Beating a dead horse: Another look at the Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun problem

Right now, the massive storm clouds of umbrage find themselves hovering over Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun. People are taking an exception with a certain rape joke in the first episode, and I can’t blame them for that. Now, I didn’t personally find the scene offensive, but I can only speak for myself. On that same token, it has always been annoying to me when others insinuate that we can choose when and where to be offended. Usually, taking offense to anything is a gut reaction. I have not nor will I ever pause and think to myself, “Gee, should that offend me?” In saying this, I hope to establish the idea that this isn’t a post about whether or not one should be offended by Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun‘s antics. If it bothers you, then it bothers you.

Since I mentioned Day in my previous post on Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, let’s continue with that train of thought. Now, she’s well within her rights to react negatively to the rape joke and Haru’s behavior. This is not, however, my area of contention. Instead, I want to quibble over some of the arguments being made about the show as a whole. I think it’s a little too early to say where the story is going, and as such, I think we can fall into the trap of painting some rather broad strokes about the show’s message without considering the devil in the details.

The guy starts going to school again. He follows me everywhere and won’t leave me alone. My teacher is relieved because he seems to have made a friend, and doesn’t seem to notice that I am uncomfortable with the situation. I try ignoring this guy, and I try to put him off by telling him I’m busy with studying, but he won’t stop bothering me. As we are walking along after school one day, he forcibly kisses me

Monster-kun tells its young readership that this is a Good Thing…

Does it? I find it very interesting that a lot of Haru’s romantic gestures are inspired by manga. Consider the following scene:

Teacher: “Yo-Yoshida-kun, you’re supposed to treat girls with care! I’ll lend you one of my favorite books! Okay? Get along now!”

Haru: “‘That was when he placed his arms around me in a gentle embrace, and my heart began to pound…'”

What follows is a ridiculous image of Haru embracing Shizuku from behind. If the act is meant to be romantic, Shizuku’s expression belies that notion. Let’s take a look at another incident. Shortly after forcibly kissing Shizuku, Haru quickly turns to his manga, i.e. his guide to romance: “Huh? My heart isn’t pounding. Huh? Why not? So I’ve noticed that you don’t make my heart flutter.” The fact that many people find Haru’s actions uncomfortable can’t be accidental, especially when you consider the fact that he’s taking advice from what is likely a crappy romance manga. As a result, the anime has to be — on some level — tweaking the idea that people can find any meaningful inspiration from pop culture.

People have also been complaining about how Haru never once considers Shizuku’s feelings. I won’t deny this troubling lack of consent. Nevertheless, I want us to consider the details: Haru has no proper role model. We’ve already seen one of the teachers lead him astray, so here’s another one missing the mark:

Haru: “Sensei! What does it mean to treat someone with care?!”

Sensei (he’s also male, for what it’s worth): “You need to be considerate.”

Haru: “What do you do to be considerate?”

Sensei: “You should do nice things.”

But that’s wrong, isn’t it? To be considerate, it might help if you actually consider other people’s feelings. But again, a role model gives Haru the wrong advice. Haru is told to simply do “nice things,” whatever that means. Ah, perhaps those “nice things” can be found in the manga that the other teacher had given him. And as Haru consults his teacher for all the wrong advice, he is oblivious to the ironic fact that Shizuku is lost in her own thoughts and worries right besides him.

How about when Shizuku tells him that she’s heading off to the gym, so Haru reacts by stripping naked?

Haru: “O-Oh… It’s finally come… But this is normal… There!”

Some girl: “What are you doing?!”

Haru: “What?! But Mi-chan said that…”

What’s normal about this though? Surely, it isn’t normal in real life. Ah, but is it normal in trashy romances? Do lovers unrealistically steal off to a gym and become intimate during the school day? This is your brain…

…and this is your brain on manga. Look, I’m not going to excuse Haru’s behavior, but there seems to be something more going on here. A lot of Haru’s actions towards Shizuku are shaped entirely by the trashy romance that he consumes, and the audience thus finds his behavior disgusting. Is this a mere coincidence? He’s already an awkward kid going through what is typically the most awkward years of a person’s life, i.e. his teens. If you give an impressionable guy the wrong piece of advice, what do you expect to happen?

But, you might naturally ask, why does Shizuku fall or will fall for Haru? If the story actually takes an issue with Haru’s actions, why do his actions nevertheless work on her? Well, first of all, we’re not entirely sure that they do work. Certainly, considering that this is a romantic comedy first and foremost, it’s likely that Haru will eventually win her over, but we don’t exactly know how just quite yet. Shizuku definitely has an interest in Haru, but is this due to his creepy persistence? Or is the fact that she can recognize some good in — and this is Day’s own words — “the core of Haru’s character” despite his unpleasant actions? Day isn’t wrong in saying, “But, yeah, sorry, bro, no cookies for meeting the bare minimum on some fronts and failing massively on others,” but at the same time, this is perhaps Shizuku’s naiveté at work.

