Jacques Derrida and the Deconstruction of the Super Robot genre

Image of Super Robots

I wrote how Jacques Derrida’s “deconstruction” was later applied to “genre deconstruction.” Since we could choose what we wrote about for my English 244 class, I decided to write on how Evangelion deconstructs the Super Robot Genre. I ended up writing 7 pages so it’s long. If you have the time, read it and let me know what you think. I added the quotes and images to this post.

French philosopher Jacques Derrida is credited with coining the term “deconstruction.” Deconstruction is defined as “a criticism of Platonism, which is defined by the belief that existence is structured in terms of oppositions (separate substances or forms) and that the oppositions are hierarchical, with one side of the opposition being more valuable than the other” (Lawlor). This hierarchy is often observed in the binaries, rich and poor, black and white, male and female, and smart and dumb. In each example, society values one over the other. Generally, we prefer to be rich than poor, diverse societies tend to have a preference for white people over black people. It is common for societies to be patriarchal, given most societies are controlled by men. While everyone can’t be equally intelligent, and most people may not care if they’re the smartest, societies generally have been shown to prefer intelligence.

Derrida was interested in how the meaning of a text could be inferred from what is absent from it as well as what’s present. For example, the word high is defined by its opposite low. Even if “low” isn’t present, its concept is always there. A language that is created by humans, is likely to be embedded with bias. Derrida challenged Western philosophy by examining language, and the philosopher’s obsession with logic and reason. He believed that almost all our ways of thinking suffered from bias, speech is privileged over writing, reason over passion, and words over pictures. He hoped that we could learn to appreciate the value of the underprivileged concept. To successfully deconstruct an idea, we must accept that these ideas are difficult to grasp, and simple answers aren’t always possible. Derrida’s concept of deconstruction aims to seek the hidden meaning in texts by questioning the binaries found within them.

Deconstruction in literature and genre

Deconstruction was later applied to feminism (gender), religion, law, and literature. When deconstructing literature it’s important to examine how words relate to one another and explore their hidden meanings. Often deconstruction is used to break down the genre. First, we need to define a genre. Generally, a genre includes a set of tropes, themes, and characters commonly found in a particular set of works. For example, the horror genre aims to “frighten, scare, or disgust” (Wikipedia). To accomplish this, the genre employs various elements such as imagery, language, and atmosphere to create fear, dread, and revulsion in the reader. Applying deconstruction to literary genres means taking them apart and exploring how the genre functions. Genre is rarely fixed, changing over time as culture shifts and new genres are invented. One way a genre can change is through deconstruction. A genre’s tropes and conventions are given real-world consequences when we deconstruct them.

For example, George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire deconstructs the “honor before reason” trope. This trope is illustrated when characters adhere to a code of ethics even at the expense of themselves. In A Song of Ice and Fire, Ned Stark is willing to sacrifice his honor for the good of others. Ned allows his wife, children, and Westeros society to believe he fathered an illegitimate son, rather than reveal that Jon is his nephew. He does so to protect Jon from being killed because he would be the rightful heir to the throne. Multiple tropes must be examined, broken down, and how characters will react if living in a more realistic world is explored. Deconstruction can often be mistaken for merely applying a more cynical view to a genre. While this tends to be the result it’s not the goal or a requirement. Sometimes deconstruction focuses on what’s ignored and explores what’s overlooked. Any work that avoids engaging with politics, gender, race, class, and/or sexuality is considered perfect fodder for deconstruction.

Bandai’s Gundam series

Deconstructing the Super Robot genre

The super robot genre is a science fiction genre of anime and manga. Massive robots take the place of the traditional hero. These “super robots” are often creations of Mad Scientists that develop the mechs in secret. Sometimes the robot is created by the pilot’s father or grandfather. It’s often left unclear how they get funding, parts, and equipment without anyone knowing. The mecha are often piloted by a teenager with no training, who happens to be great at piloting the robot. The mechanics for controlling a super robot are simplified to a joystick or a few buttons. Despite its size and rigid shape, the giant mecha moves with a fluidity that resembles humans. The mecha is generally sentient, responding to the pilot’s emotions or willpower of the pilot. The super robot genre presents the hero and his mecha as the last hope against evil.

