A Fandom Manifesto
Notes: I know it's been done before. In fact, this ought to be some kind of tribute to both theprerogative and strawberrykaoru, since they recommended this title to me in the first place. :) So here I am and here it is, all randomly put together for a challenge over at fandomverse. I've had help, of course - had to go digging around ship_manifesto to make sure I was doing this right. I also got distracted watching Covert Affairs, and wondered if I should spam about that instead. But no, this one's been bugging me for a while and it's time I paid my respects. Um. Excuse my mushroom cloud of opinions and general flailing?
* Captions are borrowed from KT Tunstall's Suddenly I See.
* Screencaps are from ferrywoman's Table of Awesome. I didn't want to spoil anyone too much, so I'm only using caps from the first episode.
Why the hell it means so much to me.
Meet Sawako. She's sweet and kind and oh so good-natured. The only problem is, she's got a hell of a first impression, what with her long sleek hair and pale complexion, reminiscent of the spirits lurking beneath your bed... or on your ceiling. *ahem* Nevertheless, she desperately wishes to make friends and live a normal life. Which is why it isn't surprising that she's drawn to her guy-next-door of a classmate, the ever warm and prince-like Kazehaya.
I'm thinking you can guess what happens next. Kazehaya starts talking to her, trying to get her to open up. And Sawako's dreams come true. It's a classic shoujo formula, except the characters make all the difference. At times, the story can get quite dragging but trust me when I say you barely notice. I'm not really sure how to explain this, just that after half the first season, you might come to realize that it's barely moved forward. Only, it actually has and you were there for every breathtaking moment. And that's what'll ultimately reel you in. You're going to want to cheer for these characters, you're going to want to understand them, and you're not going to want to put this down until you're done.
You can see she's a beautiful girl.
Watching it all unravel from Sawako's eyes is basically what makes this title so different from other shoujo series. Sure, she's beautifully gullible and often has to be told when she's done something wrong. But she's not a damsel in distress either. Her flaws are what make her so likable, as there are explanations for them. It's all well thought out. There's a reason why Sawako can't just fit in and throw caution to the wind. There's a reason why she can't just tell anyone she likes them. Or why she'll simply take what she can get and be contented with that. There's a reason why, up till the beginning of the story, her world's been so small and she hasn't even realized it.
Personally, as I'm accustomed to seeing hyperactive heroines wrapped in virginal innocence and with a harem of boys after them, Sawako's a breath of fresh air. There is just something about her, maybe the honesty of it all, the plainness, that makes her so easy to relate with. And by the end of the first season, there is a remarkable change about her. She becomes the person you were hoping she'd be, except she also never loses who she really is.
And everything around her is a silver pool of light.
As I mentioned earlier, watching a shoujo title with only one love interest is a rarity. Normally, there's a harem or at least two or three boys vying for the heroine's attention. Instead, we get Kazehaya, who is probably just as naive as Sawako is. When he's not oozing sunlight and appearing in Sawako's fantasies, he's a normal guy. He's any guy, not overly athletic or unrealistically wealthy or often found in dark corners, brooding to himself. He can be moody and childish, you'll later find, yes, but he's as ordinary as they come. And again, there is a certain level of novelty in that.
While he isn't my favorite character, what I like about Kazehaya is his dynamic with Sawako. In the beginning, you think he's her polar opposite. But you'll later come to find that that may not be the case after all. Like Sawako, this guy's got his own set of hang-ups, and throughout the series he, too, evolves from just-the-guy to a-real-guy.
She holds you captivated in her palm.
My favorite thing about this series, I think, is the supporting cast. Sawako and Kazehaya are joined by a colorful variety of characters, who all prove to be more than who you think they are. Ayane and Chizu, for one, are more than just Sawako's best friends. Both have their own stories told at some point in the series. And as I said, you're going to want to cheer them on. Considering there are only a handful of episodes (unless you decide to pick up the manga version), it's a testament to a well portrayed storyline that the characters grow in such a short time, and I don't just mean the two protagonists. You have Ryuu, Kazehaya's best friend and Chizu's neighbor. There's Arai, their superstitious, baseball-loving temporary homeroom teacher (who actually happens to be my favorite character). And Ume, the resident antagonist, who you will also find yourself liking.
She fills up every corner like she's born in black and white.
I had a theory before the second season was released; that it isn't a matter of light and dark, per se, since from one perspective, the roles are as clear as Sawako's ghostly impression to Kazehaya's sunlight-in-your-eyes feel. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was on the right track. Somewhere between the end of the first season and the middle of the second, you come to realize that Sawako and Kazehaya are not just black and white. In fact, if they were, then Sawako certainly wouldn't be the darker persona, seeing as that is actually a misconception about her character. So what would Kazehaya be then? And what would it mean for their dynamic? A lot introspection happens in this series, and when you catch it that's the time you find you're hooked.
She likes to leave you hanging on her word.