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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 , edited 6/3/13

funnyginsan wrote:

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 don't think world-ending anime will be completely phased out, and to be fair it doesn't really bother me in anime. Things like The Avengers seem a lot more tired and less creative than something like Evangelion.

World-ending anime (and fantasy/sci-fi anime in general) is much more believable once you suspend your disbelief initially. I think it's easier to explore themes in anime if the premise itself is a bit exaggerated. In anime with a realistic premise, drama has to be really well done for me to relate to it. It's one of those things where it either hits me really hard or completely misfires. But in a fantastic setting, a real-life problem like someone dying or (stretching for emphasis) a widespread disaster is much easier to accept within the context of the plot or setting. Perhaps the message may be the same as any realistic anime, and perhaps the impact may be dampened, but I'm also a whole lot less likely to reject what it's saying.


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.


I think it's more of a tool than a cop-out, but I agree that it's beginning to be overdone, especially in games and movies.

World ending anime usually are about one society: Japanese society. Usually, Japan = the world. For a story that truly is about just the downfall of one society, I don't know why more haven't been made. It does sound interesting, but I could only see it being a stupid horror movie if was from America. Both Shin Sekai Yori and Psycho-Pass we're about one society, more or less, and I think that added to the intrigue quite effectively.

I couldn't really tell you why that seems to be so popular now. Entertainment? Like the others have said. I'm personally getting sick of it, all these rebooted franchise trilogies, where everything will eventually lead to the downfall of society or the hero if they can't save everything by the last minute. They're all the same movie, lol. But I guess more casual viewers just eat it up.

EDIT: I read that article excerpt that shrapnel posted, and I partially agree. But I'm not that particular type of arrogant, and I'm not naturally too cynical about humanity, so I don't know if that's my particular stance. But, if it is true, then perhaps that explains why I never usually like post-apocalyptic games.
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Posted 6/3/13
To further the reasoning for sheer entertainment value (because TrueGoober already hit the nail on the head pretty damn hard about different worldviews), compare Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 to Attack on Titan.

One, a relatively unknown example that gives us a glimpse into the situation of a very localized ending of the world where the consequences of life and death are very much in the hands of a group of normal people. People who we can relate so easily to now with all the natural disasters taking place and receiving so much coverage today. The show takes a turn towards the supernatural but the effects of the catastrophe around the characters linger on in a much more authentic way.

The other, a very bombastic and adrenaline-filled take on the end of the world replete with characters screaming, grandiose music and slick animation. While still focusing on a somewhat small scale of humanity's fate, does so based in a purely fictional environment. Harder for me, personally, to really get a grasp of the danger of the plot, but will ultimately pull in the masses.

Which in all forms of media the thing with the big budget production values and over-the-top theatrics tends to garner more audience members and receive more hype. Another example is the comparing something like the Road versus a big superhero blockbuster.

And no, as long as we're here and have the means to keep making world ending movies then we'll keep on doing so.
Posted 6/3/13
I'm definitely not buying it. And it's not appealing to me anymore. When I see Gargantia and co. I was like, not another uninhabitable Earth themed anime.


My opinion on why people find it appealing is because it's an exciting theme for them. I mean there are people out there who think that World War 3 would be exciting. I guess people are drawn to something disastrous, a change of routine, something to affect their everyday lives and 9-5 day job.
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Posted 6/3/13
I feel that it's because a lot of people's realities is, well, shitty. 9 to 5's, constantly worrying about making ends meet, wars, screwed up politics, environmental problems, depression, materialism [...] and so I think that the fascination for apocalyptic, society shattering scenarios is a subconscious desire for a new start, an end to the monotonous, monetary enslaving and screwed up system that we all live with.
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Posted 6/3/13
It isn't just in anime. Distopian future stories are all the rage lately in movies, books, and all sorts of different forms of media. (Hunger Games, Divergent, etc...) Why? Perhaps it is a trend, maybe an inherent concern about the state of the human race and the instability of the world economy? Maybe because their fun? I myself am a fan of them and like to sample stories of that nature whenever I can.

As for anime, you missed a couple recent ones in your list:
So Ra No Wo To (Sound of the Sky)
RDG: Red Data Girl
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27 / M / USA
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Posted 6/3/13 , edited 6/4/13

TrueGoober wrote:

I think it's easier to explore themes in anime if the premise itself is a bit exaggerated.

I agree with this as well. It's a bit like turning up the magnification on a microscope to focus more on whatever narrative element you wish to study. It's also not a new thing; I don't think I'm wrong in saying many old myths from all over the world predict the eventual death of the physical world, reflecting the cycle of life and death in everything.

This is also backed up by science; the universe will go on forever, but whatever happens it'll eventually die in the sense that it will at some point no longer be able to support any form of life. And at least since Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, a subgenre of anime has been very vocal about humanity's ability to destroy the Earth.

(It probably goes back to well before that, it's just a notable example I'm able to cite). And this is all beside the simple entertainment value of such a high-stakes environment which can be found in plenty of stories, science fiction especially. Although most fantasy is usually about a Big Bad trying to take over the world rather than obliterating it.

Back to my mention of Neon Genesis Evangelion earlier, though:


Insomnist wrote:


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.

