For those of you who want to know what happens in The Shadows of Pygmalion without actually playing the game or got confused while playing said game, this (potential) series is for you!
(SUPER HEAVY SPOILERS IN THIS POST)
I’m not really sure if this will become a regular thing, but I wanted to talk about how I felt about Pygmalion‘s story. But to do that, I kind of need to spoil some crucial parts. However, it seems like some of you want to see what happens in the game before actually playing it, so it works out for everyone.
A reminder before I start spoiling like I’m a carton of milk that’s been left out in the sun for 2 hours: I reviewed The Shadows of Pygmalion in an earlier post and it’s relatively spoiler-free. You can find it here.
So upon rebooting the game, I noticed that there’s a chapter 0 (which is effectively the prologue) which I had overlooked. In my review I mentioned there’s 14 chapters before you have to make a decision, but the advent of this chapter 0 means there’s actually 15 chapters. My b!
I guess I’ll try to summarize each chapter and then go into detail about each of the endings. This post will cover the first 3 chapters.
Please let me know if you want me to continue talking about each chapter or if you want me to continue this series altogether since these posts take up an extraordinary amount of time and I could be spending my time reviewing other visual novels or reviewing anime.
HERE WE GO, FOLKS
An outsider, who is tired of living without dying, continuously asks herself, “Where do we come from? Where do we go?” The unknown individual commits suicide by jumping off the Yokohama Bay Bridge.
There’s also interludes of another perspective where someone is speaking into the radio. The man repeatedly says, “Warning! Warning! You are approaching US airspace. Follow my orders! Warning! Warning!”
It’s revealed that there was a suicide attack on the UN headquarters by plane. However, there was no one inside the cockpit. There was, however, a doll, sitting in the pilot’s seat.
The scene then jumps to Mina, who is sitting off to the side while listening to her friend Makoto chat with her other friends, Kana and Rika. We get to learn that these girls are all highschool first-years, that Mina is a part of this circle of friends yet a little distant, and that Makoto is really fond of Mina.
When the other girls start talking about heading out to karaoke, Mina announces she has to go somewhere and slyly avoids telling them her destination. She walks past the graveyard and the cafes in order to enter into an old tunnel. Entering the tunnel causes Mina to hear resonance; getting through the tunnel leads her to a crumbling and somber mansion. The nameplate in front of the gate calls the place Pygmalion.
Upon entering the mansion, Mina is met with a large array of dolls and the owner of the mansion, Yang Li-Fang. To Mina’s delight, Li-Fang claims she has to leave for the bank and asks Mina to look after the shop for a while. Mina happily agrees since this is an opportunity for her to look at one particular doll.
After Li-Fang left, Mina descends down a flight of stairs to the basement. There, she finds even more galleries of even more dolls. We find out that these porcelian dolls are Mina’s ideal and are what she finds beautiful. After wondering if the insides of the dolls look like clear skies and blue oceans, she continues onward to find Ruka, the most beautiful doll in the mansion, who sits inside a glass coffin decorated with white roses.
Mina can’t help but find herself sexually drawn to Ruka, but she comes to her senses before she does anything drastic. Nevertheless, she continues to struggle with what she’s feeling and what she knows is right until the impossible happens.
The scene then jumps to a dark room that is filled with many monitors. At least six other people, including Yang Li-Fang, are watching Mina interact with Ruka. They discuss how no one has ever resonated with Ruka that strongly before (among other things).
The scene returns to Ruka and Mina, who’s scared and in disbelief. Ruka approaches Mina and essentially molests her. While this happens, Mina sees a place she’s never seen before: an endless sea of grass under clear skies. There was a bright, white light and someone who she couldn’t see properly, as well. Mina ends up blacking out after Ruka is doing groping and kissing her.
After an unknown amount of time, Mina comes to and Li-Fang greets her. Mina is flustered and confused still and declines her offer of tea and runs out of the mansion after noticing the time. Somehow it is already past 11 pm.
Somehow Mina is able to catch the last train. As she reflects upon what happened, some bright lights enter into her field of vision and she is momentarily blinded. A female employee (who seems to work on the train) comes to ask if Mina is doing alright. However, Mina alternates between seeing her as a bisque doll with ceramic ball-joints and a human.
Then the lights on the train go out. A canister skids across the floor and some sort of gas sprays throughout the train. Most of the passengers pass out, including Mina. Before doing so, however, she watches the female employee’s face crack and then break entirely. A pale blue light floats upwards from the doll’s remains. Mina is left with her severed hand, which shatters when she lets go of it. The last thing Mina sees is a girl who is unaffected by the gas.
