Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun at a Glance/Stop Putting Rape Culture in All My Shoujo, Assholes

OH COOL A SHOUJO THAT TELLS ME THAT GUYS WITH CONSENT ISSUES ARE TOTES HOT

EDIT: Note on commenting – if you’re about to make faces and personal attacks because you don’t like what I wrote, don’t even bother wasting your time. My blog, my rules, and I don’t deal with trolls. I’ve worked pretty hard over the years to maintain my blog as a safe space, and I’m not going to let assholes come in here and piss all over that.

That being said, if you disagree with me, I’m not going to just delete your comment… so long as you stick to the argument and skip over asinine personal attacks. If you have any confusion on how this is done, check out E Minor’s response to this very post. And if you have doubts about my honesty on this point, the fact that I’m linking to someone who is so thorough about his disagreement with my own arguments should be proof enough that I’m not just going to ignore you or muzzle you for differing in opinion.

You know, I was going to write my Horizon Tits II post before this, but, well, I just want to get this out of my system. Also, obviously you want your before-dinner post consumption to be the serious stuff, with the after-dinner bit for boobs. And, believe me, the Horizon post will be a lot of boobs. But, like, scholarly boobs, ok? ITS NOT TITILLATION IF ITS QUASI-ACADEMIC, BROS.

Anyway.

Right now, I am annoyed. The source of my annoyance is, no surprises here, Monster-kun. The fact is, there is a lot that’s shitty about Monster-kun… but there’s also a lot of decent stuff in the mix, too, which just makes it all the more obnoxious. I like Shizuku quite a bit, and although I loathe a lot of his actions, I like the core of Haru’s character, if that makes sense – i.e., the bits where he was suspended for beating up jerks who were beating someone else up, the fact that he does legitimately seem to want to treat Shizuku properly, etc. But, yeah, sorry, bro, no cookies for meeting the bare minimum on some fronts and failing massively on others.

I also like the chicken.

Let me explain to you why I don’t like Monster-kun on the whole. Here I am. I’m Shizuku. This guy I’ve met once and who has been suspended from school for fighting has just tackled me into the bushes and pinned me down. He is clearly angry – his tone and posture demonstrate that aptly. Sure, sure, he relents once he is convinced I’m not a spy for the school, but the next day he pulls me into an alley and threatens to rape me if I shout for help. I go with him, though I have no obligation to, because he is physically larger than me and has a bad temper. I’m afraid that if I don’t, he might hurt me. Later on, he dumps a drink on my head because something I say makes him angry.

The guy starts going to school again. He follows me everywhere and won’t leave me alone. My teacher is relieved because he seems to have made a friend, and doesn’t seem to notice that I am uncomfortable with the situation. I try ignoring this guy, and I try to put him off by telling him I’m busy with studying, but he won’t stop bothering me. As we are walking along after school one day, he forcibly kisses me.

This.

Is.

Fucking.

Creepy.

“But, Day, she likes him!”

No. No, fuck that noise. This is a work of fiction. It is not real life. And this is exactly what is wrong with it. Monster-kun tells its young readership that this is a Good Thing, that this makes Haru an attractive young man, because he won’t take no for an answer, because he doesn’t even bother to ask yes or no in the first place. Here is what myself and several of the other women and girls who have also watched this and with whom I’ve chatted about this agreed on: we went out, bought pepper-spray, and enrolled in self-defense classes way back at “tackled me in the bushes” and “threatened to rape me”. And, no, I didn’t report his behavior because I already know what would happen – “Oh, it just means he likes you!”, “He’s awkward, but he’s harmless!”, “You’re over-reacting!”, so on and ad nauseum. And then! When he does attack me, regardless of whether I did say something before about his behavior, it is MY fault. I should’ve been more direct with him, I should’ve told the teacher more, I should’ve done x, y, z even though I am a sixteen year old girl in a patriarchal society.

By the way, lets change the scenario slightly. Lets say that a similar thing happened with me, as I am now, a twenty-something soldier who is proficient with several types of semi- and fully automatic guns and who has had training in hand-to-hand combat. And, here, we’ll even stack the deck in the guy’s favor by saying that he’s not a soldier or a veteran himself. He has tackled me in the bushes, threatened to rape me, and forcibly kissed me.

Guess what, folks? I’m still totally freaked the fuck out, even with my military background, even with knowing I used to fight guys in high school, even knowing that I can outrun most Americans, even with the knowledge that I have a great bunch of co-workers, a loving and supportive family, friends who are ultra-loyal, all people who should theoretically take me seriously. And if I feel that way, how do you think the average woman out there feels about these sorts of things?

So, fuck you, Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun. Fuck you and your shitty message to your target audience about romance. Fuck you and your inability to think of ways to demonstrate that Haru is socially maldeveloped that don’t include rape. Fuck you and your shitty message to your target audience about how they “should” feel about being sexually threatened.

And, finally, fuck the teacher in the damn show that thinks sending the socially-reclusive, ultra-introverted girl to bring homework to the boy who has shown a propensity for violence and anger issues and whom *you* won’t go see yourself because you are afraid is a good idea. FUCK YOU.

P.S. Further reading here, bros.

EDIT 2: For folks looking for greater clarification the language matter of the rape line, check here.

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129 Responses to Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun at a Glance/Stop Putting Rape Culture in All My Shoujo, Assholes

  1. otou-san says:

    Somehow I missed just how shitty the teacher was in this case, thanks for nailing that one to the wall too.

    I mentioned this on Twitter but I kinda wanted to put it down in a more concrete thought: There is a lot of talk going around right now that “this is what shoujo manga/anime is all about and if you’re mad then you just don’t know.” Well… yeah, this is shoujo manga and in fact I’ve felt pretty icky reading some of it before. But I don’t get how a pattern of fucked-up-ness is somehow more ok than an isolated incident? What’s the argument there?

    That’s bad enough in itself, but it’s indicative of a larger pattern, and I feel like I finally see what people mean by “rape culture” and “apologists.” There’s always an excuse. When I wrote that bit about Kokoro Connect I got tons of them too. “Could have been worse,” “you don’t understand Japanese culture,” “it doesn’t take itself seriously enough to worry about,” etc. If there’s always an excuse for every case of something problematic, then we never take anything to task and we create an environment where everything’s an exception so nothing’s an exception and it’s all ok.

    • the_patches says:

      YES YES YES YES YES.

      That’s sort of the point. “Deal with it because that’s the way it is” is about ignoring a problem because it makes you uncomfortable which is at the the heart of this issue.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      Honestly, I think the teacher is the character I genuinely hated by the end of the episode. Like I said, I disliked Haru on the whole, but I at least liked the core of his character, as I put it, even if the execution was badly thought-out. But the teacher? Ugh.

      Also, thank you for your comment about patterns and rape apologia, because you’re exactly right about how folks try to excuse it. I don’t even think its intentional half the time, which makes it odious in a different fashion – people feel uncomfortable when the problematic aspects of something they like are pointed out, and tend to take it as equivalent to them being told that they are a bad person for liking it. Its easier to give twenty reasons for why the thing in question doesn’t have problems than it is to accept that a. it does, and b. that this doesn’t necessarily make a person bad for liking it.

      Hmm, maybe I’ll do a post on it some day…

  2. SmithCB says:

    Just a quick question for those who have read the manga in Japanese(I obviously haven’t), and that is whether the translation of the rape threat was literal, or this translator taking liberties with the language for shock value. It certainly has shaken many people’s cages and seemed jarring, though the current socio-pathic nature of the character might make him consider it just another threat, which still doesn’t make it right.

    • Kiseki says:

      I was bothered by it too and was hoping that it was just a product of Japanese->Taiwanese->English translations (Shizuku didn’t mention that she wanted to do well in Calculus specifically), so I looked it up and yeah, that was what he said. The word Haru used isn’t the one usually used for rape and has other meanings (I’m not familiar with it though so I’m sorry if I’m wrong), but in this case and context, it means rape.

      • M says:

        Interesting there’s all this analysis with “rape” and people going off about it yet not one person chooses to put up the Japanese or romanji version of the words used. He says two short phrases, yet the translation comes out with a load and a half and neither seems accurate.

        The context seems translated better to ‘no funny business or I’ll do something misfortunate.’ There’s like 10 words in Japanese for rape and not one seems to be used.

