Netoju no Susume – On Compersion and Virtual Identities

Netoju no Susume anime review - Recovery of an MMO Junkie anime reviewYou know that feeling where you’re watching kids run around, laughing, and it brings you joy? Or perhaps when your best friend is celebrating a promotion at work, and you feel happy for them? Or, say, when you watch a romantic comedy, or an underdog story, and when the couple kiss or the protagonist overcomes all struggles, you fistpump and/or cheer? There’s a term that encapsulates this feeling, this emotion, which comes from the polyamory circles, and that term is “compersion,” take to mean, “Joy at the joy of others.”

To some degree, one could say that all romantic comedies operate off of our desire to see the couple hit it off, but while some romantic sub-genres (see Harem RomComs, as per my write-up on Nisekoi) work more off of wanting the story to take its “natural pathway,” some shows, such as last season’s Netoju no Susume (or either “Recovery of an MMO Junkie” or “Recommendation of the Wonderful Virtual Life” in English), really do bank on us feeling compersion for the characters, and desiring them to be happy, because our own happiness depends on it (to some degree, don’t get too crazy here).

(This is a Things I Like post, it’s not a review, but more a discussion of the show and of ideas that rose in my mind as a result of watching the show. There will be spoilers for the entire show.)

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12 Days of Anime #10 – Enjoying (Almost) Every Episode, Disliking The Show – Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!, localized as “Chuunibyou, Love & Other Delusions” in the west, or known simply as Chu2Koi, was a show I watched in November 2013, and quite enjoyed. I’ve enjoyed it enough to give it an 8/10 score, when most RomComs hover around 7 if they’re good, and 6 if they’re not. It had some delicious drama, it had good acting (Fukuyama Jun is my favourite), it was beautiful, it was heartfelt, and it felt genuine, exactly because it dealt with the fantastical, in a manner not too dissimilar to The Fisher King.

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren anime - Nibutani Shinka giving her Togashi Yuuta impression

Oh, it shouldn’t have been, but that’s “drama” for you.

(Sorry about the lack of post yesterday, got engrossed in a book and stayed up all night to finish it. Today will have two posts, enjoy!)

So when season 2 was announced for January 2014, I was quite excited, my main problem with most romantic stories, which is even more prevalent in anime, is that once the couple “gets together” and overcomes the “real difficulty” of admitting to each other and to themselves how they feel, and get over whatever outside interference there is, the piece just stops, and we don’t get to see an actual couple having an actual relationship. Chuunibyou Ren (the title of the second season) seemed to promise it’d give us exactly that. But it didn’t. Oh boy, did it not.

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Nisekoi and The Nature of Harem RomComs

Nisekoi anime reviewBefore picking up Nisekoi, I’ve been warned that it’s “the endless shounen battler” of Romantic Comedies, that it’s ongoing, for hundreds of chapters, and rather than ever coming closer to any form of closure, things keep going on and on, with “more of the same” of romantic hijinks, and sweet nothingness.

“Cool!” I said, since I like RomComs, and RomComs are very much about getting the same thing over and over, show after show, and even within a show, all these moments of almost confession, of almost-kissing, just for that moment of sweet release in the end, right? Well, sometimes too much of a good thing, especially when it’s predicated around drawing things out before giving us the release of a couple finally coming together. When your whole work is built around it not happening, well, that sort of takes a lot of the fun out of it.

I find Nisekoi a useful and interesting series to use in order to look at and consider some aspects of Romantic Comedies (RomComs), in general, in anime, and of the “harem” sub-type in particular.

(This is a Things I Like post, it’s not a review, but more a discussion of the show and of ideas that have risen in my mind as I’ve watched it. There will be some spoilers.)

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