I’ve always liked Shrek for its approach on the “family movie” genre – Shrek seemed to be the first major piece of American animation that had elements catering exclusively to the PG-13 and up crowd. Say what you will about Aladdin and his phallus-palace, but Shrek was the first to have no qualms about dishing out the adult jokes. Similarly, Japanese anime studios are very keen on their audiences – as far as the past-midnight shows go, it’s not a concern of age group, but rather one of… “moe preference.”
Since Manabi Straight is an anime about grade-schoolers, that means it’s a kid’s show, right?
Most of you have been watching anime enough to know that this is rarely the case, but I can’t remember the last time a show has been so blatantly shameless with its showcasing of preteen moe appeal. Sure, there haven’t been any panty-shots (yet), but the fact that it has been so close multiple times might raise a few eyebrows. Maybe not just eyebrows.
Rewind back to July 2005 when Ichigo Mashimaro first debuted – it had the same high quality art and animation, same level of seiyuu talent, the same-aged characters (at least it seems so), and even the same kind of cute-girls-doing-funny-stuff appeal. It had a similar type of subtle humor to the legendary Azumanga Daioh, and was more enjoyable manifested in these strangely precocious girls – that’s why I still consider Ichigo Mashimaro to be one of my favorite series. It wasn’t until someone blurted out “LOLI~!!!!” that I realized the show held another sort of appeal…one of the more “perverse” nature.
Thing is, it didn’t really bug me. Some people watch Smallville because of Kristin Kreuk, some watch women’s tennis for Maria Sharapova, and some watch beach volleyball for the other set of bouncing balls. That’s perfectly fine, because the whole appeal and fascination of it is in the mind of the viewer. Women’s tennis wasn’t created to showcase girls in frilly tennis skirts, but there just happened to be a six foot Russian bombshell who could handle her racket with the best of them. Ichigo Mashimaro wasn’t created to be a loli exhibit – some people just viewed it that way. So how about Manabi Straight?
I have to admit I was a bit disappointed in how overt the studio was in including images like the one above. In my mind, any type of “useless fanservice” belongs only in hgame based shows like SHUFFLE! and OtoBoku, where they actually fit within the context of the anime. Of course, I’m only disappointed because Manabi Straight expertly pulls off the same kind of subtle humor that made Azumanga and Ichigo so good (seitoukaichou style! pretty accurate!). It was a shame, to me at least, to see a show of such great potential stoop to something as cheap as fanservice to gain audiences.
Luckily, that’s just me. And minus my own blip of a peeve, Manabi Straight has so far been great fun – one of those shows that just picks up your spirits and leaves you feeling happy. For those who watch it for the loli factor, well…there’s plenty of widespread enjoyment for them too.
The moral of the story is, then, when a studio spends their time and money and takes care of their business in producing an anime, people will like it…for whatever reason. Massugu, GO!