TORRANCE, CA — Richardson Middle School in Torrance, California drew attention this week for featuring clips from the currently airing anime Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san as discussion material in its anti-bullying seminars as an attempt to connect to the interests of the student body.
Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san is an anime about middle-school student Takagi, who enjoys relentlessly teasing her classmate Nishikata, and the escapades that follow. While most view Takagi’s teasing as harmless and endearing, in the eyes of event organizer Ted Matthews, what appears to be an innocent television show is, in actuality, a vivid depiction of personal harassment.
“Nishikata’s character portrays many of the symptoms indicative of bullying,” explained Matthews. “His disposition is generally gloomy or distressed, he struggles to pay attention in class, and he also openly admits to being powerless regarding his situation.”
Matthews also made comments towards Takagi’s proficiency as a bully, citing her unpredictable personality, seemingly friendly appearance, and expertise in manipulation.
“This character perfectly demonstrates that bullies don’t have to be restricted to the typical ‘jerk jock’ or “brute idiot” stereotypes,” Matthews explains. He also made note of Takagi’s “ruthlessness”, alluding to an episode where she “teases” Nishikata fifty-four times in a single day and later sexually harasses him while sharing an umbrella.
The presentation received mixed opinions, with “that’s cute,” “what anime?” and “what is anime?” being the most common reactions from the students. Others criticized Matthews’ demonstration as a misinterpretation and misuse of the source material, claiming that he was obviously unaware of important context from the manga’s spinoff and doujinshi.