On Pretentious Fags

Despite the title of this post, I’ll try my best to not make it totally inflammatory.

Pretentious fags are no newbies to anime fandom. Hell, they’ve probably been around since before Evangelion (this isn’t to say that Evangelion isn’t a brilliant show, just people approach it from the wrong direction all the time), pondering the meaning behind Kanashimi no Belladonna. These fans all share the same delusion in that they think they’re intelligent. This is one of the worst mistakes one can make, because if you consciously think you’re intelligent, chances are you’re probably dumb as shit. Anime studios sometimes exploit this failing in most people’s brains, and push out shows that stroke and wank their fragile egos to the point of orgasm. Thusly, we get your Code Geasses, your Gundam 00s, your Elfin Lieds, and so on. These same people with defective minds also put-down truly intelligent, and well thought-out works of art, such as Gurren Lagann.

For the sake of this argument, I’ll be comparing Gurren Lagann and Code Geass. This is mostly because I actually do like Code Geass, so it’ll make the argument as fair and balanced as possible… hah.

Code Geass is the latest entry in a series of shows that are meant to wow you with their winding plots, focus on intense strategic planning and ambiguously just characters. But, what people fail to realize is that this is all elaborate window dressing, used to cover up a plot which is quite shallow, and offers nothing in the way striking personal philosophies or ideas. But, the thing is, people are drawn to that. They get all caught up in these seemingly complex stories, and fail to see that there’s not much past that contrived facade. Now, I enjoy all this window dressing myself, but I don’t admire the show and worship it as the second coming of Giant Robo, because I am well aware the show is just a step above your average, everyday popcorn action flick, and nothing more.

Gurren Lagann, on the other hand, is one of the deepest shows I’ve ever seen in my entire life. It’s an allegory for a number of things, and puts forward a lot of inspiring concepts and ideas. The problem is, the pretentious fags tend to turn down shows like these, due the show’s cartoon exterior that doesn’t shamelessly pander to their broken minds. Gurren Lagann doesn’t need the window dressing. It goes all out, and it does it with style. It is the complete opposite of things like Code Geass, in that it presents a seemingly simple exterior, but as the show progresses, some very progressive ideas begin to surface.

Geass is black and white. Britannia is evil, and Lelouch is good. Sure, they try to throw you off by giving him an evil grin, and making him knock off a relative or two, but for the most part, he’s a Good Guy. The show’s philosophy is extremely shallow, and offers nothing of entertainment value past the elaborate front it puts up. Gurren Lagann offers up a story of evolution. The show revolves around the concept of the spiral, constantly growing and evolving, and applies it to a number of important issues. What hit me the hardest was its focus on the evolution of man along side the evolution of the anime industry. Gurren Lagann literally follows humanity as it comes out of the caves, develops modern cities, and eventually brings about universal peace. The anime connection is a bit easier to see, what with each arc roughly paying homage to each different decade of anime since the 1970s, with the final arc defining the future of the medium.

The thing that impressed me about Gurren Lagann was how the show had no true villains. No one was evil. Each time the Gurren-dan defeated whatever major foe they set out to defeat, you always found out that both sides where heading towards the same goal, they just had different ways of going about it. Usually, the villain would strive for universal peace via control, and the Gurren-dan would strive for peace through freedom. In that way, it’s similar to the conflict between the Magnificent 10 and the Experts of Justice in Giant Robo. Both fought for good, just their idea of good. Thusly, Gurren Lagann abandons the typical good vs evil cliche, and tells a far more progressive story, much better suited for our modern era.

Perhaps the problem is, stories like Gurren Lagann and Giant Robo are just ahead of their time. People can’t really appreciate their striking visions of the future, ones which inspire humanity to push forward, into infinity. They’d rather stay stuck in the present, eating up the same old recycled stuff they’ve been fed since childhood. But you know, that’s fine. Because growing up is hard :)

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40 Responses to On Pretentious Fags

  1. DrmChsr0 says:

    wah, that kinda speaks volumes about you :P

  2. Calawain says:

    Eh I pretty much disagree with your entire post. I really could never get to the “deep” parts of Gurren Lagaan because I kept falling into the massive plot holes. The silliness factor was too much for me, while I rather enjoyed the intelligence and strategic thought of a show like Code Geass. It kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the series rather than GL which was like wow next episode they are going to get a bigger drill and beat the bad guys again. And the whole time I’m thinking, why didn’t the anti-spirals just eradicate them at the start if they were so powerful?

