Symbology and You: And something about hope too!

February 12, 2008 at 8:00 am 5 comments


I’m no expert on symbology (I don’t know much about symbology, most of it is lost to the ages), and since poeple have been talking about symbology and stuff, I just have to chime in.

Talking about Gurren Lagann, a lot of people have noted a lot of things. Better storytelling, prettyness, Simon’s less than noticeable yaoi potential with a lot of males (Kamina, Viral, Nia with a PENIS, etc), you get the drill. But then, I read something a lot better.

It didn’t really hit me to write this until I read this.

I’ve never really finished Gurren Lagann, but after watching even two episodes, I knew this show was a winner. Something inside me felt different after each episode. Something good and fine and the world might just turn out to be all right.

That, my friends, is the feeling of hope.

Let us look at a great (but oft-ignored) work, that being the tale of Pandora’s Box, to understand this strange feeling.

As we all know, Pandora was an exceedingly beautiful woman, crafted by the Greek Pantheon, in order to punish Promethus’ work because he stole some sacred fire. (Of course he was punished in a much more gruesome manner, but the mere description of it would send people sucking their thumbs for a week, or wanting guro, I dunno. Let’s just say Prometheus was glad that eagle wasn’t a spleen-craving zombie eagle.)who was presented to Epimethus, his brother, who married her (or something.) It was said that as a wedding gift, the happy couple was given a box (or a jar, a box is easier to remember.). No one was to open that box, those sneaky Greek gods instructed, knowing full well what was inside.  As time passed, Pandora got more and more curious as to the contents of the box. Then one day, curiousity got the better of her and she opened it. Out flew a myriad of dark things, each representing a form of evil and suffering. (It was also rumored that the first victim was a cat who just happened to pass by, thus the saying, “curiosity killed the cat” :P). In horror, Pandora slammed the box shut.

But then a little voice squeaked out, “Don’t close the lid!” Pandora lifted the lid enough to see just who this voice belonged to. It was a small white thing, much smaller than the black things that flew out. “What are you?” she demanded. “I’m Hope. The gods put me in here in case someone opened this box.” And with that, the white thing flew out.

Hope is one of the most easily forgotten things the world has. And yet, it is the single most enduring thing in the world.

And we come to Eva. A show devoid of hope. Christian symbols and misappropriated psychoanalysis everywhere. All in a shallow effort to make the show seem deeper than it is. The content? It rails on about hopelessness, the apathy of the Japanese, and probably something else. Most likely the role of women. Yes, it is a good example of deconstructing a genre and there’s probably some great storytelling in there; it’s also one of the best examples of despair.  The show’s nothing but a bastion of hopelessness, at it’s core an ultranationalist message slamming into the minds of the viewers that they have to take action or face the reality that is shown in Eva. In fact, most Eva apologists fail to see such an ultranationalist message of no hope, or pretend to not see it, or do not have the cultural mindset to comprehend it.

And if anyone were to speak up in defense of Eva, you are going to have to acknowledge four things:

  • You’re nothing but a worthless, apathetic human being.
  • You’re extremely shallow, just like how shallow the symbology in Eva is.
  • You’re a corporate whore. Hideaki Anno laughs at your repugnant efforts to worship him.
  • There is absolutely no hope in this world. None at all.

For your information, Anno is one of them idiots who think World War 2 was the greatest period in Japan’s history and wants Japan back in that supposed glorious age. He gets paid to rant on and on about the failings of Japanese society and to spew forth rhetortic that would see Japan being nuked back to the Stone Age. Take that information as you will.

And we come to planetarian. To the untrained mind it pretty much looks like the dystopian future Anno said would have happened if no one took action (Short answer: it would have happened whether humanity took action or not. It’s been written in so many books it’s ridiculous. It’s not even funny.). In it’s backstory, it said mankind had, and it paid dearly for its actions. Streets devoid of people, a rain not unlike acid rain pouring down onto the ruined earth, killer robots swarming the streets, the shattered remains of humanity forced to live like rats in order to exist tomorrow…

…And in the midst of all this hopelessness, a lone robot, a relic from another era, silently stands guard over an even older relic, which shows an even much older relic, one unseen by the earth in the story, in the hope that people would fill the streets again. And it so happens, a man from the hopeless present wanders in by accident, and is treated with a glimmer of the hopes of the past. Fuelled by that feeble ray of hope, he tries (unsuccessfully) to save it, and is, in the end, the carrier of hope of not just him, but the robot’s hope too.

In it, we see two completely different characters, the Junker, and Reverie (or Yumemi). The former, a product of the broken present, who slowly (but too quickly, in some people’s eyes) becomes the bearer of hope in a shattered land. The latter, a relic of the past, caretaker of the hopes of the past. Even though she mentions the fact that she is in fact, “Just a little bit broken”, and reveals to the Junker that she knew that no one was coming back, it was her simple faith and hope that drove her to do what she did. Her tragic (and rather overplayed) destruction and evental death did little to dispel her hope.

