Transitioning into liminal space (stormdog) wrote in faceblind,
Transitioning into liminal space

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Animé with a faceblind (sort of) character.

I just posted something about this in my personal journal today, but I thought it was worth sharing here. There's an animé series I've just been watching called Kashimashi. Imagine my surprise when, about half-way through, I realized that one of the characters has a condition that's very much face-blindness-like. That's part of what I wrote about, and I thought I'd post the relevant portion here in case the readers of this community are interested.


There's this...condition...that Yasuna is dealing with. Through the beginning of the series, it's demonstrated that she's rather anti-social and pulls away from people, preferring to be by herself and shunning socializing with her classmates. She seems either snobbish, or extremely shy. I preferred to think of her as extremely shy because I can relate to that, and I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. And she seemed more scared that disdainful.

In the second disc, her avoidant behaviour was explained, and the reson behind it shocked me. She can't tell men apart. When she sees them, it's like she's seeing a gray blur, and all she knows is that it's another faceless, nameless person who she can't recognize or connect with. It's as though someone had taken faceblindness, tweaked it a little bit to make it more accessible, and put it into a TV show.

She's a loaner with no friends because she can't tell who she's talking to and is scared of offending people by not knowing their names and upsetting people in the hallway, or in class, or at the karaoke house. She pulls away from invitations to parties because she can't deal with trying to keep track of that many people. She declines to play her flute for a project that others in her music class want to put together because she won't know who half of them are. And even though she became close to Hazumu before he became female, and had romantic feelings for him, she turned down his request for a date because, even though she could somehow recognize him, she was scared that she'd suddenly find that she couldn't tell him apart from her other male classmates.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing when the explanation came out. When I made the connection in my head between her seeing males as faceless blurs and the problems I have with faces, it was stunning. When she was terrified to try to return a dropped notebook to its owner because she couldn't tell who he was, I was taken back to my days trying to make my way through school, never knowing who my classmates were. And as it became clear how isolated this disability has made her... it made me cry. I've been there. I am there still; I still feel so isolated by it sometimes. At conventions, at parties, at any social events with more than a handful of people... I was shocked. Empathetically saddened and unexpectedly validated at the same time.

As I was talking to Moira, I speculated that maybe it would be possible to do a short film about face-blindness that could make it more understandable to people. Something that could popularize it and make it more understood. I don't know; I wouldn't know where to start with something like that. But I just had to write a little bit here about how amazing it was to see someone in mainstream (more or less) media with the same (more or less; I know, work with me here) condition that I have. I don't dwell on it much, but I've had to admit to myself that I really am disabled, and it's an invisible disability, and that I share the feelings that others with invisible disabilities have expressed in various mediums. And seeing Yasuna struggle to interact with people that she can't recognize or tell apart, even though she's a fictional character, took away a little bit of that sense of isolation. I felt understood. I don't know how much sense that makes when there's nobody actually doing the understanding, but it was a very good feeling.
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