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Old 2009-01-14, 08:16   Link #41
yezhanquan
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@Mystique: Your note is quite accurate. Since we mentioned Hellsing, I might as well bring the 3rd Reich in. As you look through the records, almost every single governmental agency was involved in the Shoah.
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Old 2009-01-31, 17:32   Link #42
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Since we're talking about good and evil let me ask a question.

Why do we see evil things evil? What makes evil be evil? For example, if I kill someone am I evil?
Now, most of you will probably answer "yes", but here's something to think about.

We all see murder as something evil, right? But why?
Just because some other man said that it's evil?
Maybe, but how is he different from a man who says that killing is not evil? Because we find killing bad? Because the law says that it's bad to kill someone? But all those laws are made by humans. Humans who have been telling us "Killing is bad."
So, how is that any different from deciding that petting animals is good? Why did we decide that petting animals is good and killing others is bad?
Because we don't like killing others? Now, WHY do we think like that? Because we have been told by everyone else for our entire lives that doing this is bad, but doing that is good. In short it's the society that influences us, so that we can influence others and so on. Therefore we think that killing someone is evil.

For example, long ago, man A killed man B. Man C saw it and decided that he didn't like it. He went around, saying to everyone "Killing others is evil." He gained some followers who shared his thoughts and who in turn persuaded others to think similarly. After some time, they decided to create a law, saying that killing others is evil, and if you do that you will be a bad person and you'll be punished. As time passed, people followed this law and eventually it is so ingrained in our society and our minds, that today we are automatically thinking that killing someone is evil. We don't even need a law, that says us what is evil. The thought has been drilled into us since the moment we were born.
If you doubt this, look at children. Do they know what is evil and what is good? Yes, only after we tell them what is evil and what is good.
Now, what is the man C would have said "Killing others is not evil." What would have happened then?

In short, we think evil is evil, because others say so. After all killing is just an action. There is no good or evil attached to it. It's no different from something simple like picking up a spoon, or watering a tree. It's our emotions and minds that add meaning "good" and "evil" to these actions.

I hope someone understands the meaning of all this, because it's difficult to put these thoughts in words in my native language, much less a foreign one.
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Old 2009-02-01, 01:17   Link #43
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This is a bit off-topic, but it's worth addressing.
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We all see murder as something evil, right? But why?
Just because some other man said that it's evil?
No. It's because of how it's defined by moral philosophy; and moral philosophy itself arises from what's needed by society.

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Originally Posted by Comrade View Post
Maybe, but how is he different from a man who says that killing is not evil? Because we find killing bad? Because the law says that it's bad to kill someone? But all those laws are made by humans. Humans who have been telling us "Killing is bad."
What you're describing is a form of moral philosophy called legalism. Legalism has a few key logical faults, so nobody who puts much effort into thinking about this topic takes it seriously.

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In short, we think evil is evil, because others say so. After all killing is just an action. There is no good or evil attached to it. It's no different from something simple like picking up a spoon, or watering a tree. It's our emotions and minds that add meaning "good" and "evil" to these actions.
If that were true, then such actions wouldn't be universally condemned by the world's disparate societies. The reason for such a universal condemnation is because they are formed to meet a common need that all societies have to address.


Which brings up a good point about the difference between evil in Japanese fiction and Western fiction. One big reason for the difference is that they stem from different societies which treat these problems differently. The biggest difference is probably the much stronger Western dichotomy between good and evil.
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Old 2009-02-01, 11:04   Link #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4Tran View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Comrade View Post
Why do we see evil things evil? What makes evil be evil? For example, if I kill someone am I evil?
No. It's because of how it's defined by moral philosophy; and moral philosophy itself arises from what's needed by society.
The above reminds me of the Morality in Death Note thread.

