The Two Transformations of Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge

So forever ago I watched Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge.  Back then, I wasn’t quite as aware of and annoyed by the way that women are often treated when they’re not perfect, beautiful, and docile.  But even then, I was often irritated and bothered by this show. I did still enjoy it for it’s fun comedy antics.

Having come back to it years later and re-watching it, I have a much stronger opinion, and it’s not as forgiving.  However, the reason I picked it back up again was because I found the live action version.  And that version, I honestly enjoyed.  It felt like a re-vamped version that minimized a lot of the problems I have with the original.

So for those who haven’t seen any of this show, the premise is that there are four REALLY hot bishi who live together in a mansion.  Why, I have no idea. They just have a beautiful people’s club in the mansion of a really really rich lady who is looking all over the rich world for love.  She promises to let them live rent free if they help her niece to become a “Yamato Nadeshiko,” which is basically the historically ideal japanese woman. However, if they fail the rent triples.  As it turns out, her niece the protagonist Sunako, is obsessed with horror things like blood and skulls and slasher movies, has rejected all things feminine, and even beauty/health care.  Antics ensue.  Many very stupid and crazy and hilarious.

So… yes. The premise and driving plot point is ACTUALLY four men trying to force and pressure a woman act less like herself and what she likes and more like they, and society, thinks she should act and be and look. Yes, everything you’ve ever heard about advertising and the unrealistic ideals of beauty, how women have to spend time so that they’re pleasant for others to view or else they’re value-less as people, how they’re discouraged from studying non-feminine subjects and interests and are encouraged to pursue household and other kinds of interests and works.

Obviously, it exemplifies exactly the sorts of things that third-wave feminism has been fighting against.  But it also does a decent job of highlighting that these things still happen in everyday life, which a lot of people are really against (and usually think feminists are hormone raging man-hating machines of overreacting).  Things like that women are bullied and treated badly if they’re not pretty by their peers.  They also try to use Kyouhei to talk about the effects of sexual harassment, and how people will often objectify and not give a damn about more than your looks when you have them, how people will treat you differently and how that can be hard to live with.  The fact that he’s a man kinda doesn’t really let them explore it too much, especially since his character is prone to violence when that happens, which isn’t really a reasonable solution for when it happens to women in reality.

When Kyouhei gets hungry basically says “Bitch get in the kitchen where you belong!” to Sunako, who cooks or them for no apparent reason other than that’s what women are supposed to do, yes, a part of me dies inside.  When they’re filthy and she cleans up after them (even though she is a border at the house just like them and there is no apparent reason for her to act like their private maid) or worse, when she doesn’t and they end up living in filth and that’s okay that they can’t/won’t do their own housework, doesn’t it seem weird and wrong and like they’re taking advantage of her?  BECAUSE THEY ARE!  Bleh.

But in the live action, they do a much better job of everything, with much less of the troublesome overtones.  The characters and premise are basically the same, but the message is way better.  Yes, the bitch=kitchen is there. But the Aunt and related people who are the driving force of making Sunako a lady says several times that it’s not about being what everyone wants you to be, but finding yourself and your confidence, being able to walk proudly around other people, and also there is an element of maintaining appearances, but that it’s something everyone has to do, make and female alike.  Even though she still loves horror and isn’t doing hours of hair and make-up a day, they agree that she’s made progress because she’s getting better at being with people, not hiding, and finding herself. That it’s about being able to find people who you like you for who you are, and how that’s just a bit easier if you make a few concessions.  It’s not perfect, but I liked it without many reservations, as opposed to the anime. Also, I like Kyouhei’s insistence on being uninterested in anyone who likes him for his looks, and instead wanting to be valued as a person.  It’s a conversation I’ve had before with women, but it’s nice to hear.  I also ADORED the ending when he was on stage and crying.  That was the cutest love-story thing I’ve seen in a long time and I loved it.

So! Don’t watch Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge anime.  It’s funny sometimes, but it promotes something that I can’t in good faith recommend to anyone. Also, it’s probably one of the worst art and animations of any anime I’ve ever seen.  Shit, the opening for the first 13 episodes is just a mash-up of random footage from the first episode. Unless you want to write a more thorough feminist analysis that I have.  Then I’m cool with you watching it.  Also, doode link me! However, DO watch the live action, as it has everything going for it the anime does (though no constant SD, I will admit), much better done and with much better overtones, and it’s good stuff.  Not anime, but close!


Review: Yoiko

So I wanted to do an anime I can’t recommend to pretty much anyone, since I haven’t done enough yet and I’m starting to feel like Fuuma just likes everything anime. which is only kinda true…  So from the bowels of 1998 I bring you Yoiko!

The premise of the show is extremely simple and follows the same thought process of the underwear gnomes: Step 1) Fuuka-chan, the protagonist, is an extremely developed 5th grader; Step 2 ) ???; Step 3) Hilarity. Most of the entertainment value is in it’s sex jokes and immense fan-service.  I didn’t really appreciate either most of the time.  I mean sure, from time to time the HILARITERRIBLENESS of Fuuka showering at the beginning of the episodes, or doing something relatively licentious seeming would make me crack up, but it didn’t really have enough going on to be so bad it’s amazing, and the stuff it was “shooting” for *wink wink* fell flat with me.  Perhaps I am just not into 2-D enough as an Otaku…  I did really enjoy the Oniichan’s constant praying to the god of masturbation and getting cock-blocked.  I thought that was hilarious in it’s own right, the poor bastard.

