Here we are, we’re back again for another round of CC Comic Zone! This is the place where we come to talk about all things Comics, Manga, Graphic Novels and, pretty much, all illustrated media! Once again I’m Frank Inglese and this week I want to talk about the theme of “Sacrifice”. It’s everywhere, not only do we sacrifice small things in our everyday lives but the heroes in our favourite stories constantly sacrifice their lives in the hopes of saving others.
Sacrifice is actually one of my favourite themes in all Illustrated Media, I love it because I fell as though sacrifice is the ultimate form of trust, respect and loyalty. Every single superhero in the imagined universe shares the trope of sacrifice, whether it’s a daily sacrifice like hiding their own identity so as to save their family from the clutches of their enemy or the sacrifice of their own lives to save a population of people under attack. Western Comics love this trope just as much as the Eastern writers. Superman, Spiderman, Goku, they all do it! Characters like Goku and Superman seem to enjoy sacrificing their own lives more than once, to the point where it becomes “a thing” and it, somewhat, looses it’s strength. Like I always say; these tropes don’t always work, sometimes they work too well, other times not well enough.
As I just mentioned; superheroes like Superman and protagonists like Goku seem to constantly sacrifice their own lives, I’m not entirely certain as to how many times, if at all, Superman or the other DC and Marvel heroes have died and been reborn to just eventually die again in the hopes that “this time” they’ll actually save the world forever, Goku’s deaths on the other hand I am certain about. While I happen to be a huge fan of DBZ, both the Anime and the Manga, I can admit when a character does certain things too many times and when that certain thing gets a bit overused and hard to understand let alone deal with. Goku’s constant deaths and rebirths are one of them, it’s not just him though, it’s a lot of Dragon Ball Z characters but considering he’s the “main man” of the series, I’ll focus on him.
Let me take you back to when he and Piccolo fought and killed Raditz; Goku sacrificed his life, he allowed a man to kill him so that their enemy could also be killed. What made this particular death an ideal vision of heroic sacrifice was the fact that not only was it the first time he would do it but it was Goku putting his trust into a man, Piccolo, who at one point in history was a huge antagonist in the Dragon Ball series, and while the character of Piccolo changed through the gap between “Ball” and “Z”, I still feel like it was a big thing. Goku did this kind of thing again and again and again throughout the series and while it was “almost entirely necessary” considering the situations he was put into it seems like it just lost it’s flare overtime.
The funny thing about this trope is that so many characters continuously sacrifice and I don’t know why I chose to do this particular theme because it’s so damn broad, I could literally choose any character right now and I guarantee they would have sacrificed something and a great deal of those characters, once again, would have sacrificed their lives on multiple occasions. Look I’m not saying it’s bad because it makes the audience feel incredible, we all have that person we would die for well these heroes are dying for the lives of so many, it’s uplifting while at the same time being incredibly saddening.
Flip the coin and you get situations like that in the Attack On Titan Manga, soldiers literally throwing themselves into the fray so as to stop the enemy from reaching the “more important” citizens and fellow soldiers. There’s sacrifice on every page yet within that story not every soldier is a “hero”, they’re soldiers, that’s what the creator wants them to be seen as and that’s what they are yet they still put there lives on the line at any given moment for the progress of mankind. I think Attack On Titan does sacrifice well, essentially there is no “Yes citizens I will jump into the arms of death just to save your lives” or any generic crap like that, it happens, it’s brutal and it works.
Fullmetal Alchemist does sacrifice better than any other Manga, Comic or Graphic Novel that I’ve ever read. The reason is because the sacrifices are series-long, not only that but it is layered and traded and mixed and confused until it loops back around to the basic ideal that is “we messed up, I messed you up, I messed myself up, let’s deal with this until we can change it all back to when everything wasn’t so messed up”. I’m not going to go through each and every detail, if you’ve read the Manga and you’re reading this I could stop writing here and you would understand exactly what I am talking about.
See the great thing about FMA is that it’s not just the older brother giving something up, literally, for the little brother, they’re both missing something and the reason they’re doing so is because they were both looking out for each other, it stretches across their journey and the amazing thing is that other characters take some of the burden from the two main characters, they share it, they actually share the sacrifice which leads to more sacrifices being made. What completes the trope within FMA? By the end of the Manga they have done exactly what they set out to do making each and every sacrifice along the way worth the pain. Disagree with me if you may but Fullmetal Alchemist really is the winner of this theme, no other series does it better.
Like I say almost every week; “some series’ do it well, some don’t”…well I’m not going to say that this time, every series does sacrifice well, whether they did it well previously or they do it well now. It is in everything, when something like this that we do in our own lives is done so often people tend to get it right. Yes, sometimes it is overplayed and overdone but it still gives you that sense of satisfaction when it happens. This is more of a “who did it better” than a “who did it worse” situation. Sacrifices need to be made, it’s what makes a good hero.