Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Reading: "Destroy and Revolution" by Kouji Mori - First Impressions

Last post I introduced a manga I just discovered, Destroy and Revolution, about two Japanese high-school boys in love — turned terrorist. Here are my first impressions:
  1. Prediction: Karl Marx will not be mentioned once in this series. The Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky denouced individual terrorism as the substitution of individual terrorism for mass action, so he would not be impressed with these two. They'd remind him too much of the Socialist Revolutionaries who lost the 1905 Russian Revolution.
  2. Kouji Mori's style is not pretty, even if Yuuki is. If there's any mangaka I'm familiar with that he resembles, it's Naoki Urasawa of Monster fame. I won't be surprised to find out he's a former Urasawa assistant, the same way Shotaro Ishinomori (Cyborg 009, Kamen Rider) was Osamu Tezuka's, or Tsutomu Nihei (Blame!) was Tsutomu Takahashi's (Jiraishin).
  3. "Let's break it" is a line that absolutely begs to be referenced.
  4. First mystery: who are the "unworthy" who are being purged?
  5. Makoto is not actually ideological ("Both this ideology and the significance of it are still beyond my grasp"). He admits he's dumb. He's in this out of love for Yuuki. The relevant trope seems to be Love Makes You Evil — though "evil" (i.e. terrorism) isn't necessarily considered wrong in Mori's universe, unlike our understanding here in America, the most mercilessly Calvinist-Manichaean country in the West.
  6. Correction of last post: the apartment block was under construction, and the Diet member being targeted owns it. There is a long-standing link between real estate and political corruption in Japan.
  7. First flashback: Makoto Tanaka is an Ordinary High School Student repeating a grade. Yuuki is one of the most popular students at their school, with a reputation for arguing so hard with his teachers that he drives them all the way into retirement.
  8. Second flashback: Makoto's father went bankrupt and committed suicide. The State then put Makoto into foster care. Sure enough, he was bullied. The same thing radicalized me.
  9. Second mystery: what's with the hand, Makoto?
  10. Popularity, fame, girls, and money are nothing to Yuuki. (To Shira they would be expedient means.) Especially money, "the most ridiculous creation human beings have ever made". He's an anti-capitalist. Sure enough, he violently attacks a school extortion ring two pages later, long distance, with a well-aimed brick. Is he inspired by Che Guevara, the most charismatic terrorist in history? He wouldn't be the least bit surprised at 2014 America. He already lives in Spanner's world. Prediction: he will say "bankster".
  11. There are translation errors, of course. Even spelling errors. MangaReader is not a commercial publishing outfit.
  12. Third mystery: who does Yuuki insist on hanging out with a misfit like Makoto and even saying "we're the same"? (Makoto looks at his right hand.)
  13. Second mystery answered: Makoto's right hand contains (SPOILER!) amazing superpowers! Talk about ending with a bang! Believe it or not, Destroy and Revolution makes Spanner's identification of terrorism with superheroism the subject of the story!
And that takes care of Destroy and Revolution #1, "Our Resentment". As a good opening should, it sets up the story in a big way and asks questions that won't be answered until later episodes. Judging by the omake page, Mori's sympathies seem to be with our protagonists and especially Yuuki. The names themselves are telling: makoto means "truth" and yuuki means "courage". Note that the illustration on #1's last page is the Tarot card Death: an early version of that card contains the severed heads of the Pope and the Emperor, implying they got what they deserved (they're also falling from the Tower in the same deck). The revolutionary tale embedded in the Major Arcana by Cathars driven underground is closely related to "Jack the Giant Killer", which is structuring myth shared by both Destroy and Revolution and Chaos Angel Spanner. Here, Yuuki and/or Makoto is Jack, and the banksters are the giant.

So we have the yaoi Bonnie and Clyde, as terrorists, who might be right. Maybe. Terrorism's a tactic as dodgy as any a bankster would come up with.

While fixing dinner tonight (grilled cheese sandwiches, with sharp cheddar!), the idea came to me for a fanfic challenge: keep the plot of Destroy and Revolution but replace Yuuki and Makoto with:
  1. Kaworu and Shinji from Neon Genesis Evangelion (and Makoto may have been directly inspired by Shinji);
  2. Homura and Madoka from Puella Magi Madoka Magica;
  3. Utena and Anthy from Revolutionary Girl Utena, adding actual revolution to that story;
  4. Jessie and James from Pokémon's Team Rocket;
or your choice of iconic anime and videogame couples. If Shira and Leila are to be the terrorists in a Spanner alternate-universe fic, bonus points for referencing Bonnie and Clyde, double bonus for references to George Hayduke (possibly the original Spanner) and The Monkey Wrench Gang.

Anyway, back to editing...

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