- Newfoundland, Canada
- I've been a big anime fan for about 10 years or so now. My five all-time favorite animes at this point are, in no particular order... Puella Magi Madoka Magica, El Hazard: The Magnificent World, Love Live!: School Idol Project, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. However, there are hundreds of anime shows that I like. The main purpose of this blog is to provide meta-commentary on anime, and the anime industry - to try to cast a critical, though appreciating, eye upon this entertainment genre that I believe has tremendous potential, but can also be easily wasted. I have always been a fan of animation in general - in the 80s, I grew up on western cartoons like He-Man, She-Ra, Transformers, and G.I. Joe. Through out the 90s, I was a hardcore comic book fan, for the most part. I'm also a big fan of Star Trek. Right now in my life, though, anime is my principal entertainment passion.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Number 2: Katsuhiko Jinnai!
In my previous blog entry, I spoke of that great invention called fiction.
Fiction, however, usually entails more than just imaginative creation.
Fiction usually involves conflict.
In high school, I learned of the three basic sorts of conflict present in fiction...
Man vs. Nature
Man vs. Himself
Man vs. Man
Of these three, the one that tends to most convincingly completely capture the emotions of the player or reader or viewer... is Man vs. Man.
Seeing two personable forces locked in a struggle, be it a purely physical confrontation or a battle of wits or a challenge of ideas or some combination thereof, can truly draw in the viewer, and often force him to view the conflict from multiple perspectives. You don't identify with the blizzard, but you may identify with an antagonist.
Sometimes, this is best achieved through great contrast between the combatants.
And when such contrast is aimed for, you frequently arrive at one of the oldest and most tried, tested, and true character types of many a fictional story...
The villain confidently swaggers, struts, and strides into the work of fiction, leaving an immediate indelible impression of antagonistic arrogant attitude.
The villain... many a good villain, in any event... simultaneously repulses you, but yet also beguiles you, with his abnormal morality (or complete lack thereof) and his breathtakingly bold brazen aims and goals.
And Katsuhiko Jinnai, my favorite anime villain of all-time as well as one of my three favorite anime characters period, is no exception.
Jinnai's willingness, if not exciting exuberant eagerness, to murder his greatest enemies is not morally defensible... but it does make for a cool clamorous conflict...
The ferocious frenzied feud between El Hazard's Makoto Mizuhara and Katsuhiko Jinnai is one of the most riveting feuds in all of anime, if not in all of fiction. It is a feud that reaches decidedly deeply down into the tormented psychosis of a man unhinged. Of powerful penultimate pride being badly bruised one too many times.
Jinnai's descent into malevolent manipulative madness, brought upon by the perception of a vexing foe that has been nothing less than a cancer upon his life, is truly a sight to behold. It is one of the highlights of the first episode of the El Hazard: The Magnificent World OVA.
It's ideological intensity is also reminiscent of some of the great feuds of western fiction, such as Superman vs. Lex Luthor, Batman vs. the Joker, and Reed Richards vs. Dr. Doom. Part of the feud between Makoto and Jinnai is their vastly different world views, and their respective senses of their places within it.
Makoto desires to help others, pursue knowledge for its own sake, live a productive but safe and simple life, and get along with others as best as he can. In most respects, he is an admirable soul, but he is also a bit of a meekly mild milquetoast of a character. Makoto is pushed along by the plot, often unwillingly and with whiney complaint, and only near the very end of the El Hazard OVA does Makoto begin to show real signs of trying to control his own destiny, so to speak.
Jinnai is the complete opposite...
Jinnai is the optimal outspoken opportunist, as he never fails to seize the moment, or take advantage of every opening or potential gain that comes his way. His desire for personal glory is insatiable, and his need to placate his sense of superiority is ever-present.
You can see it in his beady eyes, his hungry haughty hellacious grin, and in his dynamic mannerisms.
His ambitions, his drives, his lusts... they are akin to a force of nature. They are every bit as great as those of any contemporary anime character... yes, even including the likes of Kamina and Haruhi Suzumiya. In fact, in some ways, he is even more forceful than them! Because Jinnai is not driven by a sense of brotherhood, or by a desire to gain extraordinary friends... feelings that can be moderated by the moral guidance of a Simon, or a Kyon.
No... Jinnai theatrically triumphantly thirsts for no less than complete and total rule!
