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Artikel mit dem Stichwort ‘TORIYAMA Akira’

The Death Undo: A Guilty General’s Wish

Sonntag, 16. März, 2014

In my article series on The Girl Who Leapt Through Time I explained how this youth novel strikes a cord with the reader by offering them a fantasy in which an unfortunate event (leading to death, for example) can be undone, and the past be redone. I also mentioned how this resonates with the structure of video games because you usually have more than one life, and/or restart points from which to redo already past events. Which is probably why this novel keeps getting referenced by video game plots.

ITOI Shigesato’s Mother RPG, which was one of the games I covered in this series, contains the opposite scenario as well, confronting the player with a death they can’t undo. I’m talking about the flying men in Magicant.1 Magicant is the magic kingdom ruled by the Queen Mary and symbolizes the player’s subconscious. The Mother Encyclopedia players guide describes them as follows:

The house of the flying men
The dream of the flying men lives in your heart…

On the Northern outskirts of Magicant there is a single house all by itself. Here live five brothers, kind of like birds, kind of like humans. They’re the flying men. Back when you were still little, your mother used to whisper the story of the flying men into your ears from the side of your bed. You probably don’t remember this very sad story which your great grandmother created. You should go and visit them. Try talking to them. Because maybe you might remember the story.

The flying men join your party one at a time when you talk to them. But you can’t restore their HP so during your battles they will inevitably die at some point. You can go back to recruit more flying men until their family is extinct and you can even find their tombstones. Or you can quit meeting them, leave them alone and alive, at the same time leaving yourself alone with your guilt.

The flying men in Mother (Earthbound Zero)

The flying men in Mother 2 (Earthbound)

Of course there were inevitable deaths dictated by the video game plot before but in the case of the flying men the player is fully responsible for their death because he initiates their recruitment (though likely not aware of it beforehand) and they die during the interactive part of the game, the non-scripted one.

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  1. Magicant is the magic kingdom ruled by the Queen Mary and symbolizes the player’s subconscious. []

Electric Pinocchio I: Brat Begins

Mittwoch, 2. November, 2011

As a child, once I had learned to read I was constantly grabbing books to read from libraries and people around me. But one of the first books I bought for myself was Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. My mother had read it as one of her first books when she was sick as a child as well but didn’t keep the copy to pass it on to me. In my late teens I was reading less and less books and more and more comics, especially Japanese ones once I had discovered them. I also started to learn Japanese to read them in their original language, as well as play Japanese games.

One of the manga I read back then was Battle Angel Alita by KISHIRO Yukito or Gunnm (A Dream of Guns), as it is called in Japanese. Another one was Dragon Ball, which of course was preceded by the more light hearted Dr. Slump by the same author, TORIYAMA Akira. Dragon Ball, Dr. Slump and Gunnm were among the first manga I tackled in Japanese, although I was reading Alita in translation as well, simply because it was available which then wasn’t true for the TORIYAMA ones.

What did strike me was the similarity of motifs between Pinocchio and those android hero manga like Gunnm and Dr. Slump. Pinocchio being a world classic of children’s literature it’s not far fetched to assume that indeed Pinocchio could and must have influenced the latter two. I didn’t watch it much but in my childhood there was an animated TV series based on Pinocchio running in Germany which was made in Japan so this was already proof that the Japanese must have had some exposure to this classic.

