MMOs have sucked recently, so I’ve been watching a lot of anime. One of them is called Gad Guard, and while I watched it, I found myself thinking about how it related in one part to MMO PvP. This will involve some spoilers, so if you planned to watch the series, you may want to skip this. Here’s an embedded video of the intro, so you get an idea of the style:
Gad Guard is about 5 different teens who all share something in common. They each have bonded with what is called a techode: a large robot bound with their personality, spawned from gads-mysterious space-borne arifacts found buried in the earth. They all live in a slum town called Night Town, and each view the world in a different way, Hajiki is a courier, earning money to make ends meet. Katana is a gun for hire with big ambitions. Aiko is a daughter of a wealthy industrialist. They all tend to contrast and conflict with each other, and in ways surprisingly reminiscent of MMO PvP.
While each teen has a powerful Techode, they act in totally different ways. Hajiki really just wants to do jobs, and while he has an intense rivalry with Katana, it’s very personal. Katana on the other hand is not a stereotypical villain: he is a hardened person with his own motivations and reasons. Aiko doesn’t even fight: her Techode is more of her friend, whike Takeshi is hell-bent on justice, while ignoring his own true self. Asashi just wants to have her Techode fly as a subconscious desire for her own escape from a domineering father. They bump together and fight or not in very random ways, sometimes as allies against others, sometimes just drawn to the same area.
They are very much like MMO players. Katana as a PvPer, carving out his own empire. Hajiki just doing his thing as a regular player. Takeshi as an anti-PKer, Aiko as a social butterfly who always makes connections, and Asashi as an explorer. However one scene in particular made me really think of MMO PvP.
Katana has plunged Night Town into a crime war. Hajiki is persuaded by a government official to try to take him down, since Techodes are incredibly strong fighting machines. This diverges from normal plots in several striking ways. The most shocking one is that he loses.
Not only does he lose, his Techode causes even more damage to his home as it uses it to repair itself, destroying it. He’s incredibly demoralized, and then decides to flee Night town. Katana chases him, and Hajiki escapes, but just barely. The story after that follows his wanderings with Asashi who comes to join him.
It’s like a capsule history of MMO culture. The PvPer drives out the Player (Hajiki) and the Explorer (Asashi) follows him. Katana and Hajiki also have a warped relationship. Katana views him almost as a pet to torment, while at times seeing him also as a kindred spirit. That’s the relationship between Ganker and Gankee, and when he escapes, his “conscience” (a little girl who tags along with him) tells him he just lost something precious. Hajiki dislikes Katana because in the end, they are both using violence in the form of the Techodes to solve problems. He can see himself inside Katana, and he doesn’t like what he sees.
I’m at the final seven episodes now, so the story may wind its way back, but Gad Guard highlights what happens when you give power to normal people with contradictory views of the world and set them loose. Unlike other anime it doesn’t assume good will triumph over evil or that you can even split the two. It’s like PvP MMOs: you give strong power to normal people and a jumbled mess happens. It’s neither evil or good, but just human.