Hello again, people. I’ve fallen into a writing rut after having to produce mountains of words upon mountains of words for non-blog purposes (and being distracted by The Amazing Race, which is currently occurring in some capacity or other 3 times a week on local TV channels), but we’ll see how this fares.
For those who don’t know OWLS, they’re the Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-respect. They promote acceptance through pop culture, regardless of their gender, sexuality, disability, race or religion, and accept bloggers and vloggers of all stripes (although most of us are anime bloggers, because that’s sort of implied in their title). This month’s prompt is “failure”:
One of the best ways we can learn is through failure. This month we will be talking about the failures of our favourite characters in pop culture media and what we can learn from them. We will also reflect on our own mistakes and failures and how those experiences have allowed us to grow as human beings.
Failure humanises characters and makes them easier to sympathise with. However, this also means failure can be used to prove that something (or someone) is weak which can in turn be used to their advantage, so it’s very much a double-edged sword…kinda like the vulnerability prompt a few months back. Sports and game series (such as Kuroko no Basuke and Yu Gi Oh, respectively) especially focus on failure and how to get over it, as the flipside to winning, so I’ve picked a series that straddles the line between those categories – Aoharu x Kikanjuu. This series, also known as Aoharu x Machinegun, uses failure as the vehicle for moving characters forward.
Everything On the Line
From the beginning, the series determines characters’ honour and ability to progress through whether they win or lose in a match of a survival game. Specifically in the very first instance we get, Hotaru is trying to get Masamune to apologise for scamming her friend Kanae. Although Hotaru loses this match, she learns she has skills in playing survival games due to her agility and sheer relentlessness. She then repeats this against the shop owner Usanagi when being tested for a gun.
Toy Gun Gun gets soundly defeated by Hoshishiro in the first round of TGC (Top Gun Combat). Worse still, Midori reveals he knows Hotaru’s secret and rubs it in her face as he leaves, victorious. One of the episodes of this mini-arc is called “The Storm is Coming” (aside from a literal storm brewing, it’s a quote from one of the characters in that episode) and that very storm sets up Hotaru’s melancholy mood at her loss. From this, Hotaru learns she’s not the only prodigy of the game out there and really needs to step up.
“Though the rain turned into a thunderstorm, the weather cleared after a while, and the tournament resumed. But the storm inside my heart continued to rage as fierce as ever.” – Hotaru, Aoharu x Kikanjuu ep 8
In The End…
Hotaru draws with Masamune after she’s kicked out of the team and begs to re-join. Even after crushing defeat after crushing defeat and after (literally) putting her body on the line to settle disputes, she’s still able to smile and say she had fun playing survival games…and in this sort of series, that’s really all that matters.
The fact that Hotaru fails multiple times throughout her series, despite her acknowledged level of talent, means that people shouldn’t learn to coast by with their natural prodigious skill – even if you can talk the talk and walk the walk, you should always be striving for being better because the sky’s the limit, right?
I remember Auri covered this series for OWLS once and I used it in my round-up post. So, did either of us encourage you to watch or read Aoharu x Kikanjuu? (Notably, I only used the anime as my reference whereas Auri used the manga, since I only read a little bit before the anime, then the official manga licence happened.) It’s not bad – in fact, it probably looks worse upon retrospect (since I did fall into the fandom for a bit, I guess you could call that a bit of my “rose-tinted glasses” showing) – but it does fit the theme better than anything else I can think of…
Except the Amazing Race, maybe, but that’s not an anime or a manga, now, is it?