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Author Topic: Post WWII Apocalyptic Narritives in Anime  (Read 2461 times)

Offline imlazee247

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Post WWII Apocalyptic Narritives in Anime
« on: January 10, 2010, 12:28:58 AM »
I have been interested in finding more anime that fall into this often dark, mind-probing, but often mentally stimulating category of story telling.

By this title i do not mean an anime that is blatantly anti WWII, but ones that objectively ask philosophical questions surrounding the after-effects of how this war are interpreted. These questions can range from religious inquiries, moral tragedies, the effects of false notions of grandeur, what winning a war actually means, etc.

Here are list of some of titles, and some that i have found that fit perfectly or kind of perfectly in this category, and my interpretations on some of their themes:

- Grave of the Fireflies:
shows the fallout of using firebombing as a method of war. Even though it brought down the morale of the people and was effective, it also tragically destroyed the innocence of the younger generation that had to endure.

 2nd impact=WWII=mankind gains awareness of its ability to inflict apocalypse upon itself, 3rd impact= mankind taking the final step towards becoming God by utterly destroying itself as a result of symbolic religious aspirations. Shinji= the current generation of japan that has yet to grow up, Asuka= the current generation of Germany(her mom committed suicide kind of like the motherland committing suicide when hitler called it quits),  Gendo Ikari= America's control over Japan and effectively making it it's bastard son, Rei= religion in the aftermath of WWII; cold, empty, physically appealing and easily mass-produced by Gendo and used to attain some higher sense of self by helping everyone becoming God.  I thought this fit the convoluted message fit somewhere along of the lines of in order to retain the idea of self and grow as an individual one must bear the mistakes of one's life and make the decision to cast aside the mistakes of the previous generation.

-Ergo Proxy
A modern interpretation and reinvention of Plato's allegory of the cave combined with christian themes of the end times. The dark earth is the cave, and mankind that is hiding in the sky represents the light outside the cave. The world is in an unlivable state from mankind's folly (not sure if it is a result of nuclear fallout or abusive use of resources) so the people of earth flee to the heaven's to undergo hibernation while their god-like creations, the Proxy, make the world livable again. The idea that i was getting from this was that mankind will not be saved by their rapture or attempts to play god, and that if people keep running away from their created abominations made while they attempted to be god those said abominations are bound to catch up to them. (nuclear weaponry was referred to as a rapture in the series so that is what made me consider that this was a response to mankind taking one of the final steps towards becoming God, in the christian sense, by being able to utterly annihilate life via nuclear explosives.)

-Paranoia Agent
This story was a response to the "cute" culture of Japan and how by not fully accepting the harsh realities of one's life and fleeing to false notions of good or bad, as an escape, the people create a situation that is equally devastating to the tragedy of the A-bombs. Sadly though the writer seemed to come to the conclusion that only a few people from each generation will realize this and that this interaction with the cute culture is a lesson that will not be learned(this one was fairly cut in dry by the time its series reached its conclusion)


So far these are the only ones coming to mind, but if you have any additions, thoughts, elaborations, criticisms (not insultisms) or insights to this list or any other anime that fit into this category please feel free to add your thoughts in a constructive and/or critically thought out manner =]

*fyi- the ideas that i posted on those four anime series are brief, i am well aware that each of the series that have been mentioned have many subtopics relating to the overall message that would be too much to hit individually for my tastes,(so plz do not bash me for leaving out something small) and that people rate these anime to their own subjective nature, but i tried to keep it is as objectively brief as possible, within my realm of knowledge, so if you could treat the topic with the same level of integrity in your responses, brief or not, that would be much appreciated. (i also know that was one hell of a run on

Offline Sorrow-kun

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Re: Post WWII Apocalyptic Narritives in Anime
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2010, 03:06:37 AM »
This is a pretty hard-hitting topic.  It's not something we see anime all that often.  I mean, needless to say, WWII itself was a darker and more lamentable chapter in Japanese history, so on one hand I can't blame them for not really tackling the subject head-on in anime, a medium that's more often used to escape into fantasy.  So, I actually struggle to think up examples that deal with WWII explicitly and its consequences in anime.  It is interesting, though, how the scars of the A-bombs manifest themselves in Japanese fiction.  I guess Now and Then, Here and There might be an example of what you're talking about.  A bleak, apocalyptic world where humanity is on the brink of total collapse and people are fighting for the last scraps of resources.  There's Zipang (which I haven't seen) and Jin-Roh (which I have), which are both alternate histories, the latter an exploration of a world under totalitarian rule.  There's certainly other examples (maybe, in a really oblique sense, you could say X counts), but this is about all that comes to mind right now.

