Embarrassment, Scrapes, Colds, and Other Deadly Things in Anime

Friday's Feature

Life is tough for the average high school anime character. Getting caught in the rain is nearly a death sentence when a dreaded fever will strike and certainly any character who ever had a bout of chuunibyou knows that embarrassment really can kill.

There are plenty of fairly sensible plot and tone reasons for these greatly exaggerated dangers, however the frequency with which these are rolled out each season is kind of mind blowing at times.

Do we have a cocky character who needs to be taken down a peg? Or a character who is holding the plot back by refusing to comply with someone else’s fairly insane demand? Well, look no further than bringing their ‘dark past’ into the open and suddenly you’ve got a blushing and embarrassed character willing to agree to nearly anything.

Chuunibyou - die from embarrassment

Of course, that’s nothing compared to having a guy and/or girl confess or, even worse, touch hands. Look out if they’ve just walked in on someone changing. Suddenly you could fry an egg on the primary red face of the character as they blush all the way to the tips of their ears.

A lot of the time this is played off co-medically and sometimes it just gives the story a way to keep progressing because without some form of coercion the character has no reason to meet the demands of another but they don’t actually want a real sense of menace in the story, but realistically, the blushing character is a trope that is just littered throughout anime.

Kaichou wa Maid Sama

But worse than simply being embarrassed is getting a scrape. Or an actual cut.

Pretty much anything that breaks the surface of an anime character’s skin, no matter how minor, is treated like someone just tore a limb off.

Actually, I think characters who lose limbs have less reaction.

Edward Elric - Losing a Limb
Yeah, pretty sure Edward didn’t react that badly when this happened.

But a scrape on the face of an idol? That’s just wrong. You absolutely must treat it this instant and anything less would potentially endanger their face or potentially court a permanent scar.

Nanami treating Kurama's Wound

While I’m all for effective first aid, even of minor injuries, the reactions to which characters go at the first sign of an injury is a little overwrought. It almost makes you wonder if they never played and fell over as kids and experienced all the usual bumps and bruises that come with growing up. And certainly recent anime have made me wonder if the frequency with which people in Japan break limbs is somewhat lower because if Domestic Girlfriend taught me anything it is that apparently breaking your leg prevents any part of you, including your brain, from functioning properly.

Realistically, this does allow a few things to happen in a story. The first is minor drama. If we’re in a standard high school setting, there just aren’t a lot of real hazards so even minor ones end up being overblown. However, what mostly seems to happen is the injury is seen as an excuse to force characters together in a more intimate setting.

Whether that is through the infirmary visit (sometimes after being carried Princess style), helping the person with their daily life, or visiting the sick friend and then being alone in their room with them, it is a pretty standard plot point. It also leads to some charming and cute encounters as well as some more comedic, entertaining, and sometimes more risque moments.

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However, being embarrassed, scrapes, cuts, broken limbs… all of these pale in comparison with the real deadly killer of anime. The unstoppable force that will knock a protagonist flat in an instant and require all other characters to mope and wonder if they will ever survive.

Yes.

It is that.

The common cold.

Caused of course by any kind of water outside of a shower making contact with said character. And even a bath or shower might trigger it if they don’t 100% dry themselves immediately upon exit.

Seriously, the anime cold/fever is the single most prevalent and debilitating weapon in any anime. Far more effective than a zanpakuto from Bleach at keeping characters down.

And it seems to spread across almost every genre.

Natsume with a fever

From Natsume, the guy who as his friends say catches colds easier than anyone, to darker fantasies like Black Butler, anime characters are in grave peril when there are colds about and apparently they are always about. Maybe the rain droplets carry it? Who knows?

Ciel and Sebastian

All I know is that as soon as water is involved someone is going to end up sick with a fever and inevitably going to end up having bed rest and some kind of towel draped on their head.

Much like scrapes this scenario does allow for more one on one moments but fevers come with the added advantage of a closed mouthed character may let their guard down. Characters acting weird, spilling their true thoughts, severe misunderstandings, all of these things can be triggered by an anime fever.

