Deifying Anime Characters: Do You Remember Love?

suzumiya-haruhi

[Discussion Begins at Kaioshin_Sama’s post: Deux ex Anime]

Suzumiya Haruhi made religion cool, or at least moé. A brash and obnoxious know-it-all high school girl who also happens to be devastatingly attractive as a literal goddess is quite a brilliant concept (it will sell! and it did!). Religion is big and serious business. Consider how the concept of the megachurch as explored by James B. Twitchell in his book ‘Branded Nation,’ (2004)

A brand is a commecial story, a folk tale on the take. Because it’s a story, it promises an emotion. As such, it is evanescent, always in the process of being told and retold. It can be easily hijacked, subverted, destroyed, rewritten. As Walt Whitman once said, before there are good stories, before there are poetic tellers, there must be “great audiences.” That’s because a storyteller is really always dependent on his audience for direction. Like telling children bedtime stories, the teller/bard/pastor/curator/schoolteacher needs to know not just which version they want but which version they are ready for. If he’ll listen, they’ll tell him. “Tell me about Little Red Riding Hood and this time really describe the wolf,” says the maturing child. “Tell me about redemption, except this time forget the fires of Hell,” says the modern seeker.

Twitchell is talking more about the marketing of modern religion in the United States, but there are nuggets in that passage worth taking with us in the ‘creative’ reading of anime. The stunning popularity of Suzumiya Haruhi I can read to be a result of the pseudo-scientific/religious preparation of the fandom through Neon Genesis Evangelion. After all, it had complex psychology (complex for its shounen audience); weird and haphazard use of Judeo-Christian elements, subversion of anime tropes it references, and very attractive teenage girls. Speaking for myself, Eva prepared me for SHNY. I was the kind of audience who’d find Haruhi turning out to be a goddess quite brilliant indeed.

So, being part of the audience, and wanting to be an awesome kind of audience, I’m going to make a god of an anime character. God is the biggest, grandest, and best of concepts. It doesn’t get any more… anything, period. We form heirarchies using God as the ultimate tier (interestingly, shit is the lowest). This is not a sincere attempt at deification or even canonization, but rather an attempt at a reading of a character as deity within the context of contemporary anime deification out of foppery and whim.

Lin Minmei/Ling Mingmei/Lynn Minmay

minmay hair

She saved two races with song, uniting them (Earth humans and the Zentraedi) and creating a legacy that prevented galactic destruction. She saved everyone, she made entire races remember love, and then disappeared (in an expeditionary mission). Humanity is still waiting for her return. In Macross 7 Dr. Gadget M. Chiba (don’t ask me, I couldn’t make this up if I tried) is undoubtedly the high priest should there exist a true religious Minmei cult. The good doctor developed a weapons system based on an energy he called ‘Sound Force’ that was key in preventing the Protodevlin from destroying most life in the galaxy. This Sound Force has to be delivered through song in the midst of battle, a fitting homage to the legacy of Minmay.

Possible Believers: Suzumiya Haruhi {Minmay already interacted with aliens and saved the world WITH SONG while being Haruhi’s age (15-16)! God knows how Haruhi would eat that up}, Simon Fuller (after all, Minmay is a product of a pageant/talent show).

God knows is a great moment. I love it. I’ve seen it dozens of times (a dozen times last week alone). I mean, a 16 year old on a whim saving the Keion club’s memories of high school — allowing them to distribute their music to many students. Even if half the band can’t make it to the performance, Haruhi and Nagato made sure the cultural festival goers would LISTEN TO THEIR SONG!

But then see Minmay’s performance. She held her concert in the last pitched battle between the belligerent Zentraedi and the Earth human-Zentraedi alliance. The battle involved over 1,000,000 capital ships, and innumerable fighter craft and mecha. Her song decided the battle. It’s a simple ballad, a question that stirred the dormant hearts of an alien race genetically engineered to suppress their own culture, their emotions, and the very concept of romantic love. This song is the question that this blog answers in almost every post. DO YOU REMEMBER LOVE?

We Remember Love.

LET’S REMEMBER LOVE WITH OMAKE!

God Knows LIVE! (Hirano Aya, contemporary pop idol)

Do You Remember Love LIVE! (Iijma Mari at the dawn of the idol phenomenon)

And now she performs at Rock Masters 5 (at least over 20 years later)

So, who else do you think will work as anime gods or goddesses? Who do you think will be their worshippers?

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.
This entry was posted in comparative, fanboy, Gundam and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Deifying Anime Characters: Do You Remember Love?

