「Knockin’ on heaven’s door」
Not the new slimmed-down Matsushita, not Guild leader Char, but a mysterious teenager played by Ishida Akira proved to be at the bottom of it all. Even so, he’s nothing more than a creation of the Angel Player software developed by someone who converted himself to a mindless NPC. Quite frankly, I’m really not sure how to take the “final boss” being a nameless individual we’ll never meet and no longer has any sort of emotions or aspirations in this world; however, his story on how he was willing to wait an eternity for his loved one’s return despite the astronomically slim chance of her doing so wasn’t really all that unbelievable given how this series has been. At the same time, it was a lot of story divulged in the latter part of this episode through pure discussion between this nameless drone and Yuri, making it feel like things could have gone any which way.
In accordance to the way it did go, the idea that this programmer was a “bug” in this system because he had devoted his life to another person, arrived without his memories, became unable to bear waiting for the return of his loved one after she moved on, and developed the shadow program to erase his own consciousness all looks good on paper, but I really would’ve liked to see some of that hinted at in earlier episodes. The one thing that this revelation did reiterate from past episodes though is that this world is a place intended for love to be nourished and inevitably allow people to move on. It also tempted Yuri with the prospect of taking over the Angel Player program and using it to remodel the world as she fits, taking on the role of its would-be “God” if one were to exist. Upon seeing her power-hungry laugh, I was seriously thinking that Yuri would become the new “final boss” from that moment on, but she surprised me by declaring that she’s only come this far due to her desire to save everyone before taking down the entire system that’s now trying to rid the world of people who have discovered love yet not moved on.
As mentioned above, I feel the specific details on the explanation behind what’s been happening could have been different, but the end result with Yuri feeling like she’s finally become the big sister that was able to protect everyone was clearly the story’s ultimate goal. After accomplishing her lifelong regret and being told by her younger siblings that she’s done enough, it was nice to see Yuri finally show some emotion even if it meant she was going to move on because of it. Incidentally she didn’t, even after Girls Dead Monster and most of the other SSS members voluntarily did so at the beginning of this episode, saving her for the “graduation” ceremony in the series finale next time. Based on the preview, it’s befitting that Otonashi takes on the valedictorian role for that after leading everyone to the arguably “correct path” in this world, but it’s still going to be very very bitter sweet to see everyone part ways. In fact, just thinking about it now gets me a bit choked up.
With the end in sight, I still wish more of the girls — Shiina, Hisako, Irie, Sekine, Yusa — and some of the other guys got some more focus with their respective subplots, but that’s clearly too much to ask for in a short thirteen episode series. However, despite the series’ inability to cover every character in detail, it did make good on the three main ones to a substantial degree. In Kanade’s case, the focus was more on her time in the afterworld and being perceived as the enemy for the vast majority of the series, but that in itself developed her character just as much as a tragic past would have. I mean, how can you say no to a face like this popping up from behind people now? Anyway, with the shadows gone and practically everyone else as well, I imagine the last episode will be primarily an epilogue type one that’s probably going to get me a bit teary-eyed if not more.
* It’s been four episodes since we’ve seen the ending sequence, which has been updated yet again. Surprisingly, Iwasawa, Yui, and the rest of Girls Dead Monster are in it.
* The preview only shows Otonashi, Yuri, Kanade, Hinata, and Naoi at the graduation ceremony, leaving me wondering what happened to everyone that was battling up top. Given everyone’s laughter, it doesn’t seem like they were consumed by the shadows and turned into NPCs though.