Thursday, 16 June 2016

No Shinji don't get inside the fucking robot! (Rant)

NOTHING SEXY TO SEE HERE YOU CAN SKIP THIS!

I've been watching the anime Kuma Miko (Girl Meets Bear) and while I enjoy most of the cast, one of the characters, Yoshio, is pretty much intolerable.

It got me thinking about the point of characters like that, and how they can be tolerated if the situations their behaviour brings about are enjoyable. Basically they serve the same function as regular villains - they give the main characters something to struggle against so that the viewer can empathise with the latter and become engaged in the story. In this sense a villain that is truly threatening would be crucial for a story that focuses on the hero's growth as he goes into battle and faces untold dangers, but in one where the focus is the lighthearted friendship of the main cast the villain can be an outright incompetent moustache-twirler as long as foiling his plans brings the group together. In porn scenarios the vile, faceless mob tying up and fucking the innocent girl serves the same purpose - if the point is to get to see rough sex then the mob facilitates that very efficiently, while it couldn't play the same role under any other circumstances.

Here's where some dissonance occurs, because if someone is reading one type of story but expecting a different type they will interpret the characters in ways not intended by the author. An example of this would be Shinji from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Someone watching/reading it expecting a harmless show of giant robots beating up giant monsters where the characters are merely vehicles to make that happen might wonder why Shinji doesn't just "man up" and go punch the bad guys, while the actual point of the story is the soul crushing abuse that a broken boy with no sense of self-worth suffers at the hands of people who only view him as a tool to use for their own gain. The point of NGE is the people, not the robots, but viewers who only wanted robots didn't care about the people. Shinji serves the purpose of the psychological-abuse genre perfectly but not the robot-punching genre.

Likewise if someone is watching porn expecting their favourite fetish but getting one that turns their stomach instead. They don't see the sexual appeal so it reads like a different genre of story to them. This is why some fetishes (like netorare and vore) receive so much derision - people not into them become offended by what they read as the story's moral implications instead. Meanwhile the author probably did not even consider the story from a moral perspective because they were writing in a genre where that didn't matter, much like how action movies can be offensive as all hell but still enjoyable if all you're looking for is explosions and gunfire.

Yoshio of Kuma Miko is completely oblivious to/dismissive of the feelings of those around him, especially Machi (the titular girl), yet constantly manipulates and pushes her until he gets his way despite her obvious objections. His purpose in the show (the way I watch it at least) is to force Machi into different situations that challenge her.

In real life that's emotional abuse, but this is fiction, where only those wounds that the author decides to show actually happen. If we don't see Machi suffer from her experiences we shouldn't assume she is psychologically hurt, meaning that Yoshio's behaviour is not as bad as it would be in a different genre.

The problem is that the show actually focuses on Machi's inner struggle as she tries to handle the various situations that Yoshio forces her into, and she is very clearly shown to be traumatised by having to basically humiliate herself in public over and over. If the viewer is supposed to sympathise with the little girl (hard not to) one would expect Yoshio to receive some sort of karmic retribution or come to understand the impact of his behaviour, but that never happens. He basically has "plot armor" and that makes him insufferable.

TL;DR: Characters that are awful people can be good for a story but you can't mix genres, I guess?

16 comments:

  1. All art is selling something. I've never watched the anime shows mentioned here. Sounds like the Shinji and Machi experiences are meant to normalize that kind of experience for the viewers.

    As for fetishes: most people think my main fetish (castration) is too bizarre for words. I personally can't stand scat and I find foot-fetishism to be ridiculous and boring. Vore just leaves me cold.

    I can get into cuckolding/netorare, especially cream pies. In general, I've found it to be a very common and very powerful fetish.

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  2. You're probably becoming/maturing too much into a top/alpha to be able to really empathize with bottoms/betas, Mr. NiP.

    There are a lot more betas than alphas so the anime producers pitch them to the betas. And the whole Alpha/Beta thing is an unavoidable aspect of modern life.

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    1. Well, the thing is I do empathize with the characters that are being mistreated, I just also want to see the bad guys punished for their behaviour, which I think is a pretty universal desire for audiences. It's cathartic to see a bad situation resolved.

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  3. Yeah, it's been more than 20 years, and there's still people complaining about a broken 14 years old "not manning it up" ...

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  4. Eeeeeveryone in NGE (besides penpen), is on some level or by some interpretation, a scumbag. It's a show about awful people and the approaching end of the world, but they're the "heroes" we've got, so they go about their attempt to "save the world" in the way you'd expect from those kinds of people, not in the way people should.

    Gundam Thunderbolt is also great for this, in that the line between protagonist and antagonist is super blurred, as it's more about a small series of conflicts and the people in those conflicts, than it is about good vs evil.

