New Anime Season Summer 2009: Yuri Anime: Kanamemo (English)

July 13th, 2009

We’ve talked about how similar 4-koma comics are to each other many times. They are usually slice of life, perhaps at a school, in a club, a bunch of friends, all hangingoutandbeingsilly. Life, you know.

Well, Kanamemo isn’t like that. It has a rather depressing set up, as it happens. Kana’s parents had passed away when she was young and she was living with her grandmother until she also passed away, leaving Kana alone. So alone, in fact, that not a single adult, government agency or busybody neighbor even notices that she’s got to go somewhere. As the movers begin to take her grandmother’s items, it struck me as odd that whoever was in charge of the funeral thought to get the old lady’s personal items cleaned up, but somehow forgot to find somewhere to put her *granddaughter.*

When Kana panics and runs off with only a rucksack, she finds, after much travail, a live-in position with a newspaper delivery office populated by 4 adults, an elementary school girl for an office chief and I started to realize that this was going to be a problematic series for me. Specifically – there are too many handwaves.

At the Fanfic Revolution, we had a few rules for writers. One of them, coined by Adam Jones, was the “one handwave” rule. Every author gets one “handwave” – one thing that can just be passed off ’cause. If you are writing a story in which aliens land in your house, then that is the handwave. Everything after that ought to be internally consistent with that and everyone’s actions ought to make sense given their personalities. If people can fly – fine. But if people can fly, then suddenly some of them also have telepathy and, oh, didn’t I mention the Morlocks? Well, there are Morlocks. ….No.

Kana’s grandmother dying and her being completely, utterly forgotten and forlorn was the one handwave. Then she finds a live-in position at Fuushin Newspaper. Okay. Not *quite* a handwave. Acceptable.

The other staff members are a lesbian couple, a drunken pervert, a 3rd year ronin. Acceptable. Stupid, but acceptable. Not a handwave as such.

The office chief is an elementary school girl. No.

But then, above and beyond all that, I am being asked to believe that Kana, who I must remind myself is only 13, is also an idiot. And that was it. When she failed to ride a bicycle – failed to even let go when she repeatedly fell(!) – I developed a deep dislike for her. She’s hopeless, I thought, throw her in the river in a box and have done with it.

And then there’s the pervert. She is the Japanese male audience, wrapped in a sexy woman suit. She behaves the way the viewers would want to, if they were dressed in a sexy woman suit and had any cojones at all. Which is the final handwave. When I am reading a manga, I can skip over things that bore, irritate or annoy me – I can make distasteful scenes last microseconds. To have to sit and linger lasciviously on every violation perpetrated by Haruka on the underage characters makes me stabby.

By the second episode the depressing premise is pushed into the position of “tool used to provide Kana with a means of narration,” we can move on. Setting aside the issue of Haruka, let’s turn to Yume and Yuuki, the resident lesbians.

They are, in fact, a lesbian couple. No one will say that – no one will even imply it in conversation, but they are. The first time we see them, they are giving each other a goodbye kiss and while it is not lasciviously lingered upon, it cannot be denied or passed off as anything else. They continue on in this vein, as the provider of silly, eminently undeniable “they are a couple” humor. Yume is cheerful, energetic and studying to be a pastry chef, Yuuki is clingy and passive-aggressive, so clearly, she’s a lesbian. They are quite cute together.

Saki, the aforementioned elementary school office chief is wise and competent beyond her years. Basically she’s a 40 year old woman in a loli-bait body. I don’t pretend to get why the hell that is, but she’s hardly the first such and will hardly be the last.

And Hinata is the only character that seems in any way realistic. A student who has failed the university exam three times, she is working and, one hopes, studying. She is the other cipher for the viewing audience – the Dr. Jekyll to Haruka’s Hyde.

It’s not a godawful tear-my-eyes-out series, but it makes me depressed. It’s not a fun 4-koma, it’s a miserable drudgery of a 4-koma inside a decent 4-koma suit. I’d like to watch the suit, without the creature inside it, plskthx.


Art – 4 to me, but rather typical for 4-koma, so 6
Story – 4 to me, 7 to people who like that kind of thing or can not see the obvious
Characters – same as above
Yuri – 8
Service – 7

Overall – 5 to me, maybe to climb higher if it gets rid of that thing inside it.

I think there are some cute elements. They just happen to not be the things that the Japanese audience thinks are cute elements.

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14 Responses

  1. Cryssoberyl says:

    A ruthless but fair review of the first ep. I’ll continue to watch for sweet Yuuki/Yume moments no matter what, but let’s hope the more abrasive elements (Haruka-as-pedophile and Kana-as-moeblob) are kept to a minimum…

  2. Yurigoggles says:

    I’ll be avoiding this like the plague. It sounds painful. And really I was considering watching it before, but only because the summary they gave out was very misleading. All they mention is that the girl’s parents died and that she goes to live with “charming, self-assertive bishōjo”. They somehow neglected to mention all the lolicon and Kodomo no Jikan-esque fanservice (but with lesbians!). Apparently “charming and self-assertive” translates to pedophile molesters. Good god.

