Taka, a.k.a. thoughtcannon, took exception to my recent KamiMemo posts. He thinks I haven’t been giving the mystery a fair shake. Well, should I have?
Some things just get in the way
I think back to when Gosick started airing and one of its early flaws was that the mysteries didn’t impress. Still, that wasn’t what drove me away from the show. Although I only blogged the anime’s first three episodes, I did keep watching Gosick to see if things would improve. It turns out that the mysteries did get better. The problem, however, was that something still kept me from getting involved: I just couldn’t buy into the characters.
The only post I ever wrote on Gosick focused mostly on how sexist it seemed to come across. We can agree to disagree on this particular front — Gosick aired some time ago and I have no particular desire to rehash the argument — but the point is that it’s sometimes hard to ignore perceived problems elsewhere in a show even if the (supposed) main attraction, i.e. the mystery, is up to snuff. This same problem, I think, dooms KamiMemo.
The world’s lamest detective
Even though Alice is the one in the show who fancies herself the NEET detective, Narumi does most of the dirty work. So was the latest mystery any decent? Did Hison ending up being a post-op blow my mind? What does it matter if our narrator is someone like Narumi? Mysteries have always had charismatic sleuthers like Sherlock Holmes and, hell, even Miss Marple. They help drive the narrative even when things are at their nadir. Narumi, on the other hand, is KamiMemo‘s biggest mystery: why does everyone in the anime love this guy when he’s the least inspirational character in the story?
Narumi simply has a blank personality and I just don’t understand how the kid ends up being at the center of attention yet again. Oh, I understand how he got there story-wise, but I just don’t buy it. I know anime usually features high schoolers performing outrageous feats, i.e. piloting mechas at a tender age and such, but realism isn’t technically my real complaint. My problem is that everyone in the show would have to be so incapable to allow someone like Narumi to rise to the top. When someone as lame as Narumi ends up running a group of (supposedly) tough, grown men, I naturally wonder if Yondaime’s gang is so full of idiots that a bland kid is his go-to man. I can only roll my eyes when a high schooler in the verge of tears ends up scolding these men. I can only then laugh when they each take turns bowing and apologizing to him. It’s like a ridiculous version of “I’m Spartacus!”
Plus, there’s just something disturbing about the Hirasaka Group: the anime is idealizing the yakuza. Sworn brothers, with honor and respect, doing nothing but… promoting a girl band? There’s just something irresponsibly sterile about the way KamiMemo glorifies this sort of life. So when another pretty-faced guy (Renji) shows up and starts raising a ruckus, how am I supposed to believe that Yondaime is actually in serious trouble? The anime even romanticizes the final encounter between Yondaime and Renji — this is just how former bros resolve their problems! — but the scene just comes across as silly and a little dangerous. I suppose there’s little chance that anime fans will go out and join a yakuza group, but still — is this the message the anime wants to send?
In the end, I stand by my previous convictions. Is the mystery executed well? Had I been paying attention, maybe. I’m not going to agree, however, that I should have been paying attention to it in the first place. The world of KamiMemo isn’t thrilling enough, Narumi’s role is too contrived, Alice is starting to become irritating — the list of problems go on. Should I attempt to be fair to the anime and look beyond these negative elements? I don’t owe the anime anything. And besides, why is this necessarily fair? After all, the literal events of the plot isn’t often the most important aspect in a story. Sometimes, it matters very much who the story is about versus what the story is about. Even if the latest mystery is any decent, the show’s other flaws would still remain and they are simply far too distracting.