Demi-chan wa Kataritai – 11

“I thought it was a good idea but now… kill me…”

winter15-highw Thankfully this wasn’t the last episode, like I was starting to think it was as they wrapped up the episode. But it was definitely a good episode, and let’s see what happened.

Too Much Support

Getting dressed down for caring too much

The manner of entry for the main conflict this week was “How do demi-chans beat the heat?”. But to be honest, that really didn’t matter, because what it was really was a jumping off point for the idea, floated by the school’s vice-principal, that maybe Tetsuo is being too attentive to the demi girls, and not giving them a chance to develop relationships with other teachers and learn to count on other people, because he is always the person they go to. This criticism leads Tetsuo to start second-guessing himself, ultimately demurring from his scheduled help with the girls about how to stay cool in the summer. But of course, he doesn’t let them in on what the issue is, just kinda gets weird and bails.

“I’ll… uh… talk to you later… maybe”

Trying to think about things on their own

But the issue brings in some other people, well, the only other people in the school we know, mainly Yusuke, Junichi, Atsumi, and Shizuka (which I think are all names given to the characters for this anime, since they’re all named after their VAs). We actually have a bit of time when they discuss the issue of discrimination and the idea of treating everyone the same. It’s an interesting conundrum that’s thrown up in the current thinking of people’s differences. “You shouldn’t treat people differently” is a fine idea, but everyone is different, and not acknowledging their differences can be hurtful in itself. And that’s a point that’s brought up in a rather backwards manner in the discussion by the black-haired girl (because honestly, I have no idea which one is Atsumi and which one is Shizuka) by dropping the bomb that “Should we really treat them like normal people?” It sounds bad right at the beginning, but the larger point holds up: If you treat them like normal people, can you expect them to come to you and open up about issues that only they have? Treating someone like “just a normal person” actually implies quite a bit of distance, because you’re not close to everyone in your life.

Learning what happened

The idea they get around to, even though they don’t really state it as such, is that if you want to be friends with them, you have to treat them like you would a friend. Be interested in their individual issues. Be accepting and acknowledge their individual differences. And you know what’s really great about this conversation amongst these kids? That they think about it for a second… and realize that they are the ones who should change. Is this idealized? Yeah, it is. But if a high school kid is watching this, I’d MUCH rather them see the message that thinking about changing yourself and your behavior to be kinder and friendlier to another person than just about any other message. Don’t even screw around with the idea of resisting the change and then being punished. Make it be a positive reward for doing the right thing. Because that’s what they get when the four of them take the initiative to go talk to the demi girls about the things that make them demis. A good chance to find out differences, to smile and learn and find out about other people.

The two groups finally come together

Cheer Up, Iron Man

Yuki gives it a go

The other kids making the effort to meet and learn isn’t what turns the episode, tho. After being kinda blown off by Tetsuo, the girls talk about what they think is the matter, getting the good idea to ask Sakie. But on the way they learn the real issue, as Hikari encounters the other kids after they have talked about it, and is filled in on what happened with the vice-principal. But after discussing it amongst themselves, with Sakie as well, they really don’t feel like the vice-principal is right, although I found it pretty great that Sakie praises the vice-principal instead of going along with the other girls idea of him being a bad guy. But he’s still put the chill on Tetsuo by saying he’s gone too far to help the demis, so they decide to try to cheer him up.

And Sakie will lend you a… shoulder… for support (although the word she used was )

What follows is a wonderfully heartfelt moment, just as Tetsuo is really doubting himself. Showing caring and gratitude, the girls and Sakie send him a video saying how much they appreciate the help they’ve given them, and more than the help, the opportunity for them to be themselves and discuss themselves with someone else without feeling like it’s going too far. Sakie even offers to reciprocate, maybe getting a little forward with asking him out for drinks to discuss things, but runs out of steam. And even if Hikari doesn’t add to the video, her time with Tetsuo where she shouts how much he inspires her is more the things that she probably was too embarrassed to say in front of the other girls.

Hikari adds her own part in person

But I think that I’m not really sure I’d agree with what the Vice-principal says. From what I see, the fact of having a teacher that’s so close to the girls is more likely to let them gain confidence in themselves and help them engender those relationships with the other teachers, instead of the other way around. Maybe it’s more of a western idea, but teachers who take that individual interest in their students, whether it be for just a few students or for all of them, but still meeting them individually, seem to be the ones that are remembered, the ones that are thought of as inspirations. Yes, you want young people growing up to learn a sense of independence and responsibility. But if you just throw them to the wolves, as it were, it can be the breeding ground for their insecurities and lead to a bad place. Is it likely that Hikari would become a brooding emo vampire kid? No, certainly not. But what if Yuki hadn’t had someone that she felt just a little less uncomfortable talking to? How much deeper into her own worries would she have gotten, perhaps reinforcing thought patterns that would make it much tougher for her to express herself? I think that it’s good to have teens grow up to be good adults, and responsible people. But I don’t think that the way to do it is necessarily to limit their contact with agreeable adults.

