The Breaking Point in Regards to Controversial Content in Anime | 12 Days of Aniblogging (Day 3)

When is enough enough?

While anime should not be likened to a swirling cesspool consisting of backwards morals and antiquated values, some series do feature content that could be considered contentious for certain individuals.

After dropping a few select titles while observing how others also dropped particular series, I became interested in finding this vague limit. When does the controversial content within a series overshadow the positive qualities said series brings to the table?

Like many things in life, this breaking point is subject to personal preferences. Some may throw in the towel after encountering several episodes featuring “problematic messages and visuals.” Others may persist until they hit a specific episode number (three or six are popular milestones) before deciding if the series is worth the trouble and headache and triggered feelings.

“It depends” is the typical, short, messy answer if we don’t opt to dive into using samples and statistics, but obtaining quantifiable results with a reasonably accurate sample size number could prove to be difficult. I failed Statistics so someone else can do the data collecting and the number crunching since I’m not touching that kind of stuff.

Meanwhile, I want to talk about some of the 2017 series I or other people considered to be very good yet controversial. I’ll be touching upon why I thought a particular series was “problematic” and whether I dropped or continued watching said series.

Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon is the first title that come to mind when I think of Winter 2017. Although MaiDragon was very sincere in its portrayal of family and homosexual romance, some viewers (including myself) couldn’t help but notice that the series was seemingly addicted to low-effort boob jokes. The intent of these jokes always painted Lucoa’s breasts as being excessive and unwelcome, which could be interpreted as body-shaming. Furthermore, the underage characters Shota and Riko (and Kanna, who looks like a young girl despite being at least a few centuries old) were constantly exposed to sexual and erotic situations that were not befitting for children. As a result, some people would claim that  the series featured the sexualization of children, which may be an overly drastic but valid concern.

vlcsnap-2017-01-26-02h21m39s172

In MaiDragon‘s defense, boob jokes are commonly used in many types of anime. Furthermore, one could paint Shouta’s staunch rejection regarding Lucoa’s frequent sexual advances as his attempt to establish that he’s deadset on resisting temptation, be it erotic seduction or easy promises of power, as he tries to become a competent mage through his own merits and ability. As for Kanna and Riko, their behavior (namely in episode 6 where they play Twister and end up in compromising positions. Furthermore, Riko is left obviously stimulated due to her flushed complexion and her facial expression which portrays an intense amount of pleasure to the point of absurdity and comedy) accentuates the disparity in sexual maturity between the two characters.

While the girls remain in-character and it does drive home the message that these almighty dragons are oblivious about things such as emotions and the necessities of human life, the inclusions of such scenes are a bit difficult to defend. Perhaps I would feel a bit less uneasy if teenagers, rather than young girls, were the ones in these situations and positions. The same goes for the interactions between Shouta and Lucoa, which basically involves an older woman forcing herself onto a very young boy. That is inherently even more problematic!

Be that as it may, I continued watching the series and I am glad I did so. It has the aforementioned drawbacks, but the series as a whole is candid, heartfelt, and emotional. In other words, the positives outweighed the negatives in regards to Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon for me.

Next up is Hinako Note (for Spring 2017), which is a series I personally consider to be underwhelming. However, it turns out there are some fans who actually enjoyed said series. In their opinion, the exaggerated quirks for the girls were funny, cute, and somewhat relatable and that the theater aspect of the series remained prominent throughout the entire cour.

I will concede on the second point regarding theater, but I will like to point out that some viewers found their zany antics to be too over-the-top and that the reliance on fanservice to keep viewers interested was blatant (and excessive compared to other CGDCT shows). The way the series handled character relations was also without tact and left much to be desired. The fact that the series was shameless enough to focus on a 9 year-old girl’s physically developed bosoms every so often definitely doesn’t help.

vlcsnap-2017-05-06-08h31m02s138

I continued watching Hinako Note to the bitter end since it’s the type of show that I’d write about, but the series had showed no sense of improvement by episode 6 which meant I stopped doing weekly write-ups halfway into the season. There might be worse shows out there, but I still consider it to be disappointing for a slice-of-life/Cute Girls Doing Cute Things series.

As for Summer 2017, I immediately think of Ballroom e Youkoso. The series is the typical yet beloved underdog story that valiantly illuminates an oft-ignored sport/world through suspenseful tournament battles (the amount of times there is actual animation in regards to dancing is questionable, however) without making the protagonist seem like a talented ace who masters everything instantly. Fine.