Mina envisions sitting on a wooden bench where there’s an endless field of grass. Someone is sitting next to her and holding her hand. She’s crying yet her features are not in Mina’s focus. And before properly seeing her face, Mina is jostled awake by an station emloyee. Apparently there was no report of any sort of abnormal situation on the train. As a result, Mina is left feeling distraught and unsure of her own memories. Mina also finds out that someone had been sitting next to her while she was asleep, which is why the employee left her alone. To further add to the mystery, Mina can smell a faint scent of lillies.
Mina rushes home, alone and scared. Upon reaching her place, she notices that dinner had been wrapped up and left for her on the table. Mina’s mother is a nurse at a hospital in central Yokohama and frequently has to work night-shifts, such as tonight. However, Mina ignores the food and just collapses into her bed, remembering what had happened to her today.
A notification sound interrupts Mina’s thoughts. She checks the message, thinking it’s just Makoto, only to be caught completely off-guard.
She then receives a phone call from Makoto, to her relief. However, Mina is still shook and unable to properly talk with Makoto. She ends up lying about where she went, claiming that she went to visit her mother at the hospital. To her credit, she tries to talk about what had happened with Makoto, but she decides against that and talks about the weird text message she just received. Makoto laughs at her for believing this chain rumor, says an innocent girl like Mina should stay away from the internet, and asks Mina if they can hang out after school tomorrow. Mina agrees and the two girls end their phone conversation.
Mina finally turns on the lights in her room (who cares about going blind while reading things in the dark, right) and we find out she has a picture book of dolls made by the famous doll-maker, Sakakibara Michiko. It turns out she has more books about dolls on her bookshelf.
Despite Makoto’s teasing, Mina decides to look things up on the internet. There were many rumors similar to the one she received via text message.
The scene then jumps to a doll who had been taken apart. Her eyes slowly opened and finds Yang Li-Fang there. She asks the doll for her name. The doll fails to respond, so Li-Fang says that she’ll be called “A-san” for now. The doll doesn’t know where she is and Li-Fang replies that she’ll like to where she came from.
Mina tries playing it cool with Makoto as they make their way to school, but she abruptly starts hearing many voices near her ear. One particular voice stands out, however, as it’s more of a direct message to Mina’s brain. A child’s voice, high and clear. Mina spots a young girl with piercing blue eyes watching her.
“You saw it, right? You can’t go back. You live in a different world now. Are you going to play dumb forever?” Mina is unable to properly respond to the child’s statements before Makoto interrupts their mental conversation. The two girls got off the train and started climbing up the hill.
Around halfway up the hill, Mina and Makoto stopped to wait for the bus that’ll take them directly to Sakuragi Public High School, the school they attended. Mixed alongside their schoolmates were students who attended a nearby private mission school, St. Galatea. Makoto grumbles about how the wealthy have it easy before noticing (and pointing out) a St. Galatea student who really stands out compared to the other rich girls. Mina is similarly awestruck. She’s pretty sure she’s never seen her before, so Mina is quite surprised when the girl turns to smile at her. Makoto gets jealous as a result.
Mina tries to tell Makoto to cut it out before noticing an icy cold gaze watching her from behind. Turning around to check, Mina does not see anyone who could have caused her to feel this way. Makoto notices Mina’s discomfort and asks Mina if someone happened. However, Mina refrains from telling the truth and uses an unfair deflection (aka she asks if Makoto really does love her like how Rika and Kana implies).
While in class, Mina abruptly starts hearing people’s voices again. The very classroom air and these inner voices became revolting as a result. Makoto reaches over and touches Mina’s hand – only for Mina to start seeing Makoto’s hand as “white, bloodless, and falling apart like rotten carrion.” Mina freaks out and Makoto’s face becomes like a doll’s.
Mina can’t help but scream. However, “an icy knife point was driven” to the back of her neck and Mina returns to her senses. Looking outside, Mina spots a tall Chinese woman who is quite a ways away from the school building. And yet she is staring straight at Mina.
Mina ends up passing out again. She wakes up in the nurse’s room, evidently carried by Makoto. She makes some chit-chat with Katsura Touko, the school nurse. However, when Mina confesses that she’s been seeing everyone as dolls, Touko thinks Mina is talking metaphorically and thus gives her advice about something else entirely.
