No IKnight isn’t dead, god forbid. He just announced last week that his blog is powering down. Perhaps he needs time to recover, generate new ideas, and even enjoy life in and outside his anime hobby. IKnight is one of my blogging heroes, and his epic posts on mecha anime form a big part of the shoulders that We Remember Love stands on. Here I’ll give a annotated review of my favorite posts from the considerable oeuvre of his writing.
There will be significant omissions, because at times he writes about things I know little about or shows I haven’t watched to this day. So the list herein is not intended to be the definitive nor essential readings of The Animanachronism.I wrote the above paragraphs a few days ago before I sat down to re-read IKnight’s posts. I read, and read, and read. And tonight, after an hour’s worth of reading I am reduced to shreds. This guy is really, really good. I’ve been blogging for about 6 weeks and have gotten nearly nothing but positive feedback. The number of readers we’ve been getting has reached a healthy rate and the commenters have come bringing awesomeness. But my god, IKnight’s posts while awesome enough, ellicits godly comments. He really brings out the best in other bloggers and participants. The people who comment really contribute and I totally blame IKnight for creating a space where truly intelligent discourse about our hobby happens.
Here are my favorite posts, in no particular order.
Obviously. My fanboying for Macross aside, I really got something out of this post, which is quite on the low side on IKnight’s capacity for depth.
Relieved of the requirement to always take itself seriously, The Super Dimension Fortress Macross has free rein to give us entertaining moments (like fishing in space) and brilliantly ludicrous design decisions (like a battleship with aircraft carriers for arms). It’s also what lies behind a sequence in the second episode which – as far as I can see – wraps up into one brief segment of animation the essence of the whole show.
FISHING IN SPACE. People like Mechafetish enjoy Macross most for its grand themes, notably the domination and hegemony over creation of peace and alliance with another species/alien race through culture. I on the other hand have a healthy lust for Macross’s small moments, the kind that you forget about after many years of not watching and then BAM, OMG FISHING IN SPACE. But I totally disagree about his calling the aircraft carriers for arms a ludicrous design decision. It’s not ludicrous. They are perfect. The only thing more perfect would be this:
Mechafetish should annotate this post. This is still the most sensible comparison of the two mecha franchises. While like IKnight, I am mindful of Intentional Fallacy in reading texts, meaning we pretty much declare the author/creator/production staff dead and the text is the only thing we interact with, I totally lose my head when it comes to Macross (and Gundam). I deify Kawamori and co. and troll Tomino and co. (not on the web, just Mechafetish). Kawamori and co. were fans of 0079 Mobile Suit Gundam, and dreamed of working on a Gundam show. They got to do Macross first, before (at least with Kawamori) working on Gundam 0082: Stardust Memory.
‘But which one is better?’, I have to say ‘Gundam’. Macross – what I’ve seen of it – can be great: great-looking, great fun, great characters and great action. At its highest moments, however, Gundam – what I’ve seen of it – can be something transcendent. Even ignoring its finest hours, it offers such breadth of choice and – like a collection of poems – so many variations on its themes and permutations of its designs that it’s a whole world unto itself. I hardly need mention its influence.
By all rights I should be bristling with RAEGHAET. Gundam > Macross? KILL. But I actually agree with IKnight. I just try to ignore this notion of his most of the time so I won’t be distracted from my mission to make the aniblogosphere LISTEN TO MY SONG (that Macross is the awesomest, and about my revisionist history of Ranka O.o).
If you’re not too familiar with Mecha anime (oh noes) but are deeply interested so as to participate meaningfully here in We Remember Love (the most delusional YAY this side of the aniblogosphere), READ THIS POST. It’ll make sense of my obsession with it, saves me the trouble of explaining anything except my retardedness for Macross in particular.
Mecha anime is a niche for the world-saving action hero outside of your standard shounen action saga which, while not necessarily bad or stupid (see, for example, coburn’s examination of Soul Eater), is not my cup of tea. And the ‘real robot’ is an excuse for adding some speculative / science fiction into the wish-fulfilment mix – mecha as a fig leaf, yes, but a very cool fig leaf with a very big gun.
From the comments section, I found this particular gem:
I think that while Mobile Suit Gundam gave birth to the real robot series it is still mostly a super robot series, kind of like how while Jesus gave birth to Christianity he was still technically Jewish.
