[Insignificant spoilers for episode ONE, I wouldn't worry about it].
In a recent post I discussed the spectacle of GAR, using Sengoku Basara as the example. Had I seen Souten Kouro then, I would’ve certainly included it in the discussion. One thing that’s beginning to mark this season for me, with the two shows mentioned along with Shin Mazinger Z Hen, Spring 2009 is a banquet of brofistilicious manliness and GAR.
I won’t cover the same ground as in the previous post; rather I’ll explore here an idea born from the comments section of the aformentioned post: the idea of Poetic GAR, or as I’ve revised it: GAR Rhetoric.
I identify two modes. In the first one, the rhetoric is delivered in moments of reflection, contemplation, as a sermon|lecture, or in swearing|promising|oath-taking. There is a particular power or force behind the delivery even though the moment has very little potential for violence or excitement. In the second mode, the rhetoric is delivered at an opponent or group of opponents.
Example of the first mode:
In Sengoku Basara episode 3, Lord Takeda Shingen was delivering one of his lessons to his protegé, Sanada Yukimura. As with the previous episodes, these lectures were characterized by violent fisticuffs to punctuate the points made. While the violent fisticuffs are superflous in this example, it does characterize the first mode quite well.
Takeda Shingen: “To not know fear is the height of foolishness! To know fear is necessary. It is essential… Yukimura, Why do you wield your spear in this war-torn land? Why do you fight?”
Yukimura: “To serve you, my lord, with all my soul! And to give my lord these lands, the land of the rising sun, to control!”
Takeda Shingen: “And if that haeppens, what will you do?”
Yukimura: “I would stay by my lord for all of my life, until…”
Takeda Shingen: “One day, you will understand.”
Takeda Shingen accepted that Sanada Yukimura was perhaps not ready to receive the lesson, and he backed off in the end — noting that his fists are just as impotent as his words to bridge the gap in reaching Sanada Yukimura’s youth and naivié. It is also important to note that Takeda Shingen talks about fear and how necessary it is. Despite this acknowledgment of fear, his powerful delivery still provides a GAR experience for me.
Example of the second mode:
In Souten Kouro the 5 sworn brothers: Cao Cao, Cao Ren, Cao Hong, Xiahou Dun, and Xiahou Yuan were in a struggle against the Blast Gang, led by Li Lie who has placed bounties on all their heads. Li Lie claims to be the true Shi Huangdi and incites people by declaring he will reform society. the brothers think that he is without substnce, merely spewing complex-sounding ideas as if he’s important, and acts satisfied because call him ‘Minister.’ Furthermore, he entices brigands and hooligans by plying them with money and spoils.
Cao Cao decides that the way to defeat the fake Shi Huangdi is through rhetoric, unraveling Li Lie’s logic and exposing him in front of his minions. Here is their confrontation in full, with my commentary in .
Cao Cao: “For what reason does the Minister aim to emulate Shi Huangdi?”
Li Lie: “Lowly child! I have no words to trade with the likes of you people, but I will answer. It is because our Shi Huangdi is at once a man of virtue and a child of Heaven.”
[Good response! He puts the challengers in their place before adding substance to his response.]
Cao Cao: “Shi Huangdi a man of virtue? I have never heard this before. I wish to inquire about the thinking on which this idea is based.”
[Cao Cao takes the high road and claims the virtue Li Lie painted himself with. Very good.]
Li Lie: “‘Destroy the six violences, ‘Make the world one house, Armies will arise no more.’” Shi Huangdi destroyed with a mighty army all those who opposed him… and united the realm to subdue the chaos of war. This is the mark of a truly virtuous man!”
[This ellicits cheers from Li Lie's troops. He quoted scripture-like statements for effect, focusing on military might for intimidation with peace as the end goal to soften the aggression; underscoring his point at the end.]
Cao Cao: “‘An army is an uncertain instrument,’ and not the tool of a virtuous man.’ To a virtuous man, a weapon is something ominous and unwieldy. If the Minister venerates Shi Huangdi because he was skilled at war, he is a fool who does not understand Shi Huangdi!”
[Cao Cao replies with proverb-type rhetoric, attacking Li Lie's focus on military might. He calls him out as a fool and wastes no time exploiting this opening.]
Li Lie: “‘A ruler’s ailment lies in trusting others.Trust others, be controlled by others.’ Shi Huangdi, who trusted no one and relied on his own wisdom to rule the land, is a true child of Heaven! Do you deny even that?!”
[FAIL. A complete non-sequitur, that produces only a question to validate a point that leads nowhere.]
Cao Cao: ” ‘He who rules the land through knowledge is a traitor.’ It is he who relies on knowledge to rule the land that brings harm and disaster. The Minister has completely misinterpreted Shi Huangdi’s true nature!”
[Cao Cao deftly avoids denying Li Lie's claims about Shi Huangdi's virtue, and yet completly denies Li Lie's legitimacy as Shi Huangdi's follower.]
Li Lie: “‘Shi Huangdi, rectifies laws, makes peace, and records all things.’ Following in no one’s footsteps, all things that now exist in the world were created anew by Shi Huangdi! This is Shi Huangdi’s great evolution!”
[FAIL MOAR. Further non-sequitur. Even if this statement is correct, it does not address Cao Cao's attack on Li Lie's legitimacy in the interpretation of Shi Huangdi.]
Cao Cao: “Li Lie, defeated in speaking! Imitating no one was indeed the reason Shi Huangdi was the First Emperor. Li Lie, master of the Blast Gang, one such as you, whose every action is a mindless copy of Shi Huangdi’s, is not qualified to speak of him. Heaven shall not permit the existence of the Blast Gang!”
[STFU copypasta fag. Troll Harder. No U, etc. I win! Cao Cao gives the signal to attack.] It is important to note that this exchange transpires in a faceoff on a battlefield, when the Blast Gang met the 5 Sworn Brothers. Oratory and theatrical delivery is perhaps paramount, contributing to a GAR experience.
Actually, I posit that there are two particular GAR experiences: one within the narrative, and the one that I the viewer experiences. Within the narrative, Li Lie’s control over the Blast Gang is arguably entirely due to his rhetoric. The military prowess content in his speech(es), in addition to his personal imposing presence allows for the Blast Gang brigands to experience GAR and hold Li Lie as their leader and protector. I would probably experience Li Lie as GAR more if he wasn’t vanquished handily by Cao Cao. Nonetheless, the GAR effect is explicit.
Perhaps the best example of GAR Rhetoric in the second mode is in the Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann finale, firstly in Lord Genome’s confrontation with the Anti-Spirals, and ultimately in Simon’s battle with them — where his hot-blooded speech characterized the battle arguably as much as the galactic proportions it reaches.
I want other examples in different anime. Give them to me!
The Animanachronism, via ani-tations (屮゜Д゜)屮, extensive discussion and analysis of GAR (lelangir 2008/12/22).
A review of Souten Kouro noting the strong impression of GAR (moritheil 2009/04/11).
A table of the various Japanese depictions of Romance of the Three Kingdoms characters in various media (Hashi 2009/04/05).
Non-sequitur in formal logic, is a fallacy (Latin for ‘it does not follow’).
More bad arguments presented in an entertaining style can be read from The Duck that Won the Lottery (Julian Baggini 2008).
Sengoku Basara and GAR as spectacle [->].
Poetic GAR as a germ of an idea discussed by lelangir and myself [->].