Okay, obviously I'm not getting any sleep to-night. And I'm tired of staring at the blue wall, so I'm going to seriously start looking for distractions now . . .
Tim managed to download all fifty-two episodes of Super Gals, the very funny shojo anime series I discovered at Comic-Con. I've since watched the first six episodes and have found the quality to be consistent and good, though by no means perfect.
The show's about a high school girl named Kotobuki Ran and her friends Miyu and Aya, all three of whom are "gals", which is to say their manner of dress and behaviour reflects an actual subculture in Japan referred to as "Gal" or "Kogal". As the Wikipedia entry puts it, "They are characterized by conspicuously displaying their disposable income through distinctive tastes in fashion, music, and social activity. In general, the kogal 'look' roughly approximates a sun-tanned California Valley girl, and indeed, there are even some linguistic similarities between these Western groups and Kogal."
But Kotobuki Ran is also the daughter of two police officers and seems to have inherited a perpetual desire to fight for justice which is manifested in actual street brawls between herself and rival gals. This is a great source of comedy as there is something funny about watching Ran face down a trio of "unseasonably tan" gals among other regular foes.
But Ran's sense of justice is also used as a vehicle for socially conscious messages in the series, about which I have mixed feelings. Ran talks her friend Aya out of having sex with a guy for money, which is a real problem in the kogal culture as the lifestyle is expensive. Ran convinces Aya that a gal can have fun while being poor, which may be an admirable message, but it's slightly sabotaged by the fact that Ran doesn't truly seem to lack for money. It's nice to see an anime series confronting these uniquely Japanese social problems as anime series so rarely do this. I only wish it wasn't as superficial as it is.
An episode where Aya is forced to shun her gal friends due to her falling grades at school focuses on the girl's attendance of cram schools in order to please her parents, apparently depriving herself of the happy innocence of youthful days. Problems most people are generally aware of as existing in Japan but are so often glossed over in anime. And yet, the same morning as I watched that particular episode, I also watched an episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion that dealt with the young protagonist's desire to gain a kind word from his taciturn father by doing work that makes him unhappy. That the work in question is piloting a large biomechanical monster doesn't stop the character story from being effective. More effective, in fact, than the Super Gals plot, which may have taken a page from Evangelion by actually detailing the relationship between Aya and her parents. Instead, Aya comes off in the episode as a vague illustration of a statistic. The odd paradox in art is that the more peculiarities there are in a relationship between characters, the more they tend to resonate with viewers.
Well, it's almost 8:30am. Maybe I can choke down a couple hours of sleep . . .