He went there! GUNDAM = JESUS. IKnight’s post allowed this magic to happen. Dear Kaio, when I challenged your claim that you already got the ‘idolatry for Gundam’ covered on behalf of Mechafetish, I hadn’t remembered this comment of yours. It will take very much for him or anyone to top this. I am truly awed, and challenged! My Uraniborg for Macross worship must exceed the combined might of Gorg Bodolle Zer’s astroid-sized flagship and the Axis asteroid! Veneration and humor aside, I completely agree with Kaioshin’s comment.
I haven’t completed Turn A Gundam, so I’m open to the idea that my favorite Gundam show will change. But for now War in the Pocket is my favorite and this post of his makes me so happy to have seen it. My appreciation of mecha anime can appear superficial: Gundam’s primary draw for me is the mobile suit battles and the mecha themselves, while Macross’ is the idol concerts that accompany the VF dogfights. But I believe that the intensity of being a fan also counts, as appreciating Gundam for more noble reasons such its essay on the horrors of war but pretty much remaining a silent fan (as part of an amassing/consumption behavior) is not priveleged over someone who obsessively tries to reserve hotel rooms numbered in Universal Century timeline shows (0079, 0080, 0082; I’m NOT TALKING ABOUT ME, I HAVEN’T DONE THIS yet; as an example of expressive behavior).
War in the Pocket is the combo breaker, so to speak. It made me feel like I’m watching the best of something – which only happens to be anime. To me it’s does best what Gundam tries to do but isn’t always successful: tell a story about the effects of war on humanity, and portray a coming of age story. Left me in tears, this one.
I also realize that I cannot bear to quote anything from IKnight’s post without making it a trite soundbyte. Watch 0080 first, then read this gem of blog-writing.
Starting with a great quote from wildarmsheero is right, distinguishing the pretension of Code Geass’ fans from that of the show’s (not pretensious at all), I gleefully enjoy IKnight’s discussion about mostly Kallen (my sunken ship for Lelouch in Code Geass) and her deliciously entertaining speculative lineage.
Kallen is the writers’ Mikuru, which perhaps provokes ‘fourth wall moe’, a desire to protect a character from something outside the show itself.
Bold and delicious claim! Nobody in the comments section picked up on this and at the time I was but a gutless lurker who hardly participates in discussions (this post too, is my penance). But IKnight, if you’re reading this, please say more.
I look for clues in this post to explain his claim about Kallen = Mikuru in Code Geass. I can’t really say I find one, but my goodness the post is a fun theoretical romp. IKnight cites the use of this compass (of which origin I have no idea of) that helped me a lot in my understanding of moe:
Since a desire to protect, cherish, succour is a necessary (though perhaps not a sufficient) part of moe, feeling moe means the viewer is making two speculative assumptions, that
- he or she is stronger or more knowledgeable about the world than the character who is provoking the moe; and that
- he or she is in some way able to enter the character’s world (to do the protecting, cherishing, succouring)
It feels good for a man to feel actually able to protect anyone at all, and to feel this without being tested in any way, or to carry any real responsibility, is to my mind a drug: a mind/reality bending addicting substance. OH, HAI THERE RANKA!
Part V of a series of essays on the GAR concept. I’ll let the post do more of the talking because it is that good: (metaphor is wolf = enemy, sheepdog = GAR character, sheep = protected character, possibly moe)
I think this is a useful metaphor. If feeling moe for a character involves thinking of oneself in the role of the sheepdog, and placing the moe character in the role of the sheep, and GAR is a sheepdog quality, then feeling GAR for a character involves placing the GAR character in the role of the sheepdog. And if we’re considering a character who’s stronger than us to be the sheepdog, there’s an unsettling implication: we might be as weak as the sheep.
So feeling GAR is in fact a humbling experience: if we are casting someone in the sheepdog role, and recognising that he (or she) is more GAR than we are, then we are forced to face our own inadequacies. Recognising that an anime character possesses more manly virtue than we do dampens down – even if just for a second – the incipient hubris which infects humanity. Yes, I can spell ὀνοματοποιία without reference to a dictionary, quote Horace from memory and clear a sink U-bend armed only with a teaspoon and my natural wit (I’m such a productive member of society!), but have I ever pierced the heavens with my drill?
It has it all: incisive analysis, creative representation, an awesome subject, a provocative accusation, and modest introspection. I don’t mind seeing this quality in my own writing, and if I do sound derivative of IKnight at times, it’s because he’s one of my heroes even if perhaps he hasn’t pierced anything with his drill yet.
I need to do this. The video is more than just about The Animanachronism. But digitalboy bless him and his beard made a classic tribute to IKnight that belongs, BELONGS with this post. It’s near the end, but I promise you, IT’S WORTH IT.