“Under Sakurako’s Feet…”
Ending with a Prologue:
In a surprising and belated turn of events, Sakurako-san ends with a prologue – showing us what could (and perhaps should) have been the very first episode, rather than the last. We had been teased of this for so long that I had grown tired of the wait, and started to assume we would never get the answer to the ever prevalent question we had from the first episode: how did Sakurako and Shoutarou meet? It was on my mind when I watched the premiere, and I’m glad we finally got some answers, but for me it came a little too late. And by a little, I mean a lot too late. If this had been the first episode, and didn’t cut back and forth from the past and present – rather having the past as the present – then I feel this could have been a solid opener and would have given us a better sense of these characters and their odd dynamic.
What we did get, for the most part, wasn’t too bad. But it wasn’t particularly interesting, especially as a final episode. We saw that Shoutarou’s senile neighbour often wandered off, and he went out late at night to find her, which is when he ran into Sakurako. We get some inner monologuing explaining that Shoutarou in fact saw Sakurako for the first time two summers ago, when she appeared the picture of beauty in her glowing white dress and floppy hat. Paired with the heat of summer and the vibrant colour of her garden flora, she was striking enough that Shoutarou became smitten with her. However, he did not know what she was truly like, as he witnessed her gathering some bones and looking jolly about it.
In hindsight, you can see why Shoutarou reacted by phoning the police and then assuming she was the one who had kidnapped his neighbour. I do like seeing characters (usually male characters) falling in love or becoming smitten with an idea of what a person is, before the woman or girl in question steps down from the pedestal they’ve been put upon and delivers a slap to the jaw. Not literally, of course, but there’s something satisfying in seeing a female character prove to be more than what a male character presumes/wants her to be. I’ve never been a supporter of Sakurako and Shoutarou as anything more than a partnership, but I did enjoy seeing their first encounter play out the way it did.
Back to the Present:
My main problem with this episode is that I don’t think it worked as a finale. Without the cut to the present, this could have been the very first episode. And even as we did get it, it felt like a penultimate episode. We got to see our pair meet up once again and make amends, as was already very obvious. Last week’s final few minutes were made out to be game-changing, yet looking back it didn’t really change much, did it? Just a few days/weeks of them not seeing each other? They met back up until that familiar tree, had a heart-to-heart, and that was that. What was even more of a letdown was the absence of Hanabusa up until the final scene. I expected to get some resolution to the series’s villain, but instead we got a teaser for the endless abyss that awaits should this ever get a second season.
Overview – Final Impressions:
And just like that, it’s over. I’ve had my ups and downs with Sakurako-san, but I don’t regret blogging it. Perhaps my expectations were too high after the first episode, which I really enjoyed. Initially, I thought Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider was going to be the superior of the two mysteries, and then Sakurako-san’s first episode stole the spotlight, before Subete eventually became a more grounded and enjoyable mystery series. Both were very wacky, and very different. Subete stuck with a single mystery for 11 episodes, whereas Sakurako-san balanced nine scenarios – some of which were better than others. In the end, I have to give it to Subete. That could be down to my preference for one fleshed out mystery as opposed to the episodic approach we got here, but there were plenty of moments where Sakurako-san failed to impress when it could have.
The only mysteries I really got behind were the ‘pointless’ festival episode, and the ‘Three Sisters’ case. Everything else was a mixture between just good and fairly disappointing. It didn’t help that I never truly got behind our two main characters. Sakurako annoyed me for the most part, though she had moments when I managed to enjoy her eccentric ways. Shoutarou didn’t do much at all; even in this finale I don’t think we learned anything of note about him. He’s barely even a character – he’s there to be a sidekick to contrast with Sakurako. I honestly felt he could have been replaced with any other character, and that would have made for a more intriguing dynamic. As for characters I did like, I much preferred Kougami and Isozaki whenever they appeared, and tended to appreciate the characters that showed up for a single mystery, only to become irrelevant down the line. It’s not a great thing when every side character is more appealing than the main characters…
As for the positives – I thought the show had a nice aesthetic, even if it didn’t always pack that punch that a more refined studio would achieve; the festival episode was pretty brilliant; and Hanabusa was an effective final foe (even if we never got proper resolution). Everything else came and went depending on the case at hand, and which characters were involved. It wasn’t the most consistent show I’ve blogged, nor the most conclusive, but it always kept me somewhat interested until the very end. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the end I would have liked. Even if we do get a second season announced (which I think is unlikely), I honestly feel it will be too little, too late. Hanabusa is still out there, painting a picture of Sakurako, hinting of the endless abyss, but I don’t know if I’d care enough to see him meet his end, when it could have ended here instead.
