Written in October 16, 2016
(MASSIVE SPOILERS BELOW)
I finished watching the first and only season of Shimoneta a few days ago. I then proceeded to rewatch the whole season again because I love it so much.
It's set in a dystopian future where lewd language, pornographic material, and pretty much anything related to sex is outlawed. This is enforced by a device that all citizens are forced to wear called Peace Makers, which is a bracelet-shaped device that records everything that the individual says, and it detects the individual's hand motions. If you try to draw porn, you'll get caught (Unless you use your mouth ;) ). This is all done in the name of "Moral purity".
The main character, named Tanukichi Okuma, applies and enters to the country's elite "public morals" school, in his quest to get closer to his crush, Anna Nishikinomiya. The student council, of which Anna is the president, gets some use out of Okuma because, coming from a poorly ranked ("morally") school, he knows more about lewdness than the average student.
Briefly after entering the school, Okuma encounters Blue Snow, the leader of SOX. SOX (Sex happens most Often on X-mas) is an ero-terrorist organization dedicated to spread lewdness and information about sex (If you haven't figured it out by now, this is a comedy xD). Okuma then finds out that Blue Snow's true identity is Kajou Ayame, a member of his school's student council, who then blackmails him into joining SOX. And so the madness begins.
Alright, that was enough setup. Let's get to the reasons why I love this anime so much, and why I'm writing all this:
I thought Shimoneta had that ridiculous premise just for the humor, but it's much more profound than that, I think. It's all just a metaphor for an insanely authoritarian dictatorship trying to control every aspect of people's lives, and how each person adapts to it. The premise isn't even something that is too far from reality, if you think about it. There are governments all over the world, including Japan's, who enforces censorship over sexual material. You've got the Muslim London Mayor banning Ads showing women in bikinis. He's also using £1.7m of the taxpayer's stolen money to police anything you say on the Internet, and drag you to jail if he doesn't particularly like what you have to say, in the name of "hate speech"; but I might be going off a tangent ;).
As I see it, the entire show is centered around Kajou and Okuma (it could have been about Anna as well, but the show decided to turn her into a yandere caricature played for low brow humor and plot convenience since episode 4. That was a big disappointment. I'll write more about that later). It depicts how differently two individuals can deal with similar severe childhood trauma, caused by government force. Both had great relationships with their dads. Both dads loved dirty jokes and shared them with their child, and they taught them about sex in an appropriate, healthy manner. At an early point of their childhood, the children get separated from their parents. Both of their dads get arrested for opposing the Public Morals program. Unfortunately, there's not as much backstory as I would like. I would've loved some more of Kajou's backstory.
Either way, both characters' childhoods get destroyed by government violence, and its effects. Okuma gets scorned by his tribe after they see his dad get arrested. They see him as the son of a dirty, "immoral" man. This is clearly the result of heavy government propaganda that was successful in brainwashing its tax cattle population into believing that dirty jokes are somehow evil. This is what ends up happening when the State gets control of early "education". People end up confusing law with virtue. Sexual guilt is a factor in this too. This idea, probably sustained by religious beliefs, that having sexual thoughts or a libido is something to be ashamed of. This ends up causing serious harm to Okuma, and to make the insufferable pain bearable, he puts up a false persona. He makes himself believe that dirty jokes are bad and he makes it his life's mission to pursue "moral pureness". That's how he gets his crush on Anna. But we see, as the show progresses, that this infatuation is as shallow as a puddle and that this mission to "moral pureness" is only motivated by his desire to be accepted. In reality, he just wants to see his dad again and to be accepted by his community as how he is (Relevant Okuma quote: [Episode 5 ending] "I can't exactly say I like dirty jokes... If you were to ask me why I'm a naughty terrorist, I could answer in a heartbeat, though. This is for me. For the part of me that I've repressed all these years. The chapter on my naughty terrorism has only begun!").
