Operation British, Phase Five: Within Our Lifetimes, Key Will Have Destroyed The Nation of Japan

Some people have dismissed Colony Drop as an act. Just look at the title of this post, they might say. Nobody could believe such ridiculous hyperbole! But I’m not telling you that you need to believe it. I’m telling you that the shit is…

Some people have dismissed Colony Drop as an act. Just look at the title of this post, they might say. Nobody could believe such ridiculous hyperbole! But I’m not telling you that you need to believe it. I’m telling you that the shit is already upon us.

It is well documented that Japan’s birth rate is in freefall. It is also well documented that a growing niche of Japanese are electing to lock themselves up and spend their lives in fantasy. Grown men are singing songs of their doomed love for two-dimensional girls, and even the New York Times has run a chilling near-future science fiction piece on an alternate Japan in which the entire male population is in love with pillows.

This can only go one way: soon, Japan’s last man will die alone. Only his Love Plus virtual widow(s) and a bookshelf harem of PVC girls will remain. When this day comes to pass, I will blame the dashing Jun Maeda, and Key, the company he co-founded.

(Spoilers for Key’s works follow. You do already know they’re all about weeping over dead or dying girls, yes?)

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Key makes visual novels: if you’ve seen anime adaptations of Kanon, Clannad, or Air, you’re already familiar with their work. Not interactive enough to be videogames, but too visually oriented to strictly be called literature (the games often read like scripts for anime), VNs are their own form in otaku culture. Think of the PC adventure games of days gone by– but with less game and more girls– and you’re starting to get the idea. Key’s works were so successful that they were able to move up from the adult-game ghetto into the relative mainstream: as it turned out, otaku were actually even more interested in tragedy porn than the regular kind.

See, Key gave birth to a genre, one more charitably called a “crying game” (but not like that) by its fans. The player pays for some cheap emotional manipulation, and like a vending machine stocked high with cans of freshly spent tears, the game delivers.

The Key setup is always the same: an antisocial young man not unlike the player meets and forms relationships with a number of sad, mystically doomed girls, all of whom who are somehow deeply connected to, and hopelessly dependent upon, him in ways which become clearer as the story goes on. What is left unclear is how these girls, particularly the main heroines, managed to stay alive up until high school on their own: these moé dream girls seem about as mentally and emotionally developed as a four year old. You’d think they’d have been hit by a bus, stuck their finger into an outlet, or set themselves on fire by now. The girls often have speech impediments to match their infantile personalities, constantly descending into babyspeak with all-purpose nonsense syllables like “gao” and “uguu” in conversation. Between this and the ultra-twee character design– faces consist of the tiniest possible nose and mouth nestled between a pair of eyes that take up about two thirds of the face– these heroines neither look nor act like anything resembling a human being. They haven’t a shred of humanity to them: they are entities consisting only of moé.

And then, as it must, tragedy strikes. In Air, heroine Misuzu– the one that says “gao”– is doomed by various supernatural factors to a terminal condition I and many Internet commentators have dubbed “Space AIDS.” There’s nothing anybody can do about it but watch her die slowly and painfully, which works out because it’s what the viewer came to see anyway. In Key anime, the contortions of a weeping girl’s face and the flow of her tears are animated with the kind of loving detail that Gainax, in better days, used to lavish on the movement of breasts. When Misuzu finally keels over (in slow motion!) it may as well be the show’s despair-fetish money shot. The Key heroines are all in varying states of suffering, illness or death: indeed, this is the crucial moé point. It’s not enough that the girl is mentally unsound, physically weak, dependent, and perpetually shivering in pain: it turns out that for otaku, the most desirable woman is actually dying.

So what we can take away from Air, Kanon, Clannad and their ilk is that the ideal woman is one of those talking dolls with the pullstring in the back. Fine, fine. Fantasy is fantasy. The world doesn’t run on courage, either. What’s sad is that there are guys out there taking this to heart, praising the Key games and cartoons for the humanity of their characters, perhaps thinking of the bobble-headed dying infant Key girl as their romantic ideal. In the most terrible and nearly hopeless case, they’ve allowed her to define their sexuality.