This evil is often mysterious alien villains with shallow motivations. Even though combat between the mecha and these aliens results in massive explosions, environmental effects, and destruction, the likely human casualties are ignored. The super robot genre makes the outcome from war seem insignificant, not to mention that defending the world is so simple that a teen could do it. The super robot genre was deconstructed by the Neon Genesis Evangelion series. Evangelion is considered to be one of the greatest anime series ever created. The series has one of the most complex, and sometimes confusing, narratives. Evangelion combines themes in psychoanalysis, specifically social anxiety, and religion. Philosophical themes like individuality, freedom, choice and a specific focus on the philosophies of Soren Kierkegaard are major influences.

Evangelion’s deconstruction of the super robot genre places the previously mentioned elements in a more serious context. The series shares the basic premise of the super robot series, an ordinary high school student pilots a mech designed by his father, to battle aliens without discernible motives. However, it quickly pivots in tone. Evangelion explores the likely consequences of having children pilot these giant war machines. The main character, Shinji Ikari, is summoned by his father, Gendo Ikari, to pilot an Eva (the name for the giant mechs). Gendo’s disregard for his son’s safety is obvious as he pressures Shinji into piloting. Evangelion is exploring the type of parent that would allow their child to become a soldier in the first place.

Gendo abandoned Shinji when he was an infant. This distance results in a cold relationship between father and son. The series explains it takes “several months’ ‘ (“Angel Attack (14:20 – 14:40) for a pilot to sync with Eva. Evangelion is calling attention to the absurdity of allowing a child to not only pilot but to do so without any training. It’s important to note that while Evangelion questions how the super robot genre treats the child pilots it doesn’t stop the children from piloting. Deconstruction is supposed to question the themes, conventions, and tropes, not undo them completely.

Neon Genesis Evangelion – Eva Unit 01

Unlike the typical super robot, Eva’s are referred to as “artificial human” (“Angel Attack (13:36 – 13:45). The Eva’s are organic, making their movements more believable. Like the super robot genre, the Eva’s are sentient, but they are biological beings embedded with the souls of the mothers of the pilots. This explains why the Eva’s are protective of the pilots. In the series, the mechanism for controlling Eva is more complex than most super robot series. The Eva’s are monitored by NERV’s control room. Once inside, the pilot is submerged in a liquid called LCL. This substance will “feed oxygen into the pilot’s bloodstream” (“Angel Attack” (19:25 – 19:35). The mechanics of piloting an Eva is considerably more complicated than what is common for the super robot genre. In the second episode, “Unfamiliar Ceilings,” Shinji encounters one of the alien monsters called Angels. These alien creatures vary in appearance and motives. Most can’t communicate, making it impossible to gain insight into their thoughts.

During this encounter, Shinji is tasked with making Eva walk and finds it difficult. He has no time to regain control and is attacked by the Angel. Shinji is overwhelmed by pain as the synchronization that links him with Eva causes him to share its damage mentally (“Unfamiliar Ceilings” (2:20 – 3:25). Shinji is nearly killed in this battle, which should be expected considering his lack of experience. By deconstructing this trope of the child hero, Evangelion is claiming that it would likely end in disaster. The series further dissects this genre, explaining how Eva would come into being. NERV is established by the United Nation. The U.N. provides NERV with funding, income, and equipment. NERV is a large governing body with security, technicians, and maintenance crews, this is what a more realistic world would require to build and run the Eva’s. In the traditional super robot series, the robot’s creator would make Eva’s by himself, which is implausible. Evangelion shows the true cost (financial, physical, and mental) of fighting for humanity’s survival and it’s a great cost.

Deconstructing genres isn’t exactly like Derrida’s prescriptions for philosophy, but the breaking down of work to determine greater meaning is derived from his views. When we ask “how would this work in the real world,” we are not aiming to delegitimize the genre, but explore what might make the genre more complex. The super robot genre makes a mockery of the trauma of being a child soldier and the destruction society endures during the war. Deconstruction doesn’t aim to destroy a genre but merely take it more seriously, creating a more sophisticated genre, and engaging in possible assumptions the particular work makes.

Work Cited

“Genre Deconstruction / Anime & Manga.” TV Tropes, Accessed 19 May 2021.

“Themes of Neon Genesis Evangelion.” Wikipedia, 18 Feb. 2021,

“Deconstruction.” TV Tropes, Accessed 19 May 2021.

“Anime / Neon Genesis Evangelion.” TV Tropes, Accessed 19 May 2021.

Wikipedia contributors. “Evangelion (Mecha).” Wikipedia, 14 Apr. 2021,

“NERV | Evangelion | Fandom.” Evangelion, Accessed 19 May 2021.

