Mouse over screenshots for captions
Part 1: Unspoken Troubles
Something’s troubling Haruka! She spends all day moping around, looking depressed. What could it be? Maybe she doesn’t know what to make for dinner. Nope, that ain’t it. Maybe she doesn’t know what to make for breakfast? Nope, not it either. Well, Kana and Chiaki aren’t going to sit this one out, as they form a plan to meet after school and get to the root of the problem! Sometimes, when trouble strikes, you just have to grit your teeth and suffer through it! There’s no time to get cheeky, but one has to remember to remain flexible and not get too enameled with a single solution!
Hey, I try. They meet up and discuss; in the meantime, Uchida and Yoshino are having tea with Haruka, and they notice she’s not feeling well! What’s wrong, Haruka? Oh, I have a cavity.
Naruhodo. Turns out, Haruka has noticed that Kana and Chiaki aren’t their usual selves either, always looking troubled and having secret conversations. Chiaki walks in on them having fun and immediately suspects that her and Kana’s place as Haruka’s imoutos been replaced by the funnier and more youthful Yoshino and Uchida. Ah well, ain’t nothing a staring contest can’t fix, eh? Ramen Fighter Miki was not available for comment.
Part 2: Without You
Chiaki has a nightmare! Kana went shopping, and never came back! Such a sad, desperate dream. To compensate, Chiaki spends the whole day attached to Kana. Even when Haruka goes out. Even when they watch TV. Even when Kana takes a nap.
After Haruka gets back, Kana dives into her arms. What happened? Kana dreamt that Haruka went to the bathroom and never came back. Ah, family.
Part 3: Tanabata Trickery
It’s time for Tanabata, and Uchida dishes out some of those paper tags where you write your wishes on. Kana busts out her pen and grabs two slips (apparently she has very large wishes), and heads out to pick up some groceries.
She’s been gone a while, and still not back… Chiaki finds one of the paper slips Kana was writing on, and it says… I can’t take it anymore, I’m leaving?! Haruka blames herself for not letting Kana buy snacks, Chiaki blames herself for calling her a bakayarou… both reminisce about how great Kana is, and after what seems like an eternity of worry, they get ready to go out and look for her…
And right then, Kana comes back. With the groceries. And the other half of the Tanabata slip. Oops.
They laugh it off, and enjoy the rest of Tanabata!
Epilogue: Hosaka wakes up from a nightmare, sweat covering his bare, sculpted body. “I had a dream… where Minami Haruka was no longer there…”
It’s over? It’s over. It’s over!!! Ahh, and it’s episodes like this that make me remorseful about Okaeri. I mean, it was pretty good! Everything came together quite well, the animation was solid (and not over-glossy like the first half of the previous ep), the stories were interesting, the music fit well, the characters were all enjoyable… basically, everything that made Minami-ke a success to begin with.
I’ve made most of my season-finale thoughts in my commentary for the previous ep, but suffice to say, if every episode had been done with the same level of quality and attention to detail as this one, my feelings for it would have been vastly improved. Budget was likely a big factor, but as a viewer, I shouldn’t have to worry about that. And it’s too bad – I’m not forgiving enough of a viewer to overlook all the deficiencies in productions in favor of the story. After all, there’s plenty of funnier material out there, plenty of better stories – the art quality and animation should never be a shortcoming.
On a final note, to those who questioned my status as a “fan” of Minami-ke, perhaps it would be clearer if I said I wasn’t a “rabid fanboy”, and actually someone who is constantly devastated by the declining quality and reputation of one of my favorite shows. But hey, I still watch it every week, I still blog about it – when one lives in the Bay Area and has to suffer through years of the mediocrity that is the Golden State Warriors, one tends to get used to it. But, at the end of the day, we still pick ourselves up amongst the rubble and soldier on, in the hopes that mediocrity will turn to triumph, that the Warriors will one day taste the playoffs again, that Minami-ke Okaeri will once again produce a good episode.
And I’m glad that at least in Okaeri, we finished on a high note.