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Is war in fact a beach? (Yes this is still Gundam. I know my head hurts too…)

Well since my graduation date has been immeasurably delayed I am most keen on graduating soon. In order for this to happen I need to finish one class that has the right to demand that I do some research of sorts. Suffice to say I humbly request any assistance that my fellow good netizens might be able to offer me. All I require of you is a simple quotable comment regarding how you an otaku views war. Yes it is a needlessly serious subject, but hey otaku are people too and since the internet is vast I hope to get many opinions and comments from people from different cultures and locales. No need to e-mail me or anything just post your thoughts as a simple comment. That way the good and noble professor can verify everything. (To my good professor if you are reading this please excuse our rough language and grammatical errors. Sorry this is not class nor a graded paper and as such web speak is going to make you cry…)

As intelligent members of various societies I am sure that we can all agree that anime does use war as a plot device. However even as fantastic as big robots fighting each other with beam sabers and death rays of incalculable power, there are some, dare I say it, basic and valid principles of war that anime promotes. Ignoring the gigantic war machines and flashy space ships for a moment, there is some thought given to how a war ought to be prosecuted and how it is prosecuted. This in turn does affect the viewer in some ways explicitly or surreptitiously regardless of whether or not we reject the premise and ideas put forth in the anime series we hold dear or in contempt. So without further delay here are some questions that I would like to pose to you, feel free to answer as few or as many as you wish:

1. Does anime promote the notion that youth (3-18 years old) can view war with a more dispassionate eye? Can a young person, as a rule, grasp the full meaning of a conflict better than any one else, be it a veteran, statesman, mother, or officer? Is this a valid assumption?

2. Should war be fought with a large degree of discrimination in regard to the civilian population of one’s enemy? Does precision weaponry and the ability to make the majority of targets military lessen the impact and sin of war?

3. Is the best way to fight a war is to have one competent or genius strategist oversee every minute detail of a battle, a sort of uber micro if you will? Is the function of the lowliest soldier to merely carry out orders without question or decision making on his or her part? Is the greatest strength of an army it’s commander? Are all soldiers largely interchangeable?

4. Does the ability to predict the enemy’s actions a guarantee of victory? Do armies that prosecute wars act in a rational and methodical by the book manner? Is there a large degree of uncertainty is war?

5. Is the only good thing in war, simply the end? Does anime depict war as hell or something else entirely? Is anime for the most part antiwar, if so is it really good at espousing an antiwar agenda?

6. Is a professional military something to be despised versus a militia made up of locals or are both liable to commit heinous acts in prosecuting a war?

7. In war is the most important thing is the will to fight and the will to win? Does human will ultimately and inevitably overcome technology, economy, and numbers? Is actual fighting the only aspect of war of any consequence?

8. Is the use of WMDs a mere plot device, an act of spite, or a calculated decision in anime?

9. Should rank be dependent on how many of the enemy one kills, or should it be determined time in service, deeds, training, or evaluation by superior officers?

10. Should an ace pilot be kept on active service indefinitely or are there other uses for an ace? Is personal combat the norm or is war a team effort? Is one on one combat more honorable than any other form of fighting?

11. In warfare is there is always one preeminent weapon system that makes all the others obsolete or largely ineffective?

12. In war are all civilians reasonably well behaved and generally able to adhere to basic human decency? Do civilians exert some influence on state and military policy, and if so do they share some responsibility for a conflict?

13. Is it better for a war to end without significant changes to both sides, or does a war need a clear victor in order for a conflict to end? Does lasting peace hinge upon a limited amount of destruction and death on both sides or does it require a huge expenditure of blood and treasure of one or more sides?

14. Does a revolution entail infighting amongst the rebels, or does a rebellion coalesce into a untied front without much blood shed if any at all? Is the ultimate goal of a revolution more important than how those goals are attained? Is the destruction of the “old” a necessary perquisite? Is a revolution inherently a good thing and counter revolution a bad thing?

15. Is war a necessary evil or it it something that can be ended for all time? Are all wars inherently immoral or amoral? Do nation states that can prosecute wars follow a moral code of sorts or are they all immoral entities that take advantage of a neighbor’s weakness? Does every nation-state hold dreams of empire at one or more points in it’s existence or are there nations that are noble and just?

Last Note: please be advised that an outsider maybe reading, so please act accordingly. The last thing we want is to soil the good name of otakudom by doing something unseemly. Also please respect the opinions of others.

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  1. Posted November 26, 2007 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    1. Anime are generally anti-war in their messages, although the visceral excitement of giant robots battling it out often undercuts this. The general impression is one of ambivalence, as the young pilots may love their machines, but hate the realities of killing and are usually civillians who have a combat role unwillingly thrust upon them by adults.

    2. Wars should obviously be a last resort and should not be prolonged longer than necessary, because even the most precise weapons can misfire. War in anime tends to feature civilian casualties as part of its anti-war stance.

