The Genre of Mayoi Neko Overrun is… Horror!?

Mayoi Neko Overrun Peco Serizawa Fumino Peko

In my spare time, I love reading movie reviews and entertainment magazines. Several days ago, a wonderful article in Entertainment Weekly reviewed A Nightmare on Elm Street. Though the article is largely irrelevant to anime, it raised an interesting idea about the state of the horror slasher genre:

“In theory, everyone in the audience was there to be scared, to be shocked into fear by the awesome savagery on display. Yet these movies, in the space of about five years, had grown so formulaic, so predictable in their extremity and slaughter, that their very “terror” had turned fatally campy.”

Think back to your last serial killer movie, how was the experience?

For me, watching slasher films has become a comedic ritual of predicting the inevitable. I laughed at the obligatory killings of token characters and relished in the creative ridiculous dismemberments of the cast. Indeed, the genre’s original motivations have disappeared.

Kiriya Nozomi Mayoi Neko Overrun Peco Peko Serizawa Fumino Otome Tsuzuki Takumi Umenomori Chise

Harem anime have reached a similar state. Mayoi Neko Overrun is the latest product of a rigid formula complete with its standard cast: a kind male lead, a tsundere, a loli, a mysterious girl, and a loving onee-san. In abstract, the audience is supposed to enjoy Mayoi Neko for the romantic comedy. The girls’ unique personalities should charm us. The various accidents and love blunders should amuse us. In reality though, I saw Mayoi Neko in a completely different light.

Kiriya Nozomi Mayoi Neko Overrun Serizawa Fumino

For example, I liked Fumino and Chise not because their personalities are so endearing, but because they follow the character types to the dot. I did not laugh because Takami woke up to Fumino’s pantsu, but because I knew this (or some variation) would undoubtedly happen. Watching Mayoi Neko is again just waiting for the expected.

In fact, just like other slasher films, nothing actually “justifies” Mayoi Neko as an original title other than new faces and new names. Yet I still watch it. I suppose for me, there is something about knowing the formula that makes cliché fun.

Mayoi Neko Overrun Kiriya Nozomi Naruko Kanae Peco Peko Serizawa Fumino Otome Tsuzuki Takumi Umenomori Chise

*Categorically, Mayoi Neko cannot be further from horror films (although it is horrible in at least one way).

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48 Responses to The Genre of Mayoi Neko Overrun is… Horror!?

  1. Raph says:

    Haha, I know exactly what you mean! Fanservice/moe romantic comedies can feel like cake pre-mixes. All the ingredients are there (and have been “perfected” down to a formula), just add character designs and cook! It’s not like this is exclusive to anime, though. So many romantic comedies in so many mediums have the same fault/s. It’s annoying how predictable they can be but, as you’ve pointed out, there’s also novelty value in the anticipation of the tropes popping up. Maybe someone should capitalise on this by making a checklist or drinking game for these types of shows, if they haven’t been done already. The morning pantyflash? Check/Drink! The tsundere girl who falls in love with the lead? Check/Drink! The gradually growing harem of bishoujos? Check/Drink! (Boy, if you were doing the latter, you might get alcohol poisoning. Very quickly. -.-)

    Great post and a great parallel you’ve caught! 😀

    • Yi says:

      @Raph: “It’s not like this is exclusive to anime, though. So many romantic comedies in so many mediums have the same fault/s.”

      I actually think that romantic comedy movies have a lot of variation. The Notebook was a story about missed chances that spanned a lifetime. He’s Just Not That Into You features a girl with surprisingly low success rate. Pretty Woman pairs a prostitute with a president. Romantic comedy films are much more expressive than harem anime in characters and in premise.

      Though I have to point out harem is really more of a subgenre while romantic comedy is not.

      Anyways, the only other genre as stagnant as harem I can think of right now is slasher films. Granted, both have had shows that breaks the boundaries and exemplify what made the genre popular in the first place. Still, overall, it’s pretty rigid.

      In the case of harem anime especially… Has it never been not about high school girls?

      The drinking game sounds like a lot of fun though (if it doesn’t kill you first).

      • Raph says:

        Ahh, sorry, I was unclear! I didn’t mean that all pieces that fall into the genre are cliche, and I actually love romantic comedies.

