More Thirteens: Arakawa (finale), K-ON!!

Arakawa under the Bridge wrapped up what little plot it had last week. This time they tidy things up, first by adding new characters. This is fine. At the end of the episode we learn that a sequel is in production, so we’ll get to see more of them. The question is—do we want to?

First we meet Last Samurai, the bridge people’s hairdresser. He seems amiable enough. The haircutting scene got to show us how the characters relate to their hair, or lack of, if they wear masks. I don’t know how much he could contribute if he joins the regular crew, but he IS a samurai. That gives him some points in favor. After that Recruit observes Billy, a man in a parrot mask, and Jacqueline … a bee-girl, I’d guess you’d call her. All we get from her is that she loves Billy and is worried about what her hive might think. I don’t know. It’s no better or worse than a Venusian girl or a special forces operator dressed as a nun, but it feels like more of the same. Billy has more potential. He’s sick, he says, of parroting other people’s words, and he comes off like some Yakuza tough, rejecting society. I suspect he could carry the refusal to parrot things into other situations.

The second half is a nice sequence where Rec promises to build Stella and the Metalhead kids an amusement park, since they won’t leave the bridge to visit one. But he can’t think of any ideas, so the other bridge-dwellers build one for him. This is itself a nice little bit, the others helping out the one having problems. Of course, it means the bridge-dwellers built it. So we get the merry-go-round, except Recruit’s horse is real and Maria takes a whip to it. Also a “screamer,” which is actually an iron maiden, and a 3-D movie where the swords and gunshots are real. Recruit, for some reason, still finds a space within him to be appalled, but the kids love it, which is the point.

I wasn’t surprised that the show ends with a sentimental scene or two because even those can be weird as hell. It’s a good way to finish up. The gang all do something together and give each other a happy memory. Recruit now has a community, and Nino. The question is, can a second season give us anything more than we’ve already seen? I guess we’ll find out.

K-ON!! 13 is sort of a repeat of the earlier episode where the seniors were on a field trip and Azusa was bored and lonely. This time the seniors are studying, and Azusa is bored and lonely again. She passes time with Ui.

Studying.

One thing about Azusa and Ui is they’re not going to make asses of themselves, so it’s a low-key episode. It’s livened up by some odd dreams, the first being the best. Yui is upstairs practicing, and you can tell what her mood or condition is by the tempo and pitch she’s playing. You don’t even see her, just hear her guitar. But once you learn that there’s going to be dream scenes scattered throughout, they become less effective, though water-sliding with yakisoba wins points for surreality.

But mainly they kill time. It’s all right. I no longer worry too much when K-ON!! has episodes like this. I don’t find them as draggy as I used to. There are pool scenes, a movie, falling asleep in the club room for no reason. Until they run into the seniors, done from studying.

And they have fun together. Azusa was sad and bored, then she was happy, then she was sad again because the others will graduate. The worry Azusa feels about the future comes off as genuine. At one point she looks at her reflection and you can see the sadness in her face. Thinking about it now, I guess you could say that her wishes and worries provide an anchor to the episode.

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