Posts Tagged ‘hana to yume’

Oh girl comics, why must you normalize being a complete asshole?

July 20, 2009

Read the latest Hana to Yume today.

Skip Beat: I don’t read it, because I read the beginning and it had that infuriating gratitude toward assholes thing going on. Because really, the only way you can be motivated to do something with your life is to be treated like absolute dirt by a huge asshole so that you then want to prove something to them. HEALTHY!

Voice actress comic: A girl goes to voice actor school. I stopped reading as of this issue because I am sick of her betting the farm on ridiculous arbitrary goals set by assholes. I am also sick of the asshole she is bound to fall in love with.

Gakuen Alice: I don’t read it, so I am not sure how much it involves falling in love with guys who are complete assholes.

Kami-sama hajimemashita: I love Tomoe, but he is totally an asshole. Just not enough of one that I hate his guts like the asshole in Monochrome Kids (which was not running this issue).

Gekkan Nakatoba: Didn’t read because I don’t read comedies unless they actually make me laugh. Not intended as a judgment, just doesn’t meet my tastes.

Ore-same Teacher: Masaomi is a huge asshole. But to be fair, he was not in this chapter very much!

Chotto Sekai Made: One-off comic about a girl tutoring a bunch of foreign exchange students at Japanese. The Swiss guy is a huge freaking asshole and also the love interest. DUH. I am getting the impression that Swiss people are jerks. Nooo! A prejudice!

Love So Life: Gee, a comic about taking care of little kids! Boring! The kids need to have superpowers and transform into giant cat robots or something.

Shiawase Kissa San-chou-me: Don’t read, therefore cannot judge asshole content.

Kyou mo ashita mo: It seems the only way to teach people how to draw manga or whatever is to be really really mean and tell them they are completely pathetic wastes of space. Then they will be motivated! Yeah, I’m putting this one in the asshole column.

Lovesick: I got bored with this a couple issues ago. But I don’t specifically recall any characters being raging assholes.

Jiu Jiu: This is awesome because it has subservient demon wolf boys. This issue also features some kind of vampire prince, who is a total asshole, of course. But he isn’t a love interest or authority figure or in any superior position over the protagonist, so I hesitate to actually tally this one on the asshole column.

Grimoire and O’Toole: I am sure I am getting the title wrong but that is what it sounds like. Anyway, the time demon guy is an asshole. Asshole column +1.

My point is that every single comic I read except one (and it still had an asshole guy whom the heroine was nice to) in this magazine (and also some that I didn’t read and some that were taking a break this issue) featured a complete asshole as love interest and/or authority figure (sometimes there are separate love interests and authority figures who are both assholes) and pretty much the only option heroines have in dealing with assholes is to suck it up and work extra super hard on the slim hope that the asshole will be impressed enough with the results to tone down his assholishness by a tiny fraction which of course then causes the heroine to be totally elated and/or fall madly in love with him.

I think shounen comics have this problem too sometimes (or a similar one — not so much with the female authority figures there, so I don’t think there’s much falling in love with your asshole superior, but there is certainly the “being treated like dirt is the only/best motivator” philosophy on occasion), but not with the saturation that shoujo comics do. It is depressing. I almost hope the comics that make this magazine worth reading for me would hurry up and end so I could stop buying it.

Also note that there are no consequences for being an asshole if you are a guy! Everyone will adapt to it because that’s just the way you are! (I have totally experienced this in real life, too.) But if you are a girl, you will be shunned by everyone and hated and despised, because your first duty is to everyone else’s feelings, especially the assholes whose feelings you have hurt by being adversely affected by their assholish treatment of you. At least, if you are the protagonist. Sometimes other girls can get away with being assholes — to the protagonist.

Of course, a perfect person would be able to work under any asshole without feeling threatened, because she would have perfect judgment and therefore know exactly how much of an asshole he was. But for real people who might actually put some faith in the opinion of their superior or lover, desperate resentment is not really the number one desirable attitude for productivity.

I wouldn’t mind if romances about falling in love with total assholes happened occasionally in the context of “Let’s take a totally unlikely love interest and try to make a feasible story about falling in love with him!” But really, 90% of (male) love interests are complete assholes. (Note: that is one of the 47% of statistics that are completely made up. But you get the point — it is a very strong trend.) It is not original or interesting! It does give the message that there is something wrong with you if being verbally abused does not make you all twitterpated though. (Okay, not really. It’s the slight lull in abuse that makes you twitterpated. What’s totally abnormal is if you consider a constant stream of verbal abuse to be a turn-off. YOU PERVERT.)

