The Ridiculous Sakura Trick “Controversy”

Sakura Trick 1-e1I’ve seen in quite a few places (MAL, Facebook, Twitter) that there seems to be a heated argument regarding the anime adaptation of Sakura Trick. Detractors tend to argue that Sakura Trick is an anime intended to please a predominantly male crowd, and that lesbians are overly idealized in the context of the show. Heck, the heat is even worse outside of 4chan, where I expected most of the flak would come from.

To get things started, Sakura Trick is an anime adaptation of a 4-koma manga of the same name. It follows the story of two girls, Haruka and Yuu, who have been very close friends since middle school. After getting their seats separated after being a seat apart since they’ve known each other, Yuu finding new friends, and the announcement of their school being shut down after they graduate, Haruka becomes afraid of being eventually estranged from her friend. To reassure Haruka that she’s special, Yuu suggests that she and Haruka do something that they would never do with other girls, and it ends up with them sharing a passionate kiss. Their relationship from then on gets a lot more closer.

Sakura Trick 1-8Over there, you get the bare bones of Sakura Trick’s premise, minus all the attempts at comedy, fanservice, animation or drama. I fail to see anything in the premise even remotely offensive to any group of people. In fact, I can put a male/male or male/female couple in the very same premise and it wouldn’t cause any real problems whatsoever. It’s a pretty by-the-books way of presenting a romance story, albeit being very fast paced.

The obvious rebuttal to this argument is that while the premise may be inoffensive, the way it is presented has problems – with comedic treatment, fanservice and idealization of lesbianism for a male audience being the most popular sentiments. These are horrible assumptions to make. For example, a comedic treatment of romance cannot be exclusively applied to homosexual couples. It has been done a countless times before, from your American sitcom, to Korean dramas, to Filipino telenovelas. A non-serious backdrop behind a show about love does not mean that the individual characters’ feelings aren’t being taken seriously.

In Sakura Trick’s case, you’d have to be delusional to not notice that Haruka is sexually and romantically attracted to Yuu. Even if she doesn’t openly admit it, you can see from the way Haruka acts that she holds Yuu very dear to her and doesn’t want to remain just friends. Hell, even the lyrics of the opening and ending themes support this. Here are lines from the opening song (in Haruka’s perspective):

…My heart is thumping just from being beside you

This excitement I feel, it just won’t stop

Even if we’re friends, I think of you as something more

If this keeps up, I’ll go crazy…

[…]

…Whenever it is, or wherever we may be,

I want you to accept everything about me…

And from the ending, which is a duet between Haruka and Yuu:

H: We have spent so much time together

Shared our secrets, and made promises for the two of us

Y: We been through happy times and shared our sorrows

All so we can be happier together than when we are apart

[…]

H&Y: Meeting you in this wide world was a miracle

I would be nothing if I’m not with you

I can’t live in this world when I’m alone

So kiss and love me right now

How can anyone deny the romance between them when it’s this blatantly obvious?

Now, let’s go to the fanservice. I have mentioned in my episode 1 review that I wasn’t particularly fond of all the boob shots and other questionable camera angles in the anime. I still stand by that opinion. However, this is just my personal dislike of fanservice in general and not just for Sakura Trick. I’ve seen various reactions to this anime from may different people, even the ones I’ve pulled in myself to watch it. A good portion of those people are female – straight, lesbian, ladies in a relationship and single girls. Not once have I heard any negative feedback. So saying that the fanservice is an insult to females might just be rubbish after all, and that’s coming from a guy who lives in an overly conservative country.

Sakura Trick 1-5As for idealizing lesbianism for a male audience, that’s just complete BS. Fiction tends to idealize everything to a certain extent, and that’s why it’s considered separate from reality. But as far as I’m concerned, physical contact between two romantically involved people is a part of a healthy relationship. In this day and age where even strangers are wont to engage in sexual activities, I’d say that French kissing between two friends slowly becoming lovers is nothing surprising.

I also find it highly offensive that people would assume that any male viewing lesbian-themed works would automatically want to join in when seeing two girls making out. It’s not always true. Some guys really enjoy yuri for what it is, and not for some self-insert fantasies, just as girls enjoy BL without putting themselves in the scene. It’s already 2014. Learn to broaden your horizons.

Sakura Trick 1-6People on the internet are making mountains out of molehills as per usual, but this is a whole new level of skewed perspectives. As harsh as I may have been when reviewing the first episode of Sakura Trick, I genuinely found it to be very nice and cute, and it’s currently my favorite this season. It might not have the depth of other anime, but it’s certainly honest with itself, and that’s just about the highest praise I can give any anime series. I can understand if you don’t like this anime, you are entitled to your opinions after all. Be it for the lack of depth, subpar animation, the fanservice or the yuri, I don’t care. Just don’t make generalizations about people who do watch and enjoy it. It really makes you look like you’re a hipster stuck in the 1950’s.

