The truth about dorama… #TwelveMoments #10

Welcome to the 12 Days of Anime, or the 12 Moments of the Year, or whatever the heck it’s supposed to be called. But this is actually CCY’s brainchild and the only way to celebrate the twelve chibis of Christmas!

Drama is easy. Melodorama is hard.

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It’s funny that looking back that I poo poo’d the Otonashi x Kanade scene, because I thought Key actually undersold the dorama. Which is like saying that Michael Jackson went too light on the whole plastic surgery bit. Totally hard to fathom. The whole reason I hated Key doramas before was because they focused too much on the dorama and trying to suffocate the viewer. But then Angel Beats comes around, it’s funny, it’s hip, it’s fast paced, and I actually like it a lot, even though the story gets a little too Matrix Reloaded. But then we get to the big climax, the big heartstring pull scene, and it falls flat to me. The master of going over the top falls flat in my eyes.

So it got me thinking. Dorama is hard. Drama is easy. But dorama, specifically melodramatic romantic drama is hard to pull off. Which is really interesting, because anime thrives on drama. I look back at my favorite series, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Gurren Lagann, Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni, Code Geass, Baccano, etc. and all those shows are chock full of drama. But there’s very little dorama in those shows. It’s a lot easier to create a non-romantic drama, because the plot helps take away some of the weight that the characters and their chemistry need to carry. But in a romantic melodrama, the plot is mostly pointless. It’s all about the characters and their chemistry.  And maybe that’s where Otonashi and Kanade lost me. I liked their characters individually. I liked them as friends and partners in crime. But as a couple? I didn’t see them on that level. I don’t know why. Maybe I thought Otonashi was supposed to be the Kyon to Yuri’s Haruhi. Or maybe they just lacked the right chemistry I like to see in these pairings.

It’s funny, when I think of Kanade, and all I can think of is Kuroneko now.

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11 Replies to “The truth about dorama… #TwelveMoments #10”

  1. ?”And maybe that’s where Otonashi and Kanade lost me. I liked their characters individually… Maybe I thought Otonashi was supposed to be the Kyon to Yuri’s Haruhi. Or maybe they just lacked the right chemistry I like to see in these pairings.”
    This.

    As for the Kanade to Kuroneko connection, Kuroneko is the badass Kanade whilst Kanade is the naive and pure Kuroneko. I have to say that I much prefer Kuroneko as a character, although both are the “second-choice on the obvious level love interest” in the beginning and eventually go beyond that.

    I guess I just like that Kuroneko is genre-savvy and can hold her own weight… I hate to say it because she’s a lovely character but Kanade’s developed self (and development in general?) just seemed like a plot device for Otonashi to have a purpose for being in purgatory. I could go into how the whole thing made no sense, had no prior build-up/was rushed (killed any chance of dorama) and generally didn’t seem to fit.

    Most of these feelings also go back to Yuri being such a strong and fantastic female lead. Even with the immediate connections people made with her to Haruhi when the art was released, she’s the better ‘person’ (rather than character, that goes to Haruhi).
    This being said, as much as they killed any chance of dorama, with it went any chance of Yuri remaining that same strong lead until the end.

    Anime needs more strong leads, a male who can hold their own (think Ryuuji from Toradora rather than Junichi from Amagami) or a female like Yuri is such a rare find. They’re the kind of characters that aren’t immature, have the feelings of others as well as their own at hand and bring the show up so many levels that it couldn’t be without them. I’m just annoyed that they turned Yuri into a generic happy blob during the last episode, she lose that life-experience drive and fight against humanity attitude that she had. I wish that they had kept that attitude and only changed her outlook for the future, you just don’t ‘get over’ such a traumatic experience so quickly.

    1. Kanade’s developed self (and development in general?) just seemed like a plot device for Otonashi to have a purpose for being in purgatory.

      That’s the biggest problem with Kanade as a character. Everyone else in that group had their place and reason for being. Kanade’s was always… iffy. And her character, as a whole, was too vanilla, too empty page. I mean, I did like her as a character in that cute, dojikko sort of way, but it seemed so weird seeing the anime build Yuri’s demons and Yuri’s battle up so much only to then cede way to a Kanade x Otonashi pairing.

      Most of these feelings also go back to Yuri being such a strong and fantastic female lead.

