Post Reply Favorite motifs in anime
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Posted 3/3/18 , edited 3/3/18
In my case, it's tarot cards. I never really got much of a chance to know anything about the tarot cards other than just the names and archetypes they each represent, because it would have taken me too long to research the themes and symbolism of each of the twenty-two tarot cards. Yeah, twenty-two, which would have taken me too long.

But I do enjoy the mysticism behind tarot cards. They're usually used for divination, so every time, in an anime or video game series, there is a mystical theme going on, it is usually appropriate to incorporate tarot motifs into them. For example, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Cardcaptor Sakura, and the Persona franchise use a lot of the tarot motif to tell their respective stories.

I also enjoy the Chess motif, like when it was applied to Col. Roy Mustang and his team. I like opposing factions. I like the main-protagonist a lot better when he's the leader of one of those factions, uniting it against a common threat. And Chess is a perfect place to simulate two opposing factions racing against each other to see which side captures the other's king first, while defending its own. Plus, it deals with long-term, strategic thinking, and when a series features a main-protagonist who is all about long-term, strategic thinking, e.g. Light Yagami/Kira, Lelouch vi Britannia/Zero, or Shiroe from Log Horizon, you know a Chess motif is going to be included anyway to reinforce it.
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Posted 3/3/18 , edited 3/3/18
Leitmotif because I love music. Plus the idea of having a theme that is pretty much for saying a certain character is here or is about to do something epic is always awesome.

Kyousuke’s theme (Little Busters):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNP31lu52XI&lc=Ugguhsi74eB6yXgCoAEC

Wendy’s theme (Fairy Tail)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyT2jkImzz8
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Posted 3/3/18 , edited 3/3/18
The chess motif is almost always stupid, because it's both overused and overdramatized. It kind of worked in Code Geass because the show was already purposefully trying to be over-the-top, but even it went too cheesy with Lelouch nicknaming his soldiers chess pieces. The problem is that the strategy implied by splashing chess in a story is lazy and stereotypical: it represents a particular kind of arrogant, masturbatory intelligence - usually male - that is geared towards controlling people. And a lot of the time the supposedly brilliant strategy that the character's chess abilities supposedly represent isn't impressive at all. It's like references to Sun Tzu's The Art of War - it's too cheap. If you want to impress me, reference Clausewitz's On War instead. Chess is a good game, and there are plenty of ways it's been used in art and history that have truthfully represented what it is, but anime almost always waters it down to some kind of mystical genius marker. If it actually dove into the principles of real chessplaying, I could see it being more worth bringing up, but I don't know of any instance in anime where the chess references weren't completely superficial.

Somewhere Nick Creamer said this, and he's right, but the best use of chess as a metaphor for strategy in anime comes from The Idolmaster, which makes fun of the chess motif: The president of the rival idol management company plays with strategy board games as he talks up his evil plans - and what he does captures perfectly the camp and hilarity Idolmaster was going for:

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Posted 3/3/18 , edited 3/3/18
I have a soft spot for Jungian psychology (at least from a philosophical vantage, its application to psychotherapy is another matter).
Animes that incorporate it include the Persona franchise (of course) and Ergo Proxy
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Posted 3/13/18 , edited 3/14/18
I really like it when characters are associated with the Classical Elements - Fire, Water, Earth and Air . I wanted to like Avatar: The Last Airbender so bad, but when I streamed it on Netflix awhile back, I thought it was just meh.

I understand that later episodes have maturity and depth to them, but I didn't want to slog through the kiddie stuff to get to the good stuff. I'm really picky about my shows that way.
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