Ore Monogatari!!, Episode 6

As expected, this episode of Ore Monogatari!! brought to a close the relationship tension between Takeo and Yamato—and, as I expected, Yamato’s “secret” was revolved around guilt induced by Takeo’s perceptions and expectations of her. It’s not like this is an uncommon thing; they’ve just started dating and still don’t really know much about the other person yet. But, while it’s nice to see the tension resolved in Ore Monogatari!!‘s typical adorable fashion, I had a few problems with both the execution and the content of the episode.

Ore Monogatari!!

The biggest issue for me is that the narrative itself—through the proxies of Yamato and Takeo’s own reaction—basically lets Takeo come out of this situation without casting any sort of examining light on him. Let me make one thing clear right from the start: this relationship problem never about Yamato and whether or not she was “pure.” All of Yamato’s anxiety, all of her tears…they’re all on Takeo. I’ll stop short of saying it’s his “fault,” but the instigating moment was when Takeo applied a label (“pure-hearted”) to Yamato and then followed it up with telling her wouldn’t touch her until she was grown-up. (For a more detailed breakdown of that conversation, check out the episode 5 post).

Maybe Ore Monogatari!! is planning on touching on this later, but for all his good intentions, Takeo is still trapped within a very narrow spectrum of ideas on what a relationship is and how he should ask. I don’t doubt for a moment that he truly does love Yamato and wants to do right by her, but his inexperience and naivety are on full display when he imposes his own perceptions on his adorable girlfriend. So, while it’s awesome that Takeo is so full of confidence and such a genuinely good guy, the way he is makes it hard for Yamato to keep up. He’s such a “cool” and powerful presence and, unfortunately (to my mind) the show seems to see only this side of Takeo—and I think that’s where the relationship imbalance I was talking about a few episodes ago comes from.

Ore Monogatari!!

To this point, aside from three outstanding introspective Takeo moments (the leaf in the sink, under the beam, in the fire), Yamato has been the only one to really have been inflicted with internal conflict to this point. Takeo is so assured about the way he thinks things should go and so solidly in place with those ideals that Yamato is the one who ends up changing in the end—it’s Yamato who opens up to him, who has to do the admitting, and Yamato who is the person who gets worried about. And I’m not saying that’s bad, but there’s no equivalency happening from Takeo himself or from the show. And I dislike that. I dislike that Yamato’s worries—inflicted by Takeo’s unfortunate, well-intentioned words—are solved by Takeo running to her and telling her it’s okay for her to want to hold his hand. I dislike that Takeo’s certainty of purpose is negatively affecting Yamato, despite how much she admires him for it, and that it’s not being addressed.

Now, it is still relatively early in the series (we’re exactly 1/4 of the way through at this point), so maybe we’ll see this addressed in one big conflict later on, but there is a certain degree of idealization that’s happening with Takeo’s character…and it’s making me a bit uncomfortable. I’m not saying I want Takeo to suddenly reveal some awful flaw or tragic secret—I’d just like a little more acknowledgement from the narrative that it’s his great strengths—his wonderful, caring personality, his physical power, his solidity of mind and spirit, his desire to learn and be the best boyfriend he can—that also function as his weaknesses and sometimes blind him to the feelings of others, even those he cherishes most. I don’t know: tell me in the comments if you think I’m being unreasonable about this.

Ore Monogatari!!

On a different level, this episode of Ore Monogatari!! also seemed to be showing a few cracks in the show’s craftsmanship. This isn’t to say the production itself is falling down the gutter (although the relative lack of animation seems to indicate Madhouse isn’t allotting all that many resources to the show) and there are certainly still standout moments, but I think this is a case where the light-heartedness of the content is a bit at odds with the simplicity of the presentation. While Chihayafuru‘s high-stakes matches and intense interpersonal drama were able to carry the show despite having similar levels of production values and very similar visual presentation (lots of panning shots as per Morio Asaka’s other work), Ore Monogatari!! doesn’t have that same intensity to keep your attention (and I’d also say it’s not as well-written as Chihayafuru).