Oh! Synchronicity! Girl-comics are a vehicle for corporate brainwashing, I guess.

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How to Betrayal

May 23, 2009

This post contains lots of spoilers for Pretear, Deltora Quest, and a minor spoiler for the latest chapter of Monochrome Kids. Non-spoiler summary: It sucks when a character betrays the protagonist by saying “Mwahaha I was evil all along and all my character development up to now was a lie.” It is much less annoying when a character betrays the protagonist for actual reasons that are in character. This is where I would use the lj-cut tag, but this isn’t LJ and I don’t know how to cut things.

So, I really hate Monochrome Kids, but I kind of have to keep reading it because of all the cat ears and junk. This issue, main character Kureha finally meets a hyena who is all kind and polite and helpful. “Yes! Someone who is not constantly insulting and threatening to kill me!” the protagonist thinks. “Yay, a nice animal,” I think. “I bet he is totally going to try and kill her.” The asshole leopard refuses to let her work with the hyena and insists on helping her himself, while keeping up his usual steady stream of verbal abuse and justifying his helpfulness as sadism (because being helpful for the sake of it would ruin his image as a huge asshole). Then she has to give a speech and the hyena says he left her speech on the podium. She goes up to the podium, but the papers there are blank. She has to ad-lib a speech to avoid the potentially lethal wrath of the student body.

Betrayal Classification: Annoying. I saw it coming a mile away, and it really pounds you over the head with the message that people who are kind and polite to you can’t be trusted, because they are just getting you to let your guard down so they can hurt you worse later. Don’t you know that nobody is genuinely kind, so you can peg anyone who fails to insult you as a liar? Not to say you can trust all assholes, but you can trust some assholes, whereas nice people are scheming lying backstabbers and you should punch them in the nose at the first sign of politeness.

It occurs to me that I hate this kind of plot, where a character that I liked or had marginal hopes for liking suddenly reveals that they were pure evil all along and everything up to that point was a complete act with no hint of truth whatsoever. A much worse case of this type of betrayal is in the anime (it comes in other formats but I haven’t read/played them) Deltora Quest, wherein a certain character – I guess I won’t give too much detail and limit the spoilerage – turns out to be a horrible deceiving crab monster of some kind, near the end of the series, with absolutely no redeeming qualities (and completely two-dimensional, since he had to start from scratch and didn’t have much time and, oh yeah, was generically evil). (I didn’t finish the series once I was sure they were done with this plot point, so someone tell me if I’m wrong and this was retconned out at the last second.) This is better than the Monochrome Kids hyena in that people who aren’t assholes exist in the Deltora Quest universe, so it doesn’t deny the existence of non-assholes at all. But it is worse in that that was a frickin’ long series and I watched most of it only to go “Ugh! This is stupid! I’m watching something that doesn’t suck instead,” at the end. Not that it wasn’t a pretty simplistic show the whole time, but things that piss me off could at least try to be sophisticated. Betrayal Classification: Monumentally annoying.

Contrast to an anime I did like (although I haven’t gotten around to reading the manga), Pretear. (Can I just note that the transformation is weirdly freudian? The guys go into her heart and then armor and weapons and junk form from sparklies that come out of her womb-type area.) It’s been a long time, but as I recall the main villain turns out to be the previous Pretear-heroine-person, and one of the guys is still in love with her and eventually takes her side against the protagonist and the rest of her harem. I always liked him better than the main love interest, because in accordance to the Protagonist Always Chooses Asshole if She Has a Choice Rule, the main love interest is kind of an asshole (although of course, regular assholes pale in assholishness compared to the leopard in Monochrome Kids). But the thing is, after the whole betrayal thing, I still didn’t hate him and he didn’t become an entirely different character! He was the same character but with some new elements revealed, and they changed a lot but did not contradict his previous character development! THIS IS HOW YOU MAKE IT NOT STUPID. Betrayal Classification: Deliciously angsty.

