Garou, the Tragic Monster

Justice from the Point of View of an Antagonist

Being the strongest character is the ultimate goal for the protagonist of any Shōnen anime – but what if that ultimate power is also a curse?

The anime One Punch Man starts off by handing us a protagonist, Saitama, who’s already the strongest character in his universe. In fact, he’s so strong he can defeat any enemy with a single punch – hence the name. This power is his ultimate curse, as it leaves him bored and depressed. He simply doesn’t get excited about anything anymore. Now, my favorite character from One Punch Man is not Saitama, but Garou, a 19-year-old human with martial arts skills. Garou is not a friend of Saitama’s; he is, in fact, the exact opposite, an antagonist, who even calls himself a monster, despite being an ordinary human.

While Saitama is the protagonist of One Punch Man, every character has their own unique background story, circumstances, and motivation for what they’re doing, and Garou’s are what make him my favorite antagonist in all of anime history. His story starts as a little kid, when he’s playing with his classmates. Every kid has watched TV shows about heroes fighting bad guys, but Garou, unlike the other kids, is always rooting for the monsters, who get so close to defeating the heroes, but can never succeed. When playing with the other kids, he always plays the villain, and he gets bullied and beaten up in return. Whenever he stands up against a “hero”, other kids come and help that kid defeat Garou. In the light of these events, Garou decides that he wants to be different: he wants to be a monster that breaks the cycle of the heroes winning. He wants to become the ultimate monster that will defeat every hero.

Because he’s getting bullied and beaten, Garou quits school and joins a Martial Arts dojo run by S-Class heroes, who are the highest-ranked heroes on the fictional planet of Silverfang. He trains every day to become stronger and more powerful, but his Sensei has no idea about Garou’s actual intensions. When he turns 19, he realises that he can´t learn anything at the Dojo anymore, so he leaves. Before leaving, however, he defeats every other student and almost kills them all. Garou thinks he’s now ready to end the constant defeat of villains and monsters, so he declares war on the Hero Association. He defeats a few heroes with ease; however, many more follow and try to stop him. Although struggling, Garou manages to strike them down. Now, in most movies and TV shows, the villain first overpowers the hero(es) and comes really close to winning. In the last possible moment, the hero(es) get that one, critical extra boost of power through friendship or love and manage to hold their ground. With Garou, it’s the exact opposite: at the start of each battle, the heroes overpower him, and he needs to find some extra strength to defeat the heroes.

What’s interesting is that I found myself rooting for him every time, because to me, he feels more like a misunderstood hero. Even though he’s the antagonist of the anime’s actual main character, whenever he is on screen, he becomes the protagonist. After all, we’ve learned his backstory, seen fights from his perspective, heard his thoughts, know his ideas and anticipate his tricks. Those are all features usually reserved for the main character! So Garou is presented to the viewer as the protagonist, even though he is a villain. To me, that makes him the best antagonist in all of anime.

Author: Chris Schneider

The Lighthouse – a Unique Masterpiece of Modern Cinema

Two lighthouse keepers are losing their sanity while being trapped on a faraway island. This is all I knew about the movie The Lighthouse before watching the actual trailer. Despite thinking I was all set up for watching the teaser, my mind still got blown as director Robert Eggers really takes the cake here! First, all you hear is the sound of a foghorn blaring while staring at a black screen and you get an instant claustrophobic feeling. Then, a black and white vintage shot of a lighthouse; Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, who look like weather-beaten 19th century sailors, are gazing into the camera. I don’t want to reveal too much but what follows is an uproarious roller coaster ride of images as you see an ax-wielding psychopath, tentacles, an eerie mermaid and much more horror madness.  It leaves you puzzled as to what you have just seen and I can promise you one thing: you are hooked and intrigued right away!

They Did it Again: Psychological Horror at its Finest

If you decide to check out this flick, its imagery, setting and symbolism will be stamped in your mind long after you left your TV. Eggers’ psychological horror movie isn’t just more than worth seeing, it also breathes new life into an industry which has left us progressively with trite and dull movies over the past years.

