Swallowing a whopper: Giant Robo and the Tragedy of Bashtarle

January 24, 2012

I tweeted:

The only way I can swallow Giant Robo's Tragedy of Bashtarle is to believe that Daisaku had the most sheltered childhood ever.

This is the kind of thing that only fits in 140 characters if you already know what I'm talking about. So, a blog entry. There are spoilers for the second episode of Giant Robo.

In the first one and a half episodes of Giant Robo, the Tragedy of Bashtarle is presented as a big mystery. Daisaku, our 12 year old protagonist, has never heard of it and has no idea what it is, while both Big Fire and the adult Experts of Justice seem all too familiar with it; mention the Tragedy and everyone shuts up and looks sad. We learn various bits about it over the first episode, such as that it happened ten years ago, that it's allegedly been scrubbed from the history books, and finally that it was some epic Shizuma Drive related disaster involving one of the scientists who invented it going too far. So far, so good; this is all believable and builds tension.

Then partway through the second episode we find out the details. To wit, that the Tragedy of Bashtarle not only destroyed an entire country (the eponymous Bashtarle) and killed one of the five scientists who shared a Nobel prize for inventing the Shizuma Drive, but its seven days of aftereffects also killed 2/3rds of humanity. All of this happened only ten years ago.

Daisaku was two years old then, and he grew up in the Tragedy's immediate aftermath (and he's interested in and knowledgeable about the Shizuma Drive). Yet somehow he has never heard of the Tragedy, not just by name but at all. The massive death toll (and disruption of life) had so little effect on his childhood that he could be completely oblivious to it. Hence why I say that Daisaku has to have had the most sheltered childhood ever in order to make his (and the audience's) lack of knowledge even vaguely plausible.

(Yeah, yeah, Giant Robo isn't the kind of anime where you're supposed to think like that.)

(This has come up now because I'm (re)watching Giant Robo as the first show in my vague 'watch some classic anime' plans for this year.)

PS: the Tragedy of Bashtarle demonstrates that Giant Robo's setting is a lot nicer than the real world (or was, before the tragedy's effects hit). In this world, I'm pretty sure that losing all electricity, machinery, and vehicles for seven days wouldn't come anywhere near that sort of death figures because a significant portion of humanity isn't well enough off to depend on those things in the first place.

Written on 24 January 2012.
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Last modified: Tue Jan 24 00:19:27 2012
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