Let’s try this concept on, like a hat: The experience of what is real is not contingent to a realistic portrayal of people, events, or even the universe wherein the narrative happens. One can access something real (or something as close to the truth as one can possibly get) from the experience of an absurd presentation.
We don’t have to believe this, but just for a few moments as we go through this exercise let’s acknowledge how works like Calvin and Hobbes, The Simpsons, or works like The Illiad, or Candide (Voltaire) despite or because of their fantastic nature (without being fantasy in the mold of The Lord of the Rings) can bring us to an experience of something real.
Hanamaru Kindergarten let me in on something real, and the show being unbelievable to a high degree made this experience stand out.
In life, you will peg people down to one or a few distinguishing characteristics. You will stereotypically stereotype people, regardless of how politically correct you want to be.
The show presents characters with easy to handle physical and behavioral distinctions. The tall athletic teacher who has a bias for P.E. and unnervingly rewatches Conan the Barbarian for the muscles? Check. The kind of runty teacher with glasses that isn’t heading anywhere due to plain average averageness? Check.
These are for characters who actually got some screen time, otherwise you get Database Animal distinctions (as I imagine them, or just tropes): twins with ponytails who can be clumsy too (twin-tails?), plucky daughter of working-class parents who innocently appreciates work without class politics, bully who turned into follower, etc. They’re here.
The real thing is, I’ve updated my resume just a day prior to this writing and I realize that I’ve listed 9 different companies or groups that I’ve worked for/with the last 13 years (there are things I never bothered listing too). In all those places of work I have come across thousands of people, and I’ve forgotten most of them. And those who didn’t become close friends, I’ve pegged down to one or three distinguishing characteristics: guy who mooches cigarettes all the time, the plodding naive and innocent girl(s), the teacher(s) who hates academic-level scholarship but loves the teaching in class part of a university career, the ne’er-do-wells that have been around a long time and are a source of institutional memory… just like Hanamaru Kindergarten I could never remember their names without looking them up. But yes, this is how we treat people too; I don’t endorse it, but rather we could forgive ourselves so we won’t have to be so hard on others.
In life you believe in things that sound good, despite the evidence to the contrary.
“Nothing is stronger than the power of love!” Between Sakura, Tsuchi, and Anzu this is an inspiring statement and is very powerful. It’s also patently false. It isn’t love that runs the engine of the universe, or determines the behavior of people on a consistent basis.
What the finale did tell me is how people want to believe in things so much, since these things often promise to them the delivery of something dearly wished for. It is an act of faith, to believe in the face of contrary evidence, or the absence of evidence. I live in a very religious society, and even if I discount the many fanatics, there are people who really go through life just believing in believing.
Even a sober person as I consider myself to be, I hold on to some of these things despite how silly they sometimes feel. I can’t fathom being married otherwise, or being a father to my infant daughter. I just think that there will be times when one needs to test one’s beliefs, and then make a powerful choice whether to keep holding on to them – at their own risk, at some point in life.
“If you write it, they will read you. If you engage them, they will converse with you.” LOL
We spend half of our lives as men, as ‘half of a man’.
In the finale when Tsuchida tried to confess with all his might, he acknowledged that he was but half of a man. Why did he believe this? He felt immature, still stuck in his adolescent pursuits, half-in and out of this adult life. It’s true, I think. I find this part of the confession to be the most powerful thing in the show.
Tsuchida I imagine to be relatable to older adolescents and young adults. He would be the self-insert character in a harem show (which Hanamaru Kindergarten can be made out to be if one gunned for that angle enough). This statement is less an indictment of the viewers but more like a rally point around which us male viewers can reflect on how we’re being.
Maturity is like hygiene. It isn’t like school where one keeps leveling up and then graduates. That’s the misleading part that are present in other GAINAX shows like Diebuster! and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, or any narrative that has an element of ‘coming of age.’ To make a mature decision, even on something very significant, isn’t a perfect predictor that I will be making mature decisions on most things from that moment on.
I’m 33, and have made mature decisions for the last fifteen years, and am no more incapable of avoiding immature behavior or making immature decisions as I was at 18. I’m being conservative here, as throughout life I’ve been described as such a ‘mature child.’ I still procrastinate, and spend time playing games when I could be doing something productive. I still get lazy and make sub-optimal choices; choices that a MAN would look down on.
And yet, I do pretty okay. I married the love of my life and am raising a beautiful daughter (no Anzu shit please, I would like her to be more like Hingaku LOL, because Hiiragi is too out there). Maturity is like hygiene. You need to keep at it: brushing your teeth, clipping your finger/toenails, cleaning your ear and all the hard to reach places. Once you’re clean, you dirty yourself again, so you clean yourself up again… like a man.
Okay, you can take off the hat now, and perhaps get back to discussing how unrealistic this show is and how other (flawed) formalist elements (THE WRITING LOL) prevent it from being good. Or, you can engage me further:
What things did you get out of weird, absurd, or unbelievable shows that ended up being very true for you?