      • A Day Without Me says:

        @M: Nope – he says ‘okasu’, which means… “to rape”! Yes, it also means other things such as… “to violate”, “to desecrate”, “to raid”, and “to invade”., among a few others, all of which lead to the same thing – he is threatening to rape her.

        I will also point out that CR has the official translation for this, which is thus the translation that Brains Base approved of in the first place. If they approved of it, clearly they feel this is the proper translation of the term.

        Finally, lets play pretend and say that he didn’t say “rape” but said “invade”. Hmm. Invade. A guy just told me he’s going to invade me after yanking me into an alley and covering my mouth if I make any noise. Gee, that’s so ambiguous, isn’t it?

        But, seriously, he says rape. This isn’t a loose translation – he just threatened to rape the heroine. No room for quibbling here.

      • M says:

        Hi, I’m an idiot who just had a massive wall of text deleted because I couldn’t avoid making personal attacks in my counter-argument!

      • A Day Without Me says:

        Thank you for your clarification on the fact that in this context it does mean rape, since its intellectually disingenuous to claim that a guy who drags a girl into an alley, restrains her, covers her mouth, and says he’s going to “okasu” her is just saying he’s, um, going to invade her. Or raid her. Or… um… desecrate her? Wait. None of those make sense unless we actually translate it to what it actually means – he is threatening to rape her. Wish it weren’t true, but gotta call a spade a spade.

  3. Vincent says:

    Well said. This show has a terrible message/premise and is just awful. The animators also really dropped the ball with really crappy animation befitting of a classless show.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      Actually, I didn’t think the animation was bad – if anything, I was annoyed because it seemed like Brains Base was putting a decent amount of money into this.

      By the way, I do appreciate that you loved my post and felt it really nailed the issues with the show, and I’m impressed that you’ve shared it as widely as you have. I would like to ask, though, that you could refrain from linking to it on the anime blogs that tend to have toxic comment sections, though, as I’m being absolutely inundated with trolls at the moment. Its true that they might need to read something like this the most, but the moderation bit is getting overwhelming, so I’d appreciate it.

      • Vincent says:

        I am afraid that I don’t know which of those blogs do have toxic comment sections. When I posted on those blogs, nearly every comment I saw was positive. In the future, I will try to view all comments on the first page of a blog, to prevent this type of thing from happening.

        • A Day Without Me says:

          That sounds like a bit more work than necessary! It’s cool, don’t worry about it; the spam filter’s gotten a lot better over the past couple of hours about catching stupid crap.

  4. Xana says:

    thank you for opening my eyes, i must have been half asleep when I watched the first episode last night, because I missed how shitty this show actually is.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      Well, I’m glad that my post was of help to you. I think the better shoujo fix this season will be Kamisama Kiss, if you’re hankering after some shoujo, as it dispenses with the potentially problematic aspects pretty quickly (at least in the manga).

      • Vincent says:

        Okay, I’ll give Kamisama Kiss a shot. I haven’t seen much shoujo and would be interested in trying some more. Just so you know, I haven’t posted this on any other blog since yesterday, so I think there should be less incoming personal attacks for you and the spam filter to get rid of.

  5. Pingback: Beating a dead horse: Another look at the Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun problem | Moe Sucks

  6. M says:

    Hi, another wall of my text was deleted for my inability to make an argument without resorting to personal attacks and condescension! Wow, I sure wasted my time, didn’t I?

    • jpmeyer says:

      Reddit is that way.

    • marilap says:

      I agree.

      Haru’s behavior is totally unacceptable, but that’s because he obviously has Asperger’s, and needs more help than he needs punishment. Besides, it’s not like it’s benefiting him, since Shizuku was only able to accept him after he calmed down. I think this series can do some good by showing people that if they want to make friends, they need to stop pushing themselves onto others, and actually care about them.

  7. jpmeyer says:

    I have trouble talking about things like this show.

    After I watched it, I went to tumblr in hopes of having my jollies at a social justice shitshow raging about how problematic this show is. Instead, it was endless animated gifs and feels and how cute Yoshida is and all that kind of stuff.

    It then instantly reminded me of the various studies that have shown how you need to carefully word surveys about victimization (cyberbullying, rape, etc.) because otherwise people will fail to report accurately if they have to realize that they are the bad thing being surveyed. People get that it’s bad to be violent or creepy or rapey, but good luck getting them to acknowledge that those behaviors are broader than they personally are defining as such.

    And then it reminded me of those endless smug MRA articles about 50 Shades of Grey attempting to pwn feminists with “Suck it, feminazis. Women DO want to be abused. 1 zillion copies of this sold vs zero of your ~progressive~ romances.”

    And then it reminded me of the infinity times this kind of problem just gets handwaved with a link to How to Be a Fan of Problematic Things.

    And then it reminded me how trying to say that this sort of thing is ~problematic~ is pretty much textbook mansplaining (“Whoa, hold up there woman! I’m going to use my penis to tell you what kind of relationships you can and can not enjoy!”)

    And don’t even get me started on otome games. I swear on balance the average otome game is usually wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy more problematic than the average eroge.

    (And of course, it reminded me of that Sady Doyle article on “I Love Dick”)

    • A Day Without Me says:

      Ugh, otome games. I think I agree about them being worse than eroge, because they police the behavior of women and girls so hard, and also keep pushing this idea that there is this set of rules women and girls can follow, and if they do, they will always, always be safe. And if they do follow the rules and they still get raped? Well, obviously the dumb, slutty bitch wasn’t following the rules!

      Tangentially, I think this is why I prefer reading yuri and BL to het manga romances, and gay romance novels to straight ones (although I’ve read a couple Amish romances that were pretty fascinating – total eye-openers on a culture I knew very little about). They sure as hell aren’t perfect, but by having the folks the same gender, the whole thing doesn’t feel quite so fraught.

      • jpmeyer says:

        Otome game good end: you get raped
        Otome game bad end: you get enslaved then gangraped then murdered

        Oh oh oh, one of the other things that I realllllllllllly don’t know how to talk about similarly is fanfic/fanart/RPs/etc.. I’ll look at it and think “Welp, turns out that female audiences were being underserved by commercial entities because they…weren’t being provided with enough underage ‘dubcon’ stories”.

        (Ugh, “dubcon” and “noncon”. Even more normalization and acceptance of rape!)

      • Anya says:

        I don’t read a lot of BL, but I think the problem is quite prevalent there too. Isn’t it expected in the genre for the seme to be aggressive – and often rape – the uke? I’ve seen fujoshi call for blood and telling the seme to hurry up and rape, it’s disturbing.

        • A Day Without Me says:

          It is pretty common to have rape culture issues in BL, but I tend to be the pickiest BL reader in the universe, so I tend to not encounter it too much – which isn’t to excuse it, mind you. Yuri also frequently has consent issues. These things irritate me and bother me, even as I do a very good job of avoiding the sort of BL/yuri that contains these elements.

          However, with the ones I do read, I find it easier to enjoy the romance because it isn’t fraught with gender issues in the way much of straight romance typically is. Put differently, I can enjoy the back-and-forth more of the couple, because it isn’t operating under the stress of unbalanced gender relations from the outset. Am I making sense here?

          • fencedude says:

            Thats much of the reason I enjoy yuri, so yeah.

          • Anya says:

            I read a lot of yuri so I know exactly what you mean. I feel like rape culture is least prevalent in yuri compared to BL or straight romances, but maybe it’s just me. I just read whatever I come across without checking it first so I think my sample is pretty spread out, but I might be cherry picking in my mind.

          • A Day Without Me says:

            Well, in yuri its more… subtle when its being rape culture-tastic – not as much outright rapes as girls grabbing the boobs of other girls, manhandling them, etc. For an example, see here, where the_patches talks about a particular sequence in Yuruyuri’s first season.

            Anyway, I think we notice less the unwanted touching in yuri because we are accustomed in general to the idea that girls are more touchy-feely with one another than boys are with boys.

    • windyturnip says:

      “textbook mansplaining”

      Generalizing fifty percent of the world’s population is not helping your argument. It’s incredibly immature and insulting to the men who do support women’s rights.

  8. dm00 says:

    “But,Day, she likes him!”: Her reaction had me thinking about abuse victims and how they can keep coming back to their abusers, making excuses for them, being reluctant to escape. I suppose the show might redeem itself by highlighting its own problems, and following the characters through a healing process as they escape this twisted relationship, and learn how to have healthy relationships.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      It would be really cool if it did… but I’m highly skeptical it will. The fact is, it isn’t just problematic in how Haru treats Shizuku, but in the way that Haru is presented as a project in need of fixing – in particular, see the collar and chain in the OP and a bunch of the promo art. This is so insulting to both sides – ladies, you must tame the mens, and if they are still bad, it is your fault! Men, you are incapable of being civilized without a lady!

