Sunday, August 11, 2013

"Free-Will and Defiance" Follow-Up #3: Character Arcs, Stealth Camo, and the Bandana

As I noted in the last follow-up piece, the items Snake is awarded when the game is completed with either Meryl or Otacon alive are indicative of their character arcs, but I didn't expand on that idea. This is more an extended footnote than anything else.

I can't really imagine a way that they have to do with the postmodernism of Metal Gear Solid, but it's noteworthy how the items that Meryl or Otacon give to Snake fit as nightcaps for their character arcs.

In Meryl's case, Meryl started wanting to emulate her Uncle, Colonel Campbell (actually her father), in the ways of war. Unsurprisingly, the events of the game taught her that "War is ugly, there's nothing glamorous about it." In learning that, if she's alive by the end of the game, she decides to give it up along with Snake to pursue their happily ever after together. (1) The bandana, which gives the player infinite ammo, is a symbol of that warfare. Snake decides they should keep it as "A reminder of how to live," implying as a reminder of what they both learned about their warrior lifestyles there on Shadow Moses. The bandana gains further depth as a symbol when we consider that it becomes the mark of Big Boss' dedication to warfare as his character arc emerges in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, and in unforeseen ways in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

One of Otacon's most noted characteristics was his passivity: at various turns, he refuses to help Snake directly, but he assists Snake in his tasks in indirect ways. However, he mostly lives invisibly, just allowing his own life to wash over him, for events to control him rather than the other way around. In losing Wolf and discovering his complicity in the continuation of the nuclear arms race, he resolves to be an active participant in his life and to defy his family's "curse." The stealth camoflauge, a tool that made him practically invisible, was a symbol of that passivity, and he gives it to Snake.

Aside from how those characters fit into the postmodern framework of the game (2), it's also nice to note these small narrative details that give the game nuance.

As always, much thanks for reading.

                                              - Austin C. Howe, Maryland, 2013


(1) That Kojima one, decided to upend that happy ending in Metal Gear Solid 2, and two, how he justified/explained that and concluded Meryl's arc in Metal Gear Solid 4 were both inspired lunacy and gut-wrenching courage.

(2) I already assessed how Meryl fits in, but Otacon is a slightly bigger fish to fry and I'll get to him soon enough. (Yep! There's still more to come on this game!)

No comments:

Post a Comment