With the film’s release in October 2019, it’s no surprise that no less studio than A24 is behind that project; a company which is well-known for highly renowned and well lauded productions of independent movies such as Midsommar (2019), Hereditary (2018) and Moonlight (2016). Just looking at these films, it’s almost certain that The Lighthouse  delivers what it promises.

“What’s a Timber Man Want with Being a Wickie?”- Disorientation as the Goal

Vaguely based on an unfinished short story by Edgar Allan Poe, the plot is set on a remote, storm-wrecked lighthouse in New England during the 19th century. Ephraim Winslow’s (Robert Pattinson’s)  adventure is to get underway as he decides to quit his job as a timberman and starts his first day working for a contentious, gross and elderly man named Thomas Wake (William Defoe) as he wants to learn the ropes of being a wickie (old term for lighthouse keeper). Wake orders Winslow around with daily annoying duties, while always making clear that he is at the helm. As he heads up to the lantern room, he forbids Winslow to ever go up there.  In the course of time, the audience can see how Winslow evolves, unveils his dark secrets and eventually dips into madness. He becomes obsessed with what happens at the top of the lighthouse and at some point, the viewer asks himself which one of the guys goes crazier and who’s still to trust.

It’s amazing how Robert Eggers has managed to make the film look so authentic. From a technical point of view, it was a brilliant idea to shoot the film in a gray 1.19:1 aspect ratio in order to magnify the dark, gloomy and claustrophobic atmosphere. The old-time sailor’s dialect of the actors is flawless and their sledgehammer performance did leave me speechless, for example, when Thomas spells a biblically, dramatic and few minutes long curse upon Winslow only because he was not fond of his lobster. All this provides an experience unlike anything you have seen before and makes the movie so unique.

What’s the Meaning?

The most enjoyable part for me personally is that there is no fixed interpretation or message behind the story. Intentionally, the gist of the movie remains blurry as there are many hints and signs unpretentiously hidden. One can surely find psychological, sexual and/or homoerotic themes; however, I was mostly amazed by the Greek mythical references as Winslow could be portrayed as Prometheus, the titan who got punished for stealing the fire from Zeus in order for mankind’s benefit. The light is seen as a metaphor for enlightenment such as, on a more straightforward level, the light of the lighthouse illuminates the night and guides the ships through darkness. 

A Timeless Film – Not for Everyone

Even though the movie satisfies my cinematic needs in every way, I do have to admit that it isn’t a film for everyone since some people could perceive it as too brutal or blend in its story. If you’re someone who rather aims for movies which are easier to digest and jollier, The Lighthouse wouldn’t particularly be the right choice for you. However, if you like extraordinary and artistic movies which pluck up the courage to try something new and even write a piece of film history with their exceptional style then go ahead with all sails set and watch the movie. You won’t regret it!

author: Mariana Silva Lindner

“Don’t make me grow up before my time” – The Timelessness of Little Women

„I just feel like, women, they have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition, and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty. And I’m so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman is fit for. I’m so sick of it!”, Saoirse Ronan says with tears in her eyes, “But I’m so lonely.” Now I’m also crying. In case you’re wondering where this quote is from – it’s Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. The film hit US cinemas on Christmas Day last year, was nominated for seven Oscars and finally came to Germany in late January. Since then I’ve actually watched it twice at the movies, that’s how good it is.

Originally, Little Women is a children’s book by Louisa May Alcott that first came out in 1868 and received a second volume a year later. The book is considered a classic and has been filmed and re-filmed several times. Even though it came out forever ago, I managed to get half the people I know hooked on it. Here’s why you should do the same.

“Just because my dreams are different than yours, it doesn’t mean they’re unimportant.”

Little Women tells the tale of the lower middle-class March family: the father is away fighting in the American Civil War, and mother Marmee takes care of their four daughters by herself. The Little Women couldn’t be any more different in personality and life goals. The second volume Good Wives portrays them as young women who are trying to accomplish said goals.

