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Dated 20 April 2021: Koikimo is better than Higehiro even though both are missing the same thing

Ichika and Ryo
Stalker distancing.

News that the Spring 2021 anime season would feature TWO shows about adult men paired with high school girls created ripples across the Twitter, but even this mild outrage waned after viewers discovered neither show was as torrid as anticipated. Descriptions of Koi to Yobu ni wa Kimochi Warui (It's Disgusting to Call This Love, A.K.A. Koikimo) in particular concentrated on elements that ranged from misleading (characterizing its male lead as "a womanizer") to outright untruthful (e.g., calling him "sex-crazed...with a wandering eye for women"). At the risk of stereotyping too much, I suspect more attention should have been paid to the fact that the Koikimo manga is described as josei (i.e., for adult women) instead of seinen (i.e., for adult men who miss fucking teenage girls).

Sayu and Yoshida
I was too bothered by Sayu's lack of luggage to make a Fate/stay night joke.

Curiously, Hige wo Soru. Soshite Joshikousei wo Hirou. (Higehiro: After Being Rejected, I Shaved and Took in a High School Runaway) seemed to attract less pre-season attention than Koikimo, but perhaps its original novels and manga adaption were already known well enough to deflect unwarranted speculation that it was going to be a smutty romp. This, despite its synopsis outright stating that its characters meet when the titular teenage girl, Sayu, offers sex in exchange for a place to stay. Instead, Higehiro is about a man, Yoshida, who insists he is not attracted to the JK crashing at his place. The series begins with Yoshida being rejected by his long-term crush (his boss at work, no less) who claims she is already seeing someone. He is so devastated that he seemingly does not even notice she was CLEARLY LYING.

Gotou
Dude, you're staring.

Higehiro also draws attention to Yoshida's insistence that he is not a "nice guy" for letting Sayu live with him without strings attached (unlike everyone else she has stayed with during her previous six months as a runaway), but rather that the other men she has known are despicable people. Yoshida also repeatedly insists he is not attracted to Sayu because he only likes women with large breasts, but then the show promptly undercuts him by immediately alerting (and repeatedly reminding) the viewer that Sayu's boobs are also comfortably big.

Sayu
Higehiro even quantifies the comparison.

This is where I lose the ability to predict the path Higehiro will take. There is enough fan service and "male gaze" to the anime that we are obviously supposed to see Sayu as a legitimate love interest of Yoshida's, despite (or perhaps because of) his loud denials. But the show also retains the harem elements by keeping the CLEARLY LYING boss lady and deliberately slapdash co-worker near as potential romantic rivals. If I had to guess how this story ends, I would expect Yoshida's support to put Sayu on a path to success before re-uniting the two after a multi-year timeskip apart that has given Sayu time to become a self-sufficient adult with even bigger boobs than ever. Alternatively, we'll get a cop-out non-ending ending, potentially with all four of them living together for contrived reasons.

Ryo
You can tell he's sincere because of the sparkles.

While Higehiro is about a man who denies being attracted to the teenage girl living with him, Koikimo is about a man openly and aggressively wooing a high school girl 10 years his junior. At this point, I think it is necessary to acknowledge the tropes that govern this story's boundaries. Ryo and Ichika meet by chance and a suspension bridge moment sparks his sudden obsession with Ichika, who is coincidentally classmates with Ryo's kid sister, Rio. Fortunately for Ryo, his sister not only approves of his infatuation with her friend, but even volunteers as his wingman to provide opportunities for him to get closer with Ichika.

Ruri, Rio, Ichika, and Satsuki
Rio's anime bed is made of concrete.

Moreover, Ichika's own mother approves of Ryo's courtship, despite Ichika's clear displeasure. It is probably worth pointing out that Ryo has apparently never had to pursue a love interest before. He is not a pick-up artist chasing after fresh prey. Instead, girls and women have thrown themselves at him his entire life (Ichika's and Rio's classmates all unanimously agree Ryo is exceptionally handsome), so this is an entirely new experience for him.

Sayu and Yoshida
Dude, you're staring.

So what are Koikimo and Higehiro both missing? Lust. In the case of Koikimo, Ryo is clearly, genuinely smitten with Ichika, but he is arguably more drawn to her disinterest in him than he is to her physical appearance. Ichika is presented as being fairly unremarkable among her peers, and her own best friend describes her as "normal" (although at least one boy at her school has taken a liking to her). In the case of Higehiro, it takes three episodes of the show loudly signalling that Sayu is comely and sexually available before Yoshida finally admit he finds her attractive. However, his refusal to sleep with her is predicated on a critical, foundational cornerstone to the narrative's integrity, so I don't expect the story can too easily reverse this stance even if the audience comes to think he protests too much.

Ichika and Rio
She is upset because she is pleased.

