Review: Edge of Tomorrow vs. All You Need is Kill (Part 2)
Cooper D Barham
Welcome. If you haven’t yet meandered through Part 1 of this breakdown, fret not, you can just follow the magic link: (http://www.geeksundergrace.com/books/edge-of-tomorrow-vs-all-you-need-is-kill-part-1/). Again, I will be using All You Need Is Kill as a catch-all for both the light novel and manga, and you can bet your bottom dollar there will be spoilers for everything. Turn back now, mortal, should you wish to make these discoveries for yourself.
In Part 1, I covered three of the most tremendous differences between Edge of Tomorrow and All You Need Is Kill: the Mimics, the main character, and Rita Vrataski. Now we’re going to reach further into the realm of technicalities. To save from repeating myself, if you need a quick recap on the synopsis of the stories, look to the first few paragraphs of that link I posted above. Thank yeh, kindly.
What? We’re not ending the article with miscellaneous? Nope. Gotta save the best for last and all that jazz. Besides, this segment of the article will be quick work and hardly exhaustive. At one point, the mediums start deviating so much that everything afterwards could be filed under the big “MISC.” That being the case, I’ll draw your attention to only a couple of the most prominent details.
Humor. This is something EoT did right, though at the expense of some of the serious flavor found in AYNiK. Obviously this acts as neither a pro nor con, as humor is generally understood to be one of the more subjective elements of a story. If you don’t care as much for laughs, you might find yourself better appreciating AYNiK, and vice versa. It’s all a matter of preference with this one. But having a character who can die indefinitely means the screenwriters had the liberty to kill him in plenty of hysterical ways, an idea they snatched up and ran with. That, and the general tone of the film, while overall taking itself seriously, was much more lighthearted than the Japanese counterparts.
The engineer. Rita Vrataski’s gearhead companion in the movie is a slightly disillusioned and peculiar fellow–the only one to believe her jargon about the Omega and the loops. This character doesn’t really provide more than his role demands in EoT, though he does cast his two cents with the aforementioned humor element. But AYNiK has a much different take on the Jacket mechanic. I’ve seen different translations for her name, but I’ll go with ‘Shasta’ because that’s the version conveniently sitting in front of me while I type. Yeah, Rita’s technician is female, not male, young, not old, and an airhead not a… whatever odd nouns the man from EoT could be pinned with. Shasta is tender-hearted, brilliant, and something of a social pariah–her only real skill being a mind for mechanics. But Shasta also provides a partner for both Keiji and Rita to bounce their thoughts off of, making her one of the most useful minor characters in the story.
The minors. Speaking of minor characters, the only other ones of note for AYNiK are Rachel Kisaragi: the canteen and cooking lady with all the curves needed to make the men on base drool; Ferrell Bartolome (also in EoT): Keiji’s platoon sergeant; and Jin Yonabaru: Keiji’s jock of a bunkmate. All these people fulfill their roles with satisfying results, but end up not being imperative in the grand scheme of things. In EoT, Rachel and Jin are traded off for a squad of rejects known simply as “J Squad,” of whom all inhabitants are kooky and fun but possibly even less significant as characters than the two Japanese trade-offs. Hard to say. This is perhaps one of the weakest parts of all the other mediums. Outside of the main characters, there are no absolutely standout minor characters. Not that those are necessary. They’re just a delicious bonus whenever found.
Armor and Weapons
Told you I’d come back to this one. The Jackets are vastly different between the film adaptation and the original source material. In EoT, the Jackets (battle-ready suits of armor, augmenting humans with enhanced strength and speed) are bulky shells of metal outfitted with Gatling guns and rocket launchers. They add more defensive girth than height and actually look rather useful. I would probably think higher of them if not for the AYNiK suits, which are a happy medium between normal human proportions and Gundam Mechs. The Japanese counterparts cover every inch of the body in steel, provide an elaborate HUD vision interface, greater height, mobility, flexibility, and just… look cooler. I mean, it wouldn’t be Japanese (yay, stereotypes) if they weren’t at least cool-looking, right? Most Jackets from the manga and book are camouflaged, with the exception of Rita Vrataski who has her Jacket custom painted crimson.
This red armor becomes significant to the story, not only because it builds Rita’s personality and character, but also because it provides a foundation for one of my favorite literary tools: theming. How is this theming, you ask? Because she loves the color of the sky, a pure blue at complete odds with the red in which she clads herself.
It will all make sense by the end, young Padawan.
Now, weapons. I already talked about most of the primary ones. For the most part, these don’t deviate much between each medium. The Jackets have a load-out consisting of some sort of automatic rifle and a mounted missile-launcher, as I said before. But AYNiK provides an extra umph to their suits, providing melee weaponry as well. In each Jacket reside twenty tungsten carbide spikes that can only kill from close-range–a surefire way of slaying Mimics if you’re stupid enough to let them get that close (http://mangadoom.com/all_you_need_is_kill/3/11/). And then there’s Rita’s battleaxe (or sword in EoT), the best weapon for destroying Mimics. And something only she can wield.
