Episode 14 was kinda lame. We have a little gender reinforcement here, a little absurdity there (hypnotism? really?). I’m not gonna bother going in-depth into a single episode like this. Let’s talk, instead, about an interesting charge written against the anime.
The Game? Really? Well, gosh, I dunno. The problem with The Game is that it’s really not as revelatory as its author and many of its proponents claim it to be. ‘Cause really, let’s look at each of the steps as 2DT has outlined them for us.
1. Exude extreme confidence.
But what’s wrong with that? What woman would want a simpering wimp? Of course, that assumes you’re not so confident that you come off as a jackass, but a fair bit of this is just common sense; don’t be a self-pitying dweeb.
2. Display a talent near your target.
To put it another way, impress her. Again, this is universal to all courtship and not just The Game. Shouldn’t your significant other be able to name at least one impressive quality about you? Of course, a guy shouldn’t pretend to be something he is not, but honestly if you’ve got a talent, why not flaunt it?
3. Treat a negative response as if it’s nothing to you.
To put it yet another way, don’t take everything so seriously. Again, I’m not sure what makes this Game-worthy. In everyday conversations, we don’t normally react poorly when a tiny negative is brought up.
4. Once you have her attention, make teasing compliments.
This is where things get a little murky. By itself, this advice doesn’t seem too bad. Teasing between the sexes is something that has gone on for a long, long time. Usui commenting on Misaki’s underwear isn’t necessarily a tactic to get her in bed. Usui also teases other characters in the anime, most notably Yukimura at the start of episode 14. Somehow, I don’t think he wants to bed Yukimura.
Still, there is something pathetic in the universe of the pick up artist (PUA for short) associated with the teasing compliment. Practitioners of The Game like to engage in something they call “negging,” where compliments are actually backhanded:
A neg is a technique to lower a HB’s bitch-shield invented by Mystery.
A neg-hit is a double duty technique: it defuses a social ‘bitch shield’, q.v., and demonstrates personality. It requires that you actually see that your very hot target is using a bitch shield to fend off unwanted approaches from the tons of guys she’s attracting. It also requires and audience, such as the group she is with or other people nearby who can easily hear the comment. Not to be confused with a plain, old BITCH, who you can feel free to NEXT. — Fast Seduction 101 (source)
We’re now crossing in the area where PUAs tend to treat flirting like a video game. Gosh, that hot babe is a 9 (it’s a tough boss). To successfully seduce her (to defeat this boss), you’re going to have to open with the Orange Man routine, neg her at least twice, but don’t neglect the kino (insert whatever strategy you need here to beat some difficult video game boss). I didn’t make any of the previous sentence up.
So back to the anime at issue, is Usui guilty of “negging” Misaki or is he just playfully teasing her? Would negging even work on Misaki, who doesn’t seem to be the type of “HB9+” characterized above that “negging” is supposed to dismantle. That’s up to each individual viewer to interpret; personally, I dislike the constant gender roles reinforcement throughout the series, but I honestly don’t think Usui’s practicing the more negative aspects of The Game.
The Game, when abstracted, is just common sense at one level. Taken to the other extreme, yes, it’s a dehumanizing and cynical way to approach women, but in the end, I think both supporters and detractors of The Game exaggerate its gospel quite a bit.