12 Days 2019, Day 12: Heybot and the Sunday Prison

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You didn’t really think we’d be getting through this year’s posts without this show coming up did you? Today we’re going to talk about endings, fittingly enough. As I mentioned back in my post on the show earlier in the year, Heybot has a… complicated, relationship with continuity at the best of times. Continuity within Heybot is somewhat malleable, some things progress and other things don’t, often seemingly arbitrarily. Except that’s actually only half true. It’s a repeated motif that “these things don’t have continuity” with major events resetting to the status quo between episodes. But what that status quo is changes as the show progresses, the only things that are ever actually reverted are those which would derail the show entirely. Actual plot progression is always retained as the hidden storyline continues to build up in the background even as the cast refuse to acknowledge that things have changed. In fact the only ones who seem to be willfully resisting this continuity are Nejiru and his inner circle, instead chosing to fall back on the comfortable assumption that their actions won’t have lasting consequences. Even as side characters have entire extended arcs in the cutaway gags.

And then they go to prison. Naturally it’s not for any of their inumerable crimes in previous episodes, it’s for a new issue introduced in that episode which was only vaguely their fault for once. Of course this being Heybot they’re not too concerned, after all, it’ll have reset by next week right? It doesn’t. The next episode opens with the pair still locked up, questioning why they’re still there when this show doesn’t have continuity like that, the ending of the previous episode was just a gag right? By willfully ignoring the continuity of things they’ve come to expect a world where the status quo will reassert itself, so they’re cast adrift when it fails to do so. Heybot being the show it is, and Nejiru and Heybot being the opportunistic grifters that they are, they exploit this newly enforced continuity to stage an escape built around callbacks to obscure gags from previous episodes so that they can return to their comfortable normal state by the end of the episode. It’s  a great episode and one of the smartest parts of a show that’s already too clever for its own good at points. But it also provides comentary on the role of continuity in the show more broadly.

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It’s not a real Heybot post without at least one contextless and extremely upsetting image

The first big thing to enforce continuity on our heroes being a prison isn’t just for the sake of a joke, it’s what accepting the world’s progress represents to them. If the world is really capable of changing as a result of their actions then they become less free. They’re not just willfully ignoring continuity, they’re willfully ignoring consequence. Nejiru and Heybot are deeply selfish individuals, they’re also at the center of the world, a world which as a result conspires to blunt the damage they might cause, anything major is undone between episodes because they have the privelage of being protagonists, the rest of the world doesn’t get to opt out like that. Prison represents the reassertion of consequences, ahead of the show’s final arc where everything finally falls into place.

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The other function of ignoring continuity comes to a head in the final episode. By nature continuity brings progress, progress towards the end. Because the cast of Heybot are to varying levels aware of their nature as fictional entities, and therefore understand that eventually this all has to end. This all culminates in a final episode where they actively resist that end. Having dealt with the universe ending cataclysm in the previous episode Nejiru and Heybot are content to just laze around and loop through the series to accumulate screws, forestalling the actual ending forever. Until the creator herself intervenes to confirm that no, this is in fact the final episode. So they rebel again, culimating in an endlessly repeating Sunday where the Heybot anime has been replaced (and runs simultaneously with) by both a knockoff Patchbot show and the overly sanitized retooling Peyboccho-kun. As Nejiru and Heybot refuse to acknowledge that their world is going to end the other characters attempt to fill the gap left by their inaction, the world ends up stuck in a loop as things get thrown ever more out of whack. It’s not until they’re willing to accept the necessity of an ending that the looping stops.

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It’s Chigiru who voices the unspoken truth of their situation; the reason the world was caught in an eternal Sunday when the heroes refused to progress was because that’s the only day they existed on, the day Heybot aired on. By refusing to let things reach their natural conclusion that final Sunday became a new prison, one where everyone was forced to fill time in increasingly broken ways. Once again Heybot and Nejiru reject continuity regardless of the consequences to others, it’s only once they’re finally able to accept their existence within a fictional framework that they’re able to set things right. Because one of the perks of being fictional is that you never truly have ot end, as long as people remember and care about the characters they’ll still exist, finally breaking free from the prison that is Sundays at 7AM (You’d better watch it!). By rejecting continuity they might have insulated themselves from consequences and even the threat of ending, but the pair also trapped themselves within the bounds of the series. Heybot needed to end so that Heybot could be free, and now Heybot lives on in all of us, and that’s terrifying.

Well that’s this year’s 12 Days of Anime wrapped up, it was a fun time as always, although a few of these posts ended up being far more work than I intended, but that’s just how it goes sometimes and I think they were better for that work. I’m broadly pleased with everything I wrote this year so here’s hoping year 5 turns out just as well. I have one more post planned before the end of the year as well as a new series for the start of 2020 so check back for that if you want I guess. Until then, have one last cursed image for the road.

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12 Days 2019, Day 12: Heybot and the Sunday Prison

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