Shizuka, like a lot of women, think they can fix a broken man. And while this is often a recipe for disaster in the real world, fantasy always seems to work out. Of course, we can object to fantasy painting a dangerously inaccurate picture about the real world… just like what that manga is doing to Haru. But it isn’t as though he’s incapable of change. He’s slowly learning to do some right things. At the end of the episode, Shizuku notices that Haru is actually quiet for once while she’s busy studying. She wonders why and he responds, “Because you care about studying a lot for some reason, right? If it’s something you care about, it’s something I care about.” So if Shizuku is going to fall for the guy, or if she already has, what are her exact reasons? To me, it’s too premature to argue that the story endorses Haru’s creepy actions.

Still, my detractors can point to the fact that Haru’s kiss, despite being forced upon her, made Shizuku’s heart pound. Is this thus an example of a creepy gesture winning a girl over? Well, I don’t know. Do you think she’s reacting positively to the kiss? Sure, Shizuku flushes red and her heart beat accelerates, but who wouldn’t get an adrenaline rush if they are suddenly kissed? But let’s grant that she finds the kiss romantic. I must then naturally ask, “How would a girl in that culture — the same culture that triumphs trashy romance stories — react to said kiss?” It’s not unlikely that Shizuku, a likely consumer of the same trashy manga that Haru has been using as a guide, may find herself swept away by the grandiose but nevertheless creepy gesture as if she is a victim of some sort of cultural Stockholm Syndrome. These same manga often teach young girls to be passive targets in which men like Haru are taught to conquer.

It’s clear that Haru is meant to be a sympathetic character, and as such, it’s understandable why this can seem troubling. Even though he’s pushy, creepy, and overly-aggressive, we’re supposed to just believe that Haru nevertheless has a Heart of Gold™. Unfortunately, Haru’s type can sometimes hit a little too close to home. He reminds us too much of those self-professed “Nice Guys” who seemingly can’t take “No!” for an answer until it is often far, far too late. Nevertheless, I’m interested in seeing where the story goes from here, and I don’t think my interest somehow validates Haru’s behavior. It’s inappropriate, but I wonder if this isn’t — as I’ve stated in my initial post on Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun — somehow the point of the entire show. I’ve often been accused of reading too much into things, and my perception of the anime may very well turn out to be false as we watch a few more episodes. Even so, I just think it’s too early to tell just exactly how the adaptation will handle everything. I think the first episode gives us some rather subtle clues regarding the dysfunctional nature of romance in anime and manga.

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39 thoughts on “Beating a dead horse: Another look at the Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun problem

  1. Andmeuths

    Is there an element of Cultural dissonance here, I wonder? I cannot say this first hand of course, but I’ve heard before that the Japanese have been accused of having a rather chauvinistic culture. It might be an interesting angle to look at this show as the writer’s critique and subtle pot-shot at chauvinism especially in Shoujo Romance.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Watch as the second episode unapologetically endorses Haru’s actions and I look foolish in hindsight.

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun at a Glance/Stop Putting Rape Culture in All My Shoujo, Assholes | GAR GAR Stegosaurus

  3. appropriant

    I think this whole discussion about a single rape-as-a-joke scene across several blogs has convinced me to watch this. Mostly because I think it’s hilarious/strange that this is even happening, but I am no longer satisfied reading other people’s perspectives on something so seemingly contentious. I am going to come to my own conclusion about this episode shortly.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Before I ever started blogging, I always wondered why ESPN loved to drum up controversy. Look at us now! This incident is like a trainwreck, and we’re all craning our necks to take a gander.

      Reply
      1. appropriant

        Welp, not only has it charged my unexpected interest, for similar reasons that you’ve already written about, I also was completely unfazed by the rape threat. I almost forgot that it happened. I can’t even call that a scene, with it being so insignificant compared to the rest of the episode’s content. You’d think that people would be talking about how that aloof blond bishie dude is probably going to have his fancy stricken by Shizuku given the number of shots of him just staring at her, which means one of those damn love triangles are going to spawn, but nooooo he makes a disengaged threat in poor taste and that’s supposed to be what’s wrong with this entire episode and quite possibly the entire series if people really think that.

        Back to the content of your post, the real mystery right now is Shizuku and how she has reacted to everything so far. She’s certainly aware of (and probably used to, given a full month passes within the first episode) how socially awkward Haru is around others, but that doesn’t stop her from being affected (or troubled?) by his trashy romance novel-inspired antics. I don’t think that if she ends up swaying one way or another, that Haru’s actions will end up being portrayed as correct or incorrect behavior. I’m getting the sense that it’s going to be more complicated than that.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          I almost forgot that it happened. I can’t even call that a scene, with it being so insignificant compared to the rest of the episode’s content

          Well, I think people’s beef isn’t just with this one scene. I guess I sort of gave that impression in my opening comments of the post, but really, the rape joke is inappropriate, then it is compounded by his behavior throughout the rest of the episode. Y’know, when you threaten a girl with rape — jokingly or not — it’s usually not a good idea to forcibly kiss her afterwards. So I can see where the objectors are coming from. I’m just not convinced that the anime is necessarily endorsing his actions.

          I’m getting the sense that it’s going to be more complicated than that.

          Well, that’s what I’m dying to see! I think it should be interesting to see how it all plays out from here. My initial impression of Haru was that he probably suffered from Asperger’s syndrome, but I hesitated to say so because I’m neither a psychiatrist nor did I want to offend anyone who actually has that condition. Nevertheless, I think it’s clear that he needs actual therapy from a professional, but instead, he’s getting his love lessons from trashy manga. And the fact that the show is a romantic comedy… well, I think there’s some potential there. And I’m bracing for the fact that I may very well be wrong, but I think the show’s intriguing in this respect.