Whenever Okuma sees a sexy picture or hears of a dirty joke, he's reminded of the times when he was happy, and especially, he's reminded of the terrible injustices that he went through. To not see that cruelty dead on, he puts up a false persona to avoid seeing the mental asylum he was born into as what it really is, because it's just too painful to do so. We see, as the show develops, how Okuma liberates himself from his false self, (which, by the way, is only there to protect his true self from further abuse) gradually realizing that he doesn't really love Anna, but he actually loves Kajou instead ( maybe he doesn't, but he certainly admires her in a deep way). This is pretty much applicable to every single childhood trauma.
But Kajou was much stronger than that. She doesn't put up a false persona to cover up her wounds. She dares to see the injustices and the immorality of the government as what it really is, and dedicates her life to fight it. This is all driven, I believe, by a great amount of self-love and self-acceptance. She understands that there's nothing wrong with dirty jokes, so she gets that she, just like everyone else, deserves to be allowed to tell them, and that nobody has the legitimate right to silence her by threats of violence. Not even the State. More importantly, she gets the importance of sexual education, so she commits herself to spread as much knowledge about sex as she can to other students. Now, I've read in Reddit that people didn't like how she is always joking all the time, and that she doesn't take anything seriously. I could not tell you how wrong that is. She is THE most serious character in the whole show. People might have gotten that impression because she's always joking and she always seems cheerful and casual and playful when she's not undercover. However, that does not mean that she does not take her cause seriously. All her dirty puns only express how much she loves being "dirty", and her rebellion against the establishment.
This mirrors what is happening right now in the US. You see people like Milo Yiannopoulos being deliberately offensive. He takes every opportunity to trigger SJW's. Not only he thinks it's something people should do, but he sees it as something that is NECESSARY. You see people's careers get DESTROYED because they simply said something that went against a certain narrative (in this case, it's the regressive/leftist narrative). You see people's free speech getting trampled just because they said things that other people didn't like. The only thing you can do to push back is to exercise your free speech as much as you possibly can. You express that you will not be bullied into submission and silence, and you understand that if you don't, they win. This is exactly what Kajou is doing, every time she makes one of her puns. She's shouting to the world "I have a RIGHT to tell dirty jokes", just like Milo is shouting "I have a RIGHT to be offensive" ("In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act"). You could say that she dedicates her whole life to her cause. She never stops thinking about it. She never compromises her mission for anything else. In fact, now that I think about it, there may be some serious trauma in there, seeing how she sees herself as nothing but a tool to free the people from an authoritarian government. (Relevant quote [Episode 5]: "Let me tell you, though [To Okuma], I'm not as amazing as you might think I am. I'm no different from a fish who can't live out of water. There's nothing I can do but keep swimming. And you're [Okuma] like a cheetah that refuses to run. You spend your time trying to fly and swim instead. As a result, you can't catch a single thing.")
So, this Okuma-Kajou paradigm is applicable to every single government (and childhood trauma. Two sides of the same coin) and the two general reactions to it:
You could develop a false self that denies that you've been maltreated, or that you weren't abused. One that damns the people who dare to tell the truth. One that bases his entire world view on avoiding to see The Gun in the Room, betraying himself in the process. A self-hating coward. And this happens naturally and unintentionally, of course. Okuma doesn't really know that he's putting up a false self.
Or, you could be like Kajou. Someone who dares to see the world as it is, to admit the abuse that you've gone through, to admit that you were hurt, and to see the Gun in the Room. Someone who does not betray herself and is truly honest.
Another thing that I respect about the show is how it shows that government programs will always achieve the opposite of its (seemingly) intended goal, because of the initiation of force involved. We get told at the beginning of every episode: "Thanks to relentless legislation and the introduction of the PM surveillance system, Japan attained its status as the nation with the most pristine public morals in the world". The goal is to make Japan "pristine" and "pure", and this is done by banning every kind of lewd language and material. But what did this really accomplish? We see children desperately trying to know about sex, ALL the time. Merely banning lewd content did not make the desire for it go away. It only made children confused and unable to deal with their desires because they get absolutely no help from adults. Any information about sex is concealed. These regulations make their desires worse, and it creates a self-fulfilling prophecy:
Sexual desires are bad.
