Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sukitte Ii na yo - 04

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In high school, sex is one of the most widely traded forms of currency.  It’s rare to see an anime portray that reality as plainly and openly as Sukitte does.


[HorribleSubs]_Sukitte_Ii_na_yo._-_04_[720p].mkv_snapshot_00.28_[2012.10.28_09.52.09]I like how honest Sukitte Ii na yo is in presenting the sometimes ugly reality of teenaged social life without overdramatizing it, and the naïve euphoria of teenaged romance without oversentimentalizing it.  It’s a drama and a romance, but without emphasizing the theatre more than necessary – the reality is dramatic enough to carry the weight.  The series certainly isn’t a documentary – there are dramatic liberties being taken here, for certain – but on the whole it comes pretty close to a golden mean when it comes to shoujo romance.

[HorribleSubs]_Sukitte_Ii_na_yo._-_04_[720p].mkv_snapshot_00.30_[2012.10.28_09.52.11]In the introduction of Hayakawa Kakeru (Kaji Yuuki) we have a character who seems dangerously close to the edge of being a pure dramatic device, though I think that trap is barely avoided so far.  Hayakawa certainly transcends moral ambiguity more than any of the other players – he’s a scumbag plain and simple, down to the “smacker” way he eats his food (I thought the camera was paying an awful lot of attention to it), he seems calculated to disgust on every level and provide a vehicle for Mei and Yamato to grow closer and for Aiko to redeem herself and start a friendship with Mei.  What I think saves him from being a complete disaster is that there really are plenty of people like him in high school – at least the one I went to – and thus, for me, his character doesn’t play as falsely as it could.  It doesn’t help that in Kaji Yuuki we have another seiyuu who’s simply overexposed – whatever you think of his talents he’s just in too many damn shows at the moment, and he’s never especially convincing as a villain.  But hopefully Hayakawa will be a fairly minor character from here on out.

[HorribleSubs]_Sukitte_Ii_na_yo._-_04_[720p].mkv_snapshot_00.51_[2012.10.28_09.52.33]Truth be told I’m not completely sold on Yamato as a character either, though I am mostly convinced that his feelings for Mei are genuine.  The swings in his character’s behavior and mindset are a little too broad from week to week to be truly believable, but I do think there’s a compelling story in his trying to evolve beyond a life of shallow pleasures out of love for a square peg of a girl the bulk of his peers think isn’t in his league.  Mei’s journey towards self-belief might be argued to be a little too fast-paced as well, though I’m pretty much buying it – for a person whose self-esteem was as non-existent as hers was, being the object of unreserved affection from someone like Yamato might easily have a dramatic effect.  Telling Hayakawa “I don’t need friends like you” was a step forward, but quite a natural reaction – I think even more significant was the way she came to Aiko’s defense afterwards and even tried to befriend here.  She was being a bit condescending, yes, but Mei is so socially awkward that I doubt she even realized that.

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18 comments:

  1. I'm really enjoying this show and along with sakurasou they are my favourites romance this season. I just really feel for the characters and want to give them all hugs for some reason. It's really interesting watching mei and the more social situations she is put in, because she is awkward and everything about friendship and love is so foreign to her that she just doesn't speak half the time. When she does speak however it's so straight to the point and blunt that she doesn't even realize how people are affected by it. It's quite funny. But if I was that girl (forgot her name) with the tummy scars I would never have as much confidence, I'd be crying and thinking about it all the time. It's so sad but she's very strong and even though people just write her off as "what a total biatch!" I think she just wants what she can't have and is emotionally broken. Anyways I love this show :)

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  2. To be honest, I cannot bring myself to like Yamato either -- not a tad bit. He probably brushed me off the wrong way in the beginning -- how condescending it is for him to randomly steal kisses and randomly sleep with someone and claim that it's helping to make a friend feel better. I can understand that these are high school kids, and it's probably normal for these kids to treat kisses and sex casually. However, as a character, the anime is trying to portray Yamato as nice guy. This is not believable at all. I don't see big differences between him and Hayakawa -- Hayakawa has sex casually and often, while Yamato has excuses like I am teaching you how to distinguish the different kisses, or I am doing you good by sleeping with you. I actually would rather see Yamato having a character somewhat like Hayakawa but changing along the course through his interactions with Mei -- this may help add depth and honesty to the character, which is right now boring and unbelievable.

    The anime also doesn't give a proper buildup to why Yamato falls for Mei -- and Mei for Yamato (well, probably a bit in Mei's case). They just all of sudden like each other and for Yamato to be crazy for Mei and acting like a great boyfriend.

    Four episodes in, and I am a bit disappointed at Sukitte. Hopefully, it will do better in the coming episodes.

