wittering at Christian (poor guy)

christian nutt ferricide at hotmail.com
Sat Feb 8 03:48:51 EST 2003


stephenson spoilers here, evangelion spoilers later, akira spoilers later 
even. giant, giant post -- run away screaming!

>It's one way to try to pull all the wild diversity together in a resolution
>at least of the major plot strands.

this is an extremely valid point. i don't think that i am arguing that it's 
a bad technique, it is one that i was hoping to see some deviation from but 
was not expecting to. i've been thinking about cryptonomicon more and i 
decided that part of my problem with it (and this is a pretty large one -- 
is that i had little or no interest in the contemporary characters or what 
they were doing. whenever i think about the novel, i think about the WWII 
stuff and how much i liked it and its characters. the present day stuff 
could all get chopped and it'd be functionally the same book for me.

>I think the huge audience for the denoument with the massive hit of _Snow
>Crash_ robbed of its payload is more of an "action climax" than Hiro going
>after Juanita. Raven and Juanita have rationales for being on the Raft,
>while YT and Hiro get drafted into that rendezvous, but it makes sense.
>Juanita isn't there as a chick to be rescued, but as someone who has 
>embarked
>on a quest that actually (in succeeding) makes her fitter to escape than 
>the
>Protagonist with his tecchy kit.

yes. i didn't mean to deride juanita. she is completely amazing. i wasn't 
being judgmental about her, i was just summarizing that section of the novel 
poorly. =)

i love that novel and i don't feel as though that part is a flaw, but it did 
(especially since i read it first) establish the payoff pattern for neal 
stephenson novels, which i didn't see breaking as i read TDA and then 
zodiac. hence my expectations for cryptonomicon. (zodiac was out of print 
when i read snow crash; it went back in after i had finished reading the 
library's copy. i felt like i was slightly ahead of the curve there, 
somehow.)

>I can't see how the climax of _The Diamond Age_ could be anything other 
>than
>the resolution of Nell's destiny, given that the whole book revolves around
>the assimilation of radicals into the propagation of the achievements of
>civilisation.

you're losing me here. ^_^;; i am not trained for this!

>but I can't see how this action sequence is "bad". There's more convergence

it's not that it's bad, it's that it's ... boring? it's more a stylistic 
thing. after all that brain power, it comes together wonderfully in a burst 
of synchronicity, but somehow feels a little empty to me. i've read this 
book repeatedly so it's not as if i am disappointed in it. for some reason i 
can never articulatei like it less than snow crash but feel like i should 
like it more.

>"shito" doesn't really mean "angel" per se. It's a term used for an
>intercessor, and "disciple" or "prophet" or whatever would be just as
>legit. They have *something* as they come against the people of Earth
>(who appear to be literal Lilim for some reason).

well, it wouldn't be as legit, since the word "angel" was specified by 
director hideaki anno and studio GAINAX. so nothing else will do.

we have to take what we've been given to use toward our intepretation.

yes, humanity is lilim. you have to realize, though, that the elements of 
judeo-christian cosmology which inform evangelion are used for window 
dressing as much as anything else. that is to say that they give form to the 
plot but not narrative force or true symbolic meaning. that is not to say 
that you can't use it to interpet the events and characters, but you can't 
use it like a playbook that will tell you the secrets to evangelion.

evangelion is about the characters, not the eva units and the apocalypse. 
this is the only valid basis for interpreting the show IMO.

>I think that the conveying of power from the higher sephiroth does make
>for something in the realm of psychic weirdness.

i honestly don't know how to qualify or explain the way in which the angels 
function. i mean, they are powered by their S^2 kikan (organ) and their core 
must be destroyed for them to die. beyond that little or nothing is known 
about their operations. it is not terribly important for the aformentioned 
reason.

>oh, dear, are we going to return to Xenogears
>here? (for the innocent bystanders, Xenogears' homo sapiens was a temporary
>biomass diversion/incarnation of God) _Evangelion_ is definitely more 
>mecha+
>mad mythology, and Eva pilots don't meet their doom through cerebral 
>weirdness.

well, i can't return to xenogears because (as i stated in my xenosaga 
preview) i found it unbearably tedious and quit it. i don't really have a 
basis for discussing it.

the final resolution of evangelion centers around the events of the third 
impact in which humankind loses its material form and joins together as one 
(as god.)

the eva pilots don't meet their doom at all, really. or not in a special way 
different than anyone else. (one can argue even that ayanami is not capable 
of meeting doom, truly being lilith.)

>But, yes, it needed qualification for me to jam it into the cliche of 
>"robots
>and psychics". Surprise, surprise, given that we both agree that my phrase 
>was
>an insulting oversimplification!

i didn't mean to split hairs. =) i understand. oversensitivity strikes 
again.

>I shall have to look at the different translations of the White Sphere bit.

that part is ... vague. they can't *add* dialogue, after all.

