I read this article about an epidemic of decreased sex drives in Japan to-day a few minutes after watching the last episode of Eden of the East, an interesting correlation, not just because Eden of the East featured yet another chaste, Almost Romance with a variety of sexual accidents (mostly involving guys ending up naked for convoluted reasons), but also because the show turned out to be about NEETs.
It seemed to me writer/director Kenji Kamiyama wanted to write a sort of bittersweet ode to NEETs but felt compelled to couch it in the trappings of a conspiracy thriller, either to make it marketable or because he believed he could use this to really discuss the worth of NEETs in Japanese society. As it is, the two aspects never quite come together--the thriller aspect is pretty hopelessly muddled, particularly in concern to the motivations of the amnesiac protagonist, Takizawa. We never learn why he started the series in front of the White House, naked, with a gun, and he's saddled with an almost meaningless plot about how he deliberately made himself seem like a villain in order to be a hero. This may have been an attempt to draw upon the Code Geass audience, but without the foundation of Lelouch's strongly established character, Eden of the East's main plot dissolves into hazy mess.
The minor character, Pants, is far more effectively drawn, despite appearing in only two episodes. When one day his pants are carried off from a clothes line by a gust of wind, he decides to use this as an excuse not to leave his apartment for days that eventually turn into years. He's the most interesting of a variety of NEET supporting characters the show validates by demonstrating their ability to avert a national crisis through Internet forum communication, led by the vague manipulations of their messiah, Takizawa.
Although Saki, the female lead, is often drawn wearing a huge overcoat under which her sticklike legs resemble table legs, she's still a somewhat fetishised character with her unquestioning, almost automatic love for Takizawa and the precious portrayal of her unsuccessful job interview. Her sexless costume almost reminds me of the philosophy behind the many layers of kimono in old Japanese women's attire--that the more the body is concealed, the sexier it is. But more important is that automatic, unquestioning love. See, I don't think it's that the Japanese are losing their sex drives, I think it's more to do with a widespread preference for masturbation. It's a generation of people who have no faith in the old, popular delusion of finding a "soulmate," usually taken to mean a person who compliments one's personality in every respect.
I've never met a girl I've felt that way about, and I've never seen a couple who demonstrated the "soulmate" ideal to me, unless maybe it's like the shallow couple Woody Allen passes on the street in Annie Hall. Maybe this is why I've developed a genuine fondness for people whose personalities differ from mine in a number of respects. It's probably why I end up liking a lot of people who think I'm crazy or an idiot.
You know, reading The Idiot right now, it's weirdly hard to call myself an "idiot," without feeling like I'm patting myself on the back.