“What Is an Angel?” Evangelion, Accessed 19 May 2021.

Lawlor, Leonard, “Jacques Derrida”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2019 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <;.

“Horror.” Literary Terms,

“Super Robot Genre Aka: Super Robot.” TV Tropes, Accessed 19 May 2021.

“Literature / A Game of Thrones.” TV Tropes, Accessed 19 May 2021.

“Angel Attack.” Evangelion, created by Creator Hideaki Anno, season 1, episode 1, TV Tokyo, 1995.

“Unfamiliar Ceilings.” Evangelion, created by Creator Hideaki Anno, season 1, episode 2, TV Tokyo, 1995.

Essay/Opinion · Manga

Boruto: The Gallant Jiraiya Returns

Isshiki is ressurected in Boruto chapter 47.
Isshiki is ressurected in Boruto chapter 47

Boruto starts to set itself apart

I have had many issues with the Boruto manga series. The anime is another matter. However, over the last few months, I decided to give the series another chance. The Kawaki Arc (chapters 24 to current) focuses on the character and the Kara. I had issues with Boruto abandoning the core ninjutsu lore from the Naruto series, introducing Ninja Tools. However, the series seems to embraced modernity more directly. The explanation of the Ohtsutsuki Clan as “aliens” yes the out of space kind. At first, I rolled my eyes, but after reading the series further I started to enjoy this arc. If Boruto is going to stand on its own it must separate itself from Naruto. The character Amado explains the clan in such a way that it feels new and organic. Boruto has decided to move from a chakra focused fighting style to one that includes nature and technology. 

The Alien Ohtsutsuki Clan

If you don’t read the series, Amado is a scientist that was the head of Kara’s R&D division. Amado is responsible for the “cyborg” bodies of the Kara members. He along with Koji Kashin betray Kara and defect to Konohagakure. While being interrogated by Naruto and Shikamaru, he goes into detail on the origins of the Ohtsutsuki Clan. Ancient celestial beings, the Ohtsutsuki, travel through dimensions planting Ten-Tails. The Ten-Tails then becomes a God Tree attempting to absorb the chakra from the planet. Once accomplished the Ohtsutsuki abandon the planet. Kaguya and Isshiki were sent to Earth to harvest it. For reasons unknown, Kaguya attacked Isshiki, leaving him near death. Isshiki possessed the ability called Sukunahikona, which allowed him to reduce the size of the body. Using this technique, he invaded Jigen’s body, becoming a parasite.

Jiraiya returns

The return of Jiraiya 

I have been hearing rumors and speculation from Boruto fans that Jiraiya was going to return. This seemed to be largely based on the character Koji’s use of toads. I initially thought this was ridiculous and only based on small evidence. However, the rumors persisted particularly due to Naruto occasionally mentioning that he finds something familiar about Koji. Boruto teased out this reveal with Koji using jutsu like Toad Oil Bombs and Doton Dark Swamp. The visual of the fight between Koji and Isshiki cuts out after the toad sharing the feed is killed. However, we get confirmation from Isshiki that Koji is a clone of Jiraiya. I’m not sure how I feel about this reveal. Jiraiya was my favorite Naruto character but his cloning feels like a crutch or fanservice. Other than that I can’t see how this helps the story, especially considering it seems that Koji is expected to die. The outcome of the next chapter will explain my question of course. If Koji dies, then it was just fanservice, if he lives then it could be much more. Regardless, Boruto is more interesting than I thought. 

The Problems I have with Boruto


Is Dabi Toya Todoroki?

One of the most pressing questions among My Hero Academia fandom is the identity of Dabi, the mysterious villain, and Lieutenant of the Paranormal Liberation Front. Many fans wonder if Dabi is actually Toya Todoroki. I think the question of Dabi’s identity has its merits. So what are the clues?

Image of Dabi

1. Mysteries surrounding Toya and Dabi

There are many unanswered questions surrounding the two characters that imply that there one and the same. Kinda. First, Dabi’s real name isn’t known. Considering the fact that lesser-known characters in My Hero Academia have their real names revealed it seems odd that Dabi’s remains a secret. For example, Trumpet is a minor villain in the series. However, we know that his real name is Koku Hanabata. Obviously, there are other characters who’s real names aren’t mentioned, but the ones of Dabi’s stature tend to. In addition to this, Toya is currently considered missing. This could explain why his origins are unknown.

How old are they?

