Your Mecha Samurai are no match for the English! (yeah I have waited long for an excuse to use this one)
I finally have settled back in since my last lump of garrison duty and working long hours (11 hours on Saturday, and 12 on Sunday) so while this isn’t the most timely response of sorts to IKnight’s post on the mecha tree. In recent times I think mecha has become less associated with the boner inducing techno babble that makes engineers smile in their bouts of nerdgasms and that the need to explain how a big bad mecha works has been passed over for the most part for the emo pricks that pilot the machines. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t think that the concept of a mecha pilot being a knight or samurai is exclusive Code Geass or Escaflowne alone. In fact I think it is not too far off the mark to say that mecha pilots are knights of sort, a bunch of elitist pricks who are arbitrarily chosen based on some random emo factor that is unbefitting of soldaten who actually fight the wars while these nobles go around making trouble and philosophize about the intricacies of killing your fellow man and boosting niceties as the objective of war rather than victory. Bushido and chivalry are very much alive in your average mecha pilot barring a few exceptions like Shinji who was a bastard who wanked off on the corpse of his comrades.
A real engineer, i.e. better than Kira “Jesus” Yamato.
For the most part the intricacies of your average mecha is now for the most part taken for granted as the genre has progressed to the point where the science is no longer needed and we have advanced to the Warhammer 40k kind of justification with your litanies of activation and machine spirits to power our engines of destruction, and we also have the added plus of havoc physics to justify our bullet time action sequences to up the cool factor. Science in mecha may have been dragged out sodomized, shot, and stabbed to be buried in some corn field, but chivalry is for he most part alive and well. For all intents and purposes bushido will receive less attention in favor of chivalry, not because of some Euro-centric bias, but because the penultimate book of Bushido as it is known largely today was written by one Yamamoto Tsunetomo who was born well after the last battle prior to the Meiji Restoration. I don’t ask that the bloke should have put himself in a position to get his ass shot out from under him, but I merely wish to point out that he did not ever find himself in the heat of battle. The bloke who wrote the penultimate book on chivalry, however, did fight in a war, the Hundred Years’ War.
A real engineer, i.e. better than Kira “Jesus” Yamato.
The fate of science (Pesci) in mecha.
I think that the most common mistake that people make about chivalry is that it was about being courteous to women, true to your lord, and a bunch of other bull shit about how to treat the lower classes. These make up only a small portion of what Geoffroi de Charney, the guy who wrote the book on chivalry, and reputedly one of the most respected knights of the age touched on. The biggest thing about chivalry according to the man who wrote it was prowess in battle, individual might, and the glory that you could win in war. Prowess would then make your lady swoon and your lord happy to put up with your otherwise parasitic existence and buy your way out of a POW palace in the event of capture (I do mean palace as captured nobles were well cared for since they could be ransomed off while the dirty peasants were simply slaughtered). Like a lot of Lulu le Douche’s bullshit about the obligations of nobles, chivalry is just that a whole lot of bullshit to make war the business of haughty blue blooded bastards, keep the proletariat down trodden, and to keep women pretty and subordinate. In this light Dopey the run of the mill card board cut out mecha pilot is the chivalric ideal, he, and it is for the most part a he, is fighting for recognition success in battle makes him all the more worthy. Kid mecha pilot is an eager young knight going off on an adventure that will not be deadly for him in some sort of sanitized version of war to fight for truth and justice against unspeakable evil and unscrupulous bastards.
Why chivalry is lame…
Heroism on the part of mecha pilot is what most sane people would call blind stupidity, and recklessness (soldiers just do tactical face palms). True to his words Charny did promote the knightly charge as a means to gain the greatest form of honor in chivalry by simply riding down their enemies in honorable hand to hand combat, this what a lot of mecha pilots do, even alleged snipers like Lock-on against Prince Ali. Fortunately for the average mecha pilot such foolishness is not rewarded with a Crecy, Poitiers, or Agincourt. Charny himself was at Poitiers and fought bravely and probably had a hand in approving of the French battle plan of marching up to those peasants with bows and beating the living day lights out of them. True to their lust for glory and a chance to celebrate prowess the French knights did charge the English bravely and without fear only to have those dirty un-chivalrous peasants shoot their horses from underneath their asses thus turning the their charge into an amorphous blob of knights and horses.
Poitiers was chivalry guru de Charny’s last battle. In true knightly fashion he made his last stand with the banner of his liege in hand to defend King John II (sound kind of familiar?). Charny died and John II was captured and ransomed for what was then two years worth of France’s total tax revenue. Charny died bravely, but it was to be the French peasants who had to pay to get their stupid king back. Much like how the unseen peasants in mecha end up footing the bill for mecha fights (I think Dai Guard was the only mecha show that ever touched on this aspect). Good thing for mecha pilot Schmuckatelli that those dirty low born grunts can do nothing to his shiny mecha barring requirements of the plot or if a guy named Ali al Sarhes crosses his path. Even better he need not foot the bill for repairs.
My Kind of Mecha Knight.
In line with the chivalric ideals mecha knights usually only lose to other mecha knights rather than die after getting mobbed by a bunch of peasants with bad teeth thrusting daggers into their vision slits and hacking apart their joints. Like Lancelot in the Knight of the Cart episode, peasant soldier merely frustrates our noble blue blooded heroes during their adventures, they are not the hardy Swiss peasants with long pikes who run up and skewer their social betters or the malnourished bowmen who rob the good knights of their fine and expensive war horses. Even when it comes to women the tropes are more or less the same with fan service substituting for fine silk dresses and expensive jewels. Mecha pilots are for the most part knights, unfortunately for me I favor those dirty un-chivalrous mud blood low born peasants who mob the nobles, kill their horses, and hand them bitter defeat that make mecha pilots get even more emo and cry about something. For me mecha pilots are the successors of those badly disciplined nobles on horses, the only difference is that the armor and horse have been rolled into one. (Yes, this post was just a cover to post up a bunch of TF2 vids…)