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GorfZaplen
Jan 20, 2012



chiasaur11 posted:

I said this in the Nomad thread, but the latest episode just emphasized it. This show has a problem at the moment, and I don't know that it'll manage to land well despite it in the last episode.

In the original Ashita no Joe, there was a kind of divine madness to the boxers, something that carried forward to the first season of Megalobox. Joe and Rikiishi were driven by this sense of necessity, fighting and dying (well, maybe dying in Joe's case. It was really unclear.) because something drove them to destroy themselves for a cause they could barely explain to themselves, let alone to anyone else. They were more and less than the normal people around them, and their tragedies carried more than a little whiff of inevitability.

These were Boxers. These were men whose glory was in the very things that would destroy them. This is how they burned themselves until there was nothing but pure, white ash.

And that setup lead into the twist of Megalobox's ending in a way that worked, at least for me. Joe and Yuri managed to break away from their grand narrative, managed to satisfy that self-destructive death urge at the heart of the world, and they were able to be human at the end. That's why Joe's last scene worked. Unlike Joe Yabuki, Gearless Joe could walk away.

Season 2, at the start, was about a fall and Joe clawing his way back to humanity and companionship. We saw his tragedy, we saw how he started to be lifted out, both by his own hard work and the struggles of others. Well and good.

But now he's better. There's nothing driving him, no endless roaring need that he could die in the pursuit of and feel satisfied. He came home, and he's pretty much done with boxing. The latest episode did the same thing for Mac, pulling him back home after he went away. This last fight isn't driven by two people with burning passion. It's a kind of "Eh, I guess" arrangement, with the real risk coming from an AI maybe going crazy rather than from the decisions of the protagonists.

Might all come together in the end, but that combined with the fairly cardboard villain has left me disappointed in the last act of Nomad so far.


I agree with every word you wrote. In a show whwre every character has an implied rich interior life, complex thoughts and feelings Sakuma feels like a stock character. It makes the anti-corporate aspect of the show come off as inauthentic. This was also the weakest part of the first season with Shirato, I feel.

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Raenir Salazar
Nov 5, 2010



College Slice

My thinking on Nomad is that the last season showed us one side of the coin of being a professional athlete and putting 100% of your passion into it. This series explores the opposite side of that coin which shows the downside about that level of dedication and how it erodes or harms your relationships with others. I think it explores I think the true difference between doing something for yourself in a selfish way andin the support of others you care about (whether it be your friends, family, or community).

I think the Chief is a very important character here in showing Joe the correct path.

Tales of Woe
Dec 17, 2004



the first arc of nomad was extremely good and i was hoping that the immigrant stuff would remain the focus of the season but no such luck

kater
Nov 16, 2010



Fruits Basket getting to have an actual denouement is so wonderful, itís something that really sucks about one cour shows.

Tales of Woe
Dec 17, 2004



i think that's more of a writing decision than a function of show length, there's definitely one-cour series that have a full episode of wind-down at the end.

fruits basket has a huge ensemble cast most of whom can't complete their arcs until after the main climax happens so it needs multiple episodes to send everyone off. that's not the case for every show.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012
:gas::gas::gas:



GorfZaplen posted:

I agree with every word you wrote. In a show whwre every character has an implied rich interior life, complex thoughts and feelings Sakuma feels like a stock character. It makes the anti-corporate aspect of the show come off as inauthentic. This was also the weakest part of the first season with Shirato, I feel.

A bunch of billionaires are exactly that kind of vile narcissistic manchild, though? 'Capitalism is a system that rewards inhumanity' has been a pretty consistent theme of this season, and I don't see why the show should shy away from showing exactly what kind of weird, empty monsters can thrive in its broken world.

GorfZaplen
Jan 20, 2012



It comes across as fake, just like the class politics of the first season, and just like the class politics of its inspiration, Ashita no Joe.

GorfZaplen
Jan 20, 2012



I guess what I'm trying to say is, a season that started out looking like it'd be a personal journey doesn't need a cartoon character billionaire villain in it.

Wark Say
Feb 22, 2013

by Fluffdaddy


kater posted:

Fruits Basket getting to have an actual denouement is so wonderful, itís something that really sucks about one cour shows.
Probably the only non-seasonal/continuation I'm following and legit 20-yo me is pretty stoked to see a proper end to the manga.

Davincie
Jul 7, 2008



GorfZaplen posted:

It comes across as fake, just like the class politics of the first season, and just like the class politics of its inspiration, Ashita no Joe.

If ashita no joe inspiring revolutionaries isnt real enough what is...