      Yeah, I really like Yuri’s character a lot. She had that impetuousness and brashness that makes Haruhi special, but lacks the self-centeredness that tends to drive people crazy.

  2. While I’m not sure I agree with everything you’re saying, Pixie, some of it I certainly do (I rather liked Kanade – I do agree, though, that her relationship with Otonashi seemed a little rushed, likely due to a lack of budget to make AB a longer series).

    Specifically, I agree that anime needs more good leads; in particular, your example of Ryuuji is one that I like. Most romance comedy’s male leads annoy me… but Ryuuji’s one of my favourite characters from any series. That’s got to say something.

    1. @Zobo and Pixie – what is it about Ryuuji that you guys liked? I ended up only watching half of Toradora because Taiga’s character pissed me off to no one (overdose of Haruhi-esque self-centeredness?). And I didn’t find Ryuuji to be really strong or interesting – seeing as how he somehow fell into the harem-like trap of catering to Taiga’s every need, whether it was cleaning her house or making her breakfast every morning. That he did all that without the sarcastic/self-mocking tone of say Oreimo’s Kyousuke, seemed so spineless and implausible to me that I could never like his character.

  3. I believe the whole “build up to defeat Yuri’s personal demons” type situation is exactly what made me so confused about the Kanade ending. I couldn’t quite place it before but that makes perfect sense, it would be sort of sort Tsukimi ending up with Shu rather than Kuranosuke at the end of Kuragehime. As for the Haruhi comparison, that’s exactly it- she’s the mature Haruhi. You can enjoy the positive traits and have her negative issues not so “do this for me” which is so draining.

    Toradora-wise, the only reason why I loved it as a series was because every single character was fleshed out. Most harem leads are fairly generic but he and the rest of the cast just felt human to me (I’m feeling kind of bad about using Junichi as a example of both after how well he managed to say the perfect things at the perfect times in the Ayatsuji arc).

    I personally never liked Taiga. Toradora was my first hit of pure tsundere and on top of not understand the archetype at all, I didn’t understand why everyone loved her so much. In the beginning I didn’t like Minori either because she fitted the genki-girl stereotype perfectly without adding anything and I hated Ami to begin with as she was so self-absorbed. The main issue I had with the series was that all the characters started out as generic and generally unlike-able.

    As it progressed however, I found myself finding the ‘underside’ of each character absolutely fantastic. Instead of insta-dere’ing with no build up like Kirino, Taiga had both reasoning for her ways and a steady progression. Minorin is shown to have a deep personality beyond her casing and Ami (for me, anyway) became the highlight character of the series, knowing what everyone was feeling better than they did. Naturally I wanted her to get with Ryuuji but I knew that wouldn’t happen.

    Then comes Ryuuji in this mix. He also seemed the generic ‘usual guy has life turned upside-down by girl’ harem lead with the only difference he had to offer being that he looked like a delinquent and cooked. In the beginning, he also (as you mentioned) took care of Taiga’s every need with only an ungrateful attitude and expectations in return. BUT, this is where things turned. As Taiga began to see Ryuuji in a different light and the two took their eyes from the crushes they were helping each other find, to each other, they slowly became so human that I questioned how I had never seen such a nice progression of feelings work so well in an anime.

    As I wasn’t so into the pairing, I found the ending sweet but never squeed like I usually find myself doing in the final episodes of romance animes that don’t cram all the ‘good stuff’ into one episode. The final episode was beautiful though and I appreciate the series as one of the best told love stories in anime, even without really loving the pairing in the end. Ryuuji (by the end) is simply the least generic harem lead I’ve seen.

    1. …it would be sort of sort Tsukimi ending up with Shu rather than Kuranosuke at the end of Kuragehime

      Although this wouldn’t be terribly surprising, because they established the love triangle early. Once I realized Yuri wasn’t a love interesting, I would’ve been fine with them not introducing any love interest in AB.

      It sounds like I jumped off the TD bandwagon just a little too early. Although it’s not the first time I’ve heard this. I guess by the time I watched Toradora I had just gotten so sick of the Rie Kugimiya tsundere character type that my dislike for it completely trumped my patience and tolerance for her character and by extension, Ryuuji’s character. Plus, I liked Ami a lot, because she felt more “real” and I was dismayed when I realized the story would pull away from her. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to give TD another chance. 😕 Great explanation though!

