Recently, I watched a number of premiere episodes for the Spring 2013 anime season. Then I watched the first episode of Miyuki.
The rush that heralds a new anime season is certainly something to witness, as everyone rushes about like frightened pond fish following the plop of a skipping stone. Words trip out from every digital orifice, often regardless of whether one has actually viewed the product in question, as each new episode is launched. People are quick to sort themselves into warring camps of love and hate, and the roar of the incoming tide of opinions pounds incessantly until two or three weeks into the season when everyone has been neatly sorted by what series they are following.
It’s heady, it’s sometimes fun, and it’s exhausting, especially when one isn’t prone to shouting their opinions in order to be heard (as they have to do with their large Italian family at social gatherings). Additionally, my own opinions had slice-of-life comedy Yuyushiki decidedly in first place followed by the much-maligned Aku no Hana, firmly placing me well outside of the general opinion.
Following my lackluster responses to both Attack on Titan, and Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, I trawled for other new series this season, stumbling across the first few episodes of Miyuki: a series from 1983 based on a lesser-known Mitsuru Adachi manga. For reference, this is how the series opens:
“Well, I’ve been alive for 16 years. I have some stories of my own. Like how I lost interest in Matsuda Seiko, who I adored when I was in middle school. Like how finding my dad’s old report cards made me understand my own limits. Like how I lost two moms. And…like how I realized that I’m a man. I started understanding these things after I began to like girls.”
-Masato Wakamatsu, Miyuki, Episode One
This monologue is immediately striking, and I couldn’t help but compare it to Attack on Titan, which opens with this:
“On that day, mankind received a grim reminder. We lived in fear of the Titans, and were disgraced to live in these cages we called walls.”
-Eren Yeager, Attack on Titan, Episode One
For reference, Eren is a bit younger than Masato, and the difference in their opening words struck me. Eren’s deal immediately with the state of his society due to a cataclysmic event. His words are large in scale, and this idea of humanity as a whole being caged or repressed is repeated deliberately as an elegy throughout the entirety of the first episode. Masato’s words are extremely small in comparison, dealing only with his own life as a high school student.
However, I couldn’t help but be drawn in by Masato’s words. His opening passage informs me exactly where he is in life: that tenuous precipice between child and adult. He has had to deal with personal tragedy, struggles with feelings of inadequacy, looks up to his father, and is grappling to understand how to healthily express his growing attraction to the opposite sex. Instead of telling us these things, Miyuki reveals them subtly through Masato’s prose. Masato’s words are personal, distant with just the slightest hint of emotion, and immediately immersed me in his character.
This isn’t to denigrate Attack on Titan or newer works. It also isn’t to claim ownership of superior taste. Miyuki, above all things, allowed me to distill, and attempt to put into words, what exactly it is that I look for when I watch a premiere, and for that I thank you, Miyuki. This Spring 2013 anime season, you are my angel.