      I guess what I’m trying to say is that Monster-kun’s gender problems go beyond rape threats and violence towards women, which deepens my skepticism that it will end up being like you said it could be. But, hey, I am always happy to be proven wrong on these kinds of points.

  9. I noticed how in many Japanese works, they like to portray women as submissive and unable to resist a forceful man or w/e crap. Glad rl doesn’t work like that, a girl that easily attainable ain’t no fun.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      I agree with you wholeheartedly on that, although I would also add “or a guy”. I’ve always been one to enjoy the chase… just remember to know when to admit defeat =)

  10. Raph says:

    Thank you for this post, Day. It’s so important that this was written and that this is read. You’ve articulated the issues that a lot of us have with this work in such a clear way, and I really appreciate that.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      I’m glad you appreciated my post. Just trying to stay true to my intent to call BS where BS is thriving.

  11. fencedude says:

    I agree 100% with this post (as of course you know), and in fact now wish I’d focused more on this when I did my impressions post of the episode.

    • Aaron Sohns says:

      Completely agree with this.

      I was initially unsure of how bothered I was by the things Haru did because I couldn’t decide if I felt it might be justifiable by Haru’s characterization as being violent in general, being totally incapable of relating to other people or interacting with them in a remotely normal way, and just generally having all the emotional and social maturity of a five year old.

      Ultimately I decided it didn’t matter, because the show has shown no sign of treating these issues seriously and every sign of this following the standard shoujo path of her falling in love with him, which is the entire problem.

      • A Day Without Me says:

        Also, if we try to step into the show itself and look at his actions as if we were a character in the show… well, how does he seem to come across? His intentions might be wholly pure (and I actually do think that they are, based on his overall characterization), but his actions read as wholly threatening. If a guy were behaving like this toward me, my general sentiment would be, “Fuck his intent, this is creepy as fuck, and I don’t feel safe.”

        Anyway, I agree with your statement that it doesn’t matter since Shizuku’s getting fuwa~fuwas for him and it smells entirely like from here it’ll be shoujo romance as usual. I said to another commenter that I would love to be proven wrong on this, though.

  12. lol says:

    Thank you for this post. It’s amazing that Tumblr claims to be all about ~*social justice*~ yet they’re going nuts for this show. That rape comment was one of the most absurd things I’ve seen in anime in a while.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      The rape comment was fairly ridiculous, in part because, well, it just isn’t funny. A lot of folks have tried to argue that it is, because, Haha! This guy totally doesn’t get social situations!, but given Shizuku’s obvious fear, I don’t understand at all how we are supposed to think its a funny moment. The episode is full of humorous moments when Haru is failing at social skills (him jumping out the window, asking the teacher what it means to care for someone, etc.) – these are all pretty funny. But the rape threat? Nope. If anything, its insulting to the other funny bits sprinkled through the episode.

      If it makes you feel any better on the Tumblr front, those folks proclaiming how cute and wonderful Monster-kun is aren’t the only folks on Tumblr talking about the show – there are definitely Tumblr users and readers who are not cool with the rape culture soaking this show.

      • Silkk says:

        Ok so not that im condoning the meaning of the threat, but in the wall of text no-one has actually pointed out as to why he used it.

        Taking into account the next episodes/chapters of the manga his character develops more into the severly introverted lonely guy, who has a very minimal grasp on what is and isnt socially acceptable.

        To tie in with the above, he does seem to go a little over the top with situations, so the “Ill rape you” comment might not be actually what he is meant, more that he is using the worst threat he could think of to stop her calling out.

        Case and point: If I, a male, were to pull some girl into an alley, within a few minutes I would more than likely be laid on the floor holding whats left of my family jewels in the hopes that they are still attatched.

        Going further into the whole anime culture, the “deliquents” portayed accross 90% of animes are always using violence/death threats, which to be honest, even from a male point of view, saying to a girl, “I WILL RAPE YOU” will have a much more psycological effect than say “if you scream, ill kick your head in”.

        A girls thoughts on the mind set of the threat would be good to hear, as im only speculating on this.

        But yeah, all saber rattling aside, there is probably more behind the words than just the statement.
        1, it boils down to culture, and what is sociably acceptable in that area, cos quite alot of stuff in anime really wouldnt be tolerated in Europe/America.
        2, oh its an anime, if it didnt stir these responses then it wouldnt build a fan base, so if you watch it cos you like it, or you watch it so as to have more amunition to complain to the anime companies/mange writers to stop, then your still boosting ratings and making them money.
        3, i actually ran out of room to type…. still point aside, bigger picture please, not just focusing on a 1 liner :)

  13. Teacup Taiga says:

    Why can’t relationships be more like Toori to Horizon, or Crossunit to Mary? Even in an ecchi anime there isn’t the pouring on of this rape culture. Even Hiiro no Kakera, with its questionable animation quality, doesn’t fall into this rape culture trap – mind you I only saw the anime and talk-dark-and-forceful isn’t as bad as the extremes of his character type can be. What happened with Shoujo being more fun and beautiful and wonderful to read without the overly forceful guys and women who fall for them?

    It’s bad enough I want more romance focused shoujo-ai that can stand equally against the shounen-ai romance quality level.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      Honestly, given a choice of a blind pick of a straight romance manga versus a yuri/BL romance manga, I will always pick the yuri/BL. Yuri and BL has its fair share of problems, but I find the removal of potential gender-related power imbalance issues a massive relief that enables me to more frequently enjoy what I am reading.

      As for shoujo and rape-ness, if I had to guess at a root cause of it, its that Good Girls aren’t supposed to pursue sex. So having a guy force or pressure the girl into it becomes the way for girls and women to satisfy their sex drives without compromising their Good Girl status, because its not like they wanted to have sex – but you know how guys are! They’re pushy, and you have to let them have sex with you, because otherwise you’re just a big meanie who hates men.

      I would question, though, if shoujo romances are really that much more rape culture-prone than other types of romances or stories. I think it is just more disturbing in this context given that the target audience is young women and girls, and they’re pretty much being told that this is how romance works, and that if it makes them uneasy, they’re being overly sensitive, etc.

      • otou-san says:

        As for shoujo and rape-ness, if I had to guess at a root cause of it, its that Good Girls aren’t supposed to pursue sex. So having a guy force or pressure the girl into it becomes the way for girls and women to satisfy their sex drives without compromising their Good Girl status, because its not like they wanted to have sex – but you know how guys are!

        Yeah, I think that’s the case — I believe I’ve seen it broken down before in a little more detail although I wish I could remember the book or author now. This is one place where the “it’s a Japanese cultural norm” argument does come into play, but far from being a reason why the stuff is ok.

  14. krizzlybear says:

    This gets my stamp of approval. The problems with the message that shows like monster-kun try to spread to its audience extends beyond those taking in the medium. As a writer, everything we write has a tinge of influence from the works we take in ourselves, even if it’s not intentional. To touch a bit on Otou-san’s point about the proliferation of this brand of negative treatment towards women, it’s that influence that causes an unfortunate feedback loop for other aspiring creators. People who write shojo because they like the “genre” are subtly conditioned to believe that this behaviour contributes to the enjoyment of stories within that genre, and they choose to take on that tone, which, if the resulting work becomes successful, in turn further influences others to make similar decisions.

    Taking this into consideration, writers need to be aware of a number of things. Firstly, they have to remember that writing is a form of expression, that there’s an underlying message behind what happens in the stories that they tell. Even if they didn’t mean to, they still run the risk of sending the wrong message to the audience. Secondly, they have to be open to criticism, and not just of their own work, but of others as well.

    There are lessons to be learned from the awareness brought up by posts like these as well as others who have mentioned similar points. Keeping up with literary discourse not only helps writers be aware of what no longer works in fiction, but what does work as well. Writers don’t need (nor should they, for that matter) to rely on this type of subject matter in order to produce intriguing, enjoyable works, and once they realize that, they can do their part in not contributing to this type of culture.

