Finally. I guess you could say this was the arc I had been waiting for. I certainly expected something more mysterious than a pill-popping brother as a primary suspect though. Well, if anything, the anime looks nice.
I’ve always analyzed anime more in how characters within a given story interact with one another. I will approach this episode of KamiMemo no differently. I guess if you wanted to discuss the clues and details about this arc’s mystery (something to do with an illegal street drug), this is the wrong blog to read. I’m just being upfront about this now so no one will be disappointed when I short-change the case.
The loser edit
This is a term you’ll often hear in discussions regarding reality TV shows, but I think it applies to this week’s episode of KamiMemo. So what is the loser edit? Typically, a reality TV show will have about twelve or so contestants. About a third of those contestants will have strong personalities and dominate much of the camera time. For better or for worse, we just tend to gravitate toward anyone who can create drama. The quieter contestants, on the other hand, will fade into the background… until it’s their time to lose.
All of a sudden, the camera switches its focus onto the characters we’ve rarely seen. We see and hear of them more; they’ll even get a chance to reveal something personal about their past… then BAM! Just like that, they’re eliminated from the competition. That’s the loser edit. After all, very few of these reality TV shows are actually broadcasted live. The creators of these shows can then take the hundreds of hours of footage they’ve recorded back to the editing room and craft whatever narrative they see fit. And when contestant X goes home “this week,” they’ll put together an episode to emphasize said contestant.
So to bring things back to KamiMemo, Ayaka has been such a side character all season long. All she seems to do is molest Alice against the midget loli’s wishes. All of a sudden, her brother, Toshi, enters the picture and compels Narumi to get a little closer to the cheerful leader of the Gardening Club. And just when you thought there could be a romantic spark between the two, Ayaka falls off a damn roof. She just got the loser edit. But what’s so bad about the loser edit, you might ask. Well, it’s just a little too transparent, don’t you think? Just five minutes into the episode, I had a feeling that something bad was going to happen to Ayaka.
All of a sudden, Narumi is too ordinary?
Yondaime tells Narumi, “A life has been lost. It’s not a case that some ordinary should be involved with.” Okay, that’s a little ridiculous. First, the anime’s opening case dealt with a death. Secondly, tangoing with money laundering and the yakuza is A-OK, but a random death isn’t? Then even after he allows Narumi to stick around for the debriefing, Narumi isn’t assigned a task when it’s all said and done. Again, since someone has died, Yondaime doesn’t want to involve the kid. Honestly, though, it’s a little too late for the anime to go “Uh, what’s a high schooler doing here?” I mean, if the story’s going to question Narumi’s involvement in all of these dangerous cases, it should have done so at the start of the series. Of course, this is all for naught anyway because you couldn’t keep Narumi from getting involved even if you tried.
Spoilers aren’t necessarily a bad thing
A recent study shows that people don’t actually enjoy stories any less when they’ve been spoiled about the ending. As it turns out, when we’re not constantly worried about what will happen, we can just sit back and enjoy a film, book, anime — what have you — for what it is. Well, the actual conclusions are far more complicated than this simple explanation so I do urge you to take a glance at the link I’ve provided. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but the study is food for thought. Why did I bring it up?
Well, the other characters in KamiMemo want Narumi to keep Toshi’s pill-popping a secret from his sister. We can easily imagine why. Most of us have a desire to protect our family and friends, and I’m sure Narumi and co. think they’re acting out of Ayaka’s best interest. They, however, are not considering her current feelings. She’s in the state of unknown, which — let’s be honest — can be pretty excruciating. It’s like when you’re watching a movie and you get emotionally invested in lovers A and B. You start to fret: “Gosh, will A and B get together?” So instead of actually enjoying the story, you’re nervously worrying over the unknown.
Anyway, that example only involves a movie. Imagine being in Ayaka’s shoes, not knowing anything about her brother’s whereabouts, what sort of trouble he could be in, etc. The unknown can often be the most painful experience. So while Narumi and the rest of the NEET detective group think they’re just protecting the poor girl and her “fragile” feelings, it’s not necessarily the case that they’ve given her any peace of mind. If anything, they’re allowing her to maintain the false hope that Toshi’s in no danger whatsoever. So when she does eventually find out at the end of the episode, she runs off and does something reckless. On the other hand, had the characters sat Ayaka down calmly and addressed the situation with her, i.e. treat her like a young adult, maybe they could have prevented her tragic ending. I dunno… just a thought.
• Narumi is a horrible lair.
• Oh anime. You’re the only place where I can find cornball lines like, “I don’t know what’s the best thing to do. Still, all I can do now is bring back Ayaka’s smile.” Grooooooan.
• We actually had a full month time-skip in this week’s episode. Whatever it is that the rest of the group is investigating, they’re really taking their sweet time with it.
• Normally, the NEET detective group handles cases that the authorities wouldn’t actually involve themselves with. This time, however, the characters confess that “[a] big shot from headquarters is apparently here on a secret investigation.” I guess I’ll be curious to see if a rag-tag bunch of kids — NEETs, even — will somehow beat professionals to the punch. Yeah, yeah, most of them are college students, but haven’t you heard? 30 is the new 21. I guess I still have residual incredulity from last week’s “Let’s beat a bunch of yakuza members at a game of baseball!” plot.
• After all, these are the same guys who are discussing important case details out in the open, knowing fully well that Ayaka could drop by at any moment and overhear them talking about her dear brother. Essentially, the NEET detective group can be so amateurish at times.
• Well, if I had to discuss any clue, I guess the most important one in my mind would be the way Ayaka’s eyes appear in the final shot:
What might explain their appearance?