Bankrupt (Sengoku) Basara: Can the Well of GAR Run Dry?

sengoku-basara-01-unlimited-blades-works

When we consume media, a discourse occurs between the information we recieve and what we know/remember from what we’ve consumed in the past. We actively seek out patterns, checking it with instances where we’ve seen similar things. We make statements that are accusatory [->], and at times supportive [->], but always in reference to a historical event (anime/manga/product consumed prior). These patterns are what we’ve come to know and use as tropes [->]. At present, it isn’t established that GAR itself is a trope. Rather, we see a number of tropes and representations and take/experience it as GAR¹.

Essentially what I’m asking is, can GAR be overdone in such a way that it loses all its charm? It becomes a cliche? The subjectivity of GAR aside [->] (where GAR can be read into just about anything), there are obvious GAR examples. After all, one does not look for subtlety in GAR portrayal, does one? In Sengoku Basara, there is no subtlety. Subversion, perhaps (though no evidence of such yet) – but the manliness here reeks of underarm sweat and weeks of unwashed fellowship and fraternity.

Excess? WHAT EXCESS?

Feats. There is a direct corellation between GAR and awesomeness. If a character is GAR, he will do awesome things. A character who manages to do awesome things however (through luck or intercession by another), may not be GAR. GAR requires that the character is decisive and an active agent within his life.

I will slightly modify a trope known as ‘The Rule of Cool’ [->]: The limit of the ‘Willing Suspension of Disbelief’ [->] for a given element is directly proportional to its degree of awesomeness of the result. ‘Cool’ is a larger set that contains the concept of  ‘awesome’ [->].  GAR characters are imbued with awesome using very dramatic entrances that either demonstrate some awesome ability, or hyperbolic reactions of awe among witnesses. Shows such as Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Stood Still, and recently Shin Mazinger Z Hen [->] present litanies of awesome character entrances — each character vies to be memorable by doing something awesome.

Both shows I’ve mentioned are directed by Imagawa Yasuhiro, who is also noted for another show of exaggerated manliness: Mobile Fighter G Gundam. An example of such feats and how Sengoku Basara runs with them:

Once upon a time, men on horseback were the last word in manliness. However, men look pretty much the same on top of a horse. Furthermore, it’s become quite an equalizer since one’s height doesn’t come into play as much. How does a man become manlier on a horse? Master Asia shows us how:

gundam-g-master-asia-horse-cliff-sunset

As I’ve insinuated, Sengoku Basara takes these extreme acts of manliness in anime celebrated for their GAR content and pushes it to ridiculous degrees. Takeda Shingen takes two horses and outdoes Master Asia’s feats of horsemanship:

sengoku-basara-02-takeda-shingen-scales-a-castle-on-top-of-2-horses

He does this by using TWO HORSES and by performing a one-man storming of a fortress by making the horses charge up a sheer wall with an almost vertical grade. LOOK AT HIM, HE’S STANDING UPRIGHT WITH HIS WEIGHT RESTING ON HIS PALMS OVER HIS BATTLEAXE²!

The logic of this (yes, I said logic) is taken to its extreme (yes, I said extreme) in the trope called ‘Crowning Moment of Awesome’ [->]; the moment when a fictional character does something for which they will be remembered forever, winning for them the eternal loyalty of fans. The  TV Tropes Wiki gives us this example:

In Dragon Ball Z, Son Gohan’s is his complete mental breakdown followed by his handing Cell his ass as a Super Saiyan 2. Also the transformation was accompanied by a song created just for that moment in the original Japanese. And it was sung by Hironobu Kageyama. Do the math.

It’s been said that Tenggen Toppa Gurren Lagann is a litany of these moments, piled on top of one another in a variable but inexorable escalation to galactic (no, bigger than that) proportions. I believe it. I don’t suppose I’ll be seeing crowning moments of awesome in Sengoku Basara until near the end, but I speculate it will make a spectacle of each character in the ensemble cast making a bid for one.

Violence is a man’s love. Once upon a time, coburn wrote [->]:

The bit where our boy hero cocks up is vital to many a stereotypical anime plotline. But how can our plucky protagonist recover his mojo? It is simple:

He needs a (male) ally to hit him.

To hit him in the face.

