Natsuki’s version of “The Look”
An episode about attitude, ideas, and communication – or lack thereof. Also an excuse to show Chiaki’s more childish side, as well as give the animators a reason to show some skin.
The driving force behind much of the humour is how poor communications or its lack, create the situations from which the comedy stems – from the ‘creative’ reinterpretation of Fujioka’s love-letter which set the pattern for his relationship with Kana, Touma and Mako-chan’s gender confusion, to Hosaka’s inability to talk to Haruka – which results in a series of ever more outlandish fantasies which he acts out on inantimate objects. Almost every joke the manga and show uses derives from this, unlike other series which use a more physical form of comedy (like slapstick) to entertain.
Keep this shot in mind for later – trust me, it IS important.
The first part is amusing, if only because it focuses on one of the misunderstandings which is a running gag in the series; Touma’s gender, and specifically Fujioka’s ignorance of Touma and Mako-chan’s true identities. Combined with Natsuki’s advice to Touma regarding male behavior (having apparently forgotten the Other Minami household’s hopes of making Touma act in a more feminine manner), we get an amusing if not spectacular skit. Most of the other parts of the episode follow this pattern, especially with regards to the last, where Natsuki finally gets a new gag which plays on his insensitivity in a new and more entertaining fashion. The middle portion focuses on first how Chiaki relates to her friends, then on how she interacts with Fujioka with others observing the relationship and making comments regarding their closeness. Overall, an improvement on the previous episode if only because, while not a storm of laughs, it manages to remember what made the series successful the first time around – the relationships between the characters, and how those could be exploited for entertainment purposes through a failure to understand or to be understood.
If Touma dresses like this, no wonder Fujioka thinks she’s a boy…
Winning Friends and Arguments, A Short Essay
PART I: Word Choice
When trying to communicate, your opening statement, choice of vocabulary, and the speed and intonation used in delivery are crucial in conveying a message to an audience.
An unguarded (and unwise) comment may hamper an effective exchange of ideas – but so can situations that create a bias against you in the mind of the listener. A good speaker is always aware of these factors, as they may influence the language he or she uses.
Also, it is important to consider the target audience’s viewpoint and prejudices – even a definitive statement can be misinterpreted, due to the listener’s biases. Young dictators-in-training should keep this in mind when communicating with their parents, caregivers, or other adults – an indulgent smile and a non-committal response may be your only answer when you declare your intention to rule the world.
Sometimes, repetition may help convey the seriousness of a message by reemphasizing the salient points…
… but other times it can result in failure, as the audience ‘tunes out’ due to overexposure.
When attempting to initiate an exchange or request for material, a respectful tone can be helpful.
Other times, an aggressive demand may be more fruitful in achieving your objectives. However, one must always be conscious of both the balance of power between you and the audience. Understand that when speaking from a position of disadvantage, you should be careful to avoid confrontation – especially if you cannot back up your threats with action.
Try not to contradict yourself – map out your arguments ahead of time, and plan your speech to that your points are communicated clearly.
If repetition fails, it may be acceptable to raise one’s voice to emphasize key concepts. But be prepared for an immediate (and loud) backlash should this fail.
One more note: when making a speech, it is important to watch out for flying bears or other items from the audience. Don’t be afraid to duck.
I must emphasize the importance of how you choose your words. A misconstrued statement can be quite hurtful…
… or even provoke a physical confrontation.
However, a good speech or a well-couched request can have a very positive reception, and open the door to unexpected new opportunities.
But, always, always, ALWAYS make sure that all parties involved share a common context and concepts, as otherwise your message may be misinterpreted.
PART II: Empathy
When trying to gain minions (or friends), please be conscientious and remember that not everyone is as fearless as you are. Sensitivity (and empathy, by definition) is required when dealing with others with whom force is not the first resort to gaining their willing compliance.
A soothing manner may be something that you will wish to cultivate. A reassuring smile and calming words often accomplish what no amount of blustering can. But on that note, an indifferent expression may cause one’s attempts to backfire.
It helps to show others that their feelings and well-being are of great – or at least genuine – concern to you. Proper body language, such as leaning forward or establishing eye-contact, can help reinforce this impression.
A poor example of eye-contact
A more successful example of somatic communication.
On the other hand, you may find more physical gestures to be a much more effective method of establishing a positive relationship with others. Experiment to find the style which best suits you; insincere attempts can do more damage to relations between you and others than an indifferent attitude.
However, you cannot depend on non-verbal communication alone to impart important ideas; it can be used to add nuance and emphasis to a message, or to alter its meaning in a very specific way. In other words, just staring will not work.
But a push at the right time, on the other hand..
… can get things going.
PART III: The Smile
This is a Good Example of a Smile
A Bad Example of a Smile
One of the most subtle (or not so subtle) means of communicating involve facial expressions. These can vary depending on culture, but generally a smile is considered to be a universal indicator in both East and West. A good smile can express your good nature to others – it can betray your general attitude towards the world. But please be sure to turn off the slasher music when you practice your smile.
Even with this, it is important to maintain an awareness of your body language – a smile alone may not offset (and in some cases, can actually make worse) the intentions that one’s stance or persistent attempts at eye contact hint at.
Excessive eye-contact may be viewed negatively
Also, for those of you who seek to court others, may we suggest not ignoring their families? A good manipulator should make use of all tools to influence opinion – this includes the target’s circle of confidants and kin.
But be aware that intimidation may not be the best tactic, especially in front of those who you wish to gain the favor (or affection) of. Constant vigilance is required, as cultivating an awareness of the environment is key to perceiving the non-verbal cues which betray the feelings (and thus, biases, intentions, and desires) of those you seek to collaborate with or bend to your will.
Be sensitive to the moods of others as well as the situation you’re in. Learn when to tone back your body language, and when to press more aggressively. Perhaps consider that the family room is not the best place to stake your claim on the body of your future wife in front of her older sisters.
Winning arguments and allies is not easy; there are many factors to consider as an orator, a manager of situations and events, and as a would-be Dictator For Life leader and communicator of ideas. The situational factors are always of import, both present and future; the immediate surroundings must always be kept in mind, as are the views and beliefs of your audience. Working around, taking into account, or even pandering to, those prejudices and biases is important to spreading your ideas and winning the support of the masses; body language and facial expression, along with the proper choice of words, are the small details which can spell the difference between success and dying at the hands of a faithless minionfailure to pass on your notions and views.
And don’t be afraid to show your smile.
Next Week on Minami-ke: Okaeri – A Discussion on How Sex Sells, and Non-Representative Previews