Dan’s Annotations 2

(A chapter of Akayama DanJay.)

The year is 2021.

Dan paused the anime at the commercial-break. He annotated the manga’s double-page-spread of giant space-robots breaking apart and combining together in empty craters. “We don’t know much about LuLu’s anonymous author except their pseudonym Tatsu,” said Dan, “but whoever wrote this must have read The Divine Comedy. These merging robots look like Dantean reptile-pits.”

Virgil Blue chuckled, bobbing their silver mask. “Danny, do you like The Inferno so much because it matches your life like aligning stars?”

“Huh?” Dan dropped his pen. “W-what do you mean?”

Virgil Blue was surprised to have shocked Dan so. “Surely you’ve noticed, too—after all, you and I share some worms. Your name is Danny and you study religion. You’re learning from the mentor Virgil Blue. You mourn the young death of your friend Beatrice, and Faith, who died not long after.”

“Oh. Oh.” Dan sighed in relief. “I’d never really thought about it that way. This is real life, not The Pilgrim’s Progress.” Virgil Blue clung to his cane. Dan sensed the Virgil’s concern for his uncharacteristic oversight. “I’ve got sort of an obsession-complex around torture,” said Dan. “I couldn’t get it out of my head as a kid, no matter what compulsions I tried to distract myself with. My dad thought reading Dante might help. Dante describes punishment in Hell as inflicted by the damned on themselves; he uses God and the afterlife as metaphors for psychology.”

“Did that help young-Danny?”

“Um. Well, it gave young-Danny’s obsession-complex a lot more ammunition. But once you realize how little we know about the mind, suddenly every religion is real, and obsession-complexes become…” He finished a line of annotation. “Anyway, maybe my Beatrice was named Beatrice because her parents were devout, and thought Dante’s Beatrice Portinari was a pure-enough namesake. You’re the one named Virgil Blue, Virgil Blue. Did you take the title just to align the stars to my life?”

“No,” said Virgil Blue. “Obviously the title ‘Virgil’ was chosen because of Dante’s Divine Comedy. We in the monastery lead Sheridanians to the next eternity, and thereby lead all worms across the desert to the Biggest Bird’s Mountain.”

“Aha.” Dan flipped the manga’s page to the next issue. “These stars are aligned because they’re all referencing the same cultural touchstone. With enough monks, you were bound to get one named Dan eventually, so the only coincidence here is that I know Beatrice, and that she was hit by a bus.”

“There are no coincidences,” said Virgil Blue. “This is what it means you and I share worms. Why do you think LuLu’s is referencing Dante, Danny?”

Dan picked up his phone. “Well… The Hurricane is a pretty hellish thing. And Princess Lucia might be named after Lucia of Syracuse, a classic Christian martyr. So when the Hurricane kills Lucia, she’s replaced with her daughter Lucille, who… who…” He waggled the phone, searching for words. “When you forget God created Hell, you surrender power to Satan. Lucille isn’t nice, she’s kinda punky, a tad Lucifer-like, on the border of being inappropriate. She’s reclaiming Hell from the Hurricane so the Zephyrs can wield its inherently Heavenly power against the Hurricane.”

“Hmm, hmm.” Virgil Blue considered the image of Lucille on the phone. “She’s a miniature Kali. I like her.”

“My friend Faith liked Lucille, too,” said Dan. “Maybe she was glad to see a character with her pocket-sized body-type exhibit unequivocal confidence. If Lucille’s short hair was white-blond instead of fiery orange, she’d look a lot like Faith.”

Jango lost track of himself and exposed a hand to rub his chin. He realized his mistake when he touched his silver mask, and retrieved his hand into a sleeve before Dan saw it. “Is Faith a Kali-type, too?”

“Oh, she could look like one when she wanted to.” Dan opened the manga to the last pages. “But Faith probably liked Akayama’s white fox better.”

“White fox?”

“Virgil Green told me the Biggest Bird has a white fox messenger.”

“Yes, I’ve met it before,” said Virgil Blue. “Twice, I think. We traded gifts. Can you show me?”

Dan put away the volume and showed Jay’s sketches in his notepad. “Akayama has a cute white fox near the very end of LuLu’s, very briefly. It’s sort of a blink-and-you-miss-it mascot-character introduced just before the endless hiatus, but Faith liked foxes more than anything, and she liked just about everything.” As soon as Dan realized he was smiling, his smile drooped. “It’s a shame she died not long after Beatrice.”

Virgil Blue tried to change the topic. “It’s a little outlandish for Lucille to be Earth’s supreme military authority, isn’t it? Her being under twenty.”

“Eh. Her biological parents were space-robot pilots, her adopted parents were space-robot pilots… She’s stuck on the moon, too. Nothing else for her to do, really. This is a manga, so she’s honestly lucky to be a teen in a bodysuit and not a preteen in a miniskirt.” Dan blushed. He couldn’t bring himself to make eye-contact with Virgil Blue’s silver mask after saying that. He just started the next episode.


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