    And good and evil? I think it was pretty simple in Gurren Lagaan that Simon, Kamina, Yoko and all the humans were the good guys and the anti-spirals were the bad guys trying to destroy them. Whereas in Code Geass Lelouche is hardly a good guy, he has massive faults and really could care less about killing anyone to reach his goals. Even the guy purported to be moralistic (Suzaku) has massive faults of his own which reveal themselves time and time again throughout the show.

    In contrast to what you conclude, I think Gurren Lagaan struck me as kind of childish and not really grown up at all. In fact I likened it to a lot of other shonen shows where the good guys always fight stronger guys in the next episode and as a result have to power up somehow and wow they always win. I apologize because maybe I am a pretentious fag because I prefer my mecha shows to be more intelligent =)

  3. kransom says:

    CLOCK

    SHOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWwwwww(ry

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  5. Curley Mustache says:

    “Whereas in Code Geass Lelouche is hardly a good guy, he has massive faults and really could care less about killing anyone to reach his goals”

    Killing people suddenly means you aren’t a good guy anymore? Damn, those are some lofty standards.

    The problem with Code Geass as a ‘serious show’ is three-fold.
    1. It involves roller-skating mecha and a mind-control power.

    2. The ‘bad guys’ are so hopelessly inept that you wonder how they gained control over such a chunk of the world in the first place, let alone dealt with any uprisings. They don’t just react in the ‘oh look we fucked up’ type of military response you might expect, but rather the ‘My only source of any military history comes from teenagers, movies and video games’.

    3. Lelouch is just Light Yagami, but apparently retarded. Everytime something comes up to stomp him, hello deus ex machina to save him.

    I like the show, but if you don’t turn your brain off for it, the common sense part of the brain will be in rubble by the end.

  6. BrendantheJedi says:

    Code Geass can be a bit shallow at times, but Britannia isn’t all bad (Suzuka and Euphie are examples of that) and Lelouch can be quite a dick. Just because he isn’t as much of an ass as Light Yagami doesn’t make him Jesus Yamato.

    I’ll give it to you that Gurren Lagann’s evolution/Spiral topics are deeper and have more meaning than Gundam 00 or Code Geass, it doesn’t mean that the shows don’t have their merits. Gundam 00 (which really has gotten pretty damn good since the introduction of Ali in episode 7, the Azadstan arc, and the Throne Gundams which make CB look like total dicks) has brought up a ton of shit that is relevant to crappy world of today, like the Religous conflicts in the middle east, and the energy crisis. Code Geass also underscores the problem of racism, and doesn’t ignore the fact that Japanese are a bit racist too.

  7. 3x as random says:

    And for Code Geass: I’m sure everyone noticed that Britannia is in fact, America. Thats just… yeah.

    In TTGL, I agree, there’s no good and evil. The anti-spirals simply believed they were right in suppressing Spiral power. However, Gurren-dan said that they “Will not let the universe be destroyed”, and before the Anti-spiral was defeated he said something like: “We’ll leave the universe up to you then” – can you class them as bad?

    In Code Geass – I reckon Lelouch is a mix. He wants revenge on one hand, while on the other just wishes a happy life for his sister. However, the way he goes about it makes him SEEM bad (at least to me), while cleverly disguised to the public in the anime to make it look like “ZOMG Zero ees our friend!” to the Elevens. As for Britannia – I think of them as a Spartan country where the strongest takes the throne.

    BTW – You probably posted this cuz Kittan lost to Lelouch in the AGP? For those who didn’t know: Lelouch: 48 votes Archer: 45 votes Kittan: 20 votes.

  8. lame says:

    I don’t get it. It’s like trying to prove that Dubya is mentally retarded by saying how incredible intelligent is Gore.

