「全裸と下着さえあればいい.」 (Zenra to Shitagi sae Areba Ii.)
“Nudity and Underwear Are All You Need.”
Underwear or Naked? Which is the most exciting to read? Which one does the job in getting your jollies? This is the philosophical debate that occurs in Episode 09 as Itsuki and his novel’s mangaka Kaiko have a lengthy debate on which has the most merit in the manga adaptation of his novel. I wasn’t sure whether Kaiko would have any quirks or if they would have her be relatively normal as an aspiring rookie mangaka. However, the direction they took with giving her a fetish for elegant, intricate underwear designs helps her fit in just fine with our cast of weirdos and misfits! After a couple episodes of doom and gloom from Haruto’s life of despair, this episode was a good break from the gloomier side of an author’s life as the hardest-hitting dilemma of its story is whether your mangaka can draw a nude scene if they love underwear so much that they regularly use a pair of panties as both a hair-bow and a mask.
To steer the conversation in a weightier direction, there’s an infamous scene in David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence where Viggo Mortenson and Maria Bello get into a brutal fight on a staircase after she finds out about his dark past. At some point, however, they end up in a compromising position. At first, it breaks the flow of the tension that had built up with how angry they were at each other, but then, Maria’s character pulls Viggo’s head closer to her, resulting in morally dubious hate-sex. This might be a large stretch, but this is what the second half of this episode reminded me of, albeit if the choking and hitting was replaced with stripping and groping.
Had they not given Kaiko the upper hand in the tail-end of Nayu’s experiment, this part of the post would’ve looked a lot more different, questioning how much reliance the anime has on pushing the plot forward with assault. If we’re to take the drama of the show seriously, it would be logical to consider why not look at other aspects of the show in a serious light as well. As to not be hypocritical about Setsuna’s behavior around Chihiro a few episodes ago, Nayu’s handsiness does beg to question where to draw the line in who gets chastised for what assault, and why.
Personally, I would say that there are many factors unrelated to the characters being women that gives Nayu somewhat of a pass; Miyako is never put in any situations proposed by Nayu against her will, and Kaiko’s agency in the situation by outsmarting Nayu does help mitigate any issues that would arise from Nayu trying to solve the problem by taking advantage of her. I admit part of the pass I give to the scene is based the moments where Kaiko hits her weak spots and the enjoyment they both ended up getting out of it, but I guess the show works best when you let your guard down about what you’re watching. Otherwise, I can understand why something like this would be used as an example of why the show seems a little too lax with having their characters get overly handsy.
To end on a lighter note, Kaiko is a fun addition to the cast, and it was great to see the solution be met half-way with Kaiko drawing both underwear and nude scenes in the manga. As rigid as the characters are with their personal preferences, there was a reasonable compromise met between both Itsuki and Kaiko. After she clearly drew better sequences than Setsuna, Itsuki started to branch out of his comfort zone by seeing the appeal of the lacier panties and bras that Kaiko took joy in drawing out. On the same coin, Kaiko decided to open up more to the idea of incorporating more nudity into the manga adaptation after feeling Nayu’s chest. The most fun I have in writing about this show is how I can talk about such lewd material in a manner that attempts to justify its use in a meaningful way, and Imouto sae does an admirable job at including titillation and fan service to explain the characters’ motivations and creativity.