Math and Games in Isshuukan Friends – The Journey is More Important than it’s Conclusion
In episode 9 of Isshuukan Friends, Fujimiya said an extremely attention-grabbing statement, an eye-opener for those who hate math,
“Math is like a puzzle or a game. There’s a clear answer, and you’re going on a journey to find it. But there are many ways to reach that answer. That’s why it’s so fulfilling when you find the solution. There are ways to find an answer promptly, or more freely. Even roundabout methods can bring you to a definite solution. The method may not be pretty, but when the answer you worked hard to discover is right, it makes you happy. That’s why I think the problem-solving process is important.”
~by Fujimiya Kaori
Ishhuukan Friends is a currently airing anime of the Spring season about a girl who has slight amnesia issues, and her memories, especially happy memories with her friends, are reset every week on Monday. As you can see from above, Fujimiya likened math to games, which is an interesting thought, because it’s not something that occurred to me throughout the years I had struggled-killing off my brain cells and wrestling off with countless numbers just to find an answer to a particular question.
In the visual culture, games have a certain unique trait that distinguish itself from the other media that includes, but not limited to-anime, manga, novels and so on; games provide interactivity. Unlike other media like the aforementioned ones where the story is particularly fixed, in games, you are invited to partake just how the story will proceed to it’s conclusion, the “how” clearly more emphasized. In math, the “working out” process can be counted as an interactivity of sort.
On a somewhat relevant scale, you can probably add in visual novels to the equation as well, since the different choices the players had to pick in order to reach the conclusion can be counted as an interactivity in itself.
But what does it all means? Isshuukan Friends is obviously not an anime about games, or math, for that matter. Did what Kirimiya said has a deeper connotation to the show? Or rather, just pointless banter? But first, both Kiryuu and Hase has something to say to that.
Hase: I wonder if I’m helping Fujimiya-san…
Hase: Fujimiya-san’s problem hasn’t been resolved. It may even be a problem that can’t be solved.
Kiryuu: But the process is important, right?
Kiryuu: In Fujimiya-san’s words, the process is more important than the solution. If that’s true, then aren’t things fine as they are?
Effort is more important than the solution. The anime is trying to portray that even if you don’t manage to achieve a result by working hard, it’s fine, because you can already learn something in the prospect of working hard. Perhaps you found a very difficult boss in a game you can’t beat, even though you had burned countless time and effort grinding your levels and upgrading your equipments, and after trying again after a long break, you perhaps found out you had been using the wrong strategy all along. Similarly, perhaps you had worked hard, gawking at your sheet full of intimidating numbers, trying to solve a few difficult questions you just can’t solve, however, after a more thorough understanding of the questions and a more solid grasp of the formulae, you finally solved the questions. After working hard through countless failures, and finally achieving your goal, it is certainly fulfilling – it makes all those hard work paid off.
However, all the scenarios above are cases where there’s a clear-cut answer. I might want to add that I don’t particular agree with the anime’s seemingly optimistic views. And certainly, such optimism, at least in my opinion, isn’t an “answer” for something as serious as amnesia. In any case, it is still interesting to see where the story (most particularly the manga, actually, since it’s still ongoing and had probably gone further than what the anime had shown us) goes with this – the “journey”? Or the “conclusion”?