Future otou-san ghost had much to say about the paucity of testosterone in our much loved Hatsukoi Limited.
1. subjects and objects
Ghost writes that “[a] single alpha male would absolutely unbalance the force of haremette attraction at work here,” due to the structural influence of the genre at hand. But what piqued my interest were his thoughts on Dobashi. He writes:
In episode 7 Dobashi the tennis varsity player gets her moment in the sun, which should have been quite entertaining for me. Like the other alpha females, she is pursued by an omega male. Through her work and attention he gets stronger at tennis and gets a shot at going out with her. (my emphasis)
The significant part is the clause “she is pursued…” Ghost indicates (as does the anime) that Dobashi is the object of omega-kun’s (what was his name again?) pursuance.
Moreover, Dobashi is not the subject of the episode. The subject/object dichotomy (S/O) is very important here due to two reasons: (1) HatsukoiLTD’s narrative structure – as opposed to the internal narratives of each character – is decentralized, fragmented, it’s an “ensemble” show (I forget who said that) and; (2) shipping and love polygons are the focus of the show. To note, the “narrator” is, generally, the one who has soliloquies.
The S/O, then, is crucial because (1) a fragmented narrative structure is oriented towards weaving together the storylines of individual characters, and this emphasis on the trajectories of characters necessitates their subjectification or objectification because; (2) love requires a subject and object, a lover and a loved. While you could argue that love is about an egalitarian relationship and not a subject/object relationship, shipping, unrequited love and fantasy love are all about one-sided affairs, unequal relationships/feelings and clearly marked subjects and objects of love and lust.
Dobashi has an interesting role, she has the “different” one in relation to the other girls. This is based on the assumption that the anime is focused on girls (if publicity art says anything), and that girls are the subjects of love, not necessarily objects. When interpreting the “role” of the character, the criteria contains two values: (1) who is the narrator? And (2) who is the subject?
For instance, Enomoto is disproportionately the narrator, though her relationship with Kusuda is, so to speak, explicitly implicit. But I’m sure we can guess how it will end. The Enomoto/Kusuda relationship is largely mutually exclusive, meaning that they or their story doesn’t really overlap into others (i.e. I’ll talk about Yamamoto below). If you take a look at the final remark of each episode, where we hear an internal line or two of a character, usually such internal line is used to identify the narrator of the episode. However, during the Enomoto/Kusuda Christmas episode, there is no internal remark at the end. Instead, it ends on the verbal, coquettish exchange “old woman face,” “kappa face.”
Yamamoto is disproportionately the narrator but more of the object of love than a subject.
Koyoi is disproportionately the narrator and the subject of love towards her brother.
When Ayumi is the subject of love towards Mamoru she is the narrator. However, she is frequently the object of Misao’s narration and love.
When Bessho Yoshihiko is the object of Koyoi’s love, he is not the narrator. However, he is frequently the narrator when Yamamoto is the object of his love. But this relationship was upset in ep. 8 when Yamamoto was the narrator and subject of her love towards Arihara, thus moving Yoshihiko into more of an object position.
Dobashi and omega-kun have, thus far, a mutually exclusive relationship similar to Enomoto/Kusuda’s. The difference is that Dobashi isn’t the narrator and is omega-kun’s object of love. While each episode has a final internal remark that indicates the narrator, Dobashi is the one to deliver this internal line. This conflicts with her objectivity. I’d guess that her reticence – she’s not a full-blown silent girl archetype – is the other critical factor which thus forges a complex intersection between narrator, subject/object, and archetype. In other words, Dobashi’s position as a girl (which is absolutely central in HatsukoiLTD) and archetypal role as The Reticent One mitigate her objectivity of omega-kun’s narrated love. The innate structures of HatsukoiLTD allow Dobashi to be an object that is narrated upon inasmuch as her complementing features of reticent main female cast member mitigate that very objectivity. Dobashi, as a member of the main cast, must be central to the anime via the intersection we have discussed, lest her role end up contradicting the anime’s stylistic focus on girls.