Manabi Straight! – 12 (END)
It is now March 10th, 2037, and the girls are getting ready to graduate. Much time has passed since that school festival, but Mikan notes that nothing has changed. Thanks to Kyouko, their uniforms and everything stayed the same even though the school administrations were combined. Each girl has their own plans: Momo is going to a digital journalist technical school, Mucchii is joining a corporate team, and Mei is going to college. As for Manabi, she had told the group earlier that she intended to be a freeter. The big surprise, however, was Mikan who is planning on going to America. It is on this March day that Mikan is lying under the blooming sakura trees when Manabi dumps a handful of petals on her face. After Mikan shows Manabi her passport, Manabi talks about Mikan being able to see what she is able to do in an unfamiliar place and being able to search for excitement again. Mikan thinks to herself that Seiou didn’t change at all, but a little bit of herself changed.
Once the graduation ceremony is over, the five girls head back to the roof of the school for one more meeting to reflect on their times together in the student council. Manabi feels that she caused everyone trouble and apologizes for it, but the others are okay with it because they had fun. Mikan then talks about how she wasn’t able to move on her own and instead always followed the others, and this causes her to start crying. She doesn’t want everything to end and wants to stay with everyone. Hearing this, Manabi tells her that they’ll always be together no matter where they are and that this isn’t an end, it’s a beginning. Mikan leaves town with these words in mind, and she vows to find excitement and come back. On the day of Mikan’s flight to America, the other four girls drive out to the airport and arrive just in time to catch Mikan at the departure gate. Though they’re out of breath from running through the terminal, they all still manage to hold out their fists. As she turns to go, Mikan finally understands that this really is the beginning – from now on, everything will be their stories.
The girls follow their own paths for the next year and five months. It is in the summer that Mikan returns to Japan and finds everyone waiting for her. In their time together, the five friends decide to use a special spray that will disappear after one night and cover Seiou Academy with a message that reads “A HAPPY LIFE.”
I was a bit surprised that they jumped ahead to graduation, but it did make for a really really satisfying ending to see the girls go on with their post-Seiou lives and then get reunited at the end. That was quite an “A-ha!” moment for me when they came back full circle to the opening animation. Everyone singing the opening song together was just icing on the cake.
Final Thoughts: Now that I think about it, Mikan really felt more like the main character because more of the story seemed to be told from her point of view, particularly in episodes five and six and in the end here. Manabi was still the central figure behind everything, like the school festival and the Massugu Go! motto, but Mikan acted like the narrator guiding us through the story. Both Horie Yui and Nonaka Ai did a great job (as did Inoue Marina, Hirano Aya, and Fujita Saki), and they fairly quickly erased my initial reservations about how the voices sounded like characters from other series. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised with this show’s emphasis on friendship and the superb soundtrack, and I look forward to the extra episode coming out on the last DVD on October 10th.