Extra: Concerning rape

Considering the recent WZ I had to pen on Diabolik Lovers, I think it’s fitting to bring up a very important topic that more than a few people tend to avoid. Rape.

Of course, first things first. Let’s define rape so we’re very clear on what it is. Rape is sex OR sexual acts (which may or may not take one’s virginity) without consent. Also, a drugged or alcohol weakened mind does not count. Consent must be given in a clear mind set. After all, if someone is drugged and claims they are an alien sub-species from the planet Nebluair, would you believe them? Of course not! Thus any answers to questions given while under the influence of any substance cannot be taken as legitimate consent.

Alright, now onto the reason this is an issue. The recent WZ mentioned above is not the only show guilty of this, although it is certainly the most extreme case as of late. I’ve already touched on this abusive trend slightly concerning Amnesia’s “cage” episode. And this popped up again in this summer’s Brothers Conflict stream where the heroine is repeated kissed and flung around by her “brothers” without any permission or thought to her feelings whatsoever. Now the kissing-without-permission is sadly a common element not only in shoujo shows, but also in media at large. The ol’ hero-kisses-the-girl bit is used and reused to death with very few viewers questioning the trend. It’s become far too deeply entrenched into our culture. So much so, that it takes excessive use of this (such as in the above shows) to jolt us out of this sick delusion and get us thinking, “what a minute. Did she give the ok on that lip bomb?” Chances are, she didn’t. Because, yes, while always asking before you kiss your girlfriend would dampen things considerably, kissing a girl right after meeting her when you have not been dating or given any impression of them being anything other than an acquaintance is not at all acceptable behavior.

And then you have shows like Diabolik Lovers, which are so clearly straight up abuse cases, it makes me ill thinking about how it ever managed to clear basic planning sessions. Now I realize that BDSM exists and some claim it as healthy when done correctly. I won’t go into my personal thoughts on that, but I will say this. That “correct” manner mentioned up there includes consent. Which these heroines are NOT giving. Thus BDSM cannot even begin to excuse these shows. It is abuse at best. Outright rape at worst. Either way, it’s not something I want to see continue strong in shows from here on out. But that means we women need to put our foot down and give a resounding “hell no” to supporting this kind of “entertainment.” Companies are more liable to listen when money is on the line. And a huge drop in their target audience just might be enough to make them think twice about how women want to be, and should be, treated.

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Extra: Trade offs

The first thing many people notice when they see an older anime is the lower quality art (“lower” often being a lower line count and thus loss of detailing and shadowing). The first thing I notice about many shows today is the lack of original and captivating stories.

Before computers became an intimate part of the animation process, art for anime was entirely done by hand. And considering just how many frames it takes for there to be even a single minute of animation (well over seven hundred on average), it makes sense for said animation to be kept on the more simplistic side. One can’t be concerned over every single line of an eyelash under such extreme conditions, even if the studio has a decent staff (which isn’t usually the case). But all that hard work very likely kept other parts of the studio in line. After all, if one was to go through so much trouble to animate a story, that story had to be decent at least and stunning at best. Mediocre and badly written tales just didn’t cut if half the time. Of course, saying that all older anime (form the 90s and earlier) is genius would be a gross oversimplification, not to mention being flat out incorrect. There were bad shows as well. However, the large amount of work, not to mention time, that went into older shows often kept many of the more… “simple minded” tales at bay.

But times have most certainly changed. Since the early 2000s, computers have become more and more of a backbone for anime. The great advantage being a far higher quality of animation. It also allows studios to create a series at a far more accelerated rate than before. Of course, this ease comes with a price. With less time spent on a show, efforts put into many scripts and such have also lowered considerably. Today, more and more anime is released that has the same plot as every other show, a sloppy/predictable plot or no plot at all.

I won’t be so naive as to say that technology is the great evil of media. Actually a great part of this puzzle is likely marketing. After all, if one story type does really well, everyone else will jump on that boat hoping to make a buck, too. But I do believe that the lack of effort put into many shows today has some level of connection to the technology advancements made to animation over the last two decades. Essentially, solid stories have been traded for flasher animation. And while I love beautiful and complex artwork, I have to wonder at times if such a trade was worth it.

Extra: Another look at Relena Darlian

relenaWhen talking with a friend of mine recently about heroes, I was reminded of one particular character that I didn’t really like all that much when I first met her, but who I grew to love and respect down the road.

Relena Darlian. A female character that seems rather typical, if a tad spacy, at first. When I watched Gundam Wing for the first time, her ability to ignore a gun pointed at her and address Heero on equal terms was interesting, but I didn’t put much stock in it at the time. And her statements in the movie, such as “hatred will only breed more hatred,” seemed hopelessly cliche to me. And, yes, it is cliche in a way. It seems overly simplistic. But having a few more years to my name I can say with confidence that it is also a hundred percent true.

As I’ve mentioned before, heroes need to be more than people with a mission statement. They need to be able to take all the consequences that come along with that stance. And, say what you will about her love of pink outfits, Relena does just that. Over and over she sticks by her resolve to not take up weapons (she only uses a weapon once near the beginning of the series, but once she decides to drop weapons she never picks them up again), often putting herself in harms way as a result. And she does not force others into her beliefs. Though she denies having weapons of her own in the Sanc kingdom, she allows others, such as the Gundams, to stick by their own methods. Even after her kingdom’s collapse, Relena refuses weapons. She doesn’t hide one on her person to kill the leader of the Romefeller Foundation (although she certainly had the chance to do so). In fact, she only joins the Foundation because her own people were suffering. In other words, she didn’t bat an eye when consequences for her decisions were upon only herself, but she refused to drag others with her uselessly. She later confronts her brother in space and faces the killer of her foster father, all without a single weapon. Again, she had chances to end things. Yet she knew killing was wrong and refused to give up what she thought was right. But even when negotiations failed, she stayed where she was, in harm’s way, doing what little she could.
And, if her character wasn’t clear already, Relena takes her beliefs one step further in the movie. She stands before a pointed gun and states bluntly “I am prepared to die.” Again, on the surface that seems cliche, but think about that. How easy would it have been to stay quiet and stay down? To not stand up? No one would blame her. She couldn’t fight in any normal way, after all. Yet, even though she had no chances to live through the event, she still stood for what she knew to be right. She knew what would likely happen and she had no regrets.

So while it may not have been as cool as piloting a Gundam or dropping a grenade in the middle of the room, Relena is by no means as “girly” as she first appears. In fact, one might even say she had more courage than any other character in the series. Heroism doesn’t always “look cool,” but it’s certainly something to respect and look up to.