Disappointment

April 11, 2009

In the category of things that I was looking forward to that turned out to be extremely disappointing: Monochrome Kids (Monokuro Shounen Shoujo) in Hana to Yume. It looks to be by the same person as – what was it called – Nousatsu Junky? I never really got that comic, because everyone is so angry all the time, especially male lead. And it has models. Reading Ciao for a while left me really, really sick of models, idols, fashion designers, and hair stylists (which of course are the only things girls want to be when they grow up, except maybe florists).

Monochrome Kids is about a girl who goes to a school for princes and princesses of animal kingdoms. One thing they are studying is how to resist the urge to eat humans. (Way to present the image of wild animals as bloodthirsty monsters, huh?) So she is disguised as a rabbit, the only non-carnivore present, but apparently less irresistible than delicious human. (Whut?) So far so good. I don’t really buy the portrayal of carnivorous animals, but hey! People with dog ears and cat ears and tails! Add cat ears to anything halfway decent and I will love it forever.

Unfortunately, I kind of hate it. The animals are all jerks, but Protagonist Girl seems to be falling for the one with the most severe case of Bishounen Jerk Syndrome that I have ever seen. Last issue, he very nearly got her killed, and he calls her “chibibusu.” (Chibi = small, busu = ugly.) Obviously they are destined to be together, and he is totally a really nice guy underneath all the being the hugest asshole in the world. It’s the polite and kind ones you have to watch out for: half the time they end up being a spy for the villain or something. In fact, you should probably just preemptively punch in the face anyone who says anything not rude to you. It’s like shoujo manga is propaganda for the Nice Guy (TM) conspiracy (the one that says girls only like assholes).

That issue was just not fun for me. The comic version of S.A. (also an anime) ended, and I thought I’d peek to see if I found it as infuriating as ever, and I did. (This is subjective. I identify too much with the protagonist’s competitiveness or perfectionism or something. If I ever decided to kill myself, I’d just overdose on this series without first ridding my surroundings of pointy things.)

And Cyboy (Cyborg + Boy) did a volleyball plotline which I found both tedious and infuriating, because it used that plot device where the protagonist is goaded into letting the outcome of a sports competition determine whether his relationship with his friend has any worth or not. At least he didn’t bet the farm, but really, don’t feed the volleyball champion trolls. Then he got injured, but then he won anyway, against the reigning champion team. I hate it when protagonists win against all odds for no reason (although of course two tendencies of fiction are that the protagonist goes up against near-hopeless odds and that the protagonist wins; but in this case my rooting for the protagonist to win was far outweighed by my annoyance at how stupid he was being). I am annoyed that he didn’t have to face how stupid it was putting his estimation of his friendship on the line like that.

This comic is about a guy who used to be geeky and unpopular but his friend has given him a total makeover and helps him maintain his image so now he is popular (but the love interest doesn’t like that type of guy, oh irony). This sort of “be careful what you wish for” plot tends to focus on the less desirable consequences of getting your dream come true, but sometimes I feel it’s a bit too uncritical of how differently people get treated based on appearances. There isn’t any indication that maybe people should have been nicer to him before he got made over. No one’s entitled to chocolate on Valentine’s Day, but some of the pre-makeover treatment was actively cruel. It also leaves me bitter and cynical when the only way to get shallow people who only value appearances to shut up is to have a friend who is attractive enough to garner their respect swoop in to the rescue (a la the latest issue).

In other news, I’ve been watching Kenshin again! It’s been 8 years since I first saw this show and said “Hey, they all have funny sleeves!” I have more context to judge it now and it’s not beyond reproach (although I still love it). Particularly, Yahiko says Kaoru is strong (when he’s saying he’d still rather learn swordsmanship from Kenshin, which is understandable because Kenshin is the best in Japan, except maybe Shishio and Hiko Seijuurou), but Kaoru, despite having her own dojo, is highly ineffective against all the low-level thugs Kenshin beats up in the first few episodes. (I think she does beat up some of Takeda Kanryuu’s low level thugs later. Why are these disc 1 thugs so awesome?) These first few episodes really don’t have much plot (I noticed this even 8 years ago): bad guys do bad stuff until Kenshin finally shows up and hits them with sword. Kaoru and Misao really should have had more opportunity to kick butt. Yahiko defeats more bad guys than them. Yahiko. (Also, I wish Kenshin had been forced to fight that German ninja lady in season 3; it might have almost justified season 3’s existence.)