Rethinking the Reason Endings of SMT3 Nocturne and Why They’re Not Useless: Musubi

One of the most notorious things about a game with six endings is that people will obviously try to do the route with the most extra content and then unfortunately quit. There’s so many games out now, unlike the PS2 era, that nobody cares to or even has time for a second, third, or fourth playthrough. Every game, even MegaTen games with multiple endings, is just a one and done deal with no interest in delving into the other endings. At best, people might play for Human Freedom and TDE, but that’s all. Moreover, people can just watch the endings on Youtube, but watching the endings without a full context of the events leading up to them may cause people to overlook the implications. If I may use an analogy, people might see the glass at 1/6th of the total scope or 2/6ths, if they’ve done the Human Freedom and TDE endings only. It somewhat misses the point that it is not always about the endgoal, but the journey there that matters.

Perhaps it mattered more to me because I had taken the time to do the route on the PS2, but I do believe that Musubi was one of most interesting “Bad” endings to a game. Here are my reasons why I’ve said this, there will be slight spoilers for Shijima and Yosuga routes as a point of comparison:

Unlike Hikawa’s Shijima route, where he gives you props and a Free Demon (Samael), or Chiaki’s route where she congratulates you and you have a glorious battle, you reach Isamu’s area…. and he was killed by Chiaki before you even got there and he tosses the stone to you, which he managed to cling onto despite her attempts to get it. You then have to do everything yourself, no congratulations and no bonus. The narrative makes a firm point in the Musubi route that a lot of people miss; although Chiaki’s Reason was extreme, she had a very good point at the core before deciding to kill off the weak; Power fundamentally matters and without it, you will never achieve anything that you want. Even more to the point, you can’t defend your ideals or beliefs without power. Unlike every other time, the Demi-fiend was not there to play Hero. Isamu put himself on the line at the Tower, thinking he could play god and bear the responsibility like Hijiri mentioned, but he couldn’t because he only ever used or was rescued by others. He never worked at it on his own or grew as a person from the struggles like Chiaki, Hikawa, and you did. And, then there’s the ending itself and hoooly shit that was a double-whammy.

I had seen it on Youtube, but it wasn’t until actually playing the route that I realized the point. Isamu’s ending of Musubi implies living in your own world is a form of suicide. You cut yourself off from others and live with nothing. It’s implied Isamu may have killed himself and left you a tomb saying he doesn’t care what world you create, whether its Musubi or not. And all of that behavior is completely consistent with Musubi. So once I finished it, I was genuinely like…. WTF did I just do!? O_o

So yeah, I think Musubi is probably a really good way of doing a twist “Bad ending” that’s unexpected. That is, a very well done “bad ending” to a story. It was only after playing through Musubi that I realized Chiaki’s criticisms were both valid and applied to Takao and Isamu in Nocturne. The Musubi route and ending really changed my perspective on Nocturne after I beat it. It’s like seeing the game from a different vantage point in a good way. To quote the HD Script since it is more accurate:

“The weak provoke and mislead others because they can’t do anything themselves, as long as we have to deal with these parasites, we can never create a beautiful world.”

Sounds like bullshit when applied to what she’s doing; when you apply it to Isamu and Yuko Takao, it’s completely dead-on. It’s exactly how the both of them behaved throughout the entirety of the game. People seem to try to simplify the characters using ridiculous arguments about hypocrisy, when hypocrisy doesn’t even apply to these characters due to their situations.

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TL;DR: The subtext of Musubi Route heavily implies that Hikawa and Chiaki had valid points about the behavior of characters like Yuko Takao and Isamu, but they were just extreme with their solutions to the problems that they brought up. Also, Musubi is implied to be a form of suicide because people close themselves off from others and live in their own worlds.

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