About Me

Newfoundland, Canada
I've been a big anime fan for about 10 years or so now. My five all-time favorite animes at this point are, in no particular order... Puella Magi Madoka Magica, El Hazard: The Magnificent World, Love Live!: School Idol Project, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. However, there are hundreds of anime shows that I like. The main purpose of this blog is to provide meta-commentary on anime, and the anime industry - to try to cast a critical, though appreciating, eye upon this entertainment genre that I believe has tremendous potential, but can also be easily wasted. I have always been a fan of animation in general - in the 80s, I grew up on western cartoons like He-Man, She-Ra, Transformers, and G.I. Joe. Through out the 90s, I was a hardcore comic book fan, for the most part. I'm also a big fan of Star Trek. Right now in my life, though, anime is my principal entertainment passion.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Moe is Neet!

Apologies to Slice of Life, of Anime Suki, for stealing his bit. But we all know what the Simpsons has to say about stealing somebody's bit, so I hope Slice of Life won't hold it against me. :D

Anyway, I have a confession to make.

A rather big one.

Even though I've made a fair number of comments on it, and frequently criticized its art style... I never watched K-On. I spoke of it simply based on a couple short YouTube clips I had seen of it, as well as from what basic second-hand knowledge I had of it.

The show concept just did nothing for me. A show of nothing but female characters, the main ones of which making a rock band, in this art style, and... its not Strawberry Panic-esque, so it probably has no romance or 'hotness' to speak of... yeah, I wasn't seeing the appeal. I especially wasn't seeing the appeal for a male viewer, and frankly, I still don't... well, with one possible exception that I'll get to in a bit. It's a rather neet exception, shall we say. ;)

However, now that I've started a blog on anime, I almost felt that it was my duty as an anime blogger to watch and evaluate one of the best selling animes of all-time. So, yesterday, I sat through and watched seven episodes of K-On.

It's... watchable, at least in quasi-marathon way. I imagine that the plot seems rather plodding to somebody who wants to hear the band actually play, and who waited from week to week to watch each new episode. Nonetheless, these are my general impressions...

Episodes 1 and 2 - Solid start. Good plot. Some of the jokes are lame (especially the slapstick comedy), but I did like the way the story brought the key characters together. It didn't feel forced at all to me. Instead, it felt very natural.

Episode 3 - Pretty boring. It had a couple funny moments, but I would have liked to had seen a bit more emphasis on the band, instead of focusing almost exclusively on studying for and taking tests or make-up exams.

Episodes 4 through 6 - Very nice conclusion of what, to me, felt like a 6-episode opening arc. Taken together, these three episodes flowed very nicely... though I imagine 4 and 5 might have left some viewers impatient if they had to wait a week or two for the obvious conclusion of the build-up to be realized. Knowing that I'd only have to wait a short period of time to see the realization of the build-up enabled me to enjoy episodes 4 and 5 with less unrealized anticipation than what I may otherwise have had. Episode 6 was sincerely cute and fun.

Episode 7 - Genuinely nice heartwarming Christmas special. I very much like the relationship dynamic between Yui and her sister.

K-On has about a 1:1 ratio of good jokes to lame jokes for me... and I can live with that. I won't rave about it, but I won't rip it apart either. Rarely got more than a chuckle out of me, though; paling in comparison to what even the latest episode of Haruhi managed to do for me.

K-On isn't what I would call bad, necessarily - it just fails to stand out much to me. It's like a serviceable NHL defensemen: Plays his 20 minutes, does Ok, does his job, clears the corners about half the time, makes a couple decent outlet passes from time to time but certainly can't quarterback a power-play, maybe gets five goals a season, but all told - he's not a weakness; he's just not a stand-out strength either.

So why does he have the top salary amongst all NHL defensemen?

In K-On's case, why does it sell so well?

Well, that brings us back to the title of this blog entry: Moe is Neet!

Moe is a bartender serving up cuteness.

