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About GHS' Interpretation of C+C

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#1 by JorjiCostava
2023-03-22 at 01:01
< report >A good portion of GHS' book "On Cross Channel" argues that there's no crossing of the worlds and that the disappearance of humanity is all in Taichi's head and the rest of the cast are playing along with his delusions.

What do you think about this interpretation of the events? Personally I'm fascinated by it, however I think this is a case of GHS seeing a story that isn't there, a story that's just too good to pass up. I love the VN however I think this interpretation is giving the author a bit too much credit. It's also too much of a stretch for me to believe that there's no time loop and that 1 week in the game actually equals 1 day, which is something else the book argues.
#2 by tyrog
2023-03-22 at 20:18

That's exactly the opposite of what CC is about, but for some reason people keep getting it wrong again and again.

The whole premise is based on a particular take of a fairly well-known problem in the interpretation of quantum mechanics and the role of the observer in measurement. Basically, the state of the setting is because "God left the building", in other worlds, there is no observer to "measure" an objective state of everyday reality - except at a certain location. Whenever Ta'ichi goes to the shrine or whatever it was (I've forgotten a lot of details about CC), he becomes the observer, thus "collapsing the wave function", thus providing his friends with concrete existence and lives to live, at least until no one is left there and the world is reset eventually. He chooses to stay at the end so that the others can leave without "suffering the fate of Schroedinger's cat". There are very obvious clues to the whole idea - There's a god there/God is there, says the gal that turned out to be his mother IIRC.
So Taichi makes the ultimate sacrifice and becomes the Observer/God/Christ, which brings us to the other major theme of CC - unconditional love, but that's a topic for another time.

If it's all in his head, then the above does not make sense, Taichi is no hero and the whole thing is meaningless. Thanks but no thanks.

Of course, the whole issue of interpreting the meaning of quantum physics is all about the role of consciousness in the makeup of reality - maybe "it's all in our heads", as non-dualistic philosophies like Advaita Vedanta have been claiming for ages, but that, again, is a topic for another forum.

End of Spoilers

A piece of advice to future readers of CC - read up on the history of quantum physics before tackling it - the Copenhagen interpretation, Einstein's (futile) attempts to disprove it, many-worlds, all that jazz. It will make sense if you do. Far too much nonsense has been written about a VN that deals with just a few familiar themes, handled straightforwardly and in style.

EDIT: I know, spoiler tags. Too lazy, haven't done this in a long time.Last modified on 2023-03-22 at 22:56
#3 by JorjiCostava
2023-03-22 at 23:07
< report >Thank you so much for the response! I think a big part of it is that not many people are willing, interested or capable of understanding the "science fiction" portion of the story, which is why a more psychological interpretation is appealing. I must admit I count myself in the incapable camp, because all the talk between Taichi and Youko in the VN regarding the mechanics of the crossing went over my head, and so did the majority of GHS' book dedicated to "debunking" that. Even your explanation would be something I'd only fully understand if I acquaint myself more with the material you mention in the end of your post, a lot of which is also discussed in the VN. A rare instance where some knowledge of quantum physics would unironically improve the reading experience of an eroge, it seems!

While I do still find the idea of Taichi being so far gone that he mentally blocks out the world around him appealing (much like the girl who could only perceive things in her immediate vicinity), I do disagree with GHS that a more literal interpretation of the crossing makes for a dull VN. The whole reason I started reading it in the first place is because I was enamored by the notion of humanity's disappearance. It's not even the scientific explanation of it, but what it does for the story and themes. And Cross Channel unambiguously does something similar to the idea of Taichi blocking out the world, but in reverse: rather than humanity actually being around with the cast (or at the very least Taichi) ignoring it, humanity IS actually gone, but they're pretending it's not for the sake of their own sanity, at least during the first loop, and definitely in some scenes afterwards.

