Blassreiter Episode 14 transitions from bad writing to bad cliches

I really wanted to like Blassreiter. Early on, it was obvious that the Japanese writers liked selling pale-skinned European characters to Japanese audiences. That was fine by me.

Then the writers introduced the main conflict as driven by cruel natives who hated the outsiders. The outsiders had Muslim names like Malik, but were pale-skinned just like the natives. Thus having obfuscated the racial hatred that motivates Muslims to attack Germans, the writers felt free to unleash their favorite cliches.

Premise:

Long-Lost Sibling Cliche:

Tedious, politically correct attempt to whitewash muslim invaders in Germany as pale-skinned, victimized outsiders:

Penultimate cliche:

The supervillain was a pure-as-the-driven-snow altruist before her mad science research was perverted by evil white men:

The writing isn’t entirely horrible, it’s just super racist against white people. The cliches are solid old classics, and I don’t doubt that they will carry a story suitable for eight-year-olds who have never read any literary criticism.

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Profiles in likable characters: Kanuka Clancy and Noa Izumi

I delve into some amazingly trashy television. Some of it is childish, such as Dominion Tank Police. Some of it is forgettable and bland (and I would cite an example of something forgettable, but such stories are all so bland that I have forgotten their titles). But sometimes amid the trash, one finds real treasures.

Patlabor is remarkable in that it presents amazingly likable characters in a humanized fashion.

These characters have human flaws, some of which are played for childish laughs; for the most part, these flaws are humanizing, not grotesque.

For example, when you are sleeping with a lot of men on the floor of a room, it’s just grotesque when one of them sticks his foot in your face.

However, if you are so inexperienced with women that you start dreaming that stinky foot is a woman, that’s kind of childish but also kind of humanizing.

 

 

 

One of the male characters is macho in a childish but believable way: he is obsessed with combat, and even dreams about shooting bad guys. It’s very believable: if you know a lot of men in the real world, you have probably met at least one foolish manchild who is competent enough to get a job as a cop or a soldier, but who really doesn’t have the maturity that his position should require.

Apparently only the men have to suffer overcrowding.

**

Izumi Noa apparently gets to sleep in a comfortable room all by herself.

I was initially scared that Noa would turn out to be very obnoxious. She could be an unrealistic pseudo-lesbian (like Major Kusanagi), or she could be obnoxiously tomboyish (like Leona from Dominion Tank Police).

Initially, she appears to be a standard anime tomboy protagonist: she has a bizarre and unhealthy love for giant robots, bordering on the erotic, like Leona.

Izumi Noa joined the police voluntarily just so that she could pilot giant robots. Both Izumi Noa and Leona are tomboys who love their giant robots more than any boyfriend. However, whereas Leona was a badly written character, Izumi Noa is believable. She is obsessed with giant robots, but that’s her only flaw. Later episodes of the OVA give her a believable backstory, believable human relationships, and believable romantic interactions with human beings. She is not unbelievably competent, and she is not grotesquely klutzy.  She’s not particularly feminist by modern standards, although in the 1980s she was probably perceived as highly feminist. (One might speculate that the producers wanted a highly feminist character, and the writers fooled them by presenting concept art for a tomboy heroine with scant love for boys, but then delivered a well-rounded character.) Izumi Noa is very likable, but not extremely feminist.

The OVA does have one extremely feminist character, and I am amazed to say that she is likable.

 

Kanuka Clancy initially appears as a ridiculously overcompetent superheroine among the ordinary slobs:

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Tank Police’s interrogation of a prisoner (a scene that’s played for comedy but is torture in all but name).

I was browsing one of my favorite anime blogs at:

First Impressions Spring 2018 Wrap-Up

and I found a link to:

https://www.animefeminist.com/review-wotakoi-love-is-hard-for-an-otaku-episode-1/

but of course I quickly got distracted by an analysis of one of my obsessions, Dominion Tank Police:

https://www.animefeminist.com/history-hollow-shells-the-feminist-core-of-dominion-tank-police/

I liked the following passage:

Brenten’s personal tank is a monument to traditional masculine dominance. Even compared to the other tanks on the police force, it is an oversized behemoth, with dimensions more similar to a city block than a piloted vehicle. In a visual motif that is both comedic and incredibly apt, this tank is so large that it tears up the asphalt beneath its treads as it drives, destroying the city it should be protecting through the sheer absurdity of its existence. It represents everything that Captain Brenten wants the Tank Police to be and what they reflect under his leadership.