For a second we’re just going to talk about AYNiK, as this was one of my favorite parts of the entire story and something completely neglected in the American film (have you started to pick up on a bias, yet?). Somewhere in the serendipity of loops, Keiji has grown into quite a competent fighter, exterminating all Mimics who oppose him. But all of those weapons I named before—Gatling gun, rocket launcher, close-quarter spike cannon—have one crucial flaw. Regardless of how good you are with each weapon, or how perfect your killing streak is, they all run out of ammo. A battleaxe pointedly does not. So why doesn’t every soldier harness one of these bad boys? Firstly, not every soldier is going to be skilled enough with their initial weapons for it to matter. They’ll die before they ever run out of ammunition. Second, because of the momentum and inertia of swinging such a heavy blade, the auto-balancing system of the Jackets tries to counteract those opposing forces and you end up ripping yourself in half. And nobody in their right mind turns off the auto-balancing system, because then you can’t walk, let alone fight. I mean, you could, if you had the convenience of trying and failing over and over. And over and over.
And over and over.
Needless to say, this works in our tormented hero’s favor, and Keiji is eventually able to master the legendary Mimic-slaying weapon after dozens and dozens of accidental suicides and in-combat fatalities. Don’t think Keiji’s peers don’t recognize his sudden growth, either. Remember, to them he’s still a new recruit. In a more relatable way, this is like entering a course on cardiovascular nanosurgery (or something. Pretend I said something smart.) with your best friend. You both know you’re going to fail, because the material is difficult and the curriculum is stacked against you. But you wake up the next morning and suddenly your best friend is not only the top student in the class, but good enough that he could be teaching the course. That’s bound to catch somebody’s attention, right?
So it’s no mystery when Keiji is out on the battlefield destroying all who oppose him and the blood-red Rita Vrataski goes out of her way to observe his skill. With her observations, she makes a conclusion, and decides it would be best to drop a veritable smart-bomb on our unsuspecting protagonist.
“Hey, you. Yeah, you. How many loops does this make?”
Character-Driven vs Plot-Driven
Both EoT and AYNiK reveal that Rita Vrataski was once a victim to the loops as well, but has since found her way out, albeit by different methods. Because EoT’s loops operate through blood (William Cage killed and assimilated an Alpha’s blood to enter the loops, remember?), she was able to escape by taking a critical wound without dying and getting a blood transfusion. But when Kiriya Keiji destroys his version of the Alpha, his mind is turned into a “transmitter” of sorts, and the only way out is to destroy the backup transmitter. I promise, it makes more sense in-story, but I don’t have the convenience of unwrapping every detail here. As such, if Keiji wants out of the loops, he must successfully kill a very specific, powerful creature, without even knowing where said creature resides.
This is where things get more technical. EoT focuses much more on story than it does on character, as most of the conflict is provided by the Mimics–an unsympathetic monster of an enemy. Every action and development is to further the effort against the Mimics, with a brief flash of deviation for character development in the farmhouse. In this scene, Cage and Vrataski have a sentimental moment, and we see Cage intentionally stalling the loop so he can spend time with her. But, instead of undergoing any change, once Rita catches on to what he’s doing, she embraces her stubbornness and gets herself killed again.
So while it’s never the focal point of the story, it’s obvious that Cage develops affections for his female companion. A foolish endeavor, he knows, since he doesn’t believe they’ll ever escape the loops, and every time he dies their relationship starts from scratch. At least, for Rita it does. But, returning to that idea of “theming,” there isn’t much to be found in their relationship. In AYNiK, there are a couple different things they talk about that end up coming full-circle (appropriately coined “circular theming”) and are significant to both the story and the characters themselves. For example, the very first scene of the manga is of Keiji’s initial death. Having been rendered a bloody waste by Mimics, his Jacket has turned from his greatest asset into a tattered, metal coffin. Leaning over his body in its final moments, Miss Vrataski states: “I want to ask you something. I heard that green tea is free after a meal in Japan. Is it true?”
A disarming comment, meant only to alleviate some of the stress and concern in his dying hour. This is something Keiji later adopts for his own use on the battlefield, picking random questions and feeding them to soldiers to break them out of their horror spells. No, this doesn’t directly have to do with Rita herself, but she is what inspired this change, and it’s only one step in Keiji’s transformation.
