Ravaging Times

April 12, 2016

Chen Mou’s Taiwan Signing, April 3, 2016

Filed under: Ravages of Time — Tags: , , — merc @ 10:38 am

post writeup: maryquant
signing location: Kaohsiung Exhibition Center (?)

(Mr. Chen is very happy about the Taiwan readers’ warm reception!)

You know, he hasn’t changed a bit since 2010!

In response, Mr. Chen blushed and said: Actually, I have more white hair now. (sad) But it feels quite relaxing to come to a Taiwan signing. The Taiwan readers are very nice, unlike Hong Kong readers who often make special requests that put him in a bind. (what kind of request!?)

Now here are his answers to your questions:

Q: We’re all concerned about the syndication schedule. Will it return to being bi-monthly?

A: Right now it’s already at full speed. (He felt bad, but he insists on a certain quality of the art and story… So please be patient. This is his life’s dream and career, therefore he will definitely complete it.)

Q: Who is the Eighth Genius? Will he appear this year?

A: Why does this question follow me everywhere! How do I put this…

moderator: You were asked this the last time you were here in 2010. Who knew we would still be waiting in agony to this day

A: This year… no promises… Uh… how do I put this? (he’s stalling)

mod: That’s not a good sign. So has this character been the same one since the beginning? Any change?

A: Still the same person. No changes.

Q: Have you played the Ravages games? What do you think about them?

A: I have played them… but when I do it still felt like I was working. I wasn’t having “fun”.

Q: What happened to those tens of thousands of dead bodies in the (long) river?

A: For the sake of world peace, they automatically disappeared!

Q: Do you have a grudge against Zhang Liao? Whenever he says “no one can survive the reach of my sword” he ends up…

A: Not at all! (Actually Zhang Liao has been given a lot of attention and love from Mr. Chen recently. [Zhang Liao] will be taking center stage soon. Right now it’s just setting the backdrop.)

Q: Your favorite characters tend to end up… After you said your favorite is Lü Bu, there was that “send off in the rain”. In 2010 you told us your favorite is Sun Ce… then he became useless. And now your favorite is?

A: Fear not, everyone! They are long dead. They’re all dead. So don’t be afraid.

mod: My Xiao Meng… QAQ
(my crying face must have been too much… so Mr. Chen drew a Xiao Meng for me without me asking)

Q: Your battlefield scenes are filled with soldiers. Are they exhausting to draw?

A: …Actually, they were drawn by my assistants. (sweating)
(No one can devote their energy to so many areas. He insisted on drawing the “horses” in a Three Kingdoms story and drawing them well… So he had to relegate [the task of drawing] soldiers to the assistant.)

Q: Now that there has been a stage-play of Ravages, are there plans for a movie or TV series in the future?

A: They’re still in talks. However, the most likely project to be green-lit might be a cartoon!

Q: Would there be LINE Emotes of Ravages? I’ve always wanted to send my boss one of “for Dark Art of War, I sacrifice my Lord” XD

A: Both the editor and I have thought about that. We love the idea, but LINE isn’t popular in Hong Kong. WeChat or Whatsapp are more common there, which doesn’t have emotes feature. So we’re still just thinking about it.

Q: On the book-jacket you once spoke of a cockroach that lived in your desk… Is it still there?

A: Yes! And it’s already the fifth generation. (How could he know that!)

mod: In accordance to Sun clan’s Perpetuation Principle!?

A: Exactly. (laugh)

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2016.04.29 reader ciper added his own cheery-picked notes (ciper’s comment in parenthesis) on the rest of that interview:

1. Based on Mr. Chen’s plan, Ravages could be treated like a Trilogy. Part one is the Lü Bu Arc, part one is the Guandu and Red Cliff Arc, and part three is the Three Kingdoms Arc. The third part will be very long, since Liu Shan must appear in principle, so… you could deduce the length!

2. The Eight Eccentrics will be explained later. Mr. Chen believes that Religion is also a method of war, and he wants to explore the idea of how Religion influences people’s minds. Look forward to Zhang Lu of Hanzhong with regard to the Eight Eccentrics. (Liu Bei will play a key role in that arc too!)

