Sick of your favorite show getting hated on or vice-versa? I’ve always said that art is 100% subjective. Just for fun, let me demonstrate by quickly whipping up both a scathing review and rave review of the opening scene of Kotoura-san. If you haven’t seen it, here it is for your delectation:
Negative review: The entire sequence is contrived and predictable. All Kotoura had to do was to not open her mouth and the problem would have been solved. Everything that occurs is nothing more than blatant emotional manipulation that borders on torture porn. Making the character as pitiable as possible is a lazy shortcut by the writers to try to get viewers to like and sympathize with the character without actually trying. It doesn’t take much work for you to feel sorry for a dog after it has been kicked. I rather prefer shows that take the time to properly develop the characters both emotionally and psychologically instead of opting for these cheap emotional thrill rides. Take Your Lie in April for example. It is precisely because we have a whole season to explore and get to know the characters that we feel sad at the end. Without all that build-up, it’s tragedy for tragedy’s sake. Kotoura herself has no redeeming qualities. She is a flat, passive character who constantly lets bad things happen to her without ever taking charge of her situation or life. The rest of the series is nowhere near this dramatic, so one can only conclude that it’s a bait and switch that will leave audiences with a sense of being cheated out of a serious drama.
Positive review: This scene is a masterful exploration of what happens when humans have their inner thoughts laid bare. If not for the social protocol that forces us to behave politely and civilly to each other, are humans fundamentally selfish and hateful creatures? The viewer is forced to confront these thought-provoking questions as the scene is presented from Kotoura’s perspective, where the viewer is placed in the shoes of someone who has been ostracized by society. It must be noted that in a brilliant stroke of irony, Kotoura herself is rejected by others because of her own inability to control what she says (perhaps due to a lack of proper socialization) while she herself has never rejected or lashed out at others for the mean things that are said to her. It is through this unequal treatment that the viewer is able to sympathize with Kotoura, not because she’s in a pitiable state, but because she’s fundamentally a good person. The extreme sadness that she experiences is later contrasted with the happiness she gains after meeting Manabe, but only after working together to dispel the trauma and mistrust that had already taken root in her heart. Here, the sadness not only works to juxtapose the comedic moments, making them all the more sweeter, it also acts as the main source of conflict and tension of the series.
Neither review is technically wrong, am I right? (^.^’) This can be done for pretty much any show in existence. The quality of a show is in the interpretation. One man’s masterpiece is another man’s trash. So try not to get too upset if someone trashes your favorite show or extols the virtues of a show you detest.
If you’re interested in broadening your perspectives, why not try this out yourself by writing a positive review for a show you hate or writing a negative review of a show you love?