Part 149: "Tetsuo Takahashi Wants to Protect" (Pt. 2)
Interviews with Monster Girls, Episode 4: "Tetsuo Takahashi Wants to Protect" (Pt. 2)
Hikari comes home and jump-tackles Himari on the couch
Only for the camera to cut to her laying down on her lap. Himari tries to ask her whats wrong, but she says everythings okay.
Jump to the next day. Kyouko, Hikari, and Yuki are sitting in chairs at the front of an empty auditorium before Satou and Takahashi; the letters discussing how an (unnamed) student brought a concern before him that he wanted to cover with all of them. This, by the way, is good practice when it comes to accommodations, or really any kind of request for a change to a groups environment that cant or shouldnt stay private: keep it generic and general, offering the change to the whole group instead of singling anybody out.
Hikari and Kyouko quickly figure out the student in question was Yuki, which is sometimes inevitable when you do that. But whatever.
Takahashi asks them, as the only three demis in the school, to look out for each other and provide each other support as the people best equipped to understand their struggles. If they need help resolving something, he suggests they come either to him or to Satou, especially Satou, as shes both a demi and a woman, which makes her better equipped to understand their situation. This is Kind of good practice, though its much more complicated than it looked. See, they really are better equipped to understand each others struggles than anybody else. As someone who works in disability, the opposite opinion the idea that members of the privileged outside group should be in charge of mentoring and advising the minority is both very widespread and very destructive. A few months ago I attended a presentation at a conference where a scholar presented her experience setting up disabled student mentorship groups as a disabled woman; both her records and the literature she pulled on showed emphatically that abled organizers, leaders, and especially one-on-one mentors could not adequately meet their students needs. The reception was overall positive, but she did break hearts when people asked about their therapist-led mentorship programs.
(Satou says out loud she wishes she could be the one asking him for advice before flailing and backtracking when she realized he heard her, then agrees to help out.)
Anyway, thats about all he wanted to cover. He asks for questions, but doesnt get any he literally just bring this on them, hes not expecting an immediate response.
Hikari has one, though. She wants a hug.
And so, she just jump-hugs him. Shes not big or strong enough to push him over anything, so she just sort of ends up clinging to his waist.
Kyouko, being Kyouko, stammeringly demands one too, and gets it. Once hes done hugging her head, he passes it off to a giddy Hikari.
Satou, being Satou, elegantly takes off her glasses, complete with romantic blur filter
Then lunges in for a hug before he points out just how bad an idea that is.
While she backs off and ruminates on her failure in the background, Takahashi asks Yuki if she wants one too, and she visibly struggles with the question for a moment.
She stalwartly marches forward into his arms and embraces him, only for him to begin quietly talking to her.
He very gently points out that shes surrounded by people who are like her and support her, and that shes not alone. He emphasizes that hes not going to make her discuss her issues, but also that she has a nascent support network ready and able to help her work through her problems, and expresses confidence things will improve. Which brings up a Complicated subject: the difference between can and will when it comes to comforting someone. Im not sure theres a formal name for the debate, but theres a division between assuring someone things can be better and backing it up and assuring someone things WILL be better without qualification. The latter approach is kind of what we expect to hear; it comes across as supportive on a much deeper level than the more intellectual former method, which seems like youre scrambling to prove a point you arent sure about. Except, when it comes to people who have issues that you cant expect to go away, like, say, having a disability? We know very well our circumstances arent bound to improve because weve lived the opposite over and over again. Will statements, especially from someone who doesnt share your disability, often come across as ignorant, condescending, or manipulative, a way to encourage us to fold our suffering away so they dont have to look at it and binding us to pretend theres nothing wrong if we dont want to disappoint them. A well-delivered can statement with appropriate evidence gives someone something to cling to, something that sticks out and provides more concrete comfort. On the other hand, can statements can come across as petty or insincere if not delivered right, and the certainty of goodwill statement provides can make a huge difference, so, who knows. I find will statements much overused and like delivering forceful can statements, but I think the circumstances really matter more than any theory. Either way, Yuki seems to calm down a bit at that.
After another bit of awkward sex comedy, we jump to Himari talking with a friend sometime in the afternoon. The other girl enthusiastically sums up the meeting (I guess she heard it secondhand?) and has only good things to say about Takahashi, but Himari isnt won over; shes still suspicious of his intentions.
So, naturally, by sheer contrived coincidence they end up leaving school at the same time and walking in the same direction to get home. What follows is a conversation that both puts his efforts into perspective and would have convinced me this show was about disability if I didnt already believe it.
At first, Himari observes Takahashi as he natters on about school and biology. Her internal monologue keeps hopping between Im assuming the worst of someone whos been nothing but helpful and he sees my sister as an experimental sample, gradually drifting towards thinking hes not obsessed with demis after all Before he asks her about demis out of the blue.
He postulates that vampires have sharper senses to help them hunt prey, cites his evidence (pop-culture), and forwards a hypothesis that Hikari also has extremely sharp senses. He then tests his hypothesis by acknowledging Hikari cannot get enough garlic and asking Himari if she has any insight.
It turns out that, yeah, Hikari really does have sharp senses, she just loves garlic that much. Himari even asked her if she was forcing herself to eat it once and got told she REALLY likes eating smelly things (they both flatly knowledge theyre really glad she didnt say that in public).
Himari pauses briefly, then asks him about something weve discussed before in this thread, something I want to quote in full:
Himari has to have seen people make assumptions about her sister and reduce her to her demi nature, then turn on her because she doesnt fit the stereotype. if you, say, have depression or chronic pain and had the misfortune of telling certain people about it, youve probably heard something similar before, often with the implication that you dont know what youre talking about or youre lying for attention. The dehumanization is a lot more literal here, but it sounds awful familiar to me.
Takanashi Himari posted:
Lots of people who talk to me about my sister say she doesnt seem like a vampire, that shes just like a normal high school girl. You seem very interested in demis natures, so what do you think of that? Do you think my sister doesnt seem like a vampire? Are you not that interested in her human side?
He gives a response I also want to quote in full:
And theres his speech: he acknowledges there are real, measurable differences between the lives of demis and non-demis; points out how those differences, though they affect their lives, dont necessarily define them and they need to be recognized as humans; brings up how downplaying being a demi to emphasize being a human just leaves their specific needs unaddressed; and affirms the key is balance, embracing both sides equally and paying attention to both. Thats something Ive spent the last several months trying to drive home.
Takahashi Tetsuo posted:
Its true that she doesnt behave the way Id expect a vampire to. But if you asked whether that makes her unlike a vampire, Id say it doesnt. Hikari does want to suck peoples blood, but she settles for blood bags, and even though she has a vampires keen sense of smell, she loves foods with strong scents. That human side is what makes her like a vampire, and its what makes her unique. It isnt how youre born that makes you like something. Its how you live with what you are. But that doesnt mean its okay to neglect an understanding of a demis nature. The concerns unique to demis are caused by their natures. You cant look at things in only one way. You should look from both angles. If you just see traits unique to demis, youll miss their individuality. If you only see the human side, you wont understand their troubles. Both are precious. Whats important is balance. Thats what I think.
Himaris so impressed she invites him over to their house; she wants him to tell her parents what he just said to her.
To lighten up the end of the episode, as Takahashi comments that hed actually like to speak to their parents anyway, Himari receives a text from Hikari that twists what happened in the meeting to sound like he assaulted her. He flails in horror when she confronts him.
We get an echo of the first scene in this update after Himari rushes home. Turns out Hikari just wanted her sister home because she was bored and lonely, and she figured thatd make her pick up the pace. Himari gently scolds her, and the episode ends.