Genron 8

Table of Contents

The Age of Games

In Search of a 21st-Century Las Meninas Hiroki Azuma

The Age of Games
[Discussion]From Media Mix to Pachinko: The Rise and Fall of Japanese Games, 1991-2018
Akito Inoue + Yohei Kurose + Sayawaka + Hiroki Azuma
Metagamic Realism: Digital Games as a Platform for Criticism Hiroshi Yoshida
Origins of Contemporary Art: Genealogy of Dual-Layered Vision Yohei Kurose
The Principle of the Button and the Ethics of Games Sayawaka
How are Games Social Problems? Akito Inoue
[Interview]JRPG as an Apparatus of Experience Katsura Hashino
[Interview]Games are Seeking Akira Kurosawa Ibai Ameztoy
Visual Novels Outside Japan Randy Au
Gamic Action, Four Moment Alexander R. Galloway
The Age of Games: 10 Keywords #1 Shin Imai

[Interview]Lenin, Gulag, and Postmodernism: A Review of Contemporary Russian Philosophy
Oleg Aronson + Helen Petrovsky

The Question Concerning Technology in China:An Essay in Cosmotechnics Introduction #2 Yuk Hui
Wake Up New #5 Prabda Yoon
On Independent States #7 Kenro Hayamizu

[Columns]

[Novel]The Pigeon Clock of Dischronia│Afternoon 7│ Melon Uminekizawa

English Translations and Abstracts

The Age of Games

translation

In Search of a 21st-Century Las Meninas

Hiroki Azuma

In front of you lies Genron 8. “The Age of Games” is this issue’s feature.

The special features of this journal, in order, are: Criticism in Contemporary Japan; Mourning Spaces; Escape from Postwar Japanese Art; The Ghostly Body; and Russian Contemporary Thought. When compared with such topics, it may seem as though with this issue, we have suddenly gone soft. Whatever the case may be, the theme is games—in particular, video games. This topic is, to be sure, considered more approachable when compared with others, such as thought, art, and criticism. From the perspective of the editors, in fact, we think it would be wonderful if this becomes an occasion for an increase in readership.
However, a grave misunderstanding would occur if someone was to assume that the content of the debates and essays contained in this issue are easy to understand simply because the topic is video games. Quite the contrary: this issue may very well be the “hardest,” the issue that is the most challenging to comprehend thus far.
The reason is that we are not simply looking to trace the rise and fall of computer games as a social phenomenon. Nor do we intend to discuss the appeal of gameplay on the basis of individual experience. Instead, we are interested in exploring the way the emergence of new technology and/or media regulates lived experience and the cognition of those living in the 21st century.
Such an approach is based neither in historical research nor in textual analysis; rather, this approach connects the two elements. I call this approach “the theory of representational culture,” or hyosho bunka ron in Japanese.

Hyosho bunka ron literally means “the theory of representational culture”; however, the phrase is officially translated into English as “Representation and Culture” when rendered, for example, as the name of a major at the University of Tokyo. This is what I specialized in at university, and under this title, I wrote about French philosophy for my master’s degree. It is indeed “Representation and Culture” that is written on my diploma. The doctorate course which goes by the same name was, as an institution, absorbed into a newly formed major a few years later consequent to the chaotic and foolish university reforms of the 1990s. It is for this reason that my doctoral degree was awarded under a different name: “Transcultural Studies,” or choiki bunka kagaku; yet, upon graduating, I would rarely refer to my degree with this title because it has not come to be known outside of a very small circle of academics.
It was in 1987 at the Faculty of Liberal Arts at the University of Tokyo, Komaba, that the title “Representation and Culture” appeared. Thus, the study of representational culture as a discipline has been around for more than 30 years. Yet, no clear definition of this sort of study as an academic discipline has been established despite the existence of an academic association that is centered on it. The university’s website provides something reminiscent of a definition[★1], however, it is not a very useful one. In reality, the theory of representational culture in Japan refers to a sole academic faction that has an expressed interest in relatively new intellectual strands focusing on aesthetics and art, namely, French thought of the second half of the 20th century and the so-called postmodernism of Anglophone countries that such thought influenced. The term functions only as convenient jargon. As an academic discipline, unfortunately, it lacks much substance.
That said, of course, some new idealism was certainly in the air when the title of “Representation and Culture” was proposed. I entered graduate school in the mid-1990s and could still feel the remnants of such dynamism. I learned there that the study of representational culture was an acrobatic hinge meant to connect the dual poles of the humanities, e.g., historical research and textual analysis; evidence and interpretation; and subjectivity and objectivity.

