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Sunday, July 5, 2015

No More Heroes: A Look Into Violent Media Finale

This is the final stretch for my analysis of No More Heroes as we will be going through some of the best bosses in the game. Then we will look into Travis Touchdown himself, his story, and what all of this is trying to tell the audience. In the last part the game was really being obvious about its theme thanks to Holly Summers and Harvey then the game continues on with being obvious, but first we got to finally look into the main character himself, Travis Touchdown!
Travis Touchdown is one of my favorite characters in gaming and when I finally found out what he is clearly based on it makes him even grander. Now as we know about Travis as of now is that he is in the fights because he was low on money, he wants the thrill of the fight, and he wants to fight someone better than him. Travis is clearly just being an assassin for the fun of it just like the many other bosses. Now since the many bosses show themes from violent media, what does Travis show? The main character himself is showing off all the bad elements of the gamer. This can be seen when you play the game as Travis sees everything as a game, literally. There are sprites all around the screen as he completely slashes people up. There is even a nice touch with how he kills his foes it’s a mixture of the blood showers and money showers as this covers both types of video game violence. There is cartoony violence like how Mario collects coins and stomping on foes while we could have something like heavily violent games making complete messes of gore. Then how Travis even acts is just for the fun of it since he is a gamer, there is a scoreboard at the end of every boss fight! Everything Travis is going through is just for his personal pleasure and that can even be seen with his Beam Katana. Travis literally has to charge it up by doing a stroking motion and there are many times that his weapon represents his… well you can get the idea. So when one does this stroking motion for something else it’s clearly for pleasure and Travis having to do with during fights just clearly shows he is fighting for pleasure, sounds familiar doesn’t it?
Many bosses in the game are all in for the pleasure of fighting as Travis shares this with them, but could there be more than that? With Death Metal, Travis actually saw himself in the rich man and wanted to be him. While at this time Death Metal is saying to stop fighting since there is no point in fighting and he begins lying to himself right before he kills Death Metal. Travis says all he wants is to be number one when right after he is talking about how he didn’t feel good in the end and there is many times where he says he wants a better fight. With Dr. Peace it is clearly showing regret of being in the fights and how lonely one can be is they become too blood thirsty and Travis lives by himself and is not improving his life at all, he is just fighting for no real purpose. With Shinobu she is showing how blood thirsty she is and while at the same time Travis doesn’t realize he is like her as well. Both her and Travis are affected by what they watch and are clearly just imitating what they love in the media. Then I do love how the game teases that Travis does have mercy, but in the end he shows how much he wants a grand fight since he wants Shinobu to live for the sole fact of her getting better. Destroyman with his split personalities and his superhero personification shows that he never has to question his morality. Travis shares this as well since there are moments he is lying to himself and never questions what he is doing. Holly Summers did more than be a theme or a parallel to Travis, but actually teach him something that some violence lovers need. Harvey then is pretty much just showing off the main theme of the game and Speed Buster is clearly hinting at a theme that will come back. Now the ranked two assassin is the best parallel for Travis though as I can finally get to her!
The ranked two assassin known as Bad Girl is clearly the best character to represent what Travis really is. As I said before, Travis is just in to get his jollies off. So the best way to show this is a boss that clearly represents a dominatrix. It’s pretty obvious since the first thing you will see is Bad Girl bashing gimps with her baseball bat. So there are sexual fantasies with violence and again what is a better way to show this than a girl like Bad Girl. What’s even better is that Travis is still blind to who he is as he sees Bad Girl nothing more than a perverted maniac. I just find this hilarious since this is the man who strokes his Beam Katana in combat! The best part is that when Travis calls her a pervert and not an assassin she goes and says that they are the same. Bad Girl then goes on about how Travis is not better than her in anyway and to her this is a job, the daily grind. So with Bad Girl she is getting some sexual kicks from fighting, but the difference is that she is clearly honest with herself unlike Travis. Then to end things, she has the best death in the game. Travis stabs her through the stomach, but she doesn’t give up and still continues to bash Travis. She then falls on Travis and the position she is in is rather sexual. Now what doesn’t make this sexual is all the blood everywhere, she was beating up Travis, and the fact that she is dead. This just points to the question about violence and why it is fantasized even in sexual context. This game really does cover mostly everything that is violent while there are some things that are ignored, but luckily the sequel does use them so pretty much all violent media does get covered in the No More Heroes franchise.
We have reached the end of the road now as Travis is ready to become number one, unlike previous times he decides to call the woman who has been giving him the fights. What ends up happening is that he learns he has been had. Sylvia Christel the woman who has been teasing him the whole entire game ends up being a con artist, what a surprise! Travis talks with Sylvia’s mothers and learns about her and what she has been doing. So in the end this is all... wait for it… pointless! Everything Travis has been doing ends up being pointless and again is any of this really helping Travis? Like with Dr. Peace his life was ruined because of fighting and Travis is not improving his life as well. He still lives by himself, keeps renting videos and never returning them, and still keeps up with his obsession of his anime show, Bizarre Jelly. Since Travis is number two though, he is told that he should just go on with it. Even though there is no point, Travis already got too far into this situation so why not continue? So what is left for Travis well it’s a Darth Vader rip off who makes Travis remember the real reason why he got into the fights and then the man gets killed! We get another fight interrupted as we meet Jeane.