  4. 2M2

    The difference is simply that Monster-kun is a troubled, barely functional individual who likely, as the anime goes on, learn to build actual friendships and relationships of worth. While those attacking him (like Day and others) are coming from the standard of normal behavior as the end all and be all, so of course anything he does will be portrayed as incredibly offense and wrong.

    Really, it’s pretty amazing to me how awful and off base Day’s comments were. (Not sure if she is always like that, I find her writing and how she carry’s on in comments particularly hypocritical. Guess she only wants to be seen as right instead of cultivating discussion in comments.) I think her misrepresentation of “Monster-kun” is deliberate to further her views. Yours isn’t much better although it at least makes several successful attempts to understand the male lead, though with the trepidation. I just don’t get the continued misunderstanding of the guy–you acknowledge he lacks role models, but then say it’s meaning inspiration from pop culture, when it’s really he has no frame of reference _at all_ and is using some trashy book the female teacher gave him in desperation.

    The male lead (so-called “Monster-kun”) is made be a train wreck. He’s not a horrible person. He’s just messed up. And no one ever really seems to really look at his underlying intentions and what is likely going on around him, including his remaining actions when they are together. People seem to be focused only on what he does in particularly instances and taking it at literal face value to right him off immediately. If you don’t care to understand his character, you’re going to only look largely at what he blunders through, and will find the “rape joke” scene incredibly offense. If you, instead, look at it as a means to an end, he’s getting her help because he doesn’t know how to ask for it otherwise, then who he is exactly counter to how and what Day and the like see him. He’s not pulling the female lead into the alleyway to rape her. If she cried out or tried to get away, he wouldn’t have gone through with his threat either. He’s scared about what to do or excited about the stray he’s “found.” The point that the stray has a leash and he doesn’t realize it likely has an owner is the emphasis to the point that even the most basic of understandings, he lacks.

    If you understand that, then the whole “rape joke” scene negativity is really about people that don’t get the male lead, not about promoting, apologizing for, or excusing a pro-rape atmosphere. (Day’s overblown posts and the commenters seem far worse than the male lead to me, because they should understand this but seem to just want to handwave it away or ignore it so their own views only are promulgated.)

    It’s similar to the scene where Day has up, where she’s pinned down. The female character is 5 feet from a busy walkway. Or when she’s chased after retaliating to getting a drink poured on her. The male lead is in no way shape or form going to harm her. In the first, he scares she’s a spy and wants answers. All the she has to do is cry out for help, and passerbys are right there. She doesn’t because even she doesn’t necessarily see him as a threat. In the second, he chases her because he just got a milkshake dumped on him. That’s it.

    This isn’t a creep. Even the “rape joke” is better translated and more akin to someone saying they’ll “F you up.” Sure, it could be rape, but to most people, it’s not specific to that and seen more as a straight threat of harm.

    I find it particularly horrible that a character that clearly is made to be a barely functioning individual for fictional reasons is being used as a vehicle to go after “rape culture” or to mouth off about the wrongs in society. If a real Monster-kun existed, he isn’t likely to commit a sin or evil deliberately, in fact he be hugely adverse to it in actuality, certainly less inclined to anyways than the people who online seem focused on attacking his character design.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      I won’t address your comments about Day, since she can defend herself, but…

      you acknowledge he lacks role models, but then say it’s meaning inspiration from pop culture, when it’s really he has no frame of reference _at all_ and is using some trashy book the female teacher gave him in desperation.

      …I don’t see how you’ve said anything different from me:

      “He’s already an awkward kid going through what is typically the most awkward years of a person’s life, i.e. his teens. If you give an impressionable guy the wrong piece of advice, what do you expect to happen?”

      We can both agree that he cares for Shizuku, and as such, he wants to express this affection towards her. Unfortunately, he seems to get most of his advice from manga. We can agree on this, no? Manga is ostensibly a part of Japanese pop culture then, no? His gestures, though well-intentioned, can come across as creepy from a certain frame of reference. You don’t have to agree with it — and I’ve repeatedly stated that I don’t find the rape joke scene offensive — but you can certainly try to put yourself in other people’s shoes and understand why they might react negatively to Haru’s actions. As such, I argued that taking any sort of romantic inspiration from pop culture, i.e. the manga, is flawed, and perhaps the anime is making some sort of implicit statement about those in Haru’s position. So again, I don’t understand your charges against me.

      I’ve been saying all along that Haru is an awkward character that needs help. This position of mine is perhaps more evident in my other post on the anime where another commenter and I have even discussed the possibility of Haru seeking therapy to cope with his development issues. The fact that anyone can have this position, however, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t nevertheless question his actions when you factor in the history of manga as a whole, and how it has generally tended to promote a less-than-wholesome view about romances.

      Reply
      1. 2M2

        Maybe a nuance, but I’m trying to point out we don’t know the underlying cause or reason, as opposed to (maybe just) describing it as a character flaw. It’s more than that he’s impressionable. He’s developed no check, no sense, of right and wrong except what so far seems innate to him. It’s not just the wrong advice and his over focus on it. It’s why he’s actually using manga material as a reference in the first place for his first times, why he’s even trying it. Sure, you can say he’s impressionable, true, but to me it’s deeper, because he’s got nothing _in his life_ at all, then or before, that he should know to better look to a manga.

