Ugh, just look at that pathetic Christmas cake. YO CHRISTMAS CAKE, it ain’t December 25th! Hell, it ain’t even December no more, so who the hell would want your stank ass? Don’t you be coming around here dolled up in your frosting and shiny, glossy strawberries. It just reeks of desperation, y’know? Just accept it. You’re stale cake bread covered in dried up confectionery and sour, bitter fruit. Small children would run away from you in terror. You shouldn’t have been so arrogant when you were younger. Whoa whoa whoa, are we still talking about Christmas cakes?
I just feel sad about one particular topic. I just think it’s really, really goddamn cruel how anime can be towards unmarried Japanese women. Oh yeah, we’re talking about unmarried Japanese women. In fact, we’ve been talking about unmarried Japanese women all along. I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that the words above weren’t really about a Christmas Cake. For those who don’t know, there’s a term in Japan for these single women: Christmas cake. Why? Well, ’cause nobody wants them once they’re past 25 years of age. Get it? Haha, a women over 25 is apparently spoiled goods like a Christmas cake past Dec. 25th. Now who’s being picky?
It’s a weird term if you try to think about it too deeply. Just speaking strictly about the actual cake itself, I’d love to have a Christmas cake even now. Cakes are fucking awesome, man. So I don’t really get the idea where nobody would want a Christmas cake after Dec. 25th. Oh, I’m sure sales are down, whatever. But shit man, a cake’s a cake. Still, someone made the connection of a Christmas cake to an unmarried Japanese women over 25 years of age, and they must have thought it was one helluva knee slapper.
But a cake analogy would be one thing. Whatever, it’s a joke. Haha. It’s another thing though when you constantly harp on this aspect of a person’s character like a bully. Case in point, take the anime Nourin. Just to provide some context, at one point in its first episode, a cow breaks loose and is about to rampage through a garden. A classmate of the main character immediately strips herself down to her nude — not sure why that was completely necessary since, I mean, where did the rest of her work uniform go? — because she had been wearing a red shirt. Yes, she did this in order to give her red shirt to the main character so that he can distract the cow like a matador. Obviously, we’re not talking about a very classy show.
So, I guess it should come to no surprise when the show turns its attention to the kids’ sensei and just absolutely tears into her. Becky is a blonde woman somewhere north of 40 years of age. You couldn’t possibly tell how old she is from just looking at her, though. Why not? ‘Cause she pretty much looks as though she could be one of her female students. Hey, it’s anime. All women are eye candy. All women, unless you’re a sagely obaachan, must be eye candy. There is, however, a crucial difference that separates Becky from her students of the feminine persuasion. While all women — pre-menopause, of course — are eyecandy, it’s quite apparent that some women are worthy and some women are unworthy in a very different sense. And that sense is apparently marriageability.
Again, it’s not just that Becky is merely undesired as a marriage prospect. It’s the way the anime portrays her. Think back to the opening paragraph of this post. If you simply don’t want a Christmas cake because it is no longer Christmas, then whatever. But I made character judgements about the cake; I called it pathetic and desperate. Now we’re talking about a whole different animal. How can you even call a cake pathetic and desperate? That doesn’t make sense, right? That’s what I’m trying to say about the unmarried Japanese women in anime. With Becky, it’s not that she’s merely single and over 40. It’s that the entire crux of her existence in the anime revolves around the mere fact that her unmarried status is such a joke.
Becky appears twice in the first episode of Nourin, and twice now, she over shares the details of her single life to her students. Both times, it’s played off as a joke and a cruel one too. Oh, she’s so lonely that she orders two glasses of wine at a restaurant; one for herself and one for that imaginary boyfriend she so wishes she had. Haha… your loneliness makes me so… hard? Then later in the episode, Becky again regales her students with a tale of how she lathered herself in both canola and chili oil before taking a risque selfie in the mirror. Again, what a supposedly pathetic existence for a grown woman. My only question is, well, why are we being so cruel to her?
So of course, I find it kind of funny the way two of the younger female characters are portrayed in contrast to Becky. Take Minori, for instance. According to her career survey, her first choice in life is to be a bride. Her second choice is to be a wife. Her third choice is to be a home maker. You get the picture, I’m sure. This young girl with her entire life ahead of her has her priorities centered around domesticity and only domesticity. Later on, and this is pretty much the entire premise of the show, that amazingly popular and amazingly beautiful idol decides to retire from her career and transfer into the main character’s agricultural high school. Yep, a girl with an enviable position in life — enviable in the sense that she must be banking mad dough as the top idol in Japan — chooses instead to educate herself on how to be a farmer. Again, sort of returning to domesticity in a sense, especially when you consider the very high possibility that while the idol is here, she will undoubtedly fall in love with the main character.
Now of course, we have to affirm everyone’s life decisions. The point of equality isn’t just to make every woman a completely self-reliant career woman who looks at motherhood with disdain. No, we’ve all had mothers and we all respect mothers for their choices in life. What I simply want to point out is how the show makes this oh-so-subtle connection between the two young girls and how they choose at a very young age to make certain sacrifices in their lives in order to to secure love. Meanwhile, Becky, at her “advanced” age, no longer has a choice in such romantic matters. As such, she can only sit there and rot away, pining for that imaginary boyfriend. It becomes quite evident the sort of judgement the anime is making: Becky didn’t prioritize becoming a wife in her youth, and now she must apparently pay the price for it. And that price is to repeatedly humiliate herself in front of her students. How is this not cruel?
“But it’s funny! You said in a previous post that something that makes you cringe will also make you laugh!”
Well, no, not everything that makes me cringe is also humorous, and I don’t really find anything funny about the way Becky is portrayed. But okay, you’re right, Becky’s role in the anime is supposed to be a joke. I personally don’t find it funny, but I’m not so clueless that I can’t tell it’s meant to make someone else laugh. We wouldn’t be cruel to her otherwise, right? Don’t take it so seriously, because it’s just meant to be funny, right? Well, how about Shizuku in Kyoukai no Kanata. She’s also a teacher and, you could argue, she’s portrayed as a strong woman because she’s a spirit hunter. Trust me, battling malevolent spirits is no small feat. The one crucial detail about Shizuku’s portrayal, however, and this really stuck out to me as I watched Kyoukai no Kanata, is how the anime also sees her as lonely and pitiable. I think to this one particular scene:
Yeah, that’s the sight of a jilted woman. If you don’t remember or haven’t watched the anime, there was a nighttime festival meant solely for couples. Our sensei manages to secure herself a date… or so she thinks. Upon arriving at the festival, she suddenly gets a text from the guy she was going to meet saying that he suddenly can’t make it. We then get to watch a single adult woman cry. For what reason, even? We just get to watch a woman put forth all this effort to dress herself up to the nines sit there alone amongst all the loving couples around her and cry. Unlike the role Becky plays in Nourin, this isn’t even meant to be a joke. Actually, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it is a joke to someone out there–… I don’t really know. If that’s the actual case, I just have to really wonder why anyone would laugh at this. Haha, you’re jilted and alone during a festival that exists to celebrate romance… eat shit and die…? Again, just why? I don’t understand the cruelty. What am I missing?