Aug 042010
 

Kamina doesn’t have his back turned away from us because it makes him look cool. He has his back turned because the truth shames him.

Updatedude and I were chatting the other night with some other dorks in our IRC room about anime and manly men and all that shit. A couple of them (Not me and not Updatedude.) made the traditional claim that Kamina is the most manly/badass/GAR (Whatever the hell that word means.) anime character ever in the history of forever.

No. Kamina is not the manliest of anime men. Hell, he isn’t even manly to begin with.

Before I go any further: I think Kamina’s a pretty cool character. He’s the coolest character from Gurren Lagann (Although, if you ask me, that isn’t saying much, but that isn’t relevant to this conversation.). He’s pretty badass in his own way. Just wanted to get that out of the way to show that this isn’t a hatefest. It’s just a counter argument to the “Kamina is OMGWTFGAR!” rationale.

Kamina is a glorified cheerleader. Throw him into Heroman and he wouldn’t be Joey or Doc Brown or Psy or Agent Hughes. He’d be a skirt and a pair of pompoms away from being Lina. What did he do in Gurren Lagann? He cheered Simon on and helped give him confidence in his abilities. Then he died. The End. That’s exactly what Lina does in Heroman, except she doesn’t go and die at the first sign of adversity (Thus making her more “manly” than Kamina by default.). 

That’s exactly what Kamina does. The first time the group gets into a major fight, he runs around saying “Rawh Rawh Fight Tha Powah!” then gets killed by a monkey that ends up being nothing more than the anime’s first miniboss. It’s like if you’re playing Super Mario Bros 2 and you die in the first level to that fucking crossdressing dinosaur that shoots eggs at you. You suck if you die to that thing, and that’s what Kamina does.

To be a truly manly man, you can’t just be a man of words. You have to be a man who backs up those words with action. If you’re gonna make claims, you gotta be able to back up those claims and you have to show that you can succeed. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t always have to win. You don’t have to be Jesus or Cobra. You just have to prove that you’re more than talk.

Kamina never does this. He talks a mean talk, and he spouts some good propaganda, but he never backs up those words because he goes and dies during the first chance he has to truly prove his worth. All of the other encounters up to that battle were meaningless build-up to this moment. They proved nothing about the prowess of the good guys or the bad guys. It was all the means to reach this point in the narrative, and Kamina failed. He may have been the spark that lit Simon’s fire, but that just makes him the catalyst for Simon’s growth. Being a match doesn’t make you manly. It just makes you fodder for something greater than yourself.

Even if one were to accept that a manly man can merely be a man of words, I’d argue against that point in Kamina’s case as well. Most people take Gurren Lagaan to be a series about the triumph of the human will over any adversity. And, yeah, that’s the series’ main theme. I agree with that. But at the same time, is it really “the human will” that triumphs in the series, and is it really Kamina that sparks this attitude in the other characters? I don’t think so.

Kamina certainly sparks it in Simon, but it’s more of a matter of Kamina’s death giving Simon no other choice in the matter. His crutch is no longer there and he’s forced to man up and help save the day by his own means. But look at it this way: If Simon didn’t have his mecha, the one that he conveniently found underground and became the series’ ever-handy plot device, would his efforts have been possible?

Simon’s mecha was the true catalyst for the events that transpired in the series. Without its ability to funnel the inherent “spiral power” found in humans, not even Kamina’s rhetoric would have sufficed to lead an attack on the beastmen and lead to the series of events that led to humanity’s “ascension” to a seemingly higher life form. While the mecha becomes less necessary as the series progresses and the other characters exhibit “spiral power” in their own way, none of it would have been possible without Simon showing them the potential for that hidden power by using his mecha as a means to focus it. And I’d argue that given the events of the series, Simon would have come to this realization without Kamina’s cheerleading. In a do-or-die situation, Simon was bound to “snap” and realize the full potential that comes from the symbiotic relationship between his “spiral power” and his mecha.

Kamina was just a convenient plot device to act as that catalyst, nothing more. Being the sacrificial lamb to awaken Simon’s power does not make one manly. It just makes you the equivalent of a land card from Magic the Gathering. No one says “My forest is so manly because I tapped it to bring in my Giant Growth spell!” You’d get laughed at for saying that.

