To discuss our next character, we should first talk about a common recurring trope in both Western and Eastern stories. It may go by something different, (most likely the “Genki girl”) but most people know it as The Manic Pixie Dream Girl.
The concept is simple. The MPDG shows up in the main character’s, who is often boring, dull and listless in his life, and brings it more life through her quirky personality, lovable antics, and overall feisty behavior. She can normally look a bit different from the norm, sometimes with wild colorful air, or clothes that are normally not worn. The MPDG can often be seen as lazy writing because the character often has no personal goals or wishes, she (and it’s almost ALWAYS a she) is merely a tool to get the male character a better outlook on life. Natalie Portman’s character in the movie Garden State is a prime example of this. In anime, we see this in people like Haruhi Suzumiya, Nia from Gurren Lagann, and more recently Zero-Two from 2018′s Darling in the Franxx.
Shimoneta works with this trope but subverts it in many ways, or at the very least puts enough effort that our heroine has presence, personality and a life beyond simply being a device for our hero. The result is what we’ll be discussing right after the cut.
MASSIVE SPOILER ALERTS FOR THE PLOT AND TWISTS OF SHIMONETA, YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!
AYAME KAJOU ( aka BLUE SNOW)
Shimoneta wisely takes a page out of DXD’s book with Ayame in that she is not directly created to help Okuma with his life. She in fact only recruits him into SOX because fate decides to toss the two together. Okuma himself at the start has no real desire to help her, or try to work against the morality laws, but Ayame is different. She yearns to break down the system and bring back dirty jokes and pornography back to the masses. She believes it is their right to have such things and will go to great lengths to see it done. Her relationship with Okuma is completely platonic, and while there are some hints of romantic feeling they are never fully elaborated on, and both her and Okuma remain friends and partners throughout the show. While she may be a firey and free spirit, who adores the world of sex and sexuality she isn’t in the story for the sole purpose of helping Okuma come out of his shell.
It should also be noted that Ayame is not a bad person, nor is she some sort of degenerate pervert. While she believes in her cause, Ayame will the first to disown and fight against anyone using their cause as an excuse for depravity and sexual harassment. Shimoneta makes this a plot point as the series goes on, with both her and Okuma actually fighting with Anna and the morality police to stop those who prey on the unfortunate or take advantage of SoX. It allows the audience to sympathize with Ayame’s cause and know that she at her heart just wants to make dick jokes. She is not a bad person, she just wants the freedom to experience sexuality and all the humor that can come with it.
Her humor, of course, is what makes Ayame work, and her dialogue is laced from to top to bottom with as many sex jokes the writers can fit in. The English dub makes this SHINE as Jamie Marchi breathes life into Ayame with on the button comedic timing and a potty mouth that she deserves.
Despite all of this though, Ayame is also a character who can talk the talk, but not walk the walk. She herself has little to no first-hand experience about sex and is quite clearly a virgin. There are moments in the series (and even the opening) where, when confronted with sex or genitalia, she becomes the classic anime female in her response(crying, screaming and hitting whoever scared her). While this is not a key factor in the story and is played mostly for laughs, it help fills out her character by making her not a completely 100% joke machine. She is at heart, a teenager just wanting to screw around with her friends, and the effects of the morality laws have touched even her. She may know what sex is, but she doesn’t know how to respond and she views this is a clear problem.
Ayame is in many ways, a manic pixie dream girl, and if this show had focused more on romance, she might have suffered because of that. That thankfully is not the story Shimoneta is trying to tell, and Ayame, like Rias Gremory of DxD has agency, goals, wishes and a life beyond with main male character. She could have carried this entire series herself and done it well. Pairing her with Okuma allow both of them to play off each other and the chemistry they have is palpable or a male and female with little to no romantic feeling for each other. She is a memorable character and a truly one of a kind heroine in this generation of anime. Whatever you think of this series, you won’t be able to deny that Ayame is something special and that she is only eclipsed by the other main female lead, whose presence in the show is staggering and all-encompassing.
