As with any massive social gathering where its members share some similar attributes, a herd mentality develops. Such a phenomenon develops because certain actions, behaviors, and ideas cause other, more impressionable members, to be influenced into acting, behaving, or thinking in a certain way. Provided that Sawaki, Yuuki, and Oikawa are freshmen entering into this bizarre college, their fresh and untainted perspective allows for an examination and critique into herd mentalities among these seemingly psychopathic young adults at a simple agricultural university.
Though there are numerous prime examples of herd mentalities in Moyashimon, none are better exemplified than the festivals where all the school participates. Being situated within the autumn’s Harvest Festival, we’re able to see the collective minds and personality of the student body on full display. But beyond the basic fun and fear that is shown to the public during the daytime half of the festival, among slaughtering chickens before distressed children, the true character of the student body and university comes to display at night away from the public’s eyes. Here, we see a sanctioned boxing match with a reward of tenure, something normal and acceptable among the student body but unfathomable to Oikawa. There were other oddities about the festival, too, but this wondrous event warrants a closer look.
The boxing match has to be one of the zaniest instances within all of Moyashimon. Explaining this event is Mutou, the third-year student who seems excited about the match, who details that professors denied tenure are given a chance to punch-out those who vetoed the decision and earn their permanent spot among the faculty otherwise. Though it does sound kinda fun, if not the least bit interesting, Oikawa provides the expected reaction of anyone from outside the university, similar to that of the audience, with a combination of confusion and frustration. That is, Oikawa has yet to buy into the herd mentality of the general student population (and faculty, too, for participating in such an event) because of how strange everything seems to her. In a sense, she’s possesses the standpoint of the general public who’d watch such an event without the same passion or energy as the student body who has come to embrace and love such an event. Mutou, being a third-year student, probably had the same reaction as a freshman, but slowly bought into the idea and personality of the school as she progressed through school. Even if she never did immerse herself in the culture of the student body, we’d still see this herd mentality as bizarre, with the hooting and hollering to see two professors duke it out for the prize of tenure.
Within the student body, a massive population of several thousand students, exists fragmented mentalities of various subgroups. One could even argue that Professor Itsuki’s lab has a bit of a herd mentality, though each character is able to maintain their own personality among the influences of their professor and mentors. However, a better example is that of the Autonomous Dormitory Resistance, a collection of perverts with considerable amounts of cash on their persons and the collective IQ equal to the number of people in the room. Here, we see probably the strongest herd mentality, where a mob of students gather together to exchange thousands of dollars (or hundreds of thousands of yen) for photos with a visible bra strap or chewed up gum. It’s a society of desperate, sex-starved perverts who will do anything to satisfy their wildest desires. Not only do they share all the same attributes of being shameless perverts, but they all share the same lust, fervor, and disposition with this auction. Hell, they even wear the same masks. And considering how uncomfortable it made Sawaki, I don’t think we need to take a moment to explain the expected reaction of the public or ‘normal’ people on this one.
How the herd mentality of students, either that of the general university population or its minority groups, affects Moyashimon is it allows the anime to be wacky and fun. We can laugh and enjoy ourselves watching students go absolutely crazy over the most insane things there are. It’s parallel to the mentalities we see at colleges and fraternaties (among other social groups) where everyone gets extremely passionate and excited over whatever everyone else is getting passionate and excited about. And seeing our three main freshmen joining into a university with a mass society of psychopaths and nutjobs is fun, especially since they’re slightly embarrassed and irritated by their peers. It’s like watching ourselves among the anime itself, as if we were placed within this impractical community and were given the chance to express ourselves. But mostly, it’s just for fun, expanding the bizarre culture of students in the real world to that of an agricultural university that takes things a little bit too seriously. It’s that specific entertainment that Moyashimon has that many other anime fail to capitalize on, that critique of student culture and how crazy everything seems when placed outside the herd mentality and given a fresh perspective on the issues. And what this does is it leads to the best episodes of Moyashimon, the ones where we have the most fun watching an incredible anime.
Professor Itsuki’s sudden conference with Hasegawa’s father and other prominent political figures irritated me. Not only was the situation extremely sudden and shot the plot along at a frightening pace, going from “where’s Hasegawa?” to “oh, she’s in France?” before the impact of her disappearance could make any considerable effect, but it seemed highly improbable given Professor Itsuki’s stature. First, without knowing that Professor Itsuki is secret buddy-buddies with every prominent figure of Japan’s political machine, it seems like lazy writing by bringing everyone there, forgoing their agendas and schedules just to help their drinking buddy by bullying a prominent businessman. I mean, he’s just a well-known professor who runs a small lab at a relatively unimpressive university. But no, he’s able to perfectly coordinate an effort that pulls the strings of the Japanese government, along with impressive spy equipment, to find the location of his missing student. Why? Couldn’t the anime have done something more realistic? Or maybe something where Itsuki does something rather than just place a few calls and sit in the corner? It’s storytelling like this that leaves a bad taste in my mouth after watching it given how it all plays out. I’d much prefer to have everything be done off screen, leaving more time for the loony Harvest Festival to entertain, rather than watching some lazy storytelling going on with rather improbable devices as a means of executing such a plot.