Was Ikkaku defeated by Poww?
In the summary at the beginning of ep. 222, we were told that Ikkaku was defeated by Poww. By what do we judge something to be a defeat anyway? Well, we need to know what the fight was in the first place.
So what was the fight that Ikkaku ‘really’ was fighting? Can the nature of a fight be objectively discerned – you see Ikaku and Poww crossing swords, then you draw the conclusion they’re fighting one another? Or is the “real fight” definable only by the subject, dependent on one’s own definition of the fight he’s fighting? Is it behavioral or is it an intimately 1st person?
It seemed to me the narrator would point to the broken pillar as justification for the sentence of defeat. But the breaking of the pillar is Soul’s Society’s stake, and his own stake only in his quality as a soldier in the division, one supposed to follow orders and put his strength there where the general says.
How important was the pillar for Ikkaku, all in all? It was secondary to the goal of protecting / following a certain protocol with oneself and his self-image: the image of one who can take the blows and laugh and only release his might when pushed to the very bottom. (Or maybe not even then? What if death comes before one feels one’s at the very bottom?) Of course, there may be collateral damage in the process of following his personal protocol to the end: he may suffer in his role as a soldier in the division. Others may suffer too. But his goals are different. Other people may call him nuts. He is nuts if Zaraki is (But remember Zaraki’s dialogue with Ichinose. Zaraki revealed himself as the true spiritual master he is showing he had the understanding it takes to be one). Nuts, and more dramatic: his Zanpakuto (heart) was broken, he was smiling but taunting and pretending fighting with it like that. The truth is Ikkaku didn’t care enough about his role as a soldier in that division. (duties, protocols with others), not as much as he did for the protocol with himself. So, yeah, he didn’t care much about what others asked of him. He put himself first. In his view Komamura may have come prematurely to the “rescue”: Ikkaku was not yet at the bottom of it all.
(Between brackets, this is a problem of the whole division, Yumichika is the 5th seat because he likes number 5! They simply don’t take roles as seriously as one might think; they all care about protocols with themselves. No need to stress how important is self-image to Yumichika.)
Sometimes people think you’re fighting a different fight. Sometimes the roles we are playing are misjudged by others. More clearly, the relative value we give to our roles may be misinterpreted from outside. Others may judge Ikkaku as a loser, simply because they think he is only what they see in him. He’s a soldier. He’s a fiance. That’s the most important thing, the visible thing, and this must be the important thing to him too.
Sometimes we don’t even care about someone’s own intimate definition of one’s own fight, when we deem something to be a fight and we deem something to be a defeat. We simply judge like this: Did the pillar break? Did the relationship break? Well, have they separated? This is the ‘objectivist’ approach.
I am raising doubts over this approach. Fight Club: You are not your job! Another example: Romeo and freaking Juliet. What does that mean? The visible thing breaks. Once they’re dead, two people can’t have much of a relationship. However, death may save the purity of the relationship itself.
So, OK, let’s say the criterion is intimate. Subjectivism is true in defining the nature of a fight and consequently in deeming something a defeat. But, complications: sometimes we misjudge the relative value we ourselves give to certain things. Ikkaku was confused himself over his own personal value scale here: “which protocol was more important to me in this case?” He seemed to me dazzled by Iba’s scolding. This guy is not very transparent to himself (Recall his confusion about his belief in God’s existence). It’s almost like he couldn’t make up his mind “Am I fighting this fight?” “Am I confronting this person?”. Or maybe I am projecting too much here; you know I have personal stakes in raising doubts over Ikkaku’s defeat. But let’s imagine what Ikkaku himself would say if told that he lost. We are not sure!
But maybe we are not sure because of an ambiguity of the term ‘defeat’ that doesn’t have anything to do with the quarrel objective / subjective criterion for defining a fight. It’s a defeat in another, more fundamental fight, the fight to see or not to lose sight of what’s important. A fight not with Poww, but with one’s own ignorance. How crucial is the question whether Ikkaku regrets his behavior, namely not having fought enough as to protect the pillar? If he regrets, then we can say, ok, in this sense he was defeated, he misjudged the relative importance of something and in the end he lost that precise thing only to realize afterwards that THAT was the most important. The pillar. The visible thing. The tangible. If he regrets, something like “He lost to life through Poww” would be more accurate here than “he lost to Poww”. But anyway, if you are asking me about the fight with Poww as such, then he didn’t lose, because he didn’t even get to fight Poww (if you ask him). Or if he was (objectively), God damn it, he didn’t even know he was.