Heavy Object – 08
「蟻とキリギリスの戦争 オセアニア軍事国攻略戦 III」 (Aritokirigirisu no Sensou Oseania Gunji-koku Kouryaku-sen III)
“The War of the Any and the Grasshopper The Invasion of the Oceanian Military State III”
Ah. So that’s what this series is about. Some optimistic signs for Heavy Object’s future.
The Section Where Stilts Rants
The fundamental misunderstanding this story seems to hold for the human race is staggering. What I mean to say is: Somebody is wrong
on the internet in an anime, and I cannot let this stand! (i.e. I’m about to go off on another semi-tangential series of rants. Don’t worry, this is the fun part.)
Councilor Flide (Oobayashi Ryuusuke) was the main mouthpiece for the prevailing worldview during this episode, and so much of what he says is wrong wrong wrong! Take his fallacious assumption: “We have one Object and they have three, so we’ll surrender.” Pardon me while I consider for half a nanosecond how history actually plays out—and then laugh my balls off.
*Takes a deep breath*
*catches breath* Ahem. Which is to say, WRONG! That’s never been how war has functioned, not even in ancient times where the military situation more closely mirrored what Heavy Object is trying to evoke (persistent, “clean” warfare that mostly spared the homefront in the actual battles). Smaller armies have often beaten larger, more technologically advanced armies. Sure, the Romans had a good time of it, they dominated the world for a long time, but a quick search of Wikipedia shows that Rome was sacked six fuckin’ times, mostly by less sophisticated “barbarians.” Sure, once in a while a side surrendered without conflict, but usually they had at least one battle to see how things were going to shake out. That’s what war was for, seeing who was stronger, and numbers (and technology) are only a single piece of that equation. Strategy, tactics, the comparative toughness of your national character, even which people want it more all count for as much, if not more.
To posit that there’s such a world where humans would simply run the numbers and surrender if they’re at a disadvantage is to misunderstand what human beings are like on an elemental level. We’re contrary, prideful sons of bitches, and we believe in miracles. Which is another thing! It doesn’t take someone like Qwenthur and Havia blowing up a couple of Objects to make people believe in the long shot. That’s baked into our nature, or at least into many of our cultures. We love the underdogs, the come-from-behind victors. From Prometheus stealing fire from the gods and David defeating Goliath, all the way through history to the anime we so enjoy today (Heavy Object very much included), we love to believe in the underdog. That won’t go away.
AND ANOTHER THING! (Can’t stop, won’t stop.) Councilor Flide misunderstands how ideas work. Even if the idea that saboteurs are a useful thing that should be employed on Objects were somehow not thought of until Qwenthur and Havia (which is utter bullshit, but stay with me), once that idea gets out, it doesn’t matter if Qwenthur and Havia die. The idea is out there, and ideas are much harder to kill than human beings. This is what Seth Godin would call an ideavirus, also known as an intellectual contagion. Once it’s out there, the idea infects people, and you can’t stuff it back into pandora’s box. (A historical example: The spread of socialism, particularly after the Russian Revolution, which created an entire nation of infected which spread the intellectual contagion. Today you might point to the spread of fundamentalist Islam, which even infects Westerners on occasion.) The one good thing about this misconception, though: It’s such a common one throughout history that real people have believed in that it feels more like a flaw in Councilor Flide’s character, rather than a on Heavy Object’s part.
The Section Where Stilts Raves
Now that I’ve gotten my philosophical ranting out of the way, an admission: This is quite possibly my favorite non-banter-or-fanservice-based episode of Heavy Object. The gambit Qwenthur and Havia used to defeat the 0.5th Gen Object actually felt believable, it was thrilling, and it was instantly understandable enough to work without bucket-loads of exposition. Overload the reactor (trope, I think … there are a lot of related ones), make it go critical (trope), use water to conduct electricity, I’m following you. Plus there’s the fact that, as a 0.5th Gen Object, it makes sense that it would have serious flaws that Qwenthur and Havia could exploit. I also liked how banged up Qwenthur and Havia got, because it makes them feel like they really had to work for it, and it was a near-run thing. All in all, I legitimately enjoyed the actual conflict for once, and even though it was probably too convenient that the Object starting up fried all the enemy soldiers, but the electricity system still worked, and it didn’t just slag that when it shot at Qwenthur, and I’m not sure if the water would conduct all that electricity straight to the other cable quite so well, BUT HEY let’s stop thinking about it. It was cool for once, and approached making sense. I’ll take it.
The Section Where Stilts Wonders
I wonder—were the preceding seven episodes setting up for this one, where Qwenthur and Havia espouse that the old world order is stupid and they’re going to defy it? Because they should. “Safe/clean” war is bullshit, no war is smart, you shouldn’t let innocents be slaughtered in front of you, and the idea of going back to the old way is naive at best. Heavy Object’s problem, then, might be that it had to set up its world in a stupid way to get to this point, where the protagonists espouse a better way to do things—which happens to be more or less how we do things now. A lean back toward modern, total war.
The problem is that this is sci-fi based on Earth. If this were fantasy, and taking place in a more technologically primitive time, we would totally buy that they’re still under the illusion that “clean war” is a thing. Or if this was sci-fi but on an alternate world (even if that world was filled with humans, though it’d probably work better if it was a Star Wars-style example of suspiciously parallel evolution), then it could work because we could believe that they somehow skipped all those lessons up until this time. But since we know that conflicts like the American Civil War, the Russo-Japanese War, WWI, WWI, The Vietnam War and all the others since we started putting metal on our ships and conscripting every 18-year-old boy we could get our hands on happened, this feels like history regressed, and history very seldom regresses. It requires a loss of knowledge, like I said in a previous post, but they’ve already shown that they have the internet, so fat chance of that happening.
The essential world is deeply, irrevocably flawed, but if they proceed from here on out to dismantle that and build something that makes more sense, that could work. I still can’t exactly suggest the series since the foundation is such a mess, but at least it might get better for those of us who have fought this far through the dumb.
I forgot to mention, but Ohime-sama’s Baby Magnum was finally useful! I like this, because it builds upon one of the themes I touched on earlier—that of experience, tactics, and toughness triumphing over sheer numbers or technological prowess. Once again, something that’s fucking obvious to most people, especially anyone who are aware of battles such as the Battle of Thermopylae (that’s Leonidas and those 300 Spartans—there were actually other Greeks there too, but let’s not screw up a good story). Experience is a wonderful force multiplier, since the best weapons don’t matter if you don’t know how to use them. Like I said before, it they mean to continue with more themes like that rather than the stupid misconceptions this world is built on, Stilts will be happier. Also, fanservice and banter pureezu.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – The gambit was exciting, & the new themes may improve the story’s still-stupid foundation. Cautiously optimistic #heavyobject 08
- Counciler Flide needs to read the Evil Overlord List. Never explain your masterstroke to those who are about to be dead, and especially don’t do it over the radio. Just jam them, give your orders, and shut the hell up. Dude deserved to get sucker punched.
My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel novella. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Stephen, what is best in life?, It depends, Momentum & mental space, and The best content is in email