Forgiveness is a bridge.
Saying that you forgive someone who has wronged you is only the beginning. Some days, you’ll still feel that anger simmering beneath the surface. Forgiveness isn’t something that can be requested by the party in the wrong. For forgiveness to truly take place, it has to be given freely. Even then, that freeing feeling won’t always be present. Some days, you’ll remember and be angry. Then that anger, hopefully, will pass.
And this is if the wronging party is another person. If it’s you, hurting yourself — through guilt of hurting another, or self-sabotage — that’s another mass of complexes entirely.
Planet With captured me with these words, “I forgive you.”
They appeared as text. Spoken, but unheard, they came from a younger illusion of Hideo Torai as he shattered a dreamscape tailored to lull him into a sense of security. At first it appeared that Hideo had to smash the illusion of his mother, whom he felt he had failed to save. Yet as he pulls back to deliver the final blow, his younger self appears, whispering the words that Hideo desperately wanted to hear.
“I forgive you.”
It was never about the forgiveness of Hideo’s mother. It was always about Hideo forgiving himself for his perceived failure. For losing his mother in a fire.
Planet With is a series about many things. For me, it was about the nature of forgiveness, the smallest facets of self-loathing that can penetrate even the most confident and well-meaning individual. There are myriad things that I still haven’t forgiven myself for doing. Some days, I’m able to live without the guilt. Other days, it feels like a physical weight. Planet With showcases all of the facets of this guilt — the anger, self-loathing, desire for revenge on a related and similarly responsible party — through a half-science-fiction-half-superhero setup that includes interplanetary conflict and a lone survivor of an entire race. At every level, from large-scale robot battles to conversations between people, forgiveness is a thematic thread.
As the last of his kind, Souya Kuroi is angry. He begins the series by seeing things in absolutes. Good. Bad. While others have made up their minds about him due to his race — although his original planet, Sirius, was destroyed, Sirusians were a war-loving people that destroyed other planets — his two guardians aim to show that he is capable of love regardless. One, only called “Sensei” in the series, is a giant cat-like creature of a pacifist group called Nebula. The other, Ginko Kuroi, is the princess of a planet that Souya’s people destroyed.
In the penultimate episode, Souya asks his older stepsister, “Why don’t you hate us?” At this point in time, Souya is much older. He has realized the error of his former thoughts and actions. Even with a broadened perspective and more knowledge, his words carry blame. Souya blames himself. Part of him thinks that it would be easier for him to continue his own self-loathing if Ginko would acquiesce and hate him.
She instead ends the conversation with an invitation to see her planet and these words.
“You’re my little brother and I’m very proud of you.”
Ginko’s forgiveness doesn’t precipitate Souya forgiving himself. You can easily argue that Souya’s guilt over Ginko’s homeland was unwarranted. He was a baby. Yet, everyone can understand how irrational guilt can be. How it can fester and lead to far worse thoughts and actions. Ginko’s actions and love are a bridge.
It’s far too simple to suggest that problems can always be solved with forgiving those who wronged you. Casting that anger aside is difficult. It leaves you feeling vulnerable. Some would argue that it makes you weak, leaving you open to being taken advantage of again. Planet With, and I, disagree with this.
Ginko is by far the strongest individual in this series.