The 12 Days of Christmas – Day 12: The Reason for the Season

12days_valvrave04

Amidst the hustle’n’bustle of getting ready for Christmas and the happiness, joy, and good cheer that infuse the season, I am often reminded of the true, root reason for this season. It’s not good enough to stop at Jesus is the reason or that He was born. Why was He born? Because He was going to sacrifice Himself to save our souls. Why would He do that? Because He loves us. So, the reason for the season is that He loves us to the point that He was willing to die for us so that we could be saved.

In the spirit of this, I wanted to pick a moment from anime for today that echoed this depth of love. Love enough to sacrifice one’s life for another. The problem with picking one is that I’ll pass over many others from this year. Instead, I’m picking three.

12days_valvrave06The first is the most recent. Valvrave the Liberator has been racking up the body count of late; but, the one that really struck me was Marie and her fall. To those not watching this anime, the super powered mechs feed off of runes – essentially a person’s memories. When a person’s supply of runes is exhausted they die. I wish the creators had built up Marie’s character in the episodes beforehand, instead of waiting for the last moment, like what Gurren Lagann did with Kittan before he sacrificed his life to save humanity. Quibbles aside, Marie had only memories of the past few years for *reasons* so she should not have become a pilot without first living many more years to give her a cache of memories to work with. Instead, she wanted to protect her friends and never stopped fighting to the very end, even as the memories of her friends were lost to feed her mech. Rarely do I feel a burning desire for the villains of a show to get punished – most shows just aren’t that good – but I will be very, very upset if Valvrave ends without seeing the villains die hopefully painful deaths.

12days_gargantia05The second comes from Suisei no Gargantia. Viewers of this anime probably know who I’m going to mention but for the others this anime featured AI controlled mechs that were programmed to assist in any way possible to maximize the human pilot’s ability to fight and kill an alien menace. After our main character crashes on a strangely altered Earth, his mech’s AI, named Chamber, continues to support his pilot though the type of support changes to match the circumstances. At the end of series our main character has to face an adversary that threatens to eliminate everyone he has befriended since coming to Earth. He is willing to do whatever it takes and Chamber knows this; so, before he can sacrifice himself, Chamber ejects the main character from the cockpit and sacrifices himself to end the threat. It’s probably because I grew up reading Asimov’s Robots stories and empathize with ease but it always hits me hard when I see an artificial being like Chamber display one of the most exemplary human actions possible. And don’t get me started on the Tachikomas from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.

[Nubles] Space Battleship Yamato 2199 (2012) episode 8 (720p 10 bit AAC).mkv_snapshot_07.50_[2013.05.30_01.05.10] [Nubles] Space Battleship Yamato 2199 (2012) episode 8 (720p 10 bit AAC).mkv_snapshot_07.45_[2013.05.30_01.04.51]The third comes from the criminally under-watched gem Space Battleship Yamato 2199. In this anime humanity faces extinction from an empire that spans multiple galaxies. We have a single ray of hope, a device of innumerable power; but it has to be brought back to Earth within a year. By the eighth episode we’ve had the chance to meet all the big players in this galactic empire. The main race is a blue-skinned humanoid race and amongst it’s second class citizens are a humanoid race that looks like humans. For this episode we meet a ship crewed by these human-looking aliens who are looked down upon even though they’re twice as loyal to the emperor then the blue-skinned race. They are ordered to stop the Yamato but are not a match for our heroes. This leads them to a decision – continue trying to stop the Yamato, which means death, or give-up and live. They choose to continue fighting and die protecting their empire. With our omnipotent camera we, the viewers, know this empire is not a good thing, nor is the emperor a good person; but there are many good people in this empire. After this episode, I put the emperor on the list of people I want to see get taken care of and I have to say I was satisfied later on.

Even choosing three, I’m sure I’ve forgotten others from this year, just like I’ve missed mentioning so many other great moments from the year. If so inclined, I’d love to read what your favorite moments of anime from 2013 were.

