Alchemical Humanity: The SOUL (Part 2/Nier Automata)

Alchemical Humanity: The SOUL (Part 2/Nier Automata)

Maybe asking an AI what it means to be alive is a logical fallacy but these androids are doing their best.

//CW: religious cults, suicide, blood, violence, mind control, manipulation, fictional pandemic

00:00 Intro
01:23 The Old Zoop and Goop
35:36 Making Meaning
43:54 Memories

We are back after a mountain of technical problems (and a lot of corrupted footage 😑) Thank you so much to the people who kindly let me borrow clips from their channels as my poor laptop breathes a sigh of relief at not needing to render any more taxing ps4 footage through it.

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22 thoughts on “Alchemical Humanity: The SOUL (Part 2/Nier Automata)”

  1. Hey, congratz on 100 subscribers first of all. I really want your channel to be successful and I try to share it when I can. Love your videos.
    It's interesting that another video essayist I enjoy a lot also recently released a video on nier automata with opposite opinions on nearly every facet of it. Though she came to it from a perspective of a complete newbie to the franchise, and apparently her opinion on some things mellowed some after talking to a big fan of the series (the youtuber is pixel a day if you want to check it out)
    Personally, I don't think I'd ultimately enjoy the game itself but I enjoy experiencing it through your videos. Looking forward to the next installment!

  2. I never thought of it like that. I like that you're unafraid to talk about the gender identity of the androids/machines, because I think some content creators would shy away from it for fear of attracting the bad kind of attention.
    Really good video. Thanks for making it.

  3. You actually don't need all the weapons leveled up to maximum for ending E, leveling all the weapons just gives you the optional fight with all the Emil heads vibing in the desert because rather than an ending that'll make you feel things your rewards is….the death of a beloved mascot character :'(. Which kinda tracks since (excluding ending E from Nier replicant 1.whatever came after) Since in the other Drakenier names collecting all the weapons and achievements and sidequests doesn't really give a sense of achievement in the normal sense. With the weapons especially in drakengard it's like "congrats here's a bullshit rhythm game where the main character will die after" so it makes sense that you don't need all the weapons in automata for ending E because ending E is a lot more hopeful than the other drakenier games (again excluding Nier replicant 1.whatever's E) but instead getting you all the weapons and leveling them up to max level "rewards" you with Emil's death.

    Anyway this was a really good video, I love your analysis. In part 3 when you talk about how the androids are easier for the audience to connect to due to being more outwardly human; I actually had the opposite problem. I latched on to the machines and empathized with them far more easily than the androids. It could be an uncanny valley thing, the more "human" the androids look the more their inhuman traits stand and thus cause a weird disconnect, it could be that I just thought the machines were cute (which they are, they're adorable!), or it could be that as someone who has always felt othered by society I'm more liable to latch onto those that are inhuman or othered in some way, or maybe it's a combo of all 3 who knows.

    I also feel like fandom mischaracterizing A2 is a combo of her having the least amount of screentime, the area where you get her backstory with anemone being very easily missable, and her entire backstory being in the Yorha stageplay which outside of fan translations was only in Japanese. There's still enough in the game to get the sense of who she is (and honestly A2 is personally my fave of the protags) and the depth of her character but people love to mischaracterize. 9S and 2B also get their fair share of mischaracterization I think so…maybe people just have poor media literacy.

    I love the mental image of Jean-Paul dying by trying to lecture a boar. It's what he deserves.

  4. Loving this series! There is definitely something very queer about the way that the machines (and androids) create their own identities and form relationships and I'm surprised I haven't seen anyone else mention that before this video. Because there are literally no humans in this story all of the gender stuff is what these machines/androids have discovered for themselves or decided they liked to replicate based on what they learned from humans, and I think that's very interesting. The sexuality aspect is more complicated because none of these characters have biology and can't have that experience in the same way as humans would, yet they still try to replicate that too. But I also think this game is very aware that humans are interacting with it and projecting their own desires/meanings onto these characters (who are not humans biologically but are very human like in every other way). So in the case of Adam interrogating 9S, the ** word is deliberately ambiguous. 'Kill' fits the best for 9S's POV contextually because Adam has been talking about hatred and he knows 9S has those feelings too which he is in denial about (his resentment coming from realizing that 2B has been tasked to kill him – and she has done so repeatedly). I think that scene is one of the times the game breaks the 4th wall because it knows that a lot of players (assumed to be straight dudes) find 2B sexy so while ** can mean different things, its ambiguity is pretty clever and an interesting way for the game to humanize a character by projecting a human sexuality on him which he technically couldn't experience without biology. The game also continues to draw parallels between intimacy and death/killing later on too as you pointed out, so i think the double meaning is definitely intentional there.

  5. What i find fascinating about the red girls is they never attacked or destroyed the resistance androids (whom their camp is near the tower), only yorha and pascal's village machines. It is as if they solely attack their own since yorha black box and machine cores are the same, which the resistance androids lack.

  6. I am destroyed this has messed me up pretty bad. This is good! You are very insightful. I don’t take the time to play longer games but I really enjoy videos like these. I love the way you tie this into alchemy and the research you made on the kanji.

    Question: Does the moment when Adam questions 9S have something to do with the Jungian shadow? He asks 9S how he can think of himself a good person with all his thoughts and such. And after that you say that being a good person is how you act on your thoughts. This is where it clicked for me. I think Jung said something like acknowledging your shadow (being the darker part of yourself you don’t want to look at) instead of ignoring it makes you a stronger, more complete person. He called it integrating your shadow. I am paraphrasing like crazy here.

    The way I understood it is that having no capacity act badly does not make you good. You have to choose it. Also someone who has never explored their darker, more shameful self is more dangerous than someone who has embraced it as a part of themselves. Someone ignoring their darker side do not know what they’re capable of.

    And now writing this I am thinking of Eve. I bet he didn’t think he had it in him to become crazy like that because he literally never could’ve imagine a world without his big brother.

    There’s a chance you touch on it in the third video though. I am going to go watch that once I recover from this one!

  7. I have watched so many video essays about NieR:Automata and I even have a copy of this game, but I am so intimidated about actually playing it. Thankfully, there are cool video essays like yours that do a deep dive into the characters, especially the machines. I find it so intriguing how most Machines VS Androids/Humans stories tend to be one of the Evil Machines trying to Take Over And Subjugate Humanity (there's a lot of anxiety by the ruling class in there, isn't there?). I find it very intriguing to see Machines are Just Becoming People instead. Another deep dive into philosophy, but thank goodness for anime characters shouldering the burden of knowing oneself, eh? Thank you for the video essay! it was awesome!

  8. I was surprised to hear you speak so openly about your gender and sexuality, but it gave your take on the game a personal weight that I really appreciated. It's shocking to me that content of this quality is so relatively obscure, I truly hope that your channel grows, you work deserves more love and attention.

  9. I have now watched 4 videos of yours: the one about Bloodborne, the one about arcane, and the first 2 parts of your Nier “review/video-essay”, and I am seriously impressed by your work.
    Thank you for creating it, and I really look forward to seeing what new content you will produce!
    I hope you have a great day 🙂

  10. These videos are so calming and interesting to listen at the same time!! I put them on in the background while I draw and I enjoy them so many! Your blood borne episode was particularly good!! I need more of your videos!^^

  11. Thanks for the analysis, the view count is criminally low unfortunately… given the popularity of the game
    After the recent white church thing over reddit I decided coming coming back to watch this
    I played Automata when it first came out but always want to watch this video after finishing Replicant, but ran out of steam midway playing

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