The concept of yasashi is disinctly Japanese. Yasashi refers to a state of grace and balance. It suggests gentleness, kindness and concern for others. Basically, Yasashi means "don't rock the boat". In the series of Pocket Monsters films written by Kunihiko Yuyama we are presented with the concept of Yasashi in many forms. Satoshi, the main character demonstartes his yasashi nature when he tries to help the people he encounters, and when he shows his compassion for his pokemon. Kasumi acts in a very un-yasashi way towards Satoshi early in the series, but her kind nature is disocvered when she shows concern for the wounded Pikachuu and becomes an important member of Satoshi's team. Takeshi is purely a yasashi individual, caring for his family, his monsters and his friends before himself. These three main characters demonstrate very different aspects of the same idea, but their interaction is always to preserve the concept of wa through their willingness to put others before themselves.

We ae given two very different, yet very similar characters in the first and third Pocket Monsters films. In the short prequel to Mewtwo strikes Back, we meet Ai, who is the very image of a Yasashi girl. Ai is a clone on the film, but even as a concept she has a long history. Little about Ai's character is original or remarkable. She is bright, cheerful, motherly and self-sacrificing. She does not complain, and she exists only to make those around her content.

The innocent and near-divine child character has long been a staple of anime and manga. Children serve as motivators to adult characters, comic relief and plot devices. Rarely are they characters in their own right. More often, they serve to encourage the other characters to take action. On their, own they have little real imporatance or pull. Ai follows the tradition set by her predesecors in Japanese media.

Ai's character functions on two levels. She is the driving desire behind Dr. Fuji's experimentation and association with Team Rocket. By extention, the Doctor's fixation with restoring her to life is what drives her mother, his wife, away. Ai's key role is in acting as a caretaker. She serves as a guide to the other child characters. In the film version, Ai is portrayed in a brief role as a friend and teacher. Her eventual death inspires almost disproportionate grief in Mewtwo, the title character. However, when we view Ai with all of her mythos, as a key character featured in the Myutsuu no Tanjou Radio Drama, her characterization is attended to with more care. Ai is not merely playmate, but mother, sister and companion. Ai takes on all possible female roles and becomes much more than merely a yasashi girl. She is the yasashi girl. Mewtwo's grief at her death is no longer unjustified. Rather, we wish to see it intensified to the level of Fuji's fury and helplessness.

Ai is uncomplaining in the extreme. She is aware of her scientific origin, at least in part, but never allows this truth to quell her cheerful personality. She expresses a cartain unhappiness with the cycle of death-and-rebirth she is pointlessly subjected to, but wants to comfort her father and so continues uncomplainingly to be his subject, only voicing a tentative "Don't do what's impossibly, Ok?".When given the opporunity to adopt a new role, she does so with enthusiasm, becoming a parent and a companion.

Mewtwo's understanding of his relationship with Ai is much more complicated than hers. Ai sees the clone Pokemon as friends and pets. To Mewtwo, she is his family, his teacher, his guide and his companion. Fuji loses his daughter, his family and his obsession. But even dying, Ai voices concern for Mewtwo's tears, not for her own disintegrating body. She is yasashi to the end, and because of this gentleness, we never examine the depth of her character. There is no need for anything beyond sweetness and sacrifice. Ai's feelings are not examined. Only what she inspires in others has any relevance.

Yasashi is a device which keeps status quo. When Ai dies, balance is lost for Fuji and Mewtwo. Fuji has only his project, something that is now half-hateful, to focus on. His wife, we see, has herself discarded her Yasashi aspect and has left both her husband and the memory of her daughter in order to protect herself from more grief. Mewtwo, stripped of memory, can only try to attempt grapple with his feelings of abandonment, resentment and loss without any way of knowing who and what he is mourning. Fuji becomes a sad and shallow character.. Mewtwo becomes angry and uncontrollable. Without Ai to temper them, neither of these characters are able to return to balanced states.

When someone acts in an un-yasashi manner, the status quo is lost. In the third Pocket Monsters film, Lord of the Unknown Tower, we meet another little girl and her father. Once more, the mother is absent and once more, the child finds her companion in a powerful but misguided Pocket Monster. Unlike Ai, Mii plays no mothering role. Instead, she is a daughter and an instigator. Ai's existence maintaiend balance around her, and so should Mii's, but Mii is unwilling to take on a yasashi role. She is the individual who must be balanced by outside forces. When Mii, who is first Ai's double, begins to act selfishly we see a terrible shift in the lives of all around her.

Mii wants her father's attention first and foremost. She loves him and wants to be with him, especially in the absence of her mother. She is disappointed when he leaves her to go away on a research expedition (Both fathers are scientists researching rare and ancient pokemon). Mii plays in the empty house, imagining her parents and herself in what she feels is perfect order: The child, herself, as the focus and central aspect of their lives. As powerful and mysterious forces become focused on Mii, it is her un-yasashi feelings that give them power. Mii's selfish desire for parents to focus soley on her leads to the creation of Entei, who in turn kidnaps Hanako to be a mother to Mii.

As a child, Mii's worldview is limited to her home and her family. Mii is a motherless child living in an isolated place, in a giant, empty house. The servants employed by her father are distant, referring to her as "the young master", and keeping a professional distance. She resents her father's work partner for taking him away, though he is one of the few who calls her "Mii-chan". Because her absent parents are her world, when she creates surrogate parents to care for her, she also creates a false world which, similarly, orbits around her. Eventually, as all of her desires are granted, everything becomes chaotic around Mii. She wants to be left alone in seclusion with her false world and her fabricated parents. Satoshi, Hanako's son, seeks to restore balance and rescue his mother.. Though headstrong, Satoshi eventually succeeds by appealing to Mii's lost Yasashi nature. Finding balance again is much more difficult than losing it was, but when Mii is able to consider those around her before herself, she has become mature enough to be yasashi. At the film's conclusion, we see Mii's world restored with the return of both of her parents. But Mii has become self-sufficient and she does not demand that their lives revolve around her. In fact, she has become much more like her counterpart, Ai. She takes on a mothering role with her own Pokemon, Teddiursa. Mii's desire to be cared for, however natural, is unyasashi because it puts her before others. But Mii is not hopeless. With a little guidance, she is returned to a state of giving and gentleness, and even rises to the challenge of added responsibility.

The conflict that results from Mii's selfishness is neccesary to the film. There would be no story if Mii were as static as Ai. Ai never has to betray her nature because she is not the center of conflict. Ai is merely a motivator, not a true character. Mii is similarily a motivator for Entei, and, in kidnapping Hanako, for Satoshi (though it may be argued that Hanako herself is not a character, butsimply Satoshi's motivator). However, unlike Ai, who simply fades away, static and unchanged, Mii does grow. Mii becomes a character in her own right when she takes steps first to repel the forces that invade her castle, and then when she attempts to restore wa and reclaim her role as a yasashi girl.

The writer of both films notes that Ai and Mii are similar, both girls with the potential to be loving and selfless. But Mii is focused on her own inner world to the exclusion of those around her, and Ai is concerned with bringing the outside world to her companions. Ai continues to play to the ideal role of a Yasashi girl, dying without complaint, comforting a friend. Mii, on the other hand, loses her yasashi aspect, that which should be core to her character, and the conflict that results creates the story of the film. Even their names were intentional, meant to echo the English words "me" and "I", referring to the opposing natures of the self. This level of meaning is lost in the English-language dub as Mii and Ai become Molly and Amber.


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