I don't think it's necessarily off-topic, in this case, to ask for a definition of good and evil. It's important, for example, to establish whether the Japanese understand "evil" the same way Westerners do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4Tran
Quote:
Originally Posted by Comrade
In short, we think evil is evil, because others say so. After all killing is just an action. There is no good or evil attached to it. It's no different from something simple like picking up a spoon, or watering a tree. It's our emotions and minds that add meaning "good" and "evil" to these actions.
If that were true, then such actions wouldn't be universally condemned by the world's disparate societies. The reason for such a universal condemnation is because they are formed to meet a common need that all societies have to address.
Ahh...the memories. 4Tran and I agreed about a universal standard of morality in the Death Note thread. Unfortunately, I've moved on since then, after having been soundly disabused of that idea in later debates.

To put it simply, while we'd like to believe in an absolute divide between good and evil, in truth, it's very difficult — impossible rather — for humans to point out where that divide actually is. The lowest common denominator I can think of is harm: an evil action is something that causes harm.

But that's not very helpful either, because the definition of harm is itself subjective, and varies from culture to culture. The Japanese apparently have a higher threshold — if anime and J-drama programmes are to be believed — for large age differences in sexual relationships. Similar relationships would be condemned as evil in some Western communities as examples of predation, harmful to sexually inexperienced "minors".

So, very disturbingly, Comrade isn't completely wrong in suggesting that it's our "emotions and minds that add meaning to good and evil". Typically, we tend to recoil from actions that disgust us, and thus label them evil. Such emotions, after all, lie at the crux of the Christian argument against homosexuality, particularly between men.

To bring all of this back on topic, I'll quote what I've already stated in this thread:
Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
Not understanding the nuances of their society, outsiders are probably not in a good position to judge what evil "means" to a Japanese. We should resist the temptation to apply our own ethical standards on other people's behaviour.
The OP asked about our opinions on how anime handles the concept of "evil", with reference to Western, or even Chinese and Korean, media. I suggest that we first need to be very clear about what "evil" means — what kinds of "evil" are we referring to — before we can even answer that question.
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Old 2009-02-01, 19:25   Link #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
Such emotions, after all, lie at the crux of the Christian argument against homosexuality, particularly between men.
Not to make too fine a point of it, but please don't lump all of Christianity in this very ill-bred kind of behavior. You can say that's one church (or several) or some individuals' position, but not the whole of it's believers - or worse, the fate itself. It's tantamount to saying all muslims believe in strapping bombs on and blowing buildings up - or that the Quran advocates such. Both affirmations are not true.
Generalization is your enemy. And another kind of evil.
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Old 2009-02-03, 06:12   Link #46
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I believe definition of evil is something very related to the depiction of evil. What the anime producer think is evil will have big influence in how some scenes will be made. Also importance is coping with evil; when is something a 'necessary evil', and when does that cross into 'evil you must sacrifice your life in attempt to defeat it?' Everyone will probably have different ideas about this, thus there's bound to be different treatment in each anime series. What interest me just as case by case examination of different series or even episodes, is whether there exist a discernable trend between entertainment genre as well as society; is evil given different outlook in Japanese drama compared to anime, or does Korean or Chinese manhua/manwha tend to shows different philosophical take on this question compared to Japanese manga?




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Not to make too fine a point of it, but please don't lump all of Christianity in this very ill-bred kind of behavior. You can say that's one church (or several) or some individuals' position, but not the whole of it's believers - or worse, the fate itself. It's tantamount to saying all muslims believe in strapping bombs on and blowing buildings up - or that the Quran advocates such. Both affirmations are not true.
Generalization is your enemy. And another kind of evil.
There exist a large difference in level of tolerance in different Christian Church. I agree with the statement " Generalization is your enemy. And another kind of evil. " However, due to its history and contents in the Bible, there exist certain trend in the Christian Church which likely have affected how you and I think of good and evil.


