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Episode 44 - Wings of Rean and Big O II

edited January 2006 in Anime
So, what do you think about metaphorical shows? Are you the kind of person who likes a bland story with no meaning? Perhaps you like super artsy stuff that doesn't actually make sense but tries to get across some moral in an obtuse fashion? I'm betting everyone is someone in-between.

Oh, and does anyone know wtf Wings of Rean is about?


  • Wow, podcast out early tonight. What gives?
  • Work, locksmith, power outage, weather, bleh
  • I've actually watched Aura Battler Durbine. It's about 50 some episodes long and you can pick up the earlier disks for really cheap at conventions. It's sort of the precursor to Escaflowne. It's super old school and has most of the typical things you've come to expect of the "guy gets sucked into a parallel world and is forced into a large conflict and gets to pilot weird mechs type show" Overall though after a confusing first few episodes I kept with it and enjoyed the show.

    I'll have to check out Wings of Ren, I've already invested 50 some episodes of time into the series so I'll probably understand more of what is going on.

    In final, I'd recommend Aura Battler only if you’re really into old school anime and/or Mechs and/or you want to see what Escaflowne was inspired by.
  • I think I'm somewhat with Scott on the metaphorical shows. At least, I think I'm growing more annoyed with shows that start out telling a story, and then turn the ending of that story into a blatant metaphorical point. This was certainly the case with Big O II for me.

    It doesn't need to be that blatant.

    I'll repeat that. It doesn't need to be that blatant. We're all intelligent people here.

    Authors, directors, artists, and whatnot have been making metaphorical or philosophical points without going utterly batshit for quite a long time. It's the sudden change from internally consistant events to a mindset where the message is given in exclusion to the events. Something that was entirely metaphorical in the way of some of these anime endings would be rightly ignored as pretentious crap. Are they really not capable of coming up with a cleaner way of doing this?
  • I was just thinking on that last question. Whether or not they are actually capable of getting a message across in a cleaner fashion, i.e: my Godfather example.

    I think it depends entirely on the point you are trying to make. Look at Gundam Seed. In that show they got their point across, didn't forego the plot in favor of symbolic imagery and ended up being a damn good show.

    However, the morals of Gundam Seed are very very simple. War is bad. People are good, coordinator or not. etc. The philosophical message of Big O was far more complex. The same can be said for Evangelion. What they were trying to tell you in those shows was so complicated that the only way to tell it to you, short of having a character just say it out loud in plain english (like in Fullmetal Alchemist), was a huge metaphorical ending.

    Shows like Utena and Escaflowne do a better job of having a more involved moral whithout a million purely symbolic scenes. Escaflowne is probably a better example. I like these kinds of shows a lot more lately because they require a lot more intellectual exercise in order to extract the message. And they simutaneously satisfy the base urge to watch pure action.

    Two for one deal.
  • I suppose I accepted the way Big O II ended more readily due to the fact that it actually did make sense in a non-metaphorical way. I shan't spoil anything, but note that we were shown at the very end the literal cause of what had transpired. The point was a metaphorical one for us in the real world, but it was a literal and physical one for the characters in the show.

    There was actually only one extremely short scene that broke from this at all.

    Perhaps we should make a spoiler thread if you want to discuss this in any actual detail ;^)
  • edited January 2006
    Eh, maybe. But I think I can dance around spoilers long enough to say one more piece.

    It's been a little while since I've seen Big O II, but I believe I agree with you, to a point: the ending did sort of make causal sense. But it still wasn't terribly satisfying to me, because it relied on a radical shifting of the nature of the world, whose sole purpose was to hammer home the message.

    I place a lot of weight on internal consistency in a work of fiction. Shows like Utena and FLCL are somewhat bizarre and symbolic by nature. Both of them (at least, so far as I've seen for the first) could and did pull off blatant metaphors, and this did not reduce my considerable enjoyment of either, because they did it pretty consistently from day one. FMA went kind of weird at the end, but the events were somehow still reasonably consistent with the story and world as they'd been set up. Shows like Eva or (to a lesser extent) RahXephon get around this by doing all the metaphors in someone's head, and while I still see that as kind of a cheap dodge, it doesn't bug me quite as much.

    Big O II, on the other hand, just kinda dropped certain clearly symbolic things into the "real world" of the last few episodes, in case we had failed to get the point as delivered through dialogue and such. Which is too bad, because I like the show and the plot that was developed up to the point those certain things are introduced, and from there it went downhill a bit.
    Post edited by Alex on
  • I agree with Scott's point on why The Godfather is a good movie.

    I've been bashing anime (perhaps too roughly) for a long time, and Evangelion (or more accurately it's ripoffs) is exactly why.

    The anime community, in my opinion, tends to be choked by an overabundance of otaku, who pretend to understand truly meaningless anime series in order to feel superior to others. Why anime? Because it's different. No one can be l337 by being a Survivor buff. All this talk of Japanese culture being superior to ours is nothing more than an extension of a perfectly normal adolescent desire to belong. Geeks, who by definition don't fit into normal (boring) social groups, prefer unusual ones. Anime fits the bill perfectly.

    Unfortunately, the anime studios pick up on this, and continue imitating the shows that capture the attention of existentialists. It's called making a profit, and the Japanese are not above the idea. (Do I honestly have to actually even say that?)

    I have a lot of respect for anime as an art form. I really appreciated the Star Wars animated series (brief as it was), because it showed what anime is good for: it is literally a new form of visual entertainment that Americans have barely experimented with. It can show many things that you cannot accomplish in live action, cg or no cg. Seeing an animated series that I feel is the highest possible form of the content (rather than wishing they'd make a live action version) is a very positive thing for me; it means the art form is growing.

