Manga Case Study II
The second portion of a multiple chapter case study on the manga Real Bout High School, in which there is a detailed analysis of the significance of 'fighting.'
This article continues our previous month's discussion of the two conscious abstractions by which an individual within the Real Bout High School manga series manifest their particular theory of life, purpose for life, and/or motive.
Here, profiled of the two, is the unstable identity of the wolf-like young man. Oftentimes delivered and received as a character that is suave and uncaring to what socio-political undercurrents encompass him, he is in fact, a confused and tortured beast by which so many others so rarely know the mind of.
The Real Bout High School manga series concerns the lives of a variety of young people in their quest for some unknown glory and attainment of some invariably unique goal by utilizing the exact same means (no matter how different their ambition): fighting. Because physical violence is tolerated, nay, even encouraged, one will find the manga's characters becoming further involved in a rather chaotic system of twisted ambition. Such ambition arises when one-portion of the fighters' consciousness, the young men, find that despite how strong that they may be any given day, it is true that their influence is never constant, but always in flux. The result of this conflict is a variety of characters that do not know how to regulate their emotional or psychological intake, but only know of how to push to their limit what moral boundaries exist, so that some organic truth is hopefully revealed.
The men that dictate said concepts strongly consists of four people, two of which I think will ultimately best epitomize this study. Taiho Hashiba is a talented boxer who refuses to turn pro until he has justified his fighting sensibility. Fighting in the streets and training in the gym are the two worlds that he knows. Taiho often wonders to himself if his fighting is for himself or to merely calm the demons born within him. Kyoichi Kunugi is a highly trained ninja, and an individual whom despite being of the physical shadows he often speaks his mind when confronted with obverse morals. I guess one could say that Kyoichi is a killer with principles.
Filling out the spectrum are the characters Shizuma Kusanagi and G. It is primarily from these two that I have found a hungering wolf inside of them as their consciousness. Shizuma is a rogue. His confidence is just as all consuming as his mastery of the martial arts. Just as he never gives up in a fight, Shizuma possesses the tenacity of a dragon, the anxiety of a ghost, and the fierceness of a wild tiger. He is a transfer to the chaotic Daimon High School in the Real Bout High School manga, and upon his arrival, it becomes obvious that Shizuma's elegantly powerful fury within battle is unmatched. Additionally, the character G is an older, more experienced street fighter that was originally birthed from the muddy banks of crime syndicates. Ruthless in battle, and willing to destroy other people's philosophies with a cold efficiency that makes him likened to that of a demon, G’s consciousness, perhaps unlike some of the other wolfish men, is more of a by-product of corruption and insincerity, rather than as a point of evolution revisited.
The Real Bout High School manga series, through these characters, materializes the greater psychological schema of young men who seek the definite reality of the self through physical violence. Dangerously hunting for an immediate pleasure, and constantly mulling internal conflict after internal conflict, these are not little boys that simply scrape in the streets, but men that doggedly struggle to maintain their humanity through fighting.
The character consciousness of the young man unable to ascend a path of acceptance is wrapped around three distinct categories of his being: his intellectual organization, his behavioral qualities, and thirdly, his philosophical purpose for fighting. Each aspect is a piece of a larger puzzle, which crafts a fierce, smart, yet emotionally dissonant individual of all of which is relatively lost.
The first aspect of the young man is that of the man's intellectual workings, concerning with how his intellectual nature further attempts to define his identity within the greater schema of consciousness. Revisiting the image of the puzzle, life is much like a puzzle for the young man. Even more so, life is more of an enigma of which he is to solve on his own. In this attempt to find self-identity, the young man lives in "a world where the weak are victims of the strong," as Shizuma once noted in the manga. The mystery of societal acceptance and of properly gauging one's place in society must be solved; however, it requires great strength in order to do so. Rather than being so thus uninformed, weak and susceptible to life's dangers, the young man sharpens his fangs to battle for the right to exist.
His second aspect, the area of behavioral wisdom, is concerned with what the individual has thus found as truth by experience. Thus the young wolf's experiential ego becomes the most vital point to his survival. It is with personal experience that his consciousness is able to nurse his ambition. He wishes not to sit idly by and observe the world's work, but knows that if he is to combat what evils aggrieve him, he must involve himself in the carnage itself. Although it appears irrational at first -- for one to initially step deep into the chaos of existence before actually finding a purpose in life -- the young man of a wolfish nature knows that experience is indispensable. By fighting, Shizuma Kusanagi in particular hopes to construct an understanding of self by the immediate reflection into the self, which occurs as he is bruised by social complacency and is scarred by ideological universality.