Someone mentioned capitalism as evil. This is something that also intrigues me in many level, and also something that gets much discussion within anime. The biggest question of them all is when does "the need of the many outweigh the need of the few" must be crossed into "the need of the few outweigh the need of the many". In many Japanese anime, the one who answers never to the above question often is the evil-doer. This is something likely to be found in Western media as well, but I believe there exist a visible difference in the tipping point. In Japan, extreme condition is needed to achieve the tipping point, and often the evil-enforcer of the good of many is given symphatetic treatment. Korea, its neighbor, in its manhwa often had its tipping point closer to the need of the few where mere existence of question about effectiveness of certain policy/act for the good of many is good enough to give need of the few a equal footing. This may be is due to the fact that Manhwa in Korea was, and still is something that is frowned upon by the majority of the society, thus more likely to be in accords with the disinherited political left, while in Japan, manga often receives support of even the political right wing.
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Old 2009-02-03, 15:16   Link #47
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Someone mentioned capitalism as evil. This is something that also intrigues me in many level, and also something that gets much discussion within anime.
Clearly, I can't speak for all anime and J-drama programmes, but from the few that I've watched, I do detect a cultural bias against Big Bad Business.

To be sure, the same bias exists in American programmes such as 7th Heaven or Picket Fences (I betray my age, I know), which typically portray small-town life as being spiritually "purer" than big-city living.

However, in Japan's case, the bias takes on an elegaic flavour, because capitalism is often portrayed as a corrupt Western influence that destroys the country's work ethic, which seems to favour small-scale operations with lots of "heart". Witness the multiple anime and J-drama that praise professionals who devote their entire lives to a single company simply because "they believe in its values" — that's the kind of bias I'm talking about.

So, "capitalism" does appear to take on a different shade of evil in Japan, where we often find ourselves cheering on good ol' honest-to-the-dime mom-and-pop stores as they go toe-to-toe against mighty, souless corporations.

Quote:
The biggest question of them all is when does "the need of the many outweigh the need of the few" must be crossed into "the need of the few outweigh the need of the many". In many Japanese anime, the one who answers never to the above question often is the evil-doer. This is something likely to be found in Western media as well, but I believe there exist a visible difference in the tipping point.
I'm not convinced that the difference, in this case, is so stark.

Quote:
In Japan, extreme condition is needed to achieve the tipping point, and often the evil-enforcer of the good of many is given symphatetic treatment.
Interesting observation. That does seem to be a common trend not just in anime but also in Japanese video games. I'm reminded especially of Yasumi Matsuno's characters in Final Fantasy XII and Vagrant Story. In both games, there are instances when a patriarch explicitly orders the main antagonist to take on the sins of necessary evil, so as to keep one heir spiritually "pure".

A similar dichotomy occurs in Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen, where the title character serves as a ruthless assassin in order to keep his master "pure" for national politics.

There is a certain nobility to such sacrifice, so it's no wonder that these tragic heroes are typically given sympathetic treatment. The implication here, once again, is that the Japanese appear to assume an equal potential for "good" or "evil" behind every action, so in order to maximise the "good", a sacrificial lamb must be made to shoulder maximum "evil".

It's ultimately a case of "means justifying the ends". However, it's precisely this pragmatic approach to ethics that attracts me to anime. It is, to me, a more sober — and sometimes abhorrent — reflection of real life.

I can't speak for Korean manhwa, but Chinese manhua such as The Storm Riders seem completely naive in comparison to Japanese manga.
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Old 2009-02-03, 16:24   Link #48
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I don't really think there is any real definitive difference between the various depictions of evil across the World's many different cultures. We all have stories/art/religions that are composed within a strict 'black and white' mentality, while at the same time, we all have distinct desire to explore the 'gray' within the human condition. So, I see no clear difference in the depiction of "evil" between the many cultures (i.e. no one society inherently views the world more in terms of 'gray', etc), rather I see a clear difference in the definition of "evil" between the various cultures (I'm sure anyone that has studied Marshall Rosenberg would probably agree with that statement).

Specifically, individual cultures may declare certain actions and/or practices more or less "evil" than other cultures do. Consequently, certain actions or practices may always be viewed as "evil" within certain societies, whereas other societies would view the actions or practices in a less harsh light (the aforementioned taboo subjects of incest, etc brought up by other posters). Conversly, certain actions or practices may be considered more "good" within certain socities, and less "good" in other societies (the philosophical ideals of individualism are often considered evil by many non-Western cultures).