This combination leads to some scenes (like the long conversation between Ai, Suna, and Yamato) to feel somewhat lifeless. Although I can intellectually understand the beats in Yamato’s character arc, the austere direction consisting of medium close-up still shots, camera pans, and very slow-paced editing, along with the relatively inefficiently written dialogue, keep the scene from really being all that effective. Instead, Ore Monogatari!! leans into its soundtrack and amusing background tricks (Suna slowly getting smaller and smaller) to maintain engagement. While that works to a point, with a scene as long as this, it’s just not good enough and starts to push towards being dull to watch.

Ore Monogatari!!

Where we see this pattern be broken is Ore Monogatari!!‘s forays into silliness—Yamato’s fantastic faceplant, the young couple’s first awkward attempts at hand-holding, and the extraordinary kissing experiment inflicted on Suna by Takeo. These scenes are marked by increased visual variety (the icy wind that blows in Suna’s face), quicker editing, and can lean into the engagement factor of the humor to offset the lack of tension that pervades Ore Monogatari!! That isn’t to say that this show should be super tense—that would be an entirely different anime—but when you don’t have tension, you have to have something else, and when Ore Monogatari!! isn’t being stinking cute or funny, it doesn’t have much else.

Basically, that just leaves us with an inconsistent, imperfect show—and that’s just fine by me. I don’t demand all shows I watch work as perfectly for me as Blood Blockade Battlefront does (I think that’d be exhausting). Instead, we get a show that gives me a lot of things to talk about and that’s a very good thing.

Onwards, Takeo and Yamato! RIP Suna.

Ore Monogatari!!

11 thoughts on “Ore Monogatari!!, Episode 6

  1. “Takeo is so assured about the way he thinks things should go and so solidly in place with those ideals that Yamato is the one who ends up changing in the end—it’s Yamato who opens up to him, who has to do the admitting, and Yamato who is the person who gets worried about. And I’m not saying that’s bad, but there’s no equivalency happening from Takeo himself or from the show. And I dislike that. I dislike that Yamato’s worries—inflicted by Takeo’s unfortunate, well-intentioned words—are solved by Takeo running to her and telling her it’s okay for her to want to hold his hand. I dislike that Takeo’s certainty of purpose is negatively affecting Yamato, despite how much she admires him for it, and that it’s not being addressed.”

    Hmm. I see where you’re coming from with this paragraph (and the ones before it), and I think I’d agree with you – Takeo’s ignorance and naivety can be a burden on Yamato – if it weren’t for the fact that he is trying to rectify that. See: reading shoujo manga, girls magazines because he can tell something is wrong but that he doesn’t have the knowledge to understand what that could be. If he were fully secure in his worldview, why would he look outside himself for answers?

    If we were to look for blame, we could also say that Yamato assumes a lot about Takeo, too. That when he says he appreciates her purity – and the many things that could mean (‘wait ’til you’re grown or no), that he would become hateful or spiteful if she wasn’t what he expected.

    Of course, these is no reason to point fingers in this case, especially to poor (delightfully and occasionally creepy) Yamato. It’s impossible to avoid falling short due to your own ignorance, but it is possible to crawl out of that situation once you’re made aware.

    Takeo definitely has a long way to go, but a willing spirit and free and honest communication on both parts is key so that the burden is not too long on anyone’s shoulders. And well, Yamato might need to trust him carry her own, sometimes.

    …seriously, though, if anyone’s carrying the weight of this relationship it has to be Suna. Takeoooooooo ;;;

    Like

    • “…seriously, though, if anyone’s carrying the weight of this relationship it has to be Suna. ”

      Haha, no kidding, I’d love it if at some point Takeo does something (that doesn’t involve suffocation) for Suna for once.

      Like

    • You make a good point about Takeo working to get better! I think I see his efforts to understand Yamato as an expression of those same personality traits that make him blind in the first place. Takeo doesn’t have many weaknesses; instead, he has great strengths that have shadow sides to them.

