Figure I’ll start this off with a fairly uncomplicated question.
This one’s honestly been bouncing around in my head for a long time. You know those stories that are basically always about living your life to the fullest and all that? The ones that teach the lesson by introducing one character who’s either afraid of living or afraid of dying and “fix” it by introducing another character who’s on borrowed time, anyway, therefore making it a story about accepting death and yadda yadda? These are your Plastic Memories, I Wants to Eat Your Pancreas, Your Lie in April, etc. (Obviously these very stories also exist in the West, but this is an anime blog, so…) Question. Why is the dying one always, Always, ALWAYS the girl?
I’m not trying to make it into a social commentary thing. It really is just an observation I’ve made. The story pretty much always follows some milktoast guy who’s either socially awkward, filled to bursting with anxiety, or emotionally inert. And it always projects the theme of the story onto some cute, sweet, lovable girl who’s terminally ill or artificially limited on time in some way. But I can’t figure out why, exactly, it always has to be the girl.
On a somewhat related note, I have seen that it’s a bit more balanced in stories where the other character in question is already dead or where said death isn’t expected (in-universe) and is actually very sudden. But the stories with the borrowed-time deuteragonist is almost always the girl. Why is that? I’d considered doing a Bulletoon on this subject, but… I’m not ultimately able to answer that question and I also just don’t watch shows of this nature anyway, since the emotional effort of them would be completely lost on me. As I’ve said before, I just tend to not feel these things in that way. So it’d be a waste of time on my part. Mind you, I’m not saying these stories are any less effective or beautiful. I’m just incapable of feeling the things they want me to. And, as such, any episode I write on the subject would be rather weak.
I can’t come up with any solid answers to this that aren’t purely cynical. And I’ll not share those here. I might mention it if anyone else hits on them. But I’d really like to figure this one out. Does it mildly annoy me? Eh. A little. From a writing perspective. Especially if it’s for the extremely cynical reason I’ve come up with that I hope is not the case. But, more than anything, I just find it kind of perplexing. What are your ideas?
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“I can’t come up with any solid answers to this that aren’t purely cynical.”
You don’t want a cynical answer? Dang, that makes it tough…
Well, maybe not. I wonder if the answer has to do with speed to empathy. It’s easier to be empathetic to beauty. Think about C3. Fear in Cube was this cute young woman. Yet, she had been a brutal — I mean, as in torturously brutal — killing machine in the middle ages.
Making the character’s human form adorable in the conventional sense seemed like a narrative shortcut to empathy.
I might be wrong, but it seems to fit!
I don’t mind cynical responses. I just didn’t wanna open on a more negative note. Yeah, that’s basically the light version of the more cynical one I’d come up with. Certainly a nicer way of putting it than “guys are harder to form sympathy for,” which is deeply troubling as an idea and concept and something I’d like, very much, to not permeate. But it’s a very possibly legitimate reason. I just tend to *not* like those sorts of shortcuts. They have their place, I guess, but when used to this level of prevalence, one has to wonder if it’s indicative of a greater societal issue.
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