Normally I avoid anime like this, but I thought to give it a watch to figure out what makes this sort of anime appealing to some fans.
Maybe it is because I am an old fogey as the anime viewership goes. Kids these days! The Comic Artist and His Assistants deals with mangaka Yuki Aito’s perverted antics. Obsessed with panties, he is a frantic and psychotic personality with wild mood swings. His unfortunate assistants, particularly Ashisu, have to put up with his hopeless perversity. Of course, Aito is painfully shy and backward with women despite his perversity. He is the type that looks but never touches. Well, never touches on purpose anyway.
Despite knowing the history of the Japanese panty fetish, anime that feature such as a central aspect of a character dumbfounds me. Manga is an escape from the normal, everyday grind and provides a release valve for pent up urges. So I guess Aito can be a stand in for a fantasy some men may have. The story is only supposed to be for fun. But anime like this one speak about a disconnect between genders and point to burdens societies place on women.
Men are often thought to be sex starved, thinking about sex every 30 seconds. It is every 45 seconds thank you very much. I consider this view insulting. Anime like Comic Artist only perpetuates this mistaken view of men. Likewise, women are expected to resist the advances of men. His behavior becomes her responsibility. Even today in the United States I hear people comment on the clothing – more precisely the lack of clothing – rape victims wore at the time of the crime. “If only she covered herself.” Never mind the responsibility of the guy to control himself. Aito follows this same idea. He is completely unable to control his fetish for women’s underwear, and it is the responsibility of the women around him to reign him in.
The trope of uncontrollable male lust is painfully common in comedy anime and in American attitudes toward women. Women are expected to dress discrete lest they make men lust after them. The burka found in the Middle East is an extreme example of this idea. What about, you know, men having enough respect not to self-inflict whiplash when a lady walks by. I am grateful that I sit on the asexual spectrum. It allows me to appreciate a woman’s beauty without falling into the socialized view of “wanting to do her.” Of course, to my male friends I am an enigma. I like women but do not feel the need to stare and drool. It also makes me an outlier in American society. I am more interested in getting close to a woman’s mind than body.
In Comic Artist and His Assistants Aito does have a commendable attribute. He likes women with small chests the best. That doesn’t stop him from fawning after all women, but it is a common theme in anime for women with small chests to be self-conscious and even ridiculed. Men and women are socialized to prefer large chests. Larger boobs = more feminine, I guess. However, the trope in anime can sometimes be quite mean spirited. I was pleasantly surprised at how Aito broke the stereotype.
Have you noticed how society and tropes often place the burden on women? Small-chested women are not feminine enough to attract the uncontrolled attention of guys. Big-busted women are responsible for remaining inaccessible to keep guys reined. In comedies like Comic Artist, that means clobbering the guy. Rare is the anime that expects the guy to control himself. In America, women are expected to be sexually available yet not too much. Slut shaming is common when she crosses the vague-and-always-moving line. If she crosses over too far and becomes a victim of sexual abuse…well, that was her fault for egging the guy on.
It is ridiculous.
Alright, I stood on the soapbox and strained what is supposed to be a harmless comedy anime. However, these messages proliferate throughout both anime and Western culture. Women are expected to be responsible for male behavior. Throughout Comic Artist Aito’s complete lack of self control troubled me. His assistants had to work that much harder because of his antics.
The anime wasn’t all bad. I enjoyed the way it reverted to comic styling to emphasize Ashisu’s thoughts. A few of the situations were funny, but these types of anime are just not for me.