The Melancholy of Azusa Miura

You’re such a meanie, Author:

In particular, I was reminded that Azusa had a backstory. Not a large or dramatic one, but nonetheless, she graduated from a junior college and found herself unneeded by the society. The only difference with millions of young women with liberal arts degrees that are our contemporaries on both sides of Pacific, she ended in employ of Namco Pro instead of Starbucks. Also, instead of developing a depression, becoming religious, or hooking up on drugs, she is dreaming about the destined person — but is not doing much about finding him.

There is no special message in any of it, I’m afraid, and actually Azusa was developed for original games, before the higher education bubble became this apparent in America. But if creators play their cards right, she may become more popular than ever. Many people might relate, even in Japan.

The immediate reaction is, well, such a person probably doesn’t exist in that particular format. The 30-sai version of Azusa is a much more likely candidate (she works in a library? Slightly a step up from Starbucks, but obviously a destination of liberal arts degree holders). But the truth remains; people unmatched remain unmatched unless something happens.

But I think the better angle is that Azusa isn’t someone we can identify ourselves with; she’s more like the leftover meal from this generation of herbivore males. Here is the alternative take. We can say, via simple supply versus demand, that the consequences of single folks working longer hours and deeper into their lives, with more people getting married later in life, is that there will be people who may want to get married at an earlier age, but couldn’t because the supply is lower. It is a weakly negatively reinforcing cycle. Weak in that people tend to want to get married, and just because it is more difficult it doesn’t usually stop them from continued pursuit. For those single folks seeking out there, the lesson is:  Don’t give up; Carpe diem and all.

I like this angle better because ultimately IM@S is about, well, admiring young ladies while they entertain us. In a sense that is not too unlike what you would do with your spouse. Or so I hope. At least at some point in your relationship (when applicable)? I don’t think IM@S’s narrative cares about self-identification as much as drawing affection (and in the real idol industry, in the mind space) from the audience. Granted in these kind of things, usually there’s some kind of back story in which identification helps to disarm the audience and buy into whatever story that is being sold. But the core of an idol identity is one that is still just a step different than just you or me. Even the girl-next-door types is not exactly the girl-next-door in the urban, isolated sense; more like the childhood friend that you really didn’t know is a knockout until she debuted in some gravure magazine.

For the record, I also agree with ani-nouto about the general idea behind the character; but I can also imagine Azusa projecting a pretty fierce AK-Field IRL.

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