agent of satan

They Might be Giants: Attack on Titan and the Legends of Gog and Magog

CW: Discussion of medieval antisemitism

Floch speaking of Erwin in Chapter 84. Perhaps also, inadvertently, referencing the powers of Ymir.

Ever since we got our first glimpse into Grisha’s notebooks I’ve had this suspicion in the back of my mind, but in the wake of Chapter 90 it’s crystalized for me. Isayama clearly draws inspiration from a wide range of mythological and religious sources, but there’s one family of apocalyptic legends that I think is particularly intrinsic to his world-building, based on the most recent chapters. That is the stories of the people of Gog and Magog and Alexander’s Gate.

A depiction of the Gog and Magog cannibals from a 14th century manuscript of Roman de toute chevalrie

There are many stories of Gog and Magog, and these stories adapt over time to suit the political ends of the people writing them. I’ll try to give the briefest possible overview that I can, and I will direct you to the Wikipedia page for the legends, since it is actually quite good. In general Gog and Magog are often people, possibly giants and cannibals (we’ll get to that), who have been sealed away by Alexander the Great in the Caspian Mountains. During the apocalypse, these people will be unleased and will have to choose a side in the final struggle of good and evil. In many versions of the legend they are the agents of Satan and the Antichrist.

The earliest mention of Gog and Magog appears in the Hebrew Bible, specifically the book of Ezekiel. Look familiar? Zeke is a standard shortened version of the name Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 38-39, Gog is the prince of a land called Magog. God tells Ezekiel to prophesy to Gog:

“Therefore, mortal, prophesy, and say to Gog: Thus says the Lord God: On that day when my people Israel are living securely, you will rouse yourself and come from your place out of the remotest parts of the north, you and many peoples with you, all them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army; you will come up against my people Israel, like a cloud covering the earth” (Form Ezekiel 38:14-16, The New Oxford Annotated Bible).

Here, Gog from Magog is an enemy whom God later tells Ezekiel He will crush. He is occupying a remote territory but will eventually launch an attack. It’s this idea of a dormant nemesis that becomes crucial to many of the later stories.

Over the following centuries, Gog from Magog shifts to Gog and Magog, both groups of people, but the apocalyptic element of the story remains. In the early Christian text of Revelations 19:11-21:8, for example, Satan rallies the peoples of Gog and Magog into a final battle with Christ.

Eventually these accounts of Gog and Magog merge with legends of Alexander the Great sealing a group of people in the Caspian Mountains (perhaps the Caucasus Mountains) with a great gate: sometimes Gog and Magog even becomes a name for the place, rather than the people trapped inside it. One of the earliest mentions of this tale comes from the first century Jewish writer Josephus, but it becomes important to many of the cultures around the Mediterranean. Both the Quran and the seventh-century Syriac The Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius elaborate that Alexander’s Gate is sealed by two mountains coming together, a detail that is quite prominent in the (much later) medieval Alexander Romances.

In many early accounts of Gog and Magog, the people sealed within the gate are construed as monstrous in some form. For instance, In Roman de toute chevalerie, the twelfth-century work of Anglo-Norman writer Thomas de Kent, Gog and Magog are cave-dwelling cannibals. They are also sometimes conflated with the British (as in Welsh) giant Gogmagog. In Geoffrey of Monmouth’s twelfth-century Historia Regum Britanniae (“History of the Kings of Britain”), Gogmagog is the leader of the giants who attacks the Trojan settlers of Britain (don’t ask; many early western medieval civilizations like to claim Trojan descent). The Trojans eventually slaughter them all except for Gogmagog, who is kept alive to wrestle with the Trojan hero Corineus. Gogmagog loses. There are versions of this particular story where Gogmagog gets separated into Gog and Magog, leading to some confusion and overlap between the two initially disparate narrative strains.

You may be able to see a pattern here: Gog and Magog are almost always representatives of a lurking existential and possibly monstrous threat to civilization. Over the course of history they have been identified with many specific peoples for various fear-mongering purposes. Perhaps one of the more well-known and virulent versions of the Gog and Magog story is related in Sir John Mandeville’s fourteenth-century The Book of Marvels and Travels, where he claims (and he is by no means the first person to do so) that the people locked in Gog and Magog are the ten Lost Tribes of Israel: Alexander prayed to God for a miracle to seal them away, and God responded by locking together the mountains (104-105 in the Oxford World Classics version, if you’re interested). Mandeville’s antisemitism is staggering: he asserts that these people will serve the Antichrist once released from their imprisonment at the time of  the Apocalypse—a fox will burrow beneath the mountains and lead them out—and that Jews living among Christians in Europe continue to learn Hebrew so that they can speak with these tribes upon their return. He writes, “These Jews say that they know through their prophecies that the Jews who are within these Caspian Mountains will emerge and Christians will be subject to them as they have been subject to Christians” (105). This “prophecy”, to Mandeville’s mind, justifies keeping Jewish populations cordoned off and oppressed within medieval “Christendom.” 