Therefore, we ban everything that has to do with sexuality.
This results in: Unmanaged sexual desires that lead to ACTUAL bad stuff, like rape. (This is also true when it comes to other government programs, like the so-called "War on Drugs").
The worst case of this that we see on the show is Anna, which makes perfect sense because she's the daughter of the person who is mainly responsible for the existence of the Public Morals program. We first see Anna as the quintessential example of pureness and pristine virtue, the kind that is preached by the State. We see her constantly spewing the same propaganda about lewdness that the State shoves down people's throats, and she is proud, dedicated and always willing to enforce these PM laws herself. I think it is safe to say that this is the product of her abusive mother brainwashing her. In Anna's mind, enforcing these laws is the most virtuous act that someone can do. When her obsessive infatuation for Okuma begins at the end of episode 3, we see how much of a nasty hypocrite she really is. From that point forward, Anna becomes a sexual predator - which is the very thing that she was supposed to fight against. We see her:
Mailing him her drool
Breaking into his house, and most abhorrent of all
RAPING him MULTIPLE TIMES.
Right after Anna's infatuation begins, we're told by Fuwa that the student council's crackdown on obscene material is getting out of hand. She says they will search through your bag without warning, that lockers are opened without the student's consent, and teachers frisk suspicious students. At the end of episode 4, Anna has a conversation with Fuwa where she explains why she increased the number of crackdowns. It goes like this:
Fuwa - "Would you care to explain why you have increased the number of crackdowns?"
Anna - "Strengthening enforcement of the rules helps my own love grow stronger. I'm still not used to professing it!"
Fuwa - "What? Love?"
Anna - "You don't understand? As long as people perform pure actions, they can be loved and accepted by others. Outstanding marks in academics and athletics, awards for learning, appropriate conduct, attitudes, morals, and above all, the courage to eschew the absolute evil that is obscenity!"
Fuwa - "In other words, you escalated the cleansing of our school so that someone will love you?"
Anna - "That's correct"
Fuwa - "You destroyed my precious flies for your own selfish desires. I cannot see how that resembles appropriate conduct"
Anna - "What do you mean? Any action repressing obscenities is appropriate by default. And as they say, true love prevails! In other words, all actions born from love are fair and just. And the more I preach this gospel, the more he'll love me!"
I do not believe Anna. I think she did that out of guilt. She's been told all her life that any obscene thought is "absolute evil". To counteract this feeling, she did whatever she had to do to feel pure again. The enforcement of obscene laws is a projection of the guilt of the enforcers. Now, maybe I'm wrong so let's assume that what's she's saying is true. This conversation exquisitely shows how narcissistic, psychopathic, deluded, abused and brainwashed Anna is. As Fuwa points out, Anna's dictatorial behaviour is only motivated by selfish needs. She didn't do it for the good of the students, or for any other reason that has to do with the student's wellbeing. No, she violated the student's property rights to feel better about herself. She couldn't care less about the students. Her mother does this for the exact same reasons. After all, Anna is her mother's puppet. Now, note what she lists as "pure actions". Most of what she names are amoral actions that are based on people's perception of her. They have nothing to do with virtue. Let's contemplate them one by one:
"Outstanding marks in academics and athletics": This could simply be memorizing whatever your superiors want you to memorize. We've seen what sort of crap they teach on Japan's public schools on the first episode, when Okuma is taking a test to apply to Tokioka Academy. One question was: "How are babies made?" Okuma then proceeded to write a memorized paragraph that had nothing to do with the correct answer. It was State propaganda that started with "When a man and a woman swear love to each other, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health..." What I'm trying to say is that what Anna is mentioning here has nothing to do with reality or with virtue. Only obedience.
"Awards for learning": Same thing. Be a good slave, appease your masters and you might get a worthless award in return.
