Friday, June 18, 2010

:anime: Blacks and Head Shots in Anime (Part 6)

<--To Part 5 | Part 7 (Final)-->

(Note: As earlier, because these cases not only involve the death(s) of a particular character(s), but can also delve deep into a show's storyline, naturally spoilers will be involved. Also, most of the titles covered are either for older teen or mature audiences.)

With the pattern of dark-skinned characters in anime being shot in the head, the focus has primarily been on five cases, as well as any common traits found among them, such as being "traitors" and having monstrous transformations. However, there have been a few instances where they have been involved in scenes that may have involved elements of head-related deaths or injuries, but not as overt as the cases given. While these are not as major, they are rather interesting in their own right and worth a mention.

Afro Samurai - Afro

Episode: 5

In the final battle against the ghastly pale gunslinger Justice, the titular character slices his arms off and blocks the same hidden sword attack that decapitated his father when was younger. Afro returns the favor by taking Justice's own head, but his blade fails to completely cut it off. As such, Justice reattaches it and causes one of the spikes in the ground to thrust forth and seemingly into Afro's head. With his body dangling high in the air and Justice gloating over his fatal attack, Afro springs to life. As the spike only impaled his hair, Afro uses the opening to drop down and dice Justice to pieces.
[NOTE: Screenshot Source: DVD]

Darker than BLACK - Luco

Episode: 4

Darker than BLACK: Gemini of the Meteor - April

Episode: 1

I decided to group these two together since they came from essentially the same show and both died the same way. Luco, a bodyguard from Eps. 3-4 of the first DtB, was killed in the latter when Hei, the main character, grabs his head from behind and delivers a fatal dose of electricity. The same fate befalls British secret agent April, an "ally" (to put it mildly) from the first series who dies in the first episode of the second season, when a disheveled Hei quickly takes her out before she can use her downpour-like abilities, as she was bodyguarding someone he was targeting. To be honest, grabbing someone's head from behind and killing them with a deadly shock was Hei's modus operandi, and he killed quite people that way and others in the series.
[NOTE: Screenshot Source: FUNimation Videos]

Hellsing (TV series) - Incognito

Episode: 13

Incognito shares a bit of the "monstrous transformation" trait, but in this case, he is vampire in the visual vein of Nosferatu, said to hail from the "Dark Continent" (a.k.a. "Africa"). This is a bit dicey as it is never explicitly divulged what race he is/once was (if he actually ever had a discernible one, as he claims to be a "true" vampire, and because of his pale gray appearance), though he has a deep, somewhat "black" voice and African-tinged music accompanies him at some point, so make of it what you will. In their first showdown, Incognito and lead Alucard duke it out in a gun battle and both take hits, with the latter shooting the former pointe-blank through his enlarged left eye.

As both have advanced regenerative powers, the effects are short-lived, but Incognito uses his magic powers to carve through Alucard when he runs out of bullets. He manages to reload, though, and eradicates Incognito's head with his corrosive bullets. However, Incognito uses his powers to restore his head and return the artillery back, causing Alucard's body to disintegrate into a pool of blood, with just his head remaining intact. Incognito soon captures Alucard's master and attempts to merge with a dormant ancient spirit, but she calls out to him and releases his ability restraints. Now revived and fully-powered, Alucard and a souped-up Incognito go all out in a mystical vampire war, but Incognito is ultimately overwhelmed by his far more formidable powers. His death isn't shown onscreen, but a quick, panning shot is given of his carcass impaled on a rod going up his backside and through his mouth like a shish-kabob.
[NOTE: Screenshot Source: YouTube (Eps. 12 (Pt. 2), 13 (Pts. 1, 2)]

Mobile Suit Gundam III: Encounters in Space - Lalah Sune

Format: Film (originally depicted in Ep. 41 of the TV series)