This situation also confined the character to a single place which allows the rest of the story to progress putting pressure on them to recover and do whatever they need to do. In the case of Norman in The Promised Neverland it gave Emma a chance to show how adorable she was as a kid and also the tight relationship between the three central characters.

The Promised Neverland - Norman sick, Emma visiting

However, with anime writers seemingly out to make anime characters blush from their toes to their foreheads, scar them for life with minor scrapes and wounds, or burn their brains with fevers caused by walking in the rain, it really must be hard for the average anime character to get through the day. And that is even before the giant robots and vampire ninjas show up to cause havoc.

So here’s the question for you: What is the deadliest of all anime ailments?

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Karandi James
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Kaichou wa Maid-Sama Series Review

Overview:

Misaki is the first female student council president at a school that used to be an all boys school but is now co-ed (with a very low female student population). She’s determined to reform the school and the boys in it and to encourage more female students to enroll. However, her family are quite poor so to help out she has a part time job working in a maid cafe and she does not want anyone from the school to know her secret. She’s managed to conceal it fairly flawlessly until Usui, one of the most popular boys in school, finds out.

Review:

This one is a fairly standard story with fairly standard characters and yet still manages to be a lot of fun (as long as you don’t think too much about any of it). We’re of course going well into cliché territory with the angry girl, the mysterious prince like guy, the maid cafe, the cross dresser, the delinquents, and pretty much any other stereotype you want to throw into the scenario, yet at least this show managed to cover them with a bit of vibrancy and energy which made you feel like they were trying rather then just marching out a by the numbers script.

maid4

Probably the weakest part of the story is the relationship between Misaki and Usui. While they have some truly adorable moments Misaki is just far too dense and Usui is just far too perfect at everything. Plus he continuously puts up with Misaki’s violent outbursts and just keeps hanging around regardless. This creates a number of issues. Misaki is at first built up as a fairly capable and independent character but by a third of the way through we seldom see her deal with any conflict on her own. Usui (either directly or indirectly) is the one actually solving issues, supporting her, or saving the day. The fact that Misaki usually gets the last word doesn’t take away the fact that she’s essentially the damsel in distress for the vast majority of the story. Also, Usui himself is originally shown as someone being continuously confessed to but by a few episodes in this aspect kind of vanishes from the story as well. The two characters just kind of revolve around each and fall into the pattern of Misaki encounters trouble (either real or something blown way out of proportion), Usui offers to help and is refused, Misaki then either fails to solve the problem or gets stuck over working, Usui does something either in the background or overtly, problem solved.

maid5

That isn’t to say that they aren’t fun to spend time with, but they lack depth and anything interesting about them in the beginning is kind of written out of the by the mid-way point. Fortunately the show finds new and novel ways to mess up Misaki’s view of the perfect world she’s trying to create and so at least it doesn’t get too dull or repetitive. But more development, or getting more of Usui’s backstory would definitely have helped this along. These are fun characters but they just don’t have enough going for them in the anime.

maid3

I will point out that Usui is very big on contact and at times it feels like he’s really cornering Misaki. Then again, given she’s studied akido, she probably could extricate herself from most of his advances if she really wanted to. Still, you might find one or two scenes a little uncomfortable.

maid6

The support cast are fine. The other girls and guys at school have very little in the way of distinguishing personalities (even the three idiots who end up frequenting the cafe), but they serve the purpose as a background to Misaki’s various problems. The other maids at the cafe are a little more distinct but are still decidedly one note. The students from the rival school are also one note but at least serve the purpose of making you hate them. Misaki’s family are odd and in a way that is never explained or explored which feels like wasted potential really. So fine, but fairly forgettable.

I do have issues with the opening. That song is really grating and loud. It might not be so bad for others but I really found myself reaching for the skip every time an episode started.

There isn’t much else to say. There’s some funny moments, some touching moments, and some moments that just fall flat. If you like a standard kind of rom-com with okay characters but good pace and reasonable writing you should find something to enjoy here but without a bit more depth and exploration it remains pretty much popcorn viewing.

