The 3rd episode of Kaiba focused once again on building a sense of life on a different world as told by characters outside of the main cast. This time, the story revolves around a girl’s body, tragic family circumstances and as the title alludes to, a pair of boots.
The episode begins with the now title character Kaiba landing on a new planet and escaping into a city with Hyo-hyo. There they escape a police officer’s attention with the help of a girl named Chroniko who hides them, then takes them to another location to talk about her own circumstances.
She tells them that she is selling her body to a rich person, and she is happy to do so since it will help out her family. She hoped that someday, her family would be able to transfer her memories into a new body so she could live with them again. She then talks about her boots which she treasures because her mother bought them even though she didn’t have much money. She also worries about her brothers, but their mother takes care of them well. Ultimately, she’s not worried about losing her body because she will not die.
The next day she is sat in a chair to have her memories extracted. She asks how long it would take to deliver her memory chip, the doctor answers then begins the treatment. He then tells her that he is making it so she will not be able to change her mind and that he had no intention of saving her memories. So he went ahead and extracted her memories and then emptied them to be sucked out of the building and into the atmosphere. Her body is then transported through the streets and dumped in a pile by 2 delivery men where it is found by Kaiba.
I took this as a thinly-veiled allegory for child prostitution. Chroniko goes into the whole enterprise full of optimism because it will make her family happy. She doesn’t think that the people she is selling herself to are evil and don’t care about her. While it is no doubt a shorter process than in real life, by the end she is but an empty shell of a person literally without hopes or dreams.
Once again being chased by Vanilla, Hyo-hyo thinks quickly and takes Kaiba’s memories out of his current body and puts it in Chroniko’s. Kaiba had to quickly adjust to his new body, but he makes his grand appearance in front of Vanilla, who is immediately entranced by what he sees and lustfully chases after Kaiba. Meanwhile, the deliverymen return after criticizing their client’s taste in bodies to discover that Chroniko’s body had disappeared.
The story promptly takes a different turn when it heads to Chroniko’s former home. Chroniko’s aunt is thankful that now her family can live a normal life as she turns around a picture of Chroniko’s mother. Her frankly ungrateful children engorge themselves on the pile of food on the table, while she laments how difficult things have been since her husband died. She deals with it by injecting good memories into herself.
Kaiba watches from a window and is saddened by all of this, but he moves in to investigate. He jumps into the aunt’s memories which resemble a small library. He grabs a book and looks at one of the memories which is of Chroniko’s mother on her deathbed. The next is of the aunt wheeling some metal with Chroniko playing an imaginary piano on the back of the cart. She then notices a young girl with her mother running through puddles in new boots. The next memory is of the aunt putting in a stake which triggers a chain reaction that would cause the loss of her arms. Then, a memory of Chroniko’s happiness at receiving her boots. Then the death of her husband and all of the struggles that it caused her.
I think the memories did an excellent job in making the aunt a much more complete character than it seemed initially. She first seemed like an evil aunt who was jealous of her sister and then having to take care of a niece she didn’t want to. Through the memories, we see that she actually cared about her, but circumstances out of her control caused her to eventually lose control of her life and turn to the Kaiba universe’s equivalent of drugs to tolerate continuing to live. On the other hand, such is the ambiguity of memories in this series that those good memories may well have never happened.
Kaiba then leaves the house and is spotted by the deliverymen and their client. They chase after Kaiba with the rich man deciding that running her down is worth getting the body back. The chase is ended when Vanilla arrives and destroys the vehicle and its passengers with a single shot.
Vanilla then chases after Kaiba again, warning him of the dangerous people who live on this planet. Kaiba then stops, and in his only line of dialogue in the episode, asks to get on the ship that will leave the planet. Vanilla is delighted that his crush will be traveling with him, obviously.
Back at the aunt’s house, she wakes up and begins to play on the piano as her children sleep off their meal. She remembers the good memories she had with Chroniko and her children. Before imagining herself playing the piano with both Chroniko and her sister. She stops playing and weeps with sorrow as Chroniko and her sister are gone forever. As Kaiba looked down from the ship, tears were welling up in him as well.
Thoughts: I continue to find it interesting how well a story can be crafted with the protagonist saying so little. The primary storyline at this point feels like another tale in the strange universe this series inhabits.