In the end, she hands Mina a scrap of paper and tells Mina to talk to this person if she has more troubles. The man is named Minawa Yukito, he works at Seiran University Hospital, and he was college classmates with Touko. Makoto then bursts into the room and the two walk back to the classroom together.
However, Mina still feels like everyone is dirty. She feels like she’s going insane and that something is wrong with her senses. Fooling her classmates with a smile, Mina thinks to herself that she wants something beautiful to touch her. Ruka flashes into her mind and the feelings of discomfort fades away. Mina then comes to the conclusion that seeing Ruka again will make her pure.
Thinking these thoughts causes Mina to experience resonance. She then starts accidentally sending out countless silver threads which none of her classmates notice.
The resonance is noticed by other individuals, however. Jessica, the blonde girl that Mina met on the train, is convinced that Mina is crazy. The tall Chinese woman who was staring at Mina earlier, Yang, believes that Mina has no control over her powers which is what makes her dangerous. Ruka awakens and causes to spawn some silver threads of her own, which animate all the other dolls in the mansion.
Li-Fang sees this as an opportunity and presents herself before Ruka. Ruka asks if Li-Fang is her Sowana. Li-Fang, as it turns out, isn’t Ruka’s Sowana. There are four Anima who have resonated with Ruka, but none have become Sowana yet. There’s a talk about an elimination test before Li-Fang offers to become Draco instead. She becomes Draco and the two talk about things that are obviously important but will only become clear until I spent more hours talking about this game.
Yang and Jessica rush into the room to check in Li-Fang as Ruka became a mere doll again. Li-Fang denies that anything happened before they hear a crashing noise. It turns out that the dissembled doll has somehow fled. Jessica and Yang discuss about who could have caused this to happen. Yang believes that the girl who unknowingly extended her aura (Mina) caused the doll to become sentient and allowed the doll to leave. Such a display of power would put Mina on par with at least an Eidos. Yang also reassures Jessica, telling her that Riko can take care of Mina since they’re both at the same school.
An unnamed student does just that, causing Mina to snap out of her trance. Mina hears a voice telling her that it’s dangerous to spread her lines everywhere. She tries asking the voice who she is, but there’s no response.
After school has ended, Makoto is busy doing things and talking to teachers. She tells Mina that they don’t have to hang out later if Mina isn’t feeling well, but Mina feels better after entering that trance and says she’s still up for it. She, however, feels like the classroom air is too stifling and decides to head to the foreigner graveyard to wait for Makoto. It’s a place of comfort for her, one that Makoto and Mina first visited on the day of their entrance cermony.
While she thinks about what had happened to her today (namely, the voice she heard while she was inside the train and the voice she had heard inside the classroom), she runs into the rich girl she had seen earlier this morning. She introduces herself as Takachiho Sayo and explains that she has had weak blood circulation since birth, which means she often has to skip out on classes. That explains why Mina had never seen her before. Before long, Sayo has Mina spilling everything that has happened to her since yesterday.
The scene jumps to Makoto, who is finally done talking to the teachers. Rika and Kana are looking forward to going shopping together with Makoto and Mina, but Makoto happily announces she has a one-on-one date with Mina. Rika warns Makoto that Mina won’t be independent if Makoto keeps pampering her like that, but Makoto is quick to claim that she’ll be with Mina for her entire life. Makoto then leaves the classroom to meet up with Mina.
The scene returns to the graveyard. Sayo believes everything that Mina says and promises to protect Mina as her friend (jeez, Sayo, you’re moving really fast here). Mina then receives a message from Makoto, who had gone straight to a cafe instead of meeting up at the graveyard. Mina and Sayo then part ways.
At the cafe, Makoto is a bit annoyed that Mina is only talking about Sayo and that being with Sayo has caused Mina to start feeling much better. She puts up a brave front, nevertheless.
Suddenly a crowd of protesters emerge. Mina can’t help but notice there are a few individuals standing there and looking blankly towards the sky. The girls watch it unfold until the riot becomes incredibly violent. However, the disturbed individuals merely walk away as the chaos ensues. Mina watches with horror as one such individual is pushed and his throat lands squarely on a jagged window front. Yet he calmly gets up and continues to walk away as if nothing happened.
Some time later, the girls walk home together. However, Mina decides to head back to where the protest was after Makoto had already behind the gate (and after she had used her ticket). Makoto wonders outloud if she’s the one who isn’t independent.
