ABED wrote: ↑
Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:23 pm
Here's the problem with many terms, people misuse them all the time even if they should know better. Case in point, how many times are series revivals called reboots even by people in the media? If the new version of Swamp Things origins fit in seamlessly, it's not a retcon. Retcons shouldn't necessarily include instances where characters find out something they thought to be the case wasn't true. The reason it's narrow is because there's no reason to combine something that has so little consequence and can easily and logically be explained away in universe with something so blatant. To make the definition so broad leads to confusion.
Goku's age wasn't really an established fact. We heard it from Goku who can't count and thought Bulma's breasts were a butt on her chest. He's not a reliable source of information.
I know you and I have debated the meaning of the word "retcon" for years, so I don't expect either of us to change at this point. And you know I vehemently agree with you in regards to how the word "reboot" has lost any and all meaning it ever had. But no definition of retcon I've ever seen, including the one you presented in this thread, mentions anything about the severity of the impact on the plot as a defining factor. Hell, even in the debates you and I have had, I've never heard this defense. I don't see this as anything like the misuse of reboot, where it's used to label any kind of new work. This is literally talking about something that retroactively alters continuity. To say there is an arbitrary line of importance that must be crossed does the opposite of the reboot problem and makes the term almost impossible to define! Who is to say what's important? That's not something that can be classified. That's completely subjective.
Whether or not Goku is a reliable source of information is also completely irrelevant. The fact that the plot can so easily provide a justification for the change is what keeps it from being a plot hole or a contradiction, not a retcon. Just like you, I agree that words have meaning for the purpose of ease of clarification. But that's why we have a term like "plot hole" because it's a different phenomenon than retcon. Obviously they sometimes overlap. Some retcons introduce plot holes. Others don't. But if your definition of retcon is so narrow that it only allows for continuity changes that create contradictions, then there's not even a need for them to be separate terms. Both of them seem to mean almost the same thing where you're coming from. The only circumstance in which Goku's knowledge or lack thereof would be relevant to this conversation is if Toriyama originally wrote 14 purposely for Goku be wrong.
I will agree with MasenkoHA (and in fact, I said it in my earlier post) that we don't know for certain how this change came to be. We don't know if it was an actual change or not. Because of that, I don't know for sure if this is a retcon. However, I'd be willing to consider wagering large sums of money that this was an actual change and therefore a retcon. Even putting aside how very little advance planning Toriyama is known to do, the possibility of this actually being a reveal seems slim to none. I mean, what kind of payoff is that? What would even be the point in Toriyama lying about Goku's age? Do you honestly think Toriyama's sitting there going, "Oh, my gosh. My main character is 12, but I'm totally going to have him tell people he's 14 only to reveal later on that he was wrong! They'll never see it coming! It'll blow them away!" Like you said, it's a completely insignificant moment that has no real bearing on anything. So it seems highly, extremely, ridiculously unlikely that such a nothing setup was being used for such a nothing payoff.
To my mind, whether an author intends something isn't really a determinant of something being a retcon.
Ooh, missed this one in the meantime. And I have to vehemently disagree. The intention of the author is of tantamount importance to distinguishing between a retcon and an actual reveal. And it feels weird for me to type that because my mindset when it comes to fiction is typically intent doesn't matter as much as what makes it on the page. However, in the case of retcons, the intent and the result are one in the same, whether it's explicit or not.
And since I don't feel like creating another quote box: Goku's alien origin is the most prominent retcon in all of Dragon Ball. Because we know for a fact that Goku was not an alien at the beginning of the series. Toriyama has said this. He became an alien later in the run, and that information retroactively applies to all material prior to that. That is about as spot-on to the definition as you can possibly get. It is the quintessential example of a retcon. It's the example that should be listed under the definition of retcon in every dictionary along with Darth Vader being Luke Skywalker's father.
For example, I can watch Star Wars, the original Star Wars, and, in my mind, I can choose to take Ben Kenobi at face value, that Darth Vader killed Luke's dad. That's not my personal interpretation. That is simply how the story was originally constructed and how it originally existed. It's not that the real information was being withheld from people in 1977. It's that it simply did not exist. It's not part of the movie, either explicitly or implicitly, that was actually made. It is the truth, the author-scribed truth at that time. And nothing can change that. I can also watch the movie and reinterpret my perception of such scenes to include the later "knowledge" that Darth Vader is Luke's father, and that's because, while that information had not been imagined at the time Star Wars came out, it is knowledge of a nature that retroactively changes the context of the first film, despite the fact that (heaven only knows how given how George Lucas operates) none of those elements have actually been altered.
Likewise, I can read the Red Ribbon Army Arc and confidently assert that Goku is not an alien for any of it. Because in the context of this story, he is not. He was not written that way. Nothing in that story has been changed to make Goku an alien. But if I want to, I can read it, taking that later context with me, and I can interpret him as an alien because the nature of that later information retroactively affects the fictional biography. Retcons are very often about changes in context
, not necessarily content.