Sometimes I have very strong feelings about characters. These feelings can be positive or negative, and they seem to come over me with no warning at all. Literature, film, anime, manga, games, all are common sources for characters about whom I feel very strongly. I suppose it gives me an outlet for some of the excess emotion I supress on a daily basis in my quest to be a rational human being.
A number of years back, when I was first playing Final Fantasy VIII, I recall becoming enraged when Rinoa was kidnapped. Not just angry, but enraged; I wanted to tear those bastards in Esthar apart. How dare they ship my goddamned girlfriend off into space? So I did not sleep until I rescued her. No compromise. My roommates could not use the TV; I did not go to class.
Some things are important. Very important.
When your girlfriend is kidnapped, it is time to take action.
My actual girlfriend at the time of course found this to be twenty-five times amusing, since I had Squall and Rinoa’s character names altered to ours.
This was only the incident that made me aware of this tendency though; I had exhibited similarly strong reactions much earlier, going back to the original Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy IV (Rydia!!!) as far as video games were concerned. Beverly Crusher was another one. Picard never got around to fixing that mistake.
I have a history of this behavior, is my point. Earlier this evening I was forcibly reminded of this when I saw someone talking about how wonderful childhood friend characters are in harem shows / dating sims. Now I will not make a blanket statement about all such characters; that’s dangerous and I know I can find exceptions I like. In this case, though, the example character was Tamura Manami, the disgustingly ordinary and dull megane childhood friend of Kousaka Kyousuke in Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai! As may be evident from the previous comment, I loathe her.
I loathe Manami because she is a dishrag, a doormat, a clod. This would not be so terrible in and of itself, but she is set alongside Kousaka Kirino as some sort of competition for the romantic interest of Kyousuke. It would be laughable if so many readers and viewers didn’t love her. Also, she has the irritating tendency to take up valuable screen time that could be employed for worthier characters (i.e. Kirino).
Kirino x Kyousuke is not just an idle fancy of mine when it comes to Oreimo. It is the gospel truth. I am a shipper. It’s my OTP for the series. It is no exaggeration to say that it is the reason I watch the show. In fact, if the novels don’t end up that way I am going to be seriously pissed off and I will likely have to engage in some sort of fan delusion to make myself feel better.
I am not kidding. This is serious business.
So Manami is not just boring or bland; her fanboys (and girls) make her dangerous. By herself she is uninteresting, but she has the potential to wreck the whole series for me.
Why am I not enraged at the other girl characters? Partly because I feel that they have been dealt with to some degree, but mostly because they are interesting. I don’t want Kyousuke to end up with any of them, but I could respect his decision if he did; they’re pretty cool people (except for Ayase, who’s just insane – still interesting though).
Manami is not interesting. She is the fail option. The one who is there only by chance. I hate her. I hate that Kyousuke might choose such a boring life for himself. I’ll let this post in the thread I saw earlier say what I think, because this person really hit it for me:
That is a good way to describe her. Nothing romantic about her.
I loathe Manami.
I love Kirino.
I do not engage in fantasy to find a peasant wife. I engage in fantasy to find someone extraordinary. I want Kyousuke to choose the thorny path, the difficult one.
The interesting one.
I recognize that pursuing Kirino is not simple. She’s not simple. There will be trouble at every turn, really. But life is meant to be lived boldly, not fearfully. If our fantasies are pedestrian, what does that make us?
“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.” – Francis Bacon
Manami is certainty at the outset: a simple life, easily planned and easily executed. Comfortable and calm, a straight road with no turning.
Kirino is everything Manami is not. An uncertain future, shaky ground on which to build. But she is also vibrant, passionate, and unsure of herself. She has a great deal of learning to do, about herself and others. She is dynamic. She is active. Life with Kirino would be difficult.
Is adversity something to be feared?
Ultimately I do not hate Manami’s glasses, or her family, or her childhood friendship with Kyousuke. I do not hate her character design (although I do not find her particularly interesting or attractive on that front). What I hate is what she represents in Oreimo. Tedium and the life lived in fear.
To hell with that.
Kirino x Kyousuke forever. Bring on the slings and arrows.
What doesn’t kill you makes your relationship stronger.