From Micolash, 1 Week ago, written in Text.
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  1. To begin with, I would like to discuss the central themes of Nier. There are a ton of things going on in the story overall, but let’s begin with what I believe to be the two philosophies that Yoko Taro bases a lot of his work on. Nihilism and existentialism. While I won’t be discussing either of these philosophies, you can look at this link (https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/4xqgpw/eli5_what_are_the_main_differences_between/) for a better explanation of what they are. To sum it up, nihilism pretty means that “life has no meaning outside of our own perspectives.” In other words, since we can’t even prove that we exist beyond our own viewpoints, everything is essentially pointless and meaningless. On the other hand, existentialism encourages us to find meaning in the things we do, the path we take life, and ultimately, the meaning to life. Throughout NieR: Automata, these philosophies work with and against one another. You have both the machines and androids struggling to discover the meaning to their existence. But there are those who have ultimately concluded that there is no meaning to their existence and end up choosing death. Yoko Taro has also stated before in an interview that he wished to explore the reason we kill in games. We are so attuned to this concept in many other games, where we kill and grind over and over and over. In this process, we have become so desensitized to what we do that we no longer question why we kill. NieR: Automata does not fail to explore the irony of this. Machines and androids were both designed for the sole reason to kill. They were given a reason (existentialism) to live, but ultimately realized that killing was meaningless (nihilism). These two themes are the absolute foundation of NieR: Automata and we can observe their workings in not only the internal struggles of the main characters, but many of the side quests as well. Existentialism and nihilism is present almost every event in NieR so I will certainly bore most of you away if I spent the whole thread on this single topic. If I haven’t already done so. :(
  2. I will discuss a few other themes that I believe are important to note in this game.
  3. I was reading discussion on Nier and one guy asked: “So humans are dead?! What’s the point?!”
  4. Machines, Androids, and being “human”:  What separates machines and androids from humans? Furthermore, what exactly is it that makes us “human?” What must one do to become “human?” Yoko Taro fucks with us in a few ways throughout NieR: Automata. Firstly, it is that we play as androids that look, act, and express themselves as humans. There is constant character development, unique personalities, and meaningful relationships between androids. Why exactly has Yoko-P chosen to do this? Well, firstly, we are mostly restricted to the viewpoints of the characters we control throughout the entire story. We tend to sympathize with game protagonists as we are mostly restricted to what they see and interact with the entire game. As a result, there is really no room for doubt when we are asked “are 2B, 9S, and A2 human?” Of course, we would say, and forget that there is really nothing much separating machines from androids in the world. But wait! Machines are clearly different from android! They don’t look like humans and they walk and talk funny! Sure, you can point to physical characteristics, but if you think about it, there really is nothing much separating androids from machines. Yoko is consistently and deliberately blurring the line between androids and machines. 9S learns that android cores are made of machine parts. The machine network creates Adam and Eve, who (despite...lacking in genitals) are human-like and have essentially “become” androids. Are you becoming confused with all these distinctions and categories? Well, Yoko has played you once again! There really is no answer as to what makes someone “human.” Even we don’t know the answer to that. The game attempts to define this, but ultimately fails. Religion, war, love, beauty...we still don’t have the answer to what makes us human. The important thing is that Yoko has inspired us to ask this question. So, ask yourself today. What have you done that makes you human?
  5. Death (and suicide): Ah, death. Perhaps the biggest fear we have as mankind. Death is explored and exploited in NieR: Automata over and over. But every time we start to become desensitized to it, Yoko throws a huge, fat fucking “NO!” in our faces. Killing all the machines in Pascal’s Village instantly grants you a game over and a joke ending. As we hack and slash at machines in the overworld, we hear them cry out over the broken parts of their family, vow revenge, and scream in pain. Oh, no, the “enemies” in Nier don’t just take our shit passively like they do in so many other games. Like the main cast, they all have reasons to live, or don’t. Death is both mocked at and feared in Nier. On one hand, death is so easily obtained. You watch as machines throw themselves into the fire as you run out of the Abandoned Factory. You see machines as die as you press square over and over on your controller. There appears to be no pain or death or bleeding. But then we become attached to the characters we love so much. We scream “no!” as 2B becomes infected and asks for mercy at the hand of A2. We are in disbelief as she dies. (How can Yoko Taro kill off one of his main characters?!) The agonizing screams of 9S fills our ears as he falls onto A2’s katana, contorting in his own blood. Like almost everyone else, he doesn’t want to die. Death is present and everywhere in NieR. In the end, it almost feels like everyone we have gotten to know over the course of our playthrough has died or met a tragic end one way or the other. One final thought on this. Being able to experience death is often considered “living” and being “human”, as evident in Adam’s whole reason for fighting 2B. When we begin our story in NieR: Automata, the main cast doesn’t know what death is. Even if they destroy their bodies, but they will be always be reformed once again because their memories remain (although a bit skewed in the case of 9S.) But in this sense, the androids don’t really know what “death” is until the Bunker is blown up and they lose their ability to “revive” much like we do in games. They are no longer invincible beings.
  6. Philosophy and NieR, literally: An interesting topic I read on this subreddit not long ago. What exactly is Yoko Tier’s purpose for naming so many of the bosses after philosophers? As one user suggested (sorry, it’s been awhile since I read it so if you happen to be reading this thread, feel free and credit yourself), Yoko may be hinting that the world itself is trying to “kill” philosophy. We ignore what the philosophers have warned us about. We ignore their attempt to understand the world. We ignore their theories on how we think and act. My interpretation may be erroneous, but I did find this observation very interesting and worth thinking about.
