‘Dilemma? I mean isn’t it obvious?’ or that’s what I thought for a very long time. Whenever a scene in a Sci-fi TV show or movie would pop up where there was a scenario to bring back the dead, it was an instant reaction of, “Of course, NOT!”. I was very clear about this up until very recently when I fell into this dilemma while watching Naruto.
I started Naruto a couple of weeks ago. (Yes! This is my first time watching it, since I am what I’d like to call a “NeWeeb” (New+Weeb). Also, of course I am binging it and have already reached “Shippuden” because there is no other acceptable way to watch Naruto)
Episode 89 of Naruto – An Impossible Choice: The pain within Tsunade’s Heart, is what initiated the dilemma. Previously, Orochimaru (the immortality seeking creepy snake guy) asks Lady Tsunade to heal his hands since they were ‘sealed’ by Sarutobi Hiruzen using the Shiki Fūjin or the Dead Demon Consuming Seal. In short, his arms are paralyzed, leaving him in extreme agony and unable to perform any ninjutsu. Knowing the evil that he is Lady Tsunade obviously refuses. Duh! But Orochimaru makes an offer she cannot refuse. Should Tsunade heal his hands, he offered that in return he would bring back two of her loved ones back from the dead.
Now for us, or most of us probably, it is an obvious choice. We’ve seen enough Sci-fi, horror, fantasy, zombie movies to know that. “Nah! You obviously shouldn’t accept it, Obasan! I mean (A) He’s clearly up to something – he says it himself that he wants to destroy the Leaf village, and (B) You don’t bring people back from the dead! It’s like the basics of all life! Sci-fi Don’t dos: 101’. As Dean Winchester in Supernatural says, “What’s dead should stay dead!”. And I agree. I mean who wouldn’t with that handsome face of his?
Hence, because of all this I never understood why the characters would always be so conflicted about this choice. I could never relate to it. It was always black and white to me. That is, until this episode…
Not that this episode in particular had a quote or moment where I felt conflicted, it’s just that this episode happened to be at a point in my life where I am okay with questioning pretty much everything I know. And so far, I’ve been loving it. So, when Lady Tsunade, who is smart and badass enough to be the Fifth Hokage feels conflicted – I thought maybe I need to pause for a bit and consider what might be going on in her head. You know, walk a mile in their shoes, (though the footwear in Naruto seems awfully uncomfortable, I mean have you seen Jiraiya’s footwear? How does anyone manage to do anything in Geta sandals??) Anyway, with the random chaos my brain went through trying to figure this out, I decided to take it one point at a time.
- The loved ones.
For Lady Tsunade it was her younger brother and a person she loved. In a lot of other shows, it is probably a kid, a lover, parent (I am looking at you, FullMetal Alchemist) etc.– I care for my family and always hope that they will be happy and healthy. But we know that death is a part of life and is inevitable so might as well accept it, right? Well, it is easier said than done. I have lost people close to me before and the pain is gut wrenching. It was devastating. But after long periods of processing and going through the five stages of grief we tend to reach a point of realizing ‘It is what it is’. They probably say that ‘Death is the only absolute truth’ for a reason. It is something every living thing has to go through.
But now, since I have decided to consider Lady Tsunade’s conflict, I thought, “Okay, let’s dive a bit deeper. Is there anyone in my life if I suddenly lost I might not recover the way I think I would?” It didn’t take me a second before my Best Friend, Dee, popped in my head. Just thinking about it makes my heart and head hurt. But let’s power through for the sake of this concept. Considering, if it was a natural death, of old age or something, I guess, after a long, long, loooooong period of grief, I would probably be able to accept it. But what if it was otherwise? As Dee says, “She’d start collecting the Dragon balls.”
2) The “Reel World”
What if we were in the fictional world? You know, or a parallel world where they do not have the goldmine of good TV and entertainment like we do on Earth? (another reason to be kind to our planet Earth and the environment on it. Other planets do not have animes. It would be totally mendokusai to live on Mars and live a weebless life.)
Since they don’t have Sci-fi movies there, they don’t know what we know. While, it is easier for us to be like, “How are you even considering that? You know the guy offering you your loved one is evil, and the dead should stay dead!”, but they are not enlightened like we are.
