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.
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.
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.
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.
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.