Posts tagged ‘ExecutiveOtaku’

August 3, 2010

Executive Otaku on Why Bad Guys are Made to Look More Awesome

Original Post: Operation Valkyrie: the Gihren Zabi Assasination Plan (He’s Hitler, Get it?); Why Do Bad Guys Seem So

Executive Otaku

August 2, 2010 at 4:04 am

Not just in anime I think there’s a lot of common threads in regards to making the bad guys cool in fiction. There seem to me to be three main elements of this, sometimes a series only uses one, sometimes it uses a combination of them.

Romantic notions of chivalrous aristocrats/knights vs indifference to or even disdain for standardized, modern armies.

Legend of the Galactic Heroes is definitely a series that uses this in creating much of the appeal of the Reich (as well as Reinhard’s personal dynamism.) Despite wars being just as brutal in previous eras, there’s a lot of fondness for the supposedly gentlemanly way wars were fought when leadership was determined by high social standing. Since the officers (or in even older eras, knights) all came from the aristocratic class they brought their social habits with them to the battlefield and let things like honor and personal temperament get in the way of combat at times. Contrast that to the modern army where everyone wears the same uniform, carries the same weapons, and doesn’t have time for such uptight manners. It’s an issue of warriors vs soldiers, and warriors are much more romantic figures in fiction even if they’re nowhere near as effective in warfare. What did aces like Johnny Riden and Anavel Gato do for Zeon compared to a squadron of GM’s who worked together on the EFSF side? What did a few 100+ kill aces who stayed on the frontlines until they died accomplish for the Luftwaffe compared to squadrons of decent pilots trained by lower-kill count aces who were rotated back to be instructors for the USAAF? Not much. (Hope I’m not laying it on too thick there, but grounded as I am in military history it’s a favorite sport of mine to tear down the romanticism around the warrior myth.)

Machine perfection.

Going away from the previous element’s disdain for modernity, this one embraces it and polishes machine like standardization to an unrealistic but impressive level. Star Wars was big on this, making the Imperial Navy and Army chilling but impressive with just how perfect their standardization and coldness was. And when the army is machine like, it makes the one or two leaders like Darth Vader and the Emperor stand out even more as they command those forces.

A superior, overwhelming enemy.

This tend to cut both ways depending on a viewer’s preference, since it can make the bad guys seem impressive or make the good guys seem all the stronger for having to be such underdogs. All the series you mentioned in the post have this in them, and as it relates to making the bad guys cool it does so by making their accomplishments seem unstoppable or in some cases effortless. It inspires an admiration for just how capable the enemy is, for instance when Char would beat up on Amuro (though he had a small element of underdog to him since he didn’t have the vastly superior Gundam in 0079.)

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March 9, 2010

ExecutiveOtaku on the Evil Organizations in the Gundam Franchise

Original Post: Gundam Ecole du Ciel is so Doomed Moe

ExecutiveOtaku

March 9, 2010 at 4:13 am

[…]

I don’t disagree with this reading, only that I don’t make a big distinction between the constructs that are organizational systems and the humans that participate in it. I only mean that humans are still responsible for these things they create, and the actions they perpetrate during wartime.

Organizations can be a major force for evil in conflicts and other situations due to the way they either give a false confidence to the people carrying out the orders. If someone is ordered, especially a soldier who is taught to respect their chain of command, to do something that they don’t understand or doesn’t sit well with them they assume that the people above them know the bigger picture and thus things that the individual wouldn’t normally do become okay in many cases. Or the truth could just be hidden from most people, as Cima Garahau’s escort of the poison gas-carrying MS-05s was hidden from her until it was too late. And if that should fail, there is the threat of punishment by an organization if the orders are not carried out. Organizations can sometimes make it very difficult to do the right thing or can encourage people to do the wrong things.

That said, I lean more towards concluding that holding the organization more responsible is a cop-out. Some individual gave the order and in some cases other individuals executed orders that go against good conscience/the law/whatever. Reducing a conflict to the madness of states or organizations is an easy way out, a way of absolving the participants and comforting the minds of the bystanders who would rather not contemplate the evil that lurks in the hearts of men, sometimes their fellow countrymen. Once Chairman Zara was defeated in SEED, everyone seemed to forget about Yzak killing a shuttle full of civilians and other crimes. He even became a good guy! Clearly he was responsible for what he did (he wasn’t even ordered to destroy the shuttle), but SEED seemed to absolve him of this because he was part of an organization at war. In war terrible things happen, but this wasn’t a case of mistaken identity or even of stray rounds or explosions as happened to Shin’s sister. Sometimes it is politically expedient, such as in the peace treaty that ended the One Year War and only placed blame for it on the Zabi family. But it doesn’t address what happened in an honest fashion, and it can even be dangerous when the losers are not confronted with the fact that they lost, that they were wrong, as Operation Stardust proved. “A few corrupt leaders were wrong, but the people/the ideals were right!” as Gato might have said. Gundam may emphasize the ‘organizations are evil’ element, but it can only explain away so much. It’s an odd dynamic within the franchise: individuals (usually Newtypes) are given such a prominent place in the narrative, yet when anything bad happens it becomes all about the organizations that they are a part of.

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