But what if we were in that world? We wouldn’t have these shows to ‘guide’ us. We wouldn’t know or have any idea of the repercussions of bringing the dead back to life. For us, at that moment the possibility of seeing our loved one again is just that – ‘A Possibility’. A possibility of having the life we wanted with them. And that’s probably all that we need to consider that choice.
3) Real world Evolution?
At this point, applying the scenario to our world, “The possibility of bringing the dead back”. Could it happen? What if it’s actually possible and maybe science just has not reached there yet. Some anti-revivers might argue, “But Neeno, it just is not natural, you will be defying the laws of Nature.” And I agree. I thought of this too. But we still use medicines, vaccines, defibrillators, do surgeries, use prosthetics, fillers, treatments, and all the other wonderful things science has to offer to survive, evolve and do better. I am “Team Science” all the way. I would follow Senku Ishigami to the ends of the world, I mean literally I’d have to if I were in Dr. Stone. So, I couldn’t shake this thought that maybe it was possible. Maybe bringing the dead back could be a part of our science we just haven’t figured out yet. It is a scary thought though.
4) The afterlife unknown
This point is probably why one’s love for Sci-fi is a blessing and a curse. We considered the possibility of resurrection as a part of the evolution of science. But you know we got to cover all the possibilities we can. What if the afterlife is where it’s at? By bringing the people back you are denying their right to move on. There is a very interesting scene in the revived series of Doctor Who Season 8. I had watched this Episode (Episode 11 “Dark Water” – it was aptly named for the darkness) when it came out in November 2014; but I still remember the feeling like I saw it yesterday. The episode as a whole had me at the edge of my seat, but there is this one particular scene or rather one small dialog that takes place.
There is this character Seb who welcomes people into an “Afterlife” of sorts. In one scene he tries to explain what afterlife is to this rather befuddled person who’s dead. He says, “Imagine if babies in wombs could talk to other babies in other wombs. What would they say? What would they think life was like if they could talk amongst themselves? They’d think that life was nine months long. Then, boom, trapdoor opens, out you fall. Gone forever. Never hear from those guys again. Nothing at the end of the cord. OK? This isn’t really an afterlife. It’s just more life than you were expecting.” This part really hit me when I first heard it. I had never thought about life or death that way. This could be a possibility too. Maybe not reincarnation, but just a continuation that we don’t know about. But then again *Naruto spoiler Alert: we were pretty relieved when Gaara was brought back to life by Chiyoba-Sama even though, unfortunately, it was in return of her own life”*
There is also the whole dispute of “what can be used for medicine can also be used for war”. If we can bring ‘good’ people back we can also do the opposite.
5) The said conflict
Do you see my dilemma here? On the one hand bringing people back, maybe not as we imagine, could be a possibility, but we are certain it is the wrong path because of all the Sci-fi data we have in our heads. On the other hand bringing them back to life might actually mean bringing them a life backwards. Keep in mind, all this discussion is considering an untimely or sudden death due to an accident or murder at a younger age, NOT a naturally occurring one due to a disease or old-age. Just to narrow certain factors.
Dealing with the Dilemma:
All that being said, if I’m being completely honest, I am still biased to “What’s dead should remain dead”. But the idea that this conflict occurred in me felt very new. It felt that even, in the real world or the above-mentioned reel world, knowing what I know, I was still conflicted. I could, even if for a small moment, consider Lady Tsunade’s feelings and understand her conflict. This just made me realize that, ‘All I know, is that I know nothing.’(-The Socratic Paradox)
After having this dilemma dive and discussing this with Dee she mentioned, “Maybe what’s past should stay in the past”. I liked hearing that. It was simple. Somehow, I was ok with that. Yes, evolution is moving forward and yes, science is for advances and all that but there are times when moving ‘forward’ and moving ‘on’ may not always be on the same track. Maybe for now that’s what we need to know.
Here’s hoping we embrace our present moments to max! 🙂
P.S.: Do let me know your thoughts about resurrection? It could be in either the real or reel world. 🙂
Disclaimer: All thoughts and concepts are fictional and or hypothetical and any resemblance to real persons, dead or alive, or other real-life entities, past or present, is purely coincidental. 😉