  7. Who is the true villain?
  8. Pascal: I would like to begin with Pascal, who is one of my two favorite characters in the game. (Unpopular opinion here, but 9S is my other favorite.) Pascal is named after Blaise Pascal, who was a French mathematician and philosopher you likely know from his theory “Pascal’s Wager.” Pascal the philosopher has many philosophies, but I would like to focus on the fact that he was mostly certainly an existentialist. He certainly acknowledged the fact that there were many things that out of the individual’s control, but unlike nihilists, he did not conclude that life was ultimately not worth living. Pascal the philosopher did not agonize over the meaning of life; rather, he believed that a person’s personal experiences are what makes life worth living. Pascal in the game was very much the same. After being in the machine network for many years, he disconnected himself from it and decided to make the life he was granted his own. He built the machine village and educated himself, creating a family of machines and children machines that he cares very much for. Throughout the game, Pascal makes it clear that the machine village is his entire reason for living. At one point of the game, you even shown a cutscene where he reads a line from Nietzsche’s book, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: “Where the state ceaseth, there only commenceth the man who is not superfluous” followed by the comment, “it seems that Nietzsche was quite the profound thinker.” This line is in Chapter 11 of the book and to cut things short, Nietzsche is claiming that “the man who possesses the least actually possesses the most.” Pascal does not seek glory or to enter himself into the war between machines and androids. He simply wants to live his life peacefully and nothing more. The theme in the Machine Village is representative of this. You hear the chanting of children, hinting at the naivety and ignorance of the machines living there. Ultimately, it is perhaps naivety that leads to the Village’s downfall. The world of NieR: Automata (and the oh-so-cruel Yoko Taro) does not allow for these acts of existentialism to stand. The machine village and Pascal end on a tragic note. In doing his best to teach the naive children of village the emotions necessary to “live” and “discover meaning,” the children killed themselves. It is ironic to see how Pascal’s existentialist views led him into becoming a nihilist. Another irony in Pascal’s story is the optional side quest that you can do as A2 right before the infected machines incident. Called “Storage Element,” Pascal asks A2 to fetch machine parts in order to repair a machine child in need. Once A2 does so, Pascal tells her that he simply could have fixed the child by transferring the child’s core to another body rather than repairing the original. As a consequence though, the child would lose his memories and in Pascal’s words, “would no longer be the same child.” In Pascal asking A2 to make the decision to either kill him or erase his memories, he is really giving her no option (unless you choose to walk away). Both of them are essentially “killing” Pascal. Our memories make who we are. Without them, we are no longer the same person. As many of you know, if you choose to erase Pascal’s memories, he becomes a shop that sells machine parts of the children in the village. Oh, yes, it is certainly fucked up. What’s even more fucked up is the belief he had in his people right before they all died: “I trust our children can stand strong against the senseless conflicts of this world and blaze a new trail for our people.” Poor Pascal. As I bought machine parts from him in the now empty village, my favorite track of the OST played gently in the background. “Wretched Weaponry.” Wretched weaponry, indeed...To wrap this tragedy up, here’s a fun fact: When you play as A2, Pascal asks you to borrow a book from Anemone. The book she hands you that she has recently finished was Pensées (thoughts), which is actually written by Pascal the philosopher.  (Gender, identity?)
  9. Jean-Paul: As many of you may have noticed by now, Jean Paul was the object of Simone’s love in NieR: Automata. There seems to be a “fuck Jean Paul” thing going on as well. I will talk more about this later when I get to Simone’s section. Either way, let us talk about Jean-Paul, the sophisticated machine. He is probably the most blatant representation of philosophy in NieR: Automata, talking in riddles and constantly confusing everyone around him. There is a lot to sift through Sartre the philosopher so I will only draw a few examples that I believe are present in Yoko’s character. Sartre the philosopher is best known for his philosophical work, Being and Nothingness, which I am sure a lot of you have heard of. It is rather difficult to summarize his writings, but the book is focused on (surprise!) existentialism. Again, it would take ages to explain and discuss in-depth Sartre’s writings, so I will do my best to shorten it for you. Sartre attempted to define what it means to live, or in other words, a state of “being.” He categorized this into “being-in-itself” (nonconscious) and “being-for-itself” (conscious).
  10. Jean Paul Sarte’s journey.
  11. Other concepts I neglected to discuss:
  12. Emil’s Memories: “I lost...I guess power is the only thing that counts in this world anymore, huh?”
  13. Data Analysis Freak side quest. Fordism. Humans being worked like machines to make machines. Irony?
  14. Immanuel Kant: King’s letter. Give your life for the king of the forest! You have lived your entire life for this singular moment!
  15. Do you think us fools? - Clown parade. Joy and love, what’s the point? You wind up dead anyways. “No doubt they were rambling on about love and happiness to the bitter end. What madness.”
  16. “What use are we to the world? It is painful. So painful. Why were we born?” - Wise machine.
  17. Machine core and androids.
  18. Simone was trying to impress Jean Paul.  When 9S showed affection towards 2B, you can see that Simone felt jealous of 2B's beauty (as she thinks one must be beautiful to get affection), you can see how much desperate and sad she was when she screams "I MUST BE BEAUTIFUL", it was truly devastating... She was a great metaphor of how much us humans are obsessed with beauty, especially in our modern times... Simone and Jean.
  19. Romeo and Juliet play.
  20. Trophy shop.
  21. Ending E. https://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/168677-nier-automata/75109926
  22. Engels’ sidestory. “I killed many of your kind. It meant nothing when I was on the network. But now I understand. I know the anguish it has caused you. Atone.” It chose death. “We’re no different. We’ve killed machines. Perhaps someone sees that as a sin.”
  23. “There’s an important lesson here: The more of a fool people take you for, the more you’ll learn of their true nature.” I don’t even know what it means to be smart anymore. Weird Machine.
  24. Adam boss fight. Copied City.
  25.