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Old 2006-09-21, 02:13   Link #141
NoSanninWa
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Srin Tuar
Honor, Duty and Destiny are indeed important. But in this sexless universe, everything seems a bit dry. When they talk about the atracities commited by the bad guys, they mention killing women and children. I dont see how they are any different that men or old people in this show.
Indeed. It does seem like the absence of sexual reproduction removes about 50% of all human motivations. It's something I just have to suspend disbelief about to accept the show. Without such drives, it seems that the resulting people would be some sort of alien who are both emotionally and sociologically very different from ourselves. Yet they are not aliens. I just have to accept that they are inexplicably the same as us, all the way down to considering it an atrocity to kill women.

It really makes me wonder why the author decided on some bizarre method of sexless reproduction if she wasn't going to try to factor that into the mentality of her characters. Surely she could have found a better way for Yoko to be on our world?
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Old 2006-09-21, 02:22   Link #142
kujoe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Srin Tuar
Honor, Duty and Destiny are indeed important. But in this sexless universe, everything seems a bit dry. When they talk about the atracities commited by the bad guys, they mention killing women and children. I dont see how they are any different that men or old people in this show.

When they react to beatiful women, what are they thinking of? And why do the women even have hips and breasts, if they are never going to have children.

I like the setting and the style of the show, but its hard to get pulled into the intrigue and politics when the human condition is not really at stake.
I'm not sure, but the show really doesn't say that sex doesn't exist. In fact, the King of En frequents a brothel as part of his disguise as a travelling swordsman. Prior to becoming Queen, Youko and Sugimoto were almost sold to a brothel house as well.

In the world of Juuni Kokki, women don't reproduce and it's also stressed that married couples have to pray for children. So in other words, sex does exist in their world, but it doesn't exist as a primary means for procreation.
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Old 2006-09-21, 02:43   Link #143
NoSanninWa
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Yup. That's why I said only 50%
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Old 2006-09-21, 02:55   Link #144
Vallen Chaos Valiant
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoSanninWa
Indeed. It does seem like the absence of sexual reproduction removes about 50% of all human motivations. It's something I just have to suspend disbelief about to accept the show. Without such drives, it seems that the resulting people would be some sort of alien who are both emotionally and sociologically very different from ourselves. Yet they are not aliens. I just have to accept that they are inexplicably the same as us, all the way down to considering it an atrocity to kill women.

It really makes me wonder why the author decided on some bizarre method of sexless reproduction if she wasn't going to try to factor that into the mentality of her characters. Surely she could have found a better way for Yoko to be on our world?
Well, just because women no longer carry children in their bellies doesn't mean traditional values were removed all together. It was shown that sexual activity indeed takes place still, though purely for entertainment purposes. And you still can't have children unless you are in a married relationship. This is interesting, because whether or not someone can have children is not dictated by priests or law-makers, but the actual Divine Will Itself.
(I guess you can still have kids if you are single or in a same-sex marriage, but it would depend on what the Gods feel like. Pray harder, I guess.)

And it was obvious, from the fact that Yoko needing to disguise herself as a man to avoid unwanted questions, that women are not normally lone travelers.

One thing one has to realise, is how the entire 12 Kingdoms came to be. Here is my theory: (theories are theories, feel free to disagree)

The Deity/deities overseeing the 12 Kingdoms universe is actually the same one as the one that created our own. Somewhere along the line, our universe was created. The big bang, the hydrogen and helium atoms, stars, solar systems, planets, Earth, Evolution, and so on. The deity was present during all this time, but didn't do anything but wanting the world grow and human civilizations flourish.

The Deity liked the universe, but want to tinker with it. But its too messy to tinker with the entire universe. So It picked the most advanced civilization at that specific time, that of the Chinese civilization, and created a replica in a parallel world.
(This explains why the world seemed frozen in time; it was the style God picked, so it stayed that way.)

This new world isn't actually a new China; rather, it's like a small garden on a balcony compared to a rain-forest, or a fish-tank compared to the Mediterranean sea. Unlike a rain-forest or an ocean, the 12 Kingdoms needed constant maintenance; the world's weather isn't caused by Earth's spin or forest cover or El-Nina, but directly controlled by the Deity. There is no evolution, due to the requirement of controlling the population size of all life; solved via the pod-trees that decide when and where new life will originate. There is no erosion, because land masses don't change.