      Which is reallllyyy interesting stuff! I just don’t feel like the show is doing a good job of pointing out that this is the case. Instead, the burden and the “blame” (because the show obviously isn’t condemning Yamato) fall on Yamato. Takeo just gets to be a great guy, but he’s not be asked to correct the behaviors that are causing these problems in the first place. That’s what I’m driving at. The source of the problem isn’t that Takeo doesn’t understand Yamato—it’s that he says things that trouble her. And this episode only addressed the symptom of that problem, not the problem itself. And, like I said, it’s Yamato who has to change, rather than Takeo learning what he said wrong.

      The lesson, as far as I’m concerned, went to the wrong person this time.

      Like

  2. Fascinating analysis, Bless. I like this episode a lot more than you it seems (*I like and relate with Ai a lot, and I definitely respected the way the show subverted the initial expectation toward her as a Triangle Love Rival), although I definitely agree that the show might’ve idealized Takeo too much in the show, and the recurring superhero gag doesn’t help in this regard. It’s a minor problem though, considering the gentle manner in which the show conveyed the message that you aptly spotted last week (communicate and try to understand your SO instead of treating her like an idealized concept).

    “when you don’t have tension, you have to have something else, and when Ore Monogatari!! isn’t being stinking cute or funny, it doesn’t have much else.”

    I’m not sure about “you have to have something else” part, although I can understand where it’s coming from. Whether it’s fair or not, comedy is perceived as “lesser” than drama, even if IMHO it takes serious amount of skill to craft consistently effective visual gags and comedic set-pieces, just like dramatic/action-y scenes; and it’s a testament to OreMono’s sense of humor and comic timing, that even its weakest gag I still found way funnier than most Anime Humor. In any case, I watch my favorite rom-dram for the tension and emotional complexity, and my favorite rom-com for the solid laughs and hanging out with lovable characters.

    However, even for a story that’s indisputably a rom-com (and this can’t be stressed enough), OreMono’s ALSO unusually good at its characters, subtle relationshippy advices, and more serious parts all while preventing serious tonal whiplash with its comedy (which is waaay harder than it appears, just ask Your Lie in April). There might be potential for (dramatic/emotional) greatness in this show that will be unfulfilled b/c of its very nature as a feel-good rom-com, but it’s worth pondering whether we’ve become a lot more critical of its weaker parts and more demanding because it already elevated our usual expectation toward this kind of show (in any case I think it’s kind of unfair to directly compare this to the great Chihayafuru, a fundamentally different kind of show despite, you know, Sunakawa Siblings’ Alternate Universe Forms).

    Like

    • Yeah, in terms of “treat your SO like a person, not an ideal,” Ore Monogatari!! was really solid this week! I didn’t have a problem with the way they handled that part of the drama at all—it was really good!

      I definitely am not talking down to Ore Monogatari!!‘s comedy! I love when it does comedy. But there are times when it’s not doing comedy, and it’s not doing cute…instead, it’s doing slow-paced, tensionless conversations that don’t feel like they have many stakes. And that’s an issue.

      I do think the character is really good overall—and you’re right, this is a different kind of show that Chihayafuru—but I keep feeling like those long conversations just don’t work well.

      Like

  3. Alright then, I think you’re being unreasonable. 😉

    First of all, I disagree with you that the problem is on Takeo. I don’t think there’s any fault at all here. Not even on Ai’s part, even though she’s clearly putting pressure on them that makes the situation worse. As you pointed out, Takeo and Yamato are still in the beginnings of their relationship and still learning about each other. It’s natural that there will be some bumps along the way, that they will misunderstand each other sometimes. The problem is not making mistakes about the other person, the problem is what are you going to do about it when those mistakes come to light?

