Well, Mathew challenged me to write a post on all the references KamiMemo made simply because I’m supposedly a hardcore litfag. Sorry to say this, but nope.avi. Instead, I watched the show and observed something else: its portrayal of youth.
From the start, we get a monologue by our generic protagonist #1176, Narumi, narrating how he was merely a dot in an image, how dot leads to dot to form an image, and the fact that he had never seen a full image before. Deep , right? Sure. However, he slowly proves himself to be nothing but a dot throughout the length of the episode.
Now, we know that Narumi is your atypical generic highschool protagonist. We know at least that much. We see he’s kind. Helping his classmate take over the ramen store as she gives Alice a bath (tsk.) , helping Alice carry out the detective work despite being a stranger, and helping the NEET brigade carry their leek soup to Alice (use a spoon, damn it). Even when he gets beaten up and tossed around by the NEETs, he doesn’t fight back. What a charming young man.
DAAAAAT. The buzzer goes off. The way I see it, is that he is weak. Not weak character-wise however, but rather, in terms of personality. Narumi is a weak protagonist, giving in to pressure all too easily, living through the motions without giving much thought.
From the get-go we see him being checked by Major to see whether he was the ‘suspect’. Right before seeing his own senior jump out of a window. And after the ruckus, they find the real suspect, explain a little bit, then just leave him. What does Narumi do all this time? Nothing. He just stands and watches. He didn’t exactly retaliate much when he was pushed against the wall either.
A better example would be his errands for Alice. Here is this random stranger, being dragged in to do some stranger’s chores, and ending up doing even more chores for people he didn’t really know. He never seems to question anything. He just does as he is told. No questions, like ‘Why the fuck must I deliver this for you?’, or ‘Who the fuck are you guys?’, or the subtle “Can I please leave now?” He got dragged into the game to decide who delivered the soup to Alice, and he only complains to himself, not doing anything and delivering the soup anyway. Then, he does as he is told yet again, this time to a little girl/ NEET of unconfirmed age. It’s like he has no spine. He can’t respond. He only lives through the motions.
But then again, he wasn’t the only teenager in the show. From episode 1, we see the story of Shouko and Miku, teenage prostitutes. Shouko would be the clearer example of the two. The subtext was that she decided to become a teenage prostitute because she could not deal with the stress and expectations from her peers. Again, someone who cannot cope with stress. These characters simply rolled over when facing stress, with Narumi coming out unharmed as he’s our protagonist, but still. It’s like they’re part of the Strawberry Generation (if you remember that survey), spoiled, weak and unable to cope with pressure.
And what about those NEETs?
Min , the ramen shop owner, tells us how Tetsuo was a drop-out, while he insisted that he quit on his own volition. Even in the game they were playing, it was hinted that they disagree with whatever brochure they named, some being ‘Finding a Job in 2 minutes’. They did not like whatever was written in those brochures. We see Alice as a person sort of lost in time. Her abode is dark, but the screens light. It’s like seeing the world, yet being in one’s own home. We even see how innocent she was portrayed, wearing Pajamas all the time, with all the stuffed animals, not even taking baths. But at least Alice has found her calling. The other 3 NEETs feel as though they don’t really care. (Especially the gigolo. Yes.)
Valence, you’re just describing the youth from KamiMemo, how is this depressing?
Here’s the depressing bit. Perhaps you’re right though, maybe I find it depressing because I’m the Lord of Emoland. But still, what do these 3 groups of people have in common?
Narumi answers this from the start, albeit metaphorically:
“I have never seen a full image before.”
Or in other words, they have no vision of the future.
Think about it. The NEETs celebrate their NEETdom as some kind of superiority, but never pause to think about the consequences (Asian ethics, Confucian beliefs coming into play here). What happens next? Who cares? The girls sacrifice their virginity for simple reasons, to stress and whatnot. And in the end, Shouko supposedly slits her own wrists. And Narumi? He’s just living through the motions, with no idea what he was actually doing. He just does it, because he was told to. No questions, because life has thrown you a hurdle, and you can only cross it, not get around it. No-one has any idea what the future is like. In fact, no-one seems to hold an idea of how the future should be.
Although I’m turning 97 next year, I think I still belong to this group of youth, as I , too, have no idea what the future holds in store. Not in a positive sense either: rather, I have no idea what I need to do in the future. I’m just living through the motions, as with most youth. Which person you know actually plans ahead? We crash head-on into matters, into exams and challenges, hoping that life would be a series of endless challenges until we die. This way, we wouldn’t need to plan ahead.
This way we could live freely, not shackled down to the expectations of society, and of reality. And so, the NEETs of KamiMemo live, becoming an exception to the typical youth. An exception to the rule. To break free from the cage set by society. It’s the only NEET thing to do. The girls: vice to escape shackles of stress and life.
Nah, he’s just living through the motions. Probably like you, and definitely like me.