No, not the teacher who is a succubus. She's just another Christmas cake virgin, same as practically all female teachers in anime. (P.S. Spoilers.) I'm referring to the male teacher, who is perhaps the rarest of anime creatures: The adult male lead in a harem comedy. Or, more specifically, he is an adult male anime character who behaves like a goddamn grown-up despite being the lead in a harem comedy.(more…)
I started watching Nigeru wa Haji da ga Yaku ni Tatsu (literally, Running Away Is Shameful But Helpful, but officially, We Married As a Job!) because of the above piece of fan art of Kaede posing curiously. It was obviously a reference to something, but I wasn't familiar with its origin. Thankfully, the Twitter pointed me towards the JDrama source.
Since this occurred during the downtime between anime seasons, I figured I'd give the show a try. I'm not quite halfway through its 11 hour-long episodes, but it seems pretty good so far. The production values do have that sort of home video lighting which seems characteristic of Asian television shows. The male lead also seems unusually staid for a man in his thirties. I'm not sure if this is because the show is based on a manga, or if he's supposed to represent a caricature of the so-called "herbivorous" man, or if people like him actually are fairly common in modern Japan. In any case, the cast is good, not overly large, and there are no school-aged spazzes in sight—at least, not so far.
I knew Tomoe was the best character in Hanasaku Iroha. I'm glad she got a spotlight episode, but I hope it's not the last one she gets for the series.
Another member of the Christmas Cake Club, Tomoe shows why all these shows starring teenagers need older characters around—preferably ones who have their acts together enough to take care of themselves and are resolute enough to make life decisions before the end credits roll.
As for the show itself, Hanasaku Iroha is easily the best show I'm watching this season. Most people seem to prefer the other hana show, Ano Hana which is short for Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai, which translates to "we still do not know the name of the flower we saw that day." What is it with long-ass titles this season? I'm not saying Ano Hana isn't good, but I definitely enjoy it less; every single character on that show annoys me to some level. In the competition between leading shows with hana in the title from spring 2011, it's Hanasaku Iroha in a walk, even if Ohana isn't really dead.
In other news, all y'all who criticize the Hanasaku Iroha OP are nuts. It's ridiculously pretty. Oh, right, the voice. Yeah, I guess I can see that.
Toradora! prominently features an unmarried woman over the age of 25: Yuri, the teacher (who is actually more than just a little bit past 25). Today's entry celebrates this under-appreciated anime staple.
Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~ features Haruka, a lonely 27-year-old who wiles away her time drinking Mexico Beer and playing Tokimeki Memorial Online, quietly envious of her preternaturally perfect student, Sayuri.
Yukari and Nyamo from Azumanga Daioh are unlucky in love, despite being the best teachers in the history of anime. (Yes, better than GTO.)
According the the Mao-chan website, Kagome is 27 years old. She is reassigned to teach at Mao's school. Also, she is desperately in love with Mao's grandfather.
Naturally there are numerous other Christmas Cake characters I am omitting, but let us not dilute attention from these five sweethearts today by crowding the room, eh. You're the BEST GIRLS today, ladies.
Out of all the shows I'm currently watching, I sheepishly admit that the one I anticipate the most is Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~. It's not because it's the best, or the most interesting, or the most original, or the most engaging. I think it's because it's the most anime. You see, there are plenty of highly-recommended shows out there to watch, most of which I'm missing. For example, I still haven't seen a single episode of Lost or Arrested Development, and quite a few people have assured me that I would enjoy both (although of the former, I'm not so sure). Nevertheless, I end up watching something like Venus Versus Virus instead, not because it's better or necessarily more entertaining, but simply because it's anime.
I would not be interested in a live-action adaptation of Tokimeki Memorial, because the intrinsic unrealistic 2D quality aspect of the show itself is a significant factor in my enjoyment. It's kind of the same reason as why I never finished the first episode of the Nodame Cantabile live-action drama—a Japanese man berating someone with a harisen is so ridiculous an image that it distracts from the show itself. But Chidori producing one from thin air to smack the crap out of Sousuke is perfectly fine.
But I digress.
I enjoy Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~ for its pleasant and absurd atmosphere and silly gags. As I've said before, the recurring Sayuri Legends gag cracks me up, as do random bits of weirdness like the Incinerator Goddess. The school has an INCINERATOR GODDESS, for crying out loud. (And she sounds like Belldandy....)
Also the show takes care of the harem comedy spot in the lineup of genres I persistently watch (e.g., mahou shoujo, space opera, girls with guns, et cetera), but does so with more aplomb than something truly dreadful like... Digression: I googled for "terrible harem comedy" at this point just for kicks, and Ai Yori Aoshi was the first result. Somehow that's kinda upsetting, but as far as the anime is concerned, I have to concede that it's true. Sister Princess comes up as the lone result when I use the quotes, though, and that seems more fair.
Anyway, Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~ succeeds as a harem comedy for me because although the main character is a doofy putz, he's dead set on the Unobtainable Girl (of whom I'm at best ambivalent because she's perfect), instead of the Best Girl (a crazy redhead), a prospect which would likely irk me to no end.
Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~ also succeeds by devoting at least a little bit of time to one of its adult characters, the 27-year-old teacher, Haruka, who whiled away a considerable part of episode 15 pillow sitting and getting drunk off Mexico Beer. (And playing Tokimeki Memorial Online!) It was a nice look into her lonely life, and rather reminded me of the episode of Azumanga Daioh where Nyamo and Yukari got drunk and scared off potential suitors.
And then the episode ends on a chipper note with the sprightly "Kiseki no Kakera" ED serenaded by Aoba Riku's trio of primary love interests. Hope springs eternal.
On a whole, the series is unassuming and lighthearted and earnest enough that it allows for a half hour of escapism without the burdensome melodrama found in an overwrought harem emo-comedy like, say, Kanon.