A few weeks ago Karandi from 100wordanime held a contest to celebrate the fact that she had started her Facebook page for her blog. The price for this would be a post written by her on any topic the winner would like. To my big surprise I recieved a message from her telling me that I had won the price! 😀 Now I think most of you already know her as she is I think without a doubt one of the most active bloggers of us all. Pretty much everywhere that I look she manages to give a reaction to posts by other blogs, and also writes a ton of stuff every day for her own blog. She also is one of the kindest persons amongst us, always giving a nice response and needless to say I have the utmost respect for her. It was a great honor to have won this contest, and I asked her to write a post about one of my favorite topics, the post apocalyptic genre. She has made a terrific post for it, the result of which you can find below. All words below are written by her, so if you have yet to discover her wonderful blog, please head over there and subscribe now. I certainly have enjoyed this post, and because it can’t be said enough: thank you very much Karandi for this great price.
Embracing the End of Life as we know it.
This post is for Raistlin who won the 100 Word Anime on Facebook launch competition. Thanks as always Raistlin for your support and for the great topic.
What is the appeal of post-apocalyptic stories? Really, they are set after the end of civilisation as we know it so you could almost assume that any story worth telling was already done and finished. Why not go back and talk about that mutating virus, that war, those final days before the asteroid hit or before the aliens conquered humanity and wiped out everything else?
Well, because that’s hardly the end of the story.
As Ian Malcolm put it in Jurassic Park (or at least the script writers did): life finds a way.
The end of the world is fun and all and watching people try to survive the cataclysm can certainly be good for a few laughs, tears and gasps of surprise, but the more meaningful story, or at least I’ve always found, is in what happens next. What are the next steps for those who don’t disappear in a blaze of glory or have their candle snuffed out?
As usual, anime has a plethora of examples to draw upon when thinking about any particular genre. And while I was very tempted to make this an Evangelion post when Raistlin first gave me the topic, I resisted temptation because I still haven’t actually gotten around to writing my review of that anime, and ultimately Evangelion is about an absolute refusal to embrace an unpleasant reality and about the many ways people escape or fight against a grim reality.
So where did I look instead?
I actually had to start with Trigun. While not set on Earth, the story takes place after humans for whatever reason have left Earth to colonise another planet, but due to a particular individual they end up crashing onto a desert planet where survival is quite the feat even before you throw in a certain lawless lifestyle. Despite this, and despite some clearly villainous characters, the main cast of Trigun are decidedly optimistic in their outlook on life. Sure, survival is hard, but while the overall situation can’t change, small steps can be taken each day to secure survival and to help others.
It’s really impossible to watch Trigun and not be infected by Vash’s positive outlook. He isn’t some young and naive child clinging to a dream or an illusion to escape the daily grind. He knows how bad things are and he even knows he is actually responsible for some of the issues, and yet he’ll still flash most people that cheeky smile of his and hit them with “Love and Peace”.
No. 6 is another anime where a main character lives in a world that has been essentially destroyed and the only survivors are in the numbered cities. Privileges are quite restricted and as a child, owing to his intelligence, Shion was on track for a very good life. However, one act of compassion, helping a run-away child, had both Shion and his mother face hardships.
Now, in some stories this would be where the main character became bitter and twisted and would vow revenge against the regime, but Shion is mostly accepting of the situation. He continues to act in a way that doesn’t damage his personal integrity, while finding ways to compromise within the frame of the law. Ultimately his hand is forced and he does go into hiding and finds himself at odds with the city, but even then most of his actions are to save the city rather than to see it brought low.
Both of these characters demonstrate strength and perseverance in the face of inequality and injustice. They put the lives of others before themselves and they seek, in small ways, to make their worlds just a little bit brighter for those around them.
And for me, this is what I love about post apocalyptic stories. They give the best and worst characteristics that humanity carries with them a chance to shine.