So. Kamina. Cool? Yes. Manly? Only if you think cheering from the afterlife and tapping to pay the cost of a spell is manly.

Yeah. Keep dreaming, Kamina. If only you were that awesome.

  35 Responses to “Kamina is NOT Manly”

  1. Alright, I’m only four episodes into Gurren Lagann at this moment, and I’m already agreeing with you. What has Kamina done but lose a fight (which is blamed on Simon), then do much better in a fight (which is also blamed on Simon!), and say a bunch of horrible and unconvincing yet somehow famous catch phrases in between? It’s a wonder that anything he said was motivational at all.

    To be quite honest, Kamina is the sort of big talking, no action character that I completely dislike. I have four more episodes before any analysis I make of him can be complete, but…eh.

    • I’d go so far as to say that what Kamina says is pretty much insane and does as much harm to the group as good. But that’s a completely different tangent.

  2. You, sir, are simply annoyed because girls will never do this to a picture of you.

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PerverseSexualLust

    That is all.

    • That goes without saying. Still makes Kamina less manly than the molerat thing. He faces the MAIN VILLAIN SOLO and LIVES. Kamina dies to a Gorilla Grood knockoff.

  3. I wrote this exact post two years ago at a website that no longer exists. I swear.

  4. Kamina wasn’t manly. Kamina was a “bro”. Hence, aniki. He was the guy who couldn’t grow up to be a real man, so he lived vicariously through his little brother/son, and inspired them to become what he himself couldn’t be. That’s what made him memorable to me, at least?

  5. I used to call him the GARest man alive. I was not totally wrong. That was during the time when all my friends were quoting TTGL, supposedly the GARest show on earth. Pierce the heaven, indeed.
    After finishing TTGL, however, I feel the whole series falls short and that includes Kamina. But like you said, he’s freaking cool indeed.

  6. Yeah, Kamina was cool and he did act as Simon’s crutch, but in all objectivity, he was more delusional and probably suffering from dementia, rather than GAR.

    In truth, he endangered the group throughout his run, however, he was still the one to sorta save the group through his cheering on of Simon. But it wasn’t Kamina’s death alone which forced Simon to “man up” (technically, Simon “kicked his reasoning to the curb” ie gone insane), but one could argue, it was Simon’s lust/love for Nia which ultimately got him really rolling.

    Was Kamina an inspirational figure? Yes, totally. In a world where the expressed purpose of the bad guys is to stamp down the hope of the human spirit, someone utterly unable to comprehend the reality of the situation, like Kamina, is the perfect figure head for retaliation.

    To the characters around him, Kamina was probably, indeed, manly. But from the perspective of the TV viewing audience, objectively, no, Kamina is not manly in the sense that he overcomes adversity. He cheered Simon on to overcome those adversities.

  7. A quick note on GAR for Landon. The origins of GAR seems to have been this:

    In Fate/Stay Night, Archer was facing off against Berserker. He started spouting lots of really bad Engrish and even activated Unlimited Blade Works, which is a field/bubble reality thing with lots of swords stuck on the ground for him to use (because he’s y’know, an archer and archer shoot swords (still attached to their hands) at people).

    In reality, it was a silly scene because of the Engrish and the action not really being all that well choreographed, however, it was still considered a “manly” scene. And in concept (not execution), I guess it was. Aaaaaanyway.

    A poster said he would be “Gay for Archer”. Only he typed “GaR for Archer” instead. This typo eventually evolved to mean manly.

    So yeah, ironic then that if you think about it, the actual most GAR characters in TTGL are the mole rat and the gay guy. Since both seem to be the only ones who can see the bleak reality of their situation, yet act against their situation.

    Boota is the pimpin’ dude who rides between breasts, and literally sacrificed a pound of his own flesh. While Leeron is pumping out tech with flamboyance and being generally fabulous, while being totally sane and aware of what deep shit they all are in.

  8. Excellent post. I agree, though it could be because I never liked the overtly aggressive, badass, yakuza-ish guys like Kamina. Manly does indeed require good words and good acts to back up those words – it’s not totally Kamina’s fault that he died so early on and was unable to prove himself further, but it does make his status as such a manly character questionable.

