Completed 3 February 2001, revised 8 March 2020
This fic is mostly about Sarah Bryant and Kage-Maru dealing with both the past and present aspects of their lives. It seemed interesting to me at the time when I wrote it to put their thoughts alongside each other in a one-shot story, partly to tax my own understanding of how alike these two really are and partly to explore their personalities even further.
A bunch of spoilers ahead (up to Episode 26), so please proceed with caution.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Memory takes place at the start of Virtua Fighter’s second season, or Episode 25. This particular anime installment starts off three years after Episode 24.
In Episode 25, Sarah sees Jacky and Pai off to their vacation in Japan. I was struck with how she looked so alone in the airport while waving goodbye to their plane, with that sweet smile on her face, and wanted to depict her reaction to their departure. It was highly probable for them to have asked her to come along, and, of course, she would have immediately refused because her classes at the university were still on. The thing is, was that her only reason for not going? She could have been deliberately avoiding something–or someone.
We never really had a good idea of Sarah’s feelings towards Kage from all 35 episodes, but I was greatly intrigued with how she reacted to his presence in the latter part of Season One, especially on Episode 22 when he so gallantly rescued her from the Koenkan who were chasing her on their motorcycles. The expression on her face when she saw that her rescuer was actually her previous kidnapper was priceless, all wide eyes and speechlessness. In the Filipino dub, she could not even complete a sentence in her thoughts when Kage’s helmet came off; she just went on with something like: “He is…you are…”
Afterwards, when Kage claimed to have come because he was going to “help those whom he wanted to protect,” she smiled a very unusual smile and made a rather affectionate harrumphing sound. Food for thought, isn’t it?
The reporter asking Sarah about the “real” relationship between Pai and Jacky was based on the question that I heard from one of the reporters that mobbed these two when they arrived at the airport in Japan. In the Filipino dub, the question goes something like this: “Jacky! Pai! You two! You’re already having a honeymoon before the wedding?”
It seems logical that another reporter will most likely ask that very same question, and who else to get the freshest piece of news from than one of the involved parties’ siblings? After all, there is something kind of juicy about an unmarried couple going on a vacation by themselves, given that one of them is a famous indy race driver while the other is currently the hottest commodity in Hollywood. Ideal tabloid front-page material. The parts of Memory from Kage’s point of view take place before he goes back to Hagakure for his monthly “sparring session” with Akira and when he first finds himself strapped to the wall in Oni-Maru’s lair.
I have been listening to Love and Despair by the Filipino band Wolfgang, and the two parts reflect the elements of this song. The first Kage interlude shows our hero in a state of hope of going back to the peacefulness of his home village and getting news from Akira about the possible arrival of a certain someone he cares about. The second vignette depicts him as hurt and despairing, and bravely courting death at the hands of one of his greatest enemies.
“The Way is to live, so we could die” is an adage of the real-life Hagakure, a thesis of samurai philosophy written by Tsunetomo Yamamoto around the 15th century. Hagakure, which literally translates into “in the shadow of the leaves,” has the first line that could be paraphrased as “The way of the warrior is to die.”
About Sarah’s dream sequence, I wanted to show the past and the present come together in a sublime juxtaposition. The corridor is, of course, a representation of the place beneath the New Las Vegas stadium where she got kidnapped at the very start and was soon morphed “into a heartless, mindless shell of a person.” The fire and the shuriken are foreshadowings of what happened at Hagakure, although she had no idea at the time that what she dreamt about was so close to the truth. The red scarf/ribbon was what she had used to bandage Kage’s wounded arm in Episode 7; and, in my opinion, this symbolizes her bond with him.
Not much interaction and mostly just a lot of reflecting on the part of the characters, but that’s what remembering is all about. In reality, ghosts of the past do come back to haunt us in the most inopportune times, too.
The breaks in the first-person narratives are filled with quite a variety of song lyrics, including a stanza from the song Wing” of the Filipino band Barbie’s Cradle. I have listened to these songs in the past and deemed them rather fit in setting the melancholic, almost lonely mood of this piece.
The writing of Memory was steadily sustained all throughout a late Saturday afternoon by repeatedly listening to the song This Love from the soundtrack of the movie Cruel Intentions. A beautifully disturbing love song, and seemingly appropriate for Virtua Fighter‘s odd couple.