On Protracted Conflict: Lessons Learned for the Osananajimi

With grand performances in Amagami SS and Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai, this has been quite the strong season for the osananajimi/childhood friend. Given the previous work done in strategic and operational doctrine for both shoujo/josei and the aspiring suitor here at THAT, I’m here attempting to contribute to this body of anime romance doctrine. To this end, I’m focusing on which strategies, tactics, and capabilities are most effective for that childhood friend trying to both secure her longtime love and fend off challengers. Using seven examples this post will attempt to pass on the lessons learned from previous successful and failed osananajimi campaigns.

A note on methodology: for the purposes of the chart, I have assigned some characters both ‘success’ and ‘unresolved’ codings. Rihoko from Amagami SS effectively achieved a success, but the resolution wasn’t shown on-screen so some dispute this. I also coded Mihoshi as ‘success/unresolved’ because even as I’ll ship for Our Queen and Savior Fumie, it’s clear from a non-shipping perspective that Mihoshi will be the victor. Manami from Asobi ni Iku Yo and Tsugumi from Kannagi are coded as ‘failure’ even if the anime didn’t explicitly state it. Asuka is considered an osananajimi in that she knew Aihara for an unspecified amount of time beforehand and interacted as if she knew him for some time. The cases drawn from are Rihoko (Amagami SS), Manami (OreImo), Mihoshi (Sora no Manimani), Mao (KimiKiss: Pure Rouge), Tsugumi (Kannagi), Manami (Asobi ni Iku Yo), and Nao (Yosuga no Sora.) There will be spoilers.

Introduction

The osananajimi by her nature is best suited to a protracted form of war that can outlast the enemy and drain their will to fight, if not deny them operational space outright. Proximity and generally fighting on home turf brings the osananajimi advantages in intelligence, environmental awareness, access, short supply lines, and usually the support of the locals. Frequently they are also more crafty than their opponents and better understanding of the target male’s preferences. They are at their weakest when operating outside of their own territory, and when attempting to confront an outsider enemy in pitched battle too early in a campaign. In these ways the osananajimi’s way of war is similar to Mao’s People’s War and the three stages of revolutionary warfare. Below are four frequently observed components of osananajimi warfare and their observed effectiveness. But first a quick look at likely enemies.

The Threat

They can come in many varieties, from the provocateur (Zange) to the eccentric outsider (Nagi.)

The osananajimi’s natural and most likely foe is some class of ‘outsider’ that suddenly enters the scene with a strong display of force. Outsiders typically show up on the scene armed to the teeth with a range of traits that the osananajimi cannot match. These can include eccentric outsiders with oddly endearing traits (True Tears‘ Noe), provocateurs that go for the ‘vital regions’ (Macross F‘s Sheryl), or cutesy, seemingly nonthreatening nice girls (KimiKiss:Pure Rouge‘s Yuumi.) They deploy such qualities and are adept at disrupting the long process by which the osananajimi has already been proceeding to attain her target.

Continuity – Ideology for Romantic Warfare

Childhood memories will vary, but are always invaluable.

As People’s War is linked strongly to political ideology to form a comprehensive revolutionary warfare doctrine, the osananajimi frequently employs this as a way of cementing her link to her target. It is in the nature of the osananajimi to bring forth memories from childhood, but alone it is not enough for victory. It must be frequently brought up and current events woven into a narrative that emphasizes continuity, to the point where the target can only think of a future together with the osananajimi. Reactive use of continuity tactics, such as bringing up a memory in response to an event or object, must be paired with proactive pushes for the target to think about the potential couple’s future together. The evidence from cases considered shows that this ‘continuity as political warfare’ component is vitally important for success. Even for Nao, who felt that past experiences with Haruka had doomed her, found this historical link to her target the important building block for claiming Haruka in her arc.

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Reactive (above) and proactive (below) continuity tactics in action.

The ‘People’ in People’s War – Friend and Family Support

Sometimes they take the form of potential beta-couples.

