[Script] In the defense of Cute Girls Doing Cute Things shows in Winter 2018

CGDCT, or “Cute Girls Doing Cute Things,” doesn’t really sound like an “official” anime genre like “mecha” or “rom-com.” But using it as such really makes classification of anime more convenient. After all, there are many shows which feature character casts that entirely or almost entirely consist of females who only care about very specific activities such as playing mahjong with everything on the line or making music as a light music club. School clubs are often involved, too, which means these types of shows could also be called girls’ club shows.

Unfortunately, some anime viewers consider such shows to be boring immaterial or cute fluff. And since the Winter 2018 season is filled to the brim with CGDCT shows, they in turn claim the current anime season sucks.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, however, so I can’t truly deny or dismiss such accusations. If that’s what you truly think, then who am I to say you’re wrong?

However, I want to insist that Winter 2018 has yet to really get going so such statements shouldn’t be made yet. I also want to claim that one of the vanguards for the current anime season, Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho, does have substance despite being just “another” show featuring a bunch of cute anime girls.

Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho, otherwise known as A Place Further Than The Universe, can be summarized as a group of girls traveling to Antarctica. But it’s also about making the most of your teenage years before you’re burdened with mandatory responsibilities. It’s about wanting to achieve dreams you’ve held for years at all costs even when others have put you down for just as long. Be that as it may, the girls are refusing to be complacent and are choosing to spring into action by aiming for an extraordinary destination. They’re setting out on a journey and you’re coming along with them.

The series does an excellent job with shot composition, as noted by Jenn from anirambles.wordpress.com. She has pointed out that the opening scene, in which we get to see Mari lazing about in her cluttered room, lets us know exactly what kind of girl Mari is – an undisciplined, uncertain girl with scattered interests and no direction in life (EDIT: I know it’s not the very first OPENING SCENE, but what’s done is done). After Mari’s made up her mind to join Shirase on her quest to the frigid continent, she cleans up said messy room which serves to convey her resolve in making the most of her youth.

Jenn also observes how Sora Basho makes great use of negative space – Mari always ends up becoming too scared to take the plunge and her tendency to lose courage is almost palpable in these wide shots since she comes across as being pensive and doubtful.

Finally, Jenn notes that the many lingering shots on Mari’s fidgety feet serve to let us visually and spatially experience her anxiety without having her voice them out loud. We even get to see from her own point-of-view as she stares down at the ground.

It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, however. Karandi from 100wordanime.blog notes that the SHINY artstyle could be considered distracting and that viewers could potentially fail to relate to the characters due to their motivations and their polarizing stances on what it means to have a meaningful youth. Prattle from SeasonalPrattle.com has voiced concern over how Mari seems to have exposed all substance or concerns she has as a character within a few minutes into the episode. It remains to be seen if she’s just a boring, one-note protagonist and we have no choice but to wait with bated breath.

Two other CGDCT shows also premiered this week. The first one, known as Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san, is a series that plays with preconceived social norms. If this was a show about a boy who enjoys eating ramen, I imagine much less people would be interested in it. After all, ramen is an oily, greasy, hefty meal and society has come to associate the guilty pleasure with men. But here we have a cute girl who is a walking encyclopedia on ramen. Furthermore her preference for ramen despite being a girl has already been questioned in the first episode.

We also get to see exactly why this got to air whenever she eats ramen as if it scratches the itch, as it were.

Something that is mildly interesting is the fact that the titular character Koizumi seems uninterested in getting along with others. In many CGDCT shows, the expert of the subject upon which the show revolves around is often desperate for company. However, Koizumi remains a stoic and cold-hearted girl for the most part as she claims that eating ramen is something to be done alone.

I want to pretend there’s a chance she stays aloof until the series is over, but that never happens in CGDCT shows and she already drops the cool facade whenever ramen is involved. But do give it a shot if you want to see another girl act like a desperate dog in an attempt to hang out with Koizumi. Said girl, Yuu, also ends up stalking Koizumi in an attempt to befriend the ramen lover. It’s likely something that won’t even register on most people’s radars, but it’s there and isn’t called out and should be mentioned.

The last series, Yuru Camp △, is about camping. Or it theoretically should be, but so far it’s more about a girl playing with her phone and reading a book at a campsite while another girl suffers because of her own reckless behavior and misfortune. I don’t have any experience camping, however, and indoor camping IS a thing in Japan. The expert in this series, Rin, also comes across as being cold, but unlike Koizumi she at least is open to the idea of doing things as a group.

When the group of five girls finally get together within the next few episodes, you can expect Rin or the mysterious male narrator voice to tell us all we need to know about camping. And maybe we’ll eventually work our way up to comfy camping scenes involving large campfires and s’mores like the one that was presented in the beginning of the episode. For now, however, the folksy, rustic music, combined with the beautiful backgrounds, already makes Yuru Camp△ seem like it’s a healing anime. Some people may not get the point of such shows, but for others it’s a form of cathartic release. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

So in talking about these CGDCT shows, I want to say that I think two of them have potential while the other one seems to be a bit more mundane and less exciting. But at least it’s almost guaranteed to educate viewers on ramen as the finer details flash on the screen.

To round this all up, I just want to encourage you to jump into the Winter 2018 season with an open mind. Don’t be too quick to dismiss the anime season and have fun!

13 thoughts on “[Script] In the defense of Cute Girls Doing Cute Things shows in Winter 2018

  1. Just like any other genre, there are some good cute girl shows, and there are some that are garbage. Some seasons there are a lot of one type of show, but in another, they’ll be only one or two. Just like anything. If you don’t like, shrug and move on.