    3. Only the military commanders have the fullest grasp of the entire situation on the battlefield, and yet the lowliest soldiers know more about the situation right in front of them. Complete micro-managing is impossible, with all the realities of the fog of war. Commanders can only hope that the soldiers are sufficiently trained and experienced to handle their assigned tasks, making competent decisions when necessary to adapt to changing circumstances, while not going too far from what is required. To link this to anime though, those hot-blooded robot pilots are always disobeying orders and getting into trouble for it! Massive battles are usually not featured in any detail in anime. Instead a few giant robots are often the focus, with their pilots fighting in a more medieval way as champions representing opposing sides. The series Banner of the Stars is one of the more unusual ones that attempts to give a sense of a larger battle with a complex strategy involved and the main characters acting as one part of a larger conflict and battle plan.

    4. What’s the old saying that war plans usually don’t survive actual contact with the battlefield. That’s why the training of the soldiers and the flexibility of the commander are both vital, and also, especially, the ability of the commander to understand whatis happening across the entire field and communicate orders to all of the forces. But knowing an enemy’s plan in advance and having a well-trained army are nothing if the commander is weak–recall McClellan before the Battle of Antietam: he had the Confederate army’s plans in his possession, but failed to use his forces appropriately.

    5. Anime that feature war usually seem to end quite bleakly, often with apocalyptic results, but they also tend to emphasize the individual’s ability to change things through love and understanding. This perhaps takes away from a larger and more realistic picture of the horror of war or a sophisticated understanding of why wars begin and lends itself instead to a more romantic set of ideas. In doing so, anime usually is not good at providing alternatives to war. Young people are just caught up in ongoing wars and often miraculously bring them to an end. But wars in anime often end up being mere backdrops to personal conflicts, for instance the struggles in the classic Gundam series boiling down to the conflicts of a few key individuals.

    6. In anime, main characters are often presented as more militia or independent types than part of the regular military. And the regular military is usually presented as more capable of heinous acts, as opposed to the main characters resisting that.

    7. Japanese culture has the comon notion of the nobility of failure, where the will to fight and the nobility of the combatants is honored, even though that will can’t overcome a superior force and superior technology. The Satsuma rebellion (and its fictionalized presentation in the film, The Last Samurai), is a notable example of this. But anime is more fantasy oriented, and as mentioned above, wars are often ended through the will of just a few characters.

    8. WMDs are often featured in anime as a genre convention and are typically presented as being used in acts of horror without many reasons given beyond representing the apocalyptic extremes that war reach. This is not surprising, given Japan’s history and the often extreme anti-war sentiment this has led to there.

    9. In the real military, rank is usually based on length of service and ability. In anime, where a more romantic presentation is the norm, the main character often has a special ability or skill in using technology that makes them powerful protagonists, in a sense jumping rank, despite their youth and inexperience.

    10. Modern combat is ideally a team effort by increasingly specialized and highly trained combatants. But as I’ve noted above, while anime does feature teams of fighters, battles often become one-on-one showdowns (as in Shounen Jump-based series like Naruto). Again, this is a more romantic and mythic ideal of individual combat.

    11. What was the famous battle in the Hundred Years War where the technology of the English bowman decisively outclassed the French? More often there is no one weapons system that can completely dominate, although anime usually has a class of giant robots, like the Gundams which can presented as invincible (particularly in Gundam Wing).

    12. In anime, politicians are usually not presented as very strong or else as causes of war.

    13. In anime, there is often an apocalyptic result to wars (due to Japan’s historical background). But again, the plotlines of most giant robot fare have, by that point in the story, turned to focus more on the central characters and their individual conflicts affecting everyone else.

    14. Revolutions are very complicated. One need only think of the bloody infighting that went on for years with the French and Russian Revolutions. In the case of the American Revolution, one can think of the fighting between loyalists and patriots, particularly in the Southern theatre. There were also ensuing uprisings like the Whisky Rebellion. Fortunately, the conflicts between the American Founding Fathers were worked out through compromise in the creation of the Constitution and through an election in 1800. Finally, the threat of secession by the Federalists in 1814 never reached fruition.

    15. Human nature, combined with the continuing impact of historical, religious and cultural differences probably makes wars inevitable. Also, human nature and the variety of motivations of many individuals probably mean that completely “just” wars are impossible, although there can be a side that clearly represents values that are more just and that will follow a moral code as far as the realities of survival allow. But I think it was Thucydides who observed how wars tend to make everyone more brutal, so even the side with the moral cause on its side must be careful not to overstep its bounds. But the longer a war goes on, the more likely instances of amorality become for both sides. In anime though, wars are usually brief. Anime is also noted (particularly in Gundam, Nadesico, etc) for not totally demonizing an opposing side, instead presenting both sides in a conflict as having understandable grievances and a philosophy that can be argued for.

  2. Posted November 27, 2007 at 3:16 am | Permalink

    Here are my thoughts. Note that they are primarily my thoughts on war, and not war in anime, unless mentioned in the question or answer.

    a) It depends on the preconceptions of the viewer before watching the anime. Basically, the lens with which they view what is portrayed, if you would allow an analogy.

    b) No. It depends on a person’s experience.

