Have you ever pitied someone with positive intentions, yet your actions had negative results?
Recchan, a high school girl with a monster face is popular among her classmates, yet what they believe is pity for her only ends in her disliking. The student council president however sees otherwise, finding jealousy and personal morals to differentiate her view on how to treat the girl with a monster face. Yet what others may see as a subjectively wrong view of the girl, refusing to care because of pity, only serves as a positive outcome.
Proving once again that Inio Asano is still adept at writing short, character-driven parables, over here he's basically written the updated version of Franz Kafka's the Metamorphosis for our Century.
The blogger Scott Alexander has wrote a lot about the sort of self-perpetuating kind of narrative that results from spinning up Social Justice issues, that may cause more harm than good. He also raised up the point that there appears to be a rising backlash to stuff like PC-culture, because people are simply getting tired from its reductions into binary human values.
Any tendency to build up a narrative of a person that is anything less than
human, subject to all the human cruelties and foibles, is bound to be detrimental to any cause that claims to alleviate human suffering and discrimination. Because you can't weave a narrative of forgiveness if you don't take into account forgiveness of the perpetrators and understanding of their conditions, which are just as justifiable as the stand your yourself are taking.
I've known quite a few racists who acquire that disposition solely because of the background experiences they've had that predisposes them to apply the same calculus to everyone within the race (like extensive bullying or fighting etc...), and such kinds of experiences are the baseline by which everyone acts on. You attain the same kind of discriminations when, for example, you have friends that prefer Mecha over Moe Comedies and re-iterate the same tendencies over and over again. Though these analogues are vastly different, and spell vastly different outcomes for the initial selections, but the guiding principle is the same. It's conditioning based on the need for survival, social bonding, and natural selection.
The only way to get out of this is, rather than firing up emotions and weaving pity-narratives in hopes of counter-balancing the primal aggressiveness, is cold rational detachment and working purely on a statistical basis, or just plainly seeing what is actually there, yet no one can ever work on these principles perfectly. Telling stories of peace and love does little to detract from the fact that violence perpetrated by all races against one another exists in US prisons, for example, where the Aryan Brotherhood, Crips & Bloods, the Mexican Mafia, etc... are all in this one huge tussle where dog eats dog and no one comes out on top.
And, furthermore, Ted Chiang has this great short story called Liking What You See, which is about the effects of a society where the faculty to recognize Beauty has been scientifically castrated, and the various quandaries that results from this development. Even then his moral is that even the very act of being able to biologically remove these base discriminative tendencies will not solve the problem in any way. Natural Selection is a bitch like that. A million shots in the darkness with some entering on the upper tier of the spectrum and some having to subsist on the lower end of the spectrum.
We still try, but we fail, and yet its recognition of failure, and recognition of the ability in yourself that you may treat people as less than human, that results in the kind of real action being born out of pure empathy, rather than niggardly and scrivening racking up of 'pity-points' in an effort to quantify good, and labeling everything else as evil. Lynch-mobs, and shouting out detractors from a grandiose moralizing pedestal, won't do anymore. Civilization is born from the ability to separate ourselves from our base emotions, and, sadly, this also falls true for the base emotion of pity, which is itself tied to anger. Stefan Zweig has written an entire novel about this called Beware of Pity.
So this whole comic works simply on those terms. A statement through exaggeration of a scenario, but with strong psychological bases, about what occurs when you whitewash Human Nature and expect to obtain a perfect loving universe. It just doesn't work, and it has never worked.
I recognized so much of the modern society in this one-shot, the "strange person", who everyone thinks is strange but no one dares to say, because it would be not politically correct, so instead everyone pretends the strange person is special in order to not be labeled as an intolerant being.
I'm not a great admirer of Asano's work, but i must say this piece of work showed a lot of his improvement, the art it's simple but is somehow better than his other works, the storyline is satisfying (unlike some of his previous works), overall i must say no one who likes good manga would
regret reading Bakemono Recchan.
Aah Asano is so good! Bakemono Recchan is one of those stories where anyone who saw it can each assign different meanings to what the story really is about. It's only 1 chapter and is really base but it can symbolize so much.
This is a story about intentions against behavior. People usually judge their own intentions but when it comes to others, we question their behavior. I really believe that no one was in this story was ill-intentioned, but most of their actions actually did more harm than good.
It's also about the the feeling of being needed. People usually pity outsiders, but deep inside it
also makes them feel better because hey, at least it's not them. Nobody would want to be left out, right? So, to compensate, people help the outsider, all the while believing that they are helping (sometimes, they really are, but not here). BUT their idea of "helping" here means making the outsider believe that she is one of them, but the problem here is that she really is different, no matter how hard she tried will never be like them. You can also see it as differences in race, gender, class, or any other social groupings.
It's just so insensitive to make everyone be like you just so you can relate with them. Refusing to make an extra effort to know respect the individuality of another, it puts the outsider in an even disadvantageous position because it's not what they're used to. It will only make the helper feel all good and superior because it puts them in a position of power, WHICH also makes that outsider get used to being helped, which then creates an unhealthy cycle. The outsider is further backed into a corner and is only more alienated. You can see it everywhere, people capitalizing on people's insecurities.
In the story, we also have a neutral character who realizes everything that's happening BUT does nothing to change it. She's not "helping" the outsider the same way the others do, she just stays out of it. It may be better, but doing nothing only helps the oppressor. She only shifted when the outsider
You can't individually blame anyone, stuff like these are passed down from generation to generation and are so deeply ingrained that they don't even realize they are oppressing. The best way to help would be to teach the next generation better. It's just hard to completely resolve issues like these when they're still ongoing. Although, I do love the ending, it has that sad but liberating feel of Asano's other stories.
Nothing is wrong with being different, and it's always good to double check your own intentions and choose how you act upon them.