  9. Kamina is an extremely manly character and the problem is that you are looking at it from the wrong angle.

    In terms of raw combat results, yes, Kamina was not that effective, but his influence and the source of his “manliness” as it were goes far beyond simply how many adversaries he drilled out of the way. Kamina is a man who inspires others; whereas Simon holds the raw potential to be great, it is Kamina who first sees that potential and decides to nurture it. When the Gurren-Dan starts to grow, it’s not just the actions of the robot itself but Kamina’s presence and words which give identity to the growing rebellion.

    Even Kamina admits that most of it is just an act, and that most of the time he’s scared, but does that make him any less manly? When Kamina is recounting to Yoko the time he and Simon were trapped underneath a cave-in, he talks about how despite his fears, he put on a confident facade because he knew Simon needed it in order to remain calm. Yes, you could say that Kamina was “faking” it, but in this situation he knew what his strengths were and how to best apply them, realizing that if he were to start panicking then everyone else would too and that would inevitably doom them.

    While I won’t say that Kamina is the manliest character ever, I think that there aren’t many things manlier than the ability to understand your fellow man and to fill them with confidence. He is a man of action, just don’t be confused as to what his real actions are.

    • That’s all well and good, but does that fall under what most people define as “manly?” I’d argue no, and that’s what I’m getting at. He doesn’t fit the popular definition of a “manly man,” yet anime fans hail him as the ideal.

      Is the problem that Kamina doesn’t fall into this ideal, or is it that the ideal needs to be redefined? And if it needs to be redefined, is there any way to redefine it in such a way that popular opinion starts to lean that way?

      My post was just as much about “exposing” the ridiculous nature of such stereotypes as it was “exposing” Kamina as a dork that’s hailed for all the wrong reasons. Which he still is if you ask me, since I stand by my assessment of his character, but he and the term are open for debate.

      • That depends what you consider to be the average apprehension of manliness. You comment that the point of your post was to address the ‘ridiculous nature of the [manliness] stereotype’ yet you never take the time to consider what the nature of that stereotype -is-. It is hardly universal (the concept of ‘gar’ is generally seen as being synonymous with conventional manliness, yet is largely confined to a demographic with an atypical ideal of masculinity), and your post is by and large merely begging the question.

        Arguing that Kamina is ‘cool’ but not ‘manly’ is like arguing that Nia is ‘cute’ but not ‘sexy’ – there IS no ‘popular definition’ applicable to a global audience.

  10. […] A TRUE man Posted on 10/08/2010 by Gundam Jack In response to Mecha Guignol’s brave stand against the imposter Kamina: […]

  11. lol without him,there wouldn’t be Simon.
    Without him,there wouldn’t be Gurren Dan.
    Without him,there wouldn’t even be TTGL.
    He was the one who wanted to get to the surface,if he didn’t do that would Simon be worth of anything? Even if he found Lagann,he wouldn’t even have gone up to the surface.
    He was the inspiration for almost everyone in the anime,he was ganked before he awakened his spiral power. Simon was the one full of spiral power at first,others didn’t realize that they have it.
    He didn’t simply just die like that,he defeated the “mini boss” you said with the greatest skill ever made in the anime and then he died. By that time he was already half dead.
    Simon was a pussy in the first arc,he simply became a copy of Kamina in the 2nd arc of the anime. I don’t hate Simon but that’s how he is,for me.
    I’m not saying that Kamina is the manliest anime character but he definitely IS manly.

    • While Kamina WAS manly at the moment of his near death, whereby he realized he was dying and did the manly thing by sucking it up and focusing on getting Simon to have self-confidence, the fact that he was an inspiration to others does NOT necessarily make him manly.

      To give you some examples, the Pope, or Mother Theresa, or a suicide bomber. Each of these people can give inspiration to others and prompt them onto ever greater things. But what they do aren’t necessarily manly. Being charismatic is not being manly, it’s simply being charismatic.

      In Kamina’s case, he was indeed charismatic and a really cool character, but not all that manly, except for when he was near his death.

