Starting Strong

A week or two ago, I talked about deconstructions and reconstructions.  They take a trope or a genre and take it apart, finding interesting questions to ask about it and such and either show that it would not work like it is typically portrayed, or that their would have to be some specific changes before it would work.  The idea of taking apart an idea is not however limited to existing tropes.  Interestingly, the original founders of many of the most classic conventions and such took the idea apart in its very first incarnation.  As it turns out, people who are creative enough to actually create a new idea are often times creative enough to explore that idea fairly well.  Many times the way that a trope or genre works or is commonly thought of working is based more around the knock offs and copies of the original work, that lose a lot of the creativity and nuance.  

An interesting example of a work that combines this idea with a straigh up deconstruction is Watchmen.  Watchmen both deconstructed the Super Hero genre, and at the same time was one of the originators of the 90’s Anti-hero archetypes.  Rorschach and the Comedian are both very similar in basic idea to what would become the defining main characters of super hero comics in the 90s.  However, both characters are profoundly screwed up on levels that go much deaper than the standard anti hero, with Rorschach having a good number of emotional and mental problems and the Comedian being a rapist and a drunk and such.  If watchmen had been written in 2000, those characters would be thought of as deconstructions of that archetype, but they were actually some of the originators.  

Other good examples include Sailor Moon, which was one of the earliest examples of the Magical Girl genre but was missing two of the elements that would later help define the genre.  The Sailor Scouts would almost never try to redeem those they were fighting, and they had no problem with killing their enemies in order to defeat them.  Astro Boy is one of the earliest examples of the story where a scientist builds a robot to replace their lost son.  Though the appearance of the comic is very cutesy, the comic goes into the kind of messed up psychology that would likely go into a scientist trying to do that, along with a host of other mature themes based around robots being given rights and things like that.  Even Dragon Ball Z, a show that tends to play an enormous number of action hero tropes extremely straight, was one of the first stories with the idea of a super form that a race or group could possess, and even before that form shows up, one villain wipes out most of an entire race in order to prevent them from reaching that stronger level.  In another example, the Mazinger series was one of the originators of the Super Robot genre that Neon Genesis would go on to deconstruct, but it took note of the huge level of destruction that these robots would create, as well as taking a look at the psychology behind the kind of people that would be willing to pilot these robots.  

All in all, its interesting to look at various genres and find out that some of their most glaring flaws had been examined or fixed in the original version.  If you are interested in looking at more examples of this kind of thing search Unbuilt Trope on TVtropes. 

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