Friday, November 11, 2016

Skanky versus Non-Skanky Art in Manga

Hot sex --> being in love
Being in love --> hot sex

For awhile now, I've been trying to figure out the difference between explicit skanky art in manga and explicit non-skanky art in manga.

It isn't the depiction of intimacies nor is it the explicitness. But once those two variables are discounted, what else could possibly explain the difference?

My tentative conclusion at this point is that skanky art delivers the first above equation; non-skanky art delivers the second.

Note: I am not arguing a philosophy of relationships. I do in fact support the second equation over the first (as does Booth from Bones--see the episode about the horse fetishers), but while what I feel personally might account for the adjective (skanky), it wouldn't account entirely for my initial reactions. That is, I am processing the art before I process the text. And there is a difference.

Although Ayano Yamane's art occasionally hits the borderline, it consistently stays on the "being in love/caring" side of the argument. A non-bedroom scene of Asami and Akihito (in garb that is unrelated to the series) illustrates why: Akihito's hands lay lightly on Asami's shoulder and back; Asami's hand rests unselfconsciously on Akihito's thigh. The affection is palpable, an affection that carries over into the bedroom scenes; the characters' body language is natural and easy rather than belabored.

In skanky art, everyone seems to be trying so hard. There is also a consistent lack of warmth, which explains why Ken doll art falls into the skanky category (rather difficult to warm up a Ken doll), and reminds me of an Agatha Christie quote from A Caribbean Mystery:
Modern novels. Very difficult--all about such unpleasant people, doing such very odd things and not, apparently, even enjoying them. "Sex" as a word had not been much mentioned in Miss Marple's young days, but there had been plenty of it--not talked about so much--but enjoyed far more than nowadays or so it seemed to her. Though usually labelled Sin, she wouldn't help feeling that that was preferable to what is seemed to be nowadays--a kind of Duty.
At the end of Black Sun, Leonard has
finally learned to tease Jamal back.
Speaking of enjoyment, Jamal and Leonard's seemingly unlikely compatibility in Black Sun is highlighted by their easy physical "banter."

Character development plays a role here. Despite his spiritual and idealistic nature, Leonard is more than capable of keeping up with Jamal physically. Leonard may have a sweet and ethereal disposition; his desire for touch, for affection, has been a fundamental aspect of his personality from childhood. Jamal's larger-than-life persona at first evokes hero-worship from Leonard. But Jamal doesn't want to be set on a pedestal (it's so boring). He provides Leonard with a down-to-earth reality that Leonard never anticipated and finds incredibly restful.

Ultimately, it is restfulness that seems to pervade most non-skanky art--including the hot & heavy scenes. Even when couples have problems (Katsuragi and Akihito from Blue Morning, Komano and Natsuki from Apple & Honey), the art says, "But, you know, they really like each other--and they find it easy to be together."

Body language transcends words.