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Gen’ei wo Kakeru Taiyou – 03 »« Gen’ei wo Kakeru Taiyou – 01

Gen’ei wo Kakeru Taiyou – 02

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「血塗られた未来」 (Chinura Reta Mirai)
“The Blood-Soaked Future”

This is a magical girl show not about what it’s like to risk death, but what it’s like to kill.

Away From Home, On To School

Last week, some commenters mentioned that the episode seemed awfully fast, but it didn’t bother me that much. This week, I saw what they meant. The episode progressed quickly from Akari waking up after being unconscious to her being in class at her new school. Bwuh? It was a bit dizzying. But what really got me was the fact that she wasn’t given any training in how to fight. From a storytelling perspective, I understand why they did that, especially in light of what happens later on – they wanted to save that until the end. Still, what the hell? It seems like they could have come up with a better reason than “We like to learn about fighting during battle.” That’s a good way to end up a corpse.

To Kill, Each And Every Time

Speaking of a corpse, I was almost ready to lower my opinion of Gen’ei, but the end brought it back. First of all, this show really is the most evocative when they’re in the mirror world – that’s where those character designs and all the visual flair work the best. They don’t hinder the story when it’s in the real world or anything, they just don’t sing like they do when they’re fighting.

Past that though, the battle brought up brought up an interesting philosophical question that I hope this series is going to fully tackle. In a lot of fiction, killing is done pretty freely. I could point out some anime examples, but anime really isn’t the problem here. Exhibit A: modern “realistic” triple A FPS video games. Exhibit B: Hollywood blockbusters. Exhibit C: Refer to Exhibits A & B again. There’s enough killing done that those of us who consume this media have largely stopped actually thinking about the moral conundrums it should entail – we can wade through rivers of blood in a video game, and only when it gets to ridiculous levels ala God of War do we start to go hey, guys, this shit is getting excessive. Maybe. That’s a pretty big maybe.

From the looks of it, Gen’ei is going to take us back to the root of it by having our magical girls be not victims, but murderers. The emotional weight that comes with killing someone on each and every time mission… And not only kill them, but erase them completely, making it as if they never even existed at all. Dark stuff, and an interesting philosophical and moral question that isn’t tackled as often as it probably ought to be.

Looking Ahead

Hard to say where exactly this will go, save that I hope they delve into the moral quandary I talked about above. I’m going to give this one more episode before I decide whether I’m going to pick it up for the season or not, so we’ll see if they can tackle some of their pacing problems while continuing to deliver interesting episodes that take a new spin on the “magical girls in pain” genre. Is that even a genre? Screw it, I’m calling it, it is now.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – This is a magical girl show not about what it’s like to risk death, but what it’s like to kill #geneitaiyou

Random thoughts:

  • I had hilarious random thoughts for you, but I didn’t save the file I was writing them on, and then my computer crashed. Twice. Always save your files, my friends! And don’t use Notepad. Stupid lack of auto-save…
  • Something something lesbians something. Seriously, two crashes!? DAMN YOU COMPUTER GODS *shakes fist*

For more from yours truly, check out my blog on writing, art, and the book I’m working on at stiltsoutloud.com.

Full-length images: 08, 18, 23, 24, 25.

 

Preview

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July 13, 2013 at 10:04 pm
41 comments »
  • July 13, 2013 at 10:17 pmKanon

    I’m pretty hopeful at the direction that they’ve chosen to take this show. The fact that the girls are faced with the weight of actually erasing a person completely from existence can bring an interesting dynamic to the show and really make or break it, depending on how it is or isn’t addressed in the coming episodes.

    • July 14, 2013 at 12:46 amGreyman

      Indeed. The opening really sets the mood; bright pastel cuties in a dark gothic cemetery. That juxtaposition can really make or break this series.

      So many magical girl shows simply have the monster of the week conveniently blown away to dust, and any possessed people are purified with no memory or ill effects. Everyone just blithely goes on with their lives as though nothing happened.

      Here the reset button isn’t quite as effective. There’s a bloody corpse left behind; albeit only in the battle world, and the girls must deal with the fact that to stop the monster they must kill the person. Erasing memory of that person from the world protects them from outside consequences, but not from their inner turmoil.

      It’ll be interesting to see how it develops.

  • July 13, 2013 at 10:46 pmDude

    Erasing people instead of killing them is the easy mode of a grimdark world.

    • July 13, 2013 at 11:08 pmStilts

      I disagree. Yes, it gets rid of the legal problems, but it’s way worse than killing someone. They’re not just destroying a life, they’re destroying everything they were and everybody they effected. That’s a million times worse, because the people they kill can’t even be mourned – they just never were. I think that’s what they’ll delve into.

