Forum › Posts by Koveras

joined Jul 15, 2016

"I want to fuck a girl!"
"...What about me...?"
"No, I like you too much."

unfortunately, this is real lesbianism right here

LOL

I am still waiting for Kirin to launch a diatribe on the segregation of female sexuality and affection in Japanese culture. :3

I'll do you one better and link an entire academic article about it.
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://brill.com/downloadpdf/book/edcoll/9789004344198/B9789004344198_012.xml&ved=2ahUKEwjZr-PXybHtAhUrwjgGHR-YAaYQFjABegQIARAB&usg=AOvVaw2bVpvAS6T2DnYl7Fv1LwPR

Well played.

joined Jul 15, 2016

"I want to fuck a girl!"
"...What about me...?"
"No, I like you too much."

unfortunately, this is real lesbianism right here

LOL

I am still waiting for Kirin to launch a diatribe on the segregation of female sexuality and affection in Japanese culture. :3

joined Jul 15, 2016

Poryu: Why can't you just realize that you and Ruby are gay for each other?
Azurite: We are not. I just think she's really cute and she thinks I'm cool. You can't just say we're-
Poryu: On the mahou shoujo exam, we asked questions that only lesbians would know the answers to.
Azurite: Then how did I pass- oh.

Check and mate.

joined Jul 15, 2016

And now the series is fully translated.

It's sad that another fun fantasy series gets axed half-way through. :-( Nevertheless, the author's outline of the axed second half has left me with very conflicted feelings, so may be it's for the best that it only exists in this canonically ambiguous form?

joined Jul 15, 2016

For all the Japanese idealisation of nakama, they sure don't seem to trust institutions or organized measures of help. While it more or less fits the tone of this story, I definitely agree that its incidence in Japanese media as a whole (even in idealistic stories) is frustrating at best and worrisome at worst. There's truth in television here, of course, since Japan does have a culture of sacrificing individual happiness for the harmony of the collective, not saddling others with your personal issues, not making a scene even if you're internally screaming, and always handling everything by yourself. It's extremely toxic, because the people who do rely on more rational measures and formal aid are invariably made to fail and look either weak or stupid so that our protagonists with their endless fortitude can seem better by comparison.

and

That's the thing. While Japan is very advanced and almost utopia-like in many aspect, it doesn't mean the country doesn't have some serious issues, that while it most likely works on them, it doesn't mean changes are happening at any reasonable pace. First of all Japanese have the toxic culture of pride and honor and shaming your family or group is considered to be the worst thing that could possibly happen. Why do you think even if NEETs exist in other countries, unique problems like hikikomoris manifested in Japan? 40 years old people that could be hiding in their rooms for decades, because their parents prefer to give them food and keep on hiding them rather than risking asking for help and expose the family "secret" and shame to anyone else? That's where the "doing it alone" mainly comes from, because nobody is allowed to see your weakness. That's also why Japanese people care so much about rumors.

Regarding Japanese societal ills: From what I've read about the country, I strongly suspect that the root issue behind all of them is that Japan has modernized far too rapidly for its own good over the last 150 years. Its technological level and population density is that of Tönnies' Gesellschaft, but the prevailing mindset belongs to a Gemeinschaft, and those two just don't get along. In many ways (but not all!), modern Japanese society is very similar to that of Victorian Britain 150 years ago: rich yet overworked, self-repressed yet oversexed, and obsessed with youthful beauty. The aforementioned poor state of mental care in Japan is also eerily similar to the infamous Victorian "madhouses".

last edited at Dec 1, 2020 4:44AM

joined Jul 15, 2016

The tension comes from the constant choices between rocks and hard places, between simple murderers and enigmatic torturers, and a common theme that I've found running through a lot of Japanese works about depression and angst are that there are no therapists- only well-meaning people that can't understand your pain, and similarly twisted people who get it, but might also make things worse. The only piece of Japanese media that I've ever seen a therapist in is SeaBed (which uses the novelty to reinforce the norm). All in all, the easy, cut-and-dried professionalism of a therapist in a bright room or the saccharine supportiveness of a manic pixie dream girl would never fit with the story, and seem dissonant at best and hypocritical at worst.