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  2. Coincidentally, I just come from watching Slow Start, which is bost the most pure example of the genre (in that there’s literally no other point of interest), and also the weakest entry so far (with many of the gnere’s more grating aspects being front-loaded, but eventually a good eye for body-language and genuine indulgence in mushiness win out – at the very least one more episode).

    It’s too early to tell, what mold Universe will fit in, but I’m expecting it to fall into the mold of “girls use activity to face their own issues” (á la Tamayura, or Amanchu). Narrative is way more important in this side-branch of the genre than in any of the others, so we’ll see where this one will go. First episode was good.

    Yuru Camp is my undisputed favourite so far. It’s the club-activity type (most prominent member being K-On), but it already carves out its own place in the show, by not starting out with the new-comer as almost all the genre shows do. (Rin didn’t come across as cold so much, to me, as introverted: doesn’t like crowds and has a not-so-popular hobby. The mail-conversation clues us in, which is important, because otherwise this could easily end up in a – for me – depressing lesson of outsider opens up; instead, it seems to go in the direction of “it’s fun with other’s, too”, which is much softer and sort of inspiring). Biggest pleasant surprise so far.

    The ramen show is okay. If it goes on like this, it should prove an interesting companion peace to Dagashi Kashi 2. What do people prefer: thinly disguised geeking out over ramen, or thinly disuised geeking out over sweets? If it goes on like this, it’s also going to get old really fast. So while Slow Start is on a rising trajectory (telling name, no?), Ramen Daisuki Koisumi chan is likely on a falling trajectory.

    I’m still waiting for my preview-favourite: Mitsuboshi Colours. (I think it’s my favourite preview because the character designs remind me of Ichigo Marshmallow – a genre classic, and one of my favourites.) It’s going to be tough topping Yuzu Camp, though (a preview so-so show).

    (Finally: the cute-boys-doing-cute-things and not-even-disguised toy commercial Sanrio Danshi is actually good, too.)

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    1. You’re definitely right about Slow Start. At least it’s pretty?

      Seems like that’s a good guess on the category which Universe will fall possibly under.

      You know what? I think you’re right about Rin. Just thought it was a bit cold of her to ignore Nadeshiko the first few times, but she did look a little suspicous. Ah, said lesson is depressing for you? I just find it to usually take too long.

      Sounds about right for Koizumi-san. Slow Start does have an apt name! I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

      Oh, yeah? Hopefully the show lives up to your expectations!

      (That’s a pleasant surprise!)

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      1. Ah, I think messed up the phrasing, there. “Outsider opens up” is not a depressing lesson in itself; it’s more about context. Often, fiction takes traits that introverts often have and confuse them for an anti-social attitude. So, often an outsider opening up translates to getting rid of introvert-related traits, that are actually not really a problem. More small-talk, for example. There’s no problem with each instance, but cumulatively that often amounts to the impression that you can’t have friends if you’re an introvert, or that if you want to have friends you should stop being an introvert. Very few shows are actually like that, but most shows have elemtns that – little by little – add up.

        There’s a small mini-arc in Bokura ga Minna Kawaisou which explicitly addresses this topic. The show’s otherwise fine but nothing special, however that part is exceptionally on point on how introverts often get misunderstood.

        Sorry for the confusion.

        Also, I get what you mean about “cold” now. I suppose I saw that more as “cautious”, and a sort of behaviour that I’m actually used to in anime (where I feel that people genrally don’t mess with strangers if they don’t have to).

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        1. Oh, I can see your point now. It’s like when you take a personality quiz and they use the craziest extremes to imply that introverts are weird or peculiar. I get it now. Thankfully not many shows directly claim that to be the case, at least.

          Ohhh I forgot about this show other than the alcoholic lady who talked about used genitals. Well, I should really check out that mini-arc, then. Thank you for pointing this out to me.

          Nooo thank you for enlightening me!

          Ahhh, maybe cautious describes Rin’s behavior a bit better, yeah. I had heard that people in Japan sometimes don’t bother with strangers because laws dictate that the Samaritan becomes responsible for said stranger. I’m not sure if that’s really true, but that certainly explains some things.

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  3. Given there’s a few cute girl shows out there that I’ve actually liked, I don’t dismiss all of them and I certainly give them a try. However I do always go in a little wary of a show about cute girls doing whatever given the large majority of these don’t interest me and so I end up dropping early.
    That said, I’m not worried that the season has a few of them. As you said, not everything is out yet and there are quite a few non-cute girl shows this season, the girls travelling (or preparing to travel) to Antarctica might actually have some substance so we’ll wait and see, and even if nothing else came out there’s clearly an audience for these shows.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on CGDCT.

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  4. Great post. While my experience in that so called subgenre is limited with the exception of a few Azumanga Daioh episodes, it’s good not to dismiss a certain aesthetic. I felt that way about other shows or movies only to be surprised with depth or meaning that was there. I’m not knee deep in new anime, but it could be something I could keep in mind if there are legitimate good series with some effort in them.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, Azumanga is a funny series that isn’t trying to be some grand artistic statement, if that makes sense. The latter part of my comment had to do with shows or movies in general where I had little to no expectations only to be surprised with the quality. One movie that did it for me was the French animated film Ernest and Celestine. I thought it would be some stupid movie with mice and bears until it shocked me with some metaphors of racial profiling, two-tiered justice systems, and classism, but done in a PG family friendly way. That little movie was deeper than I expected and I’m usually not into films like that.

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  5. I think it is always worth it to give something a chance. Sometimes you really can discover things that you would otherwise have never known about. I for oen think the best example for this is Yuri on ice. I had never in a million years thought I would come to enjoy a show about figure ice skating, but I enjoyed it enormously and it is still one of the best animes I have seem to date. So, in other words, I could not agree with you more about keeping an open mind for things. As always, great post 😀

    Liked by 4 people

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