Well happy new year everyone! I apologize for my absence, I’ve had multiple family and health issues during the holidays to deal with and am just now getting back onto things. As such I’m thinking of warming back up on something fun and positive. Now this is simply an overall observation of a potential shift in Japan’s culture which could lead to them getting out of a rut that is defined by the herbivore men (grass-eaters). As such I will cite multiple recent intellectual properties and the resurgence of a couple of key ones along with a change in a long running staple of Japanese television. That means I’m referencing not just anime and video games but live action series to boot! The argument – a long running trope in Japanese fiction is starting to show a growth in popularity which may influence Japanese men and boys into reclaiming something lost to the herbivorous crowd. A sense of pride and passion!
Now I’m basing this observation not just on the nostalgia bug trope that has been perceived in many ways for the past decade (that being that everything from 20-25 years ago is new again) but from a shift in focus with shonen or young male shows of the era. “Ok, get on with it! Whats your observation Tinsley!?!?” The observation is a restoration of yankii or delinquent culture, something I’ve mentioned in the past. Therefore, to help with the understanding of how this subculture is, it’s more than just the look defined in the review of River City: Tokyo Rumble. Its defined by hot-blooded, hard-boiled school-aged street gangs, usually separated at least by school districts, sometimes even showing multiple gangs within a single school pending on school size. As some of the actions to attempt to feminize Japan came about, these groups seemed to almost disappear, though I gather they just went underground. Now that we have a basic idea of where I’m going here, Let’s Hammer This In!
So why am I even bothering mentioning this subculture within the country of Japan? What does a bunch of gutter trash punks have to do with the revival of a country’s populace? A surprising amount if you look at it more closely. Its not widely mentioned but while most of the ultra-conservative order obsessed aspects of Japan’s adults look down upon them yankii types tend to have strict codes of honor and ethics. While they may deal in some shady practices and minor crimes when it comes to fighting, there tend to be codes of honor. I see this as a bit of Bushido trying to assert itself in a country that wasn’t allowed to fight in some time. Another trait that always comes forward is a sense of passion. Therein lies the potential for this reasserting subculture to straighten things out – that unbridled masculine passion that every feminist fears as ‘toxic masculinity’.
Well how is this arising again? I actually think it gained a spark approximately a decade ago from an unexpected non-yankii source: A live action tokusatsu (special effect) series called GARO. You may have seen an animated series or three based on the general concept of the live actions that has been prevalent the past few years. The short of it is the series follows a line of makai (mystic) knights known as the Golden Knight GARO (Fanged Wolf,) an armor made of a fictional material known as soul metal that would devour an untrained and incapable person. These knights are always male and are the only ones that can even lift the weapons that call upon their armors. They fight demons referred to as Horrors that are born out of human darkness. Whats most important is despite the knights being all male, the order does not discriminate by sex. Most Makai Alchemists tend to be female and help forge the armor and tools wielded by both to begin with. You’ll have to watch the various series at least in part to see what I mean. Moving on.
To understand another aspect to why these changes are coming about we have to go back to another aspect of Japan, their calendar system. Sure, they honor the world shared Gregorian Calendar (now Common Era) most of use throughout the world, but at the same time they have their own eras as well. You may have heard of the Heian (Peacetime) or Sengoku (Warring States) Eras, or perhaps even the Meiji (Restoration). But what are these eras? They are eras determined by who is ruling at the time, most lasting only as long as the life of the Emperor/Empress of that given era. The previous Era to the one we are in now was the Showa or Radiant Era (1926–1989) and we are at the twilight of the Heisei (Spreading Peace) Era due to the stepping down of the current emperor from power, something that hasn’t been done in ages. This era will end in 2019.
The past five years in particular have been of note in a long running series for Japan – Kamen Rider. One of the classic series of transforming heroes pioneered in the 60’s and 70’s. In the past five years, though, there have been multiple heroes and villain characters that could be classified as yankiis; in the current series known as Kamen Rider Build, the secondary rider Ryuga Banjou (yes I realize the joke you can make there,) and three of the later Lieutenants of one of the three nations depicted in the series known as the Hard Smashes. This is also reinforced by actually showing something unusual for a early morning program originally intended for children: Blood, scrapes and connecting solid punches, even going as far as addressing the horrors of war and terrorism via technicolor super soldiers. But like I said before, these traits aren’t just shown in live action shows.
