Tsuyokiss Aria REVOLUTION: Genre Kings x Delineation

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You all have your own opinions on this, so I’ll be brief about laying the foundation and get into the meaty theoretical crap. The premise is simple: as genre is refined and redefined, people start to take cue as to what’s the best way to pitch within a familiar context, and evoking the same feel to reach out to the same demographic. The parallel is drawn from the “genre innovation” model that describes the video gaming industry and Nintendo, so if you’re familiar with that, you should have a good foundation.

From a cynical perspective, it all resulted from some successes like Love Hina or Ranma 1/2, where these genre-breaking/creating masterpieces started a trend. Just like telling your friends that “Trinity Blood is kind of like Trigun” will automatically get some of them to check it out, even if it isn’t really like Trigun… When a show resembles a certain something popular it gives the creators the incentive to mimic.

And there’s nothing wrong with mimicry. But when a genre is so well-defined (enough for a wiki article but not enough for bright line rules) because of the excessive mimicking, that if you toss all the divisible elements of what makes a harem anime into a randomizer and when the result of this mad-lib returns as a familiar premise of a real show, something is wrong. It’s not just because it’s absurd, but it’s so absurd that the work stands not on a creative bedrock recognizable by law. (Or is it?)

Thankfully, there are many ways out of this trap, and I think the anime industry has long since started to climb out of. When people like myself with no prophetic powers can see that, it means others are probably annoyed as well. Tsuyokiss is one example: the harem narrative reversed on its head; a typical bishoujo game adaptation has been spun around by the anime’s core team to draw a familiar story. But even then, such an “obvious” trick doesn’t distinguish the trite attempts at entertaining in TonaGura, for example, with Tsuyokiss. When the dumb shtick slapstick becomes the defining characteristic of your show, you’re not going to go anywhere.

But I suppose what these two shows told me, more specifically, is that people are ready. Sure, shows like Shuffle and DearS may prey on the weak still, but when I see Higurashi or even Negima, the vibe is just slightly different. In as much as in a post-Love-Hina reality we no longer can do a shounen romance show without the harem taint, people are tired of that. People are looking for the same, patently haremic elements elsewhere (looking at the new round of SaiMoe for some clues)–Aria, Rozen Maiden, School Rumble, and Mai-Otome, just to name a few. We want the relationships, the characters, the lightheartedness, outside of the traditional harem context. For some it is the desexualization of the context (Rozen Maiden); or it’s the focus on mood without drama (Aria); or inversely just the drama (Mai-Otome); or even pure comedy with little anything else (School Rumble). These shows all contain, for practical purposes, “harems.” However they do not carry themselves structurally as so typically.

Here is where we’re at a loss. This MMORPG dude says where things are going for them. Where are we going?

4 Responses to “Tsuyokiss Aria REVOLUTION: Genre Kings x Delineation”

  • jpmeyer

    I’m hoping that the whole harem anime genre follows the common generic progression and goes into a revisionist mode. Maybe it’s just because I really really like genre theory and writing genre analyses, but I loooooooooooove works that fall in the revisionist time period in the classical generic cycle of primitive/classical/revisionist/parodic.

    Although I’m not sure which direction exactly to go here. Two of the common revisionist strategies are to deconstruct the genre or to strip away all of the “arbitrary” parts in order to get to some kind of generic “essence”.

    Also, if I have to hear “genres are best conceived of as processes”, Imma scream. I had to write one of my exit exams on that.

  • jpmeyer

    Er the difference between the genre model commonly used in film studies and the one in that blog post is that it’s based on an increasingly more-savvy audience rather than market concerns (although market concerns can be a reason, for example slasher movies ended during the 80s because they weren’t doing well in overseas markets). This model is similar to that video game one through what they call “maturity”, but then changes. The difference becomes that now the audiences become able to see through the generic conventions, and in turn the movies then start to become transparent and focus on giving this sort of reading. There is also no association with decline during the revisionist/parodic phase. Just look at the assload of money that movies like Scream/Scary Movie made (for horror) or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid/Blazing Saddles (for westerns).

  • Hinano

    The problem here is Tsuyokiss just sucks.
    I don’t know if it’s the annoying eye catches, the crappy animation, the horrible voice cast and the idiotic fanservice or the combination of both that made me delete the show and quit it after the 2nd episode.
    Even though stuff like Tonagura & School Rumble might as well be serious, I actually ENJOY them because there seems to be an undergoing plot between all the fanservice/haremness etc…while Tsuyokiss is just as hollow on the inside as it looks on the outside.

  • omo

    School Rumble doesn’t have plot–just a bunch of evolving relationships expressed through an unending chain of slapstick jokes and “aww Pyotr is so cute” type moments. What you like is probably the relationships. Anyways, regardless if you like Tsuyokiss or not, my point is that it really is the type of show that gets mistaken for a trashy crap harem anime, but it isn’t what you expect. I think a lot of people sees the poor production value and kind of that B-rate campy setup and it triggers stuff in their minds, and that’s what I’m kind of talking about and what you seem to be saying. Big reason why I didn’t watch Suzuka after ep2 was just that. And I think I stopped watching Tona-Gura the same reason why you stopped watching Tsuyokiss (although I got through 4 eps of Tonagura).

    Which is to say, the reason why I do watch Tsuyokiss religiously but not Suzuka is just that: a female perspective instead of a male one, a more fluid narrative than a religious adherence to a manga source, and simply an overall better lead character.

    >> but I loooooooooooove works that fall in the revisionist time period in the classical generic cycle of primitive/classical/revisionist/parodic.

    I think we’re really at the later part of the revisionist period. When I heard Kanon is getting remade into 26eps I thought, wow. You can’t get more revisionist than a remake like that; and things like Futakoi Alternative and Dokkoida (and all the genre meshing that involves harem norms)…

    I think it is fairer to compare films with anime than with video games, it’s just that I am more familiar with game marketing and design theories. Market concerns do play into it all, still…especially given people’s purchase habits in Japan and the vibrant secondary market. Given the fact where older titles still compete with new titles when it comes to sales, it kind of boggles my mind as to the type of works still being produced this day and age. There is a level of disposable-ness that seems to exemplifies anime more so than normal films.

    But if there is a genre that “suffers” from “maturity” it is totally shoujo, especially certain types of it (Ouran Host Club is totally a revisionist/parodic work). I think as long as guys get to ogle at pretty girls, harem anime will survive to some level.

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