vucubcaquix: This week, we’re treated to the first episode of Kamisama no Memochou, a show about a so-called NEET Detective Agency and right off the bat the first thing I noticed are the stellar production values of this series. The first notes of the soundtrack’s bells and electronic notes are accompanied with the various tones of different phones as we’re bombarded with the imagery of text messages being sent off at such a rapid clip, that the audience can barely keep up by the time that the scene cuts between images of a nondescript crowd and a flash of one of our main protagonists overlooking something offscreen, bathed by it’s soft glow. What struck about the music is how well it complements the feelings of the digital ethereality that one finds in the seeming transience of digital information. Texts are sent off into the abyss, with no real weight or thought given to them and it’s reflected in the show’s execution because the quick cuts are meant to elicit a sense of bewilderment and inconsequentiality on the part of the audience barely being able to perceive these messages.
ajthefourth: Today, we are taught to process information in this manner. Everything is hitting us simultaneously at incredible speeds. Likewise, we have become our own platforms for disseminating information just as quickly. We are our own best aggregators, if you will. The consequence of processing and disseminating information this way is that nothing actually sticks. We process, laugh, cry, punch something, and move on to the next thing all within a matter of minutes, forgetting what exactly it was that made us so amused, saddened, or angry. With everything presented to us as if it’s the end of the world, nothing is. Our protagonist Narumi Fujushima processes information this way.
ajthefourth: He also finds himself unable to process anything else in his life in a dissimilar way. Narumi describes himself as a dot that moves among the other dots that make up the rest of the world. He doesn’t remember the names of his classmates; however, he manages to become adept enough socially to cover up this fact. Whenever his character is presented on screen, there is always a flurry of activity around him, and yet he is always shown standing still, or walking slowly. In addition to this, as another way to demonstrate his inactivity, this episode chooses to either keep him in the background, with minimal lighting, or to push him into an overly well-lit foreground, highlighting his isolation from others. Despite the myriad of activity, and the insurmountable quantity of information that is being thrown his way, Narumi, like most of us, is only ever an observer. This is in direct contrast to Alice, who is bombarded with the same amount of information, and yet, has decided to take action, albeit behind the scenes.
vucubcaquix: Alice has made it her personal mission to act upon any and all information that comes her way. She recites a statistic that states that one child dies every six seconds on Earth due to poverty. I will not comment on the veracity of that claim, but what does fascinate me, is that she feels personally responsible for the deaths of every single one of those children because of the way that the information has been revealed to her. It is not a coincidence that when she makes those statements, the scene is interspersed with quick cuts of traditional media news outlets on several of her monitors in the background. I find this to be a very subtle & pointed commentary on how traditional media has been on the path towards sensationalizing and personalizing news since at least the mid-nineties. These things are happening in the world, they are terrible, and we by extension are terrible people for not wanting or not being able to do anything about it. What does it say about Alice’s character that not only does she recognize this, but she internalizes it, and it affects the way she perceives and interacts with the world?
ajthefourth: It’s also not a coincidence that Alice presents herself to Narumi, and by extension the viewing audience, as a NEET. Typically regarded with derision by the general populace, NEETs are often seen as the members of society who contribute the least, if anything at all. The fact that Alice is a NEET may have been used to draw sympathy from a specific niche (bringing up such conundrums like how on earth her poor atrophied muscles will possibly be able to separate chopsticks properly) but also pointedly juxtaposes a socially withdrawn NEET with an average high school student. If an ordinary member of society was asked, based on Alice and Narumi’s respective stations in life, which one they would assume to be the larger social contributor, they would indubitably choose Narumi, who is still enrolled in school and probably bound for a university or some sort of career path. The series turns this assumption on its head by making Narumi, a self-described unexceptional dot in the sea of dots that make up the pointillism painting of the world, the larger drain on society. At the very least, Alice is attempting to do something with the sea of knowledge that has been presented to her instead of becoming so overwhelmed, or even worse, accustomed to information overload that she fades into the background completely, processing none of it.
vucubcaquix: The idea of information overload reminds me of a conversation that I had in a class last summer about a drawback to living in the Information Age. The drawback being that the sheer volume of information out there has a negative effect on information as a whole, in effect being devalued by it’s availability. The signal-to-noise ratio continues to plummet, and our response to it is to just become accustomed to all of it. In all, I’m rather impressed by this first episode of Kamisama no Memochou. The production values are stellar, the music is interesting, the animation is crisp and fluid, and we’ve barely even touched on some of the more interesting lines that were uttered, like the idea of writers and detectives being the only occupations capable of doing anything meaningful for the dead. I feel that that could be an entire post on it’s own. I am going to continue watching this, how about you, Emily?
ajthfourth: For me, someone who is easily swayed by good production values, the music and visuals are reason enough to stick around for at least a few more episodes, never mind all of the interesting themes presented in regards to media dissemination and how it affects the way we process the world. As someone who previously studied journalism and mass communications, this idea of media overload had already fascinated me; however, this first episode has done wonders towards renewing my interest in the methods with which we receive and transmit information. There are a few red flags here and there: Alice’s character design/fanservice and the gimmicky appeal of a NEET detective agency, but this first segment of the series (mind you, it wasn’t even an entire episode and it has inspired this much passion from both of us) has certainly made a positive impression on me.
vucubcaquix: Well, it’s a date. I’ll see you next week. Have a good night, Emily.
ajthefourth: Have a wonderful night, David.