Is True love only found in High-School, or can the rest of us enjoy it as well?
June 29, 2011 Leave a comment
So, I have been looking at quite a few romance manga and anime lately, and basically came to the conclusion that Romance is viewed as something you discover and have in High-School, at least in Japan.
When reading anime and manga with some sort of romance theme, the overwhelming majority of them take place in a High-School setting, some obviously in Junior-High/Middle-School, however most are in high-school. There are of course romance manga and anime that are set outside of school, often being set in college/university or the work place, but these are not nearly as common as the school setting and more importantly are often the more mature story involving sex and perhaps seduction and intrigue.
The question is then, is ‘true romance’ simply something that takes place in high-school or can it happen anywhere. My own answer would be, obviously it can take place anywhere, but in manga and anime it seems to be something that only really happens during your teen years. Once you graduate and enter college or work romantic relationships seem to phase out and what takes their place appears to be relationships based around sexual desire and lust.
Let us take a typical anime setting, one that perhaps has come from an eroge and been adapted to anime, perhaps it contains an element of the harem genre, but more importantly, it takes place during the high-school years. In anime such as Amagami SS, Clannad, Nyan Koi, Clannad, Da Capo, Hanasaku Iroha, To Love Ru, etc, there is romance, but importantly they take place in and around the high-school. It is as if something so simple as high-school has been ingrained into the imaginations of the Japanese as the place where true love is created. It is essentially the creation of a myth.
Now, we then take a look at the other side, in manga such as Hapi Mari, Midnight Secretary, Nozoki Ana, Velvet kiss, Tenchi Muyo, Sorcerer Hunters, Yakushiji Ryōko no Kaiki Jikenbo, Onegai Teach, Outlaw Star, the list goes on yet again. The manga titles that I have listed all contain elements of sex, and importantly take place outside of high-school in so called ‘society’, here we have relationships that are romantic, but appear to be based around lust and sexual desire, almost as if they are ‘impure’ as opposed the objectively ‘pure; romance of high-school.
In Hapi Mari and Midnight Secretary for example the women while rather strong are also essentially weak and often submit to the wills of the strong, immensely handsome and powerful male protagonists. Sex takes place on a regular basis, and the attraction that the characters have, while often very romantic is very much one of desire and lust. The male characters lust after the female characters and often do everything in their power to keep them from going off with ‘the other man’, misplaced feelings perhaps, but something that is an essential part of the stories.
Of the anime I have also listed, while Tenchi Muyo and Onegai Teacher do take place around the high-school age I feel they are quite interesting because in both cases they involve women who are perhaps significantly older, Mizuho Kazami apparently is 32 (who knew), and a significant amount of the romantic tension does not take place anywhere near a school. These anime are therefore an interesting look at romance that happens in between world as it were, it is not necessarily the high-school romance, but at the same time hasn’t quite moved onto what appears to be the sex fueled romance of the ‘real world’.
Now this differentiation is really strange to me, because objectively romance can happen anywhere, and yet the majority of manga and anime that have romance appear to be set in high-school, and as mentioned the rest are simply tagged as mature and in the case of anime are either have a historical or future setting or are often closer to being Hentai.
It is as if there is a mindset in Japan, which suggests that romance is pure during your school years when you are essentially pure without any knowledge of the ‘real-world’. And that in the real world were lust, sexual deviance and other temptations await love and romance cannot be pure any longer.
Of course there is sexual desire in high-school, where the male protagonist is often attracted to the girls with good figure, beautiful looks, and often large breasts, but there is still a purity here, with embarrassment and a lack of knowledge about the female body. Whereas in more mature romances there is often an intricate knowledge of the female body. I say female because the male characters in many anime and manga, or at least the more mature ones are often the most dominant of the characters and therefore take the lead in most case, there are a few exceptions of course such as Velvet Kiss and Nozoki Ana.
Now since I am not Japanese and have never been to a high school, this mindset does not make any sense to me, so this entire post is from the position of an outsider as it were. I have a soft spot for romance manga and anime, perhaps I am essentially a hopeless romantic at heart, I love watching them and of course the high-school settings can be great, but I often wish there were more manga and anime that take place outside of the school, but still keep the essence of the romance. Its also as if this element of life is completely ignored and I think it shouldn’t be overlooked at all.
I simply feel that romance in high-school is idealized and of course mythologized, it is the ideal as it were and something that is pure and heartfelt, where as anything after that is in some strange way impure. A flawed ideal basically, something without realism, yet it is so very popular so perhaps we all have a sense that romance during our teen years is in some way more ‘pure’, more ‘real’ without the taint of sexual lust and desire.
Food for Thought perhaps.