Ironically, this world, though evidence of God's work is all around them, has no faith; In fact, there isn't even an afterlife. If you work hard, you may be granted immortality. If you abuse your immortality, you will lose it.

How is this relevant to gender roles?

Well, one thing that wasn't animated from the novels, was Yoko asking Rakushun if chickens hatch from eggs.
To which he replied:
"Don't be silly. Who would dare to eat eggs if that was the case!"

So why is there eggs from chickens? Simple, because the culture transplanted from our Earth had eaten chicken eggs. Just as a garden or fish-tank might imitate a natural environment, and yet be fake, so would the 12 Kingdoms. This is God's playground.

Women still act like, and get treated like, women. Some things stay the same, as fake as it looked, simply because it didn't evolve from scratch. 12 Kingdoms never had a Stone-age; it just popped into existence with all the laws written in.
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Old 2006-09-21, 03:06   Link #145
kujoe
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Sometimes, I can't help but feel that there's something feminist or political going on in the lack of sexual reproduction. I'm reminded of the thought, "The source of woman's oppression and her strength is her womb." In Juuni Kokki, gender roles are far more liberating in certain areas, where mothers aren't bound by the duty to reproduce or engendered to be "daughters before becoming wives and thus, mothers." It's like saying that biological difference between man and woman doesn't apply in this world—and yet at the same time, with the world of Juuni Kokki being somewhat Confucian in nature, tradition and order still reign. It's an interesting thought at the very least.

Of course, the world is still harsh in Juuni Kokki, and I'm pretty sure that when cities are ravaged, murder, rape and pillaging come hand in hand. The story just doesn't seem to be bothered to remind us in detail as it focuses on other areas. This is so unlike Fushigi Yuugi for instance, where it uses the idea of rape (whether it's for real or not) as an attempt for drama.
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Old 2006-09-21, 07:28   Link #146
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I think that by removing the act of reproduction through sex, the author was about to establish a world where there was were more equality between men and women. Women were able to join the army and become Empresses. Also it made the act of reproduction an act where the two who wanted to have a child had to be equals. Whereas in our world women have more of a burden then men.
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Old 2006-09-21, 07:58   Link #147
Vallen Chaos Valiant
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dumbo63
I think that by removing the act of reproduction through sex, the author was about to establish a world where there was were more equality between men and women. Women were able to join the army and become Empresses. Also it made the act of reproduction an act where the two who wanted to have a child had to be equals. Whereas in our world women have more of a burden then men.
But as the novel pointed out, there are side effects.
Women are still forced into prostitution as slaves, and I don't see any female soldiers last time I checked. Sure, there are female freedom fighters, but no proper enlisted women soldiers.

And Empresses are fully capable of being looked down on; Yoko's country had two failed Empresses in a roll, and the fact that another woman had took the throne really took some time to get used to. Oh, and they don't have a word for "Empress", just "Oh", or "ruler" or "King" in Chinese. The title is genderless, because in this universe, the title is not inherited, but literally given by God. There is no "give the title to my eldest male child when I die" rubbish, so there was no point giving the title a gender.

Women could be equals to men in 12 Kingdoms, but it is obvious they are not treated as such. Unless the ruler made it his/her life's goal to change this, it isn't going to happen. And usually the ruler would be too busy keeping people fed and have roofs over their heads to worry about something as minor as equality.

There is also something else; as mentioned in the anime and novel, people have been abusing the marriage system to migrate from one country/county to another. No one worries about protecting the "sanctity" of marriage, because lets face it. If you do something that is truely wrong in 12 Kingdoms, you won't face the Spanish Inquisition; you will simply die. Divine retribution actually exists in their world, and as such people's views on morality is different from ours.

Let's say someone committed a crime, like robbing you at knife point on a road. That person might not be hit by lighting, but a set of chain reactions would happen; the local authorities would have to help you find justice because they would be observed by the governor. The governor would need to make sure the local authorities do their jobs because the person in the royal court overseeing the governors would be watching him. And that members of the royal court would be doing his job because the ruler would make sure it happens.