Of course these guys give up on humanity! They probably never gave people a chance in the first place. What they want, what they’d expect from another human being, is inhuman. If the Key girl existed in real life, she’d be a terrifying little thing that any responsible adult would check into the nearest mental health institution immediately. That she is an ideal to some men is a tiny tragedy in itself, one sadder, as far as I’m concerned, than any number of thousand-year curses, Sixth Sense comatose ghosts, or terminally ill moms giving birth to terminally ill children.

We at Colony Drop can save Japanimation, dear reader, but we can’t save you. You’re going to have to do that yourself. We can only urge those of you in the audience who are so afflicted by love in 2D to give human beings another try. “Why should I,” you ask? Because human beings are wonderful. They don’t act out a fully predictable and perfectly codified set of actions designed to keep you in your lazy comfort zone. They don’t suffer for your personal gratification, and they don’t leave the empty feeling of a freshly soiled hugpillow or Megami magazine poster. More importantly, people can return love.

That said, most people are about as mean as we are, so you’re just going to have to man the fuck up, go outside and deal with it. This is for your own good. Yours especially, Japan. I’ve got money in your collective death pool, and I’d like you guys to prove me wrong.

46 Comments

  1. I’d just like to remind everyone that I didn’t write this post, so to those out there in angry internet land, please direct your anger towards Dave this time. Thank you.

  2. Angry? Perish the thought.
    You guys basically just told the truth here.
    Far too many people are entangled in the web of fetish-based visual novels. While I have no problem with VNs as a whole, in fact I myself have enjoyed at least one.
    But as soon as the subject matter delves into the sad and creepy it changes from entertainment to an escape from reality. Becoming emotionally attached to fictional characters is a trademark to it’s ability to grasp your mind, but it shouldn’t lead to one attempting to marry a pillow.

  3. That damn Sean, all he does is criticize and bash great works in the VN medium like those by Key. Why can’t we just enjoy VN games and anime guys?

    >> The world doesn’t run on courage, either.

    You’ve obviously forgotten about the infinite power source known as (2d) NAKAMA.

  4. I’ve always preferred the term “trauma porn” for this kind of thing, but other than that I don’t see anything anyone could reasonably disagree with in this post. The target is well chosen and your aim is true. Bravo.

    It might not all be bad though. I mean, I think we can all agree that the kind of person who enjoys these games/shows needs to be removed from the gene pool as efficiently as possible, but the question is how do we do it? My preferred method (it’s complicated but basically involves spinning blades) has all kinds of moral issues attached to it. For example, do moé fans count as human? Some people believe they do. If so, is it wrong to use them as an ingredient for cat food? On the other hand, with these games Key ensures that they voluntarily remove themselves from the gene pool through a kind of self-imposed mental and emotional castration. Not only is it clean and economical, it’s also self-selecting.

  5. The only Crying Game I recognize co-stars Forrest Whittaker and features original soundtrack by the Pet Shop Boys and original full frontal nudity by Jaye Davidson.

  6. Wow, this is the first article on CD that doesn’t seem like its been fueled by rage-ohol. Its a nice change of pace, and Dave does bring up some interesting points.

    Frankly, I just like staight up ero-games.

    “I’m sorry did I just drop the omlet rice on your penis? let me clean it up for you……with my mouth…….”

    literary gold!

  7. “I mean, I think we can all agree that the kind of person who enjoys these games/shows needs to be removed from the gene pool as efficiently as possible, but the question is how do we do it?”

    Oh, I think they’re doing quite a magnificent job of that themselves. That is to say, we don’t really have to worry about them reproducing.

  8. “Oh, I think they’re doing quite a magnificent job of that themselves.”

    Yes, because of Key! See how clever they are? QED.

    Although that photo of Maeda dampens my hopes in this theory. He doesn’t look like he has an ironic bone in his body, and he has the sickly, pallid complexion of a true believer.

  9. I suppose missing out on both these games and their respective anime adaptations has been a blessing in disguise, but the points made by this article definitely ring true. I’ve seen enough anime to recognize other works that would be classified as functional equivalents.

    The concept of escaping from reality isn’t such a bad thing, at certain points in time it can even be healthy to do so, as long as you remember to go back and face the complexities of life afterwards. Reality is life. Fiction is just entertainment. It’s that simple.

    Trying to intentionally blur the lines to actively stay in a bubble forever is what makes the whole rotten edifice collapse into nothingness. I hope that this article will at least serve as a wake-up call for borderline cases, if nothing else, but that might be wishful thinking.

