High Speed Discourse IV: On High Speed discourse

I was thinking about KyoAni and how everyone has a billion words to say about their stuff, no matter what they do, it’s inescapable – except High Speed. Outside of Free! fans, no one has anything to fucking say about that movie, nothing, good or bad. And by bad, I mean not criticism, but the stupid KyoAni discourse shit that every other KyoAni discussion is hit with.

There are tomes of discourse on Phantom World titties and a movie that 90% of us couldn’t even watch yet but not a word about High Speed. At the same time, everyone’s like why can’t KyoAni do something other than moe girl shit? Even people who liked Free! but weren’t, say, haruchan-lickers or whatever don’t even seem to know it exists. It’s baffling. These are the same people who otherwise would have four or five journal publications about whatever KyoAni TV anime is airing at the moment.

This all gave me the sense that despite being the latest KyoAni movie directed by Takemoto, a director people said they liked, no one watched it. People were already turning their attention to Koe no Katachi despite not being able to watch it for months maybe? who knew? So I decided to push hard when Maidragon started airing, since I figured people were likely going to be impressed by Takemoto, and they were.

No one gave a shit and they still do not.

It’s become clearer since that every new show or movie KyoAni makes means that it’s more likely that High Speed is going to be forgotten. Personally, it’s become a lot harder to get excited for new KyoAni shows and movies knowing this but that’s something for me to deal with. It’s more disappointing to me because it’s such a clear demonstration of Takemoto’s unique and underappreciated skill with male characters and it’s disappointing because I honestly thought we had moved past finding boys icky after Hyouka and Free and other KyoAni shows.

While I’ve been vindicated whenever I get told that High Speed was good after all, I can’t feel like I succeeded, having berated them into it. It’s very strange, because as I’ve previously noted, High Speed has a lot of the things you’d want from a Hyouka sequel. It’s the same kind of school club drama shit y’all can’t get enough of from Sound Euphonium. So it’s probably worth reflecting on why we feel the KyoAni movie for a popular series targeted to women is probably not worth checking out. The only difference here is that there’s no cute girl to direct your shitty focus on. It’s a bit of a mystery why the only KyoAni anime that’s been ignored doesn’t have a cute girl in it (Oreki-san ki in narimasu!).

It’s easy to say lol anime fans but this pattern can be observed among “serious” or “progressive” anime people: typical run-of-the-mill shitty harem comedy can be tolerated; shoujo romances and otome game adaptations get dropped half an episode in. We’re much more interested in performing progressive feminist criticisms of popular shows for men than talking about shows for women at all. In that sense, we’re no better than the shitheads who whined about Free! when it first got announced because it wasn’t made specifically for them.

Everyone watches what they like, I get that, but don’t fucking tell me you’re a Takemoto fan or that you love KyoAni if you couldn’t be assed to watch this movie. Someone will object and go “oh but I didn’t hear about it” which is the biggest pile of shit because, as a KyoAni fan would know, KyoAni only ever does one thing at a time! Oh, whoops, I didn’t notice my favourite studio and director were abducted and disappeared for a few months, てへぺろ. Yet another person will object that it’s hard to pirate Blu-rays and wait for subs and so on and so forth. But how soon was it after the Koe no Katachi BD came out that it was sitting in your torrent queue? Oh no, but that’s different, they’ll say, that’s a movie that’s actually, uh… Good (or so I’ve been told, because I couldn’t have watched it before it got pirated!), praise Yamada.

Yes, that’s right, I, a person who can name an anime director from this particular studio I love, am ignorant and unaware of exactly one work that they’ve produced in the last few years. Am I supposed to believe this horseshit? That an entire community built around unbelievably efficient piracy lost track of a BD release date? No, it’s the same reason why Cinderella Girls CDs get ripped immediately and SideM CDs take a few days despite coming out on the same day.

And yet, recently, I observed that a good portion of the audience at SideM lives were guys who started as Ps from other imas series (an observation that’s been confirmed by GamiP). So I have no doubt that male 765/CG/ML Ps will support and watch the SideM anime when it comes out, as they’ve been doing for SideM already. But my prediction is that the wider anime audience, which includes the various writers and talkers and “thought leaders” (lol) and are the kind of people who were convinced to take a look at animas or Love Live and liked them and maybe even wrote some posts about them, won’t watch SideM.

Because look: where are their UtaPri or Marginal#4 or TsukiUta posts? For these people, it’s obviously paramount that the idols are girls. This is how anime criticism can come to the conclusion that Love Live is great because of female empowerment and queer representation and all sorts of amazing achievements, while at the same time imply that shows for women are not worth discussing by simply not watching them and being silent on them. Kobayashi-san’s Dragon Maid is a groundbreaking progressive work, while no one has anything to say about positive and non-shitty portrayals of boys, perhaps because they don’t happen to occur naturally in works that target men. It turns out serious anime people are only able to watch emotionally resonant works that all happen to feature cute girls. Wow, what a coincidence, right, this is fine.

Ah, but I loved Yuri on Ice, an extremely progressive anime targeted to women!, you might say. And yet, Yuri on Ice shows just how many hoops need to be jumped through and boxes need to be checked before men will take a show for women seriously. It’s got a serious take about an international-level competition for a respected sport and casts mainly adults and real world athletes are really into it. It’s incredibly atypical compared to anime of any genre. Its acceptance and critical acclaim has everything to do with how much it isn’t like the typical shows for women. Notice, for instance, that Kinpri is another surprisingly successful movie with huge buzz, but again, no one gives a shit about it outside of the fujoshi cluster.

It all comes back to the principle that we watch what we want to watch and write about what we want to write about and talk about what we want to talk about. There’s seemingly nothing we can really do about this. I definitely don’t have any great ideas except to implore that we all be a bit more critical in how we select and approach what we watch. Maybe whenever someone wants to perform some sort of deep dive feminist reading of some show made for dudes that they liked, we should be asking whether they’ve ever looked at a show made for women for more than three minutes. Regardless, the result is still that our choices implicitly confirm what random assholes on the internet claim explicitly, that shows made primarily for women are inherently inferior.

The example of SideM is particularly interesting. Although the producers have talked about making SideM approachable for everyone, regardless of gender, it’s still clearly a property for women. However, that so many male Ps gave it a shot was an explicit choice on their part. This wasn’t like the infamous Jupiter situation from 2010, where they were forced into it. They decided to give SideM the benefit of the doubt because it was imas. While I’m sure not everyone was enamored by it (which is fine), it now likely boasts the best male/female gender ratio among fans for male idol anime properties and it’s probably fairly high for general anime properties made for women.

Anyway, to conclude: despite wanting to be good and progressive and all that, anime writers and fans are still incredibly sexist and blind to it, i.e. the reason you didn’t watch High Speed was because it’s for women so it couldn’t have been any good. I hope someday I’ll be able to read something interesting about High Speed outside of the comments section on gogoanime.