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What is appealing about the end of the world? (in anime and culture)
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Posted 6/3/13
I guess I should clarify this a bit:

"Why is it so appealing when an anime explores the end of the world or the near extinction of Humanity?"

or in general:

"What is so appealing about end of humanity/world scenarios in human society?"

The idea is not unique to anime but more and more I've seen it explored.


Best recent examples:
"Gargantia"
"Attack On Titan"
"Humanity has Declined"

Past examples: (so many but I'll try and limit it)
"Haruhi" (yes, if she didn't keep it up... *internal giggle* )
"Dragon Ball Z"
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RahXephon

I have a question for all of this ... why do we buy into it so readily?

The whole world in the hand of so few instead of the hands of many .. why do we buy into that logic?

I'd give RL examples in film from the East and West to show it's more of a worldwide phenomenon but this post would turn into TL;DR.

So thoughts? Opinions?
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Posted 6/3/13
I'm not sure why the audiences buy into it, but I'm fairly sure the impending doom of the world and post-apocalyptic settings in anime are largely inspired and influenced by World War II and how Japan dealt with the aftermath of it. Having Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombed, along with the fire-bombings of Tokyo, probably felt something like the end of the world for a whole lot of Japanese people. Anyway, with that kind of history, it's bound to appear in anime.

For Western culture, it would probably have to do with religion, with Ragnarok from Anglo-Saxon culture and Armageddon and the Judgment from Christianity. The ideas have been floating around in humans' heads for ages.

I think the appeal of using it in a story is to explore the full extent of the human will to live, and the highs and lows of what that means. It's pretty easy (well, not impossible) to make an interesting story having to do with that, plus you have so much potential for what you want your setting to look like.

Just some thoughts, might come back later but I'm running low on time.
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Posted 6/3/13 , edited 6/3/13
Because, people always think about the "what ifs" and "If humanity was mostly wiped out, would I be important?".

Also, all this time, we've been unrivaled, except by ourselves, human vs human. There has never been anything out there to attack humanity. It's a concept that is exciting to people.
Zombies, aliens, monsters, titans/giants.
All are examples of "Apocalyptic worlds" that have been used, and reused, and every time, it excites people.
Same reason why vampires (Not the sparkly type) were so popular, because it puts humans down a notch on the food scale.
The idea of having to overcome something bigger is a fun idea.
How would we do it? Would we survive? Could humanity last? Etc etc.

Apocalyptic worlds by nuclear fallout are also used a lot, and I'll admit I'm one of the bigger supporters of the series, although it's not anything I'd ever want to happen.


Edit : Also, if you think about it, I think it makes us a bit more thankful for what we have. After playing fallout, and dying because I had no clean water, I'm a bit happier that I have a huge jug of the stuff. :p
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Posted 6/3/13 , edited 6/3/13
Well firstly this doesn't just apply to anime, nor does it even just apply to Japanese media.

Secondly, this questions is pretty easy : because it's entertaining. Something is a hell of a lot more intense when the whole damn world is on the line, the pressure doesn't get much higher than that (unless Guuren Lagaan, lol).

I'm not sure how you couldn't come to this conclusion yourself
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Posted 6/3/13 , edited 6/3/13

zipzo wrote:

Secondly, this questions is pretty easy : because it's entertaining.

It also lets the audience feel safe. The more like our daily lives it is, the more disturbing a story can be.

It's almost like the uncanny valley in robotics, except applied to reality.
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25 / M / This Dying World
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Posted 6/3/13
I like it for the interpreting of it.
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Posted 6/3/13
It amplifies the intensity of the plot by adding a consequence in the case the heros of the show fail. I don't really find the theme to be more entertaining than just about any other but just think about it, would you rather watch a show where nothing was on the line, or the fate of us all?
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Posted 6/3/13 , edited 6/3/13
Texhnolyze is probably one of the better examples...