SO basically, the actual plot that the’ve been teasing us with didn’t even happen. I’m glad I dropped this early on too, suffers from similar issues that utwaremono 2: Electric Bugaloo suffer from.
I don’t understand why anime does this, actual novels, you don’t do shit like this, each novel has a beginning, middle and End. Many animes have a beginning, Middle, and “Maybe we’ll see you need season, or never.” With many plots not even close to being finished. What’s the point? Who likes to read half novels? who likes to watch shows that aren’t going to finish?
I mean really, even some shows that “Don’t have enough material” will at least try to end on a part where there’s a natural stopping point (between arcs for example) but they don’t really waste time with 3 pointless epiodes that they could have dedicated to finishing the story.
I’m really getting sick of this anime bulllshit, and will start dropping shows a LOT quicker, I’ll have to look up and see how many eps each show is and if its 12, I’ll just not watch it that season unless a blogger like you gives glowing reviews (i.e. one punch man) Otherwise it’s just a waste of time. Hell at least with shows like One Punch, I’ll KNOW that Ill be waiting for the blue ray DVDs when they come out, but B.S. like this and utawarewtfisthisshit? Hell no. I don’t buy half novels, or novels that have shit stories(comet bullshitfer), or stories that have horrible structure/fuck around for 98% of the book before getting to the end chapter(utawarererearblahblah)
It’s nuts, I’m really glad you blog these shows though, so I know what to skip out on well in advance. Saves me a lot of time and the possibility to put my money and support actual shows, with beginnings, middles and Ends.
Well, after finishing the last episode, I guess I kind of agree with Samu’s review. It was interesting to show how they first met, but I think that it kind of makes sense as it needed to reestablish their relationship after she just cut him off at the end of the previous episode. When the last episode established Hanabusa, while it did a great job linking everything together, I felt that if he was introduced as a last episode fight, the result would have ended poorly. He seems like such a mysterious bad guy, and it seemed that he was introduced in the previous episode too quickly. Having the last episode for him would be too quick, so I feel that having this last episode showing their relationship and reaffirming their bond was alright as a last episode. Hanabusa seems like a long plot from Bones, so it seems like he would fit for a few more episodes rather than just one, similar to Kyoukai no Kanata, where they established a flashback episode and left a few episodes for the climax.
All in all, despite Samu’s thoughts on how this series was disappointing, I personally thought it was enjoyable. It was really pretty, and while the episodes were each standalone for the most part, I enjoyed their self contained story. If anything, this series made me really want to read the light novels and read more about their adventures together, so in that sense, this series satisfied me. I suppose the lack of action or the conclusion with Hanabusa is disappointing, but I think that sometimes, series like this are necessary at times. I just hope a second season will be considered, but like Samu said, it probably won’t, but I’ll just take this then.
Interesting. I actually thought it was obvious we wouldn’t get any resolution about Hanabusa. One episode is not near enough to actually “defeat” Hanabusa. We haven’t even directly met the guy. They definitely left it for a second season I doubt we’ll get.
My thoughts during the episode was this is a good semi-final (Or even third-to-last) episode, not a finale. Without some sort of continuation on the horizon it reminds me of how Nanoha Vivid ended. Just… over in the middle of an arc.
Yep. It definitely felt like we’ve ended in the middle of this current mystery rather than the end.
I will miss Shoutarou’s character design. He looks light and visually attractive. Sakurako’s design is cheap, especially facial expressions.
Kinda like driving a VW, this series. You just drive, expecting something, but nothing happens, and then you reach your destination with trails of emission reg failing smog behind you, wondering why you didn’t just stick to public transport.
All of my predictions failed spectacularly and I’m glad. I liked this episode. No villain for the last ep, yes!
One of the problems I think is plaguing this show is how its teasing us about a boy-woman relationship from the very premise and then ignores us for so long only to end up going there but pulling back at the last moment. Aggravating. Honestly, I don’t know what would have been better – full romance or full mystery… The 1st sounds really bad (too easy wish-fulfillment) and the 2nd uninteresting. I know which I want (and I’m not ashamed).
Give me 2nd season.