There is Jo, an aspiring writer who does not want to get married. Yet, she has to come to realize that everyone around her seems to be changing: her family and friends all grow up, think of marriage and children and she keeps clinging to the past.

Her youngest sister Amy was probably the least liked sister to most readers prior to the 2019 movie. She’s an artist-to-be, at times annoying and vain and has her mind set on marrying rich. The movie actually manages to turn her into a fan-favourite.

The oldest sister Meg is more of a romantic – she gets married at a very young age and faces the kind of problems you would expect: child keeping and making jam. The usual.

Last, we have Beth. She is a very shy character and is the kind soul of the family. Luckily for her, she is always supported by her sisters and they would all happily throw a punch for her.

The movie very beautifully combines the stories from their childhood and alternates them with the ones from their adulthood. The flashbacks are tinted in warm, rosy colours, whereas the present ones are rather blueish and cold. This alternation manages to bring together innocence and growth, as well as optimism and reality.

“Girls have to go into the world and make up their own minds about things.”

Little Women in itself is a timeless story, especially regarding its themes and topics. For one, you have a differentiated portrayal of feminism, which is even more amazing considering that the book was written in the 1860s. It will positively break your heart (to quote my brother at the movies, crying: “You should have told me it was going to be so sad! You can’t let me watch this without warning me first!”).

Another theme is the whole growing up business. You know … the one you’re probably also trying really hard to figure out. There’s this movie scene where Amy says “I’m a failure” and Laurie replies “That’s quite a statement to make at twenty.” The story reflects really well the struggles of becoming An AdultTM and figuring out who you are, while also dealing with a constant shortage of money, time and sleep (please tell me it’s not just me).

The film manages to literally convey all of this in two hours. Yet, if you are still doubtful about whether you really need to watch the movie, let me mention the cast – a movie that has Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Timothée Chalamet and Meryl Streep should be worth watching regardless of its content. And I stand by that.

author: Lea Metzner

“Yes it will be a grace if I die. To exist is pain. Life is no desire of mine anymore.” – A review of the play Electra by the Anglistentheater

It was -3° Celsius.

-3° Celsius when I was riding my bike back home after having watched the performance of Electra by the Anglistentheater. But I couldn’t feel the cold, my thoughts captured by an echo of what I’d just listened to, watched and felt.

I won’t spoil your experience of watching the play by giving away the plot. What I do want you to know, though, is: this performance of Nick Payne’s Electra is filled with emotions, passion and love for detail. Authenticity of all actors and actresses makes this performance so realistic. The focus is on acting, which is still pleasingly accentuated by fitting music or, in many cases, the actors and actresses humming. There are no exaggerated light effects, no overdone make up, only people, who enjoy what they’re doing: being on stage. I don’to criticize either sound, light effects or make up. I just think that this is what fitted the play and performance just perfectly.

So why go and see the play? The performance of the Anglistentheater did exactly what a performance is meant to do: it left me thinking. Thinking about what is right or wrong. If revenge can be a way of coping with rage or grief. Why people want to take revenge. How it feels to loose your father murdered by your mother. Why humans are cruel. That’s just what came to my mind after seeing the play. Even though your thoughts might be completely different, I still hope you enjoy this performance as much as I did. And maybe it leaves you with a tear in your eye, a smile on your face or your mind coming up with questions you’ve never asked yourself before. Either way  it is worth your time to go and watch it!

Their shows take place on Thursday, the 5th of December, Friday 6th, Tuesday 10th and Thursday 12th at 8.00 p.m. in the Hörsaal 2 here at Uni. Tickets can be ordered online with the order forms or at the Taschenbuchladen Krüger located near Königsplatz.

author: Milena Kolzem

How about some HORROR tonight?

