I’ve been taking advantage of the fact that my wife is living in another state to redecorate the apartment. When she comes into town next week, I’ll have to unredecorate at least one item in the bedroom.

Most of the stuff I have up is fine at least for the time being. I finally got around to hanging my framed college degree. I pinned up the license plates that we’d talked about putting up. The more controversial thing that I did was dust off my anime wallscrolls and put them on the wall. For those of you that don’t know, a wallscroll is like a poster except made of a light canvas material (or something to that effect) that rolls up and unfurls. They’re nicer than posters, but they’re still giant anime images.

There’s one in particular that is so certain to be problematic that I’m going to take it down before she arrives. Hanging on the opposite wall is a scroll from Key: The Metal Idol. Though I’ll write more on it at some point, Key is largely a Pinocchio story of a robot girl’s quest to become human. Sounds childish and silly, I’m sure, but like the best fairy tales it uses fantasy to illustrate aspects of the human condition and like the best fairy tales, there is a certain darkness to it. Since I’m going to write about it later, I won’t go into any more detail except to say that it is the only anime ever to touch me so profoundly as to reduce me to tears.

So what’s the problem with the scroll? Key is naked.

The picture is not-at-all sensual in nature to me. Key takes the form of an either pre-pubescent or early-pubescent girl. She is too young (and perhaps too mechanical) to have a love interest in the show and the sex appeal is saved for another character in the show.

I’m honestly a little bit frustrated with the makers of the scroll. Though the symbolism of the nudity is important, a couple well placed cogs would have made a world of difference. That’s what they did for the DVD cover (though in all fairness, that could have been done on this side of the Pacific). Or they could have used a mist to cover the upper region as they did the lower region (though it’s clear that she’s naked, the vagina is not visible). Instead, they stuck to their artistic guns and made things difficult for those of us that bought it.

The nudity on the scroll, as I see it, is not the nudity of sex but rather the nakedness of being born. She’s bursting out of the robot shell that has protected her into a figurative human birth with all of the vulnerability that confers. The look on her face is not one of sexuality or timidity/innocence (often a focal point of sexuality in anime), but rather one of abject fear. As strange as it sounds, it’s her eyes rather than her body that capture my attention.

I say all this and yet I know the problem that having a nude cartoon girl on the wall represents. However comfortable I am with it in a non-sexual manner, it’s not something that I would be comfortable with if company was over. I certainly wouldn’t expect Clancy to be. In truth, despite the powerful symbolism of the scroll, if there were another Key scroll out there I would have bought that instead. To date I’ve only ever run across one scroll at all with any nudity… and wouldn’t you know it it’s the only scroll available for my favorite anime series of all time.

Addendum: I decided that it would be in everyone’s best interest if I brought up the scroll and shared it with her prior to mentioning it here. As it turned out, she is perfectly cool with the scroll. In fact, she likes it more than any of the others. Most of the scrolls merely show all or some of the characters of the show and have the title, like a publicity poster. This poster, though, doesn’t even mention the anime that it belongs to and unlike the others has narrative imagery. Even before I explained what it was supposed to represent, she had an alternative narrative that she could relate to. She saw it as a girl breaking out of her shell. Though she’s never seen Key (I plan to show it to her at some point — it may be the only anime that I do), at an earlier point in her life she broke out of her shell and went from being an extremely passive girl to a quite opinionated woman. So it stays on the wall!

Category: Theater

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2 Responses to The Scroll On The Wall

  1. logtar says:

    See what a little communication can do 🙂

    I have like 10 posts that I can do from this one… I thank you sir, because your post spark so much in my brain is not even fair!

  2. Barry says:

    Will – you’ve got mail.

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