Humans are animals who possess expression. Whether it is in politics or in the arts, humans continue to express things throughout their lives, and representation necessarily accompanies an individual’s expression. Language, sounds, images, and gestures—all means of expression—require technical auxiliary devices (media) to record and transmit them. While representation is a wholly personal media, for expression, it is simultaneously a historical product. As the place changes, so does the language; as the age changes, so does the technology. It follows that if we take representation as an object of analysis, we might be able to overcome those binaries that have long troubled the humanities, namely, the collective and individual; the historical and personal; politics and art; and the objective and subjective. In other words, the two approaches toward a given work might be compatible under the light of representation: one clarifies the work’s productive process with historical research, and the other focuses on its creative potential with a critical eye. Theories of representational culture, as far as I understand them, attempt to make such a bridging happen.
One work that embodies such an ideal, which is regarded as one model of the study of representational culture, is Michel Foucault’s 1966 The Order of Things. In the introduction to the piece, Foucault looks at Diego Velázquez’s famous Las Meninas, vividly depicting the episteme, the structure of ideas and signs, namely, representations that regulate the arts and sciences of 17th-century Europe.
Foucault’s work does not fit into the category of art history because the author does not make clear Velázquez’s “intent” or “reception” using historical evidence. Still, his analysis is also differentiated from art criticism because it does not discuss any creative potential beyond its historical context. What Foucault attempts to do is different than either approach: he tries to bring a new perspective to the entirety of a European mode of thought—more generally, representations—through an analysis of the manner in which the artist’s bizarre techniques of representation in Las Meninas (a painting well known for its peculiar composition) unconsciously and structurally correspond to a worldview shared by his contemporary scholars. Simply put, Foucault is not trying to analyze Velázquez’s consciousness but rather his unconscious. He thought that it was through such an analysis that the additional analysis of an artwork (one kind of representation) connects with that of the discourses (other kinds of representation) provided by contemporary philosophers, economists, and natural scientists. Only through the invention of such trans-representational analysis is Foucault able to obtain a framework by which art and politics can serve as two sides of a single, integrated history of representation, i.e., an episteme. Here, a critical interpretation can be linked to historical research without any contradiction or opposition.
I understood this to be the ideal of the study of representational culture 20 years ago, and I still feel the same way today.
Consequently, I am always in search of a second Las Meninas. I am in search of a singular point, where the act of analyzing a particular work becomes the act of analyzing the age surrounding it as well as the thought and worldview of its contemporaries.
I am not satisfied with simply reading a text or a work and developing an interpretation of it. I am not satisfied unless the interpretation touches upon the unconscious of the age through an analysis of representations. I do not find it convincing, either, if the said analysis of the unconscious is not rendered to or imparted upon existential problems. Any text or work should be analyzed as a symptom of the episteme of a given age. I often refer to myself as a critic or a philosopher; however, on this particular point, I am not purely either one. It is only within the school for the study of representational culture that I can be a philosopher or a critic.
I continuously return to this starting point. On one hand, I am a critic-cum-philosopher who engages with texts as a profession. On the other hand, I am much worldlier and act as a pundit reminiscent of a sociologist or journalist, all the while providing commentary on current affairs and politics of the present day. A division exists there. Sometimes, then, I try to connect the two personas, during which I always return to the problem of representation.
For example, in the final chapter of my 2001 Otaku: Japan’s Database Animals (Doubutsuka suru Postmodern), I propose the concept of “hypervisuality” or “hyperflatness” to theorize the new condition of representation that supports the consumption database. In my 2011 General Will 2.0 (Ippan ishi 2.0), I propose the idea of inventing a new interface architecture that connects big data-based policymaking with political deliberation—a new media modeled on the Japanese video-sharing service Nico Nico Doga—as a condition of the democracy to come. Again, in my 2017 Genron 0: A Philosophy of the Tourist (Genron 0: Kankokyaku no tetsugaku), I focus on the relationship between information technology and society, arguing that “the computer interface which can show the visual images and the linguistic symbols with the same status” could be the basis of “the political plane of the postal multitude who can come and go between the order of the empire and the order of the nation-states.”[★2] None of these attempts have been successful. I have yet to provide a persuasive discussion about a new episteme that will make possible both the new politics to come (a General Will 2.0 that deconstructs the line between friend and foe or A Philosophy of the Tourist) and a new existence to come (the postal/familial multitude or an Otaku-like subject surrounded by imaginary–symbolic interfaces).
Therefore, I decided to address video games in this issue. Through an analysis of games, I want, once again, to attempt an analysis of a new episteme and to think about the condition that makes both our politics and our lives get absorbed into a game-like reality. In other words, within the 25-year history of video games, I intend to see not a history of industry, the development of technology, or the legends of creator-Gods but the transition of our times’ unconscious.
Such an approach is neither a thing of philosophy nor one of sociology. It is a job for the field of the theory of representational culture.
However, the methodology of this discipline has yet to be established; hence, it is a challenge to be understood. Therefore, I wrote earlier that this issue might, in fact, be the most difficult to understand. Still, for the same reason, the ambitious scope of this issue is perhaps the largest and most profound thus far.