…and I’m not talking about your exams

With the upcoming summer break and our current topic of ‘Language and Identity’ in mind, I got inspired to read more books. Books that revolve specifically around our main topic in a very varied way, but more on that in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

“The Frighteners – Why we love monsters, ghosts, death & gore“, by Peter Laws, will start my little review series. And while the subtitle already gives away what the book is all about, the cover itself makes its own very direct statement: red gothic skulls, zombie hands and tombstones are thematically arranged around the title. If you’ve read my own article, ‘Torn between two cultures‘, this term, you might have already gathered that the macabre certainly is nothing I would ever back off from. Quite the contrary! I guess this is why a dear friend of mine gifted this book to me a few months back. How right she was in doing so…

I went in completely blind – nope, not even the blurb to what this book wants to tell me – and the more surprised I found myself after the first few pages. I hadn’t heard of Peter Laws before, just like most of you, I will assume, unless you’re an avid reader of “The Fortean Times – The World’s Weirdest News”. If so, you’ll also have probably come across his monthly column about horror movies. I assume that this is what sparked my own interest, and curiosity made me have a look at the blurb after all. This man certainly knows what he’s talking about, right? A quick google search of his other books mentioned tried to shock me with some mysterious and eerie-looking cover art to his novels “Purged” and “Unleashed”. Amazing! Someone that really revels in their fascination for the morbid. What else is there about him? Well, the usual. Apart from the books already mentioned, some podcasts on YouTube, and he’s an ordained reverend. Hold on a second. A man of God writing about the supernatural? I left my pitchfork rest in the closet just a moment longer and see what he really wants to convince me of before I call the Inquisition.

I’m glad I stuck with it. Peter Laws’ narrative style is fantastic. From the start, you’ll feel right there with him on his journey. A journey straight to the land of vampires, but also through time – to explore the development of horror culture – or straight into the depths of the human psyche. He really knows how to keep the reader engaged and how to convey his message, which is researched in great detail, with footnotes for the curious. As a student during exam time, I would usually throw a book with footnotes straight on the pyre with some of the witches Mr. Laws mentions. He introduces it so intuitively, though, that it didn’t bother me in the least. I guess that might be the famous priest rhetoric shining through here.

On the topic of priests: I can already hear all my fellow agnostic and atheist friends’ alarm bells ringing at once. And I’m not going to lie; I expected more preachy-ness after reading Mr. Laws’ biography. But this ‘fear’ is just rooted in more stereotypes that, either through his ingenuity or rhetoric, he manages to subvert completely. Frankly, he’s exactly the kind of person that would make me listen to a sermon once in a while again. That’s not to say that he doesn’t bring up his professional career here or there. But could you blame him as a man of God that is pondering whether God himself is just slowly getting more and more frustrated with having to protect a reverend all day long from all the “horror demons” trying to pull him to the dark side?

Last but not least, my personal favourite chapter was the one that’s inevitably linked to horror culture – death. Not because of a morbid fascination, but because, as he so rightly mentions in his book, too, it’s a topic that is never brought up in society nowadays. What could shed more insight on this taboo than a casual interview between a reverend and an undertaker? The transitions between these funny bed-time stories and the serious ones of two people talking about our (most likely) last moments on this planet happen so seamlessly, yet professionally. And right before you get lost in between the pages, Mr. Laws makes sure to take you right out of it, metaphorically speaking, by putting you on a chair next to him, and to straight up tell you “that he will understand if you want to put away the book for just a few moments to ponder your own life. He will be waiting right here”. I took one of those many moments in the book to do exactly that: put away the book, but instead of reflecting on my own decisions, I decided to start writing what you see on your screen right now.

If you’re curious about what else Peter Laws brought up in “The Frighteners”, make sure to pick it up and try to escape from everyday life. A journey I promise you won’t regret.

© Copyright by Icon Books Ltd.

The Frighteners – Why we love monsters, ghosts, death and gore

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Icon Books Ltd.
ISBN: 9781785782206
Publication date: 22/03/2018
Price: 12.99 GBP or 11,99 Euro

Review by Tobias Lorenz
Book by Peter Laws
Pictures: Icon Books Ltd.