In this ongoing series I explore (along with fellow blogger friends) a concept of watching shows and reading manga for particular purposes, which I find personally more useful than categorizing them in genre lists. Those lists are still useful for award-giving purposes, genre analysis, among others. However from an introspective standpoint there are more interesting ways of doing things. I get weary of arguing whether a show is or is not “slice of life.”
In this issue you’ll find two shows notable for the regard they enjoy from a generation of anime fans (and then some), and then a manga remarkable for its feel-good romantic content.
Purpose 013: Stuff myself in an eat-all-you can smorgasbord of almost everything I want to see in a show, and a lot of what I don’t want to see, and come away puking but happy.
Best-in-class: Code Geass
It has the rise of mecha as a game-changing force in warfare. It has geopolitical theater, with an imperial flavor. It has an extremely charismatic protagonist (and I mean that viewers and fans find him compelling if not extremely interesting). It has wild and crazy plot twists. It has emo pilots. It has The Battle of Narita. It has lolimoe DFC fanservice, and teenage gigantic titservice. It has easily slashable male characters. It indulges incest service. It has gratuitous violence and large body counts.
It is also a touching story about love, redemption, and the power of friendship.
Purpose 014: To realize that magic is not the center of the world even though you are supposed to be watching a world with magic.
Best-in-class: Ojamajo Doremi
Ojamajo Doremi holds a very special place in my mahou shoujo heart, and that’s not because it’s magical. In fact, despite this anime being a magical girl series, it veers away often from magic being central to a story. These girls don’t save the world, or solve a problem, by using magic. At all. They do it the way normal kids, and normal people do. They live their lives with all its happiness, sadness, complications, and simplicity. The magic about Ojamajo Doremi is how it extends its moral values to more than just using magic to do something special.
I feel that this moral value is beginning to wither with all the flashiness of modern mahou shoujo anime. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, mind you. This stuff is primarily aimed at kids – young, delicate and growing minds who need a little boost of unreality to enjoy something because it’s ‘cute’. Ojamajo Doremi is cute too, and it doesn’t dare hide the bright colors and impossible acts of getting something from nothing (magic). What it does differently though is, while some other magical girls are able to learn moral lessons because they use their powers to bring about a solution, Doremi and the others only use it as a tool to lead the way, but the solution is in their true powers – their goodness as persons in life.
Take, for instance, what if an important thing to you (say an ocarina or some other accessory) was thrown in the water? Do some wittity wattitty blah blah magic right? Not Hazuki-chan and her friends. They would wet themselves by the river all afternoon until they find it. This kind of scene makes me go awww every time, and it is a recurring theme in so many of the 200+ episodes of Ojamajo Doremi. That’s why it’s a steady staple anime of mine after all this time. It continues to remind me about humanity even within the context of fantasy.
Purpose 015: To vicariously enjoy the conversations I can never have
Best-in-class: Hidamari Sketch
This sounds depressing, but I live a lot of my life vicariously through others. Lots of people can’t do that and still be happy or feel like they’re leading a fulfilling life—and a lot of those people don’t believe me when I claim to feel that way.
I don’t have time to be everything in the world that I want to be. For obvious reasons, I can’t become a master author, illustrator, director, freerunner, explorer, musician, psychologist, etc at the same time. I trust the theory that it takes 10,000 hours to master something, and I’m not satisfied with being “passable,” so my best bet is to stick with one thing and master it, while enjoying everything else vicariously.
But besides that, there are things I wish I could be that I just can’t. At the top of that list is a young woman. Maybe it’s not too late for me to become a woman, but it’s too late for me to be young (relatively anyway—I’m still much younger than anyone else who posts on this blog). As a man who enjoys the prospect of having options to be anything I want in life at least once, it bothers me that I have no choice in this matter—I can’t be the little girl. (At least not unless Ghost in the Shell becomes reality in my lifetime.)
That’s a shame because it looks like so much fun—and hey, maybe it isn’t. I’m fine with being wrong in regards to that. When a guy says he wishes he were a woman, a woman will invariably speak up and say that it’s not all fun and games. Whatever, I don’t care about that—the entire point of a fantasy is that it could never happen anyway, and taking the hypothetical situation seriously defeats its purpose.
So, as an anime fan, what do I see? Lots of young girls in cute clothes having fun conversations. I take it in vicariously. I can’t be a young girl, I can’t wear cute clothes (theoretically I could, but I’d have to lose 40 pounds and start shaving regularly, none of which I care to do), and most of all, I can’t be friends with other young girls and talk about young girl things with them (unless I have a daughter, and if she doesn’t hate me).
Since I feel like I have to point it out, there’s nothing sexual about this. There aren’t such powerful emotions behind it. It’s just something that I find interesting, as much as any other thing I find interesting.
I’ll admit, it can be lonely watching Hidamari Sketch, thinking about how close all the girls are and being in a room by myself; but the truth is, I have friends as close as that, at least 2 of which will watch Hidamari Sketch with me so that the experience is instead warm and fulfilling.
I feel like I’ve said this a million times, but I’ve always thought that the woman I marry will be one who can sit with me under a blanket all day and watch Hidamari Sketch and equally understand how the vicarious experience is as fulfilling as a real one if it’s allowed to be. Maybe that woman doesn’t exist—but I can vicariously enjoy the fantasy.
We Remember Love is publishing this post series twice a month – given that I have many purposes for my anime (and manga), just as you might have.
These purposes often occur in hindsight, but in some cases (more often than you think) you figure out your purpose of watching a particular show after a few episodes. So, you can claim purposes when watching ongoing shows, and especially ongoing manga.
Do you watch these shows for a similar purpose? Let me know how these shows work for you?
Also, if you want to contribute an anime purpose write-up for a future post in this series, just leave a comment and I’ll contact you.