The main “couple.”
So Uraboku has ended without resolving much of anything. The Average Anime Viewer might see this as an insult or a cop out, depending on his optimism (because the average is always male, don’t you know). But are any of us really, truly surprised? This show was made to appeal to a specific (oh so specific) demographic–and, hey, if it should somehow also appeal to others, well, more money for them. Uraboku knows above all else its audience, and so the finale could not have turned out any differently.
I remember a momentary confusion as I witnessed the transition from climactic conflict to post-battle recovery. But then, as it went on, it all made perfect sense. This is not a show which ever concerned itself with its plot; the seriousness of its presentation was merely eye candy, a sparkly pretty thing to keep the viewer’s interest as it built up to the meat of the show.
The meat being, of course, the characters. And by characters I mean bishounen (what females we see hardly count as characters, as they lack penises). A quick look at the primary cast sees all the major fetishes and cliches provided for: you’ve got your girly audience stand in, his protective/possessive “boyfriend,” the big eater, the extant yet hardly so female, the stupid jerk with a heart of gold, the cold distant snarker with a Dark and Troubled Past, the perverted older man, the doctor, and the “older brother.” Everything you could possibly need to attract a sizable female fanbase.
The aforementioned jerk and snarker, as viewed by fandom.
It occurs to me I have forgotten to spell out precisely what Uraboku‘s target audience is. Forgive me the obviousness, but this is rather important: the show targets females–specifically those inclined to fetishize homosexuality, but there (likely) is some overlap with the wider female demographic (that is to say, normal human beings). There, now I can move on to the (more) important stuff.
I said above (in slightly different words) that the audience dictated Uraboku‘s finale be as it is, so let me explain myself. You see, the upper echelons of the entertainment industry, wherever in the world you might find them, know how women think, what they want. And they have it on good authority (read: have made shittons of cash) that women don’t care a lick about action or plot or whatnot; they would much rather watch a half hour of uninterrupted homoerotic subtext. Ergo, Uraboku‘s finale, simple as that.
Now I’ve (mostly) gotten the sarcasm out of the way, let’s try and be a tad more serious.
Half as serious as this guy. At least.
Around episode fourteen, I noticed something that had been bothering me about the show: The writers spent most of the episode moving Yuki between different sets of characters, as if he were on a conveyor belt of subtext. This format continues through the rest of the series, at least for the slower episodes. There’s only the barest of excuses for moving around as they do, which is where the plot comes in, but that’s not the point. The point is to have Yuki speak with character X, or with Y and Z, or with whomever. This gives the fangirls plenty to squee over as they rush off after the credits to write yaoi or whatever. Because that’s what girls do.
Granted, the show does mature about this somewhat by the last episode, where we’ve got enough characters that we move beyond just Yuki and mix in some new guys. Obviously this makes everything completely different from before, as now the show wants to tease at new pairings. But by the end everything is still as it should be. By which I mean that little has changed except maybe Yuki has a new power (the ability to magically end battles mid-climax, apparently) and we’ve all learned a lesson or something. (The sarcasm refuses to die, it seems.)
I suppose the plot does also serve to make various characters angst and provide fuel for Mr I-Will-Never-Betray-You to say his line, but that I think is just a subset of the above, grease to get the conveyor belt running. Because it’s that same conveyor belt that’s really running the show.
This is actually more subtle than the show, which hovered about half a layer of clothing short of full on buttsecks.
It’s actually the most amusing part of the show, from a certain perspective, to watch the ever escalating subtext. How will they top themselves this week, I wondered as I clicked on each episode. Nor did they ever fail to deliver. (I refer you to this tweet from when I was watching the last episode.)
And that’s all that matters, isn’t it–the amusement? What does it matter that the show eschewed any sort of resolution in favor of a vague (and brief) analysis of what happened and Hotsuma spilling ice cream on Shusei’s bed? The show is targeted at girls, and we know they don’t care for plot, so can we really fault them for skipping over it? From the beginning Uraboku was only ever about one thing, the one thing it knew best, and it made no effort at hiding that.
I can only wonder why, for a show so stuffed with homoeroticism, there were no overt displays of homosexuality. I understand the source is only shounen ai, but does that really restrict the adaptation from showing even a single kiss? Or even just spoken confirmation of some sort? I predicted earlier that Yuki’s reincarnation as a male might play some greater role (and thus explore gender identity in an interesting fashion), but they skipped over that with only a brief mention near the end. So, really, did Uraboku do anything?
I can’t say that it did.
Unless you count having more metaphorical gay sex than Freud and Jung on an acid trip.