「ヒロイン女子とモブ男子」 (Hiroin Joshi to Mobu Dansh)
“Heroine and Background Character”

One thing that will never change: extroverts trying to “fix” introverts. Whether we actually need fixing is rather an interesting topic for discussion, but maybe not this one. Another thing that will never change is me looking at animanga that seem kinda messed up and trying to figure out if they actually are, or are making a point. In this case the key question, still unanswered – is the mangaka an extrovert or introvert herself? That’s a lot of baggage to load onto what appears to be a cute little romcom, but hey – that’s what I do.

That of course brings us to Kubo-san wa Mob wo Yurusanai. It was actually one of my more anticipated shows of the season (though this season that’s not a terribly high bar). That’s partly because the manga seems pretty well-liked by people who should know, and partly because Pine Jam is a studio that always piques my interest. Even when doing material that bores me (see: Do It Yourself) the presentation is always interesting. They seem to have worked through their growing pains and are now fairly stable as a production house.

That’s the simplest part of the equation here. I like what Pine Jam did with this production (turning LINE into PINE was very cute) – even under a relative no-name director, the signature retro look for the studio is always pleasing. From there it gets more complicated, for a number of reasons. Not least that Kubo-san is flirting with cliche to a ridiculous degree. This broad theme is one of the go-to hooks for romcom manga and it’s already started to get stale. Hell, even casting KanaHana as the female lead plays into that.

Above and beyond that, this series tacks awfully close to the wind where Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san is concerned. Call it what you will – homage, influenced, bald-faced imitation – the similarities are profound and undeniable. The details are different enough in terms of the dynamic but on the surface it’s frankly too close for comfort. And among those similarities are the fundamental question (among others) that the story asks – is the heroine mean-spirited, or is she being kind?

As with Takagi-san (which, crucially unlike this one, I was reading before the anime premiered) I started off feeling it was pretty dodgy in that respect. I will admit, though, that even through one episode my attitude had evolved a fair bit by the end. That stuff with Kubo Nagisa (Kana Hanazawa, natch) forcing protagonist Shiraishi Junta (Kawanishi Kengo) to stand on his chair and answer a question rubbed me the wrong way. Hard. If you’re an introvert you understand what a violation that is – if you aren’t, you don’t even if you think you do. That’s pretty straightforward.

Here’s where we loop back to that original point. In Nagisa’s eyes (in addition to the fact that she’s totally into Junta, as Takagi is with Nishikata), she’s “helping” him. And maybe Junta needs a push here and there – there are ample signs he’s not satisfied with his invisible existence (at least not all the time). So I don’t hate on her for that, but I do think it’s a bit presumptuous and she does do it strictly for shiggles at times, too. This is why Yofukashi no Uta is such an interesting take on introversion – Kou is basically happy with who he is as a person. He doesn’t see a need to change to fit the world – he wants to change his world to fit him.

This segues into another challenge I have with Kubo-san wa Mob wo Yurusanai, and it’s one I have with many series which follow this template. The whole conceit with Shiraishi-kun being “invisible” is silly. No one in real life is like that. It’s a narrative crutch to hold up the gag. One of the appealing things about Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san is that the NishiKagi dynamic is basically natural – he’s a normal goofy middle-school boy and she- well, she’s an alien, I admit. But their relationship as it evolves is very relatable. It doesn’t rely on her teasing or her eerie ability to read his mind – it’s just a girl and a boy figuring out how to be a couple.

As such, I think it would be quite unfair for me to judge Kubo-san (series or character) after one episode. The fact is, I was feeling very uneasy at first but by the end of the episode, things were much more hopeful. I was entertained, I got the sense there is some thought going into this dynamic, and it’s clear that Kubo-san genuinely does like Junta-kun. I have even less idea how a show will work than I usually do after one ep, but there’s enough here that intrigues me to keep me hooked for a while at least.


  1. I rate this one notch above usual “teaser girl vs shy guy” romcoms, is that Kubo is not mean in her attentions – she really wants to help – and even feels a tinge of guilt sometimes…

    1. And how is blackmailing him to make him stand on his chair in class not mean? OK, she’s not Nagatoro mean and yes, she does want to help, but her idea of helping is often not something that Shiraishi is comfortable with.

      1. Yeah, that particular method of persuasion is bad, but quite often helping someone get out of his comfort zone is essential part of helping…
        And yeah I meant Nagatoro as comparison. Or Uzaki.

          1. I do not think it even counts as being “being cruel to be kind”. I think it was a combination of curiosity about how much attention he has to call on himself to be noticed and a desire to have him interact more in class.

            I mean between the clerk’s pov shot we see with him just not being there and the fact that even her phone had a hard time focusing on him something strange seems to be going on.

      2. As I noted in the post, if you’re an introverted person you understand just what a traumatic thing that was. If you’re not, you don’t. You may think you do, but you don’t. To her it was just a funny little prank for his own good, but she doesn’t get it. If that sort of thing were to continue for the whole series it would be a major problem for me,

        The issue is, introverts aren’t broken and don’t need to be fixed. But society is structured by and for extroverts, so arguably introverts are better off learning to adapt. That’s where the “helping” a person versus letting people be themselves line gets fuzzy.

  2. Being an introvert with poor social skills myself, I can’t imagine having to humor Nagisa every time she speaks. Nagisa seems like a girl I would quickly get annoyed with, I am not being mean If the me in High School associated with Nagisa, we would fall out of touch after graduation…

  3. Wow. Manga reader here.
    Thinking of Shiraishi as an introvert is a complete misunderstanding about the character. He is not. He is not Bocchi. He has just given up about having anything different, that would stand out, compared to anyone else. He think of himself as a mob and this became ingrained in his mind.
    He doesn’t have any trouble to interact with someone when they “find” (notice) him but he is just surprised to be noticed. He talk back to Kubo, properly talk to the teacher, get angry, etc. It’s more about a lack of interest for himself.
    And of course, Kubo is the only one that can just “notice” him and both of them joked about that with the standing on your chair game. And he is chocked to have been noticed bu the teacher who wasn’t able to just a moment ago.
    Shiraishi is always thinking about why Kubo can notice him and not why she does those stuff to him. The comparaison with Takagi-san is fair only on the basic premise : a girl in love with a guy that wouldn’t think that as a possibility.
    Shiraishi will never be noticed by anyone else than Kubo. It’s a story about a random NPC’s relationship with the Heroine (she said so herself) while she does not think that of him at all.

    1. Impossible to go into detail as to why without spoiling, but I strongly disagree with that assessment of Shiraishi’s character. Saying he’s not an introvert is, IMO, a misunderstanding (no doubt driven by anime like Bocchi) of what being introverted actually means.

    2. I’m introverted and so is my best friend of over twenty years. There are different types of introverts and some are open about their feelings and interact with others fine like Shiraishi. It’s only one episode but he comes off as an introvert more than anything else.

      That invisibility schtick is really BS.

      The Commoner

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