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Karandi James
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Friday’s Feature: On Romance in Anime

One of my first top 5 lists was a list of my favourite romantic anime. While romance isn’t my favourite genre, it has always held a warm spot in my heart as romance done well can really move me emotionally and linger with me well after it is finished. So what are some of the common features of sweet and romantic anime? And what do you like in your romance?

01. For the most part they are focused on the female in the relationship. While some shows (particularly a few in recent years) have portrayed romance from a male’s point of view (or at least a male character’s point of view) the majority of romance focused anime follow the girl. This isn’t really surprising given the target audience for most romance anime are girls and as a general rule the romantic genre appeals more to a female audience. And while there are a lot of self-insert girls out there with limited personality besides a love of cooking and cleaning, because romance is such a prolific genre what we find are an array of female leads. From the super shy and fairly stereotypical right through to the oblivious and aggressive.

But that’s what makes romance so great is that if one doesn’t work for you there are plenty of other characters and romances to follow. 2018 turned out to be a bumper year for including a range of relationships and we saw monsters in love with humans, same sex couples, age gap couples and more or less any kind of relationship you’d like to see unfold. It was fantastic to see the diverse range on offer and hopefully 2019 will continue to give us great couples of all shapes and sizes so that everyone can find something to love.

02. This one isn’t in every anime but it is a common feature. The love interest starts out being kind of a jerk and the girl doesn’t like him very much. Then something happens and suddenly she sees him in a new light. This is actually pretty standard in all romances really (and a staple of romantic comedies) and it probably exists because otherwise you have to introduce external tension and conflict early on before the characters have really been established. By creating tension between the two you can focus more or less entirely on the characters without boring the audience to death with their adoring stares.

I’m not the biggest fan of this particular cliché because I’ve never understood why the girl continues to interact with someone who is that much of a jerk, but I do understand from a narrative point of view why it works. Besides, Tomoe may have been nasty to Nanami but he still ends up being one of my favourite male leads in a romance.

Of course, if we look at BL we’ll see a whole lot of incredibly horrible characters that end up being the love interest and while some work hard to try and redeem the character, it is still a trope I’d like to see vanish.

Dakaichi - Episode 1 - Takato

03. The epiphany moment. Despite being in a romance, the characters tend to be unusually dense about their emotions and the state of their relationship. Either one or both of the characters needs to realise they are actually in love or that the other one actually likes them or something. Usually this is accompanied by sparkles, tears, or sometimes a punch because why not. However it is the reveal moment for the character that the audience have been waiting for forever because the character is usually the last to realise it. But hey, at least most of us don’t believe we have arrhythmia because our heart starts beating fast at the sight of the guy.

horriblesubs-inu-x-boku-secret-service-04-720p-mkv_snapshot_04-20_2012-02-03_22-04-52

04. There’s almost always a rival. Again, this is one of those necessary staples in order to inject some sort of tension or conflict into a story that is basically two people staring into each other’s eyes ad nausea and rivals can add quite a bit of personality to the story. Probably my favourite rival ever is Kurumi from Kimi ni Todoke. That’s mostly because she pretty much demonstrates every characteristic a rival might have rather than just being one type. It’s kind of interesting to watch her character transition.

While I don’t like her manipulative efforts early on (and we aren’t supposed to) you have to admit, Kurumi is a hard worker and ultimately she wasn’t really a nasty person so much as someone who was very driven by her goals. What makes her truly exceptional is that when she finally does confess and get turned down, she accepts this with reasonable grace and uses it as a chance to grow a bit as a person. A little bit. She still stirs the pot occasionally but mostly she moves on.

05. In anime romance tends to only get to the confession and dating stage, again there are exceptions. The vast majority finish the final episode on the confession, the first date, or a kiss and that is as much as we are getting of that story. Then again, given how red most of the characters get just trying to say the name of the person they are in love with I guess we can’t expect much more from them and it really isn’t needed given its the emotion of the relationship that has been conveyed.

snow-white-with-the-red-hair-episode-10

There’s probably a cultural reason for this trend and it isn’t as if the romance is any worse for the lack of physical displays of affection, however it is interesting watching teenage characters get flustered over eye contact or brushing their finger tips.

Well, that does it from me today. What are your favourite parts of romantic anime or what is your favourite romantic anime?

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