And someone finally cheers up

I love the little things the show does. Things like reminding us about Hikari’s differences like being able to identify him from a quarter-mile away. Things like having Tetsuo start the video on his phone in portrait mode, switch to landscape, and then have the video switch. Things like when Sakie was talking to Ugaki a few episodes ago, have her fidgeting with the bear while on the phone. Or when Kyouko is first talking to Tetsuo, the way her arms are moving while he’s holding her head. When you start learning a little bit about the production process in anime, it becomes clear that every bit of movement costs money. So you end up with a lot of cuts that are static shots, that are pans over unmoving things, a lot of background people standing still. Everyone does it, because it’s the cumulative cost of those little things that eat into your margin of both money and time. Which is why it’s great to see these little “extra” movements in this show. The things that take the animation out of the uncanny valley and into our hearts, that humanize the characters, that help show their anxiety, their excitement, their impatience. It’s not big and flashy. It’s small and probably unnoticed by a lot of people who “watch” these shows in the background while they’re playing a video game or cooking dinner, who don’t give it their full attention, who skip through or play at double speed because “Well, we’re reading it anyway, right?” But that’s what gives these shows the connection to me, the love and care that they put into the production that comes through as their love of the work, and comes to us as characters we love.


Proving that you don't have to be young to love anime, I enjoy all genres and styles of shows. If it's not hurting anyone else, you should never be ashamed of what you like!
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5 Responses to “Demi-chan wa Kataritai – 11”

  1. skylion says:

    The framing and art direction on this one was quite pointed. Framing characters in doorways and behind the chainlink did all the work of “hanging” lampshades, and allowed the conversations the room to be more natural than pointed. They also did great in framing the monster girls in their little camera and then carrying through, as you say, from one viewpoint to the next, then they took that tight frame and expanded on it. It’s often overlooked, but your brain does notice how figures are standing in frame, and it adds weight to the story in ways that goofy animation for the sake of it, or pointed dialogue can.

  2. HannoX says:

    While the vice principal was wrong, you can see where he was coming from. He was afraid the demis were becoming too dependent upon Tetsuo and not connecting with other teachers and students and not learning to deal by themselves with the issues their differences raised. So he was actually concerned about them and he quickly realized his err and unlike many people was able to readily admit he was wrong and to say so. I like that in the end he wasn’t played as the tin-plated villain it seemed he was being set up as earlier.

    If Hikari and Yuki have trouble dealing with summer heat, maybe they should spend summer break in northern Hokkaido and move there as adults.

    So demi-chans want to swim? Are we getting a beach episode and the girls in bikinis to end the series? I don’t think this anime needs that, but I’ll admit I wouldn’t mind such an episode. Hopefully if we get that they’ll still give us the wonderful heartfelt moments that have been so much in evidence throughout the show.

    I want another season.

    • Highway says:

      Well, Yuki *was* in northern Hokkaido, and moved to where they are now for high school (for reasons they didn’t go into). There are reasons people go to live in cities, and it’s not usually because they like the weather.

      It was good that the vice-principal wasn’t a tin-plated villain, although that kind of goes into the overall kishoutenketsu structure of the story, where there isn’t really a villain at all, just circumstances that cause complications (in a series like this, acts 1 and 2 can be considered to be earlier in the series, with acts 3 and 4 generally played out in an episode or two).

      I always wonder if structuring a series like this, with the main story and development ending prior to the last episode, and ending with the last episode being a stand-alone episode for fun or fanservice, is done as a hedge against production issues, is done as something that’s become accepted and people want to end on a relaxed note, or what the main reason is.

      • skylion says:

        The structure is very common in a lot of one cour shows, isn’t it? Is it possible it’s to hedge against the specific production of “do we match pace with the source material, or cut it to match TV pacing?”. We’ve discussed it before, but I’m in favor of shaping it towards the expectation of television, with a satisfying conclusion. Then we can get into bonus episodes being an timing and/or pacing extension…

        • Highway says:

          In a show like Demi-chan, I would think that there’s no float in how the story will play out. “This episode is going to be these stories.” I think that TV shows should always be cut as TV shows, not as direct adaptations if that isn’t going to work.

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