In Defense of Amatasu Gai: "Zero-One" Character Analysis
Hey everyone, been a while, hasn't it? I'm not exactly at 1000% as I would like (bad joke), but based on what I've seen and read in the community about Gai and this story arc, I want to put my two cents into a quick, brief character analysis of Gai, and in short, defend him as a character. Disclaimer (if it's not obvious), this is my own personal opinion and you don't necessarily have to share it. But as a writer, rather than like or hate a decision in a story, I always want to see what exactly their relevance is and why they're a necessary asset to the story. In most of what I've seen opinion-wise, it seems like everyone is kind of missing the point of Gai and what he and ZAIA represent as a whole in this story. So without further ado, let's jump right into the first point on my agenda.
Zero-One's story structure and why it mattersClick thumbnail to view full-size
Aside from Gai, the biggest complaint is the series' 2nd story arc. Episodes 1-16 had Metsuboujinrai.NET, a cyberterrorist organization seeking to unleash a terminator-esque revolution on modern society. To summarize the first 16 episodes in a few words, Aruto being the new president of Hiden Intelligence spent most of this time, trying to promote the image of HumaGears, wanting society to see the potential of them like his late grandfather did prior. Every MOTW (Monster of the Week) was a HumaGear who reached "singularity" or self-awareness, and this allowed the Cyberterrorists of MetsubouJinrai, Horobi, and Jin, to corrupt them, changing the self-aware androids' dreams to fit those reflecting the destruction of humanity. This in turn, as well as subtle influences from A.I.M.S.' Yua, began to influence the anxiety of the public, instilling a fear of when their own HumaGears may turn on them. Aruto by midway through Episode 16 was able to show that the HumaGears were not defective machines but all of this was the work of the terrorists. With the success, Hiden Intelligence's Board decide to put their full trust in Aruto going forward.
But then cue Gai and ZAIA Enterprises.
At the end of Episode 16, two HumaGears lacking ZetsumeRisers (noticable to the audience but not the cast at the time) attack, putting Hiden back into the spotlight. This prompts Gai to insert himself during the emergency press conference and claim to offer Hiden a TOB, allowing ZAIA to absorb Hiden Intelligence within ZAIA and do away with the HumaGears to save what's left of Hiden's reputation. Aruto isn't for any of this, especially because his family's legacy would be retired and with it so will his grandfather's dreams to see that HumaGears bring out the full potential of Humanity. So Gai suggests a contest of sorts. A five-round job competition, between HumaGears designed for the occupation, and Humans who use ZAIA's counter invention, ZAIA Specs. Best 3 out of 5, whoever can perform each task better than the other wins. Simple and straightforward.
As of Episode 28, we're in the middle of the final contest, but from Episode 17 onward, the community has continued to ravage this arc, calling it boring, uneventful and everyone involved to be terrible.
"Gai's a terrible villian who needs to get his butt kicked and I swear if he turns into another kuroto i'm dropping the series!"
"Yua as a character got demoted and I hate that she doesn't do anything!"
"OMG this arc is so BORING! It was better when Horobi and Jin were the villians, I don't care about this stupid contest, when is it going to end?! *rants in the distance*
I'm paraphrasing but you get the point.
I'll explain my opinion on the arc first before I discuss Gai and his direct influences.
From what I can gather from my observations, the community is bored because Zero-One's story is expressed in peaks and valleys, which in my opinion is fine. If I were to be honest, I'm actually the complete opposite. I was somewhat bored with the early episodes of Zero-One because they felt filler-ish (Episode 5, is a prime example with episode 7 being a close second). Obviously it was fleshing out the story and introducing HumaGears in different occupations and showing the attitudes of people in response to that. Isamu Fuwa, if anything drove me up a wall because of his xenophobic mentality that got so jarring until he got his butt handed to him by Horobi in Episode 8 and finally got the start to the major character development he needed.
This arc in particular, is a compliment to the previous one. Arc 1 in a nutshell is a story of a young man who unexpectedly inherits his family's company and strives to uphold the legacy left, by proving to the world that their inventions are necessary to bring about the future. Arc 2 is a continuation of this, but now said inheritor has to face the other side of the coin as a businessman, when a rival company comes along and claims it can do the job better, and that he (the inheritor) is a small fish in a vast ocean. In other words:
- Arc 1 dealt with the threat of Cyberterrorism
- Arc 2 involves pressure from rival companies.
