Valvrave the Liberator 10 — Rape is Awful

valvrave_10_2

Yes, Valvrave has a rape scene. Yes, I still think Valvrave is the best thing ever. I guess I’m a terrible person.

The Rape Scene Controversy

Some background: many people on Twitter were very angry about the existence of Valvrave’s rape scene.

I don’t understand this idea that shows aren’t allowed to include rape scenes if they aren’t “handled well.” I’m not even sure what that means. It’s not as if Valvrave portrayed the rape in any sort of positive light. It made it come across as a terrible thing, in fact. Is it a necessity that every show involving rape provide some nuanced social commentary?

Another objection I heard is that rape is just being used for shock value. That’s true, probably. But so? This is a TV show, not a newspaper article. Shows use murder for shock value all the time and no one bats an eyebrow. Remember Chambers crushing babies with his bare hands the other day?  Are we supposed to boycott Binbougami ga because it uses poverty for shock value and makes fun of the poor? Because that would actually make way more sense to me. Why is rape unique in that it’s not allowed to be used for shock value?

It was suggested that the issue is that some people are especially sensitive to rape. Which is, of course, completely understandable. But should media never include things that offend people? That seems a bit extreme, and I don’t think anyone who objects to Valvrave’s rape scene would actually argue this. So my question is, what makes rape special? Why is rape unique in that it should never be included for shock value unless it is handled properly? Honest question here, I’m having trouble understanding all the flack Valvrave is getting.

As a (mostly irrelevant) aside, I personally found Maoyuu Yuusha’s treatment of race, religion, poverty and colonialism much more offensive than Valvrave’s rape scene. But that doesn’t mean it should never have been made: in fact, I find it quite edifying to better understand other peoples’ perspectives, as horrifying as they may be. Same thing with the many extremely nationalistic anime, such as Gunbuster, Gigantic Formula, Gasaraki, etc. I got a lot out of watching those since I hadn’t realized people actually still thought that way in this day and age. In short, I think it’s actually beneficial to be exposed to things we find offensive, if just so we can realize that not everyone agrees with us and that these arguments are actually important and have people on the other side. And I’m an adult, it’s not like I’m going to suddenly become a xenophobic Japanese nationalist by watching cartoons. But none of this discussion is all that relevant to Valvrave, since Valvrave makes the rape come across as a terrible thing anyway.

The Actual Scene

OK, away from the controversy surrounding the episode and onto the episode itself. The transitions between the rape scene and Shouko’s speech were an excellent idea.

valvrave_10_14

Dream big! Do what you want! (Haruko rips Saki’s clothes off.)

valvrave_10_15

Let’s find new things to do! (Haruto finds a new thing to do.)

The contrast here makes the two scenes all the more disturbing. Is it really a good idea to do what you want? Probably not. Is Haruto even doing what he wants? Nope.

valvrave_10_16

Haruto was actually violated as well. I guess the true rapist is Valvrave? I’m kind of disappointed now that L-Elf knocked Haruto out when he lost control in the cockpit earlier.

Valvrave Logic

I still see lots of people complaining that Valvrave makes no sense and trying to point out logical errors in the story. That’s kind of missing the point…

Valvrave is a parody. The holes in the story are the same holes shared by every other mecha show but presented in such a way that it’s obvious how ridiculous it all is.

valvrave_10_10

For example, consider the scene with Shouko at the temple. “She was fighting… fighting all alone.” This one’s not really specific to the mecha genre. I mean come on, pretty much every anime has this scene at some point. And it’s always completely obvious that said character was suffering all alone. And then the person talking decides to become a hero and the whole situation is magically resolved.

Valvrave takes this exact same formula, in that Valvrave a) conveniently ignores the fact Shouko’s father is probably dead for ten episodes, b) makes Haruto assume that Shouko was not aware of something regarding her father that was all over the news, c) makes it completely obvious that everyone in the school is an idiot for not having realized that Shouko may have been worried about her father, and d) resolves the situation in such an idiotic way by having Haruto promise to search for him immediately. Of course none of this makes a whiff of sense. That’s the point! It never made a whiff of sense any of the other hundreds of times we’ve seen this scene in other shows either!