And if the Ruler doesn't make sure everything works? HE/SHE dies.

Cleverly, by only threatening those at the top with death, the Powers That Be would be able to let the puny humans do their own policing.

We have to realise that gender equality is NOT the pressing issue of most 12 Kingdoms citizens. Food, shelter, and warmth come first. An education, a steady non-back breaking job, and perhaps immortality comes later.

...That's the weird part. The fact that eternal life could be offered by your government, makes any other concession or tax cut seem petty.
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Last edited by Vallen Chaos Valiant; 2006-09-21 at 09:48.
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Old 2006-09-21, 08:59   Link #148
kujoe
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Yes, it is quite interesting, isn't it? Despite that women are free from the burden of their wombs so to speak, what keeps and regulates social relations in Juuni Kokki instead is a divine will that orders their world. Everybody has their own place, regardless of gender and race, and with it comes certain responsibilities and expectations. Going against this natural (albeit established) order is tantamount to death or ruin.

The Kiryn and their rulers are, for example, the most extreme case. The Taiho has to live a pure life, yet remain absolutely loyal to his or her corresponding ruler, who then in turn has to rule with a just and fair hand. Only then can a kingdom become truly prosperous.

It is in this sense why Youko's first imperial proclamation (forgot what it's called) was perceived to be so radical in the eyes of her court in the first place—because it was to a certain extent so ideologically against the vertical order of their world.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vallen Chaos Valiant
Women are still forced into prostitution as slaves, and I don't see any female soldiers last time I checked. Sure, there are female freedom fighters, but no proper enlisted women soldiers.
There's only one I can recall. One of the generals of Tai is a woman. I forgot her name though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vallen Chaos Valiant
No one worries about protecting the "sanctity" of marriage, because lets face it. If you do something that is truely wrong in 12 Kingdoms, you won't face the Spanish Inquisition; you will simply die.
Saves the trouble of killing unfaithful spouses, huh?
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Old 2006-09-22, 14:06   Link #149
kaply
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vallen Chaos Valiant
If you do something that is truely wrong in 12 Kingdoms, you won't face the Spanish Inquisition; you will simply die. Divine retribution actually exists in their world, and as such people's views on morality is different from ours.

Let's say someone committed a crime, like robbing you at knife point on a road. That person might not be hit by lighting, but a set of chain reactions would happen; the local authorities would have to help you find justice because they would be observed by the governor.
This doesn't seem fully accurate though. The anime does depicts instances where this comes out but my recollection of divine retribution lies in dealing with the kingdom and the kings only. They mentioned that when the kings did something wrong then the kingdoms suffer, as was the case with the kingdom where they had an uprising and left only the daughter alive who wandered to many different countries. I also seem to recall an earlier episode where the kirin was suffering because of something the ruler did which ended up reflecting on the ruler.

However there were corrupt people in the government which were not directly punished by a divine prescense. Instead the queen had to put a stop to it.

There also are armies for the kingdoms which indicate that there are problems with people who are going against the will of the ruler, whether it be another ruler or people in their own countries. So divine retribution isn't all that encompassing.
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Old 2006-09-22, 19:39   Link #150
Vallen Chaos Valiant
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaply
This doesn't seem fully accurate though. The anime does depicts instances where this comes out but my recollection of divine retribution lies in dealing with the kingdom and the kings only. They mentioned that when the kings did something wrong then the kingdoms suffer, as was the case with the kingdom where they had an uprising and left only the daughter alive who wandered to many different countries. I also seem to recall an earlier episode where the kirin was suffering because of something the ruler did which ended up reflecting on the ruler.

However there were corrupt people in the government which were not directly punished by a divine prescense. Instead the queen had to put a stop to it.