Corporal punishment has been widely discredited as a child-raising practice. I wouldn’t suggest that anime offers a serious alternative view – I mainly think that a smack in the face is just a good way to dramatise things.

Still, when said punch is coming from an admirable elder male, it makes me wonder just what sort of masculinity these shows believe in.

coburn here takes note of a particular trope [->] that, through the process described the younger male gains or regains his senses and the course of his path to awesomeness is corrected.

In the very first episode of Sengoku Basara, we see this taken to ridiculous ends:

First of all, despite the apparent differences in wisdom, maturity, and power, Sanada Yukimura and Takeda Shingen are both already awesome and powerful. The scene was comic rather than dramatic. However, the force of the blows are greater than in any show I’ve seen – thrown with much seriousness, but giving off a feeling of tremendous playfulness as well.

In Zeta Gundam these beatings were institutionalized in the AEUG as ‘corrections,’ not that it made a lot of difference [->]. There’s just a lot of smacking in Gundam from the very beginning.

gundam-slap

I imagine that there is a ratio between the punitive and communicative/instructional elements in the smacking, and that the determining factor is the intensity of the blows.

Characters Involved Intensity of Blows Favorable Response Teaching vs. Punitive Content
% of strength used 100 point scale % ratio
Bright Noa vs. Amuro Ray 40% 0 40 / 60
Kamina vs. Simon 70% 90 100/0
Takeda Shingen vs. Sanada Yukimura 60% 85 70/30
Wong Lee vs. Kamille Bidan 80% 0 15/85

Now the values in the above table are entirely my own speculation, just for the purpose of demonstrating an idea rather than arriving at a definitive science of things. Note that the Tenggen Toppa Gurren Lagann characters and those from Sengoku Basara are the more obvious examples of GAR. They’re louder, less whiny, and if we look at the relationships between the intensitiy of the blows they throw at each other, the teaching content within them, and the overwhelmingly favorable results they get. They out-BRIGHTSLAP Bright Noa handily. The favorable response is such that these characters don’t really need smacking anymore, unless they relish it (which I suspect Sanada Yukimura does to some degree); Amuro and Kamille on the other hand, you just want to keep smacking them.

It’s notable that Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann seems to almost play this trope straight in comparison to Sengoku Basara. The latter feels more like spectacle for the sake of astounding and astonishment. It works, and is repeated in episode 3 which begs the question: is Takeda getting through Yukimura? Or, does Takeda really just relishes smacking someone who doesnt buckle as much as Yukimura enjoys getting smacked by his idol. At the very least it demonstrates the characters’ relative power levels, which is tantamount to showing how awesome they are.

GAR isn’t just about manliness, but manliness is a big shareholder of GAR. Sengoku Basara delivers excessive manliness, in terms of spectacular (or ridiculous) feats as presented above. It’s a big part of what makes the show entertaining. Martin notes:

excessive manliness can offer entertainment value if it doesn’t take itself altogether seriously. Kamina wears shades and a grimace of fearless self-confidence and no shirt – but he couldn’t care less about what other people thought of him. [->]

I don’t think Sengoku Basara takes itself seriously at all, and is wildly entertaining; from its completely unwarranted use of gratuitous engrish to the orgasmic reactions of a female character as a result of mere proximity to her um, crush.

Iknight will do a better job than me in exploring gender and GAR, particularly the nuances wherein manliness does not equal suppression of emotions that are characterised as feminine, as well as examples of female GAR characters [->]. But as things stand, male characters will manifest GAR attributes to a greater degree, and a higher frequency. The likes of Revy, The Major, Cornelia li Britannia are more like exceptions that prove the rule.

To contribute to the discussion these writers initiated, I submit anecdotal evidence/reference on how masculine gendered opponents determine the GAR standing of male protagonists. Oda Nobunaga is not only male, he is voiced by Wakamoto Norio [->]. This detail for fans of manly shows predispose them to relate to the protagonists as GAR even before they do awesome things, or at least give them the benefit of the doubt. The idea is that it will take stupendous manliness to defeat a character so manly, that he has to be voiced by the manliest voice in the business.