I said this because saving the world rarely happens in a vacuum: it's usually the backdrop for an extreme series of interpersonal dramas. Think about two examples: NGE, where teenagers are trying to find meaning in their lives as the Earth is dying, and Kokoro Connect, where teenagers are trying to find meaning in their lives and the Earth doesn't care.

It sets a very different environment for the story to exist in. In the first, the world mirrors the struggles of the characters. But in the second, the world is indifferent. NGE reflects a young rage or anger at wanting to be somehow noticed or respected by society in some way, while Kokoro Connect is about being utterly alone, isolated and terrified.

I also don't think Japan will make many stories where only they are threatened, since I have the idea that culturally Japan is struggling to be recognized internationally in the minds of its citizens much like Shinji was in NGE. I think we all want to feel like if our own personal observable universes implode, it'd have horrific effects for everybody else, too.

Special Note: Watch [C] Money of Soul and Possibility for a notable example of this.

Side Note: I think Kokoro Connect did very well by denying this urge to desire mass attention. That story was practically visceral in its minute scope of just five random high school students being tormented by Heartseed while completely isolated and alone, unable to seek help of any kind in the face of such an alien intrusion to their daily lives.


Summary: The end of the world isn't new, but I imagine why it crops up in fiction depends on the time and culture. In this case, I think it's because Japan is struggling against a feeling of international insignificance, especially in the minds of their younger generations, and desperately desires to feel noteworthy or significant in the world.

Plus, being able to fight to save the Earth is the ultimate power fantasy. Who doesn't want to feel that awesome?



Edit: From an international point of view, there was also the threat of a nuclear holocaust during the Cold War that must've had a pretty dramatic impact on the amount of fiction about the world being blown to pieces (hello Fist of the North Star). While things have shifted a bit since then, that kind of story had time to put down some deep roots.
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Posted 6/4/13 , edited 6/4/13

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.


So unless your subject wasn't meant to be at all relevant to your question, I'm confused why you would be refuting your own subject title. It's an anime message board, and you have anime in your subject title, one can only assume that regardless of the contents within the post, you're probably not completely writing this message out of the scope of anime. I didn't just reply critically, I was using common sense that anyone might use to evaluate what the scope of your question was. However, regardless of this "misunderstanding", my answer would still be the same, so it's really kind of pointless what form of media or entertainment your question is aimed at.


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)

A fight with the world on the line doesn't just include your friend. Not only does it include your friend but it includes all of the friends you have, all of the friends you have ever had in the past, and all of the friends you could possibly make in the future. It includes all of your family that you've ever had, or ever will have, your acquaintances, your favorite celebrities, everything. I'm not quite understanding how the utter scale difference of this eludes you.

The whole point is that in watching a world-ending anime (or anything, don't get twisted on this), which is usually a concept brought on by imagination, you're using your own imagination to be that extra-ordinary hero saving the world.

Also there are plenty of shows/anime that don't have the whole world on the line in the first place, you just don't watch many of them I guess so your question is loaded with bias. You're probably in a small minority of folks who think a show based on watching the entire world get saved from a force that actually has that kind of power, isn't at least a bit exciting in comparison to defending your friend from a school bully out in the yard.
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Posted 6/4/13
Honestly, it's because it's a very easy setting to force tension. When the world is ending, things automatically seem bleak and hopeless and if that's what you're looking for, it's layed out for you.
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Posted 6/4/13
*thinks*

A situation in which all social norms have been broken down or forcibly removed causes people to show themselves as they really are, and this is a popular theme in quite a number of cultures. (See: zombie movies in the U.S., for example.) It also keeps the action moving through having the threat of death constantly at hand.
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Posted 6/4/13
The reason is simple

Apparently when the world ends, high school babes just throw themselves at you in scantily clad clothes



Enough said
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Posted 6/4/13
To answer the general appeal part:
If I was going to make a call on it, I would suggest that on a base level, we all have just a little bit of nihilism in our minds. End of the world scenarios allow us that dark fantasy of seeing everything start to crumble and return to nothingness. Or anarchy, whichever you want to call it in this case.

And I think the reason why shows aim at that select few, rather than the masses;
Well there are two simple reasons I can see for this one.
First, it is a LOT easier to write a story around one or a few character(s) rather than a large mass of characters. That is why stories have leads. The author can build up personality, backstory, and a rapport with the reader/audience wanting to see that "hero" succeed. (this is also why I think stories with a large number of characters *done well* end up being so popular; because its both different, and to a degree, more interesting to us. Anime example: du ra ra ra, West example: Game of Thrones).

Secondly, on some level we all want to be "that guy/girl". Everyone wants to feel they are special. And what better way to live vicariously into that scenario than by making everyone else either fail (read: die) or be incompetent (read: sit/wait/watch/pray).
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Posted 6/4/13
What I find appealing about the end of the world is that I like to see the way that the characters react to it, the drama, action and suspense is very interesting. It also drives home the aspect of when the world ends, nothing we have done will matter. It's depressing, but also intriguing.
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Posted 6/5/13 , edited 6/5/13
@OP

If you want a story that still wrecks hearts but is a much more "contained" catastrophe, I recommend Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. It focuses on a huge fictional earthquake that hits Tokyo and it's very much not your run-of-the-mill anime, focusing more on the realism and attempting to weave a realistic story of humanity fighting back from such a catastrophe. Emotions run wild obviously the whole way through.
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Posted 12/6/13
Routine forum cleaning. Closing threads that have been inactive for six months or more.

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