I’m writing this mostly for the benefit of my younger sister. Every season we both select shows we’d like to watch, aiming to cover as many of them between us as possible, but every season we end up picking one of two shows that are the same, Uta Koi is one such show. Now, apparently, sister’s not enjoying Uta Koi, whereas I, on the other hand, am enjoying it the most out of all the shows I decided to watch, so I thought I’d write a short essay stating why she should enjoy it to the extent I do, because I’m one of those annoying people who like to force their opinions (in regards to anime) on to others, but hey, it’s my blog, if I can’t express myself here, then there’s something deeply wrong! And hey, if I manage to convince some of you guys not too buzzed about the show that it’s the bees knees also, that’s just swell!
One of the things I like the most about Uta Koi is that it’s narrator, Fujiwara no Teika (who compiled the 100 poems anthology), presents the show in a really jocular manner- I don’t know how dressing up as a tower or chilling on a sun lounger whilst introducing the episode can be described any differently- which is, actually, nothing short of imperative if it’s to draw in viewers. I mean, at its core this is a show about poetry, and that’s something that can really scare off a lot of viewers who have had unpleasant experiences with the stuff, in other words, every single person who has ever attended secondary school English lit classes, ever, but the joking about should really put these viewers at ease- it conveys the message that it’s not necessary to treat the poems with the same reverence English teachers ensure you treat whatever poem they thrust under your contemptuous nose, you can just sit back and appreciate the show for its stories of love rather than painstakingly deciphering the poems if you so wish, making it more likely viewers won’t change their minds about watching Uta Koi within the first few minutes of starting it! Throwing in a few cheeky jokes here and there throughout each episode should also help ensure the particularly poetry phobic stick around a little longer. Uta Koi could’ve easily have been a high-brow, snooty show- the 100 poems anthology is, after all, an important part of Japanese literature, but it welcomes and provides for viewers of all levels of intelligence, which really is quite brilliant.
Despite the fact the stories are delivered in a humorous, we’re-just-hoping-to-have-a-bit-of-fun-here tone, I believe the show is best when appreciated on a deeper level. In just the past couple of episodes alone Uta Koi has broached some pretty heavy topics such as class and gender divides and whether or not it is worth pursuing your dreams when it’d be a whole lot easier to just settle for what society expects of you. I was particularly impressed by how Uta Koi tackled gender inequality during episode 3. Episode 3 focuses on Yoshiko and her suitor Munesada. Yoshiko agrees to become Munesada’s wife on two conditions, one of which being that he must agree to let her work in the emperor’s palace. Munesada refuses to fulfil this condition on the ground that she is a woman, a women who would be placing herself in the hands of dastardly men and such. But Yoshiko is a stubborn women, she continues to insist upon working in the palace so that she may use everything that she has learnt as well as expand on her knowledge. This is all pretty amazing when you put it into context: even now in many Eastern societies women are encouraged into more housewife-y roles and to be subservient towards men- heck, I’ve even seen such a thing in my, supposedly more cosmopolitan, Western society: there’s this couple in my town, the man of which forces the woman to always walk three paces behind him and never look him in the eye, there’s also this girl in my school who genuinely believes rape is acceptable in marriage! Argh, makes me so mad… So for Yoshiko, a woman of the Heian period, a period where the belief that women were inferior, there simply to serve the needs of men was still common, to sacrifice love (or security at the very least) to follow her dream is revolutionary to say the least!! It wouldn’t be an overstatement to suggest that the actions of this show’s women are well ahead of their time, something women should find quite empowering, I believe!
But it’s not just its stories of strong women people should resonate with- stories of not being able to be with the one you love, leaving behind a legacy and being disadvantaged due to the class you were born into are also stories people should identify with. The episodic format of the show and the fact that characters are constantly being introduced and said goodbye to shouldn’t matter here- the ability to empathise isn’t something that takes a great deal of time, sister. In short, Uta Koi maturely (well, kind of!) deals with serious topics that are both pertinent at the time during which the show is set and today, allowing viewers to identify with the characters even if we only meet them briefly and they seem to come from an entirely different world to us, enabling emotional investment in the show.
And I shouldn’t need to go into too much detail over how beautiful the show looks. The thick outlines, bold splashes of colour and textured look really give Uta Koi an opulent feel worthy of its subject matter. My only issue with the art direction is the intentional derp faces some of the character pull- they seem kind of ill-fitting for the show, but then again, that’s merely just another way it attempts to appeal to the poetry phobic, by saying “Look how silly she looks, we’re totally fun over here!” So, eh…
I know that you sometimes enjoy bashing shows I love, not because you dislike them yourself, sister, but because my reaction is akin to you telling me I totally look fat in that dress, so I can’t really tell if you actually dislike a show or not sometimes, but this is a show you should really give more of a chance if your disinterest is genuine. And if you fellow viewers shared the same sentiments as my sister: “I don’t understand the poems, the storyline isn’t strong enough, I can’t attach to any of the characters!” then I hope this post may have also persuaded you to reconsider!