Consider Disney’s Sleeping Beauty: who remembers the name of the prince³? I had to look it up despite seeing this movie many times. This is because Maleficent the enemy, is a witch and despite her awesome turn as a dragon the conflict/struggle is more between Maleficent and Aurora (despite her complete inability to champion herself) than the Prince and the Dragon. In Macross Frontier, the true enemy and final boss is the female representation of the executive committee of the Macross Galaxy (government/corporation). She took a female form and controlled an alien queen. The aesthetic of her monstrous form, is female. The lead protagonist Alto, had a mentor in a veteran pilot Ozma Lee who gave him an equivalent of the Brightslap. However, Alto’s main rival is so feminine in appearance (never mind Alto’s own feminine appearance and former career as an actor playing female roles) that manliness is far from the impression that he provides as the main protagonist. Sleeping Beauty’s Prince and Macross Frontier’s Alto (-hime) can still be considered GAR, but only after rationalization and reflection.

So, what of it then?

Sengoku Basara is pushing things to ridiculous extremes, which do create characters/caricatures who are GAR. After three episodes we’ve been treated to quite a few spectacles. The question is, can it be sustained? The other question is, if it is sustained, what can we expect from other works in the future?  I ask these because I’m pestered with this notion that Sengoku Basara isn’t a classic, and isn’t interested in being one. I’ve characterized it as this season’s K-ON! for GAR fags: a fanservice delivery module primarily for fans of gratuitous manliness.

On the one hand, Sengoku Basara should excel at providing GAR spectacle – if my reading of it is correct why shouldn’t it be otherwise? On the other hand, I’m kind of miffed that these awesome feats and depictions of manliness are ‘wasted’ (I apologize for this wholly intentional bit of elitist reasoning) on a show that is little else but a fanservice vehicle; I’d rather see it in the next Tenggen Toppa Gurren Lagann, or other would-be masterpieces or near-masterpieces in the future.

And in yet ANOTHER hand (my most GAR move yet, I’ve been saving this move for a post like this), it doesn’t really matter if Sengoku Basara portrays the most awesome spectacles of manliness ever. Distinctions of ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture are ultimately meaningless especially since the anime is an enjoyment delivery vehicle more than anything else. Future creators/producers/writers would just have to suck it, and make even better demonstrations of awesome manliness.

I submit a conclusion, only because this post needs to be concluded somehow. I acknowledge that the way I’m concluding this post isn’t GAR. It’s not conclusive enough, but here it is anyway: GAR in itself isn’t subject to becoming a cliche. Rather, the tropes that represent GAR, the signals that come our way to portray it — can. I don’t think I’ll be groaning “Oh no not another GAR character!” Rather, I may roll my eyes if another character charges up a wall standing on giant bears or some other ridiculous animal.

Notes:

¹ I don’t really believe that GAR as a concept and as an experience is so complex that it has to be enacted and realized through the interactions of/and gross effect on an entire cast of characters, as lelangir remarks [->]. While such complex interactions and experiences can be had (and perhaps increase one’s fulfillment once analyzed and reflected upon), GAR is a sensory and visceral experience that can be easily triggered by spectacle.

² That said, I still believe G Gundam has the last word, because Master Asia pilots the Master Gundam, and his horse Fuunsaiki pilots a freaking horse mecha that the Master Gundam rides! [->].

³ Prince Philip, named after Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh [->].

Further Reading:

The Animanachronism, via ani-tations (屮゜Д゜)屮, extensive discussion and analysis of GAR [->]

Discussion on discourse between the present and one’s memories: (heavily abridged [->] …so you won’t have to read this [->]).

Sometimes a cigarette is just a cigarette, but only some of the time [->].

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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54 Responses to Bankrupt (Sengoku) Basara: Can the Well of GAR Run Dry?

  1. lolikitsune says:

    No mention of my Date Masamune pic? *offended* 😦

    • ghostlightning says:

      My apologies. One of the things I learned from you — without you having to teach it is that posts can be written in advance and scheduled accordingly (as you did with your 12 days of Christmas 2008 series). This post was written days ago and was supposed to publish April 23, only that IcyStorm wanted me to write about him and hence the previous post was done and published immediately.

      It’s a poor way to make amends, but here is the spectacle of manliness that is Date Masamune [->], the kind of demonstration that Baka-Raptor below deems unfit for GAR.

