There’s More to Mayo Chiki Than Just Low-Brow Humor

Mayo Chiki is never going to be considered a great anime, moderately entertaining and amusing – yes, but great – no; however, even for an anime like Mayo Chiki, being aware of classical Japanese literary works can come in handy. My own knowledge of classical Japanese literary works is very, very limited but I happened to have the required knowledge to understand the joke in the final scene of episode 10 and to find it hilarious.

For those that haven’t seen Mayo Chiki, the scene in question starts out with a character named Usami (the one letter difference her name and bunny – usagi – has been used for humorous purposes already) who is playing a video game given to her as a “present”. The game features a chibi version of herself trying to catch a carrot. This appears to be a simple joke until Usami catches the carrot and a pyramid of creepy characters latch onto her as she’s being drawn up. This tickles my memory; I’ve seen this before. My suspicions are confirmed when the “angelic” character cuts the string holding the carrot and Usami falls into a pool of blood straight out of Hell.

Like I said, I’ve seen this before. I wish I could say that I’ve taken to reading classic Japanese literature because it probably would be helpful in understanding Japanese culture but I haven’t.  Instead, I remember an anime that aired a couple of years ago by the name of Blue Literature (Aoi Bungaku). Animated by Madhouse and watched by almost no one, it featured several critically acclaimed, well-known works in 20th century Japanese literature adapted to anime form. It was a really great anime and one that I wished more people had watched. One of the tales used was a story written by Ryunosuke Akutagawa – The Spider’s Thread which was published in 1918.

The Spider’s Thread was written as a children’s story and the anime version features an evil thief  who finally gets what he deserves. Right before his death, he happened to spare the life of a spider and for that one good deed he is given a chance to leave Hell and enter Heaven. This chance comes in the form of a spider’s thread that is hung down allowing the thief  to climb out of the pits of Hell. Of course, there are many other people in Hell that would like to leave Hell and these people try to climb out as well. The thief, fearing the thread would break and not caring about the others, tries to physically stop these people from climbing up too. This compassionless behavior seals the fate of the thief  and he falls  back down to Hell after the spider cuts the thread to Heaven and walks away.

By the way, the thief was fabulously voiced by Mamoru Miyano who’s now well-known for voicing Okabe Rintarou, the mad scientist from Steins;Gate.

Even though I happened to get the reference this time, I was reminded that anime does, in fact, come from a foreign culture and even relatively well-versed individuals in a foreign culture are lacking in so many of the areas that native viewers just know.

So, that was the joke to that scene in Mayo Chiki. I know a joke is not funny if it needs explained but next time it’ll be funny (especially if you go back and watch Blue Literature or read the original work).

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6 thoughts on “There’s More to Mayo Chiki Than Just Low-Brow Humor”

  1. For those who want to see some Okinawan karate. A good demo.

    Those with sufficient martial arts level should be able to break at least some of the components used in the stance and body shifts behind the strike. Those with no experience, should at least understand the paper demo.

  2. As some food for thought: it’d be interesting to compare how classical Japanese literature figures into modern Japanese media, and how classical American literature figures into modern American media. Do you think the Japanese uses ties from its history and culture more than Americans? Is it a difference between Japan and America, or between the East and the West?

  3. http://www.jastusa.com/aselia-the-eternal-goes-golden-master

    Eien no Aselia
    Aselia Forever

    The only downside to this is that there is no way to skip the battles. Plus side is that the battles are good for at least 2 tries before it gets boring.

    This is one of those visual novels with a well crafted world, no R rated material, science fiction plus fantasy elements, and just a plain thoroughly crafted, epic in scale and volume, story.

    Should be out soon for sales. One of the things I’ve found very nice is that these visual novel game engines are backwards compatible. Meaning, stuff that was made during the WIN98 and Windows 95 era, still runs perfectly fine, without any noticeable bugs even today. I can even load programs that take 1 GIG of ram in memory, and run the visual novel window at the same time. If they can make it portable for some kind of handheld computer, the convenience factor would make the product much more marketable. Japan’s PSP has loads of these visual novels ported over to them from PS1-3

  4. After rereading Muv Luv, I just realized something. The mad scientist there, Yuuko, used that analogy with the spider thread… haha. I didn’t even realize it until I had read this, then reread Muv Luv recently.

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