Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Importance of Being Adam – an analysis

So I'll admit that in my last post RahXephon and Eva gave me some trouble. First they seemed like Arthurian heroes. They were sure thrust into greatness. But on the other hand they didn't have divine right. And in neither of the cases did they want glory. This is why I largely ignored them.

But then I figured it out. They weren't either Arthurian heroes or citizen soldiers. In fact, they were a third breed that was injected into the mecha genre.

They were Adam.

On the nature of Adam

First of all, I want to say that I'm not referring to any of the theological aspects of Adam. But if you merely look at Adam's story, it really starts with biting the apple. That is the first decision that Adam truly makes himself. Prior to that he was largely a child, who was doted on by a loving parent. Now, I'd like to say that the act of rebellion is part in parcel with how this plays out in fiction, but I don't think it does.

But what is important is the story starts with an epiphany that the world is a much more dark and sinister place than the hero first imagined. If you take a look at either of these two shows they start off with the hero being introduced to the fact that there is more to the world then they previously thought. In Shinji's case, it's with learning about the Angels. In Ayato's case, it's learning about Tokyo Jupiter.

Now the fact that it starts with an epiphany is important, because the nature of these stories and this hero is more about finding out how they fit into the world. And part in parcel with that idea they must be ethically neutral and naive. For the sake of this argument,
I'm going to say that ethics and morals are two separate things. While they may have been taught about what is wrong and what is right (morals), they don't have any idea why those things are wrong or right (ethics). This proves especially true when you start looking at Adam type heroes that travel from one culture to another culture. Again here, both main characters had a set of social mores that they were given, but over the course of the series they have to construct a new understanding of what's right and what's wrong.

The fact that they're naïve of their new surroundings and that they must learn to understand them, leads to another factor. They are connected to society, but they're separate from it as well. I would argue the function of an Adam hero is that of the observer. Both Ayato and Shinji stumble throughout the story, trying to understand their world and their place in it, which means that they both have trouble relating to people. Now in Ayato's case it's not nearly as violent as it is in Shinji's, but it still stands. But because of the fact that they're the center of the story and arguably the most important character in it, they're also connected to society. The society depends on them for something.

Finally, an Adam hero must be special. This is pretty similar to the divine grace aspect of the Arthurian hero, but a little more general. Arguably divine grace only applies to main character's combat skills, whereas with an Adam it applies to anything about their character that separates them from the rest of society.

Now, it's important to note here that the central questions for Adam are inherently internal. They're more along the lines of, "How do I relate to society?" or "What do I think is right and wrong?" This is because the Adam is a stand in for the audience, leading the viewer down the road to the answers that they find. Second, to truly be an Adam hero, the story must start with that epiphany. Without it there wouldn't be any reason to keep journeying.

A note on Gasaraki and Full Metal Alchemist

Now I know I said that Yuushiro is a citizen solider. And for at least one part of the show, I believe that he does exhibit those traits. (Specifically when he's called on to defend Nishida). Although he arguably also exhibits the traits of an Adam as well. I think the reason for that is Gasaraki has two separate storylines. In one he's an Adam. In the other he's a citizen solider.

Edward Elric also presents a difficult challenge in classifying him (although not as hard as Gasaraki). But I think he's largely an Adam type character, although one with the fatal flaw that he wants to remake Eden.

The problem with Adam

So I'm probably sure that some smart person out there has already figured out the reason why I didn't bring this up when I was talking about Arthur-like characters and citizen soldiers, and that's because Adam's epiphany is not exclusive to Adam characters. Now in the case of either of these other two archetypes that epiphany comes later on in the story or before the story actually starts. And second, the effects of that epiphany are internal, while the majority of traits for either of the other two character types are external. (Or at least involve how the character relates to those outside of them.)

In my next post on this subject, I'm going to deal with the effects of Adam's epiphany on both citizen soldiers and Arthur-like heroes.

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