「涙の上書き」 (Namida no Uwagaki)
THE STRENGTH IN VULNERABILITY
Keeping my armor up is not a choice, it’s how I stay alive. I answered a comment on last week’s episode saying that my main concern with shows that depict traumatic sexual abuse is not too much with the event itself, but what comes after. I’d like to start by saying that Kageki Shoujo!! did a spectacular job with Narata Ai’s story. It had the perfect balance of seriousness and lighthearted comedic relief.
Plot twist (pero no mucho), creepy stalker was indeed a creepy stalker, but not a badly intended one. Once a Hikkikomori, Mr. Stalker found inspiration in accepting himself through his projection of Naracchi, which to be fair is quite decent as a commentary on Japanese idol fans and pop culture. How often don’t we see that happen with celebrities? Weird ass obsessions with fictional characters and cosplayers. It’s not like I ain’t writing for a bunch of weebs who collect cultured illustrations on their phones (love you guys, I also have my fair share of explicit gay imagery saved).
Back to my Ted Talk. Five important things happened in this episode 1) Never in the episode is Mr. Creepy Otaku Stalker’s behavior seen as good, the way the author chose to continuously make a point about this through Sarasa’s many nicknames for the character was quirky, straightforward and tremendously authentic. 2) Sarasa vs. Naracchi: “I hate you!” By confronting her roommate with a question, rather than an accusation “if you were really worried about me, wouldn’t you be happy by seeing that I was ok?” Sarasa opens the space for Ai to actually think, rather than raise her defenses right away. Was she really worried? Or was she, perhaps, looking for evidence that would confirm her fears? And once what she finds is actually the opposite of what she’s looking for, in the form of Sarasa, Taichi and Mr. Stalker dancing and laughing together, why does she find herself angry, resentful and frustrated? Wouldn’t you agree that there’s something quite infuriating about your fears not being the alien monsters you once thought they were? Because alien monsters are so much easier to hate.
Again, pay attention, I’m not saying Ai’s fear is unfounded, invalid or not true. Her trauma is real, she was sexually assaulted as a child. But here comes my point number 3) “Why is it so hard for me to live in this world? Why do I have to be like this?” Ai comes to the realization that she has become a prisoner of her fears and that they are directly affecting her overall experience of life. This was perhaps the most meaningful moment because it’s only by becoming aware of this that she is able to 4) start the process of letting go of her fear narrative. Small steps, at her own pace. 5) It’s not about forgetting or pretending it never happened. For a 15 year old, Sarasa’s answer was a decent one: be present and live life towards your goals (values). The fact that Ai initiated this conversation with Sarasa was a beautiful display of vulnerability and strength. It opened the door to the start of a partnership built on trust, support, respect and admiration for one another.
SARASA’S LOVE CORNER?
Something about the twitter incident got me squinting my eyes. Maybe I’m just pulling too many parallels with Garasu no Kamen, but part of me felt like Kouzaburou might have some type of interest in Sarasa. If you’ve never read or watched the series I mentioned and you’re enjoying Kageki Shoujo!! I highly recommend checking that out. But because this author has chosen to address sexual abuse as a theme, part of me is skeptical that she would go down the route of an older male having an interest in an underage female (and the possibility of this being reciprocated), but the fact that I’m mentioning this here shows that I’m not entirely convinced about that. Something felt off about that.
HITS TOO CLOSE TO HOME
Gossip, innuendo and reputation destruction. Ah… the female tools of war. Well, Gabie, that’s highly misogynistic of you to say. I guess whoever thinks that is either 1) in denial or 2) wokesturbating. Because statistically speaking women are more prone to act on their aggression through such methods rather than by outright physical aggression. It’s a well documented (clinical) field in antisocial behavior among adolescents. (I love this interview so much, it always makes me laugh). And yes, women experience and express aggression. Perhaps this is not as groundbreaking a theme in anime as Ai’s trauma, but it’s relevancy in the female adolescent world is unquestionable. This has been addressed time and time again in various works within the shoujo/josei demographic.
And the same can be said of Yamada’s guilt/shame weight loss journey–rapidly turning into an eating disorder. We’ve been hinted that this was going to be a major theme for the past two episodes and it seems like next week it will take the spotlight, now that Ai and Sarasa have reached a more stable point in their relationship.
Full-length images: 36.