I guess that the crux of the issue, then: a lot of Japanese media I've consumed have been very good at depicting realistic symptoms of mental trauma or illness, but realistic treatments thereof have been either nonexistent or heavily misrepresented. I know why that trope exists (therapy doesn't make for the most dramatic stories), but it rubs me the wrong way when popular media romanticize or glamorize dangerous (self-)therapy methods. It's like those shonen manga where the protagonist should really stay down for the good of his own health, but still powers through on Fighting Spirit(tm) alone, with no lasting consequences to his body. But at least in that case, most readers are keenly aware that human bodies do not work that way: there is a lot more confusion about how mental health works, and popular stories like this one don't exactly help.

last edited at Nov 30, 2020 11:39AM

joined Jul 15, 2016

This feels like an odd, absurd form of therapy precisely because Shiori is halfway between an imaginary friend and the Grim Reaper- Hinako's so convinced of her fantastical nature that she can finally express her true self with no fear of being pitied.

Except that forcefully confronting a person with a potential trigger for their trauma while overriding their explicit denial of consent is the worst possible "therapy". So far, I am inclined to think that Shiori is a real monster (i.e. not just Hinako's imagination), so her not comprehending the extent of Hinako's trauma is understandable in-story, but I would strongly discourage anyone to pull the same swim-or-die kind of "therapy" on a traumatized person IRL. The depiction a panic attack/PTSD episode in this chapter is scarily real.

joined Jul 15, 2016

For a successful endeavor, reality must take precedence over one's own ego, for Nature cannot be fooled.

How yuri is this?

Yuri level: Subtext-if-you-squint-hard-enough.

last edited at Nov 26, 2020 10:55AM

Koveras
joined Jul 15, 2016

I kinda feel like FE3H might've made the individual routes better if Byleth didn't exist and all the house leaders were protagonists in their own right- you pick one of them and just play as a student first and a general later. Most of the social elements would still factor in- heck, you could have relationships that don't depend on your power to imagine 50% of the romance for your self-insert. You wouldn't be able to teach, I suppose, but I'm pretty sure a parallel mechanic could've been developed. Most importantly, it'd really make each route a lot more personal and allow you to spend time in a leader's head, seeing them grapple with dark secrets and dilemmas. An 'avatar' character more often than not ends up being a McGuffin that people talk to, and some clever writing could easily reshuffle the necessary plot elements.

I have actually researched the FE series' history, and the whole "customizable avatar teams up with pre-scripted Lord" is a very recent feature, having only been introduced in the 2010 remake of FE3 and fully codified in the 2012 Awakening. Given how the latter game had single-handedly saved the series from being canned, it's pretty clear to me that the devs won't deviate from it in the foreseeable future. On a more theoretical note, I think that both approaches have their benefits and downsides in terms of writing.

last edited at Nov 24, 2020 8:35AM

Koveras
joined Jul 15, 2016

Happiness isn't found. It's built.

Darn, this manga just got deep. So many people expect to just stumble into a relationship that will immediately be happy -- but the reality is that the overwhelming majority of us have to start small and cultivate the relationship until it blooms. And that does mean taking time off to be with the other when they're hurting.

Koveras
joined Jul 15, 2016

It's a bit harder to pin down why the shallow-world tendency persists in other forms of media, but I guess the simplest explanation is that it's fun to visualize a big, giant world with ages of history, but extremely hard to flesh it out- who's going to take the trouble to come up with unique languages and politics and a functional, fictional economy? At some point, either author or audience interests burn out, so rather than creating unfinished masterpieces, it's safer and easier to give stories a strong emotional core (in this case, via a cast of archetypical characters) and pursue a three-act structure.

I've thought about your answer for some time and concluded that the main issue seems to be that good narratives simply sell better than good world-building. Furthermore, I am under the impression that in the Anglophone space, there is a sizeable market for quality world-building -- i.e. genre geeks who will buy your books/games for their setting and lore, rather than for the stories they tell or characters they portray. It probably isn't the biggest market, but it's large enough for world-building to recoup the investment. Can it be that the Japanese space lacks such a critical mass of readers? It would be strange to me, since Japan has a massive geek/otaku culture... but then again, Japanese otakus stereotypically seem to be focused on technology and/or waifus, rather than sociology and economics, so maybe not that surprising?

I vibe with a lot of the stuff you're talking about, generally but I disagree with this account of the Mandate of Heaven. Certainly, the ability to easily explain dynastic change is one of its practical advantages, but it has always had a moral/spiritual dimension even back to its origin in the shamanic traditions of early China. It's also a concept that has thousands of years of history and practical use, and has had shifting emphases and roles as Chinese thought developed.

