34 CommentsAnime Analysis, First Impressions / By Scamp /

You are all going to love Bungaku Shojo and I hate you for doing so

This is the first of 3 OVA episodes that are meant as a prequel to the Bungaku Shojo movie. The movie hasn’t been subbed yet but the first OVA has. Bungaku Shojo, translated to Literature Girl, is about a girl who eats books. Very simple premise really. The books taste depends on how the book is written. Hence, she’s extremely interested in literature and when she’s not devouring this books she’s reading them. However, a synopsis like that won’t really tell you whether you’ll like a show or not. You need to know the tone and style of the anime. Bungaku Shojo is another bloody show about a bunch of people being insufferably nice to each other, which means you’re all going to love it. The waves of praise haven’t started yet so I’m getting in my rant beforehand: Fuck you guys.

Little Miss Literature Girl here is yet another one of anime’s never ending bubbly female leads. She’s nice. She makes cute noises when she eats those books of hers. She’s a bit ditsy. She will be nice to every person she ever meets and the closest she’ll ever get to being annoyed will be when she goes ‘ah moh~!’ and puffs out her cheeks. When someone touches on a subject that may be sad, shadows go over her eyes and she paints on a lonely smile. You’ve seen this character before, probably as a shojo lead. They’re cute and admirable without ever actually being interesting characters to watch.

Bungaku Shojo is a world filled with sakura petals and over-exposed shots of people brushing back their hair as the wind blows through it while looking into the distance meaningfully. They’ll probably sprout a generic line about how nice something is that will probably be translated by the insufferably-nice-to-each-other fans as ‘bittersweet’. The main theme of the story is trust, which brings in plenty of opportunity for one person to make some sort of reference to being worried (probably by using that lonely smile of hers I mentioned earlier) only for the guy to say something banal but nice back to her. Hence people shall squee at how cute and lovely and nice this whole show is. Oh, and it references famous literature so therefore it must be good.

Nice, nice and more fucking nice. Toss in a dash of cuteness, being nice situations between characters who never do anything except sprout nice lines to each other and provide opportunities for other characters to spout nice lines back at them. I’m not even sure how many of the above things actually happened in the episode I watched. I just started describing what always happens in these types of shows. However I watched the first OVA episode of 3 and that’s plenty of time for them to cover all the bases. There’s certainly room there for the main character to cry a bit and for the bloke to hold her and be all nice to her. It will be cute and yet so sad.

I could be proved wrong here. Maybe anime fandom will prove me wrong. You all could look at this and go ‘wow, that was boring’. But I think I know anime fans by now and you’re going to lap this stuff up. I’d love for you guys to prove me wrong but those who have read the novels this is based on are already going gaga over it. Plus I read from that highly accurate source of information known as ‘some post I read in a forum’ that the episode was very loyal to the original. So yup, you’re all going to love this, because it has people being insufferably nice to each other. bleargh

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  1. Posted July 19, 2010 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    Bungaku Shojo is another bloody show about a bunch of people being insufferably nice to each other, which means you’re all going to love it.

    LOL. Enjoyed this rant. The only thing missing is megane. :D

    • Scamp
      Posted July 20, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      Considering how much books she does read, I’m surprised she doesn’t have megane

  2. luffyluffy
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    Well then, I guess I know what I’m watching!

  3. Posted July 19, 2010 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    I want to say that the movie is quite different, because it handles very weighty, depressing themes and doesn’t shy away from people doing messed up things to each other. But it’s also fundamentally very sweet, so. I don’t know if you’ll love it or hate it, too.

    • Posted July 19, 2010 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

      From what I remember of Lupus’ (that writer) entries on it, many of the stories aren’t nice. Supposedly the translated novel is coming out in a week, but sometimes source material can make adaptations even more detested xD

    • Scamp
      Posted July 20, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      Sweet! That’s the word I was looking for. It’s a combination of cute and nice. While I’m not a fan of cuteness or niceness, I’m not exactly raging against them either. But sweet is what I really dislike.

  4. Posted July 19, 2010 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    That’s a shame. This could have been the literary equivalent of Eat Man, where a chick eats books then manifests powers based on the books she eats. Eats The Metamorphosis and she goes Mothra on everyone. Eats The Shining and starts hacking people with her hatchet-hands. And so on.

  5. Posted July 20, 2010 at 2:22 am | Permalink

    Man, people being nice to each other. Impossible. Didn’t you like Yokohama Shopping District?

    • Scamp
      Posted July 20, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      I liked YKK half for a different look at an apocalyptic future, but mainly because of a single character, not characters interacting. There was actually very little of that in YKK. The best moments were Alpha spacing out while she watched this apocalyptic world of hers go by.