The ambition for this issue was born in November of last year (2017) while talking with Yohei Kurose over dinner at a restaurant in Tokyo. I was moved by the passion with which he discussed philosophical aspects of the recent games he had played. I decided then and there that we would run a feature on games.
However, to discover the reason we were discussing games, you would need to go back one month, to the 8th of August, to a roundtable discussion held among Dai Sato, Sayawaka, and me.
Sato is a famous screenwriter with whom I had been acquainted some 10 years ago. Even though it had been long since I had seen him, our discussion was unbelievably stimulating—you can see a video recording of it online[★3] or read an excerpt in Genron 7. I hope you will take a look at one of these resources. At the discussion, I was particularly impressed by the promotional video for Quantic Dream’s Detroit: Become Human that Sato introduced (the game coincidentally will be released just as this issue releases), which renewed my interest in game studies and criticism, from which I had long distanced myself. Even though Sato is not involved with this issue, had our reunion not occurred, this issue certainly would not have been born.
I mentioned that this issue is our most ambitious yet: in terms of volume, as well, it is the largest until now. At more than 200 pages, this issue includes a roundtable discussion tracing the past 25 years of video games; another roundtable discussion examining the same history but viewed from the outside of game studies; an interview with a promising creator and an unorthodox platformer; four essays of game criticism by four different writers; a translation of a world-renowned young philosopher’s piece of game criticism; a report on the circulation of domestically produced novel games overseas; and a large timeline and detailed explication of key concepts in the game industry that we have created to help readers think about video games (the explication of key concepts was so extensive thanks to the writer’s devotion that we have split it into two parts and will print the latter part in the next issue). These are truly diverse and stimulating texts: they blend ideas from the perspectives of history and the present; of researchers and creators; of the domestic and the foreign; and of the inside and outside of game studies. Many publications on the topic of games exist, and recently, great academic interest in the field has developed; even so, I am confident that this issue is of exceptional quality, for it is both diverse and committed to examining the topic from various angles. I would like our readers to use these texts as a starting point from which to think about the unconscious—the episteme—of the age.
In creating the table of contents, I was fortunate enough to receive the help of Kurose, Sayawaka, and Akito Inoue, all whom participated in the discussion in this issue. The variety of texts contained within the issue could not be assembled by one person alone. Formally, no one holds the position of supervisor for this issue. However, you would not be remiss to call each of these three individuals cosupervisors. I would like to express my gratitude at this point.

