Archive for May 20th, 2008

kure-nai: Tamaki, She of Many Contradictions

Don’t feel sad, Tamaki. I’m sure someone out there will appreciate your slightly strange ways! (maybe)

The best thing about kure-nai has got to be the writing/timing. Matsuo Kou is amazing, and he’s fast entering into my league of Favorite Directors. He’s nailed both the writing (although the scripts are sometimes done by other staffers), but perhaps more importantly, he’s quite good at the most important part of good storytelling: timing. The age-old joke that goes “What’s the most important element to comedy?” “I don’t know, what is th–” “TIMING!” (which is an amazing joke) is both supremely rewarding when pulled off effectively (as Matsuo does in kure-nai) but, as I’ve found in trying to actually tell this joke to people, it’s practically impossible to get right. Granted, it’s partially the job of the voice actors to get the timing down right, but it’s also Matsuo’s job to get them to get the timing the way he wants.

The moments of comedy, however, don’t necessarily overshadow the more serious content. I think the scene in 7 with Tamaki being confronted with her (now ex-)boyfriend while dragging Murasaki around campus is perhaps the best example of this, as well as being a quite harsh gaze into Tamaki’s quite perplexing personality. The moments leading up to this were jovial and humorous, with Tamaki pointing out the flaws in the relationships of everyone in the plaza, even (and especailly) the ones she didn’t know personally. As soon as her boyfriend shows up (I don’t think they even mentioned his name) the scene starts shifting from the comic to the dramatic as it’s revealed that Tamaki, for all her ability to see the flaws in the relationships around her, still can’t seem to see the flaws in her own. I don’t know exactly where, how, or when Tamaki met up with this mysteruous phantom boyfriend of hers (the fact that she had one was a surprise to me), but it was quite clear that Tamaki, for all of her carefree attitude, still is affected strongly by negative reactions. She describes herself as a strong woman, but how strong is she really? And does strength come with a price?

Tamaki certainly seems to be independent and unreliant upon others on the surface (even if she’s fairly lazy, if she’s been skipping class to sit around and do nothing with Murasaki all this time), but this seems to be a facade if something as seemingly trifling for a proper strong-willed independent woman to suffer crippling, if momentary, depression over the loss of a boyfriend (apparently made tragic not by the fact that they broke up, but by the fact that she didn’t break up with him). Is Tamaki truly “strong” then? Perhaps yes, perhaps no; more likely she’s like everyone else and strong in some areas and weak in another. One doesn’t necessarily have to be “flawless” to be “strong”, so, technically, the test to see if Tamaki is strong or not is to see whether or not she bounces back from this rather abrupt change in situation. True strength (and true womanliness, or manliness, or neuterliness, or whatever) comes not from not feeling or even demonstrating pain or suffering, but, rather, from rising up from it. Even the strongest among us cry at times (unless they’ve been replaced by those aliens from Parasyte), but it’s all in how you handle it, and less how you display it.

At any rate, Tamaki is a wonderfully fun character, in both positive and negative moods (I spent much of the first part of the episode laughing at her sardonic way of pointing out things). And (as always) Murasaki continues to be a bundle of adorable, if totally clueless, joy (“You like me, right? That’s why you became a lolicon!”). And, generally, when I’m as impressed by a series as I am at the moment, at this juncture, I have full confidence that the series will end every bit as good as it started.


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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May 2008