Ah, Eromanga Sensei… where do I even start!?
Eromanga Sensei, is the ‘story’ of 15-year-old Masamune – a light novel author. His utterly reclusive 12-year-old sister Sagiri, has – unbeknown to him – been the illustrator for his novels. The illustrations of which are ‘lewd’ (who actually uses that word…) The show focuses on the relationship between the two, and the relationships with the other light novel authors that jump into the fray.
Story and Characters
If my synopsis above seems a little sparse, that’s not because of a lack of effort, but because that’s all Eromanga really is. Story… well, it doesn’t truly have one to speak of. This itself is not a criticism point – there are plenty of great shows that lack a concrete story. Slice of Life is more or less an embodiment of this idea. And sure, Eromanga is without a doubt, Slice of Life. That is not the problem here. The problem is the lack of everything else.
I do not mind fan-service. In fact, I think it is an integral part to a great deal of anime. That being said: Only if it is supplementary. If it does not interfere with the workings of the show, if the plot is not worked around the baseless desire to show voluptuous titties. For example: Hinako Note. A Slice of Life show, which I do really enjoy. It contains fan-service – it’s not ashamed of that. But, that is not all the show is, and the narrative is not built around these moments. There’s story there. There’s fairly decent characters. A stand-up script to go with them too. Moments of comedy that don’t rely on the sexualisation of a twelve-year-old. (more on that soon) Eromanga is completely devoid in all these areas. It is meant to be watched for the fan-service alone – nothing more.
Eromanga’s entire plot is more than absurd. These kids or multi-million-copy selling authors… sure they are… that’s a believable situation if I’ve ever seen one… It’s impossible to relate to any of it, because it is so far out of touch with reality. Not one moment in the show is grounded. Not one moment does it make you feel as though you have experienced similar things. This being what it is, how can we be expected to feel anything for it? Stories are all about the relationship between their reader/viewer. Eromanga gets this so wrong, it’s almost hilarious in its own right.
This is a MASSIVE talking point. Sagiri – the loli of the show is… 12-years-old. Now, if you’ve watched Oreimo (and you probably should have) you might know it’s written by the same author (Tsukasa Fushimi) as Eromanga. Oreimo was a pretty big commercial success, despite its controversies and lackluster 2nd season/ending. No doubt Fushimi wants to work on the back of this, creating something similar that will pander to similar… tastes.
I find myself being cautious of what those tastes might be. From the ground up, Eromanga objectively sexualises a girl who is 12 (Sagiri) And, I do understand how in the anime community, this might be an attractive thing – as much as it shouldn’t be. So, there’s obviously a market for this kind of content. The very nature of it troubles me, though. Frankly… it’s fucked!
I understand this is anime – something which is entirely fictional. But I have to ask: What kind of people are sexually attracted to 12-year-old children? Dare I say it, but, in the ‘real world’ that is a punishable crime. (just speaking candidly here) Her age isn’t directly referenced in the show, yet the design of her character does little to hide the reality. A reality that is frankly inexcusable, and something which cannot be overlooked.
I don’t understand why Sagiri wasn’t made a year or two older? How would that have made any narrative impact. None of the plot is relative to her age, it’s barely even relative to her existence at all. Sagiri could have been 14/15, and all of the same things she is – which is to say, not many. The only reason she is so young, is to satiate that controversial allure. I think this is an abhorrent stance. I don’t see how the publishers of the book, or the producers, (Aniplex & A-Studios) could be okay with this? In what rational light can Eromanga be viewed?
I’m going to go out and say it: I think the anime community is at fault.
I’d like to know why people ‘like’ Eromanga, why they think it is worth a 7.18 on MAL? Because, in a roundabout sense Eromanga is a dreadful, and debauched example of a fetish going too far. Something getting completely out of hand. Think about this simple fact: This show SEXUALISES a TWELVE-YEAR-OLD girl. A person who is – in most countries – four years below the age of consent. I can’t comprehend this. Morals are universal wherever they exist. Whether we’re talking about an anime character, or a person in the real world – the same things apply.
Now, of course, people watching Eromanga aren’t going to suddenly become paedophiles – that’s a ridiculous notion… And, I have no problem at all with the subject matter itself. Only, Eromanga doesn’t even make an attempt to tackle its heavy connotations. It has no meaning. It has no ‘moral of the story,’ it’s a push to actually label it as a story at all. In comparison look at Koi Kaze, a show which does tackle similar themes, but in a way that engages the audience, that makes them think and question their own morality. Eromanga is a vacuum – completely devoid of meaningful content.
Why Does it Exist?
The simple answer is: Because it can.
Because we (generalising) okay this stuff… We let it exist – supply and demand. If there’s a market for it, then it’s going to be there, for people to consume in relentless, unthinking droves.
Because anime is saturated with low-quality, low-risk shows, that serve no comprehensive purpose. Because, if Eromanga is anything… it’s a greedy cash grab – both on behalf of Fushimi, the author, and the shows producers. It’s the worst kind of media. The kind that serves to gratuitously line the pockets of executives, and nothing else – totally exempt of redeeming features.
What I find to be even stranger, is that Eromanga didn’t have to be so utterly shit. Although I have no knowledge of the source work – though I expect it is the same in pretty much every way. There could have been well-made characters. There could have been a deep-ish storyline. I find it hard to imagine how it’s possible for it to be as bad as it is. It feels like there’s effort gone into making something so atrocious; almost as if it would have been easier to create something better.
Is there anything even mildly… redeemable?
Usually I would mention some… positive points, though in Eromanga’s case, it’s pretty much devoid of them. If I had to say anything on the matter: The art isn’t terrible. The show looks okay. Alright… I do have a soft-spot for the art-style. Of course, it isn’t anything unusual or anything special in any sense of the word. And yet, it is visually appealing – as it is of course meant to be. In some places the animation quality is actually fairly respectable. But… that’s it. That’s all. Even if they were the best they could be – which they are not – you could not recommend a show on those attributes alone. There has to be balance – a package. None of which Eromanga comes even close to having.
I suppose they had to use the budget somewhere, right? It’s not as though there was much narrative/character development to be done… considering it has all been done – almost identically – before. (Oreimo)
Coming to a somewhat fucked conclusion
One more thing. THE SHOW HAS NO END. And, I don’t mean literally. Because, it doesn’t end, it just… finishes… It’s as though, somewhere close to the last episodes, someone realised how shit it actually was, and simply decided to put in zero effort from there on out.
>> Beginning/Set-up >> Formation of conflict >> Resolution of said conflict
That is the general consensus of how a narrative has to be constructed…
Now, Eromanga’s end is non-existent. Nothing is resolved, nothing happens, nothing actually changes. I find myself asking, what’s the point then? Well, the only think I can think of is a… second season (and lord help us!) Let’s be honest, I couldn’t give a shit about a second season – because fuck me, I suppose there’s going to be one. Regardless of this. Within the boundaries of THIS ONE you still have to have some semblance of narrative coherency, things cannot just more or less remain the same from beginning to end.
Most of all, I want to listen to a recording of the board that thought Eromanga Sensei was ever a good idea. I want to hear their reasoning. I want to understand how they signed off on such a project. Through all these thoughts, as always, one word pings around all the places in my head…
What did you think of the train-wreck that is Eromanga Sensei? Disagree? Tell me why?
As always, thanks for reading!
-Chris (Follow me on TWITTER)