Same idea with everyone’s reaction to losing their humanity. Haruto takes the typical protagonist’s route: Woe is me! No one in all of human history has ever suffered as much as I have! I must bear my pain and sorrow alone forever!

valvrave_10_3

Then Valvrave has fun with this dumb reaction by allowing the subsequent pilots to have other, more believable reactions which are hilarious only in comparison to the idiocy we’re used to from our mecha shows. Saki had a glorious reaction: “Sounds good! I hate humans anyway, and now at least I’ll get to become special! It’s all okay!” Now the new guy, first of all, doesn’t even read what’s going to happen, and then just thinks it’s badass. Way more believable reaction than Haruto’s angsting over what it means to be human.

Further Thoughts

valvrave_10_4

She helps out clubs, cheers at games and brings people snacks. Definitely qualified to be prime minister. Also, why does it matter whether Shouko’s dad is dead? I thought they declared independence earlier… doesn’t that mean he was no longer the prime minister anyway? Not to imply that I give a crap about whether this show makes any logical sense, of course.

valvrave_10_5

These lines… Not the first thing I would do on the moon.

valvrave_10_13

So much to do when we get to the moon…!

valvrave_10_7

Some subtle foreshadowing here.

valvrave_10_8

Ahahaha once again, like every anime ever made, except normally Haruto would beg her to kill him. Here instead Saki volunteers to kill him, with pleasure!

valvrave_10_9

And once again, a line that crops up in so many anime. Except it’s even more hilarious since Haruto hadn’t even asked her to kill him but is delighted when she volunteers.

valvrave_10_6

Already this is becoming a stratified society where not everyone has equal rights. Regardless though, L-Elf is the last person I would trust with the ballot box.

valvrave_10_11

Can you guys imagine how glorious it would be if L-Elf and this girl teamed up? They’d be completely unstoppable. I’m shipping this. Assuming it doesn’t work out with Haruto, of course.

UPDATE: Crap, I somehow managed to leave out the best line of the episode! Saki, telling Haruto that it won’t work out between him and Shouko:

valvrave_10_12

Ahahahaha what good lord Valvrave. > 666 / 100

25 thoughts on “Valvrave the Liberator 10 — Rape is Awful

  1. I think rape is just hard to take when it’s played completely seriously in what was otherwise a pretty goofy show. I just find it hard to look at Valvrave in the same way ever again, knowing now what it’s pulled. It’s not that I have a problem with seeing rape tackled in media, but it felt jarring here in context.

    To be honest, I feel somewhat ill thinking about it right now, but after a while, maybe my head and my stomach will settle and I will have more coherent thoughts on the matter.

    1. I, on the other side, would be thrilled if Sunrise had balls to fully explore the theme of “losing the human side”.

      Imagine a standard mecha show about your normal mecha teen pilots that, instead of saving humanity, thanks to some sociopatic OS-tan turn into delirious killers, masochists, rapists, liars, sadists, and genocide bringers while being immortal, unstoppable and surrounded by utter idiots, retards and one L-elf. Hell, imagine them doing it while still believing what they do is good. And all that by the Guru Studio of mecha shows. I would laugh like hell if the cliche sentences and fears of Haruto from ep1 about him becoming a monster turned out to be true. It would be Absolute Ultimate Trolling from Sunrise… and looks like the rape scene is a good indicator that it might actually happen. Thus, I’m pretty sure that around the point we got all the pilots, the whole academy will be wiped out. This train has no brakes anymore.. no, wait, it never even needed those.

      Add tons of borderline metahumour, some incredibly idiotic and out of place scenes, ridiculous decisions and you have unforgettable title. It’s almost like anime equivalent of getting bored with some secondary game, story or a play and starting to kill the characters in the most ludicrous way you can find.

