To many this was likely just another episode, albeit a heartwarming and emotionally satisfying one. But I think so much more of it. To me, it was one of the best anime episodes I’ve ever watched. That’s as lofty as proclamations can be, but when a piece of fiction chimes a cord in the way this did with me, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by what this episode managed. This is going to get personal, but allow me to explain.
I was going to wait until my final impressions to get personal as to how this episode – and likely how the series going forward – resonates with me on such an intimate level. What it comes down to is my own recent experiences that have shaped me and at times blocked my foresight. My mind has been muddy these past couple of weeks, but this episode of Fune wo Amu managed to break through and bring me back to my better self; this episode was like opening a window in a stuffy room, or cracking through the last wall keeping me from the outside world. And since the blossoming romance of this series is becoming a prominent feature, and I’m blogging this little gem, I’m going to go ahead and share my experiences.
Basically, 2016 has been an amazing whirlwind of a year for me. I moved away from the first time, to a city I was wholly unfamiliar with. At times I second guessed myself, but I’m glad I did what was right for me even if it’s been a bumpy ride. Like Majime, I started off in a place that wasn’t for me, but I have dreams and career goals that I aspire to, and seeing him doing what he loves has been so very satisfying to watch; we share a passion for words, though where his comes through definitions and interpretations, mine is through storytelling and bringing my characters and worlds to life. From the get-go, I knew that this under-viewed Noitamina title was going to me right up my lane, but now it feels like this was almost made for me to watch right now in my life.
This year also marks the first time I’ve fallen in love. Like Majime, I was inexperienced (although I’m not quite at his age), and after being exposed to so many stories that depicted love as the best thing on Earth, I can finally see why that is. It’s no mistake that love is the core theme of so much fiction out there, whether romantic, sexual, or any other form of love. I felt it, and I lost it. It’s been a bizarre year for the world in so many ways, but for me 2016 has been the best year of my life, yet recently it felt like the worst after losing what made my life so special. Losing the one who brightened my day the way the moon lights up Majime’s dark room in his moment of anguish was painful, but after realising that some things are never meant to be and trying to get myself out the gutter, this episode gave me that final push to get me back on my feet and feel genuinely inspired for what’s the come.
I’m not ashamed to admit the final minutes of this episode made me tear up. All of my favourite anime, books, films, or tv series manage to do so the same thing, so if anything that indicates this show will eventually land on my all-time favourites list. But I mean it: that final scene with Majime and Kaguya was one of the best I’ve had the pleasure to watch, on so many levels. It was exactly what I needed to make me hopeful for the future and re-affirm that feeling of finding love, and that I will one day find it again.
While this episode appears to be getting praise from the few that are actually watching it, I don’t think there are many who feel as passionate and affected about it as I am. That comes down to it appearing in my life at the perfect opportunity. To many viewers this probably put a smile on your face or warmed your heart or just kept you entertained for a 20 minutes. Or maybe it was too slow for you, and you just can’t relate to the characters or care much about Majime and Kaguya coming together in the way they have. I just know that from where I sit, and after letting it stew for a day, this episode affected me to a degree I did not expect. It’s the best anime episode I’ve watched since Hibike! Euphonium #08, and before then… I can’t quite say. Maybe ever? I don’t know for certain, but I can say it was a blessing to watch.
Now, onto why the episode itself was so fantastic even after removing my specific situation and how it affected me on a personal level. For one, this is so so so different from what we expect from anime romances. The narrative beats of Nishioka’s impending departure from the Dictionary department may not be the most original cause of dramatic tensions, as enjoyable as they may be, but as far as Majime and Kaguya are concerned, this almost feels too good to be real, because it feels so damn real. We’re watching these two people come together, whether by fate or total co-incidence, and seeing them fall in love with one another. There’s no tropes keeping them apart. We’re not getting the rug pulled from under our feet over and over again to extend the tensions and keep us wondering: “Will they? Won’t they?”. It’s what we’ve come to expect with anime romances, especially harems. And even when it focuses on two characters, things usually don’t work out as naturally as they do here. Majime and Kaguya may not be a match made in heaven – perhaps Fune wo Amu thinks they are, who knows? For now, they’re just two people who are attracted to each other in this moment, and I’m overjoyed to see them awaken those feelings.
The production of this episode was stellar from top to bottom as well, with careful and detailed animation put into many key scenes, especially when the characters are on edge or moving slowly, like when Nishioka admits to his colleagues that he’ll be leaving them before too long. The imagery with the ferris wheel and the range of colours and art styles used in Majime’s dream sequences are beautiful. Every scenes felt like it had purpose, whether to simply set a mood or present these characters in their every day life. The moody lighting of Majime’s room is effective in putting us in his depressive head space, right up until Kaguya walks in, when the lights seem to appear from the sky and everything becomes clearer and things start looking better than they ever had before.
I also love the little details with Majime and Kaguya’s characters. Majime’s comfort from his books and the words he interprets is soothing to watch, as is his realisation that Kaguya may feel the same way about her passions and goals, even if their minds don’t work the same way. That’s proven when Kaguya didn’t understand Majime’s convoluted confession last week. At first she thought it was a love letter – and that’s exactly what it was – but when she tried to read his words she couldn’t understand his complex way of expressing himself. It is a stinger that she doesn’t comprehend what he was saying, but it’s good to know they’re not the same person, and she requires that extra context to delve into that mind of his. And once she knows what he means, even if his words and actions up until that point haven’t been all that clear, you can tell she has immense relief in sharing her similar feelings of love.
That final scene is beautiful beyond words. I love it. I love this episode. I love these two. It’s a true pleasure watching this story unfold. “Resonance” is the perfect title for this episode, because it resonated with me more than I thought possible, reaffirming that there’s still love to be found, and sometimes great things do happen to good people, and that watching that unfold is an utter joy to behold.