Having only covered this series a few times before in two posts that I now look back on with scorn and just a touch of regret, there likely wasn’t going to be another time that I’d cover something Moeka-centric. But then this episode happened, and Okabe abusing Moeka verbally for relying on a complete stranger for emotional and physical sustenance, revealed to be manipulation for the sake of enlisting Moeka in illicit activities. No matter your view, or how confused you are at the bystander’s dismissive reaction, I think it can be generally agreed that this is one compelling, entirely fucked up episode from start to finish. And I’m going to cover it.
Apologies in advance for the graininess of these screens, most of the scenes that are important to this post took place in Moeka’s dark apartment.
Let’s take a look at which one’s the worse of the two, which one is crazier and more dependent on their delusions to cope with their cruel circumstances. To start with, both Moeka and Okabe are sympathetic characters with a loose grasp on reality. While Moeka is shy and quiet with little self esteem due to not knowing how to deal with people, Okabe is boisterous and self confident… due to not knowing how to deal with people. The two have their total social awkwardness and mental imbalance manifest in entirely different ways.
While Okabe has trouble dealing with people but can still manage with his close-knit group of friends, Moeka’s crippled by her antisocial behavior. Because she’s unable to outstretch her hand to start communications with people, she’s entirely reliant on them being able to do so with her. Because people of such a passive nature are mostly ignored, this rarely happens, so her receiving seemingly unconditional love and acceptance from a total stranger baffles her, yet makes her feel validated. She becomes completely dependent on FB for her happiness, to a very unhealthy degree. It’s for this reason that she refuses to part with her phone, and refuses to believe Okabe’s insistence that this FB person is only controlling Moeka for his/her own gain despite the overwhelming evidence pointing toward such a claim.
And finally, when she’s beaten and battered enough both physically and verbally, she accepts that FB doesn’t care about her. Except rather than moving on, she just attaches to Okabe as her means of emotional stability. When broken down to her basest self, she can’t do anything but resign herself to the cycle of abuse. She’s a wrecked individual with almost no willpower of her own, and it’s no wonder that she’s ended up suicidal, destined to die at her own hand.
Okabe, meanwhile, is fully aware of the weight of his actions. He makes it a point to deliberately instill in Moeka that her dependence on FB for her emotional wellbeing is unhealthy and overall pointless, FB abandoning her once her use was fulfilled. Despite this constant stream of verbal abuse that brings Moeka to tears, there’s no ill will in Okabe’s words. He’s a man who’s traveled into the past several times, seen his most cherished friend die again and again, and cost several people their ideal futures just so he could have his. It’s easy to imagine how hard this is on Okabe, and how easy it’d be for him to snap.
Despite not having it out for Moeka, and eventually feeling pity for her toward the end, Okabe is still driven by desperation to hurt her. He wants the world to revert to how it was, so he can obtain the IBN and save Mayuri. So far, his efforts haven’t shown many results, and Mayuri’s death looms ever closer with each time leap. His awareness of this fact causes him to take the least rational course of action, physically assaulting Moeka and holding her down until she loses the will to struggle. The allusions to rape aren’t all that farfetched, even if Okabe’s intention isn’t ultimately to break her down. He succeeds as a side effect of his actions, going through any lengths to revert Moeka’s D-Mail.
After this, Okabe doesn’t see himself as doing anything wrong. He offhandedly apologizes to Moeka, giving her a remote sense of solace for his otherwise unforgivably harsh actions. It’s hard to argue that Okabe has snapped back to reality after so long. Despite seemingly shedding his delusions of grandeur for one episode and developing his character in the process, he still sees himself as the only one capable of defeating SERN, with an iota of truth in that fantasy.
Finally, by showing Moeka some act of kindness, this gives him access to her secret: A clue to the location of the IBN computer. With her still lying crumpled on the floor, defeated, he leaves, discarding her like the trash that he said FB thought of her as.
Ultimately, they both have quite a few screws loose. They’re entirely different screws, and have been loosened by entirely different circumstances, and it’s not difficult to surmise which one’s worse. It’s similar to the dynamic between Shinji and Gendo in Evangelion; the meek, antisocial person with little sense of self worth is smacked around verbally and physically by a manipulative figure with a self-centered quest.
The idea that the latter would have a large influence on the former’s problems after a certain point is entirely plausible… so the majority of the crazy between Moeka and Okabe will have to be apportioned to Okabe. Though he has (what he perceives to be, at least) noble intentions, his actions do not reflect those well in this episode, and instead show a warped, jaded mind wracked by desperation. He’s willing to do any manner of hurtful things to accomplish his goal, short of killing, and that’s become painfully obvious.
Now that this bummer of a post is finished, I think I’m going to have some ice cream to cheer myself up a bit.