Characters and Context: Kouki vs. Alice

[HorribleSubs] Usagi Drop - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_12.55_[2011.08.11_15.48.04] [IB] Ikoku Meiro no Croisée - 03 [720p] [CCA04F45].mkv_snapshot_06.47_[2011.07.17_20.43.05]

I’ve seen the same term applied to characters in two of my three favorite series this Summer – “annoying”.  The characters in question are Alice from Ikoku Meiro and Kouki from Usagi Drop.  That got me thinking about just what makes a character work in any given series.

Seems to me that you can’t look at a character in a vacuum, say “I like” or “I don’t like” and get the whole picture.  As regards Alice, the issue isn’t so much that I don’t care for the character or find her annoying – my concern is that I don’t especially like the way she changes the dynamic of the series.  Whenever Alice is on screen the show becomes a little more ordinary.  I love the dynamic between Yune, Clause and Oscar – it feels so fresh and different.  When Alice enters the picture, Ikoku Meiro becomes a much more traditional anime with traditional attempts at humor and conflict.  Indeed, I think the best thing about Alice is that she brings older sister Camille into the mix – although I’m still not sure even Camille is vital to make this series work, and if she were, Alice would be strictly extra baggage. In short?  I don’t think the series needs her.

So what of Kouki?  Where I could see where some would find him a bit much – he’s hyperactive, mischievous and a bit bratty – I think he changes the dynamic of Usagi Drop in a positive way.  As wonderful as Rin and Daikichi are together, if that’s all the series was, I think they’d be a bit much after a while.  All of the supporting cast is needed to frame their relationship and to provide a contrast to their scenes together, and Kouki contributes to that admirably.  It’s not just his relationship with Rin that works – he also adds an interesting dynamic with Daikichi, as the son of a single mother.  And by extension, he brings his mother into the relationship loop, with all the interesting permutations attached to that.  I think the series needs him.

Now I’ll admit, even in a vacuum I do like Kouki better than Alice.  I find him hilarious and likeable in an impish way.  Alice I’m more indifferent about – I think she’s a fundamentally decent person who happens to present an obnoxious front to the world.  What really matters isn’t so much that, though, as the way each character impacts the fragile dynamic of their respective series – the way the cast interacts, and the overall tone of the show.  For me, that’s where Alice loses out, and Kouki is a big win.



  1. T

    Alice, in my opinion, is a fun character to have around as long as she is NOT the central cause of the main conflict. She's a decent side character that tries to add a different perspective to the series (the nobility, to be more precise). As to whether she is successfully and accurately doing so, that is more debatable.

    As for Kouki, I think the reason why I'm rather lax with regards to his behavior is because he is a child. I guess I just have this preconceived notion that all boys, as kids, can be rather obnoxious.

    In the context of Usagi drop, though, Kouki fits in much better than Alice does for Ikoku Meiro. I guess it's just my different approaches to their attitudes that makes me feel so.

  2. l

    Dear Enzo, I don't know what got into you into getting all this new idea of new things to blog. But I like it already, it nice to see we can talk more about our favourite series as a whole without actually talking about any particular episode.

    Anyway, I myself don't hate Alice or find her annoying. It just that like Enzo said she disturb the wonderful feeling of Yune's cuteness.And that was the thing that attract us to this series. It not that Aoi is not doing a good job but she is doing too good a job to take the spotlight away. Aoi, less gambatte please.

    For Kouki, I think he fit the story perfectly. The reason I could think of people finding him annoying is that he is a potential childhood turn lover to Rin which many people find rage. I mean, someone you know from young that protect you and always play around in dangerous place. Now they just need a promise and for Kouki to forget about Rin to complete the TOYOTA. I myself would like that to happen with Daikichi finding a love interest himself too.

  3. Well, TBH it's a slow Friday and I hat time. but this certainly is an interesting topic to me, and it's certainly not the first time I've blogged on non-episodic subjects.

    If anyone is upset with Kouki as a potential romantic partner for Rin (many, many years down the road) they better get over themselves because even I as a non-reader of the manga can see that ship has sailed. He's smitten, and in some ways they're acting like a couple already without even knowing it. It'll happen – done deal.

    Tsuki, I think you hit the essence in terms of Alice providing a different perspective. Problem is, I like the original perspective of the series so much I don't think it's needed!

  4. L

    Lol you had time. ^_^ So do I, so I'm gonna spend a few hours tonight watching the meteor shower (and hopefully snag some long exposures). Too bad there's clouds and a full moon this year…

    You're right about Kouki in the future, but I can't say anything more without spoiler tags. Not that they're major or anything, but you might not like the direction the manga took recently. Btw, did you implement spoiler tags in the comments?

    Anyways, I have nothing else to say besides agreeing with you, so there.

  5. S

    Kouki never fails to amuse me and his seiyuu is doing an excellent job in bringing out his charm. In many ways, he reminds me of myself when I was a kid. It was like looking at a mirror when he scraped that stick across the walls and "what animal trail did you tale to get here?", that came right out of my mom's dictionary ;D

  6. Yup, I think Daikichi felt the same way. Thus Kouki's :Are you psychic?!"

    Luxorcism, there's no way to do it in Blogger that I've found – not even a hack.

  7. L

    I like alice and camile character because aside from the lovely dynamics that claude and oscar bring on screen what camile and alice bring on the screen is the lives of noble women in 19th century Europe. The episode where they did dress up made a comparsion of french femininity and japanese femininity. When yune made the comment of the type of dress that noble women wear she was right that it is constraining. It is true that japanese women kimonos are more loose and you can move around them more but I got the sense that yune understood what camile was talking about in terms of not always getting what you want.
    To me atleast it showed that despite the difference in cultures there are similarities about the type of things women can and are not allowed to do. At least in those times.
    About kouki I like his character lol

  8. That's the best case for Alice, Lizzie – that she does offer some insight on that cultural divide. I guess I just prefer to see that play out through the dynamic inside the Claudel household.

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