15 again

I’ve recently been reflecting on the past and wondering where my life will go in the future, during which I found myself thinking of all the activities I did before uni that I quickly replaced with alcohol and studying. Tonight I decided to channel my inner 15 year old; with nowhere to go and strict curfews I used to do a ridiculous amount of drawing to fill up time so why did I ever stop?

One reason might be that I’m not that good. I seem to have a knack for copying other peoples work well but my original ideas are a flop; so here is the result of my boredom and life pondering mindset tonight. I just thought I would share with the World Wide Web – (This adds a sense of purpose to an evening of procrastination.) ^_^

20131208-002227.jpg

Shiro from Deadman Wonderland drawn in an A6 notebook – whilst watching Catfish: The TV show.

The Apocalypse

In the last hour or so I have had a realisation. Struggling to find what I am interested in and a focus area for this blog after leaving University has had me questioning myself for weeks now. I like anime, I like film, I like books but I am not your typical fan of any of these areas, I don’t dedicate my life to them or obsesses over them 24/7.

Upon return from seeing the Pacific Rim at the cinema I thought about the medias across all boards which I obsess over (this thought ignited by a Pacific Rim obsession coming on). They all have one common thread. Apocalypse.

Let’s begin with my first serious obsession, Lost. Week after week as a 13 year old girl I would watch as Jack, Kate and the gang went about their business. Now some people might argue Lost doesn’t revolve around apocalyptic themes, but in my eyes it does. For the characters involved their worlds have been destroyed, they have to rebuild and adapt to survive.

From this point on I cannot recall a time line of my obsessions. Unlike the majority of fans, I am not a “full timer” if you like. For example my favorite anime at the moment Shingeki No Kyojin is aired online every week, however I have only seen 5 of the 14 episodes. When I become obsessed it’s accompanied by a serious level of intensity. Spending a day or two immersing myself in the world I have chosen to experience. I recall my first year of University after purchasing the Buffy Boxset to pass time and watching every episode within 2 weeks, I genuinely jumped when I first embarked on a human on the streets of Coventry, thinking he was a nasty vamp. Before I jumped into slayer mode I quickly recollaborated and remembered to my sadness, “It isn’t real”.

fan art by Bacafreak

This may sound strange to some but this immersion is the satisfaction fandom gives me. I don’t particularly care which anime is top of the charts or knowing the latest releases. What I look for is the connection that makes me not want to leave the house until I know how it ends.

I seem to be digressing a tad, my point is that today I realised that the majority of media that consumes my life is based on some sort of apocalypse.

Below are my favourite anime and films at the moment (both lists are in constant flux), unaware until today of the weird obsession I seem to have.

Anime:
– Deadman Wonderland

“A massive earthquake ravaged Japan’s mainland and destroyed most of Tokyo, sinking three-quarters of it into the ocean. Ten years later, the story starts with Igarashi Ganta, a seemingly ordinary, unassuming middle school student attending Nagano Prefecture’s middle school. An escapee, a survivor of the great earthquake, Ganta has no memories of the tragedy and has lived a simple, normal life. This all changes one day when a strange man covered in blood and crimson armour appears, floating, out of his classroom windows, and massacres Ganta’s entire class and, instead of killing him, embeds a red crystal shard in his chest. Within days of the massacre, Ganta is convicted of the crime, following a suspiciously quick trial, is sentenced to life imprisonment in Deadman Wonderland, a massive theme-park-like prison.”
– Synopsis by T.H.E.M anime review

– Cassherns Sins


The world is in ruin. Everywhere, robots are rusting and breaking down, unable to repair themselves. Humans come few and far between with extinction inevitable. Chaos is ensuing, despair consumes the hearts of most, and all of this can be blamed on the actions of one robot by the name of Casshern. Chased by hordes of the vengeful, the now amnesia stricken Casshen walks the Earth slowly remembering his greatest sin; killing Luna, the Sun that was name Moon. With no place to hide, he must reconcile with his past. However, those around him are not so soon to forgive.
-Synopsis by The Nihon Review

– Puella Magi Madoka Magica


She has a loving family and best friends, laughs and cries from time to time… Madoka Kaname, an eighth grader of Mitakihara middle school, is one of those who lives such a life. One day, she had a very magical encounter. She doesn’t know if it happened by chance or by fate yet. This is a fateful encounter that can change her destiny—this is a beginning of the new story of the magical witch girls.
– Synopsis by Aniplex of America

– Shingeki No Kyojin


Several hundred years ago, humans were nearly exterminated by giants. Giants are typically several stories tall, seem to have no intelligence, devour human beings and, worst of all, seem to do it for the pleasure rather than as a food source. A small percentage of humanity survived by walling themselves in a city protected by extremely high walls, even taller than the biggest of giants.

