Posts Tagged ‘monochrome kids’

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.)