Image source: TVアニメ「サクラダリセット」公式 on Twitter
In a seaside city where nearly half the population has superpowers, you’d expect a few of them to be a little twisted or messed up. But not this much.
[Note: This article contains spoilers for the first five episodes of Sagrada Reset]
The story of Sagrada Reset centers on two characters, Kei Asai and Haruki Misora. The two have complimentary abilities—Haruki can “reset” the world to a previously “saved” point while Kei’s photographic memory allows him to retain his memories even after Haruki’s reset. While fairly useless separately, when combined, their abilities allow them to solve problems before they happen, with some limitations.
Kei is a rather intelligent boy with a calculating mind and a cool, disconnected demeanor. He is able to quickly analyze and actively react to situations.
Haruki, on the other hand, is almost entirely passive. We discover why in the first episode when we are shown a brief moment from her past. We see a moment in Haruki’s childhood where she sees a cicada die. Haruki tries to place the cicada back onto a tree from where it fell, but the dead bug simply falls again. Haruki then breaks down in tears.
We learn that Haruki has an almost unbelievable capacity for empathy. Anything bad or painful she sees happen to someone else, she experiences emotionally as though it’s happening to her. Years of this has left her developmentally challenged when it comes to her emotions. Her only way of coping through a lifetime of feeling other people’s emotional pain is by setting up her own rules.
Rule 1: She will deny doing anything that might affect the surrounding environment in a negative manner.
Rule 2: She will accept doing anything that she is told so long as it does not conflict with the first rule.
Rule 3: If she ever sees anyone crying, she will use her reset power.
Basically, she has set up her own laws of robotics as a psychological defense mechanism. However, the third rule is essentially useless because even if she does reset the world, she herself is also affected and left with no memory that she reset the world in the first place. Still, despite this obvious flaw, Haruki has relied on these rules and managed to make it through life so far.
After Kei shows Haruki that by working with him and combining their powers, they can prevent others’ pain, Haruki manages to evolve as a person and rewrites her own rules to live in this new world that Kei has shown her. So you would think she’s become a well-adjusted person and a productive member of society, right?
Image source: TVアニメ「サクラダリセット」公式 on Twitter
Wrong. While the latter part may be true, the subsequent episodes have shown that, if anything, Haruki is even more damaged than before. After combining their powers to solve a problem that was causing Haruki emotional distress, she created a 0th rule that supersedes her previous three rules, the 0th rule being: Obey Kei. By earning Haruki’s trust, Kei has turned himself into her psychological crutch. By proving he knows better than her how to use her power, Kei has become Haruki’s barometer and moral compass for, well, pretty much everything.
It has been revealed that Haruki will only use her power if Kei tells her to; she simply cannot use it without his command. She is psychologically incapable of determining when to use her own ability because she relies on Kei to make that judgement for her. Even if someone literally dies before her eyes, she will not use her reset power because she does not possess the moral capacity to determine whether it is right or not—she has decided instead to rely completely on Kei. That is messed up.
Kei himself seems well aware of Haruki’s reliance on him, but doesn’t do anything about it. Most likely because he currently has no way to “fix” her, and also because he needs her undying trust when it comes to solving problems. He knows he is using her, but he also believes that he’s doing so for the greater good. However, seeing Kei’s somewhat introspective responses whenever Haruki seeks his approval for even the most mundane things—like how to talk—he obviously understands that this far from healthy.
Currently, Haruki has remained developmentally stagnant since she added her 0th rule incorporating Kei. The dynamic between the two characters is fascinating to observe as a bystander, but the longer it goes on, the more it becomes clear just how screwed up Haruki really is. At this point, the only way for Haruki to develop as a human being is to learn to recognize her own emotions and to break her rules through her own volition, but it remains to be seen what it will take for that to happen. As it currently stands, it looks like nothing short of completely turning Haruki’s world upside-down will suffice. Even then it may not be enough. Let’s hope that Kei has what it takes.