「迷い猫、決めた」 (Mayoi Neko, Kimeta)
“Stray Cat, Decided”
While I’ve enjoyed the randomness of this series, super robots and all, I admit I wasn’t expecting much more than an open-ended finale to this twelve episode adaptation. To my pleasant surprise, it focused on Nozomi again and had Fumino and Chise admitting they have feelings for Takumi, making it much better than that. In addition, I got a bit teary-eyed watching Nozomi break down in tears in front of Shimako and Takumi after being reminded of how she was told she’d always have a home at Stray Cats. In terms of story, it turns out the Murasame Academy that Nozomi ran away from is a prestigious institution for orphans and children under welfare, where the smartest and most talented students adopt the “Murasame” surname and become a family of sorts. Shimako happens to be the forth one accepted into the Murasame family (perceived as a homage to Four Murasame in Zeta Gundam) while Nozomi was expected to be the thirteenth.
Up until now, I’ve been wondering why Nozomi has been shown to be so smart and well-versed in baking cakes despite her cat-like personality, so this pretty much explained why that is. She went on to explain how she left because all the other children were sad about not being selected instead of her, but what really caught my attention was the unique legal spin this episode took on exactly what it means to be “family” or a “relative”. In particular, how Nozomi felt that the Murasames may be relatives to her, but if family is something she decides for herself then it would be Takumi and the others. Hearing that and seeing how happy she was spending time with Takumi during the school sports festival, Shimako went on to report back that Nozomi would be staying at Stray Cats for now, leading us that simple yet sweet type ending. So with that, the whole orphan bit that this series started out on and made a really strong impression with all the way back in episode three made a return here in the finale. That wasn’t all however, as Nozomi was able to clearly tell Fumino and Chise that she likes Takumi — after he told Shimako she’s like family and everyone loves her — which in turn got the two of them to admit they like him as well (…more or less). The metaphor Nozomi made last time about one plate of food and four animals to feed was in reference to Takumi’s harem situation after all, to which Nozomi decided to be a bit selfish by being honest with her feelings. =)
The ending was far from having any sort of complete closure, but it was still more than I was expecting from the orphan-related drama and relationship aspects. It was a rather nice conclusion after things started off on a comedic note during the sports festival rehearsal anyway, where Nozomi put a stop to Fumino and Chise’s fighting by starting the one-girl “Bloots” team and steamrolling the Bloomer and Tights factions. In turn, her victory also led to Fumino and Chise letting her participate in the open division three-legged race with Takumi and the eventual conclusion mentioned above. Funny, cute, and even a bit emotional. I don’t think I could have asked for more from an ending in such a short series.
Much like all my final impressions this season, I’ve been using a “look back and reflect” approach to try and make an informed judgment of a series. As per my initial impressions back in the Spring 2010 Preview, I can now definitively say this series turned out more or less the way I thought it would. It was fairly lighthearted, focused on the comedic aspect for the most part, and featured harem-like relationships with a victimized male lead. Admittedly, I wasn’t expecting it to get as outlandish as having full-out parody episodes though. I figured the harem angle would take off and make the series come off as a slapstick affair and detract viewers because of that, but it turned out to be completely over-the-top randomness in general.
While clearly not for everyone, I have no qualms with either case and honestly enjoyed the goofiness and artistic touches brought in by the different directors and key animators every episode. I found it reminiscent of how Sora no Otoshimono got a bit out of hand when everyone was tried to expose Ikaros to new things, except we had a cat-like orphan girl here instead of an angeloid from the sky. To top it off, Ieyasu stole the show for me a lot of the time with his otaku flair, thanks to Yoshino Hiroyuki‘s hilarious portrayal of him. When Hiroyuki’s not busy playing crazy state alchemists, Gundam pilots, or Japanese secret agents, he can usually be found causing a riot in comedies (…and I love it when he does).
Anyway, those would enjoyed SoraOto and how the story came together in a semi-meaningful way in the end will probably enjoy this one as well. Mayoi Neko was never anything overly profound, nor do I feel like it ever tried to be in this adaptation, but it did provide the type of anime entertainment I was looking and for and ended up better than I was expecting well. That said, I realize that series that has a tendency to get really off track isn’t everyone’s cup of tea — hence why I felt that this series would be difficult to recommend three months ago — so you have to go into this one with the right mindset or you’ll be sorely disappointed.
* Note: There’s an unexpected recap episode next week. If nothing new is shown, I’ll likely just have a short post about anything new that’s said.