Girlish Number’s penultimate offering was perhaps its most satisfying so far. Chitose is the subject of discussion even when away from work; this build-up to her breakdown helps reveal the show’s true nature.
One may recall an early episode where Chii-chan derided Yae’s compliments. This links to now, when she can’t appreciate her friend’s sincere compliments: of course she wouldn’t listen to the encouragements of someone whose words she thinks are this cheap.
And so begins Watari Wataru’s great feat this week: nailing the inner workings of the mind of someone like Chitose.
She is this kind of person who believes in themselves, but also doesn’t. Behind the obnoxious act of narcissism is a nagging sense that she isn’t worth all she pretends. It haunts her, but these fears remain quiet when things are going well; however, they’re ready to take advantage of the smallest roadblock to drown her in self-doubt and depression. This is exactly what happens this week as she sees Minami’s earnestness and talent earning her the attention of everyone, while she slowly fades into the background. The process had started last episode, but now it reaches its climax, as Chii-sama holes herself up in her room.
And this time off from work pays off greatly… at least for the viewer. Yae tells Gojou he must do something as the only person whom she’d listen to. He’s aware of it: much as he criticizes her, she has something he doesn’t, for he’d quit by the time he’d reached where Chitose currently stands. And… although we’d criticized the Nambas and Kuzus as pure cynics, they also know to bet on a talent when they see one; the shachou understand these difficult times are precisely when Chii-sama can shine, pushed by the desire not to be overcome by the newbie Nanami, and encourages the producer to give her a chance.
And then we’ve got all her coworkers. Nanami shows how sincere she is in loving Chitose; even Momoka says having one girl like that is fine… and Shibasaki agrees!
All these people acknowledge her issues, but also her qualities and talents. She’s far from the reject she’s making herself out to be: she’s got what it takes to succeed, which everyone knows.
These scenes are of enormous value in clearing the big misunderstanding regarding Girlish Number’s supposed cynicism. Yes, it mocks excessive practices and mocks the industry as “weird”; but it’s never a depressed and depressing series about how thoroughly awful and heartless everything and everyone in this business is. Even people like Kuzu, for all their downright reprehensible actions, still have some good left in them; at least enough to see Chitose’s talent. Girlish Number is a show of light mockery, but still filled with the hope that this is still an industry where good things can happen to the right people.
And then we have Chitose’s very own breakdown. She reveals her nature to Gojou in a powerful soliloquy: she admits how awful she is, but can she help it? She wants – or rather, needs – to love herself, and for others to love her! She has to be number one! Yes, she’s doing it all for herself; but what’s wrong with that? It’s how she is, and she has the talent to achieve her ambitions. Gojou understands all this very well, and that’s when he can finally say it as he gives his birthday gift: she’s amazing, and a perfect fit to be a seiyuu. After all, what jobs can you do when you’re as naïve; selfish; lunatic as her… and only have talent and a burning desire to be the best? Certainly not a job that requires you to be sensible; but a competitive one that forces you to play on your sensitivity, then yes. And that’s why she has what it takes to succeed in this strange industry.
In the end, she rises from her depression, and heads to make a success out of her role’s final lines.
This was a very good episode of Girlish Number. While the production values aren’t always the best (see the plain awkward change in brightness when Chitose goes from depressed to motivated), Watari’s writing more than makes up for everything else. He perfectly understands how the character he’s created works, and brilliantly puts on display the many complexities of her (stupid) mind. Furthermore, the tone is a pleasantly contrasted one, quite like Oregairu’s; even those who think all hope is lost but they always end up finding possibilities. And even in this crazy business, talent can shine. Chitose is a perfect example of all this. Finally, it was great seeing the previous arc find relevance thanks to Chitose and Gojou’s conflict (the realization of a direct link between the family and industry themes), knowing the show’s “identity crisis” used to be a major concern of ours. One must tip their hat to the writer for bringing everything together this skillfully; now, all that’s left is a hopefully fun ending to wrap up one of Fall’s best shows.
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