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Heterochromia - Guestpost: The Neck Bone Is Connected To The…

Guestpost: The Neck Bone Is Connected To The…

…spinal cord naturally. But if you’re anything like the stereotypical harem lead/ otaku, you’ll be classified as an invertebrate. A staple diet of rom(antic)-com(edy) anime series in the late 90’s and early 00’s (I wonder how historians define that era…) would affirm with the casual viewer that spineless lead=instant harem.

Just add water

Quick analysis of “spineless” anime leads

Why is this particular mindset popular with anime viewers, in particular, the otaku? As with all forms of entertainment, anime provides the viewer with an alternate reality. After all, if your real life isn’t moving along as expected, what better way than to indulge in the lives of others. (Thus, the bane of reality TV. But that’s not anime related, so I won’t bother) The most popular of spineless characters would be Shinji (Evangelion), Keitaro (Love Hina), Takayuki(KGNE) and what’s his face (Densha Otoko).

The ever popular theme of underdogs thriumping in the face of overwhelming odds always warms viewers loins hearts. (But I don’t think Shinji won anything of note) Catering to the most vocal of the lot, (online, of course)the quiet, unassuming viewer, these types of shows garner a lot of atttention and money from merchandise. (Well, what else would they spend on? Merchandising, the necessary evil. Another post for another time)

Having a character that the viewer can relate to is essential in any form of media. One thing unique about anime is the fact that it banks on a demographic group that is considered upwardly mobile. In this case, the ones with most moolah to dispose.

In the case of western live action drama, it is mostly catered to jocks and studs. Eventhough there are some breakout series, like ” Freak and Geeks”, there are relatively few titles that celebrate “losers” and “outcasts”.On the other hand, anime has ‘em by the bucketload. Anime reality it seems, is a god send to these types of people. By holding onto the shread of hope that love will eventually fall into their passive lap, this notion may seem laughable to others. I mean, beautiful ladies throwing themselves at a spineless, nerdy lead for no concrete reason? (Besides a childhood promise, mistaken identity or whatnot)

But such comforting thoughts will only last for so long. Series like Love Hina, Ah! My Goddess!, and other forgettable harem series clones (mostly ero to anime conversions)bank in on the quick buck to be made. Along the way, such repetition proved too much to stomache, even for the hardcore viewers.

Pick a girl, any girl.

Over the years however, a revolution of sorts has occured within the anime community. While harem rom-com still exists, the leads have since grown some backbone. Some characters even go all out in persuing their harems. Albeit in an indesireable manner. (Inukami and Tonagura come to mind) So, is this the end of the passive harem lead? Hopefully not. After all, pacifists need love too.

Comments 7


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    tj han wrote:

    Lol, you know, the post sounds fine but if viewing with a more critical eye, is full of sweeping statements and baseless assumptions. American TV does not celebrate studs and jocks any more than Japanese TV. In fact, Japanese TV probably does it more. See pretty boy types like Chiaki, Ouran etc.

    Not that I like American TV. But the spineless harem lead exists not only for viewers to relate to, but it also pushes the spotlight onto the girls. In this sense, he’s a protagonist who isn’t really one. More like a narrator through which we look at the girls.

    Posted 17 Jun 2007 at 12:03 CE(S)T

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    MrMayat wrote:

    “the post sounds fine but if viewing with a more critical eye, is
    full of sweeping statements and baseless assumptions”

    True ‘dat. I’m not one to do a through research on my posts. I just
    shoot from the hip. I guess this is why I’m not cut out for
    university. Heh.

    “American TV does not celebrate studs and jocks any more than
    Japanese TV. In fact, Japanese TV probably does it more”

    Well, TV on the whole likes to showcase pretty boys/girls,
    irregardless of nationality/ genre. But, to me, it seems that anime
    has a larger “loser” catered industry compared to other genres. Do
    prove me wrong though.

    “pushes the spotlight onto the girls. In this sense, he’s a
    protagonist who isn’t really one. More like a narrator through
    which we look at the girls.”

    That’s one of the plus point of harem series, yet also a negative
    point, in terms of storytelling. You get a lot of info on the girls,
    yet you have no idea why they’re head over heels over the guy.
    (Besides the fact he’s extra nice, pushover and/or the last guy on
    the planet)

    Posted 17 Jun 2007 at 12:58 CE(S)T

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    Manga wrote:

    Well… what to say…
    I know, take a look at the guys you talked about(where I will focus on Keitaro and Takayuki) and see how they are different?

    Keitaro: Clumsy, doesn´t think he´s worth anything(comes from failing so many times, I´ve been there myself so…) and all, but when he sets his mind on something and gets some help he´ll succed at it. And he only focuses on one girl: Naru which he loves, even though it takes time and the anime doesn´t show any progress at all(not untill Love Hina Again or what the OAV series was called)…

    Takayuki: Well, he is not as clumsy as Keitaro, but thanks to him being such a dick and not being able to choose he only hurts the people around him. And that makes Mitsuki go crazy and Haruka, well she has her own problems…

    In comparison I really do hate Takayuki because he´s such a jerk. Keitaro I can associate with, being clumsy and all, having one girl you do like and a lot of other girls around this one girl, it leads to some embarrassing moments to say…

    Watch Shuffle for example, the main character isn´t really intrested in any of the girls(as he acts the first time) but thanks to this noone isn´t really hurt, it is first when he begins to “like” someone there are trouble, mostly for Kaede but anyway.

