Kageki Shojo‘s third episode is airing for all to watch! This episode tackles some dark themes, and reveals the reason behind Ai Narata’s cold demeanor. It’s an episode that focuses mainly on her, showing what Ai’s been through and how it affects her until today. An exploration of the episode’s events will go down right here in this spoiler-filled discussion!
Ai Narata sits on a bench, away from her peers. She coldly expresses to her uncle Taichi how she wants nothing to do with them, and especially resents Sarasa Watanabe. To her, the tall, bumbling blonde is nothing more than an annoyance. When Taichi assumes that the two are friends because they are roommates, Ai makes her stance on the matter clear. They are not friends.
Kageki Shojo’s third episode starts on this cold, bitter note, and sets the tone for what is a bleak and dark episode. The episode spends a large portion of its runtime tackling Ai’s childhood. It reveals that as the daughter of a famous actress, Ai has had to lead a life of lies and compromises. When she is asked about her father, she lies and says that he bought her a teddy bear. When the boys in her school make fun of her mom, she lies and says it’s okay. And when her mother brings home a strange man, Seiji, she shakes his hand, despite being uncomfortable doing so.
It from Seiji that the darkest parts of Ai’s childhood arise. From the beginning, she was uncomfortable around the man. His gaze seemed to follow her everywhere. He seemed to spend just a few seconds too many outside Ai’s bedroom door far too often. This all comes to a head when while Ai’s mother is away, Seiji asks for Ai to kiss him.
Viewers are then forced to watch this abhorrent cretin grab Ai’s head and force his lips onto hers. The poor child is helpless, dropping her cupcake, her hands trembling in fear. Tears well up in her eyes and pour all the way to the bathroom, where she runs to gag and retch by the toilet. Her breathing is frantic as she recounts how Seiji’s tongue violated her mouth.
Ai tries to call her mom, but the actress refuses to listen to her daughter’s pleas to come home. This breaks the girl, causing her to cut off chunks of her own hair, and to violently disembowel her teddy bear. It is here that glimpses of the Ai of the present day can be seen, as the traumatic event causes her to grow numb and cold.
Fortunately, Taichi arrives by Ai’s side and lends her a helping hand. After arguing with Ai’s mother, his sister, regarding what had transpired, he provides Ai with a lock and key for her bedroom. He also shares with her a “lucky charm”: a key to his own house, in case Ai ever needed a place to escape to.
Later, an older, wiser Ai joins JPX. She does so, believing that in a girl group, she can surround herself with women and escape men. However, she fails to consider the target audience of a girl group, and one day finds herself face-to-face with an overenthusiastic fan. As he eagerly grips her hands, she utters the words that forced her to leave JPX: “Let go, creep.”
In the present day, Ai finds herself mere feet away from that same fan. He has found her. Suddenly, she’s a child once again, trembling before the sight of a deplorable, repulsive man. She runs to Taichi, holding him tight, sobbing at the thought that this fan had managed to find her.
Sarasa then offers to walk back to the dorms with Ai. Though Ai is reluctant, the two walk together on the road back home.
The two are confronted by the fan. As Ai begins to tremble once again, Sarasa takes her hand. She stands between Ai and the fan, demanding to know what his deal is. In a nervous, shaky voice, the fan expresses his desire to speak to Ai, referring to her as “Naracchi”, her former stage name. He reaches out holding a bag, stating that Ai had dropped it before running away from him.
As the fan steps closer, Ai sees in him Seiji, as he approached her long ago. This is far too much for her. She runs away in the opposite direction, leaving Sarasa alone with the nervous fan.
What an episode. Kageki Shojo really took it to another level on just its third episode. It was so difficult to watch in all the best ways. The story receives a dark twist here, and it contrasts so nicely with the cheery, happy tone set in the first two episodes.
The direction of Ai’s entire flashback sequence was nothing short of spectacular. It was able to cement a slimy, retched atmosphere while retaining a high level of storytelling quality all throughout. This is easily the most engrossing Kageki Shojo has been so far, and it will be a treat to see how the show follows up from here on out.
There is a realistic tone to the show that is so well-handled. It does deal with rather realistic concepts of abuse, neglect, and academic rigors. However, it does so while maintaining an air of whimsy and fun, making sure to balance the two out in a way that does not diminish the impact of either tone. It’s a fine line that Kageki Shojo chooses to walk, and it’s one that they’ve done a great job treading so far.
Kageki Shojo episode 3 is available to watch on Funimation! Episode 4 will premiere on July 25, 2021.