Archive for January, 2011

January 22, 2011

ghostlightning on Macross’ justification of the existence of giant humanoid mecha

Original Post: Super Dimensional Fortress Macross (My boyfriend is a nimrod.)

  1. Here’s what I have for you:

    Macross, more than any other robot anime, actually presents the least ludicrous justification for giant humanoid robots as weapons.

    Let’s remove the sillier super robot shows out of this (sorry Mazinkaiser, sorryTTGL, etc).

    Then, let’s consider the most anal anime involving mechanized weapons: FLAG,AppleseedGhost in the Shell. You’ll notice that only AS has humanoid robots, but they are far closer to human sized. They are nowhere near the trope humongous mecha. The larger mechanized weapons in these shows when they occur, are NOT humanoid.

    Why is it important to distinguish this? It’s because humanoid robots allow the anime to entertain us with robot grappling, robot sword fighting, and basically giving everything a battle anime/action show can give only even more awesome (metal!).

    So having removed those shows out of the conversation, we are left with Gundam — the most prominent representative of the “Real” robot sub-genre.

    Gundam doesn’t even really try to justify the conceit of having giant mobile suits. There’s no particular reason why aircraft or spacecraft cannot perform better as fighting units over mobile suits. There’s no particular reason why tanks cannot outperform them on the ground.

    Mobile suits are not aerodynamic, are slow everywhere within the atmosphere; and in space they present a rather large target for the kind of ordnance they bring to bear (of course, the super prototypes of the AU Gundams will “justify” this, but they suck).

    They are conceits, because watching humanoids fight is great. It really is. Now make them giant humanoid suits of armor, then we’re talking about one of the great contributions to entertainment (you’re reading the opinion of a robot fanboy, don’t even act surprised). Gundam has no strong excuse as to why giant robots exist, and are the best ways to conduct warfare, except that they look awesome.

    I am okay with this.

    Macross does better. How? It matches the conceit of giant humanoid robots with giant humanoid enemies! The Zentraedi are effing giants, so the humans designed their Variable Fighter to be able to survive close quarters combat with these giant infantry.

    This is remarkably consistent with the logic of the anal robot shows I mentioned earlier. The Zentraedi, being giants already — do not need further use of proportionally gigantic robots for themselves. They use mobile coffins in space, I mean for all intents and purposes non-humanoid mechanized weapons (Regult, Glaug). The most humanoid forms are actual suits of armor (Quaedlunn Rau) powered to move in space and mounted with weapons.

    The logic is symmetrical, or at least consistent. There is no need for giant humanoid weapons, until there existed giant humanoids. The giant humanoids did not have proportionally giant humanoid robots because there was no one that much bigger than they are.

    Beyond the idea that the Variable Fighter is the finest military-use mecha in the robot sub-genre (which is another essay altogether), Macross shows (and it’s funny how these kinds of things elude most viewers) how well thought-out it is, despite obvious inability in parts to make things perfect.



January 18, 2011

Autonomous on the Harem Dynamics of Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

Original Post: Nagato, or, Pinocchio Foiled

Autonomous said this on January 18, 2011 at 3:38 pm |

I can be persuaded that Haruhi fancies Kyon.

I can be persuaded that Mikuru fancies Kyon.

I can perhaps be persuaded that Nagato can overcome her extraterrestrial, interfacial nature and somehow fancy Kyon.

But that all three of them do??? To the extent of destroying and recreating worlds???

Ah. Well. Let’s examine this, shall we? I’ll preface this by saying that it’s been a while since I’ve examined Haruhi, so we’ll take all the AFAIKs and IIRCs and IMOs as implicit.

For a start, we have no evidence that Mikuru cares for Kyon as anything more than a friend. There’s a fairly popular theory that I’m partial to that she’s willing to play to his (unusually explicit) desire for her in order to exert influence over him (and thus indirectly Haruhi), but I don’t think she’s ever done anything that could be unequivocally qualified as eros rather thanphillia, unlike the other two girls.

Now, let’s examine Nagako. You make three important points in the above quote. A: she’s an alien. B: she’s an interface. C: she reconstructs the world to be with Kyon. The latter you single out as an exceptional act of devotion, possibly unaccountably so.

