My Love Story!! (aka Oremonogatari!!) is a twist on the reliable yet well-worn tropes of shoujo manga and anime. A manga and recent anime adaptation, it features many of the warm, fuzzy feelings that come with seeing a likable protagonist fall in love, only the main character is a hulking mountain of a man who looks like he stepped out of a manga bout gangster and delinquents instead. Takeo is portrayed as a goofy, lumbering, yet well-meaning guy who’s able to win the heart of a girl he meets through a selfless act, but is slow to realize it because he believes girls can never fall in love with him because he lacks the typical appearance of an attractive guy. When I see My Love Story!! and the message of hope it has for those guys out there who feel like girls will never see them as anything more than a curiosity, I wonder if the series is better suited for our current environment, or if it might have made more of an impact 10 years ago.
What I mean by that is not so much that the show feels older or outdated, but rather that the early to mid 2000s were when sites like 4chan and its Japanese predecssor 2channel truly showed how much they could mold significant parts of how internet culture viewed nerds and how nerds viewed themselves. 2005 marked the drama adaptation of Densha Otoko and the idea that “otaku are in,” Web 1.0 was making way for Web 2.0, and stories about being “forever alone” abounded. There has been the controversy over the “nice guy,” who has symbolized both women’s failure to date the right men and the sexism of men who expect sex just for treating girls nicely. If My Love Story!! had come along to show the difference between genuine compassion and a slick veneer, would it have altered many a nerd’s viewpoints? This is what I’m wondering.
Then again, between harassment of women working in and around video games, an increasingly vocal sense of chauvinism and false victimization over how men are treated, and a variety of other elements in our current media environment, it might be just the right time for a show like My Love Story!! to exist. Maybe now that these aspects are more visible, and now that “nerd culture” and “mainstream culture” are more integrated than ever, the positive messages this series sends are what people need to hear. Another factor in all of this that might complicate the issue is that, at the end of the day, even Takeo is not the handsome prince, he still has numerous qualities that play into the typical image of manliness, and his sheer strength might potentially overshadow his personality with all of its little quirks and moments of weakness. He’s certainly not a “nerd” or “otaku” in the typical sense, after all.
What do you think? Is My Love Story!! the show for today’s anime-watching audience, or could it have actually influenced on the confidence in guys and sense of respect for themselves and for others more greatly if it had been a part of the fabric of our cultures sooner?
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