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Nine Hours Nine Persons Nine Doors (or 999 to keep things short) quickly made itself one of my favorite games with it's plot. So I'm devoting todays post to one it's characters Zero, though the digital root of 13 is 4 but if you take the month (1) and ye- must stop calculating digital roots. Anyway, Zero is a character worth discussion, and if you haven't guessed yet, this blog will be spoiling 999 endlessly, so if you're planning to play it, please avoid the rest of this blog. Hopefully this blog will end up making sense to people who have played the game, considering how confusing it is once you reach the true ending. And I haven't played Virtue's Last Reward, so I'm unaware if any reveals in it involve this Zero or not.
(Zero when disguised, she looks so scary in contrast to how she normally looks)
And now that I have the warning over with, it's time to talk about Zero, or rather, Akane Kurashiki, now that we have the spoiler warning up. Akane is easily the best manipulator I have ever seen in a Video game, she even fools the player. At first her defining characteristic appears to be love for Junpei and she seems like the kindest person in the game, in reality she set the whole thing up and kills three people in revenge (she still loves Junpei though).
What really draws me to Akane is her motives and methods. Being forced into a twisted experiment by a mad man that results in your fate being decided by a sudoku puzzle of all things, traumatizing. She's forced to set up the second Nonary Game in order to prevent a time paradox from resulting in her dying because of said mad man. Basically, she forged a link with Junpei in the future/present to escape the incinerator, but after escaping realizes she needs to make sure Junpei is put in the position to save her, which was triggered by her death. It's hard to hate Akane when her only motive was stopping a time paradox from happening, it's best not to risk a time paradox. I actually wouldn't be surprised if Light and Clover's only issues with the second Nonary Game were the fact that they didn't get to help kill the people responsible for the first one.
And while we're on that subject, the three people who died weren't technicality killed by Akane or her assistant Aoi, they were killed by the fourth person in charge of the first Nonary Game, Gentarou. If he had proven kinder then Akane and Aoi thought of him, then the deaths wouldn't have happened. And let's face it, Akane and Aoi have a biased view on Gentarou, hard not to have a negative opinion of the guy who tried to kill you regardless of anything else they do (while Gentarou was that bad, Akane and Aoi didn't have enough evidence to know he'd betray his former allies, they made a lucky assumption). So in a way, Akane's responsibility for the deaths that do happen is debatable, plus, they kind of deserved it for kidnapping and torturing children.
And Akane also indirectly guides you to the true ending. Her fever is how you can tell which way leads to the true ending. Let's go over where her fever acts up, when Junpei opens door five (all endings but Coffin/True) to see what happened to Terauki, in door 3 (Submarine) and in door 6 (Knife/Safe). Notice something in common, they all lead to bad endings. The thing about Akane is that her plan gets the best results for everyone but the four people she has a grudge against, who we've already established as deserving of what happened to them. No one outside of those four were put in actual danger, the innocents involved were only given the illusion of danger, even the ship sinking and the bombs turn out to be fake. It's hard to hate someone when the one ending in which they succeed is the only one that's not depressing as a result.
Akane's true brilliance however, lies within how meta the game ends up. It's established that Akane knows every ending in the game, she even gives Junpei information he only learned in the Safe ending to help him. In a way, Akane is the true avatar of the player, as both bear witness to every possible outcome in a search for the one outcome that ends well.
In the end, I think Akane is hero. A hero willing to kill and torture, but a hero more noble then your average FPS protagonist. She ensured her own survival while only harming those who tried to kill her. Akane Kurashiki, you are one skilled women. So, anybody care to argue for a different interpretation of her character?
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