  1. Nice post. I too saw Haruhi after Evangelion (with nothing in between actually!!!) and I had also soon after Evangelion come to terms with the idea that I, myself, was, in fact, god, and therefor found Haruhi very relatable. I do so even more now since I’ve adopted her personality to a science. I love the concept of her as god, and even moreso to think about her own beliefs in herself as a potential god and also as a teenage girl. In her own way, I think Haruhi does know that she is god.

    As for characters to potentially be treated as gods, there’s obviously the gods that are anime characters in Martian Successor Nadesico and perhaps Gai Daigoji as well.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Hahahaha, with nothing in between! I don’t think I agree with your take on Haruhi’s cognizance of her godhood but you do present an interesting idea.

      The Jovian Lizards venerating the Gekigan Team is just insane.

  2. sadakups says:

    I can’t believe you linked Macross to the travesty that is Suzumiya Haruhi.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Travesty? WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW

      If you’re serious then you had better state your case rather than say that as if it were self evident. If not, you risk portraying yourself as a fail troll 00000000000000000000000000000/10.

      I’ll welcome your thoughts on it. I do think that SHNY is not only a very good show and has captivated my own fancy. More than that, it knows how to remember love (if you know where to look).

      • sadakups says:

        Yeah, I was just trolling. 😛

        • ghostlightning says:

          WWWWWWwww TROLL HARDER!

          Did you see the part in SHNY (the next-episode preview for the cultural fest ep) when there’s this HUEG Macross reference?

          It’s a pretty cool shout out!

          • sadakups says:

            I fail at trolling. 😦

            I don’t remember a Macross reference, but I guess I’ll check it out if I find time. But I do remember during The Day of Sagittarius episode, they showed a blurred image of the RX-78-2 launching.

          • ghostlightning says:

            Oh I should check that out then! I completely missed that!

          • sadakups says:

            Truth be told though, the God Knows scene is the only thing that I liked about the anime series.

            And which between you and Kaioshin Sama did the god article first? 😛

          • ghostlightning says:

            Well, that scene is set up in the previews by the Macross reference.

            Kaio and I wrote the posts as a joint project. It was his idea as can be seen in his more comprehensive post, and he invited me to take part in it. Alas, I couldn’t think past Minmei wwwwww but I made sure she was worshiped by someone with clout.

          • gloval says:

            Wat, you spotted the Macross reference but not the Gundam reference? With the way they did it (all those bleep and mosaic censors), the Gundam one is hard to miss. Also, if I’m not mistaken, we also see the captain of Space Battleship Yamato on the CD cover. But the game is all about LotGH and I have no complaints on that.

          • ghostlightning says:

            You may be mixing up things with Raki Sutaa.

            The space battle is a Capt. Tylor reference I think.

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  4. The best way to put it is that Haruhi wouldn’t think of the word ‘God’ in regards to herself, but some of the things she does think she can do are powers that only a god would possess. Or rather, she does at least expect things to go her way. She is surprised by the actual effects of some of her actions, but she does think that she is something more than a high school girl.

    Anyway, FUCK! I forgot my two favorite goddesses!!! Lain Iwakura of Serial Experiments Lain, who becomes something akin to god when she achieves omnipresence and desynchronizes the minds of humanity. There’s also Yurie Hitotsubashi of Kamichu! who is a middle school girl who is also a goddess (this is the plot of the show) both of them have followers within their show.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Again you use your prodigious consumption of anime to come up with great examples. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to keep up, not at my age anyway.

      If you do have an irrational expectation for things to always go your way, and that they actually do most of the time, there is some logical leap that you can view yourself to be some kind of god.

  5. gloval says:

    I’ll mention again This Ugly Yet Beautiful World. It’s a Gainax anniversary offering that didn’t get quite famous. The god in that anime is the origin and end of planetary life, whose task is to visit worlds to destroy the current life and recreate a new one. The anime is also a love story, and this is not Haruhi Suzumiya nor Evangelion, so things get cheesy at the end.

    For me, the gods in the Macross universe would be the Protoculture, the Protodeviln and Basara. Recently, Grace O’Connor tried to be a god, but failed because she misunderstood and misused the Power of Music/Culture/Love. Actually, we’re not too sure of the fate of the Protoculture. If they died out, then we could consider them failed gods because they also misunderstood and misused the Power of Music/Culture/Love and realized their mistake too late. The Protodeviln could be considered gods “redeemed” by Basara.

    • ghostlightning says:

      I’ll look up that GAINAX show, it does seem interesting though its lack of attention may be due to some deficiency in quality.

      Good work in identifying Grace O’ Connor’s attempt at godhood. I think I explored this here [->]

      But even better imagining the Protodevlin as gods redeemed by Basara. Now that’s some power to the dream I can get behind. Do you really see Gepelnich being redeemed though? Or is this redemption limited to Sivil and Gigil. OH THE BEAUTY OF CHEESY VILLAINS!

