Ray likes to tease me about it sometimes, but despite my adoration of shows like Kare Kano and Honey and Clover, and the fact that one of the very first anime I ever watched was Marmalade Boy (which I have seen in its entirety!)…I don’t really consider myself a huge fan of shoujo type anime, per se. I found Fushigi Yugi, for instance, annoyingly melodramatic even as it had an unerring knack for cliffhangers. Fruits Basket was enjoyable for the slapstick comedy but cloying and ultimately inconsequential, and for me Ouran worked mainly because it skewered all these tropes so brilliantly and mercilessly. What I appreciate mainly is emotional realism and believable characters, which are certainly not shoujo/josei-only territories (see Monster and even parts of Asatte no Houkou), but they are easier to depict in the context of ordinary relationships than when you’re piloting a giant robot, which is an experience far fewer people have had in general. (For now.)
This show, Lovely Complex, seems unlikely to rank with the masterpieces I noted at the beginning. But it’s amusing enough.
Lovely Complex‘s premise is amusing, if not particularly original or surprising; the final outcome of the story is clear from the start, so where the show will have to shine is in the comedy and ultimately in our affection for the characters. I have to admit that I have a soft spot for the physical foibles of the protagonists–besides the fact that I myself am rather, well, short by Western standards, I think abnormal height’s a great physical analogue to the awkward, out-of-place feeling many of us nerds (face it: if you are reading this blog, you are probably a nerd :)) and geeks felt as adolescents. I love the fact that Risa’s an RPG gamer, and I found the metaphor of the characters’ ships being torpedoed by rejection both hilarious and painful.
Of course, you know, the story is still wish-fulfillment on one level–that of course the two protagonists are destined to be soul mates and of course they fit each other like hand in glove, with only their obliviousness getting in the way. This is of course the formula of just about every romantic comedy film, but still, I would have felt unbelievably blessed to have even a friend like Risa in high school…maybe it’s because I was an only child? Risa and Otani behave very much like siblings at this stage, and if there’s anything about siblings they tend to fight and often wish that they were only children!
It might be interesting if they start following the couple that Risa and Otani inadvertently “set up” in this first episode. One thing I really liked about Kare Kano is how they DIDN’T drag out the inevitable confession scene till the end, and instead tried to focus on what an actual working relationship looks like. Unfortunately I can easily see Lovely Complex going the usual route, but, you know, I think I’ll give it a few more episodes and see if the characters grow on me. Y’all have been calling me out lately on my recent bout of uncharitableness with recent comedy shows and I think I ought to be a little more patient for a change!