    2. It makes no difference. War is born from hatred. Unless the war is
    something like the war between terrorists and police, in which some of the police (And, possibly, some of the terrorists) try not to involve people outside the circle of said war.
    However, if it is a war between countries, one of the things that come about is discrimination in all sorts of forms, which means that anyone associated with the opposing party is treated as an enemy, including civilians. Even if wars are taken away from the civilians and uninvolved parties, they would still be affected in ways such as military drafting and lack of rations, not to mention having to live in constant terror. So, no, it does not make a notable difference.

    a) No, as geniuses are not omnipotent. Geniuses, too, make mistakes, and they are often incapable of commanding such a large force. A decent army size consists of thousands of soldiers. The soldiers would be scattered all over the battlefield, impossible to track individually. In my opinion, while strategists are important, there should also be commanding power given to squad leaders and others up the military ladder, much like present-day military.

    b) I certainly hope not. There are some who might think otherwise, and their thinking is far from flawed; they would be much more efficient if they were. Unfortunately, soldiers are people too, until the day robots and other sci-fi elements take over the world. From a strategist’s point of view, there is the possibility of soldiers fleeing the battlefield or disobeying orders by placing self-preservation first; such an incentive would increase if they were treated as cannon fodder or mindless drones. I might be digressing a bit here, but people are more willing to lay down their lives for something that matters to them. Being treated as meat shields is definitely not one of those. Thus, they are only so reliable in that area, no matter how high or low the chance is. From a humanitarian’s point of view, that would be removal and complete ignorance of the soldier’s rights. Strategists may argue, but the earlier point is still relevant regardless of which.

    c) A commander is nothing without their soldiers. (Off topic, but the word ‘their’ may be used to refer to someone whose gender is confirmed, even if it refers to a single person; or so I learnt)

    d) From a strategic point of view, their interchangeability is directly related to their rank or importance per person. The higher their importance per person, the lower the interchangeability, since advancing to a position of importance requires skills that are not usually found or are exceptional.

    a) As mentioned earlier, war does not rely on its strategists alone. People, or soldiers in this case, make mistakes, or are swayed by circumstances. Thus, there is no guarantee, on the contrary, relying on predictions too much is rather risky.

    b) It depends on how well the army is trained. Proper soldiers would act according to orders, Special Operations (Though not an army) even more so, while partially militia would usually not.

    c) Yes.


    a) While the end is important, technological advances during and after the war could also be seen as positive. General opinions might change too, though in this case it is hardly for the better.

    b) As mentioned in point 1, its depiction is reliant on how one perceives it, but generally it is NOT perceived as hell, the exception being having the tragedies be used as a plot device.

    c) As much as I would like to hope so, I can’t really so whether it does or not.

    6. Both are liable.

    a and b) No. While important, history has displayed that WMD’s are capable of obliterating armies.

    c) No. Consequences are also evident in the civilian front, taking the form of poverty and starvation, as well as fear and trauma.

    8. A plot device. Anime are usually seen as a division between the bad guys and the good guys, and having a WMD used by the ‘bad guys’ is seen as a failure by the ‘good guys’. The ‘good guys’, on the other hand, have to consider things like civilian casualties and the like, or risk being stripped of their title of ‘good guys’.

    9. The latter. For one, it is impossible to track kills on the battlefield; there would be too much confusion; and taking score is hardly the thing to do when one is about to be hit with a barrage of bullets. Additionally, some might make use of the confusion on the battlefield to lie their way up the ranks.

    a) A pilot’s senses decline with age. Older ace pilots who are willing to serve the military after their required time is up and are in non-combat-able states (Once again, age) could serve as generals, strategists or coaches.

    b) War is a team effort. Personal efforts are too uncertain, for a variety of reasons ranging from a mistake on the combatant’s part to being overwhelmed by the enemy.

    c) It depends on how one perceives one-on-one combat. Some might consider it a great honour, while others consider it as a tactical flaw.

    11. Every weapon has its pros and cons. If the weapon system is limited in its category only, then yes, that is a possibility. However, for example, while a rifle is useful against infantry, it is obsolete against tanks. Tanks can easily rip a path of destruction in its wake, but a simple infantry with a well placed grenade or rocket can destroy it. And, while somewhat irrelevant, there is the fact that all it takes is a sample to fall into enemy hands to have said weapon system reproduced.

    a) No. Even without war, people have tendencies to affect others negatively. Such a problem is simply amplified by wars.

    b) Yes, they do, to both questions raised.

    13. This depends on the governments or leaders of the warring sides involved. If a suitable agreement can be drafted, war can end without one side clearly triumphing over the other. Of course, this requires a minimal amount of bloodshed. If too much blood is shed and lives are lost, the only way to end is to have one side secure victory over the other(s), as doing otherwise would cause civilian rebellions and mass unhappiness, and it is difficult to come to terms that can much up to the amount of bloodshed that would be accepted, and agreeable by all sides.

    a) It is reliant on many circumstances. Rebels could have similar goals and driving methods and thus work together, or disagree with each other and end up working against each other. The amount of blood shed is depends on how the rebels and their respective government act, and copious amounts of bloodshed does not guarantee a resolution.

    b) I believe that both are equally important. For example, lobbying for people’s rights and injuring or killing people in large amounts would be ironic, and serve to negate the point of the goal.

    c) This is usually dependent on how the revolution ends. A peaceful ending could bring about co-existence, while a violent one with large losses on both sides would result in abolishment of the old.

    d) No. Good things and bad things are done judged by perception, thus there is no sure way of telling.

    a) I would like to think that wars can be ended for all time, but judging by the way things look and the nature of humans, it seems impossible.

    b) Once again, it depends on perception and opinion and cannot be judged, but I would think that any wars that involve killing of innocent parties is immoral, even if for the greater good.

    c) This cannot be said for sure.

    d) No ruler will last forever, and with different rulers there will be different ideals, different morals. So, no.

