「スタンド·バイ·ミー」 (Sutando Bai Mī)
“Stand By Me”
Might as well say it now–the culprit was exactly who we expected it to be…kind of. I’m disappointed that the show didn’t use the opportunity to pull a red herring on us and create some real tension, since the hints they gave us made it painfully obvious who the culprit is. The only mystery that really unfolded for the audience was the motivations for Tsukino–it makes sense that she has multiple-personality disorder, but it wasn’t a revelation that made me gasp. We can all feel sorry for Tsukino’s situation, but the desired effect the show wished to achieve was lost due to poor pacing and terrible foreshadowing issues. Instead of all this suspense on trying to figure out who the criminal was, more focus should’ve expanded on Tsukino’s past, preferably in a properly animated flashback. Too much attention was given to the mystery portion, diverting attention away to where Kotoura-san’s true potential lies in–character introspection and development.
It’s Mifune crying over her mistakes that makes this show. It is Manabe constantly worrying about Kotoura even after a fight that makes this show. It is the once detestable Moritani confessing properly and getting rejected, ending in tears and acceptance, that makes this show what it is. Although the story didn’t give nearly enough attention to those moments as they should’ve, they were the strongest moments of the show, giving a glimpse into the inner thoughts and struggles of each of the characters. I could’ve cared less about the results of the mystery–it was always about how the characters would react to the consequences and how they would all grow internally as a result. After all, Kotoura’s powers are to encourage an honest introspection for each character, rather than turn the show into a suspenseful mystery. Unfortunately the last few episodes have failed to capitalize on that strength and as a result, the last arc fell pretty flat. If it were any other show I’d be alright with this arc, but due to the high bar that the show set early on, the last half of the series never met those high expectations.
But then the last episode showed itself and…
「伝えたい言葉」 (Tsutaetai Kokoro)
“The Things I Want to Tell You”
…it made things a bit better. Just a bit.
Alright, it made things better for sure. First, the obvious.
I shed a little tear for Kumiko when she finally revealed the full side of her story, though I still disagree with the decisions that she made. The world called her daughter a liar, lies and cheating destroyed her relationship with Haruka’s father, and her own resulting cheating was revealed–it’s fully understandable why she would leave at that point, though for Haruka’s sake she should’ve persevered and kept trying to understand her innocent yet persecuted child. Though Kumiko naturally harbored negative and malicious feelings towards Kotoura and her powers, it only added to the guilt that Kumiko had for failing to protect Kotoura, both from outsiders and the dark side of herself. The path of redemption should not be denied for Kumiko even with her deeds, especially since an intense pillow fight paved the way for the healing process to begin. Just as Kotoura took some time to adjust herself to her friends (and still continues to do so), it will take time for those two to heal their emotional wounds and reform their mother-daughter relationship. Judging from the epilogue, those two are well on their way on doing so…though it’s a shame we don’t get to see more of their development this season. Of all the conclusions, this one played out the best, and obviously was the one many of us were expecting to see–above all else, the goal of this show was to show the process of healing and how dark pasts can be put aside, of which the Kotoura family was crown example.
Meanwhile, Mifune finally came out about her true intentions for Kotoura, though Kotoura herself reveals her own “intentions” in the process. As many of the readers pointed out, Mifune executed her role as a “bad guy” pretty badly, as it ended up mending her past scars rather than chase the ill-planned course of avenging her mother. It’s a shame that Muroto still isn’t responding to Mifune’s advances just yet. At least Mifune acknowledges that her subtle methods are ineffective against her best friend, a trait that Kotoura herself sympathizes with. Mifune finally is being true to herself, which symbolically showed itself in the disbanding and reformation of the ESP Club.
Finally…we get Manabe’s confession to Kotoura, or rather his verbal confession. Kotoura knew about Manabe’s feelings, but you just can’t beat a physical confession. Although they didn’t end up smooching and sealing the deal, hand-holding suffices considering how innocent the two of them are. Although it makes me happy that the two of them finally got together, the execution felt tacked on without much buildup to the scene. All I can say is that it could’ve gone a lot better, but at the same time they actually did open up their feelings for one another, which is a feat in itself for most romantic comedies.
All of the above would’ve been fairly great to end any reasonable romantic comedy, but Kotoura-san dug itself a hole by having one fatal flaw–it was too good at the beginning. Romantic comedy traditionalists, you may disagree, but I think that Kotoura-san’s greatest flaw was also its greatest strength. Awkward segue into final impressions GO!
The Greatest Strength Becomes a Flaw