Metapher und Kritik (practical)
Le me give some concrete examples on my use of metaphors/models in my anime posts.
If you’re interested in any of them please use the Search bar (I don’t like linking to my own posts). Links in the post~ Here we go:
Theology is a rich field. The best minds in the West dedicated themselves to Christian theological problems for the better part of a millennium, and it’s no wonder that many of the ideas and debates in this battleground are applicable elsewhere.
The guiding metaphor in this post is: Harlock is God.
What is God? Well, that’s an excellent question, and if you ask several people you’ll unveil the fact that in our society it is not at all one concept but a cluster of ideas, as Black said most subjects in a metaphor are.
Many things can happen if you take the metaphor in this post too literally. First, assuming you have a view of God as an omniscient, omnipotent being, you’ll have trouble reconciling that with Harlock’s troubles in his career as a pirate. You might even bemoan the fact that by calling Harlock divine I might be stripping him of his humanity. But as we established earlier, the thrust of this process is not strip the principal subject of anything, but to enrich it and see it in different, suggestive ways.
I think there is a lot to be gained by thinking of Harlock (and many other heroes in fiction) in this manner. I also think that in the best metaphors the principal subject will actually intervene (more or less violently) in the subsidiary subject, so that by the end not only our notion of the pirate captain, but that of divinity itself, will be shaken and transformed.
I have mapped theology onto anime several times: in posts like Micura Asahina Regina Otacorum (metaphor: Mikuru is Christ), K-On! 2: There is a God (metaphor: Tsumugi is God), Kyon Falls from Heaven (metaphor: Kyon is Lucifer) and so forth. The Haruhi franchise seems to bring out the best (or worst) in bloggers!
Exhibit Two – (Electric) Power and Matsumoto: The Case of Planet Ena
I like to go the opposite way, too. The metaphor driving this post is: Maetel is human. I wasn’t trying to say that she was a flesh and blood human being in the show rather than a machine (this in itself is a fascinating debate that I will have to deal with some day!) but that she was literally human, that she was aware of being inside an animated series and that the best way to describe her was as an actress playing a character instead of simply being a character per se.
I don’t think many people have tried to use this anime-character-as-actor model in their thinking about anime [though look at this!], but I wholeheartedly recommend it. Such issues as exploitation, to name a big one, come into relief when we use models and metaphors like this.
I think I first did this in a post called Poaching CANAAN’s Liang Qi… (metaphor: Liang Qi is human), though implicitly I was already examining Shibusen as a real school in my Soul Eater posts, allowing me to accuse author Okubo of lying to us about events (check out the comment section of my post How Mad is Soul Eater? (and Perverse, and Schizo, and Neurotic).
Exhibit Three – Spiritual Progress of Faye Valentine
Something inside tells me that my handling of the two subjects in this post is bolder and goes deeper than the theological ones I mentioned above. In this case the basic metaphor can work both ways, because it compares two anime characters: Faye Valentine is Rei Ayanami, Rei Ayanami is Faye Valentine.
There is a lovely philosophical game here insofar as the voice actress behind both characters is the same person, and so we can bring in all sorts of wonderful concepts like content and form, noumenon (=Megumi Hayashibara) and phenomena (Faye and Rei), hypostatic union etc. The metaphor has an additional, temporal dimension, because the gist of my argument was that Faye was a grownup Rei (which happens to chime in well with the chronological relationship between the two shows as indeed Cowboy Bebop is newer than Neon Genesis Evangelion).
I don’t stop at comparison between anime characters. I also wrote a post called Yoshitoshi ABe is Rakka!!, where the title itself is a metaphor identifying an anime character with her creator.
This one deserves a separate mention: the coupling of a voice actress and an anime character with the matter of Theology, which throughout the existence of this blog I have consistently held to in the form of a metaphorical syllogism:
Aya Hirano is Haruhi
Haruhi is God
Therefore Aya Hirano is God
The truth is that this syllogism is not the true syllogism. It flows nicely and it’s the first one that comes to mind, but it isn’t correct. Here’s the correct version:
God is Haruhi
Haruhi is Aya Hirano
Therefore God is Aya Hirano
To apotheosize Aya is silly, but to see God in Haruhi and then Haruhi in Aya, doesn’t this vision break down walls and open vistas to worlds heretofore unknown and unthought? I think it does, just as Pierre Menard’s rewriting of Don Quixote did, though maybe it’s just another example of my inclination to worship Beauty.