Grow Up Children, Don’t You Suffer

You can change the side of the road that you walk down every day.
Even if the road is the same, you can see new things.
Isn’t that enough to live for?
Or does that mean that it isn’t enough?

– Kannam, one of the kildren

From the makers of ‘Ghost in the Shell’ comes a meditatively paced anime called ‘The Sky Crawlers’. In an alternative world, giant corporations who manufacture weapons pit their fighter jets and pilots against one another for profits. There is no mention of governments in the story, which eerily suggests that governments have become corporations who fight for gain. Peace becomes but a by-product of sickly efficient and brutal war games. Which is worse – to make war a game or to see war as a game?

No one really knows which pilot is a ‘kildren’ (children who kill?) – genetically engineered pilots, who are really human ‘weapons’, killing ‘machines’ who are cloned versions of their ace pilot predecessors. Even the kildren themselves do not know that they are kildren, much like us who have forgotten our past lives. Despite having deja vu of familiar people and places, some are dispassionate about their hazy past, while there are those mindful of the haziness of the past and future as a problem, thus experiencing existential angst.

In a way, the mindless kildren represents those of us who are immature, who refuse to grow up, who are thus at spiritual standstills – being nothing more than perpetual rebirths of our predecessors. One of them remarks that since they might die tomorrow (in their war games), there’s no need to grow up. Then again, doesn’t that make it more urgent to grow up? And what if they do not die tomorrow? Are we not kildren too, who have vague memories of our past? No longer children, we might age physically, but do we grow spiritually?

One of the kildren felt that people need wars to feel alive and appreciate the contrasting peace – just as the pilots fight to feel alive most… on the brink of death. But doesn’t this make peace but a relative quality, with a bloody price tag? Such peace cannot be true peace. True peace is not conditoned by violence; it must radiate outwards from within. The adults who wage war and engineer weapons are really childish children too, who repeat history and refuse to learn from it.

The same kildren has a deathwish – due to the exasperation of seeing loved ones die and reborn repeatedly, sending her emotions through pointless cyclic highs and lows, because they do not remember their attachment to her, while she remembers hers. However, realises she has to live on, until a way is found to change the cycle they are stuck in. Indeed, suicide is never the solution for any problem in life, for we will likely to be karmically reborn into similar situations till we realise how to have a genuine breakthrough – while alive – now.

Grow up children, don’t you suffer
At the hands of one another.

– Vanishing Point (New Order)