I’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.
Over 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.
As 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.
People 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.