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Literature / Harmony

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English version's cover (left) and the poster of the movie (right).

"My body is my own. I want to live my own life. Not sitting around waiting to be strangled by some stranger's kindness."

Harmony is a dark sci-fi novel written by the late Project ITOH (Real name Satoshi Itō) while he was suffering from final stage of cancer, and published in 2008 (before translated into English in 2010, published by Haika Soru as a book and through Amazon e-book). It won the Nihon SF Taisho and the Seiun Award in 2009, got a special citation in 2010 Philip K. Dick Award, and was adapted into an animated movie directed by Michael Arias and Takashi Nakamura, animated by Studio 4°C. The movie, released in 2015, is part of a series of films based on the last novels written by Project Itoh, alongside The Empire of Corpses and Genocidal Organ. A Manga adaption of the movie is also available, illustrated by Minato Fumi.

The story is set in the future after the Maelstorm, an era where diseases and nuclear war once engulfed the Earth, leaving the global populace reeling. To prevent new horrors, the countries were divided into even smaller states, with a deeper ethic and a more solitary society through social pressure. Health is controlled by "admedicstration", facilities where nanotechnology is used for medical purposes, to allow for better living. In such a utopia dominated by the belief of Lifeism, Tuan Kirie, a Helix Inspector working for the World Health Organization, was re-assigned to Japan for her misbehavior just in time to see the its peaceful citizen begin committing suicide en-masses, something not entirely unfamiliar to Tuan's shared childhood with her friends...


Not related to 2010 Korean film, a video game, a web comic or another sci-fi novel of the same name by Keith Brooke.

This novel contains examples of:

  • The Bad Guy Wins
  • Big Bad Friend: Miach is revealed to be this on in-universe standard right from the start. And when it failed, she went on to do the same on a global scale.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: admedicstration sure gives off this vibe. Mandatory implants in users constantly monitor health and butt in with medical suggestions in any given opportunity. The World Health Organization is shown to have its own armed forces, and is capable of obtaining first-person video footage from any of the citizens without permission.
  • Blackmail: After the mass-suicide happened, Oscar informs Tuan that due to her witnessing her friend's death, she is to be sent to rehabilitation and not allowed to partake in investigation. Tuan threatens to write her public 'confession' of what she and her cohorts did back in Niger. It worked.
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  • Break Them by Talking: Cian's death, when Miach whispers to her through the communication implant already existing in all citizens.
  • Cassandra Truth: How Tuan describe what her father had to face while she's still with him. As a scientist whose life is concerned with truth in purest form, many of things he tries to explain ended up not morally aligned with the society at large.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The utopian world under Lifeism is enforced by mandatory implants at a required age, drug injections, and medical therapy on every person, treating every human life as precious 'resources' of the society that must be preserved at any cost.
  • Creepy Child: Miach fits this trope to the tee. She knows about WatchMe inside and out, declaring it the tyranny over human bodies. And the first few times we see her, she is inviting Cian and Tuan into committing suicide together in protest by engineering common MediCare units to produce nutrient-inhibition drugs...
  • Disappeared Dad: Tuan's father Nuada, who did research for WHO to see if they can integrate the suicidal Miach back into society, only to find out that doing so would mean controlling the subject's will and erase their consciousness. He fled to Baghdad because of the ensuring internal struggle to acquire the knowledge.
  • Disaster Dominoes: admedicstration citizens who no longer believe in security provided by the government, start killing each other and themselves on Miach's public mandate.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Cian Mikado felt guilty for chickening out of a suicide pact years ago. So when Miach reminded her of the fact though the AR device, she doesn't hesitate to drive a knife through her own neck.
    • Nuada Kirie ends up Taking the Bullet from an assassin to save his long-estranged daughter Tuan.
  • Driven to Suicide: The main plot started because this trope happened in a utopia.
    • Among the primary trio, Cian feels guilty for spilling the beans about the suicide pact. Many years later, she stabbed her own neck in a restaurant.
    • In the novel, Tuan mentioned that the suicide rates in children is already rising by itself, because they cannot find purpose of living inside such an advanced society, surrounded by success.
  • Drugs Are Bad: In admedicstration this expands to any addictive and destructive substance at all. In the novel Tuan recalls the public shaming her father for drinking coffee like one would do to a drug addict. In spite of this, Tuan smokes and spread contraband to her co-workers in Niger until Oscara shows up.
  • Downer Ending: Tuan realizes that human consciousness is just a side effect of chemical impulses in the brain and is no longer necessary in society, and helps accomplish the villains' Assimilation Plot by doing nothing to stop them from destroying human consciousness.
  • Everything Is Online: From restaurant menus to Cyberspace conferences to personal mental state. Almost everything is collected, networked, and accessible from devices implanted in all admedicstration citizens.
  • Eye Scream: A random news reporter on live public broadcast.
  • Face–Heel Turn: From Tuan's perspective. No, Miach didn't want to 'rebel' against Admedicstartion's rule. She just want to give everyone a blissful world without human consciousness, just as she was before what happened to her in Chechnya, by forcing the Admedicstration's hands to activate the Harmony Project.
  • Foreshadowing:The very first thing you see in the animated movie contains Tuan's 'consciousness', after Project Harmony is activated.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Miach was the admedicstration's experiment to see if they can rehabilitate a person with crippling mental trauma back into Post-Maelstrom society. It worked too well.
    • admedicstration ends up proving the Big Bad that happiness is unnecessary, leading to them forcing the activation of Project Harmony, wiping out human consciousness.
  • Happiness Is Mandatory: The people in Japan have their bodily functions constantly maintained by the system. Kindness became a keyword in every inches of the society, and the admedicstration will sacrifice anything to ensure happiness is maintained, fearing the repeat of Maelstrom. Just after Tuan arrives in Japan, some of the populace acted surprised simply because Tuan doesn't want to tell her friend why she is making a grim face getting booted from Niger.
    Tuan: "Everyone here looks the same, sounds the same, does the same thing as everyone else."
  • Hobbes Was Right: Rampant belief in the admedicstration.
  • If I Can't Have You...: In a way. Tuan kills Miach in the end just before the activation of Project Harmony, not wanting her memories of the 'rebellious' Miach to change.
  • Insult Backfire: In an earlier chapter of the story, Tuan turns Inspector Oscara's spot check on its head, noting that the PR disaster waiting to happen that is Helix Inspectors consuming contraband in battlefield is exactly why Oscara wouldn't report her actions to the headquarters... So Oscara boots Tuan back to Japan instead.
  • My Card: Miach makes a discussion out of having business card. In an age where personal information can be accessed by anyone at anytime willingly or not, Miach points out that (pre-Internet) people used to reveal themselves to other parties only when they choose to (instead of having their personal info be broadcasted 24/7 in one way or another) by handing out such a card. She even made a set for the Tuan's childhood trio and years later, for her co-conspirators in her plan.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Miach.
  • Not Quite Dead: Miach.
  • Rape as Backstory:Miach was born in a group of a minority whose trait was a 'lack of consciousness'. She, along with other girls, were taken into a 'comfort station' by Russian soldiers while the war was waged there. Miach tells the story herself that she became aware of consciousness because of the event.
  • Technology Porn
  • The Übermensch: Miach, of course.
  • Wicked Cultured: Miach is more knowledgeable than usual children. She also prefers to read books in paper instead of in digital format.
  • Yuri Genre: The relationship between Tuan and Miach has shades of this. But then it's questionable if Miach is simply manipulating Tuan or the feeling is mutual.

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