Friends that help arrange dates and opportunities, and family that attempts to support or ship the couple can offer strong support to an osananajimi. And they can serve a secondary role as well by offering membership in an institution. Operating on her home turf (or having returned to it after a period of time away) the osananajimi has the greatest potential to draw on the support of those around her. Friends have been with them a long time, and the parents of either the osananajimi or the target may already secretly or overtly wish for them to become a couple. Both may even force support on the osananajimi during moments of weakened strength or lack of confidence. Allies like these are also useful, in that they offer an ‘institution’ to join. Seeing how well a club, group of friends, or family gets along can lure in the target with the prospect of a warm, caring support structure once they get together with the osananajimi. While the positive power of this support is not as strong as continuity warfare, the test cases argue strongly for not ignoring it.

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Shipping by other means.

Parental support in action, with some maneuver to obscure the osananajimi’s intentions and make her seem tame by comparison.

Sometimes the support of the locals can provide the momentum other resources cannot.

Care Tactics

Winning the love of the target by demonstrating that he would be best off under the osananajimi’s benign rule.

In the osananajimi’s version of People’s War, the path to victory is a broad-based approach that over time demonstrates her superiority in all forms. By their nature osananajimi tend to be caring and adept at providing the goods and services that others cannot. Similar to the way Hezbollah builds its reputation in Lebanon by dispensing services and patronage, the osananajimi can both show her determination through gifts and favors and can use such instances as an beachhead to deploy other attacks from. Manami and Rihoko demonstrated their culinary capabilities and used them as pretexts for spending time with their targets. Mao nearly stole a kiss on Koichi when he was sick, Nao used an opportunity to sew on buttons to bring up old memories and nearly completed a successful kiss operation, and so on. Success or failure depends on how such opportunities are used, however, as the natural tendency of osananajimi to do this means that the results are inconclusive.

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Sports appears to be an area to avoid, as it leads to thinking of the osananajimi/close friend as a female bro and thus to the friend zone.


Helping Rivals – Muddled Priorities

Don’t let this happen to you!

A core part of the osananajimi’s personality can work against her in war if it is not restrained. Osananajimi are decent people and always concerned about the happiness of their targets, but sometimes this leads them to back off, hesitate, or even advise or help their rivals when the time for conflict approaches. Sometimes this is an attempt at a relationship-by-proxy like AsoIku‘s Manami, other times genuine concern for the rival and/or target like Asuka in KimiKiss, who naively thought that she could level the playing field and win in pitched battle against Eriko. The time for Mao’s ‘third phase’ had not been reached for Asuka, and even so there was no need to handicap herself in such a manner. Mao fell victim to this behavior initially and it was a mistake from which she would not have been able to recover had her continuity doctrine not be so firmly instilled in her target beforehand. The cases show that every character that has done this and not changed course has lost.

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Manami has fallen for the relationship-by-proxy trap.

Asuka SakiNNNNOOOOOOOOO!

Other Considerations: Use of Overwhelming Force and the ‘Imouto Factor’

Shock and Awe for osananajimi.

Typically the osananajimi does not stand a chance in pitched battle against rivals until Mao’s third phase has been completed and the opposition is effectively beaten. However, if the osananajimi can get to the target before any potential rivals reach the theater of operations then she can use conventional tactics to great effect. Nao quickly claimed her prize in a surprise blitzkrieg, making Haruka her’s forever after. Mihoshi on the other hand had to content with powerful potential rivals later on. But by seizing on Saku immediately by force and beginning the continuity indoctrination process from the beginning, she attained an easily defensible position that would pose immense difficulties for Hime and Our Queen and Savior Fumie. However, there was not enough examples to draw a valid conclusion about overall effectiveness.

Hindrance or help?

Another area for consideration but that lacks data is the ‘imouto factor.’ From available cases this appears to have a negative effect for the osananajimi, but not always. Sora in the picture above interrupted an imminent kiss, and Kirino would have spoiled Manami and Kyousuke’s time had she been present. It showed great foresight on Manami’s part in inviting Kyousuke to a location that Kirino dared not tread. However, Miya was definitely amenable to the idea of Rihoko and her brother coming together. Further research is needed.