  12. Kamina’s fighting abilities were always second to Simon? Also remember that the cause of Kamina’s death was due to Simon’s lack of concentration, because Kamina had the woman of his dreams. #1 manliness rule is the one who gets the women 8D

  13. Manliness is more than just action and besides if he were as weak as you said he wouldnt of survived battling those pink beastmen,that would have been weak

  14. […] Kamina never tried that. Not even once. Thank you for agreeing with me. This was originally posted two years ago at a website that no longer exists. Here’s the timestamp to prove […]

  15. Finally! More people who see Kamina for the danger he is! One this is to be a man, and another to do things without thinking.

  16. I agree to an extent but not fully.

    Kamina was cool yes, I agree, but if we go off some very old school traits deemed Manly, Kamina does have a few of the core traits deep down.

    One: he doesn’t give up
    Two: he encourages his allies and fellow me to be the best they can be
    Three: He might do something stupid every now and then, but at least he does something
    Four: He’s got revolutionary ideas (heading to the surface everyone else thought didnt exist) and never gave up on said dream no matter what

    Those are four traits that (depending on your culture and history) are considered vertebrae of the backbone of manliness.

    Yes, he doesnt spend a lot of time fighting, but he doesnt have too, The series wasnt a DBZ fight fest at that point. In fact, he arguably had one of the most ‘real’ fights in the series. Sod our large mechas, Im going to fight you in a field with swords and stuff, no sissy armour to hide behind here.

    I agree that he’s probably a madman, but so are all great men and visionaries,

    And saying he died getting owned by someone who was possibly the most threatening thing in the series at the time next to Viral is like saying Goku dying against Cell made him a weakling as well.

    Some of your points I agree with, but you understate some of the events

  17. The proportionally gap in power between Cell and Buu is much less than monkey miniboss that KOed Kamina for good than AntiSpiral.

  18. You don’t even know what the hell beign manly is, yet you just leash against a fictional character, get a life

  19. What the fuck are you all saying?
    The reason why Kamina is “manly” is because of his leadership skills.
    You guys don’t know what being a man is all about. Being stronger, faster, or smarter doesn’t mean shit when you don’t use it properly.
    This guy was a true leader, an inspiration to all that he knew. He was charismatic, kind, loving, and most importantly, a leader.
    He stepped up when NO ONE else would. He stood up against all odds, fought an impossible battle, and tried his best to turn some random kid (that he didn’t even have to care about) into a hero himself.
    Kamina is a hero, one that gave his life for his friends.
    Those of you saying he died to a nobody.. You’re fucking stupid. It was a sneak attack and a cheap shot against Kamina alone. Simon was never attacked like that. Every time Simon was attacked, he was in Gurren Lagann. Not alone.
    Through sheer perseverance, Kamina managed to kill the greatest threat they had ever faced to that point, and introduced the best attack in the series.
    The kinds of people disrespect people like Kamina are losers. I know he’s just a tv show character, but that’s not the point. There are people like him in our world too, and they are the future leaders of tomorrow. They break through their limits, and inspire those around them.
    They are the manliest people that I know. They are the ones that will help us progress, and overcome any obstacle.

  20. Exactly what I was thinking when reading this article. Manliness isn’t about winning fights. It isn’t being the strongest guy. Manliness isn’t just what you do, it’s how you do it.

    Everything Kamina stands for, all of his ideals, Courage, Sprit, the drive to never give up, they are what defines manliness to me, and I’d be willing to wager a great deal of others.

    Oh, and that “example” of why he isn’t manly, that could just about be the most manly thing I’ve seen. Kamina is attacked by the current two most powerful enemies in the show, and almost killed. But he doesn’t give up, he fights on, he lands the finishing blow on the enemy that left him for dead, and in the process gives his partner the words that will eventually give him the epiphany he needs to fight without him. Now I don’t know about the writer, but that’s pretty damn manly in my book.

