Everything went simpler than expected. I realized I’ve been thinking “too big” for the plot, and it backfired on me hard this episode. With only three episodes remaining, this was much like a turning point, with scenes of tears back to back from characters.
Menma’s mother didn’t prove to be any “final boss” after all, as she is just like everyone else, suffering with immense resentment at the sight of her friends being still alive. Rather than become a common enemy, she springboards the realization of parental sympathy from Jintan, who later gains a new respect for his father. Menma’s little brother explained my feelings for the scene pretty well; she was pathetic, pitiful, and embarassing. The group talk afterwards resolved the issue rather adeptly, a skill in these characters that I’ve always appreciated.
Like the average movie before the climax, the main character loses everything, reverting back to the situation he was in the first episode, with only himself to solve Menma’s mystery once again. Anjou taking advantage of the situation to express her feelings was long overdue, but sadly didn’t gain any results from her confessions. I suppose it shows that things haven’t changed between the two, and it probably never will. Even so, I’ll still cheer for Anjou, because you can’t date a dead girl.
The third person to finally let out those overdue tears is Jinta, who can’t get over his conflict with Menma’s disappearance. It sucks for him, because one could say he likes Menma the most, and yet has to take on the burden of basically making her disappear. I suppose the scene was built upon the pressure and stress compounded from the previous episodes, but I think it’s fair to say Menma’s mother breaking down into tears was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Menma once again remembers Jinta’s mom, which seemed like she visited her one on one some time back in the day. It’s either a sympathetic memory, or a clue to her wish.
I always claimed that Menma’s existence to the others isn’t important, because in the end, that’s not what the show is really about. Plus, it’d totally be stupid if Menma eventually proves herself real, because she could’ve done that eight episodes ago. Well, my fears are now reality. It’s not at all that this makes the past eight episodes pointless, because no, the past eight episodes let us get to know the characters, and brought about some nice conflict. It’s that her physical bearing was a tease, something I had expected NOT to be used as a crutch to move on to the final conclusion, because it would be too easy. Way too easy. Yukiatsu’s anger, which was great as it finally exploded into physical contact with Jinta, was made to be pointless. Every character’s frustration and problems dealing with trust over Jinta’s mere words set the whole plot into relatable realism, and the WHOLE series banked on that ONE dynamic. It was extremely important, and it was the only thing that mattered. Menma doing something that completely undermines all that now even though she obviously had the power to do so back in episode one? Quite simply a mockery to my trust in the series. Did Okada Mari even know what made her plot work?
That said, there’s three episodes remaining. This was a huge step in the wrong direction, weakening most of the emotional impact of the show, but there’s a lot still left unconveyed. Menma’s wish for one, and the conclusion of the rest of the characters. No matter how bad the decision was to reveal Menma’s existence, the result should at least let the story move on.