Friday, August 30, 2013

Volt : one of the most interesting villain group ever in sentai

From left to right ; Gash, Gou Omura/Dr Obler, Great Professor Bias, Dr Kemp/ Kenji Tsukigata, Dr Mazenda/ Rui Senda

Liveman has one of the most powerful main stories in Super Sentai history: the heroes are three students of a Science Academy where only the most brilliant people are able to attend. Two years before, three fellow students who were the heroes's friends, fled the academy to go in a mysterious spaceship, after killing two of the heroes's best friends. Two years later, the Academy is attacked and almoqt everyone is killed, and it's revealed that the people behind the bloodbath are none other than the three students who fled two years before, and have joined Volt, a mysterious organization which aims to take over the world. The heroes, who wanted to avenge their comrades, and had anticipated such a confrontation, have trained themselves, creating special combat suits and building mechas to become a fighting team, the Liveman. The story follows the Liveman's fight against Volt, and their former friends who became their mortal enemies.

One of the reasons Liveman is so powerful is because the enemies and the heroes have a strong history between them, know each other, and as such, the fight is much more personal. But, even more important, the Volt members are really interesting because of their interactions with each other, and their motivation in their action.

Let's start analysing the Volt group :

1) The main trio : Dr Kemp/ Kenji Tsukigata, Dr Mazenda/ Rui Senda and Dr Oblar/ Gou Omura

Those three were formerly the heroes's friends and fellow students, but they became corrupted into joining Volt, and became cruel and ruthless cold blood killers who would stop at nothing to achieve their goals. Rather than talking about each one of them separately, I'm gonna talk about the three main components of their personality which played the most important role in their decision to join Volt

a) Pride/Arrogance
Kenji, Rui and Gou knew they were some of the most brilliant people on Earth, since they were able to study in the very prestigious Science Academy where only the best could be. As a result, they had a very high opinion of themselves and pretty looked down upon people not as talented as them. As a result, because of that great pride, it wouldn't be very difficult for them to see themselves as the only people worthy of being on Earth, because people who were not as smart as them are worthless in their eyes. When Bias sent them the test to join Volt, he knew that he just needed to take advantage of that pride to make them join him, since he was only selected the best ones: being able to join Volt was the ultimate evidence for Kenji, Rui and Gou that they were the best.
While all three of them were arrogant, Kenji/ Kemp is probably the most arrogant of them, as he always talk to people, even his fellow Volt memebers, as if he were superior to them. Even younger, Kenji had such an high opinion of himself that he didn't feel he needed to thank people who had helped him. In all his actions, Kemp shows that he feels that his genius allows him to get everything.
Because of his pride, he was unable to leave Volt even when realizing he was a pawn for Bias and was destined to have his brain taken, and he pretty much allowed Bias to take his brain and turning his body into a mindless beast. It's only after hearing Megumi's touching words about how life is beautiful that, in his pitiful state as a living brain, he at last rebelled with his fellow living brain comrades into rebelling at last, and allowed themselves to be destroyed to have revenge on Bias's treachery.
Interestingly, Gou Omura, unlike the others, was raised to think that he was different and superior to the others, because his mom always told him so, and made him study all the time because it's what a genius should do.  As such, his pride seems more to be something he had forced on him, rather than his true personality, and it's one of the key elements of why he had a potential for redemption that the others didn't have.

b) Vanity
By caring mostly about their genius and despising everything else, the three villains were certainly vain. A key element of their vanity was how they changed their form to look less human, and more like their own creations, and display their powers. But the one who showed the most vanity is without a doubt Dr Mazenda. Indeed, a lot of her plans involved her corrupting humans into being her slaves, and it's obvious that she really appreciated having people worshipping her. A great example is episode 9, where Mazenda uses a perfume to make men fall in love with her and do everything she says, and follow her orders : a good example was her being able to manipulate Jou and Yuusuke into worshipping her: she had obviously fun when they did see her as their big love. Likewise, she had fun having strong young high school rugby players being her slaves thanks to one of her brain beasts, and she also liked manipulating kids. There are two great symbols of her vanity : her use of a perfume she created and the fact she made her body more and more robotic to keep her beauty forever. However, at the end, when Mazenda realized she's been manipulated by Bias and was nothing else than a pawn who was there to be used and to have her brain taken, and was mortally wounded by Bias after changing her brain into a machine, she realized how vain she was, forgetting how important life is and how the world is beautiful.

c) Beneath the pride, an hidden low self esteem and a deep need to be aknowledged and praised for their skills, intelligence and actions

While Kenji, Rui and Gou were thinking of themselves as much smarter and superior than most people, there was still one person that they saw as even more brilliant of a genius than them: the leader of Volt, Professor Bias. As such, they needed more than anything Bias's praise, because it was needed to fuel their self esteem, because beneath their arrogance, the three doctors had in fact deep insecurities and self doubts. When Bias was unhappy with them, it was the ultimate pain for them   (and it was even more painful since the other volt members never failed to tease them) and they would do anything to earn back his respect. They were even ready to do painful sacrifices : for example, Mazenda had a very complex opinion of love : while she did everything to show how much she despised love, because it was what Bias thought, the Twin Zuno arc showed that she cared about love much more than she would admit it, and that discarding it completely was a painful step for her.
But the one whose motivations was the most dominated by his need to be praised by others is obviously Gou/Obler. Gou was arrogant, but it was obvious that he needed even more than the others to recieve praise, and he would do everything to be the best in order to show he's worthy. When Kemp and Mazenda used power ups, but kept their human apparence, Gou wanted to go even further and discard his human body for an even better body. Gou would do everything to show Bias he's the best, and whenever he was told that he wasn't worthy, he would feel into despair and risk everything to show he's as good and even better than his comrades. But the real reason behind that was that since the beginning, he had to be the best to gain his mother's approval. His mother saw him as a genius, and he needed to be a genius to make his mom proud. Even if he wanted to play, he couldn't because his mother felt that it wasn't worthy of an activity for such a genius. However, Gou only was forced to realize it when he saw a Brain beast who was pretty much a clone of himself, starting to play because he had fun doing it instead of having people brainwashed into studying the Volt bible. Soon, he lost Bias's respect and was desperate to earn it back. However, it was obvious that there was another person whose approval Gou wanted to earn: his mother. When Yuusuke made Gou's mother realize that she played a key role in her son's transformation into Obler, because she was the one who never stopped telling him he was special and that he needed to be the best, there was again hope for Gou/ Obler. Indeed, Obler heard at last from his mother what he needed to know since the beginning: that he didn't need to be the best, he didn't need to be a genius: what he needed the most was to be aknowledge for what he was, without being under pressure into being above the others. As a result, Obler risked his life into protecting his mother from Volt, and managed to leave the evil organization, and become human again.