  2. lelangir says:

    One prerequisite for a GAR experience is that you understand what’s going on – episode 1 of Mazinger Z thoroughly confused the hell out of me as to really turn me off. I just thought it was entirely ridiculous, given I understand there’s a large fanbase ‘n such, it must be good. I’m just not in that audience…yet. In the same way, I couldn’t take the first 10 or so minutes of Giant Robo seriously at all.

    • ghostlightning says:

      One prerequisite to an enjoyable GAR experience, you mean. I’m not going as far to say all GAR experiences will be enjoyable.

      GAR can be experienced through tropes and gestures – which do not require a broad understanding of the narrative (i.e. Boss Borot’s handling of the bomb in Shin Mazinger Z ep. 01 — he defended/mamoru-ed something/somebody in an astounding fashion, and that is enough), and subjectively interpreted at that.

      Not to say that these tropes/gestures are independent, only not that dependent on the narrative.

  3. Nice post, even if I’m not clear on why there was such a long road to a short destination, but it was comprehensive and the notations were nice. Though when you said the thing comparing it to K-On, you should have linked to my post on the luckystarxsenbasa video! Anyway, yeah, I can never have too much GAR. And for me, Oda Nobunaga already had his Crowning Moment of Awesome in episode 2. No entrance has ever compared to that, IMO.

    But anyway, it’s a shame episode 3 and 4 suck ass. This show is nothing without it’s momentum.

    • ghostlightning says:

      It was loads of fun to make – more than anything. Also I wanted to add to the body of work on GAR that Iknight put together which should explain the choices of examples, side topics etc. And there are meta-critical considerations near the end for those who have an interest in such things. (Also, the theme of the post is also excess and spectacle so I went all out!)

      I’ve rewatched episode three with friends a number of times. There’s a lot there to be appreciated I think. It doesn’t suck ass at all. I don’t think that the show is as dependent on momentum as you assert.

  4. lolikitsune says:

    But anyway, it’s a shame episode 3 and 4 suck ass. This show is nothing without it’s momentum.

    Another shame is that the boob ninja is just a disaster.

  5. Baka-Raptor says:

    GAR spectacle

    That’s exactly the problem. I have no interest in flashy GAR. GAR should be about getting shit done, not being spectacular.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Yes I remember your post on Kamina which I believe is relevant to the problem you describe. Flashiness is for entertainment, and Sengoku Basara seeks to entertain a wider base of viewers than to propose models of GAR.

      While I agree with ‘getting shit done,’ I also think it’s not limited to that. For example, Admiral Bucock’s address to Kaiser Lohengramm where he elegantly rejected the latter’s offer and instead choosing death. He failed in the fight, but is quite GAR to me.

      Returning to the subject of flash, it’s a matter of taste and mine just happens to accomodate it too.

      • Baka-Raptor says:

        As I see it, the root of the GAR in Bucock’s speech is that he went into battle knowing he was going to die. If he’d given that speech after losing a battle he had some reasonable chance of winning, it would’ve been substantially less GAR.

        Though I don’t mean to dwell on particular examples. I’m sure you could come up with many examples of GAR that aren’t primarily about getting shit done. I meant “getting shit done” in the limited sense of opposing “flash.” Bucock’s speech may not have been about getting shit done, but it wasn’t flashy. When I wrote my comment, I was thinking about the type of flashy GAR you get from Sengoku Basara’s Red Guy and Blue Guy (I forget their names). When they fight, you see dazzling red and blue swirls streaking across the screen while the clash of their blades generates lightning. It accomplishes nothing. Nobody gets hurt. If one person gets knocked down, he gets right back up and immediately returns to fighting at full strength. There’s no sense of progress in these fights. It’s all eye candy. Empty calories. Fanservice, if that’s what you’re into. I’d rather see one solid punch with lasting effects than these artistic abstractions of a fight.

        • ghostlightning says:

          Gotcha. No I don’t find the literal flashes awesome at all. The less I see them the happier I am. I am however appreciative of the ‘feats,’ that show riding horses up a castle wall, busting gates down with one’s spirit or will, taking down a giant robot with one’s bare hands (stuff getting done) where the literal SFX (flashes of colors, lightning, beams) are perhaps a helpful addition for some viewers.

          You may not appreciate these superhuman feats as much as I do, but this is the spectacle that I’m talking about.