He chooses to stay at the end so that the others can leave without "suffering the fate of Schroedinger's cat".
Now that you mention it, I can now see how Schroedinger's cat and Taichi being described as having "cat-like eyes that can see in the dark" are connected when it comes to the crossings and how he transports all the others to the other world in the end. So from my understanding, in the context of Cross Channel, it's sort of like "until you're perceived/observed, you can be both connected AND disconnected (from the world of humanity)".

If it's all in his head, then the above does not make sense, Taichi is no hero and the whole thing is meaningless.

I think there's still meaning to be found if you think humanity's still around though (even with the evidence against that). The quantum mechanics would be meaningless, true, but more than anything I think Cross Channel is about the importance of connections, "crossings" if you will, and cutting yourself off from the world or being literally separated from it can both be used to explore that regardless. A genuinely interesting point "On Cross Channel" makes is that the town the VN takes place in is already very sparsely populated before the disconnect and most characters are already rather isolated from it, so humanity being gone (one way or the other) is just taking that to the extreme for a stronger effect. If it's all in Taichi's head, the story wouldn't be about him being a hero, but a story about how humanity has utterly failed him. Although I'll concede that the ending is a lot more unsatisfying that way because then this means Taichi eventually cuts himself off from literally everyone, including the 7 other members of the Broadcasting Club, and thus does not really heal himself but actively gets worse, whereas his actions as the Observer (in the more "literal" interpretation) actually show positive character growth because he does it for their sake.Last modified on 2023-03-23 at 00:55
#4 by Hinochiame-Dark
2023-03-25 at 02:22
< report >@JorjiCostava I think denying the existence of timeloop entirely is a bit extreme. There's a translated interview with Romeo Tanaka where he suggests that the story has multiple meanings/interpretations to it. So, rather than CC being only about the timeloop, or only about Taichi's psychological block, I think it's about both at the same time, intertwined -- this outlook also fits the work's main theme.

I've read GHS' book two years ago, so I have a hard time remembering how well he articulated the idea you've mentioned. If you want to discuss certain paragraphs of the book, just tell us (me) which chapters made you think that the phenomenon is indeed nothing but a metaphor, I'll look them up.

@tyrog Taichi was never a "hero", even if he did save his friends from the timeloop. He just did what he personally thought was best for them, and let's not forget that he used the girls to satisfy his own interests before he transferred them over. I don't think it's meaningless, even if it's all in his head.
Taichi cuts himself off because he thinks that if he stays by them, he will eventually prey on them too. The very act of Taichi "letting his friends go" is undeniably beautiful, no matter if it actually happens as-is or Taichi just doesn't push their relationships any further and stays behind in Gunjou, while the others graduate and "go out into the real world".
#5 by tyrog
2023-03-25 at 07:05
< report >#4
A hero is as a hero does. Taichi starts off as a troubled kid with major psychological issues and becomes noble and heroic by the end. He grows up. It's the basic stuff of fiction; it's called character growth. he even talks openly about his newfound understanding of love and relationships, an understanding that informs his final choice.

This is very basic and obvious stuff and I don't know why I even bother, but there you have it.
#6 by Hinochiame-Dark
2023-03-25 at 11:18
< report >@tyrog Well, don't reply then if you can't comprehend what I'm trying to say.

Taichi simply being a "hero" completely defeats the point and appeal of his character; he is just a boy, just a flawed human being, trying to be a better version of himself, even if there's something broken and evil in his heart. Calling him a "hero" is so off-handed, so thoughtless, that it turns the entire story of CC into the most basic version of itself.