  9. zodmaner says:

    For what it’s worth, I fully agree with your post. :)

  10. I agree with you pretty much all the way through, while i did also enjoy code geass it had to many plot twists that just seemed like they decided last minute to make a change in the entire plot. Nothing was consistent and come on roller-blading mechas and pizza hut? Gurren lagann is an amazing show, it’s a show that is always consistent with the belief that if you try hard and never give up you can accomplish anything, it also was amazing in how it showed growth and character development, i also loved how you pointed out that there was no “good vs. evil” we spent the first few episodes trying to fight off lord genome and in the end he’s fighting along side us. I honestly can’t say i hate code geass or that it’s better since it’s not over yet, i like to wait until the end of a series to fully decided whether it’s worthy of our attention or not.

  11. GreatSG says:

    Not sure I agree with you, I take both shows in as being fun for what they are and merely entertainment, granted I enjoy what i’ve seen of GL than I have of Geass because I think the writing and plot pacing speaks volumes that the writers either didn’t know where they were going with the show or if they did know where they were going, they dicked around way too much in the process of moving things along. Plus Suzaku’s plot armor is the most tediously annoying bullshit ever.

    GL on the other hand isn’t something i’d call ‘deep’ or philosophical, granted I wouldn’t say that about Evangelion or even Giant Robo; now do I love both series? Yes!

  12. Becca says:

    Everyone else has probably stated this before me, but as you have yet to edit your entry, I suppose I’ll reiterate it. Gurren is just riding a very old horse. Longer anime series are full of twists such as this. Let’s take Bo-Bo-Bo for example. Many of the enemies become allies in their journey, and people who seem evil really aren’t, ect, ect, lots of ranting about people who are pretentious dickfags, whining about how good Bo-bo-bo is, complaining about how there just isn’t enough bara fanart of him, pissbitchmoan.

  13. Calawain: You missed the point of the show.

    “And the whole time I’m thinking, why didn’t the anti-spirals just eradicate them at the start if they were so powerful?” Because the Anti-Spirals aren’t evil. They were striving for Universal peace by containing the spiral race, as they were afraid of what their power might bring about. Like I said, one party’s idea of good vs another party’s idea of good. That’s one of the main themes in Gurren Lagann.

    kransom: as always, you are completely right.

    BrendantheJedi: Half-assed mentions of issues like racism hardly impress me. It’s part of that window-dressing. Though, I’m not saying Geass is bad, because it’s really good it’s just not… totally fucking awesome.

    Becca: Go back to troll school :)

  14. kojioe says:

    I think you’re looking into it too much. Personally I just look as all anime shows as cartoons. I really don’t look into them any deeper than that unless it really calls for it in shows like Kino no Tabi, Paranoia Agent, Haibane Renmei, ex cetera because it’s made with that purpose. Shows like Gurren Lagann and Code Geass I just take it in and really don’t think about it that deeply.

    All and all, Gurren Lagann and Code Geass are both really fun shows and I enjoyed them. Does anything else really matter other than that?

  15. Those shows certainly lend themselves to further investigation due to their presentation, but all art warrants one look beyond the surface. To me, whether you were watching the show for fun or not, Gurren Lagann made its philosophies quite apparent, so you’d notice them whether you liked it or not.

    I mean SPIRAL ENERGY? C’mon, it’s so obvious…

    also i mostly made this post to put the gurren-bashing-fags in their place. those guys also happen to be rabid geass fans, for one reason or another. i guess they like corny sunrise writing :V

  16. digitalboy says:

    your post tld me nothing I didn’t know. At least we’re on the same page.

  17. One realizes that Code Geass is really fscking silly within the first episode, where it instantly becomes Death Note with Mecha. And it only gets sillier, what with the Black Knights, Orange-kun, Mao, and of course PIZZA HUT SUPPORTS THE REBELLION. It’s fun for its silliness, just not worthy of the praise it seems to get.

    Meanwhile, Gurren-Lagann is one of the most honest, meaningful, optimistic, and DEEP sci-fi shows about sci-fi you can find. There’s simply no comparison between the silliness that is Code Geass and the magnificence that is Gurren-Lagann.

  18. I’m glad all this is all so obvious to a number of people, but an entire legion of teenagers seem to think differently…

  19. Guy says:

    Wow, Calawain is dense. The Anti-Spirals didn’t erradicated the Spiral Beings because they only wanted to protect them.

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  21. MephistophelesReborn says:

    Can I quote your entry to counter a friend of mine, who to much of my regret, has degraded to a CLAMP-fag, Tsubasa-fag and Geass-fag? I mean, he keeps saying that Lelouch pwns Light just because Lulu has a mech.