- Arc 1 shows the pros and cons of depending on technology to better ourselves, with said technology finding their place in the world in the process.
- Arc 2 shows there are people who are fearful that we will be replaced by technology eventually, and we must do all we can to secure our own place in the world.
So boring or otherwise, the story is doing its job of conveying these messages. When it comes to storytelling, each part of a story is meant to continue the narrative. It may not always be flashy, it may be too flashy at times. But the important thing, is that the writer has to convey a message in relation to his story. That will always be their priority. Whether or not they do a good job is up to personal opinions. So with that let's take a look at Gai, and see why his character is doing its job as conveying the message in Arc 2.
Amatsu Gai: Presented By ZAIAClick thumbnail to view full-size
Gai is introduced early in Episode 3 as a mysterious shadow figure and becomes more relevant as the story goes forward, making his first full introduction in Episode 10 as the head of ZAIA Enterprises. Gai is a Perfectionist, wanting everything he does and is a part of, to be 1000%. And we see as the story progresses, that he will lie cheat, steal and literally do whatever it takes to get his way. Yua has a deep respect for him, for reasons unknown until Episode 28 when Isamu learns from her that those who use the Shotrisers are implanted with AI-Assisted Chips inside their brains, implying to be the reason for her immense loyalty towards Gai. This is because being the tech advisor for A.I.M.S., ZAIA, in turn, is the manufacturer of their equipment. Gai is also the mastermind behind the Ark and MetsubouJinrai's creation, teaching the AI satellite about humanity's malice and destructive capabilities and said AI, in turn, using the HumaGear androids to eradicate humanity in a twisted sense of justice. All of this so that Gai can push his company to the Apex within the corporate world.
He's not a demigod. He's not an alien conquer. He is a corrupt businessman; He's Obadiah Stane to Aruto's Tony Stark. And it's believable, which is why I like him and this story arc.
Gai's entire existence is to parallel Aurto. Gai is experienced, while Aruto is a novice. Gai knows the business world in and out while Aruto is still clinging onto childish optimism. Gai's purpose as a character is to push Aruto into realizing his optimism isn't going to save him from the harsh reality of the business world. Aruto's job in these contests, is to prove Gai's ideologies wrong, and to show that this childish optimism can get better results than Gai's manipulative tactics. We know that Gai and Korenouse Hiden were friends at one point, and presumably they broke apart when Gai refused to support the HumaGear project, which thematically represents that robots will replace humanity. Gai at the very least, wants to prove that humans have the potential to reach these heights on their own merit, and use technology as a tool rather than a dependent item.
And isn't it true that we've seen this develop over the last several episodes? The first two rounds, Gai was very confident in his tactics and didn't need to resort to cheating. During the 3rd round is when he began to show his true colors, developing the Metal Cluster Hopper, not only to seal his victory, but to just rub a mountain of salt in Aruto's wounds. When this backfired, Gai at that point decided to say "screw all" and just win by any means necessary, a natural human flaw, especially when it comes to powerful people. And covering evidence, hacking the competition, so on and so forth, are just examples of the kind of influence powerful people have on society. Money and power makes you virtually untouchable.
As I stated times in the past, both in articles and youtube comments, Gai's chessboard both in the opening and in-series is symbolic of him being the mastermind pulling the strings every which way to fit his agenda. Kinda makes me compare him to Blood Stark/Evolt's influences in Build, which in that case objectively (don't get me wrong I LOVE Evolt) seems to be for plot convenience rather than any sort of realistic constraints.
Granted he's an alien so I digress.
Overall those are my thoughts on Gai as a character. I like him just the way he is, and even more so because I understand his relevance to the story thus far. When the series is over I'll have a much thought out in-depth overview of his character, based on this and the 2nd half of the series, as I will of other characters. But until then I'm gonna leave it here. Do you guys agree, disagree, did I give you guys a new perspective to think about? Don't hesitate to let me know. That said, thanks for reading and I'll catch you guys later.
© 2020 Nolan Johnson