Is the young man taking a risk in supposing that he will find peace through violence in chaos? Most certainly. It is this high-level of risk-taking and subsequent tempting of fate that allows the man freedom to explore what his future may or may not comprise of. For a man of this caliber, the thrill and excitement of combat is a point of ignition, the starting point of all of his learning.
Nevertheless, he fears an unknown, of which his knowledge and experience is minimal. Not necessarily the larger, abstract Unknown, but rather a smaller, more personal unknown, which is simply that which one cannot know or gain from knowing all that he already knows or has experienced. The character consciousness that is of the wolf-like young man acknowledges the microcosm of the personal unknown. Such an understanding lessens the emotional weight of battle -- by striking off circumstantial ethics as an emotional hindrance. This allows the young man to fight without much intrinsic restraint, and to always go full speed ahead.
The vicious street warrior known only as G in the Real Bout High School manga series is a character quite familiar with the act of fighting with little to no emotional hindrance. G's torturous past is a character in and of itself that haunts him often, and it is through such preoccupations that G's sanity is continually on the brink of collapse. As one of the few characters of the manga that operate on his own code of ethics, G knows that whenever he fights, he is compromising societal rationality, for it is as one particular character stated: "Morality is becoming diluted by the individual."
The third aspect of the wolf-like young man regards the greater purpose for his fighting, most of which is the analytic vacillation between intrinsic and extrinsic objects. While I understand that the term "purpose" often carries an undesirable weight, here it is considered with that indefinable omniscience and goal or theory in which one aspires to validate or verify.
This young man, although never openly admitting to it, seeks emotional support. He is a person open to criticism because of his lack of concern for thinking things through and for his reckless behavior. Certainly wild by definition, his way of going about life is only measured with how much brute strength it takes to accomplish such tasks. If he finally discovers that there is an emotional relationship or bond to which he can brace himself, then he may perhaps be more at peace with himself. Conversely, without an emotional brace and/or regulator to which he can/should limit his energy, the young man with a taste for a dangerously chaotic elusiveness is at a greater risk of destroying himself from within.
Additionally, the Real Bout High School manga series organizes the philosophical centrality of this character consciousness as one verily focused, but inherently without any definitive, ulterior supposition of life. The man is able to maintain a focus on any one particular thing, but ironically, he never maintains the same ideal for holding such foci individually. This means that this aptitude is well developed and experienced, no matter how ambiguous its central motive is. The wolf-like young man is a sad soul, for just as his ability to fight and defeat those of significant strength is evident, so too is evident his lack of motivation to decipher from the verisimilitude of chaos, a truer, more expansive, and distinct motive.
These philosophical inquiries into the young man's so-called "purpose" consist of a particular conflict. This conflict is of the central nature of the wolf-like character consciousness, regarding the young man's distinct need to reclaim his lost innocence, as well as his need for emotional and psychological validation so as not to suspend his integrity. The reclaiming of lost innocence comes as a means of reconciling with the enemies of one's past. Because the young man is animalistic in all things, it becomes abundantly clear that making enemies is a rather easy thing to do. G, the experienced syndicate thug of the Real Bout High School manga series, epitomizes this conception. Even though laced rather ironically with religious imagery, G was trained to be a killer since his youth, and after several years of fighting, reflection, killing, and more reflection, G has found that atonement, however circumstantially fleeting, is central to his being.
The need for emotional validation is neither intrinsic nor suddenly acquired, but is slowly aggregated over time. This is not an emotional or psychological crux of sorts, but only the recognition of the need for approval, a seeking of a signal of his way of life as something tolerable. Shizuma Kusanagi at one point in the manga series claims that the signs of a superior fighter are based on the fullness of the fighter's soul. That is to say that people need to be consistently challenged on the validity of their soul as much as they are tested on their fighting technique. For one such as Shizuma, it is this variance that thus differentiates a defiant warrior and a stupid animal.
The character consciousness of the wolf-like young man as represented in the Real Bout High School manga series reflects a dangerous and explosive personality, a fragile integrity, and a fluctuating psyche by which characters often subject their self to fighting, and willfully succumb to violence as a means of intellectual organization, psychological support, emotional reclamation, and motivational validation.
The following article, section three, will further illustrate how Reiji Saiga and Sora Inoue's Real Bout High School manga series observes character identity and fighting as interwoven conceptual notions. As this second portion has focused on the wolf-like young man, the third potion will essentially focus on the anxious, immature young woman.