A thoughtful response to current anime.

Kimi to Boku – Episode 1

Kimi to Boku looks a lot like an average four girl slice of life series, in the vein of Hidamari Sketch, A Channel, or Lucky ★ Star. The thing that makes it stand out from the pack is that it’s about guys instead!  There is an interesting game you can play with anime series, where you genderswap all the characters and see how much of the show remains intact.  For example, Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu suffers pretty badly when you genderswap it.  Haruhi is hard for some people to tolerate even as a girl, but if you make her a guy, he ends up looking like an unequivocal sexual predator, especially the part where he extorts a computer by taking sexually compromising photographs of the girls in the computer club, who are then traumatized by the experience.  In this way we can examine the underlying gender role assumptions in the anime we watch.  It will be interesting to see how Kimi to Boku episode 1 does on that score.

…thirty minutes pass…

Such true-to-life dialogue!

It seems as though the four girl slice of life show works out just fine with guys instead.  I was smiling through most of the episode.  Instead of long pointless arguments about which end of a chocolate coronet to eat first, you get long pointless arguments about how to arrange yourselves while you sleep.  One major difference that struck me was that, instead of being affectedly cute and cheerful like a the girls in a regular slice of life comedy would be, the characters in this show were affectedly world-weary and callous.  If we look at this from a gender-swapping perspective, that seems to correspond to the differing notions of traditional masculine virtue vs. traditional feminine virtue.  A man is expected to be cool and set himself apart from the group, he’s not allowed to get too involved in anything, while a woman is expected to be more naive, and to take everything at face value and wear her heart on her sleeve.  In a way, that makes a male slice of life comedy more relaxing to watch, because the characters are stifling their reactions to things, rather than exaggerating them.

Besides the sleeping-order bit, the other main plot of this episode was the search for a club in which Yuki could participate.  I think the moral that they wound up with is actually a bad one, it doesn’t apply to real life.  You can say “people don’t necessarily like the things they’re good at”, but it’s nice to do well at stuff.  What’s more, to a large extent, people are good at the things they like.  You can be a natural prodigy at sports, but if you don’t enjoy running around like an idiot and swinging your limbs at things, your body won’t get practice at it, and your prodigality will dwindle.  There is a positive feedback loop at work here – people enjoy doing a thing, they do well at the thing and get praise and self-satisfaction, this drives them to do the thing more and they get better at it.  You just don’t find, in real life, people who just lie around reading manga all day who are amazing basketball players.  Well, basketball is a bad example, because a lot of basketball depends on how tall you are.  You don’t get taller with practice.


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