Hey Isis! Loved your last analysis post and couldn't help coming back to ask you about a certain thing yet again! From... around days 5-7 in the route I believe, the game takes a turn with V blaming his "ideal" love for Rika become the way she is. She even flippin turns around and calls herself his ruined masterpiece that he threw aside. I was inclined to give it thought because I didn't want to be blinded by my bias, but then I began to question is (1/3?)
Because throughout the route, we see that even though V’s love is super unhealthy and harmful, especially to himself, we also see Rika actively feeding into it by asking him to save her from what “God cannot” multiple times. She was basically also pulling him deeper into that thought process by the ankles, and I think that one unnamed side of the mystic messenger fandom is quick to forget that V never treated Rika like “art” or a “trophy” of his own will, because she was the one who (2/3)
-asked that of him in the first place. V is quick to blame himself for literally everything that happens- and even his voice actor addresses this in his Free Talk (Lee Ho San is sooo salty about Rika, I love it). People insist that V’s “ideal love” was what made Rika start Mint Eye, but.. no?? Mint eye was literally started before the RFA, as seen with how Saeran is being drugged at such a young age in SE1. Thoughts? (3/3)
Wowie Phil, okay, this is a long question and it ended up having a long answer. It also touches a couple controversial issues in the fandom so… haha…
Naturally, I’ll have to mark a SPOILER WARNING FOR ‘ANOTHER STORY’. This is a long post so if you’re on mobile, scroll down fast!
This analysis is divided in three key segments, so you can read these messy thoughts of mine in some kind of order.
- V and Rika are unreliable narrators, so we should be careful when we take their opinions in consideration.
- What was the dynamic in Rika and V’s relationship while they were together
- The core of your question, V’s love and Rika’s darkness.
1- V and Rika as Unreliable Narrators.
Alright, so, the first point I have to make clear, and I really want to put emphasis on this, is the fact that both V and Rika are unreliable narrators by default.
The only people that believe V is literally the cause of Rika’s woes are… That’s right, V and Rika themselves. Jumin, the person closest to the two of them and the character the game highlights as the neutral voice of reason, comments at various points how Rika made her own choices, therefore the whole “V created Rika’s demon” is a biased narrative created by these two characters, and it’s clear why.
V will always find a way to blame himself in the story, always. He has made plenty mistakes that he acknowledges, sure, but he always tends to overestimate his flaws and underestimate others’, so he highlights his role in people’s failures and minimizes his influence in their victories and successes. Likewise, Rika also has a biased view of the world, in that she tends to put the blame of her actions on other people all the time. It’s her parents’ fault, it’s V’s fault, it’s society’s fault, it’s the RFA’S fault, it’s everyone’s fault but her own. Sure, she had a tragic childhood, but she tends to excuse herself at every point by trying to blame others for the road she took, while still liking to have control over everyone else’s lives.
What I want to clarify with this is that we cannot trust 100% what Rika or V tell us about their relationship unless it fits in one of these categories.
- We saw it ourselves in a Story Mode flashback or in Secret 01.
- It’s a fact or an event, instead of a point of view.
- It’s commented on by an unbiased third person that is neither Rika nor V.
This means that the story itself is not trying to tell us V is to blame for Rika’s descent to darkness, that is only V expressing his (self-deprecating) thoughts. This route is literally about trying to convince this stubborn man that he’s wrong about a lot of things, why should we believe him when he says this is his fault?
2- V and Rika’s dynamics in their relationship.
When they had their first date after Rika visited V’s gallery, the two of them had a conversation that highlighted how they had very similar views on love and what they wanted in a relationship: Rika wanted a kind of eternal love that will last no matter what bad, awful things she does, and V wanted to provide that kind of love to someone because he wanted to discover the reason he lives for through that action, since he thought his goal in life was to love. He wanted to give that love and be there for her, and she wanted to take it, so they were a match made in Hell, basically.
So… What happened when they got together and Rika got the love she was looking for? A plethora of things: They felt happy for sure, and they settled down… But she never believed V’s love, and kept trying to test it by attacking him, insulting him and demanding things from him to push him to the edge and see if he’d remain with her or not. She also simultaneously wanted him to always do what she wanted him to do, and at the same time raged because he never “craved something on his own” and did only as she wanted. To summarize: If he didn’t do what she wanted him to do it means that he hated her, and if he didn’t take the initiative to do something towards her then it means that he hated her, too. It was a complex situation where Rika would both encourage him to take individual action, and demand he always did what she wanted him to do.