I agree that this is how MoH functions in theory, but I have also read the argument that in practice, the Mandate of Heaven was a tool used by the Confucian scholarly elite to legitimize their own continued privileged position by selectively highlighting the current monarchical elite's "moral" accomplishments and downplaying the previous regimes -- thus securing the lenience of the former despite changing regimes. Since the same scholars were the ones compiling the official histories (and hence, ultimately telling everyone who held the Mandate and, more importantly, on which grounds), but, unlike the Catholic church, had been fully integrated into the state since the Han dynasty, one could be forgiven for casting some doubts on the reality of this particular cultural narrative.

last edited at Nov 23, 2020 5:39AM

Koveras
joined Jul 15, 2016

^ I skipped the spoilers in the above post because I haven't actually finished my VW playthrough yet, and didn't learn all that much about the true history of Fodlan from CF... However, I can reply to the following:

That's something I've noticed across various JRPG franchises- they create fascinatingly detailed worlds with incredible scope for exploration of alternative societies and cultures, and then focus on hyper-specific events while cramming all the lore into the background. The next installment jumps to a new world, and the cycle repeats. Though, to be fair, even when they do get spin-offs, they aren't exactly paragons of narrative brilliance (cough Dirge of Cerebrus cough).

I've noticed that a wide disregard of system-focused world-building in favor of laser focus on individuals' emotional journeys seems to be one of the major trends in Japanese popular fiction. Even if a setting does make sociological, geopolitical, and culture-historical sense (most don't), it is most commonly relegated to the background to whatever archetypal character arc the writers picked instead of deriving characters from the world they inhabit. This is especially noticeable in series that info-dump the entirety of their world-building in the first chapter (another pet peeve of mine) to get it out of the way so they can get back to the formula.

EDIT: Oh, and btw, I just discovered that the Japanese Wikipedia has a massive article on the history of relations between the church and the state(s) in Europe. My guess is that at least some Japanese speakers are as irked by the constant misrepresentation of the subject in their native media as we are. :D

last edited at Nov 22, 2020 6:10AM

Koveras
joined Jul 15, 2016

So, just out of curiosity: Just how old is "Church is Evil" trope in Japanese media, and where exactly did it originate?

i dont know about Japanese Media But in the West we can look squarely on the Papal States

Would you please elaborate? I am not very familiar with the history of the Papal States, beyond the Investiture Controversy and the whole mess with Borgias and Medicis around 1500 CE.

Point is, Japanese history is incredibly complex and considerably more brambly than the initial cohesiveness of the one Emperor, multiple clans system would suggest, being a lot more similar to medieval Europe than it initially seems.

That is, indeed, true, but I feel there is also a major difference between the ways that "divine legitimization" worked in Japanese and European histories: As you described, Japanese divine right came from the (supposed) direct biological descent from the sun goddess (or at least by marriage to her descendants), whereas the European divine right was a more abstract thing, since Jesus (in the mainstream Christian canon) had no children, and came not from divine bloodline, but from divine approval -- as conveyed by the clergy, which, in term, was subject of a form of descent from the apostles. Of course, in practice, this often functioned akin to the Mandate of Heaven below, with the church retroactively backing the winners, but not always, particularly when Christian kings broke core tenets of the Catholic dogma (Henry VIII of England comes to mind, but there is a long list of excommunicated monarchs).

Personally, I feel that the central political ideology prevalent throughout FE3H's campaigns and wars as a whole is the Chinese Mandate of Heaven- it doesn't matter where the hell you come from or what you believe in- the only proof of a good ruler is good ruling, i.e. holding onto power and dissuading rebellion. [snip] It's terrifying in a very realistic way, and also fulfils the videogame parameters of making you feel validated for your decisions and effort while also making you wonder if all the idealism and talk of utopian futures is just an excuse to dress up all the war crimes. That, after all, is the privilege and burden of a war-tested emperor.

While this does appear to be the core message of the game's endings, I do not think the game as a whole is predicated on it. IMO it is more of an exploration of the conflict between moralist rule ("right makes might") and Realpolitik ("might makes right"), which happens to fall on the latter's side in the end.