To give a (very) simplistic example (using a mainstream Japanese title), In the famous manga/anime Naruto, the secondary main character Sasuke betrays his village/home in order to hunt down a criminal that had massacred Sasuke's family. Within a Western perspective, Sasuke's actions would be considered "evil", consdiering that he had betrayed his home village, and wished to murder his family's killer. But, within an Eastern perspective, Sasuke's actions would be considered less "evil", and more 'gray', considering that the process of trying to avenge his murdered family is an honourable act. So, there is a distinct disconnect between how a Western perspective would view Sasuke's actions, versus how an Eastern perspective would view his actions. This disconnect is not created becasue one culture simply has a better understanding of "evil" (or is more willing to be sympathetic to the characterization of "evil"), but rather the defintions of "evil" are simply different.

To put it another way, it is not so much a depiction of "evil" that is unique within Japanese anime, rather it is the "evil" that the anime focuses on that can be unique.

Quote:
There is a certain nobility to such sacrifice, so it's no wonder that these tragic heroes are typically given sympathetic treatment. The implication here, once again, is that the Japanese appear to assume an equal potential for "good" or "evil" behind every action, so in order to maximise the "good", a sacrificial lamb must be made to shoulder maximum "evil".
So how is this any different from the Christian viewpoint of Jesus' sacrifice (or just the general viewpoint of martyrdom within Western culture)? Or any of the other many tragic characters throughout Western history.

Last edited by james0246; 2009-02-03 at 19:29.
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Old 2009-02-03, 22:29   Link #49
TinyRedLeaf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by james0246
Quote:
There is a certain nobility to such sacrifice, so it's no wonder that these tragic heroes are typically given sympathetic treatment. The implication here, once again, is that the Japanese appear to assume an equal potential for "good" or "evil" behind every action, so in order to maximise the "good", a sacrificial lamb must be made to shoulder maximum "evil".
So how is this any different from the Christian viewpoint of Jesus' sacrifice (or just the general viewpoint of martyrdom within Western culture)? Or any of the other many tragic characters throughout Western history.
The crucial difference is that Western martyrs die in the firm belief that they are doing good. Jesus's sacrifice was completely altruistic — he took our sins and died on the cross for our sake. His intentions were completely pure, and not a means to an end.

Final Fantasy XII's Vayne, on the other hand, clearly knew he was committing atrocities, yet he continued to have no qualms being his brother's "sword" and "shield". Similarly, Kenshin's conscience was being torn apart by his mission to kill, yet he continued pushing himself for the sake of "the greater good".
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Old 2009-02-03, 23:55   Link #50
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The above reminds me of the Morality in Death Note thread.

I don't think it's necessarily off-topic, in this case, to ask for a definition of good and evil. It's important, for example, to establish whether the Japanese understand "evil" the same way Westerners do.

Ahh...the memories. 4Tran and I agreed about a universal standard of morality in the Death Note thread. Unfortunately, I've moved on since then, after having been soundly disabused of that idea in later debates.
I sort of hope to avoid getting this thread as embroiled as that one (can you believe that it's actually heated up again!?), so I'd rather stay a little ways from going much further.

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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
So, very disturbingly, Comrade isn't completely wrong in suggesting that it's our "emotions and minds that add meaning to good and evil". Typically, we tend to recoil from actions that disgust us, and thus label them evil. Such emotions, after all, lie at the crux of the Christian argument against homosexuality, particularly between men.
While there's some truth to that, it's a problem that largely arises from people simply assuming the immorality of an action without examining the situation rationally.

