This week’s Ongoing Investigation theme is the first episode of shows that Narutaki would not watch unless you put a gun to her head. Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya is mostly not here because it is getting a whole episode review of its own tomorrow.
No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular! is here because she found out it was popular on 4chan. Therefore she refuses to watch it out of principle. I can’t really blame her.
I’m Not Popular can be summed up simply. It is a magnum opus of schadenfreude. Tomoko Kuroki is a loser. A sad pathetic loser. A socially awkward plain-looking girl who revels in putting a positive spin on her stunted existence. She mostly winds up digging herself deeper into a world of isolation and delusion while feebly attempting to change her life.
And you are to revel in this fact. Like Charlie Brown running towards the football you know that it will be pulled away at the last second. The thrill is seeing how despite common sense the scene is set up and then the cathartic release of her misery being the end cap that ties it all together.
Clearly the audience is supposed to view Tomoko with empathy on one hand as most of the audience understand on a certain level what it is like to be shy, neurotic, paranoid, bitter, and delusional. Those are all common feelings and situations to anyone who has embraced a geeky lifestyle at some point or another. But on the other hand your mostly supposed to be laughing at Tomoko. So it is not like the Big Bang Theory that claims to be about nerds but clearly has no idea what their actual lives are like. But it is clearly laughing at the misery of someone who can’t change their life while grokking what that feels like.
I’m not going to claim to totally understand the female geek experience. I don’t want to mansplain this. It is just something about the show feels like a geeky guy trying to extrapolate what a girl’s experience would be like using their own memories more than a female author exploring her social pariahdom. Nico Tanigawa is a pen name for two authors so I don’t have any definitive proof of what either of their genders are. But maybe I’m just assuming that the genders are more separate experiences than they actually are. If anyone is actually a female fan who has experience with this I would actually like to know what they think.
I will say that with that all laid it is obvious why this series is so popular with places like 4chan. It is the exact mixture of self-loathing and perverse self-congratulation that would hit their sweet spot. It simultaneously loves and hates its protagonist in equal measure. But in the end shakes its head at its failure of a lead and laughs at her. If that is what interest you then I suppose you know what you’re watching this season.
I read Mixed Vegetables vol. 4. Now that Hana has actually started on the path to her dream by working in a sushi place, she is finding herself more and more concerned about Hayato’s plans. Unlike Hana, Hayato hasn’t owned up to his parents about his dreams. He doesn’t want to take over the sushi shop and desperately wants to be a pastry chef, but this volume of the manga calls that into question a bit.
I do kind of miss their relationship from the first volume, even if they were just pretending to be into each other, it had a fresh vibe to it. Still, they are slowly falling which is sweet and there doesn’t seem to be any artificially obstacles as yet.
I also enjoyed Hayato and Hana’s mini-adventure of trying to help out one of the sushi chefs who happens to be in love with their teacher. Seeing them team up for this purpose was sweet and funny.
P.S. this volume highlights the hot dads a bit.
The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching and reading outside of our main posts on the blog. We each pick three things that we were interested in a week and talk a bit about them. There is often not much rhyme or reason to what we pick. They are just the most interesting things we saw since the last Ongoing Investigation.