December 10, 2008
Some time ago, Wabi Sabi wrote a fascinating article on the seductively cruel aesthetics of Zankoku Bi (beauty of cruelty). The element of cruelty I want to talk about today is more concerned with Artaud‘s Theatre of Cruelty. There are plenty of food for thoughts here that I fully intend to explore in future posts, but for now the definition we shall be looking at is this:
“Artaud spoke of cruelty not in the sense of being violent, but the cruelty it takes for actors to completely strip away their masks and show an audience a truth that they do not want to see.”
This concept is perhaps better understood by first looking at Lebbeus Woods‘ re-development sketches for apartments ruined by war. Whenever the restoration of war-devastated urban fabric occurrs in the form of replacing what has been lost, the tragic feelings (or affects) are softened, trivialised and internalised into new and clean modernist box-like apartment as if the problems were solved. To Woods, “healing is not an illusory, cosmetic process, but something that-by articulating differences-both divides and joins together”. His sketches are thus of scabs and abrasions in a gesture of stiching the scars inflicted by war, thrusting these social and political conflicts outwards to confront the people to feel pain and other piercing emotions that rings more true inside our heart than internalised feelings. To accept the scars is to accept existence.
This cruel act of externalisation works similarly in Honey and Clover (second season in particular), as real life conflicts aren’t trivialised and neatly resolved like hollywood flicks in a happily-ever-after fashion. Characters run in vain, find their insigfnicant existence shrouded by those more talented and cry hopelessly at the prospect of losing one thing they cling to in life. There is no power of efforts, no power of love to save the day. It’s cruel and painful but you are affected by something more primal, raw and true, almost as if your heart is being torn off. I don’t think I’m doing good job at describing but if you have watched Honey and Clover II or other anime of similar cruelty, I hope you can identify the kind of emotions provoked by cruel anime.
So for the very few of you reading this article for some reasons ^^, what other “cruel” anime shows can you think of?