Tag Archives: analysis

VOTOMS: Clarke’s God Is Dead

Armoured Trooper VOTOMS is a simple show. I should swiftly add that by ‘simple’ I don’t mean to imply ‘bad’ (it was good) or ‘stupid’ (it wasn’t stupid), simply ‘simple’, in its denotation but not any of its connotations. Armoured Troopers are simple mecha, tin cans with machine guns, the characters are simple people, the dialogue is frequently sparse (and better for it) and some of the show’s best images, such as Chirico carrying a sick Fyana across Sunsa’s airless desert with Zophie following behind him, are its simplest ones.

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Colonial Code Geass and Narnian Nerve Gas

‘Pizza Butt’ is an inelegant nickname. I propose ‘Beauttocks’ as an alternative.

You may recall that in the first episode of the first season of Code Geass, one of the resistance fighters, having been wounded, reaches out towards a button next to a picture of his family, mutters ‘Nippon banzai!’ and blows up the truck he’s driving. Now I am not Japanese, and in fact I have my doubts about the act of suicide, but I nevertheless found this moment rather stirring. The scene as a whole, however, is also rather disturbing – and not, I hasten to add, because of any patriotic fervour or jingoism, but for a rather subtler reason. This, remember, is the context: the resistance have got their hands on a container of what they think is a gas weapon from the Britannian military, and the lorry carrying it it is trying to escape through Tokyo’s old subway system.

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Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha: Fateful Philosophy


So Berkles has been making me flashback to my days of studying Philosophy at school. And, at the same time, I’ve been watching Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha, partly because it has a good reputation, partly because it has ‘lyrical’ in its title and partly because one can’t watch mecha all of the time. (Entry contains spoilers.)

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Pure Purpose in the Anti-Spiral’s Counterattack

Anti-Spiral Puzzled
It’s time to rehabilitate this chap.

So I was watching Char’s Counter Attack the other night (well, early morning) and considering Char. Why do I find him so compelling? It was then that it struck me: Char is not so very different from everyone’s favourite sketchily-drawn (and for once I mean that literally rather than figuratively) villain, the Anti-Spiral. I’ll grant that this isn’t the most obvious point of Gundam comparison for Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann (‘This drill of mine whirs with an awesome POWER’ et cetera, et cetera), but I think the connection is fruitful. As you might expect, this post is laden with spoilers; enter at your own risk. Continue reading

Lelouch Lamperouge, Siscon Machiavelli

The Eyes

This entry, like many others, began as one of ‘those’ comments on someone else’s blog; you know the type, a comment which makes you run Notepad so you can save drafts and print proofreading copies, a comment which stretches down the narrow comment field like the ever-rolling stream of time itself. The blog in question was iniksbane’s. His remarks on Kaiji and Lelouch prompted me to once again enter the field wearing Code Geass‘s token.

Kaiji and Lelouch both seem to defy categorisation – almost always a good thing, when it comes to characters – and I hadn’t considered comparing them. I think iniksbane neatly nails down Kaiji’s character: Kaiji has a clearer vision of the choices he’s faced with than the other debtors, hence his realisation that pushing someone off his girder and then apologising is stupid, but he’s incapable of being the cold bastard that he’d like to be (and perhaps that the yakuza would like him to become too). In fact (extemporising here) part of Kaiji‘s appeal is that Kaiji sometimes manages to fight his oppressors’ dehumanising systems by becoming more rather than less heroic in his behaviour.

Normally I try to restrain myself from looking too closely at characters, but I’m not so sure I agree with iniksbane about Lelouch. I’ve struggled to describe Lelouch in the past, but I’ll take another wild stab at my own understanding of him here (spoilers ahead, of course). Continue reading

It’s Allegory: The Decline and Fall of the British Gundam

Suddenly, Awesomeness!
Nothing adequately encapsulates the amount of awesome in this image
(full size)

‘Allegory’ is a word I hesitate to employ. Understandably, it is often used loosely on the internet, to mean something like ‘metaphorical’. I personally prefer to reserve it for a certain type of storytelling, and it’s a type which is relatively rare in anime. (Though perhaps more common in anime than in a lot of art after the ‘Rise of the Novel’.) It’s a kind of complex, extended and (over)developed metaphor or set of symbols which say something.

Frequently, allegory becomes so overtly symbolic that it ceases to feel like a normal story. The Bouge of Court, for example, has a set of characters named ‘Disdayne’, ‘Ryott’, ‘Suspycyon’ and so on, and it’s much more worthwhile to read their behaviour and speeches as examinations of the things they embody rather than as revelations of normal fictional character; Suspycyon’s eyes roll and his hands shake not because of some motive peculiar to him as a person (for he isn’t a person) but because (I think) the poem’s pointing out what suspicion does to anyone.

This sort of thing is, as I said, fairly rare in anime; Gluttony, Lust and Envy from Fullmetal Alchemist spring to mind, and Infinite Ryvius is (among other things) a sustained political allegory. (Is the Ryvius a Ship of Fools?) Another place where we can find something approaching allegory is Mobile Fighter G Gundam – yes, despite the fact that it’s a childish show about large robots, fighting. Or perhaps because it’s a childish show about large robots, fighting: allegory loves reductive simplicity. Continue reading

Mecha Obscura

TA Armoury

Gasaraki is the unacceptable face of large robot action. If Gundam 00 is mecha pornography, it’s standard middle-of-the-road product, whereas Gasaraki is the equivalent of something only legally available from one shop in Amsterdam, catering to a bizarre paraphilia involving several species of animal and copious amounts of various bodily fluids. Continue reading

Whittling It Down with Moeblobs and GARmbling

Potemayo and Kaiji are not, perhaps, two series which one would immediately think of as candidates for a dual-subject blog entry. What they share, however, is the use of simplification – whittling away external distractions – to focus more clearly on something.

This post is dangerously long and contains spoilers for Kaiji up to and including the fourteenth episode. It also contains spoilers for Potemayo, but if you’re watching Potemayo for its deep and thrilling storyline then you have more serious problems.

The Blob, The Whole Blob, And Nothing But The Blob

A simple desire, simply expressed

Potemayo is widely noted for taking the concept of a ‘moeblob’ literally: Potemayo and Guchuko are blob-like beings (their existence is never explained, but that’s not the point) who provoke moe reactions. Their size and appearance is an obvious starting point for this process, as we naturally feel protective towards small, cute things. From this point on, however, the two blobs diverge somewhat. Continue reading