I like Parodies. I like them a lot. Ok, that’s an easy statement. I like most comedy genres so there’s nothing new here. But in watching Pretty Boy Detective Club, I have been thinking about just how tricky it can be to pull off a good parody. It’s a genre that comes with a whole slew of pitfalls and not all authors/creative teams are up for it. It’s also one of the few genres that needs a proper audience.

First, let’s get this out of the way. I keep calling parody a genre but I know it’s not really that. Parodies don’t have to adhere to narrative conventions or have any set traditional tropes or anything. I guess it’s more of a style of comedy. However, knowing myself, I will probably refer to it as a genre throughout this post. So please excuse the inaccuracy there. What am I saying, my readers are definitely forgiving of inaccuracy!

guess which one I am

I think the first incident that brought this subject to my mind, is reading one of my fellow reviewers describe a show as having become “the very example of what it’s trying to parody“. Now this specific view, or variations thereof, is supper common in critic circles. I’ve seen it dozens of times when it specifically comes to parody. And the issue here is that it’s very difficult to prove or disprove.

For instance, I don’t think Samurai Flamenco is just a base reproduction of what it’s trying to spoof. But I don’t have any evidence of it. To me, it consistently exaggerated and made self-aware jokes that made me think we were all in on it but I could be wrong. And I don’t know how to prove it either way. Which means that it’s going to be tough for a writer to fix it.

And that’s sort of the rub. The, for lack of a better word, the value of a parody is entirely dependent on what the audience takes away from it. And that can be difficult to predict when dealing with tongue-in-cheek comedy. I can say that I didn’t like a drama or that the dramatic events didn’t resonate with me but that I appreciated the characters or that the narrative was well constructed. Generally speaking, because of how a parody is held together if you don’t like the way it comes off, there’s little to nothing left to latch onto. Aside from production values, I guess.

The biggest problem with parodies is the perfect balance they need to strike. If they are too obvious, they become crass and lazy. You can always fill them with sight gags, that’s something that most audiences enjoy, myself included but it will tend to limit an author in what they are trying to say.

I don’t get it

And now we go back to Pretty Boy Detective Club. Very few episodes have aired so far but I did read the first novel a while ago so I have a pretty solid idea of where it’s going and what type of humour I can expect. I was always going to watch this series but I was a bit afraid that it would be difficult to translate to anime. More specifically, that it would alienate a lot of people.

You see, Pretty Boy Detective Club is a spoof on a few genres. The reverse harem being the most obvious but also school club anime and generally pretty boy series. However, being a parody, it also is those things in a literal sense. Pretty Boy Detective Club is a show in which every week a bunch of very pretty boys have adventures. And some viewers aren’t interested in that. It’s a show with a singular female lead who is surrounded by men and captures their attention. That’s also going to not be interesting for a portion of the audience.

So far, it’s all good. All shows in all genres cater to certain audiences while being unattractive to others. You can’t please everyone!

However, Ishin is a peculiar writer. The humour in Pretty Boy Detective Club is tongue in cheek and it’s biting. Humour in anime is rarely particularly mean or sarcastic. So Ishin can come across as a touch more aggressive in the writing style. Pretty Boy Detective Club is not simply lovingly ribbing a genre, it’s actually making fun of it. And a lot of it can be hilarious but it might also be a bit odd for the part of the audience that is there for the pretty boys and high school shenanigans.

o…k…

For instance, I had a reader tell me that they did not enjoy how full of themselves the boys are. Now, that’s kind of the point. It’s taking character archetypes that are impossibly and superficially perfect and injecting ridicule into it by bringing that to the level of text. I get it. The thing is, that readers also gets it. That doesn’t change the fact that they don’t enjoy watching super conceited characters. And that’s fair.

And that’s the issue with parody. The more subtle and biting you make it, the more you run the risk of having it go over people’s heads. And that’s a fail. The more obvious and exaggerated you make it, the more likely you are to create elements and archetypes that aren’t going to be fun for some viewers.