Sound familiar? It’s similar to the attitude of the Marleyans towards the Eldians in Attack on Titan. They keep them in containment zones and justify their cruelties by claiming that “Subjects of Ymir” are devils who are seeking the destruction of humankind. For the Marleyans, an apocalyptic threat hangs over the island of Paradis. If they didn’t need Eldians to make more mindless titans, they would perhaps wipe them out (although, they sometimes tell Eldians that their mercy is a sign of innate Marleyan superiority). 

Gross saying horrible things in chapter 87. His reference to Grisha and the Restorationists being “rats” for trying to contact Paradis puts me in mind of Mandeville’s story about a fox. This speech also smacks of modern antisemitic rhetoric. Gross is just the worst, isn’t he? :(

Given all of this evidence, it seems to me that Attack on Titan has taken some of the elements of the Gog and Magog legends and refocalized them through the lens of the people within the Walls. The Eldians in Paradis have the capability of turning into titans, which are cannibal giants, but this is much more of a curse upon them than a boon. Their exile, while still miraculous and seemingly absolute, is self-imposed for reasons that are still unclear. The outside world hates and mistrusts them, fearing the power of the titans locked with the Walls, but the people on the inside are ignorant of their history; in fact, much like the stories of Gog and Magog, the transmission of history in Attack on Titan is a muddied process where pieces get removed, added, or altered as time wears on. There are lots of discussions of devils (from Bertolt calling the Eldians within the Walls “children of the devil” to more innocuous references like Jean’s comment “The 104th has the devil’s luck” when they return to Wall Rose with Eren in tow), but the people within the Walls are always our first point of sympathy. What would it be like, Attack on Titan asks, to be the people locked away and wake up to discover the rest of the world despises you, associates you with the apocalypse, and seeks your destruction? Terrifying, to put it mildly.

Hange ruminating on the state of the world in chapter 89.

I can’t offer any real predictions on where this story will go from here based on this source analysis. In most of the legends, as stated above, Gog and Magog are defeated by God at the apocalypse. Considering how Isayama has crafted the story so that we are sympathetic to the plight of the people of the Walls, I cannot imagine such an ending could be deemed “justice,” at least for the reader (the First King might be a different matter … ). 

I think Isayama takes inspiration from a wide range of places, but this is one that I hadn’t seen discussed before and had not really occurred to me until the full breadth of the outside world was revealed in the most recent chapters, so I thought I would put it out there :) I am by no means an expert on the Gog and Magog stories and this has pretty much exhausted my personal knowledge on the subject, so if anyone would like to add or correct something, please do so!

lezbrianna  asked:

The more I read about Sailor Moon (especially from your blog) the more I realize that Madoka Magica isn't as much of a deconstruction of Magical Girl shows as TVTropes says it is. It's more of a "What if this good thing that happens in this show actually lead to this bad thing instead" and "what if the good guys aligned with our heroine had ulterior motives instead." Star Wars KotOR2 is a much more effective deconstruction bc it actually asks questions about the Jedi and the nature of the Force.

Yeah, I mean, I do like Madoka (disregarding the movie) but it isn’t a deconstruction.

For one thing, a deconstruction requires being familiar with the genre and Urobuchi has admitted he wasn’t. Like he had literally never watched any. He based Madoka off porn games, for christ’s sake.

Second, it only really goes as far as “what if the mascot was evil” which is something that has actually been explored in mg shows before (Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne is an example. Her mascot was literally turned out to be an agent of Satan, not joking). The fact is, in most magical girl shows, the mascot merely tells the girl that she has superpowers she can unlock, rather than granting her power in exchange for something, so the whole “wishes” thing does not hold up as a deconstruction. Either that or, a la Precure, the mascot is very obviously weak and dependent on the girls for help and they help out of the goodness of their hearts.

 I guess you could argue his whole “magical girls would be isolated and fighting each other” thing counts as deconstruction, but there generally ARE loner magical girls in traditional magical girl shows who isolate themselves and conflict with the others before being helped by the power of friendship. There ARE magical girls who turn evil (ala Madoka’s witches) under the strain of whatever, they just tend to be saved. The POINT of magical girl shows is generally that the girls keep themselves from going into loneliness and despair over the shit they have to deal with by finding strength and support in each other.

 I’m not sure why the hell you’d want to “deconstruct” “female friendship is powerful” as a trope, but hey. (Like the Madoka movie literally turned the “sad girl finds redemption and strength in female friendship/strong lesbian subtext” to “WHAT A TWIST the sad girl’s friendship/crush on another girl IS OBVIOUSLY OBSESSIVE AND HORRIBLE AND BASICALLY ABUSIVE” which wow. So progressive.)