    For me, Takeo earns top points. As soon as the issue begins showing up Takeo admits that he’s dense and immediately takes steps to try to improve his understanding. The fact that the action he takes, reading shojo manga to try to understand how girls think, is not going to actually help doesn’t diminish for me the positivity of his obvious desire to improve. The second action he takes, telling Ai about the situation, is better. Both actions clearly show that he is not the type of person to let his pride get in the way of his relationships. He doesn’t mind making a fool of himself in public or admitting to a friend that there is a problem he doesn’t know how to solve. Sure, some of us might think, why don’t you just talk to her, you doofus? But I think it’s very clear that Takeo is a man who communicates through his actions. He’s not the type for heartfelt talks. He wants to DO something that will solve the problem. But of course he can’t because only Yamato knows what the problem really is.

    I don’t think Takeo is really applying a label to Yamato. We see him think to himself that he likes everything about her, but sees Ai’s question as asking for something more concrete than “everything”. (Even though that would have been a cute response.) So he chooses one thing out of everything. He chooses “pure-hearted”. Now, that is a term that has a lot of nuance. Yamato clearly thinks what he means by it is “virginal”, but I don’t think that’s necessarily true. To me, I think what Takeo is thinking is more along the lines of “unprejudiced, non-judgemental, open-hearted” because she’s the first girl (that he knows of) that didn’t just see him as this huge, awkward gorilla, but as the cool, caring, heroic man that he is.

    Yamato clearly makes a mistake in thinking that Takeo will only like her if she is sexually pure. She thinks him promising to not touch a hair on her head is an absolute boundary set on his part. But I see it more as a promise to never do anything to her that she doesn’t want. I think, in Takeo’s mind, he thinks he’s reassuring her that she need never worry about him using his strength to force himself on her, so that she doesn’t have to worry about that aspect of their relationship. I mean, come on, Yamato is tiny and Takeo could easily use his size against her if he was that kind of person. I think he just wants to make it clear that he would never do anything without her permission so that she doesn’t have to worry. (Something girls often have to worry about in this messed up world.) He doesn’t realize that she’s NOT worried about that at all. That she’s actually worried about the opposite. But that’s a really understandable mistake to make.

    Yamato misjudges Takeo, as Ai points out to her. She assumes he’s much more fickle than he really is. (Why isn’t anyone pointing out that Yamato is constantly underestimating Takeo’s caring nature?) The resolution, when Takeo simply takes Yamato’s hand, is in my opinion perfect. Again, Takeo is a man of action, not words. By taking Yamato’s hand he’s showing her that she has nothing to worry about, that he understands now and they can move forward.

    But really, this episode was about Ai. It was the “will Ai help them or harm them?” episode. I’m glad that the answer was “help them” and I think that’s due to the fact that Ai really is a good person who really does care about Takeo. I liked how the episode reinforced Suna and added Ai as Takeo and Yamato’s support. You can’t have a healthy relationship with just two people. You need loving friends to help you and support you because there’s always going to be mistakes and problems that can’t be solved alone. Yamato and Takeo have a great set of supporters and that points to the healthiness of their relationship more than anything else.

    I thought this episode handled the whole “problem” of misunderstandings early in a relationship fantastically and realistically. It was easily 9/10 in my book. (And by the way, I’ve been happily married for almost 13 years so I know a little something about romantic relationships.)

    Like

    • A couple of people agree with me in the comments—a couple disagree. And this is why I write blog posts!

      There are obviously a lot of interpretive points we disagree on (which I won’t try to address not because I’m ignoring them, but mostly because I think it’s clear we’re both pretty set in our interpretations :), but I will say that I really like your point about Yamato’s constant underestimation of Takeo. Now, I’m pretty willing to give her some leeway since she really doesn’t know Takeo well, but maybe that’s unfair of me. Maybe I’m being harder on Takeo than I am on her.

      I guess I just want to clarify that I don’t blame Takeo for any of this, despite my discussion of his “fault” in the matter. I like a ton of what he is doing in this relationship—I love that he runs to Yamato, that he tries to learn how to better understand her (although talking to her might be better than reading manga), that he just really wants to do the right thing—it’s more the way the narrative is framing things that I take issue with. I think my reply to currycurry above is my best articulation yet of why that’s so.