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Originally Posted by wontaek View Post
I believe definition of evil is something very related to the depiction of evil. What the anime producer think is evil will have big influence in how some scenes will be made. Also importance is coping with evil; when is something a 'necessary evil', and when does that cross into 'evil you must sacrifice your life in attempt to defeat it?'
It's worth noting that there can still be many things that may be considered worth risking one's life for without considering it evil; just as there are things that aren't worth risking one's life for which are considered evil. Are you trying to look upon evil as an action, as a purpose, or as an actor?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wontaek View Post
Everyone will probably have different ideas about this, thus there's bound to be different treatment in each anime series. What interest me just as case by case examination of different series or even episodes, is whether there exist a discernable trend between entertainment genre as well as society; is evil given different outlook in Japanese drama compared to anime, or does Korean or Chinese manhua/manwha tend to shows different philosophical take on this question compared to Japanese manga?
Japanese manga is a generally more refined form of literature than its counterparts in other countries, so you might want to extend that to popular literature in general. In the case of the latter, there's a lot of variation, and perhaps even a lot of dispute over particular examples.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
Clearly, I can't speak for all anime and J-drama programmes, but from the few that I've watched, I do detect a cultural bias against Big Bad Business.

To be sure, the same bias exists in American programmes such as 7th Heaven or Picket Fences (I betray my age, I know), which typically portray small-town life as being spiritually "purer" than big-city living.

However, in Japan's case, the bias takes on an elegaic flavour, because capitalism is often portrayed as a corrupt Western influence that destroys the country's work ethic, which seems to favour small-scale operations with lots of "heart". Witness the multiple anime and J-drama that praise professionals who devote their entire lives to a single company simply because "they believe in its values" — that's the kind of bias I'm talking about.
I think that this bias draws its source from the pining for simpler, more idyllic times. As such it's more a look at the influence of conservatism at play than it has much to do with evil.

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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
I can't speak for Korean manhwa, but Chinese manhua such as The Storm Riders seem completely naive in comparison to Japanese manga.
You might be better off looking at wuxia novels instead of manhua. I've often felt that shounen fighting manga/anime draws very strongly from the wuxia tradition; and we can see the themes of good and evil played out much more reflectively.

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Originally Posted by james0246 View Post
To give a (very) simplistic example (using a mainstream Japanese title), In the famous manga/anime Naruto, the secondary main character Sasuke betrays his village/home in order to hunt down a criminal that had massacred Sasuke's family. Within a Western perspective, Sasuke's actions would be considered "evil", consdiering that he had betrayed his home village, and wished to murder his family's killer. But, within an Eastern perspective, Sasuke's actions would be considered less "evil", and more 'gray', considering that the process of trying to avenge his murdered family is an honourable act.
This can differ a lot. In many ways, while familial ties are very strong, national ties are also extremely strong. A person who forsakes his nation for familial reasons is quite likely to be reviled.
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Old 2009-02-04, 00:28   Link #51
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it is the system that is evil, as seen in
Spoiler for in case you haven't seen these:


Break the karma my friends, alot of the evil depictions are rooted in budda believes, so there are really no real evil or good, it is the system that is binding us.
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Old 2009-02-04, 00:34   Link #52
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We all see murder as something evil, right? But why?
evil is just a word. To me, evil is an intent or negligence that causes or leads to the harming of others. You're right that the meaning is probably given to me by my upbringing, but that's not really that surprising since everything that a person thinks (including what meanings he gives words) or does is determined by his surroundings and biology.
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Old 2009-02-04, 02:47   Link #53
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Break the karma my friends, alot of the evil depictions are rooted in budda believes, so there are really no real evil or good, it is the system that is binding us.
More accurately, Buddha explained that we suffer because of old age, illness, and death, and that the only way to escape this fate is to achieve nirvana, that is, to step out of the chain of death and rebirth. He was, I believe, silent on issues of morality, but that does not necessarily mean that he didn't believe in good and evil. He did, for example, preach compassion for our fellow men, because we all suffer equally.

