Comments on Raymond H's F91 and the Problem with Gundam Pacifism
So first off, for those of you who have never heard of Gundam or who know the name but don't know the details, the original 1979 Mobile Suit Gundam is basically what happens when your producers want to make a super duper robot action show while your writers want to make a serious, gripping war drama.
The person introducing that discussed how they considered Evangelion to be pioneering because of the way it adopted this questioning approach to whether it's even moral to expect teenagers to pilot giant mecha, or whether that's nothing more than a SFnal update of the old kamikaze idea and unworthy of a nation and a world which has made such errors in the past.
a troubled production forced director Yoshiyuki Tomino to turn the first 13 episodes’ storyboards into a movie
despite banging the “war is hell” gong all day long, Gundam F91 never really gives a compelling alternative to the war presented in its story
Wouldn't this be the first red flag? No wonder the pacing is awful.
In my experience, that's a common problem with war stories which try to have an anti-war message. However much they insist, "no, seriously, war is hell," and however much they shove in nuance and complexity, the creators ultimately undermine themselves by making the characters on one side of the conflict good guys, and the characters on the other side of the conflict bad guys. This leaves the viewer with the very obvious question of, "Yes, but what are the good guys supposed to do, instead? Let the bad guys just roll over them?" (A common criticism of pacifism, and given the deportment of some pacifists, a not wholly unwarranted one.)
Arthur: The impression I have of Kurosawa's views on war is that he's generally against it but also is very aware that once it's kicked off, it's tremendously difficult if not impossible to stop the violence and using force to defend the innocent from those initiating violence is more laudable than allowing violent people to get their way by violent means (because in the latter case they'll just keep doing it).
the ending of Throne of Blood must have had a particularly powerful resonance in post-War Japan, given that it depicts troops mutinying against a ruler who they realise is leading them to ruin.
Raymond: And that's precisely why, despite being very much a film about how the Native American exists in relation to the White Man, I was so struck by Black Robe, because it managed to create a third party to serve as the antagonists
That's also why I loved The 08th MS Team and War in the Pocket, because the criticism is less on war itself and more on how it is handled once it starts (With 08th it's about higher-ranking, armchair military like with Children's Crusade. With Pocket it's about the involvement of civilian targets.).
Yes, Kurosawa was staunchly anti-war, although he did make two propaganda films during his early years (The Most Beautiful and Sanshiro Sugata Part II). He did this though mostly because if he didn't, he and all the members of his immediate family would have been shot.
I always wondered how he managed to get the White actors for Sugata, and if he knew that they were secretly subverting the script like the Navajo actors in A Distant Trumpet.
Okay, but, well, still haven't seen Black Robe and still have no plans of doing so, but if your intention is to have an anti-war message, then isn't it a cheat to say, "this group and this group shouldn't be fighting each other ... they should both join forces to fight this other group?" Or am I misunderstanding your point?
Never seen either of those, though I've seen a lot of commentary on War in the Pocket. Call me cynical, but my understanding is that, at least according to the way Western and imperial or post-imperial powers wage war, once it starts, any criticism of how it's handled is a useless exercise. You let the genie out of the bottle, and it's gonna run wild. Players gonna play, haters gonna hate, warmakers gonna commit atrocities. You either have to accept every nasty horrible thing that goes along with war, or you reject the whole package and try to find another way to solve your problems.
I'd heard that; as excuses for compromising one's principles in the service of a despicable cause go, that's a pretty good one.
Interesting. In principle, I'm solidly behind that kind of trolling on the part of actors cast as the villainous/mysterious Other. Since it was white actors in this case, though, I shudder to think what they might've said instead of following the script.
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