What’s it about? Kudo Minare never intended to get into a life of radio, but here she is at the top of a mountain, facing down a bear as she reads listeners’ questions live on air. She may only have a few minutes left to live, but she’s still going to give these people the answers to their questions. Okay, so she’s actually in a studio with the sound guy mixing in the sounds of a bear, but it is true that she never meant to get into radio. It all started when she got wasted and vented her frustrations about her ex-boyfriend to a random guy at a bar…
Y’all, I’m in love.
I know “I’m not like other girls” and “cool girl” narratives are bullshit and played out, but what about “she’s not like other protagonists”? Is that good? Because Minare is a true rarity in anime. She’s messy. She’s loud. She’s abrasive. She doesn’t process her emotions the expected, “correct” way. She’s a fundamentally decent person, but her impulsiveness and temper get the better of her. She’s not a complete disaster area of a human, but enough so that she gets herself into situations that she’s not sure how to handle.
She’s perfectly imperfect, and the exact kind of heroine I’ve been asking—nay, begging for—for years.
I think I would die for her.
Okay, this review should probably consist of more than me talking about how much I’m in love with Minare, but as a character-driven episode, what more is there to talk about? As a writer on a feminist website is it not my right—nay, duty—to report when an actual, truly believable adult woman graces my screen and enchants me by yelling herself hoarse while roleplay-fighting a bear?
Wave, Listen to Me! strikes that rare, perfect balance between being grounded and just slightly outside the realm of reality. As Anime News Network’s Rebecca Silverman points out, radio producer Mato Kanetsugu’s choice to broadcast a woman’s drunken rant without permission and then shove her in front of a mic calls for some suspension of disbelief, since it’s a pretty wild violation of broadcast ethics. But I can and will suspend my disbelief, because it’s the inciting incident for Minare’s story.
You see, Minare was just dumped. Her ex-boyfriend, a man from Fukuoka, let her down pretty roughly, too. But instead of sitting at home and crying, she goes out and gets smashed. Positively black-out drunk. Alone. And in the process, she lets it all out to a middle-aged man in a bar.
Other than a nasty hangover that makes her late for work at the restaurant where she waitresses, she suffers no major ill consequences… or so she thinks, until she hears herself ranting over the radio. It’s actually kind of a fun(?) twist on the cautionary tale of a young woman going out and getting drunk alone and being taken advantage of. It’s a violation, yes, but an embarrassing one rather than something much more harmful. Mortification is better than assault.
But most importantly, the show doesn’t hinge solely on humiliating the uppity woman who dares to get drunk and run her mouth. It’s much more human than that. Two moments in particular stand out in that regard.
The first is when, after her night of drinking, she realizes she needs to cry it out but is having trouble getting the tears flowing. Her friend recommended Ghost to her for catharsis, but instead of the 1990 Patrick Swayze film, she accidentally puts on a cheesy horror flick with the same title instead.
It’s a good gag, but also a perfect expression of how she feels like she isn’t processing her feelings over the breakup the right way. She has a hard time crying without some kind of inducement and feels like there’s something wrong with that, even though it’s not uncommon for people.
The second happens in the episode’s climax, when Minare finds herself shoved into a radio booth about to go live. Having started in media res, we the audience know that she’ll succeed and end up with a hosting job, but the fact that she’s given a chance to defend herself in her own voice, live on the air, and does so, triumphantly and without a moment of dead air, speaks well for the story’s intentions for her.
She is not a heel to be ground down and laughed at. She may be messy, she may make mistakes, but ultimately, we’re supposed to root for her.
Not everyone’s going to fall for Minare like I did. I’m sure plenty of people will find her too loud, too abrasive, too shouty for their taste. And that’s fine. But I hope plenty more of you will join me in tuning in every week to hang on her every word.