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Monday Musings
Monday, 08 August 2011 14:40
Sometimes, there's a scene in anime that catches you on the hop and leaves you wondering just what the director was trying to do. The closing scene of last week's Yuru Yuri falls into just that category.

If you haven't seen the series before, it's a high-school comedy about a groups of girls (there are 8 regulars), and as the title suggests there are heavy overtones of girl-girl romance - all presented in a highly slapstick, funny, and entirely non-serious way. Except for this one scene. Let's play it out in words:

1st-year girl Chinatsu is smitten with her 2nd-year senpai Yui, a fellow member of the Amusement Club (who spend their time sitting around, doing nothing, and winding up the Student Council), and has a tendency to let her imagination get the better of her. During just such an incident, she ends up pinning fellow club member and classmate Akari to the floor and planting a kiss on her lips, just to see what it would be like (and no doubt imagining that it's Yui she's kissing) - when, with perfect comic timing, Yui walks through the door, sees what's happening, and beats a hasty retreat. All very funny, and the sort of scene that's been played out in anime innumerable times (Yuru Yuri isn't what you could call "original"). Normally, you'd end this with a scene of Akari delivering a beatdown on Chinatsu for being so bold, or comically lamenting the way her first kiss has been stolen from her. What you don't normally get is this:

Akari cries

That is not the face of a carefree young girl. With no music, no commentary, Akari lies there with the dead eyes of someone who's been violated and cries. Has my anime suddenly developed a conscience? Was the series trying to make a point about abuse and inappropriate behaviour? Will this week's episode introduce a certain distance and awkwardness between Akari and Chinatsu while Akari tries to come to terms with what her "friend" did to her? Or am I just over analysing a clumsy attempt to make a joke? I strongly suspect I'm over analysing, but you can never be sure...

I would like anime to have more of a social conscience, though, although I admit that the current state of fandom makes me wonder what proportion of the audience would pay any attention to that sort of message. Shows like Yuru Yuri also wouldn't be the sort of show to do that - it's too much a switch-off-and-have-fun series for any serious message to really fly. There's a lot to be said for educating your audience instead of pandering to it.


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