Before I begin, I’d like to take a moment to express my deep sympathy for those whose lives were disrupted by the Kyushu earthquakes. I actually haven’t followed the news about this too closely, because I find it extra upsetting to look at photos depicting a place I’ve physically been to in ruins. I can only hope that the residents of Kumamoto find safety and that the death toll does not rise any further.
There was also a devastating earthquake in Ecuador recently which has killed at least 233 people at the time of this writing. My heart goes out to everyone whose lives were stricken by tragedy today.
On that somber note, I’d like to mention that it’s my birthday today, so happy birthday to me.
I miss the Cold War sometimes. Not that I have ever lived through it, mind you, but man did some entertaining stories come out of it. The satire of Dr. Strangelove would never have struck so close to home if it didn’t come out of the paranoid political climate of the 1960s. There’s a kind of charm to those Cold War-era relics, in that peculiar mix of optimism (“We are the good guys!”) and pessimism (“A nuclear explosion will kill us all tomorrow!”).
As time has passed, however, the villains in your average trashy thriller have ceased to be members of the diabolical, all-encompassing Soviet Union, and the heroes are no longer unambiguously good guy Americans. Your average American action flick these days is more likely to be bogged down with cynicism and snark. I’m not a good guy, so let me take delight in being a sarcastic prick! (P.S. fuck Deadpool.)
Well, perhaps it is only with the passing of time and a change of perspective that one can appreciate the apparent “naive charm” of Cold War fiction without swallowing wholesale the assumptions of the time. Full Metal Panic wasn’t written during the Cold War, but its setting clearly harks back to it, and it is only made more ridiculous by the inclusion of moe girls and giant robots. While the series does go to some lengths to include some moral ambiguity and grittiness in the narrative, the goofiness never quite goes away, even in the most serious moments.
For me, Full Metal Panic is one of those rare types of stories that succeeds on multiple levels: as a spoof, critique and a straight example of its genre.