Out of This World and Into My World: Barefoot Erio, the Titular Denpa Onna

Tried to make an X-Files reference with the title. It didn’t work.

So I wanted to write a blog post. It was going to be a bit odd and rambly and concern a show I haven’t watched very much of. But I’ve been putzing around, making members of the household tea and hot chocolate, peeing every five seconds because I drank most of the tea myself, and sniffing all the used books I bought over the past week and a half or so (all twenty-three of them!). Soooo yeah.

I think all of this is to say that perhaps I lack a proper introduction, in part because I’m doing that “confessional”-type post that somehow ties into anime. Although I don’t quite want to take away those scare-quotes since I don’t regard it as a confession, really, since I don’t think I’ve ever made any bones of the fact that I’ve often been presumed odd by my peers and others. The nice thing, I suppose, is that I somehow managed to land in a work environment where my penchants for things like rolling around on my office floor when frustrated or happily eating peanut butter and cheese sandwiches for lunch are regarded as simply quirks that do not in any way mark me as unfit socially or unfit for my occupation, and, in fact, are part of why I fit in well in my workplace. Remember, folks: next time you see an American general or admiral looking all dignified, we’re actually a pack of total weirdoes.

TL;DR: I was considered a weirdo by my peers when younger and frequently bullied for that, but as an adult all my co-workers are weird by mainstream social standards, so its all good!

All of this springs into me talking about the fact that probably the anime character that in my adult life I’ve felt most commonality with is Erio Touwa of Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko. As I said before, I’ve only watched a couple episodes of it; I couldn’t manage any more than that, because even if I enjoyed how utterly odd Erio seems, I’m not a SHAFT fan. I have finished a grand total of two SHAFT works – ef~a tale of melodies~ (because that was endured before I began approaching anime as something to be set aside if I don’t like it instead of forcing myself to the bitter end of), and Puella Magi Madoka Magica (fuck yeah me hearts the incorrect Latin, bitches) (I feel like mentioning again that I really liked the final three or four episodes of Madoka Magica, and all those preceding it I largely disliked; bet the movies make everyone else who hated the ending happy, and will just piss me off).

But, yes, two episodes of Denpa Onna, and that awful, delightful, awesome OP music, Os-Uchuujin. Actually, the OP is probably why Erio sticks with me still, even though I watched little of the show and it aired over a year ago. It fit so well – the overdone autotuning makes Asuka Oogame sound unearthly, which goes along with Erio’s belief of her own alien origins rather well. Every time it pops up when I’m driving or running (it features on both playlists!), I get this image of her escaping gravity and floating from the surface of the earth.

As a child, I insisted to anyone who did or did not care about the sentiment that I was from Saturn. I was very insistent about it; I would point to where it should be in the sky, could we see it unaided, while informing people of this – “I’m from Saturn. That’s my home.” Its difficult at this point to say how much of this was just me saying this because I thought Saturn was really cool, and how much of this was due to a sense of not quite belonging. I don’t think I exactly believed I was from Saturn, but I do think I did have a feeling that I was in the wrong place somehow, the wrong world.

So, Erio’s insistence on being an alien brought me right back to that, although her other eccentric behaviors gave more reason for me to feel that commonality with her. Wrapping herself in a futon isn’t something I ever did, but its certainly like things I have done and still do – that whole “I do it because I feel like it” thing, with little to no regard for how others perceive of the action. My closest in actual action to the futon matter may be my habit of, over my teenaged years and even into my time as a cadet (and, well, even more recently, too, if I’m honest), either wrapping myself in a blanket or zipping myself into my green military sleeping bag and hopping around while muttering, almost pensively, “Metapod, Metapod”. And why? I don’t know; I just feel like it. There is no other reason behind it, no other motivation. I just can, and it amuses me, so I do.

And then there was the pizza incident. That’s absolutely the sort of thing I would do, although admittedly in this case the amusement isn’t solely derived from me doing that, but also from people’s reactions to it. Niwa wonders how on earth Erio eats the pizza inside the futon; he’s baffled by it. That’s the sort of thing that does entertain me, the thing that would make me care about the reaction of others – not because I fear social rejection, but because I would would find it funny to leave them so confused.

