Thoughts on Fudatsuki no Kyouko-chan

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I happened to stumble across this title after a MAL mutual updated it onto their list to read. I was intrigued with the premise and saw that it was written/illustrated by none other than Souichirou Yamamoto of Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san fame (I was already reading it at the time of picking this up). With nothing to lose, I picked it up and enjoyed what the manga initially provided me: a fun, albeit archaic story about two siblings mutually tied by a family secret with underlying incestual vibes. I didn’t think that last tidbit would play much into the story, but surprisingly enough, there was a lot of implied jealousy and possessiveness. (more…)

Entries from the Dead: Mirai Nikki

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[Dropped after twelve episodes.]

Yet another tricky addition to a series already perturbed by the inefficiency of my faulty memory. Mirai Nikki, like Seto no Hanayome, has very little written within my anime list’s archives, so any crutch I may have in pinpointing a specific reason(s) as to why I didn’t continue a particular series is all up to remembering how I was years prior. What I do recall is that there’s a somewhat unordinary reason to my putting the series on-hold.

Flashback to the 2014 Summer of Anime. Starting in the second week of June, I decided to watch Mirai Nikki out of simple curiosity. However, outside influences forced me to watch the series quickly. Every year, family members come up from the southern states of the United States to visit my family and I for about a week or two; in that time, I barely have enough energy to watch even a few episodes of anime, much less marathoning a whole series in one day. Wanting to get a head start, I picked out a series I felt I could watch quickly, as my time limit was within eight hours before they were to arrive. When I got to the twelfth episode, I did the math in my head and determined that I wouldn’t finish the series in time before I had to leave, so I abandoned the series for Ebiten, which only had ten episodes.

It wasn’t until a few days after the fact that I realized that I had done the math wrong in my head—I could have finished Mirai Nikki in the time allotted throughout that day. Not only did I essentially drop Mirai Nikki for no reason, wasting the time spent watching a whole twelve episodes of it, but I subjected myself to the entirety of Ebiten, which was not pleasant.

Mirai Nikki itself was somewhat interesting as a case study, as it had all the reasons to be a gripping and insightful story, but it was also tremendously problematic. Many complain about the male lead being too much of a crybaby, though I would disagree and say that he’s only minimally exaggerated in the situation he’s been placed in. Does every teenager fantasize about being placed in a Hunger Games-esque scenario of fantastic bloodshed? Certainly not. My victim of shoddy characterization comes in the form of Yuuno Gasai, which I’m aware is a controversial statement. To me, she is the pinnacle of everything tryhard about fantasy plots involving weak main characters being carried by unstoppable forces because why not? Her weaknesses are constantly being evaporated by her will to protect the male lead, and no matter what happens, the only thing interesting about her is the mystery behind her affection for the male lead and whether her obsession will cause the demise of those around him. That’s her only shtick, at least up through twelve episodes. Heed that this entire entry is from someone who has seen not even half of the entire series.

I suppose her symbol as a realistic and uninhibited yandere makes her an immensely likable and moe character to many. For me, that symbol needs to come with something more, so that she doesn’t become predictable and/or flat as a character for the entire ride.

The recollection of various scenes, including one where Yuuno is implied to be brutally raped if the male lead doesn’t come to save her in time, sift through my memory in incomplete patches, disallowing me to really articulate what I didn’t care for about the series. In all honesty, if it wasn’t for my slip-up, I likely would’ve continued it, but at this point, I wouldn’t pick it up without restarting the entire series, which may be why I never have. If nothing else, it’s entertaining in its desire to make everything seem dark and depressing—and, of course, coolly suspenseful. It reminds me of Deadman Wonderland somewhat… though that didn’t turn out too well upon a rewatch…

What all of this may boil down to is, “It’s entertaining, but a dumb kind of entertaining.” I wasn’t totally in-tune with my critiquing prowess as I am now three years ago, so that may shed doubt as to whether I’d even find the series engrossing today. Writing this out, part of me would really like to continue it, almost making this post pointless, but with life becoming more and more constricting, it may settle itself within the graveyard of series I dropped almost on a whim, never to find their day in the rays of my focused retinas.

Updated Thoughts on Miman Renai

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I did this in my last post for this manga, too, but I’ll reiterate just to be safe:

I do not condone the relationship between adults and young teenagers. This work is purely fictional and about 50% unrealistic and 50% overpure.