Jeane is someone Travis knew dearly from his past and you will mostly know this from getting bonus material or slowing down a certain scene. The story behind Jeane is that she killed Travis’ parents and burned down his old home. Travis ends up drinking his sorrows away and talks about it to Sylvia as she ends up making this con just so that Travis can fight Jeane. Now this is where the story gets to nonsense since Jeane’s back story is skipped, literally! There is more fourth wall breaking here as well the conversation literally talks about the age rating of the game. Again this is when the game gets the most obvious about its message about violence and they are going over game ratings which have been a part of many controversies in the past and still exist this day. Well going on with the story we find out that Travis wanted revenge on Jeane for killing his parents as we get a vengeance plot here, which was hinted with Speed Buster. Travis even feels pity for Jeane as she is a tortured soul and you can tell even without hearing her back story. To quickly summarize things up for Jeane’s story it ends up Travis’ father wasn’t all that good of a man to his first family… So in the end Jeane actually did change her life in a violent manner as she got free from her terrible father, but it’s still violence in the end. Travis even says the line, “Vengeance begets vengeance.” So even though Travis does agree with Jeane he has to kill her for the sake of vengeance and does really adding another body on the pile do something? As I mentioned before the story really got out of hand here, but for the right purpose. Travis finding out that he was tricked and having to kill his step-sister and former lover and all he gets is self gratification and nothing else changes, he’s not a hero and is still a loser.
The last part of the game is then the most nonsense you can ever see in a video game. If you got all the Beam Katanas you can get one more boss fight and that is facing Henry the man who took the ranked fifth assassin’s life. High chance this was to leave the game on an extremely high point, but there is still more to get from this moment. When you win the fight, Henry reveals a lot of twists at the last moment and again the fourth wall gets shattered once more. We find out that Henry is Travis’ brother and is even married to Sylvia. After all of that the two engage in one final blow to each other as a Rocky styled painting is shown for their final moment, even though there was a sequel! Again originally Suda 51 meant for No More Heroes to be a one off game so having the two kill each other in the end of the first game just shows the pointless violence angle. Also with Henry and Travis being brothers is a popular concept in violent media like with Dante and Vergil. So that was one hell of a ride, but what was No More Heroes trying to say in the end?
Before getting to the end of this essay, I want to add something that is important to this whole analysis and that would be the original ending of No More Heroes. There was an ending before the final product and it really proves this theory about No More Heroes. It seems that everything Travis did would have been for nothing literally because after fighting Jeane he is gunned down. The person who shoots Travis is no other than Slyvia the woman who tricked Travis. First, this really opens Slyvia’s character a bit more because during an interview one of the designers has talked about Slyvia. “Sylvia knows she’s sexy and she uses it as a weapon. She was an easy character to model because her personality was so strong. It wasn’t my intention when I made her, but early in development someone commented that she reminded them of Scarlett Johansson.” Slyvia easily uses her sex appeal for her own use which is something Jeane actually did as well. This woman is like Jeane, but her ends are far worse in a morale sense compared to Jeane actually wanting to improve her life. Slyvia is simply getting more money and then getting rid of someone who learned her tricks. This to me really opens the message of No More Heroes because one should never get too carried away with pleasures, especially violent pleasures.
No More Heroes really takes a satirical look into violence with showing how people can become violent, but at the same time it’s not saying it’s a bad thing. First of all the game itself is violent and still delivers a fun experience with that violence. Personally, I feel that No More Heroes is giving the players something to think about and while not delivering a concrete message it really does show how violent characters cannot exist in a real life situation. Suda 51 is just giving the players some food for thought so that they can realize how much violence is around in the world and giving off some little messages here and there. Some little messages would easily be about death and how pointless violence can be at times. Now Suda 51 is not saying violence is bad it can be enjoyable, but one should probably never try applying it to real life. Also any person shouldn’t let it control them or go to crazy with useless pleasures. A person’s life to full of many trials and while these little pleasures can help us relief some stress, we shouldn’t let it control us as well. Overall, players do need some food for thought at times and having a piece of fiction just getting one to think about is much better than trying to actually give an answer because then it would look pretentious and be ignored. Luckily, No More Heroes has a lot to make sure that it isn’t ignored as I highly recommend gamers to play this or even watch the cut scenes at the least, maybe if there was a No More Heroes series or movie that would just be excellent! So leave your thoughts in the comments it could be about the game itself or just some of your personal thoughts on violent media since one should keep thinking about the entertainment they watch or play.

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