Monday, August 7, 2017

Anime Deconstructions and Subversions

Digibro did a video awhile about disagreeing with certain Anime being labeled Deconstructions.

Watchmojo is dumb for labeling Gundam a Deconstruction because it was simply the creation of a new Sub-Genre.

Most of the Anime mentioned I'm not familiar with. I want to disagree with Digi mainly on Evangelion and Utena (Utena is complicated).  But I will also talk about him being right that Madoka isn't a deconstruction, but for the wrong reasons.

Digi recommends Miragephan's video Madoka Magica is not a Deconstruction.  I liked that video when I first watched, but now I realize it's kinda lame and saying nothing more then it doesn't have enough deep Philosophical discussions to be a deconstruction.

I agree that Madoka isn't a deconstruction (so ignore my post from December 2015).  But a lot of people are coming at it from a place that IF Madoka is a Deconstruction that somehow discredits the Magical Girl genre.

Superhero stories became better then ever after Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns came along.  The process involved some stories being weak for being seemingly nothing but a pale imitation of them, but in the long run it made the genre better.  Because after the Deconstructions came the Reconstructions.

The Magical Girl Warrior doesn't have a truly great Deconstruction yet, and I think that is what is holding the genre back.

Now onto Eva.

First Digi's arguing Eva isn't a deconstruction by comparing it to Gundam is misguided because TVTropes has a whole page for when the original of a Genre seems like a Deconstruction compared to what came latter.  It's called the UnBuilt Trope.  A genre Deconstruction is a reaction to what the genre has become more so then it's originator.  Not quite every Genre creator turns out to be like this, but quite a few have, from The Three Musketeers to A Study in Scarlet to several Anime genre creators, the page even lists Gundam if I remember correctly.

But regardless, since I just watched the Gundam movies, there is in fact only one scene where Amuro refused to get in the Robot.  The series may have had more, but the overall plot considered it necessary only once.  At the start Amuro jumped into the cockpit with no hesitation, like many old school protagonists he's set up as someone who naturally runs towards danger rather then away from it.

But the greater flaw with comparing Eva to Gundam in this context is Eva is more a Super Robots show then the genre Gundam created.  But Gundam did still influence Eva, and Shinji was clearly written to be a much more (in Ano's mind) realistic example of someone in Amuro's situation.

Digibro says a few things about what makes a Deconstruction that are literally the opposite of how I or anyone else would define one.

1. He says Eva (and Madoka which I'll get to again later) "do nothing that hasn't been done before".  In my opinion an attempted deconstruction that does something that hasn't been done before has cheated.  It's more of what you don't do that makes it a Deconstruction.

Watchmen didn't do anything that hadn't been done before.  The Punisher was already a vigilante actually killing criminals, maybe also Wolverine.  The Golden Age stories also had some death.  And the 70s were filed with stories bringing real world politics into it in a similar way.  In fact Alan Moore originally wanted to just use the Charleton characters and that is exactly why Rorschach is a right wing conspiracy theorist like The Question.

2. He says Eva isn't even really part of the Mecha genre because of how irrelevant the "Robot" is to the story's final resolution.

But again it is exactly the same in Watchmen.  The world isn't saved by the Superheros, it's saved by a Supervillian's evil scheme.

A Deconstruction is about saying the fantasy this genre is built on isn't the real answer, if anything it could be the problem.  And that is exactly what Watchmen and Evangelion have in common.

Evangelion like Watchmen has improved it's genre, without it we wouldn't have Pacific Rim.

Now on to Utena.

Utena is a Deconstruction, but probably not a Genre Deconstruction, and certainly not of the Magical Girl Genre.  The Magical Girl aspects of the story are if anything the one thing it's not Deconstructing.  If anything the world Ikuhara really wants to deconstruct is the real world.  But it can also be read as a deconstruction of Fairy Tale archetypes and Shoujo Manga/Anime conventions.

Now returning to Madoka.

Digibro said Madoka didn't do anything that hadn't been done before, and that is very wrong.  No prior Magical Girl Warrior show was predicated on Wish granting or the girls finding out they become the monsters they are fighting.

Ultimately I would say Madoka isn't a deconstruction for the same reason Gundam isn't, it's the birth of a new Sub Genre.  And it may well already be no longer the best of that Sub-Genre.  I'm not sure anymore how much I agree with my past declaring Yuki Yuna to be better, but it's definitely close to being at least equal in my mind.

A good example of what a Magical Girl Deconstruction could be is the first episode of the original Kaitou Twin Angel OVA, but the second episode restores things to normal.

I enjoyed Digibro's video on One Punch Man "Is there value in subverting Shonen Tropes?".  And I think he should create an equivalent "Is there value in suberverting Moe tropes?".

Because I've seen a lot of people recently praise shows like Galcochan as being somehow subversive of "Cute Girls doing Cute Things" by being "Cute Girls doing raunchy things", though it's really more talking about them then doing them.

But like what Digi says about Shonen stories that duality has always been there.  In the pinnacle of the genre, Lucky Star, Konata is described by Kagami as being like a dirty old man.  Not to mention the entire premise of Akira Kogami.

So that's my Ten Cents, my Two Cents is Free.

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