Nobody, especially a teenage boy, should carry the weight of the entire world on their shoulders.
#7 by JorjiCostava
2023-03-25 at 11:52
< report >@Hinochiame-Dark
I've read GHS' book two years ago, so I have a hard time remembering how well he articulated the idea you've mentioned. If you want to discuss certain paragraphs of the book, just tell us (me) which chapters made you think that the phenomenon is indeed nothing but a metaphor, I'll look them up.
If you want to reread all of the relevant sections, it's "only" about a third of the entire book. I'd say one third of it (the first third) talks about this; the second third analyzes the characters; and the final third talks about how to read Cross Channel as a Christian VN. Some of it sounds convincing; a lot of it can be described as quite the leap/stretch. Chapter "III. Cross Channel and Science" in particular attempts to debunk the in-universe explanations of the crossing of the worlds, but I didn't really follow along with that one. If you mean what I personally thought were the most convincing arguments (even if I ultimately don't buy this interpretation, especially when the question of "why would the rest of the cast follow along with this" comes up), then I guess these parts momentarily made me think "what if":
Page 47:
In short: the people of Gunjou are distant, unwilling or unable to communicate. The world of Gunjou is as psychologically empty as inner Kamisaka is physically so, and in the right circumstances, they would both be similarly physically empty. If someone were to snap and decide to play a big game of pretend where humanity is gone, it would be an extraordinarily easy feat to accomplish. It would also be either unnoticeable or ignored by the official people around them.
Page 100 (this talks about Taichi's mind "refining" the delusion in his mind over time because the first week of the timeloop feels much different than the rest, which shouldn't be the case):
This refinement very much fits with ideas seen in the chapter about the Worlds of Cross Channel: the lack of people and contact in emotionally and physically deserted settings is refined into the complete absence of all mankind but the people close to Taichi; the soulless repetitiveness of it all is refined in a time loop. But refinement is a process that implies a progression, and in this, the first week comes as a hint of a very different sort: nothing special happens, the rest of the people are away/irrelevant, his flashbacks are in color because he dreams in color (the telltale sign are the cicadas" anyway), the events are largely fixed already because their life is one of turgid routine. In other words, there's no strange event in that first week. The problem begins afterwards: he refines much of it in the world of his mind, down to irrelevant details, for example, the lack of other people seen becomes the physical absence of all humans.
Page 156 (on Taichi's repetitive behavior and how this could explain the timeloop):
We've seen memory, we've seen interactions, but there's even more: Taichi attempts throughout his history to repeat previous events. [...] One year before the story starts, Taichi gathered the Club for a beach outing. It's not quite clear what the various relationships were back then, and part of it does seem written fairly early in plotting. The means he uses are coercive, and no one seems particularly happy to be there, but ultimately they had fun. So when the club falls apart for good a year later, after the death of Yutaka and the total alienation of Kiri, Taichi's very difficult breakup with Touko and him trying to push down Yusa, and Misato selling out her father, he tries again (the camp outing). [...] Unfortunately, time loop or not, things change; the world marches on, Edens fall, relationships end. Repeating the exact same pattern that worked once doesn't lead to the same result: the Beach pattern did not work in the Camp. And this is a plausible origin for the time loop: since he lucked out in that one week after the Camp in getting everyone together one more time, he makes that one week Fixed until he realizes it's not going to work anymore and sends everyone out of his playground world.
#8 by Hinochiame-Dark
2023-03-25 at 13:08
< report >@JorjiCostava

I guess we both agree that Shaft just makes assumptions for the sake of his book analysis. But! Don't take my words as a fact, I'm not trying to debunk any of the Shaft's points (I like some of his takes).

The students of Gunjou are loners who drifted away from the society. For them, it doesn't really matter if other people are present in a physical form, because they don't interact with anyone either way. So, you could say it's actually kinda believable the main cast would revel in Taichi's play-along (even if characters like Tomoki would be more reluctant to participate). But at the same time, I think Kamisaka is a ghost town simply because in Japan the depopulation of rural areas is a huge problem. Even some of the bigger towns feel lifeless in the real world. The writer of CC tackles this theme in his Country Girl chapter from Trianthology ~Sanmenkyou no Kuni no Alice~.

