That is my dog, Mickee. Well... was my dog Mickee. She died earlier this month. At least, if my memory is correct, that was when she died. It was a very sad moment for my family, and I tried to block out the details because I wasn't going to be able to get through my day if I kept remember that sweet dog that we brought home from the shelter (after the other two dogs I had since childhood passed on... but at least they lived full, healthy lives) was now no longer of this world. The worst part was that she was ill for a good part of the time we had her, and we did all we could to treat it. But, when she didn't have the strength to walk, well...
Some time before she died, I bought Okamiden. I loved the original Okami, and my dad had just gotten a Best Buy gift card from one of the customers at his shop. With my current gaming budget constrained due to perpetual unemployment, I took it as a sign and looked up what games had recently come out. Among the top choices, I ended up settling on Okamiden. I jumped between it and Dragon Quest 9 (which I had picked up when it came out but didn't play until this year), with mostly a focus on Dragon Quest. I enjoyed both, but at the time had already made a significant time investment in Dragon Quest. (That, and making those Let's Play videos really eats up time... it isn't just record and post, at least that's not how I do it.)
I finished up Dragon Quest, and then sometime after that, Mickee passed away. I found myself alot more invested in Okamiden all of a sudden. Akuro, the final boss (who, by the way, has much better build-up than Yami, who was a fricken Giant Space Flea from Nowhere
), makes a point that the whole game is driven by Kuni (Susano's adopted son). He is, after all, Chibiterasu's first partner (as mandated by Sakuya), and Chibi does get pretty close with him prodding the cowardly boy to arms. And hell, the motivation that Chibi has to explore the game's second dungeon was to rescue Kuni, and pretty much the rest of the game is spent searching for the boy while complete strangers come up to Chibi (none of which bother to learn his real name, because seriously: Chibiterasu? What the fuck kind of name is that?) and decide to make Chibi their personal chauffeur. Not to say he doesn't eventually befriend them, because what kind of benevolent Child of the Sun God would he be if he didn't try to see the good in people? (Although Kagu tries his patience for a good bit, stage diva that girl is... still saves her when it counts.)
While after Mickee's death, there were several cute moments in Okamiden that made me go, "I miss my dog," nothing hammered it home more than the final hours of the game. Akuro travels back in time to when Nagi first slayed Orochi (by the way, why do you still have to do the QTE brush strokes for those bits? Both times, Amaterasu should be there doing just that...) and bathes in its blood, which along with a vessel will unleash his full power. After darkness-bombing pretty much the whole world in that time period (sans Kamiki Village, which Shiranui sacrifices her life to protect), he calls out Chibi and tells him that they'll fight at the Moon Cave. It's there that Akuro reveals his vessel: Kuni! Chibi pretty much refuses to fight against Akuro in this form, hoping that Kuni will snap out of it. After an interesting final dungeon wherein you refight all the old bosses (with the help of your other old partners, pulled into place by one of Issun's ancestors literally tearing the space-time continuum a new one), the final fights commence, with Chibi insisting he fight them alone. First up was one of your other partners who for some reason has sided with Akruo, the Waka-lookalike Kurow, who he spares after winning. (Notice something in the name there?) Following that was... well, Akuro. But again, Chibi refuses to fight him while he's in Kuni's body, hoping he'll snap to his senses. At first, he does, and you only fight Akuro's demon form. But then, Akuro takes back his vessel, makes a dark clone of Chibi (who uses powers that Ammy might have had, but Chibi can never learn... cheater...), and mounts up. And while winning that fight forces Akuro out of Kuni's body, that still isn't enough. Only then is it that Kurow reveals his true purpose: that if he were posessed by Akuro and then killed, Akuro would be no more. But the thought of even killing a friend that he had for what seemed to me be a greater part of his journey just puts Chibi in tears. The young pup just doesn't want to do it. He does, eventually, pull himself together, and with the help of the now free Kuni, kill Akuro.
It doesn't stop there. The following cutscene shows all of Chibi's partners and Chibi himself standing over Kurow's body, who is fading (though still alive after being power-slashed vertically along his whole body). Suddenly, images appear out of nowhere of his time with Chibi. At first, he hated the discovery he made that he was, in fact, a Waka-clone made to seal away Akuro. But then, after seeing all the good time, he's able to rest in peace. What really hit it home for me was the music fading out, punctuated with Chibi howling over Kurow's corpse.
It made me think of my time with Mickee. When we first brought her home, she wouldn't bat an eye at me. And that was because I was, in fact, not at the shelter when my father and grandmother brought her home. Because of that, she would follow those two to the ends of the earth, but would mostly ignore me. (This was evident whenever I played fetch with Mickee when my dad was around... she'd always bring the ball to him instead of to me.) I still loved her all the same, though. As time moved on, though, we became close. It didn't happen immediately, and I had to dog-sit a couple of weekends to get her to notice me (one of which she spend a good chunk of time on her bed nussled up with one of my father's slippers), but eventually, we became chummy. And just when we were at our closest, she disappeared.
RIP, Mickee. Say "Hi" to Ammy on the Celestial Plain for me.
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