There also are armies for the kingdoms which indicate that there are problems with people who are going against the will of the ruler, whether it be another ruler or people in their own countries. So divine retribution isn't all that encompassing.
I thought I mentioned it already? The divine retribution only matters for major events, like killing of a king (which no one ever really do unless they have to). And anyway there is already enough ways of punishing people; don't let them have children, cause a drought, start a plague, increase monster activities, swarm of locusts... There is barely enough freedom as it is. Law and order is the King's job, and that's why the King's life is at stake.
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Old 2006-09-27, 02:34   Link #151
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Although it was never explicitly stated, the sense I got of the world was that (outside of a few specific rituals, like asking for children) the emperor was the only link between the heavens and most of their kingdom. The things people would have historically ascribed to religion and divine will in our world (weather, disease, demons in the wilderness, whatever) instead become the responsibility of the emperor; if there is plague or famine, it's a sign that the emperor is failing in some fashion, rather than a sign of divine disfavor with the country as a whole. Even the ability to grant immortality is delegated to the emperor.

Rakshun, I think, said that the fate of the people of a country is entirely in the Emperor's hands; there is nothing that an Emperor cannot do. Judgment, therefore, is also the responsibility of the Emperor... the only time the Heavens would get involved is if the Emperor themselves were to fail in this.

Likewise, although the sinful landowner that Yoko brings to justice in the third plot arc talks about divine retribution coming for him, he also makes it clear that divine retribution could only come for him through the emperor... If the Heavens want to punish someone, they will send an emperor capable of doing the job.
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Old 2006-09-27, 17:18   Link #152
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Wow. Simply wow. Finished the series today and was just amazed by how well done the story was. A excellent, fantasy-political drama with great character development. The Chinese idea, Mandate of Heaven, was put to interesting use.

Did anyone think that if they were made ruler that one would try to import their home country's system of government? For example, I live in the USA and thought I would bring the concept of branches of government. Was thinking how the preamble to the Constitution would have made a great first proclamation.
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Old 2006-09-28, 21:21   Link #153
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Oh, heated discussion. 12 Kingdoms is also one of my favorite anime. I usually watch light-hearted, romance, comedy, sports-comedy anime, and rarely do I take any interest in serious, especially political, anime. I have to say 12 Kingdoms totally captured me, making my other anime collections seem tasteless. Like everyone who saw 12 Kingdoms, the first couple of episodes really bored me, but I had nothing better to do so I stuck with it. Am I ever glad! The ending was disappointed because Taiki issue wasn't complete, but Yoko's story wrapped up nicely. I have more than +200 anime saved, but only 3 anime deserve my 5 stars rating: Grave of Fireflies, Atashinchi (only have 11 eps), and of course 12 Kingdoms.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Srin Tuar
About Asano:
Spoiler for thru ep 28:
I would have to disagree with you on the Asano issue.
Spoiler:


I'm glad that 12 Kingdoms doesn't have any romance in it. If it does, another mess would come up and the story would lose its meaning.

Also, I think there will never be an absolute equality among men and women. Even between the same gender, there hasn't been any equality. If there is, I think another issue would arise, "Why are we equal?"
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Old 2006-09-29, 03:41   Link #154
Srin Tuar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hqkd
I haven't read the novel, but I know that Asano and Yuka are extra characters added by the animation people;

AHA!

Well, I guess I have my explanation.

That really does explain it all, I have to say, If I had known that from the beginning it would have been less of an enigma to me.

Just like any character or plot added by the animation crew, they are doomed to have no lasting significance to the story and are ultimately a waste of time.

I always felt Asano was poorly worked into the story, and really was a tease of a character, and if what you say is true at least I can accept why that is the case.

OTOH, I find it hard to believe that sugimoto was an add on to the story. She was so central for many episodes, I just dont see how that could be.
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Old 2006-09-29, 03:55   Link #155
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hqkd
Oh, heated discussion. 12 Kingdoms is also one of my favorite anime. I usually watch light-hearted, romance, comedy, sports-comedy anime, and rarely do I take any interest in serious, especially political, anime. I have to say 12 Kingdoms totally captured me, making my other anime collections seem tasteless. Like everyone who saw 12 Kingdoms, the first couple of episodes really bored me, but I had nothing better to do so I stuck with it. Am I ever glad! The ending was disappointed because Taiki issue wasn't complete, but Yoko's story wrapped up nicely. I have more than +200 anime saved, but only 3 anime deserve my 5 stars rating: Grave of Fireflies, Atashinchi (only have 11 eps), and of course 12 Kingdoms.
I beg to differ. I liked the show from the start, at the very least I found the first couple of episodes quite interesting. I certainly wouldn't describe them as boring. Sure they're not the best the series has to offer but I just had to speak up at this rather sweeping generalization.

