Entries from the Dead: Jitsu wa Watashi wa

jitsu wa watashi wa

[Dropped after 25 chapters.]

A manga as the subject this time around! Just look at how innovative I’m becoming in my absence.

With this long-running manga finally ending its run of Engish scanlation, I thought it would be appropriate to share my own story of trying to read, and eventually dropping, a story full of clichés and its almost parody-like execution of such. Initially intrigued by the distinct art style, a friend was also belly-deep into it and seemed to find it a decent read. That was all I needed, despite how lousy the anime adaptation was in terms of average score; after all, anime adaptations don’t necessarily correlate to its source’s success.

In this case, it kind of does.

Now, I haven’t seen the anime (nor do I want to), but if it’s anything like this manga, there’s little to be found here. After twenty-five chapters, twenty-five measly chapters of twenty to thirty-something pages of story, I was exhausted. The characters, the expressions, the way characters seem to dance merrily upon the misery of others… it was too much. Shoehorn in the typical interpretation of love, mythical creatures, and two teenagers sticking together for mutual interest only to find that they cherish one another in spite of that, and one has Jitsu wa Watashi wa: a manga that brings nothing new to the table.

One difference, besides zanier-looking expressions and art style, is the parody nature of the series. It reminds me almost of Baka-Test in everyone’s near-disregard for others’ safety and privacy and well-being. Things happen and get crazier and crazier; why? Because they can. Because the mangaka has to keep the ship afloat somehow, so let’s turn the ship into a plane that runs on cacti while escaping the depths of Jupiter’s fourth moon while Guns n’ Roses’ “Sweet Home Alabama” plays over the jungle gym placed neatly within the hair follicles of Ronald Reagan’s corpse. To top it off, serious emotional situations occur all the time, and seem to never leave the once quiet and shy male lead, who apparently cannot tell a lie… but manages to break that one distinction with nearly every chapter.

It tries too hard, frankly. To be funny, silly, serious, satirical, and impactful all at once. I adore innovation in any subject, but Jitsu wa Watashi wa is an example of trying to do too much with too much space available. If this entire post was just me talking about the kind of kooky situations I can come up with concerning the plane that runs on sunflower seeds that seeks out the ruby medallion hidden inside the outer region of the pupil of Lawrence Taylor’s neighbor’s subconscious, terrorized by the looming suspicion that Lawrence Taylor will evolve into a creature unknown to man and flash the neighborhood with its seventh appendage while simultaneously roaring like a savage horn beetle, would it be entertaining? To some, sure, but there is absolutely no coherency present, no reason to care about any of it. One is wasting their time reading my input on the plane that runs on red-colored origami found on the desert planet—

Don’t read it, unless chaos mixed with the clichés of typical high school romances tickles your fancy enough that it may provide some morsel of enthusiasm. Just don’t hope to make it past chapter twenty if you’re not totally committed to abandoning your expectations, while also holding onto them for dear life.

Entries from the Dead: Hetalia Axis Powers

hetalia

[Dropped after seven episodes.]

I think it’s safe to say that the Hetalia series is the most popular anime-short franchise of modern times. The amount of fanfiction, fan art, fan shipping, fan-girling (Typically this gender, too) seen over the course of my being an anime fan is almost absurd, rivaling the likes of popular Shounen titles such as Naruto or One Piece. All this from an anime short of all things, too! The amount of episodes in this shortened time frame would equal roughly eleven-episodes of standard length anime, with each episode (I assume) being within its own story, with only a casual overarching narrative to fall back on.

So what is it that makes it so popular? The straightforward character archetypes? The way the characters bounce off one another? The overall design that, while (probably?) not originally intended, became a popular aesthetic for bishies? Or perhaps a combination of all of those things and more? Hetalia certainly has a soft and cheery atmosphere that makes for any kind of access to a variety of different anime viewers, so it wouldn’t surprise me that it became an outlet for short bursts of energy. Kind of like popping a peppermint candy after every hour of work or so. Or gorging on said candy one after the other.

