「手紙/ 入学式 / 席替え」 (Tegami / Nyuugakushiki / Sekigae)
“Letter / First Day of School / Seating Arrangement”
Although the final episode of Takagi-san starts with a holdover from the more love-centric chapters that were previously adapted with a faux love letter prank, much of the finale’s focus is honing in on how far Nishikata and Takagi have come since they’ve met. In particular, the seating arrangement played a key role in how the two are paired up. Despite Nishikata not seeing the appeal of being so far behind on his first day after coming in late, the seating change they have to make years later is much rougher on him. Funny enough, it’s the same sentiment Mano and Nakai have with the deep depression they faced when having to separate due to the future seating swap. There wasn’t too much doubt that both pairings would be separate for long, it is sweet how both of them had worked to try to sit next to each other with Nishikata unsuccessfully attempting to swap with someone near Takagi, and Takagi being able to move in the back.
The most significant catalyst to sparking the beginning of Nishikata and Takagi paying attention to one another is all in her handkerchief. Nishikata’s lateness had been the result of returning Takagi’s handkerchief to the lost-and-found, which is something she hadn’t failed to hone in on. Even though it ended up triggering Nishikata’s flustered side that made pushing his buttons so appealing to Takagi, it ultimately serves a much larger purpose than just being a device for getting the two to meet.
Specifically, the last few minutes were a great way to tie everything from this episode together, and bring it all back to the handkerchief that brought them together in the first place. Nishikata spending the seating arrangement segment mulling over when the best time to return her handkerchief she left behind his house during summer break cemented how significant the both of them see it as what started their relationship. On top of that, the anime ended in an extremely cute way by having Takagi giddy about a Thank You letter he slipped in her handkerchief, causing her to kick her legs in excitement. It wasn’t exactly the ending that readers and those spoiler’d on the future of Takagi-san were hoping, but it really helps to show how they see each other in a far different light than they used to.
Takagi-san exceeded my expectations as an incredibly adorable slice-of-life show with a little sprinkle of mischief. The series could have been a lot meaner with how much trouble she got him in with the aggressive teacher, but thankfully, it didn’t revel in any mean-spirited bullying that other similar series’ have been accused of indulging in. I loved how there had continuously been a steady transition between Nishikata seeing Takagi as an obstacle and him slowly finding that he might possibly like her. Nothing feels rushed and forced nor does it feel slow and monotonous.
It helps that the chemistry between Nishikata and Takagi is nothing short of captivating. Takagi always getting the upper hand when Nishikata attempts to avenge himself for her ability to pull the rug out from under him is merely the backdrop of the emotional back-and-forth they have with each other. When things are seemingly cordial with them, they are actively invested in each other’s interests, and go out of their way to help or assist one another when things aren’t looking the best for them. The cutest moments are often a tie between when they drop their investment in pranking to show genuine concern for the well-being of their fellow partner-in-crime and when Takagi lets a moment linger enough for Nishikata to slowly find himself questioning just how much he feels for her. And much of their chemistry can be owed to how well their voices are. Kaji Yuuki is in so much nowadays that it can be hard to tell his performances apart, but he pulls off Nishikata’s nervous and flustered tone of voice very well, enough so to set it apart as more than just a character tailor-made for him. Meanwhile, Takahashi Rie pulls off a strong performance as the devious and somewhat affectionate Takagi, whose voice evokes the playfulness, mystery, and warmth behind what makes Takagi simultanously disarming and mischievous.
And when things might feel like they’re too focused on the two, the show has the sense in striking the balance with its integration of the Ashita wa Doyoubi spin-off into the show. The transition between both series’ is seamless as they often mesh with each other, and help make it so that if you’re tired of the puppy love or teasing, there’s always funny school life hijinks around the corner, and vice versa. I was worried that it’d feel like they were going to hinder the quality of the show by integrating the spin-off or that it would feel like it was being shoe-horned in to pad out time, but the coherent connection that both series’ have with each other makes it so that they fit perfectly and naturally with one another. I am wondering if they’ll plan on continuing the series or eventually intertwine every spin-off the series has inspired together. But for now, this season of Takagi-san truly was one of the cutest shows this season.