        What I was trying to say was that in every medium, you find romantic comedy series which seem extremely similar to one another. For example, there are several Asian dramas which follow similar plotlines and utilise extremely similar tropes. One commonly used is ‘quirky girl meets seemingly arrogant/brooding boy, boy hates girl/girl hates boy/both hate one another simultaneously, girl and boy eventually fall in love’. In turn, this particular plot progression can be seen in many shoujo series and Hollywood chick flicks. Letters to Juliet, which I saw recently, is an example. That being said, I won’t hate a film or series because it sticks to a formula. They may be nothing new, but they can be extremely comforting and enjoyable nonetheless (and, as you know, I did enjoy Letters to Juliet :P). I must admit, though, that harem anime tends to take formula too far and it can be really frustrating.

        Gah, sorry for the incredibly long comment and the text-wall! Thanks for responding to me and I hope I made sense here. xD

        • Yi says:

          @Raph: Oh sorry, I misunderstood what you wrote before.

          I definitely agree! And Letters to Juliet is a prime example of what you wrote. It sticks to the formula but is still nevertheless decent.
          That’s kind of what I felt about Mayoi Neko (before the recent episodes). It’s nothing revolutionary but it’s not bad.

  2. 2DT says:

    To take the comparison a little further, I’ve noticed that there was a time (perhaps it’s still ongoing) where traditional slasher films were being supplanted by newer “torture porn” pieces, like the Saw series. In these it’s not just a scary serial killer offing teenagers, but horrible mind games, people being forced to violate themselves, and some truly skin-crawling, prolonged deaths resulting therefrom.

    … So when did the whole “yandere” thing start again? Shuffle!, I suppose, but it reached its awful apotheosis with Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. 🙂

    • Yi says:

      @2DT: That’s a really good extension of the argument and one I didn’t even consider. My post narrowed it down to the slasher subgenre and largely disregarded psychological thrillers mostly because I thought the parallels ended there.
      However, I was wrong. Yandere does indeed represent a growing shift in variability in harem anime just as Saw represents a new direction for gore fans.
      Thanks for the comment. ^ ^

  3. Guy says:

    1. That’s a very interesting thought.

    2. I think more and more things are formulaic like this. Dating sims/love harem series are definitely like this, where you try to see who will live and who will die.
    Of course, you usually know it from the first five minutes of the film/series, so there’s not much true thought that goes into this (well, unless it’s a dating sim where you have a choice).

    3. This brings me to romantic comedies, as they are called (romantic movies with 1-2 giggle worthy moments), where you know they will end up together, and also the way they’ll take to get there. It’s inevitable and still you watch.

    So there needs to be something extra, for me, because most things are a given. So see my latest “review” of Baka to Test, which has that extra thing, the one all such comedies desire, “Charm”.

    4. How do I get a “Like” button on my WP? 😀 kthnxbai 😉 😛

    • Yi says:

      @Guy: 1. Thanks. ^ ^ Though the core argument has been said by many.

      2. Very true. I think cliche are cliche for a reason. Over time, productions will catch up with innovations to create a largely formulaic field… Until the next innovation or shift in direction.

      3. I read your post and I agree. To stand out among a sea of predictability really requires an anime to pack something else. Baka to Test looks interesting.


  4. kluxorious says:

    I have yet to see Mayoi Neko so yeah I have no idea what you were talking about since I don’t watch Elm Street either. Too scary for me =\

    • Yi says:

      @kluxorious: I didn’t think the movie was that terrifying, partly because I knew what to expect. Anyways, surely you have seen other slasher films though. Scream, Friday the 13th, Halloween… etc.

      I’d say you’re not missing too much by not seeing Mayoi Neko. It’s a mediocre series.

  5. Shinra says:

    Mayoi Neko Overrun… I only watch it because of the famous Seiyuus… Like seiyuus frm Toradora, To Aru Majutsu no Index + Kagaku no Railgun…. & K-On!…

    I can say that the graphics ain’t tat good…. which is very clearly shown on the hotspring ep…

    … n yeah, horrible in at least one way. (10000% agreed)

    * oh, n another reason i watch it is because i love cats…. especially Azunyan. (?) XD

    • Yi says:

      @Shinra: I’m actually not that familiar with the Seiyuu, although I did recognize some. What a coincidence that I am also watching Index right now, and Index = Chise!
      And after a quick google search, I found out that Ritsu from K-On! is Otome, so that was nice too.

      About the graphics, there was a change in directors after a few episodes and I guess that had an effect on the graphic consistency.

      I also love cats and Azunyan~ ^ ^

  6. I think I mentioned this elsewhere, but yeah, the reason I avoided Mayoi Neko was because it was effectively a known quantity. That is, it’s not too hard to figure out what will happen that you can fill up a bingo card with harem anime tropes and play while you watch. Come to think of it, that might be a very fun way to watch a series such as this.