This entry was posted in Amagami SS, Editorial, Kannagi, Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai, Sora no Manimani. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

29 Comments

  1. fatjing
    Posted November 25, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    lol, I really didn’t expect a post like this, haha, osananajimi for the win!

    I think the childhood memories are the most attractive part of an osananajimi relationship. And that’s why I’m fascinated in it. Childhood memories are invaluable, indeed.
    And i’d like to mention Adachi Mitsuru’s manga series such as Touch, H2 and Cross Game. They are excellent in osananajimi relationship description, though Hiro and Hikari failed the osananajimi campaign in H2

    • Posted November 26, 2010 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

      After seeing Crusader’s posts way back when and really liking them, I’ve always wanted to add to the THAT Anime Romance Doctrine Library.

      I’m not so much drawn to the characters by the childhood memories factor, since I think childhood was kind of lame and embarrassing, heh. But the osananajimi characters tend to have that straightforward, forthright quality to them and how they express their feelings. I’ll have to check out some of those series one day, thought the episode count and baseball elements of Cross Game have kept me from watching it as of yet.

  2. Merq
    Posted November 26, 2010 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    That Hitler video about Rihoko was awesome. My thoughts exactly!

    Also, I remember being so ANGRY about Tsugumi. It wasn’t only just about the childhood friend for me, but why it seemed like the guys tend to go for the non human (or other species, depending on the species of the main character). My heart broke for Rihoko but was DESTROYED for Tsugumi. I mean, he looked over her and locked on to a god whose form he carved out of wood. Hurtful.

    I enjoyed this post. If you have any interest in looking at humans and non humans as love rivals, I would look forward to that post, too. /not-so-subtle-hint

    • Posted November 26, 2010 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      While I didn’t share the sentiment (maybe I’m just optimistic), I couldn’t stop laughing through the whole video.

      Poor Tsugumi, she never had a chance. Everything was against her for one, having two rivals that used different approaches and the fact that Nagi lived with Jun. And it didn’t help that she tried to confront Nagi and Zange on their terms and in pitched battle. Instead of resorting to People’s War she tried to compete and was always forced on the defensive trying to break up moments between Jun and the two sisters.

      Might be another post topic, hehe. Perhaps I could see if someone else from the team was interested too.

      • Rathje
        Posted November 26, 2010 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, generally speaking alien/non-human girls are like anti-matter to the osananajime.

        I was pissed about Tsugumi, and my wife hates the whole series now because of how she was treated. She really was the best match, but just got steamrolled (although honestly, I think the scriptwriters deliberately hammered her as a kind of ironic commentary on how shows these days always seem to dump the childhood friend – there was a lot of that in Kannagi).

        • Posted November 28, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

          Tsugumi was self-aware of her place in the story, and given the fairly lighthearted nature of the romance in that show it makes sense. She even once commented to herself “I guess I’m just the childhood friend.”

  3. Posted November 26, 2010 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Your endeavor is totally supported EO. You got my back!

    I do have something to note about the Imouto Factor section. Do note that while an imouto that has a crush on her own kin is destructive if not a total hindrance, an imouto that does not can actually be a total asset to the osanajimi (something that can be under the ‘People’ in People’s War section). However, there are some situations that have a neutral tone in them, such as an imouto having the osanajimi as her role model (which means she or she may not approve of the osanajimi’s relationship), or an imouto who sees the osanajimi as something close to a blood relative (which again, may either hinder or hasten the osanajimi’s relationship).

    It shouldn’t be that hard to look for references to these situations, though.

    • Posted November 26, 2010 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

      As I come across more series myself, I may be able to collect enough examples to make a contribution on the ‘imouto factor’ in anime romance doctrine. I just haven’t seen enough series as of yet to come to any conclusions about it.