The theme of this issue is games. However, the goal of the discussion is not the games themselves. What we are striving for here is an analysis of the age through an analysis of games and even more so, a comprehensive understanding of society and the arts of our time, to which these analyses should lead us.
This issue is only the tip of the iceberg of our ambition. The episteme of the “age of games” has only just begun to reveal its veiled figure from within a cloud of dense fog. That is why I know Genron will once again, someday, return to the question of technology and culture within the realm of games and the surrounding culture. And I will once again challenge myself to establish an actual theory of representational culture that is applicable in our century’s world, namely, the possibility of analyzing the episteme of the postmodern age, the question of which I have left unsolved for some 20 years since the publication of my Otaku: Japan’s Database Animals.
Many topics focusing on video games have been excluded from this issue. Earlier, I mentioned that our texts are diverse; however, there are serious limits to such diversity. For example, even when looking only at the table of contents and the content of our discussions, you can see our lack of gender diversity. In addition, we have no essays by engineers, nor do we include the voices of Asian consumers. We have few discussions on virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), or social games. We should discuss games from a much more dizzying variety of perspectives. We have yet to find the Las Meninas of the 21st century. In this respect, this issue is also unfinished.
However, having edited this issue for the past six months, I was amazed to find discussing video games so enjoyable and engaging and discussing issues of representation and images still stimulating and wide-ranging.
The philosophy of today is being absorbed into and dominated by universities and politics. However, we believe that philosophy should exist outside these arenas. No greater joy exists for me than the idea of someone reading this issue and ever so slightly being able to experience the rapture of a philosophy that goes beyond the university or politics.

★1 See the “Association Overview” page at the official website of the Association for Studies of Culture and Representation. URL=https://www.repre.org/association/outline/
★2 Azuma, Hiroki. A Philosophy of the Tourist. Genron, 2017, p. 257.
★3 “Cyberpunk Revival: A Resurrected ‘Jacked-in’ Imagination and its Possibility.” URL=https://vimeo.com/ondemand/genron20170804

abstract

From Media Mix to Pachinko

The Rise and Fall of Japanese Games, 1991–2018

Akito Inoue + Yohei Kurose + Sayawaka + Hiroki Azuma

Games are the focus of Genron 8. In this discussion, conducted in preparation for the issue, game scholar Akito Inoue and critics Yohei Kurose, Sayawaka, and Hiroki Azuma examine the history of games in Japan between 1991 and 2018 from the standpoint of game consumption. Through the discussion, they also attempt to uncover the conditions that created the environment of game consumption in Japan today.
Sayawaka points out that console games became the core of game culture in Japan during the 1990s, and in that context Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) emerged as a genre laden with literary elements. The popularity of the genre was supported by the media mix industry, which was anchored by publishing houses. However, the popularity of JRPGs soon declined, as games focusing on characters, rather than literary narratives, became popular.
As the decline in game sales demonstrate, the 2000s were an era of decline for the Japanese game industry. Kurose argues that one of the reasons behind this lies in the dominance of console games, a trend that has continued since the 1990s, considering the exorbitant amounts spent in developing them. The 2000s also witnessed the development of social games that adopted mobile phones as their platform. Nevertheless, social games did not produce a community of users, thus making it difficult to recount the history of gaming.
The 2010s have been characterized by the expansion of social games and the emergence of augmented reality (AR) games. Inoue argues that both were produced by inspirations different to previous games. For example, social games have incorporated a lottery system called “gacha,” which has amplified their pachinko-like gambling characteristics. Meanwhile, AR games, such as Pokémon GO, are structured in a fashion similar to the infrastructure of communication than to the contents of past games.
This discussion highlights the fact that the stagnation of Japanese games is not due to its contents, but due to its focus on characters and infrastructure. The roundtable closes with Azuma’s suggestion that the concept of games itself must be redefined as the contents of games are thought anew.

