When it comes to fictitious storytelling mediums, there’s something I commonly hear from people who enjoy such things that tend to rub me the wrong way. I presume it’s because I take a much more individualistic approach to everything I see and do, but it always befuddles me when someone tells me they have a certain aversion for a genre. Now, I rephrased it more delicately here, though in reality it usually comes out as “I hate (blank genre)”. This…confuses me at first, because why would some hate a broad categorization? And wouldn’t such a definitive statement imply that one has seen everything there is to see in said genre? As only then could one come to such a conclusion about such a wide variety of things. To use a simple analogy, it’s like saying you hate Puerto Ricans because you met one before and they happened to be an asshole.
Now, I believe what most people mean when saying “I hate (blank genre)” is that what they have a distaste for the generic formulas found within the genre. Certain eye-rolling clichés and overused tropes are definitely an annoyance, but what I see most people forgetting is that those are just the markings of the uninventive. Stories that are considered “great” tend to be genre savvy, and can show their understanding of what came before it in a variety of ways. Focusing on anime (because this is an anime blog, although it can still be applicable to storytelling at large), a “great” series needs to be able to demonstrate this knowledge, in preferably subtle ways. Adding a meta-character, for example, is a way to call out derived scenarios and other character archetypes. In anime, this is typically done by having an Otaku character.
But just implanting such a character isn’t all that’s needed. There are shows that are able to point out its own comedic tropes, as if acknowledging it alone somehow diminishes that fact that it’s still a cliché. Reinvention is one way to make old tropes palatable once again. Another way to handle this is to just dive in unabashedly, indulging oneself in every possible way. Back in the day I loved Rosario + Vampire, because it so obviously did not give a fuck. Then there’s shows that just avoid falling into tropes entirely, or sometimes give subtle nods that are hard to pick up on unless you’re truly informed on the things it’s alluding. It can be a difficult thing to pick up on a series’ understanding of genre when they do this, as you’ll need to be able see what isn’t there. Noticing that characters aren’t spouting age-old one-liners, the plot not developing due to obvious narrative devices, etc.
Then there’s Fuuka, an anime that seems to show absolutely no understanding of the tropes it hits so very hard on. Whenever I see an anime protagonist lose their footing, I instinctively feel a swell of exasperation, followed by the need to shout a hearty “GOD DAMNIT” as I shake my head at the boy that I just witnessed fall over into the breasts of a female, sometimes with a hand firmly planted on one of her sweater cows, and other times with a face full of those shoulder boulders [author’s note – boob synonyms are hilarious]. This is just one of the exhaustingly contrived scenarios that Fuuka relies far too heavily on.
Now, I want to make it very clear that I don’t find this “slip-to-nip”, falling-boob-grab gag to be very appealing, but my reason for that may not be what you expect. Well, if you know me, it might be exactly what you expect. There are many who would be quick to write off this type of scenario writing as perverted, and nothing else. I do not personally enjoy this trope, but it would dishonest to my own intellectual pursuits, as well as just plain lazy to blame perversion for my particular disdain. I stress creative freedom above all else, and labelling things as perverted is very far removed from my personal vernacular. Fiction does not and should not have any restrictions, contrary to what federal censors, religions, those far-sided on the political spectrum, and just good old fashion book-burners would have you believe. Fiction is removed from reality and cannot hurt you. I mean, unless someone bashes your skull in with a thick-bounded book or shatters a DVD and stabs you in the neck with one its shards. Graphic? Perhaps, but that’s just me expressing my own creative freedom.
Point is, perversion is nothing to be afraid of in fiction, nor even to necessarily dislike. Perversion is everywhere, and yet some seem to forget (or just not understand) that it pertains to more than just sexuality. Grand Theft Auto clearly and shamelessly indulges in the perversion of violence, and with over 70 million copies shipped and wide-spread critical acclaim, it’s safe to say an overwhelming amount of people like it. If media shaped reality, there would’ve been a very clear spike in violent crime rates near the release and period of continued success of this game. There was not. Now, there is an argument to be had that because the game puts you in the definitive perspective of a criminal that its audience would have no trouble mistaking the differences between the game and reality. If that were the case, I could just simply list off plenty of successful games where you’re the hero and are still killing massive amounts of people.
But now I’m getting very far off the rails of my original topic. I dislike the slip-to-nip gags in Fuuka because at this point it’s so utterly cliché. There was nothing added to these moments, no innovative spin on the scenario or a meta character to address the obvious trope. It didn’t even act indulgent in the fact that it was using such a worn out gag. It’s this blatant unawareness, or inexperience, that makes the show appear to be such a sad state of affairs. And of course it’s not just the accidental boobs in the palm of the protagonist’s hand. It’s the flustering over Fuuka performing mouth to mouth in the sand, the coincidental narrative devices leading them to create a band, all the drama created from their annoying tendency to misunderstand, the way moments often seem to be so drawn out and bland, and how Haruna seems to be the most indecisive over-reactor in all the land; Basically, it’s all this inability to understand—and compare itself to what’s already come before it that makes me think it’s not a very worthwhile show, and I’ll probably be dropping it very soon.