Sunday, December 20, 2015

TWELVE DAYS OF ANIME 2015: Concrete Research

To finish up my informal, four parter on anime and my life this year, as I mentioned yesterday, for some reason at my job I'm the one who does the main fact-checking my show, which is non-fiction so we really want everything to be right. I'm still not sure exactly why this is my job, I did it as an intern and then later when we had other interns, it might just be because I am meticulous and nit-picky, but I have actually come to enjoy it to an extent. I don't like how long it takes (a single, 51 minute script takes 6-8 solid hours of research and the script do change a bit during production) but research is something I've always been rather good at.



I sort of alluded to it yesterday but I feel like my schooling has always been rather intense but research papers are something that were far worse in high school than college for me. By my sophomore year of high school I was writing 12-20 page papers and in college my longest paper I think was under 10 (true I was in more of a vo-tech discipline but I still had required history and english classes). I always assumed it was the writing skills I was developing that I would use more but instead it's been the research and this is far harder than anything I've done. In school, unless you are conducting research, you do a preliminary search and if nothing comes up you scrap the idea, here I have to keep digging until I find something. Sometimes our folks who do the scripts will have lines like "By year X country ____ had destroyed X number of planes and required a new strategy" and it's easy for me to see what still needs checking. Other times I'll see "By year 3099 country Sadkhafkhaj vaporized 4,000,956 space battle ships and intergalactic control decided a new tactic was needed to win the shipping war" and I won't find any reference to that number in that year after a search and just have to keep going until I can either find it or concretely prove it wrong. 

All of that means that I tend to find a lot of side information while I'm researching and this time around I've been learning a lot about nukes (admitting this to an older couple I was helping with directions at a local research facility is the one time my job has managed to embarrass me). Like guys, I already knew there is a treaty on not sending nuclear weapons into space (because we kept doing it), but I didn't know about the number of accidents, lost bombs, or that the US military once tried to make an atomic cannon, it's all kind of amazing in its own way. 

So when I saw episode 5 of Concrete Revolutio and the characters are hunting in a bay for a kaiju's remains I thought "okay I've been working too hard, this just reminded me of a couple of nuclear accidents", it continued, and then one of the characters explicitly referenced exactly what I had been researching what the absolute fuck. It was a weird moments for me, one that the show was becoming more rooted in reality with every episode ("superhuman fantasy" subtitle aside) and two, I got that reference but none of my friends also watching the show did! So I made a post on tumblr (and in retrospect, after seeing that lost bomb list I think it might have actually been specifically the #6 incident and the sub in episode #11 could have been #7&8 or this) and thought how weird it was that I was finally in a place where I could be one of the people explaining a show. I mean, I had joked that my show was turning me into an unwilling military otaku but this was something else!

And it made me realize, hey I like being in this position, I like watching shows (most notably Mawaru Penguindrum) which use history like this to add to the story, you don't have to know it but the parts you should know you should know because it's important history. You don't need to be hunting down all of the obscure pop-culture references in ConRevo to understand the show, I doubt there's anyone in the world aside from the creators who are making it who know them all, but you should know that the student protests in the show really did happen in order to understand that protests are not new things and that many of complaints are still ones we have today, hence why we still have mass gatherings five decades later. 

Life in general requires research, it sounds like a simple statement but the number of things we all know that we don't even know we don't boggles the mind so I always find it cool when a story teaches me something new or leads me to a review with lines like "so I've been reading up on Japanese queer literature and theory". I wish I had been more proactive researching this show from the beginning so come April I'll be trying to catch as many little bits as I can just for the heck of it.  And, provided that the show doesn't go off the deep end, it'll be fun, I'll have a chance to dig more into a period of history that I'm currently not very well educated in and if anyone else does watch the show and thinks "okay but was that moment supposed to mean something more" then I'll have a resource for them and everyone wins!

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