        To me, that’s a deeper issue more than an impressionable guy or someone lacking role models. It’s not limited to the topic of romance and sex or sexual assault, but in every aspect of his being, from fights down to giving money to friends or believing a collared dog handed to him is lost. Something I didn’t address is where you say it’s inexcusable, when to me his actions are very excusable if his intent is true or his references to right and wrong is self-taught, totally absent, or maligned. in similar fashion, while you say he has no role models, it’s a nuance but it’s deeper although this you touched on more–those who are supposed to be watching and helping him are giving minimal effort, not even watching what impressions they give even to him. And he _still_ believes them.

        As to Day, I don’t see any reason to defend her. I’m not sure how anyone uses “fuck, creep” and all sorts of vulgar and overblown language carrying on and mouthing off, then turns polar opposite describing her blog as a “safe zone” while pretend to be hypersensitive, when she seems to be merely deleting posts she seems to claim are offensive (meanwhile other posters seem to have followed up in agreement with without objection) while editing them to call the posters idiots. Her blog, her rules, but it seems she’s gone after anyone that put up a counter argument and had the power to delete them. Hypocrisy, saying she’s open to counter argument when every single one is gone. Her post on this matter was so off-base and self-serving it’s surprising people aren’t more upset and aggressive at the blatant lies and mis-truths she knowingly puts forward, but maybe that’s because she’s culled her readership to only those that will agree with her.

        So no, she can’t defend herself, at least not without going all juvenile and anti-free speech while suddenly finding her Ms. Manners gene. You seem far too kind and reserved in your counter arguments. What she is doing seems more fundamentally dangerous (knowing misrepresenting) and agitating than a probably off translated “rape joke.”

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          Maybe a nuance, but I’m trying to point out we don’t know the underlying cause or reason, as opposed to (maybe just) describing it as a character flaw.

          I don’t see the problem here. I recognize that there are deeper reasons as to why he acts the way that he does, but at the same time, these are nevertheless actual character flaws. One view does not necessarily have to preclude the other.

          Something I didn’t address is where you say it’s inexcusable, when to me his actions are very excusable if his intent is true

          I think he’s excusable; he needs help and he can learn from it. I even listed an example about him learning to be considerate of Shizuku’s feelings. Nevertheless, his actions are inexcusable to the extent that they are always inappropriate. As they say, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” so even though Haru clearly needs proper guidance, it is not excusable to threaten anyone — boy or girl — with rape. At the same time, in saying this, I’m not trying to pigeonhole the character as an eternal lost cause. I’m hoping that he recognizes the flaws in his actions. If you still disagree with me on this front, oh well. Agree to disagree, I guess.

          stuff about Day

          Look, I don’t really care about your views regarding her. I am more than happy to engage in a civilized discussion about the anime. Yes, I used this post to addressed her arguments, but how she chooses to run her blog is not a matter of my concern.

        2. 2M2

          On Day, when your rebuttal is directly to her, how she has carried on since goes directly to characterization. If she’s not level in dealing with real people and posters, her own agenda and description should be called into question. Very strange how we can be discussing Monster-kun in similar light but an actual person’s actions are exempt, esp. on the issue that’s developed from her post and views. You may not want to discuss her, but I feel it should be brought up that the opinion you are counterarguing is from a person that has resorted to the actions she has exercised.

          On the first matter, I’m not trying to preclude it. I’m trying to advance it as something further than what you are stating. I find intent incredibly necessary to attempt to grasp before passing judgment. If not, isn’t your judgment of Monster-kun before knowing it then that well-intentioned path?

          To me, Monster-kun’s actions as well as him are excusable because the intent is lacking. You use the often noted path to hell is paved with good intentions. The route to heaven isn’t built with evil intentions either. You and others may want to look at this as his actions are inexcusable, when really his actions seem very precipitated by the raw state of the world he grew up/developed in, and yet he still manages to be a more true, honest character than the other norms displayed in that single episode. We’ll see if that plays out. But this is why I see the over-emphasis of the rape comment overblown and, frankly, a disgusting of how others are quick to judge based on a cover than the substance.

          Maybe it’s because I see him as a more further gone character than even you are. Meaning, I wouldn’t call his actons, the rape comment, as inexcusable, if his nature and development knows of no other example to get the result he desires. The standard you set for him still seems too high, because you and I don’t think we know the core from which he is coming from.

          Now, if you want to argue from the standpoint of pure societal norm, sure, he’s wrong, but then I have to question Day’s selective scene, and your selective character choice, given the host of other wrongs that goes on in the episode. People who stand by while someone is kidnapped or beat on. Teachers in the wrong in explanation, example, passivity. Scared classmates who don’t make a stand. Certainly, you have to place a limit to what you can comment on, but I think the entirety of what is going on and how the episode is set up, the very context, matters.

        3. E Minor Post author

          I find intent incredibly necessary to attempt to grasp before passing judgment

          I have not disputed this. Rather, I’m arguing that regardless of his intent, his actions are inexcusable. Although grasping intent is useful, I do not believe it is the end all, be all of the discussion. And no, I do not believe that the ends always justify the means.

