Contributing writer for The Artifice.
The legacy of Devilman
With the release of Devilman: Crybaby, many anime fans in the west were exposed to the shocking story of Devilman saga. While Devilman was known to be the classic that inspired many dark-themed manga and anime works, the series was mostly unavailable for the wider audience. Those who knew about the original story felt the same shock in different style, but many new fans were exposed to the brutal scenes and plots of Devilman.
It would be worthwhile to examine the impact of Devilman on the popular works and how they shaped the genres dealing with dark and grotesque fantasies.
How should the readers take the creators' comments on their works?
Let me start with the situation that brought this topic to my mind. In the interview in 2016(Jump Ryu, vol.1), Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball, commented that the show’s hero Son Goku does not feel any friendship towards other characters, including Krillin. This caused some controversy among the fans who saw this interview, because many thought that Goku and Krillin were the best friends; after all, Goku’s anger exploded on Krillin’s first death, and it was Krillin’s death that triggered Goku’s transformation to Super Saiyan. Does that mean the death of someone, whom he had no strong feelings for, made him angry enough to transform? Did he vow revenge for those he felt no friendship? The some fans were outraged, and some found Toriyama’s comments ridiculous, because that was far from what they read in the text, and this new information did not clear any questions they had.
Toriyama’s comments caused few controversies in the past, due to how contradictory it sounded to the readers, and also the fact that he was often forgetful of his own creations. Some even questioned the validity of his comments on Dragon Ball.
But there are other creators whose comments outside the completed text that sometimes clarifies few points. Take Tolkien’s defense of Frodo. When a fan wrote to him that Frodo does not deserve to be a hero because he had succumbed to the Ring’s seduction in the end, Tolkien explained that though Frodo could not bring himself to destroy the One Ring, his sufferings and humility up to that point deserve highest honor. In this case, the author’s comments clarified his intentions to the readers.
So this got me thinking: how should the readers treat the creator’s comments when reading the text? How critical should the readers be when considering the comments made by the creators? What analysis should be made when it seems to contradict the readings?
Samurai Jack Season 5 - how did it become more mature
So far, Samurai Jack’s Season 5 has been receiving positive responses. Despite it becoming darker in tone, the show contained the balance between seriousness and humor. Its transition to Adult Swim allowed more freedom in terms of subject matters, especially with violence. But the show retained the feel of the old seasons though it became darker. Jack killed a person for the first time, and he suffers from guilt and hallucinations. But despite the shift in tone, the audience can still feel that this is Samurai Jack they used to know and love.
It would be worthwhile to examine how the Season 5 of Samurai Jack retained its essence despite the change in the mood. For example, how does the violence in Season 5 compare to the old seasons? Was there a precursor to Jack’s dilemma in the old episodes? How effective was the transition?
Hyper Light Drifter and the Sharing of Personal Sufferings
Hyper Light Drifter’s game experience is inspired by the developer’s heart disease and his fear of meeting death at any moment. Death is constantly looming throughout the game as the protagonist continues to cough up blood. Players empathize with the fragile hero and the creator effectively shares his struggle
How effective is this channeling of personal fear in Hyper Light Drifter, and what other examples are in other games?
Political Satires - Old and New
The skepticism towards Politics is nearly as old as history of political system. Various literature throughout the history, including the Attic Comedy of Aristophanes, satirize the political systems and the prominent rulers.
In many ways, Aristophanes can still appeal to the modern audiences thanks to his unforgiving wits and humor against the leading politicians like Cleon. Comparing Aristophanes to the modern satirists such as stand-up comedians or cartoonists could help us understand which aspect of politics changed or remained the same since the ancient Athens.
For example, One thing to note is that Aristophanes frequently used ridiculous characters and exaggerated personalities to make this point. Has this been changed much? Does Aristophanes’ model lose its charm to the modern audiences?
Compare and analyze the characters, the comic elements, and the message of Arisophanes to the modern comedy(such as the Simpsons, South Park, etc) and others.
Resident Evil Remake: Does It Still Deliver Chill?
Resident Evil Remake and Resident Evil Zero were remastered recently. Resident Evil was considered the historically significant game which led to the immense popularity of zombie horror, and survival horror as whole. But is it still effective? Does Resident Evil’s formula still deliver tension and scare as it used to? If so, what does it say about the horror game genres of today? What can the current horror games learn from Resident Evil Remake’s strengths and weaknesses?
Protagonists of Historical Fiction: famous or less-famous
It is tempting to write a historical fiction from the point of view from the famous figures of the era. Many fictions wrote Napoleon, Elizabeth I, or Alexander the Great as the protagonists with their own voices. However, this poses danger of simplifying/glorifying/vilifying the figures and bend the historical details. For example, the author writing Napoleon as the heroic figure might purposefully ignore his atrocities in Haiti or other blunders, or even try to glorify his vices.
Some authors find it restricting to write on well-known figure so they create new characters or take on lesser known characters. Hitoshi Iwaaki, the manga artist who created The Parasite, had Eumenes, Alexander the Great’s secretary, as the main character of his historical comics "Historie". This provides more liberty for the author but may not attract readers’ attention or place himself in dangerous paradox by making supposedly "obscure" figures too good – if such a significant person had lived, why did historians fail to recognize them?
But which type of protagonist can provide more entertainment? What would be the good model to follow?
Which type of protagonist can provide more entertainment: famous, infamous, or non-famous? Which would be the best model to follow?
Sengoku era and its influence on Japanese Pop Culture
Sengoku era, or Warring State Period of Japan, was the period of chaos before the foundation of Edo Bakufu. The constant chaos led to the lack of official historical record(ones produced by government), occasional brutality, poor lives of peasants, and many tales of heroism at the same time. In fact, some of the historical figures from this period appear in Japanese pop culture occasionally, especially Oda Nobunaga, who was voted as the most popular historical figure by Japanese. Considering this massive influence on pop culture, it would be interesting to observe the major figures in this period of Japanese history and see how their influences still manifest.
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