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012
:gas::gas::gas:



GorfZaplen posted:

I guess what I'm trying to say is, a season that started out looking like it'd be a personal journey doesn't need a cartoon character billionaire villain in it.

The season started out with Joe learning to come to terms with his trauma through solidarity with a refugee population under threat from a land shark employing racism to turn their neighbours against them, and the current conflict is about a guy from the same diaspora who managed to become a superstar because a megacorp turned him into a murder-zombie to hawk their tech to the military. Nomad has never, ever drawn a distinction between the personal and the political, and the main villain is the main villain precisely because he's an enemy of humanity and interiority. Capitalism is narcissism, and narcissism is an eternally hungry void.

AlternateNu
May 5, 2005

You know, Aiko...
I really wanted to be killed by you.


Tales of Woe posted:

the first arc of nomad was extremely good and i was hoping that the immigrant stuff would remain the focus of the season but no such luck

The best part is that the immigrant stuff IS still the focus. Mac is also an immigrant albeit one who left his diaspora to integrate more into his new home, only to still be victimized by the corporate autocrats that run the place.

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





Joe is really the weakest part of Nomad.

Wark Say
Feb 22, 2013

by Fluffdaddy


Terrible Opinions posted:

Joe is really the weakest part of Nomad.
Joe who?.

GorfZaplen
Jan 20, 2012



Darth Walrus posted:

The season started out with Joe learning to come to terms with his trauma through solidarity with a refugee population under threat from a land shark employing racism to turn their neighbours against them, and the current conflict is about a guy from the same diaspora who managed to become a superstar because a megacorp turned him into a murder-zombie to hawk their tech to the military. Nomad has never, ever drawn a distinction between the personal and the political, and the main villain is the main villain precisely because he's an enemy of humanity and interiority. Capitalism is narcissism, and narcissism is an eternally hungry void.

Okay, I still think it's boringly done

GorfZaplen fucked around with this message at 22:27 on Jun 22, 2021

GorfZaplen
Jan 20, 2012



The yakuza guy in the immigrant arc was also an unbelievable cartoon character. Compare with the yakuza guy from the first season, who was presented in such a way that you could see glimpses of his life beyond the show. When yakuza dog man and Sakuma aren't there to play their role in the show they don't have any apparent presence in the world of the show, unlike the antagonists of 1 whose presence could be felt everywhere.

GorfZaplen
Jan 20, 2012



Also the cyberpunk show making the billionaire tech guy the villain isn't exactly inherently a deep or original move!

GorfZaplen
Jan 20, 2012



Sorry for making so many posts but I'm basically posting as I think it through. I suppose what bugs me about it is having a billionaire tech villain seems like such an easy way out writing wise. I'd also say it's minimizing the culpability of the military here, by presenting Sakuma as an individual providing a product rather than a conspirator. It lacks the texture of reality, even if it makes a valid point, and the first half of the season had that texture if that makes sense.

dogsicle
Oct 23, 2012



GorfZaplen posted:

The yakuza guy in the immigrant arc was also an unbelievable cartoon character. Compare with the yakuza guy from the first season, who was presented in such a way that you could see glimpses of his life beyond the show. When yakuza dog man and Sakuma aren't there to play their role in the show they don't have any apparent presence in the world of the show, unlike the antagonists of 1 whose presence could be felt everywhere.

i feel like this does kind of ignore the characters Sakuma and the yakuza boss have direct influence over as further avenues of their attitudes. Mio and the kids he tries to ingratiate himself with as well as Sakuma's assistant. they're around as much if not more than the characters they're taking the racist/capitalist attitudes from so it does spread throughout the show with them as the source.

granted it doesn't change my feelings on Sakuma really. i think pegging him as a cartoon is apt enough, where the issue i have isn't really one of nuance vs not but just stuff like him ripping the Oscar Isaac Ex Machina dancing shtick or pointedly scoffing at news of a suicide etc. sure it's a show about boxing power armor where advanced AI has factored into both seasons, but the groundedness of the other characters does contrast with him in a way where it feels like they could've still executed his brand of villainy on a similar level. like the worst you can say about the yakuza guy from the first half is he's got a tiny dog like some sort of Bond villain and they do a little gag about it as he exits the show. maybe its just recency bias, but i just don't remember caring much about the yakuza dude while Sakuma has gradually grown into a notable annoyance.

