“According to urban legends, after they die, cyberpets go live somewhere else.”
–Dennou Coil, Episode 26
Above all else, Dennou Coil is a series that tackles the emotional stew accompanying any sort of loss. The story of Yuuko Okonogi (Yasako) begins with the loss of her grandfather and ends following the loss of her beloved pet, Densuke. Throughout, the series carries a melancholy undercurrent regarding the formation of relationships and the inevitable parting of ways. There’s also the obvious theme of how much is “real” of Yasako’s relationships, particularly with her cyberpet, Densuke, who doesn’t actually exist in the real world.
Ultimately, the series paints their relationship as a standard one between girl and pet, and her final parting with Densuke involves her petting him for the first time – thanks to the series’ magic of its cyberspace. Yasako finally acknowledging that Densuke is actually gone frames Yuuko Amasawa’s own struggle to let go of someone dear to her.
For the remainder of this post, I’m simply going to tell a story about my dog, Piper.
As I’ve written previously, I fall ill fairly frequently and pneumonia is one of those things that inevitably happens at least once a year. One year it was significantly worse than previous years, to the point where I had a high fever and was unable to do much of anything. At this time, I had owned Piper for less than a year. She was a Basenji and Shiba Inu mix who was also a ball of nerves and neuroticism having been abandoned prior to my adoption of her. Piper cleaned herself like a cat, refused to go to the bathroom in the rain, and avoided all bodies of water from the lake to a puddle on the sidewalk. She had a strict schedule, as recommended to me by the adoption center, so as soon as I missed our morning walk, she knew that something was wrong.
I was too weak to get out of bed, never mind attend class, go to work, or take the dog out, so I had accepted the fact that she would probably have an accident in the apartment and resigned myself to clean it up when I felt moderately better. The problem was that Piper kept trying to climb into bed with me, in spite of knowing that she wasn’t allowed on furniture. She whined until I acquiesced because I didn’t have the energy to deal with her. I don’t know how many hours I laid in bed – my memories of this day are understandably fractured – but Piper was there by my side throughout. She didn’t have an accident. She didn’t whine for food or water. She didn’t move until I moved, many hours later.
Thanks, Piper, wherever you are.