The worst part is when you land somewhere in the middle. The parody is too subtle to attract audiences not interested in the parent genre but too obvious for the audiences that are. Then you only get the random weirdos that watch everything!

And when I think about it, I get a whole new respect for shows that dare to be parodies. It’s a very delicate balance with high risk and low reward. But I like them…

I have been using Pretty Boy Detective Club (which doesn’t even have parody as a tag…) as an example but I think the show will be just fine. It’s not that mean and a lot of elements are very fun about it. Besides, the Monogatari series has such a deeply dedicated fanbase that it,s bound to get some good vibes by association. Or at least be shielded from the harsher fallout.

I guess we’ll find out!

14 thoughts

  1. we also see that Hilda would wear a pair of royal blue shorts with a black belt along with a red thong she would also wear a yellow tube top shirt when not wearing her schoolgirl outfit she would also wear a purple kimono with a white cotton cloth bandage chest binder because she is questioning her gender identity. She wears traditional wooden sandals but takes them off when she has to run. This story is very invested in fashion.

  2. I have a brand new anime or manga featuring a normal fourteen year old boy named Adam lee he lives with his parents his older brother and his younger sister in a normal average medium sized house in Tokyo Japan his dad named Seth is a workaholic salaryman or businessman or salesman while his mom named Esther is a stay at home caretaker his older brother named Noah attends college or university while his younger sister named Ruth attends elementary school we see they have a new neighbor named Hilda she is a goddess she has been in existence since before the big bang she has pale light white skin long black hair brown eyes she is statuesque athletic muscular beautiful sexy she has one breasts long slender legs and a big ass she is partially clothed or half naked or partially naked showing her ankles wearing a revealing Japanese schoolgirl uniform that bares her midriff and exposes her c-section scar it has a dangerously sharp skirt her outfit is sleeveless and backless she does not wear any undergarments or footwear going barefooted. she was married to god herself until she divorced her and went to live on earth in the present day she has a collar on her neck she is a masochistic exhibitionist nudist and a pervert.

  3. I can’t even imagine the boys from the Pretty Boy Detective club in any other way. There’s a sort of stiltedness to the set-up, but that’s definitely by design. They’re all types, but you run the types through things the genre usually doesn’t address (in the current arc “to grow up”) and thus you expose the genre. It’s really only one way to do parody. In fact, I’m having trouble figuring out what counts as parody.

    Many shows start out strong, but turn fairly cookie cutter in the end. Either you get used to the concept, or you get the feeling that the makers forgot that they started out with a parody and get too absorbed in the story. For my money, the shows don’t go bad, and I still like them, but there’s a sense of lost potential. I felt this strongly with Ben-to!! for example. To a lesser extent, too, with Shimoneta. I wonder if this is part of the perils of serialisation, or if I just get used to stuff too quickly?

    1. Oh you’re right! I have seen shows that kind of forget they started out as parodies. Delicious in Dungeon instantly comes to mind. Now it’s really a classic epic fantasy adventure when it started out as a subversion of Dungeons and Dragons tropes. I do still like it a lot mind you.

  4. Wait are you talking about the Monogatari series ( bakemonagatari and such ) also love the Nyarlhotep gif ! I loved that show as parody shows go .
    Oh and speaking of parody shows have you seen Dragon Goes House Hunting yet?

    1. yes, I am speaking of that series! And YES I have seen Dragon Goes House-Hunting. It’s the adorbs!

      1. Yes ! I now I need to watch Pretty Boy Detective Club. I’ve been following your reviews but this fact that they have the same write completely seals the deal for me . I love the Monogatari series .
        I love the Dragon show! It’s one of my current favorites this season ✨

  5. I very much like what I’ve seen of Monogatari; didn’t know this was by the same author. I normally have no interest in pretty boy stuff but maybe I’ll check this out.

    1. It sort of depends on what you enjoyed about Monogatari. From what I gathered from the readers, liking one doesn’t garantee liking the other

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