While Lalah is actually of Indian descent and not "black", she is still dark-skinned and deserves mention here. Lalah's case is a peculiar one in that her triangle relationship between the antagonist Char Aznable and protagonist Amuro Ray is one of the earliest interracial types in anime. MSG is also one of the earliest to feature a multi-ethnic cast, with a number of them being of mixed heritage as well (Amuro included, who was born to a Japanese father and Canadian mother). It also earned infamy for its high death toll, as it was the first giant robot series to focus on the theme of war. Lalah herself was among the casualties as she flew her ship-like "mobile armor" into the path of Amuro's beam saber to protect her commander/lover Char from the death blow. The saber pierced through its face-like front and into the cockpit, killing her instantly. On a morbidly humorous side-note, one of the '80s SD Gundam specials, which parodied the Gundam series of its time in super-deformed style, showed Lalah as a ghost with a beam saber sticking out of her forehead.
[NOTE: Screenshot Sources: DVD; fansub for SD Gundam]

Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Second Season - Ali al-Saachez

Episode: 24

The Middle East-borne Ali al-Saachez was one of the primary antagonists across the two Gundam 00 seasons and was quite vicious and unrepentant in his actions, often bringing about murder and destruction. A number of characters held a grudge against him of some sort, but the one to bring him down was Lyle Dylandy, whose twin brother was killed by him years earlier and whose family was wiped out by a bomb planted at a market by an organization of Ali's when he was younger. Taking on his fallen brother's code name, "Lockon Stratus", he eventual crosses paths with Ali as a member of Celestial Being during the big climatic battle of the series. Ali dominates him in mobile suit combat until the group he works for loses access to the supercomputer their mecha were connected to, causing his to malfunction. It is destroyed by Lyle but he escapes and tries to find a way out of the area. Lyle fires at him and orders him to drop his gun. Ali obliges and lets it drift in the zero gravity, but when Lyle's guard is down, he springs to grab it. Lyle is quicker on the draw, however, and puts a single shot into the center of his forehead before shooting him multiple times into the abdomen.
[NOTE: Screenshot Source: Fansub]

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED - Dearka Elsman, Buster Gundam

Episodes: 33, 50 (respectively)

Dearka Elsman is an interesting case, in that he 1) fits "The Traitor" role, but in reverse (from adversary to ally), and 2) his mobile suit is a subject as well here. Then-enemy Dearka was a prisoner aboard on the protagonists' ship after getting shot down following a heated battle. A visibly depressed crewmember is sent to the doctor's room to see if any sleep medicine could be prescribed to her, which is also where Dearka laid bound-up on a bed. His presence startles her, and upon noticing her fragile state, he begins to taunt her over it and whether she just lost a boyfriend on the battlefield. Unbeknownst to him, she actually had, and in reaching her breaking point, the girl lunges at him with a knife nearby. He moves quick enough to avoid getting stabbed in the head but she goes after him again before being restrained, grazing his head in the tussle.

Another distraught crewmember threatens to shoot him, but the girl stops her from going through with it. After this incident, Dearka changes his attitude and apologizes later on, and both he and the girl slowly form an uneasy, but understanding, bond. And when given the opportunity to return to his side, he decides to stay and help protect the ship once they come under attack from another faction. In the final episode, Dearka and his earthy-colored sniper unit head out to protect the ship from an unknown mobile suit. The person piloting it (his former commander, and something of a "traitor" himself as he plays both sides, though he's fair-skinned) overwhelms him with his ultra-fast gunpods and quickly picks his suit apart, with one beam blowing off its head. Despite this, he manages to survive.
[NOTE: Screenshot Source: DVDs]

Lastly, it should be noted that BLEACH's Kaname Tousen also falls into the realm of dark-skinned characters succumbing to head wounds. His death has something in common with Blood+'s James, in that he is dies from a bladed weapon being thrust through his head while in a transformed state, though in Kaname's case, the sword went through his neck and turned into a sickle-like weapon whose blade curves out through his mouth (though he reverts back to his human body briefly before exploding). He was also a traitor in the story--a common trait among the cases (perhaps the most archtypical example of one, and taken out by his former lieutenant, no less). This whole matter takes place in the manga and will presumably be covered in its anime adaptation when the time comes, however, the reason I did not cover this extensively like the others is that I have not read the manga until only recently, only keeping up on it at anime/manga blog site Random Curiosity, where I found out about it (I had only watched the anime up to that point). I did not want to go at length about something I was not completely familiar with, but I still felt it was worth acknowledging as another case-in-point.

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