Ex-blogger extraordinaire ghostlightning wrote a post called ‘Would our anime heroes enjoy anime?’ back in 2008, and it wasn’t until my viewing of Re:Creators that I would give the idea much thought. Though had I read his post way back when, I’d probably have reflected on it a lot more because it’s such a fun and interesting concept. Go read his post if you haven’t already by the way, it’s an interesting and awesome read!
I wonder if ghostlightning had considered the accompanying idea of anime characters watching their own anime. And if he had, did he entertain the existential implications it might mean for someone to discover they are part of works of fiction? And by extension that their whole life is a designed plan used as a form of entertainment being watched and talked about by millions of people (sorry to those from visual novels). Well, those are the kind of things that Re:Creators gave us this year, to varying degrees of execution and delivery across many layers of story and presentation.
What Re:Creators offers us is such implications along with different perspectives on the subject. The various characters that show up from different worlds, based on what’s most popular (i.e. the anime as opposed to the light novels) seem to, for the most part, take the revelation of their nature and existence surprisingly fairly well.
Selesia, while initially overwhelmed by the discovery, comes to terms with it and after seeing her image everywhere becomes bound and determined to meet her creator. To whom she complains for giving her a weak character description, but ends up forming this believable father-daughter sort of relationship.
Meteora, after discovering her creator recently passed away takes the shocking news in stride, and decides to base her appraisal of this new world on the experience she gets out of playing her own game. To our relief, she decides to save the world because she found the game to be very enjoyable.
Mirokuji meanwhile, has no desire to meet his creator and is perfectly fine with just enjoying himself in this new world. He’s given it some thought and prefers to just live life for whatever kind of satisfaction strikes his fancy, rather than feel tempted by the allure of touching upon godhood. I was actually pleasantly surprised by his conclusion.
Whereas Blitz, understandably carries contempt and murderous intent for his creator, since she was the reason for all of his suffering and wretched life.
And of course, Hikayu is very embarrassed (being from a dating sim game), that people recognize her and know her most private moments so well.
It could be argued that these characters would display these attitudes based on their character description (as Selesia so bluntly points out to her creator), but as the show notes a number of times throughout they are susceptible to change now that they’ve entered a new and more multi-layered world. And I think ghostlightning is correct in that these heroes are ‘persons of action’, and while some do enjoy anime, or at least take solace in being from one, they aren’t as interested in them as we are. And the worlds in which they inhabit are more escapist fantasies as we perceive them, as opposed to guides to life.
They seem more concerned with philosophizing about their transcendence than engaging with our anime hobbies. Which makes sense. I’d probably do the same if I found out I was a fictional character and transported to the “real world” in which my existence is fabricated for the entertainment of the masses (I imagine my story would be akin to that of Kazuma from KonoSuba). Though perhaps a bit odd, it is awesome to see these characters come to terms with this eye-opener so quickly and accept it in their own interesting ways.
This opens up the discussion to another question: How would our anime heroes react to meeting their creators? What would the likes of Simon, Kamina, and Yoko have to say to the likes of Hiroyuki Imaishi? How about Madoka and Homura meeting with Akiyuki Shinbou? Or more amusingly, how would the cast of Monogatari react to Nisio Isin? And what of the composers? Do you think Motoko Kusanagi and the rest of Section 9 or Spike Spiegel and the others from Cowboy Bebop would love Kanno Yoko’s music, like we do? How do you think conversations between characters and their voice actors would go? Do you think if a character found out that their voice actor was popular and well-beloved that it would make them feel better about the sound of their own voice? Or more importantly, do you believe these characters would be happy to know how much joy and inspiration they’ve given others?
Re:Creators also raises the question, where does the power lie in the relationship between creator and viewer? Writers, directors, animators, and other roles of creation carry with them this artificial sense of godhood – these people turn fantasy into reality by making their own ideas readily accessible to the minds of others through their imaginative prowess and ability to communicate these ideas. Yet it is ultimately the viewers who possess most of the power in this relationship, because without an audience these fabricated worlds go unpopular, and perhaps even unseen by all save the creator him/herself. Or in other cases garner a good deal of popularity and talk during airing, but are soon forgotten about come next season or year. Re:Creators presents this relationship truthfully, or as close to “truth” as its text is able to communicate, both on an entertainment level and a meta level.
Just as it’s interesting to ponder the possibilities of what it would be like for our anime heroes to visit our world and see what they think of their existence and their creators, it is too, perhaps just as fascinating to see how their creators would react to them now actualized into our world. Would they behave as the authors and artists in Re:Creators did? Would they be in disbelief? Be amazed? Show indifference or avoid them altogether? Or be a bit too overbearing? I think this show explored that idea well enough, but I can’t say I’m not curious how Eiichiro Oda would respond to a stretching, laughing Luffy in front of him (actually I can imagine his reaction, never mind).
And while it was kinda neat to see how the amount of detail required to garner “acceptance” for changes to occur in these characters worked – i.e. Silesia needed a relatively high amount of popularity on social media (at least thousands of views, likes, etc.) in order to be imbued with a new power invented by her author – I can’t say it’s as interesting to me as say, having the characters from Soul Eater watching Dragon Ball Z or Rurouni Kenshin and seeing if they get kicks from watching anime like we do. Would they be engrossed in the shows most up their alley or would they be too awesome to be sitting around for extended periods of time? Of course this question could be answered with dozens of slice of life and comedy shows, but they are exempted here for obvious reasons. Personally, I’d like to know if Blackstar would get revved up watching Hokuto no Ken or not.
Re:Creators goes about this idea in a different way by establishing new rules in “our world” by proxy of having fictional characters enter it, and discover the layers of detail and difference between the two (theirs and ours) – i.e. scenes which depict the characters enjoying meals and other small delights, have them make note of how wonderful it is to be able to take in all the multitude of senses and information permeating in our world, such as all the different kinds of flavours and scents from food. Makes you wonder how characters from other might behave in our world, when presented with all this extra sensory information they seem to be missing from their own world. Would their experience eating food here be akin to that of the gratifying resolution in Log Horizon?
Back on topic; echoing the words of a legendary blogger: What anime would our heroes watch?