‘You see, if you take off the ‘But there’re no mecha!’ goggles, it’s not as bad as you think!’
It wasn’t love at first sight, although our eyes did meet across a crowded blog. Given Kimikiss‘s looks, perhaps it never could’ve been ‘at first sight’: while she has her charms, when she walks she treads on the ground (unlike certain others). Although she does pay comendable attention to her characters’ hair.
Perhaps it was simply coincidence that got us talking, or perhaps it was my desire to find material to prevent this blog from being entirely about Gundam. In any case, talk we did, and she certainly gave our conversation an action-packed beginning. We went out for a few episodes and gradually settled into something steady. There’s a lot I like about her, and we seem to get on well. Perhaps it’s my taste, but whenever she puts on a gently meditative piano melody I find it hard to say no.
[I am becoming increasingly worried about genre blindness,¹ and consequently eager to watch a wide range of things. Perhaps another prompt to watch Kimikiss was coburn's fine cocktail of metaphors for 'getting into' anime: exploration, conquest/colonisation, naturalisation and ascetic practice: 'war on myself, killing the tourist'. (What I'm actually saying here is 'If you haven't given Claiming Ground a try yet, you ought to.) I suppose you can manipulate me into doing almost anything if you convince me it's a way of dying-to-self.]
I can’t see this without thinking ‘STABITTY STAB’;
maybe School Days did more damage than I thought
She is in many ways a conventional lover. The intertwinings of desire expressed and desire repressed are an old theme which has fueled a great many poems, plays, novels, TV series and movies, so in a sense there’s nothing new here. But for an anime, and especially one which has the name (if not the plot) of a ‘dating simulation game’, to present us with three central romantic characters and a set of interconnected competitions rather than a reductive harem incertus² simplex is a little unusual. I don’t want to stress that too much, though, as I’m aware that others have done this before she did. It is interesting, nevertheless, that an approach which is extremely conventional outside of anime feels slightly cutting-edge inside anime – but then this may be my genre ignorance showing.
One thing she certainly has going for her is – not realism, exactly – but convincingness. Kimikiss isn’t really realistic (‘not blood related’!) but – like one of my ex-girlfriends, Gasaraki – she’s mastered the art of convincing us that she is. It’s the surprisingly potent mix of normally-proportioned character designs and startlingly everyday plot elements (going to the beach, making a club movie or visiting a friend’s house) that does it. This is backed up by some fine peripheral touches: Nana and Narumi, for example, are perfect distillations of what I imagine it is like to have an endearing-yet-irritating younger sister.
Did you find this little piece of symbolism subtle or anvilicious?
Or justifiably anvilicious?
Strangely enough, her female characters don’t provoke much moe. I think this may be because I find them convincing enough to think of them as (younger, more foolish) peers, rather than as childlike beings. Most of the time, they are simply too normal – well, normal-feeling – for moe. I suppose I could write about which of her characters I ‘support’, perhaps engaging in a little ship-to-ship combat, but I’ve never mastered the art of writing about fictional creations as though they are real people.³
I can, however, say for certain that I find the plot that surrounds Kazuki to be more interesting – gripping, at points. This is partly because the other main narrative thread seems a little played-out (‘not blood-related’!). The gradual and careful excavation of Futami Eriko’s character is very interesting, and there are occasional movements which catch me, at least, off-guard – such as Sakino’s Celestial Being-style intervention in the eighteenth episode. Then, too, there are several scenes which neatly portray the pain of playing third party to someone else’s romance (better, I feel, than the business with Mao):
Lydia, when you praise
Telephus’ rosy neck or Telephus’
wax-white arms, alas,
my simmering liver swells with crotchety bile;
nor my mind nor complexion
are true to their nature, and stealthy tears
on my cheeks are symptoms
of inward maceration above slow fires.
(‘Anything you can do, Horace did better!’)
One of the Enlightenment’s nastiest ideas claims another victim4
But, for all that, I don’t think Kimikiss is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. If she goes much further beyond twenty-four episodes our relationship will stale, and I don’t think I’ll be rewatching her. Unless, of course, she does something unexpected and courageous (and not in the School Days vein) in the four episodes left to her. And that is out of my hands; whatever the cause, if we break up it’ll be her, not me.
[The text may not reflect The Animanachronism's actual romantic opinions. No girls were harmed in the composition of this entry. The Animanachronism would like to thank his sponsor, Spending Time Blogging When You Should Be Working.]
* * *
Is this simply indicative of Kimikiss’s interest in the emotions of its female characters? Or (more worryingly) is it the logical extension of the ‘faceless’ male characters we find in eroge images – the male almost entirely erased, so as to allow the (male) viewer to thrust himself (yes, English students are allowed innuendo) into the scene?
One of my main criticisms of most harem anime (which is not to say that I think Kimikiss is harem anime), as art, is that it fails entirely to closely examine the male’s character; ironically, this happens in the process of producing a product aimed at the more visceral desires of men themselves. I suppose we get the art we deserve.
1. As you may have now discovered, I haven’t watched enough anime to really have a nice firm grasp on generic terms. A mecha fan who’s seen hundreds of days of anime will have watched enough from other genres to understand them, but I’m sadly not in that position.
3. While evidently being able to write about an entire show as though it’s a real person.
4. Episodes 12-14 of Kaiji would cheer Eriko up. We may, perhaps, be alone on the girder of life, but there’s a faint hope that our signals will reach our fellow-sufferers. Also, you can’t see anyone go through as much as Kaiji does and not feel better about your own life.
- CCY’s recent study of the twentieth episode proves that you can write 3,000 words about one episode of anime without just summarising it and then throwing down some remarks.
- Omonomono’s remarks on labelling, law and (screw alliteration) Kimikiss use Shakespeare (so do I, but I buried him somewhere in this post), and must therefore be good.
- One reason why I generally avoided discussing the characters as people is because more practiced hands are doing it well already.
‘I’m not crying.’
Perhaps I’m enjoying this a little more than is strictly appropriate.