    As both a fan of this type of media as well as a subscriber to this train of thought, it’s very easy for an audience (yourself included, Day) educated on these types of issues to feel helpless in regards to their ability to change the culture and societal attitude towards women. Don’t. The message may not reach the original author of the work, but it can certainly reach those who are part of the audience who wish to cross that line between audience and creator, myself included.

    Keep it up, I’m learning a lot from this ongoing conversation.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      I really enjoyed your response, because it continues to expand the conversation beyond simply “Monster-kun has a lot of rape culture in it, and it makes myself and other girls and women uncomfortable because we’ve all dealt with situations like this before”.

      I’m a big believer in the consciousness-raising approach to changing minds, attitudes, and beliefs. I do think in many cases people simply do not realize that there is a problem in the first place, or that they do not realize how massive of a problem it is, and that most of these people, if you take the time to point things out and explain, will at the very least begin to actually consider the issue. It won’t always be immediate, but every little prod helps to bring folks around.

  15. Elli says:

    Wow, I am SO happy I stumbled across this blog while I was looking for criticism of this episode. Thank you for this beautiful post. I hope you don’t mind me posting a link to this on my tumblr.

    I watched this episode today and was sadly not surprised by what I found in the tag. There was one great gif set with all three instances of assault that was captioned with the quote “I’ll always love you.” It was pretty horrifying and depressing. I also posted “Let’s keep in mind that those were three counts of assault and not three particularly ~romantic~ moments” and someone actually responded with “no”.

    And I actually also agree with you about Haru’s character. I think the idea that he doesn’t know how to treat her (or anything, for that matter) with care is great and full of potential. But, like you said, they used the threat of rape to illustrate this without establishing at all just how fucked up and wrong that is. On top of that, it’s passed off as both romantic and as a joke. All the assaults are. Are you fucking kidding me? And obviously it was effective considering those gif sets I’ve been seeing romanticizing each assault even more than the show did itself.

    I’m sure Haru’s character will get a healthy dose of character development but the fact that these threats of violence were never directly addressed for what they were means there’s virtually no chance for redemption for the show. That’s not even touching on Shizuku’s reaction to all this which is to fall in love with him(??!?!) which you already thoroughly covered (get the god damn pepper spray).

    Again, thanks for voicing all this. I really appreciate it.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      I have no problem at all with you linking to this on your Tumblr; I was having some trouble with trolls yesterday because I’d been linked in some unfortunate places, but I get the feeling your Tumblr’s audience has few people who would be inclined to trolldom.

      I think, too, I would take less issue if Haru’s blossoming into a person with social skills was framed less as a “Shizuku’s love cured him!” and more as “Once his classmates got to know him, they all ended up helping him develop social skills.” Less clinically than that, though – couldn’t phrase it in a way I liked more than that, but along the lines of his classmates realized he was a good guy and so wanted to be friends with him and he figured out how to not be creepy and unsettling just by interacting with them.

  16. ahelo says:

    Oh god, this is totally awesome shit. I love Tonari oh so very much but you really hit the nail here with Haru. He’s fucking creepy if we really take a look a t the stuff he did with Shizuku in this episode (rape threats, putting Shizuku down the ground, forcibly kissing her) and how there are people who see this as Kyaa That’s So Hot is equally creepy. In a way, a lot women really are attracted to sexual force (not really rape in a sense) and are also masochists (this is why 50 shades of gray is a fucking best seller).

    But hey, Haru IS supposed to be fucking creepy and sociopathic so it kinda fits the bill (just none of the Kyaa Rape thing anymore please). Also, I think it’s the fact that we haven’t had a shoujo anime in a while that we’re reacting like this. Expect the same shit with Suki-tte ii na yo coming this weekend (starts off with the bishie forcibly kissing the MC to protect her from stalkers).

    • A Day Without Me says:

      Well, it isn’t a dearth of shoujo that has made me react in this way, but that Monster-kun is a pretty extreme example of this problem. Suki-tte ii na yo just looks so hideously boring to me and doesn’t have the male lead tackling or threatening to rape the female lead, so I’ll admit that it hasn’t pinged on my radar.

      As for women being masochists, I think it bears considering whether this is a chicken or egg-type situation – are most women masochists so they seek out romances with masochistic elements? Or are women encouraged to be masochistic and largely only presented that option, so they sublimate the concept? In most modern societies, proper women aren’t supposed to be terribly interested in sex, but the fact is, most women still have sex drives. Forceful men mean that (heterosexual and bisexual) women can get their sexytimes but can also remain “proper” women, because, well, you know, it isn’t that they wanted to have sex, themselves, but you know, men really like sex, and it isn’t fair to deny it to them, so she was just indulging him.

  17. windyturnip says:

    Can you honestly say you hate Haru? His actions may have been wrong at points, but they were never malicious. He never did a single thing with the intent to cause harm to others. Referring to Haru as monster-kun is doing nothing but dehumanizing him, allowing you to more easily project your hatred onto him. If anything, he is merely another victim in the society that you’re criticizing.

    I mean, if he doesn’t understand that what he is doing is wrong, how can you place all the blame on him? It’s like beating a six year old for stealing when they don’t even understand the concept of property. It’s irrational and puts both parties at fault.

    The points above can certainly be argued against, but I find it ridiculous that there are those who think this show is actively promoting “rape culture.” It might be distasteful at points (really just the alley scene), but overall it isn’t that bad. If the rape comment was absent from the episode, I doubt we would even be having this discussion. As far as I’m concerned, Haru’s violent behavior is just symbolic of his abrasive personality. It’s a challenge for him to overcome, and I’m sure he will by the series conclusion.

    • To be fair, Monster-kun is used in the show’s title. If it recognises that aspect of Haru character, is it really that wrong for other people to do so?

      I obviously can’t speak for Day here, but personally I understand to an extent what Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun is trying to do with Haru’s character. Roghek makes a great point on E-Minor’s post, referring to him operating by instinctive, animalistic impulses. He’s a modern day Tarzan if you will. I can apply that mentality to how he keeps manhandling her, but that rape line… that came across a more premeditated sentiment. He knew what he was saying and that fear would grant submission from Shizuku.

      The big problem for me isn’t the reasoning behind Haru’s actions; it’s how the manga/anime manipulates such deeds into cheap drama, without acknowledging the gravitas of what he does. He gets slightly chastised and told to treat women better, but isn’t truly made to understand how wrong his deeds are. There’s no real attempt made at correction. That’s my issue with Kaibutsu-kun and shoujo of its ilk; they’re so numb to this type of treatment, that they don’t recognise the implications beyond making him seem troubled, as opposed to an active threat. The generally positive reaction to the first ep on forums and the like is indicative of this. People find his character adorable and moe, but pay little consideration to how odious and insensitive many of his actions are.

      Ultimately the issue isn’t with the character; he is nothing but a fictional creation after all. The problem lies with the sentiments that gave birth to him and concluded that such facets to his personality would make him more interesting and sympathetic to the audience at large.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      Well, uh, actually, I didn’t say I hated Haru at all – I said I disliked the execution of his character, and in fact said that I liked the core concept of his character, i.e. socially awkward guy who is trying to not be so socially awkward.

      I also never referred to Haru as Monster-kun, although, um, the show itself does, so it seems a bit odd to take issue with me were I to. When I said “Monster-kun”, I was referring to the show itself.

      Beating a six year old for stealing is child abuse, but non-corporal punishment for stealing is hardly a bad thing – how is a kid supposed to learn that something is wrong if you never give any indication that it is?

      “If the rape comment was absent from the episode, I doubt we would even be having this discussion.”

      Yeah, and if Monster-kun was about a giant fish making friends around the world, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. The line was included. That’s all there is to it. And I’m not simply discussing it because of that one single line, anyway – its a constellation of bad behaviors on Haru’s part. And as for “isn’t that bad”, well, quite frankly, this is the sort of thing that in real life leads to rape, because bad behaviors are brushed off as not being serious or as just the victim being overly-sensitive. I know its “just an anime”, but its a product of the surrounding culture and sends a message to girls that they should read this behavior as ultimately harmless. I’m anticipating that you’ll find my saying this upsetting, but I’d be doing you and everyone else a disservice to not tell it like it is.

  18. appropriant says:

    I found the first episode of Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun to be a considerably less outrageous than what’s presented here.

    I know enough about how people other than me think of rape to be fully aware of exactly how big of a negative reaction it elicits from its mere mention. I do not fully understand why, to be honest, but I respect the sentiment enough to not obstruct their belief. So I am in agreement that rape is bad and that threatening rape to a girl is probably a one-way ticket in the opposite direction of successful romantic endeavors. This is why Haru’s character is faulty. Readily faulty, at that.

