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Books Taste Like the Lifetime Channel

September 19, 2010


Bungaku Shoujo was pretty terrible. Most of it followed the formula of a trashy Lifetime movie-of-the-week styled domestic dispute exploitation melodrama. Call it houswifexplotiation or something– the sort of thing that plays and preys upon the need of people to see family situations far worse than their own so they can feel better about their own personal domestic hell.

Despite that, there’s a few little bits about the movie that I actually liked.

After all of the nonsense about healing psycho bitch’s heart and making her realize that she doesn’t need to win the Darwin Award to get back at her former boyfriend for “stealing” her novel award and basically having a better life, she and the spineless wimp that she wanted to be her dog don’t end up together again. At least as far as we can tell. The dude was clearly in an abusive relationship with her, where she was exploiting his kinda pathetic need to be at her side, and to have their relationship be all cool and everything just because she finally realizes she’s an insane nutcase that needs to be hopped up on a fuckload of medication would have been ridiculously stupid.

Fortunately, despite all of the inane soap opera antics that came before, they don’t go for that false happy ending. It’s great to see an anime character finally have some sense when it comes to a relationship like this. It’s a shame he stuck by this girl after she turned on him over something as trivial as a writing contest, and even after that he should have been smart enough to know something was up when she insists that he stop seeing all of his friends just to be with her (Classic tell-tale sign someone’s a fucking bastard that needs to be punched in the face.), but finally coming to the right conclusion about her in the end is downright brilliant by standard anime romance decision standards.

That part of the ending just amounts to “what you should have done from the beginning.” The other bit I liked kinda surprised me. When the main dude finally realizes that he has a good thing going with Book Chick and he finally confesses to her, she rejects him. It isn’t because she thinks he’s damaged goods or whatever (Although she should be smart enough to realize that this guy’s a hopeless cause.), it’s because she realizes that her nature is holding him back. She’s been eating all of these stories that he’s handwritten, essentially destroying them before anyone else can read them. She finally realizes that she isn’t doing him any favors by consuming his creations and denying them from a broader audience. The only way he’s going to fulfill his potential as a writer is if she distances herself from him and denies him that particular outlet.

That resolved some issues I had with Book Girl. If she loves literature so much, why would she insist on eating the handwritten, unique stories of someone that she feels is such a good writer? If she really appreciates good literature, and isn’t just a selfish brat, she wouldn’t go and eat them before they’ve been shared with others. Yeah, she says she finds handwritten writing to be far more appetizing than any other form of writing, but I’m glad to see that she realized she was being far too selfish.

Book Chick and Psycho Bitch make a good contrasting pair. One realizes that she’s holding someone back and has the sense to let him go while the other is fucking nuts and desperately wants to hold someone back and keep them to herself. The movie’s basically saying that healthy relationships, whether they’re romantic or platonic, depend on the willingness of each party to let go when letting go is necessary. It’s the difference between “being together” and “possessing.” Psycho Bitch thinks they’re one and the same while Book Chick realizes that her relationship with the dude leans far too much towards the “possessing” and breaks it off for everyone’s well-being.

So I liked that about this movie. Book Chick falls into the whole “magical girlfriend” thing, but rather than acting as a surrogate girlfriend that replaces a real relationship (I’m looking at you Ah! My Goddess.), she’s actually there to help people and move on. That’s cool stuff. It’s a shame that all the stuff that happens to get to that point was painful.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 19, 2010 3:08 PM

    Agreed completely. Psycho bitch and pussywhipped writer pretty much ruined the movie for me, and nobody else was developed enough to make up for that. I may be a total sap, but there’s a point where I despise a character so much that I actively root against his or her redemption, and psycho bitch passed that point repeatedly.

    • Landon permalink
      September 20, 2010 10:42 PM

      Yeah. Not real sure why the writer felt the need to go that route and make the central characters so unsympathetic. It reminded me way too much of Faulkner. Got some good ideas and style and whatever going, but it’s wasted on what amounts to 1920’s white trash. Bungaku Shoujo went the same direction, except with Japanese high school kid trash.

  2. September 20, 2010 2:53 PM

    Found the drama really just part of the delivery, and the main facilitator of development between Touko and Inoue. That said, I didn’t have a problem with it, but the triangular portion of the story was rather typical/generic/weak at times/etc… I think Touko and Inoue’s relationship definitely redeems the work.

    Glad you touched on that last goodbye they had. I wished to mention it in my own reflection, but sort of wanted to leave out some of the spoilers and maybe analyze that particular relationship once more people have watched the movie.


    • Landon permalink
      September 20, 2010 10:46 PM

      Be warned. Spoilers aren’t a thing I avoid around here. I figure anyone that’s reading my stuff’s already seen whatever I’m talking about or is of the mindset that doesn’t mind knowing what’s up beforehand.

      What gets me is that their relationship would have been just as interesting, if not moreso, without the plot with the suicidal girlfriend. They could have turned it into a story about a struggling writer who depends too much on his muse, and his muse depends on him for the emotional sustenance of his writings. They’d have a symbiotic relationship that ends up holding each other back and they both realize they need to move on for each other’s betterment, despite their feelings. It’s the ending they eventually arrived at, but it got crammed into the lat 15 minutes or so of the movie. That alone would have made a solid story.

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