Thursday, June 28, 2012

An Anime with Conservative Themes

     I rarely talk about anime on this blog, sticking more to gaming when the mood strikes me to discuss my hobbies.  But today, I'm changing it up a bit.  I thought I'd come up with a list of anime shows I have been watching that contain conservative themes, and try to analyze them a bit.  Maybe this will also help some of my friends of a leftward bent to better understand what exactly conservatism is -- what it stands for, and what it's all about.

     In no particular order, I'm going to start with Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu.  (Legend of the Galactic Heroes).  This is a series that is one hundred and ten episodes of glorious battles in space, between enormous fleets of ships, all to the music of great classical composers like Wagner and Dvorak.  For an example, here's part of episode 15  :

     Gotta love the music, right?  First of all, let me give you a background summary.  The two sides whose conflict serves as the background for everything that goes on are as follows:  On one side (which vaguely resembles 50s America in style and dress) we have the Free Planets Alliance.  The show doesn't delve in depth into the details of their government, but it is nominally a democracy, led by a small cabinet staffed by fairly corrupt politicians whose primary concern is getting re-elected, rather than achieving any kind of lasting peace out of the 150 year+ war they've been waging with the Galactic Empire.  The Empire (marked by their 18th century dress) is basically feudal, with a Kaiser reigning over several planets, each of which is governed by a noble.  The Alliance is formed out of emigrants who fled the Empire some years after it became a feudal state (it too had been something of a democracy).  The show covers a few generations, and I haven't actually gotten very far along in watching it (somewhere near episode 34 or 35 at the moment), but the primary characters at the start are a rising general in the FPA named Yang Wen-Li and a rising general in the empire named Reinhard von Lohengramm.

     I don't want to spoil too much of the show, so let's cover the basic reasons why it's on this list.  The show repeatedly compares the two nations against each other, with the intended result, I think, of making the viewer think both are pretty bad and we need something that has elements of both.  Specifically, the FPA becomes more and more fascistic/socialist as time goes on, as the politician that starts out as secretary of defense gains more power, and shows himself as being highly charismatic (ironic that he becomes more hitler-like than the Empire characters, who are clearly modelled on pre-WWI Prussia/Germany).  The FPA is also routinely plagued with social disorder in the form of anti-war protests, terrorism, and at one point, civil war after a military coup.  (In some ways the way the military of the FPA works is more akin to Rome...but I digress).  As for the empire, the factionalism between different nobles gets worse on the Kaiser's death, and civil war also breaks out over there, though social order is largely unharmed during and after the civil war.  So basically, as I said, both systems of government get some analysis, and it seems like the end result is that there are pros and cons to both, rather than democracy being upheld as intrinsically better.  In turn, this suggests that something like a constitutional monarchy or the American republic is best (with a mix of democracy and oligarchy).  Naturally, I think this is a fairly conservative theme in itself.

     Aside from that, Yang is something of a pacifist, but is constantly jarred from his naivety by the situations around him and forced to fight.  So we get treated to some discussions that lead to a moral similar to Heinlein's "violence is an answer" speech from Starship Troopers... where the idealist must abandon his pacifism and take up something more pragmatic.  There's also a salvo against public education (to some extent) in that Yang is as good a general as he is because he spent time reading military history, rather than sticking with what he was 'supposed' to be doing at his school.  And he's basically homeschooling his ward.  (Who later becomes something of a badass general himself).