I have trouble separating a creator’s misdeeds and their works

Guys, the past few weeks have not been good for me. Work has been harder than hell because we’ve had picked up the last shift’s slack, my body has been hating me due to sleeping wrongly which resulted in me suffering some neck pain, today is the fifth anniversary of my older brother’s death, apparently the Rurouni Kenshin Hokkaido Arc is continuing in June after Watsuki was caught owning child porn, and I can keep going. Growing up sucks. I have realized this before entering my late 20’s, yes I am old, but I am feeling this more and more every day. April is my least favorite month of the year for a lot of reasons, and the things that I listed haven’t helped at all. My childhood being crushed to death is the focus of this post. Let’s talk about the death of some of my childhood heroes and how I am unable to disconnect a creator and their works no matter how hard I try.

There have been a lot of bad reports of things over the past half year or so. A lot of people in Hollywood have been called out for being terrible people, but not many of them have affected me as much. Joss Whedon cheating on his wife has hurt me, but I don’t have a major connection with a lot of works besides Firefly and the Avengers. Even then, not as strong as a connection with those because there are many other Marvel movies that are great that I can focus on and the first time I watched Firefly was on my iPod while playing in the graduation band at the end of my freshmen year in college. I realize that Joss is a scum bag and a hypocrite. Because of these facts, I can’t look at Firefly the same way anymore, but I have other science fiction shows that I like which I can turn to as well. The Bill Cosby issues have affected me though, because I used to watch the Cosby Show all the time when I was growing up. My parents always had it on the tv, so I’ve seen every single episode at least three times. Bill Cosby turning out to be a terrible person has affected me quite a bit. The issue gets worse with Rurouni Kenshin and its creator Nobuhiro Watsuki. I have so many words that I have been saving up just for this moment.

I realized that I haven’t talked much about Rurouni Kenshin on this blog, but I love this show to death. This show is one of the things that helped to define me as a person when I was growing up. The story of this wandering samurai weighed down by his past of being an assassin who has killed endless amounts of people is one of the most enduring stories ever. A man with red hair and a cross shaped scar carrying a reverse blade sword is a simple character concept, but it is done so well in the manga and the anime. Especially with his past constantly trying to pull our main protagonist Kenshin back to the way that it’s always trying to pull him back to what he was before. The fact that Kenshin was able to come out on top and become stronger for it was one of the best things I’ve ever watched as a child. The best part? Our main protagonist was one of many people that had a journey like this in that series. The whole cast was filled with people trying to find a way their way in the world. Even the villains. Especially the villains. Yes, there are a lot of great action scenes that somehow combined real swordsmanship with the shonen battle super powere aesthetic which still makes some of the best fight scenes I’ve EVER seen in anime, but the main point is that there was a large amount of emotional and character weight guiding these fights. It’s so good guys. Well, at least season one and two are. Especially two. Rurouni Kenshin’s Kyoto Arc is still the best shonen arcs, possibly the best, that I’ve seen in anime to this day.

And no, this series didn’t only define me. It defined my generation. This all goes back to Toonami when I was growing up. Rurouni Kenshin aired alongside Dragon Ball Z and Gundam Wing on Toonami and everybody I’ve grown up with remembers them just as much as me. I used to have a lot of conversations centered around talking about the latest episodes. Even Rurouni Kenshin’s ending songs became something that you would hear all over the place. I mean, listen to this. Isn’t it good and addicting? You have no idea how many times in my life I’ve rewatched the first two seasons of Rurouni Kenshin. I don’t know either, to be honest. I bet that I can easily talk about this show to anyone in my age group and it will bring us back to the point of when we were growing up. I know that Trigun and other anime series have covered the same sort of story and it’s great too, but Kenshin is the variation of this story that I saw first. It clicks with me more. Rurouni Kenshin is such a master piece and I can never forget about it. This leads to some complicated emotions for me.

