Well, I gave myself the task of writing about Maria-Sama ga Miteru for a reason, and we have finally struck (some of you may say foundered) upon it — forcing myself to write new and crazy things, outside my typical purview. Well, honestly, last episode’s entry wasn’t in my comfort zone either, perhaps explaining why it made no sense — leading, I suppose, to a single comment. I’m being passive-aggressive at you. I suppose this post might be considered editorial, RE: the conversation I spawned with this twitter, and I suppose I’m okay with that. What I mean is, I’m just going to start talking. My idea behind this post is to question some of the assumptions I bring with me whenever I sit down with this show. I’ll try to hit all the characters, but no guarantees…
First, that Yoshino is fucking insane. Not entirely false. Whenever Yoshino features prominently in an episode, I look forward to it, as capers and hijinks will surely ensue. However, I am just as subject to fandom idea-creep as anyone else (if there’s a proper name for this, let me know in a comment). What I mean by that is I can read enough fanfiction to start laboring under the fanfic community’s assumptions, rather than the show’s. I’ve never seen a community that actually writes about the characters; instead, they write about the characters as they all agree they are: certain fan-standards arise. This is the reason why Draco is never a fucking shithead, even though he clearly is in the books. Smaller standards can arise, like the old Gryffindor Tower gags about socks, boxers, and Beatles music — all of which have nothing to do with characters, and everything to do with the community in which the characters are being used. Yoshino suffers the same sort of fandom-creep, I believe. She is often genuinely insane in a fun way in fanfiction.
Really what I suspect is happening in the source material is that Yoshino is trying to make up for all the time she spent bedridden because of her heart condition. She refers to it a bit randomly in (I think) episode four of the new season, illustrating that it’s on her mind even though it’s been nearly a year since she had her operation. Barring a relapse storyline, it doesn’t really have much to do with the events happening now, but she’s obsessed. She’s trying to wring all the fun out of her remaining high school days that she can — a theme common enough in Japanese entertainment.
Next, the assumption that Kashiwagi wants to bang Yuuki. This isn’t necessarily wrong, but it is an assumption (I say that to cover my ass, in part, as I know this assumption is enormously popular, and not just a product of fandom-creep). He hangs out with Yuuki quite a bit, sure, but who else would he hang out with? Everyone else over at Hanadera seems to avoid him now that he’s graduated. In this episode (five — remember when this had anything to do with the episodes in question? Neither do I), Kashiwagi even says Yuuki was his second choice for wingman. Yes he could be lying, but thus far I don’t think he’s ever actually lied. He’s like Xellos, but less badass. His behavior is an indicator, but he behaves the same way toward Yumi. This is the assumption that sparked this post, because I caught someone’s comment about it before I watched episode five — and, indeed, I pretty much think this most of the time when I see the two of them. However, not much in the episode actually bore it up. Was the angle just weird, or did Kashiwagi smack Yumi’s ass in line for the jet coaster?
Sachiko and Yumi act like they’re in love hardcore. Uh. Yes? Seriously, I cite the last few scenes of episode five. Yes, I know, hand-holding isn’t a “love-love” thing in this show, but seriously. Seriously.
Okay, yes, I’ll stop. It is an assumption, though one I would argue we’re supposed to make — and this isn’t authorial intention here; I believe the text moves in such a way as to force the audience to make this assumption, in the same way Scott McCloud describes the gutter of a comic working — that is, a man can stand behind a woman with an ax in one panel, and the other can be a scream lettered over an empty cityscape, and we will all assume the woman is hurt or dead, though we have not seen it happen. In the same way, the language of the novels, the inner monologues of the show, the body language, the everything, it all works like McCloud’s panels, and the gutter is the space within which we’re going to see the two of them interested in each other. Just because they don’t jump each other on the Yamayurikai table (that’s another fandom trope, by the way) doesn’t mean this isn’t happening.
What’s interesting — and not just vaguely funny — about this assumption is how the show uses it. Many scenes in Marimite that aren’t focusing on these two use this assumption, a little like Hitchcock’s bomb under the table, to add tension, humor, or what-have-you to a scene that, without it, would honestly be a little bland (okay, so a lot like Hitchcock’s bomb under the table).
I’m sure there are loads more assumptions, but I’m going to stop here, as I should be taking my days off to work on my thesis, rather than write long blog posts. I will mention that I wish I didn’t know Pizza Hut is heavily-sponsoring this show, because I don’t think I would have actually noticed the product placements without that foreknowledge. Oh well.