Yet the Town Keeps Going – Logic Is Serious Business
One of the crucial elements of comedy is that a character must be serious. The audience is laughing, but the character isn’t — this character has total belief in what he or she is doing, an unwavering dedication to what makes him or her tick. Even better if they’re a mostly normal character who has just this one bizarre obsession that sets ’em outside the norm. I love a snarky, wisecracking character as much as anyone, but what really makes me guffaw until I can’t breathe is someone with serious flaws who either doesn’t know about ’em or just plain does not give a shit.
That’s a big part of why I’ve made a big turn around on Yet the Town Keeps Going/Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru (whichever your prefer) in the past couple of episodes. Sanada got a couple of chuckles out of me in the first couple of episodes, but I mostly wrote the show off until Moriaki became more prominent and allowed Hotori to truly blossom by giving her a worthy adversary. The last two episodes have given me plenty of laughs, with the most recent episode being particularly hilarious.
Moriaki and Hotori’s relationship is so simple and effective: He lives his life by the hardline logic of mathematics, and she lives a more free-flowing, loosely defined life. She has a crush on him; he can’t stomach the idea of being romantically involved with any student, much less someone like Hotori who is more likely to give him an ulcer than a boner. They were made to clash with each other; it’s inevitable, because they are both so set in their ways and so incompatible with each other.
Moriaki is a mostly normal dude. He’s a math teacher, and his main concern is that his students learn math. The guy doesn’t hate Hotori for no reason; he legitimately wants her to learn the subject and do well in it. Hell, he even goes the extra mile for Hotori and gives her special attention in the hopes that she’ll finally get math. (Instead, she’d rather get him.) But Hotori really grinds Moriaki’s gears to the point where his obsession pours forth and he can’t help but try to mold her. She falls outside of every belief he holds dear — everything has a beginning and an end, and there is a logical, step-by-step progression between the two points. He frames his universe so that it makes as much sense as possible.
Hotori doesn’t need that. Her world doesn’t make sense; she makes her own sense. When she doesn’t know the answer to a question, she changes the question so that she knows the answer. Her logic is a slippery shapeshifter, constantly changing to fit every situation. It’s to Moriaki’s credit that he recognizes Hotori’s unique style of thinking (which is why he asks for her help with the painting situation), but of course he cannot abide by it. The very thought makes his lip curl. But at the same time, he can’t really change her; sure, if Hotori worked hard enough, she could probably understand math eventually, but her work ethic and dedication are elements that are out of his control, and it drives him nuts, just like the remainders of the division problem his homeroom teacher worked on.
I love how Moriaki’s flashback in ep4 shows his desperation to hold some sort of power in his life. He gets math from the beginning — he can see the beginning and the end, and work his way through. But his teacher throws him a curveball with the remainder. But how can there be anything left over? Shouldn’t they use all of it? It’s as if he is already viewing mathematics as a holy entity and using each part and leaving no leftovers is his way to pay proper respect to the problem. But he can’t use everything; math problems can’t always be completed to perfection (at least not at that level), and life itself doesn’t always progress down a purely logical line. There are always going to be some leftovers.
And so Moriaki becomes a math teacher himself, teaching math his way. There aren’t going to be any remainders in his class, not if he has anything to say about it. He’s finally got the power to satisfy his math obsession, but here comes Hotori bouncing in and tossing a chaotic grenade at everything he loves. And the best part, of course, is that she isn’t really aware that she’s pissing him off. She’s just being herself.
One last thing: So far Moriaki hasn’t had much effect on Hotori, but she seems to be affecting him a bit right now. She’s driving Moriaki so over the edge that he is resorting to silly, improvised plans to regain his position of power over Hotori. He’s pouring so much of himself into gaining the upper hand over a silly, flighty child, and it’s just so god damned funny.