"Appropriate conduct": She does not mean appropriate conduct defined by objective principles which are applied universally. She basically means behaving just like the State (and her mom) wants her to behave.
"The courage to eschew the absolute evil that is obscenity!": Like I said before. Pure State propaganda.
So, we've seen Anna committing many vicious and abhorrent actions throughout the show. You could make the case that this is because she is clueless about sexuality, the difference between love and sexual desire (Relevant quote: Kajou: "She [Anna] can't distinguish between romantic interest and the sexual lust coming with it"), and basic morality. Basically, a psychopathic, mentally retarded person with good intentions. OR, you could say that she knew that what she did was evil, but she didn't care. Either way, it does NOT look good for Anna... Now, am I saying that she's 100% responsible for his actions? Absolutely not. Her mother is at least partially accountable. Anna's childhood must have been pure torture.
Now, about Anna's behaviour towards Okuma, and how the people around them react to it... This is something that I can't let slide. It's very disturbing and gross. I can tell that this is mostly done for humor's sake, and it does work sometimes (Gouriki: "Hmm... Her upper body was vibrating rather unusually. Nothing else seemed out of place" <- THAT was hilarious) (This whole scene is hilarious too, in a really fucked up way)
...But it mostly made me feel uncomfortable. We see Anna threaten people with violence, stalking Okuma, and actually raping him. Oh, and she's quite threatening, considering her unexplained super-human strength and speed. And nobody seems to mind, even though Okuma is obviously terrified. Episode 6 was one of the worst cases of this. We see Saotome actively trying to get Okuma raped by Anna. Even after Anna raped Okuma, we see Kajou get offended AT HIM! When Okuma asks her for sympathy, she acts in the coldest way possible. This is one of the few times where Kajou was unlikable to me. And the whole situation gets even more confusing when Episode 7 starts. It starts with Kajou and Okuma talking casually and making jokes, like NOTHING ever happened. What the hellll, man?!! Did I miss an episode or what?
I've read an (article that focuses on this rape issue)[http://goboiano.com/original/3253-shimoneta%25E2%2580%2599s-rape-scene-shows-the-double-standards-of-modern-society]. I've read some comments in it that justify this by saying that the characters react at Anna's actions the way they do because the culture never trained them to deal with these situations. They have no idea what is proper or not when it comes to sex, so they think that it's all a joke when someone gets raped. But I disagree with this position. I think there is a double standard here. Kajou seems to know how bad sexual assault is, but ONLY when it comes to women. In episode 6, minute 4, she acts offended at something that Okuma said:
Kajou - "Why are your eyes saying: 'Sigh. She means shoving it up their asses, doesn't she?' I call sexual harassment!"
Okuma - "You're a physical manifestation of sexual harassment!"
Of course, she was making a joke, but in order to make the joke, she has to understand the seriousness of sexual assault.
There's plenty more evidence of this throughout the show if you wanna look for it.
When it comes to technical stuff, I cannot imagine it to be any better. The direction, music, animation and voice acting were perfectly executed to me. The show is very, very funny. The dirty jokes never get old.
I recommend this show to anyone. Despite its flaws, it's brilliant. It is entertaining, funny as hell, thought-provoking and it's only 12 (short) episodes long.
Other short thoughts:
All in all, the premise might seem like a cheap way to do comedy, but after watching the first few episodes I could tell that the show isn't really about dirty jokes, or the comedy around it. It's about the State censoring free speech, childhood trauma and sexuality.
I've seen people saying that Anna's character was the best. Are you freakin' kidding me?! She's not even a character! She became a caricature with no growth nor arc since episode 5! She is a rapist. She's delusional and a psychopath, too! Maybe there's something about this that I'm not getting, I don't know...
The last episode was completely unnecessary. They should have ended it on the previous one.
RIP Miyu Matsuki. Hearing about her death saddened me greatly. She was so freaking young...
Yes, of COURSE Kajou is my waifu :P.