< Piro >
Tuesday - November 15, 2011
It probably goes without saying, but i am not doing this public bath scene with Piro, Miho and Seraphim gratuitously. Successful or not, the intent is not to provide fanservice for the sake of fanservice, but to do a scene that was actually an important step in the unfolding of this chapter. That said, there is also the fact that it IS fanservice and that's actually kind of the point. Fanservice is a big element of anime and manga and can be used effectively, but frankly, IMHO, the overuse of it cheapens and minimizes the impact that properly used fanservice can have on a reader.
One problems i have with Love Hina is not that there are so many bath scenes but that very very few of them *really* have any point other than to provide opportunities for gratuitous fan service. Even the Love Hina story itself is is infused situational fanservice, which to me really took away from the story itself. I've infamously ranted about my feelings about the way that some of our favorite characters in anime and manga have been treated so horridly and with base debauchery in the plethora of fan-works and doujinshi featuring them. In fact, a lot of what is going on in MT is based on some of my feelings on the subject. To me, characters are like real people, and should be given the same kind of respect you would give a real person - it's simply not right to gratuitously expose them.
I've always been fairly PG-13-ish with what i've done with Megatokyo. That said, these characters are human. They have problems and issues and wants and desires like the rest of us. Yet like the rest of us, they are not outwardly defined by the more gratuitous elements of our humanity. Imagine how awkward going into any public situation would be if it wasn't. So, even when dealing with some of the blush-inducing things some of the characters deal with i've tried to present things with a certain amount of respect and decorum. Not because i feel compelled to, but because that's how i feel is the best way to respect the characters.
So then, uhm, what's up with exposing poor Miho in the last few comics?
Hopefully as we move past this scene it will come off in context of the chapter the way i intended. As all readers have probably guessed, i can't seem to help myself from playing mercilessly with anime and manga tropes and standards. I like challenging them sometimes, reworking them other times and sometimes simply using them in a way to show how unrealistic or stupid they might be. I can't count how many times i'd start into a scene that seems to be following a particular trope and read howls of indignation in the forums about how 'i can't believe fred is going to do NNN this is so lame i can't read anymore'. Then (in some cases) a month later after the scene has played out, 'oh wow, that was awesome i wasn't expecting that!' from the same people ^^;; It's part of the fun and challenge of writing, i guess.
As far as this scene is concerned, i look at it as a doppler/inverse to the amusingly scene-change-overed bath scene back in Chapter 4. The whole joke there was that i had set things up for the standard manga/anime required bath scene and then blatantly skipped right past it. :P Given the context, it made sense - we weren't following along in miho's backscene, and Piro and Largo were not about to see much of anything, so... Cake Shop time! :P Right now, we are (and to me it makes sense and is actually kinda required) in there with them for this bath scene. There are also a lot of subtle reasons why the scene has unfolded as it has, time will tell if it all pans out properly.
That said, i feel like i can relate one pickle i got myself into with this scene. The trick of retaining proper modesty in a scene like this goes back to even old Tezuka's comics back in the day. It's easy enough to keep the lower half of a character discretely out of camera, but if you always have your cut-off just below the collar bone you really lose a lot of body language and expressiveness. This is not a problem for guys, but for girls there is a small (or large, depending on the girl) modesty and discretion issue. There are lots of ways to deal with it: properly placed arms, suds, steam, hair, towels, scenery censors (like the beer cans in the early episodes of Evangelion - classic)... while reviewing that classic of all 'how to show as much as possible without showing things i shouldn't' manga Love Hina, i realized that i had outsmarted myself. Akamatsu tends to use very long sidelocks of hair toprovide required coverage. Miho's side locks are by definition about collarbone length.
Oh, and keeping it all to head shots? Well, Seraphim is about 10" high or so, sitting next to Miho washing her own hair... you can see why frame 2 presented me with a compositional challenge. Frankly, the use of Miho's now puzzlingly long hair as a gratuity censor was NOT really what i wanted to do here. It's a little deux-ex-machina to have enough of her mane over each shoulder to provide the minimal cover needed.
I haven't had too many people openly complain to me about all this yet (though i did loose about 90 'likes' on Facebook when i posted a little joke sketch of one of the frames from a previous comic with Hawk giving us a thumbs up - that was stupid of me, and i apologize for that gaff (and before you get up on my defense here, keep in mind that a lot of people read facebook from work, and that's a little above the PG that you usually get from MT)) and one of the grumblings turned out to be more of a demand for equal screen time for Piro...
o_o;; i never realized just how scary actually doing a bath scene could be. Maybe it's time for Meimi takes ZomZom to the Vet...