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What's your opinion of Deconstruction Anime?
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Posted 10/10/13

salinas0731 wrote:



Just do it!! I enjoy what you have to say because you do it without sounding uppity.

I still don't think school days counts, it was a poor harem anime with a twist.


I believe you about school days, I didn't watch it for precisely that reason. From what I knew/had heard it was set up to be shocking and terrible and to get attention that way. That's not any kind of commentary at all ><

And honestly I can't find a lot of goober's examples to be deconstructing anything. I'm gonna take some shots at those examples, and then go and take salinas' invitation to try to show how CROWDS is different and the real deal.

There's a few things that people often call deconstruction, which I don't think is really applicable (Want to reinforce, these are all my opinions :p):

There's the Subversive Plot Twist (which is how I'd describe Madoka and my understanding of School Days), but that's not consistently challenging the narrative and assumptions of their genre. In fact they often go the opposite way, going hardcore into the assumptions and playing them up, just so that the shocking twist is all the more shocking.

Then there's what I'd call 'postmodern' shows, that are actively having fun with the accepted themes. I'd put Illya in with that, or slice of life shows that constantly break the fourth wall and joke about being a show. Medaka Box I'd probably put in this too. It has some postmodern commentary, and has fun with the rules of heroes but isn't really challenging or examining those assumptions, just having fun with them.

My third category will be 'nonstandard narratives'. Things like Type/Moon games, or AB's works (Haibane Renmei, Lain). They deal with the concepts and themes differently, often in a more mature manner, but aren't really *challenging* the assumptions. They're just moving beyond the base cliche.

~~~

Now for comparison, about Gatchaman.

The show starts by subverting assumptions. From the history of Tatsunoko and Gatchaman, and from the general presentation of the promotional material, just about everyone was expecting a straightforward action/adventure/hero show.

The main character would Sugune (the dude with the sword), Hajime would be the goofy comedic sidekick/love interest, and they would fight and eventually become strong enough to fight and defeat Katze.

In the actuality, a lot of people HATED it at the start because it entirely subverts those expectations. The first time you see fighitng it's shown to be the wrong solution, and the buggly/goofy/naive character is right and the most positive force. It was immediately examining and subverting the theme of violence in action shows.

Similarly with the character development. From the promos you'd expect the characters to fall into roles (although in fairness some of them do, like OD and Jo). But, even though she's almost always almost naked, UtsuUtsu isn't the sexpot/fanservice her outfit implies, and sugune has a lot of non-heroic stiffness and anxiety. And Hajime especially becomes a very different character, instead of jsut comic relief she's smart and insightful.

~~~

This leads us to the second subversion, and the one that puts Gatchaman over the line into truly deconstructing the viewers expectations. We anime fans are savvy, and we've seen a LOT of shows. About halfway through Crowds a lot of comments started cropping up that Hajime was going to get beat up or killed and things would shift to a darker more serious tone leading up to the final conflict. This is the 'deconstructilon' you see in Fate or Eva. They twist things around and change the tone.

Crowds on the other hand, didn't let up. They knew the expectation, and even fed hints to the viewers that this was the way that the plot was going (look up 'death flag' in the show's thread, you'll see it a lot). But then, they subverted the expectation again. They broke and more importantly exposed the second layer of the 'action show' narrative and stuck to their theme... which is that looking towards the violence and the powerUPS was not a realistic or positive narrative.