And compassion is generally regarded by most cultures to be morally good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LeoXiao
evil is just a word. To me, evil is an intent or negligence that causes or leads to the harming of others. You're right that the meaning is probably given to me by my upbringing, but that's not really that surprising since everything that a person thinks (including what meanings he gives words) or does is determined by his surroundings and biology.
Which is what wontaek would like to explore. We acknowledge that different cultures and environments give rise to different definitions of evil. Anime is produced in a Japanese environment, so to what extent does this medium express Japanese attitudes on evil? Are these attitudes unique to Japan?
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Old 2009-02-04, 03:20   Link #54
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Since we're talking about good and evil let me ask a question.

Why do we see evil things evil? What makes evil be evil? For example, if I kill someone am I evil?
Now, most of you will probably answer "yes", but here's something to think about.

We all see murder as something evil, right? But why?
Just because some other man said that it's evil?
Maybe, but how is he different from a man who says that killing is not evil? Because we find killing bad? Because the law says that it's bad to kill someone? But all those laws are made by humans. Humans who have been telling us "Killing is bad."
So, how is that any different from deciding that petting animals is good? Why did we decide that petting animals is good and killing others is bad?
Because we don't like killing others? Now, WHY do we think like that? Because we have been told by everyone else for our entire lives that doing this is bad, but doing that is good. In short it's the society that influences us, so that we can influence others and so on. Therefore we think that killing someone is evil.

For example, long ago, man A killed man B. Man C saw it and decided that he didn't like it. He went around, saying to everyone "Killing others is evil." He gained some followers who shared his thoughts and who in turn persuaded others to think similarly. After some time, they decided to create a law, saying that killing others is evil, and if you do that you will be a bad person and you'll be punished. As time passed, people followed this law and eventually it is so ingrained in our society and our minds, that today we are automatically thinking that killing someone is evil. We don't even need a law, that says us what is evil. The thought has been drilled into us since the moment we were born.
If you doubt this, look at children. Do they know what is evil and what is good? Yes, only after we tell them what is evil and what is good.
Now, what is the man C would have said "Killing others is not evil." What would have happened then?

In short, we think evil is evil, because others say so. After all killing is just an action. There is no good or evil attached to it. It's no different from something simple like picking up a spoon, or watering a tree. It's our emotions and minds that add meaning "good" and "evil" to these actions.

I hope someone understands the meaning of all this, because it's difficult to put these thoughts in words in my native language, much less a foreign one.

Quoting from X-Clamp

"Because someone will be sad."

You can go on with, what is wrong with that?

On topic, If I have to define evil, I'd refer to the silver rule.

Never impose upon others, what you would not choose for yourself
-Confucius

This goes very well with practical minds.
Do you wish to be killed?
If you don't, then don't kill others.

A western saying would be "Put yourself in others' shoes", I think.

If this discussion goes on to the direction I expected, it'd be fun.
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Old 2009-02-04, 03:54   Link #55
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If this discussion goes on to the direction I expected, it'd be fun.
Like Char being cool, evil, nuts, or all these in Char's Counterattack?
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Old 2009-02-04, 11:53   Link #56
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Since we're talking about good and evil let me ask a question. Why do we see evil things evil? What makes evil be evil? For example, if I kill someone am I evil?
Now, most of you will probably answer "yes", but here's something to think about.

In short, we think evil is evil, because others say so. After all killing is just an action. There is no good or evil attached to it. It's no different from something simple like picking up a spoon, or watering a tree. It's our emotions and minds that add meaning "good" and "evil" to these actions.

Killing a human, or any other living thing for that matter, is never the right thing to do. Taking a life, I think, is the most horrible thing to do with regards to whoever does it whether they are good or bad. But I do understand what you are stating from this.

----- An Example;

If a man takes a murderers life because this individual brutally slaughtered this other mans entire family, then he would obviously see it as a means of helping his family to rest in piece through the means of their killers' death, and also because this murderer killed his innocent wife and daughter, he deserved to be killed. This man ruined the family mans life for the simple pleasure of taking lives, and therefore this family man would only think it right to take his.

Nevertheless when this family man is arrested he will recieve many public threats, bad comments, and other forms of hate because he had taken anothers life. Although this may just be a public front to show in front of others as what some members of the public may be thinking is that what this man done was the right thing to do and that they would have probably done it too.

