That’s right. It’s the last episode. It’s also the episode where you get to learn about the bishie’s painful childhood. What a coincidence, huh? As you might have expected, Kyouya’s relationship with his mom is strained at best. His parents divorced when he was young, and this affected him badly. But gosh, a lot of bishies out there seem to come from broken families, don’t they? It’s like these shoujo stories suddenly feel the need to justify the love interest’s poor behavior or something. Guys, guys, I know he’s an asshole, but have some heart! He lost his mother when he was young! Sadly, I’m not even exaggerating. In Ao Haru Ride, Kou literally lost his mother to a terminal disease, and naturally, this broke the guy pretty badly until the heroine came along and kissed his emotional boo-boos away. Luckily for Kyouya, he’s a little better off; his mother is still alive. Still, I don’t know… I just think there’s something a little… sick about this. It’s like reverse moe, y’know?
One of the reasons why I started having a disdain for moe anime was because of the way it characterized its female characters. For instance, Mio of K-On!‘s fame is deathly afraid of barnacles. And here’s the kicker: it’s all for our amusement. Because she’s shaking with complete and utter fear, the target audience can’t help but look at her and coo, “Aw, Mio is so adorable!” But I think that’s disgusting. I think it’s fucked up to give a character a crippling fear just because it’s cute to you. Now, you’re probably thinking, “Mio isn’t a real person though, so what’s the big deal?” This sort of mentality seeps out in our daily lives, y’know. It just exhibits itself in less blatant ways. Like how a guy encourages his girlfriend to talk like a baby. Or how girls think they should act dumb to get attention. Or when girls shriek at the top of their lungs at the mere sight of a spider. These behaviors are encouraged because it makes their boyfriends feel manly by comparison. So you can’t always fall back on the excuse that anime is not real, and thus, anything goes.
So what do I mean when I say that bishies exhibit reverse moe characteristics? Well, it seems to me that our good ol’ shoujo can’t just fall in love with a normal person, can she? She has to find that broken soul to nurture. She has to find that boy with the shattered family, so that she may step in and pick up the pieces. She needs that restoration project to fix up, because it’ll make her feel good about herself. Yeah, what an awesome girlfriend you are! And sure, we all have problems. And if both people in a relationship are perfect, little angels, that would make for a very boring story. But that’s the thing: only one person is ever broken in these cheap romances, and it’s always the bishie. It starts to feel disingenuous. Over and over again, we get to watch the Mary Sue swoop into these poor bishies’ lives and magically fix them up like some anime Mary Poppins. You don’t ever learn a goddamn thing about the heroines themselves, though. We know next to nothing about Erika’s parents or her life at home.
Technically, Erika isn’t perfect. Technically, she a huge fucking liar. Not only that, she is terribly insecure, and she feels that she has to show off to her friends in order to feel fulfilled. But that’s the oppositional reading. That’s not what the story wants you think whatsoever. After all, Erika continues to be friends with those shallow classmates of hers. After all, she continues to be the Wolf Girl from start to finish. We got all these episodes about Kyouya and Kyouya’s bad behavior, but did we get a single episode to address Erika’s need to tell lies all the time? Nope, never. In fact, she even uses her Wolf Girl powers for “good” in this last episode. She lies to Kyouya’s mother to convince the woman to come see the fireworks with them. So in the end, lying can be a good thing! Our heroine is perfect after all! Yaaaaay! The fact of the matter is, Erika’s character hasn’t developed whatsoever. These shoujo heroines are either complete or utter Mary Sues from the start, or you’re just going to have to accept the whole package, flaws and all. On the other hand, the bishie becomes a reclamation project.
It’s just disingenuous, that’s all. A romance should be a story between two people. Instead, I feel like I’m watching a charity case. A very self-serving charity case, mind you. We’re not looking at these bishies as fully realized characters. They’re just a concept. They’re a concept to fill a gap in the Mary Sue’s life, because society tells her that her life is empty without a boyfriend. So we watch as the heroine initially suffers. Oh, how selflessly she suffers! But it’s okay! It’ll all be worth it in the end when she mends the bishie’s tortured soul, and they proceed to have their storybook romance afterwards… which occurs offscreen, of course. ‘Cause hey, nobody needs to see that. Nobody needs to see two loving individuals care about each other. I’d much rather watch the Mary Sues of the world pump themselves up because they’re willing to brave treacherous waters in order to save our troubled pretty boys. Naturally, if you nevertheless come from broken family, but you do not have supermodel good looks, you need not apply.