Kageki Shoujo – Episode 5
I really wasn’t expecting to cry during this episode, but boy did the tears come. While Kageki Shoujo has been no strangers to sensitive topics, this week we jump right into Ayako’s story with bulimia. The resolution came rather quickly, but I won’t fault them too much as there was quite a bit to pack into this episode.
Before we dive into Ayako’s story, I just wanted to talk about some of the other things that happened in the episode. I love the little tidbits that we learn about the different characters, like Sawa’s favorite troupe is the Winter Troupe, and Kaori was with Ayako during the audition process (which explains her snide comment during class). Even just these small moments we get to see more rounded characters, they aren’t just one-dimensional side characters who just exist to fill out the cast. Another thing I really enjoyed was the class getting to see the Winter Troupe’s performance of Romeo and Juliet. First, we get to see Sarasa’s fascination with those on stage, but we also get to see Ai fall into the wonder that is Kouka. I’m glad that she wants to push forward and start giving her all and become a top star. Is she my top pick for top star? Not yet, but glad to see that she’s interested rather than just staying at Kouka to pass the time. Plus, she’s slowly starting to make friends, so good for you, Ai.
After the show, the visualization of Sarasa being a vivid and shining star was so lovely to see. I was actually really surprised when they said that Sarasa was reciting Romeo’s lines because it sounded like a completely different person. I was half expecting the actual actor for Romeo to come out and talk with the group. But it turns out to just be Sarasa and her many talents. Sarasa, every week you impress me. I hope you’re able to achieve your dreams.
But I’d also like for some of your other classmates to achieve their dreams too. Like Ayako, the other focus of this episode. Early on a simple comment about her gaining weight led to a pretty devastating outcome. Regardless of her needing to grow a backbone, this entire situation was not handled well by the Dance teacher… even until the end. And I can understand Ayako’s frustrations! First, she’s told to lose weight, but then she’s told to make sure she’s eating well and taking care of herself, which in her mind is contradictory to what she was told all those months ago. Then, when confronted by the dance teacher to provide a food diary she interprets that to mean that she needs to lose even more weight. This was the perfect opportunity for the Dance teacher to actually approach the situation and do something about it. But she never showed concern directly to Ayako, it was just side comments in the teacher’s room. I’m sure she’s a fine person, but the mentality that more backlash = more success is incredibly dangerous.
I’m actually kind of glad that Ai was the first one to approach Ayako as opposed to Sarasa. As much as I love Sarasa, she’s proving herself more and more to be a cut above the rest. This was a perfect chance for Ai to step in and show concern for another person. And in some ways, she did! She was actually able to call out what Ayako was feeling physically and tie it back to her own experience. Now, in terms of words of kindness or encouragement, she was kind of lacking, but I think it was still important for her to call out.
I really liked the downfall that they portrayed Ayako having and comparing it to her younger self and her interactions with her sister. She worked incredibly hard to get into Kouka and no one was prouder of her than her sister. And so, her sister is ultimately the one she falls back on during this challenging time. Were her sister’s words the ones that she needed? Well… yes and no. Yes, in the sense that her sister continually supports her and is willing to do what she can to help. No, in the sense that using the phrase “You can always come back home” was probably not what Ayako should have seen as that was becoming the equivalent of “go ahead and quit and return to your normal life”. But thank GOODNESS for Onodera!! I’m really glad that he was able to call out to her to tell her that she wouldn’t be in Kouka if she didn’t have the potential. I’m glad that he was able to break through to her.
However, I do wish there was more of a connection between Onodera and Ayako. It’s been shown time and time again that Onodera does actually care about her well-being, but other than that Ayako really only seems to see him as a regular teacher. His words may have been what she needed, but did they need to come from him? I understand that her voice really struck a chord with him and he is the voice teacher, but I feel like this could also have been by Ai, or even Kaoru. But I’m still happy that he was able to her help her out. And then we had that lovely ending with her solo and by that time the tears were already flowing.
And so, we have another great episode this week. I feel like the resolution came a little bit too fast, as something like bulimia doesn’t stop at the drop of a hat. But on the other hand, I’m glad that this anime decided to touch upon it because eating disorders are not too uncommon in industries where you are put upon a stage (and just in life in general). Ayako, I hope you continue singing and I hope that you are able to have a good relationship with food again soon!