It’s also why they’re unable to accomplish anything.

From the very beginning, the Tank Police are universally ineffective. The criminal trio of Buaku, AnaPuma, and UniPuma outmaneuver and embarrass the city’s protectors at every turn. For all the strength and invulnerability that the tank police are supposed to possess, they are incredibly weak. Captain Brenten’s inflexibility and adherence to his own warped assumptions about what it takes to succeed ensures that the police cannot effectively handle the threat presented by Buaku and the Puma sisters.

Leona follows along with Brenten’s guidance because she’s trying to fit in with the force and be a contributing member to the team, but this ultimately leads to the destruction of the monstrous tank the Captain takes such pride in (and a fair portion of the city as well). Brenten naturally blames her for everything and threatens to kick her off the force.

Here we begin to see the unique expression of the feminist themes at the heart of the show. Leona Ozaki is no revolutionary; in many ways she is the perfect subordinate. She is highly skilled at her job, professional to a fault, and seeks acceptance to the point of obeying any order asked of her. If she were a man, Leona would be considered a model officer, an exemplary addition to the tank police. But because Brenten singles her out, making an issue of her gender in order to assuage his own insecurities about the effectiveness of his doctrine, he sets Leona’s unique talents against the flawed institution he is protecting.

….

It’s no accident that Bonaparte is crafted from the literal wreckage of Brenten’s tank—Leona salvaged a failed institution that could not execute its assigned task and made it into something that actually functions. Under Captain Brenten’s leadership, the tank police could not protect the public nor stop crime, and in fact actively created destruction and mayhem at every turn.

The obsession with traditional masculine values of impenetrability, intolerance for weakness, and domination through overwhelming force achieved nothing; more often than not, they caused more harm than the criminals they were attempting to stop.

I disagree with the author’s love of Leona. I think she’s another monster just like Brenten on a moral level. Brenten is a comic-relief buffoon who damages the pavement and lets the criminals escape; Leona is a budding totalitarian in the mold of Otto Skorzeny. Brenten is a incompetent, oafish vision of police brutality; Leona is a ruthless, effective enforcer of state tyranny with a seething hatred for other people’s civil liberties.

In case you haven’t seen my earlier analysis of police brutality in this show:

https://gaikokumaniakku.wordpress.com/2018/05/07/tank-polices-interrogation-of-a-prisoner-a-scene-thats-played-for-comedy-but-is-torture-in-all-but-name/

https://gaikokumaniakku.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/episode-2-dominion-tank-police-is-officially-a-grudge-watch/#more-623

Leona is not interested in protecting the public. Leona is interested in providing spectacular explosions and telegenic violence. Saying that she “salvaged” the Tank Police is like saying that Skorzeny rescued Mussolini – true, but it misses the point.

Stolen from zhai2nan2: How to use mythology to go from being a reactive TV junkie to a proactive self-realizer

ma6

“…mythic discourse deals in master categories that have multiple referents: levels of the cosmos, terrestrial geographies, plant and animal species, logical categories, and the like. Their plots serve to organize the relations among these categories and to justify a hierarchy among them, establishing the rightness (or at least the necessity) of a world in which heaven is above earth, the lion the king of beasts, the cooked more pleasing than the raw.”
-Lincoln, Bruce (2006). “An Early Moment in the Discourse of “Terrorism”: Reflections on a Tale from Marco Polo”. Comparative Studies in Society and History 48 (2): 242-259.
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Full Metal Feminist


http://myanimelist.net/anime/5114/Fullmetal_Alchemist:_Brotherhood/

Fullmetal Alchemist
was one of the most successful speculative fiction works of recent years. It was written by a woman, Arakawa Hiromu. The 20th century saw many excellent female sci-fi and fantasy writers in the English-speaking world (C. L. Moore, C. J. Cherryh, Andre Norton, Tanith Lee, the list goes on) but writing seems to be in decline in the English-speaking world. Arakawa is one of the women to whom I point when people tell me that the entertainment world is biased against women.

Fullmetal Alchemist offers several interesting female characters. I want to point out just three of them.



Zhang Mei is literally a princess, but she encounters a little bit of hardship in her early life, because she has many rivals to her throne. Nonetheless, she is a classic wish-fulfillment character, suitable for children. She has exotic super-powers, a cute pet, and princess status.