  22. If you want. This essay isn’t totally serious though.

  23. bettynoire says:

    I love how a post that essentially says “Geass is ‘smart’ for stupid people; Gurren Lagann is actually smart and just pretends to be stupid” called a bunch of people out of the woodwork who were absolutely desperate to prove that Geass actual WAS smart — thereby proving their own stupidity. Hint: if you think the ‘smart for dumb people’ show is actually smart, odds are YOU’RE A DUMBASS.

    Honestly, shows like Geass and Death Note rely on the fact that they can just TELL an audience that the show is smart, and nevermind whether they actually have it or not. That way people who “get” the “smartness” of it can feel satified with thier own intelligence. A show that makes you think beyond what it tells you is a smart show. That is what Gurren Lagann is.

    Normally, your blog is sorta irrelevant to my life (so much old anime that I’m too superficial to watch. I like shiny things too much, pardon my flaws.) Finally this gave me not only something to comment on, but to agree with you on. :)

  24. Yeah. Geass and Death Note kind of spell it all out for you. They’re entertaining in their own way, but there’s not much past the surface.

    I talk about old anime too much? Looking back through my archives… a bit, yeah, maybe… I guess when I write about new anime it’s either in bullet-point monthly/seasonal rundowns or just pictures.

  25. bettynoire says:

    Yeah, pictures and bullet points are hard to comment on, though amusing nonetheless. ^.^;;

    And not like you talk about old anime too much in general — old anime deserves it’s props too, I’m sure. It’s like, whatever dude, you prefer watching what you like, and that’s cool. I just meant our tastes don’t cross often enough to provoke conversation from me, and this was a happy difference from the norm. :-p

  26. Defectron says:

    I mostly agree with what you said here except the part about Lelouch being a good guy. All he really is, is a more sympathetic version of Light Yagami. True he does have some good intentions, but he also wants to rule the world and will mercillessly crush anyone who gets in his way. So I would hardly clal him a goodguy.

    But Yeah Gurren lagann is definitely worthy of the best title of 2007.

  27. IKnight says:

    Eh . . . perhaps I should drop a comment as well as a pingback.

    Yes, TTGL is clever, if the viewer’s intelligent enough (there now, everyone go away and pat yourselves on the back smugly). Although noting that it’s clever and actually agreeing with its argument are not necessarily connected. Yes, I am probably an anti-spiral at heart.

    Yes, Code Geass is, like Death Note a show which wants to show off its clever bits. There’s a certain educational purpose in battering the viewer over the head with a moral dilemma, even if it doesn’t make for the subtlest of experiences.

    As for declaring anything to be the deepest anime of the year, I’d hesitate; I think depth resides in the viewer not on the screen – because I’m a pretentious fag.

  28. Hachi says:

    As a Code Geass fan (but not a fanboy) I personally disagree with all of your statements. Still, you’ve set your standard at Gurren Lagaan, and although I haven’t seen it I’ve heard a lot of good things and I intend to watch it.

    Still, I’ve seen more than my share of mecha series and despite some obvious problems (including one very big plot hole) are there are series with far worse offenses. I liked Eva, but the final episodes made me want to see a shrink (along with slapping Asuka)and Eureka 7 was waaayyyyyy to long to keep up with when I watched it on adult swim

    It is a bit ridicuous how inept the Brittanians are considering their military superiority. I can see a few battles being lost before they realized that they actually needed to use strategy, but until the first season finale (when of course, reality finally steps back in with every possible thing going wrong) everything goes Lelouch’s way. And if the Lancelot and the Geass are not Deus Ex Machina personified, I don’t know what is. But it’s *anime*, I can forgive a few things in all series.

    But I disagree with your opinion that the series is black vs. white. It certainly starts out that way, the steward is more concerned about appearances than the innocent lives he will take to maintain them and Lelouch has a legitmiate gripe. But the series becomes gothic (trust me, I had to take a college class about the gothic) because the nature of the characters is reversed.

