「終着駅まで／灯台」 (Shuuchaku Eki Made / Toudai)
“To The Last Stop / Lighthouse”
Well cannot say I’m too surprised in the end. Satisfying conclusion, happy ending—a finale kiss? Nowhere to be found here unfortunately, but then again I think we all knew Yagakimi was never going to end like that. With the manga still ongoing and a little too much to get through—i.e. a play being rewritten, actually seeing the play and its aftermath—a “read the manga” ending was always going to be the result. Not like it was all bad though; we got the cuteness, a bit of relationship assuredness, and quite a few moments of understanding I’m sure everyone saw coming. There may be no tangible conclusion for this little yuri love story, but you can certainly see how it’s going to unfold—whether only in manga or also in future anime—from here on out.
When it comes to yuri it’s hard to deny: Yagakimi is in the top tier. For what it lacked in the usual trappings—i.e. drama and fan service—the show more than made up in questioning and self-reflection, approaching its flavour of romance more from the direction of Aoi Hana than citrus. This was a show all about discovery and personal understanding, and one which benefited all the more because of it.
The main strength of good romances as the sharp eyed will note is the focus on story. While certainly down to personal opinion and what you’re after, if there’s nothing of depth beyond all the kissing and heavy petting eventually the proceedings grow boring and the series blends into the innumerable crowd. Citrus for example may have been haughty fan service a plenty, but beyond all the fun and games? Tedious drama all the way down. Yagakimi by comparison flips that script, offering the occasional glimpses of lasciviousness we’ve come to expect, but in the confines of an organic relationship. Or in other words, it’s not about the yuri, it’s about the reasons giving rise to the yuri. This distinction is why Yagakimi never breaks down into the usual drama plaguing many a romance; because the journey—i.e. Yuu’s and Touko’s learnings and understandings—more than the end goal is the reward, there’s little need to rush through the material to get to the “good stuff”. We were here to see what would get Yuu and Touko together, and Yagakimi more than rose to meet that occasion.
What arguably helps Yagakimi’s romantic approach the most however is its characters, particularly Yuu and Touko. While romance archetypes were present in general (ex. Sayaka the competing love interest), Yagakimi flipped the script when it came to its main duo, having Yuu the chasee be the “dom” while Touko the chaser wound up being the “sub” more often than not. It’s not a strict character twist mind you (as seen with Yuu’s personal struggles in the latter half), but the complexity of Yuu and Touko let their relationship develop in a largely natural way, giving all the expected troubles of any teenage escapade without a lot of the added drama often overshadowing the fun and games. Just take the minor characters of Seiji and Sayaka, most of the time they would be featured purely in a conflict-style role, serving to keep the main duo apart for an additional length of time, but in Yagakimi? Both serve to enhance and direct the emotions and interests of Yuu and Touko instead of directly competing with them. It’s a shift of focus showing the degree of control Yagakimi has over its story, and one which lets the romance shine through best.
While unlikely we will see more Yagakimi in anime form, as a base romance (and yuri at that) the show did everything it needed to stand out from the crowd. No matter the lack of definitive conclusion, the show stayed true to its source material, keeping with the slow burn development while enhancing key scenes in the best way possible. It may not be the single best yuri production to ever grace our screen, but Yagakimi shows this genre at its best,and how it can easily thrive without going down the fan service route. We may not see any more of Yagakimi, but if it can give the push needed for likeminded yuri (and other romance) to see adaptations then it’s certainly did the job it could have ever hoped to do.