Funnily they did it one last time (2 if you count the bizarro ending, but I don't know what's up with that). All of us, even the hardcore fans thought that Katze would be dealt with by OD transforming and using his world-destroying power and win.. but they did the opposite, and once again the expectations and assumptions of the viewers were subverted.

~~~

Anyways, long post but fun to write I should add that in the strictest sense none of these shows are deconstruction, and they really can't be. However, they lead the viewer to deconstruct and examine their own thoughts and assumptions, which is arguably more useful (true deconstruction can be a bit of a self-indulgent circlewank)
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Posted 10/10/13
You may have scared ppl away, nice breakdown. I got no time to write all that.
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Posted 10/10/13 , edited 10/10/13
Deconstructing a character, theme, or setting is different than deconstructing a Genre. They're all deconstructions, but only one do I consider an anime. The Genre Deconstruction.

While shows like NGE, School Days, and Madoka Magica are indeed, Genre deconstructions. How well they do or do not do doesn't change the intent here. These shows were made not to subvert tropes or reactions, to poke fun or undo things that we've seen and love. But to take the rules of the Genre, and openly defy them in some way or form. A kid NOT getting into a robot doesn't make it a deconstruction, even if not getting into the robot deconstructs the entire theme of getting into the robot. You have to keep the same theme (Harem of girls, jumps in a robot, talking animals giving cute powers to kawaii girls) while changing up things in a more extreme, yet still reasonable, way.
Serial Experiments Lain doesn't deconstruct a genre, it's simply constructing a strange and vibrant world through powerful and experimental directing.

I've not seen Gatchaman, but that argument sounds like a solid Deconstruction to me. Takes what you expect and know, and changes it enough to be new, while making sure it's still true to the genre despite it's misplaced themes.

Mobile Suit Gundam is my favorite deconstruction. It takes the expected Genre, Super Robots, and changes it up by adding realistic themes and goals, despite staying true to the kid and his robot genre description.

You have Amuro Ray, pilot of the aforementioned(and soon to be famous) Gundam. He's your usual kid with your usual kid problems. The large difference between him and the preceding heroes of it's Genre, is the foes and challenges he faces. He's facing war problems, parental abandonment, needless death, and political bullshit.

The titular Gundam falls in line with all the other Super-Robot's of the time. It's powerful, strong, piloted by a kid. It has special weapons able to be pulled out at any moment! Beam Rifle, Beam sword, Gundam Hammer. It also gets those crazy toys like the G-bull(I think thats what it was called) and his allies the Guncannon and Guntank.
But the Gundam isn't treated like a Friend. It's a weapon. No different than a tank, it's used to kill people and it's existence isn't considered too important. Early on it's the "first" prototype Mobile suit the Earth Federation created. The opening Arc had the enemy try to take it out, so it's specs doesn't get to the Federation production bases. Once it does however, mid season, the Gundam turns from overpowered Super-robot to a Over-rated Decoy. The production factories start pouring out hundreds of Gundam-based Mobile Suits to continue the war. The only reason the Gundam was even relevant in the final conflict was because of it's pilot.

Another addition was the way we see Villains. Before Gundam all Robot-villains were evil masterminds, Dr. Wily's and and such, destroying the world with EVIL PLOTS OF WORLD DOMINATIOOOON!
Gundam's villains were characters, people. They each fought with reasons, love ones, and sides. Foot soldiers were foot soldiers, getting paid at the end of the day, and getting drunk at the start of the night. Few foes in the original Gundam died without death-screams of their own. There's an amazing scene early on where a mook gets caught by Earths gravity, and his Mecha over-heats and melts/explodes while entering Earths atmosphere. You don't just see the robot go boom, you get an entire scene of him telling his Captain(Char) he's sorry for not listening and escaping when he had the chance, and his death screams as he slowly overheats and dies. He had a name(not that I remember) and was introduced an episode prior. He died there, and the Captain took it seriously, and hated losing loyal men to this damned White Devil(our original Gundams nickname)

Mobile Suit Gundam deconstructed the Super-Robot genre and INVENTED it's own Real-robot Genre because of it. it did many things different, but the boy and his Robot was always there. The high-action fight scenes happened.

The reasons, connotations, and theme of the entire show was what constituted it as a deconstruction.
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Posted 10/10/13 , edited 10/10/13

salinas0731 wrote:

You may have scared ppl away, nice breakdown. I got no time to write all that.


Good responses require long responses!

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Posted 10/10/13 , edited 10/10/13

Felstalker wrote:


salinas0731 wrote:

You may have scared ppl away, nice breakdown. I got no time to write all that.


Good responses require long responses!



I only have one good long read in me. TL;DR.

But I'm sure you made your point eloquently
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Posted 10/10/13



Seriously tho, Gundam is a great Deconstruction of it's Genre, while remaining a standing example of it's created genre.
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Posted 10/10/13
Salinas, read Felstalker's post on Gundam tomorrow. It's really good and I'd never thought of the show that way :D


Felstalker wrote:


Seriously tho, Gundam is a great Deconstruction of it's Genre, while remaining a standing example of it's created genre.



I read it!

I'd still argue strongly against Eva and Madoka though... They're willing and eager to subvert the tropes, and I'd agree that's something that deconstruction does, but it's more of a shock and awe kind of deal. Evangelion has way too many hours of standard (for the time) tench-muyo style content for me to take it's deconstructive elements seriously (especially with Gainax still selling naked Rei dolls to this day). Those elements always felt gimmicky to me, in both shows... kind of like Natural Born Killers, which ended up being exactly what it was trying to be a commentary on.