Wark Say
Feb 22, 2013

by Fluffdaddy


GorfZaplen posted:

Sorry for making so many posts but I'm basically posting as I think it through. I suppose what bugs me about it is having a billionaire tech villain seems like such an easy way out writing wise. I'd also say it's minimizing the culpability of the military here, by presenting Sakuma as an individual providing a product rather than a conspirator. It lacks the texture of reality, even if it makes a valid point, and the first half of the season had that texture if that makes sense.
:justpost: this is the good poo poo, Gorfito. :)

chiasaur11
Oct 22, 2012





dogsicle posted:

i feel like this does kind of ignore the characters Sakuma and the yakuza boss have direct influence over as further avenues of their attitudes. Mio and the kids he tries to ingratiate himself with as well as Sakuma's assistant. they're around as much if not more than the characters they're taking the racist/capitalist attitudes from so it does spread throughout the show with them as the source.

granted it doesn't change my feelings on Sakuma really. i think pegging him as a cartoon is apt enough, where the issue i have isn't really one of nuance vs not but just stuff like him ripping the Oscar Isaac Ex Machina dancing shtick or pointedly scoffing at news of a suicide etc. sure it's a show about boxing power armor where advanced AI has factored into both seasons, but the groundedness of the other characters does contrast with him in a way where it feels like they could've still executed his brand of villainy on a similar level. like the worst you can say about the yakuza guy from the first half is he's got a tiny dog like some sort of Bond villain and they do a little gag about it as he exits the show. maybe its just recency bias, but i just don't remember caring much about the yakuza dude while Sakuma has gradually grown into a notable annoyance.

I think one thing was that the Yakuza guy was paired with Mio as the cause of trouble, and Mio felt grounded. You could see why he did what he did, even when you were pissed at him, and his lovely friends showed some nuance.

Sakuma, meanwhile, monopolizes the villainy in this arc. Everyone else who does bad things only does them because of his actions. Meanwhile, even the good things Sakuma's done are later invalidated. He feels like he's there so everyone can have a single figure to boo.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012
:gas::gas::gas:



GorfZaplen posted:

Sorry for making so many posts but I'm basically posting as I think it through. I suppose what bugs me about it is having a billionaire tech villain seems like such an easy way out writing wise. I'd also say it's minimizing the culpability of the military here, by presenting Sakuma as an individual providing a product rather than a conspirator. It lacks the texture of reality, even if it makes a valid point, and the first half of the season had that texture if that makes sense.

It's not an easy way out, though, it's an inevitability given the genre and premise. Cyberpunk is dystopian speculative fiction that imagines how technology will enable currently-existing repressive/destructive social structures to further invade our minds, bodies, and souls. Capitalism, meanwhile, is a social structure based on incentivising endless individual accumulation of capital, with society sorting itself into winners and losers in increasingly viciously extreme ways until the most rapacious, least ethical people alive (Rupert Murdoch, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, et cetera, et cetera) end up with unassailable economic/political power. Indeed, there's actually a reasonably broad body of evidence that capitalism selects for the 'dark triad' of narcissism, sociopathy, and Machiavellianism, with CEOs disproportionately exhibiting some combination of the three.

In other words, a capitalist cyberpunk setting will by definition be run by a tiny group of tech CEOs. Likewise, they are exceedingly unlikely to have anything approaching ordinary human levels of empathy, humanity, or interiority because capitalism itself selects against those, and the technological revolution of cyberpunk has, in this case, empowered capitalism. Sakuma's existence is the texture of reality - the world we have seen must exist in the gravitational well of people like him. He must be culpable because culpability is a resource that successful capitalists accumulate alongside everything else.

It would be pleasant to believe that the winners of the great game most of us live in can be complete, healthy human beings rather than empty, grasping freaks, but they've spent enough of the Information Age rubbing their shared psychoses in our faces that we have to accept how unlikely a fantasy that is.

Also, it's really weird to consider the class politics of the original Ashita no Joe 'fake', seeing how closely the story was inspired by his own experiences as a juvenile delinquent turned celebrity author in postwar Japan, and his extensive practical and academic knowledge of combat sports and their socioeconomic dynamics. The unfamiliar isn't automatically inauthentic, chief.

