anime/manga/doujinshi link of the day
In Wednesday's rant, MegaTokyo writer/artist Fred "Piro" Gallagher raises some interesting points about common themes in anime and manga. Piro has apparently taken some flack with fans about the plot thread currently unfolding, in which a robot girl (actually, Ping is a PS2 accessory designed to work with dating simulators...) faces a a trip to a public bath; some have emailed to complain that the gag seems lifted from the anime series Chobits, in which a young man is befriended by Chii, a personal computer in the form of a girl.
If i get another email bashing me around about how I am being unoriginal and stealing a storyline from Chobits with the current 'ping and her interest in finding data on how to use a public' bath story thread, i'm gonna scream. I don't like having to come out and tell people what i'm up to (because you are all smart boys and girls and its more fun to figure it out yourselves) but let me make a few quick points.
First off, I am making fun of the whole concept - 'public bath' scenes are as common in anime as the need for a 'cute girl' character. It has been done and overdone ad nauseam in both anime and manga. There are a lot of apartments in Tokyo that do not have bathing facilities (hasn't anyone here ever read Maison Ikkoku? Jeeze) and public baths are where people can go to clean up. In most anime and manga, bath scenes are used as a vehicle for fanservice. Even the most innocent anime will often use it to show the main girls in towels.
Secondly, there is a reason for all this setup. There are a lot of things that will feed off the current direction of the story and branch out as Chapter 4 rolls along. Yes, I hear there is a similar scene in Chobits (hence the emails). Chobits is great stuff, but lets face it, the fanservice level is huge. Ping and Chii, even though there are a some similarities on the surface, are VERY DIFFERENT. Just like the Love Hina comparison's i get all the time - Megatokyo is different, even if it walks some of the same paths other stories do here and there. It's not like most of these paths haven't been walked a zillion times already.
The roll that Ping plays in Megatokyo is far different that Chii's in Chobits. VERY different. Chii doesn't have the privacy setup that ping does. Ping doesn't suffer from having to learn everything because she came with no programing. Embarrassing situations in chobits lead to a lot of sexual humor and innuendo (more than usual even for CLAMP) Does anyone really think that this is gonna lead to some big fanservicy bath house scene? Would I even do that?
Fanservice has it's place. I'm more than willing to use it if it is appropriate. Who says they really will end up at a public bath? Maybe the smell will settle in Ping's hair by the end of the chapter and she'll be obsessed with the horrible smell in her hair and cut it all off, going for the cute-short haired girl look. Maybe she'll want a service check to get her hair replaced. Please don't bash me for what is happening next if it hasn't happened yet. You don't know what's gonna happen. Let me finish.
For the record, i developed Ping long before Chobits came along. Ping pre-dates chii. I swear, i need a FAQ so bad...
I've faced the problem before - people jumping to conclusions because it's 'obvious' where things are going. This happens because the comic is released one page at a time. Y'know, you can ponder away at things all you want, in fact, i encourage it. But please don't jump on my case about 'ripping off' things until you see where the story thread is going. Emulation of certain things in anime is exactly how you poke fun at things. It's just a comic, ok? it's part of the fun.
Piro is quite right; public baths are a familiar part of Japanese culture, as are robots. MegaTokyo is basically a doujinshi -- a manga, or comic, produced by an anime and manga fan -- that at times makes overt homages to anime series like Nadesico and Di Gi Charat. So it's hardly suprising that MegaTokyo goofs on those themes. Heck, even the wonderful Spirited Away deals with a bathhouse, albeit in an entirely different context. As Piro said, some members of the audience should wait to see where the strip is going before crying foul.