Episode 4 - "Kanna Goes To School! (Not That She Really Needs To)"
This show packs so much heart into a mundane event. Kanna wants to go to school with other kids who look like her 8 year old human form. Kobayashi suggests the idea, they buy supplies, Kanna goes to school and makes friends. That's totally slice of life and healing anime stuff, but when you added dragons to the mix, we got a surprisingly meaningful meditation on outsiders, assimilation and familial connection.
This was an all the way Kanna-centric episode. Touru's little bouts of jealousy and trying to get Kobayashi to pay attention to her again by mimicking Kanna's actions ran away with that idea.
School supply shopping is about the most boring thing I could imagine. But just add dragon newcomers and then it became an adventure!
Ha! If Touru only gets her information from the net, she's going to turn into a conspiracy nut. But she's not wrong that there is collusion between school supply manufacturers and what the schools mandate the kids need to have. Well, let's call it symbiosis...
Let's Go Shopping For School!
Kanna doesn't want boring human stationary and office supplies. She also brought down Touru a peg by not agreeing to boring old dragon supplies. No quills for her! No, she wants cute stuff. Which also means expensive stuff...
All these bits in the stationary store prove what a good premise with good characters can do for easy comedy. Everything is brand new to a dragon. Pens, staplers, erasers that look like desserts and stamps are either torture devices or confusing things to a medieval dragon.
This was also when we started seeing Touru childishly competing for Kobayashi's attention. She writes better than Kanna (although it's kind of creepy)! She'll take Kobayashi's personal brand on her back too! And the power of Kanna getting more Kobayashi points than her proved stronger than her claustrophobic and traumatic fear of the mall. It's alright, Touru. You should never get used to shopping in the mall.
It was in the school uniform supply shop that the deeper themes of what joining a different society for outsiders mean. When they were buying the cute stationary, there was still the element of individuality that could be argued by choosing slightly different variations of the same item. But in the uniform store, that was all broken down. You had to buy the same indoor shoes. You had to buy the same hat. You had to buy the same name tag.
Kobayashi answered Touru's question why everything had to be the same: to reduce the differences between people. This was already a sensitive topic for the dragons because their very essence is different than humans. The older Touru could understand it, but didn't have to like it. The younger Kanna couldn't articulate her unease, but tellingly chose Kobayashi for reassurance.
Kanna had come to this world pursuing Touru, but in matters straddling the dragon and human world, she sought comfort from Kobayashi. This is good stuff. It's great!
The walk home from all the shopping captured the resolution of Kanna's feelings. She was a dragon, but she was joining Kobayashi's world too. Holding her hand was an overt sign of the little family this human and two dragons had already built.
Of course, Touru needed to hold Kobayashi's hand too.
The day before class is like the night before Christmas, except all your presents have already been opened but you can't play with them yet. That's an exquisite kind of anticipation.
Incidentally, that red backpack that's so popular for Japanese grade-schoolers is called a Randoseru. It's an appropriation of the Dutch word for backpack, ransel. Randoseru (ランドセル) is just the Japanese phonetic spelling of "randsel," how the Dutch pronounce their word.
We have more fodder for Touru's competitive jealousy. Give it up already. This is Kanna's episode.
Kanna Goes To School.
Kanna is obviously cute and the other 3rd graders thought so too.
Riko, who was obviously going to be the foil and best friend to quiet Kanna, is loud, overconfident and has a shiny forehead. This self-proclaimed queen of the classroom is a fine addition to the comedic cast. Kanna knew how to disarm her right away! Cry like she was being bullied and get everyone else on her side. Dragons have all sorts of weapons...
Kyaa! Riko said that Kanna was standing out too much and was so cute she wanted to hug her!
Kanna's catchphrase マジやばくね (maji yabaku ne) quickly became popular with the class. The mix of katakana with hiragana marks this as some kind of weird slang construction. Literally, it's "seriously dangerous," but it's use makes it into its opposite. Kind of like saying "bad" meaning "good," Kanna calculated in her head that Riko was totally the opposite of "wicked," but entertaining in her own way.
Touru, who had been tasked to watch over Kanna on her first day of school, had a deep conversation with her on the walk back home. She said that "living among them [humans] doesn't mean living with them." Kobayashi is apparently an exception, but Touru's distinction can refer to an intruder hiding his nature or to outsiders forming their own enclave without assimilation. We've seen this many times in history with immigrant communities living separately from mainstream society. Her fears come from other dragons yearning to love and live with humans and having bad endings. Kanna, being young, only sees that other kids are close by and they can share fun times together.
The answer, or reconciliation of all these swirling feelings and thoughts need only be as close as family. When Kanna saw this cute little strappy thing, she put it back because Kobayashi was remarking on how expensive everything was. That needy feeling of not wanting to impose on someone is very similar to what foster children or newly adopted older children feel. Kanna felt that even 5 more dollars worth of something she wanted was too much to bother Kobayashi about. It felt too selfish to her.
The coda to Kanna reaching her hand out to Kobayashi was Kobayashi noticing this little interplay and buying the accessory as a present for Kanna's first day of school. Families notice these things. Kobayashi confirmed to Kanna that she was accepted, she was not an imposition, that she was family. Nice. Nice stuff here.
The Fun Stuff.
After introducing all these fun characters over the last two episodes and having our cathartic sentimental moment, it was time to have fun with them.
That gorilla sculpture from Gorilla Drill neighbor was pretty prominent.
Of course, Riko picked a fight with older kids. I liked how there was a responsible rational one among them, but even he couldn't take Riko's attitude anymore.
Fafnir is just there with Lucoa playing videogames and drinking coffee.
That shiny forehead of Riko's is going to be comedy gold. Gold, I tell you!
Dragons got to be dragons. Defeating a bunch of kids wasn't satisfying enough, so then they had to play like dragons do!
Lucoa is totally the big sister. Cleaning things up and erasing memories. It's what big sisters do, right?
Haha! They brought back the joke of playing human dodgeball like Kobayashi would! "Bend over more like an old lady about to be abandoned." Oh, man!
Next time, back to the office, and maybe time for that fifth dragon to show up.