Sunday, March 18, 2012

Body Count

This morning I was reading a preview of the soon-to-be-released movie, Hunger Games, and the reporter was comparing it's premise to a Japanese movie called Battle Royale.  Among his comments he said, "Something about Japanese pop culture makes the sight of a uniformed schoolgirl wielding a bloody sickle seem like the most natural thing in the world."  Don't even get me started on the whole skimpily clad girls in battle situations.  I'll post about that another time.  What caught me this morning was the tendency of the Japanese to kill off their characters.  I've talked before in this blog about my feelings about senseless deaths of characters, so today I'll stick to talking about series with high body counts.  For the most part I really dislike series that end with most of the cast dead.

The series that probably takes the prize for this is Gilgamesh.  Gilgamesh kills off their entire cats in the last episode.  I was so mad I deleted the whole series from my files and have never felt the need to watch it again, like I do most series.  Other series with really high body counts that I've never re-watched and never will (although I didn't delete them from my files) include Soukyou no Fafner:Dead Aggressor and Tatakau Shisho:Book of Bantorra.  Both of these series end up with few survivors and take out main characters.  It's bad enough re-watching series that kill off one or two favorite characters.  It's impossible with series that decimate most of the cast along with favorite characters. 

There are a few series with high body counts that I can't help liking, even if I wish the body counts were significantly lower.  I suppose other aspects of the series attract me enough that I have to get past the body count.  At the top of this list would be Wolf's Rain.  Wolf's Rain kills off all the main characters in the last 4 episodes.  I like the series enough otherwise that I can skip the last four episodes and create my own ending (twist reality a bit.  Why not?  This blog is Alternate Realities after all.)  Another series like this is Shiki.  Shiki has a massive body count, but the plot left me so ambivalent about who I considered the good guys vs the bad guys that I ended up liking the series. 

Two older series that I hate the body count in are X and Fushigi Yuugi. Fushigi Yuugi is almost redeemed by keeping the two main characters alive, but since most of the rest of the cast are not living it's hard to like the ending.  X even kills the main character.  I hate the whole "his death was necessary to redeem the world" premise.  That and the whole "you cannot escape your destiny/fate" premise.  Those are two plot devices that will immediately cause me to be, shall we say, 'less than happy' with a series.   

Another series I disliked because of the death of the main characters in the end was Chrno Crusade.  I hate that the two main characters die and the bad guy lives.  If the series creators do that kind of thing to make it more like real life, please stop.  I don't watch anime for it to be like real life.  Other series with main character deaths at the very end include Katanagatari, Phantom:Requiem and Terra e.  These series are why I never decide if I like a series until I've seen the ending.  I really dislike the killing of a main character in the last or near to last episode.  It usually makes me feel like I've wasted an entire series.  There are exceptions of course (Cowboy Bebop), but the series has to be pretty exceptional for me to like it after a main character death in the final episode.  I think Cowboy Bebop may be the only one I've ever found. 

So that's my take on high body counts.  In general I won't like a series that kills too many characters.

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