Girlish Number Episode 12
by Nick Creamer, Dec 28th 2016
How would you rate episode 12 of
Girlish Number ?
Girlish Number ended in very Girlish Number fashion this week, as Chitose ramped up from “everything is terrible” to “everything might be terrible, but at least we can make money and try our best.” The episode began with classic Chitose, as she sulked about train delays while snow fell before the final dubbing session. The train delay wasn't her fault, but as Girlish Number has continuously demonstrated, many of the things that cause our careers to stall out aren't really our fault. Professional circumstances will always conspire against you, and the world doesn't exist to make your path easy. Those who succeed are the ones who can push forth in spite of all that.
Chitose isn't naturally a go-getter. In fact, not only is she pretty lazy, but she's also quick to blame problems on others. On top of that, she's also insecure - she'll act snappy toward others and crow about her own talents, but she also becomes easily discouraged when others don't praise her. So it takes Gojo's words of “encouragement” (“hurry up or I'll kill you”) to finally get her moving, running down the streets to save her doomed production one more time.
Frankly, the execution of this final conflict wasn't executed in a terribly interesting way. Since the in-show production has been in panic mode from the start, and the necessity of making this session was only introduced in this episode, there was no existing sense of tension for the show to draw on. Additionally, the actual pacing and visual articulation of Chitose's dash never felt particularly charged either. Girlish Number has always relied on the strength of its script to carry its lukewarm execution, and since finale sequences like this generally rely on strong tempo and direction, this segment ended up playing into the show's consistent weaknesses.
That said, Girlish Number has also been a fairly scrappy production, and in this case the conclusion more or less justified the awkward road there. Arriving at the studio, Chitose finally made her big character arc speech, where she got honest about her anxieties and limitations for the first time in public. Her words were awkward, sometimes trite, and occasionally still self-centered, but all of that made them feel much more like her words. Girlish Number's refusal to glamorize Chitose's circumstances or personality is very much to its credit. All of us have some elements of Chitose's myriad failings inside us, and I appreciate Girlish Number's belief that even if we're imperfect people fighting against long odds and countless eager competitors, there's still a chance out there for all of us.
The rest of this episode was mostly a victory lap, where the pleasures came mainly in the form of clever offhand gags. The reveal that Chitose's dresser is actually full of egg-themed shirts was great, and Kuzu-P suffered some charming dunks all throughout the second half. (Thank you Chitose for not letting him get away with "you go on ahead, I'll take care of this"). It wasn't a profoundly climactic or cathartic finale, but it was a perfectly reasonable celebration of Girlish Number's consistently strong cast.
Overall, I wouldn't say Girlish Number was a capital-g Great show, but it was an incisive, empathetic, and very witty one. It took full advantage of Wataru Watari's strengths in writing characters and banter, and it offered some poignant reflections on aging and the professional life. Few anime address the shifting fortunes of adult life with this nuance or bite, and Girlish Number's ability to tether those anxieties to characters with such clear internal worlds made it a consistent pleasure to watch. Good luck, Chitose. You definitely still need it.
Girlish Number is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.
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