There are good and bad points as to why this man had taken a life. He was killing this slaughterer for avenging those that did not deserve death so early and maybe even to prevent him from doing such an evil thing again. BUT he also killed this man for his own personal and selfish desires to make him feel somewhat happier and more relieved for the death of the man that ruined his entire life.

---

In conclusion there are some good reasons to kill and some bad reasons to kill, nonetheless from a bigger perspective no one should kill or be killed to make other deaths necessary in the first place. Alas that is just a dream that man has that will never happen... a world free of murder and slaughter. Animal rights can also be brought into this although this should be enough of my thoughts for the moment.
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Old 2009-02-04, 14:34   Link #57
Comrade
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There are no good or bad reasons to kill. It only depends on who you ask.
For example, a robber killed his victim.
For the robber, it had to be done. He needed money for his family, friends or whatever. A good reason. The victim could have simply handed over the money, but he resisted. Or there's the chance that the victim would have called the cops and the robber would have even more problems. Now, he only has to live with the thought that the police will maybe find him.

For everyone else. It's a bad reason. Why should someone die over a wallet? Why did the robber kill his victim? Just to feel more or less safe? What a stupid reason to kill! The police definitely have to find that bastard and maybe even kill him for doing something like that. Another good reason to kill. For justice and all that!

Once again ... emotions.
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Old 2009-02-04, 17:37   Link #58
animeboy12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Comrade View Post
There are no good or bad reasons to kill. It only depends on who you ask.
For example, a robber killed his victim.
For the robber, it had to be done. He needed money for his family, friends or whatever. A good reason. The victim could have simply handed over the money, but he resisted. Or there's the chance that the victim would have called the cops and the robber would have even more problems. Now, he only has to live with the thought that the police will maybe find him.

For everyone else. It's a bad reason. Why should someone die over a wallet? Why did the robber kill his victim? Just to feel more or less safe? What a stupid reason to kill! The police definitely have to find that bastard and maybe even kill him for doing something like that. Another good reason to kill. For justice and all that!

Once again ... emotions.
The problem I have with example is that should that situation even exist? There are other safer more efficient ways to get money. You don't have to rob and kill to earn it. The victim's death seems unnecessary
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Old 2009-02-04, 17:45   Link #59
Narona
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Quote:
Originally Posted by velvet View Post
On topic, If I have to define evil, I'd refer to the silver rule.

Never impose upon others, what you would not choose for yourself
-Confucius
How it would be great if more people here could think like that =p

Anyway, even this way of thinking has a limit. You can see it sometimes, sadly, a person can decide to do a massacre because she/he doesn't care for his/her own life anymore and decide to kill people before committing suicide. In this case, and even if I think it's Evil too, what Confucius said cannot work. In the case of murder, it's only true if the person cares for his/her own life.
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Old 2009-02-05, 00:15   Link #60
TinyRedLeaf
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I think we're slowly going off-topic. We are not discussing the broader issues of morality — that would be far too big a subject to cover in a single thread. We are, on the other hand, specfically discussing how "evil" is portrayed in anime, and the extent to which such portrayals reflect Japanese culture.

To zoom down the discussion even further, the OP raised a few specific points:

(1) Anime characters appear unable to resist evil
Quote:
Originally Posted by wontaek View Post
You immediately raised one of the point my wife has made: inability of people in Japanese animation to resist evil.
(2) Malevolent spirits in Japanese mythology
Quote:
Originally Posted by wontaek View Post
Another example is how supernatural evil is defeated. In Korea and often in China, supernatural evil being usually hides itself among the human and is often forced to flee when its existence is discovered. In Japanese anime, more often than not, supernatural evil is already known to exist, and is actively be engaged in destruction of society, while in Korean and Chinese folktales, these supernatural evil beings are usually tamed or defeated by social entities like government officials and police.
(3) Do the needs of many outweigh those of the few?
Quote:
Originally Posted by wontaek View Post
Still in many occasions, we see antagonists bring harm to people around them. The how the motive and background behind these actions as well as evolution of the thoughts and behaviors of the antagonists should be within the scope of the discussion. Another way to phrase the question is how is the problem of conflict between 'need of the many' vs. 'need of a few' is handled, as different society surprisingly gives diverse answers to this problem.
(4) How has history affected the Japanese psyche?
Quote:
Originally Posted by wontaek View Post
What also interest me is how the Japanese history and literature of last 1,000 ( please, not last 100 years but 1,000 years as there should be things strongly ingrained in typical Japanese psyche ) years might have influenced Japanese animation. Are some antagonist vs society interactions an extension of what has been going on, or is it a response to it as an attempt to be different from what has been established?
======