      Don’t let me down, Sunrise. You’ve finally lit my inner sadist’s interest so better make it burn ’till the end.

      1. Wow. Your vision. IS THE MOST BRILLIANT THING I HAVE EVER HEARD. Crap. This would be the most glorious ending I can possibly imagine.

  2. Sooooooo what’s the problem with the fact that Valvare had a rape scene? If anything, I thought fans would have been a bit turned off because this would be the point that valvare stopped being silly (although still illogical), but for people to be demonizing valvare because it had a rape scene???? I guess people have never watched “the girl with the dragon tatoo” or UHMMMMMMMMMM the first episode of psycho-pass. This isnt the first time rape has been in an anime…what the hell??? It’s not like Valvare handled it in an offensive way or did it for the sake of fanservice because i for one never got that impression when i watched the episode. I just couldnt believe Haruto losing it would have meant that..which makes the foreshadowing of the things the OS of Haruto’s Valvare has been saying in the past 9 eps make more sense.

    What the dorsian fleet commander said at the end of ep 8 about having reproduced with valvare seemed odd to me so i thought it had something to do with the OS and Haruto’s attacks but i never thought for a second I’d be right (it was a dumb thought, but then again, so is this show). The OS has been saying stuff like, “is this intercourse?” and “I am hungry” and each time it has said stuff like that, i have asked how that relates to Haruto; and now i know. My guess is that the valvare is this sentient being with somewhat biological traits that basically wants to reproduce and pass on….something i dont know what exactly…maybe it has to do with what the physics teacher was saying earlier in this ep. Maybe it has to do with something in the plot later in the future. Either way, i think Haruto might have “impregnated” saki (im not sure if the translation for the OS’ reaction “HNNNNNNNNNNNN” is correct, but that could mean she climaxed or something which could relate to haruto) either literally or with something related to the valvare and who knows what this means for the plot. Either way, that rape scene was not done in a distasteful manner (as any less distasteful as one could portray a rape scene anyway) and why people are losing it, i dont know. Fucked up shit happens in this world and tv shows and movies should be able to portray that to enhance or push their narratives like it can with murder, slavery, and nudity without getting so much backlash from its audience.

    1. Yeah, I imagine the Valvrave is trying to reproduce as well. Maybe Saki will give birth to a giant robot. I’m curious to see how that will work out.

      I don’t entirely understand the concern with TV shows portraying fucked up shit that happens either.

  3. Wait, I get people being upset by the rape scene–it was supposed to be upsetting, after all. This is especially apparent by having the event coincide (and explicitly contrast) with Shoko’s speech/success to presidency/promise to confess to Haruto once they reach the moon. It was, as always in Valvrave, extremely theatrical and dramatic–but the show certainly never implied that what was happening was a good thing. The entire sequence, in fact, was portrayed in a very tragic light. It’s very obvious Haruto had zero control over himself. (This *is* Valvrave; the day this show starts to be subtle will be a strange day indeed.) And considering how Haruto’s Valvrave is the only one with the goddess girl program entity–who has repeatedly had lines focused on matters of sex–this turn of events isn’t even particularly surprising in hindsight.

    That said, is the show working with themes in this sequence? Most certainly. Few people want to give the show much credit in this department, but there’s a lot that can be analyzed in terms of coming of age/loss of innocence, the dark and inconvenient truths behind the facade of the romanticized high school experience, and the pressures teenagers face/effects of puberty/the next generation’s struggle to find their role in society/etc/etc/etc.

    A very unsettling episode! I am curious (as always) to see where things will go from here.

    1. Yes, very unsettling episode! My confusion isn’t over the fact that people were upset by the rape scene, but angry over the fact that it was included for reasons of valvrave not handling it well in.

      Valvrave does have thematic coherence despite what its detractors say.