Yes, a triumphant thirst, as Jinnai moved at rapid pace to an unparalleled position of power and influence within a totally alien empire, and even through out an entire alien world. The statue above represents the zealous zestful zenith of Jinnai's lofty aims. How many fictional characters can say that an entire alien race of innumerable many, had come to adore and love and even worship him, so much that they make the grandest of statues in his or her likeness, even while he lives?!
And do you know what is absolutely astounding about this?
Jinnai is, at best, a physically normal human being. His only "super power", if you can even call it that, is his ability to communicate with the bugrom. His lone super power, as it were, would be rendered obsolete by a mere Star Trek universal communicator.
Everything Jinnai accomplishes is through sheer brilliance, cunning, guile, resiliency, and wits.
And incredible degrees of courage.
Don't believe me? Then perhaps the talented Deviant Art contributor who made this piece of artwork can add support to my words here...
Here is what the artist ~chad-spider has to say about Jinnai...
"This is Katsuhiko Jinnai from El Hazard, the ballsiest man in anime. I will explain why in case anybody reads this and does not know him.
Jinnai is a high school student--not a high school student who is also a ninja or an alien or a superhero, just a high school student. He gets transported to a fantasy world full of wacky stuff through means unknown to him, and is quickly discovered by a race of insect monsters at war with humanity. They take him back to their fortress, and their queen demands to know if he is the prophesied messenger who is supposed to lead them to victory in war. And Jinnai, without missing a beat, tells her that yes, yes he is. Then he takes over their army and spends the rest of the series at war with the human race to satisfy his own ego." (Emphasis mine)
Katsuhiko Jinnai could even teach Barack Obama a thing or two about audacity. ;) :D
Is there any wonder why Queen Diva is so enamored by him? ;)
A man that exudes such raw potency as Jinnai will obviously hold a massively magnetic masculinity for many a woman...
The picture immediately above is from a late 90s anime convention, and is a picture featuring the star of the show... Y2KJ... a fusion of sorts between pro wrestling's Chris Jericho and anime's Katsuhiko Jinnai.
Just look at the way women literally fall all over Katsuhiko Jinnai. ;)
But not only women are inspired by him.
One of the most famous anime music remixers in the business was so inspired by El Hazard's Katsuhiko Jinnai that he named himself after him.
I'm sure many an anime fan are familiar with DJ Jinnai.
It has to be said that El Hazard, as a whole, was a great classic mid-90s anime. In some ways, it's unfortunate that it came out the same year as Neon Genesis Evangelion, causing it to be overshadowed somewhat.
But Katsuhiko Jinnai is a character who's influence continues to be felt... not only through DJ Jinnai.
If Katsuhiko Jinnai was a brand new anime character, many would call him a mixture of Light Yagami with the CCP of the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, or a mixture of Lelouch Lamperouge with Sunohara of Clannad. The general competence and lofty aims of the former displayed by the pratfalling yet flashy style of the latter. A well-groomed meticulous villain with a great mind and commanding presence... but also played for laughs quite frequently.
Many others would point to how his demeanour is the male equivalent of Umineko's Beatrice, as a previous blog entry of mine displayed.
I would argue that parts of Jinnai's character has inspired each of these other five prominent anime characters, and hence the ripples of his character's impact on the anime world is felt to this day. His uproarious famous laugh also reverberates well over a decade after the animes starring him finished production...
Jinnai is truly a classic anime villain for the ages. A character that helped make El Hazard one of the best animes of the 90s, if not one of the best animes of all-time.
However, I will admit that some of his strengths are also, in a way, weaknesses...
Personally, I have always found it impressive when a charismatic villain who has mastered the art of the dramatic entrance... is a physically normal human being, challenging dangerous metahuman protagonists. That does indeed take balls.
Lex Luthor putting his mind to the test against Superman's brawn.
The Joker often trying to get to Batman through attacking the vaunted Justice League.
And Katsuhiko Jinnai is like them in how he must deal with extraordinarily powered foes... all by sheer wits, and the military forces that he takes charge of.
This is a weakness, in some ways, though. There are not many grand one-on-one physical confrontations involving Jinnai and a protagonist. There is the swordfight between him and Makoto in El Hazard: The Wanderers, but there is not much more than that.
I can understand how this can be a negative for some... even though I think that Jinnai more than makes up for it with his overall strengths as a villain.
Others judge Jinnai harshly because, well... many anime fans have an unique liking for the sympathetic antagonist, I think. They don't like the unprincipled sociopaths that many villains are.
