Birds ‘n’ Bees

April 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, usually shortened to Haganai, is not a very good anime. None of its characters are particularly likable, which is something of a liability for a character-based anime in a subgenre that’s equal parts “slice of life” and “harem,” and it doesn’t really have an ending, not beyond just tying up a few loose ends. I mostly just watched its two seasons and then basked in the fact that I’d never have to watch them again.

Of course, that’s not to say that there wasn’t anything good in Haganai. One of the more memorable things in it is one of the characters, Shiguma Rika. In a lot of ways, Rika seems like the boring trope of a geek girl, whose sexuality is defined by “boys love” doujinshi and mecha anime, but there’s also a more active element that are usually missing from such a trope. She wears her bedroom proclivities very openly, especially through the deliberate misunderstanding of others’ words, and even goes so far to proposition Hasegawa Kodaka, the nebbish protagonist, several times throughout the anime, seemingly in total seriousness.

Shiguma Rika from Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai

Shiguma Rika from Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai

It’s sad, yet undeniably true, that a female character expressing sexual desire is exceedingly rare in any anime, particularly in a romantic context. Even in a gag anime like Seitokai Yakuindomo, which is entirely composed of jokes about bodily functions and libido, the female members of the student council still react with shock when the actual act is presented as a possibility. Part of that is playing for laughs, of course, but part of it is a tangible discomfort with sex.

Really, the explicit description of sex itself is the biggest obstacle to most relationships in anime, which invariably makes it the cutoff point for most relationships in anime. There’s no point in continuing the story once the greatest threat to a couple’s continued existence has been overcome, right? That’s just common sense, in terms of writing. And sure, there are technical exceptions like Bakuman, in which one of the protagonists confesses his love in the first few episodes and then makes a promise to do nothing physical about it for three freakin’ seasons of waiting, but overall the prediction I made a couple posts ago with The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan could apply to any anime romance, outside of some older shoujo and josei stuff: the anime will end when the characters tell each other (or somehow just know) how they feel. That’s as far as most anime will even go.

Mashiro Moritaka proposes to Azuki Miho while Takagi Akito just watches in Bakuman

Mashiro Moritaka proposes to Azuki Miho while Takagi Akito just watches in Bakuman

I wish there were more female characters like Rika. There’s a lot to be said about the pressure that Japan exerts on its female celebrities, especially its idols, to be pure and childlike, even if they’re incredibly eccentric like Shokotan. Bill 156 may exist, but anime characters still don’t really have the same restrictions placed upon them that real women do. Why shouldn’t we have stories about the other challenges that romantic relationships can face in anime, besides just having the possibility of their existence acknowledged and accepted?

Really, I know the answer, but I still wish it were otherwise. The sheer reluctance of anime (and Japanese culture in general, I don’t know) to admit that sex is a thing outside of internet pornography is ridiculous, not just for the sheer stubbornness of it, but also because it’s limiting itself as a medium. You know I won’t stand for that, right? Not when the clip below shows a better way.


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