    • Yi says:

      @zzeroparticle: Yea, I kind of knew what Mayoi Neko was going to be like. I’m only watching it to support one of my favorite artists, Peko.
      Anyways, if you, Raph, and I ever get together, we should play a drinking/ bingo game with the harem anime of the season. ^ ^

  7. Swordwind says:

    You neglected to mention, save for the tags, that this mighty series is illustrated by the revered saint Peko of Hanabiraland (I am frequently complimented on my creativity in naming locations, by the way).

    The so-called Harem Anime is bound to be pigeon-holed: if it isn’t, then they aren’t described as a Harem Anime. They are described as what makes it different.

    Even so, to be honest, I don’t see how such a genre could be so stereotypical. The situation they depict is already sufficiently delusional that the writers should feel completely unrestrained. The viewer has already suspended disbelief, a bit more ridiculousness probably won’t change anything.

    • Yi says:

      @Swordwind: My originally published post did say a bit about Peko. The little disclaimer at the bottom read:

      *Categorically, Mayoi Neko cannot be further from horror films (although it is horrible in at least one way). Also, while I do not love Mayoi Neko, I didn’t hate it either. And I do love Peko because of his involvement with Hanabira.

      I took that out later though as it wasn’t really too relevant to the post. But you are absolutely right about Peko. I like his work in Hanabira so much that I would actually sit through Mayoi Neko.

      “The situation they depict is already sufficiently delusional that the writers should feel completely unrestrained. The viewer has already suspended disbelief, a bit more ridiculousness probably won’t change anything.”
      Yea… I’d like to at least see something that doesn’t involve students.

      Btw. I like the title you gave Peko. ^ ^

      • Swordwind says:

        You need to practice listing barely-relevant information so you may link to your own posts, as it’s evidently a conventional practice.

        My reasoning behind the inundation of student-based Harem Anime:
        1. It’s an anime. Nearly everyone is in their teens, even if it doesn’t make sense for them to be. This is especially true of major characters.
        2. It gives a convenient excuse for scores of characters with vastly different talents and interests interacting, promoting diversity and (hopefully) increased interest.
        3. School kids and their over-active libidos….
        4. School kids have a greater deal of choice in their own time management than the older, working population. Thus, inane plots seem at least physically possible, even if they are highly improbable.
        5. Older people presumably have something better to do.
        6. Seriously, it’s probably mostly #1.

        • Yi says:

          @Swordwind: Haha I already kind of do. I link to my own posts so much that most trackbacks are probably from within this site.
          Anything to get people to read old stuff right?

          Great reasonings. I think 4 is probably another very convenient reason to base harems in schools.

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  9. glothelegend says:

    The best horror films are the ones with the least amount of blood. I thought The Shining was scary as fuck, but then again, I watched that when I was little (alone on a snowy was awesome).

    If it has blood in it, I usually am not scared.

    That being said, just because a show is cliche as hell, doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t be good.

    • Yi says:

      @glothelegend: I agree! I think the scariest ones I’ve seen are the Japanese horrors that focus on yurei (such as the Ring or the Grudge). There are some really good Thai / Chinese horrors too that is completely absent of blood.
      The Shining scared me a lot too when I was a kid. So did It.

      “That being said, just because a show is cliche as hell, doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t be good.”
      Familiarity can be a good thing. ^ ^

  10. Nopy says:

    I think it’s because Mayoi Neko Overrun is your standard harem anime that I like it so much. Recently it seems like anime/manga writers are trying too hard to come up with something new, so seeing something I’m familiar with after a few years of watching other genres was a bit refreshing.
    I also thought it managed to control the amount of fanservice very well, something that newer harem anime have a hard time doing.

    • Yi says:

      @Nopy: That’s a great point. There is definitely something comforting and relaxing to just breeze through resonant themes.

      About the fan service, that’s one thing I really appreciated and thought the producers were amazing at. They kept it down so that it’s not totally distracting to the story (or scare me off), yet at the same time, had enough to indicate what kind of a show this is. Great balance indeed.

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  12. Ningyo says:

    I’d like to scoff at the slasher formula as well, but I’m still not exactly courageous or psychologically compromised enough to laugh when someone gets their guts spread all over the room >.<

    It's a sad thing, when the successful elements of a genre grow stale. In this case, it seems gore just doesn't irk people today as it did in the past. Then innovation can only maintain interest for so long before trope becomes cliche.
    And then everyone's review of Nightmare on Elm Street sounds like Ebert's. Or Ebert's sounds like everyone's. Well.

