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Fune wo Amu – 11 (END)

「灯」 (Araki)
“Light”

I may have had some issues with the direction of later episodes, but this was absolutely the ending Fune wo Amu needed. I’m over the moon that I can say that, because if the last two episodes were anything to go by, this finale wasn’t going to deliver what I longed for. But since all of the dictionary rush was finished, we returned to the lives of these characters and I was reminded of the strengths of this gem of a series.

At its best, it was the very best of the season – no question about it. But it wasn’t the most consistent run, especially after the timeskip. After giving myself a day to mull over my lasting impressions, I think it would be unfair to judge Fune wo Amu for ending up a slightly different show than I would have liked. With The Great Passage complete, we were able to shift the focus from the page of the dictionary to the experiences of those who now hold it in their hands. It may not have been the most thrilling of subjects, but Fune wo Amu did its absolute best to make the dictionary-making process as exciting as possible, and for the most part they succeeded.

The first of my two wishes was to see more of Majime and Kaguya, and this episode delivered on that. It’s still a shame we’re never going to see the younger years of their time together, especially after the spellbinding love confession. That’s a real misfortune, but this finale showed how fulfilled they are with one another in the cute little moments with them chatting away, supporting one another through trying times, or wandering the streets after Majime finally completed the book that has consumed his life for many, many years. If this adaptation had decided to focus more on their relationship in the second half of its run then they may be the best couple of the year for me, but with the little focus they got after that point, it’s hard to reward them for what little we did get in the end.

We also finally got confirmation that Nishioka and Miyoshi are indeed married, and now have two daughters. That may have been my favourite moment of the episode, if only for how sudden it was and how in so few shots they sold how far their relationships had gone. Their situation was very different to Majime and Kaguya’s, but I was rooting for them all the same, and knowing they’ve got a happy family was oh so satisfying. But again… if Fune wo Amu was a different show (or better show?) we could have focused more on them together, and likely only to positive results. I suppose what I’m saying is Fune wo Amu had a goldmine of potential when it came to the two main romances, and unfortunately it decided not to give them the attention they could have afforded.

And then there’s the death of Matsumoto, which ripples through this episode. After all that hard work, seeing Majime break down because he wasn’t fast enough for Matsumoto to see the completed dictionary… it was gut wrenching. Kaguya gave him comfort, and the focus on the positives is the best way to end this story. Matsumoto may not have lived to see that book of his before him, but he knows the words of The Great Passage will live on forever, and seeing that image of Majima and Kaguya looking out at the Ferris Wheel one last time is as fitting as an end as we could ask for.

Final Impressions

Fune wo Amu had its highs and lows. And when I say highs, I mean just about as high as anime as a medium can achieve. Episode 6 is, as far as I can recall, the best anime episode I’ve ever watched. As I expressed in that post, it touched and affected me in a way I never thought possible. It came at the perfect time in my life and celebrated the love of Majime and Kaguya, and perhaps for that reason I had unrealistic expectations for how much focus that relationship would get thereafter.

Sadly, things didn’t develop as I would have liked, but even when the series as its lowest, it was still pretty damn good. While the dictionary-making process was a little dull at times, the show itself never failed to keep me entertained. I was invested in these characters and their lives, and that’s the most important thing of all.

Everything was wrapped up neatly with this final episode, so there’s little unanswered for me to dwell upon. Matsumoto’s passing is a fitting albeit saddening note to end on, but everyone else’s lives have been enriched by the experience of creating The Great Passage. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of the technical details in later episodes, the effect that this dictionary had on the lives of these characters is strong and believable. With a premise as obscure as Fune wo Amu’s it would be easy to make a total snoozefest, but instead we got one of Noitamina’s strongest in years, and a show that while not the best of the year, had peaks that few can match. It’s just a shame those highs were not sustained until the end, but they were powerful enough that I’ll never forget them. This obscure little gem hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves, but I’d recommend anyone seeking an adult story with heart and passion to give it a shot, because it’s totally worth it.

December 24, 2016 at 12:21 pm
6 comments »
  • December 24, 2016 at 2:55 pmPyon

    Shame that if not for this timeskip, I could name Fune wo Amu with almost no doubts anime of the year. At least it was going for that title for seven episodes. It was developing all the arcs extremely well, but then it completely abandoned intriguing relationship between Kaguya and Majime, and rushed over the dictionary works. Still, the finale was just outstanding and surely the best episode after the timeskip.

    Definitely the show deserves way more attention, it was unique and amazing journey through the ocean of words. Maybe it just missed couple of episodes to be a complete, perfect story. Nevertheless, it will be the one I will recommend as the top of this year. Thank you Samu for your work with covering this one.

    • December 25, 2016 at 3:13 pmSamu

      I also had it as a serious contender for AOTY, but as you say, the timeskip hindered it. It’s still a damn good show, I had a good time covering it!

  • December 25, 2016 at 12:08 amDenscafon

    I have a similar sentiment when I look at this series as it could have been easily the best of the season, or the year even, but due to the awkward time skip, it falls quite short and just becomes a “good” show. The lack of showing even a little bit of Majime/Kaguya’s relationship blooming at the beginning to just leave us hanging was easily the biggest mistake of this series. It’s sad to see that even 1 more episode prior to the time skip could have resolved this since this show was only 11 eps, which is a rather odd length for an anime. I thought the ending itself was fine and appropriate but ya…. that 1-2 episodes they could of shown prior to the jump really soured the series for me. I still really enjoyed it though even though the premise sounds boring but it will be hard to recommend others to watch this show, which is unfortunate.

    • December 25, 2016 at 3:14 pmSamu

      I kind of wish episode 7 focused more on Majime on Kaguya, or at least split the screentime before we reached that timeskip. But that wasn’t meant to be. At least I wasn’t alone in how that was handled. But hey, we can’t always have things the way we want them…

  • December 25, 2016 at 4:55 amPanino Manino

    Fune wo Amu would be better if had focused not in what made it so good and memorable.
    I politely disagree, but understand because, what happened between Kishibe and man from the print?
    2016 was a surprising year, beginning with Shouwa Rakugo and ending with Fune wo Amu, and 2017 will begin with Shouwa Rakugo again. What a time…

  • January 5, 2017 at 3:34 pmKanade

    Thank you for blogging about this show. I 100% agree with you. As a person living in Japan I somehow felt this anime was VERY close to me, even though I can’t particularly relate to it but it’s so close to my everyday life I find it kind of fascinating. Honestly speaking, I’m not really sure what the creators wanted to focus on here but for me it was definitely character growth.

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