At it’s core, planetarian is a message about hope, even in a dystopian world. Damn the Key-isms, it’s about hope. Isn’t Reverie’s beliefs almost similar to what Kamina, Kittan, Lord Genome, heck, half of the male cast of Gurren Lagann said to Simon? “Go beyond the impossible and kick reason to the curb!” “Your drill is a drill that will pierce the heavens!” “Don’t believe in yourself! Believe in me, and believe in that I believe in you!” “Believe in yourself. Don’t believe in the you that believes in me. Don’t believe in the me that believes in you. Believe in the you that believes in yourself.” “WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK I AM?!” Aren’t these all messages of hope that is needed in a human world wracked in war, suffering and apathy? Did not King Solomon sum it up most wisely, “For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope; a live dog is better than a dead lion”?

Which one will you pick? Eva, and it’s message of despair, doom and hopelessness, or will you pick Reverie/Simon, and believe in the message of hope?

For me, the choice is clear. I’ve been living in despair for the longest of time, and after reading through a few articles on the issue, I had an epiphany. This is what I have to say after that. Fuck the world and it’s despair and doom. I’ll do as Kamina says and kick reason to the curb, pierce the heavens (lol) and believe in hope. Because hope is all there is to believe in.

I’m home, Reverie. I’m truly am.

PS: It’s a bit strange for a Protestant Christian to be talking about hope in a humanist manner rather than a Christian manner, but then again, if I went on about Jesus and the Resurrection, it would be extremely silly and would not sit too well. While Jesus wasn’t like Kamina, I believe the same sentiments exist, just in completely different manners. Upbringing or study of the Bible does not cut it all the time, it just won’t work for this generation, since salvation and belief in hope and all that jazz is ultimately personal.

PPS: And just to make things clear, while I do some parts of the life of Christ in planetarian, I have never considered Reverie to be Jesus. For one thing, she wasn’t nailed to a tree 😛 And another thing, she does not have advanced repair systems.

PPPS: Eva made me angry for no good reason when I watched the first episode. I don’t usually watch shows that make me angry, but I’ll make an exception with this one and watch it all the way to it’s sick, despairing end. I’ll counter it with repeated rewatchings of Gurren Lagann.

Entry filed under: Bitching, Planetarian.

That’s the last time I fall asleep. On apologetics and why I don’t usually take on that mantle.

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Flak  |  February 12, 2008 at 8:36 am

    >>While Jesus wasn’t like Kamina, I believe the same sentiments exist, just in completely different manners.

    There is most certainly a completely intentional connection between Kamina and Christ. It’s evident in their names.

    Reply
  • 2. Tyrenol  |  February 12, 2008 at 10:59 am

    I’ve been saying that Mr. Anno was mentally unstable. But I blame everyone else for letting this so-called king run around with no clothing.

    See? That’s the problem right there. To the hopeless, “hope” is a f-letter word; an insult to them. And the hopeless end up dealing with those who had survived this long on hope; flinging out the worst insults ever created by humankind.

    Hell. I see more hope in places where there are guaranteed suicide bombs 5 times a day than in fans of Key, Kyoto Anime, and the usual moe-gag anime. Even the Israelis are slowly realizing that they can’t shoot / blow away at their problems (ala the eternally ticked off Palestinians).

    Symbology and Gainax and Anno… Whatever. I know what I like more than I know about art. The people who talk about how hot Tomoyo is despite her kicking around Youhei and recieving no consequence or getback… “You can’t reform ’em.”

    The world needs more hope. We need more people going “WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK I AM?!” (and following it up with someone they’re yelling at being left in a broken bloddy mess).

    Keep up the good work, Drmchsr0.

    Reply
  • 3. animanachronism  |  February 12, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Nice job; mecha anime in life-affirming shock!

    @ Tyrenol: Lol, brilliant understatement in ‘ticked off’.

    Reply
  • 4. serial  |  February 15, 2008 at 3:14 am

    I’d rather be in despair sometimes.
    But not the Eva-boring despair.
    Rather, the Itoshiki Nozomu kind.
    It’s hopeless, yes, but even so it is so much fun you can’t help but think it’s right. Also: Fuuka.

    Reply
  • 5. krevans  |  February 12, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    You saw nothing in Eva beside ‘despair’ but you say that those who defend it are shallow?

    You seem only able to digest what Evangelion tells us on a surface level. Eva was ultimately about how even in the darkest of times, at the height of despair, one still has the chance to turn life around and find happiness.

    I’m sorry you weren’t able to find this message in Eva. I feel that it was made quite clear by the conclusion. The message was even borrowed (complete with visual allusions) and reused in your beloved Gurren Lagann in an extended homage to Anno’s series that appears in the last couple of episodes of the show.

    Lastly, Anno never said that WWII was the greatest period in Japanese history, and he is not a right-wing nationalist. Far from it. It is his belief, though, that the modern Japan that has existed since their defeat in WWII is not one that has had any inspiring leaders, which has caused the stunted development of his nation nation. He thinks this applies to himself as well.

    Reply

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I’M IN THE ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRMY.

And the prophet spake, saying: "Frak this, for my faith is a shield proof against your blandishments!"

- Alem Mahat, The Book of Cain, Chapter IV, Verse XXI

Email: DrmChsr0atgmaildotcom (at=@, dot=.)

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