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    1. Yes, although I think the original pilots (I've only seen the original anime and End Of Evangelion, and it's been a few years) are the only arguably innocent people there, Asuka being the least so of the three because she takes her anger out on others.

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  5. Just got done watching the original 26 episodes of NGE. My take on it is that it's basically a coming-of-age story. Shinji's ordeal is greatly amplified by having to deal with the alien cultural forces of Western high-tech and Christianity. And high-tech is especially condemned for it's damaging and deforming effect on normal people. I didn't see any of the characters as awful except for Commander Ikari, but that's probably because I'm unfamiliar with Japanese standards of patriarchy.

    I'm sure the series creator meant well but all that pseudo-psychoanalytic introspection towards the end was pretty irritating. I got the impression that all the self-doubting characters secretly longed to be robots so they could be free of all that painful self-consciousness.

    I wouldn't have bothered to watch this show if there hadn't been a number of images and stories drawn by NiP that used the NGE characters. I think Misato would look great wielding a dick.

    And a story that defies genres is called "literature".

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    1. Commander Ikari is pretty much held as the gold standard for most evil bastard of a father in anime, though there's also Shou Tucker from Full Metal Alchemist competing for that spot.

      NGE ran into financial troubles towards the end, which caused some problems.

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    2. Maybe Commander Ikari is an extreme gay-dad fantasy, i.e., a gay boy's fantasy of an all-devouring dad? Maybe Shinji's troubles stem from repressed homosexuality? There are some homoerotic overtones to his relationship to the last angel, Kasura, I think his name was. And Shinji never expressed much interest in his hot female roommates, Misato or Asuka.

      And I happened to stumble onto the news that another installment of NGE is in the works.

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    3. Apparently, at some point in the writing process, Shinji was supposed to be female.

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    4. Well, I can't compete with all your inside information about the creation of this TV series. I'm just trying to figure out the creator's intentions from a total outsider's perspective. He's definitely reaching for the old-fashioned idea of the sublime, "an oasis of horror in a desert of boredom".

      And instead of Shinji having to "man up" he only has to let loose and "boy up", as he is briefly shown doing towards the end of the last episode. As is, he seems more of an incomplete person than an un-masculine male. He just seems frozen. And of course, Rei, is even more ridiculously frozen. Asuka calls her a "wind-up doll" for good reason.

      Anyway, I didn't enjoy the series, but I don't enjoy anime in general. I do enjoy images of Shinji being used as a sexual submissive, of course.

      My own father was similar to Commander Ikari, distant, hyper-masculine, obsessed with his work. And I've spent much of my life being frozen like Shinji. It resulted in my becoming dazzled and overwhelmed by the glamour of high-tech and pop culture. My dad didn't "throw me in the deep end, sink or swim" like Commander Ikari, I threw myself in. I wanted to satisfy my parents and I wanted to be "a star". Didn't pan out so well. Green Anarchism was my savior.

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  6. And furthermore, I see NGE as a coming-of-age story that describes when that process fails and leads to the character descending into non-functioning schizophrenia.

    And you could take the murky forces depicted at the highest levels in NGE as only symbolic of schizophrenic delusions. Or, you could see them as an exploration of mankind's relationship with the divine. I think that many people feel that mankind's mind-boggling success with science and technology constitutes real evidence of God's grace. NGE capitalizes and extrapolates on this. It posits a new kind of technology that is a hybrid with supernatural forces. Unfortunately, such speculation gets real silly real fast.

    Personally, I'm still an Anti-Civilization Green Anarchist and all this high tech stuff is painful to me. I would like to see, "The End of Evangelion", but have not found a cheap way to do so. Anyway, not a high priority.

    I've been meaning to ask you, NiP, are you of Asian heritage? Are your parents Japanese?

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    1. My grandmother was from Denmark, but other than that the whole family tree is Swedish, as far as I know.

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    2. Thanks. I have a little Danish in me on my father's side. About 4-5 generations ago.

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  7. Oh, Cummfucksius and Aunt Cassie are the same person. Sorry.

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  8. Whatever the creator's intentions, the main draw for this series is probably just the freakishly withdrawn character of Shinji's personality. Most people are probably interested in following the story because, 1) they know someone like Shinji (or feel a little like him themselves), and/or 2) they think there's going to be some magic moment when he'll break out of his shell. The epiphany he reaches in the 26th episode is completely contrived and obviously just hastily tacked on in order to reach some kind of closure.

    As for the don't-mix-genres analysis above, I think it's the merit of a story, as a story, that really counts and that conforming to genre expectations isn't that important.

    And I'm not an anime snob. I've watched and enjoyed a number of anime movies over the years. I guess I'm just a little jaded now.

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