In my first trial with Miman Renai, I thought the series was a cute, albeit unrealistic and uninspiring story of forbidden love between an overly sweet 29-year-old and overly sweet 13-year-old. The fact that both are so overbearingly pure may make this series a turn-off based on how scared the male lead, knowing his position, is of confessing his feelings for what is essentially a child to him. Many others, I’m sure, would be turned off by the taboo themes presented right within the synopsis, but reading through this twice, neither are jumping at the chance to sleep with one another, much less hold hands (The covers are a lie). So, it’s taboo in potential only.

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Upon my second reading, much of my feelings of the story and characters are the same way. Kurose, the 29-year-old, has a behavior around Tomoe, the 13-year-old, that would appear as incredibly creepy if the story were from her perspective. While the reader has the benefit of knowing he has no ill intentions because they follow his mindset and character, from Tomoe’s viewpoint, looking up her school, taking oranges to her, and infiltrating her school on what is essentially a Parent-Teacher Conference are all very vivid red flags. Kurose working at an adult gaming company also doesn’t help. Of course, she doesn’t question any of this due to her incredible naivety. The realism of this manga, only from the perspective of Tomoe, immediately becomes shot because no one would be this trusting of Kurose’s behavior. The fact that she is trusting, and blindly devoted to him at almost every turn, makes for an incredibly eerie representation of what leads kids into being kidnapped, or worse.

Taboo/icky possibilities aside, the struggles of this forbidden romance are fairly standard, as well. People tell Kurose (and vice-versa with Tomoe) that they shouldn’t be seeing one another, while the two leads themselves struggle to find a balance between being friends and remaining faithful (Though the latter is more just from Kurose’s mindset). A lot of the drama could’ve been further improved by letting it fester within the minds of the leads (God knows Tomoe could’ve used some depth), as instead the manga decides to bring it up as a means of driving the two apart only to get back together some two or three chapters later. Not to mention, there’s a lot of underlying side conflict, including Kurose’s traumatic past of being bullied and his relationship with his game company’s busty president, that are barely explored whatsoever. This one-track mindset keeps the focus primarily on the leads’ relationship and nothing more, which is disappointing with how wishy-washy a lot of it is, mostly through misunderstandings.

With how I describe it, one would think that this series was rather unimpactful. On the contrary, after reading this for the second time, the score shot up tremendously and catapulted to among my favorite manga. So what makes this series so wonderful?

Expression

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Vitality

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Look at this wonderful burst of energy, enthusiasm, a love for character exuberance and a passion for drawing and artistic expression! This type of illustrating style that allows the characters to pop, to become more than just drawings on paper! This intoxicating display of pure, unadulterated vigor is so wonderfully executed that I cannot help but love it! It reminds me a lot of Studio Trigger at their finest, the sequences of series such as Kill la Kill or Little Witch Academia that stray from the realm of reality and take on a level of artistry that becomes so enveloping from passion alone.

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Of course, this level of pure fun isn’t present at all times, but the mangaka does what she can to make both the small, inconsequential moments and serious periods of self-reflection all the more alluring with her vividness. Some examples (like the picture above) can be criticized for being too simplistic in an effort to ease up on the workload. For me, this doesn’t matter if I’m laughing at how amusing all of these character transformations look and how it impacts the rampant enjoyment I’m getting out of reading it. Miman Renai is one of those rare examples where a manga, in an objective sense isn’t worth more than a five out of ten, is launched into much higher territory from a gargantuan amount of subjective love.

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Despite the taboo themes, the standard story, the unsatisfied potential of side plots, the brilliance of Tomoe’s naivety, and the tiring, self-inflicted, off-and-on romantic endeavor, Miman Renai is a manga that gets by with its emotional gusto and artistic flavor. It is among my favorite manga because it managed to completely override my mechanical circuitry and allow my heart to dance in the way most “normies'” would upon seeing a new trailer for the latest Star Wars film. While not mentally moved by my passion for deep, multi-layered stories of love and loss, Miman Renai has that once-in-a-lifetime quality that speaks to me on an absurd personal level, an intangible quality that is hard to really articulate into words. All I can do is spam more pictures from the story because I love them.

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I reread this manga on a whim, fueled only by a slight desire to revisit the wacky faces of the characters. What I unearthed was an undiscovered, but always present adoration for a story that really probably doesn’t deserve it. It’s a simple tale that only sticks out based on the huge age gap between its characters and the innocent manner it portrays it with. Despite everything else, Miman Renai executes itself through means of giddy expression, one that had gone relatively unnoticed by me for nearly a year and a half. I stick by it, too; the only reason I have to recommend this manga is due to the mangaka’s lovely expressiveness and nothing more. Perhaps it’ll give you, the reader, the same appreciation for art it did for me.

The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.