Coming to understand malice found in the world
June 1, 2011 11:05 PM   Subscribe

I just finished playing an anime visual novel, and I was not prepared for the circumstances that played out.

Trying to be short in summary: You begin dating a bullied outcast in High School. There is a specific clique doing the bullying, but the rest of the class and school staff are either apathetic or cheering on the bullies so as not to be targeted. Even though you, the character, had some friends before, they're all gone now once you began dating said outcast. These circumstances reach a peak with a confrontation. You get beat down and your girlfriend begins to get raped. THANKFULLY, this is a fictional story and you manage to get control over the situation. In fact, at the very end there is this very uncomfortable moment where you and your girlfriend strangle the girl who is half responsible for all this atrocity and bullying in a revenge-base ecstasy.

Now, I shrugged off this end part. It felt a bit contrived, though grounded in the fact that these two were bullied to a traumatic degree. Heck, school shootings are caused by situations like this - so maybe this isn't too far out there.

But the malice of the others... is all too real. Rape. Bullying. Thoughtless and brute violence. These things happen all the time - in third world and first world countries.

There were two reasons I wanted to post this here. First, I just wanted to talk about it. It's especially common after watching a particularly sad anime to post your feelings. The act of writing your feelings out, reading the experiences others had, and the simple healing prowess of time all help you come to terms with your experiences. The reason I'm posting this here, secondly, is that I'm not going to get a proper response to something like this from 4Chan, and Reddit doesn't really have a visual novel community, especially along the lines of this.

I realize AskMefi isn't by any means a home for visual novel discussions, so I thought perhaps there might be some good literature (fiction and non-fiction is fine) on understanding this sort of malice - and somehow coming to an optimistic conclusion. Honestly, the saving grace of this visual novel was that the protagonists weren't traumatized by their experience. It had a happy ending. Had it not, I'd be weeping in emotional pain for the next couple of days.

But I'm still just in shock. This experience is far different than say losing a loved one to disease. There is no malice in that. There's just loss and fate - either by the indifference of nature or by a divine plan. But here, there's malice. This unfathomable depravity and cruelty that just makes you wish you had died in peace earlier, than lived to experience this.

I suppose for me, I've always been uncomfortable around every sort of violence. But I understand that there are some rationalities behind the everyday violence of war, or the adrenaline fueled violence found in self-defense... but the malice in rape... the malice in "hardcore" bullying... this complete disregard for another person's humanity... it's just unfathomable and deeply unsettling.

TL;DR: Read the bold sentence found above.
posted by SollosQ to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Perhaps the genre of Psychological Fiction might help you explore these issues? For instance We Need to Talk About Kevin is a book about pure malice, although it might not be quite what you're looking for.
posted by oxford blue at 11:16 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

That humans have a capacity for savage cruelty is a valuable thing to learn. I don't think you can come to an "optimistic" conclusion if you approach the topic honestly, but you may come to terms with this potential for brutality. I highly recommend Philip Gourevitch's We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families, a collection of his reportage from the Rwandan genocide. He examines the motivations of genocidaires in painful detail.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 11:49 PM on June 1, 2011

And is it naive to suggest that part of "coming to an optimistic conclusion" is also to read about (and interact in real life with) good people, especially those in a situation where many of their fellow humans are being otherwise?
posted by sianifach at 12:35 AM on June 2, 2011

As a follow-up to slanifach's comment, I suggest Elie Wiesel's trilogy Night, Dawn and Day.

(Hell and heaven are both on earth.)
posted by likeso at 1:14 AM on June 2, 2011

I feel like you should have mentioned the game you're talking about is Yume Miru Kusuri. It's a very well-written game and an accurate depiction of bullying in Japan. I was talking about the issue with an elementary school principal today and he told me that in Japanese culture, roughly speaking, you have either complete sympathy and camaraderie, or you see someone as an outsider and have no sympathy at all. Groups of kids used to have a leader called a gakidaisho who would stamp out bullying, but this social system was "flattened" in the 1960s and kids were forced to pretend there was no hierarchy in class, creating secret bully hierarchies. So they say.

I'm not sure if you want to learn more about bullying in Japan specifically, but here are some more fictional resources:

- The cult film All About Lily Chou-Chou describes how an ordinary high school friendship turns into a bullying clique.
- Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni is not about bullying per se but its horror elements Yume Miru Kusuri look downright warm and fluffy. You get a real understanding of the outside face vs. inside secrets divide with this game.
- The famous TV drama and manga series Hana Yori Dango is the story of a girl winning out over a team of high school bullies.

There's more out there but I have to head out right now...
posted by shii at 2:58 AM on June 2, 2011 [5 favorites]

Read the bold sentence found above.

Okay... so what exactly is your question?
posted by Rash at 9:25 AM on June 2, 2011

Response by poster: Rash: I'm asking if anyone knows of literature that might help someone come to understand malice.

This was inspired after seeing the book The Gift of Fear recommended a number of time, so I was hoping perhaps there was something similar to malice. Though as Nicolas pointed out, there may not really be any sort of positive conclusion to come to, only a harrowing undestanding.

That being said and thinking it over, I guess I'm not too interested in fiction or "narrative" non-fiction, and would prefer something such as The Gift of Fear that isn't focused on an event, but instead looks over the concept of malice. (Though I'll still be looking over some of the previous literary suggestions regardless)

Shii: Yup, it was that! I felt mixed about how much to say about it. I didn't want it to be the focus of the post and alienation people, but if I left it out a lot of context would be missing. Though it's somewhat moot, since I meant to put the headline as the outward appearance on the AskMefi page. "Coming to understand malice found in the world" rather than "I just finished playing an anime visual novel, and I was not prepared for the circumstances that played out."
posted by SollosQ at 9:43 AM on June 2, 2011

Very late to this thread... I lost it temporarily. This is exactly the kind of thing that's dealt with in the Gospels.
posted by tel3path at 9:11 AM on June 20, 2011

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