Kimikiss ~ pure rouge: why, oh why?
The crux of Cameron‘s blog, even with all the tangential discussions regarding anime, is his search for the anime that he could proudly place as his ninth favorite among all the anime he has seen. Although he himself has not commented regarding this, I believe this is so: it is, after all, what is reflected in his blog’s name: searchofno9. My search for the holy grail is not as intensive or as defined as Cameron’s, although I am also searching for anime I can both place in my top ten list as well as be proud of.
WHY, OH WHY?
As you may very well know, my favorite anime of all time has been Honey and Clover. It was an august distillation of pathos, beauty, and sadness: it was a near-perfect representation of life by decent people. I may not have cried buckets after seeing that series, but I did cry a lot. From the futility of Yamada’s confession in the third episode, to her riding Mayama’s back in the sixth, to the fireworks-laden confession of Takemoto, I empathized with the characters. I felt their pains, their joys, and their emotions in general. After viewing the series, however, I also wanted more.
This is the reason why people have such variegated ‘lists of bests.’ Not everyone shares the same experience: Gabriel Marcel taught that although one can empathize and sympathize, one cannot totally place himself in another’s shoes. There is a limit in commiseration: there exists a limit of empathy with regard to the other. Feelings are a Jungian pleroma: nothing, and yet everything. Everyone is unique; everyone is different: incarnate being is the central datum for metaphysical reflection. I grew up as a bibliophile, and as one who was introverted. I treasure subtlety, beautiful words, and the complex web of emotions that weave the human soul especially unrequited love. In this introversion, I grew up wanting to understand more about emotions yet afraid to experiment with them. Detachment was my defense mechanism: I remain to be not as fond of company (or needing of it) as other people.
In my desperation I explored other media: it was in this phase of my life that I found anime. Of course I began with staple anime: I started out with Bleach, but then I progressed (much slower compared to my fellow otaku) to fare that were more niche. I found Honey and Clover about two years ago. I was initially attracted to the avant-garde art utilized in the anime: instead of solid colors, the anime had a watercolor feel. It was only later that I realized that the series had everything (and then some) of what I was looking for in my novels! It had the sparseness of Hemingway, the complexity of Faulkner, the magic realism of Marquez (and of course, unrequited love); it even had the moral ambiguity of Endo! It was THE anime, and it has remained to be so, even now, almost two years after I saw it.
Half of the girls here are useless to the plot.
Discontentment, however, is deep-seated within every human being. It is which accompanies and allows for evolution. It is the singular factor which propelled both Kamina and Simon to break through the heavens (and through the entire universe, as a matter of fact): unsettled and discontented with their lives underground they fought to better the standard of life of everyone. Discontentment is that which fuels wars and also which powers improvement. It is also a great equalizer: everyone has it. Rich people have their sources of discontentment as the poor people are discontented with their lack of food. This was what powered me to seek for anime which had the same themes as Honey and Clover yet offered a different perspective.
Kimikiss ~ pure rouge seemed to be THE answer. If I remember correctly, both this series and Honey and Clover had the same director (Kenichi Kasai) as well as the same studio that produced the series (JC Staff). In a way, the series sated me. However, I think it also made me want to search again for other anime that can equal, if not surpass the majesty of H&C: in this sense the series also failed me. In a previous paragraph I mentioned the different tastes that people had regarding their anime. Perhaps my nit-picks regarding Kimikiss are merely taste-based, but I shall try as I progress to defend why I found such faults in the series.
I felt the ending was too sudden. I don’t know if this is just me, but the culmination of Honey and Clover (note that I am comparing the two, and hope that people find the parallel themes between the two series) was a result of Takemoto’s discovery of the self, ending where he began. The final scene, where he confesses to Hagu amidst the fireworks and the liveliness of the festival, was the concatenation of all his experiences beginning from a confused student to a decisive man. I did not find this in Kimikiss’s ending: Kouichi’s confession to Mao seemed too brisk and haphazard. Did his feelings change just like that? His statement to Mao that he was merely lying to himself all along made me sigh in disbelief, because it surely seemed that he wasn’t lying when he told Yuumi that he’ll go to her even if they were far apart. It magnified Kouichi’s weakness at the end of the series, because even before the episodes with Yuumi, Mao had already implied a great interest towards Kouichi. With regard to Kouichi, the series felt like a Christian pilgrimage only to detour into Medina (Hijra). I have no problems whatsoever with how Mao acted: for one, even if she did confess she tried her best to avoid Kouichi and even bless his relationship with Yuumi. That is difficult to do, in real life or anime.
I did not understand why they had to develop Akira and Kuryuu AT THE VERY LAST EPISODE. I felt that they could have spent more time honing the ending with the primary characters; instead, they had to waste a few minutes with Hiiragi and Kuryuu, insinuating that a relationship may blossom. I could not see the point.
In the end, the series simply did not dig as deep into their characters as it should have done. As much as I found Sakino’s confession to be bittersweet and evocative, it would have done wonders if they developed the characters left without partners more, because I truly felt that in the end they should have been the ones with the partners instead, and not those paired together at the end. Kai was simply a man’s man; Sakino was more inviting by the end of the series because of her honesty and understanding (in contrast to the vacillation and invidiousness of Eriko); and Yuumi with her tolerance was simply otherworldly. (Although I doubt that Yuumi would pull off a Kotonoha or a Sekai, her pacific actions with regard to Kouichi were awesome. It is difficult to let things like that go.)
This is a minor point, and may be intercalated with any one of the major points, but the use of fireworks in the ending of Kimikiss was something (anim)anachronistic, while the use of H&C left a mark within me that it was the culmination of the journeys and the epiphanies of the series’s characters: for Takemoto and his crew, life has come full circle – yet they are, still, to live it.
These are only opinions after all. Feel free to agree or disagree. 🙂