      • Posted November 27, 2010 at 2:50 am | Permalink

        To tell the truth, I actually wanted to tell you in my previous post that these kind of situations are almost always present in eromanga, erodoujinshi, and visual novels. I just didn’t want to, because I highly doubt any one of the others guys in here will understand where I’m getting these situations from (aside from the mangafags, doujinfags, and VNfags)

        • Posted November 28, 2010 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

          Yeah. I imagine there’s more of it in those genres, but they’re not really my thing. I’m sure they have their own sizable communities, but it’s a little beyond the scope of the blogging that I do.

          Though one day I WILL finish playing Tsukihime.

  4. Marigold Ran
    Posted November 26, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Sigh.

    • Posted November 26, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

      Sigh for the plight of many an osananajimi?
      Sigh for an entire post on this? In which case anime romance doctrine is Serious Business.
      Something else?

      • Marigold Ran
        Posted November 28, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

        I feel sorry for Chairman Mao. He doesn’t deserve this.

        Or perhaps he did.

        • Posted November 28, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

          He rose up from humble beginnings to lead the people to revolution and win control of the country. How could he not be fond of the osananajimi? :P

  5. Posted November 26, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    To quote Sun Tzu: “All warfare is based on deception.” I’d argue that the greatest strength of the childhood friend is her plain and unassuming status as a contender. True, this may mean it is hard to catch the eye of the protagonist, but she too is discounted as a serious threat.

    • Posted November 26, 2010 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      Exactly. If the osananajimi were a flashier girl she might not be able to (or be too proud and boastful to) run such elaborate, long-term efforts just out of sight of her target.

  6. Lectro Volpi
    Posted November 26, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Ho-oh! I see what you did there!

    They usually get the “Friend” seat but at least it is safe in most cases. Sora is unstable and I fear for Nao, cooking for her? trying to get on her good side? she is a damn time-bomb!

    Kudos for this super post, obsession is an amazing tool huh!?

    • Posted November 26, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      Sora: White dress, white shoes, white hair, stuffed rabbit. The girl’s a time bomb!

      Obsession? Actually until recently I haven’t thought too much about osananajimi characters, but this season has opened my eyes. For I was blind and now I see! Though I think the onee-san and class rep archetypes still tie for my favorites in anime. (That’s why I favored Mao so heavily in KimiKiss: osananajim AND onee-san!) Actually it was just one of those moments of inspiration that happened to strike on day off. Once the thought came, the post was written pretty quickly.

  7. Rathje
    Posted November 26, 2010 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    Tsundere osananajime.

    Asset or liability?

    • Posted November 27, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      Definite liability. The main draw of a tsundere is generally that they’re really hot, so the dude is willing to put up with their crap. The main disadvantage of a childhood-friend type is that, no matter how freaking smokin’ they are, the guy doesn’t really see it, as he’s used to it. Generally it takes some special trigger for the childhood friend to get noticed as more than a friend (which is why I wouldn’t call Rihoko a success – she never triggered that; fortunately for her there were no rivals to lose to either [though one could say that she loses every other arc[). With the abusive tsundere, there’s almost always a level of resentment towards the girl, which in the friend case is overcome by the dere part – which is generally just the nature of the childhood friend in the first place, so it isn’t noticed by the guy.

      I can’t think of any abusive-tsundere childhood friends that have won.

    • Posted November 28, 2010 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

      Agreed with TheRoyalFamily. An osananajimi going tsundere is a complete mismatch of capabilities and tactics. It doesn’t play to any of her strengths and amplifies her weaknesses.

  8. Chen
    Posted November 27, 2010 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    Oh God, why did you have to remind me of Asuka Sakino? Now I’m all depressed. Especially strange since I don’t remember her being a childhood friend.

    Also, two of the shows are cheating, since they follow an omnibus format. So in actuality Mao is the only heroine in anime history that has won the childhood war against invaders, which makes me even sadder.

    (No, Love Hina doesn’t count.)

    • Posted November 28, 2010 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

      I considered Asuka as a childhood friend as I watched the show given her interactions. I went back and checked again for the post, and right from the start she’s introduced and acts like she’s known Kazuki and Koichi for a long while. They know her before class assignments are announced, and the way they talk to each other is definitely very familiar. The series doesn’t give exact numbers, but it appears that she knew the two male leads and Mao since at least middle school. Given that, I’d consider her a childhood friend, terming everything earlier than their first year of high school as childhood with adolescence beginning with high school. It’s not perfectly clear, but Asuka seemed to have enough history and act in enough very familiar ways to be an osananajimi.

