The Irresponsible Captain Tylor: Duty Redefined

by Aaron H. Bynum

The series The Irresponsible Captain Tylor is a unique anime, which despite its title, manages to present a number of characters and situations that help the audience to define and personalize just what responsibility truly happens to be. In proving that what many term as a "responsibility" may actually be merely senseless behavior, the lead character is overly qualified for the epithet "irresponsible". In this anime, the traditional, doctrinal characteristics of a leader is pitted against a lovable, carefree and irresponsible space captain.

Along with its crew of rag-tag cadets and paranoid operators, the space ship The Soyokaze remains undefeated through surviving several perilous battles and a few near fatal mutinies for a number of reasons. At the helm of this ship and of The Irresponsible Captain Tylor anime series is the twenty-year-old man himself, Captain Tylor; one whose light-hearted and tranquil placidness gives the audience an oddly interesting view of how a leader should (or shouldn't) act. As a complete television series and a dramatic OVA series, I think that the best part of this anime would be its subtle abundance of refreshingly intelligent morals. A tough-to-chew and bittersweet war anime without all of the toughness and bitterness, The Irresponsible Captain Tylor OVAs in particular show that through the disillusionment and chaos there is still an opportunity for a responsible leader to emerge.

Captain Tylor is a funny character to say the least. His habits of sleeping on the job and not really caring to kill his enemy when the chance arises have tagged him an irresponsible person amongst the military. But as far as I'm concerned, it is only after watching the whole television series and the OVAs that one begins to understand the enormous paradox that Tylor really is, since we so often see responsibility embodied by a 'perfect soldier' of sorts.

The level-headed responsibility that Tylor brings to viewers of Japanese animation includes recognizing a series of social obligations and opportunities as necessary to complete. However, this is only the first step in becoming a fully responsible individual. This process includes a myriad of other ideals and philosophies, but for the most part it can be whittled down to the importance of separating the tasks of business from those of pleasure, while still weighing the significance of each. If you understand what that means, then you also know that it goes far beyond conversations with a father or grandfather which ends with the "Don't worry; it builds character" compliment. The Irresponsible Captain Tylor series is great because there are times when you feel that a character should say or express something, and then that character (or another) acts in the manner that you had wished for. Although that sounds predictable, such situations simply display the validity of Tylor's thoughts and actions. Captain Tylor doesn't listen to his superiors, and he oftentimes ignores the wants and desires of his crew. The reason he does this, however, is not to undermine authority or to upset those that he has authority over, but to give others a quick glimpse into a world where some situations require a different type of heart and mind to react to than that of a anesthetized, professional warrior.

I know that others before have reiterated the concept of fighting with one's heart instead of one's doctrinal abilities, but there is a difference between that theme and what I see in The Irresponsible Captain Tylor. What I see here is that Tylor is a man that believes aggressive assertions are compliments in their truest form. Tylor is also one to understand and take into consideration all forms of truth, as opposed to simply denying anything which may weaken his standing with his own people. The Irresponsible Captain Tylor is different especially due the fact that Tylor tosses around the idea that a responsible person uses their strengths and their gentleness at different times and where it is needed; an idea which muddles what most consider to be the proper way for a soldier or warrior to behave. This way of thinking allows a person to properly balance what one has to do and what one wants to do. The trust and faith that the crew of the Soyokaze has in their Captain Tylor is more liable to rest upon how contextually accurate his decisions are, rather than upon how self-assured he is in his decisions.

I find this anime funny not just because of its undisguised humor of a seemingly careless man in the military, but also because of the carelessness fašade of Tylor, a stark contrast and paradox of who he actually is. Knowing that his superior, Admiral Mifune believes life to be a series of personal and public wars, knowing that his dearest friend, little Azalyn is the crown princess of mankind's most bitter enemy, knowing that Yuriko, the woman he loves is one of the most emotionally tormented people that he has known, Tylor willingly weighs his obligations. He sees what must be done in business terms and what must be done in terms of healing one's scarred heart. Captain Justy Ueki Tylor is not only an anomaly in the military, but also in humanity as well.

Instead of dovetailing into an anime about taking opportunities that are missed due to diverted attention or immorality, The Irresponsible Captain Tylor tells the story of a young man among those who do not understand him due to the duality of his war ethics. The OVA Tylor's War is certainly the most emotional and methodical in its approach of showing the audience that even as not all responsibilities are to be met with typed out duties, one must still make decisions based on what is best for both parties. If worked through properly, one learns a valuable lesson in the importance of recognizing the responsibilities of others while tending to one's own.

The emotionally insecure Lieutenant Yamamoto at one point claims that responsibility is "taking drastic action without any hesitation", in hopes of finding a way to defend his captain's recent actions. He fails to mention the piece of mind necessary to make such decisions accurately when required by the situation. I think this is important, because what Yamamoto fails to note is what Tylor always makes sure to note: that all actions and decisions should be measured within the context in which they occur. The Irresponsible Captain Tylor is unique because it presents to the sophisticated anime fan an irony and an epiphany: an irony because of Captain Tylor's exclusive charisma, and an epiphany because although Tylor's charisma may be glorious in the eyes of the unaccomplished, it is still a part of the many "opinions and thoughts colliding and causing chaos", as Tylor remarked. We all have our responsibilities, each one to be met according to the measurements of the heart, mind and soul of the individual.

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