Like Dabi’s real name, his age isn’t mentioned. Neither is Toya’s. We do know that Toya is the eldest of the Todoroki children. Fuyumi is 23, Natsuo 19, and Shoto is 16. Meaning Toya is a least 24. Without knowing the age of Dabi it’s impossible to determine if he could be a Todoroki. However, we still can’t rule that out.

2. Quirks are inherited

In My Hero Academia, Quirks are inherited genetically. This is the biggest argument for Toya and Dabi being the same person. Dabi’s Quirk is known as “cremation.” However, it hasn’t been given an official name yet and neither has Toya’s fire Quirk. Anyone that watches the anime, knows that the series often restates the Quirks of the villains and heroes. So why don’t we know the official name of Dabi’s fire Quirk?

The blue flame

Dabi’s fire Quirk is the ability to use a blue flame. This color of fire is proof that Dabi’s fire is higher in temperature that Endeavor’s. This is important because in chapter 202, page 8, Endeavor notes (in a flashback) that Toya’s fire was more “even greater firepower than mine.” In addition to this, during the Hosu incident (Episode 30), Endeavor burns the head of a Nomus off using a blue flame. This shows that blue flames are possible among his bloodline. Finally, Quirks get stronger each successive generation. If Dabi is Toya it makes sense that his Quirk would be stronger than Endeavors.

3. So why don’t they recognize him?

One of the best arguments against this theory is the fact that neither Shoto or Enji recognize Dabi. However, there are several good reasons for this. First, both Shoto and Enji (Endeavor) were isolated from the other members of his family. Named “failures” by Endeavor, he deliberately segregated himself and Shoto from them. In chapter 192, page 12, Natsu reveals that his father never let them into Shoto’s life. Would either of them recognize him? Furthermore, Dabi has charred skin covering half his face. Coincidentally, when Endeavor and Dabi meet for the “first” time, the former has a “blurry” vision.

Using their full name

During the moments when Shoto and Enji meet Dabi, he does something odd. He calls them by the full names. In chapter 82, page 18, Dabi calls Shoto by his full name when the later fails to rescue Bakugo. After Endeavor defeats the “High-End Nomu, Hood,” Dabi arrives. Before he escapes he tells “Enji Todoroki,” not to “die until they meet again one day.” This is to deliberate to be a coincidence.

Overall, I think the evidence that Dabi and Toya are the same is too great. With the gaps in both their profiles (age and name of quirk). Dabi’s over-familiar tone with Shoto and Enji. His flame being stronger that Endeavors. The best evidence against this theory can be explained away. So what do you think? Convinced? Did I miss something? Do you have something else to add?

Other possible evidence:

  1. Dabi/Toya’s “weakness” could be the reason his skin burns
  2. Dabi/Toya’s burn marks resemble the portions of Endeavors costume where flames erupt
  3. Dabi, Shoto, and Enji have the same eye (that one’s a little thin)

My Hero Academia Episode 86: Recap and Review


Why are shonen anime characters so stupid?

Important Note: I haven’t been blogging recently due to the fact that I got a job working for USPS. It’s a temporary holiday job that will end in late December. I work overnight from midnight to 8:30 AM, six days a week. As you can image, I don’t have much time left if I include sleeping. I just wanted you guys to know that in case you were wondering why I stopped blogging. I’ll be back in full force in January.

A common question among anime and manga fans for decades has been, why are anime characters so stupid? This question is specifically asked when referring to shonen manga. It should be noted that “shonen” isn’t technically a genre, as it refers to a targeted demographic. However, within anime culture many fans know what’s being referred to when you mention, shonen. Shonen’s main demographic is young teen males. Intended for boys between the ages of 12 and 18, shonen series highlight the themes that generally matter most to this demo. Primarily, fighting series focuses on action packed battle scenes with friendships between boys being emphasized. To make characters more appealing to the young male demographic they tend to begin as young boys.

It’s Akira Toriyama’s fault

But, I think the reason that shonen feature “stupid” protagonists is primarily due to the admiration and influence of Akira Toriyama. A Japanese manga artists and character designer, Toriyama, first achieve success with his Dr. Slump manga series. It won him the Shogakukan Manga Award in 1981 and went on to sell 35 million copies. As a character designer he has been successful for Dragon Quests, Chrono Trigger and Blue Dragon series. However, Akira Toriyama is best known for his follow up manga series Dragon Ball. Having sold over 250 million copies, Dragon Ball is the second best selling manga of all time. Considered to be a primary driving force in increasing manga sales from the mid 80’s to the mid 90’s, Dragon Ball’s impact continues to be felt till this day. Akira Toriyama is credited with popularizing shonen manga beginning in the 80’s continuing to this day.

