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