The time has come. If one must elevate above, one must take risks that dwell above. If human life isn’t at stake, then it’s not above. Just below.
Whenever someone starts their review or recommendation of anime by “THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST MELODRAMAS YOU’LL EVER FUCKING SEE”, my life immediately flashes before my eyes because I know I might as well just kill myself over watching it. And yes, in case you didn’t catch on, I DID just insult everyone who praises these shows to heaven and hell and beyond. HEAVE MINIONS, HEAVE!!!
I don’t wanna be racist or anything like that, but holy shit Japs don’t know how to write a fucking melodrama even if the script punched them in the face and then raped them repeatedly. These shows are so goddamn atrocious, I’m honestly surprised I’m in the minority of people that dislike them. And I mean honestly surprised! Most of my views on anime oftentimes contradict general consent, and I’m mostly fine with that, but with this thing … hotdamn it don’t make any sense. For today’s discussion, I’ll take four most popular of the bunch, and dissect them like the ugly fucking frogs they are: Clannad, Golden Time, Your Lie in April and The Flower We Saw that Day. I think I’m gonna need a truckload of acid to get through this shit …
I want to start with the most important question: why are these shows so loved? Why is it that the majority of anime fanbase literally has a spasm when you insult one of these shows? Why is it that the people are so in love with them that they can’t see past any criticism? Is it the realism they convey? The beautifully written characters? The engaging and branching story? I mean, it can’t be any of those because none of these shows have it, so what is it then? Pretty ladies? Must be. That’ll always get your point across.
One key problem I have with melodrama, and hear me out here, is that most of the time it’s set either in high school or college. While I’m not saying that peeps of these ages can’t have their own little problems, each of these shows blows up on them like a fucking repeat of 9/11. Each show has generic cast that might as well be a copy-paste from other similar shows, such a slow pacing you’d be faster off killing yourself with cigarettes, and terrifyingly moronic dialogue. Or monologue. They feed on it.
Another baffling point is that we’ve seen anime portray drama extremely well. To my surprise, each time drama is portrayed well … it’s not in the shows that focus on drama. Berserk, Serial Experiments Lain, Feng Shen Ji, Hunter x Hunter, Wolf’s Rain, Steins;Gate and so on. Do you see a pattern? For each of these shows drama is just a subplot, something to spice things up. And it’s done better than in any shows focused centrally on drama! How the fuck can that even be the case? But, I digress. There must be SOMETHING worthwhile in these shows that have made fans of anime act like little crying whores for so long. So, let the dissection begin. (God I wish Dissection still played)
One thing that you’ll find in ALL melodramas is that someone dies. Or is dead. Or his death is being conveyed by our characters. The major catalyst for any change, for any movement of story, is someone dying. And I don’t mean metaphorically, I mean literally. If you look at Clannad, first season, and 90% of the second season, NOTHING HAPPENS. NOTHING. FUCKING. HAPPENS. They start dating? SO WHAT?!!!!! They should have done that three fucking episodes in! The first MAJOR plot point is when the chick dies during childbirth. Before that, YOU MIGHT AS WELL BE WATCHING A FUCKING PAINT DRY ON THE WALL. But, surely, it must have been built up throughout two seasons. Her character must have been developed, and we’ve grown to love her and couldn’t imagine our life without her. Nope. Nagisa (I think that’s her name?) doesn’t have personality. And no, I don’t mean it as a joke. Who is Nagisa? She’s Tomoya’s girlfriend. That’s her whole goddamn integrity. Now, some will argue she’s just an innocent girl who wishes everyone best. Uhm … okay. What? That’s not a fucking characteristic. If we go by that, NEARLY EVERY GIRL IN THE SHOW IS EXACTLY THE SAME. Now, after Nagisa dies, we get “chilling” turmoil over whether Tomoya can raise the girl on his own … which is pointless because we know he will, if his character establishment throughout nearly two seasons was worth a fuck. After that, nothing happens! It’s just a repeat of the rest of the show, but now with the little version of Nagisa. They bond, they share a chuckle here and there, Tomoya is still struggling to be a father, you get the point. How is this show “heartbreaking”, “monumentally destructive” and “right in the feels” again? First off, I literally cared more about that chick from “Another” that died by being spiked at the tip of the umbrella. At least I could sympathize with her pain and wish her less of it in afterlife. With Nagisa? Nothing. Zilch. Nada. And little girl? Nope. Children in anime are rarely done well, and this here is no exception. She’s a generic kid written by someone who’s never been around children for longer than 20 minutes. Children are loud, filthy (I mean, literally), annoying, fuck-ton-of bullshit … they’re not these cute little things that help us make sense of our lives. No, fuck that. And yes, she dies. Kinda. Sort of. Hmm …
Either way, if you look at Clannad as whole, it’s shit. And I mean shit. Look from the comedic perspective, it’s not that funny. Slice of life? Still boring as a midget fucking a corpse … nah, midget fucking a corpse is pretty fucking awesome actually, but Clannad is boring! ‘Drama’ of the first season is worse than an episode of Gossip Girl, and overall in the colorful cast of characters, you won’t give a single damn about any one of them. But — BUT it has some pretty scenes! Like that field! And lighting! And shit like that! Yeah, yeah, yeah, shut up.
