More musing on HanaIro before I “clear my palate” for Anohana.
The loose coalition of anime fans, or maybe better put, otaku, west of the Pacific, is a diverse group of people. It’s probably many more times diverse than Japan’s domestic crop of late-night anime watchers, pundits, NEETs and hikkis, academics and industry. Just in the Americas alone we have people coming from just about every background you can think of. We have people who may be Japanese transplants, jamming away at Saint Seiya like as if it was 1995 in Brazil, or a bunch of mid-western, white American girls still longing for their teenage years, fawning over Sailor Moon. Well, wait, those people wouldn’t be watching these late night anime in the first place, right? (Wrong?) Ok, in that respect maybe things aren’t so different.
But once we remove that anime context, we are as different as left is from right, conservative as is from liberal, rich from poor, empowered from disenfranchised, homogeneous versus diverse. Or better put: Japanese, or not Japanese. It’s stating the obvious: the world is a diverse place, especially outside of Japan.
I think this is one of the underlying power of anime as a cultural export–its ability to set its own rules, its own context, it’s own instance of
Oraclethat cultural database. With it we can unite. Contrast to, say, food culture, it’s difficult to find that sort of a bridge between different people groups since that is something not foreign at all to, well, all of us. Anime is foreign to all of us. Probably even to many Japanese! Well, that kind of anime anyways.
Hanasaku Iroha is a simple example of where this cracks down. It’s like forcing people to watch Japanese TV dramas. Admittedly, what happens in Hanairo is more of an extreme example, but even as I say extreme, it really isn’t really extreme to many people. Being slapped by your grandmother is always an extreme thing, but the difference of it happening within an Indian or Chinese household versus in a typical American, white, urban household is probably better summed up better by American comedians exploiting immigrant families with localizing children interacting with their new neighbors and classmates. [
I have a skit in mind for this but I just can’t find the link for you at the moment. Hey look at this.]
Just how seriously should this group of Gen-Y/Millennials take corpeal punishment? Especially when Minko isn’t even related to Ze Grand Baba? Will any of them even think of it as a sign of affection and endearment? How about Ohana’s triple-decker? Surprise me, guys!
I mean, that’s just the beginning. Those who studied Japanese culture or have some exposure via first or third party narratives probably would know about the whole Senpai-Kouhai thing, so that shouldn’t be a shock. The rape thing I mentioned last post is, while somewhat misleading, has a place in this context. It’s like how one can make an argument for the the whole prostitution subtext in Spirited Away. We’re not really diverging from the formula here in HanaIro, if you think about it.
It’s so Japanese! It borderline offends my Chinese sensibilities (ok, not really), let alone my American ones (I think, I’m not sure). Thankfully the western anime-blog-otaku-fandom-sphere-thing is doing all the outrage better than I could ever, and that is probably annoying me more than what sewn-together pieces of the thematic puzzle that we have at episode 2 can possibly ever could. Because at worst, HanaIro can’t be any worse than Summer Wars (and its Yoko Ono reference). Well, I suppose they could make Nako into someone with some kind of hidden talent that saves the day, but that would actually make the show better. Don’t you prefer a tall, athletic, and graceful high school girl from the countryside over a shota bait? Aki Toyosaki not withstanding?
And don’t get me started on the “oh bad mom abandoning your kawaii daughter” thing. This is what makes HanaIro already 10 times better than Summer Wars.