Coppelion: Hope- A third episode discussion
October 19, 2013
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Go! Go! Find the Stinger! It’s in the Growler!
The third episode to Coppelion has come and gone now: titled “Hope”, the episode does leave me optimistic about how things will play out. Focused around the delivery man who has been providing supplies to survivors, the episode reveals this delivery man is Denjiro Shiba, the scientist who had originally designed the nuclear facility. Following the meltdown, he chooses to remain behind and help the survivors to atone for his actions, feeling that scientific progress is a curse until Ibara says that science has also made the Coppelion team possible, giving her the chance to see the world. The community has remained rather vocal about how emotions are played out: I’m content not to say anything about the way drama is depicted because here, we have a team of high school-aged individuals, not trained units. Whatever melodrama observed is a byproduct of the Coppelion’s demographic, and given that viewers already knew high school girls would be the protagonists, the drama should be expected. While I find it a little jarring at times, it isn’t sufficient to ruin the story per se.
- This quest-line is simple: viewers learn more about the scientist behind the nuclear project that ended in disaster, and need to save an elderly lady after she vanishes.
- Apparently, the first few episodes consist of several chapters that were condensed into a shorter runtime, making things a little more rushed in comparison. I’m definitely okay with that, since the pacing has not left viewers in the dust with respect to showing us what’s going on. Three episodes in, things still feel like an open world game, so I’m wondering as to what elements could set things up for a single climax come the finale.
- If I were to be speaking truthfully, I would say that online discussions have been thankfully underwhelming concerning Coppelion, given that their contents delve into storytelling elements rather than the moral implications of science in general. There is one exception: anomomo of Animesuki believes that Coppelion is a ‘shameless display of anti-nuclear propaganda’. Japan has generally been cautious around nuclear power, especially with their history, but they have also employed it out of necessity. However, he is missing the point and assuming poor faith on Coppelion‘s writer’s part, erroneously assuming the show is propaganda.
- The facts behind anomomo’s claims are either incomplete or wrong, but I take exception to his post mainly because of the fact that this is merely speculative fiction. Margret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake is written to speculate on one possible outcome of unregulated advances in genetic engineering and biotech and is in no way anti-biotech propaganda. The same holds true for Coppelion, where the story is speculating on what might one possible consequence of nuclear energy. Coppelion was written with that in mind, not with the intent of promoting some political agenda.
- Back to Coppelion, it appears that regions of unusually high radiation have begun appearing, complicating the girls’ rescue of the elderly lady. This point brings to bear one of the social issues in contemporary Japan surrounding the elderly population and their increasing numbers, as well as costs to the government for paying their pensions and healthcare. In Coppelion, the population use the accident as an excuse to abandon the elderly, suggesting an extreme reaction from the people might arise from existing sentiments.
- Here lies my favourite part of the episode: an unknown faction with enough resources to field a Northdrop Grumman B2 Spirit appears. For the record, ZabiLegacy of AnimeSuki, a B2 costs roughly 773 million USD to field, not one billion dollars. The choice of a B2 might be to imply that the new antagonistic forces are indeed US forces, given the extreme costs of fielding one.
- Ibara cites herself as having “ten times the athletic ability of an ordinary human”, putting her on par with the Spartan IIIs. She is able to utilise her mobility and fight the unidentified faction to a standstill, forcing them to take off and allowing her to save the elderly lady. I note that the depiction of the B2 is reasonably accurate after we see Ibara take cover behind the landing gear: the aircraft 21 metres in length and 5.18 metres in height, with a wingspan of 52.4 metres.
- I remarked earlier that I am thankful for discussions have not focused on social implications or ethical implications of science. This is because online discussions about such tend to be based upon uninformed opinion and emotion because the participants lack the background to talk about such topics without dragging emotion and ego into their arguments. Individuals who do have the background for such discussions are either doing so on a place where things are more peaceable (as I am), or else doing something better with their time (such as actual study into the aforementioned fields) and therefore won’t be likely to talk about such topics online.
- This, ladies and gentlemen, is a Type-91 Man-Portable Surface-To-Air-Missile, Japan’s answer to the American Stinger missile. It’s said to pack a superior guidance system, but has not seen any usage in actual combat. Its usage will be a point of contention come the next episode, since no B-2 has ever been downed in combat before, much less by a shoulder-fired heat-seeking missile. A report from 1991 stated that the B-2 was never meant to be truly invisible, and that it still presented a sufficient heat signature for newer heat-seekers. Since the Type-91 was fielded in 1994, after the report, I think the possibility remains that the warhead could damage the B-2. I’ll leave this statement here and avoid getting flamed at AnimeSuki, since most of its members believe the missile will be useless.
- This image captures the spirit of the Japanese high school girl rather neatly. I’ll definitely continue to follow Coppelion, and as noted earlier, my next reflection will be at the halfway point once episode six rolls around. Next up will be my talk about Infinite Stratos². I’ll also do a post on Alan Wake, Part 2 of my A Day in Skyrim and the next bit of Crysis 2 within the next week or so.
Insofar, Coppelion appears to touch broadly on the overall implications of scientific innovation, rather than the use of any one technology. Ibara’s exchange with Shiba reflects best on this: on one end, Shiba had worked very nearly all his life for the sake of progress to humanity, and the innovation had brought calamity to millions of people. Ibara reminds Shiba that science is driven by demand from society, and that the scientists and engineers involved in its progress are merely satisfying a demand. This is true to some extent, since society tends to direct more money towards research they feel is relevant, although some disciplines have are privately-funded organisations and tend to operate independently of society’s aims. Nonetheless, Ibara raises an interesting point, and speaking as a researcher, I find that progress driven by either genuine curiosity or survival makes the greatest impact (examples include quantum mechanics and vaccinations, respectively). Readers have my word that I will stand down now, since the remainder of the anime community have their attentions directed towards the appearance of a Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, whose unknown allegiance or faction will definitely make things interesting in the way of story.