Some series are known for only one or two things. Breakout characters or jaw-dropping moments are often what immortalize a show in the minds of many. I don’t know how many conversations I’ve heard where people have said: “You just gotta watch this show for this character or this one amazing moment. Sometimes these characters become so popular and well beloved that overtake the series they are in, for good or ill. Fonze from Happy Days grew well beyond the show he was in. The character of Fraiser from Cheers found success beyond his first show. In anime, we have seen it in characters like Levi from Attack on Titan or the Gotei 13 from Bleach. Even characters who don’t overtake the show such as Dragon Ball’s Vegeta, or Naruto’s Sasuke Uchiha often find themselves elevated to a higher status because of their breakout.
Today we’ll be talking about just such a character, a character that not only completely dominates the entire show, but almost single handily can be credited for its success. I am course talking about Anna Nishikinomiya
Man, where do I start?
Anna at her core is the representation and result of the entire conflict that is at the core of Shimoneta. Her initial self is the perfect model of what the morality laws want her to be. Upstanding, devoted to the cause, pure and innocent, and helpful to everyone. She loathes anything lewd and fights against it with all of her power (which she could give Goku a run for her money). This attitude has made her popular and she has the admiration of the entire student body. Okuma himself falls in love with Anna because of pure and upstanding nature, in fact, the entire reason he joins the student council is to be helpful to her.
But then we get to episode 4, and the other shoe drops.
Episode 3 ends with Okuma, after saving her from a creepy stalker accidentally falling onto her body and kissing her (a common anime trope). This ends making Anna…well, see for yourself in the clip below.
As you can plainly see, the kiss from Okuma literally awakens Anna into the world of sex and sexuality, and from there it just goes all to hell. Once the pure and innocent maiden, the example of everything the new moral laws wanted. Anna devolves into a sex-crazed yandere who lusts after Okuma to the point of obsession, and that’s putting it mildly. And since her body has been so repressed in terms of a sexual awakening, this kiss literally opens the floodgates and has some interesting consequences. Check out probably the most infamous scene from the show as an example.
Yes, that’s right. Anna literally bakes cookies and adds her VAGINAL fluids.
This scene and the many, many, MANY afterward show the other side of Anna and the consequence of the morality laws. Anna has been so repressed and sheltered in regards to sex that she has NO idea how to react to a situation like this. Ayame says it herself in the clip above: she can’t tell the difference between love and lust. What was intended to help Anna maintain her purity and chastity have instead transformed her into the very thing that morality laws have been fighting against. It becomes so bad that Anna starts to believe that if she rid the world of sexual indecency, then Okuma will accept her love. The show takes this up to 11 throughout it’s run with Anna lusting after Okuma in one hilarious scene to the next, and the ‘love nectar’ never stops flowing.
Anna is a fantastic character, from concept to execution. Her design, animation, voice acting (both sub and dub) are all absolutely top-notch. Monica Rial, infamous for playing the ‘sweet and cute” anime girl is an absolute RIOT as the English Anna, and her Japanese seiyuu Miya Matsuki (who tragically passed away after this performance) was the first and ONLY person who could bring her to life for the original Japanese. She is everything that Shimoneta needed in a character to make the show work, and she is always at 100% when she’s either lusting after Okuma or fighting to crush anything sex related to earn his love. Every scene she’s in is laugh out loud hilarious and something you’ll be talking about for a long time after it’s over, and the show never lets it get stale or boring, it just keeps upping the ante over and over again.
But Anna also represents the overall thesis of what Shimoneta is. She is a warning to those who would try and police morality and sex, and what happens if you try to shut off and lock away normal, natural sexual maturity. While everything is played for comedy, they could have very well taken it seriously and shown the extreme dangers of children who have no idea what is happening to their bodies. While the show may show an extreme (and comical) example, I admire their courage and genius for instilling everything into a single figure.
Anna Nishikinomiya is the character you will remember even if you don’t like the show. She will be the character you tell your friends or fellow fans about when they ask “Is there any really crazy and funny anime girl?” Anna takes what could have been a good, but disposable anime series and elevates it to a cult classic and something I would suggest to just about ANYONE, anime fan or not. If you take anything away from this show and my blog posts, is that Shimoneta is worth watching just to experience this character. Anna Nishikinomiya is one of the greatest anime characters created in the last ten years. Go and see for yourself, you won’t regret it.