Examining Old School Anime: Windaria and Just War

I have written an article on my eponymous blog where I touched briefly on the folly of the war between Paro and Itha in Windaria. I noted that the film was an anti-war film which failed to create a real argument against war. As I understand it, people who label themselves anti-war claim that war is always wrong, regardless of the justice of a cause. In Windaria, both the offensive side and defenders are wrong to wage war. If the anime had really wished to carry its point against war itself, it ought to have made this war perfectly just and still shown why all war is wrong. The majority, who believe war may justified in dire circumstances, would not be shaken in their beliefs by this film, as tragic as it is.

Nevertheless, war is still the greatest evil a people can endure. Worse, it often creates criminals in addition to heroes. As the famous Joshua Chamberlain once said: “War makes good men great and bad men worse.” Why should we ever allow the greatest calamity known to man to occur? Is there ever enough reason to permit the complete breakdown of civil society? I want to look at Windaria’s unjust war in order to look at what a just war in that fantasy world would look like.

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Christianity, Catholicism in particular, has a logical and consistent just war doctrine which draws from Scripture, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the School of Salamanca.* It contains the following four points:

1) The damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or the community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain.

2) All other means of putting an end to [the injustices/damages] must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective.

3) There must be serious prospects of success.

4) The use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. [Think weapons of mass destruction.]

-From Paragraph 2309 of the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church

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The above puts these questions to the defending nation, because just war is based in self-defense. A war of conquest or religious conversion is never just. (The School of Salamanca definitively answered that.) So, Itha is the defending nation here. Has there been lasting, grave, and certain damage? Yes, a saboteur from Paro attempted to destroy the capital by opening the dikes, causing much damage before our hero, Izu, closed them. Has Itha looked at alternatives besides war? No, they did not try diplomacy or other means of redressing grievances. Serious prospects of winning a war with Paro? No, because Itha’s crossbows can’t defeat Paro’s tanks, fighter planes, and assault rifles. And this fantasy world has no equivalent of a WMD. So, Itha deciding to resort to war, even in self-defense, is wrong, because it leads to piles of its citizens dying uselessly and they did not try means of averting the war.

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What would have made Itha’s decision to go to war a just one? First, Itha should actually have prepared for war. Having a weak military invites an unscrupulous nation to attack, and being four hundred years behind in the arms race guarantees defeat. If a state can’t keep a certain degree of parity with neighboring states, it can’t even justify war in self-defense! That is, unless the result of surrender is death or worse than death, in which case a country might be obliged to fight even with no reasonable chance of victory. (As I mentioned in my other article, the romance between the prince and princess of these nations makes such a grim fate unlikely in this case.) For the sake of freedom and peace, a nation must always maintain its military. Also, if Itha also had tanks, fighter planes, and assault rifles, it could have had more leverage in diplomatically solving the situation. Then, failing all means of preserving peace, Itha could justly have defended itself against Paro without the slaughter of its people.

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It is interesting to note how the Church doctrine of just war places an obligation on countries to be militarily prepared; though, most outside of Europe don’t need to be told that. Also, simply being attacked does not automatically justify war, unless there are no other means of putting an end to the damages caused by the aggressor. So, what do you guys think of the Catholic just war doctrine? Is it pretty intuitive and sensible or seriously flawed?

*The School of Salamanca has its beginnings in the University of Salamanca in the 16th century. The best theologians of Spain and Portugal made up its faculty and students.

9 thoughts on “Examining Old School Anime: Windaria and Just War

  1. “As the famous Joshua Chamberlain once said: “War makes good men great and bad men worse.”

    So far as war goes, this might be as good of a reason for it to exist as anything is. I’m not sure if war does anything that a really good myth or legend doesn’t do, but it’s true that it shows what we are in the dark. War has produced some of the most altruistic, selfless actions human beings are capable of, and also the most horrific depravity there ever was or will be. It is when God and the Devil make their best gambits. There’s this quote from a comic that goes: “I don’t know why the heck Weird Fred has such great defenses, but damn does it feel good to do battle with him,” and I’ve often wondered if this isn’t why God allows the Devil to do such great evil. You can’t be really, really good unless something really, really evil is happening.

    It’s….complicated. I find that the greatest honor in my life is just being part of the grandest game ever played, which is in fact a just war– a Holy War. To me there is somehow the most potent Meaning of Life imaginable in it— The font of all the really great stories there are.

    Human war is evil. Human war has caused more destruction than any one invention ever. But combat, but honor and battle and righteousness and passion and grace, and really spectacular wickedness and cruelty, and the golden light and love of God— These things come of war, and they are worth far more than it is. They are worth more than the world itself to me.

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    1. Yes, it is an interesting paradox that the most evil calamity which can befall a society can spur men to nobility, extreme goodness, and self-sacrifice. Though, God usually only permits war when human wickedness spills over.

      Then again, the war between good and evil, virtue and vice, is an ever-present reality in life. So much so that the lives of noble soldiers and statesmen are more esteemed than men who did not serve in wartime, with the sole exception of the saints. (The saints are excepted by reason of having fought the ordinary war between virtue and vice in an extraordinary manner.) God alone can bring so much good out of such an evil event!

