There’s no question that if R-15 rises above the height of a mindless sexploitation comedy – and I think it does – irony is at the heart of everything that makes it happen. And this episode was full of the irony that, for me at least, makes this such an interesting series.
If you forgive the conceit than a boy could be a best-selling porn author while still in middle school, the case of Akutagawa Taketo is an interesting one. There’s some subtle social commentary in the fact that this kid is a porn legend, because it’s clear from both his fantasy life and real life that his flights of erotic fancy are just that, fancy. In short, Taketo is a boy with no experience – a virgin who I’m guessing has never kissed a girl, never mind bedded one. Not only that, but he’s an unqualified romantic too – someone who at heart is much more interested in the heart than the penis (though being 15 years old, the latter is of course important to him as well).
One could even make the case that it’s this very romantic bent that likely makes Taketo so popular among aficionados of things hentai. As he says himself, raw is OK, but euphemisms stimulate the imagination more effectively. The sexual world that Taketo fantasizes (and writes about) isn’t the one of a seasoned sexual adventurer, but that of an idealistic and – yes, I’m going to say it – innocent boy. His erotic universe is an idealized one as seen through the eyes of someone who’s idea of sex hasn’t been tainted by the sometimes messy reality of the topic. Couple that with a natural writing talent, and I think you have best-selling porn writer Akutagawa Taketo.
In purely practical terms, this episode proved beyond any reasonable doubt that Fukune is the only girl the idealist really wants. Utae is a lovely young lady – popular, pretty, and an admirer of Taketo. She all but proposes to him but he, despite not being remotely immune to the temptations of casual eroticism, barely notices her. I feel bad for Utae because she’s a very sweet girl, but it’s clear Taketo just can’t see beyond the girl of his idealized, adolescent dreams. Ran’s lust for Fukune and Ritsu’s confused crush on Taketo are played for laughs, but it’s only Utae’s interest that’s a serious component of the romantic web of the series.
Taketo’s response when he and Fukune, sopping wet from the rain, end up taking refuge in a love hotel (the “Amadeus” – but why was it Beethoven on the soundtrack?) was typical of him. There could hardly have been a more natural scenario for him to make a move, but he didn’t even want to fantasize about sex, never mind have it. Of course he nosebleeds, because he’s a teenager and as horny as he should be, but doing anything to cheapen Fukune tarnishes the ideal of perfect romance in his mind. That’s his dilemma, the war between the big head and the little one – or between the heart and the libido, if you like.
Bottom line, Taketo is sweet and as kind-hearted as can be. Fukune is an odd, puzzling girl but rather innocent too. Their clumsy relationship is more pure and real that the vast majority of “romances” you see in anime, including more so-called serious ones – and that’s another bit of irony to add to the pile. I don’t expect this show will ever escape the gravitational pull of it’s premise and first impression and soar to respectability, but I’m very fond of it. It’s not that common in anime for a show to strip away a lot of the nonsense and focus on relationships as their elemental, most human level. it was probably doomed from the start to never be taken seriously, but that doesn’t make it any less of a hidden gem in my eyes.