On Loving the Idea of a Character or Show More Than the Reality

The subject of today’s post: getting into the bones of why I like Nekogami Yaoyorozu—a currently-airing show that isn’t very good. You don’t have to watch the show to read this post, and there are no spoilers.

Before I get to Nekogami, let’s talk about one of my favorite anime characters, Tsukuyomi Komoe. Komoe-sensei is a minor character from the To Aru Majutsu/Kagaku no Index/Railgun franchise who scarcely exists beyond her base character traits. The things you need to know about her are as follows:

1. She’s the oldest named character in the franchise, even though she’s also the smallest and youngest-looking.

2. She’s a teacher, whom, like Rebecca Miyamoto of Pani Poni Dash fame, can never get the respect that she wants from her students because of her stature.

3. Unlike Miyamoto, while she has childish tendencies, Komoe-sensei is still and adult. She smokes and drinks copiously.

4. She says “desu” at the end of nearly every sentence.

That’s all there is to Komoe-sensei, and since she’s a minor character who won’t get the amount of development that a main cast member might, that’s all there ever will be to Komoe-sensei.

Obviously, for me to love Komoe-sensei as much as I do implies a strong bias on my part, moreso even because I don’t necessarily consider Komoe-sensei to be a good character. She barely does anything in the story to begin with. If she was any other character—in this or any other show—with the same amount of screentime, I wouldn’t even remember her name. (Hell, I didn’t after first watching the show!)

With the way this is going, you might be expecting me to tie this into the whole “database animal” thing, stating that my love of Komoe-sensei is tied directly to databasable traits which happen to appeal to me. That would be to say: I love her because she’s an adult-loli, has pink hair, smokes, and is cute. That isn’t far off, but it also isn’t the whole truth, which brings me to Nekogami Yaoyorozu.

Both shows I wrote about in THAT submissions referenced the Straw Millionnaire.

As I stated earlier, Nekogami isn’t a very good show. I think someone said, “it has it’s moments,” and that’s a  good way of putting it. Nevertheless, I’m still watching it and enjoying it I finished it and enjoyed it, even after dropping shows that had more to offer, like Mawaru Penguindrum. All through its run, I’ve was excited about Nekogami, so why?

At first, its lineage. The anime is based on a manga by my favorite Touhou doujin circle, FLIPFLOPs, and I love their style. As a matter of fact, the Nekogami manga is better than the anime (I happen to be leading a scanslation effort for it). Lineage, however, only brings me to the point of excitement, and doesn’t stop a show from sucking. Matsuo Kou directed two of my favorite shows, but I still dropped Yozakura Quartet after one episode because it obviously wasn’t as good as his other work.

Like with Komoe-sensei, we could break out the database to explain certain things. I’m a seiyuufag, so the show’s incredible vocal cast is a big plus. There are plenty of cute lolis and immortal gods, which are all things I love. But that isn’t getting into the bones of it.

In reality, I enjoy the idea of what Nekogami can deliver, even though it doesn’t deliver it. I went into Nekogami with the expectation that it would essentially be Touhou with a different cast. I wanted it to be a relaxed, fun, enjoyable show, and it is to an extent, but a lot of it just falls flat. The manga delivers more on the promise, whereas the anime suffers from being really shoddily written in general. Out of six episodes I’ve seen, only two were any good, and only the first one did I like without qualms. (Since writing this post, the show has finished and I watched all of it. The second half was all pretty good.) Considering my reputation for dropping shows the instant that they become uninteresting to me, it seems illogical that I’m still watching it.

The reason is that I want to vicariously recoup the idea of the Touhou-like anime in my head. As I watch Nekogami, I pull it apart and imagine how it could’ve been better, and the idea of a better version is somehow satisfying. I create a way to allow myself to enjoy the things about the show that I want to enjoy, because it feels better than considering the whole thing a disappointing waste of time.

This can be applied to Komoe-sensei as well. Komoe is nothing but a few character traits and maybe thirty minutes of scene-time in the context of the Raildex franchise, but because I want her to be a fully realized character, I actualize it in my mind, allowing her to become something more.

Have you felt this way about a show or a character before—wherein the ideal of it allowed you to enjoy it beyond what actually exists? I think it’s a common practice amongst anime fans, and the basis from which things like fanfiction and fanart spring up.

How about you? What do you love more for your ideals of it than for its nature?

(Note: This post was written as an application for THAT Anime Blog, and I haven’t heard back about whether I’m accepted or not. I wanted this post to get out before the next season starts, so I posted it here.)

9 thoughts on “On Loving the Idea of a Character or Show More Than the Reality

  1. Very neat post. I do this with the Leijiverse all the time. I take a 2 minute event or statement in an otherwise dull episode and add to my memory bank of Leijiverse goodness. Then I use that 2 minute bit to color my appreciation of the whole and upgrade it, as it were. A show might be bad and still suggest *something* that is absolutely awesome, and that deserves to live despite of its origin.

  2. Absolutely and frequently. Fortune Arterial jumps straight into my mind. I thought the series was boring, the characters were (mostly) flat, and I’m no fan of vampires. But I loved the school settings in the series and enjoyed the the cultural/sports festival episodes. In my mind, the show was all about school life and camaraderie that wasn’t really explored too deeply. If I was a bit younger, I can imagine myself going crazy writing fanfiction fully focused on this aspect of the show and entirely ignoring any supernatural elements.

  3. The issue for me is my internal version of what the show should be fatally clashes with the actual presentation as I begin to watch an episode, creating an even stronger backlash against the series (execution, not the elements); I can’t bear to watch anymore at that point, which leads to me dropping the show in frustration.

    The imagined “better version of events/characters/etc” gets logged into my memories to maybe one day come out through my own fiction; not a fan-fiction of the show, but an original fiction, separate from the base material, yet drawing from it (and other works, of course).

    • That’s how my relationship is with Shakugan no Shana. I love the character Shana as she was in the very beginning of the show, for all of ten seconds before the entire series worth of Yuuji derailing her character. Because of this, I made my own version of her character who is like what I wish she would’ve remained.

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