I won’t spoil the ending, but if you watch the whole show, including the final episode, you’ll get a hint about the ending of Zhang Mei’s story. It is neither pro-feminist nor anti-feminist, because Zhang Mei manages to get some good aspects of both worlds. However, she is just a supporting character; she doesn’t steal the spotlight.



Riza Hawkeye is a classic feminist “Strong Independent Woman” stereotype. She has it all – romance, professional success, excellent skills. The only way she could be more of a stereotype would be if she were to have a trophy baby with her lover. She has no exotic super-powers, but she is so personally strong-willed that she trains her natural strengths and her firearms skills to the point where she can face super-villains on battlefields.

Like Olivier Mira Armstrong, Riza Hawkeye is such a strong and powerful character that she easily steals the spotlight during many of the episodes in which she appears. As a male viewer, I think this is a feature, not a bug.

Unlike Olivier Mira Armstrong, Riza’s tremendous strengths come from her personal, individualistic character. Olivier could never be a heroine to doctrinaire feminists, because she puts duty to her family bloodline above her personal feminist pride. (So, gentle reader, if you are reading this and protesting that you are a feminist but you still idolize Olivier – you are clearly diverging from your Comintern puppetmasters.)


300px-Winry

And finally Winry Rockbell is perhaps the most female of all the female characters in Fullmetal Alchemist. This is a story dominated by super-powers, monsters, exotic settings, and beautiful visual designs. Amid these super-soldiers, super-heroes, and super-dangerous perils – Winry is an ordinary girl. She’s highly skilled at a technical job, but there’s nothing unrealistic about her skill level – she was trained and she practiced and so she has skills. While Zhang Mei is a princess saving herself from peril with some help from friends, and Riza is a shootist saving her friends from peril by means of her guns, Winry mostly avoids peril altogether. Winry is mostly concerned with whether Ed is her loyal boyfriend, and she’s willing to walk across a battlefield to make sure of that, but once she’s been reassured, she’s not going to steal the spotlight by dominating combat. Winry gets into Ed’s emotions. Winry must be bribed with presents from Ed, lest she scold him. Winry is entirely happy to engage Ed in a traditional girl-and-boy romance. Winry doesn’t need to be the greatest hero in the story, so long as she gets to marry Ed, who is the greatest hero in the story.


Fullmetal Alchemist has several wonderful female characters who stand and fight on various battlefields. These characters can be seen as typical feminist fantasies that challenge the traditional patriarchal sex roles. But it also has Winry Rockbell, who avoids battlefields. Winry is an anti-feminist fantasy, written by a woman. Riza Hawkeye plays the feminist stereotypes straight; Winry Rockbell subverts the feminist stereotypes.

Blassreiter, Episodes 12 & 13: You’re gonna groove. Then you’re gonna cringe.

I haven’t been watching Blassreiter for a while. I think my favorite character died early on. The fact that I don’t recall should be a warning sign of low-quality writing. It makes me feel that I should have watched Kamen Rider before starting Blassreiter because the later show is probably ripping off the earlier show with the similar premise.

Episode 12 gave us old-fashioned manly heroics, lots of horrible death, lots of suffering that didn’t defeat heroic resolve. It was silly in an action-movie sort of way. It is the kind of manly silliness that anime needs more of.

Blassreiter is not a terribly well-written show. It relies heavily on spectacular action sequences that don’t mesh well with its ridiculously syrupy characterization. The first season of Garo was similar in tone but somewhat more watchable because the characters were halfway believable. Blassreiter drags, in part because it gets distracted with syrupy cringe about immigrants. It’s not as bad as Now and Then, Here and There, but damn, it’s trying hard to get to the bottom of that barrel and start scraping.

Apparently the writers of the show love immigrants and believe that all immigrants in Germany are blond-haired, big-eyed, defenseless children. They give blond kids Arab names like “Malek” and assume that the target audience won’t notice. (Japs are oblivious, but are they really THAT oblivious? Was this show written and produced by embittered Korean immigrants to Japan?)

Meanwhile, back in reality:
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Lesbians don’t ruin everything. Lolis don’t ruin everything. But Princess Principal has steampunk/dieselpunk loli lesbians, and I refuse to watch that.

I don’t hate lesbians. I don’t hate lolis. But I can’t suspend my disbelief far enough to get excited about loli lesbians.

I was a little suspicious when I saw the basic character design. The girls range from barely pubescent to 20 years old, and they all have too-good-to-be-true bodies that don’t even look human. Re-L Mayer was also too good to be true, but at least she looked like a supermodel version of the singer from Evanescence.

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