    In regards to Tokimeki Memorial Only Love the main guy is a complete idiot, he loves one girl, dates one and is basically being seduced by the third…
    Which creates a lot of tension, pain and all for these girls. I hate him as wel, not as much as Takayuki but maybe he´ll be there as I continue to watch the show…

    Long comment, I know. But it ends here.

    Posted 17 Jun 2007 at 14:09 CE(S)T

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    Sasa wrote:

    Hmm… actually I liked both Shinji and Keitaro XD (I must be some weird girl, huh?) Back then, I was 14 and thought it\’s perfectly normal for a young man to act like Shinji *cough*

    I know that most Love Hina fans dislike Keitaro, but to be honest, I can\’t really understand why. He\’s one of those characters who (at least in the manga) grow a backbone and actually has a true goal in his life (getting together with Naru and becoming archeologist). He even becomes better looking through the volumes, which can best be seen on his glasses (he turns from big, otaku-ish glasses to nicer smaller ones). I also see that he\’s clumsy, but that\’s all - basically it\’s the girls who put him into compromising situations and he has to take all their hits. Not to mention that Naru is probably the first mentionable tsundere.
    So Keitaro actually is a rather \’worthy\’ harem lead. Very much unlike Shinji…

    Err, I haven\’t watched/read that many harem series ^^;;; So I can\’t really get into the discussion, but I think that the cliché \”male without any character traits gets surrounded by a lot of different girls\” does apply. Especially for Ichigo 100% (which I actually liked despite its stupidity *cough*).

    PS.

    the post sounds fine but if viewing with a more critical eye, is full of sweeping statements and baseless assumptions

    Well, I admit that I also think that one should normally avoid this. But in an editorial post, it isn\’t necessarily a bad thing, because I think provocative statements stir up discussion. So if I were to write a post about the current Bokurano topic, I would also write \”This director is a damn idiot\” to provoke reactions.

    Posted 17 Jun 2007 at 18:37 CE(S)T

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    Manga wrote:

    @ Sasa: I kind of like a variety of girls in my show, don´t know why…
    And as I mentioned, sofar Takayuki from KGNE(or Rumbling Hearts as the english title is, atleast I think so :p) is the only one together with the main person from Tokimeki Memorial: Only Love that I hate so much.

    About Bokurano, if you hate the manga, why even bother making it into an anime?
    If you ask me, then it´s just the latest way of getting media focused on you…
    Take Gainax and their response to Guran Lagan ep 4 and the way it was treated…

    Posted 17 Jun 2007 at 20:35 CE(S)T

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    MrMayat wrote:

    Ah, nice to see some personal thoughts for a change. I do admit that my post is a broad generalization of the aforementioned characters. (Based on the rantings and ravings of the anime community) But it is by no means a personal opinion.

    To me, all of the characters have reasons for being “spineless”. And this makes psycho-analysing a hoot. Like I said, I’m not one for writing long posts, so I’ll keep it brief.

    Shinji: Angsty, emotional, helpless. Which teenager doesn’t feel like crap every once in a while? An Odephius(?) complex theory plays a major role in his case. (or so I’ve been told)

    Keitaro: We share a lot of common traits, so I can’t find it in my heart to hate the guy.

    Takayuki: Yes, he’s a jerk. But he did “suffer” 3 years of depression. Moving on to a “normal” life takes time. He just needed to weigh his options before moving on. I didn’t root for either girls, so his choice in the end didn’t affect me. What’s important is, the best revenge for a broken heart is by living well, and Mitsuki did just that. So, no complaints from me.

    @Sasa: “Especially for Ichigo 100% (which I actually liked despite its stupidity *cough*).”
    Heh. Same here. I kept watching up till the 5th OVA, hoping against hope that the next episode would be an improvement. We all know the answer to that…

    Posted 17 Jun 2007 at 20:55 CE(S)T

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    Manga wrote:

    @ MrMayat: Everything that I write are personal thoughts :p Atleast if I´m on the net like this. If it´s for school then I have to write it that way.

    Yes, all of the characters(not Takayuki) have their own reason for behaving/acting like they do.

    Shinji lost his mother, which is crucial and his father only uses him. That gives quite a shock.

    Keitaro: Dreams to much, I do share some of his traits but still, if he weren´t so focused on Naru/getting into Tokyo University and tried to get “all girls” then I would hate him.

    Takayuki could easily have avoided Mitsuki, but no, he lets her do what she wants, thus hurting her since she knows deep inside he cares for Haruka, then Haruka wakes up and he just can´t decide which girl he wanna hump… idiot.

    I do think I was really really close or even was depressed for 2 years since basically my life sucked, nothing I did worked out or anything. Feelt like I wasn´t worth anything. It took some time to get out of it yes. But still Takayuki doesn´t make any decisions or anything, he just doesn´t give a shit and tries to be both Haruka´s and Mitsuki´s boyfriend at the same time, which doesn´t work. Yes it was for Haruka´s recovery but hello, tell her the damn truth and work with that instead of living a lie.
    Mix in Akane and Mayu(or is it Ayu) and hello, boy we got ourselves some really deep shit(sorry for the word) all thanks to Takayuki not being able to decide anything and just let things be the way they are.

    At first I thought KGNE was emotional and sad story, but when looking back at it now when I´m older I hate Takayuki with all my heart.

    @ Sasa and MrMayat: Regarding Ichigo 100%, read the manga, so much better it can´t be written down how much better it is.
    And most of all, the characters develop!! They don´t stand at the same damn place trough the whole manga as they do in the series…

    Wow, I almost think we have enough stuff for another post in here :p

    Posted 17 Jun 2007 at 21:23 CE(S)T

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