  3. ZeusIrae
    Posted November 27, 2007 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    1)No.Anime like any visual medium is very ambiguous on violence.Most of the time, it condemns(ref:gundam) but flashy explosions and dram, in other words psychological and physical violence is what draw us to those shows.So it would be unwise to consider that promote a clear “effect”.At best, we can only say that anime like other mediums carry the values of its society.

    2)Ah,that’s a really tough question.If I was serious, it would require an essay.But we can’t do that.I would say that the number of casualties(civilian or military) and their “quality”(civilians/miliatry,adult/children) certainly play a role in the appreciation of the morality of a war.Are civilians a legitimate target?No.There’s nothing for me that can justify a deliberate attack on civilians.Unfortunately, that’s only the theory.The reality is much more blurry.In the end what is a civilians?Is a worker building tanks in a factory a civilian?

    3)a)A brief study of history shows that micro-managing is rarely effective.The best option is to be able to rely on competant subordinate who implement your pplan and can react on their own.The function of a soldier depends on how you interpret what is an order.An soldier should never be able to question in any way a direct order.The entire military machine depends on the good execution of the orders by everybody.Otherwise, it’s not a military.However, war is a messy and obscure affair.Low-level soldiers should be able to make decisions on their own and their superiors have to trust their judgment.

    b)There’s not a single greatest strenght for a commander.But if we have to name one, then what does a commander do?He takes decisions, if there’s one thing that is needed then it’sthe ability to take decision and stick to it.Hesitation gets people killed needlessly.A no less important one is luck.

    4)Knowing the enemy’s actions is certainly a definite advantage.After all, uncertainty is one of the greatest problem of war.If we know the goal of the enemy and its plans then we can adapt and create the best strategy.However, it’s never a guarentee.Nothing is certain in war, it’s not a science but an art.
    b)Do armys behaves rationnaly?No.History proves time and time again that military and political leaders don’t behave rationnaly.They make decisions with the filters of their ideology, religion and other psychological factors.

    5)In history and novels, countless numbers of caracters find war intresting, dramatic, exciting.And certainly, some men liked it.After all, how many men still the army for the adventure today?And for the civilians, sometimes war is an opportunity to make a fortune..In the end, whether war is a good or bad thing is a matter of personnal appreciation.In the end, we should note that war destroys, what it builds is only accidental side-affects(technology, societal change,etc)

    end of Part I.

  4. D.J
    Posted November 27, 2007 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    War is hell I think everyone can agree on that.

    And sadly since wars still occur. Its seems all we have learned from the wars of the past are better techniques for killing people.

  5. ZeusIrae
    Posted November 27, 2007 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Part II
    5)b) Anime like gundam convey the message “war is hell”.Unfortunately there’s so much pyrotechnics and gore, that I actually wonder if it’s not just lip-service.

    6)I am inclined to believe that modern professional soldiers will behave better the a militia.After all, they are trained to deal with this(in theory) and are volunteers.In an ideal world, I would say that there shouldn’t be a professional army but only a military service.In the end, the strengt of nation depends on the will of its citizens to defends it.If they refuse to give their own blood and efforts then what does it say about the society they live and its chances of survival.

    7)A war is duel, a battle of will between to opponents.If one of the side is willing to sacrifice more in order to win, then it will hold a significant advantage.But this shouldn’t lead us to believe that pure will is enough and that japanese soldiers are stronger then tanks.This kind of criminal insanity only shows how crazy and desperate people can become.

    8)Depends, moste of the time it’s just a silly plot device.But there’s exceptions, I believe that in Gundam seed, it would be intresting to discuss Patrick Zala’s motivation.In his case, it was probably spiet and a calculated decision.But most of the time, WMD doesn’t really make sense.

    9)Clearly option 2.(why do you even bother to ask?)

    10)Again, lessons of history.Ace are good, they are even better when they teach their tricks to others.War is a team effort( an engineer working in alab is just as important as a soldier).One on one is certainly honorable, but if war was about honor we would know it.

    11)No, a technology maybe.A weapon system?Certainly not.

    12)Well, the history of my countries shows that in difficult times, decency can be in short supply.On the civilian responsability, that’s a very difficult question but I would say yes.Nobody is entirely “innocent”.

    13)Really depends on the situations and the conditions of victory for each side.Impossible to answer.Some prefer a limited conflict that last long or an unlimited and short conflict.Depends…

    14)Sh*t….again tough question.If we take the french revolution or the russian revolution, we see a pattern.Revolutionaries are ready to do anything in order to achieve their goals and the revolution as a tendency to becomemore and more violent.But despite all this, it seems that they never really destroy the “old”, it merely transforms.Are they good?I would say, that the less violence there is the better it is but it doesn’t always work that way.In the end revolutions are complex phemonenon.Giving them a positive and negative value is difficult.

