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Sound Horizon and Religion: The "Yaldabranche" Theory

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Ghostie

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PostSubject: Sound Horizon and Religion: The "Yaldabranche" Theory Thu Jan 29, 2015 11:27 pm#1

It’s been a while since my last post regarding this topic. I've been thinking about it a lot since I made the first post in August, and I’ve found several things since then. I’ll try to make this a bit tidier than the last one (with all its additions— ugh). The first goal of this post is clarifying the point and some of the confusing stuff I laid out in the last post. Then, naturally I want to add in my findings to strengthen the theory as a whole. This time, I will be including much more doujin era material, as I’m much stronger in this regard than I was a few months back. Also, I will talk about Vanishing Starlight and how I think it may fit into things. Much of this post is going to be a remake of the previous post, so those who read all 14 pages of that mess, a lot of this will be familiar. Hopefully it will make more sense after reiteration!

A big goal in this post is to outline how “higher beings” work in Sound Horizon. This includes gods, spirits, and of course, Michele Malebranche. Perhaps the biggest motivator of this whole post is figuring out the hierarchy of these beings, and placing them all together and connecting the Horizons through a perspective that hasn’t been done before. Before getting into the crazy stuff that follows, I’d like to talk about some overarching themes of Sound Horizon.

Overarching Themes of Sound Horizon

Repetition, suffering, motherhood, war, revenge, regret, death, fate. When one thinks “Sound Horizon”, these are probably themes that come to mind. There is conflict in all stories, but the kind of suffering depicted in Sound Horizon goes beyond that. Sound Horizon features suffering that is cyclical in nature. Everything has loops, and there are loops within those loops. It’s very confusing to wrap your head around all the details, but it’s important to remember the big ideas and not lose sight of them. With that said, I want to introduce a quote from Pico Magic Reloaded to start the analysis. Translation by Defade (I will use Defade’s translations for this post for the sake of consistency).

Quote :
"She probably wanted to escape
The narrow cage she was trapped in…
To the point of monomania.
…but, regrettably
Her wish was not granted during her lifetime.
…and even now, one century after her death,
She is still within that cage…”

“…why can I make such an assertion? …a good question.
Fine then, acknowledging that my answer may be subject to misunderstanding,
I, Christopher Jean-Jacques Saint-Laurent, shall announce herein.
Because we are in the same cage that she is….”

The quote is from the end of Ori no Naka no Hana, the last song in Reloaded’s Cage Trilogy. You could figure this out without the passage, but I’ve quoted it because  it clearly spells out that Michele Malebranche is a very important figure in Sound Horizon. The Savant breaks the fourth wall when he essentially says that the entire Sound Horizon universe takes place in her cage. This is exactly why she has so many appearances in some form throughout the Horizons. And judging by her various roles, she certainly has a strong hold over the Horizons.

Hierarchy of Beings

That being said, it is a mistake to see her as some kind of omnipotent goddess. I don’t see Michele as THE all-powerful force that drives all the Horizons—there’s way more to consider and much more at play here. After all, there are things Michele herself cannot control. The two most obvious examples are her death and her destiny. You might see where things are falling into place now (especially if you read my post in August and all of its additions).

Thanatos and Moira are two deities in Sound Horizon that have whole Horizons named after them. They are two conflicting deities representing death and destiny respectively. Michele Malebranche gets locked up in the attic, where she descends into madness. She can’t do much to defy her destiny, or escape Thanatos (this is what the entire 2nd Horizon is about. Yes, the girl from Thanatos, Thanatos-ko or Thanako, is most definitely Michele. This is material better left for another post, but there’s simply so much evidence for it. She’s very likely other characters in the doujin era as well. I’ll discuss more about this later). In our hierarchy of “powerful beings in Sound Horizon”, Thanatos and Moira are of higher order than Michele because she cannot control her death or destiny.

The last point I will make here is to note the true last line of the Cage Trilogy. It is revealed to be a Serial Fantasy Drama written by  Noël Malebranche. I’m going to interpret this as a reveal that the Michele is actually a fictional creation, and that all of Sound Horizon by extension is fiction-within-fiction. This would also place Noël Malebranche higher up on the hierarchy than Michele. Noël Malebranche is still kind of a mystery—Vanishing Starlight did not clarify any of our previous confusions, in fact, it added even more questions to the mix and stuff to consider.

I will add more to this hierarchy as we go on. For now, though, I’ll shift gears a bit into what the core of the last post was about: how Sound Horizon, in key ways, parallels the ancient religion of Gnosticism. I use Gnosticism mostly for convenience.There are key differences, which I will detail later on. I like making parallels to Gnosticism because I think explaining it can help explain Sound Horizon. It’s a bit out there and I realize that I definitely confused people in the first post with what it’s all about, so I've made a bulleted summary of how it works. Keep in mind that there are so many sects of Gnosticism that it’s hard to generalize something like this, but these are common elements of the religion.

Summary of Gnosticism


  • A very basic question should be asked first: why should Gnosticism be examined? Gnosticism is what connects polytheism and monotheism. It is the bridge between the two, and in my opinion, using it as a tool to explain how religion in Sound Horizon works out is very convenient due to just how well things fall into place. It also ties very closely into philosophy and psychology (much of the Freudian/Jungian psychology that is quite prevalent in Sound Horizon, I should add).

  • Gnosticism, for how complex it is, can be summed up very simply. Everything came from the True Creator. Out of the Creator came several invisible Aeons who give the Universe various principles. All of the Aeons reside in the spiritual world, also known as the Pleroma. The Aeon of Wisdom, Sophia, is a key figure. Out of Sophia’s consciousness (how this occurs is highly contested and quite confusing) comes the Demiurge, or Yaldabaoth, who is the god of the physical world. This is the same god as the deity of the most famous monotheistic religions (Yahweh, Allah, etc).

  • The twist is that the Demiurge is evil. The physical world is essentially a cage—a cage of no escape. The Gnostics held that all evil and suffering comes from God, which is why it is so prevalent in our world. It’s certainly a contrasting philosophy from what we see in most other religions, where God is benevolent and loving.

  • Basically, the essence of Gnosticism, like other religions, is attaining salvation (Gnosis). Liberation occurs when one learns of their divine origins in the spiritual world. The True Creator has representatives in the physical world known as Messengers of Light who try to convey divine knowledge and save people from the chains of the physical world.

  • The Demiurge has his own servants known as the Archons. The Archons help create the physical Universe and, most importantly, keep its inhabitants ignorant of their origins. There is an inherent struggle between the True Creator and the Demiurge, the spiritual world against the physical world, knowledge versus ignorance. If salvation, or Gnosis, is not obtained, it is common for people to undergo a cycle of death and rebirth in the shackles of the physical world. Gnosticism does not officially have reincarnation as a prevalent element (unlike religions like Buddhism and Hinduism), but such cycles are described in many sects. This concept is not at all unique to Gnosticism, and I will talk about how you could look at it through other religions and still come to a similar conclusion. Now that we have a summary of Gnosticism however, we can apply it to Sound Horizon.


Gnosticism and Roman

Roman is probably the simplest Horizon to explain in terms of Gnosticism, seeing how it just fits so many archetypes perfectly. Let’s get to the point using a quote I used in the last post once again. Yaneura Roman, translation by Defade.

Quote :
A fantasy drawn by the girl on a white canvas…a story[roman] weaved in an attic…

The 13 boys who died…piled on top of each other…

Ah …within that dark cage… her laughter reigns supreme…

“Yes, Madame…”

“Ahahahahaha…come now…and be born, Hiver.”

This passage tells us a lot. First, it’s the passage that spells out who is controlling Hiver’s cycles of death and rebirth: Michele Malebranche. This should not come as any surprise at this point, and I consider this more or less canon and confirmed. It is also important to note that the twin dolls, Hortensia and Violette, both say “oui madame” as they essentially bow down to Michele, their master. Whether or not they were always under her control we cannot say, but this does seem significant when it seemed like they were under Hiver’s control when he sent them to find the story of his birth (which…doesn’t quite happen. Cue sad Laurant sobbing).

