Shimoneta: a masterpiece hidden inside dirty jokes
Ever since I went over to the dark side, I knew that anime had something more for me than magical fights and Pokemon. I knew it when I became emotionally invested in the heroes of Gundam Wing. However, all my parents saw were robots fighting. I needed to prove to myself that anime was much more than these desultory generalizations.
Guess what? In the next year, I watched Elfen Lied. That in itself was enough to destroy most presumptions about anime: it was visceral, violent, and mature. A few months after, I stumbled upon Koi Kaze.
It’s already been twelve years, and I still haven’t seen any medium with a more realistic and better presentation of incest. I’ve watched the series twice, and the OP remains to be among the best pieces of music I’ve heard.
Thence on, I was attracted to off-kilter, heteroclitic anime. Although I could still enjoy series like Bleach, I would watch a lot more josei and seinen series. I’ve discovered masterpieces such as Tatami Galaxy and Honey and Clover, and great anime such as Kemonozume because of this predilection.
I didn’t expect much from Shimoneta. I was going to watch a raunchy series, and probably place it at the back of my mind after I’ve watched it.
And I was horribly mistaken: Shimoneta is a great anime.
The World of Shimoneta
One of the best things about Shimoneta is how the author constructed its world. Japan has become the world’s most ‘moral’ country because it has prohibited everything that has anything to do with sexuality. It’s like a reverse Brave New World: instead of bombarding the people with pleasure to control them, everything sexually pleasurable is removed in order to control people.
I honestly thought this would be a good solution to the overpopulation plaguing the Philippines. People think too much with their lower bodies than with their brains, and as a result the country is rapidly being overcrowded with unwanted babies and idiots, while I’ll be a wizard in a little over a year. Part of Shimoneta’s brilliance is that it shows that the removal of one’s sexuality is not the answer: Tsukimigusa Oboro and Anna are even more depraved individuals than the protagonists because their lives are devoid of their sexuality.
In a previous write-up, I wrote that Shimoneta was 1984 meets American Pie. Although that roughly approximates the series, there’s more depth within.
The whole series starts when Okuma gets admitted into the most moral high school in the country. He sought to be admitted into the prestigious institution because he admired the kindness of his senior, Nishikonomiya Anna. Because he has knowledge about sexuality (since his father was a ‘terrorist’), he ensconces himself in the Student Council with Ayame Kajou, Goriki, and Anna.
Ayame Kajou is the series’s deuteragonist. She saves Okuma from being imprisoned by ‘terrorizing’ the people with pornographic pictures. Nevertheless, she is in the student council because she and Anna are best friends. Her motives are gradually shown as the series progresses (alongside a lot of raunchy jokes), and they are noble.
Shimoneta is a brilliant series.
It’s a great series because it creates a dystopia that posits more problems than solutions if sexuality is removed from the world. One of its most tragic victims is Anna.
Prior to her accident with Okuma, she was a Yamato Nadeshiko: she’s the Student Council President, at the top of her class, and is very attractive to boot. Because she has no knowledge about her sexuality, however, she transmogrifies into a nymphomaniac after being saved by Okuma from stalkers (and kissing her accidentally).
It would be easy if Okuma was also a sex fiend: after all, he’s admired Anna for so long. Because Okuma is, ironically, also a decent guy with a perverted mind, he gets more and more turned off from her advances.
People say that it was improper of Okuma to invite his stalker to his house. There are, however, some sacrifices to be made for the better good: Okuma was already firmly entrenched within SOX and he had to inspire Otome for her to be able to produce erotic art they could use as weapons. If I recall correctly, he also didn’t know it was Anna (since Anna was avoiding him when they were in school).
Anna’s tragedy is the tragedy of not knowing about herself, or her sexuality. Kajou alludes to that by saying that Anna didn’t know how to differentiate love from lust: Anna was lusting after Okuma (and did so unhealthily), but since she didn’t know one iota about her own sexuality, she considered it all as love. And because Anna had a skewed perspective toward righteousness, she merely interpreted that ANY ACTION pursued for the sake of ‘morality’ was the right thing to do.
Her sexual repression also triggered a psychotic streak within her: she wants Okuma all to herself, but doesn’t even know that she’s raped him more than once, all in the name of her ‘love.’
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, indeed.
I like Kajou, because she reminds me of myself. I know a lot about psychology and sexuality, but I don’t really have much real-life experience. I have noble intentions, and wish to carry them out, but I also have a potty mouth to go with it.
She’s suffered because her dad was implicated in a crime he didn’t commit, all for the sake of pushing forth the anti-sexuality laws that were to govern Japan. As a result, she has a properly modulated schizophrenia: she appears to be prim and proper while at school, but is actually the terrorist leader of SOX.
I think I loved her epiphany in the 11th episode (the final episode was more of an excursion than anything): when all was said and done, Okuma was always there for her, and she was always there for Okuma when he needed her the most (although she couldn’t do much when it came to Anna). For someone repressed differently, to be able to say she loved someone as much as she loved dirty jokes showed that Okuma also meant the world to her.
I love romances that arise from a story not focused on it. It keeps the romance devoid of too much drama, but actually livens up the story. So I’m a solid fan of Okuma and Kajou. They deserve each other. 🙂
I won’t comment at length about the daddy issues, or that ostracism. That’s capably tackled in other anime, and by other bloggers.
It’s about his love – and Anna’s toward him, tangentially.
Love is not based on effort.
You want cold water. I fan the cup a million times, but someone walks by with ice for you. You have these expectations, and I work with blood and sweat (and love nectar) to reach them. Someone else came by with what you’re actually looking for, and so you go with them.
This is precisely what happened among Anna, Okuma, and Kajou. Okuma thought that he aspired to moral perfection in order to step out of his father’s shadow. It’s a sort of father complex: all we really see as viewers is Okuma’s father treating him like a father should, but leads to Okuma being ostracized for his father’s beliefs. What he actually desired was to be accepted for who he was, and Kajou did, warts and all.
And no matter what Anna does to show her ‘love’ for Okuma, he doesn’t reciprocate – because Kajou was whom he needed all along. At this rate, they’ll also end up together. Kajou already confessed.
Watch this for the sexually-loaded, promiscuous jokes. Most people would already be content. I hope, however, that with this post, people will take Shimoneta to be an anime much more than that. It may not be as a good a series as Tatami Galaxy, but it’s a masterpiece to me nonetheless.
Watch it, especially if you’re open-minded.