Danganronpa: War Guilt, Anti-sociality, Asociality, and the Animator’s Despair

Management: While my opinion of the show is generally positive overall, this essay, by no means, is meant to serve as a comprehensive review, but rather, as an articulation and analysis of some of what I feel is this series’ most integral and interesting themes.

danganronpa-7

To temporarily relegate the Danganronpa franchise’s rather passionate, colorful, and often on-the-nose discourse on hope and despair to the background, here’s a character in the Danganronpa 3 anime who caught my attention. With his status as the “Ultimate” Animator, Ryota Mitorai possessed not only the capacity to make media generally,  anime specifically, that people could enjoy. He also possessed the ability to create propaganda could brainwash the masses. Willingly, in the name of hope, and unwittingly, in the name of despair,  he appropriated his skills and had his skills appropriated to compel people to act.

To qualify, Danganronpa 3 rather oversimplifies the power media has at shaping viewer psychology. Animation is a type of media, and where influencing other people’s behaviors are concerned, the power animation has over our thought processes are limited and conditional. The show automatically assumes that it’s possible that media creators generally, and animators specifically, can brainwash other people at a  smartphone and TV monitor glance if they’re “Ultimate” enough. The brainwashing mechanisms themselves weren’t enough to get me to muse. What did get me to ponder were the references and parallels Danganronpa 3 seemed to be subtly drawing between Ryota and Japanese artists, cartoonists, and yes… animators from that channeled their skills, willingly and unwillingly, wittingly and unwittingly, to create propaganda for their causes.

As I recount Ryota part in the story as  the propagandist for both despair and hope, I’ll make some self-interjections in strategic locations to draw connections between two parallels in animated media to have made their notorious mark in Japanese history: war-time Imperial Japan and guilt, and asociality, anti-sociality and the Aum Shinrikyo cult.

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Terror in Resonance: Voices Beyond Violence

Management: While my opinion of the show is generally positive overall, this essay, by no means, is meant to serve as a comprehensive review, but rather, as an articulation and analysis of some of what I feel is this series’ most integral and interesting themes. This essay is meant to take the place of a previous review on the show.

Terror in Resonance 1

I want to address a rather easy prejudice people end up giving in to: Terror in Resonance is about terrorism. No, Terror in Resonance is about the terrorists. It was about empathizing with the two terrorists of the show. Well, I suppose now it’s a bit reductive to fully separate “terrorism” from “terrorists,” not least because both terms have “terror” in their names. I’ll concede that show is parts “terrorists” and “terrorism.” What I do want to divorce from the conversation is the inordinate attention people pay towards the morality of terrorism. Should terrorists deserve our empathy when, to us, they show none for their victims? Many, if not most, of these victims are “innocent people,” innocent people insofar as they have no direct connection to the causes they are committing terrorism for. Many terrorists know they are targeting “innocent people.”

Well, now we’re talking about the morality of terrorism. Conflating the motivations of one particularly amoral terrorist with the motivations of all terrorists is problematic. It’s just as dehumanizing to the terrorists as to the people they terrorize. And yet, this kind of oversimplified heuristic still operates on a public level. Terrorists are people. The people who are inspired to terrorism are people. The people who are vulnerable to becoming terrorists are people. Most terrorism doesn’t happen spontaneously because most terrorists don’t decide to become terrorists spontaneously. This drive to terrorism comes from somewhere on the lines of freedom and faith, somewhere filled with grievance and resent. It comes from somewhere human.

Nine and Twelve are human.

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Kantai Collection/KanColle: “The Things She Loves”

Management: A musing on a KanColle doujinshi, the KanColle franchise, and the war KanColle takes its material from, this piece is collaboration work between ZeroReq011 of therefore it is and Jaehaerys48 of the Sasami Report, a thematic analysis of あたる  (Ataru’s) “The Things She Saw.” Sentences, images, facts, and reflections were contributed by both of us in the making of this piece. Links leading to KanColle and normal historical facts about the ships/ship girls featured are featured for your reading experience.

You can find the original Japanese and the translated English versions of  “The Things She Saw” here and here, respectively.

Kancolle 2

Do mouths gape?

Do eyes tear?

What’s the face of a girl in love look like?

So you’re reading a novel, listening to some lyrics, or watching, I don’t know, KanColle, and you gain an interest in certain things in the setting, the elements of the media you’re consuming. You read on, listen on, watch KanColle on, wanting to learn more about those said elements. Sometimes those elements get elaborated further, and sometimes they don’t, but at the end of the day, you’re not satisfied. You want more. You hunger for more. And so you do some research on those KanColle  elements you’re so interested in. You might check Wikipedia. You might search databases for articles. You might borrow some books or a documentary from the library. You might even consult an expert.

You’ve learned something new, related yet independent from whatever drove you to conduct research in the first place.

Tangential learning.

It’s a spontaneous, initiative-based process that can occur with just about any media if its narrative elements are interesting, leading, and ambiguous enough to excite curiosity. An example would be media drawing from history, like with KanColle.

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