    But existential is not cool. It's never cool. It's just stupid. It's stupid because it's easy. Anyone can say random shit that sounds philosophical. Only a master philosopher can say something both profound and sensible.

    Which brings me back to the original point. A movie like the Godfather expresses meaning while also entertaining. It does not alienate viewers (save for those with a moderately short attention span) in order to accomplish its goal. That makes it excellent, in my book.

    Star Wars (4-6, of course) is another good example. It is rich with metaphor and moral, but it doesn't insult your intelligence. It's a hero's tale, not a philosophical soap box.

    Lord of the Rings is a good example. It pulls you in with powerful emotion, a vivid setting, and a deep, profound sense of familiarity with the fantastical elements. What is the moral? Who cares! If you don't come out of a reading or watching of Lord of the Rings feeling very positive about brotherhood, perseverance, and the triumph of good over evil, you're weird.

    The best morals don't need explaining (except to children). The lesson here is: if you have to explain it, you didn't make the show correctly in the first place.

    Of course, I may have been able to save a lot of time by complaining that a lot of anime producers don't actually plan their series (even the first one) beforehand, which has a lot to do with the way they produce anime (way too fast), which goes back to the way they produce manga (one person working way too hard, again way too fast), which just goes back to the whole japanese thing, and you get the idea.
  • You know when you can't tell if things are happening in someone's head or for real? I hate that. Creators might not want you to know. They might want you to figure it out. They might even say that it doesn't matter if it's in someone's head or not. It just pisses me off when you show what's going on in someone's head without drawing the line where reality begins and ends. I just can't be bothered.
  • Some amount of explanation can be warranted in a show, especially in something like Eva (which is little more than a visual essay, really).

    However, I have to agree about the over-explanation of things. When you wind up explaining your intellectual point in great detail, it becomes pretentious and preachy rather than enlightening, because you've taken the figuring out away from the viewer.

    On the flipside of that, you shouldn't refuse to explain something either. You need to give the viewer all the tools he needs to construct your point, and perhaps a hint or two as to how you put the points together. If you say, "Oh, you don't understand it because you're not thinking hard enough," you've crossed into the realm of pretentious pseudo-intellectual fuckwad, and you deserve a beating.

    And really, c'mon. The only show I can think of that would really warrant some time of external explanation is Lain, and even that's not TOO difficult to figure out, to a degree, if you think about it. If you have to EXPLAIN, in great detail, what you're trying to say with "Super Happy Fun Magical Girl Show #123920," you failed.
  • As an aside I'd like to share an interesting tidbit of information with everyone.

    While he was alive J.R.R. Tolkien was frequently asked about various metaphors, allegories and such that people beleived they had found in LotR. He adamantly denied that he put any such thing in there intentionally. He insisted it was just a story he wrote at face value.

    Make of that what you will.
  • edited January 2006
    Well, to be fair, Tolkien said that he wrote the story to have "applicability," but not to be an "allegory." By that, he meant that characters, occurences, and events in the books did not have a 1:1 correlation to specific real-world things. However, he did intend it to have room for interpretation, in the sense that one could analogize the story to other things.

    In other words, he wrote the story primarily as a story, but the themes and such could be interpreted and applied to many different real-world occurences; he did not put in specific correlations himself, but did allow for correlations to be drawn.
    Post edited by TheWhaleShark on
  • "But existential is not cool. It's never cool. It's just stupid. It's stupid because it's easy. Anyone can say random shit that sounds philosophical. Only a master philosopher can say something both profound and sensible."

    I mean isn't this mostly a opinion. I mean Rym points out in why he liked the message of Big O, he himself had never thought of it that way and was enlightened by it. Meanwhile Scott didn't find it as meaniful as he either already thought of it or didn't care. The next Anime with this message Rym is sure not to be as impressed with the orginial story that presented this message. But someone else who didn't see Big O and then watched the other show with the same message would be just as impressed (if it was done well).

    I think you'll find people that like any level of stories beating you down with a message.

    I don't know where I'm going with this, but in final as long as us Humans don't actually learn these "messages" or "meanings" They'll keep doing them. If writers actually write these stories well it doesn't matter if at the end of the movie or series the main character just lectures me on life for 45 minutes. I'll like it. If it's not well written I'll probably shut it off.

    I mean last night I just showed people "Hard Rock Zombies" and called it a good movie? Was I lieing? ^_^ "It's Time!"
  • I think what I was trying to say is that I don't consider the existential ending to be very good writing any more. I consider it to mostly be just pretentious copy-catting.

    And lol! I still have to see hard rock zombies.
  • Well, a lot of instances of the existentialist ending are, indeed, pretentious copycatting, but that's because they're saying the same thing as another show, just in a different way.

    Existentialism can be somewhat pretentious, I'll grant you that, but making an existentialist point in and of itself is not pretentious.

    On a tangential line of conversation, my younger brother recommended Jarhead to me; while the film appeared to be jingoistic crap from the trailers, it is in fact an existentialist film that uses war as a backdrop, much as Full Metal Jacket did.
  • I haven't seen Jarhead yet, but I'm actually quite excited about it.
  • I am the god of reviving dead threads!!!!!!!!!!!

    I loved Big O. I was already a fan of Batman: the animated series, which the creator said he drew from, and Giant Robots Punching Each Other make this a fun show to watch.
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