「あなたに届けたい」 (Anata ni todoketai)
“I Want to Deliver it to You”
The first series review of a very abnormal (and truncated) spring season is one of its better shows. It was pretty much a given that Nami yo Kiite Kure was going to end without ending. This is an ongoing manga, and there’s no chance in hell that we’re getting a sequel, so I suppose Sunrise could have tried to cook up some sort of original ending. But this just doesn’t strike me as that sort of series. And frankly I’m glad it didn’t try – this is better altogether.
Nevertheless this ending was arguably a hair surprising in its choices. It worked quite well on the whole, but I didn’t expect much of what happened here. Maybe I should have, because maybe all along Wave, Listen to Me! was as much a love letter to radio as it was a story about any of its characters. This finale was, in fact, a celebration of radio and the role it can still play in our lives. And the role it might play in Minare’s life is certainly thematically intertwined with that notion.
A large earthquake was certainly an interesting way to do those things. Japan has 20% of the world’s quakes and Hokkaido is as seismically active as anywhere, so earthquakes are a part of life. This was a big one, though at 6.8 not a catastrophe on the level of the Tohoku quake of 2011. I view the role of radio in this sort of situation as something akin to a sci-fi scenario where two sides start out fighting a war with WMDs and end up slugging it out with bows and arrows. When the power goes out and infrastructure is crippled, radio – with its relatively primitive technology – soldiers on. It’s like the hand crank on your garage door when the opener is dead.
This is a great opportunity for Minare to graduate from amateur status as a radio personality. Initially the show is supposed to be her reading submissions from listeners and choosing one to adapt (at the same time, we learn that Makie – perhaps fated to be Minare’s eternal rival – is now writing for radio herself). She’s gotten about 110 of them, not bad for a 20-minute 3:30 AM show, and Kureko-san has sifted through the best of them to make it on the air. But Minare has barely started reading them out when the quake hits, and radio pros like Matou and Kureko immediately spring into action.
Matou isn’t romaticizing things much here, I don’t think. In a situation like this radio really does have a sacred duty to the community, and Matou also sees the potential for Minare to grow as a broadcast personality. He gets her through the rough first few minutes with a combination of honey and vinegar – challenging her to suck it up and show him what she’s capable of. Once it becomes clear that while things are a mess they aren’t a disaster, it’s easier for Minare to slide into her role. She reads messages from the listeners (including her dad, covertly), gives news updates when she gets them, and generally soldiers on until Chihiro finally arrives to relieve her at 5:00 AM.
Meanwhile the ever-selfless Chuuya signs on to Makie’s suggestion that they turn voyager into a soup kitchen for the duration of the crisis (Takarada-san is only too happy to finally get Gagarin’s curry out of his freezer) and Koumoto heads out to the remote relay stations to keep the flame alight for the sake of the public. It’s downright inspirational stuff – not for the first time Samura-sensei’s unapologetic love of radio comes through as loud and clear as MRS’ signal. Chihiro plays a song to celebrate the beauty of the stars so rarely seen in Sapporo, and the sun finally dawns on a new day.
If you wanted closure, this finale was probably something of a disappointment. Frankly there isn’t any – there are suggestions that Minare may focus more seriously on radio, though Voyager pulls her back in, and Kureko-san realizes that radio still has a hold on his heart. Makie is finally starting to disentangle herself from her brother’s clutches, and Mizuho is allowing herself to be ambitious. But no one really resolves anything. That’s not a problem for me, because I don’t really see any way it could have been otherwise without the ending seeming forced.
Different doesn’t automatically mean better, but it’s a good start for any anime when so much homogeneity exists in the medium at present. And Nami yo Kiite Kure was definitely different from anything else airing. As a look at adults dealing with adult problems and a paean to a dying medium, nothing about it is conventional by anime standards. I wish the radio segments had been more compelling (though they did save the best one for last) but on the whole this was a really solid series from start to finish. I especially enjoyed the dynamic between Minare and Matou-san, which was itself quite unique. I’d love to see how it develops from here, but then that’s what “now, go read the manga” endings are for, I suppose.