    • lelangir says:

      what about getting shit done in a spectacular fashion. Indeed, doing whatever but in a spectacular fashion can constitute your contextual definition of “getting shit done”. Take, for instance, the dude from Yakitate, the judge dude with the exaggerated reflexes to bread. I’d say he was pretty fukken GAR…but…tasting bread? Yeah, whatever, IT WAS SPECTACULAR!

      In the same way, what about this? Yui gets shit done, but her personality really deters any GAR experience from forming. Goals and personality are two different things that interact in contextual ways.

      • Baka-Raptor says:

        The dude from Yakitate Japan was a loser, and that show sucked. But that’s beside the point.

        Yui gets shit done, except it’s shit anyone can do, and she gets it done in the most inefficient way possible. Though I suppose playing 5 notes on a guitar is more GAR than not being able to play 5 notes on a guitar.

        Getting shit done in a spectacular fashion qualifies as GAR. However, the getting-shit-done part is GAR, whereas the spectacular part is fanservice. I suppose the flash can amplify the GAR, but real men don’t need the flash to appreciate the GAR.

    • lolikitsune says:

      Ultimate Blade Works was spectacular, and it didn’t get shit done. Archer died, remember?

      And Archer is the foundational cornerstone of ‘gar.’

      • Baka-Raptor says:

        I still don’t get what’s so special about Ultimate Blade Works. Granted, I’ve only seen the anime version, but if my understanding is correct, he summons a bunch of swords and picks them up a new one when he needs to. Big deal. The spectacle does not impress me.

        Going into battle knowing you’re going to die is GAR (see Bucock above). It serves a purpose, and Archer did take a few lives of Berserker.

      • lelangir says:

        It got shit done in the sense that it actively transformed the psyches of million of /m/en. This is why I’m not so sure about the “getting shit done” aspect of BK’s GAR, since, technically, all anime plays an active part in people’s minds, therefore, all anime intrinsically accomplishes something. And no, the beginning of Yakitate didn’t suck, but it quickly went downhill ;_;

  6. Panther says:

    Well enjoying Sengoku Basara means you should, as the anime itself suggests, not take it seriously, just sit back, laugh at the stupidity and the manliness. I doubt it will be a long series, considering how the storyline is going now in episode 4, so it should not be too difficult to sustain what it has been bringing us so far.

    • ghostlightning says:

      The lovely thing about this show is that while it plays the ‘don’t take me seriously card,’ there’s a lot of stuff going on that may be worth further examination. This is only becoming apparent after multiple viewings of the same three episodes while sharing the show to friends.

  7. What about those characters that don’t fit specifically into the category of Gar or Moe, but are a bit of both. Itsuki Shishidou from Sora Kake Girl comes to mind.

    As for the whole well running dry question, I’ll just say that if a show like K-On is any example with it’s inexhaustable and constantly in your face moe, and if feeling and presenting gar is anything similar to the way it is with intense moe then I don’t think that any such thing is possible. Of course that doesn’t stop a viewer from filling up on it quickly due to pure GAR or Moe saturation and no longer being thirsty for it.

    • ghostlightning says:

      I don’t think it’s impossible to be both, despite how characters are almost always portrayed and interpreted one way or the other. Iknight is the better person to ask because he wrote on GAR and gender, and watches Sora Kake Girl.

      However, Pontifus over at Superfanicom wrote how a male character can be moe [->]: Max Jenius from SDF Macross through Macross 7. I think Max is a good example of a character traveling what Pontifus termed the ‘gar-moe continuum’.

      There’s a difference between signal and content. Moe and GAR aren’t communicated by characteristics alone. The tropes that mark them are behavior-based. Ergo, these actions and behavior that can become cliché.

    • lelangir says:

      Because GAR and moe are in the viewer, the traits are situational, and cannot be reduced to mere static labels. [This is the same problem clinical psychology has.]

  8. Phäzys says:

    I am Code Geass fan, but even if I weren’t, I’d think Lelouch was pretty GAR, despite being physically weak and a run-of-the-mill Knightmare pilot. I kind of agree with what Baka-Raptor said, being GAR is more about what the person gets done rather than the explicit displays of manliness.

    Code Geass does have moments of both simultaneously though, like when the Guren and Gekka drop through the roof and bow to Lelouch and he says that he’s going to destroy the world and recreate it. I thought that was pretty GAR.

