At FRI, we are doing research on “the entertainment trends of 2011 – 2015,” the contents of which are based on interviews we are conducting with experts. Continuing from last time, I spoke to Iida Hitoshi, editor of works such as “Literary Theory After the Great East Japan Earthquake.” In this last part, we will go through some works representative of the period from 2011 – 2015.
* This interview was held in February 2017.
■Representative works of 2011 – 2015: “Attack on Titan” and “Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo”
6 years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, and last year people’s hearts were captured by works with earthquake themes, such as Shin Godzilla and Your Name. What lies in the popular works from the previous period of 2011 – 2015.
In the year 2016, there were many popular works — but before then, the most significant was probably Attack on Titan.
The manga began serialization in 2009, so labelling it as “Post-Earthquake” may not be entirely accurate (the anime’s first season aired in 2013), and it was such a huge hit that it even seems strange to bring it up now, but it foretold the current decade, and evokes the post-truth and populist sentiment that is pervasive in today’s world.
Left Source：Attack on Titan（KODANSHA）、Right Source：Hunger Games（KADOKAWA）
Based around thoughts such as “I don’t know who to believe,” and “We’re being deceived and used,” it shows the relationships of absolute trust that are formed as a response to these feelings of unease. As you see most prominently in the protagonist Eren and his childhood friend Mikasa, believing the people close to you becomes the hope to counter despair. This theme is also present in Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blood Orphans. The ideas that the Survey Corps, who were supposed to be their allies, had Titans hidden among them, and that there are people around them who can lie without a second thought, are also like the previously discussed Psycho-Pass.
These themes were excellent predictors of the situation after 2011 and the way people reacted, and it could even be said that it saved people.
NozomiŌmori often says that although dystopian fiction such as The Hunger Games is booming in America, if it was translated to Japanese it wouldn’t sell at all, but I think that’s because they already have similar works such as Attack on Titan. So, Japanese and American audiences have a similar sentiment, and similar works are being created to express/reflect the respective societal situations, so Attack on Titan is deserving of attention as an example of this. The walls that appear in the story are reminiscent of the 6-meter apartheid wall that Israel built to separate the Palestinian quarter, and since 2016, with Trump’s proposed Mexican border wall, this premise feels even more real than it did when it was first serialized. It did when it was first serialized. Especially considering the truth about the walls revealed in volume 21.
If we were to list one more work, what would it be.
Surely it must be “Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo” (Eva 3.0).
When you contrast Eva 3.0 with 2016’s Shin Godzilla, both directed by Hideaki Anno, the results are very interesting.
The post-earthquake chaos can be clearly seen in Eva 3.0.
When the protagonist Shinji wakes up in the beginning of 3.0, he is told that “Near Third Impact happened because of you,” deriding the actions he made in 2.0 that he thought were right. This reminds the viewer of the TEPCO employees, admired in Fukushima until the reactor disaster, when they were told “It’s all your fault,” or how nuclear power was once touted as the hope of post-WWII Japan, but now has become a negative symbol, a shadow of what it once was.
Then in the end of 3.0, Shinji goes out of control, not listening to anyone, and ends up causing Fourth Impact, destroying the world even further. There is no salvation in this story.
Left Source：EVANGELION:3.0 YOU CAN (NOT) REDO.（Official Website）、
Right Source：SHIN GODZILLA（TOHO）
Eva 3.0 is a pure vent of all the post-earthquake uncertainty and insecurity, whereas Shin Godzilla offers a solution to the problem.
Even though they were made by the same person, and inspired by the same event, with a difference of just a few years, they seem almost complete opposites. It shows that people change, for better and for worse. Looking at these two works really makes you think.
3.0’s strained atmosphere, constant doubts and pressure, and uncertainty is not an environment people can bear. That may be why Shin Godzilla’s concept of “If only the earthquake had turned out like this” was needed.
Your Name, directed by Makoto Shinkai, features the idea that “Disasters can be prevented by foreknowledge,” and follows the route of “If we’d done this no one would have died”; in a sense, it revives the victims of the earthquake. Conversely, the film Children Who Chase Lost Voices, released in May 2011, drives home the idea that people who die never come back to life. These films are also both made by the same director yet they’re completely different, and illustrate well the difference between the early and late 2010s.
■Future Entertainment and the Necessity of Stories
Up until now, things like anime, comics, and movies have been the center of entertainment. Since 2011, mobile games, AR, VR, and other media without a clear story format have arisen, but where do you think entertainment will go from here?
VR hacks your semicircular canals to increase immersion, which is an interesting gimmick, but if all you can do is ride things or talk to people, it’ll get boring fast. That’s why I think formats unique to those devices, where you can experience the story as an active participant, will begin coming out more and more.
Right now, attention is focused on the “experience,” but eventually, perhaps stories or another alternative aspect will take over.
I think they have to. To bring up an AR example, Ingress is a war game that takes place in the real world. It has a very sci-fi style story, with two factions fighting over the fate of the world, and the storyline changes based on which faction wins in events called Anomalies (large real-life events held in specific cities around the world). This is a good example of combining the experience value with a story.
It is also great that Niantic is using their games like Ingress and Pokemon Go to support disaster victims.
On the other hand, using immersive technologies like VR to deal with sensitive topics like earthquakes often requires a greater level of care than with traditional media, so I think it’s difficult…. However, there is surely an epoch-making work yet to come, so I’m looking forward to it.
Born in Aomori Prefecture in 1982. Graduated from Chuuou Law School, Globis University Graduate School of Management (MBA). A writer / editor who covers literature such as light novels, science fiction, mystery and science fiction, and writes / writes mainly on the subcultures of things such as comics, animation, vocaloids, etc. Among the books he has written are Post-Humanities: Sci-Fi After Project Itoh and various others.
Research and Development Office
(Fields Research Institute),
Fields Research Institute (FRI) conducts research in entertainment.
This article was written by a member of FRI, through the original coverage of his/her interests observed in their daily lives.