Looking at Wikipedia now Pinocchio was translated into Japanese as early as 1920, by NISHIMURA Isaku, who narrated the story to his 12 year old daughter Aya reading and translating word by word from a Western version of the book. Aya wrote the story down and it was published by Kinnotsunosha the same year.1 http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%94%E3%83%8E%E3%83%83%E3%82%AD%E3%82%AA%E3%81%AE%E5%86%92%E9%99%BA#.E4.B8.BB.E3.81.AA.E6.97.A5.E6.9C.AC.E8.AA.9E.E8.A8.B3, 31.10.2011 A more official one was published much later in 1970 by children’s story author ANDŌ Yukio1 http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%94%E3%83%8E%E3%83%83%E3%82%AD%E3%82%AA%E3%81%AE%E5%86%92%E9%99%BA#.E4.B8.BB.E3.81.AA.E6.97.A5.E6.9C.AC.E8.AA.9E.E8.A8.B3, 31.10.2011, decades after the 1940 Disney movie adaption of Pinocchio was screened in Japan in 19522 http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%94%E3%83%8E%E3%82%AD%E3%82%AA_%281940%E5%B9%B4%E3%81%AE%E6%98%A0%E7%94%BB%29, 31.10.2011. The god of manga TEZUKA Osamu adapted Pinocchio as a comic3 http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%94%E3%83%8E%E3%83%83%E3%82%AD%E3%82%AA%E3%81%AE%E5%86%92%E9%99%BA#.E6.BC.AB.E7.94.BB, 31.10.2011, also in 1952. And in 1972 the first anime adaption by Tatsunoko Pro Studios ran on Japanese TVs4 http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%A8%AB%E3%81%AE%E6%9C%A8%E3%83%A2%E3%83%83%E3%82%AF, 31.10.2011, years before the 1976 version by Nihon Animation that also ran in Germany5 http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%94%E3%82%B3%E3%83%AA%E3%83%BC%E3%83%8E%E3%81%AE%E5%86%92%E9%99%BA, 31.10.2011. So it’s fair to say that this world classic had similar influence on Japanese children as it had in the rest of the world.

Carlo Collodi’s 1883 original story portrays Pinocchio as a wicked boy, who keeps on disappointing his well meaning father Geppetto and to a slightly less degree also the fairy who becomes his mother substitute in the longer second half of the story. This certainly owes to it being written over a century ago but also to certain Christian ideas of man being inherently evil and having to be raised to be good. Dr. Slump’s robot girl Arale on the other hand is a perfect example of the Japanese idea that children are pure and good, as opposed to adults like her creator father Senbee, who are already corrupted by mature traits. Arale also is a bit mischievous at times and gets Senbee into trouble but she’s never portrayed as wicked rather than naïve and excessive in her usage of her super human powers endowed to her by Senbee. She’s certainly not put through harsh hardships like Pinocchio to become a better person either, instead Senbee is ridiculed for being much more wicked than his daughter. In 1980 Japan was also a much wealthier place than Italy in 1883, so the authors Collodi and TORIYAMA simply had different backgrounds to put into story. In Gunnm Gally and her ‚creator‘ Ido are even more idealized morally, both having to kill for a living in a bleak future where almost everyone has cyborg parts but neither being portrayed of bad character really. The setting does provide enough hardship and opportunities for character building to match Pinocchio in this regard though.

Pinocchio is of course also a novel of education, or bildungsroman as it is called in German, a term often used in reference to works of manga and games in Japan. Geppetto is an avatar for his author as much as Pinocchio was one for his readers, cursed to be a puppet which cannot grow up until it meets the high standards of its parents. Looking at and comparing some of the early motifs in these three stories I want to show how the relationship between parent and child is portrayed in these works.

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  1. http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%94%E3%83%8E%E3%83%83%E3%82%AD%E3%82%AA%E3%81%AE%E5%86%92%E9%99%BA#.E4.B8.BB.E3.81.AA.E6.97.A5.E6.9C.AC.E8.AA.9E.E8.A8.B3, 31.10.2011 [] []
  2. http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%94%E3%83%8E%E3%82%AD%E3%82%AA_%281940%E5%B9%B4%E3%81%AE%E6%98%A0%E7%94%BB%29, 31.10.2011 []
  3. http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%94%E3%83%8E%E3%83%83%E3%82%AD%E3%82%AA%E3%81%AE%E5%86%92%E9%99%BA#.E6.BC.AB.E7.94.BB, 31.10.2011 []
  4. http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%A8%AB%E3%81%AE%E6%9C%A8%E3%83%A2%E3%83%83%E3%82%AF, 31.10.2011 []
  5. http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%94%E3%82%B3%E3%83%AA%E3%83%BC%E3%83%8E%E3%81%AE%E5%86%92%E9%99%BA, 31.10.2011 []