    • ghostlightning says:

      I’ve no problem interpreting Lulu as GAR, see what I said about Prince Philip and Alto-hime above. Lulu just won’t ever be the first character that comes to mind when people are pressed for GAR examples.

  9. Phäzys says:

    er-sorry, I think that ‘GAR” can’t really run dry until it becomes a cliché for all shows, but within one anime, gar can become very stale if its not executed consistently; even if the character doesn’t ‘reduce’ in manliness.

  10. drmchsr0 says:

    Why are you talking and analyzing about a show that can be summed up in a meme.

    Less talky, more

    OYAKATASAMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    YUKIMURAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    OYAKATASAMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    YUKIMURAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    OYAKATASAMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    YUKIMURAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    OYAKATASAMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    YUKIMURAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

    :3

    • ghostlightning says:

      Memes are fun but making all this content is fun too! But I did miss an opportunity here. In hindsight, I would’ve written this before the ‘continue reading’ mark:

      READY GAIS?!?

      PUT YA’ GUNS ON!!!

      and lastly,

      DRMCHRS000000000000000000000000000000000000000

      :3

  11. schneider says:

    Wait ’til we see Nagamasa and Tadakatsu…

    • ghostlightning says:

      Part of my glee I think in enjoying this show is how little I know about it. Mechafetish played the game quite a bit but I didn’t pay him any attention save when he told me Nobonaga’s sister’s seiyuu also played Nina Fortner and Tsukamoto Yakumo.

      Everything is so fresh and new to me!

  12. animekritik says:

    this post was very clear to me even though i haven’t watched 90% of the shows you mentioned. So, what is GAR? If it’s not manliness or courage…

    Saying Sengoku Basara is like K-On! is spot on. I only watched the first ep of Sengoku but what you said is true: high-intensity fanservice delivery mechanisms..

    i don’t quite get your last statement: you seem to imply that Basara would be “high culture” if it portrayed the most awesome feats of happiness, but because it’s simply entertainment then it doesn’t have to worry about being “high” or “low”. I’m 99% sure I’m reading you wrong here though…

    • ghostlightning says:

      High culture – the way we discussed it in class is how ‘artforms’ like opera, ballet, theatre, art films, and ‘literary’ novels are valued.

      In anime terms, I can argue that Ghibli films enjoy this regard; and depending who you ask, Aria, Evangelion, Akira, Turn-A Gundam, Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Macross 7 Monster, etc.

      High culture implies that these works are beyond mere entertainment, and/or a combination of provoking thinking that addresses the human condition, enriching pride and value of/in the medium, gaining worth as a field of study not only in very narrow university courses but also in secondary or even primary schools, etc.

      And whatever isn’t high culture, is low. I have no value judgments towards this and the thinking behind them.

      Sengoku Basara would be considered low culture for sure (given the farcical comic treatment in the 3 episodes I’ve seen, as well as the overall premise, as well as its roots in a video game).

      It shouldn’t worry about anything.

      It’s people who worry about watching shows and who’s watching them watch shows. I have a philosophical distaste for the concept of the ‘guilty pleasure’ – in it’s common use; as this is usually applied in the enjoyment by some of shows like Sengoku Basara and K-ON! as if these viewers should only be seen enjoying LotGH or [insert unilaterally admired show here].

      If I’m going to feel guilty about anything at all, It’d be taking genuine delight watching thousands and thousands of soldiers die in the many space fleet battles in LotGH, rooting for Ikari Gendo despite his deceits, manipulations, and overall evildoing [->] (please check out the link!).

      Let me be clear though: I have nothing against the people who use the term, it’s the concept that I dislike.

      In my final statement I was dealing with my waffling about not wanting the best spectacles of GAR to be featured in a show that I don’t consider (so far) to be in the same league as Gurren Lagann. I ultimately think that it doesn’t matter, that I could probably trust future creators to outdo this and themselves.

  13. animekritik says:

    ok, that’s clearer. but you must be truly evil, to root for gendo. honestly.

  14. DonKangolJones says:

    Loved this blog. I’ll give you points for using Master Asia, who is probably the most GAR character I’ve ever witnessed, in your post. And points for mentioning SSJ2 Gohan’s ruthless dismantling of everything Cell believed. And points for including another Bright/Gundamslap collage with a table graph! You’ve peeked my interest in Sengoku Basara, eventhough after watching shows like Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann & Mobile Fighter G Gundam, I have pretty high standards for GAR.