But the series also contains barbarous quips that implies homophobia. Furthermore, the basis of the series is ballroom dancing which is a rigidly traditional pastime where guys are the focus and girls are relegated as being merely support. Although the sport is not supposed to be inherently sexist, it’s very easy to interpret a lot of the rules and stray comments made by professional dancers to be as such. As a result, it’s also not difficult to become discouraged when it comes to the female characters’ roles, depiction, and characterization. I wrote this piece about my thoughts on Ballroom e Youkoso somewhat early into the first cour and I still stand by a lot of it even with the advent of Chinatsu and Chizuru as female characters who aren’t just meek wallflowers.

vlcsnap-2017-11-25-12h03m21s774.jpg

I will watch Ballroom e Youkoso until it concludes, at least, but I was never overly enthused. The problems that were readily apparent in the first cour did improve in some aspects (Chinatsu is a great character, for instance), but didn’t in other ways. However, I did end up giving up on covering this series on a weekly basis by episode 8 since each episode was providing to be a headache and I would have had only negative things to say.

The last series I wanted to touch upon is URAHARA. This series is a bit different from the others since it doesn’t contain content that can be potentially construed as body-shaming, excessive fanservice to pad out a lack of substance, or subtle sexism.

No, this series was dropped by many due to its unique aesthetic (read: cute and incredibly colorful animation and backgrounds and designs) and seemingly generic plot. I also was initially skeptical but the series won me over by episode 6 and continues to surprise me with its exploration of mature and meta themes as well as its dedication to its visage and style. Some people will never give the series a shot since it comes across as being a “silly children’s series,” but kids’ show are often substantial and worth watching if you give them a chance.

vlcsnap-2017-10-25-16h18m25s186.jpg

By mentioning these examples, I seem to have established that:

a) I’m stubborn since I didn’t drop any of these shows (I only dropped four seasonal shows, which would be Sin Nanatsu no Taizai, Shougeki no Soma: San no Sara, Black Clover, and Animegataris during 2017). Amusingly enough, three of the four shows I dropped in 2017 were during the Fall 2017 season.

b) there was no universal trend to be observed regarding my perception of a show and its progression. Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon was enjoyable despite potential hang-ups from start to finish, Hinako Note offered no palpable change, Ballroom e Youkoso improved slightly during the second cour, and Urahara became much better. The sample size is of course too small to draw any reasonable conclusions. But it does illustrate that sometimes it is indeed worth sticking around. Other times, however, it may not be.

My results will obviously differ if you compare them to that of other individuals. I know of a few feminists who dropped Ballroom e Youkoso very early on and I can really sympathize with their decision to do so. As I’ve stated several times in this post, I can’t prove with hard numbers that it’s optimal for you to drop a show that features positive qualities due to its inclusion of less favorable aspects or slants or themes. Sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn’t.

It becomes a matter of opportunity cost, this whole show dropping business. In fact, continuing on with this line of reasoning also evokes that sort of mindset. Should I really continue blabbing on or are there better things to do with my time? And should you really be reading this post or can you make better use of your time? For both of our sakes, I’ll end this here. Ta-ta.

 

20 thoughts on “The Breaking Point in Regards to Controversial Content in Anime | 12 Days of Aniblogging (Day 3)

  1. Firstly, this post is amazing! Secondly, there is no way that girl is 9. Thirdly, have no regrets for dropping Ballroom when I did.

    For me, dropping a show isn’t consistent. Most of the time it boils down to whether I have the time to stick with something that I’m not enjoying and the answer is rarely yes. The times it comes from having enough of seeing the same thing repeated in each episode. If an irritating scene happens once I can brush over it, if it happens time and time again I lose patience for it.

    It’s definitely one of those things where every person has a different reason.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, thank you very much!

      Mmm I made a mistake and used a picture of another girl rather than the 9 year old because the girl in the picture was just lying down on her back and the camera felt rather lecherous. I have updated the post to include a pic where the camera focuses on the 9 year old’s “development.” That happens a lot in Hinako Note.

      You’ve escaped a bullet, I’d say. What’s interesting to note (for me) is that when I go to reddit, which is a male-dominated community, I only hear cheers for Ballroom.