    No matter which way you slice it, Lelouch is a terrorist. He manipulates people into working for him, threatens a massacre (even if it is a bluff), goes out of his way to win public support, sacrifices people with similar goals (JLF) to cause damage to the enemy, plans to force an innocent person into shooting him to rally support and finally betrays his followers to search for his sister. In short, he is without a doubt not a good person. But comparisons to Light are not completely accurate. While he want to create a new world for the right reasons: a place where his sister can be safe. And he feels deep regret when he realizes the cost of what he’s doing after he kills a friends father in battle.

    On the other hand, the White Knight who believes that a victory through dishonest means is worthless becomes the world’s greatest hypocrite. Suzaku killed his own father, sparing Japan much destruction and in season two sells out his best friend for a promotion.

  29. Why haven’t you seen Gurren Lagann yet.

    I don’t see why flaws in storytelling should be accepted just because it’s anime. It’s not like anime is a lesser medium than anything else. Bad writing is just bad writing.

    You do bring up good points about Geass which I forgot about, since when I wrote this post I was in a position where I hadn’t seen the show in a good several months. I’m watching series 2 and I plan to write a post on how I’ve changed my views slightly on the show. It’s still trashy as hell, but it’s not the show that’s pretentious, it’s just the fans.

    ps: I hope to god you watched End of Eva in addition to the TV end… since the TV end isn’t the real ending.

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  31. Madonis says:

    Pretty exaggerated of Hachi to say that “everything goes Lelouch’s way”, actually, since one could in fact point out numerous things that didn’t go quite as planned or events in which he did face meaningful opposition (usually spearheaded by Suzaku, admittedly) but honestly…villain incompetence or plain misuse of resources being the rule, rather than the exception, also applies to Gurren Lagann (which I’ve spoiled myself about, even though I haven’t finished it, although not because I have anything against the show itself, just because of certain…logistical issues, like a thing or two that pissed me off about the fansubs…in short: I plan to import the Bandai DVD releases) or even freaking Eva.

    That doesn’t mean that Geass is going to win any writing prizes, and the show is indeed quite pandering to the fans (fanservice, wish fulfillment and so forth), rather than anything especially deep, but hey…giving people credit where it is due or even representing things correctly isn’t too much to ask.

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  33. Lexus says:

    ehr, you say that Guren Lagann has 2 guys, noone being truly evil. They both want peace, just through different ways.

    Isnt Code Geass the same? I mean, Lelouch wants peace through equality and justice, but tries to change the system by using terror, while Suzaku wants the same thing, but tries to get it through changing the system from within.

    No one is really bad in that case. Even Britannia isnt that bad. Everyone has a chance, just nobody is equal, everyone has to fight for power. Even elevens can make it somewhere if they want too.

    As for a shallow plot, the plot doesnt make a show smart. A show is smart when it forces you to choose between 2 sides, while none of the sides is really bad or good.
    I admitt, Geass is a little biased, but browsing on some forums, and you will see enough people liking Suzaku more then Lelouch.

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  36. klmnumbers says:

    I actually enjoyed the first season of Code Geass if only to indulge my inner fangirl and think Lelouch looked pretty.

    Although, I thought of it quite differently, I never thought of Lelouch as “good”. Hell, he shoots a guy in the head in the first episode, and he’s in high school. Throughout the first series, I thought they used the interplay of him doing terrible things and getting people killed vs. him being sad about it quite well — he was a character I could get behind.. UNTIL SEASON 2.

    It’s as tho they threw much of that out the window, and he honestly just seems like he’s descending into madness, doing terrible things continuously. I truly hope they pull a Light Yagami and make him the bad guy as that’s the only way I won’t end up hating this show. But as of right now, the deus ex machina way he gets out of situations coupled with the meandering plot makes me want to punch someone.

    darker than black on the other hand can marry me because I’m so in love.

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  39. Kaiser says:

    Try talking to someone who knows about robotics, and ask them about trying to get a robot to walk. Especially a giant robot made for combat. Then you can come back to me and tell me roller-skating robots are silly. : D

    On the subject of silliness, I have two things for Gurren Lagann.

    Giga drill breaker. And then that final fight. You remember that fight, right? The one where they were hurling galaxies at each other?

    I love both series to death, but it really seems to me that you’re just being unfair towards Geass. : /

  40. Hey welcome to 9 months ago.

    And Geass still sucks but is entertaining garbage. For more rants listen to this