The arrival of the Tokugawa’s Restoration Labyrinth: Ooku, one of Fate/Grand Order’s event, marked what I would like to dub as the conclusion of the Sakura trilogy in the Fate franchise, which was started with Heaven’s Feel in Fate/Stay Night, and continued in Fate/Extra CCC. I say this not just because the way the three chapters all starred some variation of Sakura (because Fate is weird like that), but also because they are, in some ways, involve a thematical portrayal of love. In Heaven’s Feel, the protagonist Shirou wrestled with choosing his ideals over his love, Sakura. In CCC, BB, The Alter Egos, and Kiara, represented a very twisted versions of love.
Fate/Grand Order’s Ooku more or less continued the tradition set by CCC in having the characters embodied a whole spectrum of love. The characters in this case are Kiara, Kama, and Kasuga-no-Tsubone.
Kiara, the Devouring Love
It is once said that love is one part selfishness and one part selflessness. The element of selflessness in love is apparent in the way we dedicate ourselves into caring for another person. The, selfishness, on the other hand, comes in the way that we crave affection from others for what we do for them. Between these two qualities, Kiara Sessyoin embodies a very twisted version of selfish love.
Kiara, a minority Buddhist sect practitioner, embodies a carnal, devouring type of love within the Fate universe. A love in its primal and selfish form where everything is to be a service for her enjoyment. Love where she is the hole that devours and absorbs everything on to herself (hence the artwork depicting her using the earth as a dildo). Interestingly, she’s often told that her Beast-powered version of herself could only be match by a Savior servant (i.e. Buddha), because she also represents an inverted ideal of Buddhism. Rather than letting go earthly attachment, she embraces it.
Kama, the Boundless Love
On the other side of the spectrum, Kama, the love god, represents the opposite spectrum of love. Whereas Kiara is someone who took love all for herself, Kama is somebody who schemed to provide boundless love for everybody in the Fate/Grand Order’s Ooku storyline. Some of the characters remarked that doing so will render the notion of love “meaningless”, but I always felt like it’s kind of an iffy philosophy (it’s a bit nonsensical to be honest). What I found more dangerous about Kama’s love is not so much her supposed “monopoly” on love, so much as she’s not giving “love” as it is “placation”. She wants humanity to surrender themselves to their base carnal self, indulging them toward decadence. It’s the reason why the whole Ooku labyrinth was designed to make anyone exploring them break a certain sets of taboo in order to go deeper (something that was thematically highlighted through the game’s route selection mechanic).
Given the fact these two figures represents a very extreme form of love, that also reflects humanity’s darkest instinct, it’s only fitting that they are both granted the title of Beast, humanity’s greatest evil.
Kasuga, the Tough Love
Between the two extremes listed above however, in the middle of the spectrum, Lady Kasuga portray a tough, but arguably, correct forms of love within the Ooku’s story. She’s a nurturing selfless figure, but also one that’s not afraid to scold somebody every time they do something wrong. Compared to Kama who languish seeing human in their depraved indulgence selves, Kasuga is someone who strives to better all the people in her charge. Which is why, two of the best moments in the Ooku event was when not only did she resisted Kama’s allure and bitch-slapped Gordolf into sanity, she also reprimanded every past Tokugawa figure in their worst moments. Loving somebody isn’t the same as pampering. It is also about wanting them to become the best version of themselves that they could be.
- There’s a similar Tumblr post made that explore the portrayal of love in Ooku here. Though I swear I came up with the idea for this post all on my own before I stumbled into that post.
- While her actions are interesting, Kama’s motivation is a bit vague for me. She said that she was “disappointed” by love, but the story never provide a clear reason for this. And in her response to her disappointment, she decided to… provide the universe with endless love anyway? I wonder if there’s something about her story with Shiva that I don’t get.