It should be noted that chronologically speaking, the dolls are first introduced in Norowareshi Houseki, the first song in the Roman timeline. They are associated with Noelle, the dollmaker’s daughter. You can interpret this as meaning the dolls were created by Noelle or by her father or even her mother. (Also, just clarifying, Norowareshi Houseki explains how the cycles came to be—Hiver digs up the Reine Michele and that curses him for eternity, essentially. It’s not some parallel world, it’s the first in the timeline.)

Let’s apply the Gnostic archetypes here. The Demiurge in Gnosticism is the creator of the physical world who keeps humans essentially captive in a cage of suffering. The parallel is that Michele Malebranche is similar to the “false creator”—it appears she is the creator of the world of Roman and has put Hiver, who is a symbol for humanity, into an eternal cycle of death and rebirth. The parallels do not stop there, in fact, this is only the starting point of how much these archetypes fit Roman.

I spent a lot of time and effort making a convincing case of why the Roman Liar is both Hortensia and Violette in the previous post. I’ve come to the understanding that the identity of the Roman Liar might not be all that important because you could make a strong case for anybody and their grandma being the Roman Liar. However, I’m going to interpret that both Hortensia and Violette are deceitful in the context of the 5th Horizon. They are sent by Hiver Laurant to find his Roman, the story of his birth. Instead, they find the story of literally every other person named Laurant. It becomes clear that the purpose of the twin dolls is to keep Hiver ignorant of his own birth, his origins. The dolls are analogous to the Archons, used by the Demiurge to keep humanity ignorant of its divine origins.

I have found some more evidence that is, in my opinion, particularly compelling. Among many other themes fans have found, Hortensia and Violette represent the sun and the moon respectively. They have the marks on their cheeks, after all. The Ophites were a Gnostic sect that accepted the existence of at least seven Archons including Adonaios and Horaios, representing the sun and the moon respectively! Of course, there are also several Gnostic sects that believe that the Archons are like some strange alien cyborgs that intrude the mind (I’m not kidding), so perhaps that should be taken at face value. Make of it what you will. After all, the Archons help shape the physical world, so it is intuitive that they would be represented by celestial bodies.

What really sold me on how Gnosticism applies to the 5th Horizon is the existence of the Savant character. I made an addendum to my post explaining how he fits into Roman, and I will reiterate it here: he parallels Gnosticism’s Messengers of Light. Savant, or should I say Christophe Jean-Jacques Saint-Laurent, first appears in Pico Magic Reloaded when he comments on the life and death of Michele Malebranche (quoted above). From this quote alone, we understand that Savant has some form of higher knowledge. In fact, his Savant alias literally means “learned”. He represents knowledge and has “the message”—the key to Hiver’s birth.

This naturally ties into Gnosticism’s Messengers of Light, but there is an even more obvious connection lying at the heart of this: his name. Christophe means “bearing Christ”, or “of Christ”. His name also contains French equivalents of John and Jacob—all Biblical names. I should mention that Christ is a key figure in Gnosticism as a Messenger of Light (more specifically: many sects interpret him as an Aeon who manifests himself as such), so this fits in quite well. I see his name as an attempt by Revo of naming him as biblically as possible without calling him Jesus Christ or something. The fact that Savant is in both the “real world” and in the world of Roman is another indicator that he can transcend the boundary between reality and fantasy (a parallel to how the Messengers are from the spiritual world, but manifest themselves in the physical world). However, there is a twist in all this—it’s that the Savant can’t quite deliver his message.

It’s quite a debate what the message even is. Going through Roman in order, it is B-E-C-O-M-E H-A-P-P-Y. However, in Tasogare no Savant, all of the songs in Roman are put in a different order. When you look at the message with this in mind, it spells out something that appears radically different: A-C-C-E-P-T  D-E-A-T-H. This is no mere coincidence. Although this message has a darker connotation, the two messages are not contradictory at all—there is an implication that one could achieve happiness by coming to terms with their own death. We are led to believe that his message is intended for Hiver, but due to his appearance in Reloaded, it is very possible it is actually intended towards the person who is the cause of the suffering in Roman (and arguably all or most of Sound Horizon)—Michele Malebranche. This is branching out into material better left for a different post, so I will leave it at that. Some interpret the ending of Tasogare no Savant as an indicator that the Savant was killed and could never deliver his message. That is entirely possible, given the nature of the struggle between ignorance and knowledge that I’ve mentioned earlier. Another possibility is that Savant just cannot communicate his message. After all, Savant speaks in mathematical riddles all throughout Tasogare no Savant, making it one of the most cryptic Sound Horizon songs ever. Maybe he is actually a savant in that he has Savant Syndrome and is a genius in some regards, but cannot communicate due to a condition such as autism, and thus, the message is lost. Hiver, and by extension humanity, remains trapped in Michele’s cage. After the Yaneura Roman sequence, the 5th Horizon keeps looping. I interpret the Another Roman remix as a future loop that shows the true nature of Roman, where Hiver is depicted as a corpse. It’s complete with broken versions of Hortensia and Violette. The broken marionette is a symbolic connection to Thanatos, the 2nd Horizon.

Everything in this post has been more or less a recap of the meat from the post I made in August, including the key part about the Savant character. Everything has been Roman-centric, what about the other Horizons?! Let’s get on with it, starting from Lost.

Lost: Cycles and Memory Loss

Lost is one of the more abstract Horizons, which is saying quite a lot. Its principle eluded me for the longest time, really. Thanks to Alchea, I have a better understanding of it now—and how it applies to my theory. I will attempt to explain Lost in a concise manner here, as I find it to be a largely ignored work by a lot of Laurants and it’s an incredibly important piece of the puzzle.

Lost, much like Moira, is a conflict between two contesting spirits—Lostko and Eien no Shounen, the Eternal Boy. It is ultimately a story about losing memory. The conflict between these two spirits itself is very subtly implied and requires close analysis to even recognize. Lostko and Eien no Shounen both have their songs representing their own perspectives (Kioku no Minasoko and of course, Eien no Shounen). Lostko’s perspective is summarized by “keep on flowing”—no matter how painful memories are, they must be held on to and treasured. Eien no Shounen, however, is an antagonistic spirit that prefers memories to be erased. The Boy is a very mysterious character—we don’t really know his motives, or where any of this is even coming from.

Lostko and Eien no Shounen have key phrases that are repeated in the meat of Lost. Lostko’s phrase is “Have you forgotten anything?” (wasuremono wa arimasen ka) and is in all of the Lost songs (with the exception of the two aforementioned songs). Eien no Shounen’s phrase is “I won’t let you escape until you’ve lost it” (ushinau made nigasanai) and appears in Eien no Shounen, the bonus track, and in one other key song: Ori no Naka no Yuugi, the second song from the Cage Trilogy that is in Lost. In fact, Ori no Naka no Yuugi, which of course features Michele Malebranche, is the only song within the “meat” of Lost that has both key phrases, demonstrating the conflict right then and there.

There is a clear winner in this metaphysical conflict, and that is the Boy who pees on the water of memories. The last thing we hear in Lost, after all, is “ushinau made nigasanai”. He gets the last word, and I interpret this as an indication that the Boy “wins” the conflict. Here’s a quote from Eien no Shounen.

Quote :
No matter where you run to, your efforts are futile.

I am inside you…and inside him…and inside her.

Cloaking itself with the third fantasy, the horizon of loss will appear anywhere.