Is it? She is, as per point A, alien, with an alien viewpoint. You or I attach great significance to the regeneration of the universe, she might not. Of course, this requires speculation on the nature of Nagato’s alieness, which we simply don’t have the information to support. But I think we can reach this point another way.

Nagako is an interface. What exactly does that mean? She was created explicitly to perform a function; to facilitate the observation of and communication to humanity by/from the Integrated Data Entity. Now, I think it follows that in order to do this she needs to be able tounderstand humanity. She needs to understand, in particular, their emotions. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to allow that in order to understand emotions you have to be able to feel them- and even if we disallow that, I think it’s safe to allow that the IDE, itself incapable of understanding emotion, would not have been capable of making a creature that understood it but did not feel it.

So, Yuki Nagato. Not an alien in the form of a human, but a human/alien hybrid. A bridge between the two worlds.

Humans are social animals. They long to connect with other humans, and I believe Nagato’s human part longed for that as well. But even a cursory examination of Nagato’s life shows how profoundly disconnected she was. Her home is empty; just a box to store herself in. The IDE simply does not exist on the level she wishes to connect on. Asakura seemed much more to the side of the alien than the more emotional (no, for srs) Nagato and, being the glove to Nagato’s hand, was far more connected to the world in any case.

And then the SOS Brigade comes into her life. Haruhi, of course, cannot seem to grasp the concept of empathy. Mikuru and Itsuki think of her as “the alien”; Mikuru is terrified of her, and the latter offers only the same distant courtesy he grants everyone else, which serves as much as a barrier to connection as anything.

And then we have Kyon. Kyon who thinks of her as “Nagato”, who introduces her to the magical wonderful glorious library- who places more importance on her feelings than perhaps even she does. So finally she connects with someone.

I put it to you that by the time of Disappearance, Kyon constitutes Nagato’s entire world. He is only only remaining thing she attributes value to at all. In “destroying the world”, she’s actually doing nothing of the sort. Kyon, remember, is completely unchanged, as in old world so in the new. All she did was rearrange the unimportant bits to her liking.

Reviewing this, what surprises me most is not that she remade the universe but that she killed Asakura for Kyon’s sake. She cared enough about her to remake her. I can only attribute it to a loyalty to her mission that was later eroded by the ordeal of the Endless Eight.

Haruhi is a similar case. She’s brusque and unfriendly, and anyone who tries to get past that she drives off. Kyon perseveres. Not even he understands why (or at least, he prefers not to ;) ), but he does, and before either one of them understands what’s happened, they’re friends. Connection. And Haruhi, like Nagato, is disconnected from most everything.

So why does she destroy the world to be with Kyon. We can’t claim alienness of perspective here. Or we can, but it’s unlikely to hold up to scrutiny as well as in the case of Nagato. For all of his importance to her, we can’t claim that Kyon is Haruhi’s entire world.

But there’s an important difference; Haruhi did not consciously destroy the world. It’s a core tenant of the series that Haruhi does not know what she does or who she is- and that might be just another lie among Nagato’s inherent inscrutability and Itsumi’s dissembling and Mikuru’s (possible ;) ) manipulation and Kyon’s unreliable testimony, but let’s assume it’s not. Haruhi’s power is a blind, instinctive thing, fumbling and flailing towards her desires with no understanding or oversight; an act of will devoid of mind. She rejects the world, everything except Kyon, and it destroys the world.

It’s one thing to rail against something and entirely another thing to conciously choose to destroy it. Remember Henry II? “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”

Of course, Kyon doesn’t need to win the hearts of all these lovely young ladies for them to love him (people die if they are killed LAWL). All he needs is to win Haruhi’s heart. She wishes for the object of her affections to be desireable -> he is desired. But the “Haruhi did it” option is always the lazy fallback position for Haruhi SPECULAH ;)

Or maybe he’s just that goddamn top-grade knicker-flooding bishie gorgeous. He wouldn’t be the first unreliable narrator to be unreliable first and foremost about his own appearance…