    To tell you the truth, I don’t even know if I have a real definition for GAR. It is like moe. I know it when I say it, but only have a vague idea as to how I explain it. I continue to struggle to understand the Japanese, day by day.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Thanks man! I’ve been pretty indulgent of myself in this post but it was such fun to write this way.

      After watching the third and fourth episodes of Sengoku Basara which are much slower compared to the first two, I’m tempted to identify yet another subset of GAR: that is the poetic GAR, where the character powerfully makes a statement through aphoristic, maximal, or metaphorical means – as if reciting a poem. I sense the GAR partly because either the subject matter or the subject that triggered the event is fighting or war (implying that there is someone/something to protect or that feats as described above have been done or are about to be).

      I find Sengoku Basara quite interesting for this. Viewers who watch it exclusively for the action and lulz are missing out on this particular mode of fanservice.

      • lelangir says:

        What do you mean “powerfully makes a statement”? In that case, the manner in which hyperbole is articulated is irrelevant simply because it’s hyperbolic, at least in my definition of GAR. You could say charismatic GAR is defined by hyperbolic/superb oratory skills, and doing so poetically – as opposed to nonpoetically – is a further distinction you can make.

        • ghostlightning says:

          You could say charismatic GAR is defined by hyperbolic/superb oratory skills, and doing so poetically – as opposed to nonpoetically

          Is much closer to what I think I’m beginning to identify. Yang’s lectures/speeches/conversations about power, democracy, and government are like this but the power isn’t in the delivery or presentation but in the thinking behind the statements.

          In Buckock’s speech, there is something poetic in it, but the delivery is understated. But charisma abounds perhaps due to the circumstances in which he makes the statements.

          I’m beginning to think that delivery is important: Kamina’s speeches, Simon’s responses to the Anti-Spirals, Lord Genome’s speech to the Anti-Spirals, these are closer to what I’m talking about.

          The examples in Sengoku Basara are distinct in that they are delivered in moments of contemplation rather than confrontation.

          I’m not altogether sure but I’m definitely considering this.

          • lelangir says:

            I’d agree that, generally, every SPEECH in TTGL is of epic GAR proportions. They’re visceral, raw, cathartic, purposive. What else do you need for GAR?

            But for LoGH, man, that really complicates things. There’s this ONE Merkatz line – and that’s all it is, he says “well done” – but I find it soooooo powerful. I can’t remember off the top of my head what ep/time it is, but it’s when Yang circles around an imperial fleet after thoroughly mind esplosioning them and proceeds to raep them. After they’re hastily wiped out, Merkatz says “well done”, but, it’s really hard to convey in text the subtlety of the voice acting.

            In this regard, what would you say about Jesus Minci’s words to the Kaiser in his battle gear near exhaustion? Situation? Eloquence? Eloquence of the situation?

          • ghostlightning says:

            “Well done” is powerful, but I find it hard to perceive it as GAR. It’s a timely, succinct (but eloquent!), statement with so much water under it. Well done, but not GAR.

            I find it difficult to see Jesus Minci as GAR, but it may be a bias on my part. Check that, it is a bias on my part. If Yang himself had done and said those things I wouldn’t think twice about GARifying it classification-wise.

            After all, Kittan in his death had none of the eloquence of Jesus M. and yet I easily grant it, I don’t think Jesus had less of a struggle. And yet, he had the wit and eloquence to make the moment more dramatic than it already is – without necessarily acting hyperbolically theatrical.

            The wonderful thing about that moment is Jesus created an opportunity for the Kaiser to display GAR magnanimousness/honoring the opponent.

            Shit, thanks for reminding me of this.

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  16. Well enjoying Sengoku Basara means you should, as the anime itself suggests, not take it seriously, just sit back, laugh at the stupidity and the manliness. I doubt it will be a long series, considering how the storyline is going now in episode 4, so it should not be too difficult to sustain what it has been bringing us so far.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Man, I totally sympathize with this approach. But you know, there is also way to enjoy Sengoku Basara; by taking it totally seriously. I’ve only begun to see it after four episodes — well after I’ve written this post. When expectations are low you leave yourself open to pleasant surprises.

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