As long as you want to『Live』

You won’t be able to escape from『Lost』…

I realize my interpretation might not be how others see it, as this is very open-ended. I think that the spirits of Lost are forces within everyone in the Sound Horizon universe. On the one hand, as we see from Kioku no Minasoko, the characters are pushed to “keep on flowing”, to keep cycling through and repeating until becoming satisfied with their reality (Lostko). On the other hand, the characters are pushed to run away, to forget, to disappear (Eien no Shounen). Living is losing, and memory is bound to be lost. Lost explains why amnesia is so prevalent among Sound Horizon protagonists—Eien no Shounen forces memory loss. Likewise, Lostko causes cycles. Sometimes, Lostko and Eien no Shounen are likened to being those little puppet angel and devil cartoons that sit on the protagonist’s shoulders when faced with a decision of some sorts, and it’s a fine way of thinking about it. However, these are very powerful inner voices that explain the very principles that Sound Horizon is built on.

So where do we place Lostko and Eien no Shounen on our hierarchy of beings? Considering how cycles and loops and memory loss are such prevalent themes throughout all Horizons and that they are within everyone (even Michele Malebranche), they are high up in terms of power and influence. In fact, I consider them just under deities like Moira and Thanatos, as they are fundamental principles in Sound Horizon. Using the Gnostic analogy for convenience, they are akin to Aeons in the spiritual world representing cycles and memory loss respectively (whereas Moira and Thanatos are analogous to Aeons representing destiny and death). You could strip everything to a more basic level and also say that the two voices of Lost represent the conflict of ignorance versus knowledge as well. When examining a hierarchy of beings taking into consideration spiritual and physical beings, certain things click into place. Eien no Shounen and Lostko are “voices without form”. Moira is never physically shown and Thanatos isn’t physically present either (outside of Meiou, which is something I believe is done for presentation purposes). Thanatos and Moira need vessels in order to manifest themselves in the physical world. This is a plausible explanation as to why Thanatos stalks certain characters (Thanako, Elefseus) in order to influence the physical world. There’s also that implication that Misia is Moira’s vessel, especially when you analyze the mysterious last shot of Misia on the throne at the end of the Moira live.

Ego and Id: Reloaded

I was quite satisfied with the section on the Freudian concepts of id and ego on the big post last August. If I could pinpoint one section of this entire post as “the most important”—I would consider this fitting. The prevalence of ego and id in Sound Horizon (most obviously in the 7th Story where “IDO” is characterized by that mean old well) really strengthens this point. Thanks to Carl Jung and his work on tying his neo-Freudian ideas to Gnosticism, we have a clear understanding of how psychology ties into this religion. This time around, I have an excellent excerpt from Dr. Stephen A. Hoeller’s The Gnostic Jung and the Seven Sermons to the Dead, a compelling work that ties a lot of the ideas in this post together. Dr. Hoeller is the same person I referenced last time on the Gnosticism stuff I researched.

Quote :
The primary demiurge in the Jungian system is, so it would seem, none other than the alienated human ego. This conscious selfhood, having pulled itself away from the original wholeness of the unconscious, has become a blind and foolish being, unaware of its roots in the unconscious, yet desperately attempting to re-create a semblance of the over-world by effecting unconscious projections. The ego thus appears very much like an intermediary between the realm of extraverted action and the greater, unconscious matrix, within which Jung saw all external phenomena to be rooted. Like the Gnostic demiurge, the ego in its alienated, blind arrogance boldly but falsely proclaims that “there is no other God before” it—that it alone is the true determinant of existence—and that the powers and potentialities of the unconscious are unreal or non-existent. The ego-demiurge creates its own kosmos, but it is a flawed and distorted one, inasmuch as in it the light of the deeper selfhood is obscured and polluted by unconscious projections and compulsions. It is thus that the ego becomes a true demiurge, the foolish architect of its own foolish world.

First of all, I’d like to point out that Ark references a cruel yet incompetent/arrogant Creator God, which seems strangely fitting. Some of this sounds pretty complicated, but Hoeller succeeds in bringing out the inherent connections between Jungian psychology and Gnosticism by analyzing these analogies. Noël Malebranche, who wrote the Fantasy Serial Drama that is the Cage Trilogy, projected their unconscious and likely their reality in the play. After all, the main subject of the play—Michele Malebranche—shares a name with the elusive playwright. In other words, Michele Malebranche herself can be interpreted as the “severed” ego of Noël Malebranche. This makes some sense as the girl is said to be “in the boundary between reality and fantasy” and many of her actions breach that boundary (as stated literally in Ori no Naka no Hana, and implied elsewhere).

The next takeaway from this great excerpt is how the ego essentially creates its own universe, and that universe is our physical world filled with unconscious projections. This completely explains Michele’s hold over Horizons and how she manifests herself in different ways throughout Sound Horizon. Everything is inside of her reality, her unconscious. As mentioned in the first Chronicle bonus track, “the meaning of life is in the cage”. I will now turn to …Reloaded, a song that reveals quite a lot. The overarching themes that dominate Sound Horizon such as eternal suffering and motherhood stem from Michele’s unconscious compulsions, and this makes complete sense.

Quote :
"If I could do it all over again, I hope I could lead a better life this time"…

Considering how Pico Magic Reloaded basically centers on the character of Michele Malebranche, it is not at all a stretch to attribute the opening line of the album as a reference to her. Simply put, Pico Magic Reloaded is about the descent into madness. Particularly, it’s about the girl—the central character of the doujin era, Michele Malebranche (Thanako from Thanatos)—and her descent into madness. Her intentions are pure at first: she is described as an innocent girl in Yaneura no Shoujo as well as the second Chronicle bonus track, as well as a “beloved woman who is continuously murdered” in Ori no Naka no Yuugi. She time loops (thanks to Lostko, who makes cycles possible in Sound Horizon!) and tries again and again to lead a better life and correct her reality, and every time it fails. Pico Magic Reloaded is essentially her story of repeated failure and subsequently the loss of her humanity. This explains why we have some manifestations of Michele that are not human—the Reine Michele jewel in Roman, the girl doll from Chronicle, the Black Chronicle book (yes, I am interpreting the personification of the Black Chronicle from Chronicle 2nd, Chronica, as another iteration of Michele). At the end of the Reloaded story we have Rein no Sekai, which includes the worst incarnation of the character. I want to emphasize that it’s likely that Michele’s story starts in the second Chronicle bonus track (which sets up the story quite nicely for the 2nd Horizon) and not in Reloaded, and that the girl from Thanatos is most likely her first incarnation at her purest and most innocent point.

The point of this post isn’t to connect Michele Malebranche to everything ever, but I must at least mention the progression and her own cycles in order to make my next point. The focus is still on evaluating the “powerful beings” of Sound Horizon and analyzing the religious references of Sound Horizon. We still have some forces of Sound Horizon that I haven’t covered yet, including “IDO” from IdoIdo and the 7th Horizon. Simply put, IDO is Michele Malebranche’s id permeating through the boundary of reality and fantasy once again. Going back to the “all/most of Sound Horizon is based on the reality of Michele Malebranche” point, this does make some sense. After all, the id is the part of the unconscious that is violent and primal in nature. It orchestrates all the revenge tragedies and all the suffering present in this story.

Similarly, the Beast is another force that is described in Chronicle as a being that devours history. At first, I likened the whole “swallowing history” aspect as something that is similar in principle to Eien no Shounen, who erases memories. However, seeing how the Beast is an intrinsic property of the Black Chronicle book—which I interpret to be an iteration of Michele Malebranche—you can make the argument that the Beast is also a manifestation of her id. The Beast is something I’ve had some trouble pinpointing, so perhaps this is more of a guess than anything. However, I think it’s a valid interpretation based on what little we know of the Beast and its function in Chronicle and Chronicle 2nd.

