I don’t intend on making a habit of opening these with images… the last one was because the post was in large part about it(and I wanted to show off) but this one I’ve had for ages was too good to pass up.
Do you remember Saturday Morning Cartoons? Waking up at 8am and rushing downstairs in pajamas to plop in front of the TV and watch 3-4 hours of adventure and Justice? It was a tradition any self-respecting kid followed when I was growing up in the 80s, and continued through the 90s. Sadly, it died a slow death in the 2000s, along with the secondary tradition of after-school shows, to be replaced with talk shows and Judge Judy. Ultimately, I think we are the poorer for it
The real world is a shifting mass of grey on grey. One man’s terrorist is another man’s Patriot. (Snowden, ‘nough said.) There’s no solid battle lines, no hard good or evil, but lots of perspective bending, and those drama shows play off that. While there is something to be said for not sheltering the young, you also only have that innocence once in your life(moral virginity?) and once its gone, its gone.
Once, kids grew up to a “this is bad, this is good” message, simple black and white. Megatron would attempt to take over Hoover Dam and drain the electricity for his schemes, and the Autobots would show up to stop it. Cobra Commander would steal some sort of weather control device to hold the world at ransom, and the Joes would go in and take it back or destroy it. Doc Terror would take scientists hostage and the Centurions would rescue them. It was very broad strokes, not very realistic, but we lapped this stuff up, and at it’s base it helped with the mortar of the framework of morality our parents taught us. (I do wonder though if the Big Broadcast of 2006 episode of Transformers, whose message was “Sharing is Caring” and involved Wreck-Gar beaming a show to the entire universe, would air these days with the MPAA and RIAA.)
Now I’m not intending to turn this into a “those darn youngsters” speech, though there is a time and place for that as well. What I want to talk about is why some of us find the idea of Burning Justice such a great thing.
The world is a big, scary place, even for adults. Thanks to this instant communication called the internet, seedy stuff that used to be hidden is now out in full view for all and sundry, and a lot of us are realizing how screwed and helpless we are against the uncaring, unfeeling machine. Something could be dome about it if enough people stand up, but there’s too many who either don’t see it yet or feel too alone to do anything about it.
Hotblooded anime and toku, or in general Big Damn Heroes, is our refuge from this. Our own little hideaway, far from the cold uncaring world, where Justice and Hope always wins, albeit rarely easily. Sometimes, our heroes even pay the ultimate sacrifice to allow the rest of us to continue on. They remind us that there are better things out there and inside ourselves; we just have to find it.
While most of us(I would hope) realize that Super Robot Spirits isn’t going to magically solve every problem, they can provide inspiration and remind you to stick to your guns, even when all is lost. There was a story on /m/(which I can’t find at the moment) about a young man who was a fan of Kamen Rider and had just made a helmet, so he was out at dusk being a kid again. He happened across some muggers threatening a lady. While most would have considered it stupid, he stepped in and scared them off. While he realized afterwards how easily it could have gone bad, for one night, he WAS Kamen Rider. He put himself in harm’s way to protect another, something we all should aspire to be able to do when the time comes.
Now(and this some something a lot of people confuse) just because a character is an avatar of justice and light doesn’t mean they have to be perfect. Heck, I always preferred Spider-Man over Superman for that reason – he had faults, like any of us. What’s important is that they(and we) try their best.
So that’s why some of us like our spandex-clad heroes, or karate bugmen, or giants of light, or what-have-you, beyond just the usual points about good stories and/or characters. It reminds us that goodness can still exist in today’s world, and inspires us to better things. It calls back to that little kid, sitting in front of the TV, slack-jawed as our heroes put the kibosh on evil bad-guy plan number 102.