Finally! After several weeks I’ve finally finished this project! This took sooooo long to finish >.<. Due to the other things I have to juggle, I’ve had to do this one in small bursts. I’m so happy it’s done! I’ll be able to work on my NieR Automata FULL REVIEW now, so expect that one to go up within the week!. I’ve also been simultaneously writing for another YouTube video where I talk about the main protagonist of Drakengard 3, the foul mouthed murdering songstress, Zero.
If you haven’t checked it out yet please check out part 1 of this. Part 1 focuses on the narrative and philosophical elements. This part 2 focuses on the general hidden meanings behind things in NieR Automata.
Part 1: https://youtu.be/JaRYfg1_ByI
Also, if you haven’t yet, check out my 2B cosplay: http://lanarain.com/2b-yorha-nierautomata/
I plan on doing more 2B cosplay shoots in the near future (1-2 months) so look forward to it :).
As usual here is the RAW transcript, unedited and uncorrected. This is for logging purposes only and I guess if anyone wants to read along with the video or needs help with understanding everything I’m saying xD.
Hi guys! As promised it’s my part 2 of my NieR Automata analysis video. If you haven’t check out part 1 yet please go check it out on my channel or click the link in my video description.
So let’s get started, Let me start off by saying this rabbit hole is extremely deep. No amount of analysis in my videos would ever give it justice and any attempt to do so would end up way too long and way too boring for the general public. Besides, I have so much respect for Yoko Taro’s works that I would prefer to convince people to go out and experience these discoveries themselves rather than just spoon feed everything. These analysis videos of mine are here only to serve as a gateway for fans and people just getting into Yoko Taro’s works to go on a path of their own to break down and interpret the hidden concepts and ideas.
Anyway, lets start off by answering one of the questions one of the commenters posted on part 1 of my analysis.
Anarch Ao asks: When Adam was talking to the unconscious 9S he said “You’re thinking of how much you want to ** 2B aren’t you?”. Do you think he meant fuck as in 9S’s love for 2B or kill as in 9S’s hate for 2B?
I think its meant to be taken as both. I know a lot of people like to think it’s fuck, and a lot more like to think it’s “Kill” and just leave it at that. I too lean towards kill, but it doesn’t stop there. The context of which it misleads you into thinking it’s “fuck” and the context of Adam’s taunts which you’re meant to realize it means “Kill”, is another example of Yoko Taro’s way of proposing duality. In fact, the whole game is riddled with duality. In love, there is hate. It’s passion, from desire and greed, which comes from the frustration of love. Yoko Taro understands there is complexity in our feelings, and that it’s never as simple as black and white, which is why this is done on purpose. Furthermore, he may be poking fun at the players momentum of thoughts by this point in the game. Think about it, you’re shown her ass all game, and thoughts are forming around that, for many anyway. You may also be rooting for their relationship to go somewhere positive. Fans love to ship two characters with each other. The initial thoughts someone has during that moment thinking it’s meant to be taken as “fuck” is a projection of that. And in a way, he’s making fun of everyone for it.
My next point is a metaphorical one. Throughout the game’s story you’ll notice everyone is wearing what most mistook as blindfolds before the game was shown. By now everyone is aware that these are actually visors. But to my friends and I, they’re also a metaphor for “sight” or “freedom”. And by “sight” I don’t mean the literal sense of optical visuals. No. The “sight” I’m referring to is, for lack of better word, awareness. Or, truth. The ability to see the path without holding back. This applies differently between 2B and 9S of course. From the start of the story 9S’ eyes are covered by his visor until he decides to let his feelings go at the start of the battle with the replica 2Bs, where he takes his visors off. It isn’t until at this point in the story do we really see 9S take up all of his bottled emotions and unleash it completely. From this point until the end of the game, we have a 9S that is finally letting himself go and do what he wants, albeit in an emotionally unstable state. 2B, on the other hand, keeps her visor on up until she meets up with A2 where she asks her to kill her. It isn’t until this point in the story do we see 2B behave in earnest with who she really is in her last few minutes. At this point, she no longer has anything to hide or hold back for. In contrast with 2B and 9S, A2 is seen from start to finish without any visor on. This is because she is already freely following her own path since she went rogue even before the events of the game.