      • July 13, 2013 at 11:33 pmbaltar

        Is that really so bad? There’s no sense of loss or mourning for those who were erased, because they never even existed. Their lives end up completely unaffected. It is only painful for those like the magical girls who are apparently outside the erasure, and know what they’ve done. Knowing all the loss they’ve caused would be crippling for them, like it was for Akarin~, but as far as her aunt and uncle were concerned, they never even had a daughter to mourn.

      • July 13, 2013 at 11:48 pmDude

        I disagree Stilts. It is only a problem if the disappearance leaves a noticeable gap in the knowledge of the world and people within that world. But if they had disappeared like Kaname Madoka-style, it isn’t so much as grimdark but a very merciful act of ending an existence with minimum fuss.

        Not even a body to fuss over.

      • July 14, 2013 at 12:07 amGreyman

        Not quite, Dude. It looks like the body hangs around long enough for the girls to have to deal with it, emotionally at least. And it seems Seira is having trouble doing so.

      • July 14, 2013 at 1:20 amPasserby

        I guess, philosophically, if a tree falls in a forest…

        Mourning is not for the dead; it is for the living, to deal with their grief. The dead are gone to a better place or oblivion or whatever your spiritual subscription is. If these killed people simply never existed then there can be no grief and no need for mourning.
        From a nihilistic standpoint, this is a far better outcome than normal death. Cleaner for everyone involved. For those who put more stock in the immortal soul, however, it’s a rather different consideration.

      • July 14, 2013 at 2:40 amStilts

        That’s a very utilitarian point of view. Yes, it is cleaner for all involved. But think of it this way: when someone is killed, the killer is stealing their future, both for them and for all those they would otherwise effect. Here, however, they’re not only destroying their future, but their pasts as well. It’s cleaner, but they’re destroying not only everything they might do, but everything they did. Everything that they ever were or could be, gone from the world in an instan–

      • July 14, 2013 at 3:01 amPasserby

        Still, perhaps paradoxically, the erasure option is still the one with the least consequence. If the world can neatly rearrange itself to heal our abuses of causality and there is none the wiser, it is equivalent to a world where nothing has been lost, and arguably where no murder has occured.

        Of course, it gets messier, perhaps, if the erasure of this individual does affect the world significantly e.g. the Red Alert (erasing Hitler) scenario. And also, of course, if you put more significance into the worth of an individual. Again, there are certainly schools of philosophy for this, but I don’t necessarily subscribe to any; I merely list arguments.

      • July 14, 2013 at 4:41 amHarpy12

        Part of the problem here is that the show is essentially dodging itself. It wants to deal with the morals of killing someone, ok. They decide to remove external consequences for doing so in a very convenient manner, so all you’re left with is the internal conflict it causes and the conflict between the characters who exist completely outside of society in that regard.

        If the writers wanted to deal with moral codes, they should not have cut the rest of the world out of the picture in such a lazy manner. You’re dealing with something that the standard for is set by a group of people, and enforced by a group of people, and then going and saying “hey both of those don’t matter here because the character’s don’t have to deal with them.”

        In the end it’s just the usual weak writing present in anime, because I seriously doubt they intended this to be an expose on what would happen if there were no consequences. Let’s face it, we’re not even talking about killing plain old people and erasing them here – we’re talking about people who have become irreversibly inhuman and evil, so the whole morality of the issue has even less impact, unless Akari starts running around offing non-evil, non-possessed folks because she went bat-shit crazy from grief. Now, if that happened, I’d give the show props for the descent of a character into madness, but I seriously doubt we’re in for any kind of truly unique ride.

      • July 14, 2013 at 12:42 pmStilts

        Once again, I disagree. Though I used the term murderer, this is actually more like a soldier killing an enemy soldier – they have cause, it’s to (presumably/hopefully) save others, and there won’t be any consequences for having killed the person, but they still have to deal with ending that life. That life of someone who is just like them, has a family and a girl/boy back home and doesn’t really want to fight, etc.

        Having them deal with the legal problems as well might be interesting – and that could still happen, who knows – but it clouds the issue it looks like they want to delve into. No reason to try to do too much, or else they’ll fail at it all.

      • July 14, 2013 at 5:31 pmPasserby

        I can understand your point, Harpy12. It is true that killing and death in real life is messy and complicated. This erasure business is an awfully sanitised version with questionable real world parallel, which may make any didactic value ultimately irrelevant.

        However, we can afford to be a bit more positively minded before dismissing the writing of anime as being generally bad. I suppose there really is quite a bit of bad, but there is a lot of good as well, though I must admit that I will always be a bit of an anime apologist. For the current case, consider how Stilts argues that these are not murderer, but more the killing of enemy combatants, which I suppose is a very American point of view. Ultimately, though, the difference between a murder and a homicide and a justified self-defence is a matter of law; it is a societal judgment. Perhaps Genei espouses an internal and objective moral compass. Perhaps there will be conflict about their consequence free-vigilantism. Perhaps it will examine the value of unenforceable law.