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  2. Imho every war is stupid, and this movie shows is directly even if we put main heros as total dumbas… (openning floodgates) it’s really no difference against who we fight, but that is destructive in anyway. I’m sorry I’m christian and never understaned that doctirne. There’s never other goal for christanity than stop a war. After all this movie shows about our bad choices, resign for many great chances for avoid build something better, because of putting some wrong priority of values. So even everything fails, and is lost everything… there’s always someone who wants to give you second chance. And maybe becouse of that unsuccessful hope killer product, this movie is good to search deep into ourselfs to understand stupidy of war. Honestly I could completely hate this movie, if Marin wasn’t there.

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    1. It is important to understand the hideousness of war and the many evils it entails. Wars should be prevented whenever possible, and they usually happen only when justice breaks down completely.

      But, pacifism has its own problems. Pacifism might just bring about more evils than war. As a matter of fact, you and I are both at war right now–not against each other but against the kingdom of Hell. The Church on Earth has been traditionally known as the Church Militant, because life is one long period of unceasing warfare. We are called to fight against the vices in ourselves, admonish our family and neighbors against what is evil, and try to lead society as a whole away from evil. This is a hard struggle, but could a Christian possibly tolerate Satan dragging our friends, families, and society into hell? Of course not!

      Such is the state of spiritual warfare, but it has earthly parallels. Afghanistan aided terrorists who killed 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001. Should the Taliban have been left unmolested to aid more terrorists? Then, there are more obvious cases like when one country invades another for their natural resources or land. Should Belgians have allowed the Kaiser to have his way with their country in WWI? Whenever the question of war is brought up, it is weighed on the scale of justice. Some evils are tolerable; in most situations, war would bring about more evil than enduring wrongs in a state of peace. (If that can be called peace, at any rate.) But, just as it is intolerable for Christians to do nothing as the devil misleads souls, allowing one nation to enslave, kill, or ruthlessly exploit people in another is equally intolerable. Individuals have a right to self-defense and so do nations.

      At the same time, certain Christians are called to abstain from the shedding of blood even in a good cause. Many early Christians felt that way despite the persecutions. (Though no Christian nation existed–hence no properly constituted authority to wage war in order to redress wrongs endured by Christians, meaning that even the just war theory would advise against war.) Members of the clergy and religious orders feel called to a closer imitation of Christ’s counsels have also abstained. But, if one fights on behalf of one’s country, one commits no sin.

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      1. Yes your are right, I’m not pacifist either. Fighting against evil, searching God, and trying to keep virtures is esence of christianity. I was talking about military war becouse it’s just completly stupid… trying to put nation higher or equal to God is just very bad, maybe that’s why I feel more an anarchist. My only real home is the Earth. All the people are the children of the same God. Isn’t that true? When Im thinking about real fighters about God’s will, I’m thinking mostly about all the people who are forgotten by others. To win with evil, I need rosary no weapon, I just need something simpler and deeper, like windaria tree, weakests things are strongest. Did you know that people and houses survived explosion of atom bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki thanks to praying on rosary? Just think about that.

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        1. Yeah, their are limits to love of country. There is a very thin dividing line between patriotism and nationalism. St. Joan of Arc give the patriotic ideal when she states: “Our Lord Jesus Christ, true King of the French!” One must have God as a higher authority over one’s country or patriotism can be perverted.

          Wars, at their heart, are the effects of man’s sinfulness. There is nothing better than the rosary, receiving the sacraments, and striving to do the will of God in our own lives when it comes to preventing war. And, I have heard about priests that were protected by Mary in the blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

          Thanks for your comment!

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          1. You’re welcome, anyway I think it’s hard to keep local patriotism, becouse when im looking for authority, most are people who so much trusted God. So one of my hero is Maximilian Maria Kolbe, he just realized how much bad influence has masonery in rule of nations, manipulations as a tool of devil, He was ready to go japan and open there a church in Nagasaki. Nagasaki also wansn’t target of destruction.I also don’t believe in coincidence. For me it was direct revenge of devil using foolishes of people. There’s many other known heros: Edith Stein, José Sánchez del Río. So yeah they inspire me, Im patriot of Catholic Church and I can be proud of them. I also don’t like when some country want’s to make bandits as a hero. Above manipulation and propaganda, patriotism of country it’s still very important to me, It’s reasonable, that’s closest family.
            Masonery has much influence in architecture, culture, but how do you think about standarization. For example why distance between hole in handle and lock in common door is 72mm. Why not 70, or 75?

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            1. Freemasons did have some influence on history. I’m not the best judge of how much, though I do know that elites in America and Great Britain tended to be Regular Freemasons. On the other hand, the Grand Orient Lodge tended to push atheism and anti-clericalism to a much greater extent in Continental Europe with disastrous effects.

              Measurements are interesting. The number 72mm in regard to a doorknob’s construction only illustrates that civilization was not built on the metric system. If God really wanted us to use the metric system, there would have been ten apostles instead of twelve. 🙂

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