Offline imlazee247

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Re: Post WWII Apocalyptic Narritives in Anime
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2010, 04:40:10 AM »
I think after Eva took one of the first big dives into the topic, via a broad-casted format, the various possibilities of what WWII could have meant then and now became more approachable, in an objective sense, rippling in various sizes and motifs. Unfortunately some anime have been somewhat exploitative of various WWII after effects in relation to america. The biggest that comes to mind is Code Geass, i understand that to some extent America was imperialistic in the early 20th century, but Japan did wake a sleeping giant, so hinting in a overly flamboyant fashion that somehow what America did to Japan in WWII is exactly what Britain did to America during its revolutionary period is too much of stretch for me to take seriously considering what started each conflict.

I digress. Thank you for your response, I will definitely look into those titles. I do enjoy the anime medium for its ability to capture a sense of realism in a style of narrative that, in moments of brilliance, objectively presents what a controversial idea or reality could mean, good or bad, if it was to occur. So the obliqueness of an X series that could possibly relate to this  topic would be great to hear minus the exploitative ones. To have watch a series that attempts raise relevant answers and questions while avoiding certain realities makes me somewhat sad, especially when it has captivating moments of storytelling, like with Code Geass. Although Gunslinger Girls does not really fit with the WWII themes, it, in contrast with Code Geass, objectively presents an idea that shows the convoluted reality of using children "successfully" as weapons. The way it was presented was what interested me most, it reminded me of the book 1984 in that the protagonists where used to completely reveal all that is gained and lost by certain methods of warfare and government policy. If you or anyone else know of any anime with that type of feel, in relation to this topic, it would be a pleasure to hear your thoughts and/or suggestion.

Offline AH

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Re: Post WWII Apocalyptic Narritives in Anime
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2010, 05:10:00 PM »
To make a long story short, I think you're reading a little too much into Code Geass...particularly when it's meant to have an alternate history as its setting and doesn't have anything resembling an accurate portrayal of historical reality (or much in the way of plausibility, for that matter).

But to humor you, it might be worth to take a look here.

Also, for a show that keeps getting called nationalistic, it's actually hilarious to note Lelouch isn't even Japanese and pretty much subverts the existing resistance for his own personal purposes that can't really be considered pro-Japan except by virtue of convenience and necessity.

Offline imlazee247

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Re: Post WWII Apocalyptic Narritives in Anime
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2010, 10:52:15 PM »
I will agree that i have probably read too much into the Code Geass, i do understand that it was an alternate history, but using that as a plot device felt more like a quick recovery after taking a slight jab at america's kidneys. I do understand that this only a part of the plot and not the entire thing, if anything Lelouch represents a god-like figure and i would even go as far as relating him to Christ(in a literary sense, not religious) because of how he attained the hatred of the world, (the sin, if you will) and sacrificed himself all the hatred that was keeping the people of the world from progressing toward a common goal of peace, but that is probably me looking into these things too much. I would also agree with the person on this site who reviewed R2 on how, by looking back at this season, you can't just be disappointed with how it got there, drama is cool, but the extent to which the melodrama was used seemed a bit exploitative of a fan base and, for me, lost a complete sense of an original artistic perspective.

Now i will go read into what your link has to say. To humor you. Thank you for your response.


I like reading into things; School, cultures, mythologies, people, books or any other forms of expression that can make thought provoking statements can all count as examples of things that i like. I like; therefore, i think; therefore, i am. ^_^
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