~~~

The Gundam thing makes me think though... is it deconstruction or is it just taking the content much more seriously than the previous shows had? I wonder if they're trying to subvert the Giant Robot Genre or just saying "I can tell a much better story with this, and I can make it amazing"... or maybe (and likely) they're doing both.

Koda89 
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Posted 10/10/13
I can't add anything more to Gatchaman Crowds. Well done explanation.

As for School Days, that isn't really a deconstruction. It is just an animated version of someone playing the eroge it is based on and getting one of the infamous bad ends........I can almost certainly guaran-damn-tee that had the original game lacked its famous bad endings, the anime would have been a generic by the numbers harem.....just like the game is when you get one of the good endings....
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Posted 10/10/13
Extra question for Koda and Felstriker, which I was thinking about (I just got done watching killLaKill after getting home from work).

Is Kl'K deconstructing exploitation 'service' shows or just an exploitation show itself? Is there any way to actually tell?
Koda89 
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Posted 10/10/13

windsagio wrote:

Extra question for Koda and Felstriker, which I was thinking about (I just got done watching killLaKill after getting home from work).

Is Kl'K deconstructing exploitation 'service' shows or just an exploitation show itself? Is there any way to actually tell?


I think it is doing a bit of both right now, by showing how outlandish revealing outfits can be but at the same time the only way for Ryuko to win is by stripping her opponents of their Goku uniforms, leaving them nude.

But that is ok for it to be doing both. A deconstruction can still invoke the things it is deconstructing.
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Posted 10/10/13 , edited 10/10/13
Deconstruction of anime is pretty good.



Though I do wish someone would deconstruct those schoolgirl/slice of life shows.
Instead of cute girls doing cute things, how about...
Cute girls...doing very adult things...and to each other...



If there is one deconstruction that I know and love, it is Kannazuki no Miko.
Why?
Here's why


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Posted 10/11/13 , edited 10/11/13

Angerudusto wrote:

I believe that it means that the anime in question "takes apart" the genre, going against the tropes/stereotypes associated with said genre. I don't really like the word, however, because one could argue that any non-trendy anime, good or bad, is a deconstruction.


Would this make WataMote a reconstruction?
http://www.crunchyroll.com/watamote-no-matter-how-i-look-at-it-its-you-guys-fault-im-not-popular

It's a slice of life anime (it really is), but with the main character lacking friends (never getting into a relationship) and considering themselves an unpopular social outcast. However, all of the situations are "true to life" for our main character.

So, it maintains the standard theme of a slice of life, keeps the humor, keeps the exaggeration, and even has the comedic real life situations.

It's subverted by her having no school life, rarely going out, being very awkward in social environments, and often being denied your typical slice of life adventures by her only friend (whom goes to a different school and would rather hang out with others.)

