Tis the season to assault genre conventions

April 28, 2006 at 4:38 pm (Anime)

Man, this season is great. Unfortunately it’s great in ways that require a lot of context, because my three favorite shows this season are all appealing to me, at least in part (Nana is just a great story) becuase I’m kind of tired of certain anime genre’s overused conventions.

Mah Big Three are: Nana (The anti-virgin ballad), Ouran High School Host Club (The hard-gay rabu-rabu comedy, without actual gay, or rabu-rabu, though there is comedy), and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (The deconstructionist hyper-ironic superflat opus).


It’s not a tumor!

(For reference, so far I’ve watched: Nana 1-4, Ouran 1-3, and Suzuharu 1-4)

Let’s start with the easy one: Host Club. In addition to being a BL parody, conscious in every way of its own conventions, we have a somewhat unconventional protagonist. Haruhi Fujioka is probably my favorite anime female since Nenene Sumiregawa Sensei. She’s not STEEEEKIIIII’D by the Ouran Chest Club, or all that worried about giving her first kiss to a girl. She has no desire to be feminine (gods I hope it stays that way). The entire show is based around her posing as a dude, so she can’t exactly exude any kind of feminine norms. She almost seems unnatural when she does where a dress. Granted, she’s drawn all kawaii with the big eyes and so forth, but her personality doesn’t really change. She still feels really andgogynous in my head.

Then there’s Nana. Oh, josei. Can we get more of this? I am so unbearably thrilled to watch a non-action show about women over the age of 18 who aren’t little virginal nippleless hyper-innocent moe fetish constructs. While we get some background on how their relationships started, the girls, as far as I can tell, are entering the main story with boyfriends already in hand, so that’s three huge differences from standard non-action female anime characters right there: 18+, not virgins, already attached (to SOs; I don’t know if also being attached to a pair of nipples counts as a huge difference or not). OMG. I may feint from sarcastic shock. Yes, I like this show. Strike two against the conventions.

And then there’s that WTFWTF that is Melancholy. I’m no longer sure why people other than me like this show. After episode two, the energy level fell a bit and I would have been disappointed, except really the show is just going in a different direction than I’d originally thought. At this point (4 episodes), it looks like they’re doing some kind of crazy post-modern deconstruction of conventional anime. There’s the first episode, which is a straight up parody of SF anime. Then there’s 2 and 3, and then there’s ep 4. And it’s like, wait what about that ENTIRE STORY ARC between this episode and the last one? Except Haruhi herself has a pretty conventional concept of genre conventions (demonstrated in the first episode), and given her apparently really direct tie to the universe itself (fourth episode), it’s pretty easy to fill in the pieces. What happened there? Generic SF story. This show isn’t so much parodying genre conventions as it is flaunting them. There’ve been comparisons to Genshiken, but the difference here is that Genshiken was almost entirely removed from the universe its main characters participated in. That’s remarkably unclear. What I mean is that in Genshiken, we’re watching a show about fans of anime. It’s about the things they do as fans. While they might imagine themselves actively participating in the texts they consume (Madarame’s dating sim episode, for instance), it’s always clear to the show’s viewers where the divide between inner (Kujibiki Unbalance, and modern visual culture stuff in general) story and outer (Genshiken) story is. In Melancholy it is far less clear. There is some internal concept of fiction that the characters have, but they actively participate in that realm. So I don’t know what the result is going to be, but there’s a lot of twisting and wringing of conventions in this show to drive the story. And the writers are playing with us. Is Haruhi a Tsunderekko? Or do they just want you to think she is. So far there’s been little evidence she and Kyon will have some kind of tsunderomance, but, by conventions, it’s sort of what we expect to happen. Thus, even though this show doesn’t have an unconventional female lead (well, Suzumiya is different in some ways, but nothing like the other two shows), it’s using its conventions in an unconventional way.

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5 Comments

  1. SeVIIn said,

    Nana! Arg how did I forget about that show >

  2. jackie said,

    what series is that picture from? th one shown above with the exlamation points. (!!!) is that from melancholy????

  3. Seth said,

    That’s from Nana.

  4. Anand said,

    ausum man

    i love this picture

    send me some if you have

    i am a sexy man

    ilove these kind of pictures

  5. vwctor said,

    hhvhy

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