The Fall 2018 Anime Preview Guide DAKAICHI -I'm being harassed by the sexiest man of the year-
How would you rate episode 1 of
DAKAICHI -I'm being harassed by the sexiest man of the year- ?
What is this?
How was the first episode?
I'm a little split on Dakaichi, and the reason is simple: in spite of being a generally solid production with far above-average writing, it directly embraces the cavalier attitude towards consent and sexual assault that is pretty common in boy's love stories. For those who're inoculated to this stuff, I assume Junta's advances towards protagonist Takato are meant to come off as simply lusty, or even romantic. But his behavior in truth crossed a ton of lines, and essentially defined his character as a reflection of a voyeuristic fantasy, not a genuinely convincing gay man. I assume this will be less of an issue going forward, as we've already reached a point of mutual affection between our leads, but just be warned that Dakaichi at times exemplifies the predatory tropes common to the genre.
Fortunately, outside of the two scenes where Junta clearly assaults Takato (but the camera frames this as romantic), this was actually a really well-executed premiere. Dakaichi's premise is essentially “BL Zoolander,” and Takato and Junta each fit into the role of scornful elder and energetic upstart perfectly. Takato's petty grievances and perpetual snark are pretty endearing, and the way Junta's enthusiasm undercuts Takato's affectation makes for great comedy and chemistry. I could actually believe in the building rapport between these two, and was impressed by Takato's legitimately useful acting advice for Junta. And the show's final scene, where the two of them bicker naked after actually having sex, demonstrated a rivalry and affection that felt uncommonly convincing among anime romances. Unfortunate genre tropes aside, I could totally believe in the relationship between these two before this episode was done.
Dakaichi's aesthetics are pretty middling, but its male leads are certainly attractive enough, and things never drag. The one scene that truly impressed me in terms of execution was the sequence where, after being advised to simply act on instinct by Takato, Junta utterly demolished their next film scene. The difference between Junta's stiff performance before and genuine passion here was palpable, and totally sold the professional threat Junta represents to Takato.
All in all, if you can set aside the frustratingly predatory nature of several of this episode's scenes, you end up with a far above-average potential romance in the making. Dakaichi's visual execution is mediocre, but its leads have chemistry, and that is a very valuable thing. This show could definitely go very wrong very shortly, but if it can actually improve on this episode's issues, it could turn out to be a fine watch.
As a genre, BL definitely has some consent problems. That's kind of interesting when you look at romance genre trends as a whole, because other subgenres are largely phasing (or have phased) out that particular flavor. But there's an audience for everything, and if you like your BL with one guy much more aggressive than the other, DAKAICHI may be the show for you, or at least more appealing. The story's romance plotline does trade in some questionable tropes, chief among which is Azumaya's assertion that he “can't hold back/wait anymore,” but it's also moving within well-established circles in terms of both who the characters are and the plot progression, at least for this first episode.
In terms of our characters, there's Takato, the veteran actor and hot guy who has spent the last five years at the top of what is essentially a “sexiest man alive” list, framed as “man I most want to be hugged by.” When he's dethroned by relative newbie Azumaya, he gets really angry, determined to reclaim his spot. That Azumaya is currently playing the lead in a film they're both in just adds fuel to the fire, and even worse, Azumaya seems to have no clue that Takato doesn't like him and pulls an adoring puppy dog act around him. That, however, conceals the deeper feelings Azumaya has for Takato – apparently he's been in love with him since at least the previous year, when Takato coached him on his acting. Azumaya doesn't appear to care that Takato doesn't share his feelings, however, and presses him for a physical relationship, which Takato is at first very much opposed to. Their actual sexual encounter at the end of the episode is mostly consensual, but it still feels like Azumaya did an awful lot of pressuring.
Basic BL plot issues aside, this episode doesn't look especially good. It certainly is a bit more explicit than either Hitorijime My Hero or Super Lovers (more in line with Love Stage!!, really), but bodies aren't drawn particularly well – at one point it looks like Takato's bare legs are basically toothpicks and you could seriously cut yourself on those shoulder blades. The shading employed looks kind of beardy on most of the characters, and while the (out of character for Takato) dance scene at the end is okay, the rest of the animation feels a bit lacking.
For this BL fan, BL anime is in a “take what you can get” state, and this one may smooth out its issues plot-wise relatively early on. If you like the genre, this is probably worth another episode to see if that happens, but if you're not a fan of old school romance tropes, this has enough of them that it's a problem.
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