「俺も、一生、忘れない」 (Ore mo, Isshou, Wasurenai)
“I’ll Never Forget It, Either”
I sincerely appreciate it.
I’ll get into my final impressions later (after the epilogue caps), but this. This! This final episode was astounding, for what it did that the rest of the series hardly dared: when it was time to go big or go home, it went big. Anime, be ambitious!
The early moments were shaky, with the enduring problem of the way Miyano Mamoru is voicing Kaoru rearing its ugly head again. He just will not play him totally serious in any but the most heartfelt of scenes, which leads to partially heartfelt scenes like the opener being weakened. Fortunately, when it came time for gim to confront Mitsuyoshi, he played it perfectly (and Miyano-san acted it perfectly as well), and showed just how much Kaoru is the real hero of this series. The entire reason he is here is because he’s trying to push Mitsuyoshi into being true to his own feelings and living his best life, even when Mitsuyoshi pushes back against him. That ties into the series’ ultimate themes, but more on that later. To put it more simply, Kaoru is there because he loves Mitsuyoshi and thinks the world of him, and he’s going to make sure his friend has a happy ending, no matter how far he has to travel to make it happen. Go, Kaoru!
The other emotional scene early on was between Teresa and Alec, and I have nothing to add. It stood on its own. They too are the best of friends, and they’re lucky to have each other. I’m so happy that there was never any drama between them, despite the way their loves/relationships overlapped.
Rachel is the other hidden MVP, and not just because she’s secretly the author of Sunflower Express. Her determination to push Teresa into a position where she too can be true to herself means she functions in a similar vein to Kaoru, but with less proximity (and less information) in which to do it. That it all worked out was a stroke of luck, but she made the right moves too.
Then there’s Charles. One could argue that he’s the tragic figure of this anime, and yes, to a point. It sucks that the woman he loves doesn’t love him back. I really feel for him … but in another way, wasn’t his choice clear? Who wants to be #2? Screw that! I’d want to find a woman who wants to be with me, wholeheartedly and unabashedly, someone who wasn’t forced into it by circumstances but rather wants to be with me above all others! That woman is out there for Charles. Hell, he might even know her already, if the chemistry is there (ufufu~). There’s no good reason to settle for a win by default, even if that’s technically a “win.” Screw that!
Which isn’t to minimize his struggle. It’s hard to give up gracefully, especially when you’d already “won” but have to choose to lose. But he made the right choice. He would have always been second fiddle in Teresa’s heart, and that would have been even more tragic than a love lost. So don’t feel bad for Charles, or not too much. He didn’t get cheated on, and Teresa respected him as much as she could. She just didn’t love him. He made the right choice, and he’ll be happier in the future for it.
As for the ending, HNNNNGGG!! There’s an argument to be made for the tragic ending, and I’m sure some viewers will bridle at the path taken, but I for one like seeing the princess chase after the boy, and everyone being with the one they love (or having a chance at being with the one they love or may come to love) is the best possible ending. As Rachel said, a happy ending is nice for the conclusion. I’m glad we got one in the end.
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I hyped up Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai in the preview quite a bit, so though I made sure to temper my expectations as much as possible, I was clearly excited for the possibilities. Now here, at the end of the season, it’s time to see if I was right to gush. How did the Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun anime team do with their own original anime? The verdict: pretty good.
I’m obviously coming off the high of a great final episode, so that will color my appraisal, but I tihnk that’s all right. A good ending will loom large in our memories when we think back on this series later on, so it only seems fair. (Which is why it takes a series as good as Toradora to remain beloved despite a really weak/rushed ending.) Tada-kun started out with a relatively weak first episode, was really good for episodes two and three, then sagged in the middle (though it never faltered entirely, nor was without its standout moments) until really taking off from episode ten onward.
And here’s where I talk about themes, because the final episode illuminated them nicely. I posited that it might be duty, or sacrifice, or searching for happiness, and all of those are wrong. The thematic spine of this series had to with the denial of feelings, and of the regret that arises from not acting—most often, not communicating—when you’ve got the chance. This is the thread that binds Mitsuyoshi and Teresa—Mitsuyoshi with his final moments with his parents, which caused him to close up and shun his own happiness in favor of others’; Teresa with her duty to become queen, which means marrying Charles and doing what’s expected of her even if it means locking her feelings up inside forever. They’re both the kind of people who will lock their feelings away in order to do what they must, and in small doses, that’s great! It’s a powerful skill. But doing it too much, for too long, will end with a person made miserable through a plethora of regrets when they acted (or acted through inaction) in a way counter to their own well being.
In light of this theme, the ending becomes obvious. The series asks a question: Is it a good idea to shut away your feelings and do what is expected of you, even if it means sacrificing your own happiness? Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai could have answered “Yes,” had it been a very different story. In light of the constant refrain about regret—“I would want to go back to that time, if it were possible.” “It’d be nice if you could, but you can’t. You should just try not to repeat the same mistakes, shouldn’t you?”—ending with Teresa and Mitsuyoshi choosing duty/what’s expected of them would have been exactly the wrong message. Which, of course, is exactly what they decided! But fortunately the storyteller has more tools in their toolbox, and director Yamazaki Mitsue, series composer Nakamura Yoshiko, and the rest of the TadaKoi crew set up Charles well enough that when he made his choice, that made sense too. The series remained consistent with its themes, and we got a happy ending to boot. That’s a lovely thing.
Not that the story was without its issues. Its main issue was a lack of ambition in the middle stretch. I’m all for going for a slow boil, but the series was so focused on the Teresa x Mitsuyoshi relationship that it devoted all its attention to that, and when it was building slowly in the background, it means not much was going on. All the other characters were basically ignored, with the odd episode focused to them (Nyanko Big got two!) but little development past that. We’re left at the end wondering what might have been, had they used some of this time to delve further into Pin-sempai and Hinako’s relationship, or Yui and Yamashita Ken’s. Hell, Nyanko Big is the only one with a relationship status upgrade outside of the main couple! It was unavoidable that Alec’s love life couldn’t develop further than it did—that was done well, once we all realized that Kaoru wasn’t her love interest—but the others felt wasted, and that contributed to the lull in the middle of the season where things were happening, but they were happening with much more time than they required. That left several episodes feeling wasted and unnecessary.
In the end though, TadaKoi righted the ship, stayed true to its thematic elements, and stuck the landing. It was an enjoyable romance, and while the writing team needs to tighten things up and get more ambitious on its next foray, I would absolutely watch whatever work they put out next. Hopefully Yamazaki-san, Nakamura-sensei, and the rest of their Doga Kobo crew will get to create another work sometime soon. This one was good, and I have every faith that the next one would be even better.