I was reading the trope for Anatomy of the Soul, which partially inspired the Seven States Cosmology. Closely tied to this is Came Back Wrong, a trope about failure to properly bring a character to life. This, in turn, has me thinking about the whole “what goes into a person” thing, which is what the Seven States are about. The pieces of a person or things — and how they influence … everything.

Why is it that attempts to bring someone back to life can go wrong? In the series Fullmetal Alchemist, you get constant drama following the main characters’ failed attempt to revive their mother and subsequent quest to recover what they lost. It seems unfair that so much time and energy might go into the formation of a person when the amount of energy to “end” them is so small by comparison.

The first thought that comes from this is that a person doesn’t actually end when they die. The Ethereal state reflects this in that memories of a character (and indeed, their essence) carry on after their living body perishes. The Ethereal state is everything about the character that came first, recorded their existence while they lived, and represented them afterward. Part of them never truly “dies.”

The other half of their immortality is the divine spark that they carry with them, which is sort of … “leased” from the Celestial Bureaucracy for a duration of their mortal life. It’s possible to reincarnate and such, but it’s a difficult process that has to be negotiated on multiple sides and can be very time-consuming. So it can be said that a part of the character always exists, but may be in use by someone else part of the time.

The second thought that comes from the idea that “it isn’t fair that so much work can be undone so easily,” is that a person or creature is never fully alive. Characters and creatures are in a constant state of flux, with different parts of them being in and out of phase with each other at different times. It takes an act of supreme concentration and willpower to bring all the parts of a person together at once.

So in this way, it should be more understandable that a character might appear to “die” quite easily — there are so many things that can easily go wrong, and you have to question how much of the person was really there when they were alive anyway, and it explains how it might be difficult “bringing them back.” Can a character be brought back from the dead? Sure, why not? But expect to work for it.