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.
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.
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.
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.
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.