It’s ironic that this hit me the day after publishing the best analysis of Citizen Kane ever written (IMHO), but I just now realized why nerds prefer cartoons.
If Dostoevsky had written Dragonball Z, Goku would have spent the first six hundred pages discussing all possible ideological permutations which would and wouldn’t justify his fight against alien martial artists from space. He would argue, postulate, illustrate, and analyze the most charitable version of each possible position in ways that hint at his inner torment in coming to a decision. On the six hundred first page, he would end the book by giving his conclusion in a single line: “I like fighting, I’m good at it, and my family and friends need me to do it.”
This appeals strongly to people with a taste for social graces and nuance. I remarked to Patrick earlier today that a white person, and particularly a high-functioning white person, is just a black person with an overweening need to cover over taboos with vast complexes of pretense. This isn’t entirely bad, as it enables white people to work with each other and have nice things, but I certainly wouldn’t call it good. And, like many other conventions of communication in a world designed by socialites, I’ve accepted it as a practical necessity. But I’ve never acquired the taste.
Since Goku was written by Akira Toriyama (possibly the most autistic looking person I’ve ever seen) and not Dostoevsky, he just skips the first six hundred pages and has Goku say “I like fighting, I’m good at it, and my family and friends need me to do it.” Then he draws six hundred pages of professional wrestling drama, because Mr. T doing ki blasts was the most awesome thing he could think of. Nerds like this because it’s the same idea and they aren’t very good at penetrating the clouds of squid ink that Dostoevsky’s characters tend to communicate through.
This is also why Evangelion is artistically superior to Crime and Punishment. Yeah, you read that right, fite me irl.
When Raskolnikov decides to kill his landlady and steal her money, he talks about it for several hundred pages until he experiences Ego death. When Shinji decides to kill the monster he’s fighting (Zeruel) and eat its heart, the restraints burst off his Eva unit and it becomes the monster it absorbed, and the pilot’s body is dissolved into the Eva.
In the same way, when Shinji decides that fighting is too difficult for him, he doesn’t invent an ideology that says Asuka and Rei shouldn’t fight either. He says “I tried but it was too hard and I never understood why I was doing it” and leaves. Then, when he realizes the people he cares about are suffering and he wants to fight for them, he returns and says “I want to try again, but this time I’m doing it because I want to.”
But I can understand that sometimes you can’t just come out and say things directly, because that’s low-status. Like anime. And a little subtlety now and then won’t hurt me, as long as it’s the language my audience needs to get the point across.