    15)No, violence is in the human nature.We’re animals after all.War involves killing human beings and as such it will never be moral.I am personnaly against the idea that there exist a “just and moral” war.This idea is for me the reciepe to justify any war.After all, who claims is waging war to dominate the world?I don’t know oif nations have a moral code but I am certain the imperialism and war will always be justified by an ideology.It can be a very gerous ideology and perhaps we even believe it.But in the end it’s just a pretext.There’s no such a thing as a noble and just nation.

  6. bamboowitch
    Posted November 27, 2007 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    1. I believe knowledge on conflict can be assessed in different ways- however it is some what valid to a certain extent- if is safer to just stick with the first question in which anime watching youths would view war negatively- however they are not the only ones (obviously as you mentioned veterans and pacifists)

    2. Precision weaponry now means the minimum people are murdered in war (notice murder- I do believe killing- any form of it unless of course in the action of self defence is a sin)It is more ‘just’ to avoid killing citizens who are prawns of this ‘game’

    People have said strength is from the uniting of many- I believe that too so I feel that the strategist is the weakest especially if they make unjust orders e.g. going OTT which made many lose their lives- however whatever decision- deaths will be the norm in war- I feel if the soldier who voluntary decided to join the army should follow the orders unless of course it is inhumane- but then again the judgement of this would depend on the individual and can be seen as cowardice therefore one soldier may not have the voice to speak opinions- so the strategist does seem to be in a higher level

    Hah, no, Murphy’s Law. This is not a chess game- these are lives we’re talking about so however great the prediction one can not guatantee victory.I dislike the word victory some what- when do you ‘win’ a war? Okay if the other side surrenders – but sometimes people take it too far.. *rants*

    End? Wait. What about WW1? that was not a good ending (well for the Germans however in the Long Run- the ‘whole world’ suffered after two decades)
    If the treaties at the end are just and fair (again easily disputed) then maybe the end is good- and I do believe anime is usualy antiwar- the things I’ve have watched like Grave of the fireflies would probably attack your emotional side but Gundam also does that to a lesser extent- Gundam seems to shout – we don’t want to be pawns and hurt others whilst GOF stresses about lives of children and that is usually the most heart wrenching (ever seen those adverts where it tells you to now drive fast or drink drive- the victim tends to be a child and most people are seriously effected- whether films and adverts drive you to the point where you’d publically protest again war is another thing though)

    6.I feel that the blame is difficult to place- it is possible to say that one is solely wrong? I think everyone is to blame for the lack of effeciency- heck i’m to blame for not gettign the guts to oppose against war in protests- it is the bad decision of the military the politicians but also the lack of unity in the general public who outnumber these people- it is everyones fault that we can’t stop hurting others (aaahh sorry- sounding really really cheesy and sad)

    9.The latter (tthe training and services etc)(I hope I used the right word)

    There was- but now maybe not as the increase in nuclear weapons mean MAD usually (sorry if I got my facts twisted- still stuck in GCSE history mode XD) however it is unlikely for one to use nuclear weapons or gas or anything which causes a ‘painful death’- as they’re usually out lawed – but of course you have the underground circulation >00

  7. bamboowitch
    Posted November 27, 2007 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    but still any weapon is dangerous so it doesn’t matter what they use- you are still killing and how can you say getting shot with a shot gun that can kill you is less effective that getting killed with a flamethrower (okay may more people die from the flameflower but still) both work don’t they?

    Cizilians do have some influence in the policy- and do have responsibility for letting the state and military allow the killing of people legally during a period called war

    Better for the war to end without significant changes to both sides
    lasting peace? hm. I’ve been wondering about that term and feel it is impossible whatever the result

    Revolution? Depends- it may be nessessry during that time and may not and it may be outed in the future as it is no longer neccessary. It all dependds

    War can be ended probably with destruction of humans- but if humans can see that is is immral then maybe one day it will be ended but I can not see a future in peace not in my life time anyways. (however they do say that the young will be the ones to be the leaders in the future so maybe in 30 years time when new people are in politics- maybe then peace can be established- maybe)

    sorry for not answering all questions – partly confused :P

    Anyhows hope that has helped you and erm yeah gd luck at uni >0

  8. bamboowitch
    Posted November 27, 2007 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    1 1/2 SIDES o.o
    THATS MORE THAN MY Task 2D of my c/w :P
    I could have wrote moreee it kinda shows I have time today YUS NO HW

  9. Posted November 27, 2007 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    As an undergraduate and in my own time I have spent thousands of hours on war, politics, history, and especially WWII. Therefore most of my examples will be drawn from that conflict, because I am the most familiar with it.

    1. On the contrary, I find that anime portrays youth as overly affected by war at times, although maybe that’s a staple of the mecha genre in general. I have spoken with many relatives and friends who have served in active combat, and none of them would describe the reactions of their fellow soldiers as “emo.” However, in many anime related to war that’s exactly how youth in war are portrayed in so many cases. Melodrama is a plot device, its not realism. And no, young people cannot really grasp the full meaning of a conflict, they can grasp the results (stuff blew up, people died), but without more world experience and background you can’t really understand the political reasons behind wars (and all war is politics).