Last edited by Zappster; 2006-09-29 at 07:30.
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Old 2006-09-29, 06:04   Link #156
Vallen Chaos Valiant
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Srin Tuar
OTOH, I find it hard to believe that sugimoto was an add on to the story. She was so central for many episodes, I just dont see how that could be.
I believe Sugimoto did exist in the novel; she merely didn't follow Yoko to the 12 Kingdoms.
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Old 2006-09-29, 08:59   Link #157
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vallen Chaos Valiant
I believe Sugimoto did exist in the novel; she merely didn't follow Yoko to the 12 Kingdoms.
Yup.

If I remember correctly, they went to an all-girls school.

Incidentally, most of the novels have been translated into english by fans. I don't think it's okay to give out links though...
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Old 2006-09-29, 09:39   Link #158
Srin Tuar
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Originally Posted by kari-no-sugata
Yup.

If I remember correctly, they went to an all-girls school.

Incidentally, most of the novels have been translated into english by fans. I don't think it's okay to give out links though...

Wow 0_0
So they animation team basically re-wrote the whole story.
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Old 2006-09-29, 10:30   Link #159
wao
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hqkd
I'm glad that 12 Kingdoms doesn't have any romance in it. If it does, another mess would come up and the story would lose its meaning.
Despite me squeeing and pointing a shaky finger at the episode in the first arc (I think?) when Rakushun first changed into his human form (I think it was)... I couldn't agree with you more, ultimately. I think the show would have become trivialised.. and it's probably this aspect that made me go beyond liking the show to respecting it as well.

They could have gone down such a horrid way but despite the rewrites it was generally a very engaging and thought-provoking anime. It's especially effective to someone my age, I guess (though I watched this more than a year ago). At first I was so pissed off with Yoko thinking this was going to be another Fushigi Yuugi or something ilke that but sticking through was one of the best decisions of my life... After I looked back I realised that that sort of thing was necessary and it would have been weird without her being emotional and all (just that it was a tad annoying still).

I thought the inclusion of Sugimoto was quite brilliant, though. I'm not familiar with the novels but while it may have lent a somewhat cliche "rival" aspect that's always present in stories about girls going to other dimensions, I thought it was convincing and well-done and puts most others to shame. Perhaps it was the fact that she liked reading fantasy novels and got jealous of Yoko that was very interesting, and very suitable.

I personally think they hit it on the nail there because I can very easily imagine that sort of jealousy. For one thing, I have a friend who likes reading fantasy novels and keeps wishing so badly that she could enter such a world, and likes to imagine how if she was put in the situation of people like Yoko, she wouldn't waste time crying or whatever but adapt very quickly and become successful. And frankly speaking, I have the same complex too (anime hasn't helped!). Maybe I don't wish to escape from reality that badly, but if one of my friends got into this alternate universe thing and I didn't, I would readily admit to being jealous And if I was in Sugimoto's situation I think I would have gotten ticked off as well. So I really empathised very much with her character and that lent more depth to the show - because they showed Yoko's struggle in a convincing enoguh way that made me have to genuinely rethink my opinion on everything.

But I guess I was a bit sad that they didn't conclude Taiki's arc in the anime. And the producers want to make it as Yoko-centered as possible so they won't unless they can find material so that they can somehow rewrite Yoko in... *sigh* Guess the ratings were down for the Taiki arc or something.
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Old 2006-09-29, 12:14   Link #160
hqkd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vallen Chaos Valiant
I believe Sugimoto did exist in the novel; she merely didn't follow Yoko to the 12 Kingdoms.
I read somewhere a long time ago that Yuka didn't take part in the 12 Kingdoms in the novel, so I thought she didn't exist. My mistake.
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