And the Neet? Well, Yui is the neet. Yui, in one of the first lines in the first episodes, is even warned that she may become a neet, instantly causing the neet viewer to identify with her. Over on Anime Suki, I argued that I didn't see where the male touch-point (i.e. the character that you identify with and live vicariously through) for this anime is. Well, now I can see a male touch-point of some sort at least...

Yui is terrible at school, has a hard time concentrating on her work, does virtually nothing in her spare time (going by her own words)... but she's an affable, harmless character for the most part with an obsession over cute things. Replace Yui's obsession with cute things with an obsession over alcohol, and you get a pretty good description of this guy...

And if you replace this guy's obsession over alcohol with an obsession over cuteness, you basically get the modern NEET. I remember reading an editorial once talking about how Japan has recently endured a large growth in its NEET population. Britain is going through the same situation from what I've read... so could many other countries.

NEET, for those who don't know, is a person "Not in Employment, Education, or Training". Basically, a NEET is somebody currently outside 'the system', who probably has loads of free time and who is presumably (if they're not poor and destitute) making due on income from parents and/or government assistance. The more well-to-do NEETs have loads of time to kill, and some disposable income to burn, and hence can feast upon entertainment for hours upon hours upon hours each day. As with any viewer, they like to see somebody they can relate to. And here we have Yui of K-On - the NEET icon for any NEET, male and female alike.

So, our good bartender Moe serves up beverages of intoxicating cuteness to our NEET friend Yui Barney. Yes... K-On's success is all starting to make sense now, isn't it? ;)

Ah, but there's an added twist! One of Yui's friends and band-mates is a drummer named Ritsu. Ritsu's a fun little character - basically a poor man's Haruhi Suzumiya with out the reality altering powers or cosmological intrigue.

And who is Yui must like of all of her friends? Why, who else but Ritsu!

Particularly when on the beach, Yui and Ritsu are almost just alike one another. So, you see, neet KyoAni fans of Haruhi, now you; yes, you! - can become "Haruhi's" best friend - through experiencing life through the eyes of Yui as you play around on the beach with Ritsu Suzumiya.

And then, to complete this bold process of capturing the NEET market, KyoAni gives us this...

Do you see the bold full circle now, my friends? Do you see KyoAni's master plan in all its glory? You identify with Yui while you play with Haruhi-esque Ritsu and watch Yui become increasingly like her... and then the actual Haruhi is made to look like Yui! Now, the hope is that the NEET fanbase will all identify with Haruhi directly; classic bait-and-switch, with Ritsu acting as an important bridge point! I guess that KyoAni didn't feel that Kyon was up to the job of being the fan's touch-point. Perhaps he's simply not cute enough for the job anymore, especially with all that brow-furrowing that he does.

After all, we may be entering into a new age in anime - the Age of the Moeblob. But... that's a topic for another day.

All told, I now see why some male fans would hold a particular interest in K-On. I see how Yui is the touch-point for neets everywhere; she's not just cute, Barney, she's just like you as well! ;)

I'll leave off by saying that I don't hold much against NEETs, and that this post is made in good fun. In this world economy, especially, it's understandable to be a NEET, and I myself have been a NEET in the past, most recently after leaving my job of two years to further my education. There was a significant interim period between the two (my last day on the job and the start of my education) where I was a NEET.

However, it's interesting to seriously conceive of NEETs as a very powerful consuming target demographic. What will that mean for future animes, I wonder? Will we have more Yuis, and fewer hardworking diggers like Simon of TTGL?

I guess only time will tell.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to any and all replies. Meanwhile, MOE's Bar is just down the corner, currently being ran by KyoAni and Kadokawa, and Moe is serving the cutest beer you've ever seen. I've sure you'll find plenty of neat Barney's there... ;)


  1. Nice post. I find interesting what you said it is better see it in a quasi-marathon way. This is how I waych most animes and I really stop wacthing it when there were no more episodes yet. I've just forgot by the next week.

    Nice your view about K-ON! popularity. I really feel easy to indentify with Yui (not by being a NEET, by being afraind of becoming one). So your theory make sense.

    The blog look is better. But the colors are still odd (green, blue, orange and pink?). However, not knowing nothing about blog desing, I can't say much ^^; It must be hard.