Speaking of Chronicle, it is the first Sound Horizon release and definitely sets up the future releases. A lot of analysis can be done on the character of Noah and the Black Order and how the Black Chronicle comes to being, but as I said in my last post, it’s one of the most biblical Horizons with tons of references. The world is prophesized to end by the Black Chronicle, but even if history is dark and the tragedies of history repeat over and over again, Kimi ga Umarete kuru Sekai gives hope for humanity—even when the world inevitably is destroyed, a new world will be born again. Chronicle 2nd is a loop remake sequel of the first Chronicle and Kimi ga Umarete kuru Sekai from Chronicle 2nd is described to be a “hidden page” of the Black Chronicle. If we interpret Chronica as an iteration of Michele, this could be more evidence that there are parts of her unconscious that are still hopeful of making things better. Of course, the narrator of Kimi ga Umarete kuru Sekai is another debate in and of itself but I’ll just say that the “This time, I’ll protect you” line from the song is notable and definite evidence of what Chronicle 2nd is in relation to the first Chronicle.

This concludes the first part of this massive wall of text. You can look forward to many more new ideas in the next part, including Vanishing Starlight theorizing. Thank you so much for reading!


Last edited by Ghostie on Thu Jan 29, 2015 11:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Ghostie

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PostSubject: Sound Horizon and Religion: The "Yaldabranche" Theory Part 2 Thu Jan 29, 2015 11:39 pm#2

The 4th Horizon and the Identity of El

This section was not planned in the original post at all. After posting the first part, some great discussion was happening on Twitter on how some of these ideas relate to the 4th Horizon. Particularly, the idea of the unconscious projections of the ego and how they manifest themselves within the Horizons. Thanks to Maman, I believe we have a bit of a breakthrough in terms of what Elysion represents and how it connects to the Cage Trilogy. I consider this as something that could potentially be a bit more groundbreaking than the later sections, so I’ve decided to cap off the second part with this section. Keeping with the theme of the post of analyzing religious references in mind, let’s start!

First of all, I’d like to point out that there is a lot that can be discussed here. It’s very likely that I’ll only be scraping the tip of the iceberg and that this should deserve its own dedicated post. Elysion is an incredibly deep work that already had profound meaning before looking at it through this light. Just keep in mind that there’s a lot here that might get expanded on in the future.

From Ori no Naka no Hana:

Quote :
(The first stage “Let me draw Papa’s happiness…” on 21 November 1887)

The gruesome death of her father “Joseph Malebranche”

Many voices of doubt were raised on the account of the lack of evidence

As well as the ability to kill of someone her age.



(The second stage “Once again, I’ll use these hands to make her…” on 30 July 1895)

Strangulation, incomplete corpse disposal at the hands of her stepfather “Armand Ollivier”

————

From Eru no Rakuen [Side: E]:

Quote :
The night wind battered at the window. Shaky breath. A dimly lit room. Cheery-sounding conversation.

Empty moonlight. White breath. A dirty room. A girl with thin knees.

Questions that are repeated over and over again. Never ending curiosity for『paradise』.

Ah…the girl couldn’t see it anymore – the corpse lying beside her…

Let’s talk about the dates first. There are two ways you can approach this and I will list both interpretations, so pick which one you like most. You could say that the dates are like acts in plays—“Act I” starting on 21 November 1887 and “Act II” starting on 30 July 1895. This is an intuitive interpretation, as we know the Cage Trilogy (or at the very least Ori no Naka no Hana) is a play. The second interpretation is that the dates are the dates when the crimes were committed by Michele, marking the major events in her life, which also makes sense seeing how Ori no Naka no Hana has a sort of “murder mystery” vibe going for it. Either way, you reach the same conclusion and this is kind of a minor nitpick in any case.

Going to Elysion, we know how old El is from the first song. “Tomorrow” is her eighth birthday, so for convenience’s sake, let’s say El is eight years old. Now let’s look at the dates, using both interpretations. If we’re looking at them as the starting points of Acts in Michele’s life, Act II starts 8 years after Act I. By this logic, we can conjecture that Michele Malebranche is around 8 years old when she killed her biological father, Joseph Malebranche (the end of Act I). If we see the dates as the specific dates when she committed the killings, this doesn’t quite work the same way, however, thanks to the “As well as the ability to kill of someone her age” line, we can still say that Michele Malebranche is very, very young when she commits her first crime (it’s not very common for 8 year olds to have the ability to kill, after all). No matter how you look at the dates, whether they are Acts that divide her saga or the dates when she killed her father and stepfather, you come to the same conclusion that Michele was a child of around 8 when things started going wrong.

The early story of Michele killing her father is detailed in Yaneura no Shoujo, which is in my opinion the most obvious instance where we see Michele equated to a godlike status. However, an important question should be asked, which furthers the connection with Elysion: what does this event represent in her life? The murder of her biological father, quite simply, represents the moment in time when Michele loses her innocence. Elysion is a story of twisted love, lust, illusions of paradise, escapism, and the loss of innocence. Focusing on the loss of innocence here, it is an overarching theme that connects each and every ABYSS song (along with twisted love), as well as the symbolic Majo to Lafrenze. What does the character of El symbolize? El represents an idyllic innocence; the perfect girl—everything that Michele loses the moment she kills her father.

Going back to the ideas of the previous section detailing the ego and id and their function in Sound Horizon, we can address one major issue with this in mind: the severed ego of Noël Malebranche and how it plays the role of the ego-demiurge in Carl Jung’s heavily inspired Gnostic psychology. As I said in the first part, the alienation of the human ego from Sophia is something that is very disputed in Gnosticism. However, perhaps in Sound Horizon we have a clear event that marks the transition, the point at which Michele becomes analogous to the ego-demiurge. I think that point is described in Yaneura no Shoujo, the song where we have descriptions such as “she can go everywhere in the white canvas” and how she has a “god on one hand and devil on the other”.

The fundamental point all along is that the ego-demiurge creates its own universe and keeps it shackled, like Michele and the Sound Horizon universe being her cage. Reality is filled with unconscious compulsions and projections from the ego-demiurge. So, who, or what, is El? El is the projection of young Michele before she loses her innocence, the image of the perfect girl who doesn’t exist anymore. El, or Elys, is someone (an idea of perfection) that Abyss looks for in the context of Elysion. Where does Abyss come from, then? Abyss is the projection of Michele’s idea of a father, based on her reality and experiences with the madman Joseph Malebranche and the stepfather Armand Ollivier as described in Reloaded’s Cage Trilogy.

Another evidence for this is the meaning of “EL”, something that was just a mere bullet point in my “other random religious references” section in the very first post. In Hebrew, El is a shortened version of “Elohim”, which means God (in particular: the God of the Hebrew Bible, who is equated by Gnosticism as the demiurge/Yaldabaoth). The word means “shining”, or “one who shines”. Both of these contexts fit in Sound Horizon. El is related to Michele, who takes on a godlike presence in the Horizons. El is also one who is “shining”, an ideal that is searched for.

I’d like to reference Ark—once again, it references a cruel and arrogant Creator God. Soror suffers from [Illusionary Ark Reliance Syndrome], that is, something that is implied to be insanity caused by the obsession with paradise. As we know, El has “never ending curiosity for [paradise]”. Perhaps Michele Malebranche herself has [Illusionary Ark Reliance Syndrome]—Reloaded describes her gradual loss of sanity after all. We know that Michele wants to make things better from the first line of Reloaded. A part of her could be obsessed with the idea of paradise to the point where she loops over and over again, seeking a paradise that isn’t there. More evidence for this is when the Savant says that “she probably wanted to escape the cage she was in, to the point of monomania”. Elysion is really a huge escapist fantasy after all, and the monomania in question might be related to the same condition described in Ark.