After talking about how this show has affected on a huge level, how am I supposed to suddenly dismiss it after hearing about all the wrong doings that Nabuhiro Watsuki has done. Unlike the director of MMO Junkie, he wrote the source material for this series. I can easily say, “ignore the director, watch the anime or read the comic”when it comes to MMO Junkie. The very fact that Watsuki defies a lot of the things that he was trying to say in his manga and by connection, the anime. It also gives me so many complicated emotions that I am still trying to figure out. This automatically ruins the show for me. Does that mean that I take my fiction too seriously? Maybe. Kenshin was one of my childhood idols and heroes. A lot of my ideals that I still live by were formed by watching the show. It’s who I am. How is it possible for the person who wrote all this good stuff to be such a terrible person? I realize that practicing what a person teaches isn’t always the mainstay of anyindustry, because there is a lot that happens in the background of a manga and anime, but this is Watsuki’s master piece. He put a lot of hard work into this material. Why? Why does it have to be this way?

In conclusion, growing up does suck. When it comes to a lot of works, I can’t separate a show from it’s creator or any of the background stories that I hear about a series anymore. Part of that is the internet’s constant spread of knowledge which can go anywhere at anytime in an instant. Part of that is the fact that as an adult, I care more about a series then the story, it’s characters, and its music. I care about the people that wrote the source material, the people who are behind the anime’s production, and the company who is distributing the material. Rurouni Kenshin will always be a part of who I am, but I will not turn my head toward any newer material for it ever again. I cannot support anybody whose ideals don’t match up with mine. Maybe that won’t affect what Watsuki is doing in the long run, but I will at least feel better about it. In the end, that’s all the closure I get from this franchise. It sucks. Growing older sucks. Why is aging a thing that must happen? Somebody stop that please.

31 Comments Add yours

  1. Cactus Matt says:

    Things like this can be hard to deal with, the separation of art and artist seems all the more an issue these days as every aspect of people’s lives are obsessed over a lot more than they perhaps were in the past. I imagine, if we peeled back the secrets of every artist out there throughout history and today there would be something, perhaps minor or perhaps major that would not align with our own values. At the end of the day though it comes down to you as an individual and what you can deal with. Sorry to hear this has affected you so deeply and sorry to hear you’re having a rough time at life, I hope things get better.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Scott says:

      You are probably right any history and everything.

      And it’s ok. Just that I don’t like April at all and a few issues were added to it along the way.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. ospreyshire says:

    I can totally understand the frustration. I used to like Rurouni Kenshin and the Trust & Betrayal OVA prequel was certainly a highlight in the franchise despite the tragic ending. When I heard that Watsuki was caught up with that horrible vice, I was saddened. I can’t separate the creator from their creations. You made some good points about the whole thing going on with Hollywood. There are some double standards in that situation like how Nate Parker got demonized even though he was found innocent of all the rape accusations, yet Roman Polanski still had a career despite being a pedophile scumbag which he admitted to. There have been times where I couldn’t look at people’s works the same way again like Mel Gibson’s stuff after his anti-Semitic and bigoted tirades. I got disgusted with Woody Allen with all the allegations that have been thrown his way. Or even liking a bunch of Disney movies as a kid until growing up and realizing how many horrible things that company has done (The Kimba/Lion King plagiarism controversy being one of the much tamer things). I can’t believe I’m quoting a pro wrestler of all things, but Santana Garrett was right even if it was a scripted promo when she said “Never look up to your heroes because they will ALWAYS disappoint [you].”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Scott says:

      That qoute is right got towed l this situation. Thanks for sharing your own experiences.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ospreyshire says:

        The Santana Garrett quote? Gotcha. It was all too appropriate given what you posted. Sorry to hear about how April is a bad month for you from what I’ve noticed. It was good getting some of those experiences and observations off my chest.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s me with Kim Hyun Joong (from the Kpop group SS501) and Yoochun (from JYJ) case. The former was charge for domestic violence and the other for rape and now I just can’t listen to their music

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Heroes in our youth tend to get crushed for a lot of reasons, some worse than others. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just shows you the importance in picking your heroes and connecting with people who you won’t feel guilty about later on. As a kid, you’re more carefree about it and as an adult you’re pickier.