    2. I think trying to limit civilian casualties is preferable, but when a conflict graduates into “total war” (a war of entire societies, which hasn’t occured since WWII), civilian casualties are inevitable and necessary. While you can debate it, actions like the firebombing of Tokyo, dropping nukes, and the sustained bombing of German cities on WWII had a significant impact on the course of the war on both fronts. I don’t really think the sin of war is a question of degree when you graduate to a total war.

    3. I think a proper chain of command is necessary, you really can’t have one uber genius micro everything once the scale of the war is high enough. Look at what happened in parts of WWII when Hitler tried to micro manage European defenses, Rommel knew they weren’t landing at Calais. You have to let lower eschelon commanders make decisions at a certain level, although a great tactician is extremely important. An incompetent general (Montgomery) can really be less effective than a brilliant one (Patton). For those two generals see North Africa.

    4. Not to sound cliché but no plan survives first contact with the enemy, but intelligence and tactics wins battles. The side with the ability to pierce the fog of war will have a decisive advantage.

    5. I think there is anime on both sides of the fence here. You have many shows that really don’t show the horrors of war/fighting and just do it for the action, or if they try and show them it’s a pedestrian, watered down version (see most Gundam series). On the other side you also have something like Grave of the Fireflies which shows it in the opposite fashion.

    6. No, both are capable of perpetrating heinous acts for different reasons. Professional military soldiers tend to be a bit more detached from absolute moralities than your average civilian sitting at home saddened by someone getting shot just because they are constantly in that conflict. On the other side, civilians are more likely to give into massive emotions that come with maybe their home or families dying, they have a less objective view of war and are more given to passion and rage. So one from dispassion and one from passion, either kind of soldier is capable of such acts.

    7. That’s something that anime would like you to believe, but it’s pretty far from the truth. Personal bravery may win small wars, but economy, numbers, technology, and tactics will always be more effective. A well, trained, disciplined army that fights with intelligence and reason will beat a rabid charge of passion. I would say bayonet charges and kamikazes used by the Japanese in WWII may have been a display of a massive will to fight and win, but an effective tactic it was not.

    8. I’m not sure, I haven’t watched much anime where WMDs are used.

    9. Well the number of enemies killed is a factor in evaluation and merit so it should go into account along with the other factors you mentioned. But it is not the dispositive test of promotion for me.

    10. An intelligent commander will use his elite forces effectively for difficult missions, and not risk them on everyday attrition fights. Personal combat is not the norm, no matter how much anime may suggest so. As I have previously opined, war is macro. And in reality war is not “honorable” in that sense.

    11. Not always, but a superior weapon system can crush the enemy, see Tiger tanks in most of WWII. The Germans had the superior tank and it showed, it slaughtered weaker types.

    12. Not usually, a combination of nationalistic fervor, propaganda, and grief at the loss of friends and families removes a lot of the rational behavior of most civilians in total war situations. That doesn’t alleviate them from responsibility to a degree, they share the blame with the politicians who motivated them. I would not absolve German civilians of blame for believing Goebbels.

    13. A clear victor brings a better chance for the end of a conflict, but it does not always create a cessation of hostilities. Incomplete victories like the one established by the Treaty of Versailles at the end of WWI often lead to more conflict. Lasting piece throughout history has largely required a lot of blood and treasure, at least relative to the time. What sufficed for lasting piece in the Seven Years War paled in comparison to what was lost at Verdun.

    14. Effective revolutions are more united, but by its nature a revolution is more free form and more vulnerable to infighting, as stable individuals that follow orders without question would not be rebelling in the first place. And to be honest it’s hard to moralize rebellions in general, it’s so subjective to each side and the time period. An Frenchman may say that their rebellions at the end of the 18th century were just and worth the cost, but I bet the nobles on the other side of it did not see their goals as more important then the means they used to achieve them. You can’t really generalize whether revolution or counter-revolution is better in all situations, it’s fact specific.

    15. I hesitate to term all war “evil” and I definitely would say that it cannot be ended for all time. It is in the inherent nature of humans to conflict with one another, and there has been no political system yet devised that can end war. War is less moral then most people believe, as it is often motivated by political realities and unavoidable. WWI was going to happen regardless of the moral problems associated with war, it was a political situation created over decades. Every country wants to be powerful and prosperous, and that naturally involves expansion, and before the era of globalization the only way to do that was through military means and colonization. So I cannot say that nations did not want an empire, nor would I call them unjust or immoral for harboring such dreams.

  10. Linya
    Posted November 27, 2007 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Well, it’s stimulating my thoughts so I think I’ll answer a few, hope it’s helpful in some way….

    1.) Anime, like any form of fiction (best note is Harry Potter, which has been on my mind), tends to promotes the view of the main characters towards the war, usually oversimplifying the motivations and perceptions of others, making their own views seem much more valid, even though in reality it is not. I believe that any person grasping the full meaning of a conflict is based mostly on their personality, morals, and experience. So yes sometimes a young person will see it clearer than an adult because they bring in less complications, but sometimes they are simply not mature enough to get it.

