[Anime News Network] “Vivy: a Robot Ode to Life Vividly Lived”

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Non-management: I love me a good story about existentialism, and Vivy is one of the better written ones in anime. Most people don’t usually think about why they exist now and why things somehow are amidst the business and busyness of everyday life, but every now and then (maybe at least occasionally), most of us hit a roadside pothole, a rough emotional spell. Something horrible or disappointing happened. It throws us off our tracks, out of our normal routines. Depressed and dazed, we ask ourselves “why it had to come to this? Why did these bad things happen?” And in general, “Why do bad things happen? Why do they continue to happen?” If the answer turns out to be no good reason, then is existence worth continuing to living out, enduring, and appreciating? As an AI intelligent sci-fi robot, Vivy is naturally predisposed to inquiring about her existence directly and sooner.

After twelve episodes and a hundred years of searching and struggle, Vivy’s personal answer to her life is an affirmative “Yes.”  And she gives it through song.

But man was it a pain to figure out exactly what kind of conclusion Vivy: Flourite Eye’s Song ultimately wanted to go for, story and thematics-wise. That’s not a slight to the show. It’s very well written. It balances its contemplative moments with its thrilling ones super well, but the plot-centric nature of the story necessary to facilitate those thrills also strung me along with what exact point Vivy wanted to make with its existentialism. That’s not an uncommon feature of many existentialist stories though. They’re full of characters meandering and bumbling around on their journeys towards self-discovery. I tried to capture that feeling of initial uncertainty and well-worn soles in my article, taking my readers on a journey of Vivy’s journey towards self-truth. I unfortunately had to omit mentioning some parts of it because the article was getting too long (it’s still my longest ANN article yet), but I hope people still enjoy and get something out of it.

Anyway, I’d like to give a big thanks to ANN’s Lynzee Loveridge for commissioning my article. Below is a summary short of the article. If you’re interested in reading further, click the link embedded in the title or at the end of the article sample:

Vivy: a Robot Ode to Life Vividly Lived

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Science fiction boasts a rich history of making audiences ponder how different people’s lives would be in a future of new technologies. The more profound sci-fi stories don’t only imagine how cool or even convenient it would be if certain technologies existed; they also speculate on how these technologies could shape our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Take robot artificial intelligence (AI), which, for simplicity’s sake, I’ll be referring to as just robots. Wouldn’t it be super convenient if robots did more of our work for us? Couldn’t it be dangerous to rely too heavily on robots? Questions such as these, which concern the role of robots in humanity’s future, are a staple of the sci-fi genre. The answers arrived at vary: some stories paint post-labor and post-scarcity worlds built around robots; others warn about robots not only replacing our work, but humans altogether.

However, Vivy -Fluorite Eye’s Song- is a prime example of how not all robot sci-fi is about the horror-tinged extent to which robots would and should replace us. Sure, the show does touch on those Terminator concerns, but in lieu of how alienatingly mismatched robots are to humans, Vivy is, through a life and a song, a different tale of a journey of robots becoming more human, and what these journeys of robots communicate about humanity… READ MORE