SPOILERS: General discussion of ClassicaLoid Episode 8.
“At a girls’ day out, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a boy or a girl. Wear whatever you’re comfortable wearing, eat whatever you like, and say what you mean. If you can do that, you’re in a girls’ day out.”
In episode 8, “Girls’ Day Out,” the ClassicaLoid ladies take some time off to unwind and open up. With humor, subtlety, and a dash of vinegar, their time together becomes an exuberant exploration and celebration of what it means to be a girl—and their answer turns out to be a happily inclusive one.
If you’re new to the party, ClassicaLoid follows high schooler and landlady Kanae as her boarding house slowly becomes the home of rogue ”ClassicaLoids”: Famous composers (like Beethoven and Mozart) reborn into new bodies in modern-day Japan. Also, they have psychedelic music powers called Muzik. Most of them are unemployed runaways, but two are pop stars. Bach is their producer.
…Look, I never said this show was serious. It’s brightness and silly sincerity are a major part of its charm. ClassicaLoid has the energy and optimism of a Saturday morning cartoon, and it’s skyrocketed up my watchlist to become one of my favorite shows of the fall season.
While ClassicaLoid is more about honesty and community than any overtly feminist themes, it stumbles into some quiet gender commentary because of the way it builds its cast. Since there aren’t a ton of extremely well-known classical female composers, in an attempt to be more gender-balanced, ClassicaLoid opts to have both Franz Lizst and Pyotr Tchaikovsky (“Tchaiko”) reborn into AFAB (Assigned Female At Birth) bodies.
Liszt clearly identifies as a woman and talks cheerfully about her past-life relationships with women. Tchaiko, meanwhile, harbors a crush on Bach, resents being “written as” a teenager (they can’t drink vodka!), and at one point demands to “go back to being a normal bearded dude.” While I’m always hesitant to assign labels to people (fictional or otherwise) that they haven’t assigned to themselves, I think it’s fair to say that neither Liszt nor Tchaiko fit neatly under the headings of cisgender or straight.
All of which brings us to the main event: The “Girls’ Day Out” (or 女子会), an event Liszt organizes so she and the other ladies—Kanae, Tchaiko, and Bąda—can spend more time together. Only problem is, none of them knows what you’re supposed to do on a girls’ day out because none of them has ever been on one before. Kanae even wonders if Liszt can host a girls’ day out, since she “used to be a guy.”
It’s an unpleasant beat of transphobia in such a positive-minded show, but fortunately ClassicaLoid spends the rest of the episode proving Kanae wrong and making Liszt’s “dream come true.” It takes some time, though. At first Liszt shuffles them from one event to the next (spas, bowling, shopping), encouraging them to open up with little success. She badly wants to connect with the other women in her life, but she isn’t sure how, and her pushiness just makes them shy away more.
It isn’t until they get to karaoke that the girls’ day out really takes off. Music’s ability to evoke our deepest, rawest emotions is an ongoing theme in ClassicaLoid, so it’s not surprising that Tchaiko and Bąda finally drop their professional front during a (very funny) “Russian folk song” where they complain about their jobs as pop idols.
Moved by their suffering, Kanae joins in, ad-libbing her own verses about all her male house guests who blow up the kitchen and never pay the rent. Thrilled to hear their confessions, Liszt soon joins them in the rousing chorus: “The pain, the pain, the pain!”
And just like that, they’re all besties, sharing gossip and chatting about their frustrations and insecurities. While they do get a little mean at times, their developing friendships are depicted in an overwhelmingly positive light, as they’re now able to express the things they would never say at work, school, or around the other (male) characters.
The gang builds their girls’ day out around shared experiences and feelings, and especially the pressures put on them to be cheerful, accommodating, responsible, professional, kind people all the time. Many women (self included) feel this expectation to keep quiet or be perfect on a daily basis, and bond over that shared experience the same way the ClassicaLoid cast does. The girls’ day out gives them an outlet, a place to escape society’s expectations and just be themselves, warts and all.
ClassicaLoid doesn’t stop there, though. Unbeknownst to the ladies, Kanae’s childhood friend Sousuke has been tailing them all day. It’s the kind of plot point that could’ve turned voyeuristic or creepy in a hurry, but it mostly works because Sousuke’s motivation is basically just “I want to hang out with them but I don’t know how to approach them without it feeling like I’m intruding.” It’s a girls’ day out, after all. Surely that means No Boys Allowed.
Like the girls, Sousuke is struggling to speak up and be himself. It’s not until Bach calls Tchaiko and starts scolding her and Bąda for skipping work that Sousuke finally comes out to defend his idols. His “courage to confess” triggers an epiphany for Liszt and she activates her Muzik Powers, encouraging her companions—Sousuke included—to literally burst out of their cocoons and speak honestly to Bach.
“The girls’ night out is love,” Liszt says. “Love someone and love yourself. That’s why we speak the truth.” Through communication and honesty, they all grow as individuals and in their relationships with each other.
Throughout the episode, the girls’ day out gradually expands to include all kinds of people—not just cisgender women like Kanae and Bąda, but the trans-coded Liszt and Tchaiko (who are both trans-coded in different ways), and eventually even a cisgender boy. In the episode’s closing moments, Liszt’s realizes that “girl” isn’t about gender: it’s a state of mind and a shared experience. Be a part of that, and you’re a part of a girls’ day out.
While a few standout series in 2016 directly challenge traditional ideas about masculinity (such as Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju and Yuri!!! on ICE), there weren’t as many willing to push as hard on traditional ideas of femininity. And, with the exception of the delightful Tanaka-kun is Always Listless, the year was pretty sparse on progressive comedy, too, so this “Girls’ Day Out” proved a welcome surprise at the end of the year.
While I doubt ClassicaLoid intentionally set out to smash the gender binary, it’s diverse cast and optimistic storytelling style led the writers to a joyfully inclusive little episode that also managed to be entertaining as heck. Long live the girls’ days out, and long live the many diverse people who take part in them.