A lot happens in G3: The Great Stand so I had trouble choosing something to comment on. We’ve already talked about giant robot anime, Japanese, and non-linear storytelling. I eventually decided to just review some of the motifs I’ve used so far, and explain why I’ve included them. A motif is a “distinctive feature or dominant idea in an artistic or literary composition,” says Google, and noticing them is key to understanding a writer’s intentions for their work.
I didn’t start writing with motifs in mind. I wrote what I wanted, and noticed motifs later. There were a lot of mountains and a lot of worms. Now that I’m rewriting Akayama DanJay for publishing online, I can put intention behind the imagery.
In Akayama DanJay, height represents spiritual knowledge. The first paragraph of the first section shows Jango on a mountaintop looking down on two small islands, while contemplating an even larger mountain, THE Mountain, in the next eternity. The main island of Sheridan, the holiest place on earth, is shrouded by clouds so mere mortals aren’t overwhelmed by the height of its peak. Monks in Sheridan must acclimate to the holiness of the main island by practicing on the hill of the smaller second island. Faith meets Virgil Jango Skyy in the Bighorn Mountains. Jay travels to Sheridan via airplane, like he’s being carried by a bird.
Jango says he was born in Kansas. Kansas isn’t actually the flattest U.S. State, but it’s often thought to be, so this represents the spiritual barrenness Jango felt before coming to Sheridan. His brother Jun has lived in Kansas all his life. Now Jun lives in a basement, rejecting spirituality and elevation.
But Jun has a spotlight, and lighting in Akayama DanJay has been used to represent realization or clarity of mind. In the first picture Jango’s head is framed by the sun, giving him a halo. Anihilato lives in the deep, dark underground. Leo wears sunglasses even at night. We discussed fireflies in the commentary for section G1. So even though Jun rejects spiritual influence, he sees to the heart of things.
Worms are gross. No one wants to be a worm. But Faith says in section A2 that she “usually reign[s] in regular old lost souls, like earthworms and stuff. The Zephyrs meet people like [Dan] themselves.” It seems most people turn into worms in the afterlife. In my mind, death forces humans to be humble. Turning people into worms expresses that. Some worms are larger than others, and Anihilato is the largest. Anihilato rejects humbleness; if he’s to be a worm, he’s gonna be the biggest worm.
Meanwhile, birds eat worms. The Biggest Bird gathers worm-souls and brings them to the Mountain. Beatrice is a thing with wings when she enters the afterlife, so she must be special. In particular, Beatrice has wings with no beak or claws, so she expresses only a bird’s romantic qualities and none of the dangerous or harming aspects.
How about eggs? An egg represents the potential for life. The Sheridanian Big Birds hatch from fist-sized eggs tended and laid by an enormous matriarch. Anihilato has eggs, as well, but he uses them for warmth and for battle. The Sheridanians have slightly egg-shaped heads. The first time we see Faith made of snow, she balls up into an egg-shape to keep her cold surface from the hot sand.
Faith herself is an odd case. She’s a human in life, but in the afterlife she’s a fox made of snow who can turn into a cloud. Clouds are important in Akayama DanJay, representing that which cannot be grasped, and cannot be destroyed. I think that fits ‘idyllic spiritual faith’ to a tee. Foxes are often tricksters in folklore, and Faith certainly has a mischievous playfulness. Foxes also eat birds, so Faith is naturally attracted to the bird-girl, Beatrice.
Finally, let’s look at giant robots. I’ve already waxed quite a bit on the subject, and Jango explains his own interpretation to Jun in this section. Fighting robots represent places and people, so to combine robots requires those places and people to be in harmony. As a metaphor for the power of societal change, giant robots are perfect.
Anyway, next week I’ll have some notes on writing endings and conclusions. Keep eating your worms!