      1. At first, it really could have gone either way. But it seems they’re going to go for the overused “girl falls for guy who she finds out is unreachable and the one who was there for her all along prevails”. Yuri is much like Shu in that the beginning makes it seem like they’ll totally get together and connections are made by other characters on how they compliment each other. I agree totally though, once Yuri was ruled out as getting an romantic progression, I wasn’t expecting any love interest and thought Kanade was a friend up until they walked away together in the final episode.

        Toradora isn’t really worth starting if you know how the characters go. Although everyone knew Taiga would dere eventually, the strength of Minorin and the genre-savviness of Ami came as surprises that just don’t add much if you know that they’re coming. Rie Kugimiya’s tsunderes are a breed of their own and so easy to get sick of as they’re everywhere you turn. I tend to not make the connection but once one person has voiced a character in nearly every series you watch, it starts ruining it. I agree totally on your point about Ami, she was my favourite character (I do have a thing for characters who either pull the plot or hook people up XD) and had such a real feel to her. Once the story gave up on her and moved onto Taiga, the series suffered for me. I wish there was an anime with a similar character type to her as the protagonist, it would be must-watch.

        1. It’s funny, I really liked the Kugimiya tsunderes at first: Louise – loved, Shana – liked a lot, Nagi – eh, didn’t really like. And then once we got to Taiga I was all tsun’d out.

          For once, I would love to see a side character become the love interest. This might be why I’m rooting for Shuu x Tsukimi. Shuu is the Minorin and Kuranosuke is the Taiga.

          1. I never watched the Kugimiya tsunderes as they progressed and thus have only seen their intense push as of late. Now I found myself hating on them purely because it’s gotten to the point where if there’s a generic (short, twintails etc) tsundere roaming about then it’s near guaranteed that the voice will be recognisable when they open their mouth.

            It is nice when side characters become the love interest. Shows are much too predictable lately in that a character falls in love with one character only to end up with the one helping them get toward that goal.

            I was going for Shuu in the beginning when Kuranosuke was there for comic relief whenever someone was about to go to Tsukimi’s room buuuuut I found myself getting really annoyed during the hug scene because Shuu didn’t realise the two Tsukimis are on in each other (and STILL doesn’t -____-). Now every time Kuranosuke finds something Tsukimi does as cute, blushes and then beats himself up in a hilarious fit of denial, I find it absolute gold. It’s almost as if I was going for the ‘likely’ love throughout the whole thing as it was totally Shuu in the beginning but has switched sides since the ‘incident’. XD

            It really still could go either way but there’s been way too much relationship progression for the few early Shuu ones to not just be ‘testing the waters’ like Ryuuji was with Minori. Unless they pull a Angel Beats! esque “loljk, that development meant nothing” on us then chances are it’ll end well for Kuranosuke.

            I’m not quite sure of what’s going on in the manga chapters past this point as I don’t want to spoil myself (raws give pretty much just as much away as translated) but I doubt they’re going to try and wrap it up in two episodes. I mean in The World God only Knows was hinted to have a second season in the preview of the next episode and had one organised when the date was leaked in October or so. As they’re both fairly ‘low plot’ animes, it would be easy for Kuragehime to also manage a second season. I would hate them to cram everything like they did for Angel Beats.

          2. Yeah, it’s interesting how the romance angle on Kuragehime has sort of veered. For one, the whole predator x Shuu has become a real distraction. I mean I like the storyline, it’s funny, but it’s totally killed the Shuu x Tsukimi momentum and there’s just no way they’re going to get it back in he next two episodes that are left.

            On the flip side, Kuranosuke’s gotten closer to Tsukimi, but… I still don’t see him as a legitimate love interest. Not necessarily because I think he’s comic relief or that he doesn’t take Tsukimi seriously (well, maybe a little bit of that), but ironically, because he’s become “friend zoned.” And again, I don’t see that how it would be possible for him to pull himself out of the friend zone and end the show as a love interest.

            Actually for that matter, I can’t even believe that they’ll be able to save the Nunnery in the next two episodes unless they do some major time warping or for some bizarre reason, they decide not to go forward with redevelopment.

            So yeah, I guess that was my long winded way of saying I’d love to see a second season, and I think that’s the only way they could possibly get a good resolution to all the loose endings.

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