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Sexualization in anime: a short reflection

I discovered the flash game Mario is Missing! about a few weeks ago. The game should not be confused with one of the rather boring Mario games on the NES with the same name. It probably won’t, since the former supersedes the latter in a Google search. In contrast to the lofty target of education in the NES game, the flash game is a debauchery and a more plausible reality: when the cat is away, the mice will play. Unlike the virginal and pure Princess Peach most of us have grown up with, however, the Princess Peach in this game is quite a whore. Is the game any less fun?

Hell no. It’s one unique flash game, and one of the few I have played in the past few months. Even in this simple exercise in sexuality there is a dynamic alteration of gender roles and a catharsis of prurience that has not been widespread a few years ago: one has never seen Princess Peach save the kingdom all by herself, and one has especially not seen her do it through sexual intercourse. In this game, however, she does.

Yes, that's dripping.

Yes, that's dripping.

Amagami SS can be mentioned in the same vein as this game. It was jarring, even to me, because of the little plays of sensual affection Haruka’s arc showed. In retrospect, I still wouldn’t call Junichi and Haruka cretins: being idiots (of which we have a lot of in society, and which we are sometimes, whether we would like to admit it or not) in high school isn’t abnormal at all. It is relatively tethered and sequestered in good schools, displaced by positive feelings of creativity and the forging of one’s identity (especially effective in good students), but is fostered and made fecund in a lot of bad schools not because of instruction, but due to the relative absence of it. Do I see their actions stupid? Of course, I do. Do I see these as unrealistic? No.

In fact, these little games of theirs are rather tame compared to what I see in some high schools I’ve been to. The ending shows us of them being together with much love ten years into the marriage. Their relationship has been more enduring and more loving than most relationships between high schoolers: a lot fall apart some years, or some months into it.

I just believe that the more modern sensibility demands a shift from conservatism and austerity, towards liberation and sexuality. Amagami SS has been relatively successful with its viewers because it is one of those series that vanguards that shift: it admits of sexuality as a key component in relationships, and sex as one of its factors of coalescence, so long as it is done in the context of deepening the relationship and not mere debauchery. Those little games are as important in the development of their love as their confessions toward one another at the end of the arc. It is indeed crass, but that’s what human beings sometimes are. Yet sometimes, even this crassness is beautiful.

Amagami SS is a masterpiece

Sounds like a troll, right? Seems like a troll, right?

To some extent, it is. But I do think that aside from being a masterpiece of hilarity, it merits a closer look than merely ‘this series sucks, I’m dropping it because I’m too smart for it,’ because it actually is smarter than it appears. I may be quite fond of cerebral series such as Tatami Galaxy, but I haven’t failed to see the charms of this series. If one really thinks about it, it wonderfully subverts the romantic comedy genre in anime. Most romantic comedies with high-school settings deal with the saccharine and more platonic aspects of romantic development: it always starts with mere acquaintance, then slowly develops into familiarity. Sex is often out of the question: Kare Kano is one of the notable exceptions of this, with the couple actually consummating their relationship within the series. Nearly all romantic comedies to this point, however, deal with a linear and solitary progression of the plot. A subtle or obvious competition among the prospective girlfriends appears sooner or later in the series, with the girl the protagonist truly loves being with the hero in the end: the element of competition is never quite removed, but there is always a relatively clear resolution by the end of the series, with only one girl being with the hero.

I do <em>as well</em>.

I do as well.

Amagami SS subverts that: why can’t the hero have them all (like Pokemon)? I believe it is the series that pioneers various pathways within the same series having different endings. The protagonist is not merely paired to one girl; he is paired to all of the prospective girls with the series tackling different paths. In addition to that, it tackles the more visceral aspects of romantic development early on in the series: as much as one denies it, physical intimacy is just as important as emotional intimacy in a relationship. I don’t pertain to all out making-out, but I can’t fault Tachibana’s efforts toward his senpai: his attempts at physically getting closer is successful despite the circumambulant method of getting there. Finally, it fearlessly panders to the more sensual side of a relationship, and the more sensual side of viewers. I must admit that I was quite aroused when I saw Tachibana kiss the back of the knee of Morishima as well as during their quasi-sadomasochistic role playing in the cafeteria. That’s something that has been bypassed before in most romantic comedies, or alluded to only vaguely: in love, it cannot be denied that there is a sexual element.

I find nothing wrong with that. Frankly, I think it’s added more spice to the series. I agree with lolikit in that there’s something more to the show. It must not be dropped even if ‘one values his intelligence,’ because it is also smart in a way that some people can’t see.

Yes, I watch Amagami for the plot as well.