20 May 2010

The Mūnsaikuru Saga

I've noticed a pattern common to action-based anime (Japanese animation), and I've come to realize how it's based on the female cycle.

No, hear me out!

In the anime, things are calm for a while, perhaps with some cutesy adventures, and it's all good fun, until an enemy comes along. The enemy is senselessly violent, unreasonable, and, to all appearances, unbeatable. The main character is, at first, defeated by this enemy, but finds a way to survive. The protagonist then goes on a quest or finds a teacher... He (or she) gains new skills and grows in strength and power, and then confronts and defeats the bad guy.

Then, in the next season, things have been peaceful and happy for a while. The protagonist has started a family, has a daily routine of training, and is headed, perhaps, to a reunion with his old friends and teacher. On the way, he meets a new bad guy. This new foe is more powerful than the previous one, and our hero barely survives the encounter. He then has to go on a new quest, find a new teacher, and gain new skills and powers.

Eventually, he finds the bad guy, who has, by this time, harmed many people, and may have killed some of the hero's friends. Again, there is an ultimate battle, and again our hero arises triumphant. Haggard, but alive.

The cycle goes on until the writer grows tired of the cycle and starts writing a different story, this time a romantic comedy.

Now, a brief history of the female cycle... For all of you men who've never had wives. Nor girlfriends. Nor sisters, nor mothers, nor been to health class.

Early on, men were afraid of women. Some people think that this is because the female deities of the various ancient religions were harsher and angrier than the male gods. Some think that this is because the most dangerous creature in nature is a mother mammal protecting her young. I think it's because early men noticed that sometimes their women would act angry, and then they (the men) would find scraps of cloth covered with blood, and the women would be calm again. (Note that in the closeness of early human society, women's cycles would sync, so every woman in the village would go crazy at the same time.) Just after the bloody cloth appeared, and was quickly surreptitiously hidden by the various women of the village, the women would act calm again and things would be peaceful for a while.

For millennia, no doubt, men kept wondering where the body was, and why they couldn't figure out who had gone missing. This was likely the reason some ancient societies started keeping an census. Then, a Greek named Tiresias found out about what happens to women once every lunar cycle. It was only about three thousand years more before the subject could be discussed openly.

In the 20th century, researchers started looking for a way to ease the pain and discomfort. Yes, men controlled the world by this time, but women had access to money, and besides, what man wouldn't be willing to buy his wife some pills that would make his wife not kill him? So they gave it a name and made pills to make things easier.

Honestly, at this point, a simple aspirin, a cup of hot tea, and a bubble bath was usually sufficient. But then, one day, a new foe appeared. The foe's name: PMS.

At first, it was thought that increasing numbers of women were becoming psychotic. But then it was discovered that it was only happening once every lunar cycle. Oddly, was the problem started a few days before the start of a woman's "special time". Once again, men were afraid. Researchers went into a frenzy of... well, research. (That's where they get their job title.) They came back with new pills, these designed for PMS. And from Asia came new, better tea. Bubble baths were still fine just the way they were.

Things were peaceful for a while, but then, one day... PMDD!!! The ultimate (so far) bad guy! A frenzy of research this time revealed nothing new, because this time the women in question really were psychotic. But only for a little while. It was eventually discovered that various antidepressant drugs (plus hot tea and bubble baths) could offer some help.

So, you see the pattern... things are good for a while, along comes a new foe (PMS/Red Ribbon Army), the hero (Johnson&Johnson/Goku) gains new skills and powers (Pampirin/The Kamehameha Wave), and defeats the enemy, only to, later, face a new more powerful enemy (PMDD/Frieza). Japanese anime plot writers have "borrowed" plot elements from various sources before, such as ancient mythology or popular culture icons, but now you understand where they get the the inspiration for the overall plot flow. (hehe, get it? Flow? Although... make that kind of joke a week from now and I'll probably take your head off with my bare teeth.)

The real question is... Has the Great Anime Writer in the sky gotten tired of this particular plot cycle yet, or will something new come along in another decade or so? I, personally, could use a nice romantic comedy.

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