rhianwen_24601 (rhianwen_24601) wrote in readordiesilly,

Subtext, Baby!

Okay; I've been thinking for the last little while about the concept of "subtext". Now, from what I gather, "subtext" is most clearly defined by coming up with an idea first, and finding evidence to support it after. Even when there is none.

So, with this wisdom in mind, I thought a little bit about the treasure trove of symbolism, significance, and meaning within Read or Die.

That, of course, is never a good thing.

And so, with no further ado, I bring you...Subtextin' With Rhianwen: Be Very Afriad!

Drake/Yomiko: A Small But Definite Point

Recall, if you will, a certain moment in the OVA when Drake meets Nancy for the first time. Yomiko has just come barrelling through the room and launched herself at him, screaming about her book. Drake, catching sight of Nancy, grabs the top of Yomiko’s head, turns it around, and asks Yomiko to explain who this is.

Well, the significance to a case for Drake/Yomiko, my friends, is that Drake has turned Yomiko’s head. And he turned her head exactly as Drake would turn any girl’s head: by force. The fact that he turned her head towards Nancy indicates that Drake was as yet completely unable to come to terms with his feelings for her, and chose to deal with it by trying to redirect hers to someone else. Someone who could keep her occupied until he was ready for her.

Also, recall how annoyed Drake gets at Yomiko’s book fixation. Of course, this is easily explained by annoyance that she is less than focussed on the mission, but in light of the above piece of evidence, I believe it can be seen as annoyance that books are more important to Yomiko than he is. And, of course, there’s the matter of exactly when Drake began to dislike Nancy. Not initially, although hers is certainly not a likeable personality. Instead, it was after Yomiko had indicated that she had feelings for the lovely Ms. Makuhari, and Nancy had indicated that they might be returned. This was also the point that Nancy was revealed to be a spy, but…shut up! It’s subtext; it doesn’t have to make sense.

Mr. Gentleman and His Sycophant: When Father/Son Goes Too Far

My argument in this case is not for a mutual, two-sided relationship between Mr. Gentleman and Joker. Instead, I maintain that poor Joker had feelings for Big G that may or may not have ever been expressed. If expressed, they were most certainly not returned. After all, Joker behaved towards Mr. Gentleman in the OVA exactly as Wendy behaved to Joker in the TV series, and no one questions for a second that she was longing for him in a way that never stood any chance of being returned. Since everyone can’t possibly be wrong on this point, I think the possibility must be considered that this dynamic indicated the same thing for Mr. Gentleman and Joker as it did for Joker and Wendy.

Leaving aside the possibility that the Gentleman Revival plan thingy was Big G’s own idea, Joker’s insistence that he would not lose the man who had meant so much to him, even going so far as to attempt to reverse death, struck me as a little unhealthy. When we meet Joker in the OVA, he seems almost…I don’t know…sane. Whether or not he was a right bastard then, too, he seemed the sort who could admit that death was death, and move on. By the TV series, this has obviously changed. Something has to have happened to change it. Obviously, this is a man with unfinished business; something was left unresolved between Joker and his Big G. This ate at his mind until it finally snapped like a dry and brittle twig, and Joker found himself with no other option than to institute a scheme most likely conceived whilst helping himself to his secretary’s “stash”, to force Big G back to life. Why did he choose the form of Junior to put Big G into? Simple. He wanted to reverse the roles between himself and Mr. Gentleman. He wanted to be the older, more powerful half of the relationship, and the easiest way to do that was to force Mr. Gentleman into the form of the helpless young boy that he himself had been when his heart and soul were first captured by that astounding collection of wrinkles. It was to be only an illusory role reversal, of course, as Mr. Gentlejunior would continue to hold all the real power. But Joker has never had anything against illusion.

