META: A New Meta, A Grand Design - WISP(?)

Drew Perron pwerdna at
Thu Jul 7 19:19:18 PDT 2016

On 7/7/2016 10:04 AM, deucexm wrote:
 > So - I've had some significant discussion with Mr. Perron on the subject of
 > Kamen Rider (the Japanese tokusatsu meta-series) and I thought I'd open it up
 > to the rest of you delightful folks.

Yeah! :D

 > We both noticed that the HCCs have kind of fallen off somewhat recently, and
 > while I did like those in theory, I note that sometimes you just don't have
 > time during its particular window - due to work, or life events, or whatever
 > else - and you miss out on what would otherwise be a really neat prompt/idea
 > /etc.; and the 'incentive' (if you want to call it that; perhaps 'impetus'?)
 > to use a particular prompt tends to fade once the HCC is over.

It's something that's happened to me. That said, I still very much support the 
"contest" aspect of the HCC, and there definitely needs to be a time limit on 
such a thing...

 > So I had the idea of a semi-collaborative effort.
 > Not something that requires each member to keep pace with the others -
 > because we all work at different paces, naturally, even putting RL events
 > aside - and not something time-based, either; but something with a unifying
 > factor, a unifying theme that can cross into multiple universes without
 > necessarily being 'a crossover'.  A conceptual connection, as opposed to a
 > narrative one.

And I very much agreed - I love this sort of thing, seeing different people's 
takes on the same ideas. :> It's one of the reasons I love shared universes so much.

 > I come back to the example of Kamen Rider - first of all, because I've been
 > watching a /lot/ of it lately (and it's great), and second, because it serves
 > as a great example of the sort of thing I mean.  Mr. Perron can expound on
 > the particular character/themes of the series a little better than I can,

A little, anyway - Deuce has seen more at this point than I have, but I've 
absorbed a lot of the recurring elements by osmosis, as is my wont.

(Tho hmmmm - I wonder if I can get a guest writer in here to talk about them...)

 > but visually at least: you have a person who transforms into a suited-up
 > person, their suit has large eye-things, they ride a motorcycle, and they
 > usually have a RIDER KICK! (though it's not given that name) as their
 > 'special move'.

The biggest thing I want to note here is that a lot of the elements are not 
story themes so much as aesthetic themes and/or character archetypes.

For example, aesthetically, there are, in addition to the above: recurring 
insectoid elements; dramatically fluttering scarves; "main" forms involving 
black, red, and green; and a dichotomy where Riders are smooth and streamlined, 
but monsters are baroque, with lots of little greeblies. (Note that this isn't a 
good/evil split; there are lots of bad guy Riders and the occasional heroic 
monster.) In terms of character archetypes, you usually have a main Rider and 
one or two secondaries - unless this is one of those seasons where there's a 
bunch of them and they all fight each other, of course. The main Rider is 
usually the more straightforwardly heroic one, with others often being tortured 
and sensitive, bad guys turned good, more strict, and/or more goofy (depending 
on how strict/goofy the main is).

There are, of course, recurring thematic elements too - the biggest being about 
agency and manipulation. The original Kamen Rider was about a man who was 
captured by a terrorist organization, turned into a cyborg, and on the brink of 
being brainwashed into a living weapon. The early series, back in the '70s and 
'80s, revolved around origins like this; the more recent stuff (from 2000 on) is 
looser, but often involves elements of being manipulated by evil, changed 
against one's will, and how one recovers from that - how one turns misfortune 
into something good. The "former bad guy" Riders are often examples of what 
happens when you don't explain the brainwashing - or why one would join a 
terrorist organization in the first place.

Kamen Rider has pretty loose recurring elements, mind you. Other franchises can 
be much more tightly themed. Sometimes this is more interesting, as you can 
really highlight the differences when you're starting from the same place; 
sometimes it's less interesting, as the theming can become a framework to lazily 
slap stuff together on, or a shackle that's difficult to tell interesting 
stories in. In the same way that you can use the tropes of capes, emblems, and 
flying bricks in the superhero genre to invoke, subvert, play off of or dismiss 
well-known archetypes and ideals, you can use a recurring element to signal "I'm 
going to do this", and either follow up or pull out the rug.

(There's a whole essay to be written on character archetypes in Super Sentai, 
progenitor of Power Rangers and originator of the Five Man Band, and how they've 
filtered out into both Japanese and Western media, but this post is already long 
enough, doncha think?)

What I'm most interested is a mix of thematic, aesthetic, and archetypal 
elements. I think we probably want something relatively loose, but with enough 
firmness to it that we have something to play off of - to emphasize similarities 
and differences, to be able to subvert themes or make them stronger and grander.

 > Yikes, that's a long paragraph in the editor.

Heeheehee. <3 Well, I replied with half a dozen paragraphs, some just as big, so >->

Drew "what'cha think, RACConteurs?" Perron

More information about the racc mailing list