[DWJ] Re: Heyer and Ghibli (now without Mononoke spoilers)

Minnow minnow at belfry.org.uk
Tue May 15 07:41:33 EDT 2007

Kyra wrote:

>On Sun, 13 May 2007 minnow at belfry.org.uk wrote:

[I don't think we need  all the spoiler space any more, since we're no
longer dealing in specifics]

>> I think that if you assume this claim is being made in opposition to
>> other things, then it is perhaps hard to understand; if you take it as
>> being not about "this work in relation to other examples of that class
>> of art called film" and think of it as being simply about "this
>> individual item", you won't find what I wrote of it to be particularly
>> extraordinary.  What I wrote was "Nothing in it is cut-and-dried,
>Fair enough.  It's certainly inappropriate for me to take out my
>frustration with people who are _not_ you on you, and I apologize for it.

No apology needed: I wasn't really being upset or taking it personally,
just hauling out my fan from my reticule and smacking you with it gently on
general principles.  I wasn't even using the solid lead fan for the
purpose.  :-)

>> Is he a Villain?  It could be argued (has been argued!) that he is
>> honourable within the existing code, and he is obeying the undoubtedly
>> legitimate orders (no other sort exists) of his Emperor to whom his
>> first loyalty has to be no matter how much he might wish it were
>> otherwise on a personal level, and the people against whom he is acting
>> are ambiguously correct at best, at worst a danger to the common weal,
>> and certainly in opposition to his Emperor's wishes; therefore he can't
>> be seen as being exclusively villainous, even if *some* of his
>> motivation is that he is to be covered in gold if he obeys orders
>> successfully, and even if he is a mischievous cynic.
>> It is not possible for the Emperor to be the villain.  That would be
>> unthinkable in the society in which the film is set.  To suggest that
>> the Emperor's representative is a villain would be unthinkable too
>> unless he disobeyed the Emperor.
>These are also interesting points and can help me see why people with a
>moral code other than mine might find the movie's presentation of the
>character more ambiguous than I do.

I have a feeling it's not so much a moral code as an honour code; one of
the great problems the West has had in dealings with Japan has frequently
been related to a non-comprehension of the Japanese honour code, which is
Other in many respects.

(I'm still slightly boggling about a chap who wrote about Japan from a
standpoint of having lived there for a long time, but decided it was time
for him to come West again when he realised that he'd been on the phone to
his boss, and had bowed to the *telephone*  after putting it down as a mark
of respect.  What bothered him was that he had done this without thinking.)

Honour and morality and ethics don't always match even in an individual,
leave alone a culture.  There have been cultures in which killing one's own
child (or at least being prepared to do so) at the behest of one's superior
would be correct behaviour, and to refuse to do so would be unacceptable,
for instance.  (I can think of at least two.)

>I personally would never think of
>loyalty as an excuse for this kind of bad behavior, but I certainly am
>aware of the fact that there are people out there who would.  In fact, in
>some of my own favorite Japanese fandoms, there are characters who are
>well-beloved by some fans despite the fact that I find them utterly creepy
>because they do, in fact, act largely out of loyalty to others.  So this
>is definitely just a blind spot of mine, and one which I should be aware.

It's a necessary part of understanding, I suspect.  In the same way,
attempting to understand something written in oh, 1350, whilst not allowing
for religious belief in the author, would probably be making one's life
more difficult than it needs to be.

>It's probably always the case that the extent to which one finds any given
>narrative morally ambiguous actually does depend on one's actual sense of
>morality.  For example, I can think of at least one story that I find very
>morally ambiguous entirely because I'm less inclined to think that
>destroying the entire human race is an unmitigated evil than most people
>presumably are ;-).
>(Okay, I exaggerate for effect.)

Speaking as a fish, I can't entirely disagree with you.  :-)

>> I think the one he has said most wants to make is *Drowned Ammet*, but
>> I'm not sure how he would get flying-ships into that one!  Still, I
>> suppose if he could fit them into Howl he can fit them into *anything*.
>Well, even if it's not _Spellcoats_, it fits my parameters well enough
>that I would definitely be excited if he did do it.

It probably won't happen, but the pair of them enjoyed discussing it.

>Maybe water-ships are close enough to air-ships that he would be satiated?

I just want to see what he does with the ocean, because I suspect that it
would be sheer beauty in his hands.


More information about the Dwj mailing list