[Media Meandry] Pet [2020 Anime, Episodes 1-3]

Even before the opening song in episode 1 of Pet, we already explore an uncommon psychological depth. Why do we like macabre media? What horrors do we internalize because we are too sensitive to the outside world? What if we locked away these peaks [emotional highs] and valleys [emotional lows]? Could we navigate the grime and glitter of this world with more ease? These are some questions Pet meanders through, so let’s meander through them, too.

I like macabre media for their viscerality.

Within the horrific imagery of media and reality lies a greater truth. Uncensored from sensibilities, when we confront these elements of ourselves and those around us most raw and rich, we can start to understand where we stand in life. I tend not to watch pure horror because outside of exercises in excess, there isn’t much value in me seeing plots fraught with death and dismemberment. The first Saw movie had a degree of psychological potency that was replaced with horrific excess in the second.

I wonder, though, if seeing more horror can make me less sensitive?

When I go through life, I often find myself in one of two mindsets. When I am too sensitive toward the thoughts and feelings of others, when I worry too much about what other people think, I have trouble navigating my way through this world of ours. When I can close myself off, somewhat, I can navigate better. Pet introduces the ideas of peaks and valleys as ways of keeping your best memories and worst memories in tangible locations. When we remember our favorite memory, as skewed by the perspective of the present, we can escape from terrible situations. Although it seems unnecessary, when we remember our least favorite memory, or at least can confront that memory without that much fear, we can operate with less fear toward less harmful situations.

One character’s peak is receiving a baseball bat and valley is being embarrassed.

In his peak, he feels a sense of connection that he longed for throughout his harsh life, inhabited more with valleys of embarrassment and ridicule. When we remember our own peaks, either similarly where we received some sort of seemingly unattainable thing, it can help us realign our priorities. Let’s say we, too, had a peak of receiving a bat as a gift. What would the benefit of having something else be when we have our bat? We would act in ways where we would want more bat-memories and fewer embarrassment-memories.

But it’s important to keep those inner thoughts to ourselves.

Pet explores how we manipulate and get manipulated.

The character that received reveres the gifter of that bat and will do anything the gifter wants. We, similarly, feel indebted to our employers or colleagues because they hold certain keys to our career success. What happens if our employer becomes displeased with us? What if we’re placed on a performance improvement plan or fired? That most certainly means the end of our current lifestyle, right? Well, only if we rely so heavily on that employer, those colleagues, and that lifestyle.

What happens if we forget these memories of being indebted?

It will be easier for us to part ways with certain thoughts and feelings. Although Pet only explores this from a forced manipulation, the same can be true for when people we meet pervert themselves in our minds. We may have held them as the peak memory of our memories until they did something to change that. Maybe they turned on us in a fierce way to make us lose all respect we had for them? Pet explores this from more of a narrative manipulation, where characters have to have their memories edited, but this happens naturally as people reveal unfavorable aspects of their personalities.

What if we can be more flexible with our opinions of others?

When we hold onto preconceived notions of situations, why do we often hold onto these notions even when presented with more reasonable information? Is it because the valleys of our minds are littered with embarrassments over being wrong? What if we can explore those thoughts and loosen their powers over us? Other valleys may appear, but those valleys would almost be the true valley, rather than what we initially perceived. If we can bleed these negative thoughts out, we can avoid being controlled and manipulated by others.

At least, that’s how it seems after watching episode 3.

Where will the anime go from here?

Rather than speculate, let’s recontextualize what we’ve covered. One way to practice locking away your peaks and valleys is to wear sunglasses around in public as you develop your poker face. Don’t let your thoughts externalize as quickly. When you meet new people, don’t give them the infodump of your personal history with all of your personal faults and failures. We travel oftentimes to get away from the emotional baggage of our past but unless we can drop off that baggage, we’ll just carry it with us to the next town and next person.

Most towns and people tolerate only so much emotional baggage.

What if you, instead, worked to downsize that baggage to just the bare minimum? What if you decided that certain memories can go away? We don’t need to barf all of our thoughts and feelings on everyone. Sometimes, it’s OK to keep yourself a little more guarded. When you go to the store, you’re not there looking to make friends, you’re there to get groceries. You can’t make friends there if you’re feeling insecure about yourself. When I meet new people, I’ll open with a good generality about the situation to be generally agreeable, state something more specific that maybe is also an innocuous generality, then pause enough to let the other person agree. Then I’m in. Pet goes for the more supernatural approach to psychological manipulation, whether that means manipulating the thoughts of others or getting on someone’s good side.

There’s plenty to explore, psychologically, in both human interactions and watching Pet.

Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal and viewing experiences.
InspirationsMedia Meandry essays take a piece of media as a baseline and then explores other thoughts from there. I wrote only about the most general concepts here and meandered into my own thoughts on psychology and memories.
Related: Other Series Reviews and Media Meandry essays.
Screenshots: Clean screenshots of my favorite three screenshots thanks to Collector.
Written On: 2020 January 28 [39 minutes, from 10:14pm to 10:53pm, listening to DRAINO.]
Last Edited: 2020 January 28 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.