abstract

Metagamic Realism

Digital Games as a Platform for Criticism

Hiroshi Yoshida

This article considers the potential of digital games as a platform for criticism by examining metagames. Although there are several types of metagames, this paper mainly focuses on “games about games.”
In addition to a theory of realism, Hiroki Azuma’s book, The Birth of Gamic Realism (Game-teki realism no tanjo, 2007), offers a pioneering observation on metagames. Azuma bridges two genres by using the same method to analyze novels depicting the experience of game players and self-referential digital games.
Gérard Genette refers to transgression into the level of narrative as metalepsis, a concept that is also a significant characteristic of digital game narratives for two reasons. First, playing is fundamentally what Gregory Bateson calls a process of metacommunication, and gameplay always challenges and sometimes breaks rules and frames of the game. Second, players of digital games are necessarily doubled as actors and spectators, being inside and outside the game world at the same time.
As digital game culture entered a self-reflective phase in the 1990s, the use of metalepsis became more critical than ever as a method of producing metagames. Three types of metagames emerged as a result: games that enclose players in a fictional world, games that deprive players of their agency, and games that reintegrate what Alexander R. Galloway calls “nondiegetic machine acts” into a fictional world, that is, gamic actions performed by the machine and not contained in the game world, such as game overs and resets.
Nowadays, because metagames, as self-critical games, are either exceedingly monotonous or quite simple, they yield games that can barely be considered games. Abusive and minimalist games, for example, have blurred the boundaries of the game as a genre and force players to reconsider its definition. “Notgames” are the most radical and self-negating metagames. Through provision of a specific experience that can only be described as “something that is not a game,” notgames awaken the player afresh in this real world pervaded with “gamic realism.”

abstract

Origins of Contemporary Art

Genealogy of Dual-Layered Vision

Yohei Kurose

Marcel Duchamp is referred to as the “father of contemporary art” because he returned art to an act of intentional naming, according to Thierry de Duve. In short, contemporary art is a game of language. However, was the art idealized by Duchamp, who loved chess, really a game of language? Is it not, in fact, something similar to computer games today?
In this essay, Kurose analyzes Duchamp’s oeuvre, from his early works to his posthumous works. His analysis clarifies that Duchamp’s act of creation was not an act of intentional naming as a type of language game; it was rather something similar to a chess game. Duchamp attempted to visualize in his art a “potentially occurring movement” born in the minds of chess players. However, what has made this visualization possible is not Duchamp’s works, but computer games today. In short, Duchamp really became the “father of contemporary art” by understanding art as a computer game.
To prove this hypothesis, Kurose points out a genealogy of “dual-layered vision” that continued from 19th-century optical devices to computer games. In addition, Kurose analyzes several recent high-quality computer games as examples of works that produce a post-Duchamp “two-dimensional vision.”

abstract

The Principle of the Button and the Ethics of Contemporary Games

Sayawaka

It is becoming a cliché to call our reality “similar to a game.” These words are often used especially in relation to negative incidents deficient in ethical viewpoints and, depending on the situation, can become a critique of games in general. However, what is it that people identify as being game-like?
In this article, Sayawaka argues that game-like qualities are seen in the interactivity between the player and the game, which originally could be easily explained using the words “when you press the button, the game responds.” However, in recent games, which are moving online, the necessity of and interest in “pressing buttons” is disappearing because of the homogenization of input devices and the increase in communication among players. Sayawaka suggests that this is the cause of a loss of ethical viewpoints.
Thus, if we desire ethics in games, we should not focus on the morality of the story or the means of monetization. Instead, we should once again become aware of button pressing. As information technology permeates into society, our reality is in fact becoming like a game, and games, through mediums like VR, are seemingly becoming more real. This fact shows that it will become more and more difficult to distinguish between games and reality. Sayawaka argues for the necessity of reconstructing game ethics that draws our attention to the simple act of pushing buttons.

abstract

How are Games Social Problems?