Darth Walrus fucked around with this message at 01:35 on Jun 23, 2021

GorfZaplen
Jan 20, 2012



I mean, the original is inauthentic because by the end the rich girl is presented as the closest thing Joe has to a spiritual equal, this being the reason he passes his gloves on to her, nothing as maudlin as him professing or recognizing his feelings for her. Also, the original ending of the manga was going to be Joe chilling out on her porch with her, which by the manga's own symbolism would represent his domestication! Other rich people who aren't Youko are far more favorably presented. If anything the real tension between Youko and Joe.is that she is a woman playing in a man's world; recall when they discover Carlos' brain damage that Joe threatens to kill her because Carlos' vulnerability isn't for a woman to see. Once Joe becomes successful the poverty he came from is never really used in the plot again. He is assumed to have enough money to do what he needs to do. His poor neighborhood is no longer a place of struggle but a place to make easy jokes about poor people grifting strangers. He improves their morale, but not their material conditions. This is all pretty basic stuff that requires little reading between the lines. The class dynamics in Joe are pure populism, and I'd even go so far as to say it's potentially an affect written to lure in leftist student Garo readers. Osamu Tezuka was doing the same thing at the same time! Ikki Kaniwara's own politics were decidedly right leaning. He may have been class aware, but that is different than actual faith or representation of leftist class politics.

To address Nomad again, to be honest it doesn't really have any more of a politicial consciousness beyond what a primetime tv drama would. Look back to season 1: the veteran story never touched on the military industrial complex, only the personal sufferings of veterans. You can see this same plotline play out at some point on every drama on every major news network. And here, as others have said, the fact that Sakuma is the sole creator of evil and conflict in this arc is what makes it seem unrealistic. It never addresses the system, and the story is in fact sympathetic to Shirato as a "good" CEO who is suspicious of Sakuma.

Also, there are no inevitabilities in fiction. To say otherwise is excusing bad writing, which is what how Sakuma is written in Nomad is. It honestly sounds to me like you're saying it's fine Nomad is boring because it has to be due to its genre! Something having good and correct politics is no excuse for boring writing. And frankly, saying billionaires are evil psychos is a shared bekief between the far right and left wings in America at the moment, and is a pretty uncontroversial position to take.

GorfZaplen
Jan 20, 2012



Also I like the chief there, I bet you felt like big man writing that response, huh?

GorfZaplen
Jan 20, 2012



All I'm saying is, if Ashita no Joe were genuinely concerned with class politics, it wouldn't have resolved the arc where Joe has lost his ferocity because of his soft and decadent prize fighter lifestyle by having him fight a Malaysian caveman.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012
:gas::gas::gas:



GorfZaplen posted:

I mean, the original is inauthentic because by the end the rich girl is presented as the closest thing Joe has to a spiritual equal, this being the reason he passes his gloves on to her, nothing as maudlin as him professing or recognizing his feelings for her. Also, the original ending of the manga was going to be Joe chilling out on her porch with her, which by the manga's own symbolism would represent his domestication! Other rich people who aren't Youko are far more favorably presented. If anything the real tension between Youko and Joe.is that she is a woman playing in a man's world; recall when they discover Carlos' brain damage that Joe threatens to kill her because Carlos' vulnerability isn't for a woman to see. Once Joe becomes successful the poverty he came from is never really used in the plot again. He is assumed to have enough money to do what he needs to do. His poor neighborhood is no longer a place of struggle but a place to make easy jokes about poor people grifting strangers. He improves their morale, but not their material conditions. This is all pretty basic stuff that requires little reading between the lines. The class dynamics in Joe are pure populism, and I'd even go so far as to say it's potentially an affect written to lure in leftist student Garo readers. Osamu Tezuka was doing the same thing at the same time! Ikki Kaniwara's own politics were decidedly right leaning. He may have been class aware, but that is different than actual faith or representation of leftist class politics.

To address Nomad again, to be honest it doesn't really have any more of a politicial consciousness beyond what a primetime tv drama would. Look back to season 1: the veteran story never touched on the military industrial complex, only the personal sufferings of veterans. You can see this same plotline play out at some point on every drama on every major news network. And here, as others have said, the fact that Sakuma is the sole creator of evil and conflict in this arc is what makes it seem unrealistic. It never addresses the system, and the story is in fact sympathetic to Shirato as a "good" CEO who is suspicious of Sakuma.

Also, there are no inevitabilities in fiction. To say otherwise is excusing bad writing, which is what how Sakuma is written in Nomad is. It honestly sounds to me like you're saying it's fine Nomad is boring because it has to be due to its genre! Something having good and correct politics is no excuse for boring writing. And frankly, saying billionaires are evil psychos is a shared bekief between the far right and left wings in America at the moment, and is a pretty uncontroversial position to take.

The thing is that Shirato, like her brother before her, is learning that she can't have her cake and eat it. Being the CEO of a megacorp requires unethical behaviour, and blowing up her deal with Sakuma is probably going to destroy (or at least cripple) her company and trigger a shareholder rebellion. The story seems to be setting her up to willingly take that hit and escape the destructive capitalist race to the top just like Joe and Mac.