Minor edit: This post has pushed back the 1st episode reviews of various series. No guarantees on me being able to make it before second episodes come out.

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15 thoughts on “The Ridiculous Sakura Trick “Controversy”

  1. I have little to add other than, where were all those naysayers when shows like Maria Holic, Kampfer, Nyaruko-san and any other anime or live-action show for that matter that doesn’t take lesbians seriously were on the air? I can’t say for sure about MH because I have not dared see it but you get my question.

    Sometimes these people make no sense what it is they’re whine about and it makes them come off looking self-centered and standing up for absolutely nothing more than to satiate their egos or whine.

    Other than that, it’s the usual internet nonsense of people ganging up on something that’s making headlines.

    • I agree that some degree of prejudice is being pushed upon Sakura Trick for daring to do something not usually seen on TV, especially since it’s about a somewhat still sensitive topic. As for shows like Kampfer or Nyarlko, the fact that at their core, they’re not yuri anime, makes people ignore things that can offend certain groups of people simply because they think that lesbianism is just a phase that girls eventually grow up from, and therefore, not harmless in any way possible.

      • At the end of the day, it’s another “Hey, this looks strange and unusual/uncommon. Let’s bash it” cliche some internet groups are fond of doing. They’re still a century behind the times but whatever. The more things change and all that.

  2. After the first episode aired, I searched the internet for some reviews to see what other people thought about it.
    I was actually surprised by the amount of people supporting and loving it. I think I’ve not even read one review that wasn’t ok with the presented relationship and in general with the way this anime handles its genre.
    Well, some time has passed and there are surely more people who’ve watched it now, so maybe I should just take some time and go through the internet again. I’m actually really interested to read what people don’t like about Sakura Trick, even though it will probably annoy me at times.

    Well, I found some posts of people complaining how much they disapprove of this show on MAL, but I find it rather interesting.

    Anyway, very nice post.

    • Ouch, I didn’t see your comment in my notifications. I apologize.

      Though the initial hype has somewhat thinned out, ST seems to enjoy an overall positive response from the non-blogging parts of the internet. As for blogs that advocate “depth and discussion”, well not so much.

      As for the MAL comments, there’s one guys who attempts to derail any and all threads about yuri. He even went as far as to waste his time in this relatively unkown blog, so yeah, it would be best if you just ignore some of the more hateful comments there.

  3. Pingback: Why I’m Not Against Fanservice and Sexual Objectification in the Media (And Why the Focus Should Be Different) | Phoenix Factory

  4. I would like to let you know that I very much agree with what you have said, and that you – alongside other bloggers who have commented on this subject – have put such an argument in an eloquent, sensitive, and fair-minded manner. I would also like to let you know that I have, in passing, linked to this blog post in positing my views in a broader discussion about fanservice here (https://phoenixfactory.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/why-im-not-against-fanservice-and-sexual-objectification-in-the-media-and-why-the-focus-should-be-different/#more-278), and I hope you would not mind this.

    Thank you very much.

  5. Sukara Trick is a brilliant anime it may not have the most intense story line but it’s simplistic and very cute. I am a guy and I never once thought about anything to do with me being with Yuu and Haruka, I found the way they where in love despite what others thought was very cute. This anime is purely about the love of the girls that feature in it I mean they only really ever kiss after all there’s not hardcore hentai. As for the fanservice I found it was only really ever used in a Ironic manner more as a joke than anything else, if anything it’s more a joke at the male viewers expensive and I found it funny. Some episodes make it clear there is after all an episode called ” swimsuit fanservice… And wardrobe malfunction aswell” this is clearly an Ironic joke. As for the dodgy angles you go out there and find me an anime that doesn’t have the odd boob shot every once in a while it’s just anime that’s how it is.

    So in conclusion I agree with what your saying and I personally as a male only found this anime to be very cute and heartwarming.

    Thankyou.

    • In addition my straight female friend watched this anime before I did and she really liked it, When I told her I was watching it she said she loves that anime where as most just say ” So you’ve been watching Hentai?”

      Thanks Again and sorry for the spelling mistakes.

  6. I just really enjoyed that it was a “couple” actually acting like a couple! Two people who care for each other are willing to show it. They don’t freak out over hand touching or any of that crap. It was nice to see some steamy romance for once. It would have been no different for me had it been a guy and a girl together.

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