Long Reads: Castle Swimmer Analysis Part Two – Prince Siren
Contains Major spoilers for Castle Swimmer Season one! If you have not read season one and th extra episodes yet I highly reccommend you do so prior to reading this. You can read Castle Swimmer for free by clicking here.
Prince Siren is a character whose phenomenal growth in season one is truly a beautiful sight to behold. He is the scarless Prince of the Sharks. A messiah upon whose shoulders the hope and salvation of his people rests. Albeit one kept under lock and key. It is not long after we are introduced to him that we learn he has lived a pampered, but sheltered life. Having been accorded his duty, he has grown up under the guise of this expectation, separated from his people by his purpose, his only task to wait for the beacon and to prepare to fulfil his duty. When we first see Siren, we meet a person who is struggling under the weight of his obligation. But to truly understand him, one must first understand his ethos and for that, it is best to start with his design.
Prince Siren’s Design
Siren’s design is distinct and interesting when compared to his people. As one would expect, there is little deviation physically. The Sharks are a diverse people with deviations found in hair and eye colour while conforming to a uniform shape. Siren follows this trend, with his light blue-silver skin colour and hair. However, his choice of attire is completely unique.
There are two fundamental differences between Siren and the Shark people. First Siren bears none of the distinctive scars and second, Siren’s attire is entirely devoid of any logical function. To put it mildly, while the other sharks are often seen wearing chainmail, helmets and protective garb, Siren does not, instead electing to wear what appears to be decorative jewellery. It could be argued as the prince and prophesized saviour, it is logical that his garb would reflect this. However, when we consider the situation the other Sharks are in, his choice of attire is odd. Especially as his mother Queen Susca wears battle armour. In essence Sirens attire is contrary because it symbolises his place in the Shark Castle. First and foremost he is both figuratively and literally a sacred and prized thing, the Sharks symbol of hope, their salvation and thus something to be protected and venerated. While this interpretation does give the impression that the Shark people do not care for Prince Siren, the opposite is, in fact, the truth. His presence is a comfort for them, one that over the years they have come to admire and love, placing him on a pedestal of almost worship oblivious to the emotional ramifications this position causes.
That Siren is struggling with his duty is a revelation that is apparent from the outset. His circumstances remind me very much of a quote often used in The Wheel of Time series.
Duty is as heavy as a mountain, death is as light as a feather.Robert Jordan, The wheel of Time.
It is an apt summary of his situation. The first thing we learn about him, before we even see him is his duty. The sacred task that he and he alone can fulfil.
Prince Siren of the Castle of Sharks.
You Must Kill The Beacon
Acording to our Prophecy, out only Prince will slay the beacon with a spear
And the curse that plagues our people will be broken.Queen Susca, Episode 2
It is only after Susca has relayed the entire prophecy that we get our first glimpse of Siren himself: A surly teenager who clearly does not want to listen to the prophecy he has repeatedly recited for years. While Siren’s duty is a natural focus, giving us insight on his place in the world. His reaction to it is interesting – going as far as calling it murder. It is important because it foreshadows the key decision Siren will have to make to change his role and grow while giving us insight into his morality. Siren’s rumination on whether the Beacon is an innocent person is vital because it underpins and suggests he is hesitating before the Beacon was even there. Fundamentally at his core, Siren would not be able to kill whoever the beacon turned out to be because at a base level, it would contradict his moral code and beyond this, Siren is a fundamentally kind.
But you still Skip meals and Ignore everyone in the Castle! Why do you insidt on avoiding your people, when all they do is sing your praises!Queen Susca
It does not take much digging to understand why Siren behaves this way. But while this exchange is interrupted by a soldier announcing the arrival of The Beacon it does still give us insight into Siren and Susca. Up until this point Susca has been questing Siren and telling him what it is he needs to do. All the while ignoring or dismissing his concerns. While Susca clearly cares deeply for her son and her people, she is missing that his behaviour is a result of the pressure she has put him under. As we learn more, we come to understand why this relationship is strained in the way it is. The source lies in who or rather what Siren is: a focal point of prophecy. Having switched Siren’s role from the one who must be slain to the one who must slay Susca created for the sharks a beacon on hope.
To his people, Siren represents a chance to be free from the pain and suffering that is destroying them. However, to achieve that he must live, he must be guarded. While all other Sharks have a clear purpose in their community, Siren alone does not. As a beacon of hope he is a thing to be paraded around, to be seen, but never to actually do anything. Siren must sit and observe the world around him, and the harsh reality of his people’s struggles without ever helping, or truly being a part of it. His safety comes before all the others. The price is Siren watching his people be mutilated and die. He feels useless, and every time he sees a scar, every time they lose someone to the curse, Siren feels guilty. It is not unsurprising he feels this way. He has sat and watched them get injured over and over again, watched them die and done nothing to prevent it. Over the years this guilt and frustration has driven him to avoid his people. During episode eight we get a glimpse of Siren’s childhood.
