「どんてんもよう」 (Donten mo yō)
Sorry guys, I tried.
If you’ve been reading my posts, you know that I am extremely uncomfortable with the message Kimiuso insists on pushing. As much as I love the manga, and as much as the flaws there were outshined by the positives, the anime isn’t working for me. There’s too much focus and literal artistic glorification on the very problematic issues about Arima’s trauma and his friends’ abusive behavior and I can’t take it anymore. It’s really upsetting to me and it makes me feel sick to my stomach, so much so that I suffered an anxiety attack last night over it.
I do want to say this though. I’m not upset about the fact that the anime is portraying abuse. I’m upset about the way it insists on glorifying it as a means toward Arima’s healing process. It’s one thing for a series to show something horrible and triggering (like death, bullying, illness, etc) and for it to treat it delicately, and another entirely for a show to ignore the ramifications of these topics and turn it into a falsely positive force. It would be a different story altogether if the things Arima’s friends are doing were treated as a bad catalyst, as a way for Arima to overcome and challenge their abuse and somehow deal with that toward his music, but it’s not. The push they’re giving is dangerous and purposefully chooses to ignore the realities and difficulties of Arima’s condition. That’s just not okay for me.
I wanted to focus on the positives, but after just a few minutes into the episode, things took a turn for the worse. Not only were the past actions against Arima ignored, but now the package was wrapped up to include full blown emotional abuse in the form of victim blaming. “I collapsed because of the stress someone gave me because they refused to play,” Kaori says, and that, my friends, is the summation of an emotionally abusive relationship in one sentence. Not only was Arima forced to play and go through a difficult ordeal against his will, but now the fact that he refused for so long has become a point for Kaori to use against him. Then his friends kick him for it. And now Arima feels guilty both for refusing to play earlier and also for “screwing up” Kaori’s recital. None of this is his fault, but his friends have pushed the blame on him. That’s abuse. It is messed up, upsetting, and it’s being treated as a good thing. Therein lies the problem.
I honestly do love the artistic side of this show. It is why I enjoy the manga so much and why it strikes a deep chord within my own musician’s soul. Music is beautiful and it’s healing, it’s about expression and having fun and also about feeling proud of playing well. It’s difficult and complicated and it means so many different things to so many different people. Watching Arima confront his fears is something I can honestly cheer for, and in the manga, those things outshine the portrayals of abuse, if only because the fact that it’s a black and white static image doesn’t allow for those glorified moments to overwhelm the rest of the narrative. I know that everyone gets different interpretations and impressions from narratives, and there is no real right or wrong way to look at it. You are not a bad person for enjoying the show or for disliking it. You just see the world differently. However, it’s important to realize that other people do, in fact, have different interpretations, and that those may be intensely problematic for these individuals. It is a very real problem for me, and I wish I could say it wasn’t a big deal but it is, and it’s unfair to those who do enjoy it that I can’t see past this problem, so I will be stepping down as the blogger for this show. Unfortunately, at the moment we don’t have a replacement blogger, so until further notice, Kimiuso is officially dropped from weekly coverage. I am very sorry to disappoint you, but I hope that my reasons for leaving are clear, and that if you do enjoy the show, that it will be an enriching experience for you.
Of possible interest to some of you: Though it’s not the happiest place to plug another project, a group of Eureka Seven fans have created a fanmade visual novel. Check out the demo here; I wrote for Renton/Eureka!