      Mmm makes sense. If it keeps pushing those buttons, then it’s gotta go. But yes, it definitely depends on the person and their own preferences / reasons.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Personally, I tend to not have a specific point when I would drop a series, and often withstand minor things that annoy me as long as I want to watch the rest. Generally, I drop a series when I start to feel like watching it is becoming a chore (Boruto, dropped around episode 30), or when I just can’t find a single thing I actually like about the series (Dies Irae, watched about 3 episodes so I could say something about it as I was the start of it for my anime club). Rarely happens though, as I tend to be selective when I start watching anime in the first place, so I often pick ones that I’m likely to watch till the end.

    If I may, could I ask why you ended up dropping Animegataris? Personally finding it enjoyable, especially right now with the latest episodes when the show decided to stop being serious whatsoever and just went full brilliant, strange meta comedy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, those are good guidelines. Too bad about Dies Irae. Haven’t really heard good things about that one. It’s good that you usually stick with the series you choose to watch, though!

      Hmmm. Wasn’t a fan of that sort of comedy since I just can’t imagine actual school clubs listening to the anime club’s advice. It was a bit too outlandish for me. I hear the next episode was a bit better, though.
      Perhaps my mood on the day I watched episode 9 was really off so that’s why I decided to drop it. It’s definitely not the worst show and is very watchable, but I stopped having as much with Animegataris after episode 3, so that might also have been a factor.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah…Dies Irae was a chore for me to watch even those first episodes, and I dislike it even now based on just those…probably just not aimed at my type of person or something. Another person in my anime club who’s more of a generic harem VN-style story fan said he might watch it to see if he likes it, so I guess I might find out eventually if it has anything good about it at all/can be enjoyed by some people.

        Ah, I see. Completely understandable reasons. Some (most?) comedy indeed just doesn’t work for everyone. I generally tend to like comedy that goes off the deep end of being completely unrelated to reality (or just doing stuff that breaks the laws of our world in some way), being a big fan of absurdist stuff like Monty Python and such, so probably why Animegataris has been quite enjoyable for me.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’ve come to realize that everything has an audience. So it’s very likely that some individuals will enjoy Dies Irae. It’s just probably not the majority.

          That’s interesting. I liked Monty Python, as well.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Hmm…it could also have to do with that I tend to like references to stuff (and guessing them/trying to), as well as anime that deconstructs anime/talks about what anime is/is self-aware of what it is and sometimes, even the characters are?

            I don’t know, really. I often just form opinions on whether I really liked an anime after I’ve seen the season, unless of course I drop it (or unless, like some series this season, it ends up on my favorites list before it even ends because it’s just so good (Konohana Kitan & Houseki no Kuni this season, at least), or of course if it’s already there in the case of sequels).

            Liked by 1 person

          2. I can see it. I think the references are cute, but it’s a bit too pedestrian. Any ol’ anime series that heavily features comedy will undoubtedly include references. The only difference is that Animegataris tries to squeeze in as much as they can. Guessing what shows they’re referring to is fun, but as a series that actually earnestly discuss anime, I think it was never really quite there despite my high hopes (all of this is just my opinion, of course).

            Mmmm makes sense.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Hm, I don’t really know what makes me drop an anime, but I’m not sure it’s always about a breaking point. For example, I know that I’ll have a higher tolerance for distasteful content if a show airs on a slow day. I’m using anime to relax after and before work, so if there’s nothing else…

    There’s also something about the way you enjoy a particular anime. Some may be mostly dull but they’re worth watching for the occasional spots of brilliance that stay with you forever and ever. Some are throughly entertaining, but also forgettable. And so on. Depending on how you enjoy a show, distasteful elements work differently.

    Dull with spots of brilliance? If it’s got annoying elements, they really stand out during the dull parts, and it amounts to a back and forth, much like putting weights on a scale. Thoroughly entertaining throughout? There’s plenty to distract you. I have an auto-anime-filter that works fairly well, so if there’s plenty to keep me invested, it’s not that hard to ignore the bad.

    An interesting case is Enmusubi no Youko Chan. I’m absolutely invested in the story and characters, but I also really, really hate the humour (which I find generally mean-spirited). I can’t reconcile the two aspects with each other, and it’s frustrating. I like the show a lot when the story’s in the foreground. But when it’s trying to be funny… oh, dear. The problem? Huge portions of the show are both supposed to be funny and advance the plot. There’s no breaking point in the show: it’s a show of two-halves, and the breaking point’s in me. During the second cour the show’s been focussing much more on the story, so I’ve been enjoying it much more lately. And on the whole I’m positive about the show, but boy is this a hard watch at times.