The Liveman had many painful encounters with their former friends turned enemies. While they felt a lot of hate against them, there was also sometimes the hope of seeing them realize the errors of their ways and having them leave Volt and even, perhaps, become friends again. And indeed, one of them, Gou Omura managed to leave Volt, and managed to become friends again with them, notably Jou, whom he was the closest with. Feeling intense guilt about his actions in Volt, Gou sought his redemption through religion and helping the Liveman as much as he could. However, Kemp and Mazenda remained their enemies until the very end, and they only realized their foolishness when it was too late : the final dialogue between Mazenda and Gou is very telling, because while Mazenda pretty much despised Gou, at the end, she realized that he was the lucky one, leaving Volt and keeping his humanity  before it was too late.

2) Bushijima Arashi/ Dr Ashura
Arashi had a very different background than the other Volt members: unlike them, he wasn't a genius, but a brutal thug who wasn't even able to count without the help of his fingers: because he only had 10 fingers, he wasn't even able to count above 10. Arashi was a criminal even before joining Volt, as an underworld leader. However, very aware of his limited intellect, he had deep resentment against the Academy's students, because of his deep jealousy of their superior intelligence. Arashi however was very strong physically. Bias soon realized Arashi's potential, and took him to enhance his intelligence by technological means, turnng him into Dr Ashura. As Ashura, Arashi had at last the intelligence he so wanted to have, and became a dangerous enemy of the Liveman, and a strong rival for the other Volt members. He tried to use his new intelligence to be the best, wanting to surpass the other Volt members, to show how he could be better than them, despite having his backgroung as a former idiot. However, Ashura was notheing else than a pawn for Bias to motivate Kemp and Mazenda into doing their best. He pretty much discared Ashura when he didn't need him anymore, and when Ashura was about to discover his secrets, tried to kill him and stripped him of his intelligence. Arashi was furious against Bias, and he did everything to get revenge against him, ultimately sacrificing his life to destroy a Brain Beast. Arashi was pretty aware of his weird fate, but at least, he chose his own end, dying in combat.

3) Guildos and Butchy
Those two characters have been introduced as aliens that joined Volt to study with Bias. But they were in fact mere robots, created by Bias to put pressure on Kemp and Mazenda into doing their best and earning a 1000 point brain. They aren't really interesting characters, but they embodies the cruelty of Bias, who created fake memories into their robotic brain, which made it very painful for them to discover the truth about their nature.

4) Gash
A robot who was Bias's closest follower, helping his students into creating their Brain Beasts, making them grow big and even sometimes being involved in fights, where he showed his ruthlessness, but, most importantly, was the only one aware of Bias's true plans, and in charge of getting the geniuses's brain. He remained at Bias's side until the end, even making him believe in his victory to keep him happy when he was about to die of both old age and his ship's explosion.

4) Great Professor Bias
The Leader of Volt, he's luring young geniuses into joining him to take over the world and to have it ruled by geniuses, the only people worthy in Earth. He had great talent into manipulating young people by taking advantage of their pride, and, more importantly, their deep need for praise and aknowlegment. However, his true aim was to collect brain to make him be young forever by using the geniuses's brain's energy. He needed new "1000 point brains", because he would lose his youth if he didn't regularly took brain energy. For that purpose, needed to develop his pupils's mental skills to improve their brain and making them become "1000 point's brain". He would do everything to make geniuses being able to get the 1000 points brain improve their skills, even bringing more rivals to them, either other people or even robots he created. He didn't care for his pupils's well being, and would be ready to discard their lives if it could help his purpose. At the end, he tried to conquer Earth by brainwashing all people on Earth into worshipping him, but was stopped by Yuusuke. At the end, he used Kemp's brain, that he was able to collect, to keep his youth, but ended up turned into a kid. However, he was still as cruel as before. But after a last confrontation with Megumi/ Blue Dolphin, the people he took the brains decided to rebel against him, and Bias ended up losing his brains, and turned old again, without hope to reverse the process and he ended up dying as a senile man, without even realizing what happened around him.

One of the most interesting elements about Volt is how most of the main villains died in a karmic way, not because of the heroes's actions, but as a result of their choices and the consequences of following an evil leader who was using them and manipulated them by flattering their ego. While the Liveman did everything to stop Volt's evil actions, and managed to stop Volt's evil plans as much as they could, at the end, Volt ended up destroyed from within, because an organization who didn't care for life wouldn't be able to protect even its own members.
At the end, all the death and destruction caused by Volt ended up being a complete waste, with plenty of good people being destroyed for no purpose at all. It made the Liveman even more aware of how even a small life is important, and that it as much more important than showing how smart and brilliant one could be.

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