3. Sixth will have more screen time and exciting stories during the West Shu Conquest arc. (a luxurious send-off?)

4. Of all the Three Kingdoms adaptations, Mr. Chen loves Yokoyama Mitsuteru’s Sangokushi and Sōten Kōro the most. He likes Sangokushi for its faithfulness to Romance of the Three Kingdoms; while he likes the latter for how well it conveyed some of the philosophies. But Mr. Chen would not tell a story in the same way as Sōten Kōro, and he thinks history is filled with lies, so he likes to pull from various sources to present his own interpretation.

5. Mr. Chen’s favorite character in the last arc of the Three Kingdoms era is A-dou (Liu Shan). Surrender when it’s time to surrender- don’t prolong the suffering of the people. That kind of wisdom by the one in charge would not be understood by the subordinates. And as for Liu Xie, his end would have come sooner had it not been for Cao Cao. Therefore people should not judge Cao Cao so harshly in this regard. (I got a bad feeling for Jiang Wei…)

6. Eight Geniuses. Sure, he’ll show up when it’s time. (Maybe not this year, perhaps a toss-up between him and Sixth of who will get screen time first… And then Zhang Lu, feels like forever… The implication is that this four commandery arc will take a year…)

======== overview of comments at the bottom of the original thread ========

* animation! +3
* we will keep waiting for the Eighth!
* “for the sake of world peace…” +4
* “they’re all dead” +2
* comments about the card game
* need more substance to Zhang Liao’s scenes
* so three-week release schedule is at max speed XD

April 8, 2016

comments from a Ravages fan, 20160408

Filed under: Ravages of Time — Tags: , — merc @ 2:48 pm

source: the top reply (posted 2014-03-13)
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What do you think of Chen Mou’s outlook on history through his graphic novel “The Ravages of Time”?
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I want to take my time and carefully answer this question.

First of all, these gimmicks below should not be treated as rules to emulate:

1. The Morale Theory. The fallacy to this theory is that even if not all brainless brutes are really such people, it does not mean someone with that reputation does have methods to their recklessness.

2. The brain-teasers and strategy-within-strategy in the early stages are not that difficult to devise.

3. The vindication of certain people, like Lü Bu- he definitely couldn’t have been a boorish fellow, since he was Ding Yuan’s record-keeper. So he was a man of letter who could read; Dong Zhuo didn’t start out with an ambition for the throne. He supported the wiser Emperor Xian of Han instead of continuing to back the useless Emperor Shao of Han. He employed many officials who were sacked during the “misfortune of proscribed party” controversy. He redressed the corrupt military, and appointed Yuan Shao as the Grand Administrator of Bohai. He wanted to use people like Cao Cao too, and things were starting to look peaceful. But in the end he found out he was hoodwinked by these officials, and that’s when he quit playing the game. Etc.

4. Some of the strategies are really just elaborations on how deception is used in warfare.

Besides these necessary gimmicks for a comic, the historical view in Ravages is actually fairly orthodox.

The main conflict is between “for self-interest” and “for the greater good.” The two main characters stand on the opposite ends of this conflict. The ending is Zhao Yun, for the greater good, coming to assassinate Sima Yi at the peak of his career. And Sima Yi knew this was going to happen.

Chen Mou spent so much screen-time to portray Zhao Yun’s transition, starting from his absolute obedience to Sima Yi, to being intrigued by Liu Bei and company at Luoyang, to his secret admiration for Zhuge Liang at Xuzhou. Zhang Lei said as much, that at his core Zhao Yun is straightforward, upright, and full of talent. He shouldn’t have been an assassin, but by some cosmic joke he became the best assassin and suppressed his true nature. The chaos of that era turned him against himself and led to hesitation. These two leads had premonitions of many of the tragic outcomes they faced, yet as young people they lived in denial… until it’s too late.

Sima Yi is the same way. He started out merely trying to protect his clan, but his insidious ambition gradually killed his goal. Objectively-speaking, did he assassinate Xu Lin out of desperation or because he wanted to show off his power? Did he think he would not be found out when he kept using the same tricks? What did his three uncles really mean to him? I suspect it would haunt Sima Yi whenever he thinks back to these events.

So, the tragedy happened. All that struggling and second-guessing, wheel of fortune, none of that mattered. After that night of massacre at home, both of them faced up to their true selves. Since then, the only goal in life for Sima Yi is to climb to the top and win. As for Zhao Yun, his only goal in life is to help Sima Yi succeed, then end him.

