Content warning: this assessment (and episode) incorporates dialogue of consuming issues.
Episode 4, “Tears Overwritten,” picks up instantly after the emotionally-charged occasions of episode 3 with Sarasa and Ai’s confrontation with the otaku Ai beforehand known as a creep. Only…he is right here to apologize to Ai, which is a bitter capsule to swallow contemplating her earlier—and actually, undealt with—trauma surrounding her mom’s sexually abusive boyfriend. Yet Kageki Shojo!! leaves room for this to become an earnest apology from Ai’s would-be stalker, and whereas it is not an ideal decision to somebody stalking a highschool scholar, it does give room for context in a manner that feels much less “two sides to each story” and extra “I made a mistake, this is why, and this is what I’m attempting to do to really take strides to not letting it occur once more,” which I commend Kageki Shojo!! for.
It’s not typically that you simply see such a candid exploration of abuse in anime: it is even much less typically that you simply see somebody truly must pay penance of kinds for being an issue. And like I stated, it is positively not excellent: Ai remains to be residing along with her trauma, Mr. Stalker Otaku nonetheless retriggered her and finally cannot undo stalking her even when it was for an apology, and there is a methods to go earlier than Ai is ready to reconcile along with her personal previous and ongoing trauma. Yet you permit the entrance half of episode 4 feeling like this was a step of kinds, and that finally…Ai will discover a option to transfer on. Like I stated: it is not excellent, however it does maintain Mr. Stalker Otaku accountable whereas providing a manner ahead for all events concerned.
Yet that is not what impacted me probably the most throughout my watch of episode 4. It was one other character: Ayako Yamada, an unassuming teenager rocking a bob and blunt reduce bangs. It’s right here that I’m going to supply some set off warnings for this episode, particularly for consuming issues (primarily, bulimia) and weight-reduction plan/food regimen tradition. This is, in fact, immediately in reference to who takes middle stage later within the episode. We’ve seen her loads of instances, and it is sadly been within the context of her being “too fats,” which is surprising because the poor woman cannot be greater than 55 kg (about 122 kilos) soaking moist. And even when she was double or triple that, that would not essentially be a hindrance to her potential to be an artist and performer: there are many IRL fats performers who’re masters of their craft. In reality, I sort of bemoan the truth that Ayako is not allowed to have a physique that may be a software whereas additionally…being a bit chubbier. But fatphobia is alive and nicely in Japan (even in its fiction) and so it seeps into Kouka, which presents probably the most historically stunning our bodies it probably can as a part of the aesthetic of the theatrical efficiency.
Unfortunately, Ayako, and her physique as a complete, are cruelly judged and pushed towards disordered consuming, which saps her energy. At the tip, we see her elevate her head from a rest room after purging, and it hurts so, a lot. She appears to be like wan, pale as a sheet, and her eyes are glazed over. It’s wrecking havoc, and we have solely seen the beginnings of that. I anticipate that we’ll get extra into the weeds along with her ED and possibly will attain some form of decision subsequent week. Whether or not it will likely be satisfying is…arduous to say. I understand how I felt in regards to the manga’s dealing with of it, and assume that I’ll have comparable emotions right here as nicely. But extra on that in every week when it is topical.
Quite a lot of plot is squeezed into this episode of Kageki Shojo!!: equally, loads of plot will get arrange for the subsequent episode and the subsequent little bit of character development. While a bit quick paced, issues match collectively like puzzle items, providing decision to Ai’s plot—and Mr. Stalker’s personal sub-plot—whereas making ready viewers for Ayako’s character development and hopefully her eventual decision. We even get to lastly see Ai and Sarasa as true associates, bonded collectively by means of an earnest act of kindness and understanding on Sarasa’s behalf. It’s a really candy second, and actually endeared me to Ai, a personality that I already appreciated, however now love as an equal deuteragonist.
I’m positively nonetheless right here for the present: between the drama are real-world subjects being handled in a way more simple method. There’s no drama with regards to stalking, trauma, or disordered consuming: as a substitute, Kageki Shojo!! presents them in a really grounded manner, stripping again to the softly harsh world of Kouka Academy to only…cope with the damage. I deeply respect the present—and the supply materials—for doing that, which is a big a part of why I’m nonetheless very into this sequence. Ultimately, I anticipate nice issues from Kageki Shojo!!, particularly subsequent week: I actually imply it after I say that I’m fairly excited to proceed reviewing this present by means of each emotional beat.
Mercedez is a JP-EN localization editor & proofreader/QA, popular culture critic, and a journalist who additionally writes for Anime Feminist, where she’s a staff editor, and But Why Tho?. She’s additionally a frequent visitor on the AniFem Podcast, Chatty AF. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her on her Twitter or on her Instagram the place she’s all the time as much as one thing.