「スキ好んで嫌われたい人なんていますか？」 (Suki Kononde Kirawa Retai Hito Nante Imasuka?)
“Do You Really Think That There’s Anybody Who Likes Being Disliked?”
I take back what I said last episode about the cast being quirky. They’re not quirky. They’re completely dysfunctional. For the most part, that’s great. The dysfunction is the main source of the humour in Hisone to Masotan; as far as comedy is concerned, the more exaggerated the better. I do wonder, though, where the military found these people. Sure, we’re told that the OTFs always select their own pilots, and that they’re predisposed to choosing particularly broken ones. But at some point the airforce brass must have gathered together a list of applicants to feed to the dragons. We know that Hisone became a D-Pilot out of blind luck and stubborn thick-headedness, but for the rest there must have been some formal selection process. Do they parade women past a dragon like it was the king of an island nation selecting his next bride? And the first one to break down in a nervous fit wins? Or are special agents sent out to scout the female population for the most socially inept singles in the country then surreptitiously guide them towards a career in the JASDF? Pretty demeaning either way, but it’s not like they can just leave an ad in the classifieds. ‘Top-secret military programme seeking single female to participate in unhygienic animal abuse. Only the maladroit need apply’.
I don’t even know why it needs to be a military outfit at all. Surely it’d be no more difficult to have civilian pilots fly around dragons disguised as civilian aircraft in some remote location. But jet fighters are cooler.
Well, details, details. It’s probably a commentary on how the world is full of people of poor self-esteem who all want a dragon of their very own, but that may be too real. And maybe it’d be preferable if Hisone to Masotan holds back on getting too real. I’m not saying that it’s not an anime that has serious issues or that it’s not fit for tackling them, it’s more that I’m concerned about the balance between seriousness and levity. As long as Hisone to Masotan was still mostly irreverent about its subject matter, it could get away with a lot of things. Dragon-jets, sure. Sociopathic cast, sure. All that’s important is that they get the laughs. But when HisoMaso takes itself seriously that means we have to take it seriously, too, and then it needs to start explaining itself. And when it explains itself, it tends to get heavy handed, in both dialogue and narrative. In the dialogue, characters seems quite willing to directly confront each other and bare their souls. In the narrative, HisoMasos line up many plot elements in a obviously deliberate fashion in order to drive home a central point e.g. the quirky cast isn’t just a quirky cast, they’re that way because the dragons only choose people like that, therefore justifying a character study. The marriage of these two approaches is Hisone, who very conveniently says everything she thinks which makes her at once easy to understand an also an easy source of conflict. One should be careful about making elements of a fantasy like HisoMaso too convenient; if everything lines up too neatly it reveals the hand of the author and erodes suspension of disbelief.
Overall, though, I’m still quite enjoying HisoMaso. I’m just wary of a series that tries at once to be satirical, fantastical, and serious. That’s having one’s cake and eating it, too. But, sometimes, a good show and clever writing can generate an infinite amount of cake. Let’s see if HisoMaso manages it.