    I'm guessing this has been the vicious cycle that's been in place since the last 60 or so years, accelerated in recent times by today's rapid exchange of information. Entire genres of music fade out, too – I guess I shouldn't be too pessimistic about it. People will constantly find innovations almost as quickly as we grow disinterested in them; in terms of the immediate pleasures of pop culture, we can probably expect our attentions to be kept until the end of our civilization. We already have psychological horror.

    • Yi says:

      @Ningyo: I guess what I found really interesting is that even though the original elements that make a genre great has faded out, people can still find enjoyment in the genre’s predictability. They’ve essentially become parodies of themselves.

  13. Reltair says:

    I think of Mayoi Neko as a filler series. I know there’s some overall plot/storyline, but it’s just so random that it feels like I’m watching a filler episode. Oh well, we can’t be serious all the time.

    • Guy says:

      Most zany anime is like that, can’t take more than 2 episodes at once :-/

    • Yi says:

      @Reltair: Yea… Every episode feels like a fillers, because they are. But they are good for some mindless killing of time.

      @Guy: Agreed. When I watch Mayoi Neko, I actually split screen it, do other stuff at the same time, and just kind of listen and flance over to keep up.
      In fact, I’m watching episode 4 right now as I’m typing this comment. It’s the only way I can get through more than 2 episodes in one sitting. It does make doing menial tasks (like sending emails and such) even more fun though.

  14. Fabrice says:

    MEh i dont know what to think about this series so far =/
    its alright, but there isnt really a plot, well probably to save the patisserie, but i would like to see more character development, i think the director forgot that in ep 2 fumino confessed to Takumi =.=
    oh im still watching just to see whats it goin to end up.

    • Yi says:

      @Fabrice: I’d like to see more character development too. I understand the childhood friend factor and such, but I’m really missing the motivations behind Chise, Otome, Nozomi, and the miko. I’d like to know why they’re so interested in the main character and why they have the personalities they have.
      “i think the director forgot that in ep 2 fumino confessed to Takumi =.=”
      Yea… That actually took me by surprise. Kind of seems too early, but I guess they kind of just ignore that part so the story continues.

  15. 2DT says:

    Whee-hoo, how changed your website is. I like it! 🙂

  16. shijima says:

    Hehe, I’m too scared to watch many slasher movies,
    though I will read the “plot” (if there is one of note) online. =)
    Btw, I like the little ink splotches on the blog.
    Hope finals went well for you!

    • Yi says:

      @shijima: I do that too! I read wiki about the back story and progression of various killers, like Freddy and such.

      Finals went pretty well (or so I hope…). I’m actually done about a few days ago so I’m just chilling and not thinking too much about academics and such. ^ ^

      Anyways, I’m glad you like the ink splotches. I thought it was a nice touch too.

  17. Shin says:

    I don’t think so Yi. In horror, I piss my pants watching them. This, I jizz in them.

  18. lovelyduckie says:

    In the past there have been a few harem series that captured me, but in all honesty I’m mostly tired of the harem formula. These days I generally avoid them unless I think it’s something that might be unique.

    • Yi says:

      @lovelyduckie: Same here. It’s been a while since I watched harem, and it’s still using that formula.
      It’s not bad though. I still enjoy Mayoi Neko, albeit for different reasons than the actual “humor”.

  19. softz says:

    I’m definitely not into horror type of movie or manga. I tried the High School of the Dead some time back and eventually stopped as it doesn’t arouse my interest at all. And talking about Nightmare on Elm Street, gosh I hate that. I hate Jason too! I prefer looking at nice and beautiful things (movies, sceneries). 🙂

  20. It’s weird, I thought Mayoi Neko felt a bit different which is why I started watching it, but I suppose you’re right. It’s very typical. It’s becoming to formulaic… Perhaps even K-ON is original compared to this since it’s not that formulaic, hm? XD

    • Yi says:

      @lightningsabre: The first few episodes of Mayoi Neko felt very unoriginal, but the latest one with the mecha stuff actually surprised me… Though not in a good way. I’d rather it be formulaic and fun than just outright bad.
      Anyways, K-On! is a slice-of-life so I’m not sure what to think of it being original.

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  22. Fragata says:

    I saw the anime and liked it a lot. If you complain about fanservice, good, is an anime ecchi category, complain if I had not fanservice xD

    • Yi says:

      Eloquently put. I guess these days, I just prefer my ecchi anime to have a little more substance: plot, characters. themes, or anything that warrants a little more than just breasts and buttocks. So I complain. ^ ^

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