    Should his negative actions substantially counter his efforts to win her affection through other means, like keeping quiet in the library so she can study or being quite honestly appreciative of her advice when it came to his money-grubbing “friends”? I don’t think so. Yes, Haru’s lack of social experience and reliance on pop-culture stereotypes is alarming when it comes to his self-control, and I’m not saying in any way that rape threats should be excusable in this context, However, I’m not sure if any of those actions are approved by either Shizuku or the anime itself. In Shizuku’s case, Haru’s misguided advances seem to generate more confusion than affection within her, and his more benign attempts, while more cheeky and prying than what’s deemed comfortable, are at least seen by her as an honest desire to rectify his poorer decisions. Whether he has been successful or not in terms of the audience depends on each viewer, honestly, and I think this is where the divide has manifested when it comes to evaluating Haru.

    • windyturnip says:

      Am I the only one who found his “misguide advances” to be a source of humor? Yes, the rape comment was wrong, but beyond that, it just seems like your run of the mill physical comedy. It just doesn’t seem like a legitimate reason to demonize an entire show.

      • appropriant says:

        For me it was not Haru’s action, but Shizuku’s reaction, that was humorous (I speak specifically of his embrace and kiss). Moreso since both were fueled by his newfound trashy romance novel/manga thingy.

        Just be comforted by the fact that you’re not the only one going to hell for belittling rape. I mean, it didn’t even turn out to be a legitimate one!

        • windyturnip says:

          I’m not sure if that last part was sarcasm or not, but I’m going to respond either way. This isn’t directed specifically at you though.

          I didn’t find the alley scene funny. Period. But it also didn’t let it ruin the entire show for me. They made a mistake — a big, ugly mistake, but I’m willing to look past it somewhat. The rest of the episode was just playful physical comedy, not a promotion of “rape culture.” And don’t pretend like this is the first anime where the hero has stolen a kiss from the heroine. That’s pretty par for the course for any shoujo anime and yet there has never been any outrage before.

          • appropriant says:

            It would be more accurate to say I was being facetious. But you’re right about the sarcasm.

          • the_patches says:

            Welp. Here we go:

            Turns out, all these tropes are anti-consent regardless of the works in which they appear. As women become more comfortable in geek spaces and people’s awareness of feminist principles like rape culture rises, you’ll find more and more pushback on tropes, story lines, and character archetypes that have been central parts of the medium for years. For the record, we’re not excusing the previous instances. Instead we’re using something current as an example of a wider problem.

            But of course that’s only part of it. It’s important to understand that rape culture is not just “a culture that _promotes_ rape,” because MOST people don’t want to commit or promote rape. Rape culture is, however, a set of norms and ideas that blame women for their sexual assaults and excuse consent violations as “boyish mistakes”. It’s the idea that when a woman says no she’s “playing hard to get” and the idea that you can’t be raped or assaulted by your boyfried/girlfriend/husband/wife.

            If you subscribe to the idea that rape is sex in the absence of consent, than any work that doesn’t further the cause of developing a consent culture is actively part of one that considers consent unimportant and is thus part of rape culture. Sure, it’s a little extreme, but can you see how this kind of stuff affects Day, even as a trained soldier?

            So, yeah. In short ALL of the skeevy shoujo tropes are part of rape culture. They might not encourage men to jump out of bushes at women, but they certainly don’t help people in relationships work through the complicated landscape of positive sexual communication. And, in that void, bad things are more likely to happen. AND when they do, we’re likely to blame the victim.

          • A Day Without Me says:

            You last line is patently disingenuous – there has been plenty written before about rape culture in shoujo romances. And although I’ve never devoted a post specifically to it, I’ve talked about it previously in other posts. And before you say, “Well, it must not be a big deal if you’ve never done a dedicated post about it!”, the fact is that after dropping Vampire Knight in 2008 or so (surprise, surprise, for crappy male love interest!), I haven’t gone near shoujo romance.

            Regardless, see the first comment on this post for why saying “but it’s common!” is completely illegitimate as a defense of problematic things in stories.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      I don’t really have too much to say in response, but I did want to let you know I read your comment. Like with E Minor’s post, I can understand your points, but I generally disagree. I think it may all just come back to the fact that having Haru threaten to rape Shizuku in order to demonstrate his lack of social skills was unnecessary – there were plenty of other indicators already, and plenty more which followed. It didn’t add anything to the overall narrative.

      • appropriant says:

        Well, at this point it’s each to their own when it comes to the nitty gritty. Some people mind the use of misguided male dominance as a means to show lack of social understanding, and others don’t. Let us leave it at that, and know that I am now following your blog because reasons.

  19. Myst says:

    I agree with this post. I’m not all that familiar with shoujo, but I do understand what you are saying about it in reference to this show. The messages from certain themes or elements (intentional or not) are problematic, and it is also problematic in the way it becomes excused or ignored.

    Thank you for this post!

  20. I think this is the pinnacle of shoujo anime. Most shoujo anime I’ve seen sometimes start good, but then have that creepy abusive guy that will force the woman against the wall at some point and/or force a kiss out of her, OR tell her she’s A) In the way and/or B) To stop worrying him/them. This anime just seems to take all that and put it in one place. OR it’s a mahou shoujo and they are just supposed to be cute and sexy and may/may not fall in love in the end. (Remember Tuxedo Mask’s non-consent kiss?).
    Don’t get me started on all the “I must protect you weak woman!” that is in every single one of them at some point!
    It IS kinda sad though that nobody calls out all the other crap in other shoujo, and it more or less has to get THIS bad before some fans are even raising eyebrows.
    ( ゚^゚) щ(ಠ益ಠщ) (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻  ┻━┻ ︵ヽ(`Д´)ノ彡 ┻━┻ 
    (ノ °益°)ノ彡(。v。 ) (ノ °益°)ノ≒=≒=≒┻━┻))⊙Д゚)

    • windyturnip says:

      I think you are misinterpreting the “I must protect you weak woman!” part of shoujo anime. It isn’t that the hero is protecting a weak heroine, but that the heroine has a weakness which she needs help in confronting. It is the idea that to be in a healthy relationship we must be both dependent and dependable.

      I’m sure that Haru will eventually receive help from Shizuku in confronting his weakness too. It really is two sides of the same coin. I’ll admit that the heroines weakness is focused on in most cases, but this might just be because the target audience is pimarily girls and young women. It’s understandable that they would focus on the more relatable character.

      Finally, I just want to make it clear that this is not the pinnacle of shoujo anime. The pinnacle of shoujo anime would treat its characters’ weaknesses with respect. Not all shoujo anime can be like this though. We have to accept that some will be discriminatory towards women, some towards men. We have to either accept this possibility or just stop watching in the first place.

      • A Day Without Me says:

        “We have to accept that some will be discriminatory towards women, some towards men. We have to either accept this possibility or just stop watching in the first place.

        We don’t have to accept or stop watching; it doesn’t have to be a dichotomy. Shows that are crappy about men should be shouted down just as much as shows that are crappy about women. If we like something (in this case, anime), but find some aspects of it upsetting, we should say so and explain why. We criticize things we like because in liking them, we have a desire for them to realize that some of their aspects are problematic, and then change for the better.

        • windyturnip says:

          I did not intend to defend those anime which are discriminatory towards men and women. I was responding to the criticism of the shoujo genre as a whole. I wholeheartedly believe that the shoujo genre has given birth to some great stories with amazing characters both male and female. I’m just saying that Sturgeon’s law applies to anime too so we shouldn’t blame the genre for the show.

  21. Odious says:

    Though I found the rape comment in this show to be highly unfunny, I really don’t think this show is, as you say, perpetuating rape culture. As per E Minor’s post, this is more an aspect of developing the male character’s sense of consideration. I don’t think we have to wait for the second episode though. We’ve already seen the fruits as our lead male character has stopped acting so rambunctious and even been considerate towards the heroine in the library scene.

    From the beginning of the show, Haru was not hesitant to treat Shizuku as he would any other guy, and that’s why he didn’t think twice about threatening her… even in the most foul way. This lack of sensitivity, highlighted by Shizuku’s reactions, is clearly meant to be taken this way by the audience. Especially since, in Japan, being as naive and rude as Haru is one of the most negative attributes you can have. I think this video explains a bit about this well for western audiences: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIyIZZQnuDQ

    Frankly, Natsuyuki Rendezvous was worse by far. In fact, the excessively aggressive advances by the young male in that show disturbed me; and I’m a guy.