      (also, my MAL score for that is 6 so it’s not like I’m head over heels for it)

  6. Posted July 20, 2010 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    Lol, I don’t know about the ova, but the manga is brilliant. Give it a read Scamps, you will surprised, it isn’t that fluffy, and although it’s cute at times, it deals with heavy themes. Oh, and she might appear to be a very generic shoujo character, but she isn’t, I kid you not. The manga is also a mystery manga, and the mysteries are actually really good. Sorry if I sound like a fanboy, but then again, I guess I am a bit of a fanboy :P. So, give the manga a go :P

    • Scamp
      Posted July 20, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, but this OVA has turned me off the series altogether :(

      But don’t worry! Everyone else will love it so you can share the love with them. Just leave cranky old me sitting here, complaining about people being sweet and nice and cute

      • Leah-san
        Posted July 21, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

        But what if the movie is… good? Or the manga.
        I don’t know. You could always bitch about a thing, or you could give it another try, exspecially if the comments say things like that. I don’t know, I never heard anything about this before.
        But agree with you, I hate anime or manga that are very fluffy or sweet. Thats one of the thing that i hated while watching K-ON or the Kobato anime. (Weirdly, I liked the Kobato manga…) And thats also why I don’t like generic Shojo. It’s too happy, and I like it, if not everything is fun and games. Well, my favourite genres include science fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, action, anime that deal with taboos or has difficult themes, history, comedy and anime about life… and I really like stylish anime… I’m not really a fan of romantic and girly shojo anime. Of course, there’s a exception, I really like the manga by arina tanemura, because her mangas have always a twist, like Fullmoon wo Sagashite. The girl wants to be a singer… but sadly, she has lung cancer. And I don’t want to get started with Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne and all the rape scenes later on.

      • Posted July 22, 2010 at 5:36 am | Permalink

        NEVER! No one get’s left behind. We either live together, or die together, the choice is yours! RAWR!
        Lol, well do what you wish:P

        Oh, and could someone tell me how to change this display pic, it feels strange talking to the mysterious Nino with an even more mysterious silhouette.

  7. Posted July 20, 2010 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    your description makes it sound so lame, lol. actually despite the mention of literature im not terribly interested. cute bubbly girls smiling through depressing situations rubs me the wrong way and just isn’t my thing. *throws fruits basket out the window*

    …although i MIGHT give it a shot just for the literature. but if the stuff mentioned isn’t even incorporated cleverly or is just a pretentious mention then meh.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 20, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      lol, Tohru Honda was one of the charaters I was thinking of while writing this, along with Hanato Kobato. In fact, I think they’re all voiced by the same person *checks ANN*

      Huh, I was half right. She does voice Kobato but she was still a teenager when Fruits Basket was airing

  8. ojisan
    Posted July 20, 2010 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    umm… sounds like all the reasons I loved Aria? Or Hidamari Sketch?

    Though nice CAN be done wrong, it’s true…

    • Scamp
      Posted July 20, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      And that’s why I’m oh so wary of watching Aria. No humour, no plot, no action, just…nice? hyeargh, I have to watch it though, just so I can end the question of whether I will like it or not

      • Posted July 20, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

        I didn’t really like Aria – found it a real chore to get through since its just ‘nice’ incarnate.

  9. Philip
    Posted July 20, 2010 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    > a bunch of people being insuf­fer­ably nice to each other

    huh ?

    light novel is about investigation of murder or suicide of some character who favorite book is ozamu dazai ‘no longer human’

    • Scamp
      Posted July 20, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      I clearly watched something different to that =?

  10. Posted July 20, 2010 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    What makes “nice” shows work isn’t everyone everyone acting insufferably nice to each other. It’s the genuine relationships that build and the atmosphere this creates. While I haven’t seen Literature Girl, I get the feeling from your review it might just have failed on the latter.

    It sounds hit and miss, but you’ve still made me want to watch it. Of course, there is still the possibility I’ll prove you wrong and find it crap, I suppose.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 21, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

      Watching relationships build has to be done in a way that’s interesting. If it’s just a relationship where people are nice to each other than there’s nothing there worth watching.

  11. Posted July 20, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    >You’ve seen this char­ac­ter before, prob­ably as a shojo lead.

    But most shoujo leads aren’t CCSakura.

  12. Elysium
    Posted July 20, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    The OVA doesn’t sound good, but I think I’ll like the movie, judging by the comments…

  13. Posted July 20, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Watched this yesterday and wasn’t fussed. Didn’t have the massive negative reaction you did either though – twas just meh. I’ll still catch the movie when it comes out to see if its any better.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 21, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      I get angry easily :P

  14. Posted July 21, 2010 at 3:10 am | Permalink

    I’m confused as to how the OVAs might be terrible judging from the first installment (that’s right: I said terrible) but the movie might be okay? Aren’t the OVA leading up to the movie, and therefore related?

    Alls I know is that I didn’t like this at all. At – all. To be honest: I kind of wanted to hit her. I found myself focusing on the fact that it’s so improbable that all she eats is books; books are expensive! Plus you’d have to keep replacing them if you ever wanted to re-read/re-eat them.

    You know it’s really bad when I get caught up in the logistics of how unrealistic a fictional anime is.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 21, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

      To be fair, a book wiht 200 odd pages would cost about 10 euro. There’s plenty of eating in that. If anything, it’s cheaper than buying real food. I’m not sure if she has to eat real food though.

      But yeah, anime sux anyway

    • Posted July 21, 2010 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

      The first OVA does set up what happens in the movie, somewhat. But the movie is a very serious character drama/romance, and the OVA is just Touko being her cute self for fans of the light novels, so I wouldn’t judge the former based on the latter.

      And Japan’s print culture is a dream. Cheap books abound.

      • Scamp
        Posted July 22, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        I suppose it is the country of manga and light novels

  15. akani
    Posted July 22, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t seen Bungaku Shoujo yet, but judging by the comments I think you should at least give the movie a go before making a judgment on the whole series because it’s apparantly very different from the OVA.

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