The Usual Unusual

The anime world can be thought as a series of accepted set of rules consistent with its world and the medium. Ano Natsu happens to be breaking them.

I was watching Ano Natsu de Matteru while getting some serious AnoHana vibes (let’s not get into the name or animation) and thought it was going to be a highly drama centric show like the former. So it catches my attention the show’s particularity and what it defines as rare in its own universe. Rare meaning something that is found to be surprising as it isn’t common. The major scene is the one where everybody  stares at the redhead in the train making her feel awkward, just like those stories foreigners read about how Japanese people find foreigners’ features to be intriguing.

Because you’re a redhead that’s why

Leaving reality aside and getting back to the anime world and its rules which disregard common rules and sometimes common sense, we assume that while a story accepts and follows its own laws and rules they’re in harmony with the audience for they’ve been explained in some way to be accepted and consistent.

From the regular anime fan’s perspective it is perfectly normal to assume that all hair color choices are plausible for men and women in a story. Similarly, it is also assumed that no character in the story ought to be shocked by oddities in such worlds or stories as they are consistent with its universe. This is the type of rule that overrides normally asked questions of what constitutes a regular reality, what is odd in its own universe, that is, as long as no one questions it it is valid.

I bet there’s probably 30 or more people in that train and not one of them have a fancy hair color.

Notice how no one in the train has fancy hair color. The reason behind it is simple – none of them are part of the main or supporting cast, having a fancy hair color separate them from regular characters making them stand out much like a status symbol. Therefore characters who aren’t part of the cast only have regular hair color. From that point of view it makes sense because they are regular people, non-key players to call it that, and no special attention is paid to them as they aren’t part of the story.

The incongruity of a show like Ano Natsu de Matteru is that even if the non-characters (aka referred to as the background people) aren’t part of the cast they shouldn’t be surprised at the sight or idea of seeing anyone with a fancy hair color in its universe. After all, that would be considering something that is normal to be rare, while considering something that is supposed to be rare to be normal.

Remember a character being specifically complimented on his/her hair color? Chances are you haven’t because it is considered normal.

The incongruity of it is finding to be rare something that is commonly normal. I’d get where they’d be coming from if everybody had regular hair colors, then it would be plenty reasonable to find characters to be shocked or surprised by anyone in the show having an odd hair color. Because there’s something that exclusively separates wild anime colors from natural colors, that is, wild anime colors are universally accepted by the presented and accepted rules of its world as being one of the many possible variations. There won’t be anyone questioning the validity of blue or green hair any time soon because they’re considered to be normal in their world.

It comes down to balance and  incongruity in stories making something normal appear unusual in which it was previously assumed to be normal in the medium.

So it ends a discussion on normality equaling rarity and a short discourse on hair color as status symbols in a story. Blue hair is the standard, redheads are rarity. Who really knew.

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6 thoughts on “The Usual Unusual

  1. Hehe, reminds me of Umineko: Beatrice’s hair stands out since she’s a blonde and everyone else is (or at least they’re supposed to be) asians, but no matter how you look at it, Jessica’s hair was the same color. Anime logic is awesome!

    • Similarly, the large array of hair colors in Higurashi is simply crazy but we don’t question it because they’re assumed to be fairly normal.
      The moment characters would comment on certain hair colors in their universe as being unusual even by their standards would be a moment of sheer madness.

  2. In Ano Natsu’s defence one could say that the first episode spent some time on showing its modification of the rule “No hair colour is unusual.” to “Not hair colour is unusual – except red.”. So it’s not like the episode isn’t aware of the fact that it doesn’t follow the usual pattern with this. But I certainly agree with you that there’s no logical explanation for this change of the rule except that it’s convenient for the story. The episode was very keen on making it obvious how much of an oddball she is. Her character is a klutz and to make it even more obvious they made her appearance “weird-looking”, too.

    • You know, I thought she was a fairly normal character for someone who was new to the area, then again maybe I was expecting her to behave more drastically. In my case I preferred Remon’s way of clearly explaining what was unusual about Ichika – it was her character that stood out rather than her hair color.

  3. Pingback: Ano Natsu de Matteru 02 – Together With Senpai… « Two Over One

  4. nice informations here. I really like to read about these stuff, thanks for the great article..

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