Makura No Danshi, a new romantic anime series, began airing in Japan on July 13th, where the story invites the viewer to sleep beside a male companion each week. Now on its third episode , I have reviewed the series so far and discovered that while the series intends to facilitate sweet dreams, it may give the audience nightmares. You can watch it simulcast on Crunchyroll.
The premise of Makura No Danshi, or “Pillow Boys” is fairly simple. The series is a first person story, with each episode lasting only 4 minutes. During the episode, the viewer meets and sleeps next to a man; the character changes with each new episode, in age, social status, and occupation, presumably to appeal to wide demographic. It becomes clear from the opening titles that Makura No Danshi is a Shoujo. Male fan service (titillating, often sexual content intended to satisfy the viewer) features heavily, with each character appearing scantily clad, reclining with abs and butts on show. This imagery, along with the intimate nature of series is obviously designed to appeal to young women.
Merry, the first pillow boy of the series
However, from the first episode, it becomes clear that the male partners are more annoying than alluring. Episode 1 features the first “pillow boy”, Merry. There is an implication that there is a pre-existing relationship between the viewer and Merry; you first encounter him already sitting in your bed. But while Merry is seemingly intended to be a doting, devoted boyfriend, offering massages and advice, his character comes across as needy and cloying. Merry complains he “was alone for so long” and bizzarely offers a butt massage, but explains that he is “not perverted”. How reassuring. He goes on to comment that your body is stiff “like a cat” and you seem ready to “run away at anytime.” Confronted with this doe-eyed dunce for much longer, anyone would get off of their (un-massaged) butt and head for the hills.
Second episode pillow boy, Tanaka Sousuke
The second episode sees the pillow boy companion go from a bit dense to overly intense with the introduction of Tanaka Sousuke, a senpai and co-worker. The extent of the relationship between the audience and the colleague is unclear, though some nascent flirtation occurs as the episode progresses. The episode opens with the viewer waking up drunk in a strange car (positive start) to be confronted by Tanaka Sousuke. This pillow boy is apparently tackling some dark issues, claiming that “everyone has times where they want to drink away their sorrows.” He only becomes increasingly disconcerting, assuring that he’ll be “keeping an eye on you” before telling you to go back to sleep for the remainder of the journey. Because every woman knows that getting a lift with a creepy, suspicious man whilst drunk is the safest, and best, means of travel.
Hamamine Kanade, pillow boy of Episode 3
However, in terms of awful behaviour, the subject of Episode 3, Hamamine Kanade, takes the cake, the biscuit, and pretty much every other kind of confectionary. Hamamine Kanade, is a conceited, self-obsessed musician and although he plays the violin he spends most of his time blowing his own trumpet, describing his “precious hands” and “glimmering” performances (despite failing to play any music). Although the pillow boys are supposedly seductive, Hamamine Kanade seems more in love with himself than the viewer, though he does promise that “the next thing I’ll be playing is you” before telling the viewer to “make sure you squeal well.” What a gent.
At this early stage, Makura No Danshi has proven to be more startling than soothing. Hopefully the forthcoming episodes will provide the viewer with more engaging, well rounded pillow boys that will ensure that the viewer rests easy.