You know, end of the world through insanity and people's own faults (and lack of responsibilities). Nobody smiles in that show, except



http://www.cracked.com/blog/why-were-obsessed-with-apocalypse/ ~ I found this, if it helps.

v You should edit those two posts and put it all into one, so it looks nicer.
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Posted 6/3/13

TrueGoober wrote:

I'm not sure why the audiences buy into it, but I'm fairly sure the impending doom of the world and post-apocalyptic settings in anime are largely inspired and influenced by World War II and how Japan dealt with the aftermath of it. Having Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombed, along with the fire-bombings of Tokyo, probably felt something like the end of the world for a whole lot of Japanese people. Anyway, with that kind of history, it's bound to appear in anime.

For Western culture, it would probably have to do with religion, with Ragnarok from Anglo-Saxon culture and Armageddon and the Judgment from Christianity. The ideas have been floating around in humans' heads for ages.



That's probably the most sound argument I have seen so far in the thread. Covering both the East and the West in it's own way.

Follow up question: When do you think WORLD ENDING anime will be phased out or will it ever be?

Also, do you buy into the fact that a WORLD ENDING (I'm using this from now on to cover both an imminent threat and a society on the brink) anime is more entertaining than one with simple, real world consequences?



I think the appeal of using it in a story is to explore the full extent of the human will to live, and the highs and lows of what that means. It's pretty easy (well, not impossible) to make an interesting story having to do with that, plus you have so much potential for what you want your setting to look like.

Just some thoughts, might come back later but I'm running low on time.


Not to dismiss the great anime made based on that premise but in it's own way, don't you think that's a bit of a cop-out?

Why couldn't an anime make something about just one society being threatened? Yes, of course there are plenty of anime where the WORLD ENDING anime doesn't occur but it seems like more and more those types of anime tends to reach a larger audience than the other genres.

I don't want to single anime out and think this is a totally Eastern phenomenon. Just look at the West and it's biggest block-buster hit: "The Avengers" .... of course I'm not saying the fact that it fit into the WORLD ENDING genre was the sole factor in it's popularity but I do think people wouldn't have bought the story if it didn't.

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Posted 6/3/13

zipzo wrote:

Well firstly this doesn't just apply to anime, nor does it even just apply to Japanese media.

Secondly, this questions is pretty easy : because it's entertaining. Something is a hell of a lot more intense when the whole damn world is on the line, the pressure doesn't get much higher than that (unless Guuren Lagaan, lol).

I'm not sure how you couldn't come to this conclusion yourself


Not to be complete dick but if you read the OP you would have seen I didn't talk just about anime and Japanese media. (which means you read the subject and just replied critically)

Also, why would it be more intense than lets say fighting so that your closest friend doesn't get snuffed out? TBH, isn't amplifying the drama to such an extreme degree not relatable?

The reason I didn't buy into that conclusion is because I don't believe that to be an axiomatic truth but I might just have different anime tastes than you.
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Posted 6/3/13

funnyginsan wrote:


zipzo wrote:

Well firstly this doesn't just apply to anime, nor does it even just apply to Japanese media.

Secondly, this questions is pretty easy : because it's entertaining. Something is a hell of a lot more intense when the whole damn world is on the line, the pressure doesn't get much higher than that (unless Guuren Lagaan, lol).

I'm not sure how you couldn't come to this conclusion yourself


Not to be complete dick but if you read the OP you would have seen I didn't talk just about anime and Japanese media. (which means you read the subject and just replied critically)

Also, why would it be more intense than lets say fighting so that your closest friend doesn't get snuffed out? TBH, isn't amplifying the drama to such an extreme degree not relatable?

The reason I didn't buy into that conclusion is because I don't believe that to be an axiomatic truth but I might just have different anime tastes than you.


I believe he adjusted his answer to not only respond to you but also to others that have posted. The comment about Japanese culture was previously mentioned by another poster. In addition you are asking for peoples opinions, and as this is a theme that as you have pointed out, is rather popular, I would say that it may very well be because the audience views it as more intense. As for my own opinion, I do find an end of the world scenario more intense than fighting for your friend.
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Posted 6/3/13
Well, the End Of The World (tm)* makes for interesting story telling.