The invention of the Stock Shonen Hero trope

It is this influence that is responsible for the trend of “dumb” shonen characters. To be more specific, it is Dragon Ball’s main protagonist, Son Goku that is the template that shonen heroes are built upon. Considered to be the most influential manga characters of all time, he’s a saiyan that was sent to conquer Earth as a baby. After hitting his head as a child, he loses his aggression that comes naturally to the saiyan race. As a result, he is no longer able to conquer the world. As Goku ages, he makes friends, enemies, gets married and has children. He’s presented as being profoundly stupid, but innocent at heart. Always has mercy for his enemies and is capable of brilliance during combat. Goku, like all saiyans, takes pride in his strength. Goku has been credited with giving birth to the “Stock Shonen Hero” trope.

This trope describes a “big hearted, energetic kid,” that is not too bright. They have pride in their fighting strength. These heroes are willing to train hard to achieve even greater strength. However, their true power comes from the friendships they have gained and the sense of justice they possess. The “stock shonen hero” is always ready to help the weak, risk their lives for strangers and friends, while often showing mercy towards enemies. Every character that is inspired by Goku has many of these qualities as well. Akira Toriyama and his Dragon Ball series has been cited as inspiration for many manga artists. Eiichiro Oda (One Piece), Masashi Kishimoto (Naruto) and Tite Kubo (Bleach) have all claimed to have been influenced by Dragon Ball. Oda’s Monkey D. Luffy, Kishimoto’s Naruto and Kubo’s Ichigo, all share the parts of the tropes Goku made famous.

A genre that priorities the physical strength of a character over their intelligence, is obviously going result in dumb characters with epic battles. Making characters dumb is considered to be a great way to make them appealing to a larger audience. What they lack in book smarts, they make up in “street smarts.” Meaning these characters are able to think on the fly and can problem solve when needed. In shonen manga this “intelligence” is often shown during fights. While shonen anime existed before Akira Toriyama, it’s his Dragon Ball series that popularized the genre. Toriyama’s Goku was the inspiration for many future protagonist, making stupid heroes the norm.

Essay/Opinion · Manga

The Problems I have with Boruto

From Boruto Chapter 31

I have to admit I’m not sure I even like Boruto. The manga series is certainly better than the anime, but I find that neither comes close to the Naruto series, even if Masashi Kishimoto is the editor of the manga. The monthly schedule doesn’t help, but I do like the art style. One of the main problems is the feeling of growth. What I mean by that is all the characters seem to have S Rank abilities already. I make the series feel rushed. Take the BIG three of the series. Boruto Uzumaki, Sarada Uchiha, and Mitsuki. Heirs of the vaunted, Legendary Three Ninja, Jiraiya, Orochimaru and Tsunade and Team 7, Sakura Haruno, Sasuke Uchiha, and Uzumaki Naruto. While it true that the 3 Sannin and Team 7 were exceptional, the most recent generation seems even better.

Unlike his father, Boruto is the child of two powerful bloodlines, Hyuga and Uzumaki. He’s also a prodigy. Sarada is an elite genin, having inherited the Sharingan and her mother’s chakra control and strength. Then there’s Mitsuki, the “son” of Orochimaru. He was created by Orochimaru to be genetically perfect and has the “potentially more powerful than the Sannin himself.” Boruto has a unique Dojutsu that grants him similar abilities to the Byakugan. He also mastered the Rasengan with wind nature transformation added to it before finishing the ninja academy. It took his father a great deal of training and effort to do the same. Sarada learned how to use collect chakra into her fist, giving her tremendous strength comparable to her mother or Tsunade. She has had no training in this regard. Did she just guess how to do it? Mitsuki has Senjutsu, something that Jiraiya failed to master and took (okay a few weeks) for Naruto to.

Maybe, they have to give this generation a boost since they are competing with ninja tech now. Which basically makes my previous complaint moot, since you can buy ninja abilities. The ninja tech undermines the ninjas period. Normal people can use jutsu now. I don’t feel that anything jutsu has been earned in this series. Sure you should expect the main characters to be the best, but it feels unmerited.

So what do you think. I am off base here? Do you agree? Have you ever read or watched Boruto? What am I missing ?