When doll-playing and government-sanctioned speed dating isn’t enough, it’s up to A-1 Pictures to get the marriage rate up.
I’m sure most people who watch Eromanga Sensei will notice that it is a much more sexually explicit product than the team’s previous popular anime about falling in love with your sister. Not only are the majority of the girls more aggressive in their pursuit of the male lead’s cock, but they even consider marriage with him despite only knowing him for a short time, and mostly fall in love through his light novel making skills rather than his actual personality. It’s a show that’s promoting romance between nerds and their hobbies with too much emphasis put on the hobby itself and not enough on the individuals that are united by it. And as we all know, just because you share a hobby doesn’t mean you’ll get along. If that were the case, every anime fan in the world would have to love me, and I’m pretty sure the majority of you guys consider me to be the Michael Moore of blogging.
Yet despite those obvious faults, the anime has captured the hearts of many. Even the people who hate the show inadvertently found their hearts captured, as it ended up being one of the most watched Spring 2017 anime in most social circles, including Anitwitter despite almost none of the crowd enjoying it. What exactly is it about Eromanga Sensei that people just can’t seem to turn away from? Is it their prior history with Oreimo? Is it how these middle schoolers are really loose for their age? Is it how it targets the male otaku penis so precisely that despite the repulsive nature, you can’t help but respect the show for it? I mean Eromanga Sensei really loves to expose you to these light-novel loving middle-schoolers as they play piano whilst naked, play strip poker only to discover that the kimono girl doesn’t wear panties, or do Twister whilst wearing skimpy swimsuits. All while blushing at the embarrassment of it all.
While most people were either turned on or repulsed by those scenes, I had more questions than reactions. Like why are these characters middle schoolers in the first place rather than high schoolers (I know the male lead is in his first year, but that’s still younger than usual for this type of show)? It’s commonly known that the main reason a lot of anime don’t focus on adults is because it’s unrealistic that they would ever have the time to participate in harem antics and battles for the fate of the world (which is about as good of an excuse as the reason why Quiet dresses so skimpily in Metal Gear Solid V), but that’s what the high school kids are for, right? I’m pretty sure most twelve-year olds like the titular character don’t go through puberty. Why is this show so focused on the erotic side of light novels? While battle harems and such do make up a good portion of the market, they’re not large enough to the point that we associate the entirety of the medium with them. And yet the titular Eromanga Sensei and her companions tend to favor works that leave little to the imagination.
As I continued to watch females who are supposed to be around the same age as Oliver from Ni no Kuni engage in faux-stripper antics as well as being incredibly open to marriage, I started to wonder if Eromanga Sensei was actually encouraging people this young to be more active in terms of forming relationships and having sex. Hell, you could also argue that Eromanga Sensei is subliminally telling its nerdy female audience (which I discovered at a few conventions is actually quite large) that they need to loosen up more so that men will accept them, as well as be more open to the idea of marrying young. While this is true for most countries as of late, Japan’s lack of sexual activity despite their weird pornos and love hotel business is pretty common knowledge to anyone with a passing familiarity of the area. And everything about this show, no matter how I look at it, seems to be geared towards awakening sexual desires, which will in turn fix that problem. Who would benefit from convincing the audience to engage in a little more horniness? When the country of origin happens to have an infamous reputation for a declining economy and a low marriage/birth rate, combined with how babies are commonly made, what else am I supposed to think?
While Japan was never the worst country in regards to the matter, there is not denying that the economy is strapped to a time bomb due to its low birthrate and strict immigration policies, causing the workforce to shrink whilst the number of elders to care for grow – not helped that the life expectancy in Japan is pretty high. With marriage usually taking a backseat to careers these days (especially with women in the industrial environment) and most working adults being too tired to even have sex in the first place after they come home, planned pregnancy is not exactly high up on the priority list and unplanned pregnancy is something that nobody wants. Advances in technology have tried to alleviate the declining population problem, but there’s no replacing millions of people at the end of the day, especially when they’re required to perform maintenance on said technological advancements. Sure it means that job losses will be a rare occurrence, but at the end of the day, there’s no fighting the advancement of time.
It’s pretty ironic that one of the big causes of Japan’s lack of marriages and sex drive is the working environment that the country itself needs to survive. There’s a reason why Japan likes to promote that if you don’t marry young, you most likely won’t get married at all – because most working adults in the country don’t really have time to enjoy a social life. It’s not exactly uncommon to work sixty hours a week there, mostly due to the country’s strict seniority system and how they like to promote quantity over quality. And while the government is doing its best to fix the problem, most of whom they can influence are working adults who are close to or have passed their prime age. The younger generation that has more free time to fix the problem needs to play their part too, including all the lonely otaku nerds who would rather marry a pillowcase than the real deal.