Quote :
Illusions charmed by『E』[Elysion] over and over again - visages of 『E』[Eden], which should have been lost

Ah…that beautifully barren land will set in motion many fantasies-

To me, this implies that there is a progression that parallels Michele’s descent into madness, and that is the transformation of paradise. A big takeaway from Elysion is that yes, there is no paradise that awaits after death but only an abyss, a barren wasteland. However, Eden is described here, which is a clear religious reference to the Garden of Eden. As the descent into madness continues for Michele, she loses more and more of her original, innocent self (represented by El as a person, and Eden as a location) until the lowest point (represented by Rein as a person from Rein no Sekai, the girl who “once her eyes open, the world will bear witness to a cruel reaper god”, and the barren wasteland that is the backdrop to the Paradise Parade—which represents the absence of innocence and the celebration of sin). Just as the “ideal girl” El doesn’t exist anymore, neither does paradise. We can also note the progression by paying attention to hair color and how it varies from white (in the case of the innocent El) to shades of purple (perhaps a mark of being stalked by Thanatos) and eventually black (Chronica).

Abyss is the token psychopath of Sound Horizon. To many, he is a crazy, insane, and delusional person. When you trace his origins, however, it makes sense. The character of Abyss is based on the madman that locked Michele in the attic. It’s likely that the stepfather Ollivier (who becomes insane) is also mixed in as inspiration. This is her idea of what a father is, and the Horizons are modeled after her reality. Now, one of the big ideas of Elysion is “illusion” and escapism. Next, I’ll detail how El and Abyss are actually idyllic, ideal projections from the perspective of E —> A and vice versa in a very twisted way.

It’s quite easy to see that El is Abyss’ ideal. He searches and searches for her, as seen by the opening of every ABYSS song (“Is that my Elys/Are you my Elys”). However, if we turn it around,  Abyss is also the ideal image of a father in El’s perspective and the entirety of Elysion can be interpreted as a huge escapist fantasy. If we make the comparison that El = Young Michele (not exactly literally but perhaps an image or projection or something that just represents Young Michele), Michele was locked in the dimly-lit attic and given only enough food to survive. First of all, this explains why El’s body hurts as described in Eru no Rakuen [Side: E]. However, Abyss isn’t depicted as someone who locks El in the attic. In fact, Abyss is someone who loves El deeply, going to such lengths as becoming an assassin and wedding crasher to raise enough money to buy her a picture book as a birthday present. This is certainly not something Joseph Malebranche would do. Even though the truth is that Abyss is insane and dangerous like Joseph Malebranche, perhaps there is a part in her unconscious that wishes for reality to be different. Even though her idea of “father” is tainted by her reality, the character of Abyss is also formed by an idealistic wish in Michele’s perspective: a desire to be loved by her father. El looks for Abyss and vice versa over and over again.

There are even more connections to be made. Ori no Naka no Yuugi is the fourth memory from Lost. While the numbered memories might not seem that significant for the other songs, it’s possible that Ori no Naka no Yuugi being the fourth memory is a reference to Elysion, the 4th Horizon. The song references strangulation and a coffin with flowers. Meanwhile, Eru no Rakuen [Side: E] mentions a “corpse lying at her [El’s] feet”. In the same song, we have “nee papa, what kind of flowers bloom in paradise?”. Maman suggested that perhaps the “nee papa” verses may be references to different people (first, the father Joseph Malebranche and then later the stepfather Armand Ollivier). It’s possible. After all, both influence Michele’s idea of “father”, which manifests itself in the character of Abyss. Eru no Tenbin also makes some references to a Goddess of Fate and a Goddess of Destruction. Goddess of Fate is almost assuredly a reference to Moira. As for the Goddess of Destruction, I interpret it as a reference to what Michele becomes in the context of Reloaded and Sound Horizon.

Before closing this section out, I’d like to talk a bit and clarify how I view Michele’s time looping. I believe the first incarnation of the character appears in the second Chronicle bonus track, described as the girl with red wings (Thanako). The story in this song is what sets up the 2nd Horizon. I view this as the first incarnation because she is innocent, a “beloved” girl—so I consider this prior to the breaking point, which is Yaneura no Shoujo. The conclusion of this story is Thanatos no Gensou wa Owaranai from the first Pico Magic album. There is a follow-up to this, though: Pico Magic Reloaded. It makes sense to place …Reloaded as what happens after Thanatos no Gensou wa Owaranai. This is where “If I could do it all over again, I hope I would lead a better life this time” comes from.

This is also the only way I can make sense of an important line at the end of …Reloaded.

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For you, I will sing even the cruelest of songs…

Who is this in reference to? Well, if we consider the song in the perspective of the girl from Thanatos, who is betrayed by her brother and left to die, it clicks. Another point, although arguably a subjective one, is that you can tell the song is in the perspective of Thanako by the way Aramary is voicing her. All of Aramary’s “main” leads are very, very distinguishable from one another. You can easily tell El apart from Thanako. It’s hard to describe, but it’s a more subdued, almost “sleepy” (which fits with the character, of course) kind of voice. The line “If I could do it all over again, I hope I would lead a better life this time” matches closest to the voice she uses for Thanako. Maybe others won’t hear it that way, but as Pico Magic Reloaded is the sequel to the first Pico Magic album (hence the Reloaded title), it’s not too much of a stretch to suggest that …Reloaded is what happens after Thanatos no Gensou wa Owaranai. After …Reloaded, which is a song about repetition and looping through (the first line is repeated over and over again in backwards), the girl loops back (possible because of Lostko). It jumps right into Yaneura no Shoujo from there. Therefore, using this logic and paying close attention to the “If I could do it all over again, I hope I would lead a better life this time” line, Michele is Thanako.

This is definitely material better left for another post but I’ll just leave it at this: Thanako is in a dimly lit attic, with “darkness in four colors”, and Michele is locked in a similar attic with a white canvas and three colors of paint (therefore, four colors). I can’t see any way you can argue they’re of no relation at all, but I’d love to discuss. Whether you interpret them as the same person or one as an incarnation or image of the other, they are “the same” in my eyes. You can definitely say they are related to one another, however, figuring which comes first does take some more work. However, considering how I’ve made Yaneura no Shoujo the point at which the girl snaps, I personally think that Thanako is the original incarnation. Yaneura no Shoujo is where Michele decides to do things differently and kills the person who locked her up in an attempt of escaping her cage. This is another thing evidenced by the line “She probably wanted to escape her cage, to the point of monomania”. In any case, this isn’t the point of the post, but something I felt I’d stick in now that I’ve considered the representation of the girl’s innocence. The other incarnations that we see in the Horizons are projections and compulsions of her unconscious and they manifest themselves in different forms, the Black Chronicle book/Chronica and the Reine Michele being two examples.

Nicolas Malebranche, the Philosopher

This is an interesting point I found out recently. It’s possible that Michele Malebranche’s namesake is the famous French philosopher and priest, Nicolas Malebranche. It is kind of difficult to tie this in, as his philosophy is hard for me to grasp and his Occasionalist Theory kind of goes over my head. A funny note about Nicolas Malebranche is how he compared life to a Matryoshka doll, which may be a connection to Zvolinsky’s song from Moira, or could just be a big coincidence (heck, every connection in this entire post could be a huge coincidence!). I found yet another interesting excerpt that could fit into Sound Horizon quite nicely, from Amor Dei in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries.

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One comes to sense external objects through the mind of God. [Nicolas] Malebranche establishes the dependence of the human mind on the divine mind. Everything God created pre-existed as an idea in [H]is mind. Consequently, as a result of the union between the human and divine mind, human ideas have their source in the pre-existent divine ideas.

This relationship between divine light and the human mind is analogous to that in Gnosticism, wherein the power of the divine on the human mind is most pronounced.

The last sections were dedicated to making connections between Jungian psychology and Gnosticism and how Michele Malebranche plays the role as the ego-demiurge. You can come to the exact same conclusion by using Nicolas Malebranche’s religious philosophy, and in fact, the author David C. Bellusci ties it into Gnosticism. Once again, many of these same analogies apply to other religions, including Buddhism. A note about Nicolas Malebranche’s philosophy, however, is that everything good comes from the Christian God, which does contradict Gnosticism.

