「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.


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.


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.


  1. Wow, Ai went through so much. Even with all the modern horror anime out there, this is the closest I’ve gotten to feeling terrified watching an anime recently.

    I was quick to see why she’d be disgusted by creepy guys, but I understand a lot more now why even Sarasa bothered her. Where her excitement might come off as an act in Ai’s eyes and could cause her to let her guard down.

    1. Unfortunately it’s quite common for girls to go through something like this during childhood (teens and adult years too, but yeah). The things I’ve heard in certain groups of friends, my personal experiences or even online communities could give you nightmares. While it was pretty sad to watch her experience, I guess I just wasn’t as shocked because I’ve been exposed to so many cases now. As soon as the guy came in scene I was like “ah ok, I see where this is going.” but in terms of scene direction, animation and timing, it definitely delivered the feeling of helplessness, fright and fear.

      Did you catch my response to your previous comment on episode 1? I think more than thinking Sarasa’s putting on an act, she’s bothered by the fact that Sarasa communicates everything so freely when that’s been such a big struggle in her life–something we got to see the roots here. Ai never mentions anything about Sarasa having a questionable character (as if she’s pretending), but rather that she’s annoying and she doesn’t get her.

      My assumption is that deep down, once she gets pass her fears, Ai wants to connect, she wants to create bonds and she wants to speak and express herself. Sarasa does that, flawlessly, in her own authentic way. I can see how this can be an unconscious trigger for her.

      1. I did see the response from a couple eps ago. I can see how a lot of it is through the difficulty Ai has in being able to build connections and the confusion/envy that she has with how effortlessly Sarasa has been able to reach out to those around her to help uplift them from all the horrific obstacles they face such as the teacher pushing Ayako into a possible eating disorder.

        My household didn’t share Ai’s level of horror, but after being assaulted twice, I can empathize with how it affected her physically and mentally to have to deal with a monster like her mom’s boyfriend, and how it could leave her frightened with having to deal with men.

  2. Oh man, this one really got to me. I was watching this episode, just hoping and praying nothing would happen. I’m just glad nothing worse did.
    It’s a sad reality that situations like these happen everyday, and guys like that deserve the worst possible things to happen to them.
    I was totally caught off guard by this episode. With what we’ve seen so far, I really didn’t expect for them to delve into such serious material for any of the characters.
    They just need to be careful. The more serious the topic, harder it is to adapt without being offensive. Personally, I think they handled it well here, but I certainly don’t speak for anyone with personal experience in these matters.

    1. My main concern is what comes after. I think as of lately the adaptation of sexual abuse has been well done, you see can kind of sense an extra layer of care for these scenes. And in Kageki Shoujo’s case it was really well done. From the skin coloration of the character, to the men’s overall color palette, to the way his hands are illustrated and how we never get to see his eyes. Shadow play, soundtrack. It was really well executed.

      Yes, 100% agreed. Every human being that goes through something like this deserves justice and the perpetrator deserves punishment. And after that, then what happens? Do we confine a character as a prisoner of their trauma or do we give them an opportunity to heal and more freedom of fear to fully enjoy the meaningful experiences of their lives?

      “It’s ok to hate men, it’s fine to not feel safe, actually you shouldn’t feel safe near them, never trust them, men are disgusting, an abomination of society, I understand what you went through, it’s really fine, it’s ok to distance, you actually don’t have to engage at all. Shut yourself out if you want to. No uterus, no opinion.” from my personal experience (someone who used to be a very radical feminist and have since distanced myself from that extreme spectrum) this only holds us back.

      What I’m hoping for, in this series, is to see Ai able to fully enjoy her achievements and feelings of love, compassion, happiness, ease and joy. To see her able to connect with her peers and create bonds, stand up for herself and speak if she wants to. And I also hope, that by the end of this season, her life choices will no longer be led by fear, but through her own personal values and ambitions!

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