Be careful what you wish for, because Amazing Stranger proves that having all your favorite waifu figurines come to life might not be a dream come true. This week, Micchy and Steve dive headfirst into some truly amazing trash.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.
Y'know Steve, we've put a lot of ourselves into these columns, sharing our terrible jokes, barely-concealed fetishes, and overall questionable taste with enthusiasm, so it's about time we offered everyone an even deeper look into our twisted minds.
*sips wine* Yes, quite. Let us engage forthwith with sweet revelry and polite debate about the merits of plastic with boobs coming to life.
I for one am thoroughly disappointed that we're not revisiting Frame Arms Girl instead. The gall, says I.
You and Frame Arms Girls, I swear. Honestly, these images are probably a more accurate reflection of our core dynamic.
Although I'm certainly not one to talk, because I've been getting a kick out of Amazing Stranger.
Yeah, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't entertained every week, but I'm also conflicted over how this show calls me out every few minutes.
It's definitely chock full of the specific kind of self-deprecating otaku humor that you find in the most self-indulgent anime. But there are attempts at humor that try to excuse the content of a show, and then there's humor that comes from a place of embracing the extent of a show's ridiculousness. Amazing Stranger leans towards the latter pretty often, and I think that's part of why I find it so palatable.
Basically! Amazing Stranger takes the premise of "slimy nerd dates his 1/6 scale plastic wife" and turns it into something reasonably wholesome, at least as far as an anime about having a literal object for a girlfriend can be.
Well, the bar for short anime this season is just rolling around on the ground, so it's not hard for Amazing Stranger to clear it. The series just has this manic energy and commitment to its own weirdness that makes it shine despite being revolving around this dude:
It helps that the show's aware that Haruto's kind of a loser, but it's rarely mean-spirited about that. Like, if you're into otaku subculture, you get how embarrassing it would be for your 2D wife to find out about your doujin stash, stuff like that. Haruto's not universally relatable, but those of us who are deep in the otaku hole get it.
Oh for sure. It's not like I have an entire Ikea shelf devoted solely to overpriced anime figurines or anything. ^^;
But another thing that quickly endeared me to Amazing Stranger is the bait-and-switch of its premise. At the start, you have every reason to believe it's going to be this Toy Story tale about Nona believing she's a real space robot, and Haruto doing everything he can to prevent her from learning the truth.
And then it just pulls the rug out in its second episode and lets Nona have her existential crisis immediately.
She gets over it pretty quick, all things considered. It leaves her free to live as the wife of a weird nerd with too many anime crushes, which I swear gets more fun than it sounds.
It's so good! She more or less goes "eh, might as well make the most of things" and settles on her ambition of being Haruto's wife so she can just laze around and eat snacks. And who among us can claim we wouldn't do the same?
It does raise the question of how different anime crushes are from actual relationships, though. Having multiple 2D wives, drawing porn, and buying merch of a character hurts nobody, but the moment those characters become sentient people, that's when it gets kinda yikes. The show largely glosses over that detail, but I'm fascinated by the inherently screwed-up nature of Haruto and Nona's "marriage".
Yeah, it's mostly played for laughs, like when Nona discovers Haruto's doujin stash...
...but with a slightly different approach this whole thing could easily become psychological horror.
Then there's that time Haruto incapacitates the hero from an RPG simply by unequipping all of her armor. It's silly from his perspective, but imagine what it would look like from hers. You meet God, and it turns out God is a fickle being who grinds JRPGs on the regular and just wants to see you in a bikini.
Like holy crap, imagine having the agency over not just your body but every part of you as a person handed to some nerd with a Nintendo.
It's subtly horrifying in a way that relies entirely on treating the characters as independent agents. Like, that's the most messed-up part of this; the figure girls in Amazing Stranger get treated as individuals most of the time, but the joke is that sometimes Haruto just takes control because they are ultimately fictional constructs. (Of course, all of this is a cartoon and none of these people are real, so I guess it really doesn't matter.)
Philosophically speaking, maybe you and I are just anime characters on some other plane of existence we can't comprehend. Maybe it's anime all the way down.
Truly the defining conversation of media discourse for our generation.
Navel-gazing aside, the show at its heart is a wacky sitcom about an otaku and his expanding collection of small sentient anime wives, except for the episode where it betrays us all by turning into a stealth isekai.
Ah yes, wherein Haruto asks the question that all horny gamers who peeked up 2B's skirt would ask:
It's hard to be mad at a show whose degeneracy is both this specific and this true to life.
For me, it's a reminder that being thirsty for cartoon characters is so benign in the broad scheme of things. As long as you're not being weird to real people, I say it's cool.
I'm sure they can talk it over and work something out. Monogamy doesn't have to be the answer here!
As long as Nona is happy, because as much as I hate to admit this about a grown-ass dude and his 1/6 scale talking robot doll, they are really cute together.
And let's be honest, Haruto needs this sometimes.
I mean, I'd be fine just watching them play Street Fighter together. Couple goals right there.
Speaking of broken hitboxes—I mean, fighting games:
She's a thirsty gremlin, bless her heart.
I also just realized she's recapitulating our earlier point there. An otaku who finds herself incarnated as one of the objects of her affection is also the quickest to grasp the full enormity of her situation.
Thankfully, she handles it pretty well.
I'm not sure I totally get it, but I sorta see where she's coming from. So, same? I think?
I have to agree that waking up to find myself a 10-inch tall figurine would still be nowhere near as frightening a prospect as this
. Nobody can know how much I've
spent at AmiAmi.
This is why you broadcast it all on Twitter! If everyone already knows every bad decision you've made, you'll never feel shame again! (Just don't show my family, they can never know how much of a degenerate I am.) Overall, Amazing Stranger is a weird little thing that largely indulges in self-deprecating otaku humor, but it's also pretty fun, so I'm mostly charmed by it.
It's also convinced me to start bringing glasses of wine to every anime discussion.
I just wanna add that Haruto's antagonistic otaku friend also somehow being the president of a figurine company who's behind this whole living doll conspiracy is the absurd icing on Amazing Stranger's surprisingly delicious cake.
It's like french fries in chocolate ice cream. You don't expect it to taste good, but it ends up scratching a terrible itch you didn't know you had.
It's yet another anime by nerds for nerds, but executed with more grace than I expected. It knows how to have fun with its characters without getting too unsavory, so it's just the right amount of inexcusable trash, if that makes sense.
I'll drink to that!
...oops, I'm out of wine pics.
Well then, let's eat a giant turkey leg to that.