    • I pretty much agree.
      Most manly anime characters have either/both the following: incredibly powerful, and looks, or words of men.
      Kamina isn’t powerful in the first place, because he’s still a human, and he’s a mole(underground), but he has willpower. Think about it this way, batman is considered manly because he’s very powerful for a human(peak-human training), but he doesn’t speak his thoughts, also he has extreme distrust towards others, even his superhero “friends”, yet he’s still considered manly because of his amazing willpower. Kamina is the exact opposite. If you’re basing Kamina’s manliness over things “he couldn’t do”, like he “died”, and stuff, that’s just wrong. He was the main driving force for the whole team, and to Simon, he was an inspiration. A city was named after him because he was the “main cause” of everything, he didn’t became a leader because of just how he acts, he has “charisma”, and that “charisma” is what makes a leader. It’s how Type-Moon defines “Charisma” – (Charisma (カリスマ, Karisuma?) is the natural talent to command an army. Increases the ability of allies during group battles. A rare talent.). You don’t need to be powerful, or be able to back everything up to become manly, charisma is enough to BE manly. Kamina is a human being, of course he can’t do anything other manly characters can. Look how TouMAN from Index series was considered manly, it’s cause of his willpower, idealism, and etc. You don’t need to be buff to be manly, you don’t need to be powerful to be manly, you don’t need to have looks to be manly. It’s all with how you act.

  21. TWO FACED SON OF A BITCH. Everyone is trying to be like me, You dont know what it takes to be a man! Just who in the hell do you think i am, cause I’m kamina from team Die Gurren! When the talk about their leader, a man of indomitable strenght and masculinity their talking about me!

    • See, this guy knows how to play things right. He’s whining, but he’s being fun about it at the same time. The rest of y’all whiners could learn a thing or two from him.

  22. Im posting this here because someone basically hailed this show as the greatest anime of all time, and Kamina as a cool, manly amazing piece of awesome.

    I was sick of it by episode three. This entire show is fucking stupid.

    Here is the problem with Kamina: Any intelligent person, or audience, would not be able to buy his effectiveness as an inspiring presence. The OP put it pretty well, when he said “You have to be a man who backs up those words with action. If you’re gonna make claims, you gotta be able to back up those claims and you have to show that you can succeed. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t always have to win. You just have to prove that you’re more than talk.”

    Kamina was a glorified cheerleader, indeed. In the first episode, he kind of works, because he is willing to stick to his beliefs, and doesn’t waver in the face of punishment. He demonstrates his commitment to his belief in this manner, which believably sets the stage for Simon looking up to him.

    However, stupid fights with giant robots is the entire fucking show. Having an inspiring presence that’s completely inept and useless when shit hits the fan makes no sense. Anyone would have realistically lost faith in him once they realized he was all talk. If you talk big, dream big, and can back it up yourself, with action, commitment, and sacrifice on your part, you are inspiring and people will follow you. If you talk big, and cannot back it up whatsoever, you are delusional and people avoid you.

    Kamina accomplishes this in the pit, by taking jail time and foregoing dinner. He then proceeds to accomplish this nowhere else, at all, up until his death.

    Lets compare Kamina to Goro Shigeno, from Major, an inspiring presence whose effectiveness is believable.

    Goro is a stubborn, head-in-the-clouds, gutsy, dreamer, with an undying love for baseball. His passion for the sport cannot be contained. In the first three seasons, the basic story arc is Goro building three different teams at three different points in his life, taking a group of “Simons” if you will: passive, cowardly it-cant-be-done-ers, and turning them into believers in themselves, and their own capacity to overcome obstacles. How does Goro accomplish this?

    He has a personal stake in every action he tries to get people behind. He doesn’t sit on the sidelines cheering you on. He stands front and center for the things he is passionate about, and he doesn’t want to hear the odds. He practices everyday, and hes good at what he does. When Goro puts his faith in you, it means something. It -actually- means something, because Goro himself is a do-er. He does what it takes to overcome obstacles. He is gutsy, and stubborn, but he -can back up his talk-. It actually means something when the dreamer can back up their talk. Then you begin to believe in the dream. And when they put their faith in you, you feel like a component in the realization of that dream.

    This is why its so fucking essential that your inspiring presence not be completely fucking useless in the conflict of your fucking show.

  23. UNSUBSCRIBE, NOT THAT I WAS EVER SUBSCRIBED IN THE FIRST PLACE, BECAUSE YOUR OPINION IS GARBAGE! #Kaminaistoomanlyforyoutocomprehend

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