If this were any episode but the last, I would’ve been more okay with the long drawn-out scenes where Sumika is desperately trying to get in touch with Ushio. Likewise with the ones where Ushio’s eagerly awaiting Sumika’s phone call. The pacing was as usual, but this is the finale and I wanted to see something happen!
So what starts off as a routine trip out to meet up with relatives and visit a family grave turns into a constant meandering experience for Sumika when she can’t get reception on her phone to call Ushio. Reception problems become the least of her worries though, as she ends up diving into the river to rescue her showboating little cousin Teru (Satou Rina). Only after her cell phone gets seemingly wrecked does Sumika decide to try and call Ushio using her uncle’s landline. By then, Ushio’s too troubled by not knowing whether she’s been forgotten or if Sumika’s gotten into an accident to pick up the phone from an unknown number. When Sumika’s at the local festival and basically given up, Ushio calls and lets the phone ring continuously — long enough for Teru to bring Sumika’s now dried and supririsingly working phone to her.
Ever since the first episode, I noticed how this series has a tendency to stretch out scenes more than necessary. It’s never really bothered me though, since it gave off a very mellow, “my pace” type of feeling. It’s a bit slow, but nice in that way. However, as the minutes remaining in this episode trickled down, I couldn’t help but think, “Oh god, something happen. Please don’t let it end without anything happening!” Needless to say, here I am writing up this post, reminiscing of the moment that never came.
Don’t get me wrong though, I enjoyed this series very much, including this last episode. I just wish they adjusted the overall pacing to take into account that this is a one cour series. That way, we would’ve gotten to see something happen instead of merely working towards it. I’m all for the gradual emotional build-up, but this is a prime example of a drawback to stricting adhering to the manga material — we get absolutely no closure. This of course is dependent on whether there’s a good break point in the material. Here, things ended rather open-endedly, meaning the series is literally screaming for a second season. While they’ve made it pretty apparent that Sumika and Ushio long for one another, neither of them even got a chance to hint at, let alone express how they feel.
Compare this to 11 episode Aoi Hana, where one of the girls came to realize the other one’s been her first love all along. It was also pretty open to continuation, but the final episode gave some feeling of closure. It’s as if a chapter finished in the two girls’ relationship and the story was ready to move on to the next one. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about Sasameki Koto, which leaves me wanting to see a fourteenth episode that won’t be airing next week. If there’s one complaint I have about this series, it would be the decision to stick so closely to original source without planning a good way to wrap up a thirteen episode anime. As such, I’m left feeling that the series ended too quickly and unsatisfied with the progress that’s been made. If the show were still ongoing, then this wouldn’t be an issue.
Oddly enough, this complaint is in regards to AIC, the studio whose work I’ve been praising in Nyan Koi and Sora no Otoshimono this past season. That being the case, I want to give them the benefit of the doubt and believe they already have the greenlight for a second season. It’s wishful thinking at best, but even if it weren’t, my cynical side still doesn’t think this first season made enough of a lasting impression to make viewers look forward to another. As of this moment, I’m ready and waiting for more. Three months down the road, I might be too into new shows to even remember I wanted to see more of Sumika and Ushio.
Looking back, I have to say that Takagaki Ayahi‘s portrayal of Sumika here really made the series a pleasure to watch. I was already impressed by her ability to diversify herself into different types of roles, but I’ve never quite heard her play anyone like our tall, black belt, meganekko. When this series becomes a distant memory, buried in my huge completed list, I’ll still remember Ayahi’s acting enough to get into a Sasameki Koto season two if it’s produced (…I hope). Come on AIC, you’ve been so good to me this season!