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[personal profile] labingi
Reading over summaries of anime on Soul-Anime, I came across a fascinating summary of Gungrave, one of my favorites. I don’t know if this was written by one person or edited after the fact, but it feels like a quintessential example of what I think of as the “non-narratable,” that is, a story that is so outside our cultural conceptions of what’s possible that we lack the concepts to speak about it or really understand it. (I gleaned this term from narratology, but some quick reading up suggests my use has diverged from the more standard use.)

Here’s the summary:

Brandon Heat, a silent and passive man, is living a laid back life with his friends. He's got his eyes on Maria, but her uncle forbids their relationship. After the brutal murder of his friends and Maria's father, Brandon is on the run together with the only friend he has left—Harry McDowell. When he finds out custody over Maria has been taken by Millennion, the largest mafia syndicate in town, he and Harry decide to join the syndicate. He goes through many hardships after joining the syndicate but he is willing to risk everything as long as he can be close to Maria. The plot is more about the relationship between Brandon and Harry not as much about Brandon and Maria as the current plot is describing.
--From Soul-Anime

There are some factual errors here: Brandon and Harry do not decide to join Millennion directly because Maria is with Millennion. Harry decides to join because he is ambitious and sees it as a path to power. Brandon does join, in part, because Maria is there but also because Harry is joining. The story, as the last line notes, is more about Brandon and Harry than Brandon and Maria. Indeed, it is cardinally the story of the fall and reconciliation in Brandon and Harry’s friendship.

This writer knew that; they say in black and white that it’s more about Harry and Brandon. And yet the summary describes the story as about Brandon and Maria. It says Brandon risks everything for Maria, which is not true. He makes sacrifices for her, yes, but he orients his life around Harry. It says he joins Millennion for Maria: also not true. He joins, in a larger part, to be with Harry (and is with Harry much more often than with Maria).

It’s as if this writer wrote what they knew to be a factually incorrect summary because they could not find the words to write it correctly. It’s as if there is no way to say that a man risks everything for a man, for a friend, not even a lover. It’s as if the girl a boy is in love with must be the most important person in his life: there are no other words. I may be completely off base about the writer’s thought process, but this is the impression I get: expression being stifled by a cultural discourse that cannot conceive of someone’s “just” friend being his greatest love.

I want to change this. This kind of discursive limitation does damage to our understanding, our imagination, and our relationships. Say it with me now: “Brandon loves Harry. Brandon risks everything for Harry.” Just say it. It feels good.

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