I have to mention the snubbing of footwear as well. I hate shoes. In the summertime, unless I am at work or am at the gym, I don’t wear shoes. I wander around barefoot, even on city streets. I ride my bike barefoot despite the dangers. I have had moments where I’ve left the house to do errands, only to have to turn around to fetch my shoes so that I can actually go into the bank or the post office of the pharmacy. So, yes, even here I enjoy something shared with Erio.

Moving away from that more superficial matter, there is the fact that, although I don’t claim Saturn as my motherland these days, I am nagged by a persistent feeling that I am not quite from this world. I feel funny saying that, because, well, it sounds borderline delusional from some angles. Not from this world? Huh?

I was born on this planet; yes. I don’t think anything otherwise. Its a mental thing, not a physical one – physically, I’m from here. But mentally, it sometimes feels a poor fit, as if I was born too early or too late. When I say ‘world’, I don’t mean ‘planet’. The world I live in is 21st century A.D./C.E.* America. The planet I live on is Earth. Even more specifically, the world I live in is the twentysomething’s 21st century A.D./C.E. America on the East Coast within a partially-military, partially-civilian context amongst a generally middle class (ranging from lower middle to upper middle, to include working class) population. I could go into more minutiae from there, but I think you get my point. In terms of quirks like I’d mentioned before, I fit in much better with my military brethren than I ever have in the civilian environments I’ve been in, but in a larger sense I still can’t quite dismiss the sense that I’m not quite in the right world. But I also think it is impossible to get to it, something I’m okay with at this point.

I hear that later on in the show, Niwa helps Erio get over her apparent delusions, which are a coping mechanism for a disinclination to face reality. That seems too bad to me – I think she’s perfectly fine as her eccentric self, and, in what I watched, her largely solitary existence didn’t seem to bother her at all. We don’t need to fix our “weirdoes”, do we?

I’m surprised that Erio’s the one I identify with most as an anime character. She’s got a whiff of Manic Pixie Dream Girl to her, as filtered through the beloved anime trope of Guy Helps Girl(s) Get Over Issue(s), and I can’t say I like the idea of associating myself with that kind of character. But maybe what makes it most surprising of all is that the last anime character I identified with was Juri of Revolutionary Girl Utena! What a shift! Oh, my teenaged years!

* I have the dumbest fucking reason for persisting in using A.D. in dating things; fucking Gundam Seed with its Cosmic Era has turned me off of utilizing Common Era. C.E.! Cosmic Era! COMMON ERA! FUCK.

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4 Responses to Out of This World and Into My World: Barefoot Erio, the Titular Denpa Onna

  1. Hoho, so this is the character you identify with most~ (Not sure who mine is.)

    I’ve only seen the first couple eps of Denpa Onna, but (even though its male lead was a snooze, shock shock) I found Erio entertaining. I remember a lot of buzz from viewers being like “What horrible, awful, traumatic thing happened to her to make her that way?” but I don’t remember her acting traumatized? Just like a harmlessly weird kid. I’ve seen weirder (but still harmless) shit on 90’s Nickelodeon shows.

    Btw, your shoe-flouting attitude is similar to my dad’s, so to me, that bit just made you sound like an old man instead of weird. lol

  2. How charming! I can’t believe I almost missed this post.

    Reflecting on what you say at the end, I’d love to see a show like this turned inside out. I remember reading 2DT’s post and writing my review about the effect that these girls have on Niwa, but now, I think I’m interested in seeing a show that works inside the “helped” person and really explores how he or she decides to let the change affect his or her life. It would be nice if that was Kokoro Connect, but it isn’t really. :/

    • A Day Without Me says:

      I’m wracking my brain trying to think of any show where the person helped is the protagonist. I think Clannad may be the closest, albeit only insofar as his storyline with Nagisa goes. He does help her, but she and her family help him quite a bit… which is a lot more normal and healthy than the endless aid-rendering by the male protagonist to all the female characters that we typically see in harem shows!

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