Fuuka is an innocent bystander in most of the antics, and just kinda wants to live out her childhood.  She makes friends in class who she enjoys time with, and they are also relatively innocent and want to live their lives as kids.  They are constantly accompanied by their desperate and single OL teacher, who serves as a chaperone for their antics, and also occasionally tries to use Fuuka’s adult charm to her own advantage. The show ridicules her for being unattractive and single, which I don’t enjoy, though her drunken antics were occasionally funny.

In general, there are times this show is offensive (the oogling and general sukebe-ness of people’s reactions to Fuuka got bothersome to me from time to time), times it’s just ecchi and silly fun, usually it’s plot points are all about misunderstandings and the main appeal is sex jokes.  At the very least, it doesn’t condone pedophilia, and that is a strong plus with a premise like its.  If that means BANZAI! to you, sure, why the hell not watch it.  Otherwise, don’t touch this show with a ten foot pole.  Go watch B Gata H Kei instead (unless you’re THAT kind of person and the female POV distress you and you need more objectification with your ecchi fun.  In that case, go watch Ladies Versus Butlers or something.).

Review: Hakuouki

So there are two seasons to this show, the first being Hakuouki Shinsengumi Kitan, the second Hakuouki Hekketsu-Roku. As you have probably guessed, this is a show about the Shinsengumi, and it actually references some historical events.  As you might not have guessed, the Shinsengumi were apparently all hot young bishi eye candy.

In the first episode, the main character, Chizuru, is traveling to look for her missing physician-esque father and is attacked by some shinsengumi coat wearing peeps (non bishi, so you know they’re not main characters). And then saved by other Shinsengumi (bishi, you know, because only pretty people matter), only to have them capture her because she saw them do that.  It’s a mystery as to why! (I feel like half a brain can guess, but whatevs. They’ll tell you in the show after a few episodes). Then she lives with them for a few years, and the show follows that.

Now, not only does the protagonist LOOK exactly like every other crappy Pollyanna female lead…

Which offensive role am I playing today?

She is about as useful as a bag of rotting fish. And she knows it, highlights it.  Now, I can accept that for the viewer, a POV that doesn’t know what’s going on is useful for creating suspense and unfolding the plot.  And I know this show is meant for females and idiotic people seem to think that viewers only identify with characters who pee in the same position they do. But really.  It’s just offensive when female characters, especially main characters, are just walking bags of uselessness and emotions and have to constantly be taken care of by men.  It is just bigotry and stereotypes and just fills my thoughts with ways that chivalry hurts women in everyday in real life.  Being rescued is nice and all, but the idea that she’s a woman and therefore incompetent and needs rescuing all the time, is… Ass backwards and offensive.  It’s not cute, or interesting, or lovely when a woman shows up and melts the hearts of men and makes them want to protect her.  It’s trite and sickening and should make people angry. If she could just save herself a little, or it was clear she was just a bit over her head, or if they held some personal feelings for her in particular, it wouldn’t be so offensive and still get the “Thank you, o talented and attractive bishi that murders people” smexy vibe that they’re going for. But no, she can make tea and clean. BLEH. UGH. BLEH!

Moving past that, there are some interesting things going on in the show.  They have several historical tie-ins, the fact that the Shinsengumi were not a well-liked group, the issues of protecting the weakening, shifting government, the turmoil of the capital, the change from swords to guns and the differing war styles (this is a major plot point even, towards the end of the first series, and in the second).  There is a lot of supernatural interest with the oni/vampire/thingies, which I actually found the most interesting of the numerous plot hooks (most left unexplored, but that’s a criticism and I’m trying so hard to list it’s good points).  Some interesting Oni antagonists that are impressive and strong and likely to kill you all, were they to take an actual beef with you ( I love the character who never has a beef and is so polite).  There is some AMAZING fan-service shots of the bishi men, that are also funny if you’re not into the excessive smexy service.

So if these things interest you, go for it! See if you like it.

If not, keep your distance.  The show is confusing and overly complicated. It introduces a lot of interesting things possibilities and plot points, but it never really seems to explore them at all, much less fully or well. For example, its apparent I’m supposed to be pairing the main character with the vice-commander from the op/eds, but there is nothing really in the show, and her boyfriend options really just boil down to a war of attrition (once all the other potentials or the slashable boyfriends are gone, she’s the only option).   There are some totally arbitrary actions by the main characters (for example, .they have every reason to ditch the bitch really fast, but instead THEY DIE FOR HER. Very pointless and frustrating when there are bigger things going on that they care about more, but one chick they have no obligation towards or no apparent feelings other that friendly affection is a reason to lose men? No way, dammit, no way).  The main character is an annoyingly useless and halfhearted protagonist who never actually DOES anything other than serve tea and clean the house and ruin the achievements women have fought for for a century.  Also, with an ending like Hamlet that leave miss useless in worse straights than ever just knocks it down another distasteful peg. Bleh in the beginning, a bummer in the end, not much good in the middle.