To answer some of the above, I've already pointed out the influence of Buddhism on Japanese society and its ethics. Buddhist philosophy (distinct from the religion) is not directly concerned with good and evil — this duality in human nature is assumed to be omnipresent, and therefore not worth pondering.

Hence the apparent inability of anime characters to "resist evil". It's not so much an inability, but rather a reflection of the Japanese/Buddhist belief that it's pointless to confront or eliminate evil, because "evil" is as much a part of human nature as "good". You can't change human nature any more than you can turn night to day and vice versa.

In other words, good and evil is something that we should simply learn to accept, instead of confront.

Hayao Miyazaki expressed this philosophy powerfully in his magnum opus, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind:

Quote:
Nausicaa:
Why didn’t men and women realise that both purity and corruption are the very stuff of life? Suffering and tragedy and folly will not disappear in a purified world. They are a part of humanity. That is why, even in a world of suffering, there can also be joy and shining light.

Vol 4, Pg 248, Viz Graphic Novel (2001)
This ability to accept the suffering caused by the evil in human nature leads to one of the most well known aspects of Japanese culture: their ability to endure (gaman).

Because, as Nausicaa said in the above quote, there is the realisation (again Buddhist-inspired) that happiness can be found amid suffering. There is the realisation that everything is transient — those who are born will one day die; that which is created will one day be destroyed.

This is further reflected in the uniquely Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi: a comprehensive Japanese worldview centred on the acceptance of transience.

As Nausicaa said in the above quote: "Suffering and tragedy and folly will not disappear in a purified world." She was adddressing the Master of the Crypt, a representative for an ancient race of humans who had created technology powerful enough to cleanse life-threatening pollution, and thus bring about a "perfect world" where humans may, at last, live in peace.

Nausicaa categorically rejected such perfection:
Quote:
Nausicaa:
Pitiable Heedra, even they are living things. But because you (the Master) were created as an artificial god of purity, you have become the ugliest creature of all, never knowing what it means to be alive.

Vol 4, Pg 248, Viz Graphic Novel (2001)
In the Japanese mindset, imperfection (ie, the evil in human nature) is a part of beauty. Or as Kino the Traveller once put it succintly: "The world is not beautiful, therefore it is."

However, it is extremely important to understand that the acceptance of suffering (caused by evil) does not equal resignation (to suffering).

Miyazaki addressed this crucial point in Mononoke Hime:
Quote:
(immediately after Lady Eboshi shoots off the Deer God's head)

San:
It's over. Everything. The forest is dead.

Ashitaka:
No, it's not. We're still alive.

======

(as the headless form of the Deer God engulfs Iron Town)

Koroku, the ox driver:
Oh no...there goes the roof. Once the forge starts to burn, it's all over.

Toki, his wife:
As long as we're alive, we'll manage!
In the above examples, Miyazaki is echoing a very crucial aspect of the Japanese pysche — the nobility, nay, the necessity of struggle.

In Miyazaki's (and the Japanese) view, the struggle against inevitability is what gives life meaning.

So, even if it's hopeless to fight evil, it is never pointless. Because we define our humanity through our struggle against evil.

The Japanese worldview is thus as optimistic as it is pessimistic. It is a duality that I find remarkably refreshing, because I seldom, if ever, see it expressed in Western or Chinese media.
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