Character Log: Yoshizaki, Mari | NEET in Manga

A new installment in the NEET in Manga series! This time we’ll take a look at Boku wa Mari no Naka character Mari Yoshizaki.

A NEET could be defined as a young person between the ages of 15-29 who is Not in Education, Employment or Training. The age range can go as high as the mid-thirties in some studies. Social anxiety, lack of ambition, depression, and exhaustion are all conditions which could factor into one’s decision to choose the ‘NEET lifestyle’. Sometimes these individuals hold a part-time employment status for income (with the intention to save up before quitting), but often times they are supported by relatives or immediate family members.

Family members support the individual in question out of shame and/or guilt perceived as a failure on their own part. Due to negative connotations and stigma surrounding mental health in Japan, many families would rather “enable” the situation than seek help – which could translate to judgment from outside society. Women are more likely to become NEETS than men, as men are more likely to become hikikomori, or shut-ins.

In recent years, the Japanese government has made strides toward combating this epidemic. Regional Youth Support Stations, New Start’s Rental Sisters and Brothers, as well as Agricultural Initiatives targeting NEETs seem to be trying to change the tide. The inclusion of many individuals suffering this disorder in manga and anime is something I would like to catalog here at In Asian Spaces. If you can think of any characters that may fit these profiles, please leave their names or the series in the comment section below.

Be sure to check out our previous character profile log on Tokyo Ghoul’s Saiko Yonebayashi.

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Name: Yoshizaki, Mari [吉崎 麻理]

Age: 16

Manga: Boku wa Mari no Naka, Inside Mari, I’m in Mari [ぼくは麻理のなか]

First Appearance: Chapter 1

Published: March 2012 – September 2016

Length: 80 Chapters, 9 Volumes

Employment Status: Education, Employment or Training

Description: An “angel-like” beauty with long dark brown hair, wide eyes and a slim figure. She is very popular in high school and has reputedly turned down every male who has asked her out.

Semi-Complete Plot Spoilers Ahead.

Details of Note: Some of you may be confused as to why I’ve listed Mari as NEET rather than hikikomori. Mari chooses to escape her life by believing she has switched bodies with an actual shut-in, Isao Komori.

She stalks the college dropout and tries to emulate his behaviors. However, in reality, she misses school, is given prescription pills by her mother, and frequently goes out on ‘missions’ with friend and somewhat lover Yori. The two girls seem to have an intimate relationship implied in flashbacks to be initiated by Mari one day in the nurse’s office at school. Other indicators of Mari’s sexuality may reside in her hobby of buying female erotica during her nightly walks away from home (evidenced in Isao’s true memories).

Since she is a minor, she is supported by her family monetarily. The character also chooses not to attend school (although mainly it is due to incapacitation) and still socializes a bit. We can contrast this to Isao, who has absolutely no contact with other human beings throughout his day except late at night when he goes for snack runs at the local convenience store.

When offered video games by her younger brother, Mari declines and would rather avoid family members. Despite this, her brother remains a solid support system as her parents seem to ignore and trivialize her illness. They want to make it “go away” with pills so that it does not inconvenience their daily lives or ruin her ‘perfect’ image at school. There is also the whole “Fumiko” thing and some sort of memory-induced dissociation….

Mangaka Oshimi Shuuzo often writes about mental illness, these being heavy themes in prior works such as Aku no Hana and the ongoing Happiness. There are also strong themes of societal deviance and isolation in the central core characters, which we will cover in later posts…

 

Character Log: Yonebayashi, Saiko | NEET in Anime

A new installment in the NEET in Anime series, I’d like to create a log to keep track of characters in various series. This time we’ll take a look at Tokyo Ghoul:re character Saiko Yonebayashi.

A NEET could be defined as a young person between the ages of 15-29 who is Not in Education, Employment or Training. The age range can go high as the mid-thirties in some studies. Social anxiety, lack of ambition, depression, and exhaustion are all conditions which could factor into one’s decision to choose the ‘NEET lifestyle’. Sometimes these individuals hold a part-time employment status for income (with the intention to save up before quitting), but often times they are supported by relatives or immediate family members.