After four episodes of Koi to Yobu ni wa Kimochi Warui and three episodes of Hige wo Soru. Soshite Joshikousei wo Hirou., I enjoy Koikimo more than Higehiro. Neither series is especially realistic (although I could believe Higehiro, despite the melodrama, were it not for the CLEARLY LYING Christmas-cake boss lady and the co-worker who deliberately fucks up her work for Yoshida's attention), but I find Koikimo more amusing. I can't rule out the possibility that I'm simply more enamored of Ichika's seemingly endless barrage of disgusted faces than I am with Sayu's "pretty big for a high school girl" bosom, though.

Dated 6 March 2017: Demi-chan wa Kataritai is a cool show


I wonder where they got the water.

SDS of Ogiue Maniax fame recently remarked that his circle of friends and co-workers "automatically gravitate towards pairings" and that they were skewing his perception of anime fandom. This struck me as somewhat odd, but the more I thought about it, the more I had to admit the practice is much more commonplace on, say, the Twitter, than I had noticed. Because I am not a 'shipper, I guess I never appreciated how prevalent 'shipping happens to be, and that fans who reflexively 'ship characters of shows they watch might respond with greater aversion to implications that I might ignore.

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Dated 23 January 2017: The most uncommon character in Demi-chan wa Kataritai is the teacher

Tetsuo and Hikari
Dude has really long fingers.

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.

Tetsuo
Well, at least he can keep it together when people are watching.

Demi-chan wa Kataritai (Demi-chan Wants to Speak, localized as Interview with Monster Girls) certainly is a harem comedy. After only three episodes, one character has already openly expressed her affection for Tetsuo (a biology teacher in his early thirties), a second character stated the same privately, a third character just isn't being up-front about it, and the fourth simply hasn't been properly introduced yet. Nevertheless, he's sincere when he claims his interest in his non-human students and co-worker is purely academic, and calmly interacts with them without any of the usual carrying on you get in harem comedies. This is a sharp contrast to, say, Potato-kun in Seiren who is insufferably spastic as he struggles with his adherence to the Otaku Virtues. (It turns out Seiren is...not a good show.)

Yuki
Please don't name your snow daughters Yuki.

Nevertheless, Demi-chan is still a harem comedy, and it's pretty clear the teenage vampire, dullahan, and "snow woman," as well as the adult succubus all (or eventually will) pursue Mr. Takahashi as a romantic love interest. This has caused some viewers to express (at least on the Twitter) a bit of discomfort and/or displeasure with the direction the show is taking, even though it's all but assured there will be zero development on any of these routes. C'mon, it ain't that sort of show, okay. Nobody is going to bend Kyouko over a kotatsu while her head is in a different room.

Hikari
This is not the Koi Dance.

There is one additional thing: It seems some viewers feel inspired to critique the show from a considerably more "woke" perspective than I use, but I think this tendency also results in the adoption of a perversely opposite position from what was perhaps intended. In particular, I've seen a few people discuss Kyouko, the dullahan, as a disabled character. To me, it is openly racist to presume dullahans are presumptively inadequate or compromised compared to humans. Treating dullahans as dullahans instead of as "disabled" humans is the difference between treating ajin as minorities instead of treating them as "abnormals," in my book, even if you're using the politically correct term "demi" instead.

Dated 9 January 2017: KOI DANCE KOI DANCE KOI DANCE

Kaede
Kaede is also the same age as Mikuri.

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.

Mikuri and Hiramasa
That is a lot of yellow.

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.

Dated 17 May 2011: Hanasaku Iroha episode seven was MAMIKORE

Tomoe
CHUG! CHUG! CHUG!

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.

Tomoe
She may be weary...

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.

Nako and Ohana
You were too young to see this, girls.

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.

Ohana and Potato-kun
Must be St. Patrick's Day.

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.

Dated 26 December 2008: Leftover Christmas Cake. In consideration of two-dimensional spinsters

Yuri
Yuri.

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.

Haruka
Haruka.

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
Yukari and Nyamo strike out after a night trolling for husbands.

Yukari and Nyamo from Azumanga Daioh are unlucky in love, despite being the best teachers in the history of anime. (Yes, better than GTO.)

Kagome
Kagome.

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.

Dated 25 March 2007: Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~

Mina and Kasuga
Yayoi and Kasuga get ready to go to war.

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.

Riku and Sayuri
Riku breaks Sayuri's brain.

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.

The Tree
It's THE TREE. It's also about God damned time.

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....)

Sayuri and Riku
For some reason, Riku likes Sayuri even though she is perfect.

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.

Kasuga and Mina v. Sayuri and Yukari
Kasuga aces the Hell out of Sayuri and Yukari.

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.

Kasuga
THAT'S RIGHT. IN YOUR FACE.

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.

Mexico Beer
Mexico Beer. A single gal's best friend.

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.

Haruka
Haruka-sensei wakes up alone again.

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.