    As an aside, it was mentioned in E Minor’s post that the teacher gave the wrong impression to Haru about how to be considerate, I think that this is incorrect. It may be just a difference in culture, but you aren’t considered to be doing nice things in Japan unless you are considering other people’s feelings when you do them.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      I honestly don’t have anything different to say to you than what I’ve already said in a million other comments… which isn’t anything against you, by the way, just that you can read around the comments for my arguments as to why its supportive of rape culture ultimately.

      I will point out, though, that NatsuVous is also targeted toward the josei demographic, so although the guy being aggressive (and I haven’t watched it past episode two, so I can’t speak to that much), I find it less disturbing since it isn’t something catering to adolescent girls like Monster-kun is. Further, “not as bad as” isn’t really a hot argument, since it tends to shut down conversations by implying that the person raising criticisms and concerns is being overly sensitive. Not saying that to get down on you, by the way, since you’re one of the few folks who disagree with me who has been able to articulate yourself.

  22. Great article. I was really annoyed by many of the smaller touches, but it was only when you painted the picture as a whole, (particularly the role of that teacher), that I realised what a revolting mess the treatment of the romance is. The art is beautiful and I laughed at quite a few of the jokes, but when the core concept is this rotten I just don’t know if I can be bothered to give it a second chance. I think the show’s set its stall out quite firmly.

    It’s so frustrating that you always hear the usual apologist attitudes and claims that you’re in the wrong for not getting the context. I was recently called a ‘cultural chauvinist’ for laying into Sword Art Online’s objectification of women. Still, I can sorta comprehend the male point of view, even if it comes from ignorance; what I can’t get my head around is how these ideas are treated as a positive and edgy trait by some female fans. I can only conclude that they’re just as emotionally immature, refusing to accept the real world implications of such events.

    I suspect that’s the biggest issue here. Like most supposedly shocking actions, repetition desensitises. Unless you have personal experience to fall back on, you stop seeing the true horror of what’s being shown; e.g. how most people view action films. When I first saw the ‘rape threat’ scene I was mostly offended by it as a concept, rather than actually acknowledge the personal implications. It’s a rather sad state of affairs.

    The thing I often struggle with is how to convey such sentiments in the way that will get people to acknowledge the points you’re making, even if they ultimately disagree with you. As I’ve noted recently with my rants against SAO and Kokoro Connect, launching into a vitriolic spiel will get the people in agreement with you cheering, while others become rather scathing in return. However, that can only last for so long; eventually people will just tune out and not even recognise the points being made. Ultimately I’ve learned that softening the blow and trying to lampoon something in a more comedic manner can be more effective in bringing people around to your way of thinking. Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun probably is a pretty bad example for this, as rape is as extreme an issue as you can get, but as a general rule, having people recognise the absurdity of something is often the first step in having them accept it as wrong. Or maybe I’m just expecting too much from people.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      “…what I can’t get my head around is how these ideas are treated as a positive and edgy trait by some female fans. I can only conclude that they’re just as emotionally immature, refusing to accept the real world implications of such events.”

      As I’ve said in a few other responses in this section, I think it comes back to the tension between the pressure to be a Good Girl and girls’/women’s actual sexuality – rape/sexual coercion allows for the girl/woman to remain a Good Girl while also having her sexual needs satisfied. Its not a healthy response, but it also is perfectly understandable given the social norms and expectations in place.

  23. Cora says:

    You totally hit the nail on the head. I’m a bit of shoujo junkie and have been reading the manga, I haven’t seen the anime yet. The rape line bothered me a lot, but I’ve learned to sort of accept some of the inherent misogyny in manga to some extent (although not enough to read something like Hot Gimmick, uggh). I didn’t really think about their whole encounter being creepy, but after reading this it’s so obvious that their relationship is fucked from the start. it’s probably the reason that I haven’t really warmed to Haru as a character at all and also the reason why I’m rooting for the other love interest the mangaka throws into the mix later on, which i don’t usually do. He’s a self entitled, controlling asshat who doesn’t take much heed of what Shizuku wants or needs at all. If not for the other other characters and Shizuku herself I probably would have dropped it.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      Y’know, I actually commented to a few folks that “Shizuku deserves a different show”. I like her quite a bit as a character – I loved when she told the teacher, “No.” when the teacher tried to convince her to work on getting Haru back to school. She comes off as delightfully abrasive and generally unconcerned about fussing over what other people think of her/expect of her. Wish we had more shoujo leads like her, that’s for sure.

  24. windyturnip says:

    It’s so frustrating that you always hear the usual apologist attitudes and claims that you’re in the wrong for not getting the context. I was recently called a ‘cultural chauvinist’ for laying into an action movie’s objectification of men. Still, I can sorta comprehend the female point of view, even if it comes from ignorance; what I can’t get my head around is how these ideas are treated as a positive and edgy trait by some male fans. I can only conclude that they’re just as emotionally immature, refusing to accept the real world implications of such events.

    • fathomlessblue says:

      Is that supposed to be sarcasm? I’m not sure if that’s a general point that such sentiments go in either direction or a dig at me personally? In the latter case, I don’t need the reminder.

      • windyturnip says:

        It’s suppose to highlight the generalization in your argument. There is no “male point of view.” As a man, I feel the need to point out this logical fallacy. I don’t mean for it to be a personal attack, but I do want you to understand that not all men share the same point of view.

        • fencedude says:

          No shit! That sorta goes without saying!

          • windyturnip says:

            I wish it did go without saying, but that obviously isn’t the case. That is why much of the discussion has turned into men vs. women rather than progressives vs. reactionaries. As soon as you make an enemy of an entire gender, you lose the support of half the world.

          • A Day Without Me says:

            Uh, windyturnip, given that about half of these commenters agreeing with my original point are guys, this has hardly become “men vs. women”.

        • fathomlessblue says:

          Fair enough, it was a pretty broad statement to make, which wasn’t my intent. Apologies. I was actually trying to convey the mentality of those otaku who subscribe to the notion that wish-fulfilment and the objectification of women in harem shows, etc, is perfectly ok, because a) it’s a cultural thing, and b) if it isn’t real it doesn’t matter. I subscribed to similar sentiments as an early teen, as I imagine many others did; the issue is to recognise the problems with this mindset. You obviously do. I may not necessarily accept the creator’s intent for Haru justifies or absolves the callous use of certain actions, but that’s just my personal stance.

          The issues I have stem from those who refuse to accept there’s a problem and lash out immediately the moment you do. They don’t want to think about it, and aggressively lay in to anyone that does. I don’t how many times people have just assumed I’m female and accused me of ‘feminist ranting’ for daring to make points that require some self-refection.

          • windyturnip says:

            I understand that the topic of rape is rather taboo in our society, but it must be talked about in order to solve our problems with it. The societal expectation that men have to have many sexual partners certainly doesn’t help the situation, but men are not always the perpetrator and women are not always the victim.

            Men are raped, and it is just as serious as when it happens to a women. People tend to ignore this possibility because it doesn’t fit into their narrow definition of rape. As a college student, I hear about women accusing men of rape when both of them were drunk. If they are equal, why is the man more often than not held to a higher standard? That blatant discrimination a common problem in today’s legal system.

            To sum it up, rape culture is not a tool used by men to oppress women. It is a societal problem that negatively affects everyone within the said society. Women may be more affected than other groups, but every demographic has its share of victims and we can’t forget that.

    • fencedude says:

      I was recently called a ‘cultural chauvinist’ for laying into an action movie’s objectification of men.

      And yet here you are, minimizing rape culture. Fascinating.

      • windyturnip says:

        Chauvinism is “an extreme and unreasoning partisanship on behalf of any group to which one belongs, especially when the partisanship includes malice and hatred towards rival groups.” I don’t see how the use of that word contradicts my argument. I would just like to point out that neither men nor women are free of blame.

        • fencedude says:

          Yes. but one of those groups has a far, far larger share of the blame.

          As a male, I would quite kindly prefer you stop whinging. Thank you.

  25. omo says:

    I’m with you 80% of the way. My problem with your post is this statement.

    Monster-kun tells its young readership that this is a Good Thing, that this makes Haru an attractive young man, because he won’t take no for an answer, because he doesn’t even bother to ask yes or no in the first place.