    ~Ronbb

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    1. I totally agree with you Ronbb.
      Yamato is portrayed as a nice guy and the problems he is struggling with and will solve during the anime seem to be "being too nice" and "being too weak"**.
      When In truth, he's got no clue of how shitty friends he has, and is oblivious to their ugly intentions. He's pretentious and condescending and takes what he wants, when he wants it from Mae. I guess punching that guy was supposed to be a good thing too, but I can't for the life of me ever say that violence is good, except in self defense. I see a egocentric and condescending guy that is so naïve I would call it a psychological condition but trying very hard to be popular. He tries hard to please others, but is it genuine or is it just to maintain his status?

      **That's what the anime seem to be saying, my gut feeling is usually right about these things but maybe you guys disagree?

      Anyway, why this show makes my skin crawl is not that Yamato has issues, but it's that I don't think his real problems will ever be touched upon during the course of the series. Seeing Mae falling in love with him reminds me of the MC in KoiChoco ending up with the mentally disturbed girl for no reason in the last episode.

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    2. Yamato had made it known why he likes Mei in episode 3. If you watch off of releases other than Hadena, you'll probably understand his reason for liking her.

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  3. i'd like Hayakawa's character arc to be explored more. you can see that there's something there. he feels inferior to yamato and seems to resent that people prefer him more, but i think there may be more to him. yes he's a jerk but i'm really hoping that he isn't just a simple device to bring mei and yamato together - and then discarded when that is done. for some reason i see potential in him. if they can add some more depth to him and turn his story towards a more positive path then i can see him really shining in the show.

    as for mei and yamato.. i don't really know. only time will tell how i feel about these two .

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  4. "Kaji Yuuki – whatever you think of his talents he’s just in too many damn shows at the moment, and he’s never especially convincing as a villain. But hopefully Hayakawa will be a fairly minor character from here on out."
    What a petty statement. Completely ruined what was an otherwise solid review tbh.

    I didn't even recognize him. He did a great job portraying an envious and insecure fellow much like one of his best roles in Oscar. Hope he gets more development and you get over your silly denigration of him.

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    1. Oscar was a terrible character and a terrible performance, IMHO, and even though I had no clue he was going to be in this series at all I recognized Kaji's voice from the first syllable. Yes, I don't think he's a very good actor, and I'm not going to gloss over that when his presence acts as a detriment to a series. There are times when he's fine - Magi is one, Accel World is another - and the problems with the character in Sukitte aren't an extension of the performance but the writing, for the most part. But his presence is still a net minus as far as I'm concerned because he's wrong for the part, and the general issue of overexposing the same group of seiyuu, even good ones like Sakurai Takahiro, remains an industry problem.

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    2. Enzo, I was thinking of saying something about Sakurai Takahiro in my post earlier -- I didn't because I thought my post was long enough venting my disappointment at Sukitte.

      He's alright as a seiyuu, but it seems like he's pigeon-holed himself to acting young handsome men, and his acting is pretty much the same for every young handsome man.

      ~Ronbb

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    3. I thought Oscar was a strong accompaniment to Mari Okada's story and gave a suitably dramatic performance. I can honestly recognize his voice looking back at this episode but at the time I was pretty wrapped up in his convincing delivery. Let's face it, it totally worked with Hayakawa since you probably like him as much as Kaji.

      When you make these subjective views you should be more cautious of phasing them as an opinion. He's not a detriment or industry problem because you think so. There's always been a overexposure of seiyuu talent. Horie Yui, Rie Kagumiya, Yukari Tamura and Mai Nakahara from the top of my head (their mileage may vary).

      As much as a seiyuu might be a detriment to you, it certainly rubs off into your writing. Please let it rest or vent in a big post about it elsewhere.

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    4. I have to agree with Derek - as solid as your points and reviews usually are, you do indeed appear to have certain biases which surface far too often and which, in my opinion, lower the overall integrity of your posts.

      In all honesty, I don't even know what you mean by 'overexposure', and I've never agreed with your strident opinions about certain individuals - including Kaji Yuuki and apparently now Sawashiro Miyuki, which I would have addressed in your other post had you not closed comments there. I've always thought it weird that you constantly slam Kaji Yuuki for 'always sounding the same' when that applies just as much to many others like Sakurai and Shimono; and that you do the same when I know you've heard him sounding very different, like he does here and did in Nazo no Kanojo X. As for Sawashiro, Dalian alone should already disprove the 'lack of range' argument, and the 'overexposure' argument really applies far more to, say, Hanazawa Kana, who in my opinion really tends to sound the same. (Or did, at least, until Binbougami. Now *that* was different and refreshing.)

