Filed under: Madness, Manga, Soul Eater | Tags: Madness, Manga, masami ookubo, Soul Eater
This post is in reply to this excellent post by Anime Kritik, because secretly my place on this blog is just to do replies to AK posts which I know won’t get any hits back at Fuzakenna :p I was originally going to make this post immediately after reading Chapter 47 where AK was when he wrote his post, but I decided to hold off until I was caught up. This did not effect the post at all, thankfully.
To summarize AK’s post, he’s basically saying that Soul Eater is a manga/anime about a bunch of characters who are totally batshit nuts, but the plot is all about those characters trying to fend off their impending madness, in spite of the fact that this madness is portrayed somewhat as healthy and when the characters are under it’s influence, seem to enjoy themselves more. He also mentions that he wonders if the characters’ battle with madness parallels that of manga-ka Ookubo as he debates with himself whether he should make a normal manga for sales or go totally nuts with his art.
What I am going to start my rebuttal with is ‘human nature’. Human nature is all about preservation – you don’t want to die, and you want do to procreate in order to preserve your kind. Your primal desire to do just that is what generates fear. Fear is the guidance that keeps you alive and keeps you on the mission to procreate, but fear is also a painful emotion to feel. We do not enjoy fear.
And so there is madness. Whenever one of the villains in Soul Eater tries to coax one of the students of Shibusen into divulging in madness, they tell them ‘madness will take away your fear.’ Fear of death, fear of society (which, when gone against, leads to death) fear of hurting others (distancing yourself from them, lessening your social ability, lowering chances of procreation) – Madness will take that all away (and replace it with bright lights! Sorry.) So this madness definitely feels good. And we see this first hand with Kim.
Kim and Jackie have their morals erased and begin to feel the ecstasy of madness. They no longer fear societal norms. Kim pretty much tries to force herself of Ox Ford, and when he refuses her, she immediately switches over to wanting to kill him, with no emotion in the action. So madness feels great – so why does no one want to fall into it? Why is madness the ultimate evil? I think Stein is really THE guy to ask.
Stein doesn’t have the same mindset as everyone else. The kids have all been raised with the idea that they need fear and need to stave off madness – if they are against madness, it’s only because they were told to feel that way, so their emotions are untrustworthy. But Stein is a free thinker, right? He’s not staying with Shibusen out of some preconceived allegiance – he geniunely believes that shibusen is right, and madness should be contained, and he should strive for normalcy. Why?
It’s because madness is directly opposed to human nature. If no one feared death or feared an inability to procreate, then everyone is going to die. With madness running rampant, the world would plunge into complete anarchy and chaos. We would kill who we want to kill, and do what we want to do regardless of consequence, even if it meant ending our own lives. We wouldn’t care about procreation. Even if we still had sex and had babies, how would we raise them in our madness? If Soul goes insane, won’t he spend all of his time playing piano and perhaps having crazy cross-species sex with Blair until the day he dies? Won’t Maka just go on an insane killing spree in hopes of proving that she is the strongest person alive, at the cost of no one else surviving?
Stein will destroy and murder without satisfaction – maybe he’ll even destroy the entire planet to see the results – maybe he’ll realize that death is still a mystery and kill himself. Chrona will buckle under the pressure of the forces commanding her and will sink into a cathartic shell as Ragnarok torments her for eternity. Death the Kid will try to organize everything he sees. If someone makes an asymmetrical facial expression, he will attempt to restore their face to proper dimensions. Maybe he’ll demand that everyone be identical and begin murdering everyone and reshaping their corpses. (Okay, I’ve had my fun.)
I’m not saying that anyone wouldn’t enjoy this madness. On the contrary, removing our fears would be the best thing that ever happened to us in our minds. A little taste of that madness, and we wouldn’t be able to stop coming back for more. However, we fear this madness. We fear it with all of our being. We fear it precisely because we know that we will enjoy it. Because we fear death, we fear a lack of fear that would cause us to die. Because we fear the downfall of society, we fear the sweetness of that downfall that would cause it never to reappear.
As much as we fear death, so do we long for it. What would I do if I unleashed my madness? I know I’d probably be a murdering rapist who tortured people and loved every minute of it. Those things are desires buried deep within me. When my friends and I discuss what we would do if we knew the world was going to end, we always agree on what we’d do – take a bunch of drugs, rape a bunch of women, and kill a bunch of people. Why? Because that is where we will be – in madness, at the end of civilization. In that situation where pure madness is guaranteed, we would all embrace it.
But we aren’t doing that now, are we? I feel no moral obligations towards anyone. The reason I’ve never killed or raped anyone is not because I think those things are wrong – it’s because I am afraid. I am afraid of consequence. I am afraid of death. I want to live long and procreate, because that is my nature.
I do have to wonder how much of a conflict Ookubo has with himself. Does he want to draw some pure crazy work? Soul Eater is definitely a manga where the author pretty much does whatever he wants. The plot is simple enough that he can keep introducing whatever element comes to mind, and yet he is good enough of a storyteller and an artist that he can tie it all together. But is Ookubo holding himself back in the name of sales? Does he too live in fear of the fact that he wouldn’t be able to survive if he didn’t make enough money off of his manga? Who knows.
I really do think the true path to bliss is to balance your madness with your human nature. My nature is an incredible desire to be accepted, so I write Fuzakenna and sacrifice some of my artistic integrity in the name of popularity. Now Fuzakenna is doing better than ever, but I don’t feel like I can talk about something there unless I know it will get an audience. That’s why I satiate my desire to write something mad by participating in this blog, Suspended Animation Dreams, run by a guy whose easily as much of a struggling nutcase as Dr. Stein.
By writing on a site like this, I get to feel like I’m still a little crazy. I wonder if Ookubo is satisfied, too? Does including whatever insane monster or wicked fight in his manga that he wants make him feel better about the fact that he is writing to a demographic? I think if Soul Eater has a happy ending, and more characters are reformed than destroyed, then we can say that Ookubo sees things my way.
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