This metaphor can also be taken as the signifier for the moment these characters step out of the cycle we spoke about in part 1. The cycle I’m referring to isn’t the broader cycle of struggle, but the cycle within that cycle in NieR Automata. I’m referring to the cycle within YoRHa itself. A2 stepped out of that cycle before the events of the game and went rogue. 2B stepped out when she decided to die by A2’s hands. It’s at that moment that she decided to quit having to kill 9S over and over again. 9S stepped out when he decided to let out his feelings on the 2B replicas inside the tower.
In part 1 of my analysis I spoke about cycles. I spoke of 2B needing to kill 9S again and again whenever he reaches a point of curiosity considered harmful to YoRHa. In Route C when 2B asks A2 to kill her, she imbues her memories into her sword and A2 takes up her sword. When A2 kills 9S, it’s actually 2B’s sword that kills her which essentially means 2B still managed to complete the cycle of her killing 9S.
To add to this, A2 cut her hair to honor 2B. If you read the transcript of the stage plays, you’ll see that A2 and 2B are modeled with the same exact face, so how A2 looks for the rest of the game afterwards is actually what 2B would look like if she had her visor off.
Speaking of which, during the Amnesia side quest, the female android talking about her friend being killed, suddenly asked if she met 2B somewhere before because she looked familiar. She must’ve realized 2B as 2E, another executioner model like herself.
Next up, the bosses. In part 1 of my analysis I spoke in depth about the existentialist themes throughout the game. Well, all of the bosses in NieR Automata are named after philosophers and people important to the existentialist movement. The two machines near the end of the game are Ro-shi and Ko-shi. Koshi is what the Japanese use to refer to the ancient Chinese philosopher you all know as Confucius. Roshi is a Japanese honorific title used for a highly venerated senior teacher in Zen Buddhism.
Next up we have Kierkagaard and Friedrich, referring to Soren Kierkagaard and Friedrich Nietzsche which I mentioned before. In addition, Friedrich might also be referring to Friedrich Engels and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.
Engels is the giant oil rig boss and refers to Friedrich Engels which I just mentioned. The boss in the amusement park is named Beauvoir, after Simone de Beauvoir, a female French existential philosopher and writer. The crane gear boss during the demo and prologue is named Marx, for Karl Marx, a philosopher who founded Marxist theory with Friedrich Engels. There’s also Ernst, in reference to Ernst Bloch, yet another German philosopher who was influenced by Engels and Marx’s Marxist theory. Then there’s Auguste Comte, Immanuel Kant, and Klaus-Jurgen Grun.
There is no doubt in my mind that if we were to research and take apart what each of these philosophers focused on or influenced, that we’d find more elements in the game referencing their works. And it’s not just existentialism or nihilism either, this game’s narrative borrows from other philosophical ideas as well. There is so much of it that to pursue a breakdown of it all would be a gargantuan task for any one person indeed. But that’s what a community sharing ideas and different perspectives is for. And that’s what I hope to help stimulate with my videos. In a lot of ways, Yoko Taro has brought people together in a lot more ways than just what ending E already beautifully managed to do.
My next point is something that I seem to have been beaten to the punch in sharing, but I still want to help push the idea to more people.
My friends and I have been saying this for quite a long time now, even dating back to the first NieR and Drakengard 3 which came after that. NieR Automata, along with those two games I just mentioned, is a storytelling experience that can only be told through a video game. The experience just wouldn’t be the same if an attempt was made to adapt the story into a movie, a written novel, or even an anime. Why? We’ll start off with the way endings, or routes, work in NieR Automata. Much like the original NieR and Drakengard 3 changed your entire perspective, and most likely your opinion as well, of everything you’ve experienced every time you arrive at a new ending or new route, NieR Automata does the same thing, except far better. It feeds you new information that gives you, the player, the kind of revelation that changes your perspective about the things you already know. The revelation isn’t cheap either, it’s impactful enough that I would go as far as saying that it resets it, so that you can then form a new experience all at once. It’s an exciting feeling really.
