I’m reading literature articles before I start writing my book, to refresh some advices sleeping inside my head, find new ones, and encouraging myself, when I bumped into the “8 plot theory”. Upon further research, I found a lot of theories, but this one caught my attention:
Foster-Harris. The Basic Patterns of Plot. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1959. Foster-Harris contends that there are three basic patterns of plot (p. 66):
- "’Type A, happy ending’"; Foster-Harris argues that the "Type A" pattern results when the central character (which he calls the "I-nitial" character) makes a sacrifice (a decision that seems logically "wrong") for the sake of another.
- "’Type B, unhappy ending’"; this pattern follows when the "I-nitial" character does what seems logically "right" and thus fails to make the needed sacrifice.
- "’Type C,’ the literary plot, in which, no matter whether we start from the happy or the unhappy fork, proceeding backwards we arrive inevitably at the question, where we stop to wail." This pattern requires more explanation (Foster-Harris devotes a chapter to the literary plot.) In short, the "literary plot" is one that does not hinge upon decision, but fate; in it, the critical event takes place at the beginning of the story rather than the end. What follows from that event is inevitable, often tragedy. (This in fact coincides with the classical Greek notion of tragedy, which is that such events are fated and inexorable.)
Now, we know that X/1999 has two published endings: one in the movie and one in the anime, but none of them are the “true, official” conclusion of the story. The problem is that each of the four girls that are CLAMP have a different ending planned, and they can’t agree on choosing just the one. Sounds like a struggle for power to me, but I digress.
Reading this article, X/1999 came immediately into my mind. Having watched both endings and knowing that the manga is still on eternal hiatus, I placed those endings in said cathegories, like this:
Type “A” ending: The anime ending, where Kamui takes the “logically wrong” decision to sacrifice his own life to somewhat save Fuuma, the other Kamui (…I think; it was more like “I can’t kill him because I love him too much, so I’d rather die and let the whole world perish than to slay his heart and live with it in this current world”).
Type “B” ending: The movie ending, where Kamui takes the other Kamui’s life beheading him, and fails to sacrifice his own integrity for the sake of someone else. But, as it could be interpreted like a selfish decision, it could also be as a selfless decision, deciding to erase what’s important to him in order to save the rest of the humanity, destroying his own heart in the process. Either way, he’s driven by the “logically right” Heaven Angels’ motive.
Type “C” ending: To be fair, the whole series is driven by fate, so any ending will satisfy this cathegory, since, whatever happens, will have happened because of the fate that Kamui has been thrown into even before he was born.
But after a little more thought, I discovered the problem:
X/1999 told the tale of two morals clashing, while both could be considered “right”, discarding the “good vs. evil” stardard and leaving the espectator to choose a side depending on their own morale or sense of justice. That means, there’s no “wrong” or “right” decision, leaving the A and B endings endlessly switching places according to who’s watching the series. For example, those choices listed above are taken from the Heaven Angels’ point of view, seeing Kamui as the chosen side, and considering his goals and his morale to interpret what his sacrifice means (or doesn’t); defending the Earth as it is, defending the people important to him, and also protecting his own integrity.
The thing is, when he’s fighting Fuuma, the other Kamui, he appears to have only two choices and both require him to sacrifice something: in the anime version, he sacrifices his own life and the victory of the Heaven Angels to save the only important person he has left (even when he’s not really him anymore) and to give the world a clean state so this kind of thing doesn’t have to happen again. While in the movie, he sacrifices that one important person for the “greater good” that is the goal of the Heaven Angels. So, the problem comes here: how do you differ from one another? Through the morale; choosing what side was right and which one was wrong. Which I’m guessing is one of the problems CLAMP had at the time. Because, what if the viewer chose the Earth Angels as their side? These A, B, and C endings would have changed enormously. Or even a little more complex than that; what if the viewer takes Kamui’s side, but doesn’t believe in the Heaven Angels’ cause? Or, even worse, in neither?
I believe that, as creators, each member of CLAMP had to choose a side and show who was the winner, putting themselves on the morale judging position, clashing their choices against each other.
Toughest part is, maybe none of them are wrong. Maybe those four endings are all amazing, or heart-breaking, or simply jaw-dropping, but, come on, girls, dare to take a stand in what you believe if you think it’s the ending the series deserve. Or, at the very least, leave your beliefs aside for the sake of the story and end the story the way you know has to end, even if you don’t fancy it.