But "why do we buy into it so readily?" We are just fascinated with the possibilities, I guess. What would you do if the world was ending around you? I'm sure you've asked that question yourself. So, watching an anime that explores the idea--one hopes it is original--has a certain appeal. :)





*brought to you by Micro$oft.
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Posted 6/3/13

Gettnlag wrote:


funnyginsan wrote:



Not to be complete dick but if you read the OP you would have seen I didn't talk just about anime and Japanese media. (which means you read the subject and just replied critically)

Also, why would it be more intense than lets say fighting so that your closest friend doesn't get snuffed out? TBH, isn't amplifying the drama to such an extreme degree not relatable?

The reason I didn't buy into that conclusion is because I don't believe that to be an axiomatic truth but I might just have different anime tastes than you.


I believe he adjusted his answer to not only respond to you but also to others that have posted. The comment about Japanese culture was previously mentioned by another poster. In addition you are asking for peoples opinions, and as this is a theme that as you have pointed out, is rather popular, I would say that it may very well be because the audience views it as more intense. As for my own opinion, I do find an end of the world scenario more intense than fighting for your friend.


I'd believe that if it weren't for the last sentence.



I'm not sure how you couldn't come to this conclusion yourself


Before I decided to make the topic I tried to think long and hard about it for quite a while so yeah .... I guess I took it too personally (but I tried to give constructive criticism w/o going too far over-board)

and yeah, I can understand and believe that a lot of people would find that WORLD ENDING anime fight more intense but my general question is still why? Why would you find some extra-ordinary people fighting for EVERYONES life in the whole world more appealing than an intense fight for your society/friend? (I included society because for argument sake you ramp it up I'd believe the destruction of a society more than the world)
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Posted 6/3/13

funnyginsan wrote:

and yeah, I can understand and believe that a lot of people would find that WORLD ENDING anime fight more intense but my general question is still why? Why would you find some extra-ordinary people fighting for EVERYONES life in the whole world more appealing than an intense fight for your society/friend? (I included society because for argument sake you ramp it up I'd believe the destruction of a society more than the world)

Have you watched Neon Genesis Evangelion? The whole series is practically cleaved to that question.
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Posted 6/3/13 , edited 6/3/13

Shrapnel893 wrote:

http://www.cracked.com/blog/why-were-obsessed-with-apocalypse/ ~ I found this, if it helps.

v You should edit those two posts and put it all into one, so it looks nicer.


I didn't want to put those 2 posts together so if one user wanted to respond to one part of one quote they could and same with second quote first part ect ect...
HOLY CRAP! YES! That article was EXACTLY what I was looking for.



Well, damn. If it's not plot or atmosphere or character or effects or any of those things, what does that leave us?

The appeal of the apocalypse has to be something more basic -- some psychological or cultural undercurrent that pulls on an inherent trait of humanity as a whole. There is one thing that I can think of. One single attribute common to all mankind that would be uniquely sated by the idea of Armageddon:

Our sheer, unbridled, fuck-you arrogance.


Both as a species and personally. As a species, we like the apocalypse in the same way that a mopey teenager might like the idea of their own funeral: We want to see our decaying remains and revel in the tragic glory that we couldn't appreciate until it was too late. We want to see crumbling skyscrapers and flooded metropolises and know that, once upon a time, we built those things.

Remember what I said at the beginning: Apocalypse stories fail when they don't take the destruction far enough. That's because it's examining the forest from the trees. If we want to look back at all we've done and marvel at it, we can't have somebody running around still trying to save it. We wouldn't give a shit about losing pyramids if the Egyptians had never stopped building them, but now that so few remain, they're treasured wonders to behold. We're fascinated by the potential ruins we will leave behind when we're gone: We want to read the headstones proclaiming the magnificence of our society to whoever comes along next.



Yep. That answer makes a lot of sense to me.

I got what I wanted out of this thread now via the collective conscious ... feel free to agree/disagree if you want.

EDIT:

I want to respond to Insomnist and Deadpanditto but then this would just become me just talking... I wanted it to be more of a discussion and what made sense to each person. I'd respond to quotes made by me or posts addressed to me but quotes of others I would let be free to draw whatever conclusions they wanted ... ohh well I'll give it a while and if nothing comes up - yep I'll just double-post again.
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