And once again the stupidly necessity of the industry to adapt unfinished stories ruins what could have been a very good anime. We would still get anime like this in the future as long as manga/light novels/games are subjected to be “eternal” due to popularity and axed when they lose it. Sighs. It’s always about money, isn’t it?
The 1-cour shows that exists almost solely for advertising the source material are a big problem with the anime industry right now. We can’t really do much about it, except hope that something changes down the road.
We can’t do anything about it in the same sense as about stopping to devastate Earth with deforestation or pollution. I think we can do plenty. In fact we can do everything. Because we are also the sole cause. Its not aliens or ‘other’ people…
Thinking we can’t do anything is very convenient, I know.
You’re certainly right, Samu. We can’t really do much to fix the way the anime industry insist in been just a “glorified ad” for some property or another
Gotta admit. What I will miss most are the painted, colourfull, scenarios.
I don’t regret seeing it, but I think I am not wishing a season 2.
While I’m fairly disappointed with how they chose to end this series, I did like seeing how they met, and there were many good moments in the show (I too really enjoyed the festival episode and the Three Sisters arc, but I’d also add the Ii-Chan episode to the list of the better ones of the series). So I guess if there was a second season of this, I’d watch it quite happily =P
Ah, the 2nd episode was pretty good as well; I forgot that one!
Agree. BTW, this is the first time for me to know an anime series final episode ending with a prologue. How rare is that?
And as for your liking towards Kougami-Isozaki duo, it won’t be a surprise for me if they’re the protagonists in a spin-off series from the same author if he intends to write more mysterious cases involving… maybe plants (Isozaki is a plant-lover with a decent knowledge on flowers so far?) 😮
Sound silly if it were to involve plants being significant in such cases. Unless some are used for poisoning: http://listverse.com/2011/07/02/top-10-plants-that-will-kill-you/
Not gonna lie, I enjoyed this show. Surely not a very compelling story or fascinating characters. But it was a good show to sit back and relax to. I wasn’t expecting anything so there wasn’t much to be disappointed with. Gonna miss Sakurako’s voice. I think the prospect of a season 2 is not far-fetched.
Glad they laid this Wannabe Bones knockoff to rest. Lets face it, it wasted whatever potential it could’ve had by the 3rd episode. After that, I waited until the end to marathon it and I’m glad I did. No intriguing plot, no solid mystery set up, no real build up to anything! Thank frikkin’ god I waited so I could skip the useless parts. Lets hope they don’t even attempt for a second season on trite garbage like this.
I’m writing this late, because i finally watched the episode, so I have no idea if anyone will ever read this. I think this episode works as a finale, with the caveat that it needs to have a second season. The main arc of the season was dealing with Shoutarou’s and Sakurako’s relationship. So, for me at least, having them reaffirm their friendship at the end makes sense. In this way to it also makes sense from a storytelling perspective to have the “prologue” be the final episode. It does set up Hanabusa (or whatever his name is), but to me that is pretty clearly an over arching treat for a whole story and would need a whole season dedicated to him. I liked this show. i have a feeling if it was 24 episodes instead of 12 it probably would have been a bit more complete. Still, a solid 8/10 for me.
if they leave us like that without second season, it is their bones that Sakurako finds next time…
Another non-ending… *sigh*
Agreed with Samu and what others have said: it felt like a penultimate episode, or even an episode before that. Leaving this flashback story for the final episode was a mistake. Didn’t help that it lasted for almost the ENTIRE episode, too.
A second season could help with some of the problems in this episode, but that looks unlikely.
Oh, well. Thanks for blogging it anyway, Samu.
Episode 2 and the festival episode was the only ok episodes of this pile of shit. I don’t understand how you liked the 3 sisters arc, that whole scene by the cabin in episode 11 was so retarded I literally had problems watching it. And this final episode oh wow. What the fuck were they thinking?
Well at least they found out the magical girl sequence was.. in fact a magical girl sequence and had absolutely nothing to do in this show half way through.
Oh come on guys, this is a nice anime. I actually like how it analyse end individual’s motive behind the mystery.
Also I think that the drawning is damn nice and very detailed, beautifuly drawn. And its Hokkaido for a change
Feels like the 12 episodes is a ploy to get you to read the books 😛
It is a nice mystery anime with good consistent animation.
Everything is good until they slowly bring Hanabusa in and in the end kind of begin the Hanabusa arc(?). Makes the ending unsatisfying to me.
Unless they plan to do a season 2.
Maybe after the author rake in from increased book sales first? 😛