The Let's Play Archive

Katawa Shoujo

by Falconier111

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 what’s wrong, but she says everything’s 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 group’s environment that can’t or shouldn’t 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 she’s both a demi and a woman, which makes her better equipped to understand their situation. This is… Kind of good practice, though it’s much more complicated than it looked. See, they really are better equipped to understand each other’s 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, that’s about all he wanted to cover. He asks for questions, but doesn’t get any – he literally just bring this on them, he’s not expecting an immediate response.

Hikari has one, though. She wants a hug.

And so, she just… jump-hugs him. She’s 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 he’s 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 she’s surrounded by people who are like her and support her, and that she’s not alone. He emphasizes that he’s 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. I’m not sure there’s a formal name for the debate, but there’s 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 you’re scrambling to prove a point you aren’t sure about. Except, when it comes to people who have issues that you can’t expect to go away, like, say, having a disability? We know very well our circumstances aren’t bound to improve because we’ve lived the opposite over and over again. Will statements, especially from someone who doesn’t share your disability, often come across as ignorant, condescending, or manipulative, a way to encourage us to fold our suffering away so they don’t have to look at it and binding us to pretend there’s nothing wrong if we don’t 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 isn’t won over; she’s 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 didn’t already believe it.

At first, Himari observes Takahashi as he natters on about school and biology. Her internal monologue keeps hopping between “I’m assuming the worst of someone who’s been nothing but helpful” and “he sees my sister as an experimental sample”, gradually drifting towards thinking he’s 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 they’re really glad she didn’t say that in public).

Himari pauses briefly, then asks him about something we’ve discussed before in this thread, something I want to quote in full:

Takanashi Himari posted:

Lots of people who talk to me about my sister say she doesn’t seem like a vampire, that she’s 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 doesn’t seem like a vampire? Are you not that interested in her human side?
Himari has to have seen people make assumptions about her sister and reduce her to her demi nature, then turn on her because she doesn’t fit the stereotype. if you, say, have depression or chronic pain and had the misfortune of telling certain people about it, you’ve probably heard something similar before, often with the implication that you don’t know what you’re talking about or you’re lying for attention. The dehumanization is a lot more literal here, but it sounds awful familiar to me.

He gives a response I also want to quote in full:

Takahashi Tetsuo posted:

It’s true that she doesn’t behave the way I’d expect a vampire to. But if you asked whether that makes her unlike a vampire, I’d say it doesn’t. Hikari does want to suck people’s blood, but she settles for blood bags, and even though she has a vampire’s keen sense of smell, she loves foods with strong scents. That human side is what makes her like a vampire, and it’s what makes her unique. It isn’t how you’re born that makes you “like” something. It’s how you live with what you are. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to neglect an understanding of a demi’s nature. The concerns unique to demis are caused by their natures. You can’t look at things in only one way. You should look from both angles. If you just see traits unique to demis, you’ll miss their individuality. If you only see the human side, you won’t understand their troubles. Both are precious. What’s important is balance. That’s what I think.
And there’s 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, don’t 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. That’s something I’ve spent the last several months trying to drive home.

Himari’s 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 he’d 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 that’d make her pick up the pace. Himari gently scolds her, and the episode ends.