「絢辻詞編 最終章 ヤクソク」 (Ayatsuji Tsukasa-hen Saishuushou – Yakusoku)
“Ayatsuji Tsukasa Final Chapter – Promise”
Well it looks like my hunch last episode about Tsukasa’s drastic change in personality was pretty spot on, as Junichi’s unsettling feeling about it brings back the girl she truly is. Looking back, it probably wouldn’t be wrong to consider the good girl persona as another act, except it’s difficult to see it as just that when Tsukasa had every intention of making that personality the new her. Much like I was suspecting, it was all brought upon by Junichi saying she wasn’t acting like herself when the pressure was on to get the Founder Festival preparations completed on time. However, the one thing I wasn’t foreseeing is that it is partly due to her disillusionment of Santa Claus when she was younger, and her childhood wish to become a pseudo one and spread the joy of the holidays after she attended one of the previous Kibitou Founder’s Festivals. For the most part, the late addition of that information felt like it was more of a means to add an extra dimension to Tsukasa’s complexity, but also seemed to suggest that she may not have problems with family members at home. They never did really suggest that there were any issues to begin with, other than showing that Tsukasa doesn’t maintain that facade with her sister Yukari, meaning that her changes in personality likely come from something more fundamental.
Insecurity and loneliness are a couple of ideas that come to mind after a split personality was quickly ruled out by Tsukasa, though I somehow perceive it as a obsessive compulsive “need” to conform to other people’s expectations of her. Junichi’s confession and hug from behind weren’t able to shake the new personality she had undertaken after all, but as soon as he told her that he misses the Tsukasa that scolds him for his incompetence and loves that part of her just as much as the current one, a flood of emotions erupted from her along with a three-hit combo to show how that side of her was being forcibly suppressed. Tsukasa was quick to blame Junichi for being the cause of her change before completely breaking down tears too, reaffirming that suspicion. Incidentally, her reaction did leave me wondering how long she would have lasted without Junichi as her new outlet for all the feelings she bottles up inside. I gather she would’ve had to resort to using a notebook again had Junichi not told her that he’s happy that the Tsukasa he loves is still there. That scene also made me think that Junichi deserves credit for saying the right things at the right time, especially in an arc where he was just strung along for the most part. He may have not been much more than Tsukasa’s lackey for the vast majority of the past four episodes, yet that one moment him much cooler than prior stories where he took the initiative.
Along the same lines, both Umehara and Takahashi-sensei played pretty prominent roles in helping all of that happen. In Umehara’s case, his elementary school regret of ignoring a girl’s love letter served as motivational support for Junichi’s eventual confession, whereas in Takahashi’s, she gave him and Tsukasa their moment alone together despite how it looked like they were going to make a “Christmas memory” in the classroom. Without interruption, the end result was pretty sweet with Tsukasa’s confession in return and a ten years time lapse to show them with a daughter who’s the spitting image of Tsukasa herself, as the three of them attended the Kibitou Founder’s Festival. Peering into the future was a nice addition since it’s been noticeable absent since Haruka’s arc, and served as a means of providing a fulfilling ending. As such, this was probably one of the more “complete” arcs, though I’m still hesitant to consider it my favorite. It did surprise me with the complexities in Tsukasa’s character, which was foreshadowed various times in the arcs leading up to hers, but I never really feel the emotional build up as prominently as the tail end of Ai’s third episode and its eventual conclusion, nor Kaoru’s incredibly sweet confession in the Port Tower. The last one was particularly surprising, since all the focus on Kaoru’s family troubles somehow culminated to what I feel is the most romantic moment out of all the arcs. The fact that she’s a middle school friend of Junichi’s and didn’t get the short end of the stick like his childhood one Rihoko makes it a noteworthy conclusion as well, and one where I was really happy for Kaoru.
In any case, I’ve included a poll as promised for which girl’s arc you as the readers enjoyed the most, whether it’s simply for the character itself, the romantic development, or a combination of both. You can find it on the sidebar. I’ll post the results next week to coincide with the extra episode on Junichi’s stalker-like fan, Kamizaki Risa. She’s voiced by Kadowaki Mai, who’s been playing Kaoru’s friend Keiko up until now.