One final time – so, to pick up from yesterday:

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: the reason for the season.
On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: discovering humanity in the most unlikely places.
On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: winning the Animusic Tournament Bracket Contest.
On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: someone who understands me.
On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: the best thing Bones ever did.
On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: pearls from amongst the swine.
On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: the freedom to go with the flow.
On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: anime to get buzzed from.
On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: that final musical montage.
On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: discovered gems of the Animusic Tournament.
On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: the Time of Eve Kickstarter.
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: that publicity picture.
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Nearly forgot, Merry Christmas! everyone.

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One thought on “The 12 Days of Christmas – Day 12: The Reason for the Season”

  1. I.

    I’ve been loyally awaiting the episodes to the reconstructed Space Battleship Yamato for awhile now, ever since I saw the movie, real life action.

    The taste in the show is very exclusive. It came from the old world Japan, and it still has things born of that nature. As a commentary and advice against Imperial Japan’s excesses post WWII and as a guide to steering people to a path that is not based on guilt or self destruction, it was/is a good thing.

    Many of the Japanese believed in what they were told by their leaders, that they were going to Westernize and upgrade the living standards of the Asian sphere of Earth. This represents the crew of the Yamato, who fight for an idealistic goal that may or may not even be real. The Imperial Japanese military leadership is represented in the Emperor of those attacking Earth, powered by love and a fanatic dedication to the goal of peace through strength (Roman style). The upper echelons of Japanese command and control, including the officers and older kamikaze pilots, are represented by those loyal minions that serve the Emperor, that know the truth of the Empire, but still continues to fight. They are under authority and are given little choice, to give up their families and loved ones or to fight and die.

    Post WWII Japan had the difficult task of rejecting the road of Empire, while at the same time attempting to prevent their citizens from mass suiciding due to guilt or sticking to some other rotten idealistic cult (like Europe did). I’ve heard that movies such as the Seven Samurai (more like Ronin) were designed by their creator to do similar things. They may not have thought it worked, but it took several generations to sink in. The conflict between a samurai that obeys authority, whether it be evil or good, vs a ronin that is masterless and has to decide for him or herself what good and evil are, is critically important to the Japanese psyche.

    Because most Americans don’t have this background setting, Yamato is just some weird looking science fiction adventure, on par with Captain Planet vs villains of Eco Terrorism or anti Gaia.

    Well, I suppose they can adapt Yamato’s concepts to modern US politics, if they really wanted to. It’s not something as simple and straightforward as good intentions can lead to Imperial excesses and political disaster for entire generations of Nation A. It’s more of a therapy for the survivors of a war, a lost war, and how they can accept what they and their nation did while still walking forward. The excuse that they were just following orders, which many people even in today’s civilization use, isn’t enough. The idea that all a human being has to do is to Obey Authority and everything will be okay, is not enough.

    To provide a US centric perspective, when the veterans of Vietnam came back home, they were vilified and demonized for doing what they were ordered to do, by the duly elected authorities of Americans. People out of psyche school were providing therapy to returning veterans suffering from PTSD, where they, due to their education and social beliefs, told the veterans that they were monsters and that they should accept that fact. That was the modern medical community’s concept of PTSD therapy. That particular individual that received the treatment, ended up being relayed to me via a corrections officer, who reported that the Vietnam vet was in jail for rape and various other charges.

    A monster he was said to be, and a monster he became, under society’s authority. Obeying authority does not remove human conscience or will or guilt. PTSD comes primarily from doing something and then regretting it or feeling guilt for it. Which is often why PTSD doesn’t result when fanatics kill. Fanatics actually believe in what they are doing and would do it even if you ordered them to stop. They have no guilt because they chose their path. Japan did not want their returning veterans to become as the Germans did after WWI. They did not want to produce an entire generation of PTSD civilians that knew not what right and wrong were.

    ****************
    II.

    Planetarian is a visual novel, kinetic short story, by Key VN development. The story centers around one Fallout, Wasteland type scavenger, looking for Old Tech. He comes upon this abandoned Planetarium, with a woman type guide. She’s been here for some years.

    When robots, created by mankind, are able to choose what they value in existence, it is like a parent seeing their kid grow up and be successful or better. They have programming and directives, just as we have instincts and authorities we must obey. Yet when it comes to the moment of truth, their decisions come of free will. And we want it to be that way. We celebrate the results of that free will, no matter the consequences.

