[EVA] Religion and Gainax was RE: [EVA] Moura interviews
once at ix.netcom.com
once at ix.netcom.com
Tue Dec 22 19:24:37 EST 2009
>From: V V <frumious99 at yahoo.com>
>Sent: Dec 22, 2009 2:16 PM
>To: "The english-language evangelion mailing list." <evangelion at eva.onegeek.org>
>Subject: Re: [EVA] Religion and Gainax was RE: [EVA] Moura interviews
>my functional explanation for "why are so many things in the series German"? is:
>1-during World War II, ignoring the fact that Japan was allied with Germany, I've seen in documentaries and such on wartime Japan that pretty much all European or "Foreign" culture was banned, except for German stuff: i.e. radio stations could only play Beethoven and such. Just as its cool/geeky/trendy to know Japanese in America, I've gathered that just behind knowing English in Japan, it's trendy to know German. German pop culture stuff as noted before, etc. This is on a general level.
There's some truth to that stuff about foreign culture being banned, although remember, Italy, with its own rich culture, was also an Axis ally of Japan and Germany, and there were other pro-Axis foreign nations such as Vichy France that were less politically suspect. However, there was a general trend as the war ground on to regard enjoying anything "fancy" as unpatriotic, and that included enjoying foreign culture, even cuisine. As always, these suspicions fell harder on those with less influence, money, or the wrong connections (Grave of the Fireflies and Barefoot Gen point out that not everyone suffers in a war equally--like natural disasters, they're often hardest on those who have less to fall back on anyway). Yasujiro Ozu, who would become one of Japan's greatest filmmakers after the war, relished the fact that working for the propaganda department of the army gave him an excuse to watch captured Western films (seized when Japan took Singapore)--strictly for study, of course ^_^
It's also true that there's a strong otaku element to the admiration of German, and most especially, WWII weapons and iconography. You can see this in Mamoru Oshii's several "Panzer Cops" works, including the anime Jin-Roh. But what I was trying to say is that interest and influence regarding German culture is far broader and deeper in Japan than that, and Japanese schoolkids learn about the influence Germany had on Japan's modernization, dating back to the 1860s (the very reason classic Japanese school uniforms look the way they do is German influence). German literature and philosophy are commonly taken in Japanese colleges (as are French lit. and philosophy, actually). The point is that Japanese interest in things German is not just a phenomenon of the WW2 years, nor is it confined to otaku or pop culture. It's a thing of high arts and the intelligentsia, too.
>3-Seele are basically the Freemasons, and in keeping with their Masonic theme, I think they made them German to keep the "old" Baroque feel to them; i.e. the new Rebuild-Seele logo uses Runic font, etc. Most of the things in the series, i.e. "Nerv" were named by Seele.
This is interesting; I hadn't noticed Masonic symbolism in SEELE before. Or did you mean more in the sense that they're a secret society claiming ancient, quasi-Biblical traditions? One of the important ways I would say they seem to differ from Masons is that there only seems to be one "lodge" to SEELE, as it were, whereas Masonsry is a large brotherhood of many lodges spread out all over the globe.
>"My own degree is in history"
>I didn't know that: what is your degree and specifically what history field are you into? I'm also in history.
It's just a B.A. ^_^ I went to Pomona College, which requires you to select two areas of history, and either take comps in both, or do a comp for one and a thesis for the other (the latter option is encouraged if you're thinking about going for a higher degree). So I took my comp in modern Chinese history and wrote my thesis in Modern American history. The thesis was on U.S. occupation policy for Japan, so that's where things crossed over.
Even though this was back in the 80s, two of my old professors are still there. They confirmed to me not long ago something I'd noticed--that otaku have been the salvation of Japanese studies departments in recent years. Twenty years ago, people mainly studied Japan for the same reason most people study China today--because it was seen as a country that would become the predominant economic force in the future.
Once Japan entered its long period of recession, the business and diplomacy-minded students gradually drifted away (a friend of mine in Russian Studies said there was a similar shakeout in the early 90s, once the Soviet Union collapsed). But in the last decade, people who openly admit they're interested in Japan because of anime and manga have built up enrollment in Japanese studies again.
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