Oh wow, this episode was unsettling. I was on edge and jumpy for most of it. I knew something bad was going to happen, but I was just never sure what it was going to be and when it was going to happen. Even though this episode took a much darker turn, I do appreciate how good the animation and narration were throughout the whole episode. You could really feel and see the fear in young Ai’s eyes, and the absolute relief she had when Taichi was the only one to help her.
In general, I’m not the biggest fan of the cold-hearted, reserved beauty character primarily because they push off other characters with very little explanation. And too be fair, I also wasn’t the biggest fan of Ai for the first few episodes. I appreciate an episode like this, because we are able to see why she acts the way that she does and see where this personality originates. I’m still not her biggest fan, but now that I know her story, I certainly understand her better. And quite frankly, I can’t be upset with the way that she acts. Her hatred for men stems from an early age, much before her time in the idol group. And during the time where she felt the most vulnerable, almost no one was there to help her or listen to what’s going on. It makes sense why Taichi is her safe person. She was traumatized and alone, but he was the first (if not only) one to help her out.
There was some pretty heavy stuff in this episode and what’s unfortunate is that this is not an uncommon story for many kids (perhaps the movie star mom may be uncommon, but it really can happen anywhere). Ai’s father has always been out of the picture, but in the meantime, Ai exists to be the perfect daughter for her mom. For a while they had a very good relationship, where Ai was very trusting of her mom and cared about her deeply. I would absolutely love to hear if her thoughts about her mom have changed since she was small. But eventually, there’s a new man that has been introduced into the house and one who just can’t seem to take his eyes off of Ai. The anime did a great job showing that something was off about this relationship, but in just young Ai’s facial expressions, but also from her general narration. This guy was a creep and she could sense it before anything physical happened. And the absolute horror when this adult man grabbed her face and kissed her? It sends chills down my spine.
But it’s definitely the aftermath of everything that sticks the most with me. From her running to the toilet to throw up and recounting what it felt like, to her being worried that she was a “dirty slut” and potentially pregnant, and then of course the destruction of her hair and “Papa’s Teddy Bear”. Even the phone call with her mom, where she officially came to the realization that her mom was not going to come and help her, or that she even cared. It was just “oh, you’re too old to be acting like a baby” and completely dismissing what Ai was saying. Again, shoutout to Taichi for coming and being there to help her. I don’t think it mattered who it was, it just needed to be someone who was willing to help her. Someone to install the lock on her door and of course, giving her a key to their house where she could always go if needed.
I am a little worried if Ai will dislike Taichi after what he did in this episode. I think it was done in good faith, but Ai may see it as a form of abandonment since he didn’t come to save her and instead sent her off with Sarasa. I’m glad that Sarasa is willing to stand between Ai and the fan, but I’m sure she’s also very nervous since she only knows this guy based off of Ai’s reaction. I’m stressed and I just want to know if this resolves itself. I just hope everything ends up okay.
There was a lot of heavy stuff with Ai this week, but I also just want to take a moment to talk about what was happening in the tap-dancing class. I know these schools are brutal because they are raising Top Stars, but it was one thing to say that Sarasa was heavy, but the way she went after Ayako was also upsetting. I know this is not uncommon in things like dance, but the teacher didn’t cut any corners. I appreciate that Sarasa was willing to jump in and help both in the studio and in the locker room. While people may agree that what the teacher said was harsh, the little comments they made of “You need more discipline” definitely rub salt in the wound. And given the content that was presented in this episode, I really wouldn’t be surprised if Ayako either has or develops an eating disorder because of it. If that is the case, I wonder if it will be a side story, or if we’ll get a full episode for it.
Ah, I have a lot of feelings about this episode. I think it was good, just much heavier than I was initially expecting. I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens next week and hope, at the very least, that Sarasa and Ai become a little bit closer. They don’t need to be friends, but it would be nice if Ai had more people, she could feel safe around, or at least some more individuals that she can trust. But I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!