    2.) I personally don’t think war should ever be fought with discrimination. It should be fought with compassion. This question brings out the meaning for war, and the reasons to fight, as that is what defines a sin. The only reason a war should be fought is to correct an injustice, and only when that is the only means available to get the other party to comply to reason. But yes, keeping casualties to the military does lessen the impact of sin– any way to slow the killing and suffering of people lessons the dirtiness of war.

    3.) Soldiers in an army are like cells or organs in a body. Usually it’s best if one part– a single brilliant commander, or a group of generals– gives the orders and the other parts follow. This helps stop some confusion, and will keep people from clashing with their own side in most cases, and might help larger strategy. However each cell/soldier lost has it’s own say in how well the body/army as a whole runs. If part of it turns away, the rest either has to follow, or cut it off. Soldiers are vital, and somewhat interchangeable, and must carry out orders with a minimun of questioning. However, every soldier/lower officer must make decisions on the best way to carry out orders, and at times have to take oppurtunities available to them, so should be briefed (at least) to the larger strategy of the battle.

    4.) There is a large degree of uncertainty in war, simply because there are so many variables. Even if you can predict your enemies actions; you can’t always predict the weather, or natural disasters, or how individual soldiers might change those plans as they are carried out. (several historical battles or wars were started/or got even worse because a couple of hotheads started firing shots too early, or cowards turned and ran contrary to all orders or reason)

    5.) War brings out the best and worst in people, so the end isn’t the only good thing, but also the valor shown. The anime I have seen have been largely anti-war, though not anti-fighting. Fighting to achieve a goal seems perfectly acceptable for the most part, but actually killing or large-scale battles are shyed away from…. *can’t think of proper words to answer the question completely*

    6.) Military is not something to be despised, nor are a militia. They can only be judged by their actions. Heinous acts such as careless murder of people who are not a threat or cruelty are despised… but at times the military are ordered to do this and their only choice is to do that or be punished severely or die. I think they are less guilty than those militia men that choose to do such acts purely of their own will.

    7.) The most important thing in war is the cause, so I guess you could say that it is the will to win. An army that will not retreat is an army that will win ((as long as it doesn’t run out of people, or the enemy doesn’t have WMDs *which was the unfortunate case with the Japanese/American fighting at the end of WWI if I understand my history correctly.)). Since human will creates technology, economy and numbers I believe that the joint will of many people or a few extraordinary one will be the winning or the losing of a war. Of course in some cases they might win by retreating or moving away. It’s hard to answer precisely, because war is so entirely subjective to the circumstances surrounding it. The actual fighting in wars tends to take little time (as far as I understand), so it is not the only aspect of any consequence. Much more time is spent on manuevering, planning, supplying/manufacturing, and waiting, all of which contributes to the cause. So no.

    8.) hmm… Don’t think I’ve seen any animes that used WMDs. But they sure do make a big difference.

    9.) Since the higher the rank usually means having people under your command, than it should be given to those people that can lead others. People who stand immovable, that can rally a defense, or stop their troops from running in fear should be the lieutenants and captains (I’m thinking of men like Stonewall Jackson in American Civil War). Of course they’ll need training and some experience as well as the will to lead, as well as an ability to get things done and be organized. Rank can be given to the best fighters at times, but those people aren’t always suited to lead others; in that case they should be assigned in a special post in the lines and not be assigned to a unit.

    10.) I think an ace pilot should be kept on active service– he is most likely of the most use there. War, in it’s definition is a team effort (unless one person is impossibly strong….-_-) Personally, I don’t see any honor in fighting, but I supose one-on-one seems more “honorable.” (honestly, honor in trying to kill each other really just don’t go together. *definitely female*)

    11.) Yes, that’s having God on your side.

    12.) No…. goodness. I’m studying the American Civil War right now, and during the first battles people would try to come out and watch, the sillies. In a larger view, civilians are never well behaved, and war tends to make bad people worse, and good people broken. Most times civilians do share responsibility for a conflict, except in cases when they really have absolutely no power, which I think is rarer than depicted.

    13.) lol. War of 1812, or the second war of American Independence. Absolutely nothing changed… people just got tired of fighting, or rather the expense it took. So no. In fact people are more tended to enjoy peace because they’re worried about getting/keeping their commerce and livelihoods in good order. So unless there’s some old/serious grievance or lasting prejudice, I think wars would tend to be rather short with fewer casualties.

    14.) Again it is all subjective. Rebels always disagree, because people disagree with each other. However if they share common goals they will usually consent to work together for at least a short time to defeat a larger enemy. No; how a goal is attained reflects upon the goal itself. The noblest goal will be stained if achieved by dasteredly means. No, the “old” doesn’t always have to be destroyed, usually people are uneasy with too many changes all at once, so only a few pertinent changes are really necesary. No revolution is not always a good thing; at a point it simply becomes anarchy. ((another civil war example: the south was giving a revolution, and the north countered it. Many people think the north to be more in the right because it was against slavery….))