  10. Hey guys! Moefag here!
    While I’m not (yet) in love with pillows, I am sure one of the reason people gave up on human beings has to do with the reaction you guys have at anything you don’t like – moe, for instance.
    Maybe after all we are actually more mature and civilized than you guys? I don’t know, just a though.

  11. I think I’d have enjoyed the shit out of this even if ‘someone else’ had written it! HILARIOUS. Sure, it’s sniping fish in a barrel, but anyone who has a shred of love for this fat-eyed sickeningly cute fish stays way the fuck away from your blog anyway, I hope. At last, you’ve shown me an enemy we can all share.

    Moero, moe!

  12. Hey Hey.. Now what if the opposite is in effect, lonely shut-in with a terminal disease suppposed to do (me).

  13. Hilarious!

    Even though you don’t really understand what it takes to become that delusional. While completely true, you’re lacking the lead up to the transformation to such a state.

    Then again, being the typical bitter, misanthropic individual has rather damaging consequences. Like killing people with guns. Or ranting incoherently about how religion is stupid. So I dunno which is worse.

  14. I lost my faith in mankind when I read this: “Clannad is the greatest romance anime ever” We’re doomed.

  15. Then again, being the typical bitter, misanthropic individual has rather damaging consequences. Like killing people with guns. Or ranting incoherently about how religion is stupid. So I dunno which is worse.

    If this twisted view is your contrast to the individuals described in the article, I wonder if you’ve any grasp on reality left.

  16. This is fascinating – I’ve not really been aware of this side of things, but it adds scope and expands upon themes touched on in the Welcome to the NHK mini-novel and manga. Which I’d thought was mostly hyper-exaggerated, but this makes me think maybe it was closer to the truth than it first seemed.

  17. Jeff: Then what’s your definition of “reality” then?

    I assure you that whatever your definition of reality is, I’m quite sure I’ll either meet it or be branded delusional.

    Most bitter, misanthropic don’t eventually become killers, but they do become some of the most unpleasant people to hold an Internet conversation with.

    Then again, making sweeping statements that force people to sometimes reply in that manner is how you roll.

  18. I just found it amusing that your immediate contrast to the Key viewers described in the article was the kind of “bitter misanthrope” who murders people, that’s all.

    I assure you that whatever your definition of reality is, I’m quite sure I’ll either meet it or be branded delusional.

    This is a pointless statement — by definition, you’ll either fit my standard or you won’t. If all you can say is, “I’m sure I’ll meet your standard — unless I don’t!” then you mightn’t have bothered at all.

  19. We at Colony Drop can save Japanimation, dear reader, but we can’t save you.

    “I have a great idea to save Japanimation! Get me the phone number for Japan!”

  20. My first reaction was that I’m with dotdash and his spinning blades. S*d the genepool – my gender is better off without these retards. The real world has more than enough men who think that the natural thing for a woman to do is conform to male fantasies and then die.

    Yet as my inner feminist politely, but smugly, waits for me to subside into silence under the weight of her devastating indictment of male perfidy, I can’t help observing that I believe in freedom of imagination. That means freedom to imagine and enjoy a world populated by vacuous, incoherent imbeciles (even one outside the confines of reality TV.)

    And remember, the drop in the number of Japanese guys able to engage in any kind of meaningful relationship will make it even easier for American and European males to achieve the otaku Holy Grail, a Japanese girlfriend. All they have to do is avoid Jun Maeda and all his works, or at least not admit to any closer acquaintance than reading this blog.

  21. will make it even easier for American and European males to achieve the otaku Holy Grail, a Japanese girlfriend.

    Although if those American and European otaku males also buy into the Maeda moénifesto, they’ll also have to reject real 3D women with personalities beyond a pick’n’mix of post-sexy trauma porn clichés for the brave new world that Azuma Hiroki has been banging on about for the last ten years.

    And while the otaku dream away in their self-made moé ghettoes and fat splodges of salarymen dream away in the hostess bars and kyabakura, modern Japanese womanhood will get on with its lives, and continue the slow but inexorable job of clawing back some semblance of equality both socially/culturally and in the workplace.

  22. Better make that “modern womanhood”, dotdash, in view of recent British press reports on equality in the workplace, sex trafficking and slavery.

    I know there are girls in Afghanistan getting acid thrown in their faces for trying to get an education who would probably think they’d gone to Heaven if the worst they had to contend with was Western-style sexual discrimination. Just because it’s less wrong, that doesn’t make it right.

