Weekly Digest 12/10/16 – Watamodou, Drifters

Watashi ga Motete Dousunda – 10

I don’t think there’s any question that Mutsumi-sempai is the sleeper contender in Watashi ga Motete Dousunda – the tortoise in this race.  While the other slow starter Shinomiya, never really felt like a threat, Mutsumi always came off as a lurking factor.  It was really just a question of his rousing himself from his passive persona and entering the ring.

I think the other guys (and Shina) were wondering the same thing I was – is this really who Mutsumi is?  Could anybody really be that nice?  Maybe he is, but there’s probably a certain amount of denial that went into his whole “I like everyone!” routine.  The catalyst to rouse the sleeping giant is his older brother Kazuma (Nakamura Yuuichi).  He’s introduced to the story through a bogus treasure map he drew as a prank when he was in the History Club three years earlier – which his brother found and led everyone on a wild goose chase to Mt. Fuji because of.  But Kazuma becomes a real factor when he shows up at the school as a teacher in training.

Like his brother, there’s some question as to whether the facade we see is the real person – though in Kazuma’s case, it’s whether he’s really as sneaky and predatory as he seems.  Nii-san might be playing the threat in order to motivate his little brother to be proactive in going after Kae (if he is, it’s working).  Or he might really be interested, in which case Asuma-kun asks exactly the right question: “Do you really think it’s all right for a teacher to put the moves on a student?”

I like the change in dynamic Kazuma brings to the story – not least because things are more interesting if Asuma is actually an active participant himself.  But if the elder brother turns out to be a serious competitor in this contest, I sincerely hope Watamodou smacks that down as the seriously icky development that it is.

 

Drifters – 10

Drifters continues to be the most confounding series of the season for me.  At times it’s eerily smart in the way it dissects historical events, at others shockingly idiotic and even reprehensible.  It’s almost as if the whole “St. Germin” subplot has been inserted to remind us that the prejudice-free world Kubo envisioned for Yuri on Ice certainly doesn’t exist in anime yet.

One thing I can say for sure is that whenever Oda speaks, Drifters becomes impossible to look away from.  His explanation to the Dwarves of why muskets are superior to bows and arrows was positively chilling, especially when he thought to himself that the real power of the weapon is that it puts a layer of remove between the killer and the feelings of guilt for doing the killing. He’s right of course – and that’s why both the historical and this fictional Oda are such fascinating characters.  They exist on the line between great leadership and sociopathy, forever seeming to waver between one and the other.

The really scary part about all this is that one imagines Hirano, the mangaka, getting turned on as he writes Oda’s dialogue here.  Or nodding his head silently as St. Germin extols the virtues of Adolf Hitler’s leadership style.  There’s been a sense of something ugly about Drifters right from the beginning, but it’s a kind of compelling ugliness that’s hard to look away from (and the author wants us to force us to stare into that ugliness, clearly).  And given the seeming likelihood that the Black King is in fact Jesus, who in the world knows where Drifters will go from here?  I could see it degenerating into a full-on rant against multiculturalism and racial diversity, though I think it’s more likely to continue to be a story rooted in amorality and savagery where the only law that matters is survival of the fittest.

 

 

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5 comments

  1. Again, I don’t think Hirano is by any means someone who genuinely believes in superiority of one race over another or whatever. At best he’s a moral nihilist who thinks there’s no way to judge history but by the logic that might makes right in the end. And the Black King IMHO isn’t portrayed as pursuing inherently evil objectives – it just so happens that his objectives clash with the ones of our protagonists. It’s a world in which everyone wants to survive whatever the cost.

    St. Germi and his cronies are certainly the typical homosexual stereotype in anime. It can be sort of justified by the fact that they’re supposed to be also corrupt, debauched and spoiled noblemen, but on the other hand it’s not like there are any other better representations of homosexuality in this show, so it’s hard to separate the two things :P.

  2. d

    Yikes, I hope Drifters isn’t really pro-Hitler o_O…I mean especially in this time and their target audience…And I mean, I don’t want to over-generalise but a lot of people, have a difficult time to distinguish endorsement, critique and depiction o-O…

  3. S

    It’s fascinating how you keep completely missing the point with Drifters. The entire thing about this not being a clear good versus bad situation, how the Black King is both a villain to humans and a savior to the demihumans, while the Drifters are not heroes, how St Germi is an amoral opportunist whom Oda compares to one of the famous serial betrayers in Japanese history, and how Oda’s descent into outright villainy is only held back by the moral compass of his two companions – they’re being so obvious about all this and you keep completely missing it. If you really find it easy to imagine Hirano “nodding along” to what St Germi spouts even as Oda says “you’re just like a certain monster I used to know” you have a very active fantasy but it says more about you than Hirano.

  4. If that’s what you need to justify the narrative you’ve created, sure.

  5. Well, it might not be necessarily obvious but it’s true that it doesn’t look like Hirano is necessarily celebrating these people either. Even the praise to Hitler only came from one guy who 1) was basically only commending his practical ability from a completely amoral point of view and 2) is shady as fuck anyway. So it was probably to be taken with a grain of salt.

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