Suzuka – 26 (END)
After Suzuka gets home, she ponders her conflicted feelings and stares at her photo of Kazuki. Yamato, after calling off Miki’s search for her, goes to Suzuka’s door to apologize, but stops himself. The next day, the two see each other as they’re leaving for school, but Suzuka doesn’t say anything to him. Yamato knows that he still has to compete with Kazuki and feels that he won’t lose to him. Miki, who notices that Yamato is running so hard to be number one and for Suzuka, suggests that Suzuka face him. When the two pass each other outside of their apartments later that day, Yamato confronts Suzuka about ignoring him and says that he won’t apologize. Yamato refuses to back down until she faces him, but Suzuka just runs away. The next day, Honoka sees Yamato staring at Suzuka fail to make a jump, so she finds Suzuka after practice and the two walk home together. Honoka, who admits that she’s leaving the manager position, encourages Suzuka to patch things up with Yamato.
Sometime later, Yamato learns from Miho that Suzuka is going back home to visit a grave. He rushes upstairs and tells Suzuka, who is just leaving, to stop visiting Kazuki’s grave. To his surprise, she asks him to come along. At the grave, Suzuka spends a very long time praying, until she finally, speaking to Kazuki, apologizes and says that she’s come with the person she likes. She says that this person is clumsy, irresponsible, meddlesome, and overbearing, but this is the person she really likes. The next day, Megumi and Yuuka find Suzuka outside waiting for Yamato. When they ask her about it, she gets embarrassed and runs off to school. Yamato comes out late and has to chase after her. He takes her hand and, since Suzuka doesn’t pull away, the two hold hands on the way to school.
As I thought, the end of chapter 72 is really the perfect place to end the animated version. Suzuka admits her feelings for Yamato in front of Kazuki’s grave, and the two end the series holding hands together. A very suitable ending for the anime, though many of you who read the manga know the turbulence that’s still in store. But that’s a different story altogether. Anyway, I’m glad that Miki and Honoka both ended up getting parts that allowed them to play important roles in changing Suzuka’s attitude and bringing her and Yamato together.
I think my only critiques of this episode are the “….” screens and the ending shot of Kazuki’s grave. The former just seems unnecessary and the latter places the final focus away from the main couple. Otherwise, I was happy with the changes they made to lengthen two chapters into a full episode, and I enjoyed the overall production value, especially their choice of music. And yes, that means that the animation is actually decent in the final episode.
Final Thoughts: The thing that comes to mind, and this has come up several times in my conversations with Mentar, is that I shouldn’t have read the manga after watching the first episode. It’s a great story, but reading it in the manga killed all of the surprises the series had in store. That’s a big part of why I have been so critical – because I knew what was going to happen and thus rated episodes more on the production aspects, which this show sorely lacks for the most part. So I can understand how some people regard Suzuka so highly, because it really is a good romance story. But for me, it’s just not as good as the manga.