In recent history the Dragon Ball metaseries has been resurrected through the current series of Dragon Ball Super. What does yankii culture have to do with intergalactic martial artists firing energy blasts? That has to do with the Saiyans in and of themselves. When they were part of the Frieza army, they used fairly similar tactics to most yankii gangs, testing initiates on smaller weaker gangs while the stronger elites take turf from others. The epitome of this concept is seen in the Saiyan Prince Vegeta, believe it or not. Without spoiling the latest series too much, there is an opponent that makes mention of his brash and arrogant nature, something to which the proud monarch of the dead race admits, and states that its through said nature that he achieves ever-growing strength, enough to rival even deities. It is depicted as a a startling positive trait when tempered with enough humility. The lesson here that pride in one’s strength is all well and good as long as you understand your limitations, and how to surpass them responsibly, something that Vegeta took 15 years to learn in Z, which explains his developments in the sequel series.
However, there is a similar anime that’s going to be making a comeback this year.
Yu Yu Hakusho, a series about a 14 year old delinquent Yusuke Yurameshi who sacrifices his life to save a child. As such, he was granted a second chance at life under one condition – he become the spirit detective of the living realm, a being who uses the knowledge gained from having been a spirit to exorcise demons and wayward spirits. I feel that this series shows most appropriately masculine youth in its purest form – the agony and hardships of growing up, especially in a harsh situation. Yusuke himself has to deal with his drunkard single mother, and no strong positive male role model he trusted, as his teachers were scum themselves save for one. This is what led him to delinquency in the first place. That one good teacher does his best to try to guide Yusuke back on the straight and narrow having seen his potential. However, the ones who help train him into a positive male soul are series rival Toguro, and the psychic Genkai, an old woman who forsook her femininity for the pursuit of knowledge and power. Toguro is a human turned demon who motivated Yusuke to gain the bulk of his power. Later, his fraternal ancestor Raizen, who himself ends up being an archdemon, trains him and finishes raising the boy into a man. The new OVA looks to expand further into the character’s life after 25 years, in ways not yet determined.
Finally, going back into video games, the River City series (also known as Kunio Kun) has had two releases in the past year. One is Knights of Justice, which re-imagines the classic characters into a Medieval Europeanesque Fantasy realm in which the titular Kunio is called “Sir Alexander.” I’m not making that up and did not put my name in place of his, I promise. This game shows all the similar honor traits and development of positive male traits such as perseverance and dedication, not necessarily to a woman, but to the peace of an entire kingdom. The other is River City: Rival Showdown, more of a direct sequel to Tokyo Rumble, which follows Kunio having to solve a mystery concerning his rival and his rival’s girlfriend within 3 days time, the stakes of which I don’t know as I haven’t completed the game yet. However, it does have multiple endings.
Now you may be asking why I feel that the resurgence of the popularity of the rebellious delinquent youths might be Japan’s salvation. To understand this you end up having to look at the end point in the lives of all the major characters mentioned. They all end up in healthy and emotionally stable lives as men, sometimes with families and other times becoming positive mentors themselves. I’ve seen with fathers in our own sort of online space that the better ones often tend to be those with outcast and rebel roots, men who make their own space on their own terms and no one else’s. To explain this, I’m going to describe a man I know whose mother left him to his grandparents to raise. He was a headbanging, motorcycle riding rebel without a cause type who ended up having children with a drugged-out bitch who only cared about her own interests, not her children’s. Her son from a previous relationship has had the same problems his mother had. However, our subject’s son and daughter were raised by their father with some support from his grandparents.
The son was rough and tumble growing up and we used to wrestle every time I visited. He always enjoyed pushing himself. He wasn’t the smartest kid but once he got his focus getting into his teens he made a solid life for himself and is now a happy and caring father just like his own. The girl is now a happy mother of two young boys who take right after their grandfather.
If the Japanese adopt the attitude of self-determination shown in all these properties, then I’m confident that their birth rates and mentality will stabilize for both men and women. Marxists and feminists don’t like this idea because they’ve always despised the individual, and freedom of will. They are obsessed with controlling all things about society. All of you reading this and those who are as bold as us all have that sense of rebellious self-determination, and I do believe that, in the long run, will be what finally breaks society out of its slump to move forward. With that goal in mind lets push forward and Please Remember to Game Freely!
- Breaking the Narrative Episode 124: Nice Try Kotaku! This Won’t Work Though! - July 8, 2019
- Breaking the Narrative Episode 123: We Shouldn’t Go Straight to Mars! How Anime Got Space Right! - July 1, 2019
- Breaking the Narrative Episode 122: You’re Reviewing What Now? The Dissenter Web Browser! - June 10, 2019
I wish to make a correction. I have since completed the game River City Rival Showdown. It turns out to be a remake of the seminal classic River City Ransom with an expanded storyline and development system influenced by Tokyo Rumble. Not a sequel to the latter game. My apologies for not realizing it earlier as I kept myself in the dark about the story to not be spoiled needlessly.
I will be fully reviewing the game later on after getting some more important subjects out of the way of discussion as the knowledge of such aspects WILL flavor that review.