Flash forward to the present and the city has not seen a giant in over 100 years. Teenage boy Eren and his foster sister Mikasa witness something horrific as the city walls are destroyed by a super giant that appears out of thin air. As the smaller giants flood the city, the two kids watch in horror as their mother is eaten alive. Eren vows that he will murder every single giant and take revenge for all of mankind.
– Synopsis by Kiss Anime

Films:
– Fifth Element

A cab driver in the 23rd century finds himself battling an evil force during an apocalyptic war as he tries to secure a mysterious “fifth element.”
-Synopsis by Star Pulse

– Dredd

A feared urban cop takes on a vicious city drug dealer in a futuristic metropolis as director Pete Travis (Vantage Point) and screenwriter Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Sunshine) team to bring iconic 2000A.D. lawman Judge Dredd to the big screen. In the future, much of North America has been poisoned by radiation. The sprawling urban jungle Mega City One stretches from Boston to Washington D.C., and in order to keep the growing criminal element in check, police enforcers called “Judges” have been given the power of judge, jury, and executioner. Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is the most feared of them all, delivering death sentences with impunity as he fights to rid the streets of “Slo-Mo” — a powerful new drug that alters its user’s perception of time. In the process of training psychic rookie Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), Dredd receives a report of an incident in a sprawling criminal stronghold ruled by fearsome drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), and ventures in to investigate. Upon learning that one of her top men has been captured by Dredd shortly thereafter, an enraged Ma-Ma seizes control of her massive 200-story complex, launching an all-out war against the Judges as Dredd and Cassandra find themselves trapped in the belly of the beast.
-Synopsis by MSN

– Pacific Rim

When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes—a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)—who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.
Official Synopsis

Part of me is considering transforming this blog into a one stop apocolyptic source, reading books, manga and watching all sorts of crazy films and anime, I mean there have got to be others out their like me right?

The effect of WWII on Japanese culture, Manga, Anime & Film

Whilst WWII had an effect on every nation involved, it’s effect can be seen no greater than in Japan. On August 6th ‘Little Boy’ was launched by the US military Hiroshima being the target. On the 9th August a second bomb ‘Fat Man’ was also launched by the US but this time targeting Nagasaki. The destruction of these two atomic bombs changes Japans physical and social landscape forever. People began to question the worlds state and consider that one day the human race might be wiped out. This had a huge impact on Storytelling, Manga (Whimsical Drawings) had emerged in the mid 1800’s when Japan’s previously secluded society was forced to merge with other cultures via the arrival of the americans.

most Japanese lived in an unchanging feudaal agrarian society until 1853, when a fleet of heavily armed American ships sailed into Yokohama Bay… More foreigners came East in search of new opportunities, including two Europeans who were to have a huge influence on Japanese publishing – Brinton Charles Wirgman in 1857, and Frenchman Georges Bigot in 1882… As well as new ways of thinking and expression, foreign magazine brought in new technology and new formats. Japanese cartoonists began adapting American comics for the Japanese audience.

The comics market grew and diversified until 1937, when Japan went to war with China and later with the USA and comics became part of the war effort. It was not until after japan’s surrender in 1945 that the social and political cartoonists could resume activity.

-‘500 Manga Heroes and Villains’ – Helen McCarthy 10pp-12pp

The post-surrender Japan needed a lift and a bit of optimism. A need which manga could fill.

Keiji Nakazawa’s masterwork is a first-hand account of the horrors of surviving an atomic strike – a reality which still resonates in manga.

