[OWLS] A Second Chance At Life

Can you guys believe OWLS is already on its 3RD YEAR?! I couldn’t believe it either but when I was updating my pages I had the cold hard proof of it pushed into my face. I had missed (practically) the whole of OWLS 2nd year but I’d like to change things around this year by being more active with OWLS. That means sharing my fellow OWLS members posts, interacting with people via social media in regards to OWLS, and posting every month! While a lot of the original members of OWLS have turned towards IRL situations, I think we also have a very enthusiastic new batch of members (and we’re always looking for more people so fly on over to the OWLS site and tell us about yourself~)

But some of you may be asking yourselves, what the heck is OWLS?

OWLS stands for Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-Respect and we are a group of content creators who believe that all individuals – regardless of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and disability – are human, should be respected as such, and deserve love. Every month we are given a theme (by the lovely and amazing Lyn) and through blog tours, we talk about our experiences and beliefs. While we initially started discussing and analyzing anime and related content only, through the months (and now years!) we’ve expanded into pop culture in general so when following our tours you’ll find us talking about anime, manga, BL titles, yuri, TV shows, movies, personal accounts, adaptations, and more!!

If you’re curious about our previous tours, I do have a list of ALL our stops on my blog or you can stop by over at the official OWLS site!

Now that introductions are over with, let’s get to this month’s topic:

A brand new year means new beginnings and opportunities. We have a tendency to embrace the new year because it’s a time when we can start fresh. For this month’s topic, we will be exploring our favorite dynamic characters who undergo changes for better or for worse. We will analyze these characters’ transformations and how these transformations benefited or minimized these characters’ potential in becoming “great people/beings.” We will also use these characters as a way for us to reflect on our own lives and who we want to become. Lastly, we would like to say “Happy New Year, everyone!

Now then, so far we’ve had some wonderful posts this month and if you haven’t checked them out, you should! Jack started us off by talking about Wandering Son and how our mains gained the courage to express their identities in spite of society’s standards. Takuto also talked about Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai and Sakuta’s role in helping our cast find the courage to be themselves, and Megan talked about her D&D character Autumn and her growth since her creation. These cases of metamorphosis were what I like to think of as relateable journies, but I want to talk a bit more about a supernatural type of metamorphosis, which Karandi also talked about in her post on Parasyte

Amar a muerte

Now, like many of you know, me and TV shows keep a strict distance from one another. Why? Well, I’m already obsessed with anime and books, how could I handle a third obsession?! But then this show snuck into my life…

Amar a muerte (Love ’til Death) is a Spanish-language drama television series about second chances. We have Macario “El Chino” Valdés who is an assassin wanted by both the police and crime bosses in Texas, León Carvajal who is a media mogul, and Beltrán Camacho, a university professor. They all end up dying on the same day – Leon on his wedding day, El Chino after being captured and sentenced to death via electric chair, and Beltrán during a car accident – but instead of actually dying, two of these men end up with a second chance at life. El Chino’s spirit ends up transferred to Beltrán’s body and León’s spirit gets transferred to El Chino’s body

In terms of the theme metamorphosis, I could pick so many things from this show but I’d like to focus on our main characters. I also hope I can explain things clearly because there is a lot going on in this show. Spoilers incoming!

Also, this show is still airing and you can watch it on UniMas!

What would you do if you had a second chance at life? 

Bodies: León, El Chino, Beltrán. Characters: León (middle) and El Chino (right)

One of the things I find interesting about this show is that when it begins it wants you to believe that there is a “good” and “bad” character. We have León, who is a super rich and well-respected man in the business world, among his peers, and in his country. He’s amassed such a great fortune and charismatic reputation that when he dies, it’s like all of Mexico is mourning for him, however, once the police begin to investigate his death (assassination), his character begins to come into question. Was he really such a great person?