I'd also certainly argue that there are inevitabilities in explicitly political fiction, simply because it needs to stay on-message in a way that has a bearing on the real world (as seen through the writer's ideological lens). An environmentalist text, for example, is always going to operate on the premise that artificial climate change is real and important. An anticapitalist text will always operate on the premise that a society built on the selfish, individualist pursuit of power results in the disproportionate concentration of power amongst a few amoral/immoral individuals. Some things are just baked into the argument itself.

GorfZaplen
Jan 20, 2012



I think where we disagree is on the premise this is an anticapitalist text, where I think it's just unconvincing set dressing. I don't know if anything more can be said if this is the case :shrug:

GorfZaplen
Jan 20, 2012



Also, it being anticapitalist does nothing to challenge my assertion Sakuma is boring and poorly written.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012
:gas::gas::gas:



GorfZaplen posted:

Also, it being anticapitalist does nothing to challenge my assertion Sakuma is boring and poorly written.

It kind of does matter if his lack of substance is intentional, given that the series is so heavily focused on presenting a conflict between humanity and social success in a broken society (see also, Santa's constant low-level conflict between being a great reporter and a good friend). That's not bad writing, it's effective thematic consistency.

Elephant Parade
Jan 20, 2018



i think you can depict a shallow person without them being a shallow character, because they aren't the same thing. a shallow person doesn't have much going on in their life, but they still have a life. they have a job (if a boring one), tastes (if boring ones), probably hobbies (if, as always, boring ones), and a personal history that made them boring as gently caress. they are a coherent human being in a fully realized context, and while they are uninteresting as a person, they are not necessarily uninteresting as a character. a shallow character is a character who doesn't feel like they have a life, doesn't feel like they have a history, doesn't feel like they really existónot just exist as a boring person, but exist at all. that's undesirable.

so while you can illustrate your theme of "rich people lead empty lives" by making rich people shallow characters, you can also do it by making rich characters shallow people, and imo that makes for a more interesting work, because you get interesting characters as well as interesting themes, which is better than getting interesting themes at the cost of the characters being boring as gently caress

dogsicle
Oct 23, 2012



we need another Sakuma moment like when he was strangely preoccupied with getting the Shirato reps to pick between taking a pink or black Mac shirt

GorfZaplen
Jan 20, 2012



Darth Walrus posted:

It kind of does matter if his lack of substance is intentional, given that the series is so heavily focused on presenting a conflict between humanity and social success in a broken society (see also, Santa's constant low-level conflict between being a great reporter and a good friend). That's not bad writing, it's effective thematic consistency.

I'll be honest, while I greatly enjoy Megalobox I don't think the writers are subtle or good enough for this to be the case

FilthyImp
Sep 30, 2002

Nope



GorfZaplen posted:

Also I like the chief there, I bet you felt like big man writing that response, huh?
You're approaching CineD levels of "The text is my interpretation and nothing else is valid" so maybe chill when someone else decides to post a multi-paragraph screed, dude.

GorfZaplen posted:

I'll be honest, while I greatly enjoy Megalobox I don't think the writers are subtle or good enough for this to be the case
That's pretty much what they did with Mio being a self-hating punk.

Rosco-dude is incredibly calculating and *weird*. Getting excited for Merch when he knows he's damaging a broken man, doing a little dance when his punch-golem paralyzes someone and wins a match. Engineering his assistant interrupting a meeting so he can appear to be empathetic to Mac's Wife's concerns. There's a level of scumminess there that's legitimately impressive.

FilthyImp fucked around with this message at 13:44 on Jun 23, 2021

GorfZaplen
Jan 20, 2012



I'm not the one saying a characrer being boring and bad is good and woke actually, but go off I guess.

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





The only unrealistic thing about Sakuma is him actually inventing the tech rather than stealing it.

Sleng Teng
May 3, 2009



FilthyImp posted:

You're approaching CineD levels of "The text is my interpretation and nothing else is valid" so maybe chill when someone else decides to post a multi-paragraph screed, dude.

what in the hell are you talking about. good lord

GorfZaplen
Jan 20, 2012



Look, I like Nomad. I think the visuals and sound design are top notch. I think Mac is a very sympathetic and interesting character, and I want to know what happens to him. But I'm not going to call what I see as boring writing fridge brilliance, and I'm not going to pretend this show is woke when it's doing hardly anything you wouldn't see on a major network tv show.

Spiritus Nox
Sep 2, 2011



why is everyone being so aggro about the boxing show

Davincie
Jul 7, 2008



fighting sports are for violent people.....

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Srice
Sep 11, 2011



Seems like a pretty civil conversation to me?

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