    You really don’t think this, right? Because the story/plot device makes it obvious that a major force of character development is his rehabilitation; and rehabilitation in this sense concedes his behavior is not appropriate. I basically stopped reading your post after that sentence, but I guess I was too stupid to not try to re-read it for the comments.

    Perhaps more precisely put, the problem about “rape culture” as portrayed in average shoujo manga as tropes is that it serves a variety of purposes, many of them are enhanced by this kind of discussion: it’s suppose to be controversial and offensive. It’s what gets people’s attention. It’s also something that takes the readers (and protagonist) out of their comfort zones, get them intrigued. Of course depending on how exposed you are in regards to tropes like this, your reaction may vary depending on the execution. The fact that we (or maybe not so much we but Japan) allow tropes like this to carry on speaks more so about how we prioritize our entertainment much more so than what is appropriate or not. In other words, it’s not a value judgment as per how JP stated earlier regarding tumblr and sj and 50 Shades, as much as the taste of people.

    I’m pretty sure people don’t tell their kids to learn how to date from reading anything published in Kodansha monthlies. That would be parenting 101.

    • Perhaps more precisely put, the problem about “rape culture” as portrayed in average shoujo manga as tropes is that it serves a variety of purposes, many of them are enhanced by this kind of discussion: it’s suppose to be controversial and offensive.

      Sooooo kind of like how Kodomo no Jikan explores the thorny issue of child sexuality while simultaneously exposing the reader to a gaze that frames child sexuality as desirable, right? Because I get you if that’s the case.

      • omo says:

        I think that parallel gives TK too much credit. While Kojikan can cross the line sometimes, that is actually a major theme. This shoujo manga is not even trying and it’s just troping like it’s 1999.

        • Well then! Didn’t watch TK, not much intention of watching it, guess I’ll wait for the rest of it to air like always.

          Also by “Kojikan can cross the line sometimes” you really mean “every other chapter since Rin learned about masturbation” amirite? Granted, there might be people actually reading Kojikan for the lolis and not the actual message it’s trying to relay, but hell if I know who they are.

    • dm00 says:

      I’m pretty sure people don’t tell their kids to learn how to date from reading anything published in Kodansha monthlies.

      We do see Monster-kun evidently learning a few things from reading various questionable materials in episode one. People don’t tell their kids to learn about behaviors from manga or other stories, but I think kids do find role models in those places all the same (why am I thinking of Narutards bouncing off the walls shouting “Believe it!”?).

      You’re right that it remains to be seen where they take the story from here. The fact that they progressed so far, so quickly in the first episode does make me think one possible route for the rest of the series is to rehabilitate Monster-kun. It’s not obvious, though. Maybe the series will try to break Shizuku out of her anti-social shell. Perhaps it will do both.

      Or maybe she’ll cut off his head and stuff it in a gym bag and sail off into the sunset.

      • omo says:

        [Insert some comment about how otoge is worse than eroge]

        I think over at A&V, 8c’s post about rape culture is fundamentally a “moral of the story” sort of thing. I think it’s one thing to say there’s some culture of, but sometimes you really need to know what sort of small stuff is worth sweating over. Given the way shoujo manga is slowly declining into irrelevance as far as mainstream Japanese entertainment (or any other media market), you know, I’m not sure what’s the right approach to deal with its rape-y tropes. My instinct is “there are way, way bigger fish to fry first.” But given how there is still plenty of room for poetic justice (threatening to rape or anything else fitting for Mr. Monster), it’s probably too early to bandwagon.

        • Vincent says:

          But eliminating the rape-y tropes might lead to the salvation of the genre. Take Kimi ni Todoke for example (I have only seen the first season of the anime, so I have no idea if there are rape-ish tropes introduced later in the series, but I doubt that is the case considering how the series was framed), which has had tons of success as a manga. It doesn’t resort to something like having rape jokes and is immensely popular.

          • omo says:

            But what about all the popular shoujo manga with rape tropes? I don’t know if removing them would make shoujo more popular as a genre. Most likely not, given the diversity the genre has, and how it hasn’t really mattered.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      “You really don’t think this, right? Because the story/plot device makes it obvious that a major force of character development is his rehabilitation; and rehabilitation in this sense concedes his behavior is not appropriate. I basically stopped reading your post after that sentence, but I guess I was too stupid to not try to re-read it for the comments.”

      So is it fair if I stopped paying attention to the remainder of your comment?

      I’m not sure how having the girl reform the guy isn’t part of rape culture, as it just goes back to the whole “guys can’t control themselves” thing. Sure, maybe it indicates that his initial behavior is inappropriate, but it places the onus solely on Shizuku for changing his behavior. The implication, then, is that if his crappy behavior continued, it’d be Shizuku’s fault. And if you’re unconvinced that its all about Shizuku being responsible for his improvement of behavior, just take a gander at the OP with Shizuku leading him around on a chain. That seems pretty explicit to me.

      • omo says:

        Two things:
        1. It’s fair to interpret that there’s an “onus” as expressed as “what is the good thing to do.” The audience is to see that there’s a pity angle going with Shizuku dealing with Haru. She is probably going to be responsible for his improvement, at least in part. Specifically, however, it’s pretty clear that this is kind of a twist in TK where Shizuku clearly doesn’t have “a moral of the story” kind of reason to deal with Haru, and rather she has some personal reasons to do so (eg., she likes him).

        2. It’s definitely not the common interpretation to indicate that it would be Shizuku’s fault if the monster continues to be the monster. I think you are right to suggest that there’s an implicit thing to not be someone who do not extend a hand to help someone who is clearly having problems. However, it wouldn’t be Shizuku’s responsibilities in so far as anything Haru does, those things and events are still squarely Haru’s “fault.”

        But how is this rape culture again? If we removed rape from that scene, it’s no longer rape but everything you have said still is true. If we look at Haru as a criminal (and I think that’s probably the fairest thing to say) wouldn’t it be okay for a story to extend a message about societal responsibility to help criminals rehabilitate? If you see it in context of responsibility, you are injecting something that isn’t really there.

        • Um…you know that Day isn’t going to go wherever you live with a baseball bat and whack you over the head for liking Kaibutsu-kun, right? She has said, in her first comment below (October 3, 2012 at 21:38), “I don’t want folks to walk away thinking that I’m saying they aren’t allowed to enjoy this. I really have no issue with folks enjoying this, even if I don’t like it and think there’s a lot wrong with it.”

          Do you know what it’s like to be a woman living in a rape culture? Do you know what it’s like to see the world from that perspective? If not, it is *not* your place to tell someone who does that a show, movie, novel, etc they feel condones rape culture (and is thus offensive for them to watch) does not. Which you’ve been doing here again and again. If Day doesn’t continue to respond to your attempts at an argument, I can’t blame her at all.

  26. Hinano says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but after the 150+ otome games I’ve played this just seems…common? I just saw that 1 liner and …brushed it off because I’ve seen a lot worse. Yea I guess I shouldn’t be saying “oh well this is bad but at least its not as bad as XYZ” but I think this is a Japan thing and those kinds of themes are actually desired for by the female readers (or in my case otome game players).

    A lot of jp girls are do-Ms and seeing a guy dominate them (even if its clearly morally wrong) is what turns them on in 2D land. I doubt they’d ever want this in 3D land ( hopefully not.) So I guess what I’m trying to say is if this minor detail bothers you then yea this show’s probably not for you though I found it really enjoyable. I guess after all those stupid otome games i’ve sat through my standards of entertainment have been warped or something

    • appropriant says:

      Obviously this means we need to reeducate the otome out of you. Assume the position.

      Joking aside, I think her point is that, even though it may be a prevalent thing in current Japanese media, especially in shoujo and otome games, such unbridled male aggression should not be excused as an acceptable method of courting/flirting. I think its misguided to say that Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun is a good example of this, but the point can be made in general of media aimed towards females rather than this specific anime.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      I do want to say up-front that I don’t want folks to walk away thinking that I’m saying they aren’t allowed to enjoy this. I really have no issue with folks enjoying this, even if I don’t like it and think there’s a lot wrong with it.

      As for what people want, we’d have to open a whole other can of worms here about what people want, and how this is affected by the larger culture, etc., etc…. and, well, have to be honest, I just don’t feel up to it at the moment… the comment section here has gotten a bit out of hand.