Family members support the individuals because it is often viewed as a failure on their own part. There is still a strong stigma associated with mental health care in Japan and as a result, it may be thought of as less embarrassing to hide away ‘the problem’. This is not the case for every situation, but many seem to encapsulate this cultural undertone.

Outliers are frequently associated to hikikomori, or those who shut themselves in. Women are more likely to become NEETs than men. Despite gender, however, they are often referred to as ‘jobless youth’ or the ‘non-labor force’.

Although they enjoy a degree of self-imposed isolation, this is not to the degree of hikikomori. Regional Youth Support Stations along with New Start’s Rental Sisters and Brothers are a few solutions the Japanese government has employed to combat the epidemic.

(Personal opinion: Although as a millennial with an eternal pile of student loan debt, I can to my own degree, understand the desire to withdraw from society.)

saiko yedited

Name: Yonebayashi Saiko [米林 才子]

Age: 19

Show: Tokyo Ghoul: re

First Appearance: Episode one

Manga: TG:re Chapter one

Employment Status: No, Education, Employment or Training

Affiliation: CCG Quinx Squad

Description: A chunky girl with blue hair set in long pigtails. She appears to be shorter than most of her peer group. Frequently in what looks like loungewear.

Details of Note: As of episode three, Yonebayashi seems to enjoy playing video games, oversleeping and eating a variety of snacks. She is self-conscious of her weight and seems to have formed a close relationship with Haise Sasaki. Although a bit anxious, Yonebayashi does not seem to have a problem leaving her room and interacting with strangers. This is evidenced by her willingness to dance while on an undercover mission during the Nutcracker auction arc.  As for the oversleeping and overeating, they may be signs of depression and lack of control. Overindulgence in hobbies could also signal this.

Then again, I am no psychologist. I am a chunky girl who eats too many snacks, overindulges in her hobbies and recently racked up 70 hours in four days of starting a new save file in Stardew Valley. So the pot may indeed, be calling the kettle black here.

(will update as the anime series progresses)

 

Why Recovery of an MMO Junkie Starts a Positive Discussion|NEET in Anime

I may have fallen back into hell. No, I am certain I have. It’s been over a year since I’ve watched an episode of anime, and I have finally sunken back into the familiar world that carried me through a million and one troubled times. So, do you want to know the first anime I’ve watched – now that I am back into my addictive abyss? Read on, my fellow anime enthusiasts.

Recovery of an MMO Junkie [ ネト充のススメ], or Netojuu no Susume is an anime I’d heard whispers of back when I was actively not watching anime. For reference, I was working almost every day surrounded by Japanese culture, Japanese people and Japanese food – I felt like I was in an actual anime. I was living my best life, as a shoujo maiden running for the train with toast in my mouth each morning. Okay, the toast thing is an exaggeration but the shoujo maiden thing is totally legit.

I love the ‘video game within an anime’ or virtual reality genre. It started with the first season of Sword Art Online, transcended with Accel World, fell off a bit with No Game no Life and still rests somewhere between hoping for a season 3 of Log Horizon and occasional rewatches of Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash. Maybe it’s because I actually love real life virtual reality; maybe it’s because I desperately wish to play an MMO with friends on Discord. Either way, I was really surprised at how fast I got invested in this show.

Have I also mentioned that I enjoy NEET characters? For those of you who might not know, NEET stands for Not into Education, Employment, or Training. It’s usually people in their late teens to even later twenties in anime, but statistics from the Japanese government suggest that those in their forties could even be qualified as NEETs. However, these individuals are usually not included in surveys – causing the overall number to be lower when it really may be much higher. These people tend to live with parents or alone in their own apartments, being supported by said parents or relatives. Some are self-sufficient, but this is not always the case. NEETs and Hikikomori share the traits of not liking to leave the house, as it gives them anxiety. They would rather order things online and have them dropped off in front of their doorstep, and do not socialize much. Many indulge in their hobbies, but some not even that. I have a demur enjoyment of learning about all aspects of Japanese culture, even the taboo bits that are usually hidden away.

