「クマのぬいぐるみ」 (Kuma no Nuigurumi)
“The Teddy Bear”
Traumas are nasty things, but there’s an extra layer of heartbreak underneath the ones we go through childhood. If we, as adults, have a hard time distinguishing between what is a behavior and what is an identity (when we supposedly have more self-awareness), imagine making that distinction as a child. Because of her mother’s work and fame, child Ai scripted herself in her social interactions. The teddy bear was a gift from her father–not it wasn’t. She’s proud of her mother’s movies–although she’s never seen any. Ai has worn masks since an early age, to the point that this behavior, repeated enough times, became what she perceives as her personal identity. She’s scripted, filtered, mild-mannered and quiet. It brought a sad smile to my face when we’re at her friend’s place and the friend’s mom gives her a homemade cupcake. The little girl is completely bedazzled with the notion that it was made at home by her friend’s mother. In that moment we see a glimpse of the child, Ai.
Her mother’s older boyfriend turns out to be a pedophile, surprise, surprise. Poor Ai’s left alone with the guy and–as it’s extremely normal for children–she doesn’t know how to articulate her predicament to her mother. Almost as if she feels as if she won’t be heard at all. The place where she should feel safest–her own house–becomes a place she doesn’t want to return to anymore. After being forcibly kissed, the child goes through a mental breakdown and is eventually found by her uncle, Narata Taichi (Nojima Kenji). The story of Ai is, unfortunately, a common tale amongst girls all over the world–and I speak for myself, someone who went through something similar with a family member and who has many friends who went through similar situations too.
A WORLD WITHOUT MEN
Unseen and unheard, Narata Ai has closed herself to everyone and wishes for a world without men. Hypothetically speaking, let’s say she gets what she wants, and then what? And then nothing. Because every action and every choice she’s made since this trauma happened in her life has been in reaction to that, a defense software created by her brain in order to prevent similar scenarios. Even joining an idol group (ironically considering the fanbase) was in reaction to that. Instead of jumping right away at the offer–something fear does to us, it makes us want to act ‘right now, run now, do the thing, jump!’ She could’ve looked a bit more into what being an idol would entail.
Ai has no personal ambitions or dreams, yet. I stand by what I said back in Episode 01 and I’d like to add that I see Kageki Shoujo!! as being her journey of self-discovery, where she’ll learn how to stand up for herself, and set proper boundaries and how to be a better communicator (express herself). Healing from trauma is not about forgetting your past or overwriting it with some bullshit fake illusion of happiness, it’s about observing an on-going fear software that is running at the back of your brain and understanding how this is affecting your behaviors, choices, lifestyle and experiences and then having the freedom to act consciously rather than being swept away by the maddening current of your emotional reactions.
CALL ME MS. KNIGHT, I’M SARASA
How sad was the whole weight issue with Yamada Ayako (Sasaki Rico) during the girls tap-dance class? So much feels and yet something very real within the entertainment industry, especially in Japan. Count me on team Sarasa, women look much better (and hotter) when they’re curvier and healthy. We finally come face to face with the dude that caused Ai’s graduation from the idol group. As a proper weirdo he’s waiting for the girl outside of the school and he obviously can’t really say what he wants straight away–nor does she want to talk to him. Something about this situation feels a little bit off, like maybe he’s not as creepy but more socially awkward/inept? I guess we’ll find out. But one thing is for sure, thanks Megami-sama for Sarasa, Ai’s most underrated friend and Knight on call.
Full-length images: 36.