More prominently, in AYNiK, Rita returns Keiji’s affections. They mutually care about one another, obviously altering the paradigm of their relationship. Keiji is only able to keep pressing through the pulsing, mental pains of the loops out of resolve to protect Rita–the only other person who understands that unique struggle. The EoT Rita is hard in heart and mind, but the AYNiK Rita is actually quite vulnerable sometimes, even to the point of tears. There’s a wonderful little bit of coffee banter that passes between them and grows in significance the more they talk about it. Keiji eventually adopts that habit from her as well. Remember the beginning of the article where I said Rita loves the color of the sky? Then why did she choose red to be the color people associated with her? Red is a powerful, demanding color that draws attention. It’s also a color Rita doesn’t like. This is perhaps one of the most important parts of the story.
Because then, when Rita dies and the crimson warrior is no more, what color do you think Keiji picks for his armor when he shoulders up the mantle she left behind? A color that also draws attention, but isn’t powerful, isn’t demanding. A hopeful, innocent sky blue. Innocent like the girl he could not protect.
As if it were even that simple.
The Final Opponent
The “Omega” was the Big Bad in EoT, a threat that required the unified efforts of not only William Cage and Rita Vrataski, but also J Squad. The Omega was a powerful adversary, certainly, especially considering how many Mimics were set in place to protect it. But again, the Omega served as little more than a plot objective. The final opponent in AYNiK was not the Omega. It wasn’t even a Mimic. The final boss, and the key to ending the loops, was Rita herself. When she was trapped in the loops, her mind was turned into a transmitter just like Keiji’s. In a sense that isn’t totally justified without reading the story for yourself, she turns into what is fundamentally an Alpha–not in form or mentality, just as an influence upon the loops. If either hopes to escape, they must die by the hands of the other.
But having now made it through almost two-hundred loops, and driving forward on a promise to work his hardest to survive, Keiji fights back–reluctantly at first, but then with the full brunt of his force. After an excellent battle, they each conclude the struggle with a titanic stroke. Keiji stands, an unsatisfied victor.
Rita wanted him to win, he learns (and even planted foreshadowing of this final battle and her decision to submit to his victory). When he suggests dying to start over–resigning himself to suffer the loops forever, or until his mind gives out–as long as they can be together, she declines and gingerly requests he go ahead without her, thankful only that he was certain to be by her side as she fell into a proverbial darkness. Because “being by yourself is a very lonely thing,” as quoted by the dying girl. It would sound gaudy and ill-conceived if it weren’t such a poignantly familiar sentiment and the last words of a character who we’ve come to love.
So what’s the biggest difference between EoT and AYNiK? The former has an ending that makes everybody happy. The latter has an ending that’s actually good. I can already feel your judgment. I succumb to the fact that I am deeply biased, but EoT’s yarn of the story has everyone alive, the Mimics dead, and both Cage and Vrataski free to live on and start their relationship at the beginning, one last time, and this time probably forever: a perfect ending free of trouble. Don’t misunderstand, I love happy endings, but they must be done properly (manga and anime fans, refer yourselves to the Fullmetal Alchemist manga and its Brotherhood equivalent). But AYNiK does not sacrifice its grit to put a smile on your face. It’s a bittersweet ending, and one that I, myself, appreciated. Keiji does more than survive the loops. He finds himself with a wealthy inheritance and a burden: the burden of knowing he must live on in a world without the only person who could ever understand him, and the inheritance of a hero that he never wanted to become, but can’t imagine backing away from. In the end, he inherits Rita’s coffee habits, her battlefield idiosyncrasies, her mentality, her weapon, and even her hope.
Okay, I know I just spoiled everything, but you were warned. And if you haven’t read this series, I recommend you do it in spite of this article. It’s good stuff, and my meager, informal writing ability is a shame beside Sakurazaka’s work and Obata’s illustrations. A fun, but not-so-important final fact to send you off into the netherworld known as “not-internet” or (to the more indoctrinated) the “Outernet”–Kiriya Keiji is given a nickname when he joins the American division of the UDF: “Killer Cage.” You know, because ‘L’s and ‘R’s are the same sound in Japanese? So Kiriya sounds a kind of like Killer and Keiji sounds like Cage (as we already established in Part 1)? Yes, no, maybe so? It’s cool, okay?
Oh well, thank you for reading anyways. God bless, make a friend, smile like the Cheshire Cat.
Actually, don’t do that last one. It’s creepy.
SONG OF THE DAY: “I Am” by Theocracy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3TsVaFR870
-A story about God’s character, told from his own tongue.
VERSE OF THE DAY: James, Chapter 1:2-3
“2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
+ Film: Funny, intense action, great effects
+ Novel: Strong prose writing, powerful story
+ Manga: Well-illustrated delivery and art, accurate to original material.
- Film: Insignificant soundtrack. Lack of character appeal.
- Novel: Abundance of swearing
- Manga: Sometimes feels a little too fast