Akito Inoue

In the present day, the blending between social spaces and games is proceeding at full speed. Pokémon GO, which blends games with the space of reality by using augmented reality, is representative of this phenomenon. Moreover, games are expanding this blending to fields such as politics, labor, and education. However, from a historical point of view, the blending of these types of social spaces and games has existed since ancient times. For example, it was the norm for hunters and gatherers in ancient times to blend games into the everyday world. Following that, from medieval to modern and then to contemporary times, a separation was recognized between our everyday world and the time and space of games through the development of the concept of diligence. Due to this separation, games were polarized into either being societally unnecessary or alternatively affirmed as quite necessary. This polarization caused games to acquire an unstable position in society.
In this context, whenever contemporary intellectuals in the humanities speak of games as a positive for society, a typical pattern occurs. They divide the experience of games into the
adaptive aspects or the deviant aspects of the rules of the game. In other words, getting lost in the game or messing with the game. They argue for the importance of the deviant and free aspects of the game. This emphasis on deviation and freedom is connected to a criticism of diligent labor and education by rote learning, among other things. In the first place, this thought process cannot entirely account for the phenomenon of games. The experience of playing games is really a process that cycles alternatively between a deviant and free experience, and an adaptive attitude towards a situation. Deviance and adaptation are complementary, and one should not be discussed without the other.
In the contemporary moment where games and reality are blending, it is impossible to think about society while ignoring games. In this society, it is now meaningless to critique and evaluate game-like phenomena from a moral standpoint of “good or evil.” In order to grasp the core of the problem that games in contemporary society present, the viewpoint of game designers themselves is required as well as the opinions of the game players.

abstract

JRPG as an Apparatus of Experience

Katsura Hashino (interviewed by Sayawaka and Hiroki Azuma)

As “free-to-play” game apps have expanded globally, Persona 5 which was released by Atlas in 2016 became a worldwide hit, despite being a consumer game. Furthermore, Persona 5 has inherited the game-style of “JRPGs,” which are unique to Japan. In this interview, critics Sayawaka and Hiroki Azuma speak with game creator Katsura Hashino, a leading figure in JRPGs, about his works and the status of JRPGs as a whole.
The interview begins with an analysis of Hashino’s works. Sayawaka asks why Hashino’s RPGs such as Persona 5 deal with social and political issues of the real world. Hashino reasons that these elements are necessary to build a narrative in which protagonists of the games can experience growth. Additionally, he argues that JRPGs should ideally function as an “apparatus of experience” in which players can also experience growth by way of learning things through the game.
Azuma later asks Hashino why he chose games as a narrative medium. In reply, Hashino references the fact that players are asked to make important narrative decisions as an element unique to games, which is lacking in films and novels.
In closing the interview, Hashino discusses his views on the future of JRPGs. He believes that JRPGs will succeed if they can distinguish themselves through unique content.

abstract

Games are Seeking Akira Kurosawa

Ibai Ameztoy (interviewed by Yohei Kurose)