It even subverts the creepy anime incest nonsense. She talks to her brother a lot, but he just finds her annoying and is simply impatient with her when she visits him and would rather be left alone.


Probably the most difficult part of deciding whether people like "deconstruction" would be making a list long enough for people to form an overall opinion.
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Posted 10/11/13

windsagio wrote:

Extra question for Koda and Felstriker, which I was thinking about (I just got done watching killLaKill after getting home from work).

Is Kl'K deconstructing exploitation 'service' shows or just an exploitation show itself? Is there any way to actually tell?


As stated in the Gundam post, simply "not doing what others are doing" isn't a deconstruction. Using similar themes isn't a deconstruction. Using the same tools and props others of it's Genre do, while subverting the themes themselves is the key here.

Neon Genesis Evangelion keeps the kid, the robot, the villains of a Super Robot show, but changes the supporting cast and the themes they teach to our hero. No more "stay safe and do your best!" characters. Instead you're forced to save the world, forced to be the Astro Boy, the Getter Robo, the Voltron pilot. The show goes to the extremes in showing you, the viewer, how much power they're giving Shinji, like any other Super-robot show, but without giving him any control over it. This establishes it's deconstruction nature, and has little to do with the overarching show's plot or ending.

Madoka Magica uses magical girls, the mascot animals, the un-interesting yet totally amazing to look at villains. Everything they do is simply magical girls. The overarching themes of the show however aren't' about saving the world with positivity. It's performing work for a received payment. Characters sell themselves for this power, and the power expects things of them.

What stops Fate/Prisma Illya, Watamote, and Kill la Kill from being deconstructions, is that they're sticking to the Genre's themes. They're additions to their Genres, not deconstructions. Watamote could be thrown into it's own discussion on whether it's a School-slice of life or it's own Parody Genre. Kill la Kill's to early to tell what Genre it's actually belonging too. Fate/Prisma Illya is so magical girl it hurts, even if the setting is another universe version of a flag-ship title, it's STILL A MAGICAL GIRL ANIME.

That was long winded....what I wanted to get across here was actually why Gurren Lagann isn't a deconstruction, but a reconstruction.

Gurren Lagann takes the similarities of the Real Robot, and the Deconstructed Super Robot shows, and throws it beyond 11. The robot is super, the characters are hot-blooded and extremely helpful. There are no betrayals, no secret motives, no negative reactions.
Everything they do it emotional and earnest.

They face absurd villains with absurd tech. The show purposefully wanted you to draw comparisons with it's previous popular work NGE, and go the other way. Where NGE dug a hole of pessimism, Gurren Lagann filled the hole back up without checking to see if NGE was still in it, then built a pedestal proclaiming the amazingness of Super Robot shows, then used that pedestal to rocket to the moon.

GUrren Lagann was as super robot as a mecha anime could get. They took the new conventions and brought it back in time.


I'm just repeating my self a lot now, but you get the picture!
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Posted 10/11/13

Felstalker wrote:

You get the picture!


So.. Neon Genesis & Madoka Magica are the entirety of examples that we can get?


I understand Gurren being a "reconstruction" (much in the same way that PreCure reconstructs magical girls.)

But as far as deconstruction goes, I have no idea if there are enough examples to give anyone an opinion.

So far it's just shows that take a genre and try to show you its darker side. Which can be disgusting trash (School Days), rather melancholy (Evangelion), and full of hidden agendas (Madoka.) So, it's just a "storytelling technique" similar to a "twist", with few examples.
Koda89 
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Posted 10/11/13
Oh something I thought of, what would we classify Another as? I ask because like Gatchaman Crowds it plays with our expectations for its genre. At every turn that show took what I was expecting and gave it the middle finger. Every time I thought I figured it all out the very next episode was like, "LOL.....no." to what I thought was the truth. In the end I was only able to correctly guess one thing, just one charaxter's death and that's it.
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