Note: This post discusses explicit sex in an explicitly sexual work, and includes images which are not safe for work.
It ought be fairly clear that most pornography is not an accurate reflection of reality. But perhaps more interestingly, different pornographic works inhabit realities which are vastly different from each other. When they divorce themselves from real-world sexual mores, erotic texts are often freed to reinvent sexual morality from scratch.
This is true to all fictional works up to a point, but the dissonance between how strongly sexuality is highlighted in pornography and how often guarded or shameful it is in reality makes the departure consistently, explicitly more noticeable. That said, so long as the author inhabits the real world and real sexual mores, their departure from those mores is clearly marked as a departure.
Oh, that was easy.
It is often observed that works of an episodic nature tend to fall into predictable patterns over time. Plot structures, character personalities and so forth tend to develop comfortable, consistent shapes, often called “formulas”. Many works, of course, use formula and repetition to a specific end—e.g. in service of a specific thematic goal. Yuasa leverages formula in The Tatami Galaxy to viscerally drive home the work’s thesis; untold volumes have been filled dissecting its use in Revolutionary Girl Utena. But what I mean to discuss here is the function that repetition serves more generally as a narrative, not thematic, device—we arrive at formulas because if something worked once, it’s likely to work again. Repetition, used carefully, can enhance a work as much as effective photography or musical score.
After a disappointing episode last week, Binbou-gami ga! is back in rare form as of episode four. There are some lingering traces of sentimentality it hasn’t managed to shake off, but the focus is back on the physical comedy, and even the serious subplot is better-executed and less disruptive.
This episode was boring. Let’s talk about something else.
This week, Binbou-gami ga! doubled down on everything that made the first episode great. The gags were more plentiful and more carefully-designed, the pacing less distracted by a need to introduce the setting. In particular, this episode increased the focus on quick sight gags.
Summer looks to be a good season for comedy: the darkly cynical Humanity Has Declined and the culture-steeped Joshiraku have both been making waves. Both are quite good – but for my part, Binbou-gami ga! is the season’s jewel. It’s a cartoon of the highest order, with an admirably old-school gag mentality and the technical chops to back it up.