Villian’s Exposition: Blue Seed and Arjuna

Does anybody still remember the huge environmentalist craze of the late ’80s and early ’90s? The 50 Simple Things books? Captain Planet? Ahh, those were the days, weren’t they, when all we needed to do to make the world a better place was to use canvas bags at the supermarket, cut the plastic rings from our 6-packs and sort your recycling properly.

Now, of course, there are such matters as more fuel-efficient cars, realistic solar power plans and all sorts of other issues designed to combat climate change on a grand scale.

The Japanese, however, have a better idea—one that’s both easy to implement and effective on a global scale.
Get the Earth to such a perilous state that it releases giant plant monsters in order to protect itself from the damage being done to it by mankind. Then, just before they manage to completely wipe us out, as often as not using our own technologies against us, we have one girl step up and embrace a nonviolent solution that will almost certainly lead to her death!

It’s simple, cost-efficient and doesn’t require any extra work on your part beyond managing to survive the approaching near-apocalypse.

Japan, being particularly eco-friendly, has done the rest of the world the favor of incorporating such global “catastrophes” into a variety of movies, TV shows, comics and books, in the hopes of educating us on how best to cope with our climatic woes.

Blue Seed, an anime from the ’90s by the same fellow who brought us 3×3 Eyes, is an excellent example. Yuzo Takada, an expert at melding ancient Japanese myth with modern-day ideas, created this seminal work by utilizing pre-existing legends about Shinto gods and mythological monsters from a time long before the Western hemisphere intruded upon the East.

Throughout the show, he manages to incorporate more and more traditional Japanese behaviors and ideas, firmly establishing the fact that the modern world is definitely moving the wrong way. At the same time, his protagonists—who do, admittedly, come to identify more and more with the “evil” plant-monsters—understand that simply destroying everything and rebuilding from the ground up isn’t a viable option either.

In the end, it’s the old-fashioned sacrifice by a modern girl raised in traditional style that not only prevents the plants from destroying the world, but also brings green life and growth to what had been a faltering and smog-ridden Japan.

This conflict between traditional and modern thought goes hand in hand with the dichotomy between the green lushness of nature and the heavy industrial “wasteland” of the city—both themes that are prevalent in many shows, but probably none so much as Earth Maiden Arjuna.

More modern than Blue Seed, and much more overtly moralizing, it’s a show that makes no bones about the fact that you’re watching it as much for the message as the plot. Direct references to how “useless” and dangerous nuclear reactors are, as well as how much better organic farming is, couple with a protagonist that becomes ill from eating processed foods to create a setting that’s nowhere near so willing to compromise between the old and the new.

Much as in Blue Seed, however, the Earth lashes out, creating spiritual beings (Rajah) that co-opt man’s own inventions and set about destroying them, or humans in general, in the fastest manner possible. Reactor shielding is damaged, biologically engineered nanites run amok, and, finally, gigantic spiritual worms tear through solid matter.

In the end, those who survive the near-holocaust (which, as with Blue Seed, is confined almost exclusively to Japan, though it threatens to become a global incident) discover that a compromise is indeed necessary—one that forces us all to take a closer look at the consequences of our lifestyles.

With so many governmental provisions concerning global warming flying about, with finger-pointing, name-calling and table-pounding pervading the political atmosphere, and with snow finally here, I urge all of you to remember the lessons taught us by these anime: If all else fails, the planet’s going to make giant monsters to bitch-slap us back in line and then make Earth a lush, green paradise that the few survivors can enjoy.

My advice? Stock up on can openers.