  23. Right, I say Japanese because that’s the focus of the thread (and because that’s where I live), but yeah. You can’t just point over there or over there and say “look at them, they’re worse”. I believe the term for that particular type of rhetorical misdirection is “whataboutery”.

    The otaku scene has a lot of circumstances peculiar to itself and the cultural changes in Japan go way waaaaay beyond the position of women in society, so it’s simplistic to call moé a reaction against feminism, but I do think the popularity of these grotesquely infantile parodies of femininity is going hand in hand with an increase in the independence and assertiveness of women in Japan. The kind of men who are repulsed by this are in the end doing real women a favour by shutting themselves off.

  24. Myself, I see no great deal difference between from being trapped in a moe fantasy and spending insane amounts of money in hostess clubs.

    Both are in essence the same phenomenon: Japanese males raised on false values of male superiority and full of expectations of female submission are unable to face the reality of real feminity and turn to a fantasy of women who adore them and depend on them.

  25. Exactly, Dotdash, we’re discussing Japan here so Japanese males come in for flak – but many of the Japanese guys I know are decent human beings and good husbands, fathers, sons and brothers. I think the point Luis makes about males raised on false values applies just as strongly to many other cultures, which have taken a fantasy comfort zone and turned it into a blueprint for social interaction.

  26. The first response to a breakaway subculture should always be to question why the breakaway subculture is so much more appealing than the mainstream that its members abandon the latter entirely. It should be “Why do these men choose 2D, despite knowing that it cannot love them back?” It should be “Why are these 2D characters so much more appealing than 3D ones?”

    Of course, to answer that question, you’d have to propose the possibility that maybe, just maybe, these guys have a point–that there really might be a social problem that prevents these men from believing that they can find success or happiness in the 3D world. But we can’t ask that question; to do so is to question women, and to question women is to question feminism, and to question feminism is to be a misogynist, and to be a misogynist is to be a social reject.

    And so the questioner’s question is answered, and he is drawn towards the ranks of the very subculture he questioned.

    Anti-feminist backlash rules.

  27. The truth is, we otaku want to erradicate humanity. Not only we are avoiding relationships with 3D, we alsorape and kill girls in back alleys and such. Our greater plan is to prevent people to reproduce. So girl, be very careful the next time you meet an otaku.
    Moe is just our escapism while we commit our crimes.

  28. I think you should ask the question, Jeff – but you may not like the answer. People sometimes ‘prevent’ themselves finding success and happiness by the way they behave to others. “If only she was different, I’d be happy” is one of the world’s stupidest remarks.

  29. >Jeff

    Where does that quote come from? Of course it should be self-explanatory why it’s bollocks.

    >Otaku

    Ahh, I see what you did there.

  30. If 4chan really cared about doing anything to this website you guys would need to find somewhere else to go.

  31. Check it out, Sean, that looks like a threat (albeit a typically adorable 4chan style threat).

    You heard it here first, Colony Drop is the new Scientology.

    >Helen McCarthy:
    “If only she was different, I’d be happy” is one of the world’s stupidest remarks.

    Bingo!

  32. Dotdash and Helen: we found we’d been linked over on 4chan’s /a/. The post comes from there. Thought we’d share the laughs.

  33. >Dave

    4chan becomes more huggable by the minute! Not only do they do lolcat-esque creepy grammar, they also do self-absorbed cognitive dissonance masquerading as real intelligence like what real people do. Can we give them a gold star for effort?

    And thanks for spreading the love, Jeff.

  34. Dave/Dotdash – always nice to be in a hot threesome, but there are places I just don’t have time to go. Probably my loss…

  35. “Think of the PC adventure games of days gone by– but with less game and more girls– and you’re starting to get the idea.”

    As an adventure gamer I must bite my tongue as not to bitch about that… Oh! Speaking of games I have never seen that Love Plus thing. I want one for the LOLZ.

  36. Don’t know about other Key releases, but I clicked through Planetarian and yes, cried like a baby. As for romance, however… I’m not above the odd erogé-driven escapism session, but other than pity, I really didn’t feel anything for the heroine Hoshino. I doubt that would change even if there was any erotic content in the piece (again, no idea about the others, but Planetarian goes by without ever so much as showing a patch of pantsu).

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