Hello otaku readers of MANGA.TOKYO! I’m Makken and today I want to tell you all about a genre of anime that you may have not heard of!
Did you know that there is a genre known as kirara-kei? It means ‘Kirara Type’ and the name comes from the type of manga that the magazine Manga Time Kirara (published by Houbunsha) is publishing. The genre has become so widely known that the term can now also refer to manga and anime not from that particular magazine.
There are many overseas anime fans that are not familiar with the genre, so lets take a look at some of the features that make an anime ‘kirara-kei’!
I recently went to see the movie Kiniro Mozaic Pretty Days at the cinema. Including myself, the audience was 99% male. There were just one or two female viewers inside the theater.
Since the genre usually has cute characters, one would think that it would be popular amongst girls, but it seems that the majority of the fans are actually male. Furthermore, Manga Time Kirara is not simply a shojo manga magazine such as Margaret or a shonen magazine such as Shonen Jump. It’s a magazine featuring what otaku call moe contentfor ‘2D Otaku’. Love Live may have a lot of female fans, but I would say that the kirara-kei fanbase is almost entirely male.
However,the genre is trying its best to widen its fanbase with shows such as Gochumon Wa Usagi Desu Ka? airing on Sunday afternoons and with convenience stores selling collaborative goods that even young girls would want to buy.
There are very few male characters in the anime and manga that belong to the kirara-kei genre. There are some shows where the main protagonist is male, but they are not so popular with the kirara-kei fans.
There is a reason for that: The kirara-kei worlds are usually meant to represent the ideals of the otaku watching it. Many people don’t have a happy love life and seeing male characters getting along with the female characters could be a little stressful. That’s why one of the most appealing points of kirara-kei anime is that the plot can help the viewer to escape from the regular interactions between girls and boys. This kind of approach appeals to those who are not so popular with girls in the first place.
If a male character does appear then he is closer to the male character that appears in Gochumon wa Usagi Desu ka? In the title you have Chino’s father and grandfather who are related to her by blood. Not that the Japanese don’t have their share of incest anime, but kirara-kei is not that kind of anime and being a relative would rule out the possibility of a romantic relationship between them.
Even if the story takes place in a co-ed school, the male students will be nothing more than background characters and will not interact with the mains. It is as though they don’t exist. The males of kirara-kei have absolutely nothing to add to the stories at all.
Kirara-kei anime try hard to get rid of any stress in their narrative. Of course, there are no romantic relationships with the male characters, but there also aren’t any ‘serious developments’ such as fights between the female characters. The genre depicts daily life with all its banality. Not much is happening and that’s the main feature of kirara-kei. In order to escape from the stress of their real lives, the fans just want to be able to admire the cute girls.
Did I hear ‘sex’? No way. Kirara-kei is all about the cuteness and there are no sexual elements to this genre. An excess of sexuality would bring to mind the relationship between men and women that the genre is trying to avoid. There may be the odd panty-shot or two, but that is about as far as it goes. You can call it ‘stress-free fan-service.’
There are exceptions, of course. Gakkougurashi turns the above promise on its head with a serious story involving zombies, but shows like that really are of the minority when it comes to kirara-kei. If the works were all like that then the genre would lose its fans.
In Japan there is a big demand for the kirara-kei genre, but you are less likely to see them on foreign anime streaming sites. Why is that?
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The anime Doraemon has enjoyed a lot of popularity in Asia, but it not as well-known in the West. In fact, it was not even dubbed into English until recently.
Maybe part of the reason is because the sense of values between Asia, America, and Europe are slightly different. It’s possible that in your particular country, most people would find the idea of a story of people loafing around with not much happening pretty boring. On the other hand, perhaps it’s possible that the different senses of values clash. Many people prefer having battles and a strong story instead of sensing the value in finding happiness in just playing around with a cat.
Since kirara-kei profit’s model is based on Blu-ray and DVD sales, there is concern on how it will manage in the new age of anime streaming sites, especially when it comes to overseas fans. However, I’m sure there are some overseas fans that enjoy this genre, so please watch and ask for more kirara-kei anime.