Now, let’s look at the Golden Time and Your Lie in April. Why am I putting these two shows together? Because they might as well be the same fucking shit. Characters look the same, same person dies, they deal with same issues, the only difference is age. I want you to remember that kids in Your Lie in April are FOURTEEN fucking years old while you’re listening to them talking. Just … mind it. Being full-frontal honest, I didn’t fully complete neither of the shows. I predicted what would happen within first two episodes, and I was right. Both girls die, which is a major catalyst for our character’s final change, and end. Why do people think is the only way to create melodrama? Yeah, sure, death can have enormous impact on a person, but when it’s the case of a girl who I’ve witnessed in anime more times than Naruto lookalike, then I really don’t care whether she lives or dies. They’re just pretty faces. I won’t rant about these two as much as I ranted about Clannad, because they don’t deserve it as much. From comedic standpoint they have funny moments, art direction is better, even soundtracks are decent, but the main juice of the shows is just … rotten. Like a tomato. Or a cucumber.
Now, moving onto the final one: The Flower We Saw That day. This one is about post-death all the way through, and this one comes closest to being actually a good show. It shows a group of friends that had fallen apart after a certain death, and how can they make amends in the end. We see some decent relationships being formed, relatively realistic dialogue, and actually decently paced story. However, as is the case with these shows, when it comes to that really “juicy” moment, it goes completely over the top. It forgets that so far it kept it down to the earth, it kept it realistic, relatable, and goes full on melodrama mode. Honestly though, if you exclude certain scenes (I don’t wanna spoil this one seeing as it showcases just how much can be done if they just fucking tone down with the bullshit) it’s a pretty good watch. It balances humor with the nature of drama very well, there aren’t odd jumps of tones, random “oh, our show is really boring, let’s kill someone off to make it more interesting” types of things, and the people we’re dealing with here aren’t just names to a boot; they have some personality, and we see them deal with death each on their own accord. And that’s all fine and dandy, but if your entire show is just a buildup, payoff must be amazing! Nop. They still fuck it up the same way they fuck up every melodrama ever. By being OVERLY FUCKING DRAMATIC.
Okay, to prove my point, remember the ending of Batman Begins? When Batman and what’s-her-name have a conversation about who he is? Now, instead of it playing out like it did, imagine if it went like this:
Girl: You’re … a Batman.
Batman: Yeah, I’m the Batman.
Girl: We can’t be together Batman. As much as I want, with every fiber of my being, with every spec of start dust within me, with every soulful feeling, we can’t be together! You must protect the world! And I’ll protect you! I’ll be your watchful star, your loving cord, your last straw to the sanity! I will be your light while you bask in darkness! I will hold you inside my heart forever and ever and ever!
Batman: Even if we can’t be together, know that my thoughts are! Even when I’m decapitating that batshit insane Joker, I’ll think of you! (this may sound creepy but it’s actually really romantic!) I’ll be your watcher, your protector, your darkness to your light! Shine brightly while I savor you from the shadows, while I defeat the world in your name, and our souls will finally be united in heaven!
*They walk away*
THAT is how these shows treat drama. They treat each problem with such over-the-top nonsense I’m surprised there aren’t any fourth-wall-jokes like:
*As they’re walking away, Batman turns and says: Our problems are the biggest ever!*
In the end, though, it’s just disappointing because all these shows and yes, even Clannad, showcase a signs of brilliance here and there. In Clannad, it’s Tomoya’s turmoil about whether he can raise his kid on his own. While we now he will, it’s still done well nonetheless. In Golden Time and Your Lie in April, we see signs of how friendship can turn your whole life around. And, as I said, in The Flower We Saw That Day, nearly everything was actually done right. I wish they’d understand that the best drama isn’t “topping off that other show by showcasing just how louder, more obnoxious, and more ‘serious’ we can get with our problems!”, but that it lies in subtlety. Like a man who’s just lost the love of his life, but isn’t shouting in the streets “I’M THE MOST MISERABLE THING EVER”, and instead looks up to the sky while crying and smiles. LIKE THE WAY BROTHERHOOD DID IT! YOU SOMEHOW LET A FUCKING SHOUNEN TOP YOU OFF IN HOW TO DEAL WITH DRAMA!
Drama isn’t about being obvious, it isn’t about emphasizing the death of your character. It’s about showcasing the pain without stating it, it’s about letting your characters experience it to the fullest instead of having them shout what they’re supposed to be experiencing. Drama should never be about loudness, about death, about annoying screams, crying and ‘woe is me’ attitude. The best drama is the one you barely notice. As a good example of this, look at ‘5cm Per Second’ ending scene, when they pass each other on the tracks. Writer could have easily have had either one of them race across and shout about loving and missing and caring and bullshit like that. However, instead, our main characters stop and look back for a moment, as the train passes, look back and see nothing. She moves on, while he stand still, waiting for a train to pass … only to see emptiness. And, instead of crying and whining, he smiles and walks away. THAT’S GOOD DRAMA! GOD-FUCKING-LEARN ALREADY!
Anyway, that about covers it up guys. If you disagree with me, that’s completely fine, but know that you’re dead to me. Which isn’t much really, so you’re safe. Thank you for reading and see you next time!