One of his daughters, who falls into depression and drinking, saw him as her hero and it broke her heart that he was killed. She couldn’t believe someone would want to hurt someone as kind as her father. On the other hand, his son seems almost reluctant to speak about an absentee father who only cared about his wealth and company. Then we have León’s newly widowed bride (Lucía) who paints a picture of a hopeless romantic. It’s through her lens that we see a lot of León’s pre-spirit transferred life

Then we have El Chino, ruthless assassin who is hardly ever home to see his wife and daughter. It’s clear there is domestic abuse between the couple (we never see anything physical but verbal is plenty) and he refuses to acknowledge his daughter as his, believing his wife cheated on him. As an assassin, well, he kills people so it’s pretty clear he’s supposed to be the “bad” guy. There is no question about his character during his pre-spirit transferred life

It’s only when the two have their souls transferred that things become more complicated and we start to question what it means to be good and bad

The Black Butterfly

León in El Chino’s body

As we come to learn as the series progresses, all the people who have experienced this soul transferrence have a butterfly mark on the back of their necks. In fact, a black butterfly is very prevalent in the series and while most of the series characters point to it meaning death, there are many ways this can be interpreted. It can be literal death as both León and El Chino have died. León received a deadly stab wound and can no longer resume his life since his body actually died, leaving his prior life in chaos. On the other hand, we have El Chino, who received a high voltage of electricity but who didn’t die in body or soul. His body was still left intact while his soul was transferred to Beltrán’s body, making things complicated as now everyone who was hunting him (police and crime bosses) are now after his body. Or it can be a more symbolic death as both character’s personalities begin to change with this supernatural metamorphosis

But the black butterfly doesn’t just mean death. A black butterfly also symbolizes transition, renewal, or rebirth, which is exactly what these characters are going through, regardless of it being positive or negative

Being powerless to undo this soul transference, León and El Chino must now move on with their lives. Ideally. Because as we come to see, that’s not exactly how things work out. Missing his family and wife, León tries to go back home to tell them all he’s still alive and it’s only his friend’s logical thinking that makes him reconsider. Who would believe such a tale and if they did, what would guarantee his life a second time? His new mission was to find out who had ordered his assassination. Of course, things get more complicated when he finds out his wife had been cheating on him with his best friend…and that maybe they were the ones behind said assassination attempt…

Instead of moving on, León spends his time plotting revenge, haunting both Lucía and Johny through messages from a dead man, and by seducing Lucía. It even comes to a point where León goes to Johny’s residence and begins to shoot at him from outside, uncaring of the consequences. It’s actions like these that make you wonder if León is really the “good” guy of the series. After all, he could have gathered evidence and helped the police capture these two but he decided to take justice into his own hands

El Chino, on the other hand, seems to take his second chance as a good thing (once he stops freaking out of course). While it’s clear he’s still the ruthless assassin from before, he is also now in a stable household where the only thing he needs to worry about is trying to figure out how an uneducated man like him, who never finished school, is going to teach a class of university students in a subject he didn’t know existed. His new wife loves him and he now has a son who loves to play and wants to spend time with him. While his body now is much older and frail, this life away from crime begins to mellow him out and we come to see a more fatherly and kinder, if still rude and crude, side of El Chino

The thing I find most admirable about El Chino’s rebirth is that he begins to care for both of his families. While León clearly loved his family and immediately went to search for them, he also abandoned El Chino’s family at the first chance he got. El Chino, during his bouts of freaking out, forgot about his old family but once he heard they were in danger (being chased by the crime bosses as a way to get to him), he did all he could to save them

Finding a Balance

While León was stuck in the past, El Chino was trying to move on and take care of the family he used to have. The character that was shown as ruthless and selfish at the beginning of the show turned out to be the more compassionate and caring of the two. And if there’s something I’m taking away from this show (so far) it’s that metamorphosis isn’t about forgetting your past and moving forward but about finding a balance and trying to always be the best that you can be. León wasn’t able to find a balance because he was too preoccupied with the fact he’d been betrayed by the two people he loved and trusted the most. El Chino, while dropped into a more love-filled environment, was always aware (and embraced) that he wasn’t a good person but also didn’t shy away from new possibilities and growth

WELP, that wraps up my OWLS post for this month! The series is still ongoing and I’m really curious as to how both León and El Chino will continue to change. If it wasn’t clear already I really like El Chino, hehe. He’s not really good but not really bad, and who doesn’t love a morally grey character?

If you haven’t already checked it out, Scott talked about Phos in Land of the Lustrous and before him, Naja talked about Ash in Banana Fish! Both are great posts so read them. We already have a full lineup for February, which will be announced soon I’m sure. In the meantime, feel free to follow OWLS via wordpress, twitter, and facebook to keep up with updates

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