Demi-chan wa Kataritai 4 and Internalized Discrimination

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“Don’t worry. That’s not true.”

Episode 4 of Demi-chan wa Kataritai begins after Kusakabe overhears two girls badmouthing her behind her back.

Functionally, whether or not a particular instance of harassment is the result of prejudice towards a minority group doesn’t really matter. Either way, it has the same mental burden on the victim, making them self-conscious of their minority status and resulting in the (often negative) internalization of society’s representation of them.

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In this situation, it may be important to tell kids that it’s not true, not because it isn’t true, but because you don’t want them to internalize discrimination. Before the teachers can do much of anything, however, Takanashi confronts the two gossipers, who respond in a manner very reminiscent of what happens when you confront people about racism, reading her reaction as something to be expected from a minority rather than the result of harming others, asking why she’s making such a big deal out of it, complaining that everybody does it and that they’re being singled out, and asking Takanashi whether she’s never done anything wrong.

Takanashi responds by stating that she’ll call out anyone who does the same every time she sees it, and that she at least tries to not do anything she knows is wrong, which is honestly an ideal that everyone should strive for, as silent complacence simply confirms for the victims that society agrees with the aggressor.

After a brief interlude with Takahashi (with an h, that’s the teacher) stressing the importance of community as an emotional resource, the episode ends with Takanashi’s little sister, who isn’t a demi, asking Takahashi whether he’s only interested in Takanashi’s demi qualities.

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This seemingly innocuous question is actually a rather incisive one, as it’s a question of whether he’s fetishizing demis, like when women of color are treated as “exotic,” or just… most other things involving “monster girls.”

But Takahashi is frankly spot-on in his response: “If you just see traits unique to demis, you’ll miss their individuality. If you only see their human side, you won’t understand their troubles.” Demi-chan wa Kataritai, despite a potentially flawed premise rooted in ideas of biological race and fetishization, makes rather impressive commentary about the social and psychological aspects of discrimination. For some reason, I wasn’t as impressed when I was reading the manga (maybe has to do with panelling vs storyboarding), and episodes 1-3 were alright, but episode 4 does a pretty good job. (It’s still basically a harem anime though.)

 

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