ThetaThanako made an excellent post sometime back about how Rinne no Sunadokei can be interpreted in a way that invokes the concept of samsara, the repeating cycle of reincarnation prevalent in multiple religions such as Buddhism. This is yet another religious reference in Sound Horizon, so it begs discussion here. In Buddhism, those who do not obtain divine enlightenment from the drudgery that is the material world are reincarnated in a cycle until they are enlightened. The major difference between these reincarnations and the cycles of death and rebirth in Gnosticism is that it’s a more prominent aspect of Buddhism. It becomes apparent that Gnosticism isn’t really all that separate and standalone, and there are many, many aspects it shares with other religions. This section shows that you can observe different religions and philosophies, yet still reach the same conclusions: Sound Horizon is a story of repetition, a story of birth and death, destruction and renewal. There is no one “right” way of looking at it. I just chose to emphasize Gnosticism because of its ties to Jungian psychology, an aspect ingrained in Sound Horizon, and because it contains a hierarchy of deities and serves as the bridge between polytheism and monotheism.

Vanishing Starlight and the Theory of the Three Noëls

Forgive the silly title. Vanishing Starlight has added more into the mix to consider, as we have a new story that takes place in “the real world”, that is, expressed separate from the Horizons. Or perhaps a parallel world, as some interpret it. Any way you look at it, it is a bit hard to place in context with the other Horizons. That being said, it is still an important release and I do have a theory of how this all works out.

The most obvious question of Vanishing Starlight is: who is Noël? Is he Noël Malebranche from Reloaded? He kind of looks like Hiver. Is he related to Hiver?  He shares the same name as Hiver’s sister. Is he Hiver’s sister? This is quite a loaded question, perhaps one that we do not have the tools to answer right now. For now, I’ll focus on the identity of Noël Malebranche, the author of the Fantasy Serial Drama. I have considered every possibility, and I will detail them below.

Let’s say Noël from Vanishing Starlight is indeed Noël Malebranche. Let’s say somewhere down the line he just gets bored of his rock band and writes a play. There actually is some evidence this is a possible interpretation, but it does open a floodgate of new questions as well. For those who are unconvinced that this is indeed a possibility (although not the one I ultimately endorse), please try and see where I’m coming from here. Let’s take a look at the mysterious letter Noël found, which was included in the Deluxe version. What if Noël found the letter and later down the line, decided to “fill in the blanks” in his own way and wrote the Cage Trilogy based off of it? Also, the character of Noël from Vanishing Starlight is someone who is quite bitter, and even someone who lies within the song itself. If he is indeed Noël Malebranche and his ego is what ends up being the very basis of the Sound Horizon universe, it sort of makes sense that this somewhat destructive personality would be behind it all. After all, we have so many lies within Sound Horizon (not just the Roman liar, but also the lying Chronicle, the fake Thanatos, the fake cycle of death and rebirth…the list continues). In addition, the way he seeks his mother is something prevalent throughout Sound Horizon. And yes, we all know that song is really about Michele and her wish for a mother figure anyway. It’s also worth examining the father figures of Sound Horizon. Most fathers in Sound Horizon are not anywhere in sight, and the few mentioned are either bad or abusive. If Noël from Vanishing Starlight creates the Sound Horizon universe out of his own reality, this piece falls into place quite nicely as he felt resentment for his father, who wasn’t really there for him at all in his life anyway. We also have this line that intrigued me from Yodaka no Hoshi:

Quote :
Frozen in that gust of wind…is a bleeding piece of glassware…
Shaking in that cage…is the shadow of my lying <Self>[you]…

How you interpret this line is dependent on how you see “Self” in the context. A close contact who knows Japanese verified for me that Self actually refers to the Jungian term, that is, the “whole psyche” (the Self consists of all the Jungian components: consciousness, unconscious, and the ego). First of all, any reference to a person trembling in a cage is a reference to the girl from Thanatos, or Michele Malebranche, as far as I’m concerned. You can literally interpret this line as an explanation of the relationship between Noël from Vanishing Starlight and Michele Malebranche, that is, she is the projection of his (lying) consciousness. This odd line at least reaffirms the role of Jungian psychology in Sound Horizon. Make of it what you will.

As I said earlier, there are so many questions that open once you claim Noël from Vanishing Starlight is the playwright who wrote the Cage Trilogy. How does he relate to Hiver? The letter is something that inspired him to write a play? It seems kind of shaky. There are many, many more questions you could ask and it could fall apart completely. I’ll leave you to explore this option and answer these questions, because for now I’m satisfied with a theory that fits all three Noël characters into one big convoluted religious reference.

But before we get to that, the other candidate for Noël Malebranche is Noelle, Hiver’s sister from Roman, specifically Norowareshi Pierre. (I really dislike using the “feminine” spelling for this character but I’ll keep doing it for the sake of distinguishing these characters.) She is kind of an unknown entity. She is described as the dollmaker’s daughter with the twin dolls on her windowsill. There is an implication that she is either the creator of the twin dolls, or that her mother/father “the dollmaker” created them. And perhaps you can make the connection that these are special dolls that have some sort of life force or something in them, like the girl doll from Shoujo Ningyou from Chronicle and Elise from the 7th Horizon (although Elise is a bunch of different things combined into one yucky doll). Maybe she is Noël Malebranche and writes the play. It’s certainly possible, considering how closely connected Roman is to Reloaded with the character of Michele Malebranche. There really isn’t a whole lot of solid proof or anything that compels me to pin this down, though. It seems like something that was kind of assumed before Vanishing Starlight, and Vanishing Starlight kind of put things into question and now there’s more stuff to consider. Some have taken the path of completely ignoring the newest release, which I find pretty lame considering it has obvious connections that are screaming louder than Noël’s rock music—it’s just not very obvious how those connections fit in place and in context with the rest of the releases. I urge people to try as hard as they can to make things fit, even when everything seems confusing.

There are simply too many questions to make any certain judgment in this regard. I would love to discuss this and hear other perspectives arguing for why Noelle from Roman or Noël from Vanishing Starlight could be Noël Malebranche, but as I did in August, I will consider all of these characters as separate entities. However, perhaps there is a connection between the three characters beyond their shared names. This is a little thought I had when trying to place the three and evaluating their roles in the contexts of the stories. Let’s take a look at the Hindu trinity, also known as the trimurti. The three deities described are the Creator (Brahma), the Preserver (Vishnu), and the Destroyer (Shiva). In a way, the trimurti regulates the current state of the world as we know it. Perhaps this line of thought can be applied to Sound Horizon as well?

If we are making analogies to the Hindu trinity with the three Noëls, it becomes pretty clear who the Creator is of the three. Noël Malebranche, the author of the fantasy drama mentioned in one line in Pico Magic Reloaded, is analogous to Brahma, the Creator. As I mentioned earlier, Noël Malebranche creates the character of Michele in their image, and the Sound Horizon universe takes place within this fiction. It is also quite apparent who the Destroyer is: Noël from Vanishing Starlight. When making the comparison of Noël from Vanishing Starlight to Shiva, the Destroyer in Hindu mythology, it’s crucial to keep in mind that the Destroyer is not a malevolent being that senselessly erases everything, but also the transformer—a being that renews and causes objects to change form. Naturally, before things can change form, they must be broken down first.

I’m aware that others see Vanishing Starlight a bit differently and that they see Noël as some innocent baby of a person, but I disagree with this viewpoint. He doesn’t have much of a grip on his past or his family, lies within the context of the song, and his background is still pretty mysterious.  Noël faced a judgmental and harsh world, which he grew to despise. I plan on making a post analyzing Interview with Noël and Vanishing Starlight to discuss some subtle details further. If I could describe three themes of the song, though, they would be voyage, regret, and renewal. Each of the interviewers have biases and gear their interviews towards these aspects of Noël’s life. Although a huge focus is on the misfortune Noël faced in his life and how bitter he is and how much he wants to escape/destroy his reality, I interpret the message “L-E-T L-I-F-E B-U-R-N” as dedicating your life towards renewal. Noël finds his escape through his music, as it grants him solace from the cruel circumstances he went through in his life. This is my reasoning for how he fits the analogy of the Destroyer from Hindu mythology.

