Is it wrong to want more from Gag Anime?

November 1, 2010

~~

“Hope”. It’s nothing like a shimmering glass ball that’ll shatter if grasped firmly. It’s a dark ball of mud which only firms up when one squeezes it. It may look uneven, but it’s the form of one’s own fingers. Not to make it a beautiful gem, but to make it the world’s most beautiful ball of mud someday.

- Episode 10, Arakawa Under the Bridge

~~

Arakawa is an incredibly witty absurdist comedy with that impeccable sense of timing of the jokes that stries my chord. However, what affected me the most in Arakawa is neither its humour or Shinbo’s stylish direction. What I loved the most was its occasional human touch.

At that moment, the box in my hand suddenly felt a lot heavier.

But Arakawa is NOT a serious human drama, it’s a gag anime, and naturally the show spends more time with silly jokes than developing Kou’s character or his relationship with Nino (pretty much everything remains the same after a whole season -_-). And although so much more could have been achieved with its interesting set up (I will write more on the setting of Arakawa in another post), the mix of drama and comedy is not one bit jarring, thus I think i’s only fair to assess the show’s merits as comedy. Still, I can’t help but want more.

I feel you bro

My response to School Rumble is somewhat similar. I love it as a light-hearted comedy with a sprinkle of romance and I love these cute characters that are just so fun to watch. And yet, there are moments when the show goes beyond mere gag anime and moves me. School Rumble required characters and their relationships to remain status quo (no matter what happened) to produce x number of variations of similar situational jokes, but I still wanted School Rumble to be more poignant than that. And poignant it is in many occasions. But just when we thought Eri’s feelings were being accepted by Harima, we are back to square one when Harima falls in despair of failing to confess his feelings for Tenma AGAIN.

Examples of what School Rumble could have been

In the final episode of School Rumble, Yakumo asks Harima what it means to be going out with someone. Harima answers like this: “I don’t really know either, but for example, riding off on a bike along the coastal lines, or when you eat a really good food or watch an interesting movie together…piling up times like this together is what I think it means to be ‘seeing each other'”. If so, I wonder why all those touching moments between Harima and Eri ultimately amounted to nothing at the end.

I don’t know where Arakawa is going, I simply wish that it doesn’t stop at repetitively orbiting around its already established quirks before it runs dry.

 

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18 Responses to “Is it wrong to want more from Gag Anime?”

  1. omo Says:

    It’s okay to want more from gag anime, but you’re asking for something non-gag related :3

  2. gaguri Says:

    Yea that’s the thing. I’m basically asking it to do something it’s not. Still, I think series like Ouran does better in making progress without hampering the actual comedy.

  3. Scamp Says:

    Oddly, I think School Rumble and Arakawa are the two gag anime that did actually give me more than gags

  4. gaguri Says:

    They did, but…I kind of wanted more of it. I know, arguably that’s like asking for a different series, but I believe School Rumble could have, if it chose to, still do its comedy while developing the characters and their relationships to next level. After over 50 episodes they are literally back to the same spot they started at.

  5. Baka-Raptor Says:

    This is why I haven’t started watching Arakawa Season 2 yet. The first season started off brilliant. Then it gradually got less witty and more gaggy. It wasn’t bad by any means, but my eyes can’t handle every good anime that comes out these days. I need to hold out for great.

    School Rumble kicks ass.

  6. animekritik Says:

    It’s not wrong to want more, it’s just a matter of not getting upset when you’re disappointed. I recommend Marmalade Boy if you want real romance :D

  7. Shance Says:

    This is the very same feeling I have when I am asked why I like the current season lineup, since the current season is like, more than shows featuring nothing good but slapstick comedy and constant gags.

    Some people can’t be just simple enough as to laugh whenever a joke is cracked, no?

  8. Jack Says:

    “So God created Patlabor in his own image, he gave it wit and intelligence, with thoughtful well developed characters. And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”

  9. gaguri Says:

    @Baka-raptor

    o you poor prehistoric dino. But yea, I certainly laughed a lot harder in season 1, and I don’t think second season is going to do anything too different.

    And SR indeed rocks.

    @animekritik

    I always RAEG when I’m disappointed. Face my wrath of low MAL score you not-good-enough gag anime. I think someone recommended me Marmalade Boy vbefore so I’ll put that in my ever so increasing backlog.

    @Shance

    I can be simple enough to laugh at jokes but if the series does something more, can I has more? :D

    @Jack

    So Patlabor was so perfect so good it deserves recommendation despite its total lack of relevance to gag anime? More anime to my backlog list…

  10. Jack Says:

    The Patlabor OVA and TV contains a few serious episodes, but it also contains a whole lot of, humour ranging from simple gags to more absurdist comedy (especially in the more memorable episodes).

  11. gaguri Says:

    Ah ok then, all I heard about Patlabor so far has been Oshii, detective anime, etc. Now I see there’s movies, OVA, 47 (!) episodes TV *backlog overload x_x

  12. kitsune Says:

    Hellooo

    Nah it’s not wrong and I think this is where the author’s skill and quality of the work is tested.

    I think one of the problems is overcoming the limitations of the format, both series only have about 10 to 15 pages each that needs to end with an 落ち-punchline every time, so to also include serious moments whilst remaining true to its premise is challenging (Whereas Ouran had 30 pgs and was a romantic comedy not pure gag:)). However, what often happens to these works is towards the last chapters or volumes it gets really serious. Personally, I think Arakawa remains funny yet pushes the narrative forward alot better then School Rumble.

    Ooh but Arakawa manga is entering into serious mode now so your wishes might be fulfilled!

  13. gaguri Says:

    why hello kitsune :D

    yea I had a brief look at the manga too and I’m overwhelmed by how brilliantly Shinbo managed to adapt such a format and still finds the luxury to inject more poignant stuff. I must say the source material isn’t exactly stellar and the fact that it managed to be this funny and poignant shows just how skilled Shinbo is.

  14. kitsune Says:

    Thanks for the reply!
    Aw you don’t like the source material? I personally enjoy the manga more and since comedy is always about timing and delivery, I find it a bit more funnier in my head (probably because I’m more acquainted with the medium). But your right, Shinbo-san’s adaptation is exceptional, never thought reconstructing the chapter order improves the flow so much!

  15. gaguri Says:

    Well, I wouldn’t say I disliked the manga, just that I found anime to be funnier (although arguably, jokes are funnier the first time). Plus the fact that I have something against reading manga online…

  16. gaguri Says:

    Hey thanks for the link, I didn’t know it was an art form in Japan! I think it’s safe to say they’re not completely unrelated.

  17. Rigelin Says:

    This is 4 years behind, I realize that, but that just shows how strongly I feel about this, i.e. strong enough to google any opinion on the matter and read it. Everyone seems to love Arakawa for its comedy but after having just watched it recently, I’m left with a deep desire for the romance between Kou and Nino to have developed so much more. It seriously was one of the most charming and enchanting romances I’ve ever seen and I was extremely excited to see that there were 2 whole seasons for it to develop. But to my dismay, the anime hardly developed the romance at all. There were bits and pieces of it here and there, those of which I absolutely loved, but there was simply not enough. If they continued with the mixture of comedy and romance as they did in the first few episodes, it could’ve been something truly incredible. Mind-blowingly indescribable.


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