EDIT: As brought to my attention by a commenter, this post was based on a false premise. Konata’s mother did not commit suicide, as I had previously believed. In light of this, I decided to switch this post to draft until later writing up this disclaimer. Rather than hiding it, I’m just going to admit that I goofed.
So then, how did I make this mistake? I think I have an explanation. Back in the late 2000s, when I was watching Lucky Star, I was also reading a manga called Oishinbo, which starred a main character who blamed his father for his mother’s death. In my mind, that carried a strong implication. After hearing about the death of Kanata Izumi, in my mind, this carried a similar implication.
Later, when I decided to write this article, I was depending on my memory of Lucky Star. But the problem was, because my memories of two different manga characters was confused, I remembered them wrong. Not only that, a lot of time had passed, so there was a lot of potential to err.
I already knew that human memories are faulty, which is something I find disturbing and fascinating. There are a lot of things that people remember wrong, but don’t have any way of knowing. In this case, the person who remembered wrong was me.
While some of the commentary that I made in this article may be interesting, it remains that the article was written based on a faulty premise. Still, here it is for you to read if you care to do so.
You may remember Konata Izumi as that happy-go-lucky character from the anime and manga series Lucky Star who is a regular fountain of pop-culture references.
Right from her introduction, and throughout the series, she’s depicted as plucky and snarky. What’s more, she indulges in a high volume of entertainment media, has little filter, and happily embraces the title of “otaku”, a term with a negative connotation in Japanese culture because it means “fanatic”, and is used to describe a person obsessed with entertainment media to the detriment of career and personal development.
However, Konata is a sadder character than meets the eye. Because Konata is a fictional character, it’s easy to take for granted that she’s the way she is because that’s the kind of character the writer wanted. But in real life, people’s personalities don’t develop in a vacuum, there are reasons people are the way they are. To the surprising end of developing Konata’s character, there’s a moment in the anime that shines some light on her background, and her character becomes far more understandable.
Early on, Konata’s friends visit her at her house. While there, they find a photograph, and mistakenly identify the woman depicted as Konata. But Konata corrects them, pointing out that the woman in the photograph is her mother, Kanata.
Then, Konata drops the bomb. She casually reveals that her mother is dead, and that she had committed suicide.
Then, it all starts to come together. Konata’s heavy consumption of entertainment media is a coping mechanism, and her lack of filter and willingness to take on a title that most would consider undesirable just for identity demonstrates the kind of detachment that would naturally come with the kind of person who came to the point that they don’t care what anyone thinks.
And Konata came to that point in an attempt to cope with a broken family.
The fact is, spousal abuse is an epidemic in Japan, and in many cases, the abuse escalates to the point that the wife commits suicide. When this is the case, the woman may be leaving behind a family that attempts to cope in ways that they don’t anticipate.
While Konata’s character remains light-hearted through the rest of the series, from that point on, she appears in a slightly different light. One’s family life, particularly in their childhood, plays a huge role in how that person develops. Behind Konata’s low-filter, carefree attitude hides a tragic family life.
When Lucky Star really took off in popularity, anime fans everywhere developed a huge nerd-crush on Konata, seeing her as a character that they could identify with, and in many cases, she was declared a “waifu-character”.
But considering her family history, a man that finds a woman like Konata would have to make sure that she feels loved, rather than treat her like merchandise.
“The funniest people are the saddest ones.”Confucius