In this interview, Ibai Ameztoy, the CEO of the Japanese game company Active Gaming Media, analyzes his own career, the gaming industry today, and the future of gaming in Japan.
In recounting the events between his arrival in Japan and the founding of his company, Ibai discusses how he developed an interest in Japan through manga and anime, and how after visiting Japan, he decided to move here. Ibai initially worked at a Japanese game company and founded his own company in 2008.
Ibai then offers his thoughts on the contemporary status of the gaming industry. Two issues have recently come to define the Japanese gaming industry: the focus on characters rather than the structure of the game, and the production of hits as the most important goal. As a result, similar games have flooded the market, which now suffers from a lack of variety. In contrast, a range of high quality games are being produced in the United States and Eastern Europe because the United States enjoys an established environment for freely creating games, and the number of talented developers is increasing in Eastern Europe.
As part of closing the interview, Ibai argues that two important variables are necessary for the development of the gaming industry in Japan. First, young developers must be mentored through the transmission of experiences and techniques associated with game development. Second, Japanese culture must diversify more by accepting people from various nations. Participation by people with diverse backgrounds leads to new ideas. Indeed, Ibai’s company has become renowned both inside and outside of Japan, and the majority of his staff is from foreign countries.

abstract

On Independent States│7│

The United Red Army Incidents: Urban or Rural?

Kenro Hayamizu

Natsuo Kirino’s novel Along the Night Valley is based on interviews with participants of the United Red Army incidents (ignited by a Japanese leftist organization in 1972–1973). It presents the unique idea that some women involved in the incidents had planned to build a “commune for children that they would bear and nurture into revolutionary fighters.”
Due to police crackdowns, the United Red Army gradually shifted its forum of activities from the city to the mountains. The Army’s members began living in unbelievable circumstances, which included pregnant women and women with children participating in firearms training while those who assisted in child-bearing and care were treated unjustly.
Along the Night Valley repeatedly covers themes related to family and childbirth. The novel describes the varied ways in which these women lived with their families after the collapse of the United Red Army; one quarreled with family members after confessing her past, while another completely hid her past from her family.
Takaya Shiomi, a member of the United Red Army, argues that the group collapsed because it turned into a “miniature society” after moving to the mountains. On the other hand, Toshio Fujimoto, the former activist and founder of the Association for Protecting the Earth, believes that activism in cities is insufficient for a successful revolution. Indeed, Fujimoto attempted to build a community based on “food” and “agriculture”; this was an attempt to keep the community alive, which the United Red Army failed to do.
The idea of establishing a “commune of women for raising the next generation of revolutionary soldiers,” as depicted by Kirino, focuses on the survival of the community, which was neglected by the leaders of the United Red Army. In that sense, the United Red Army incidents relate to the theme of “secession and independence” that is repeatedly discussed in this series.

novel

abstract

The Pigeon Clock of Dischronia│Afternoon VII │

Melon Uminekozawa

In 2029, in post-earthquake Japan, people can predict everything about future events with a mysterious quantum computer they use while inhabiting a phantasmal society that is created by augmented reality. In the city of Tokimeguri, a Special Zone for Reconstruction in the Tohoku area, strange dealings and life-or-death fights occur among the elusive and wealthy Tokihori family, who show an unusually strong interest in time, the police, and an artificial intelligence that creeps in the shadows—each for its own reason. On the night of the summer festival, the protagonist, Torihiko Shiratori, meets Yuyuka, daughter of the Tokihori family, resulting in Torihiko being dragged into the conflict.

The body of Ikuno Shinomiya, who died in the line of duty chasing after Yuyuka, lies in an operating room. But when a tank on the operating table opens, she stands and begins to move.
Shinomiya is a living corpse, created by the latest advancements in technology. This is already her fifth revival, and her memories have been reset each time. Only this time, she comes back to life with her memories intact.
Ikuno is reunited with her colleague, Police Superintendent Shogo Kiritani, and the two discuss what it means for a human to maintain his or her sense of self-identity. As this happens, Shokeiko Yamada, an android that assists in police investigations, appears and causes them to discuss whether free will exists in AI-managed humans.
Kiritani puts a stop to the heated discussion, proposing that they share information on the spy they are seeking who is hiding inside the police organization. They reveal that each of them have acquired information on this spy via different routes, and decide to write out the spy’s name for comparison. However, they find that they have written down three different names…