Saturday, May 26


The Deneotenisation of Megumi Morisato

I started posting this as a comment on Steven's blog, but it got longer and longer and in the end I decided it was better as a post in its own right, so here it is.  It's a discussion about the art styles in the various incarnations of Oh My Goddess! - particularly the OVA (which is a classic) and the recent TV series (which is a pile of poo).  See hideous thirty-year-old transvestite Megumi and ugly flat-faced Urd for background.
Joe wrote:

I've been an AMG fan for close to a decade now, and I have a nearly complete collection of the original Japanese-language manga all the way to the latest volume (34), so I'm able to review the way in which the drawing style has changed over the eighteen-some years of the manga's run (the way Belldandy was drawn at the beginning is RADICALLY different from the way she looks now, so much so that if it wasn't for the identifying marks on her face, you'd wonder if they were even the same person). To me, Belldandy, Urd, Keiichi and Megumi have always looked like what they were meant to be - young adults - in the manga as well as the anime.

Joe is right that the artwork changes substantially over the course of the manga - with such a long-running series, that's not surprising.  And the changes to Belldandy are the most significant (with Keiichi coming second - early Keiichi was kind of ugly, and that seems to be the version they picked up for the TV series).
Steven wrote:

Within that context, Megumi as drawn in the TV series looks scandalously mature, even old -- but only because the context itself is distorted. Megumi doesn't look 29; she looks 18. The reason she looks out of place is because so many other girls that age (or slightly younger) in anime are drawn to look 12.

18-year-olds tend to look more like kids than not (though of course there's a lot of variation).  And Megumi is not just an 18-year-old, she's a cute and bubbly 18-year-old.  The artwork in the anime is dull and flat; it shifts the colour of her eyes and hair from red-brown to grey-brown, elongates her face, makes her chin pointed rather than round.  All it really succeeds in doing is making her look tired and washed-out, which makes her look older than she should be.
Steven wrote:

The difference in art style between Skuld and everyone else is the source of one sight gag. Urd senses that Skuld is hiding something and needles her by imitating something that Skuld would say. The seiyuu makes her voice sound like Skuld's voice, but they also change Urd's face art so that her face has the same proportions as Skuld's. That gag wouldn't have worked if everyone had been drawn like Skuld is. And everyone is drawn that way in the manga and in the OVA. Irrespective of body proportions, they all have the faces of kids.

But the change there is the eyes, Skuld being wide-eyed and childlike and Urd being narrow-eyed and mischievous - even in the manga.  Manga Urd may have a similarly-shaped face to manga Skuld, but the expressions are different, and the proportions of the face are different.

I don't recall that gag from the manga, but what Fujishima did do was have them swap ages, so that Urd was a little kid and Skuld was grown up.  And their faces changed appropriately.  They're similar, because that's the artist's style; they aren't identical.  (And even if they were, the gag would work just fine - c.f. Jungle Guu.
Steven wrote:

As it turns out, Megumi is quite slender and isn't at all top-heavy; and that's realistic.

Actually, Megumi is supposed to be short and... well, not particularly slender. (As in, solidly built, not top-heavy.)  Megumi is supposed to be cute, in contrast to characters like Belldandy and Urd and Sayoko, who are tall and slim and beautiful.

Height's another age cue, but Chihiro is short like Megumi and Sora (and not particularly slender, either), and her face is drawn in the same style, but she still looks older.  Fujishima does this using facial proportions and expressions - and hairstyles.
Steven wrote:

Pixy is, I think, reacting first to the series history and objecting to the changes that were made. (Fanboy loyalty.)

That's partly true, but it's a small part.  Anime Megumi's face looks tired and old, because they've washed the colour out of it.  It just doesn't suit her personality.  And the artwork of the entire show is ugly and flat.
Steven wrote:

But he's also reacting to the current anime context where "adult" girls are being drawn more and more young looking, a kind of genre-wide pervasive lolicon.

Well, where you define 'current' as everything since Osamu Tezuka first picked up a pen.  And he stole the concept from Disney.

Oh My Goddess! is supposed to be cute and bright, and it is, in every version except the TV series.  The characters look older in the movie, but that's because the movie comes late in the ongoing story, and the movie doesn't make Megumi (or anyone else) look washed-out.  (In fact, the movie is gorgeous.)

It's not simply a question of neoteny, it's that the art style in the TV series is both ugly and inappropriate.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 01:00 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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1 Which is really horrible because of the beautiful backgrounds, and the effects used for "magic"...

It especially bugs me that Belldandy never has a nose in the TV series.

Posted by: Balentius at Saturday, May 26 2007 02:35 PM (lQRkC)

2 How does she smell?

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Saturday, May 26 2007 03:11 PM (PiXy!)


Wow, a batting practice fastball right over the center of the plate... and nobody's taking any swings at it???  All right, I'll do it.


There.  You happy now, Pixy?

Posted by: Wonderduck at Saturday, May 26 2007 06:16 PM (R/R0E)

4 Thanks. smile

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Saturday, May 26 2007 07:48 PM (PiXy!)

5 ...sad part is, I woke up this morning and thought that exact same thing.

I don't know WHY I didn't think of it as I was posting it...

But seriously, that bugs me.  A lot.

Posted by: Balentius at Sunday, May 27 2007 04:58 AM (lQRkC)

6 I'm not being sarcastic, I'm just asking...Have you actually watched the TV series or are you just basing your judgment on Steven's screencaps?

Personally I don't think Megumi looks all that bad in the TV series, although that particular frame is fairly unflattering.  In general the artwork of the TV series is not nearly as good as the manga, but the manga sets an unusually high standard of comparison.

Posted by: Jonathan Tappan at Monday, May 28 2007 08:17 AM (Zimal)

7 I tried watching it, but bounced off.  Didn't like anything about it, basically.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Monday, May 28 2007 10:31 AM (PiXy!)

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Posted by: Eugene at Wednesday, May 30 2007 09:50 PM (ysnsy)

9 Fuck off, Eugene.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Thursday, May 31 2007 04:50 AM (PiXy!)

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