Pinning Noël Malebranche as the Creator and Noël from Vanishing Starlight as the Destroyer kind of makes sense when you think about it this way. The last remaining character, Noelle from Roman, by process of elimination, is analogous to the Preserver Vishnu. How this fits is a bit more of a stretch, but I still think it’s a valid interpretation. As I said earlier, you can interpret Noelle as the maker of the twin dolls. The twin dolls find all of the Romans and figuratively weave the world of Roman. They never find the story of Hiver’s birth, however, and the status quo remains preserved. There are constants in the Roman universe: Hiver is not born, the messages from Maman and Savant are not delivered (I do not consider the live Fuyu no Dengon canon, even if you do, the point still kind of stands), and the cycle of death and rebirth continues.

So how do I actually interpret the letter from Vanishing Starlight? I think it is an example of Michele Malebranche breaching the boundary between reality and fantasy. The few words we can make out from it make it seem like it’s not about Noël at all, but rather about Michele Malebranche. The boundary between reality and fantasy is something that keeps being brought up, from Thanatos, to Reloaded, to Halloween to Yoru no Monogatari, to Vanishing Starlight. Parts from Michele’s reality might be leaking out in a sense and influencing the “real world”, or the parallel world Vanishing Starlight takes place in. Likewise, it’s also possible that Noël’s unconscious is affecting some aspects of the Horizons. I’ve even played with the idea that the letter is something that shouldn’t be there at all; its entire existence might be a unique paradox in Sound Horizon (after all, isn’t Vanishing Starlight supposed to be somewhat parallel to the other stories?). Or maybe Noël might be related to the playwright and the letter is an excerpt or scrap from the fantasy serial drama that Noël happened to find. It’s interesting to think about, although there are so many questions and much to be answered here at this point.

Where do the Three Noëls fit on the hierarchy of deities? It’s a good question and something I’ve struggled with myself. I think they’re kind of separate from it. As Noelle exists within Roman and it’s hard to place where Noël from Vanishing Starlight fits into this, I’m not too comfortable with placing them on the hierarchy. I just like making a loose analogy of fitting the three Noëls as the Hindu trinity because it’s a fun idea to play around with. It might not lead to much and isn’t as rock solid as the previous sections of this post, but I want to promote some original discussions about these possibilities regardless.

Other Considerations and Flaws

First of all, I’d like to state once again that Sound Horizon isn’t a story of religion. There are references that keep coming up and I think they’re worth evaluating. There never will be a 100% match to any one mythology. After all, Revo takes all sorts of inspirations and does interesting things with all of them. For example, Moira is Revo’d up Greek mythology. Mythos details a version of the Greek creation myth, how the “mother of all life awakens” out of nothingness. I made the decision not to consider the deities described in Mythos in the hierarchy because it would become too cluttered and I consider those gods as minor forces in the grand scheme of Sound Horizon. Of course, Thanatos and Moira are crucial and are high up on the hierarchy (Moira is implied to be more powerful than Thanatos, as a side note).

There are still other things to consider. Where does the Thunder God fit into this? The Thunder God and the Thunder God Clan is something that connects Chronicle/Chronicle 2nd to Moira. As the Thunder God has human descendents and it’s within the Sound Horizon universe, it’s also hard to place and kind of a wild card. Considering the human connection, though, I can’t place the Thunder God very high. Even if those in the Thunder God Clan are said to have the ability to slay evil gods and save the world and become White Crows, the fact remains that the Thunder God is a demigod. I interpret the White Crow and the Nighthawk as symbols for liberation from the cage and the Thunder God Clan is similarly related. They seem to fit under the general umbrella of humanity’s hope to escape the cage in any case. I am not at all an expert on the Thunder God so I’d love to hear thoughts!

Another consideration that I’ll put here is Lost and the water bottom and how it connects to Chronicle. In the first part of this post I explained in detail my interpretation of Lost. However, I didn’t really specify what I think the bottom of the water of memories represents. In essence, I think it represents the end of the road and a choice for the individual in question to make. The choice is to cycle back and loop through (listen to Lostko’s voice), or to erase and destroy the memories you’ve acquired (listen to Eien no Shounen’s voice). In the context of Chronicle, the story where history repeats itself as symbolized by the destruction and creation of the world, KimiSekai is the song that represents hope in a brighter future (represented by the new world). This applies in both Chronicle and its sequel/remake. The connection here is the flood of the end and the “liquidy” feel that KimiSekai has going for it. The flood marks the end of the world and this is symbolized by the water bottom in Lost (also referenced elsewhere like Lesbos from Moira). Once again, the choice is to cycle or “keep on flowing”, or to destroy. And the clear choice made in Chronicle is to cycle and create a new world, and history repeats itself. The new world is the world of Chronicle 2nd, its sequel. I wanted to add this in as yet another example of how the forces of Lost tie into Sound Horizon with an example from the 1st Horizon.

We also have the issue of Shaytan, the demon from Seisen no Iberia. Like the Thunder God, Shaytan is clearly more powerful than the average human, but is hard to place in a hierarchy of beings. Shaytan’s powers are kind of mysterious, but at the very least he has the power to end long conflicts by killing a lot of people at once and grant wishes. Shaytan seems to be under the influence of the Boy, as the demon couldn’t even remember his name, among other things. Shaytan is kind of a wild card as well, but for now I will consider him and the Thunder God as beings that are more influential than regular humans in the Sound Horizon universe, but aren’t fundamental principles that drive the Horizons in some way like Thanatos, Moira, Eien no Shounen, Lostko, and Michele.

Lastly, the God of Christendom is referenced in the 4th Story as well as the 7th Story and its prologue Maxi Single. A lot of people wonder where this fits in the context of Sound Horizon. Once again, this is kind of nebulous. Ultimately, the 7th Horizon is about salvation and breaking the cycle of vengeance. As it uses the seven cardinal Christian sins to tell a story that takes place in the High Dark Ages in Medieval Germany, the references to God are made to fit the flavor and setting. It could even be a concept created by the humans who believe in a being of good will in hopes of salvation. As long as humanity is stuck in the cage, however, there is no salvation. There is subtle evidence for this point in Aoki Hakushaku no Shiro, as Bluebeard says that no matter how much he prays, he can never find salvation. A similar line is in Hoshi no Kirei na Yoru:

Quote :
He offered up countless prayers, but in the end… the Tenth Will [our Lord in Heaven] remained silent.

All of these examples reiterate the point that there is no salvation in Sound Horizon until humanity is liberated from the cage. This line in particular seems to reference the 10th Horizon, so this is a plot point I expect expansion on.

Time to recognize the flaws with this post. Every theory should recognize areas for improvement. I think I addressed several flaws with the original post. One of the biggest things that bothered me was how the theory essentially demonized Michele Malebranche as comparable to the evil Demiurge/Yaldabaoth from Gnosticism. This time around, I hope I successfully portrayed that there is a progression that occurs throughout the framework of Reloaded. Another aspect that bothered me was the lack of evidence from the doujin era, which I addressed by using reasoning from the doujin era (particularly Lost and Thanatos/Reloaded). I still can’t claim to be an expert on the doujin era. I’m definitely not an expert on details regarding the Thunder God, for example, but I’ve come a long way (thanks to my friends who helped me out!) with my understanding of Sound Horizon’s earliest releases.

