「クマのぬいぐるみ」 (Kuma no Nuigurumi)
“The Teddy Bear”
If you hated Ai before this episode, this one’s gonna give you all the context you need to start liking her as a character.
This episode dives deep into the reason why Ai hates men, but it has something to do with her childhood. She doesn’t know who her dad is, and lives alone with her mother, who happens to be a famous actress.
At first, I didn’t get Ai’s character, she was just somewhat of a stuck up person that hated men, that’s all fine and dandy, men are trash girl, I’m right there with you, but she’s the type of person who never molds her personality for others, not trying to accommodate anyone else’s feelings, and only thinking of her own. This episode made sense of that, when she was a child Ai was full of energy, and was extroverted. But when her mother brings a man who I’ve already forgotten his name into their home, things start to take a turn for the worse.
While trying to reach for something under the living room furniture, this guy decides to take a peek at her underwear, she was wearing a long skirt, there’s no way this guy would have seen it unless he did some kind of a stretch. Pedo right out of the gate, absolutely disgusting. Then when Ai’s mother is out of Tokyo for a couple of weeks, he takes advantage of his position and forces a kiss on her. Ai already had suspicion on him, but just brushed them off since adults must know best. He would do creepy things like wait for her outside the bathroom, or stop by her room and take a listen. It should have turned some red flags, but Ai’s mother is oblivious to the whole thing. When she was saying goodbye, she should have noticed Ai’s unconformity and taken action, like brought her along or left her with a relative that could take care of her, and she trusted.
Ai would have been safe, and anxiety-free in a hotel room where she could eat some food and watch TV. But we needed a catalyst for the hate Ai feels towards all men, except what I believe to be her uncle Taichi Narata (Nojima Kenji), who I confused as her boyfriend in previous episodes coverage. They did hold hands. But I guess Ai just sort of made a comfort blanket in this relative. And psychologically reverts to a child when she’s with him, because of the trauma she suffered as one. Yes, it was only a kiss, but that’s enough for Ai to become anxious and live her life in fear of men all around. She goes through such an episode that she cuts her hair and un-stuffs her teddy bear because she’s bottled up emotions.
What this guy did was unacceptable, clearly deranged and something only a filthy pedo would do.
I like how we’re slowly starting to see more intense topics in this series since I thought that’s exactly what was going to happen, this episode even touched upon anorexia and bulimia as one of Sarasa’s ballet members is called a fatty for gaining a couple of pounds since coming Kouka. Probably because of stress eating, Sarasa tries to relieve her sorrows to no avail, while the rest of the girls just pin it even more as her fault. This is literally how you develop anorexia. These types of eating disorders don’t develop because the victim of such a disease tells themselves their fat, it can happen, but most of the time it’s because someone external to them is pushing down this false idea of beauty, that the media and society have imparted on us. All bodies are beautiful, deal with it or get out.
But that’s just my opinion, theater indeed has certain standards of beauty, especially in Kouka since it’s an elite school. And they don’t become elite by letting students run rampant and do whatever they want. They have to hold them with an iron grasp and tell them things bluntly. It comes with the territory, especially in an all-girls school, that performs mainly for other women. So in a sense, they’re being completely true to the setting, I think that’s attributed to the manga, which would be fun to give it a look, not only to see how it stacks as an adaptation, but how much more strongly it dives into this types of topics.