You’ve probably noticed it before too, right? Those moments where something funny, shocking, silly, or whatever absolutely needs to be brought to your attention, so much so that a simple close up or basic body language portrayal isn’t enough to get the point across? I’m talking about bringing attention to the obvious, something I find more abundant in anime than in any other form of story-based entertainment. Now, I know it’s partially (if not mostly) a cultural thing with Japan, where the acknowledgement the little things in life is a very common notion. Saying “oishii” when your meal is delicious and “kawaii” when you see your normally tomboyish childhood friend in a stunning festival yukata is perfectly fine. However, there are times when I start to feel that some of these thoughts would be better off not spoken.
This Art Club Has Problems! can be a major offender when it comes to remarking about the apparent in a way that really adds nothing to the scene or characters. For example, in the latest episode (that’s 8, for those of you in the future) Uchimaki has to open a very stiff, sliding door. It takes a lot of exertion for him to eventually move it, and after he does he leans up against the wall and slides to the floor, his body language and heavy breathing being the very clear indicator of his exasperation. Uchimaki claims it was a piece of cake in a very short breath, fooling no one. It’s at this time that Usami decides to make a comment on his lackluster performance.
“What a wimp”, she says, after a stunningly acute comment on his breathlessness. While Uchimaki did initiate the exchange, Usami could’ve shrugged it off and shown her casual disbelief with a simple eye roll or brow raise. It’s blatantly evident that Uchimaki is fatigued, so what was the point of declaring it? It doesn’t really say much about Usami’s character, except that she likes to point out flaws that everyone is already aware of.
Or perhaps her ability to call out her friends so nonchalantly would be a better response to take from this interaction? Teasing is also another sign of affection, and we’ve known she’s had feelings for him since episode one. If anything, her calling him a wimp is more of a sign that she doesn’t dwell too much on what she says to him, so long as it doesn’t disclose to him her actual feelings. Huh, I guess there’s actually a lot that could’ve been taken from this, even if I still found it a little weak.
Tanaka-kun Is Always Listless also have these kinds of acknowledgements, except it’s done in a much more original and interesting fashion thanks to the unique characters of the show. Tanaka is listless, and is probably the most listless character in all of anime (except maybe Snorlax). The way he sees the world is different, and everything is put through a lens of his own design. People, activities, and etc. are all understood in a way that sort of corresponds with a level of effort. It always comes down to whether Tanaka thinks something is too much work, and on the rare chance that he actually does something, it’s usually in hopes to be lazier person in the long haul.
I enjoy it when he speaks his mind because it’s always an original take, a quirky perspective that I’ve never before experienced. This makes everything he says entertaining and fresh, especially his observations of everyday life. He avoids generic remarks on the obvious because the way he understands the world is different.
And perhaps it was never the “acknowledgement of the obvious” trope that I had an issue with at all. The problem that was really irritating me was generic dialogue and characters. It’s interesting to witness someone’s understanding of the world when their perspective is rare or exclusive. When I see a character is tired, I don’t need another character to repeat aloud the observation I had already made in my head. Instead, I’d like to see how a unique character would react to even the most mundane of predicaments, because at least there might be something there that’s new. But that’s my own preference.
Thanks for reading everyone. I’ll be honest, I didn’t really know where this post was going to go, but in the end I think I liked how it turned out. So what I’d like to know is, are there any particular tropes that you like or despise? And what are some shows that you think use tropes very well? Well, I hope to see you next week for another weekend feature. Maybe then I’ll be able to get it up and posted before the day’s almost over.