So yeah, I don’t really see it as a deconstruction but rather a dark twist on the genre, and not one that uses tropes that haven’t been done before. Is it well-written at times? Yes, the writing of the aftermath of Mami’s death always breaks my heart, as does the time travel ep. The music is fantastic. etc. But it’s not as groundbreaking as people typically act like, imo.

I’ve said it before, but Utena is what an actual deconstruction looks like- as a deconstruction of shoujo and fairy tale shit rather than any particular genre really. It doesn’t just go “okay what if it were a trick” or “what if the heroes failed” but shows how harmful it is for people to try to fit in and follow these archetypes fairy tales/shoujo lay out. 

It shows that someone who actually acts like a typical aggressive male love interest is actually really fucking terrifying when you actually think about it, and would have to be a truly shitty human being. 

It shows that trying to fit men into this narrow “prince” archetype sets them up for failure, and that men inevitably take the shame they feel over that failure out on women.

 It shows that women who are actually forced to act in the role of damsel in distress and victimized over and over again would inevitably be bitter and fucked up and be caught in a genuine abusive cycle. It shows that the problem isn’t magically  solved just because you “save” the woman in question, she needs to be able to heal, break the cycle and reclaim her agency.

To me, that’s what a deconstruction is. It exposes the underlying problems with various facets of a genre and shows how it is harmful for people to try to fit into these archetypes, how they limit and exploit the characters in question. 

I also think the best deconstructions generally show the characters truly breaking out of the roles assigned them and destroying those harmful archetypes, to show stories don’t have to be this way isn’t it so much cooler when we don’t limit ourselves? I mean, honestly, what’s the point of deconstruction if you don’t present a way the genre could improve? It’s just saying “this thing sucks” and that doesn’t help anyone. You need to show how it could break out of the same tired cliches.

Which is what Utena did. It was like “hey, we don’t have to rely on the prince and princess archetypes, hey we can just forget about the shitty male leads, hey women can save themselves, hey, isn’t this a bit better?”

Madoka…definitely did not do that, even if we’re acting like it’s a deconstruction. The magical girl system was still in place, girls were still sacrificed and some were dying because they wanted a boy to be happy, etc. So like, what was it trying to say if we’re calling it a deconstruction? “Well, this is just how it is”, I guess. 

Madoka just really didn’t tackle any of the problems with the magical girl genre or show how these archetypes are flawed. It just took tropes that were already present and hit them with an angsty stick. So no, it’s not deconstruction imho. I did see someone once argue it could be a deconstruction for male-aimed magical girl shows, but I honestly really don’t see that and again, I don’t see how it could have been that considering the writer had never watched a magical girl show, male-aimed or otherwise. 

redspets  asked:

Okay so, what would Annie do if she's home by herself and notice that somehow Julius got out?

Oh my god it would be a disaster like. She walks into their room to change into lounge clothes or something and she is faced with the most horrifying sight; an empty cage on their nightstand. Annie just stands there, staring, soul slowly leaving her body as she realizes

1.) That fuzzy creepy ass large ass arachnid ass tarantula fiend is free and roaming around their room, possibly around their house. Crawling on her shit. MOCKING her, somewhere in the shadows

2.) Armin will be home any minute and his precious best friend and faithful familiar is nowhere to be seen and could possibly be in trouble and for the sake of the boy she loves, creepy fucking cursed pets be damned, she has to find Julius and make sure he’s safe. Even if she has to….pick him up herself.

So she equips herself with rubber dish gloves and grabs the cage and a butterfly net, stalking the house and checking in every little corner. Calling out his name. “Juliuuuus. Come out you little agent of satan.”

Eventually she sees him just sort of like. Chilling on the TV, staring at her, and she slowly approaches to try to scoop him back into the case when that little fuzzy bastard jumps on her hand all the way past the gloves and is crawling up her arm.

Annie Leonhardt has never felt the fear of god so much in her entire life. Like, she drops everything in her hands, and is completely frozen in place for fear of…SOMETHING. He’s just chilling on her bicep staring and she is holding back a blood curdling Female Titan style scream when Armin walks in the door

and sees what’s happening. Staring just as confused until he breaks out into a big smile because “AW I KNEW YOU’D GET ALONG” and Annie’s just like Put That Thing Back Where It Came From Or So Help Me

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My life has never known peace ever since I became aware of this person known as Gazi on the internet.

Dear God, Allah, Yahweh, Oluwa, Chineke or any creator out there, please demolish this agent of satan known as Gazi. Smite this hotep jinn with your firm and mighty hand, I beg of you. Discombobulate this enemy of progress entirely. He’s been doing the devil’s work for far too long. Let thunda fire his nyash well well. Amen.