    It does suck that Cosby and Watsuki ended up being garbage people, but it’s better knowing than not knowing this. And it’s better that their victims will find some justice, unlike some other people who were able to get away with it.

    I do get what you mean though and how shattering something like this is. When I was younger, I use to listen to LostProphets. I stopped after awhile and years later I learned that the lead singer was in the news. I was kind of amazed that they were still performing, but I was mortified as to why they were in the news again. I wasn’t even a huge fan, but it just made me feel dirty knowing that I was listening to them. It does leave a stain on the time when I listened to them, but it’s still better knowing than not knowing.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Scott says:

      Yeah, you might be right about knowing compared to not knowing. Reality has to hit eventually.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. A Library Archivist says:

    You may have noticed that Full Metal Panic’s hero looks like Kenshin and that’s deliberate. It is a nod to Kenshin, and the scar matches for that reason. Their pasts are similar, both being child soldiers and assassins. FMP is Kenshin’s redemption, and the humor is meant to show him learning how to be human, and how irritating it is for Kaname who barely understands him at the best of times but still needs him to protect her from kidnappers etc. Ruroni Kenshin and Samurai X are stories of the same man, and his long path to redemption is complicated by the style of its time. I wasn’t aware MMO Junkie was the same author, but its also about redemption and recovery, just with a female character instead, and resonates with all the Lost Millions (I think that’s the term for hikkikomori).

    I was a Firefly fan and watched Buffy when it got onto Hulu before they filled it with commercials, and was amused by it, but now I wonder which of the women in the cast Whedon was taking advantage of, and how they feel about it now. Many of the actresses on the show were 15 years old, and there are laws against that. Hollywood is an awful place, and Long Beach (20 miles south of Hollywood) is the porn capitol of the world. It is a short journey from one to the other, in all senses of the world short. Whedon still posts insane political crap on his twitter account and its clear he’s lost his damn mind. He should shave off his beard and retire from the business like the writer from X Files.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Scott says:

      Oh no, I must have not explained the MMO Junkie director thing will enough. The director of the anime is a Holocaust denier. And you are right about Fullmetal Panic. I can set it being a redemption.

      Yeah, I want Joss to go away and well.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A Library Archivist says:

        There’s a lot of badness these days. So many bad people getting revealled, and even more fascism and intolerance from people who just want to feel superior and don’t care about hypocrisy. Sigh.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. crazyidiot78 says:

    I do understand you viewpoint, and while image of RK is tarnished a bit there isn’t anything objectionable in RK so I will probably continue to watch it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Scott says:

      Fair enough. That’s your perogative.

      Like

      1. crazyidiot78 says:

        I should have added that the only reason I’ll follow it is I want to do a blog post about Kenshin’s injuries and his decline. Really I’m just looking for anime science material.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. WeekendOtaku says:

    Nice article, Scott. First off, I’m sorry you’ve not had a good month. Hopefully things will turn around for you soon.

    I didn’t know about what happened with Joss Whedon as mostly I keep my nose out of entertainment news. The Bill Cosby indictment and verdict was a little harder to ignore, and because my manga and anime life were in part shaped by Rurouni Kenshin I was regrettably aware of the news regarding Watsuki.

    While these men have been involved in some terrible things, I think the idea of idolizing people and holding them to some higher than normal standard is flawed from the start. As you said, a lot of this hero worship starts when we’re young, and growing up and becoming more aware of the imperfections in people makes us jaded. I think, however, that most of the people who reach that point should at least understand that the same thing applies to themselves. Not a single person in this world is perfect, and everyone has something they would rather keep hidden. Your post was (partly) about ignorance being bliss, or at least the blissful ignorance of youth being preferable to growing up and being aware of how messed up the world can be. I won’t dispute that at all, but I take a slightly different stance on the reason you pointed out in this post – that your enjoyment of a work that you previously loved is tainted.

    It’s a perfectly normal feeling to have. Depending on how strongly you feel, it may be very difficult indeed not to think about Watsuki’s crime whenever you think of Rurouni Kenshin. But I don’t think it has to be that way. Everything you enjoyed about it, and how it shaped you as an anime fan, is still true no matter what happened.

