Is “nothing happening” okay?

At my anime club, I’m known for liking “everything” in terms of anime, but especially shows where “nothing happens”, as they say. It annoys me a little bit that I’ve earned that reputation for liking anime/manga such as Aria and YKK, but what bugs me a little bit more is that “nothing happening” seems to hold a negative connotation to it. I mean, stuff happens in those shows, but I guess the stuff happening isn’t what people want, or it doesn’t have any significance to them. However, that falls into a matter of taste, and I’m nowhere near cocky enough to complain about that. 😛 But I can talk about what I know, and I think that Manabi Straight episode 6 is a good example of what works for me.

Anger done right. I myself haven’t felt like that in a while.

This episode focuses on Mutsuki through the eyes of Mikan as our narrator. We see the start of their friendship, and some past and current experiences that they go through and have gone through along the short way. The bulk of the time, however, is spent on seeing attempts to study for an exam, and those efforts end up not succeeding to the best of their abilities. If there was a grand scheme of things currently going on (which apparently there will be later), it seems as if this episode isn’t very important. I mean, we all know (or should know) how stepping on a Lego block feels, but does it have any real bearing to something like the planning for Seiou’s school festival for example?

Yes, stepping on Legos really does hurt like the dickens.

Not really, but it does serve a purpose to develop the characters. From their interactions with each other, their mannerisms regarding certain situations, and how they see life and where/how they fit into it (you can see this if you try hard enough :P) in this episode, you learn more about the characters, and probably more about why they work like they do. This is important to me, as I really like to know where people are coming from, in real life and in fantasy. I get an idea of why they act the way they do, and how they might respond to situations that appear along the way, or just in their interactions with me and others. I get involved, so to speak, with the show more because of that and it’s how shows like Mai-HiME work with me more than they should.

Superfically, Manabi Straight 6 shows that Mutsuki and Mikan aren’t alike in many ways, yet manage to get along well. The episode helps define specific aspects of their characters for me, as Mutsuki is laid back in a lot of ways, while Mikan worries a lot about many things (more than I initially thought). While “nothing happens”, we do learn more about them by seeing them experiencing life regardless of what goal is achieved. Just like ARIA, where rowing gondolas and exploring Neo Venezia isn’t part of a master plan, but enjoyable fun.  And that’s just as good as actually achieving that goal to me. :3

Our intrepid heroes taking a walk.

18 Responses to “Is “nothing happening” okay?”

  1. 1 wildarmsheero March 14, 2007 at 12:14 am

    Kamichu is mostly good for the production values and the atmosphere it creates. The characters are nice, yes, but those things really dominate. Some of those episodes were very well animated.

  2. 2 thebign March 14, 2007 at 6:48 am

    I’ve only seen 9 episodes of Kamichu so far, and while I like it, it doesn’t grab me as much as Manabi does. The world that Yurie and friends live in is interesting, but I haven’t been drawn into into it, while Manabi is doing that for me in spades. :/

  3. 3 CalAggie March 14, 2007 at 10:24 am

    I think it’s fine for “nothing” to happen in an anime episode especially if it’s a slice-of-life series like Manabi or the many other ones out there. Flashbacks and backstory do fill in the plot somewhat and I seem to prefer those kinds of episodes over an obligatory beach trip, during which a lot of funny stuff may occur but no substantial information is conveyed to the viewers.

  4. 4 Lainforce March 28, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    Some of the best shows seemingly have no direct “substance” in them. Honey & Clover, along with Kare Kano come to mind when I think about stuff like that.

    However, you’ll find that many visual novels are much more centered around the characters than the plot. This is due to the limitations of words and CG frames; people expect to see more happen on screen due to the fact that its animated.

    I believe that a good show lies somewhere in the middle, a good balance of plot movement and character development. Those seem to work out well, don’t you think?

  5. 5 thebign March 28, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    Lainforce:I think that shows focusing on either as the main point work well for me, but I think your point resounds more with the majority of anime fans. I hope so. :3

    I’ve only just started Tsukihime, and that’s about it in terms of visual novels, but what you said does make sense. For example, people get tired very quickly of shows like .hack//SIGN because despite being animated, nothing really dynamic showing off the animation is happening. And I guess that falls on what people expect anime should provide for them. It’s interesting.

    CalAggie: But a beach trip with flashbacks? Sounds like the possible stuff of legends. 😛

  6. 6 Jimal July 30, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    I only discovered this website a couple of days ago, but I am hooked already. I am really impressed with the storylines in the Nothing Happening animes. They put a different perspective on the usual animes that are presented today.

  1. 1 mark mazurek » Blog Archive » Overflow of Manabi fanboyism Trackback on March 31, 2007 at 11:00 pm
  2. 2 “Love & Piece:” why slice-of-life just ain’t workin’ | Super Fanicom Trackback on August 9, 2008 at 2:48 am

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