Mina follows the traces of glass and manages to find the man who had his throat cut. However, it turns out he isn’t really human but a doll. Mina is paralyzed with fear upon seeing this and as he stands up while staring at Mina. Wires then wrap around the doll and contract until he falls apart. A pale blue light emerges from the fragments and floats upwards toward the sky again. It seems like Yang, the tall Chinese woman from before, has saved Mina. She’s accompanyed by a man wearing white clothes, similar to a doctor.
The man dressed as a doctor gives her some cryptic words about Puppets. Yang merely tells Mina that the man she just killed is a Puppet and that Mina should grow up and figure things out for herself. If Mina won’t make any effort to learn about what’s happening, she says, then they won’t help her. They then leave. I still think this was a bit harsh of Yang to say.
On the train ride back home, Mina thinks back to the rude Chinese woman. She then notices a girl wearing the same school uniform as she does and gets uncomfortable. As Mina tries to rush out of the train, the girl looks up and says, “Now is your last chance to turn back.” Mina is shook and runs off.
Mina runs and runs and gets scared when a hand grabs onto her shoulder. It turns out it’s Makoto! Mina starts sobbing out of relief and Makoto asks her what’s wrong as Mina hugs her tightly.
The scene then jumps to the two in Mina’s room. Mina has spilled the beans to Makoto and she believes her words, too. She promises to protect Mina, as well. Makoto decides they should access the net to see if there’s others who have encountered the same happenings before. However, the only computer that’s in the household is inside Mina’s mom’s room. Mina realizes that she’s never been in her mom’s room before, which she considers to be strange since they’ve lived in this apartment for a long time, but the two managed to sneak into the room and borrow the computer.
Makoto starts using the laptop while Mina takes a bath. Somehow the bathtub was already full. Mina hears some resonance as she steps into the tub. She recollects what Jessica, Yang, and the unnamed girl (Riko) had said.
Unfortunately, Makoto only has bad news to share with Mina once she’s done taking a bath. It turns out there’s a lot of instances of headless and broken dolls in areas where’s tons of civil unrest (Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, etc).
Makoto then gets the idea that they should go visit the doll mansion. Mina is too much of a yes-woman to say no.
However, Makoto doesn’t find the mansion with Mina despite the two of them entering the tunnel together. Mina presses onward and enters the mansion, hoping to find Makoto who has disappeared. Li-Fang greets her and lets her in while saying that you can only come here if you’re meant to come here. She lets Mina in and offers to tell Mina everything she wants to know.
Li-Fang fills in some of the blanks for Mina. Puppets blend into human society and manipulate events in order to cause humanity’s downfall. However, a few individuals can see them as they are and it’s their duty to destroy them before humankind is led astray. It just so happens that Mina has such an ability to recognize Puppets.
Mina is overwhelmed with the revelation that she’ll have to be killing Puppets that look like regular humans. Li-Fang reassures her that she can do it because Ruka chose her. To finish the contract, Mina has to see Ruka again. However, Ruka says she’s still unsure. Li-Fang says the same thing as Yang (that Mina has all the information she needs and now she has to come to a decision by herself and accept it). She then stands up and leaves. Mina in turn leaves the mansion.
Makoto was waiting at the end of the tunnel the two had entered. Mina now feels the world she’s in doesn’t include Makoto and that she feels distant from her friend. Makoto’s tenderness can’t protect Mina anymore, etc. She starts lying about various things as the two of them head home.
Along the way, Mina and Makoto spot yet another girl Mina hadn’t seen before. Mina experiences a vision of fields of golden grass as she passes her and feels profoundly sad.
The episode ends (lol it’s like I’m doing an anime episode review) with the girl thinking about Mina. It turns out the girl is a doll and that she dreamed of a golden field of grass. She hobbles her way to an abandoned factory where there is a wooden bench and enough room for someone else to sit next to her. She sit down and waits.
There’s a lot of repetition of certain imagery and phrases happening in these first few chapters. I guess it’s good since there’s no way for readers to claim that “this-or-that” lacked foreshadowing.
It’s clear that A-san is the doll that shows up at the end of the episode and she has some sort of link with Mina. After all, they’re both dreaming of the same “golden field of grass.”
Yang Li-Fang and Yang are mother and daughter, by the way. I’ll continue to refer to Li-Fang as “Li-Fang” in order to avoid confusion.
I bolded some very important terms that will end up showing up again later in the story. If you have any questions about said terms (or anything else pertaining to the story), just ask and I’ll try to answer.
But, uh, this took a long time to write. Again, please let me know if I should continue writing this series.