「棚町薫編 最終章 シンテン」 (Tanamachi Kaoru-hen Saishuushou – Shinten)
“Tanamachi Kaoru Final Chapter – Progress”
Well the end of this arc sure was different. Not only did it leave out a time-skip to show how Junichi and Kaoru are like in the future, it also put a very sweet touch on their development that I was thinking we might see — Kaoru confessing to Junichi. Before things got to the Christmas Eve date that Kaoru also took the initiative on, I was honestly left wondering if we were going to get the “stay as friends” type of ending where their relationship only progresses a bit. A lot of time was invested in what the other characters were doing for Christmas, including Rihoko’s seniors, Yuzuki Ruriko (Satou Izumi) and Hiba Manaka (Harada Hitomi), which really didn’t leave much for Junichi and Kaoru. However, that’s only how it felt while watching this final episode in Kaoru’s arc, as those miscellaneous scenes only took up about a third of the time.
Of those, the ones that actually had some importance were Keiko and Masayoshi’s friendly help getting Junichi and Kaoru together for Christmas Eve. One thing absent from Haruka’s arc was this whole friends hooking up friends bit since she didn’t know Junichi prior to the start of it, so I really couldn’t consider the opening portion a complete wash when it provided that in light of Junichi and Kaoru’s middle school history. The focus was still spread a bit too thin early on to give a sense of the Christmas season, but wasn’t a horrible use of time since it got the ball rolling for the rest of the episode. The one thing I didn’t have any qualms with though is Haruka showing up in a skintight Santa girl outfit that was clearly too small, yet looked amazing on her for that very reason. Is it time for Christmas cake already?
Try as she might to steal Kaoru’s thunder in her own arc, Haruka’s Santa girl suit wasn’t as lovely as Kaoru’s confession to Junichi atop of the Port Tower in my eyes. It was nice how the dating spot they talked about in chapter one came up again and became the perfect setting for her to convey her feelings. As for Kaoru’s confession, I love how she seemed to have it all planned out and executed it impeccably. She wasn’t aware of Junichi’s fear of heights at first, but used that as an opportunity to join hands with him and show him the spectacle below his feet. While she probably didn’t count on the weather being on her side and providing a white Christmas for her confession, she was even able to use that as a seamless lead-in to telling Junichi how she feels about him.
The best part of it all was how it looked like a high school wedding with their hands joined and Kaoru saying her vows of first, which were very sweet because she talked about their relationship as “inseparable bad friends” and how she didn’t want things to remain like that. In reality, she was earnestly telling Junichi how she fell in love with him, which takes a ridiculously amount of courage that any guy could probably take a page out of. I particularly liked her line about how she can probably think of a hundred things bad about Junichi, but a hundred and one that are good. Her confession was firm and steady too, which spoke volumes about how serious she was about her feelings. Still, she was so soft-spoken during most of it and unbelievable cute that all I could think of is how I’d be screaming, “I do Kaoru! I do!”, if Junichi was dumb enough to turn her down. Luckily he didn’t and made her one of the happiest girls I’ve seen in anime in some time. They even sealed their “vows” with a kiss, reiterating the whole wedding idea I had running through my head.
Quite honestly, the arc could have ended there with a time-lapse showing how they are when they’re married, but I kind of liked how it didn’t stick to the same format used in Haruka’s one. As two middle school friends who grew closer together during their high school years, this period of their lives is what I wanted to see more of. Consequently, Kaoru’s stopover at Junichi’s place when she missed her last bus could almost be seen as a honeymoon of sorts. It was somewhat befitting that Kaoru fell asleep while kissing Junichi, keeping our image of them fairly innocent on screen. I gather it won’t be long before they actually do get intimate seeing as Kaoru had already prepared the flashy underwear for this date, so I didn’t really care to see it just to be sure. Some things are better left up to the imagination. By the time the “~fin~” shot rolled around with the two of them taking a stroll on the beach, I was almost expecting to hear Hatsukoi Limited‘s “Have you ever fallen in love?” line. I almost wish it did too, because it probably would’ve prompted an uncontrollable outburst of, “Not like this! This is 2-D! 2-D!!!”
Argh, screw it. I can’t deny how cute Kaoru is with her perfect blend of outgoingness and timidness even if she is 2-D. Compared to Haruka’s raunchy hook-up, I love the whole “friends to lovers” bit we had this time around. It definitely has me wondering what we’ll be in store with Rihoko, the childhood friend, who has much more history with Junichi than Kaoru does. Next up is Junichi’s junior Sae though, so it looks like we’re going older, same age, younger, then younger, same age, same age with Ai, Rihoko, and Tsukasa since we’re out of seniors. I’m kind of sad to see Kaoru’s arc end (just like when Haruka’s did), but I’m looking forward to seeing the other girls after learning that each arc can have a dramatically different feel. Go omnibus format!
* Interesting enough, I’m going to be busy in the next few days helping my friends with their wedding, so expect some delays in posts between now and Sunday. In fact, I need to run off right now for rehearsal stuff so Kaichou wa Maid-sama will come later.