I’m fascinated with this development and what it says about the marketplace. But let me explain what I’m even talking about in the first place for those of you who missed this thing the first time around. Earlier this year, KyoAni revealed a commercial about an anime starring members of a boys’ swim team, the commercial itself based off of a short that won an honorable mention in the 2nd Kyoto Animation Award competition. At that time the show wasn’t necessarily headed for a life as a full-fledged anime, but the reaction was massive and positive, so, well, here we are – well-animated shirtless guys in pools.
So, like I said, the marketplace. I could make a Magic Mike comparison here about the sudden realization of female gaze and the fact that it absolutely can be sexual and there is absolutely a desire for material that meets that particular yen. And, yes, I think “sexual” is the proper word here – you don’t have boys in tight swimsuits with detailed chest muscles if folks are just looking to go, “Aww, kawaiiiiii~~~~~” over it. That was what Oofuri was for – squealing in delight over cute boys being adorable.
But would a Magic Mike comparison be fair? There may be comparatively little for the female gaze in anime, but manga’s certainly got female gaze down pat if josei and BL has anything to say about it. But is that like saying that Magic Mike wasn’t that big of a deal because there’s scads of Harlequin romances out there?
And is a Magic Mike comparison fair considering that there are some anime out there that feature tons of dudes and are meant for ladies? I think here it remains so since, for all the hip gyrations and occasional torn clothing, the likes of UtaPri or Hiiro no Kakera or Arcana Famiglia are very tame and much more focused on the fourteen year olds in the audience and their wish (whether because of their surrounding culture or because of a genuine desire) for thoughtful, protective, handsome boyfriends, not on thrilling those who love tight pants on boys and men. Even shows that aim at the “sleazier” side, like the wretched Togainu no Chi, are ultimately only “adult” in that they put a few characters in leather and add some chains – there wasn’t even kissing in that damn thing!
Anyway. I just felt like blathering. I think my ultimate point is that someone at KyoAni looked at the massive reaction, looked at the ridiculous sales figures for UtaPri, and went, “Ohhh snapppp!”, so we get some hot boys doing wet things. The fact is that I am so excited to watch this and I’ve already got a preferred ship picked out. I am also mildly unsettled, though, because KyoAni is pushing me to be the creeper that I don’t want to be =( Why couldn’t they have made them college students?!
Oh, and, by the way, Magic Mike actually had a storyline and was a recession drama, which was a bit disappointing for everyone who was just hoping for some ass and abs. So, y’know, don’t watch it thinking it’ll be nonstop stripping numbers.