    Also, Urahara is good. I expected a twist in the twist, because the first turning point came too soon and was too obvious, but I didn’t expect *that*. Also, I really like the style, too, so I’m just all-round positive about the show, with very few negatives.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Fair points. Too bad about Enmusubi no Youko Chan. That sort of duality seems to really complicates things!

      Yes, I think Urahara is a fun and underrated show. Even though I’d love to say that Houseki is the hidden gem of the series for the sake of the pun, I’d argue that Urahara is the true hidden gem first.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can see the arguments for why those aforementioned shows can be controversial. You brought up the situation of MaiDragon with one older woman interacting with a boy. It reminded me of my thoughts on the movies Y Tu Mama Tambien and The Garden Of Words (fight me, otaku!). Without going to much into either of those plots, if one were to reverse the genders of the main characters of those films, everybody would freak because it would involve older men being with teenage girls which is obviously a huge no-no. It reveals a double standard in that sense, and I was shocked that people don’t think about it. I don’t mind some controversial content if it has a legitimate point and isn’t there for controversy’s sake. You did make some solid arguments nonetheless though.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Double standards are unfortunately very prevalent in anime, you’re right.

      I haven’t seen Y Tu Mama Tambien or The Garden of Words, but I’ll take your word for it.

      Mmmm I think MaiDragon was reasonable enough as with Ballroom. I can’t really defend Hinako Note, though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Quite true, but it’s not just an anime thing. I’ve seen it in all forms of media and the news. That’s a subject that really grinds my gears alongside acts of hypocrisy.

        Y Tu Mama Tambien is a Mexican movie that deals with a road trip between two teenage boys and a married woman in her later twenties. The Garden Of Words is probably the worst film I’ve seen from Shinkai which is a shame because I really like his older films. Even though the animation was phenomenal, the plot really bugged me as the main female character gets away with things a man wouldn’t be able to if they were in her situation. It is one aspect of PCM (Protagonist Centered Morality) which is something I’ve ranted about as it’s a form of terrible writing and characterization.

        Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t bashing MaiDragon since I haven’t seen that anime. I just said that part of the show sounded really problematic. It’s good that the positives outweigh the negatives if there’s enough redeemable qualities in that anime.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. In view of some of the recent series that were released, I also felt rather concerned with shows that try really hard to include ecchi elements (or in excess). It seems as though the studios / sources are trying to satisfy some kind of minimum ecchi criteria.
    Maybe they want to compete with series which place ecchi as the central focus, but that would not bode well if the message they intend to pass to viewers is something more serious (/totally different) altogether.
    And somehow, they just keep getting away with it (It gets memeified, and people end up just ‘not taking it seriously’, which may just divert our attention of being disappointed with said ‘fan-service’).

    I’m glad that you brought up this issue in anime, which discussion can practically go on for days… making comparisons with other anime and stuff~~

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Well, I for one, can’t think of other things to do when compared to reading Remy-nii’s posts. But that may just be an Imouto thing.

    Now, getting to the topic. The breaking point for me is generally very less, because I can’t stand ecchi, but like you said, the story more times than not compensates this.
    I, however, am slightly disturbed by a paranoid feeling that we might get used to seeing these things as okay because of sticking for the story trend.
    Even Horimiya went ahead with chest sized this year, hmm?
    Then again, like I said, paranoid.

    In many anime, they play down such jokes for humour, which of course I don’t find funny, but someone HAS to for it to be here….

    Somehow, this is a topic you could talk and talk about and not reach a conclusion.

    Anyway, like I mentioned before- you’re taking all the interesting topics, how?
    Great points made Remy-nii, Happy Day 3~

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Auri.

      Mmm ecchi content is everywhere in manga and anime. Wow, that chapter about chest sizes in Horimiya was earlier this year, you’re right. It feels so long ago.

      Yeah, I guess someone finds such jokes to be funny.

      Unfortunately, that seems to be the case. It’s a bit frustrating like that!

      Well, thank you. Took me a while to come up with these posts for these challenges. Hopefully they remain interesting.

      You, too, Auri! Happy Day 3~ (I’m exhausted so I’ll be catching up on blog posts when I wake up)

      Liked by 2 people

I-it's not like I want you to leave a comment or anything. B-baka.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s