>The pacing and the plotting are excellent, and the film is a style 
>milestone,
>but I'm still not sure that it reaches a conclusion.

it reaches a conclusion in that akira is motivated by the pleas of the 
children to reawaken and take tetsuo away. where "away" is is not clear. 
where akira was (his essense of being, not his physical body) is also not 
clear. in the manga akira has never been dissected; he's cryogenically 
frozen under the olympic stadium hole. it's more logical but less visually 
striking. (the pathetic futility and irony of tetsuo confronting the vials 
is a wonderful bit of filmmaking, i believe.)

>Why is Tetsuo's pattern
>so hauntingly familiar? Are the researchers really hoping for another 
>Akira,
>and why are there preserved body parts from the original under a stadium?

tetsuo's pattern is not familiar to the scientists -- that's the draw. it's 
a new pattern that seems, for some reason that is not obvious to us, to 
contain a clue to the mystery of akira's growth in power as far as the 
doctor is concerned. i think he was probably looking for excuses to keep 
experimenting.

>The
>physical legacy and the mental recurrence of Akira-talent are made to 
>converge
>just as artificially as in a Neal Stephenson ending ;-)

yeah, but i'm willing to forgive an action sequence more when it's amazingly 
beautiful and terrifying, and hand-drawn at 24 frames a second.  =)

>What part did Akira
>play in the disaster which precedes the film, and who redeemed him so that 
>he
>could return to sort out his mental heir?

i do not believe it is ever clear what motivated akira's initial release of 
power, which decimated old tokyo in 1988. according to the children "he 
couldn't handle it", to paraphrase. that's the only clue we have.

akira didn't have to be redeemed in that although he returns and resolves 
the problem, his character's growth is not really important. we can be 
satisfied that he has decided to avert the tetsuo situation at the request 
of the children.

in the manga, akira incites another release of psychic energy. of the 
differences between the manga and the film, i think perhaps the portrayal of 
the title character is one of the most striking.

>The blue kids emphasise that it's
>Tetsuo's one-up attitude to being powerful which is going to doom him (so 
>were
>they tormenting him, or was he imagining it?),

i believe they torment him because they want him to go away -- before they 
realise that it is Far Too Late to put tetsuo off like that, since he has 
come so far in such a short time.

>but is it really that humanity
>can't handle Akira-powers as yet, which is why both people with the 
>rainbowy
>mental pattern have gone off the deep end - again, how can Akira help in 
>this
>case?

kay/kiyoko theorize about this in the jail cell scene. humanity is not 
ready.

in the mechanism of the narrative, akira is little more than a cosmic 
janitor. he can't help; he can just clean up.

>I assume that Tetsuo would have ended up blue-skinned from the medication,
>and possibly even have been tattooed with a project number if he'd stayed
>put in the facility (though why he isn't immediately assigned a number is
>beyond me).

in the manga he is assigned the designation "number 41." it's unclear what 
happened those between 28 (akira) and 41. the numbering isn't precisely in 
order, because takashi was awakened after akira, and takashi is 26.

>Overrated, yes, ("Lain" is better) but it's more my sort of thing.
>I've seen Patlabor, and the mecha emphasis is less appealing to me.
>It's more pedestrian than I like.

track down boogiepop phantom. it's stylistically very like lain, but it's 
more character than event driven (lain herself, in some sense, is not a 
character.)

>_Blood: the Last Vampire_ is glorious, but at the end I felt like I'd just
>finished off an amazingly polished pilot, and could I have the series now,
>please?

i avoid these overblown action movies. i tend to avoid anime movies 
generally; i find series to have richer narratives. blood was followed up by 
one or two PS2 games in japan -- anime interaction. they're not available 
elsewhere.

>Ah. When you cited Gaiman, I thought you were familiar with the divisions
>in literary criticism which informed his remark about artistic endeavour.
>"genre" is assigned by content, which is how it often becomes a pejorative
>ghetto. Having elements which belong to a genre doesn't make a work bad, 
>but
>having elements so alien to the societal status quo that anything with them
>automatically gets lumped in with "that stuff" without any critical 
>attention
>being paid to artistic merit is responsible for some unreasonably snooty
>dismissals.

well, that's a seperate issue than my point about animatrix -- or maybe it's 
a similar point from a different angle? the wachowskis have a shallow and 
bordered appreciation of anime (or of visual film art, let's say) and that 
happens to align with the shallow, bordered popular view of anime, leading 
to a synergistic effect. and i'm decrying that, because i'm somewhat 
disappointed. we'll see. honestly, i don't think it's going to do either 
much damage *or* much good.

>Anime is *definitely* not a genre (content), and I was arguing that it's 
>not
>simply a look or a set of techniques either. It tends to have plenty of
>culturally alien (to a gaijin) content and to have a range of techniques
>unassimilated by Western cartooning, but there's a "flavour" as well.

that's for sure. the flavor (conventions? is that seperate or similar?) can 
be found in many different exmaples of anime. however i do feel that trying 
to create broad general statements about anime would be difficult or not 
impossible.

there's definitely a language and audience preconception most anime 
uses/takes even when they are entirely disparate.



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