「進み行くために」 (Susumi iku tame ni)
“To Continue On”
It’s no secret that I won’t be sorry to see the backside of this arc. The problem is that it will almost be the end of the series too, which will have minimal time to try and stumble to its feet and reframe itself before signing out. I don’t know if there will be a sequel – the manga is quite popular so I guess it’s not impossible – but irrespective the series deserves better than the have Jananda be how its remembered. As inconsistent as the source material is, on the whole it’s much better than this.
It’s just a mess, this story. Nothing much is working for me because I don’t feel any emotional connection to the characters. Given that we know basically how the formula will play out – the Nokkers will eventually come and start killing people befriended by Fushi – the connection to the supporting cast is all-important. In this instance it’s hard to blame Fushi for what happened – he knew this was coming and did his best to get his friends (for lack of a better word) to safety. He can give them the means to escape, but if they choose not to use it what can he do?
In fact when Tonari gets back to the island it turns out it really wasn’t necessary because Fushi has already freed himself. Of course the real reason she came back is because she’s in love with him, so you can’t hold that against her. She actually does ask Fushi some penetrating questions – questions about the man in black and what his (and Fushi’s purpose) is. These are questions Fushi should be asking himself of course, but introspection of that sort doesn’t come naturally to him. It’s strictly a learned behavior, and he hasn’t been learning how to be alive for all that long.
When the Nokkers inevitably come, Tonari urges Fushi to come with her and leave the islanders to their fate on the grounds that all the people who “deserve” to be saved are saved, and that God will sort out the rest. Tonari is very fond of deciding who deserves to live and be free and who doesn’t, but Fushi isn’t so discerning – he just wants to take responsibility for what simultaneously is and isn’t his fault. The rest of the kids popping up at the crucial moment is rather as asspull (how the heck did they get back, anyway?).
Oopa is the first to go, Mia soon after, then Uroy. These are innocent enough kids whose only real offense is listening to Tonari, but I just can’t find it in myself to be moved by their fate. It was expected for starters, but there was never any real attempt to humanize them until a bare modicum was necessary to move the plot. This is hard on Fushi, and that pain is the most affecting part of the episode. He’s helpless to do anything to save Oopa os the mortally wounded Mia, and forced to confront the truth – for all his power he’s not really engineered for saving people. And since his presence keeps causing them to need saving, this places enormous existential strain on him. He deserves better – but as viewers, when it comes to endings so do we.