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One of the plot points in The Emissary is the fact that Japan is now an isolated country completely cut off from the rest of the world. As a result, it is unknown whether or not any outside countries have the ability to help any of the afflicted people of Japan. Japan is adamant that no outside country tries to contact them or supply them with any kind of aid. This made me think a lot about how there are many countries in our own world who often refuse to aid suffering people in other countries simply because they are from other countries, and vice versa—people who refuse the aid of other countries because they don’t trust them.

Another bit of social commentary is the fact that the older generations are looking after their great-grandchildren instead of the childrens’ biological parents, due to the parents being too irresponsible to care for their own children, or just a lack of interest in their own children. This made me think of how many terrible parents there are in the world; a lot of times, this is because they have children very young and so don’t always know how to properly care for their children while also trying to live their lives as they used to. Other reasons may include mental illness, a lack of resources, or just general unpreparedness for all the challenges that come with raising a child. Older people tend to have most things figured out, though; they know how to deal with and balance all of these things, and as a result they often end up taking over the responsibilities of their children.

A third similarity between the society in this book and our own society is how we are irreversibly destroying our planet. The Emissary is very much a cautionary tale; whose to say that anything and everything in this story—children so sick they can barely walk or eat; elderly but long-living people raising said children; whole countries cutting themselves off from the rest of the world; pollution so bad that you can’t even go outside—couldn’t happen eventually, should we continue to trash our planet like we’ve been doing for so long now? The scariest thing about dystopian worlds, I think, are the similarities that we can find in them, as well as the possibility that these fictitious worlds could eventually become our own reality. To me, the word dystopia describes a society in which an idea that seems good at first is implemented, then twisted in such a way that the cons far outweigh the pros. In The Emissary’s case, the people of Japan thought that they would be better off isolated from the rest of the world, but all it did was make their lives and the lives of their children even more unbearable as they fell victim to illness and oppression.

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