-‘500 Manga Heroes and Villains’ – Helen McCarthy 13pp


I want to explore how the war changed Japanese story telling, through Manga, Anime and Film. This will then lead me to the most recent form of storytelling Photography.

Manga & Anime

Astro Boy (1951)

 Astro Boy is a concept and character created by Osamu Tezsuka, the story is based in 2003, to us now it is a past time but on it’s release it looked 52 years into the future.

Astro Boy also represented the positive aspects od science and technology to a nation only six years on from the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the case for tolerance and openness to others.

-‘500 Manga Heroes and Villains’ – Helen McCarthy 22pp

The narrative explores the future of technology, robots who not only resemble humans but who also inhabit the feelings and lives of them. Humans fearing their ‘servants’ becoming more powerful than themselves they enforce the laws of robotics to try and ‘maintain control’. Astro Boy is the creating of Professor Tenma who dealt with the grief of losing his son by transferring his memories into a robot.

The story of Astro Boy became so popular it became the first Japanese animated cartoon aired on TV and is considered the first ‘Anime’

 

Akira (1882)

As an anime fan there is no escaping the wrath of Akira, one of the most influential stories and films around, it bought a whole new meaning to Manga and Anime and was influenced by WWII.

Katsuhiro Otomo’s science fiction/cyberpunk manga Akira (1982-90) and animated film adaptation of the same name (1988) represent the cultural anxieties of post-WWII Japan, exploring the struggle to find normality in amongst the social and architectural collapse of Neo-Tokyo, to learn that there can be no returning to the pre-apocalypse, only the memories can be accessed through trauma and imagined nostalgia.

– Taken from ‘REBUILDING NEO-TOKYO: THE SEARCH FOR NORMALITY IN THE APOCALYPSE OF AKIRA‘ by S. T. Cartledge
http://themanifold.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/rebuilding-neo-tokyo-the-search-for-normality-in-the-apocalypse-of-akira/

Deadman Wonderland

Perhaps not quite as established as Akira or Astro boy, Deadman Wonderland was written by Jinsei Kataoka and is an example of how the idea of a New World/ utopia in Japanese storytelling is still prominent today.

The story takes place 10 years after an earthquake sank Japans mainland and 3/4’s of Tokyo. In an effort to rebuild the city a prison is made, Deadman Wonderland, a theme park occupying old Tokyo. The workers are criminals, they run the city sized theme park and the public visit, the free forced labour helps push the economy back up. The Manga was written in 2007 but didn’t take off until it’s realise as an Anime in 2011. Interestingly just a few months after the 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami. The Anime has been a huge success in the UK but in Japan perhaps the use of a Tsunami was too sore, an inappropriate release date limited the manga and anime.

Film

Godzilla

I recently went to see Godzilla vs King Kong in 35mm, I have, like most people, always been aware of Godzilla as a popular culture icon. However until I did my research before the screening I did not know that Godzilla was a character made to represent the war.

Godzilla’s genesis “was also conditioned by Cold War tensions and atomic age anxieties.” In March 1954, a Japanese fishing vessel, Daigo Fukuruyu Maru (Lucky Dragon No. 5) strayed into the U.S. nuclear bomb testing zone near Biniki Atoll. The crew was exposed to “massive amounts of radiation, one crew member died (after a cynical American cover-up), and some of the irradiated tuna on the ship made it onto the market in Japan. . . . This was big news in Japan (and was called ‘the latest atomic bombing of Japan’ in the media), especially, of course, since Hiroshima and Nagasaki remained fresh memories.”

“The first Godzilla film clearly had a strong anti-nuclear message. . . . Yet it becomes increasingly hard to conclude that the films have had a consistent message over time . . . . The only constant about the Godzilla films is a deep ambivalence, a kind of moral and intellectual ambiguity, that precludes drawing any firm, unitary conclusions. The message of Godzilla,” Tsutsui explained, “. . . is complex and reflects . . . a fundamental ambivalence on the part of the Japanese when they look at issues like modernity, technology, science, nature, politics, and the world outside Japan.”

– http://www.international.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid=24850

This has just been a very brief scratch on the surface of how Japanese storytelling reacted to WWII, I will writing more on this subject in relation to photography very soon.