      On topic - Yamato has issues, yes. Many of them. I doubt the anime will get to them, though.

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    5. You see, this is a Catch-22 for me. I've said plenty about why Kaji Yuuki is a very mediocre actor in my view - if I rehash all the specifics, someone will say "Why are you obsessed with Kaji Yuuki? Why do you always list his faults?" If I don't get specific, someone (like you) will say "Why do you just say you don't like a seiyuu without making a case?" I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. I can either not talk about the things I find wanting in an attempt not to offend anyone, or figure that any opinion expressed is going to offend someone.

      In terms of labeling opinions as such, frankly, for the venue in question that seems patently absurd. I don't equate what bloggers do with what movie critics do, but should a movie critic disclaimer every review with a "This is my opinion" clause? Of course not - it's a given. Just as it should be a given here.

      All opinions are inherently biased - they're opinions. If you agree with them, they're points of view - if you don't, they're biases. It's the reality of being a blogger and there's nothing I can do about it, so I don't try and fight it.

      Specifically as regards Oscar, since you keep going back to that, for me that's like a perfect storm of excruciating badness. It's Okada's writing at its most self-indulgent and disrespectful of the source material, and the point where she completely jumped the shark with Lupin. It's also a case of complete miscasting, and a predictably awful performance given the circumstances. Oscar as written and portrayed is one of the few cases where a single character/performance is so offensive that it could completely ruin a series under its own power (though it had help in the last few Lupin episodes).

      Clearly, you feel differently. Yet the universe soldiers on - it's big enough for both opinions. In my blog, I reserve the right to express mine.

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    6. So you're just going to remain a broken record? I don't think I've ever come across a blogger as hung-up about certain seiyuu as you. Frankly it is pretty pathetic. Not only that but it's inherently jarring every time you take potshots at actors who don't agree with you. Corin pretty hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately you're too arrogant to see it.

      No one said anything about labeling opinions. You just lack the ability to write subtlety and maturely about things that grind you - groans that aren't worth mentioning in the first place.

      I can't help but sense a little homophobia towards Oscar. He's very being offends your almighty integrity?

      Yes, this is your blog. You reserve the right to remain a highfalutin jerk too.

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    7. And you to be a troll. Enjoy it.

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    8. I'll make the most of that endorsement, thank you.

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  5. Regarding Yamato, I think everyone overlooks the fact that he's as much a fish out of the water in this relationship as Mei is. We've learned that he never seriously responded to any of the girls, so we can assume he's never had a relationship. He also stated that the Aiko affair was a mistake and it seems to bug him to this day. It would explain his over-confident and possessive behaviour in eps 1 & 2: that's the only way he knows to handle himself.

    It doesn't however excuse his behaviour in the restaurant in this episode, where he was talking about Mei as some pet project. But then again, Mei shouldn't have slapped him when he got mangled up in his sentence about not wanting to have a situation like Aiko again.

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  6. It just seems anime loves to make a main character out of a shy, diminutive and weak guy ever since the success of Neon Genesis Evangelion and who's more perfect than Kaaji Yuki? There should be plenty of more male seiyuu who have still that boyish voice but for some reason, Anime Industry has this tendency to overuse the same voice actor to similar characters over and over again. The another example is Youko Hikasa, I've been noticing that she's been in ecchi themed anime a lot again and again but she does her role well, I can't complain.

    I find it strange that legions of otaku from western countries don't seem to mind it when they complain so much about dubbing company using the same actors but I've gone offtopic, I will stop.

    I don't get people who complains about Yamato being Gary Stu. He's realistic as the main character and in this age, it's natural every teenagers would have at least one night stand once. It's one thing to expect a lot from this anime but criticise it for being unrealistic is downright strange to me. Those kisses he did in the early episode, he could've done lot worse.

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  7. Hayakawa was a very welcome addition to the mostly retarded cast. He seems like a great character and actually the first thus far to be believable and with clear and realistic motivations.

    You can see the discomfort and disgust in his eyes when that other girl decides to go out with her boyfriend. He looks down on all of them, and to a point that's understandable.

    Yamato disappointed me in this episode, what with punching a guy and screaming ridiculous lines like "She is mine", and Mei was stupid as well with her declaration of war.

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  8. Well, it really doesn't matter how hard it tries, this is still a shoujo running mostly on the golden formula – cinderella meets prince charming, and let the insecurity and envy begin. Oh right, you wouldn't call this a drama if the guy didn't force a kiss on the lady. It's well adapted though, from directing to production value, everything exceeded my expectation for this show. So at the end of the day, enjoy it for what it is, psychoanalyzing this too much will distract from any charm the story has.

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