So what better way to influence the young than through the very medium they base the majority of their free time over? A show about a young underage light novel writer winning the hearts of young underage light novel-obsessed girls, including his own sister (a sign that Japan might be getting a little too desperate), through his otaku knowledge and skills? Perfect base setup in order to influence baby-making. Long discussions regarding light novel culture? The more the audience relates to the situation, the more they’ll be influenced. Lots of underage skin being shown? Hey, girls need to be more confident and guys need to get a boner in order for sex to even occur, so why wouldn’t we? Who should we get to animate it? Well A-1 Pictures is the only studio available and they made Oreimo a hit before, so why not them? It’s not like we have to care about the animation as long as the story drives up love hotel business, right? I mean we don’t even bother to put much effort in our actual animated porn to begin with.
And you know what the best part of this plan is? There’s no real age limit for it. Even if they’re past their prime, a lot of adult men and women who watch this anime will undoubtedly have their sexual urges unleashed as well due to a combination of how you’d have to be young at heart to watch the stuff in the first place along with how the anime is saying “if these kids can do it, then so can you”. Eromanga Sensei is still targeting young, but it’s not writing off the older generation to just the government. True, otaku fandom in of itself – let alone the amount of people who’ll watch this show in the first place – only constitutes a minor fraction of Japan’s populace, but as long as it can affect someone, then it’s all worth it in the end, right? Anime in of itself will never be taken 100% seriously as is, and everyone knows when it comes to a product that you can’t please everyone, so doing what you can and hoping for the best is all the Eromanga Sensei team can fall back on.
Now I know a lot of you guys are thinking “wait a minute. Even if what you say is true, I don’t feel like I want to procreate with someone at all. I just think these girls are cute/I just want to murder everyone with a pitchfork and a volcano”. So obviously, the subliminal messaging you’re accusing Eromanga Sensei of doing failed, right? Well, subliminal messaging is not that powerful to begin with, guys. It’s good for giving an extra push, but it’s not exactly a substitute for trust and transparency. And if it’s not executed correctly, it can repulse you from the intended message even more. I mean these girls love – and I mean LOVE to the point of worship – light novels, and I know quite a few people who indulge in the stuff that are absolutely repulsed by these characters’ behaviors. Besides, this post isn’t an analysis on whether I think Eromanga Sensei’s intentions actually succeeded. It’s a post on what said intentions actually are.
There’s also the factor that most of Anitwitter isn’t Japanese and thus doesn’t relate to some of its courtship cultures, nor are the target audience for this anime’s intentions in the first place. But I don’t really have time to look at Japan’s unique history of marriage here, especially since it’s not really relevant to the point I’m trying to make.
Well, regardless of whether this show is actually encouraging young sexual behavior to help with the population crisis or not (keep in mind that a sizable chunk of Japan’s population lean towards anime to avoid the complications of actual sex entirely), there’s no denying that these characters’ ages really do stand out. Sure they’re mostly only younger than the Oreimo cast by two years, but in a country that really favors seniority, said two years make a huge difference. You can give whatever reason you want, but we all know that at the end of the day, this show has an effect on the audiences’ dirty desires. Whether that effect is positive or not is another story altogether, but it definitely left an impression, and there’s little ambiguity as to what kind of impression it leaves given the show’s content.
I mean why are so many people watching it in the first place compared to other light novel adaptations with the exception of the more popular Akashic Records? Why aren’t they watching a more innocent and sweet middle school romance show like Tsuki ga Kirei? I know being exclusive on Anime Strike doesn’t help, but you could watch Saekano if you wanted a fanservice-y take on otaku culture given how the characters are of a more believable age, and it gives plenty to praise/complain about depending on the person. It’s not even scored all that well, as 9anime (because I refuse to acknowledge MyAnimeList anymore) ranks it as a 7.11, which is pretty shit by anime standards. Yeah I watched the entire show, but I’m also watching Sagrada Reset, plus I write about anime as a hobby. What’s your guys’ excuse?
At the end of the day, I don’t really care about Eromanga Sensei as a show, and anyone who’d think I would even consider it has merits obviously pays attention to me less than I thought. Nevertheless, the age of the protagonists combined with their actions was bothering me for a long time to the point that when the kinda-marriage proposal happened, it got me to look up how bad Japan’s economy, working life, and youth culture truly is compared to the States, which in turn has given me new appreciation for being born an American. Just goes to show that even bad products have their place in the world. Hey Bobduh, what were you saying about continuing to watch bad shows to be a waste of time again? Because if you ask me, I think the lessons I learned from sitting through this inconclusive trash pile to be something more people should be aware of.