OreTsuba: Finding Something Good Beneath the Bad

I recently re-watched Oretachi ni Tsubasa ha Nai with some friends. The first time I watched, I was impressed with it, but the second time, I could really appreciate just how amazing this anime is at times. So why have so few people seen it, even fewer people enjoyed it, and even fewer recommend it? Well, because it’s an anime that’s pretty bad at first glance. And second glance, and third glance. In fact, you could watch half the episodes and still think it’s absolute trash, and for good reason. This show is filled with fan service and not just your normal amounts of fan service, but levels that make you forget there is any semblance of plot.

Wait, what plot?

If there was plot, then maybe people would put up with the absurd amounts of fan service, but a show with no plot and pure service is bound to only attract a certain kind of audience. Indeed, its reputation is overall quite negative, and I honestly can’t deny it.

OreTsuba follows the lives of 3 different male protagonists and divides the screen time between them. While slowly showing their daily lives with multiple girls, you get all kinds of fan service from panty shots to half naked girls, and an extra side of obscene sexual jokes. It doesn’t help that the dialogue is quite random and other than even more random asides that make little sense, there is little hint of any logical plot. It goes so far as to even have sex. Magic forest sex, in fact. There are no dolphins here. But don’t worry; you’ll drop it before then. Truly this show takes fan service to a whole new level (granted, it wouldn’t be the first to do so) and thus you get a show which would never be worth your time, in addition to just having content that can leave you feeling anywhere from annoyed to disgusted, depending on your tolerance.

And yet despite the obscene levels of fan service and sexual tendencies, despite the initial lack of any logical plot, despite everything that would stop someone from continuing to watch, OreTsuba, at its core, is one of the best storyboarded anime in recent times and one of the most impressive VN to anime adaptations. I can’t say anything without spoiling it, but after that second watch, I could really see how much thought was put into making this anime, and it was incredibly well done. There are a surprising number of relevant things that you would normally never notice amidst the cesspool of content and to see it all slowly come together in a way that is truly extraordinarily done made the watch worth it, at least for me.

As much praise as I have for the show, I still wouldn’t recommend it so quickly. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to dislike OreTsuba as I already detailed.  Just because the plot was executed so well doesn’t mean the work as a whole is worth it for everyone, which is a real shame. It is unfortunate that the creators felt the need to add excessive fan service to “keep interest,” as without it, the plot still would have left viewers bored, confused, uninterested, etc. so I can’t say I completely blame them for it. Regardless, not only is the storyboarding the best thing about the show, but it is one of the best examples around.  It is very easy to judge this show at face value, and even if you manage to get through it, you may not be the type of person who values execution over plot. The actual plot of OreTsuba is nothing special; however, the storyboarding, the way the story unfolds and is revealed by the creators, is masterfully done. The fan service really hurts the final product and I wish it were all gone, but at the end of the day, OreTsuba is a prime example of using very creative methods to change an otherwise bland and tasteless story into a stellar work of art.

As Christians – as people – it is so easy to judge others at face value. There are so many subtle signs or raw mentalities that can make you think you want nothing to do with someone. Sometimes it may be personal qualms, but other times it may be a legitimate concern. Even so, to judge a person wholly based on such little information is, in the end, wrong. Admittedly, there are cases where such thinking may seem justified. From actual criminals to belligerent antagonists to simply people who just don’t get along with your personality, there is a wide range of possibilities. But regardless of your reasoning which may or may not hold truth, negatively judging others only serves to prevent you from really attempting to understand someone and the good traits that they may possess.

While I suppose one could argue some people actually have no good in them, I imagine they are only the extreme of the extreme. For the rest, there are always redeeming qualities. Maybe these qualities are not redeeming enough to justify a person’s wrongdoings, but perhaps they are enough to view him in another light. At no point am I arguing a person should be forgiven or excused because of such things, just as I do not think the fan service in OreTsuba is remotely reasonable. I think keeping things in perspective and recognizing moral differences in others is fine and to some extent, even necessary. However, I will still argue OreTsuba has one amazing attribute to it that is unfair to ignore, and similarly, judging others without considering their positive traits is also unfair. No matter what a person may behave like or say or whether their morals simply do not align with yours, a person can still have good qualities beneath all of it.

Furthermore, when I say “good,” I do not necessarily mean something related to morality or values. This could be common interests, goals, dreams, anything that causes you to think positively about a person. As a result, this can often be quite a subjective way of thinking; however, in the same way, not everyone will appreciate perfect storyboarding if the rest of the show is not up to their standards. Some people appreciate one thing while others do not. This blog is a perfect example: made by and for those with an interest in anime. An atheist with an interest in anime may be loved by one Christian yet reviled by another for the exact same reason. It is true that not every person can realistically get along with everyone else or that merely trying harder will suddenly turn good results. Instead, it might be better to try and recognize that while we may find a person too disagreeable, others may not. With this mindset, at least you can start to pull away from judging people solely on your own negative opinion.

Art by Hanamuke
Art by Hanamuke

As I previously stated, negative opinions may be justified and a conflict of morals or beliefs is not something to be ignored. Disagreeing with a person’s beliefs is expected, but that does not also mean to disconnect from them. There are so many other facets to people than we may initially see. We should put in the effort needed to connect with them on some level and find a personal reason to love them for who they are. This of course can take time, sometimes more so than one might expect. OreTsuba also takes some time before things start to make sense and a few more episodes to confirm major details and at that point you might as well finish the show. Regardless, the standard 3 episode rule doesn’t apply and if you want to see how good it is, you’ll need to watch 3/4 of it and deal with all the obscene fan service. It can be a real test of patience, but in the end, you may find something unexpectedly positive.

Preemptively judging others for bad traits is all too easy to do particularly when your reasoning is justified by differences in morals and practices. However, sometimes we forget that such people are more than just sinners to be saved; they are people just like anyone else. Beneath the exteriors of what may seem to be only bad is always far more complex than we would like to think which also includes good, appreciative qualities in some form. While such qualities do not redeem or forgive them, it does allow us, as fellow broken humans, to accept them.  One of the more common complaints atheists have toward Christians is about those who focus on the sins and evils of others. As true as it is that everyone is a sinner, we should really be focusing our efforts on loving others. And to do so is more than just loving despite the bad but finding the good beneath it and loving people for who they are.

3 thoughts on “OreTsuba: Finding Something Good Beneath the Bad

  1. Sounds to me like the impression many people give of Elfen Lied. I GREATLY enjoyed Elfen Lied when I watched it, I just had to look past the constant nudity (of which I suppose I have a slightly liberal opinion) and the gratuitous gore (which was honestly more of an issue for me). But once looking past those outside flaws, I found Elfen Lied to be a complex story with a lot of depth (kind of reminds me of watching an HBO series).

    I also really enjoyed the connection you made with “not judging a book by its cover”. I could go into great detail on how important that concept is in ministering (especially to the otaku crowd!), but seeing as this is simply a comment I’ll leave it at that.

    I loved your post! I’ll definitely be checking out that anime this summer!

  2. Sometimes in the Christian community, there is so much focus on informing people that they’re sinful that loving them is forgotten. Loving a person should come first anyway.

    Great post!

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