  3. @Yurigoggles – It’s nothing like KnJ. this is a cute, atypical 4-koma turned anime. The gags are harmless. I just don’t love it.

  4. @Yurigoggles – It’s nothing like KnJ. this is a cute, atypical 4-koma turned anime. The gags are harmless. I just don’t love it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I hadn’t read the manga before watching the anime, but I wasn’t at all surprised by what I saw. This is typical Iwami Shouko – a few things to like, SO MANY to dislike.

    I still think it’s watchable though. I don’t mind moe and the ridiculous setup, so I’ll stick with it. Low expectations helped a lot.

    Let’s hope they choose a better Houbunsha series to animate next time.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’m watching this the same way some read manga.

    No Yuki/Yume, I’m fast forwarding. I got so good at it over the years that I never had to scroll back once.

    Mean, yeah, but it gets me the suit, without aknowledging the monster’s existance.

    Kana-moeblob and Haruka-pedo are just too annoying on their own.

  7. Summed up my feelings exactly. I kept wondering why in God’s name no social worker came to take care of a 13 year old girl. I mean, wouldn’t even a concerned teacher or the principal of the school be aware of this? Or does everyone pretty much hope Kana just starves in a corner and dies?

    And when I first watched this, I kept thinking, “Why won’t they hire her when that newspaper place has hired at least three other under-aged girls to work there?” Then it hit me. They’re all over eighteen (save the boss). Why are there three characters who are over eighteen and they look like they’re fifteen years old?

    That was pretty much my wag of the finger for this anime. I’m aware that in anime it doesn’t matter, loli is loli, whatever, but why is there an anime that FINALLY has a mainly adult cast in a comedy no less and they look like little kids still?

    Damn you, fanservice.

    And Haruka pisses me off. I don’t mind the humorous drunk, but she’s not funny, and I’d send her to jail for child molestation. If she were a guy, people would be disgusted. Okay, fine, the regular bottom feeders would still cry “Hawt!” if it were a guy. But most people would be perturbed by this behaviour.

    Yume and Yuuki shall be the only things I watch this for. And Toyosaki Aki (Kana’s seiyuu, also Mogi’s seiyuu from Aoi Hana, Yui from K-ON! the 4-koma mega-hit of last season), since I like that voice she uses on her moe, (barely) functionally idiotic characters.

    As for the comedy, the funniest thing I saw was the OP sequence where you see each character trying to add their own ingredients to the soup Kana was making. Oh, and Kana saying she has to sleep on newspaper. Though that was sort of painful and cruel, if you think about it…

  8. Anonymous says:

    Another potentially good one this summer: Taishō Yakyū Musume. For anyone who likes sports movies that kind of thing. ^_^ Probably won’t be any Yuri beyond what can be seen with some goggles with settings turned to medium-high, but still…
    Girls sports are a time-honored lesbian tradition at least where I’m from hehe.

  9. hh says:

    i dont know.. i kinda find it Ok. the over drunk haruka is off definitely but the overall story is still enjoyable to me… esp. the cute cats.. ill def. keep on watching. oops. guess im in the minority here!

  10. Anonymous says:

    @Denominator as a 26 year old who still regularly gets carded to see R-rated movies, I can relate to the plight of over-18 girls who definitely don’t look it. But we’re really not the norm I admit haha.

  11. ajshepherd says:

    I’d second an Anonymous’ recommendation of Taishou Yakyuu Musume – normally I’d never watch a baseball anime, but the 1920s setting and the humour have made it one to watch.
    I suspect most of the conflict, if it comes, will stem from the idea that playing baseball is not something that well brought up young ladies of 1925 should do!
    No Yuri, but one of the characters does have a fangirl who’s glee at being next to her heroine is wonderful to behold.

  12. Cryssoberyl says:

    Actually, tall-tomboy Tomoe does have seem to have a robust crush on cute-shorty Koume. Possibly it won’t go any farther than an “esu”-style affection, but it’s definitely there.

  13. Anonymous says:

    hahaha LOL i do like this series XD like a i did like maria holic XD cuz i just want to laugh with YURI xd

    Taishou Yakyuu Musume ^^ that’s good really good ^^

  14. ookamiz says:

    I actually love this anime thanks to Yuki & Yume. Haruka isn’t even to take seriously. I found myself laughing a lot through the episodes I have watched and I am looking forward to more. I do recommend this anime if you want a good heartfelt story that’s funny and cute :D

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