We’re still getting to know one another with this new blog, but I’m really into this type of stuff. The subject of hikikomori in Japan interests me. It’s more of an interest in those people’s lives and how society perceives them, which although different from NEETs, episode two seems to focus on this subject based on the teaser preview. Our main character Morioka is a self-stylized “chosen NEET” who has retired from office work and honestly, I cannot blame her. The rat race is exhausting. I went from high school to college to internships all the while holding jobs without a break; until now that is, and let me tell you – I’ve been overwhelmed by having so much free time for the first time in literally eight years. Time to watch Netflix, time to watch my backlog list of films, anime, read manga, read books, finish reading the ASOIAF series. I think what really resonated with me in the first few minutes of watching this show is that Morioka jumps up hearing her alarm in a panic before realizing that she doesn’t work anymore. I still get anxiety anytime I hear my alarm go off…those are real feelings in our society today that I’m sure anyone reading this can relate to – whether it be an alarm for school, college or a job you’re not too fond of.

Morioka – which I am using her last name because it’s simply how I’ve grown accustomed to referring to anime characters and real-life Japanese people – reinvents herself as a turquoise haired male named ‘Hayashi’ in an MMO called Fruits de Mer. She is a newbie to the game and is kinda trash until she finds help from an angel in pink named Lily. Lily is actually an office worker, or 会社員 named Sakurai Yuuta. The two quickly hit it off, and through a somewhat nonchalant passage of time it’s almost Christmas and the Guild Master (Morioka joins a guild at some point, again super nonchalant passage of time) tells Hayashi that there is no romance allowed in the guild. Hayashi acts kind of dense and the episode ends with Hayashi and Lily exchanging gifts in a tree watching the stars at night. Romantic, but it was even more romantic that earlier in the episode the two (unbeknownst to them) met in their real-world avatars.

Maybe the camera panned in a confusing manner intentionally, but it seemed like when Morioka and Sakurai were in a discount Lawson’s together, the Fruits de Mer points card she was buying caught his attention. (Lawson’s is a popular convenience store chain in Japan, known for delicious chicken.)

The pair tries to purchase the same piece of konbini chicken, which happens to be the last. Sakurai recedes his offer, and Morioka leaves embarrassed. Again the passage of time is vague, but it seemed like she hadn’t left the house for at least a few weeks. Morioka upgraded her PC setup, but as I mentioned earlier she could have simply ordered it online. Her fridge was completely empty, but we have no determinate of how much she eats daily to calculate the exact amount of time she’s been NEET.

I enjoyed the first episode much more than I expected to, and I hope Morioka – rather Hayashi- has a supportive group of friends in regards to her new lifestyle choices. I will keep watching, but I wanted to make a first impressions post as I will most likely write more about this show.  It’s only ten episodes and seems to have an unaired eleventh episode special according to my anime list. I’ve had a habit since before film school of binge watching shows, even staying up all night to finish a season (here’s looking at you, Riverdale) but I am going to try my best to pace myself. I’ll share more thoughts on this show after I finish the series, but for now I’ll leave our conversation of NEETs here.

If this post got you interested in the series, feel free to check out Netoju no susume. 1. and Recovery of an MMO Junkie: The Complete Series [Blu-ray] by using these links. It supports the series and also helps out the site at no additional cost to yourself!

Have you seen Recovery of an MMO Junkie? If you could play any game for an extended period of time, or enter any video game – what world would you choose? Leave your thoughts in a comment below, I’d love to hear from you! Be sure to follow us for more episode reviews (also analysis of NEET and hikikomori in anime) in the future!

(I will let you know which game I’d like to live in when I make my after-show post)

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