    15.) War will be ended when people can stand to live in peace with each other. That will happen when laws are just and everyone obeys them, when people cease to be greedy and proud. Possible, but at this point in human history, it appears unlikely. Wars do always have some immoral grounds, because there is always an agressor. People have every right to make war to protect themselves and their natural rights, but beyond that, they really don’t have the right to fight. heh. Looking at the U.S. I’d say, yes at some point even the best of nation-states looks toward empire at some point, and though they might help others due to their code of honor, far too often they do more damage than good. People have to want to be helped after all , before that help becomes good.

    It took entirely too long to type that… :P Good luck with your class.

  11. Posted November 28, 2007 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    First of all, I want everyone to know that what I´m writting are my own thoughts. And since I dislike war some answers will have that feeling in them.

    But without further ado, I´ll start. This will take a little time I think.

    That age cap is to large, since it involves a lot of ages it can´t have a general answer. Have a child at 3 watch people get killed and s/he will react different from a person who is 18 since they have totaly different minds. Being 18 means you have learned what moral is and thus you see war differently. But without actual experience you´ll still have the wrong image of war. There isn´t anything that can beat experience in understand what war really is.

    War is never nice, people get killed for the most stupid reasons. Weaponry doesn´t decrease the “sin”. It´s the human who press the button, or rather nowadays it´s the person who order the pilot/gunman/soldier to press the button who is killing people. Using the word “sin” isn´t quite what I would use.
    Civilians should never be hurt because of war. They have nothing to do with the war and should thus not get hurt.
    Similar if there is only civilians who use guns/throw handgranades/use violence then there must be an act of defense and THEN civilians can be hurt, but except for that single time, no, civilians shouldn´t be hurt.

    Noone is “worth more” in war. Having a good strategy isn´t going to work if you don´t have soldiers, having lots of soldiers isn´t any good if you don´t have a good strategy.

    The one who can suprise the opponent wins, doing the unexpected is what wins war. Atom bomb for one example, wasn´t supposed to be used, was used and bang, war won. Otherwise it would have gone on longer.
    If you predict the opponents move you have a slight upper hand, but like in chess if the opponent foresaw that you are in trouble.

    For the weapon industry every war is good since it brings in money to them and then can continue to develop weapons. War is never good, when it ends there are so many grudges it don´t help one tiny little bit.
    Anime shows war as something terrible since it can put friends up against eachother, or it can also be viewed as the only solution. To bring peace to the world we must start out a war against those who do not think as we do…

    War is henious, it doesn´t matter if it´s mercenaries of local people. When they are in war they will most likely commit henious acts, if they are trained professionals there will probably be less henious acts, if they aren´t paid to do that kind of acts.

    I would say it´s the will to survive. The more people who have a will to survive and continue to fight are more likely to win than people who are afraid of death and don´t want to die. Watching from those two perspectives gives two different reactions. If I want to survive then I´ll do my best to survive, survival is the keyword. If all I can think about is death and that I don´t want to die then I´m more likely to fail and die.

    Don´t know what WMD stands for and thus I can´t answer.

    Rank is somewhat funny. It changes whereever you go. For me the highest rank should be to the one who isn´t fanatic, powerhungry or some extremist. If a person has the highest rank then I want him to be able to do the right thing, order the troops to flee in time and such. Having experienced war him/herself is a bonus.

    Being an ace means you have knowledge most other people don´t. With that knowledge you can teach other pilots small tricks that will keep them alive, surviving is always the key.
    Having an ace go out on mission after mission is kinda hard for him/her since it will put preasure on the mind to get even better, and thus you can make misstakes.
    A caring ace that wants to help his/her comrades is better than having an ace that only thinks about him/herself.

    Sure thing, mass destruction is effective, but sofar if you get the leader behind everything the war ends. That can be done in a lot of ways. Sniper, bombing, suicidal attack and more.
    So it´s all about using whatever one got in the best way.

    Some people want to kill more, other less, other don´t want to have any casualties. Most of the time people can just fill in their complaints to the superiors.
    Civilians as I see it don´t have anything to do with war, unless they are the war itself. Often it´s the leader who decides to go to war and brings everyone with him/her and they have to obey, under those circumstances the people can´t really be blamed. Unless there was a 100% GO TO WAR AND KILL EVERYONE vote…

    Who wins in war? The one with forces left? The one with it´s leader alive? Victory in war is often shrudded in fog and then all of a sudden one can see on media “we´ve won the war!!” but how? Noone ever tells us.
    War is a lose lose situation however you watch it.

    Depending on what the rebellions wants to do there are more or less chance of it getting extremist factions in it. Take a look at history and you´ll see that in the rebellions there are usually a lot of different minds and they all want to do different things with the rebellions, thus making conflict happen within the rebellion.

    As long as people have weapon there will be war. As long as there are more than one human being in the whole world there will be war. It´s in our genes, take a look at the history of man and you´ll notice that there was always wars. Tribe wars or war over moral or whatnot. Humans love to fight.

    Sorry for writing so much. Hope this helps.

  12. Posted December 22, 2007 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    hey babes looking fine and sexy why dont we huddle ^ in the bed in Christmas as my present 2 u

  13. Posted December 23, 2007 at 4:57 am | Permalink


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