The final finales: Asobi, K-ON!!

The finale of Asobi ni Iku Yo does what you expect it to. The good cats win, the bad dogs lose. But it was hard for me to get interested in it.

Focus, damn it! FOCUS!

It starts out well enough. The Cathian rescue ship needs thirty minutes to fuel up but there’s NATO tanks and helicopters on the way. We get a nice land battle between NATO and the maids and their matter-converting thingamajib weapons, but then it gets interspersed with more Manami and Aoi arguing about who gets Kio (who, thankfully, is totally oblivious to what they’re talking about). It gets so bad that ditzy Eris asks them to stop. When they turn on her, she suggests a foursome. This shuts the girls up, though it’s out of shock, while Kio remains clueless.

Things don’t get much better after they reach orbit. Threatened by Dogisian ships all three girls must first kiss Kio before undressing in front of him to change into their spacesuits. I guess the foursome’s on. Someone should tell Kio what it is. Then, thank heavens, we leave that plotlline alone and get to more action. The problem is that it’s unclear how each unit is progressing. Okay, we get an idea of the Dogisian/Cathian space battle, but there’s Kio’s whimsically old-fashioned looking spaceship plunging into warp, then slamming into the captured Cathian ship and meeting hardly any resistance at all. The Dogisians are good at infiltration but not much on defense. I kept waiting for their reinforcements and all we get is a giant dog-robot. Kio shoves it over, or something.

Computer room.

Meanwhile Manami, Aoi and Eris do some of your usual anime space battle offensive work (a “super spacial graviton cannon”) and then risk their lives preventing the Dogisian ship from crashing into Okinawa. Aoi’s “I’m just a mercenary” theme comes up again, such a big ongoing issue with her since it was first presented one episode ago. Bah. Everyone is saved. And Kio makes the ultimate sacrifice:

This final story arc felt wrong. I have nothing against epic space battles, but one of the reasons I watched this silly show to the end was because of its light touch. Happy, buxom alien cat girls cavorting in sunny Okinawa with the locals not caring one jot, with some gun battles here and there. This finale felt too cosmic.

And though it ends with a pretty image, I can safely say I’m done with this series now. I’ll leave it to the characters to work out their foursome.

K-ON!! finally wraps up with a thoroughly appropriate episode where nothing much happens, laced with more goodbye stuff.

Azusa's welcome to the club. I have no idea what the others are up to.

I don’t know exactly when this episode is supposed to be, before episode 23, maybe. After a typically bizarre opening bit of memory we move to the nitty-gritty of the show, such as it is, the dreaded yearbook photo picture revelation. Yui looks just fine but wants advisor Sawako to have it changed before publishing. But Sawako is out with the flu. So off they go to visit. My only fear was that they were going to damage the facsimile, but that doesn’t happen. What we get instead is typical HTT behavior in Sawako’s apartment.

Sawako's home life is less unsavory than they had hoped.

Nothing much happens. Sawako won’t change the photo. There’s the mystery of a ghost hand in another photo. Yui gets into Sawako’s wardrobe. They decide to cook dinner and do her laundry. Nothing more than usual, except, like all of this season of K-ON!! at least, it’s put together with great skill. I’ve quibbled with this series plenty of times but one thing it has always done well is combine great art and detailed animation with ensemble acting that puts it above just about every other anime series out there. Even when the characters got on my nerves I enjoyed looking at it.

They must throw in sentimentality somewhere, and it’s Sawako’s turn to do it. She got a few chances in the graduation episode, but this one, I think, works better. Half asleep at the table, she looks at the yearbook, photos she helped them make, while her charges fold her laundry and cook dinner. She can only smile. What about? Because she’s fond of the girls? Because she’s remembering her own school days? Probably both.

They throw in a little subplot where Azusa is secretly rehearsing with other girls for a surprise performance at “the reception.” When was that? How come we didn’t hear about it before? And then, because there’s still a minute to kill, we get the girls running outside to jump in the air “Hard Day’s Night” style. It’s an appropriate way to end things. Girls acting silly and goofing up.

Except it’s not over. There’s a movie coming out. Now that we’ve seen them go through school I wonder if I want to watch their adventures all over again. Well, when the time comes we’ll see.

There! All the finales are finalized. Now it’s time for the Fall season! And, er, Amagami and Shiki.

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