Girlish Number focuses on family issues, marking the show’s turn into something more character-based. While the disappointment is felt, the value of the issues tackled somewhat makes up for it.
Our two veterans, Momoka and Shibasaki, have strikingly opposite family situations. The latter, who is largely the center of this episode, comes from a traditional family of ryokan owners. They’re worried about her situation and whatever she may be forced to do, especially after the mizugi video; so much that mom has come to check on her baby girl. Shibasaki finds this a nuisance: isn’t it embarrassing for your parents to treat you like this even though you’re already an adult?
But of course, not everyone sees it that way. Their relationship is a very honest one: mom worries about her kid, kid is embarrassed because they feel too old for this. But this is, in the end, the epitome of a pure parent-child relationship, something which Momoka understands very well. This contrast is at the core of the episode’s progression, because when Shibasaki has to go back home after five whole years to reassure her dad, Momoka decides to stick along.
She needs to see what her colleague’s family is like, if only to compare it to hers. Because Momoka’s relationship with her mother is sad, to say the least. She comes back home late, and when they talk, it’s always about the same thing: business. “Don’t do gravure, you sell an image of cuteness”, she is told. This isn’t the kind of thing Momoka is wishing for. Even in her own household, she’s lost a place where she can innocently talk about all kind of mundane, meaningless subjects.
What can’t be underestimated is the usefulness of these contrasting family situations in developing the characters themselves. Momoka, who’s been pushed into this world by her family, accepts the industry as it is because the reality was hammered into her head, but also because the element of personal passion is lesser in her. Meanwhile Shibasaki is doing this solely because she wants to become an actress: she has a goal, a place she wants to attain. And this personal ambition keeps her from accepting things as they are. She wants better because she’s doing it out of a personal passion which drives her forward.
This contrast is made of further interest by Shibasaki’s distant, often insincere behavior as opposed to Momoka’s bright personality. “Don’t trust appearances”, while a cliché, seems a fitting lesson to take from this. And it manages to make the characters more interesting by giving clear reasons for their behaviors; reasons that are, to top it all off, very easy to empathize with.
And amid these genuine issues and inspirations, guess whose awfulness is underlined? Yes, Chitose’s. She’s egocentric and whimsical: she has no personal complications, but rather complicates her own life with her selfishness and greediness. Furthermore, her entire inability to sense the first thing about Shibasaki and Momoka’s concerns shows her as self-engrossed idiot. Her constant associations with Kuzu-P only insist on this fact: she is terrible to the point of being parodic (as can be said of many of the show’s characters).
And in the end what we have is a rather good offering from Girlish Number. While the drive away from industry-related issues is regrettable, it’s still lurking the shadows, tying all the characters’ issues together. And Momoka’s problem, which seems the ultimate thing the show is waiting to further explore, is directly related to the business. Furthermore, it an interesting theme many will have heard of: the influence of family in a child’s career. Being the “son/daughter of this successful person” is a burden that has touched many an artist; but this time we can get an inside perspective, so here’s hoping Girlish Number handles that in a way that swings us right back to the core of the business problems… while still managing to keep Chitose at the center of the picture. Not a small task, which the show’s absorption in its own parodical antics is partly responsible for, but its great start has shown what it is capable of, and thus we can only believe.
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