        Will it? I wouldn’t exactly put money on it. But there’s no need be entirely pessimistic while so many possibilities still exist.

        By the way, I know I mention this further down the comments, but if you really want to get into the nitty gritty of morality and murder, Darker than Black is fairly good for it. Full disclosure: I write part-time for a blog pretty much inspired by it, so my recommendation carries a lot of bias.

      • July 14, 2013 at 9:51 pmStilts

        Also, bear in mind Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of everything is crap. Perhaps 90% of anime is crap (though I wouldn’t argue that myself), but if so, it’s damn well true that everything else is as well. You just have to look for the best in every medium.

        Or, ya know, be less pessimistic. I’ve never found pessimism to be very profitable myself, but optimism damn well is.

    • July 13, 2013 at 11:29 pmHarpy12

      I have to agree.

      The show has me asking questions too much without any good answers. Why does killing a possessed person erase them from existence? How does this even work aside from the weak blanket explanation provided so far?

      Does existence rearrange itself so that everything that was left behind by the erased person suddenly has a proper explanation to the people that would have remembered the person if they had just died? If it were a person that had caused large changes in the world and to a lot of people, all of that would have to suddenly take on a new meaning to explain the erasure from existence and memory. The changes people effect on the world are like ripples.

      It’s too convenient. As a writer, if you’re not prepared to deal with such a monumental issue, don’t even set foot into that realm in the first place. Deal with it, don’t sweep it under the rug. If you don’t want to deal with it, have the bad guys you kill be something other than a human, ala older magical girl villains.

      Seems to me that this show is another case of a show that is in a position to do something really good, and they step in the other direction, for whatever reason. Especially… having a character specifically say that they don’t have to deal with the consequences? Ugh.

      The real-world consequences of killing a person like this could be such a gold mine for character development and story in a show. I don’t know why writers run in the other direction when something as juicy as this presents itself.

      I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at this point, given the level of writing that most anime tends to have behind it.

      • July 14, 2013 at 12:17 amGreyman

        The effect seems to erase memories and records from people and objects, rather than rearrange past events. Thus Fuyuna’s journal was full of blank pages, but the journal itself still existed for Akari to find.

      • July 14, 2013 at 12:51 amelior1

        i think they want to save the rest of the explanation for later episodes.this is only firsts episodes i dont think we will get all the information so soon it always like this.also i dont know much about tarot cards but can somone explain me what is the relation between the Star and ice, the Moon and plants, and Temperance and coins

    • July 22, 2013 at 11:16 pmStranger

      What you have to ask yourself, dude- is how you’d feel to be the one erased.

      Sure- once it’s all said and done, it doesn’t matter- but for your very last moments, you know that- once you’re gone- nobody would remember you.

      Between that and death- which would you prefer?

  • July 13, 2013 at 11:13 pmkatsudon

    The obvious Madoka feel aside, this show definitely has a lot of promise, and it’s definitely pulled me in enough to keep me watching. It’s always fun to watch a magical girl show that isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, not to mention a show that isn’t afraid of tackling difficult issues- like the guilt that comes with murdering someone… My main concern is that the show might end up taking itself too seriously, but guess we’ll have to wait and see.

  • July 13, 2013 at 11:26 pmTassadar

    I literally spat my coffee on the monitor at the angry computer comments!!

    • July 14, 2013 at 2:43 amStilts

      Glad some good(?) was gotten out of them–it was aggravating for me!!

  • July 13, 2013 at 11:37 pmewok40k

    Magical Girl Femme Nikita?
    The show has instanteously risen on my radar…
    The genre of games I play tends to involve A LOT of both killling AND moral decison about it, namely RPG-s with moral system like those by Bioware. And I end up usually on the light side of the choices, even if playing as a Sith or Agent of the Empire… Ponder…

  • July 13, 2013 at 11:53 pmZannafar

    The episode was good overall, but the fight was a bit disappointing to me.
    Unlike the fights in first episode, it had close to no build-up and felt very anti-climatic.

    Also:
    Where Madoka had Faust-ian symbolism, Gen’ei bring us Macbeth.
    Let’s see how far they take this.

    • July 14, 2013 at 2:44 amStilts

      Oooo, I would love to see them go in a more Macbethian direction. That could be very, very interesting…

  • July 14, 2013 at 12:51 amelior1

    i dont know much about tarot cards but can somone explain me what is the relation between the Star and ice, the Moon and plants, and Temperance and coins

    • July 14, 2013 at 1:21 amJubei

      Let’s see:
      - Temperance and coins: that’s the easiest association to explain. The Temperance card doesn’t just represent the cardinal virtue of the same name, but also the act of tempering metal. It’s also associated with well-being, hence the coins.