    1. Well I would have boycott Binbougami ga for having shitty drama and also having shitty comedy, but that’s just me.

  4. Also, to add a real thought to this, I think people generally react less harshly to fictional violence than to rape because most violence looks cartoony in some fashion, even violence in live-action works. Even the most brutal stuff often looks fake in some way. There’s an obvious stylization going on; there’s an unrealness to it, although obviously violence still has the capacity to shock. Rape, though, there’s not really a way to stylize that. It’s going to look horrible and make the viewer feel horrible.

    Note: I haven’t watched the episode yet, so just a general thought. I was actually spoiled before I read your post, so that’s why I’m commenting without having watched it yet lol

    1. Well said there. In Dansai Bunri, they used black colored blood, also in Mushibugyo, making it unrealistic on purpose. Also, the moe titan and absurd amount of blood in SnK makes it hard for me to take the deaths seriously. But when it comes to rape, there is no way around it.
      Also I have to add that this anime is aired on public television, that’s why I find it unacceptable. It will be a different story if it appeared in a rental video.

      1. Hm, I guess that makes sense. I find it hard to really care about the fact that it airs on public television since it airs in Japan and I have no idea how these things work over there though.

  5. Wow, I haven’t written in this blog since that article about Gundam AGE and social darwinism one year ago. Good times.

    You know, the problem with Valvrave is that it doesn’t know if it’s a parody or not. If it is, it’s an Indecisive Parody or at least an Indecisive Deconstruction, something that tried to be a Stealth Parody… and failed. All in all, it’s still better than thinking it was supposed to be a serious show from the beginning.

    The rape scene has disturbed a lot of persons precisely because of the nature of the show. Sometimes the show tells us: “Don’t take this parody seriously”; then it changes to: “Don’t take this serious show lightly”. Until the nature of the series itself is clarified, reactions like this will keep appearing.

    1. Why shouldn’t it be both serious and a parody? The best parodies are the ones you can’t always tell are a parody. For example, look at Colbert. There have been studies taken where conservatives watch Colbert and think that he’s actually a conservative. It’s the same way with Valvrave. It’s an effective parody precisely because it so closely mimics more serious mecha shows.

  6. What bothers the hell out of me in that rape scene is how their hands are entwined at certain point. It was a minor detail, but it seemed out of context in such a brutal scene. Usually, we see this in anime or manga when a couple pretty much in love with each other have sex for the first time. Cheesy as it may be, the hands carry with them some sort of delicacy and love, and though it is possible that Saki put her hand there, why is his hand so relaxed? Why is he not squeezing her hand and not pushing her down? Well, by the time that Saki accepts that what they have is a curse, the rape scene lost some of its violent aspect, and seemed more like a lover’s embrace, they licking each others wounds. Saki even hugs him.

    The fact that it happened while Shouko was giving a speech and promissing that she’ll confess to the person she loves worries me because I don’t know how they are going to deal with it. I’m scared, but mostly certain, that it was just a cheap shot to make the romantic triangle more interesting. I’m also afraid that they are going to call it “sex”, and not “rape”, and people (or Haruto himself) will feel badly for Shouko, because she was “betrayed” by Haruto for having sexual intercourse with another girl, and I’m pretty sure that Saki’s suffering will be either overshadowed by this romance bulls*it, Haruto’s suffering, or not shown at all. Victims do not have guidelines that they necessarily have to follow after a sexual assault, but in some way, that affected her and changed who she was.

    I do agree that Haruto was also a victim. He also did not have a say about having intercourse with Saki. His suffering is comprehensible, and as Saki’s, has to be shown.