Back when I was a pup, I didn’t understand anything about killing or Sacrifices. So, I was excited to see you (The Beacon).
I was never allowed to go Hunting or Spar with the other Sharks.– Siren
This reveal is important not only because it comes with a comparison to Kappa’s duties. But also because it frames how Siren’s attitudes have changed over the years. He freely admits that he was excited to meet the beacon because he was too young to know what Sacrifice and killing truly was. The young Siren we see is exactly the same as the older one, albeit a little smaller. The sadness that seems to radiate from his eyes is palpable and it is at this point that we truly begin to understand where he is.
During episode 17 we see an exchange between Siren and the heavily scarred Silver (who is an ace character) Silver permamently lives in what I assume is the medical wing of the Sharks Castle. She is by far the most scarred and perhaps the only disabled Shark we encounter (Silver has no back or tail fin).
What is interesting about this exchange is how she treats Siren. Unlike the rest of the Sharks who adopt a kind but almost worshipping demeanour, Silver performs the role of a teasing friend or sibling. In essence she treats Siren as a person and not a destined saviour to be adored. What’s more, she seems to understand Siren in a way few others do, if anything being the closest to what he could call a friend.
It attests to my strength. It’ll take more than a measly curse to defeat me.– Silver
It’s unfair. I should share at least a few of these.-Siren
Hey Now, Don’t think like that.-Silver
We learn through their exchange that Siren once attempted to give himself a scar. What is interesting is Silver’s response. This is an important scene because it underpins where Siren is emotionally, how he feels about himself and how he feels about his lack of scars. While later episodes really show more detail, Episode 17 builds on the revelations within earlier episodes by focusing on Sirens ethos.
Yeah! Thats Right! I scratched my arm when I was Seven!– Siren
How could you commit such a crime?Silver –
While the exchange is playful and flippant. It leads us to the core of the issue that Siren faces. At seven years old, Siren wanted a scar to look cool. But I wonder if it was not also that out of everyone, he is the only Shark who doesn’t have any. Silver being a guard close to him at the time, saw getting a scar as a badge of honour, the more she had the fewer others did, though even she acknowledges that it did not stop the deaths and given her current condition, it seemed a bit pointless.
What important to note, is that from a seven-year-old Siren’s pespective everyone but he had scars. Everyone but he had a purpose and was allowed to do things. He and he alone was charged with waiting for the beacon. Episode 17 culminates in what has be one of my favourite scenes. Siren apologises to Silver for stopping visiting.
It’s Okay– Silver
What is powerful about this scenes is that as Silver is saying this, Siren’s gaze is fixed on the stump of her tail. The raw guilt is written on his face. It is a sad moment that underpins who is is and where he is emotionally. The scene moves on quickly to more teasing until Siren turns to leave. As he does so there is a very apt character moment that sums up the price Siren is paying for deciding to free Kappa.
I know you can’t bear to ask me.– Silver
But i’ll never blame you for any of this.
I’ll still love you even if you can’t save me.– Silver
Throughout season one Siren grows eponentially. We see him develop from the depressed teenager struggling over the moral conflict of his duty and the expectation of his people. When he meets Kappa he already knows deep down he cannot kill Kappa. What he does not expect is to find someone who would unexpectedly tug at his heart. The close up images that symbolise his gaze in chapter 3 aptly show the affect Kappa has on him. The shy awkward interaction that follows is sublime.
I was so excited for this when I was little.
I was so Special. I was the only one who could break the curse. And even though i’m a terrible Prince, everybody still loves me… because I’m the one in the prophecy.
They’ll all hate me… If I don’t do this.
I think i’ve always known … Deep down …
That no matter what happens to me or my castle….Siren
The beauty of the budding romance between Kappa and Siren is that both are effectively not in great places individually, but together they help each other overcoming the obstacles that are holding them back. For Siren it is accepting that it is not selfish to want to live. That his life has worth beyond the duty that has been ascribed to him. The challenge to try to get Kappa out of the castle, is what ultimatley motives Siren to grow. He knows what he is doing is a betrayal of all the hope that his people place on his shoulders. But his moral standing means he has no other recourse. He will break the curse, he will save his people. But he will do it without someone having to die.
When his plan to free Kappa fails and he finds himself locked in the dungeon. It is only through stripping his armour away, through relinquishing who he is that he is ultimately able to escape and save Kappa. Diving between Kappa and Queen Susca’s spear. Queen Susca’s revelation that Siren was really the one who is meant to die is proven true when his blood temporarily does something to the curse, though we will need to wait for season two to truly determine what. Ultimately though, while this does bring forth his inner demons over how many people died while he lived, Siren accepts his place and promises to free the rest of his people but not by dying. This detirmination would seem out of character when we consider where Siren was at the beginning of season one. But as Banana Yoshimoto says in Kitchen.
Growth and the overcoming of obstacles are inscribed on a person soul
With Siren, this is certainly true. I look forward to seeing how his confidence and character will grow in Season two.
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All Castle Swimmer images and characters belong to Wendy Lian Martin