A big goal was also to show how you could come up with multiple interpretations, for example using Nicolas Malebranche’s philosophy or Buddhism instead of Gnosticism to come to a similar conclusion. I also toyed around with theoretical possibilities regarding the identity of Noël Malebranche. I think it’s important to play around with ideas instead of outright dismissing them. That being said, I can’t say I’m fully satisfied with these sections. I need to do even more reading on some of the texts and philosophies brought up in this post. And I still need more evidence to create compelling arguments for every scenario. Everything is a work in progress!

Once again, I’m most satisfied with the part connecting the ideas of ego and id to Sound Horizon. I feel like the excerpt I found is excellent in explaining some of the important intricacies of the Jungian-Gnostic analogies I’ve made. I definitely feel like this is the strongest point of the whole piece, although I quite like how Lost fits into things as well (and of course, I’m convinced that there’s something in the Roman section as well). I’m happy that I didn’t focus too much on the Roman Liar discussion this time, as it’s really not the “Ultimate Sound Horizon Question” as some make it to be in my opinion. Overall, I’m pretty satisfied once again. It didn’t end up being concise, but it’s okay because I feel like there’s a lot of information packed in with even more evidence than before. I’m super pleased with the new Elysion section and how it worked out; it’s probably the biggest addition to this whole theory since the first post from way back, along with Lost.

I remain quite convinced that there are a lot of things here that could hold merit, but there’s still a long way to go. After all, there’s no such thing as being an expert on everything in Sound Horizon! If anything, I’d love to spur discussion on some of these ideas and bounce ideas back and forth. I’m open to all feedback, so please be sure to message me and let me know what you thought of the post! Constructive criticism would be really helpful and I think we can all work together and further our understanding of Sound Horizon! Once again I’ll request for gentle disagreements; if you read through this whole thing and hated all of it, please don’t tear it to shreds. I spent countless hours trying to think and articulate my thoughts, and the fact that I achieved to do that somewhat coherently is a big accomplishment for me! If you disagree, I’d love to discuss and hear your perspective. I’m sure it’ll help further my own and maybe I can discuss in more detail where I’m coming from with some of my thoughts. If you made it this far, thank you so much for your support!

Credits

Huge thanks to all my friends who helped in several ways with the making of this post. First, thanks to my friend Leslie who sparked the idea for the post I made in August in the first place. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have even considered Gnosticism as a possible link in this universe. I have to thank all my friends on Twitter and Tumblr as well. ThetaThanako’s great post from earlier and a lot of her ideas had a big impact, especially in regards to how I view the doujin era of Sound Horizon. Alchea helped explain the overarching elements of Lost to me, and that was super helpful and inspirational in the making of this post. Also, Maman and Sorau gave me a lot of support and motivation to write this all out! I would not have seen it through the end had I not received such kind support from everyone who read and enjoyed my last post. I am truly thankful for all of you!

Once again, I have to thank those who read the first part and gave me feedback. It motivated me to put even more into this second part. Huge shoutout to Maman for that great discussion we had concerning Elysion! It was completely eye-opening and the section I was the most excited about writing. I love that story even more than I did before now, so you deserve a huge thank you.

I’d also like to give credit to Dr. Stephen Hoeller for his great work in explaining the psychology and philosophy behind Gnosticism and explained the connections and analogies with Jungian thought. This is pretty tough, abstract material to grasp, but I learned a lot through reading some of his stuff online and I have to give credit. Also credit to David Bellusci for being the only author that made Nicolas Malebranche’s religious philosophy kind of make sense to me.

A lot of credit goes to Defade and the great effort put into translating everything and making it accessible for non-Japanese speakers. Your translations are the ones I used for consistency purposes, and given how many times I referenced your translated lyrics, this whole post would not have been possible at all without your dedication.

Lastly, credit to Revo for creating such an interesting universe and effectively synthesizing so many mythologies and ideas in his superb music. Thanks for reading!


Last edited by Ghostie on Fri Jan 30, 2015 12:23 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Sound Horizon and Religion: The "Yaldabranche" Theory Fri Jan 30, 2015 4:51 am#3

Ghostie you didn't heed my warning, it was the Deluxe, not Limited Edition of VS.
(I'M SO PROUD OF YOU THOUGH, MY GOODNESS, YOU'VE DONE WELL)
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PostSubject: Re: Sound Horizon and Religion: The "Yaldabranche" Theory Fri Jan 30, 2015 12:21 pm#4

Oh oops I keep forgetting to fix that, poop!
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PostSubject: Re: Sound Horizon and Religion: The "Yaldabranche" Theory Tue Feb 10, 2015 11:42 pm#5

Now that I finally finished reading this glorious beast of an essay, it's time for me to share a story about how I was so absorbed into reading this theory that I almost got kicked out of class. Not really related to the theory, but I feel like the story is funny enough to share, so what the heck.

It's like the second week of the new college semester, and I'm taking a course that's kind of easy and boring for me right now (we were learning the basics of Adobe Illustrator, which, being an artist, I am already privy to), so instead of paying attention to the lecture like a good student, I said, "I'm going to look at the forum." BIG MISTAKE because I came across this post and couldn't stop reading it.

At one point, though, I looked over to the guy sitting next to me, and I saw that he was also reading it, and when he saw that I saw him, he was really embarrassed and was like, "Sorry, you were just reading this thing for an hour and I wanted to know what it was. I still don't know what it is, though, like, what's going on with this? What the heck is Gnosticism?? Who's Michelle???" Truly an angel visited me today because I lept on the opportunity to explain things that make no sense like, "LET ME TELL YOU ALL ABOUT THESE THINGS THAT I, TOO, BARELY UNDERSTAND," and as the (one-sided) conversation progressed, the crowd of listeners thickened, and some anime fans were interested when I mentioned that SanHora was connected to the opening for Attack on Titan.

Towards the end they started asking questions to clarify their knowledge and they were asking stuff like, "So this Michelle is, like, every character in the story?" or "So wait, what does Hiver even DO?" and what questions I couldn't answer were met with a hefty shrug and a noncommittal hand gesture, if not outright, "I have literally no idea." Which shocked my following because I told them I've been following SanHora since I was like 12 and they were all amazed at my total ignorance towards a thing that I've loved for most of my life.

Our cult meeting was cut short when the teacher got sick of our chatter and was like, "I swear to god if you people say anything else I am going to kick all of you out of the room," which shut us all up pretty quick, and when our attention was brought back to the lecture, I realized we'd just gone over the entirety of everything important ever in the semester and we had 10 homework assignments and to be honest, I'm not even surprised, it wouldn't be the first time Sound Horizon ruined my life.
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PostSubject: Re: Sound Horizon and Religion: The "Yaldabranche" Theory Wed Feb 11, 2015 12:00 am#6

THAT....is simply the most incredible story I've ever heard!! Thank you so much for reading! Part of me wants to say "BE RESPONSIBLE" but the other part, really all of me is just grinning so hard that this happened. Really, it means so much! This is the post I'm proudest of by far, the post that I devoted a ton of time and effort into for making it as good as possible. It's been done for about a month now, and looking back, I'm still happy with how it turned out, even if it's far from being perfect. It's kind of a hard one to read because it's just so long and the ideas in it are challenging to comprehend. The fact that it captivated you and even a whole little crowd of people who knew NOTHING of Sound Horizon really speaks volumes about how interesting this all is, and totally inspires me in the future.

I may be one of the only advocates for it, but I really truly believe that the overarching structure of Sound Horizon has some uncanny parallels with Gnosticism and can be explained through use of religious metaphors. Particularly the idea of an insane being creating its own universe out of its own image filled with unconscious projections fits almost too well, with several archetypes falling into place very nicely for stuff like Roman too. It really means a lot that this all meant something to someone who's been into Sound Horizon for far, far longer than I have and has made a difference in that way.

It's hilarious that I'm kind of the cause for your teacher being upset today! Maybe don't look at the forum next time? But honestly it's such a good and funny story to my heart and I'm just floored that you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed piecing it together. ;;;;;
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