    We can still question why they decided to show a rape scene just in this instance so far. Everyone knows that raping women is a common tactic in wars, vastly ignored by anime and manga that glorify armed combats. In Valvrave, it is just a way to show how he lost his humanity. Well, let’s think about the real world for a minute. 1 in 3 women will suffer some kind of sexual abuse throughout their life. Does this mean that there are a lot of people with no humanity? Or is it people with families, friends, jobs and worries that commit these atrocities? Rape is so common at wars because it is a way to show power and dominance. Valvrave just seems to be worried about reproduction and incontrolable instincts and not the social implications (oh lord, imagine if she ends up pregnant) and rape culture that motivates men to rape women. I also don’t feel that he regrets killing people, and that bothers me. Isn’t it strange that all these teenagers can go on killing their enemies and not even bat an eye? Even if motivated by rage and revenge… Not even one of the students has questioned it so far. And only four of them have ceased to be human beings! I know, I am asking waaay too much from Valvrave.

    Well, I don’t know. This episode itself was not that offensive (though I don’t understand why they couldn’t just fade to black when he ripped her shirt, even gratuitiously showing her bra. That was some sexualization of a minor that we didn’t have to see), but the way they are gonna deal with the rape will certainly affect my decision to continue watching or not. It’s a shame, because it was such a great, funny show, with all its nonsense and cliches.

    1. “I’m also afraid that they are going to call it “sex”, and not “rape”, and people (or Haruto himself) will feel badly for Shouko, because she was “betrayed” by Haruto for having sexual intercourse with another girl, and I’m pretty sure that Saki’s suffering will be either overshadowed by this romance bulls*it, Haruto’s suffering, or not shown at all”

      I agree 100% with you. It’s not the rape scene itself what disturbs me, but the fear of how it will be adressed in the following episodes.

      -Will they play rape with all its personal ramifications or will they call it just “sex”?
      -Will be Saki considered a victim or just a bystander in Haruto’s way to angst?
      -Will the scene be used to develop the characters or will it be just another thing to “spice up” the love triangle?
      -Will they portray Shouko as the victim you should feel sorry for instead of the possessed guy and the raped girl?

      The likely answers to these questions is what really disturbs me. Maybe I’m wrong and in the next episode they have a mature approach to the issue, but I seriously doubt it. This is Sunrise we’re talking about, after all.

      1. We’ll see how it goes. I can’t really image they would just call it “sex”, it was clearly a rape. If they pretend it wasn’t a rape I will be pissed as well.

        Based on how they showed Saki at the end of the episode, it looks like she’ll be portrayed as a victim. Don’t really see how this could possibly not result in some character development, it seems like quite the consequential event.

        I can see your concern in them making Shouko the victim you’re supposed to feel sorry for, though. I imagine there will be a little bit of that, although I’d expect it to be overshadowed by Saki and Haruto’s victimhood. This one I wouldn’t entirely be surprised if it went the other way though, sadly…

    2. I don’t know, I didn’t see most of this in the scene. It seemed to be completely unambiguously rape to me. Saki did not look happy afterwards.

      I doubt Valvrave will tackle the social implications of rape as well. (Although I actually do think she will end up pregnant with Valvrave’s child or something.) But does it have an obligation to do so? Can a show not depict rape without discussing rape culture and the psychology of rapists? I’m pretty sure shows that depict murder don’t typically get into the psychology of that.

      As for all the students cheering when people are killed, I think the lack of empathy shown there is intentional. In many other mecha shows no one thinks anything of the enemy dying and even celebrates it. In Valvrave the lack of concern they show is ridiculous to the point of absurdity.

      I wouldn’t have minded them fading to black either, although the sexualization wasn’t too bad, comparatively.

  7. I havent seen this episode but I dont really see what the problem is, as long as nobody is justifying it or just washing it off. Seriously if anyone thinks that this is bad, I’d suggest they never read Lord Foul’s Bane.

    1. I had that on my reading list actually, is it good? Btw I am halfway through Gardens of the Moon, it is excellent.

      1. The story is pretty much standard fare, but the best part is the description of the world, it really feels alive. The only problem people have with it is that the central character is repulsive. I don’t doubt that but I felt that donaldson still managed to make me feel sorry for him and support him even after all the things he does. Now that’s skill.

        Also glad you started GOTM, I envy the fact that you still have all the other books left to read.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.