The idea of having a faceless protagonist is nothing new in anime. In fact, it isn’t even new to entertainment, written literature or otherwise. As an example, many fairy tales from the late 1700’s and early 1800’s that survive to this day had protagonists, if you can call them that, that went nameless, or had common European names that essentially made them nameless. Many of those tales focused on some sort of coming of age story, and many were sexual in nature. Today, anime often expresses this same imagery (though rarely the same themes) through a similar process. To be blunt, and in case it wasn’t already clear, the “often” I referenced refers to hentai.
Unlike classic shows that are now over a decade old in which characters, both male and female, can be referenced without explanation, I dare you to find a sane man, women or ,god forbid, a child who could name a hentai character from a series more than a month after its completion. It would be an exercise in futility. People don’t watch shows like that for themes or plot, but instead they crave a certain type of action.
Cut to Mysterious Girlfriend X. Akira is, without question or debate, the prototypical faceless protagonist. Intriguingly, Mysterious Girlfriend X forgoes the usual “getting to know you/adolescent shyness phase” so common in anime, and other mediums, in favor of moving into the relationship phase. This is where the fine line from the post title comes into the picture. Present, are the two essential ingredients to having a hentai series. A faceless protagonist, and a girl to which the aforementioned protagonist has better access to than others.
As of now, MGX is more about youthful curiosity done in a semi respectable way, given the scenario, than it is about sex. Yet, the faceless protagonist remains (what was his name again?). Again, and as always, the question is why? Either the two episodes that have aired thus far have been a prelude to a perverted freak-fest, or there is some sort of satisfaction or lesson the viewer should gain by watching. This lesson in and of itself is nothing groundbreaking. Relationships are more about sex, waiting makes it better, hunger is the best spice, etc. We’ve heard these truisms a thousand times before. Now while those lessons are important, they are, ultimately, not what people want to read or watch in modern times.
Thus, we’ve seen that MGX has thus far been content in thinking that the viewer will be satisfied in picturing himself as that white knight on his high horse. However, as MGX’s drool begins to crust, can the show come up with new and imaginative ways to be unique, in that it will use a faceless protagonist without succumbing to its viewer’s desires. Or, will the story, or this adaptation’s writers, lose its edge, and take the easy way out. As of now, its tough to say. While I doubt this thing is going to become Ladies X Butlers, Kare Kano it is not.