Sarai-ya Goyou – 12 (END)
「もうふらふらですよ」 (Mou Furafura Desu yo)
“I’m Already Wasted”
On the surface, this appeared to be a pretty anticlimactic conclusion to this fairly laid back series, but I just loved how everything came full circle when Masa offered Yaichi a skewer of dangos at the very end. It was at that moment that I realized how fond I had grown of all these characters over the series’ short twelve episode run, which wrapped up the same way it started. I was smiling from ear to ear when I saw Yaichi depressed and hunched over with his back against that same post Masa rested next to, followed by the latter showing up with dangos to return the favor of lifting his spirits. To top it off, Masa even used the same line Yaichi did when he was starving to death. It was such a small thing in relation to everything that happened earlier in this episode between Yaichi and Jin, but that element of human interaction is what I loved in Ono Natsume’s other series, Ristorante Paradiso. I can’t quite explain why I enjoy seeing these small gestures of friendship and characters’ concern for one another, other than saying that there’s just something very “human” about them. Regardless of the setting and era this anime takes place, the depictions of these human interactions are very real to me and I honestly feel I can learn from characters like Masa on how to be a better person (as cheesy as that may sound).
For a finale, it was nice to see “Seinoshin” finally show some emotion at the real Yaichi’s grave. I’ve been also wondering if Yaichi’s death from falling down the well was truly an accident, so it was nice to learn from Yagi that it was likely a cover-up after he found out what really happened to Seinoshin. Admittedly, I was a bit confused when I first heard him say that though, mainly because Jin had said that the person who delivered the money to have them kidnap and kill Seinoshin was named Yaichi. As such, it would’ve been weird for him to get killed off if he was aware of Saegusa family’s plans to get rid of Seinoshin upon giving birth to a true family heir — one who wasn’t adopted — so I originally surmised that Yaichi committed suicide as repentance. Much to my surprise, Jin had lied about the person being Yaichi, which gave me mixed feelings when Seinoshin just killed him for deceiving him all this time. Clearly, believing that the one person he trusted the most in world sold him out has made Seinoshin the person he is today, but Jin did say that it was a lie to save him from getting killed — likely by going back to the Saegusa household looking for Yaichi. I still find it hard to see Jin as the worse person out of the two given that revelation, especially when it was hinted that Seinoshin killed Monji at some point too. That’s on top of selling out the Bakuro gang to the police, giving Jin a legitimate reason for wanting to kill Seinoshin now.
Quite honestly, it kind of bothered me how Jin’s death was completely overshadowed by Seinoshin coming to terms with his past and grieving over Yaichi’s grave; however, I kind of see his unfortunate end as the result of their fates getting intertwined in a one neither one wished for. As the survivor, Seinoshin’s the one who has to ultimately come to terms with his past and move beyond it, which is why the ending with Masa helping him back on his feet played out really well in my eyes. Yagi’s role in all this turned out to be a positive one like I was suspecting too, since he was well aware of Seinoshin’s true identity, but didn’t do anymore than have a drink with him and clear up some of his confusion about the past. He decided to have a drink at at Ume’s place later on as well, and showed no signs of wanting to arrest our House of the Five Leaves members. All in all, a nice end to the series, which just so happens to coincide with Ono Natsume’s decision to conclude the manga this month after a four year run.
It was Manglobe and samurai all right, but nothing like Samurai Champloo. However, it was never intended to follow in the footsteps of that hip-hop Edo period series and I enjoyed it just as much with its drastically different take on that era. The fact that this is a noitaminA program gave every indication that it’s intended for an older “seinin” audience even if one wasn’t familiar with Ono Natsume’s other works. Much like Ristorante Paradiso, her style has never been about flashy action and shounen-like superpowers. Instead, it’s a realistic portrayal of characters in a storyline that may not be all that eventful, yet is still interesting enough for viewers such as myself. It’s pretty hard to recommend this series to anyone who’s not patient enough to take enjoyment from the small things in life, but anyone who likes going at their own pace in a fairly laid back manner may want to check it out. A lot of the appeal comes from the character interactions themselves, while the focus delved into their various pasts before coming together around Yaichi’s. There is no real antagonist in this series but if there had to be one, it would’ve been the inner demons that Yaichi needed to conquer in order to overcome his dark past.
Production-wise, this series featured some of the most beautiful backdrops of the season and was visually stunning every episode because of them. Some people may not be a fan of Natsume’s character designs, but I actually like how they blend well into the setting and aren’t too cartoon-like. The last thing I would’ve wanted to see is a bunch of typical big-eyed teenager designs when the characters are clearly much older than that. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this one even though it wasn’t a show I actively looked forward to on a weekly basis. However, I found myself drawn to the story as soon as I started watching an episode and entertained for the full twenty minutes or so every time, which sort of suits its laid back nature and theme about living in the moment.