On Shingeki no Kyojin

Fall, bitch.

I’ve just started my semester in one of the universities in Tokyo and what better way to kickoff than to finish a Shingeki no Kyojin marathon? Some thoughts:

1. I may be a self-professed fudanshi, but I’m more of a Eren X Mikasa shipper. (Well, personally I’m not inclined to ship Eren at all because I find his characterisation to be particularly irritating and to a certain extent, 2 dimensional at times. ) I don’t actually see the link between Eren and Levi simply because their relationship throughout the entire series has always been firmly maintained as strictly professional.

2. The plot is brilliant; I love the plots and twists which seems to occur once every two episodes or so. Fantastic writing, brilliant direction and the animation is pretty well-done too. The only issue I have is that:

a. there is an overused motif of the power of friendship, love and courage will save the day. This motif has been flogged halfway to death by anime since the 1950s and it can get slightly tiring after a while.

b. I find it sociologically problematic how the mini plot lines find its resolutions (especially the ending of the anime) in brutality, violence and outright strength. To win, all you need to have is brute strength and whoever has more power, wins. I can of course, bring in a hooksian analysis on how such an ideology is complicit with patriarchal, misogynistic structures of power in society but I think what is important is that, even as the anime tries its best to subvert an overriding theme that the world is not a kind of Schopenhaueresque landscape filled with cruelty and darkness: we see this in the selfless bravery of Eren as a little boy, the camaraderie of the 104 Cadet Corps. However, even as this ideology is subverted at times, the subversion only acts to reinforce that very same ideology as the very 104 Cadet Corp members who was seen laughing and cracking jokes in one episode were abruptly killed off in the next. We see how the selfless bravery of Eren eventually becomes an impetus for Mikasa to turn into numb killing machine in order to protect her “brother”. What I find intriguing really, is how this ideology is maintained and restructured, even in the face of impeding destruction of Mankind. Is it perhaps, to borrow a certain phrasing from Zizek, easier to imagine the end of society rather than to think of a post-patriarchal, post-capitalist ideology that restructures society?

Just my first few thoughts so pardon the incoherence!



3 thoughts on “On Shingeki no Kyojin

  1. Ha! I was about to cover SnK as well, though with slightly different thoughts than yours (not just that personally I’d ship Eren x Levi. There’s something about S/M pairings…)

    I didn’t pick up the brute force ideology even though it’s quite obvious now that I think about it. Nice observation. I did notice a detail about it though. It’s also something that’s mentioned somewhere by Zizek so I wonder if you also saw the analogy. During the last episodes there’s a line by Eren (or was it Mikasa or Amin? I already forgot…) saying something like “to fight monsters one has to turn into a monster himself”. Now, Zizek points out how this kind of reasoning existed among nazi generals in Germany: the truly courageous thing was to sacrifice your humanity to serve the nation (read: to exterminate jews, an inhumane act if there ever was one).

    So, yeah, just something that merely supports your point that the series is unable to break out of its ideology. It’s not enough to be right minded and courageous. One has to lose one’s human traits and fight by turning into the enemy. It’s as if it’s saying that “OK, all this selfless bravery of Eren is nice but let’s get serious and be realistic: in the end it’s only a matter of who is more powerful.”

    • heh, S/M pairings eh? If that’s yr thing, there’s loads of Kyojin doujinshi revolving around those themes. Finding them would be a piece of cake. 😀

      “It’s as if it’s saying that “OK, all this selfless bravery of Eren is nice but let’s get serious and be realistic: in the end it’s only a matter of who is more powerful.” Exactly; eloquently put really. I wonder how all this ideology of “bravery will save the day!” or “believe in the power of friendship” really come about. Is there some kind of psychoanalytical explanation, or can we find a Marxist explanation, like how this ideology is in fact a kind of false consciousness in which we believe acts as a coping mechanism against the irrational subjugation against a post-capitalist system?

      • I would not be altogether critical towards such slogans because I think they can be reclaimed for other purposes as well. Bravery is easily linked with the triumphant actions of the individual and, as such, belongs to individualism. However, is there not also revolutionary bravery? Courage to stand up against the system (and to overthrow it)? I’m kind of hoping that SnK would move towards this direction. We already know that the government is corrupt and there are some implications that titans are somehow entangled in the struggles between humans and are not just an external threat. SEASON 2, PLZ! I need it T_T

        And friendship – while the power boosts Eren gets sometimes, after realizing that he’s not alone and that he has comrades, are rather ridiculous, could we not nonetheless extend this idea of friendship to solidarity between people? I like this in SnK, namely the moments when people unite against a common threat.

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