kure-nai: Murasaki and Japan’s Culture

I have to get this out of the way early: kure-nai 3 is probably the best single episode of anime I’ve seen in a long time. It covers so much ground in 24 minutes and manages to be highly entertaining at the same time. I don’t know how he does it, but Matsuo Kou is a genius.

There were quite a few aspects about this episode that I highly enjoyed, especially the whole Murasaki running around school and being generally confused bit, which was capped by the brilliant three-way argument pictured above. The comedic timing in this portion of the episode was spot-on. Murasaki was wonderfully and childishly cute (as she always is) stumbling around school and generally being curious (with the highlight of this being when she called Shinkurou on the phone to complain about the anatomy figure, which was made even better by the fact that Shinkurou thought she was talking about something else entirely, leaving you to wonder just what exactly is hiding in Tamaki’s room). On top of all this, we’ve got Shinkurou interacting with Ginko in sublime fashion. There’s a word for the direction style of this segment of the episode, I’m sure, but I lack proper vocabulary.

What really surprised me, though, was the train scene, and the aftermath thereof. As Murasaki idealistically confronts the train bullies kicking an elderly lady out of her seat so they can be happily seated, Shinkurou timidly sits behind, and even rebukes Murasaki for her outburst. He’s reacting like any sensible, mature Japanese citizen would in such a situation: a child under their care is disturbing social order by confronting someone else, so therefore he must be strictly apologetic and admit fault and be humiliated, kicked, and spat upon.

This is interesting on several levels. From a character standpoint, it’s an aspect of Shinkurou’s character we haven’t seen.I personally expected him to stand up and fight them, revealing his mysterious power to Murasaki, but he doesn’t. And this, from a writing standpoint, is also good: you expect the main character to stand up for right, good, and justice, and it doesn’t happen. You get the feeling that he clearly wants to do such, but he’s being bound by societal rules not to.

Which is what I found most interesting: Murasaki, for all her childishness, confronts the bullies, and gets lectured to becaose of this. The viewer is clearly supposed to support Murasaki in this instance, as she’s clearly doing what needs to be done, and Shinkurou is doing what Japanese society says you should do. During the lecture, it’s Murasaki confronting the whole of Japanese culture through Shinkurou. Is it right to tolerate cruelty just to maintain a modicum of social harmony? At what point is social harmony breached? Is is breached when the elderly lady is forced from her seat? Is it breached when Murasaki confronts the perpetrators? Who’s in the wrong here?

The answer kure-nai gives depends on who you see as right or wrong, although the intent to criticise Japanese culture is certainly embedded in this scene. Personally, I find social harmony essential to any human interaction, but, in this case, social harmony was breached when the young upstarts forced the lady from her seat. Murasaki was entirely correct to confront them, even if it was a drastic action that not many would take, regardless of the culture. Hell, I don’t even think I would confront a group of bullies like that, as I’d probably get a solid pounding; on the flip side, I generally lash out like Murasaki when people feel the need to be jerks when they really shouldn’t be. It doesn’t change anything, but it’s the right kind of attitude to have, even if this does mean that I’m actually a seven year old girl at heart.

kure-nai is probably the best series of this spring so far, although in the case of this spring I hestitate to use such terminology, as there’s so many other series that could also easily be considered the best series of this spring, and I wouldn’t have any argument with someone claiming them to be such. I think the way I’m going to have to work it is that my favorite series of this season is whichever one I happen to be watching at the moment, or have recently watched. It’s almost too much for me to process. I both love and hate spring, now.

5 Responses to “kure-nai: Murasaki and Japan’s Culture”

  1. 1 hashihime 22 April 2008 at 2:46 am

    Great piece. I’d better go watch ep3 yet again. It was even better than I thought. I wonder if another reason why Shinkurou didn’t fight was that he would likely have injured people, even bystanders, and he would have revealed his harsh side to Murasaki and revealed his supernormal powers to the world. The whole thing could easily have become a police matter, and Murasaki might have ended up being sent back to her home. Or something like that.

  2. 2 blissmo 22 April 2008 at 5:27 am

    Haha, to me Soul Eater, Code Geass and Kurenai are the best anime this spring, but i can’t choose which one is the best out of those three. Muraski is definitely adorable~~

  3. 3 coburn 22 April 2008 at 12:34 pm

    I was thinking that Murasaki’s stance might have some kind of historical/upper classes significance as well as being a part of her youthful idealism. She’s kind of like an ancient aristocrat transported to the present, and her up-front morality presented as rebuke might have a nostalgic element. The impersonal commuter system (thugs, gropers etc)as symbol of modern moral malaise or something.

  4. 4 usagijen 25 April 2008 at 9:51 am

    I’ve also found myself reflecting on what happened in the train scene in episode 3, like how one will draw the line between being practical and ‘wise’ (in terms of keeping silent amidst seeing someone being bullied) or being indifferent (or being a coward), and all that. It’s an issue I often find myself struggling with, so yeah… I can clearly empathize with both Murasaki and Shinkurou’s case here :)

  1. 1 The Scrumptious Anime Blog » Kure-nai 03: Sudden Spouts of Sagacious Thoughts Trackback on 3 May 2008 at 1:12 pm

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I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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a ridiculously long and only partially organized list of subjects


April 2008

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