The problem with this "play-along theory" is that Cross Channel has a lot of extreme conflicts with characters outright killing each other, aka Youko laying out the traps in the woods and Miki shooting everyone with the crossbow (unless we're claiming that all of this is the representation of their disagreements with each other, exaggerated by Taichi's psyche, since we perceive the story of the game through his point of view alone). MAYBE this could be Tanaka saying that troubled kids are usually left to their own devices, with grown-ups not truly caring about "how they really do".

If the other people are only absent from the story, because the cast simply decided to ignore them, but people DO still exist in the background unseen to the eye of the viewer, then why doesn't Maman stop Sakuraba from eating all the curry buns in the cafeteria? Even if Touko's parents were on "leave", surely there'd be at least of couple of servants in the manor, there's no way they'd let her die in bed from starvation with Taichi being the first one to discover her body (after all, Touko dies simply because she doesn't care to cook for herself, rather than the absence of edible foods). My point is, you can come up with a lot of "why's" here, so even if we put faith into Shaft's "play-along theory", you'd have to really push it. Such as Maman hating Taichi's crowd for abandoning Yusa, or manor servants not caring about their young mistress' well-being for some reason, etc etc.

Also, if I remember correctly, there's a whole "oji-san dead body" controversy with the story never really explaining it in a clear manner. Various fan sources state that it's the "original" Taichi of the timeloop world, but it's only something that I've read up, not something I've come to understand on my own. If this dead body exists for real and is indeed "the other Taichi", I think it proves the whole multi-world theory, and there's no way it's just a "play-along", but rather an intermittent combination of both.
#9 by JorjiCostava
2023-03-26 at 18:02
< report >Agreed. Another glaring issue is that this theory doesn't explain why electronics suddenly stop working, which is something Taichi might conceive of as a side effect of his hallucinations of humanity being gone, but it would be too much of a stretch to expect the others to do the same. I also believe Tomoki, and I would also say Kiri, wouldn't be very eager to participate in this game of pretend. Sakuraba is a bit of a wild card though. He might do it for the lulz because he just strikes me as that sort of person.

Also, if I remember correctly, there's a whole "oji-san dead body" controversy with the story never really explaining it in a clear manner.
From what I recall, at least in my playthrough, this only comes up once when Kiri first threatens Taichi with the crossbow in her route (or was it Miki's?) as she suspects Taichi killed that oji-san because she also believes he killed Yutaka. I could be wrong here - and it's also worth noting that I've probably missed out on some content by not trying out every dialogue option in the game - but I really can't recall if this comes up again.

I have no idea who it could be. By the "original Taichi", do you mean that after Taichi sends out everyone else and remains alone in the timeloop world, he eventually dies of natural causes, and somehow his body ends up in the past? Because from what I understood of the "crossing", there shouldn't be multiple versions of the same person that exist in two worlds at once. Someone can either only be in the world of humanity or in the world of the timeloop, and in the end, Taichi transports the members of the broadcasting club from the latter to the former.
#10 by Hinochiame-Dark
2023-03-27 at 09:47
< report >@JorjiCostava

I'm not entirely sure. I think that these sources assumed that this was the body of the Taichi that somehow existed in this timeloop world before the main cast appeared in it. I've read it up a long time ago on some Japanese wiki dedicated to explaining less obvious plot points of Cross Channel (such as Youko going to the power plant early in the story and then telling Taichi, "There's no reason to go there"), not sure if it exists to this day. I've just tried googling it and can't find it unfortunately.
#11 by lexer
2023-03-28 at 19:19
< report >Have you guys read tower of friends aka Another story - Cross †' Channel ? GHS mentions it and if i remember correctly it addresses that question a bit
#12 by JorjiCostava
2023-03-28 at 22:32
< report >#11 I only know that Tower of Friends is very gruesome since Taichi goes crazy and kills off everyone in that one. I am not sure if reading it is really necessary if you are not into shock value for its own sake. GHS seldom mentions it.
#13 by lexer
2023-03-29 at 13:41
< report >As I said I'm pretty sure it addresses the presence of the body, at least.


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