      • yeah, this ugly yet beautiful world pretty much sucked. It’s 100% cliche moe romance anime with 2 or 3 random fights and a random attempt at a deep plot at the end that is hideously forced. One of the only anime I’ve ever fallen asleep while watching. It wasn’t really THAT terrible, it just had nothing going for it besides tits.

      • gloval says:

        I’m with digitalboy on his take on This Ugly Yet Beautiful World. And I must say it was cheesy all throughout, not just at the end. Oh well, I was in it for the moe and cheese and the apocalyptic themes.

        Anyway, I haven’t completed Macross 7 so I can’t provide a definite answer, but from what I see, Gepelnich was “redeemed” in the sense that Basara had shown him the true way of Music/Culture/Love (and got a halo at the end lololol). He just had that godlike pride in him to declare the Galaxy as no longer fit for his new being, so he’ll just go somewhere else.

  6. Cuchlann says:

    You’re forgetting that Minmay’s tool (song) is a prototypical tool for deities, both mythological and fictional. How many gods sang the world into being?

    • ghostlightning says:

      Right, Ea itself was sung into being through the music of the Ainur. In the Robotech novels, Protoculture is both an energy source and an agent of universal evolution called the ‘Shapings.’ Music is an important trigger or agent for this to happen. When the whole mess cleared up and the major antagonists transported themselves into another dimension (the Shapings as it were dangerous to humans was averted) started all over again in that place, the clone of the scientist Zor being the father (as the original initiated the Shapings in the previous dimension) but this time Minmay was going to be the mother. The flowers of life, the Invid race all listen to her song.

      I have since called Robotech’s Minmay (and for other reasons too!) the Vagina of the Universe.

  7. God Knows may have had some of the best animation in a concert sequence in any anime, but Macross Flashback 2012 and Do You Remember Love had more heart. Putting on one last concert after you’ve faded from the limelight to nobody but those that really matter to you….that kind of scene stays with you.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Now what I really want is that level of animation put in a Fire Bomber or even just a Sheryl concert scene.

      1, 2, 3, 4
      1, 2, 3, 4
      1, 2, 3, 4
      1, 2!

      • gloval says:

        The last time I watched anime and heard

        1, 2, 3, 4
        1, 2, 3, 4

        the song that came up was

        Kimi wo miteru to itsu mo haato DOKI☆DOKI
        Yureru omoi ha mashumaro mitai ni fuwa☆fuwa…

        The singer was so cute and sports long black hair. But she’s rather shy so I knew it wasn’t Minmay. LOLOLOLOL

  8. Just in case people missed it and curious there is more to this article that expands beyond Minmay and Haruhi.

  9. animekritik says:

    of course, there are those who would argue that hirano, rather than haruhi, is the actual god. that’s a silly opinion to hold on to, but i’ve seen it mentioned somewhere…

    I like haruhi and lain. i’m also really partial to the “avatar” notion used in India, which I can easily apply to my favorite anime characters across different series and canons. this is especially easy with characters sharing the same creator, designer, or seiyuu. In the case of two characters sharing the same seiyuu, the characters could be said to be avatars of the seiyuu, or both characters AND seiyuu could be avatars of a fourth, undisclosed entity…

    • ghostlightning says:

      Avatar is like a ‘descent’ or incarnation amirite? That’s pretty cool, as even I can imagine/delude myself in thinking I am an avatar of x awesome/deified anime idol/hero. I mean, “WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK I AM?” sounds so much better relative to the concept. wwwww

  10. vendredi says:

    So is this a case of “Shinji the Pilot Prepares the Way”, or more of a “There is no God but Haruhi, and Ikari is her prophet”? =P

    Also, to follow up on Cuchlann’s thoughts, even if song is not a tool of a deity per se, singing nevertheless seems to always find a role as an expression of religious feeling or devotion; consider Christian hymns, various chants, etc.

    • ghostlightning says:

      I don’t think it was Shinji per se, because there’s nothing so godly about any of the characters in Eva. Even the Angels seemed flawed and incomplete. If there was anyone, it would be GNR (GIANT NAKED REI).

      I think the chaotic beings that rip the place apart (Koizumi and the ESPers control them) would be cool if they were all kind of GNRs.

      Singing, yes indeed. The first music I imagine were attempts to communicate with the divine through rhythm and dance: to invoke fertility, bless endeavors (war, hunting, gathering, mating, etc.), and these practices persevered through religion. Popular music and revelry I imagine to be derivatives of religious music and dance.

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