Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Superman of Anime

To quite Unshavedmouse's review of Princess Mononoke.
"Ashitaka is probably the most purely moral hero of any movie I’ve reviewed. He’s utterly selfless, kind, compassionate, fearless, unprejudiced, polite, respectful to both men and women and only uses violence as an absolute last resort. He sounds like he should be as boring as a workaholic mole but he’s actually a very compelling protagonist thanks to Miyazaki’s skill as a storyteller and also the fact that the dude is a STONE COLD BADASS. Yeah, I said he only uses violence as a last resort. But when he does, shit gets resorted, yo (I don’t know what I’m talking about)."
In fact lots of people have said this about the character before me.  The character seems like the ultimate Jesus-Kun, Such a character should come off as annoyingly bland and perfect, especially when they're a Cis-Het Male.  But Miyazaki makes the character work, as do the Actors who have voiced him.

What's interesting is how strongly I agree with this aspect of how others review this movie, even though I didn't quite think of it on my own as I watched it (what I knew about the movie going in was mostly people talking about Lady Eboshi).  I started the movie accepting this male lead as I waited for the women I'm watching it for, and found myself increasingly enjoying his presence.

Superman is a notoriously difficult character to get right.  I get crap online constantly for being just okay with Zach Snyder's take, much less saying I prefer it in many ways to Donner's.  But rest assured I still think we are far from having the ideal Superman movie, animated or live action.

A lot of Snyder's haters have been pointing to the MCU's Captain America as a not official Superman character who shows how to do Superman right.  I enjoy those films and Evans performance, but I'm not that impressed.

So once again, as I often have over the last couple years, I find myself turning to Anime for the answer.

Before I saw Princess Mononoke a few days ago.  The main Anime character I would point to and say "That's how you do Superman right" is Yuki Yuna, the title character of Yuki Yuna is a Hero, why?  Well for starters read the title.  That Anime is one of my favorite anime, the most underrated of the 20tweens, the dawn of the new golden age.  And probably my personal favorite Magical Girl Anime.

Why she's like Superman comes up interestingly enough when the show is criticized, when people complain that there isn't enough of a reason for Yuki Yuna's drive to be a Hero.  Essentially the exact same thing as the "Superman is unrelatable" nonsense.  She wants to do good for the sake of doing good, if you can get behind that you're probably a Superman fan, if not, then stick with the Bat.

Speaking of the Magical Girl Warrior genre.  I have compared Sailor Moon to Superman in terms of creating a new genre.  But as far as comparing a Magical Girl as a character to Superman as a character, none beats Yuki Yuna.

But Superman comes in variations, they all have the same Origin (Kara no Kyoukai reference), but are a little distinct.  Yuki Yuna is somewhere between Christopher Reeve and the early Post-Crisis Superman, Michael Baily's favorite version of Superman, and possibly also mine based on the overall quality of the Comics.  Which shows you can have a Superman as ideal as Reeve's even in a story that gets pretty dark.

I however am someone who prefers George Reeves to Christopher Reeve.  But even more then that, I want a return to Siegel and Shuster's Superman, who was called The Champion of The Oppressed.  And that is what I got from Ashitaka in Princess Mononoke.

And now, I notice how his colors seem to be Blue mainly with a little red and yellow.  And find myself thinking "was this similarity intentional?"  Was Miyazaki drawing on Western influences in his most aesthetically traditionally Japanese film?  I feel like there must be a Japanese mythical of folklore precedent for a child raised by Wolves, but I haven't found it yet, first and foremost being raised by a She-Wolf is a Roman thing. 

There is nothing new to Superman influencing Anime.  It is well known the original Fleischer Superman shorts were an early influence, the second one arguably created the Mecha genre.  They are in the Public Domain now, so they should be easy to find online if you haven't seen them.

For the record.  The Lex Luthor of Anime is Giovanni, the Boss of Team Rocket.  As he appeared in the first series of the Pokemon, the prologue of Mewtwo Strikes Back, and especially Mewtwo Returns where he finally truly got to shine.  Since 2006 I have been pointing to Giovanni as how to do a CEO Lex Luthor right.  And in 2016, I still feel the need to.

So I had basically finished structuring this post in my head.  When I remembered that the big Internet Meme is saying Goku is the Superman of Anime.  No, he is not.  Not even close.  Maybe in the creating a genre comparison where you could then also throw in Amuro Ray of Gundam.  But you're not Superman just cause your home planet blew up.

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