      - Moon and plants: in the traditional iconography, the Moon in the tarot card is shown shedding dew over the world. Some tarot card readers actually associate the Moon with the concept of growth (in the same iconography, there are two dogs/wolves barking at the moon, like Luna said in the episode. A lobster is also there for whatever reason).

      - Star and ice: I’m not that sure about this one. In the traditional iconography, there’s a woman pouring water, so… I guess Seira was more an “ice” kind of person than a “water” one?

      • July 14, 2013 at 1:52 amsalpsan

        And this is what makes tarot fascinating. Different tarot decks have different images and those images have different meanings. I don’t read any of those meanings for those three cards in my main deck.

        As for the lobster in the moon card, I read see it as primal nature and the two wolves as instinctual.

        I haven’t seen the episode yet but essentially, to break it down, the writer is trying to incorporate the four elements taken from the suites (fire, earth, air, water)into the four cards being used for characters.

  • July 14, 2013 at 1:13 amPasserby

    I’ll probably end up saying this every week, but if our moral dilemma is about killing people…hey, Darker than Black 2 had a good examination of that.

  • July 14, 2013 at 2:04 ambaseone

    This anime really feels like Madoka Magica in a good way.

  • July 14, 2013 at 9:10 amBear

    Whom the gods would destroy, they first crash their computer.

    Like Madoka Magica, the problem for the girls is that the killing will never end until they’re dead themselves. The dark haired girl is already feeling it grinding her down and at some point it’s going to leave them vulnerable.

  • July 14, 2013 at 1:41 pmkanade_

    You should definitely pick this up Stilts. God knows what kind of surprises there might be and I’m getting Madoka vibes everywhere.

  • July 14, 2013 at 2:33 pmioryogi

    Moon + Sun…. Kannazuki no Miko anyone?

    Really nice to hear orchestral music in this type of anime even if it is synth based. It’s not up to that level, but story + orchestral music reminded me of Soukyuu no Fafner here and there. Good stuff.

    • July 14, 2013 at 6:59 pmFarHorizon

      The moon priestesss tarotess being intrigued by our heroine had me immediately thinking of that..

  • July 14, 2013 at 3:50 pmillusion

    The soundtrack in this is enough to keep me watching. Katou Tatsuya always gives me feels and goosebumps, and it seems like he brought his “A” game here.

    • July 14, 2013 at 5:12 pmewok40k

      epic soundtrack for epic battles…
      all this gives me almost Warhammer 40k vibes…
      “Daemonic possession detected!”
      “Deploy Puellae Squad!”
      “Immaterium insertion commence!”
      Inquisition, erm, the school erasing memories of the bystanders is just a cherry on this deluxe pie!

      • July 14, 2013 at 10:12 pmMincemaker

        Twist: The story takes place in the 40k universe where Chaos has all but won and the Imperium is down to just one world. The Inquisition is reformed to deal with daily Daemonic incursions without breaking the illusion of everything being fine. The minds of their last senior Inquisitors are transplanted into a cat and a crow and the new Inquisition now consists of very young Psykers who for some reason use powers with Imperial Tarot motifs. As the situation is very desperate, the new batch of Inquisitors did not receive the same amount of training the Inquisitors of old used to have to prepare them physically, mentally and spiritually for the long battle against the Alien, the Mutant and the Heretic.

      • July 15, 2013 at 1:46 amStilts

        Would watch Warhammer 40K anime, even if it would probably end up being terribad. Would be worth it to see MORE DAKKA

      • July 15, 2013 at 2:13 amewok40k

        @ Stilts, try reading crossover fanfic Shinji and the Warhammer40k…
        it is so epic that I can’t even start to describe it…
        It basically sets out to right everything that went wrong in NGE with more dakka!

  • July 14, 2013 at 9:34 pmTheOrangeOne

    Post about Gen’ei. Skim it over and see the word “God of War”. Well that escalated quickly.

  • July 18, 2013 at 9:20 pmmelissa

    this type of show is what I was afraid of would happen to magical girls. Now everyone is trying to be Madoka(which I enjoyed) What happened to the lightheartedness? the believing in friendship? maho shojo was never meant to be taken seriously in terms of plot but do we really need despair, depression, and discord in a magical girl show in order for them to be good now? What happened to male rivals in magical girl shows? I would like to see a magical girl show with a BOY rival again for once

  • July 20, 2013 at 6:29 amc2710

    Is this an original?

    Anyway…. I think I’ll be sticking with this till the end. Pretty much enjoy the grim dark feel to it. I keep on getting Madoka vibes everywhere

    Same goes for Fate/Kaleid.