Koveras
joined Jul 15, 2016

^ As much as I appreciate your thoughts, you should probably cover up most of the above in spoiler tags... As it stands, I cannot even safely quote you to reply. :D

FE3H provides an entire academic study's worth of content when you analyse the way it deals with religion, but one of the things that struck me the most of how the Church of Seiros is perfect example of how Japanese stories appropriate Catholic imagery while chucking the mythos into the bin (Crystal Dragon Jesus indeed).

While that is true, I feel that the game presents a much more historical picture of the church than many other Japanese media we've discussed above, including this manga: specifically, in how the Church's primary role is depicted as justifying power structures, rather than being the dominant power structure itself. In GxS, we see a pure example of the World Church, where the church is simultaneously a religion and a state, while the church in FE3H, while having sovereignty over Garrech Mach and its own standing army, is primarily an arbitrating entity that is placed above the worldly states of Fodlan. This is most evident in the creation of the "Holy" Kingdom of Faerghus, where Loog may have rebelled against and defeated the Empire, but his rebellion only became a "kingdom" after the Church said so. Justification of royal rule via the divine right by self-presented agents of divine will was an essential part of European feudal system, and it is something very few Japanese media obsessed with the Catholic aesthetics ever get right. (Probably because Japan has been lucky enough to have never had to deal with dynastic change.)

last edited at Nov 22, 2020 2:29AM

Koveras
joined Jul 15, 2016

^ Reading the above made me think of Edelgard from FE3H, even though Edelgard is pretty much the opposite of Dorothy in her relationship to organized religion. Maybe it's because she is also the kind of person who makes others bend around her instead of adapting to them? In both cases, it's due to a combination of overwhelming charisma, belief in one's own right, and force of will.

last edited at Nov 22, 2020 1:14AM

Koveras
joined Jul 15, 2016

Thank you, too, for you have just inspired me to do a Marxist reading of about half of the '90s JRPGs. :D

Koveras
joined Jul 15, 2016

TV Tropes notes that the Corrupt Church trope is particularly prevalent in JRPGs, and since I'm not that knowledgeable with Japanese print media (outside of yuri genre), I went through the video game examples and discovered that there are almost no major examples of this trope listed prior to 1994 (when Breath of Fire II, EarthBound, and Lunar: Eternal Blue were released). The only earlier example I've spotted was Shin Megami Tensei in 1992, which may be the ur one in gaming... though I readily admit that there may be a strong selection bias in play here (again, I am less-than-informed about early console gaming, but I've always had the impression that the SNES era was the first time that Japanese home consoles had the storage capacity for majorly story-driven games).

While researching the topic, I've also come across a paper that links negative portrayal of centralized religions in Japanese media to the Aum Shinrikyo attacks of 1995. While the timeline clearly indicates that this was not the origin of the trope, I suspect that Aum's negative image did bleed into every form of organized religion in Japanese popular consciousness.

last edited at Nov 21, 2020 9:23AM

Koveras
joined Jul 15, 2016

So, just out of curiosity: Just how old is "Church is Evil" trope in Japanese media, and where exactly did it originate?

It's as old as time itself. And it's not just Japanese media. It's one of the best tropes in all of fiction, because it's so true to life.

While it is tempting to claim that the perception of organized religion as a social ill is "as old as time", I am more inclined to think that it originated during the Enlightenment, specifically in the radical Protestant environment of the notoriously anti-papist England and certain German states.

So, just out of curiosity: Just how old is "Church is Evil" trope in Japanese media, and where exactly did it originate?

[snip]

TL;DR- Part of it is just good old-fashioned religious scepticism that you commonly find in modern stories, where anyone who's super-devoted to any kind of faith is assumed to be kooky; part of it is Japan's weird love for European aesthetics versus their disdain for European society; and part of it is just because it lets you simultaneously set up and invert a status quo without actually needing to do much worldbuilding, since you've already established the three-act structure of your story's evolution- Act One, the church rules, Act Two, the church is revealed to be bad, Act Three, we take down the church and build something new.

First of all, thanks for the comprehensive summation. Secondly, while everything you say is sound, it still does not explain the very initial premise: "Act One, the church rules". AFAIK there was no period in European history where the Catholic church has been the sole hegemonic power like it is often depicted in Japanese media. The Papal States may have been this in theory, but the Pope's power has primarily been diplomatic and spiritual and was, most of the time, contended by the Holy Roman Emperors, French kings, and/or Constantinople. More pertinently, there has never been a theocratic regime in Japan or China (caesaropapist, maybe, but not theocratic), and the Papal States ceased to exist the same year that Cmdr. Perry arrived in Japan. So how and when did the Japanese media creators make the leap to "the Catholic Church is the World State" trope?