      Phew. But yes, many people still lament SAKINOOOOOO. Though I was a Kazuki X Eriko shipper from day one :P

      As for arc format shows, I think those are valuable because they show the way in which an osananajimi can win, though not against active rivals. Mao definitely won versus a rival, but Mihoshi is pretty much predestined by the author’s intent to win out over two exceptionally strong rivals in the form of Fumie and Hime.

  9. Posted November 27, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    For me, a big draw of the childhood friend type is that they show a genuine, deep love for the guy, as opposed to mere initial infatuations from the “invaders” This love I think is manifested in many ways, only some of which are successful. Ignoring the childhood friends that suddenly find themselves in love with the protag (like, say, Kaoru from Amagami), I have observed a sort of scale: on the one hand you have the True Friend type, that even though they have probably been in love with Our Boy for a long time, they are his friend first and foremost – this would be your Rihoko-type; and on the other end, you have the Waifu type, that basically takes care of the protag – making his lunch, etc – sometimes to the point of actually living with him and acting the perfect waifu (or even mother!), which the protag will totally take advantage of (in a nice way) – think Kaede from Shuffle!

    In my admittedly limited knowledge of these sorts of things, it seems that the former type tends to have more success than otherwise. The guy might come to appreciate what the girl has been doing for him, and perhaps even realizing the reason why she’s been a waifu despite his lack of reciprocation, but it doesn’t seem to lead to romance. In fact, the waifu factor can actively work against her – it makes the other girls jealous, and work even harder for the guy – especially if they can see what he doesn’t see.

    But the True Friend can definitely be disadvantageous as well. She will always love him no matter what, and genuinely wants him to be happy, even if that crushes her heart – because he loves her back, even if not in the way she would like best. He wants what’s best for her too – and even if he is inclined to liking her in a romantic sense, he may not feel himself worthy of her, and treat any prospect as an impossibility – despite the fact that it is exactly what she wants! (Guys are dumb, after all.)

    • Zorapup
      Posted November 27, 2010 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

      The True Friend aspect though goes along your lines of deep love. To want true happiness for those you love by the sacrifice of your own happiness (and selfishness) I suppose is love though usually when circumstances beyond your control do not allow you to pursue the person you long for. Although I sometimes wonder if the osanajimi male friend would be considered weak for helping his friend instead of confessing.

      • Posted November 28, 2010 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

        I think it’s kind of weak either way. To be sure, not everyone can bring themselves to quickly attempt to change the dynamic of a long-term social relationship like that, but after a certain point they really have to act.

    • Posted November 28, 2010 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

      Good points on the further categorization of osananajimi. I prefer the True Friend for the reasons you mentioned: the sort of love they have for their guy is much deeper and more sincere than the infatuation or “I’ll protect you!” that often is seen with invaders. And the True Friend seems to be the more successful one as you point out.

      Though I’m not too fond of the ‘wants him to be happy even at her expense’ thing. It just seems like giving up in a lot of cases. Mao is again another great example, as thinking like that almost cost her her love. One of the things that I loved so much about Manami from OreImo is that she was willing to use subterfuge and teasing to try and get Kyousuke. I’m certain there won’t be any decent conclusion to that given the kind of show OreImo is, but a man can dream!

  10. Posted December 1, 2010 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Ha! A post straight out of left field. Should I be reincarnated as an osananajimi, I shall remember these lessons well. I did learn watching Yosuga no Sora that the genital molestation of said friend will yield results. He’ll remember and be thankful later.

One Trackback

  • By 2010 Honor Roll on December 31, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    [...] her prize. (And I’m kicking myself now for not including her as another example in that osananajimi doctrine post I wrote!) And what’s more she enjoyed the popular support of his F-Class classmates, everyone [...]

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