「ミノア, カタルシス」 (Minoa, Katharsis)
And so, here we are at the finish line. The once normal universe has become an unruly mess as anime merged with reality. The previous episode’s face-off against time shifts and screen text continues into the finale, and the results are as messy as they are funny. In Animegataris fashion, they play around with funny sight gags such as Minoa facing off against the eyecatch, the temptations of a recap episode, and Minoa’s concept art from when she had a different name. The payoff with the show’s love of anime is extraordinary as the world transforming into anime has been creative and hilarious in its execution of pitting Minoa against not just the silliest anime tropes, but the inner workings of a television series in itself.
The resolution was a little rushed, but it’s easy to excuse because of the series’ less-than-serious tone. Minoa being able to use her favorite childhood anime and the Arisu mecha were interesting as it gave her the ability to utilize anime in a way that is special to her in the end. Aurora’s motivations were a bit off with his desire to rewrite the universe only to get his name changed. Seeing Minoa try to slap together any name to resolve Aurora’s problem was a great way to give him a send-off, but it seems like they might come across the same problem in the future. The show ends on the note that the universe has been remolded back to its normal state as if Aurora was never involved with the anime club, yet the newly formed anime club wants to create an anime around Aurora that would most likely recreate him, possibly restarting the show’s central conflict of Aurora regaining the power to bend the universe to change his name. That might be overthinking it though, especially since it ends so positively that it can be overlooked if it means the anime club has somewhat of a good impression of what Aurora might have been. It was also nice to see that the timeline Minoa went back to had Tsubaki embrace the anime club’s formation, openly welcoming Minoa to join rather than try to avoid a potential anime uprising against reality itself.
Animegataris was at its strongest when it poked fun at conventions in anime. The cast proved to be a great vessel for the fans who appreciate and nitpick the little things that make anime what it is today. The show is impressive in how privy it is to topics in anime such as fandom rituals, plot twists, production, the 3 episode rule, and adaptation differences. Each member brings something to the table too with Arisu’s infinite collection of anime she’s watched and bought, Miko’s dedication to light novels, Kaikai’s passion for magical chuuni series, Erika being well-versed in fan involvement and cosplay, and Aurora’s preference for moe. Minoa is a very likable protagonist as a newbie who picks up quickly on what makes anime a fascinating, albeit terrifying medium, and is reasonably astounded when things start to get chaotic.
In their embrace of crazy, the anime swings a double-edged sword as much of the show’s mysteries are all revealed within the last couple episodes. About 3/4ths of the show is spent under the assumption that we’re watching the anime club try to survive under a school board that constantly threatens their existence while its supernatural elements introduced in the first episode are placed on-hold. The school hijinks were still fun and the club members are delightful enough to follow with ease, but it didn’t help the story when it pretended there wasn’t anything to watch out for other than the student council. It made it feel like they were going to sloppily wrap everything up within an episode or so, and gave Neko-senpai very little purpose.
Luckily, by the time Animegataris revealed its big bag of secrets, they let everything spill out, creating one of the more memorable twists this season where reality transformed into a glorious anime mess. It wasn’t to the shark jumping extent of something like Samurai Flamenco’s seventh episode, but it was wacky enough to make the remainder of the series so much fun to follow. In hindsight, it was wonderful how the show gradually hinted at how far they would go with it such as the god rays and emotion-driven storm clouds appearing in the real world, and how the club would slowly go from discussing simple anime-watching habits to discussing how inconvenient it is for the robotics club to build a giant mecha so close to the school. Without us knowing, it slowly eased us into the insane fourth wall destroying anime that it became by the fourth quarter. While it could’ve otherwise been a forgettable slice-of-life about joining an anime club, the last batch of episodes put a lot of effort into redeeming the series as a hilarious, yet thorough examination on what defines anime and anime fandom. I’d welcome seeing more of these characters in future installments or shorts.