          The route to heaven isn’t built with evil intentions either

          What does this even mean? My point is that just because you have good intentions doesn’t mean you are a good person. Sorry, that’s just not how the world works.

          You and others may want to look at this as his actions are inexcusable, when really his actions seem very precipitated by the raw state of the world he grew up/developed in, and yet he still manages to be a more true, honest character than the other norms displayed in that single episode.

          These are not mutually exclusive viewpoints. To me, his actions are inexcusable, but they are also a symptom of someone being led astray by the world around — hell, this is the entire point of the post above. I don’t understand why you feel the need to draw a line down the middle.

          Meaning, I wouldn’t call his actons, the rape comment, as inexcusable, if his nature and development knows of no other example to get the result he desires.

          Again, I don’t find these viewpoints to be mutually exclusive. A sociopath, you can argue, is incapable of human empathy. As such, perhaps it is unavoidable that someone like Dahmer murders and kills teenage boys. Nevertheless, his actions are inexcusable.

          And no, I’m not trying to compare Haru to Dahmer. But still, just because Haru lacks proper guidance does not render his actions any less inexcusable when you invoke a subject as serious as rape. And it is inexcusable in that we must speak out against it, condemn it, and prevent it from every occurring again. This, however, does not mean that I think Haru is a lost cause nor does it mean that I think Haru is a shit human being. I just think his actions are inexcusable — nothing more, nothing less.

          your selective character choice

          I’ve called out the teachers. What else do you want me to say?

      2. 2M2

        For some reason my browser only initially rendered the first 4 paragraphs, to which my reply is above. (And my brain is shutting down since it’s late here,so this is likely to be even less coherent than the others.)

        As to the rest, no, I don’t see why other people find it objectionable _in the manner they are_. Part of being human is seeking or knowing intent, understanding the person, not standing on your own righteousness. You don’t put your opinion or your comments out there without some give and take for meeting of the minds. To me, the people objecting about the rape scene are more themselves like how they imagine/want Monster-kun to be. They know he’s designed to be off base but look to it to selectively attack the writers for an agenda (sexism, pro-feminism, etc.). They don’t look to cause or mens rea or his mental state. They are the ones lacking the whole view, esp. given the anime episode took pains to lay it out so well.

        His actions are clearly and_across the board_ not just in the rape threat scene or when he uses the manga as reference, whacked. Clearly something is amiss from the get go, even before the manga enters the picture; and hence the title. But none of his actions are of actual intent to harm an innocent person. Is rape objectionable and should it be? Absolutely. But his actions in that scene is clearly not a pro-rape comment, but instead another piece of evidence that this guy has something amiss, to even have to use that to get help from her. Also, the guy steals, beats people to heck, and tackles people to question them because he’s scared of their intent or sees a wrong. Yet to those who are objecting most strongly, it’s the mere evidence, the primae facie, not the loads of available rebuttal material, that matters to them (seemingly only and limited to sexual assault, not extended to beating people to a pulp for example, or the asshole friends and classmates who fight, lie, steal, and kidnap).

        And that is fundamentally wrong, even stupid, to overlook that to further an anti-rape culture agenda, however well-intentioned, because fundamentally they’re being selective (near ignoring the rest of his wrongs) while lying about the facts (how he actually is as a person, which seems to me a far worse general principle, given without knowing the truth, crimes like rape would be hopelessly compromised in seeking justice for), all while misrepresenting the writers and character.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          Part of being human is seeking or knowing intent,

          Yes, but intent is not the end all, be all of the discussion. To use an example, many Japanese companies have often been criticized for discriminating against women because, in their mind, society would function best if women could stay home and play the role of the “Good Wife, Wise Mother.” Clearly, these companies are “well-intentioned;” after all, they only want what is best for Japan. Nevertheless, their actions are discriminatory and inexcusable. Their actions have been condemned not only by Japanese women themselves, but the world over. You cannot simply hide behind intent. Even in the court of law, you cannot absolve yourself completely by arguing intent (barring exceptions). You may argue yourself down to a lower sentence, but if your actions cause the death of another human being, unless you can prove that you were acting out of defense, no amount of “Well, I had good intentions” or “I had no intent whatsoever to kill the man” will get you off.

          Likewise, Haru had good intentions — I don’t disagree — but to threaten a girl with rape is an inexcusably bad move. Alright, let’s hope he learns from it and move on. I don’t know why it is such an anathema to you that anyone objects to his actions.

          You don’t put your opinion or your comments out there without some give and take for meeting of the minds.

          If you grant this, then why do you not factor in the fact that an inexcusable action can offend someone regardless of your (good) intentions? Should you not also meet them halfway and understand how your actions, though well-intentioned, can nevertheless offend others? It’s a give and take, isn’t it? Even if Shizuku was in no real danger of being raped by Haru, his words can put her in a precarious state of mind. It wasn’t just some idle threat like “Oh, I’ll give you a wedgie.” This is rape.

          But his actions in that scene is clearly not a pro-rape comment, but instead another piece of evidence that this guy has something amiss, to even have to use that to get help from her.