    • Hedric says:

      Similar to the point of this being commonplace in this medium, I think the whole rapey situation is similar to how people say “do this or else” with a more explicit consequence to dramatize the demand, or make it more realistic and less up-in-the-air sort of threat.

      From my POV, it’s a matter of communication here, and while rape generally isn’t funny, the context here was more for shock impact of “shut up and follow me.” If you want to cross from 2D to 3D, I’d agree that the whole pull-into-alley scene is frightening and unnecessarily violent, but doesn’t really cross into the whole “I’mma get raped” atmosphere. Moreso if you consider they’re about 5 feet off a main commuter path during school-letting-out hours.

      Your point about how people who read and ingest this stuff become the creators, creating a cycle of what is accepted as normal, would be applied here. Initially, I read your article and several similar ones before watching the episode, so after watching the episode, your blog post, while it did bring up some new points I didn’t consider before, seemed slightly over-reactive from the source material it was written off of.

      Or I could just be not sensitive enough since I’m writing this from a guy’s perspective. I was more bothered by the face punching and the kiss execution, after all.

  27. Tried Kaibutsu-kun’s first episode just to be able to chime in on it. Surprise, surprise, I didn’t care for it. I liked certain things about it, but just can’t like the episode itself. As I told someone on Twitter a little earlier, “it trivializes behaviors that would scare the shit out of me (and other women), from a “Holy shit, I don’t want to be raped” standpoint, in real life. Just, ick.

    Thank you for writing this post.

  28. Rendez says:

    Although this isn’t an excuse for how obviously problematic the first episode of the show was, I took a look at the manga and I found that it gets the bit less awkward and gross past the first few volumes.

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  31. Paru says:

    This reminds me of how two of the characters in SAO casually considered suicide haha (god whyyy).

    Yeah I thought that line was rather tasteless, but this show is so exaggerate that I don’t think anything about it should be taken seriously.

  32. Bitchplz says:

    To me it just seems you wanna be raped and you’re going on some personal crusade about nothing =( ? or do you just lack some proper dick in your life =/ You’re pussy must be covered in spiderwebs >_<

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  37. Anonymous says:

    >Monster-kun tells its young readership that this is a Good Thing, that this makes Haru an attractive young man, because he won’t take no for an answer, because he doesn’t even bother to ask yes or no in the first place.

    Some aspects were intended to be shown in a positive light (being that he’s essentially a jerk with a heart of gold, though instead of “jerk” it’s more “beyond socially awkward and has no boundaries”) but I don’t see how his persistence is.

    I think that Kaibutsu-kun is intended to be a parody of sorts. In shoujo manga it’s pretty common to have an aggressive/forward male love interest. When I watched the show basically from the start I thought that Haru was intended to be that turned up to eleven, and the show was showing how ridiculous that was. She’s constantly frustrated with him, she tries to avoid him, her inner monologue tells us she’s scared and disturbed.

    Haru is intended to be forgiven for his conduct because he’s a nice guy underneath, but that doesn’t mean that his behaviour is intended to be celebrated. I can see why you’d have a problem with that, “jerks that pin you to the ground and threaten to rape you are actually great guys who are just a bit socially awkward” isn’t exactly a great message, but in no way does the show intend to communicate that his behaviour is as it should be. In the future, she will continue to try to temper his behaviour, and he’ll change for her. Again, that’s not a great message, but if we were supposed to think it’s a good thing that he’s so aggressive he would stay that way.

  38. anon says:

    I also noticed the the relatively strong and forceful men in shoujo and otome games. Since more and more men in japan think of themselves as herbivore ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbivore_men ) it could be some kind of wish men would start to be a little more aggressive again which manifests itselfs disproportionally in phantasy. This happens all the time and is nothing to worry, everyone has phantasies they like but want to stay as such. To say it for everyone to understand: people with rape phantasies don’t want to atually be raped. Your phantasy is one of the safest places, all kinds of things happen there with no consequences to your real life.

    In a culture like ours, well more specifically the US, because I never heard someone say something ressembling “rape culture” in middle/nothern Europe, where men still tend to be more aggressive this is recieved differently. There is no wish for “carnivore” men because there are still plenty out there.

    As a closing comment I have to insist in reading some articles about the herbivore “problem” japan and other asian countries are facing before responding to my comment because it is the base of my argument, thank you for taking the time.

  39. Pingback: Shoujo, Rape, and Tonari No Kaibutsu-Kun « Nest Of The Passing Otaku

  40. prem says:

    MTE about Haru and that rape threat. I was surprised when i saw no one mentioning this on tumblr. In fact, i saw someone commenting “I laughed at this part!” on a gif post with Haru threatening to rape Shizuku. wtf.

    ((spoilers))

    I read the manga and there was this part where Haru says that he’ll break Shizuku’s limbs if she breaks up with him, even though he knows it’s wrong.

    Clearly Shizuku needs to stay away from this guy. The signs are evident.

  41. Amy says:

    Im not Hating or Anything But Really.. I think the Owner said so himself its Anime they threaten all the time. and besides I dont think a bunch of people will stop the anime and shut them down completely inless its taken to court.. and who would listen to a case over this? Its Rape. it may hurt and piss people off but in copyright we are not responsible for Any/offence taken to etc..’ In animelist.

  42. Amapola says:

    Although I do agree with you I’m a novelist and all I can say is that they way they showed Haru in the beginning is a way to show you how unadapted to society in general he is. He was obviously not going to rape her when he said that he just didn’t know how to chose his words.

    They were so intense in the way of showing Haru strange behavior because as it isn’t a complicated novel but, indeed, a shojo manga/anime they have to make it quick and obvious enough for you to get that Haru hasn’t interact with people that much specially girls. Its not like they are trying to say “hey look this is okay” they were just trying to show you the character and he’s flaws in a quick motion. Every character is a different world and you should understand them first before rushing into conclusions.

  43. LVS says:

    I tuned out 20 min through episode one. It bothered me so much I even googled “My Little Monster+rape culture”. Apparently it bothered a lot of other people too b/c there are lots of entries. It’s sad to see so many rape apologists in the comments.

    The alley rape comment part – When he grabbed her and covered her mouth, I was thinking to myself, “What? It’s like he’s going to hurt/rape her” and then seconds later the subtitles say, “No funny moves. Make one peep and I rape you.” I let out a loud gasp!How did that even get approved?
    When he threw the drink on her head, I was like, “This guy would be out of my life forever if that was me.” Then the clingy confession – like he was entitled to her no matter what her thoughts are on the matter. F* that noise. I didn’t make it past him going back to school and following her around w/ her grades dropping. (Personal entitlement)That’s not healthy behavior AT ALL.

    Rape or joking about rape is NOT FUNNY. Nor should it be marketed to a teen demographic as “OK” or acceptable” to put up with socially inept, annoying individual who’s obsession borders on stalking/creepy territory with physical and verbal abuse that can be fixed with “the power of love”. It’s a dangerous message for all genders.

    In entertainment we are told it is acceptable and we should tolerate Haru’s character is supposed to be “cute” and “well meaning” (rape culture). Keep Haru’s personality the same but swap his appearance for a different character sterotype (male teacher, jock, school bully, overweight kid, uncle, heck a female teacher even, etc.), and suddenly it’s not so charming. Heck, swap Shizuku for a boy – would people be as offended? Would they it’s uncalled for? Hot? Unnecessary?

    My issue wasn’t just with this one scene, but multiple points throughout the 20 minutes I watched before turning it off. Throwing Shizuku on the ground with him on top, the rape comment scene, the drink on her head for not agreeing with him, the teachers blatant disregard for her safety, Shizuku grades dropping (the one thing in the world she cares about) because he follows her everywhere, stripping in the gym, the “I will love you always no matter what” and “follow you around everywhere to win you over, you’ll see!” mentality.

    Talk about “A no is just a yes that needs a little convincing!”

    Anyway, it reeks of abuse and rape culture with a touch of “Nice Guy Syndrome” to an insane degree, which is a shame. I can’t tolerate that BS in my entertainment – I have to deal with enough of it IRL.
    Thanks for the post!

  44. Jess says:

    Oh, thank goodness, I’m not the only one that was uncomfortable with this. So many people like this anime, so I gave it a try, but after he pulled her in the alley and threatened to rape her I was just like “ah hell no.” I tried a few more episodes but it just made me more upset. I really wanted to like this anime but I just wasn’t expecting the main guy to be like that D:

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