Crest of the Stars – Jinto’s Sarcasm Is the Best Sarcasm
I finished Crest of the Stars a little more than a week ago and enjoyed it for the most part. The plot moves a bit slowly at times, but I don’t mind the pacing much since it does a solid job of easing the viewer into a relatively complex world with a complex history. The show probably makes up for that by throwing Lafiel and Jinto into one crazy situation after another during the journey to warn the Abh Empire that war’s a’brewin’.
Anyway, like many people, the part of Crest I like most is the interplay between Lafiel and Jinto. They’re both intelligent people, and they act and speak it. They speak to each other with wit and grace, and aren’t dumbing down their conversations so that the widest possible audience can grasp what they’re saying. Crest of the Stars knows its audience.
I won’t write much about Lafiel, because from what I am aware of, she gets plenty of (much deserved) love, but I do like that her development in Crest begins with the assumption that she is a strong, smart woman who can take care of herself. It’s just that she’s young and headstrong, so she goes into everything thinking that she’s got to take care of shit all on her lonesome. It’s not until the very end that she truly sees Jinto as an equal. She learns that it’s OK for her to lean on him for some things, and for him to lean on her for other things. People help each other with shit; Lafiel doesn’t need to go into melodramatic self-sacrifice mode because she has a perfectly capable dude at her side to have her back when she needs help. Crest definitely impressed me by presenting a real relationship where the man and woman complement each other and help each other not because, you know, Man Gotta Be A Man, but because they trust one another and their strengths to the point where they can accept that help without bitching on about wounded pride.
So, the actual reason I was going to write: I ended up liking Jinto a lot more than I thought I would. He initially comes off like one of those wussy little douchebags that nobody likes in anime, but who are like 90 percent of the main male characters, anyway, but he’s deceptively tough in how he deals with and adapts to the various terrible situations in which he and Lafiel find themselves. It’s definitely Jinto’s wit that both keeps him sane and that truly endeared him to me. I’d honestly say that he might be the finest practitioner of sarcasm I have seen in anime, and here’s why: He’s unbelievably subtle with it. Jinto’s tone of voice, his choice of when to interject, his hilarious use of irony . . . I want to say his phrasing, too, but I’d be going off the subtitles and not the actual Japanese (since, you know, I’m ignorant and all), so I have zero confidence in that assertion. However, if the subs I read were more or less accurate, then his phrasing is also hilarious.
Sarcasm is semi-rare in anime, and when it’s used, it tends to be of the over-the-top, “I am saying this so that you know how much of a fucking idiot you are” variety, which is of course fine. I think it’s funny, but it can also be obnoxious. Jinto, however, is quite deadpan with his use of sarcasm; actually, when he’s being sarcastic, it’s usually in his normal tone of voice, except when you hear/read what he’s saying, it’s got a weary, “GOD, this is fucked up!” tone to it. He and Lafiel would be cruising along, and they’d run into some trouble, and then you could rely on Jinto to be like, “You know, when I was a little kid, I never really saw myself dying out in the middle of space where nobody could find me, and all in all, it would be pretty swell if that didn’t happen”. Which would then be followed with me snickering uncontrollably.
What makes the sarcasm really work for me is not just that it’s funny, but also that it’s organic. It’s not Jinto trying to make himself seem cooler than other people; it’s simply his way of dealing with deadly, stressful situations. He’s keeping himself under control and trying to reassure those around him, relieve the tension a bit. We normally think of sarcasm as being somewhat destructive (since that is how I think it is most often used), but Jinto’s is a weird sort of positive sarcasm — decrying the situation around him while also giving a bit of ironic strength and hope to his companions.
I can roll with that. Jinto, you are a cool dude.