this season.