          I don’t know why you are arguing this to me. I’ve stated elsewhere that I don’t find the rape joke scene offensive. Even so, although his actions are clearly not pro-rape, this is an ex post facto judgement. In the moment, you cannot tell whether or not his threat is serious, and I’m arguing that his actions are wrong and inexcusable regardless of intent because it puts Shizuku in a state of potential harm. You have to consider the fact that for a lot of women, the threat of rape is very real. It is from this frame of reference that many people object to the scene. If you are willing to participate in some manner of give and take, then meet your objectors halfway and understand the joke could constitute as mental aggression, and thus harmful regardless of Haru’s intent.

          all while misrepresenting the writers and character.

          Again, why are you arguing this with me? I wrote the post above to argue that the anime may not necessarily endorse Haru’s actions, but instead, calls for proper guidance to those in Haru’s position.

        2. 2M2

          “Yes, but intent is not the end all, be all of the discussion.”

          Usually it is.. In any case, I feel one should have to at least SEEK intent as part of the whole picture. Blatantly ignoring it because you don’t want to understand or see it leads to worse consequences. Even in the example you give with women and Japanese companies, you state you know the intent, and _because you know of it_ you can thereby analyze it and see it as wrong and misguided in modern society, for the simple standards that job placement or dissuading based on sexist discrimination reduce women’s options and welfare, and such decisions come from a company which should not and cannot decide in every case what is best for the individual. Your example would seem to support knowing intent is pretty important in making a decision of where we stand in judging their actions. The companies know better.

          Monster-kun has examples where he does not seem to know better, at all. Repeatedly. Not just the rape comment.

          “Even in the court of law, you cannot absolve yourself completely by arguing intent (barring exceptions).”

          I beg to differ to the point of saying of course you can. It’s called mens rea. A 4 year old killing someone accidentally gets them sent home. To an adult, it’s a manslaughter charge.

          Even with adults, mens rea applies and even it didn’t, those exceptions are pretty important. They go to sentencing as you point out. The exceptions can result in no sentence, reduced sentence as you point out, and complete absolving.

          “I don’t know why it is such an anathema to you that anyone objects to his actions.”

          I would have hoped that would be abundantly clear by now. I’m wrong on that. For one, because it’s wrong to write off a character perceived as a human being for spoken words while actual harm is being perpetrated and ignored elsewhere. For two, to say it promotes a rape culture, when intent is not sought or understood. For three, because others have made this a bashing agenda against the anime as a whole, although that is largely elsewhere.

          “If you grant this, then why do you not factor in the fact that an inexcusable action can offend someone regardless of your (good) intentions?”

          I have factored that in. I disagree that it’s inexcusable coming from him. If such words came from you or me, people who know better, the societal norm, it’s almost definitely inexcusable as a first resort. Coming from Monster-kun, given how he’s acted throughout the episode, I think others have assumed something that hasn’t yet been shown. In fact, I think the opposite has been shown, strongly–he doesn’t see his actions at all in the same light as we perceive them, to the point where it’s absent of our understanding of normal intent.

          ” In the moment, you cannot tell whether or not his threat is serious”

          Then we saw that scene very differently, but that is probably already hugely apparent to each of us. It was not ex-post facto to me although I did take time to access it because I wasn’t expecting it right then given the prior sidewalk scene. A kid that defends a classmate, then runs from school, avoids the teacher, jumps out a window to avoid a girl his age where he’s at a substantial physical advantage in size and strength, tackles her just to get information because he’s scared and not sure how to act, in broad daylight, then draws someone into an alleyway and says what he did to me seemed to have no intent of harm given he would have broken her right then and there instead of saying what he did.

          “Again, why are you arguing this with me?”

          Because it’s relevant, it’s a discussion, you’re linked from as a result of censoring, you yourself referenced to her blog, and it seems it cannot be said there without threat of and actual censoring.

        3. E Minor Post author

          Nothing new is being said. I continue to disagree with you, but it would just be fruitless to continue this discussion. In some areas of the argument, I don’t think you’re even trying to understand me. I’m sure you would say the same of me. As such, I won’t be responding to your latest comment.

        4. 2M2

          I understand your argument or I’m trying to, enough not to just give up in frustration and was hoping to get some meeting of the minds, but if you are going to bail, I can’t do much about that.

          Yes, I disagree with the depth of your argument so far, but I’m trying to draw out the larger points to look further than you are while still understanding your (and Day’s) more limited focus. I just can’t do much about it except to have tried if you even limit “intent” to even less than what’s used in a court, so I guess that’s that.

        5. E Minor Post author

          Hint: insulting people will not often get them to discuss things with you. We are done.

        6. 2M2

          “Hint: insulting people will not often get them to discuss things with you. We are done.”

          Huh? wth…okay…where did I insult you or anyone else here? You know what, (1) please point it out, because I don’t see it in the reply I just made at all, and if it was the prior post from yesterday, you didn’t sound mad in your reply _at all_ but even so, I wish you would have said so then and I could have addressed it, right now I’m not seeing where I insulted you at all; (2) you know what, screw it, I apologize anyways because that was not at all my intent to insult you or a participant here, though I’m not sure where I did; and (3) I profusely apologize in addition even if you can’t find the wording because it was not my intent to make you feel that way.

