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.
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?
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