Kimi to Boku: how much reality is there in fiction?

Anyone know why KB was filled with cats? It’s all to do with the little story that shares its name ^^

Following a number of hits that follow groups of girls in high school – Azumanga Daioh, K-ON and Lucky Star, to name a few – anime viewers were unusually presented with two series over the last year that dealt with their counterparts. One, The Daily Lives of (Boys) High School Boys, was apparently quite a hit with the young male demographic, but it didn’t really float my boat. The other, Kimi to Boku (aka You and Me), was much more aligned to my tastes – and not unexpectedly too, for it was originally written to appeal to the fairer sex. (I mean, look at those cats!) Therein lies the debate: are shows like K-ON and Lucky Star, which were arguably created to with a predominantly male target demographic in mind, accurate representations of high school girls? And on the flip side, is Kimi to Boku or (Boys) High School Boys an accurate representation of high school boys?

Boys, flowers, and hair…?

Given that I’ve only seen one of the four series in question, I can’t really comment on the others. However, allow me here to mount a defense in reply to the argument that Kimi to Boku really doesn’t reflect what real Japanese high school boys are like. To elaborate on that argument, the main line of criticism that often surfaced amongst viewers, especially early in the first season, was that most of these boys didn’t really feel like ‘real Japanese boys’. After all, which high school boys pick flower petals off each others’ heads? Or brush another’s hair? (Even the seiyuu touch on the latter during the first episode commentary – though more along the positive lines of ‘it’s kinda cool that they are close enough to be able to do that’.) The lethargic and expressionless twins who seemed to like being around each other too much copped some flak too, but it was the girlish and simply naive Shun that suffered the brunt of it. Boys are meant to be active, energetic, and always have girls and/or sex on the brain, right?

I’m sure no one needs this picture explained. Though I won’t tell you whose name I put into the “Peek into the Brain”-maker (nounaime maker) to get this particular image.

If anyone wants a go, you can put both English and Japanese names into that little search box at the top of the page. For a bit of fun, try Chizuru (橘千鶴), Kaname (塚原要), Yuuki (浅羽祐希), Yuuta (浅葉悠太), Shun (松岡春).

As for the results, besides the letter on the left, you might get “harsh/hard on others” (辛), “love” (愛), “money” (金), “bad/evil things” (悪), “what I want” (欲), “food” (食), “secrets” (秘), “delusions” (妄), “rest/time off” (休), “play” (遊), “lies” (嘘), “peace/nirvana” (寂). Hm…I think that’s probably most of them…(^^)

But in reality, teenage boys, like the rest of us, don’t just have one thing on the brain. They tease each other about inane things like non-existent love lives and impossible loves, and over-achieving and under-achieving. They puzzle over love – often alone! – and over growing up. They get frustrated at each other over big and little things, but end up accepting each other for who they are (i.e. they forget each little incident because it’s what they expect). And of course, they sometimes end up causing trouble for others, as teenagers are wont to do.

Don’t you give me that too!

All up, I think Kimi to Boku gave a pretty decent overview of many of the issues that teenagers – teenage boys, to be precise – face. There are, perhaps, a few typical guy things they didn’t show, or even suggest, which clearly indicates that the series was written with a female audience in mind. Wandering Son/Hourou Musuko and Ano Hana are two series that do touch on some of these other issues/developments/behaviours. But I felt that Kimi to Boku was always more focused on the contemplative side of growing up. The lens through which we view these five boys and their high school lives is fairly romanticised and idealistic, but I really enjoyed those glimpses we got about all the different things that go through their minds.

Besides, for those who were complaining that boys really do have sex on the brain a lot of the time, there’s always the eighth episode of season 2…

Love…is one of the major worries of growing up, wouldn’t you say?

But of course, Kimi to Boku is still a series for the girls. Perhaps the lens is a little to rosy and clean for most ‘real Western guys’ to stomach – even though I still maintain that the average Japanese boy isn’t quite as…hm…feral as the average Western boy is. I mean it – many of the kids at my high school just sat around chatting during lunch, although a very small number would risk the wrath of the teachers and start ‘playing ball’ or whatnot in the school corridors. For some reason, Westerners seem to find that difficult to believe, but even though I am considering becoming a teacher in my home country because I enjoyed teaching on JET so much, I am incredibly aware that I would be stepping onto a minefield that I have no real conception about at present (I went to a private girls’ school myself). From JET friends, I have heard about what some American public schools are like, and I can assure you that the worst Japanese high schools are probably only half way to two-thirds down the bad-bahaviour scale by US standards. I also remember some comments by other viewers from Asian countries that suggested similar standards to the Japanese.

…HELP!!

Some might argue that these differences in opinion about the content of Kimi to Boku are probably due to differences in mentality between how men and women think. After all, the author of the original manga is female. However, what goes into any text aren’t just the author’s own conceptions of the world, but also the broader context that has shaped those conceptions. Whether people want to believe it or not, there are some quite significant differences between people who have been raised in different cultures. I think that it’s time for Westerners to accept that, rather than complaining about how ‘unrealistic’ something is without even considering that it might actually reflect an existing reality that is somewhat alien to the reality that they are more familiar with.

Stupid conversations. Dunno about you, but that’s what normal life is all about ^^

Alternatively, I’d recommended Kimi to Boku for the laughs. Whilst it wasn’t consistent, I really did find myself laughing out loud more weeks than not. (^_^)

About karice
MAG fan, translator, and localization project manager. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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