          Sorry. My bad I guess. But really, I just read the last 2 posts of mine in this thread and I don’t see where I insulted you. If not, okay. Thanks for the discussion to date then even though, well, it ended this way.

    2. appropriant

      Have you brought these points to Day herself, by any chance? The things you’ve written here seems to be more relevant over there.

      Reply
    3. cmat

      Okay, I’m still giving the anime a try, but it’s important to note that, even if it’s in a scene you found forgettable, the word “rape” was used. Is the word that was translated not actually supposed to be “rape”? Because that makes a difference and I’d really like to know. That word holds so much weight and is so tied to reality/so many true experiences. Even for getting the point across of “he doesn’t know how to act”, I don’t think it’s worth it for the show to throw that joke in there. It actually seems like a real “Monster-kun” might commit such a sin if he didn’t know it was wrong, which is why I think some people are offended. Also, I would hope the people who have been offended aren’t likely to turn to criminality, themselves. I feel like these blogs are generally full of good people who care a lot about the medium they’re consuming.

      Reply
  5. Roghek

    One thing I found strange is, ironically, the reason people feel offended is because they think that’s how shoujo works, what I mean is, this whole “Girls find it attractive if a guy sexually harasses you but I don’t” .
    The thing is, for what I understood in the episode, and including how meta this show is sometimes, the intention of Haru’s action might have been so the audience actually feels fear of him, and realize that being near him is actually pretty dangerous.

    His actions a explained yet not justified, we know he acts that way because he is a social moron but his social unawareness has only brought Mizutani trouble, and in the end she actually got hurt because of him, is the show was actually trying to justify his actions they would have made this scene, and the following, completely different.

    However they didn’t, his actions, no matter how well intended they were, (e.g. “saving” her from “kidnappers”) were the ones that physically hurt Mizutani at the end.

    Another reason why I think the author decided to make Haru act that way, is because his character does resemble an animal, or a beast, kind of the Tarzan way.

    If you get too close is dangerous, as Mizutani found out, yet she still decided to befriend him (at the end) and even Haru got a bit of development behaving himself when she was studying.

    Having said that, I don’t actually like Haru…. I won’t spoil much but …. I won’t spoil at all so I’ll just say I don’t like social morons.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      is the show was actually trying to justify his actions they would have made this scene, and the following, completely different.

      I think people think that just because she ends up befriending him anyway, he somehow “gets away with it,” but that’s not what happens at all. Once he backs off and gives her space — once Shizuku gets the grades that she wants — she finally sits down and reflect on their “friendship.” It’s only at this point that she wonders whether or not their friendship is worth salvaging. And when she reflects, she doesn’t think of when he’s being pushy or aggressive. Now, I’m not saying she isn’t somewhat naive in befriending the guy, but I don’t think the anime actually aims to reward him for his poor behavior.

      Another reason why I think the author decided to make Haru act that way, is because his character does resemble an animal, or a beast, kind of the Tarzan way.

      I agree. In my previous post on the show, I compared him to a cat, but any other animal would probably work too. I mean, the only overt evidence I have is the scene of him sitting and licking his wounds, but the imagery struck me so much as what a cat would do that I instantly made the connection.

      Reply
      1. 2M2

        “Once he backs off and gives her space — once Shizuku gets the grades that she wants — she finally sits down and reflect on their “friendship.””

        Yeah, that all struck me as awful. But I was going to let it slide until later because I figured I misinterpreted it and wanted to rewatch that section a few times because I wasn’t entirely sure if it’s intentioned by the authors. For now, it seems like the friendship is bought and paid for in a way, given his seemingly midterm non-participation. Then she got the grades she did, so there is now an advantage to her befriending him to keep him from giving his all on future tests, given he complied, so hanging with him and any resulting “payments” such as the stolen forced kiss is quid pro quo for future compliance (what he wants, friendship or a romantic relationship with her) so she can get the test score and class ranking (and eventual career and monetary payout) she desires.

        Reply
    2. 2M2

      Hmm….so it matters mostly that his actions actually hurt Misutani?

      Not that she seems to have witnessed the original beating and his coming in and plastering the guys, and she doesn’t seem to have come forward to clear his punishment and get him back to school? Her passivity or staying away from it results in both his suspension and near expulsion.

      Not that she spoke up and he saves her from whatever the guy reaching art after her batting practice was going to do to her.

      I think in all this analysis maybe/perhaps I’ve missed something myself, but everyone seems to be analyzing this on a case by case situation by situation basis, versus the whole. I guess that reflects society’s current values and what we have today, but it seems awfully strange to me to ridicule, abandon, or disapprove.

      The tarzan reference though seems pretty spot on. I was think king kong a bit myself.

      “I’ll just say I don’t like social morons.”

      I’m more fearful of the tons of examples of socially functioning individuals who are damn mean than someone who is inept.

      Many people, it seems, don’t like social morons, but I’m not sure if it’s actual dislike or fear of guilt by association. I found it more troublesome the abandoning and avoidance myself of another person, my perception that some people are near writing him off.