To be fair, Christianity was very aggressive up until the 19th century in converting every foreign country. Religion was a tool for political and economic control. Building catholic schools was never innocent. The Japanese rulers of the time understood it clearly and they used force to quell these foreign influences. Can't blame them really. Buddhism and Shintoism already were tools they mastered. They didn't need another tool in their land, wielded by foreign countries.

That's all true, but there is still a leap from "subversive foreign ideology" to "a fanatical theocracy that somehow rules the world". I am interested in that transition and when it occurred.

last edited at Nov 21, 2020 6:12AM

joined Jul 15, 2016

the spoons thing is just a useful metaphor to explain some of the ways metal illness affects one's day-to-day life. i use it when talking to people who have a hard time understanding what depression/anxiety means for me personally.

neeko being exhausted for days after doing something so intense is something that i experience too.

While the term has primarily been used in the mental illness context, I think it applies more broadly, too. Because consciousness is a biological process, it makes sense that the same rules of exhaustion apply to the brain as to muscles: both can get exhausted after using them for long enough. It's just that for people with mental illness, this limit is much more apparent, just like a person with an arm injury will not be able to carry heavy stuff very far. Then again, a bodily injury is often obvious to an outside observer, while mental illness is not, and furthermore, things like maintaining focus for prolonged periods of time is taken for granted by those who've never suffered from mental illness.

TL;DR: Everyone has a limited number of spoons to give, but only people living with mental illness have to ration them in day-to-day life.

Koveras
joined Jul 15, 2016

Darned ninjas cutting onions. T__T

Koveras
joined Jul 15, 2016

So, just out of curiosity: Just how old is "Church is Evil" trope in Japanese media, and where exactly did it originate?

joined Jul 15, 2016

neeko used up all her spoons...

Ah, so that is what it's called. I read about the general idea of rationing energy in Kahneman's book, where he talks about the limited pool of attention/focus we all have, but he doesn't attach a name to it. I am guessing Miserandino's work wasn't academic enough for him to cite...

"energy rationing" is already a name

Yea, but it's more of an economics term.

last edited at Nov 19, 2020 7:32AM

joined Jul 15, 2016

neeko used up all her spoons...

Ah, so that is what it's called. I read about the general idea of rationing energy in Kahneman's book, where he talks about the limited pool of attention/focus we all have, but he doesn't attach a name to it. I am guessing Miserandino's work wasn't academic enough for him to cite...

last edited at Nov 19, 2020 5:19AM

joined Jul 15, 2016

And damn that lots of hugging. I duuno why but that looked really erotic.

Because eroticism is all about intimate contact, particularly in unusual configurations. E.g. on page 20, Kozuka presses the Landlady's shoulder into her chest -- because it's not something you ever do with strangers, the unusualness of the position enhances the feeling of intimacy (speaking from personal experience). Same goes for the ear-rubbing later on, while on page 24, they actually lock eyes at an extremely close distance -- which is one of the most intimate kinds of contact you can make with another person, even though they're not physically touching.

All-in-all, this chapter is an amazingly elaborate depiction of intense non-sexual intimacy.

last edited at Nov 8, 2020 8:39AM

joined Jul 15, 2016

Biiiiiiig exposition dump. Not that I mind, since it shows that the author's put some decent thought into the mechanics of the magic in the series, all of which shall presumably be put into practice as the adventure continues. So many series that revolve around supposed geniuses fail to explain why a particular character is smart, and just make everyone else dumb in comparison. The fact that this series establishes its lead as a scholar in a particular field and actually lays out the fundamentals of her study instead of having her conveniently know the solution to future problems is commendable. It also lends the isekai element some legitimate weight and consequence rather than just shoving it in as a token trope. Good show, I say. Looking forward to seeing where this goes.

Another thing I like here is that the exposition is delayed until after it becomes relevant for the first time. In most fantasy mangas, such "crucial" setting details are rather ham-fistedly front-loaded, while the one dedicates three whole chapters to setting up the characters first, before expositing their world.