    As deplorable as you may find Watsuki now, there was a side of him you could and did appreciate and I don’t think that’s wrong. Rurouni Keshin has never reflected Watsuki’s secret interests, so his crime shouldn’t necessarily be bound to the enjoyment of his work. I certainly don’t support the idea of people being made to feel like they SHOULD hate Rurouni Kenshin now. If you disagree with Watsuki, by all means don’t support his new work, but I think it’s OK to look back fondly on what you did enjoy about something he’s previously created.

    People these days are already too focused on dividing themselves based on what they dislike rather than uniting around the things they do like. I don’t agree at all with Watsuki’s actions, but I say let’s allow things like Rurouni Kenshin and the Cosby Show remain what they are: funny, at times moving, and thoroughly enjoyable for reasons independent of the people behind them.

    Like

    1. Scott says:

      Thank you, April is my least favorite month of the year for a lot of reasons, but this time, a few more things were added to the chaos. I think you know how that is.

      I’m sure you can find out about Joss on the net if you wanted to.

      And just like usual, you cut right into exactly what I am writing about and capture my feelings perfectly.

      And you are right about a lot of things. I have been realizing that a lot of my thoughts have toward some famous people I follow, because I learn about how they are people that have their own problems, but do what they do anyway. Same feelings that I have towards my parents.

      And I really want to think of those two shows and probably others, but I think they are a little too engraved in my mind at the moment. Maybe I’ll have a more relaxed view after I stay away them for a while.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Jon Spencer says:

    Sorry things have been so rough man :/

    As for separating creators from their creations (good or bad), I actually don’t have a problem with this. If it is good I can appreciate the work without actively supporting the creator’s actions/viewpoints.

    Like

    1. Scott says:

      It’ll get better. Just that I don’t like April.

      Lucky you can do that!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jon Spencer says:

        That’s good at least. Hopefully you can take things easier this month 🙂

        Like

  9. Scott says:

    That qoute is perfect for this situation. Thank you.

    Like

  10. Krystallina says:

    I have had this struggle as well, and I’ve pretty much come to the same conclusion. Kenshin was also one of my favorite shounen series, and I was so excited about the chance for a reboot or at least a sequel and finally getting Jinchuu animated. Although I’d love to see the continuation of Kenshin’s adventures, I don’t think I’ll be able to read it. I don’t know if I’ll be able to give up the copies I already own, but I also feel like I’ll never reread/watch it again either.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Scott says:

      I’m glad I’m not alone in the struggle.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. TPAB~ says:

    I feel the same way about Chris Benoit and his matches. Yeah, he killed his family and killed himself afterwards but his wrestling is good. Sounds awful, and that’s really the problem. And imo, I have a big advocacy with people enjoying child pornography so I just cannot forgive him.
    But I like Beniot, so i know the matter is complicated especially if you grew up loving their work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Scott says:

      Right? And it seems like we have to go through more and people incidents like this as time goes on. More and more things get uncovered, so it’s really annoying…..

      Oh the complicated feelings…

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Agreed man. Its like every Time you consume the work of a person who did shitty things you can’t help but think about their bullshit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Scott says:

      Yes, it really does hurt. Thank you for reading

      Like

  13. Auri says:

    It’s very hard to separate the creator from his personal life isn’t it?
    I sort of stopped reading news about mangaka because of the worry that I might have to give up on the manga, so I completely get where you’re coming from.
    I see why you said April was a bad month for you. You’re very strong to talk about it Scott-san.

    I never wanted to grow up too. It used to be my worst fear. Growing up. I cried and cried on my birthdays and no one could understand why. I am still not comfortable with the idea of growing up, but somewhere along the way I guess I accepted that I can’t do anything about it. I know it’s not quite the way you felt (at least not in the same sense) but yes. Somebody please stop this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Scott says:

      You are so awesome, Auri. Thank you for reading and understanding.

      I don’t know about strong, but I can’t help but express how I feel about certain things. This needed to go somewhere.

      It’s close enough, Auri. Somebody needs to stop this aging thing.

      Liked by 1 person

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