This is evidenced by Wendy’s dramatic change between the two serieses. If that’s a word, which it is not. Serii? Oh, well. Back to the incest. In the OVA, Wendy is a sweet, harmless little thing, really of no more importance than the rest of the nameless dunderheads with Special Operations. By the TV, she becomes a rather major player, in that she, like, does stuff. When Mr. Gentleman needed something Done in the OVA, who did he go to? That’s right; Joker. When Joker needs something done in the TV, he goes straight to Wendy. A possible interpretation of this rather familiar dynamic manifesting itself in a different place is that Joker has subconsciously begun to despair of ever getting Mr. Gentleman back. And if he cannot have him, the next best thing is to be him. But then he’ll need a sweet young boy to corrupt. But who? He doesn’t really like any of the ones he has around now; Mr. Gentleman has spoiled him for any other man. Ah, but there is that little Wendy girl. Her figure is practically that of a boy – a D-cup instead of an H. She’ll do nicely. Although, she’ll need a haircut. He won’t have his little boy-toy (who just happens to be a woman) looking so unkempt!

And so, he drowned his loneliness and longing in a girl who had a longing of her own, which we’ll get to later. And it worked. For a time. But soon enough, the longing was too much to bear, and Joker completely lost his interest in anything that did not involve Mr. Gentleman coming back to make him a man.

Gawd, Joker’s even creepier than I thought.

Wendy’s Unrequited Love: Not What You’d Think

Whether you love her or hate her, it is pretty durned obvious that the lovely Ms. Wendy is a victim of the miserable state that is Unrequited Love. Doomed to spend her days yearning hopelessly for someone that she can never have, since anime characters are always too bloody stupid to just move on with their lives and find someone else.

Who, you might ask, has unwittingly captured the heart of this adorable tea-fetching klutz?

Yomiko Readman.

Yes. It is true. Wendy is filled, day and night, with a longing for Zaaaaaaah Peeepah. Notice how happy she is in the OVAs to find out that Yomiko is alive instead of lying in messily-killed bits around the I-jin fortress? Well, of course that means she’s in love! What else could it possibly mean? If she wasn’t in love with Yomiko, she would have just shrugged when Yomiko was revealed to be in grave danger, and run off to fetch some tea and trip over something.

This is the last time that we see Wendy mention or refer to Yomiko in any way, but so much more is implied. Did you see how horrified she was at the concept of Ikkyu’s rocket? Well, obviously, the rocket was a phallic symbol. And Wendy, who is still trying to deal with her burning passion for a woman, doesn’t quite know how to deal with all things phallic, and this comes through clearly in her distaste for an especially large, ‘splodey one.

Next, there has to be a reason that Wendy continues to work for Joker when she hates penises so much, and he presumably has one. Clearly, she does so because Joker and the Special Operations Unit are her most promising links to Yomiko. And that’s why she keeps working for them in ROD the TV: I think she and Nenene were exchanging letters (sort of a…Girls Addicted to Yomiko Readman support group), and she realized that being An Ordinary Girl would give her no chance of seeing her unkempt goddess ever again. So, she continued to sell her soul, bit by bit, to Joker, in the hopes that her path would someday cross with Yomiko’s again.

And it did.

Unfortunately, all that exposure to men and their manly bits had made Wendy very aggressive, and entirely unable to deal with her anger in a productive, non-violent way. Thus did her feelings of abandonment come through in a bullet to Yomiko’s shoulder (not the head, as shooting the object of your desires in the head is somewhat counterproductive).

And hey; did anyone else wonder who on earth decided that Junior would have hair down to his butt? Way to make the kid inconspicuous. But Junior’s long, glorious tresses were just one more way that Wendy tried to deal with Yomiko’s absence. While helping a six-year old boy work a comb through the tangles that any six-year old boy with waist-length hair would be bound to acquire, she was almost able to pretend for a split second that it was not Junior’s, but Yomiko’s hair that she was detangling. Which also explains why she always hated Junior: eventually, one must wake up from these little bits of fantasy in the end, and every time she opened her eyes to see Junior staring up at her instead of Yomiko, it chipped away at her sanity just a little bit more.

Poor, poor Wendy…

Post your own! There are always more theories out there! Do you have a theory that got shot down everywhere else on the ridiculous and unfair basis of being completely unsupported and generally silly? Post it here! Those are my favourite kinds! :D
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