Why do people commit crimes? What makes people “good” to begin with, and are some people just born to be “bad”? The debate is as old as philosophy, religion, and ethics, and Gen Urobuchi—one of the most thoughtful screenwriters in anime today, and who has broached such subjects before in previous series—once again tackles the question in his new anime, Psycho Pass.
Update, 3/13/2011: welcome, new visitors. I felt these reflections were worth reposting in the wake of current events in Japan. I am aware that this is based on a half-watching of Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 and does not account for its ending, and I am preparing a sequel/follow up in the coming days with additional thoughts.
There’s an editorial in the New York Times, and another story in the LA Times about the resilience and civility of the Japanese people in the face of crisis. The spirit shown in the show is very real. (You may also find the original Time Magazine article about disaster behavior, referenced in the column, helpful to read too.)
While you listen, no matter what you believe, please consider donating to the ongoing relief efforts. Click here for a list, or see the links above for opportunities.
Yes, the first “Art and Soul” episode since June 6, 2008. This one is about what Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, and disasters in general, might tell us about human nature and behavior in such circumstances.
For those who don’t remember or know about this audio column, this is where I put on my seminary student, Christian theology and ethics and philosophy hat. You won’t offend me if you run away screaming after hearing that. :) In turn I promise not to be that preachy. I just felt after a while, it was time to do one again, and for a worthy show at that. And to counter any misunderstandings that might have happened this week, ahem.
Transcript after the cutaway.
Images that depict underage girls and boys are about to be banned in the UK.
First, some context (quotes from experiencefestival.com:)
“The United States Supreme Court decided in 2002, and affirmed in 2004, that previous American prohibition of simulated child pornography under the Child Pornography Prevention Act was unconstitutional.” The main issue was that there was no harm to any actual children, and the court found that viewing of this material had no causative link to harming children. True, someone sexually attracted to children would enjoy this kind of pornography, but the converse was not true: someone who enjoyed it would not necessarily harm, or have any feelings for, real children.
“UK law has dealt with simulated images quite differently since 1994, when the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act introduced the legal definition of an ‘indecent pseudo-photograph of a child,’ which is prohibited as if it were a true photograph.” This act was originally interpreted to apply only to photorealistic images; drawings that were clearly not based on any real children were permitted.
Here’s the fifth episode of Art and Soul, my anime and religion/ethics audio column! This one covers a phenomenon that I’ve seen in so many anime–the phrase “I will never forgive you!” How does that square with Christian ethics, which demands forgiveness even when it’s very hard, even of enemies? Is that really an evil phrase? Tune in to find out. (A transcript follows after the cutaway.)
- –OP: “Gunbuster Theme” by Kouhei Tanaka
- –ED: “Never” by Seira (OP for Kaiba; I’ve included the whole song because the words are unusually appropriate for this column.)
- –Bible reading from the New International Version.
Yes, I know…School Days is long over and we should let Nice Boats be Nice Boats. But I conceived of this column’s content not long after I’d seen the final episode, as an expansion of my original review, and had been patiently waiting my turn to do the audio column about it….and otherwise out of ideas, here it is anyway!
In many ways it’s less a reflection on the show in particular than on the use of emotion in fiction and where (Christian) morality enters into it. Or, to put it another way, I felt both giddy and guilty that I had enjoyed anticipating Makoto being sliced up, and felt horrified when the final moments of the ending happened…so much that I had to reconsider everything I had felt about the show up to that point and what the show was doing. Yes, I know it’s fiction, and not particularly realistic fiction at that. I still thought there was something profoundly unsettling about it though, a feeling worth exploring in more detail before at last laying it to rest.
A transcript of the article follows below the cutaway.