Yeah, that Apocalypse dude from X-Men is megas-sexy. That blue mecha-flesh is…
Oh, wait, I’m not supposed to talk about that Apocalypse. Sorry.
I’ve been “plagued” by apocalyptic nightmares ever since I was a little kid. I use the quotes because I rather like these dreams and I usually feel energized and inspired the day after I have one of them. These dreams don’t freak me out. I love them.
The first such dream that I remember happened when I was about seven years old. In the dream I was walking into my house and there was a TV sitting in the entry hall. The TV was tuned to HBO. Some show started and it was a bunch of monsters sitting around a large wooden table in a conference room. The monsters were wearing business suits and were talking in very human-like voices. They were saying something about attacking and killing every human on Earth and starting a home for monsters to live in. Then, one of the monsters looked straight at the “camera,” meaning he was looking straight at me, and said something along the lines of “He heard everything we said! Get him!” The monsters spilled out of the TV and chased me into my parents’ room. One of the monsters was waiting for me under my parents’ bed, grabbed me, and said I’d never escape to warn everyone. I woke up after that.
Since then I’ve had all sorts of dreams that deal with people getting wiped out. I’ve had dreams about biblical floods, alien invasions, zombie epidemics, and so on. Hell, some of my more recent dreams of this sort have combined these themes into mega-apocalypses. So, for whatever reason, the concept of the end of the world is tightly wound into my psyche and has been since I was a little kid. Don’t know why, and I really don’t care, since it makes for awesome writing fodder and shit like that.
This apocalypse fetish also contributed to me becoming an anime fan.
Apocalyptic storytelling is hardly exclusive to the anime medium, but at the time when I became a fan I hadn’t been exposed to a lot of the end times stuff in movies and books and whatnot. Sure, I’d seen post-apocalyptic stuff like Mad Max or whatever, but I hadn’t been inundated with it. Most of the movies and comics I’d seen dealt with “conquering” threats rather than “destructive” threats.
Take X-Men, for example. They usually fought against people like Magneto, who wanted mutants to rule humanity, or other nasty threats that were more concerned with controlling shit rather than blowing up shit. But my favorite X-Men story deals with how Jean Grey turns into Dark Phoenix. Jean had already died and been reborn as Phoenix, but the Dark Phoenix Saga dealt with the series of events that escalated into her essentially losing her mind and becoming a violent, destructive force of nature that only wanted to wreck havoc and destroy any life that got in her way. She wipes out an entire planet in the process, which lead to a series of convoluted events that resulted in her sacrificing herself to keep it from happening again. The X-Men basically stopped an apocalyptic situation from occurring. I really dug the threat of something of that magnitude, but that story was the exception to the rule.
Once I started getting into anime I was happy to see that these sorts of “destructive” threats appeared to be prevalent. Fist of the North Star took the Mad Max scenario in a different direction. Akira was about a government experiment leading to the creation of a destructive force capable of wiping out all life, and humanity was lucky that it Tetsuo’s little “incident” only resulted in another post-apocalyptic setting rather than outright annihilation. Even silly stuff like Sailor Moon was about nefarious invading forces that were more concerned about destroying the world as we know it rather than dudes stealing money from banks of wanting to conquer a country.
Just as much as my love for action made me love anime, my fascination with the end of the world aided in my becoming a “devout” anime fan.
I think it all came to a head once I heard about X. It wasn’t about dealing with the results of a devastating war or accident or strange events leading up to such a disaster. X was about a near-mythical “war” that would determine the fate of humanity, and the series allowed us to get to know both sides of the equation. It wasn’t just about following the heroes as they tried to thwart the main bad guy, it was about seeing what those “bad guys” were thinking and why they wanted to destroy the Earth just as much as it was about getting to know the heroes.
X hit all of my buttons when it came to this sort of stuff, mainly because it was about prophesying and struggling against a potential end game. It’s something of a slow boil at the beginning then builds up to massive bloodbath befitting the end of the world, and in the midst of this carnage we get all sorts of subplots about how each character deals with their “lot” in this battle. X pretty much took a lot of those dreams I’ve had and turned them into an anime. The only reason why it doesn’t strike a stronger chord with me is due to pacing issues.
Despite that, X is still the anime of my dreams. More literally than you might expect.