One of the trope’s pioneers explains why the star of his hit anime can go toe-to-toe with criminals, but gets smacked around by his female partner.
One of anime’s proudest visual storytelling traditions is the hammer smash. Typically it’s a roguish male lead who finds himself on the receiving end of the gesture, as some real or imagined slight causes a female character to whip a jumbo-sized mallet out of thin air and pummel him with it.
Granted, sometimes it’s not a hammer. It might be a flail or morning star. In any case, though, it’s a bludgeoning weapon, and the guy catches it square in the face. But wait, isn’t anime also the medium in which super-agile heroes can leap, spin, and contort however necessary to dodge the attacks of the series’ bad guys? So why can’t they dodge those hammer attacks, like the one shown here?
The answer probably varies by series, but manga author/artist Tsukasa Hojo, creator of City Hunter (from which the above clip is taken) recently explained, via his Twitter account, the logic behind why his franchise’s star, athletic/pervy private eye/mercenary Ryo, is so frequently unable to get out of the way of hammers being swung by his more earnest-minded business partner Kaori.
Q.5 なぜ獠は香のハンマーを避けられないのですか？ A. 「避けられない」のではなく「避けない」のだと思います。行動にオチがつくといいますか、心のどこかで香に止めてほしいと思っているのかもしれませんね。 #シティーハンター30年目の真実
北条司オフィシャル (@hojo_official) January 25, 2019
“Question: Why can’t Ryo dodge Kaori’s hammer?
Answer: It’s not that he ‘can’t’ dodge it, it’s that he doesn’t dodge it. You could say it’s like the punchline for his actions, but deep down in his heart he’s probably wishing Kaori would stop hitting him.”
So at least in the case of City Hunter, the hero is getting hit because he knows it’s the natural endpoint of the chain reaction his antics set off, and not so much that he’s being caught unaware by the blow. That explanation, as well as the simmering romantic tension between Ryo and Kaori that runs throughout the series, had commenters leaving remarks such as:
“I knew it. He’s got a soft spot for Kaori.”
“He’s accepting of all of her feelings.”
“Come to think of it, I remember certain scenes in the manga where he does dodge her hammer, and pretty easily, so it’s not like he’s incapable of doing it.”
“You can’t dodge the hammer of love.”
But while Hojo’s explanation clears up one anime mystery, there’s another that’s still a headscratcher, as pointed out by another commenter:
“What I want to know is how he’s still alive