Monday, May 11, 2009

Midseason Update: Hanasakeru Seishonen Anime (through episode 5)

This picture pretty much summarizes my feelings about this show.

Several weeks ago I reported, like a breathless traveler discovering water in a desert (or, rather more like a tourist discovering a completely non-sleazy anime shop in Akihabara), that one of this season's shoujo offerings, Hanasakeru Seishonen, had some pretty nice, if one-sided yuri in episode 1. About halfway through the show, I can say that not an iota of yuri, at this point, has appeared since then, and the show itself, which I found entertaining at first, promptly veered off into one of my least favorite shoujo drama cliche paths: namely, that the heroine Kajika tries to reform a guy with a crappy personality (shown in the picture above) for the thinnest of reasons: she thinks he's been inhabited by the spirit of her dead snow leopard, going so far as to call him her former pet's name, Mustafa. Understandably, he's creeped out by it at first, but eventually allows her to use the name after she "reforms" him. But how the hell Kajika can still like and want to help the guy when he's allowed three women to commit suicide in front of him (and almost allowed a fourth, but Kajika stopped her) is beyond me. Oh, but he has family issues. (His mother committed suicide.) *facepalms*

Storylines like this make me want to bang my head against a wall: Hot Gimmick (why did I like this piece of misogynistic crap in middle school!? *kicks volumes*), Hana Yori Dango, and now Hanasakeru Seishonen...why do so many women enjoy reading story lines in which women find guys who treat them like crap appealing? (As evidenced by the high sales numbers of HG and HYD.) Or, in the case of Gokujou Drops, women find women who treat them like crap appealing. (Maybe it's the "rubberneck effect"- like when people slow their cars down to look at the scene of an accident.) I know that this title is escapist fictional entertainment, but I simply don't enjoy that type of story.

Thankfully, Kajika moves on in episode 5 to visit her bodyguard Li Ren's home, and meets the next, somewhat more palatable guy in her harem. (Although I really don't care for how he derisively calls her "woman" when he first meets her.) Unfortunately, the comparatively decent new storyline takes a serious hit when it's revealed that Li Ren's uncle's girlfriend had an illicit relationship with him when he was 13 (wtf), and his uncle knows and still wants her around. (Wtf!?!) Oh, and Li Ren said he wanted it because she had all the "poisonous qualities of a woman", whatever that means. Way to trivialize a criminal offense, Hanasakeru. (Not to mention the fact that Li Ren had been my favorite character until then. -_-;;) The episode finally ends with Kajika on the road talking to her new bishonen love interest, before cheerily asking him how the head cloth he gave her looks, and turning around to see a truck about to mow her down. Unintentionally, this was the most amusing bit of the episode.

Being based on an early 90's shoujo manga, it does have a somewhat charming "old school" vibe, but its shortcomings eventually overwhelmed the enjoyment it once held for me. Just go watch Sailor Moon, Oniisama E, Ayashi no Ceres, Revolutionary Girl Utena, or any other number of shows to see old school shoujo (or old school shoujo yuri) done right.

Story: C-
Art: B
Overall: C-

The best anime aimed at women by far this season (perhaps the best spring 2009 show, period) is Eden of the East (I'm assuming it's aimed predominantly at women, since it's airing in the noitaminA time block), followed by the still quite good Ristorante Paradiso (which, interestingly, runs in the same magazine as Aoi Hana).
Akira (left) and Saki (right) in Eden of the East.
Nicoletta in Ristorante Paradiso.

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