The entire story dances along these two threads. Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang are the power behind Zhao Yun. Like he says, they are the long-awaited light that follows the darkness. He does not regret being insignificant under Liu Bei’s command, and this was expressed at Changban. Since then, Zhao Yun has finally found his goal in life and where he stand.

Ambitious men are the power behind Sima Yi. They are all self-serving, goal-oriented, and seek shortcuts to pacify the world no matter the method or cost. His ambition is motivated by people like Xu Lin, Cao Cao, Guo Jia, Jia Xu and the likes. Once they put him in that position, he then continues down that path. He might be good to his subordinates, but subconsciously he’s only playing them. Maybe he felt compelled to save Xiao Meng (he just said not to send subordinates to their death), but he just couldn’t do it.

So which path does Chen Mou approve of? That of Zhuge Liang and Zhao Yun, of course. Back at Xuzhou, Zhuge Liang pointed out the dire consequence of illegitimate rulership. Even if you were more decisive than Cao Cao, or more cruel than Lü Bu, the consequence would still be severe. There are some bottom lines that should not be crossed. And keeping them are worth losing a war for. Chen Mou refuted Guo Jia’s methodology through Zhuge Liang and Zhou Yu’s words during the battle of Red Cliff: “People hated war, so the First Emperor used that excuse to pacify the world and led to the fallacious reasoning that’s intolerable in any day and age (implying that Qin was fated to be short-lived because it used tyranny to conquer the world).”

The men of the southeast, like Sun Ce, were bad apples to begin with. The way he died was foreshadowed. Zhou Yu’s stance is ambiguous, so I’m skipping this discussion.

Lü Bu doesn’t play by any rules, so naturally he was shit on by everyone. He might be Chen Mou’s favorite, but that’s besides the point.

Ravages’s scale is huge. It’s going to be interesting to see how well the author handles writing the difficult scene that is Xun Yu’s end. Jia Xu became disheartened after Dong Zhuo’s demise, which fits his historical image. Pang Tong is a showoff, so he needs someone to lift him onto the right path.

To sum up, Ravages is its own world. How each character ends might feel coincidental, but in actuality many things are tied to their subconscious beliefs. Often times they were really not of their own volition.

Zhang Liao, for example, started out emulating Lü Bu as his way of brainwashing himself. He thought he had internalized Lü Bu’s values, but whenever he’s faced with death, he would realize how impossible it is to lie to himself forever. And it’s extremely painful whenever he had to dismiss such self-hypnosis.

So Chen Mou’s historical view is quite orthodox: “Righteous and just make lasting peace; illegitimate rule leads to a nasty end.” Through that lens, it’s not difficult to understand how each character will end. What’s praiseworthy about Ravages is how it depicts the growing pain of these legendary heroes- how they struggle, make mistakes, lie to themselves, and have their epiphanies… then either go to their graves with the lie or the truth.

Zhao Yun agreed to Sun Shu’s marriage proposal at first because he felt it was his duty to his Lord. But then he realized he didn’t put the Sima clan as his top priority. Xiao Meng, the honor code, and his shining ideals were much more important than the interest of the Sima clan. That was the key to his big mistake. Fate arranged to have Zhao Yun help Liu Bei for the benefit of Sima Yi. He lucked out, actually, since he didn’t suffer a personality split. A person’s environment, their friends, relationships, these influences all have the potential to clash with their true nature. Some people lived their whole life suppressing their true nature. Unlike Zhao Yun, Liu Bei, Zhang Liao, Sima Yi, most people would not be able to survive a heart-rending experience where they sever from their past selves and start over from scratch.

However, I have more appreciation for Chen Mou’s outlook on life than his outlook on history. If it’s in your destiny to become someone who you were afraid to become, or you had held in contempt, but subconsciously suits you, then you must march forward courageously. Everyone has something that they would never betray. That something is not easy to discover. Don’t lie to yourself. Definitely don’t use general principles, obligations to others like parents, mentors, and people who helped you to lie to yourself- even if it hurts.

I remember watching Zhao Yun walk away carrying Xiao Meng’s bones and bow on his back.

I also remember the night when Sima Yi clenched his fist and cried his heart out.

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