However, here I come to Jinnai's defense. For while sheer, unadulterated ego is what pushes him forward, there is a genuine and sincere camaraderie between him and the bugrom race. A good example of this is how Jinnai, for a short time, even adopted bugrom armor to create a greater sense of unity between him and his legions...
Another one of Jinnai's strong points; points that distinguish him from the totally insane and entirely evil villains, is how Jinnai actually aided in saving El Hazard... from Galus and the Shadow Tribe.
Jinnai doesn't destroy simply for the sake of destroying... he is a true and forthright conqueror, who wishes to rule over lands worth ruling; which means that they have to be left standing in decent condition. Jinnai clearly values pristine conditions, as we see in how tightly dressed and impeccably groomed he is...
Jinnai is, in fact, famous for always carrying a comb with him, and making sure not a signal hair on his head is out of place. And, judging by the following picture, his dental hygiene is above reproach as well... ;)
But don't let these good points fool you either... Jinnai is the ultimate laughing villain. He is equal parts Lex Luthor, Joker, Kane (of Command and Conquer fame), and Sunohara (Clannad).
That is what I love about him... he is The Villain.
A great villain, who quickly takes charge of almost every scene he's in; who's impact is felt loudly, if not literally, with his every charismatic entrance.
A 17 year old boy who shakes an entire alien world to its very foundations, and who leads a World War; very nearly winning it as nation after nation after nation falls to his relentless advances.
Jinnai's military genius is perhaps his greatest strength. His tactics... his strategics... his maneuvers... they are all applied with a magnificent mixtue of finesse with overwhelming force.
The best example of this is Wanderers' Jinnai's complex plot to capture Princess Rune Venus. That plot is hilariously named "Operation: Permanent Vacation!", complete with an outrageously funny jingle in the English dubbed version of the anime. It was a plot that met with great success, as Princess Rune Venus was kidnapped by Jinnai and the bugrom, and delivered into the welcoming hands of Queen Diva.
As far as Magnificent World's Jinnai is concerned, there is the method he used to reach Ifurita; a method that made complete fools out of his enemies.
All told, Katsuhiko Jinnai wraps himself in the timeless cape of evil overlord villainy, and wears it with such splendid spectacular style, that he has earned his joyous laughs...
Katsuhiko Jinnai is, for me, the greatest anime villain that I've ever seen.
So why, then, doesn't he solely win the spot of Number 2 on my Ten Favorite Anime Characters of All-Time list, or even come in at the very top spot?
Well, my previous blog entry went into great detail about the illustrious female character that tied him. She is not with out her charms either. ;)
To compare the two further... Haruhi Suzumiya is, in most respects, a nicer person, and perhaps a touch more realistic at a personality level (although I could imagine someone like Katsuhiko Jinnai actually existing in real life).
However, Jinnai is a far more focused character, and I do like that about him. Haruhi's energetic zeal roughly matches his, but its less polished and coherently channelled.
Katsuhiko Jinnai was, also, the ultimate gateway character for me, as he reminded me so much of many of my favorite comic book villains. He, as much as any anime character, helped me become an anime fan.
However, Haruhi is the character that keeps me interested in anime, more than any other. If not for her anime and character, it's unlikely that I would be writing this blog at all.
That makes it immensely hard to choose between them... and, in fact, I couldn't.
Jinnai is the villain that I loved cheering for, and could even relate to... I, too, was a Student Council President at one time, and I, too, was in a tight academic conflict with another particular classmate who was good at computers...
Whereas Haruhi is precisely the sort of classmate that I wish I did have.
Sometimes, it's the little things that count when evaluating a character, or trying to relate to him or her.
As for my No. 1 pic... in the end, The Hero defeated The Villain.
I wanted a hero, a true hero, to win this Top 10 race. A hero who I look forward to writing a great deal about. I hope that you'll join me for that write-up as well, my friends. ;)
However, I hope that I've done justice in speaking well of this often underappreciated anime villain. In anime, a decade can feel like a century, and hence even a character as great as Jinnai can become a sadly forgotten... or even never known at all... character.
But, I hope that this blog post can reflect the never say die nature of the man who kept fighting on, against all obstacles, in spite of the most horrendous of setbacks... a man who never lost his smile, who always kept his laugh, and who is forever etched in the hallowed history of El Hazard!