Spot Check!

Stuff I noticed. A lot of it was stuff that annoyed me, so it's pretty Reality Check-ish, too. To use a device Massad Ayoob is entirely too fond of, it's two posts, two posts, two posts in one!
  • So anyone else wonder how the hell it's possible to produce these lavish, beautifully painted—yes, painted!—fantasy manga, like Elemental Gelade and Soul Gadget Radiant? Unless these manga-ka have small armies of assistants.
  • So one thing I've been noticing is, many of the sources discussing the Middle Ages in the Anglophone world, talk about medieval England, and often generalize from it. The problem with that is, England was the Canada of the Middle Ages. It had a language and a border in common with the actually significant country of the era, but it was not the same as that country.

    Actually that's not fair to Canada; medieval England was a backwater, not just "less influential than its similar neighbor."
  • This one idiot was saying that war-rape was considered a part of the spoils of war, in the Middle Ages. Now, that's not entirely false about the tail-end of era; the professional soldiers that had sprung up, absent all feudal and most religious control, during the Hundred Years War, had a subculture with values more reminiscent of some warlike tribes than the norm of the Judeo-Christian West. But in the Middle Ages proper, no, war-rape was forbidden under the Peace and Truce of God movements, and by contemporary conceptions of decency; of course it still happened, as it happens today, but just like today, there was an outcry. Probably more consistently than today, actually, in some ways.

    How do I know? Gosh, if only we had the contemporary Pope's reaction to the sack of Constantinople by the Fourth "Crusade" (it was really just an attempt at a Crusade). Oh, no, wait, we do—and his reaction is exactly what ours would be.

    Incidentally, the magnitude of the sack is grossly exaggerated, thanks to the sensationalistic style typical of the accounts at the time. The only person I've seen give a number for the death toll is Gibbon, but if he exaggerated it as much as he exaggerated that at Jerusalem (he said 70,000 at Jerusalem, modern estimates put it at about 3,500), the death toll would've only been 1,500—because he said it was 30,000.
  • Let's skip cheerfully over our society's curious silence on the death toll—and the rapes—when the Turks took Constantinople, 249 years later. It made what the Franks and Venetians did look like petty vandalism.
  • Remember how I said the caste system in teen movies is illusory, that there truly is no such thing? It occurs to me, it'd be really fun to do a teen-movie that's actually an allegorical treatment of the life of the Buddha—with emo-ness standing in for extreme asceticism! But then, when he's brooding emo!angstily somewhere, the little sister of a cheerleader gives him a pudding cup, and he sees that the caste system is a delusion, and that the twin extremes of jerk-jock and emo-wangst are alike false, and that the truth lies in the middle way.
  • So the comments on a manga-reader site I use—mostly for series that'll never get picked up here, sit down—have led me to conclude, most manga fans are not mature enough for shonen.

    One idiot was saying he didn't like NuraMago because the plot follows the standard shonen arc—it doesn't, actually, the seems-like-a-friend-but-is-an-enemy-but-it's-a-test thing happens a lot sooner, for one thing. But even where it does follow the standard arc, so what? The thing that's following that standard arc is a story about the Fairy Mafia! Maybe you didn't notice?

    Then there was the idiot who said he didn't like Sisqua, in Elemental Gelade, because she "doesn't really help Cou" and "she still wants to take Ren back to Arc Aile". I'm sorry, little boy, were the larger-than-life shonen characters still too complex for you? Sisqua's whole point is to be an ambiguous, "is she on his side or not?" character, coupled with a greedy careerist loony; she's like if Xelloss and Lina had a kid (you just know there's a fanfic of that out there).

    Late addition: And just now, a bunch of people were complaining about SWOT, that the fights are too over the top and various silly remarks about the female lead needing to be rescued (she isn't weak, by the way, she just doesn't want to fight anymore). Basically, it all boiled down to, "I have absolutely no idea what a banchô manga is; I don't know any of the conventions of the genre; I am not aware that Cromartie High School is a parody of an entire style." Read a book!
  • Then, I was reading this weird, and vaguely creepy, manga about this girl who has a crush on her brother, but finds out they're (of course) not really related. The comic itself had some comedy gold ("Oh no, what about my dreams of forbidden love!" (beat) "Wait, this means it's not forbidden. That's actually better, huh..."), but the comments were a tour de force of stupidity. A lot of people were saying it was still pretty sick, which is, um, kinda the source of all the drama, permit me to congratulate you for noticing, but then this one person said, I kid you not, "We'd probably be a lot more okay with incest if not for science."

    Huh. Okay, then explain why in civilized, urban societies like Rome or China the cutoff point for relations to be considered incest is usually first cousins, occasionally just siblings (that is, first cousins aren't tabooed), while among the Franks it was any member of a parent's clan, and among the Navajo it's any member of a great-grandparent's clan. No really, the Navajo consider it incest to sleep with someone who's in the same clan as either of your grandparents' parents—and being in the same clan only has as much relation to actual kinship as having the same last name does, for us.
  • So how come people hear that Chinese is tonal, and think it sounds like singing? You do that weird growly thing with your voice in Mandarin, how every syllable sorta has an American English R in it? Yeah, I can see thinking it sounds good, certainly interesting, but "musical" is not the first word that comes to my mind. It kinda sounds like you're chewing on it, actually.

    Then again, am I the only one who likes the sound of Cantonese more? Mandarin just sounds oddly sneaky to me, I don't know why; maybe it's that it doesn't have low tones (making it sound sorta snide or sarcastic), or maybe it's just I mostly hear it in Hong Kong movies, where Northerners are always bastards. Odd how a convention from the Qing dynasty survived British rule and unification with the Mainland.

1 comment:

penny farthing said...

The answer to your first question is obvious - Japan has invented the time machine. How else do you explain it?