I've been told that comedy can be used as social commentary. By finding out what we laugh at, we are able to ask the question, "What is wrong here that is making me laugh?" Likewise by finding characters that you empathize with you can ask the question, "what is it about this character that makes me like them?" Or if there's something you find funny about a character, why is it funny?
I have enjoyed both seasons of The World God Only Knows
. Especially the last arc of each season (s1 - Shiori
"the quiet librarian" Shiomiya, and s2 - Jun "student teacher" Nagase). On the whole, TWGOK has been able to provide some striking social commentary. And whether or not this was intentional, I have found that the female characters I empathized with the most were the ones who had last arc of each season. In this blog I just want to lay out a situation in episode 10 involving Jun Nagase that I found cool, and then give some thoughts about it.
The World God Only Knows, season 2, episode 10. The second episode of the Jun Nagase arc. Jun Nagase is a female student teacher. She is rather cute and well-formed and wonderfully voiced by Toyosaki Aki
. Nagase at first seems rather energetic and optimistic about becoming a teacher. So she can help students and put them on the right path to a better life! At first she is generally well-liked by students and staff, especially male students. But things soon change as Nagase tries to take matters into her own hands and goes out of her way to help others.
For example, she notices that another teacher (Mr. Kodama) yelled at a student for always doing poorly on tests, calling him a failure. Nagase tries to tell Mr. Kodama off, saying he shouldn't be mean to students and try and help them, but she is just ignored and brushed off. Then when Nagase approaches the "failing" student and offers to help him study, he tries to refuse her. Two other female students who happen to be nearby interject and saying things like, "Don't worry he (Mr. Kodama/the student) is just like that." Nagase tries to argue by asking, "But isn't it a teacher's job to help students? Don't you think it's wrong that he (the teacher) calls another student names?" To which the female student replies offhandedly, "Yeah, but that's just how it goes in the real world, heh." At this line, Nagase seems to break down, but quickly excuses herself from the classroom.
Standing outside the doors to catch her breath, Nagase hears the students talk about her, "You know, I hate those kinds of teachers the most. The one's that but in on everything and get too passionate about their work. I guess it's fine that she's a student teacher, but she's getting really annoying."
This scene really set off alarm bells in my head. The kind where I say to myself, "Oh wow, I completely understand where they're going with this, that is so cool." The situation that Nagase is put in is a classic one. Naive young person enters the "real" world, tries to make a positive difference, proceeds to get shot down and is forced to rethink his/her ideas.
The way this series puts a twist on this idea is with Keima
-kun. The student who gets straight A's, seems to be anti-social and spends all waking time playing games in and out of class. Nagase, being the passionate and caring teacher she is, wants to help Keima make friends in the real world and not be absorbed in the virtual reality
of video games.
This opens up a whole host of questions and complications. Most of which have probably already been discussed, at some point in history, at great length without any definitive answer. Questions about the relationship between student and teacher go all the way back to Plato, who's written dialogues (depicting his teacher Socrates) has coined the term "Platonic Love." In Japan there have been a number of cases where a male teacher has taken advantage of young female students. This may be a bit of an extreme example but even if a single person said something like, "It's unfortunate, but that's just the way it is in the real world sometimes," we have to ask ourselves why the case of the mean teacher is that different from the lolicon teacher, or the failing student and the delinquent student.
Isn't it a teacher's job to take care of their students and help them when they struggle? Maybe a better way to look at it would be to ask, "isn't part of being human, helping other humans around you?" I've been told that, "you only get out of life, as much as you put into it." So according to this, if I don't do anything, I won't get anything. It also means I can get by with the minimum if I just do the minimum amount of work. That might sound great and all, but isn't it better to strive for the ideal, like Nagase is trying to do, and give it everything you got? Even if you don't make a huge "profit", you'll still end up with more than you started out with.
Arguments can be made on both sides and anywhere in between. Nagase-sensei doesn't have definitive answers about these things, neither does Kemai-kun, and neither do I. But I still think the way TWGOK is able to achieve this sort of subtle social commentary, underneath the comedy and anime antics, is pretty awesome. Of course I might just be reading too much into things, *shrugs*. That won't stop me from enjoying the final arc of season 2 and the characters is centers around! >.>