ICO You Were There

Light and Dark II

Analysis Thus Far

The section 1 section entitled 'Light and Dark' was the first section of the this version of the analysis I wrote. I haven't modified it since, so the last update to it was somewhere around two years ago. Aside from an outline of the magic in Ico, it basically serves as a statement of purpose for the rest of the analysis. Almost every other section of the analysis has been edited within the last few months, so this original section highlights both how I managed with my original intentions and how analysing Ico has changed my views on it.

'Light and Dark' basically states that the purpose of this overall section of the analysis, 'The Forces of Light and Dark in Ico', is strictly to analyse the magic, to try to figure out what Light and Dark magic are and how they relate. The next section, 'The Orbs and Reflectors', holds to this quite closely but from there on it turns into a more general analysis of all the elements in the story related to Light and Dark Magic.
This is really out of necessity, we know so little about the world in Ico we have to take whatever the story gives us. While it would be nice to analyse the magic in purely abstact terms, in reality we have to go as far as looking at how certain aspects fit into the story to derive any meaning from them.

Something which stands out is my neutrality on the nature of Light and Dark Magic and how they relate. While I did state my belief that they are opposing magical forces, I was open to the possibility that that is actually completely wrong. This was because I originally assumed that they were opposites due purely to how they were presented, but found that when analysing them from a plot perspective rather than a thematic perspective it was not so clear cut. While in reality I do consider the possibility that their being opposites may be a faulty basis, it is my view of the magic in Ico, and that has both influenced and been influenced by my analysing it.
As I progressed I also associated Dark Magic with the supernatural rather than 'real' magic an increasing amount. This is suggested by the story itself, but it became more of an underlying assumption in my analysis than I had originally intended. Again, I believe that it is a strong assumption, and as with the above assumption is doesn't really affect the content of the analysis much. I am simply pointing out that this is the way the story guided me over time, resulting in a slightly different angle on the magic than in the oldest parts of the analysis.

Since analysing the story has led me in certain directions regarding the nature of and relationship between Light and Dark Magic, I think it makes sense here at the beginning of section two to once again look at the two types of magic in general, taking into account all the observations made in section 1.


Light and Dark

Even at this point it is not really possible to tell exactly what each type of magic is. I do put forward a theory later in this section, but all we will ever be able to do is theorise. A question we can start to approach is their relationship to one another, and possible some general conclusions about their nature.

I originally pointed out that Light and Dark Magic manifest in very different ways. Light Magic is more mechanical and usable, a power you can posses. Dark Magic is more about special powers, and is a power which encompasses your being. There are some further lines that can be drawn between the two having examined them more.

Everything in the Fortress, not including the inhabitants, is based in Light Magic. I have referenced this before to make the point that the Queen being a Spirit is something of a conflict, but it stands on its own as a significant fact. There is no Dark Magic in the Fortress itself, the only trace of magic are the devices and objects which are based on Light Magic. Given that Yorda is a Light Being and that it is very likely that the Queen was originally, it would appear that the original inhabitants were also somehow related to Light Magic.
The Casket Chamber is an obvious counterexample, but while it is somehow related to Dark Magic the device itself is Light Magic, the Dark Magic it uses, if any, is supplied via the sacrifices.

Dark Magic is brought into the Fortress by beings who themselves are Dark Magic beings of some kind, the Queen and the Spirits. There is no Dark Magic beyond the reach of their power. The source of this power is a being who kept herself alive beyond her natural lifespan one way or another using this power and her minions are something left behind by dead people. Thus every instance of Dark Magic is closely tied to the dead, to the supernatural. This connection is so strong that the inevitable suggestion is that Dark Magic is not actually magic as in an unusual power of that world, but rather a supernatural power available to those acting outside the natural order of things - those who are supposed to already be dead.

Light and Dark Magic are seen interacting on occasion, we know that they are not always destructive towards one another, in specific circumstances they can work together. However their default reaction is to come into conflict and each power has its own seperate base in the story. Light Magic is based in the Fortress and apparently in the original inhabitants, Dark Magic surrounds the dead and might not really be magic as such. This all works to suggest that the two types of magic, whatever they are, are seperate unrelated types of magic and are opposed to each other.

The significance of Dark Magic being supernatural rather than truly magical is that it further pushes the point that the two types of magic are actually seperate types of magic and that except in special circumstances they do oppose each other. If Dark Magic is a supernatural power and Light Magic is simply a 'magical' aspect of the normal world the two must not be directly related.

While Light and Dark Magic do not manifest in mirrored ways, it is possible that my very original assertion that they are actually more or less complete opposites may be correct. This is the subject of some of the speculation in section 2.


Written by Crumplecorn
Last Updated 23/4/2008


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