Kamisama no Memo-chou Ep. 8: Distractions

Even though Yondaime’s unconscious, he’s still grimacing — what a strong man!

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.

A scene early in Gosick.

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!”

White-washed thuggery
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.

16 thoughts on “Kamisama no Memo-chou Ep. 8: Distractions

  1. Flawnalyst

    Yeah, I think you’ve been summing up the main problem I have with this series. These characters are boring and there’s so many plotholes that it’s hard to notice the good stuff. Why on earth did anyone think making Narumi the main character was a good idea?

    1. E Minor Post author

      there’s so many plotholes that it’s hard to notice the good stuff.

      Oh? If you don’t mind, what were the plot holes? I’m not invested in the show in anyway so I’m not challenging you or anything. I’m just curious as to what the plot holes were.

      Why on earth did anyone think making Narumi the main character was a good idea?

      He’s the same loser main character you’d find in any other show.

      1. Flawnalyst

        Everything you complained about from Narumi being the center of attention for everything to the stupidity of the yakuza is what I consider a plothole. If it’s not your definition, then I guess I should have just said “distractions” or something.

        As for Narumi being nothing new in terms of main characters, yes, I know that. My point was that at least those “loser main characters” stayed useless or developed naturally. For a show like this, when you want to develop a main character to Narumi’s current level, they have to start out with something interesting or have something to them that doesn’t make it come across as forced. Mikado from Durarara? Developed a little, but was still practically useless (and when he does become useful, he becomes creepy). Ichika from Infinite Stratos? He had the kendo background, so I could believe he could fight well. Narumi? At least change his personality to a creepy one if you’re making him go that high.

        Admittedly, my knowledge of “loser males” only extend to harem anime and what I’ve watched, so my point may be a little off. And yes, I know from your posts that you didn’t exactly enjoy Durarara or IS.

        1. Flawnalyst

          Oh, I see ThoughtCannon pretty much said everything I meant when I thought Narumi was a terrible protagonist, even by boring standards.

          1. E Minor Post author

            Well, whether or not the mysteries are any good, I think we can all agree that Narumi is a terrible vehicle to deliver them.

  2. draggle

    At least Gosick had bad mysteries. I’m not sure you could even call what this show has mysteries. Were we supposed to wonder who was bullying the band? Perhaps the guy who just showed up out of nowhere? But as you said, who cares, when our main character has less personality than a rotting corpse and the lead female never gets out of bed and is less interesting than her stuffed animals? I would say you’re being far more “fair” than this anime deserves by watching it in the first place.

    1. E Minor Post author

      We’re supposed to wonder what happened to Hison, but like I’ve said elsewhere, Narumi is so disengaging as a character that I really don’t care what he’s investigating — it could be the Bermuda triangle and I’d still find the mystery boring.

  3. thoughtcannon

    I agree on pretty much all of the Narumi points. I tend to scratch my head about it as well, especially that moment where Narumi took charge, though I did enjoy his semi-efficient leadership skills. To me Narumi’s issue is a problem with anime and perhaps light novels and their adaptations as a whole. It seems like they try to hold off developing the main character(s) until the very end of a show/novel. Unless it’s a coming of age drama or shonen, they like to save the big reveals for the end. The previously mentioned Gosick, Toradora, Clannad did it. I think most anime I watch they like to hold back the mysterious backstory, but we get some notion of their personality from the characters actions and thoughts themselves. I think with Narumi and Alice they are holding too much development back for another season that probably won’t come, and Narumi’s actions that should be fleshing him out are a cipher. His whole involvement seems to be the result of coincidence, he never questions anything whatsoever, and furthermore no one ever questions him. People just claim to see a superb quality within him, but if he has such an aspect the creators haven’t let us in on it yet or failed to establish it.

    There is one thing about Narumi that I do think is potentially well done. I like how he stumbles on the clues and figures things out without realizing it. I personally think of Narumi has a Watson like character who sometimes had bouts of unintentional intuition they baffled even Holmes. I think that is what they are reaching for here with Narumi but it gets lost in the fact that generally Watson stays in the background and acts as a foil to the, as you said, far more charismatic Holmes. Alice is not Holmes. She’s at least slightly more interesting than Narumi but she rarely comes out of her hovel so we instead get to follow around the uncharismatic Watson.

    I guess I wasn’t really aware you were just trying to take the piss out of the show. Since you started out liking it I thought you might still be holding on to some enjoyment of the positive aspects. So I thought you might comment on what I personally felt was an interesting and well-thought mystery, and was upset/disappointed when you didn’t.

    Lastly, since you had your philosophy on blogging, I’d like to give you my philosophy on commenting. I don’t like just saying “I agree” and not adding anything to the conversation. That doesn’t say to me that I really thought out someones posted opinions. So I either tend to add something or I tend to disagree. I get a little too caught up when I disagree. So I apologize if I come off rude.

    Your No. 6 posts rock, keep up the good work.

    1. E Minor Post author

      When it comes to Narumi, I just like to play a game that I got from the RedLetterMedia analyses of the Star Wars series. It goes something like this: can you describe a character without saying what they look like, what kind of costume they wear, or what their profession or role in the story is? With Narumi, I’m at a loss as to what to say. He… cares about his sworn bros? He likes to carry cute girls’ burdens? He’s not that smart or intuitive?

      Well, I wouldn’t say that I liked the show from the start. I thought KamiMemo had potential; it was interesting from the standpoint of how do we use the internet and modern social networking to solve mysteries? What does the NEET-dom add to the old mystery genre? Ever since the first episode (including both parts), however, the anime has been a disappointment on this front. Watching Narumi has been a chore and every single fanservice moment with Alice makes me want to gag. So my attitude toward the show gradually changed to cynicism.

      I didn’t say you were being rude or anything. I don’t mind if people disagree with me. If I had a problem with you, I would have said it. I just thought there was nothing more to add to our discussion in the other post. With the arc wrapping up, however, I felt I could properly use this episode as a spring board to address the position you put forth against me. While I do feel as though you’ve been finding ways to disagree with me lately — whether this is true or not, that’s just how I perceive it — I only draw the line when name calling enters the picture.

      I just want to make it clear, however, that I’m not really a reviewer. I haven’t reviewed KamiMemo and while I’m glad that you enjoy my No.6 posts, those aren’t really reviews in my eyes either. To some, this may sound like a cop out, but oh well, that’s my take.

  4. Pingback: Notes of Kami-Sama No Memochou Episode 8 | Organization Anti Social Geniuses

  5. Richfeet

    What exactly is Alice’s role in this anime. She definitely isn’t “L”. He had a sweet tooth quirk, but you saw him solve mysteries. Alice is a background character plain and simple. She may be the leader of this “organization”, but she’s as flat as cardboard. Maybe Narumi’s a secretary to her, I guess.

    So um, you are writing your thoughts and reactions on these anime huh? Just keep doing what you’re doing.

    1. E Minor Post author

      I think it sucks that Alice only gets worked up, i.e. emotional, when she’s all dokidoki with Narumi. After a while, it just really puts you to sleep when she drones on in a monotone voice about her cases. It just doesn’t work. If she’s not excited about the case, it’s hard to see why the audience should be.

  6. thearbee

    I’d just joke around that Narumi’s relatives are powerful Yakuza/Mobsters and everyone just fears/befriends him because of it. XD


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