Maybe it was this atmosphere specifically that made the series so dull for me. My brother, who is typically strict with anime, even recommended the series to me as a decently funny experience. When I finally got around to it, not only did I find it not funny (never laughed once), but I found it to be rather lowbrow. Even worse (for me), it was the kind of humor that was sure to be a hit with the younger generation of viewers with its plethora of, for lack of a better explanation, “LOL SO RANDOM XD” gags. I entered with the expectation that America would be a violence-hungry tryhard with no brains or that Russia would be a giant bear with a superiority complex that drank vodka all day. Instead, I got Italy being lethargic and always blabbering about pasta. Wonderful; this anime is not for me.

Still, that’s all I can really say in terms of it’s negative qualms; the series is clearly not trying to be serious with its story or critical with its stereotypes of various countries. It’s a lighthearted attempt at being (not) funny with characters that eventually grow(?) and bond with one another despite their differences. Perhaps it is the corny approach to presenting obvious moral foundations that I find such a turnoff. That, and I just don’t think the anime is funny or entertaining at all. Still, that isn’t to say the series itself is a horrid one, just that one shouldn’t expect to go into it with any serious expectations. One should also ignore the rabid opinions of hardcore fans that try to christen the series as anime’s greatest achievements. That will definitely soil the mood of the series.

Technically sound, but not for everyone (especially me). Exuberant personality with characters and the way they portray their one-off archetypal personas, with a heavy focus on humor and subtle character bonding (from what I recall/have seen). That’s all it is. That’s all it probably ever will be. I won’t ever know because I won’t continue it. It’s just not for me.

Entries from the Dead: Mirai Nikki

mirai nikki

[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.

Entries from the Dead: Seto no Hanayome

seto no hanayome

[Dropped after three episodes.]

There is some tricky context to the arrival of this post. On one hand, I like the idea of doing posts on things that I’ve dropped in the past and explaining why I couldn’t bare to go on with them. However, I still have thirty-six episodes of Aria to finish before writing my thoughts on that, so this is also a shameless filler post. I’ll admit before going on that this post won’t analyze Seto no Hanayome in its entirety—thus making it somewhat short—seeing as I dropped it after only three episodes and it’s been nearly five years since I’ve done so. But the prospect of bringing this series back up after so long could provide some more clarity not just to me, but others who are to look at my list and say “Hey! How could he drop that?!

Humorously enough, there isn’t much of a comment for this series in my list, either, so I’ll have to try and recall what I thought of this series based on an hour’s worth of footage from five years ago. Clearly, my words on the matter hold full weight.

If I could describe Seto no Hanayome in a single analogy, it would be the comparison to American TV sitcoms. Random, yes, but I feel there’s a lot of truth to it. One of the standards of sitcoms, based on mainstream comedy, is the basis of a lack of communication or context resulting in misery and/or embarrassing situations for a single or group of characters. I (and I’m sure many others) have seen this in a gargantuan number of different scenarios, and sometimes even outside of the sitcom format. Seto no Hanayome, at least its first three episodes, lives off of this. The lack of communication resulting in characters jumping to conclusions, flaring of emotions due to ignorance, and the exaggerated reactions that result from it.

I cannot stand this type of comedy in large quantities.

Anime in general takes quite a bit to make me laugh, as I don’t find a lot of its humor to be all that clever. This makes it all the more special when a comedy does get me to chuckle a few times. This onslaught of one-dimensional humor was tolerable at first, but as the episodes rolled by, I couldn’t help but feel what began as a tinge of pain result in unbearable monotony. The one thing I remember very vividly being slightly funny was the male lead’s strange, homosexual fascination with the female lead’s butler(?). It was different, I suppose.

Aside from that, while I have little basis for this (Call it a gut feeling), I felt the series was treading the line of the typical shounen romance story. Lots of small, tender interactions between the main couple crowded by interference from the female lead’s overprotective father and various extraneous circumstances that take up a good chunk of the anime’s run. This medley of misadventures eventually becomes more dark as the final episodes roll by as the male lead has to show himself to be capable/willing to take the female lead’s love in the face of adversity.

For anyone who has seen this, am I right? Or am I mostly right? Kind of right?

I think those two points are the major reasons as to why I didn’t care for the show, but who’s to say I won’t pick it back up eventually? It was by no means horrible, just not something I felt was worth my time, even back when I found things such as Nyan Koi! as worth my time. To those familiar with the franchise, with this post in mind, should I pick it back up? Or am I right in assuming it eventually leads to where I expect it to? Thanks, as always, for reading!