      Anyways, thank you very much for your dissenting opinion! Please keep doing so (as the occasion arises, of course!).

      As far as Ai goes, I guess I wasn’t really ever all that worried that she’d do something terrible to screw things up (and I don’t even think she made things worse, really), which is why I didn’t really say much there.

      Like

      • Well, I also disagree that the narrative is framing things badly. I don’t think there’s any behavior Takeo needs to correct. The problem is NOT “that Takeo says things that trouble Yamato”. All the things Takeo has said have made 100% sense from his perspective and he couldn’t possible have known before hand that they would trouble her because neither of them know each other well enough yet. (And if you’re going to give Yamato leeway on that count then you really have to give it to Takeo too to be fair.) I have no doubt at all that if Takeo knew someone would trouble Yamato he would never say it or even think it. So I really don’t see how this is a behavior problem for him.

        And to be honest, in a real relationship, thinking that one partner has to change his or her behavior every time the other partner is troubled by it is a total recipe for disaster.

        Like

  4. This is why I like reading your reviews and thoughts about episodes. It gets me thinking too, about why I like (or don’t like) what I do, instead of just going “hey, I like this” and moving on.

    I don’t see Takeo’s character being idealized at all – quite the opposite in fact. He’s too impulsive, has overly-romanticized views of women, lacks social graces, and his communication skills are terrible. Some of it gets played for comedy, but the show doesn’t gloss over those things. You (accurately) point out the way that some of his actions have contributed to their early relationship problems, and I thought the show made it clear enough that this particular issue was mostly his fault, not hers. I do think we’ve had more of an impression of change from her side so far, but I don’t think she’s actually changed as much as you think she’s changed. It’s easy to get that impression because she’s more outwardly expressive about her thoughts and feelings than he is, and more likely to talk to people about things, but when you dig deeper, how much about her has really changed besides learning (with Suna and Ai’s help) how to communicate better with Takeo and be more honest about what she wants? And while she’s been more of the initiator up to this point, they’re both trying hard in their own ways to make this thing work better, which is at least a tacit admission from both of them that they have a lot of growing and learning to do here. Reading girls magazines and manga and practicing his kissing is pretty proactive stuff for a young teenage boy. I wasn’t thinking about doing those things when I was 15 and stumbling through my first awkward relationship or two, and I don’t know if any of my friends did either (not that they would’ve admitted it).

    Like

    • Oh, yeah, “change” was the best word I had, but I don’t really think Yamato is really “changing” as a person. I just meant that the shift comes from her. I’m not quite sure on the words to use, to be honest.

      I do agree that the show isn’t glossing over the traits you list that Takeo has, but I don’t think it’s doing a very good job of show how those traits cause problems. Right now, they’re just kind of there, kind of stuff that’s true about him. And maybe it’ll get there and I’m jumping the gun, but that’s just where I’m at right now, I guess.

      Glad you liked reading the review, though! Sorry it came so late!

      Like

  5. I think the reason why the show didn’t give a bit more of a harsh time to Takeo about this (for example in the form of a scolding by Ai) is because it’s not that kind of show. It’s trying to be extremely positive: every thing that happens isn’t anyone’s “fault”, it’s just the result of people being people and sometimes assuming stuff or communicating badly. In this sense it’s interesting to see Suna’s role as a mediator who acts to solve these conflicts – he’s almost an avatar of the omniscient spectator screaming “GET OVER THIS MISUNDERSTANDING ALREADY!” in front of the screen.

    I think OreMono if anything it’s somewhat trying to deconstruct some aspects of classical shojo romance (starting from the odd protagonist choice of course). It does so in a gentle, subtle and very light-hearted way of course but that’s what this show is. It’s meant to make you feel better and purge away all negativity. And damn does it do its job well for half an hour a week :D!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s