terabient: Madoka in profile, her hair waving in the wind (Puella Magi: Madoka)
Something that annoys me about a lot of Puella Magi Madoka Magica analysis: theorizing the whole story (or at least the original series) is one big Faust allegory--specifically, Goethe's adaptation of Faust.

This idea is so prevalent in the PMMM community; it's littered all over the Puella Magi wiki, the annual Anime Boston PMMM panel devotes like, half of the running time to an extensive Homura-as-Faust theory, and...I just don't see it? I admit that 99% of my knowledge of Faust comes from Wikipedia and 1% comes from cultural osmosis and references in other literature, so I'm not exactly the most qualified person when it comes to what is and what isn't a Faust allegory. But one of the most common descriptions about the plot of PMMM is 'Be careful what you wish for/the characters make Faustian bargains' and like...no, that doesn't happen at all??? I'm pretty sure the concept behind a Faustian bargain is that the person making the wish knows the consequences of their wish, but their desire for worldly power is so great they decide to go through with it anyway. The exact opposite happens in PMMM--with the exception of Madoka at the end of the series, none of the girls are aware of what their contracts entail, and their wishes are all made on behalf of others. I suppose Mami is an exception, in that she wishes to survive a fatal car crash, but that wish doesn't display the power-hungry desire that a traditional Faustian wish does.

"There are literally quotes from Goethe's Faust in the backgrounds of some episodes, and there's a witch named Gretchen!" Fair enough, but let's not forget that back in the 90s everyone thought that Neon Genesis Evangelion was heavily based on apocryphal biblical texts, because crosses and Christian names were everywhere. Then Gainax said 'lol we just thought it'd be cool and different.' I suspect that the references to Goethe's Faust in PMMM are quite similar, added for visual flair but nothing deeper than that.

"But isn't Madoka an example of the Eternal Feminine?" It is pretty clear that Madoka's final form/Godoka/the Law of the Cycle is an avatar of mercy, 'pure' (i.e. chaste) love, and hope, concepts that are typically coded as feminine. But that coding is as common in Asian culture as it is in Western culture. Not only that, but the magical girl genre in particular often climaxes with the main character turning--if briefly--into a being whose power comes from hope, mercy, or from the love of their friends; Madoka may fit the idea of the Eternal Feminine but it's through coincidence, not because she's a stand-in for the role of a female character in an influential piece of Western literature.

Finally, given the sheer amount of interviews with the creative team of PMMM--many of which directly ask what influences were baked into the plot of the show--if Faust played anything more than a superficial role, you'd think someone would've said so by now. But Faust never comes up in these interviews. Lovecraft does, various magical girl shows do, but I honestly can't find a direct mention of Faust by any of the Magica Quartet members. And believe me, I have looked. If it's ever come up, it's from something that's never been translated into English.

In short:

-Kyubey's contracts are like the polar opposite of a Faustian bargain
-Quotes from Faust are like Christian crosses in NGE: meaningless
-A Japanese show by Japanese creators for a Japanese audience is more likely to draw from Japanese sources before European ones
-Look, SOMEONE would have said something about it by now

I've never been a big fan of analysis that essentially boils down to 'The characters and plot of this show are stand-ins for the characters and plot of this cultural myth/piece of literature' and in the case of Puella Magi-as-Faust I feel it's particularly strained and ill-fitting. It's a little frustrating that's it's so widespread.
terabient: Thor: WHAT IS BOOK (Marvel: Thor bookfail)
So a few days ago I got the Accomplice ending in P4G (super late to the party, I know) and I just do not know how to process all these feelings I am having.

word vomit about video game feels under the cut, major spoilers for Persona 4 Golden.

fuck you, Adachi )
terabient: Leanne jumping from a bridge (Resonance of Fate: Leanne Leap of Faith)
The 30 days music meme got me thinking about Serial Experiments Lain again. I was reading through the Wikipedia article to brush up on the plot and while it wasn't especially helpful in that regard, (I still have no idea what the purpose of the K.I.D.S./Cyberia...stuff...was?) it did make me think about some other things.

First, the whole idea the creator had wrt American vs. Japanese audience interpretations...look, I admire his desire to create something with 'distinctly Japanese values' and reject American concepts that were imposed upon Japanese people after WWII. But...the philosophical concepts and technology theories presented in Lain are almost entirely Western in origin, and they aren't presented in a way that challenges their assertions on any level. When you invoke Western ideas without re-interpreting or challenging them, it seems rather naive to assume that an American audience will draw different conclusions from a Japanese audience.

I think Ghost in the Shell (the movies, in particular) is a series that generates different audience reactions more successfully than Lain, and that wasn't even a concern of the creators. (At least, I don't think it was a concern?) American audiences don't interpret the ending of the GiTS movie differently, per se, but the majority of the reviews and analysis miss the very obvious Buddhist underpinnings--I've only read one review that mentions how one of the last scenes with the Puppeteer and Motoko is supposed to be read as a Buddhist wedding/a symbol of Buddhist ideals of transcendence, for example. And I suspect the critical response to Ghost in the Shell: Innocence, which was fairly negative, was partially due to people being unfamiliar with Buddhist/Zen concepts and thus found the movie's philosophical musings as confusing. (Or worse, nonsensical--I do think Innocence was heavy-handed and clumsy in plotting and dialog, but the ideas it was trying to convey aren't nonsense, and I think it's really patronizing that some American critics have called it that.)

...wow, that was some tangent.

Secondly, even though I don't remember much about Lain's plot, I always enjoyed the initial hook, that Lain is just going through her lonely life until a dead person contacts her through the internet Wired. The idea of people dying in the material world and manifesting in the internet is one I really enjoy, and I wish I knew of more books/shows/movies that explore the concept. I've seen Kairo and Pulse (Kairo was pretty good, Pulse was not) a little bit of the .hack series, and pretty much everything connected to Ghost in the Shell--is there any other stuff that people have seen, in any media, that's concerned with people living in the internet, or sentient creations trying to contact/become people in the material world? I'd be interested in seeing it.
terabient: Mami looking at her reflection in her teacup (Puella Magi: Mami Tea)
I FINALLY GOT AROUND TO DOING THIS. I hope it is not too confusing and/or unconvincing.

Cut for Magica Madoka spoilers, long-windedness

Why Madoka is not a deconstruction of the Magical Girl genre )
terabient: Teenage Thor, thinking (Marvel: teen!Thor thoughtful)
I finished RE6's first 3 campaigns a few days ago! It was...a mixed bag as far as entertainment goes. There were some parts that were fantastic and a great many parts that I found boring and a few parts that were pretty rage-quit worthy in their awfulness. All in all, a pretty standard RE experience.

I am not sure why this RE has taken up so much of my brainspace recently, though. I think it's partly due to the uneven quality--the great parts are already some of my favorite in the series, and the shitty parts are some of the worst gameplay experiences I've suffered in years. Also, every single RE discussion and review I've read ends up talking about the series as a whole and the direction video games in general are headed and...there's just a lot to think about.

Not sure how all these thoughts will eventually come out, nor how coherent they will be. When I was playing through the campaigns I tended to go on GameFAQs forums and/or the RE6 tumblr tag and dump all of my thoughts onto the unsuspecting masses there, so I guess I'll just do the same here. :P

Spoilers behind the cut. Also: wall of text that I did not intend to write. I had more opinions than I realized. :S

Chris Chapter 1 )

I realize that most of the RE6 stuff I've posted has been negative, but I genuinely enjoy the game. There's just a lot of boring stuff you have to wade through to get to the good parts.

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