But this concept goes deeper than that. Much of the experience in it’s storytelling is experienced through the active actuations of you, the player. Unlike a story book where it’s up to you to visualize the experience, the visuals are GIVEN to you. But unlike a movie or anime, those visuals that are GIVEN to you are experienced on a much more personal and interconnected level. YOU are the one exploring and actuating the commands that result in the next event that occurs on your screen. YOU are the one dictating the pace and putting together the scope and structure of the story. It is only through those actions that YOU the player can feel, that the consequences that come after are then felt, by YOU. The experience is completely unique to you, the player.
Because of this, even watching playthroughs would just not be the same, but it would definitely be the next closest thing. Even the menu and user interface within the game are visuals meant to implant a deeper connection between the player and the characters. The environments in which you end up returning to multiple times throughout the game, act more than just a stage for game events to occur. Since you’re required to return to these areas, whether because the plot demands it or because you chose to do a side quest, you begin to develop high levels of familiarity. These familiar places hold memory and personal feelings for you of past events and further add to your own unique experience as you return to do another mission. This sense of familiarity creates a subconscious visual that has the potential to deepen the layers of your overall story experience. This is yet another thing that cannot be replicated in any other form of media.
You wouldn’t believe how happy my friends and I were when we read two recent Yoko Taro interviews, the first one by Forbes and the second one by Siliconera, where he actually touched up on this topic:
“I have liked games for a very long time but when I saw Gradius at the arcade as a junior high student, I became certain that in the future all forms of entertainment will be taken over by video games. This is why I started working for the gaming company Namco after I graduated college. However, I am quite disappointed that my predictions were off and films and TV still dominate the world as usual.”
“Also, because I believe that video games are a medium that allows us to explore things that aren’t possible through movies or books, I am constantly thinking about what could be possible in that medium. That’s always what I’ve looked to do ever since Drakengard – always believing to youthat video games had the potential to deliver something significantly different, from movies or books. That’s always at the back of my mind – thinking of creative ways to explore with the medium.”
One more concept I want to point out is the concept of names. As sentient beings with egos, names provide not just a label to refer to each other, but also to create familiarity and identity. Identity, particularly an emotional identity, or characterization, is usually something exclusive to humans. The names, 2B, 9S, and A2 are model numbers, much like the ones we use to label different objects, particularly machines. They’re inanimate objects that we comfortably perceive as emotionally empty and lacking of a soul. We don’t sympathize with machines. NieR Automata does a wonderful job of making us QUICKLY forget we’re dealing with androids. By this point, anyone digging around it’s narrative and Yoko Taro’s works in general will come to know that nothing is unintentional. By giving them such names as 2B, 9S, and A2, and telling us that the premise is about androids at war with machines, we are reminded of what makes us HUMAN. And it isn’t our names. I think everyone who has played through the entire game can agree that it ended up being one of the most emotional experiences in video game history, and not just because of the characters and the story itself, but with how it makes us, the players, feel through our connections and personal reflections on the underlying themes. In that way, NieR Automata isn’t a story about androids at war with machines, it’s a story about humanity. It’s about us and WHY we do the things that we do, why we continue to do them, and the connections and values we create for ourselves THROUGH those experiences.
That’s all for now guys. Like I said before, this is a gateway and I want you all to go and experience these discoveries yourselves. If you already knew all of these things, then go out and discover more. There’s always something to be found in a Yoko Taro universe, and it’s always a rewarding experience. Before I go I want to thank my closest friend who has held my hand throughout these NieR Automata projects. Over the years, this person has helped me improve my English writing ability to a more acceptable level. I’ve always had difficulty conveying myself and my thoughts, especially in on the spot situations, so this is all possible because of my mentor, my friend, my family.