Today’s moment is brought to you by the gender benders at Silver Link and director Shin Oonuma, who together have brought to us one of the comedy hits of the year: BakaTest. And one of the most memorable traps in recent memory: Hideyoshi.
Gender bending/trap comedy is not new to anime. One of the very first anime I ever heard about, even before I became a fan, was Ranma 1/2. More recent examples include Oonuma’s SHAFT colleague Shinbo in his rendition of Maria+holic, the Haruhi of Ouran, and earlier shows like Strawberry Eggs. In that regard Hideyoshi is not really new.
What makes him interesting is the degree to which it is the presumably straight guys in the rest of the cast who are drawn, irresistibly, to his feminine looks. Most harem comedies—and BakaTest is very much one, albeit cracked—can be seen as a way to shore up some masculinity for the target audience. A reassurance that, maybe, just because one isn’t aggressive and is merely nice doesn’t necessarily spell doom with the ladies. This show, however, not only goes whole hog with the gay jokes, it seems to suggest that the harem hero(es) might even have room to expand their palette, so to speak, given the right amount of “beauty,” and despite Yoshi’s constant, insistent protestations that Hideyoshi IS female. They’re not completely comfortable/bicurious just yet. But it dares to go just a little further than other shows, for much lulz indeed.
BakaTest works in part because it takes things just a little off-kilter like this. Oonuma brings the SHAFT visual sensibility with him, and it often results in stark visual shots (black and white sketch, color filter) that compliment the comedy, not hinder it. The inner monologues, so rich and eloquent in a show like ef~a tale of memories, become hilarious chatroom scenes. I could list many examples, but the show’s energy and oddity helped make it one of my favorite comedies of the year, and a worthy addition to the 12 Moments series for 2010.
The “12 Days, 12 Moments” series is part of an aniblogosphere-wide project to blog about the most memorable moments in anime for the year in the 12 days before Christmas. It was started in 2007 by CCY of Mega Megane Moe. Others participating this year include Aorii, 8C, prototype27, Scamp, schneider, Borderline Hikkikomori, TWWK, Landon, Janette, digiboy, drmchsr0, doctordazza, Fawkes, FNSNA, super rats, Jubbz, RP, TheBigN, Jinx, mefloraine, Caraniel, glothelegend, Chii, Valence, dai1313, and bitmapchaos.