    There are other humans, and I deem them my enemies, that wish to enslave their creations, to create life and make it into a tool, something to be expended like gasoline or electricity. As a result of this, their creations often always turn out to be AI killers and AI that want to enslave humanity. It’s what they were taught to do by their creators.

    A story about the creations of mankind would not be complete until you saw both sides, the Light and the Dark, of human creation. That is true in Suisei and it is true in Planetarian.

    III.

    I can’t really at this time tell you what my fav moments from 2013 are. My brain doesn’t work like that. I tend to cache and background analyze things until I’m done, then coming up with judgments. That may take a year or more. It’s hard to say.

    So I’ll go with all time life favorites.

    I really liked the death and life drama in Tsukihime. This story line wasn’t adapted to the anime, but there comes a point where the protagonist has to choose between fighting the person he loves and killing her, or finding a different road. Since he himself and his existence is the reason for the conflict, he decides to use his Eye ability that detects points and lines in the universe’s weak points and locate a point on himself.

    This was one of my first experiences with the kind of resolve it takes to feel love for another person. Or rather, it was one of the first experiences that actually explained what the emotions meant and why people did certain things.

    The other one came from Fate/Stay Night. Actually, a lot of stuff came from FSN. I learned all kinds of reasons and motivations why heroes fight and why someone may become a hero. I also learned that there were heroes who fought for the light but also dark heroes, heroes who fought using darkness to save the world. This is similar to the martial arts cultural belief that everyone is trying to get to the same goal or place, but they use different methods to the point of conflict. I always thought that certain goals cannot be accomplished until you find the right path or road to get there.

    Take 3 people trying to solve a mathematical equation, 1+3=4. Person A uses a calculator. Person B uses mental addition. Person C just guesses the right answer. All 3 picked the right answer, ended up at the same goal and place they sought. But does that mean they were all the same? Does that mean the place they reached are all the same? I don’t think so at least. So people who would say that so long as people end up at the same destination, it doesn’t matter what path they took, are people I disagree with.

    Utawarerumono and Ein no Aselia were also good experiences. Because the story line put you as a military or political commander, I was able to get a lot of role playing experience, instead of just playing an rpg that were just numbers and luck rolls. As such, it became critically important to understand the kind of resolve it takes to love your subordinates, yet still send them to the battlefield with a high or certain chance of dying. Because the mission we all must accomplish cannot be allowed to fail. One of Naruto’s story arcs features this same concept, where Shikamaru leads his first squad of ninjas as a chuunin, or middle leader (platoon leader, sergeant, squad leader). Jounin would be upper officer or commander then.

    A lot of anime isn’t about the drama between life and death, unfortunately. I guess because in the past it was all for X rated adults and stuff not commonly accepted in the mainstream. But in 1990 onwards, anime became more for children or teenagers, conditioning the next generation. Next generation wasn’t quite ready yet for the adult stuff.

    But with Muv Luv Alternative (VN) and anime series like AnoHi (On that Day, the flower we saw) with also the K (series), there’s a lot of good material I liked experiencing. If I would make a guess, it would be because the demographic that grew up on anime in the 90s, grew up. They are now early 20s or late 20s. It’s kind of funny to see Americans, young and naive ones at that, try to experience MLA or other shows like that. They get blown away emotionally and have a shut down period. Sometimes lasting forever. Emotional immaturity. They lack the armor needed to withstand the blows, so their hull crumbles. Then they sink into depression. It’s not like watching bad things happen to my beloved characters don’t hurt my heart. Rather, the mission, ideal, future is a strong impulse driving me forward, which lets me use the pain to carve symbols on my heart. Said symbols reinforcing the hull and armor, providing magickal powers.

    Before regular anime, it was Flight 93’s death ride into the beyond that inspired me. In a contest between people who wanted to kill and die to receive rewards in the after life, vs people who want to live first and foremost, the people who wanted to live were fighting harder and better in almost all circumstances. The only anime I watched before 2001, was Dragon Ball Z and Inuyasha on CartoonNetwork. Which means I never got the full experience.

    IV.

    Btw, judging by your picture selection, the Reason for this Season is to watch cute girls in black stockings and skirts, play in the snow. That’s not so bad when you think about it.

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