What’s it about? Miyako lives at home with her mother and fifth-grade sister, and her passion is creating cosplay. When her little sister Hinata brings a friend over, Miyako suddenly finds herself in love.
CONTENT WARNING: Discussions of pedophilia and child grooming
“Lesbian pedophiles” has only barely become an established subgenre, and I’m already running out of energy for this shit. Wataten lacks the overt lasciviousness of last season’s UzaMaid!, which I suspect will lead to a larger trend of folks giving it a pass. But then again, it doesn’t have the all-important Nice Animation that earned pedomaid its defenders, so who knows?
We in the anime trenches tend to get a bit desensitized to some of the underage creepiness that crops up in the medium, so I thought I’d spend this review trying to do something useful for a change. In the model of Jenny Trout, I thought it might be illuminating to tackle this episode with checklists in hand (as a note: a handful of symptoms on their own are not enough for a layperson to diagnose someone in real life; please exercise caution). I hope you find it helpful, because I’ve ruined my search history.
Our protagonist is a seemingly adult woman, or at least someone who’s significantly older than the fifth-grade Hana. The joke of this subgenre rests a lot on the assumed absurdity of a female abuser (or at least, I’m presuming that’s a contributing factor to why this is getting streaming rights while the infamous Kodomo no Jikan was recently yanked from online retailers). But wouldn’t you know it? Nine percent of sexual abusers are women, and 50% of victims are aged 6-12.
Miyako is withdrawn and spends every day in a tracksuit—except when she’s cosplaying—and has no friends her own age. We also see her being (wackily™) abused by her mother, a frequent background of female predators in particular.
The National Center for Exploited and Missing Children lists warning signs that include:
- Lives alone or with parents
- Associates and circle of friends are young
- Limited peer relationships
- Refers to children as “clean,” “pure,” “innocent,” “impish,” etc., or as objects
- Identifies with children (better than with adults)
- Has hobbies and interests appealing to children
- Activities with children, often excluding other adults
In case you were wondering, all of those appear in some form or other in this episode! It’s really fun, because they’re wrapped around a rom-com-style thread where Miyako is trying to figure out why her gosh-darn tummy feels all wriggly.
Her solution is that she must “become friends” with the unfortunate and incredibly alarmed Hana, who starts out making comments about calling the cops but never actually does. Because, see, if the anime points out that it’s doing the skeevy thing then it’s like it’s not doing it at all. Check and mate, feminists.
- Repeatedly ignores social, emotional, and/or physical boundaries and limits
- Singles out a child, lavishes them with extra attention, affections, gifts, and develops an age-inappropriate relationship
- Pushes and regularly suggests “alone” time with the child
- Pushes physical boundaries with a child including hugging, touching, kissing, tickling, wrestling, or holding a child even when the child resists physical contact or attention
But it’s anime, so we call it tsundere, y’see.
Lest you think all this lavishing of gifts is a Pure and Selfless offer, though, Miyako also makes sure that she trades them for the opportunity to take lots of pictures of Hana in cosplay. Including what appears to be an attempted upskirt shot. The directors made sure that we saw the posed photographs as well, so that speaks highly of the kind of person they think is watching this show starring ten-year-olds.
This first episode has already ended with Hana’s boundaries beginning to erode, both thanks to candy and, after witnessing Miyako’s abuse at her mother’s hands: “compromise[ing] their innate ability to decipher good and bad behavior, ultimately justifying the criminal’s bad behavior out of sympathy and concern for the adult’s welfare” (Thoughco.com).
But those colors, y’all. So bright. So vivid.
No matter how much I pleaded literally anyone to call the police through my laptop screen, it just kept trudging onward through the longest 23 minutes of this very young year. I didn’t even have the strength to wrap my head around Miyako’s sister getting jealous and therefore increasingly clingy in a super uncomfortable way, or the dawning realization that this is, in fact, going to be a harem series of sorts. 10/10, Crunchyroll, you really licensed some winners this season.
Editor’s Note: this post was edited after publication to clarify wording