    Also, I really hope I am not the only one reading it... After all, it was me who tell you(repeatedly) to make a blog. ^^;

    The second image is not appearing.

  2. Akka, Heminga, Kaisos (I think), and yourself have all read at least one blog. That's not too bad for two days.

    I'm glad that you like my theory on K-On's popularity. And yeah, like yourself, I prefer watching my anime in large clumps instead of one episode at a time.

    As for the blog design... I went with these three colors simply because they're easy on the eyes when you put them together. Still, they're not too matching, are they? ^^;

    I'll see what I can do about that.

  3. Akka, Heminga, Kaisos (I think), and yourself have all read at least one blog. That's not too bad for two days.

    Hey hey, don't forget about me. I'm a regular visitor, I just haven't commented because I'm horrible with time management. XD

    Glad you're enjoying K-ON well enough thus far. You might not exactly be in love with the show, but any series that helps a couple of hours pass by more smoothly is good enough for me. How much further have you gotten, out of curiosity? If you kept up the pace described for the first seven episodes, you could be done already. Has your opinion changed any? Hopefully it's done so for the better. Episode 11 is my personal favorite of the series, I found Ritsu's jealous and clingy side very interesting. Though, I think I'm a bigger K-ON fan than you to begin with. :P I wish that the new special episode wasn't all the way in January. And waiting for the Kyou OVA was bad enough...

    I'm a NEET myself at the moment and I have been for most of the time since graduating high school in 2006, but that's going to change soon since I'm signing up with this awesome real estate company at the end of September or beginning of October. Personally, I've always related with Yui a bit in that her relationship with best friend girl whose name I can't remember (Or ex-best friend, anyway, it seems that she's channeling the spirit of Naru from Sailor Moon and is eventually replaced by Mio, Ritsu, Tsumugi, and Azusa) reminds me of the way I was with my best friend, Jeremy, during middle school. I was the lazy idiot, he was the vaguely more responsible, slightly less of an idiot straight man.

    I'd honestly forgotten about that line concerning Yui possibly becoming a NEET, probably because the chances of her turning into such become slim once she joins the band; her life's a fair bit more meaningful and eventful than your average freshman's, and thanks to the band she'll have a strong sense of direction for a long time. I agree, though, Yui is definitely easier to relate to than the other three girls. Mio is awesome (Overdone and slightly obnoxious 'I'm scared of my own shadow' angle aside) and not too difficult to relate to in some senses, but Ritsu types aren't too common in real life and she has more charisma and people skills than your average anime fan, and Tsumugi's role is explicitly to not be ordinary. Yui, though? Her lazy attitude and destiny to become a future NEET (If she didn't luck out with the band, that is) is indeed something that I and a lot of others can probably relate to.

    And... wow at KyoAni's master plan. XD There were plenty of conspiracy theories about Endless Eight, but this... this is a first. Triple_R, leader of the Revolution. Not that I could ever relate to Haruhi, she has approximately one hundred times the charisma and force of presence as any human being ever.

    Good read, I'm enjoying the blog so far. Could you maybe write an entry about Nanoha ViViD (Or whatever) and Force sometime? It's okay if you don't feel like it, but I'm a big Nanoha fan and curious about what's happening in the newer series. Ms. Takamachi's always been an interesting character, I wonder if she's changed much in the past four/six years like she did between A's and StrikerS.

  4. Dr. Casey - Thanks a lot for reading and responding! I've watched two more episodes of K-On since episode 7, and I must say, I do like Azusa (Sp?) a lot. :) I hope to finish off K-On by the end of the week - maybe do a blog review of the entire anime once I'm through it all.

    I'm glad you like my unique theory for explaining EE. ;) It will by my honor to be the Lelouch Lamperouge (Sp?) going up against Charles Vi KyoAni! :D The Revolution begins today!

    In complete seriousness, please check out my latest blog entry if you get a chance - I think you'll like it. ;)

  5. I love anime, but K-ON is gay.

    I prefer bloody animes. Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni/Kai/Rei, Elfen Lied, Gantz!, Hellsing...ETC.