With the Christmas party over, the acting director tells Hiroki and Kiri that she’s going succeeding her sister and officially becoming the director. After she leaves, Hiroki and Kiri agree to meet each other at the hotel’s restaurant at 7 PM. Kiri mentions that she wants to go to the beauty parlor first. Meanwhile, Takeuchi catches Elis and Tomoko on the way home. She gives Elis a pair of red gloves as a Christmas present. Elis, in turn, gives one glove to Tomoko and keeps the other – symbols of them meeting again next Christmas. Tomoko is still afraid that she won’t be around next Christmas. At home, Elis lies naked in bed with her brother’s coat as her last memory of him. By the time Hiroki comes home, Elis is gone. In her room, Hiroki finds a painting of angels with a red background. He calls her cell phone and she tells him that she’s in a taxi – she lied about going to Tomoko’s home. Elis says that she’s giving the painting to him as a Christmas present. At the end, she tells Hiroki that she loves him and then abruptly hangs up. Hiroki tries to call her back, but the crying Elis doesn’t answer. In a beauty parlor, Kiri tells the stylist that she’s going to be spending Christmas with the person she’s always liked – a childhood friend.
Hiroki is about to leave for the hotel, but his lingering thoughts of Elis cause him to turn around. Instead, he grabs his painting stuff and starts working on a present for Elis. Kiri arrives at the hotel restaurant, but finds that Hiroki isn’t there. This happens to be the same hotel that Elis is saying at and the same one that Kana and her editor Sugihara are working to finish her novel at. When Kiri calls Hiroki, he tells her about the painting that Elis left him and how he’s now painting again. Kiri knows how important this is for Hiroki and lets him go. She then calls Sugihara, but the editor is busy with Kana. Kiri ends up sleeping alone at the hotel, as does Elis (who’s still pining for Hiroki in her sleep). The next morning, Kiri, Elis, Kana, and Sugihara all leave the hotel at the same time, but manage not to run into each other. Sugihara does happen to see Kiri leave alone. By now, Hiroki has finished his painting. With very little time left, he rushes to the airport by train. While at the station, he encounters Kiri from across the train tracks. Spotting the painting in his arms, she confirms that he’s going to see off Elis. She happily asks him to give her regards. Hiroki gets on the train and yells something to Kiri, but she can’t hear him through the door. After the train pulls out of the station, Kiri cries in the arms of Sugihara, who had apparently followed her. Kiri says that she’ll be ok – she and Hiroki are returning to being childhood friends.
At the airport, Elis and Tomoko are getting ready to leave. Hiroki is late getting there, so Takeuchi leaves to look for him. Tomoko’s plane leaves first, and they all say their goodbyes to her. Because of the snow, Hiroki is now forced to take a taxi, but even the roads are clogged up. He gets out and starts running, however Takeuchi soon rides past on her motorcycle. She recognizes him and takes him to the airport. When they get there, Hiroki tells Takeuchi to stop calling him sensei. He’s going to be their art club advisor again. Takeuchi thinks to herself that she’s been waiting to hear those words. Elis’ friends keep her at the busy for just long enough so that Hiroki is able to get there. He holds up the painting he drew: a reflection of Elis’ angels, except with a blue background. Elis comes running into Hiroki’s arms and the two wish each other Merry Christmas. On her plane, Tomoko says goodbye to Elis and then takes some medicine. The stewardess finds Tomoko with her eyes closed. However, it seems that Tomoko eventually gets through her surgery just fine. Life at Nadesico Academy also continues on. And in Paris, the paintings that Elis and Hiroki drew have been put next to each other. Naked under a bed sheet, Hiroki and Elis link hands and kiss.
Holy crap, that just completely blew me away. I didn’t see any of that coming at all; I spent a good part of the episode going “No…they wouldn’t….” and “omgwtf is going on.” So Hiroki basically let Kiri go (or vice versa as the case may be) and ended up going with Elis. And there was the whole Tomoko dying thing that had me fearful for her life up until the very last shot in the credits. I think I’m still suffering the shock effects of the 180 degree turn that they pulled on us.
Overall, I’m very split over this episode. On one hand, I love it when a show can completely surprise me and can blow me away (the majority of SHUFFLE! come to mind). On the other hand, they’ve been working towards a Kiri ending for the entire series, but now they throw all that away and force an Elis ending. If the point of the past 23 episodes was to set us up and surprise us with this finale, then they definitely did their job. And I can’t help but feel bad for Kiri, who ends up being the loser, though the whirlwind of her giving Hiroki up came just a bit too fast and too easily. At least Elis – who has been angsting as much as, if not more than, Kiri the entire series – gets to have her happy ending.
Final Thoughts: If you had asked me last week, “roller coaster ride” would not have been how I would describe this series. And overall, Canvas2 is written so that it’s doesn’t have huge plot twists and wtf moments. From the beginning, it was clear that this art-themed series would be about Kiri and Elis vying for Hiroki. And then around halfway through, Elis kind of left the picture as a potential love candidate. If they had kept with the Kiri route, then I probably would have said something like “this series is a consistent romance story that builds up nicely to the end.” But with an ending like this…well, let’s just say that I have to now be very careful not to spoil things when I recommend this series to someone. And I definitely would recommend it, probably as one of the most surprising shows of the year.