      Reply
  6. SmithCB

    Frankly, since these are fictional characters, all the psycho-analytical activity seems to reflect that, like car racing, people are attracted to the wrecks and near misses. The author and director have provided a hook that is bringing in people to watch and comment like sharks sensing blood in the water. Ah, boy-girl anime, cute girl, crazy guy – SPLASH! Cold water and discomfort, he has her on the ground, whoa, glad that’s over…SPLASH! He has her in an alley and says something clearly inappropriate by any standard, then climbs under a box and whew, back to the comedy…SPLASH, SPLASH, grabs her by the blouse and gets close-up and personal, the second time for a kiss. Ha, Ha. And the Internet lights up like a flare. And this is just the first episode! Talk about drumming up interest about one anime in a cloud of others, they’ve certainly been able to raise the visibility of the series.

    I imagine there will be plenty of questions directed at the author and the director, and one of those should be whether they are reflecting on, or commenting about, current anime stereotypes and society. The author put Haru in that alley with her. Why? Was this in the manga? What was the language the author had Haru use in that alley, and did the translators get it right?

    Gosh, I can’t wait until next week.

    Reply
      1. 2M2

        Whoever wrote that knows his stuff but his otherwise excellent analysis at the start hugely peters out at the end where he gets lax and just ends up with the same translation, although his conclusion is accurate enough.

        And we don’t have to assume re the manga. All you have to do is locate volume 1 (I did) of the manga (for sale on Amazon; or import it; don’t think there’s an official english release so what you find s likely in Japanese, you can probably find “raws” although I wouldn’t advise going that route) and go to that scene (I did). The scene *is* in the manga, specifically that subscene. And it’s written in kanji, clearly with furigana or whatever next to it as well so there’s no confusion how to say it, and it is okasu as written in the link.

        Okasu has 3 directly affiliated kanji, really 4 (see tangorin.com, search ‘okasu’). The 2nd listing matches the singular and lone kanji directly shown in the Japanese manga (the one with the definition ‘to commit (e.g. crime);  to perpetrate’) and you can clearly see rape, deflower, etc. is there.

        The translation is pretty accurate for a translation although it might be loaded differently. Rape in our language is unquestionably bad (please don’t flip out about what I just wrote, I can’t right now figure a better statement). A more proper reading might be “[if you don't keep quiet...] I’m going to F you/commit an offense against you” and given the male/female scene, this more means “violation” aka meaning sexual assault in the scene which is then clearly closest to the english word rape.

        So the Japanese kanji is clear, it’s sub definition or whatever you it is clear, but the finer or exact meaning could also mean contextually he’s going to F her, violate her, ravish, rape, etc. That’s not going to matter to most though. He’s threatening her with sexual assault.

        The other question is culturally (or whatever you want to call it) is there anything else understood as street language, among minors/that age group talk, etc. Probably not. Then there’s severity of the statement or what levity or whatever you want to give it. Despite the context and how we see it, it may not be seen as horrible as we see it here (again, I know what that sounds like, don’t flip); even here, there are varying degrees of takes and understandings from mine, to E minor’s, etc., but what I’m trying to point out is the varying degrees of function to the word in the language itself (an equivalent might be saying “I’m going to F you up”–say that, and it doesn’t usually mean rape, but it does in some situations–but one is more a “mere” or “idle” threat than an actual to-be-sure threat).

        Anyways, all in all, means sexual assault, not much question, just the varying degrees may not be there, but that’s not going to really change the topic much anyways.

        btw, if you put that kanji into google, as I did, you will find a Japanese movie of the same name with those lone 2 characters as the title. You can read the synopsis on imdb. It’s about a woman who gets raped, who then seeks to be raped–so you can see the translation is correct but also the (oh hell, probably more people going to flip out)…lesser or other meanings or nuance of what I’m trying to get across here (probably poorly and to most will be of no matter esp. to what they already think).

        Reply
        1. Vincent

          2M2, let me help you with what you’re not seeing regarding why E Minor decided to stop replying to you.

          You: “I find intent incredibly necessary to attempt to grasp before passing judgment”
          E Minor: “I have not disputed this. Rather, I’m arguing that regardless of his intent, his actions are inexcusable.”

          It’s not hard to realize what E Minor is getting at here. Basically, threatening with rape is just not acceptable regardless of the lack of actual intent to harm. And indeed, this is iterated here:

          E Minor: “Likewise, Haru had good intentions — I don’t disagree — but to threaten a girl with rape is an inexcusably bad move. Alright, let’s hope he learns from it and move on.”

          And here:
          E Minor: “I’m arguing that his actions are wrong and inexcusable regardless of intent because it puts Shizuku in a state of potential harm. You have to consider the fact that for a lot of women, the threat of rape is very real. It is from this frame of reference that many people object to the scene. If you are willing to participate in some manner of give and take, then meet your objectors halfway and understand the joke could constitute as mental aggression, and thus harmful regardless of Haru’s intent.”

          You: “His actions are clearly and_across the board_ not just in the rape threat scene or when he uses the manga as reference, whacked.”
          E Minor: “I’ve been saying all along that Haru is an awkward character that needs help. This position of mine is perhaps more evident in my other post on the anime where another commenter and I have even discussed the possibility of Haru seeking therapy to cope with his development issues. ”

          You have been trying to suggest that E Minor does not understand that Haru has issues, while it has been made clear that the opposite is true, with that portion of a post being one example.

          You: “Blatantly ignoring it because you don’t want to understand or see it leads to worse consequences. ”

          That was an insult right there.

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