As a consequence, V’s actions towards Rika were mild and cautious, and he never expressed much willpower around her, lest he risks upsetting her or going against her desires, because his “love” was all about pleasing her. Subsequently V had two different approaches regarding Rika: He wanted to help her and guide her towards the light (as any reasonable person would) so she could be at peace with herself, but at the same time he didn’t want to force Rika to do something she didn’t want, because that’d make her have a crisis and doubt his love. He encouraged her to take therapy and cheered on her when it all went well… But if Rika started to threaten suicide, or screamed about how she didn’t want it, or just flat out start saying she felt scared of getting ‘close to the light’, he wouldn’t force her to continue, and accepted her wishes. He tried to help her but only for as long as she was okay with it, because he didn’t believe confronting her was the answer, since… Wouldn’t that mean that he didn’t love her as she was? That he didn’t embrace all sides of her?
As I explained in a previous ask, submissive love for him was unconditional love, because he believed he had to love all of her darkness, too.
Rika, likewise, believed that V’s love would dry her tears and would save her, so like you mentioned, she constantly told him as much. She wants the sun to dry all her tears, she wants V to save her since God can’t. V believed that was part of his conception of unconditional love, so he promised to embrace her all even if she were to break him. V’s overwhelming and selfless love made Rika aware of how dark she was and so she decided to embrace that identity.
3- V’s love and Rika’s darkness.
The main consequence this behavior had, was that Rika found someone that would always love her no matter what she did, and she felt comfort in that. She felt that she could do whatever “her devil” wanted to do and it’d be fine, because V would always be there for her.
Rika wanted that love because she never experienced it before, true, but also because it validated her, both in good and bad ways. It made her feel as if she was worth being loved… But it also gave her the excuse to give in to her darkest thoughts: She could do whatever she wanted, commit all the atrocities she desired (in the name of her ideals), and be judged by the world and society without caring… Because someone would always love her, so she would always feel the “warmth” of that unconditional love. She didn’t really care much about trying to reciprocate this love, and, personally, I don’t even think she treasured V as a person, because as I saw it through the route, she just wanted to feel his undying love and loyalty. This is why she mistreated him and enjoyed his pain (physical and psychological), but as soon as he stopped providing the love she needed (By dying in Secret 01, or by moving on and rejecting this kind of love in his route) she loses it. V had no value to her as a person, just as a “sun” that’s there to provide and nurture the daffodil. If a different ‘sun’ appears (like MC) she would flatly ditch him in favor of that someone else.
This is how V’s love “caused” Rika’s shadow to grow. As you can see, he played a big role in Rika’s descent to darkness by inadvertently helping create the right circumstances for her to decide to act upon her inner desires. However, V didn’t create Rika’s “darkness” since that was with her from the start, he tried to discourage her most outrageous thoughts regarding anyone but himself (as seen in both Secret 01 and his route) and Rika never showed any actual desire to change herself for the better and erase her ‘demon’.
I believe his tolerance allowed the problem to grow, but I also believe blaming V for Rika’s actions is trying to absolve her from her responsibilities, and it’s almost a form of victim blaming. V was wrong, yes, his mistakes definitely let the problem get out of control, and his wrong conception of love validated Rika, but he cannot be blamed for the choices Rika made or what she decided to make out of his love for her.
V’s love provided Rika with the affection and tolerance she always craved, which gave her the motivation to carry on with what she wanted to do, while constantly abusing V so he can keep proving his love to her even more and fuel her. Once that love ceased to exist, Rika crumbled.
Extra comment: Rika as V’s art.
This is just a small comment I want to make about the art analogies. Rika was V’s artwork in the sense that she replaced his need for pursuing arts in his life, and he filled the void in his heart by loving her. He is an artist, he thinks in artistic terms, so he saw her a as art in his eyes: Because she was beautiful, because he “loved” her, and because he could make a difference in her life. When Rika saw V trying to move on, she assumed it was because he was bored of this ‘old artwork’ (Rika) since it didn’t bring him the results he needed, and so moved onto the ‘next one’ (MC). To me it only seems as the comment of a person hurt by a lover leaving them, so perhaps she perceived that way, but that doesn’t make it reliable.
Also, if V took pictures of Rika and made her his muse and a model for his art, it was because of her own will, since he even told him she wishes he’d never put down the camera in front of her, and it made her feel beautiful. She flat out said she loved it, so… Yeah, I don’t see why people would think V saw Rika as ‘art’ or a ‘prize’.