Finales: Tokyo ESP, Free2, Hanayamata

Tokyo ESP ends in about as ridiculous fashion as you would expect.

Just when I thought things couldn't get goofier ...
Just when I thought things couldn’t get goofier …

Episode 11 brings us right around to episode 1, with the parliament in the air, literally, and people rushing to get there and find a way to stop these unstoppable bad guys, who, as it turns out, could be stopped quite easily when you get the right ESPer for the situation. You could say that it’s a way for the show to save animation costs, but it’s always fun to watch good guys beat up bad guys, and what’s more, Rinka did all that beating up without any ESP powers at all. Meanwhile Kyoutaru gets some unexpected help from, er … I told you it would be ridiculous.


And then we get the expected Rinka/Minami rematch, which was actually some crossing of blades in between speeches about Kyoutarou, good and evil, the show’s usual stuff. The physical fight is pretty much a draw, while Rinka wins the debate by simply not being on the side of a smug, superpowered meglomaniac who plays the piano badly and has the worst lines I’ve heard from a villain in some time. Meanwhile, in the side battle, two kids make short work of Hokusai’s nastiest henchman, including the one holding up the building (which they knew), and there’s some uninteresting effort to stop lots of people from getting crushed. Then another debate, between Koutarou and his new best buddy albatross, and Minami, and then some even weirder people show up, and well, does it matter?

and catch that goldfish!
and catch that goldfish!

The “Professor’s” mad scheme to make a lot more espers doesn’t sound too bad to me. The only people who might argue are those who insist on “us” and “them.” If it becomes “we,” then no problem. Unfortunately, the show doesn’t take that route, and neither do the new espers, all of them apparently lawless. But realism and logic have never meant much to this show. This absence of normality was also one of its charms. It was, in spite of the violence, a cheerful, goofy show, with flying penguins and talking albatrosses and ninja masters in panda suits. And the good guys goofily believed in good and executed violence for its cause. The bad guys fought for evil, or whatever, and had terrible lines. I can’t make myself dislike this show too much.


Free! Eternal Summer has the expected climax, the big race in the nationals. It’s about as joyous and fun to watch as the season one finale was, each boy finding what they want while they have their final race together, and, just like Ping Pong, it really didn’t matter how they did, and the show finally tells us via a framed picture on the wall, again like Ping Pong. While that bit, and the aftermath where everyone goes their separate ways and keeps working, was immensely satisfying, the stuff that came before wasn’t.


There was no real no urgency to it. Season one’s arch rival, Rin, was now their closest ally. Haru had pretty much solved his problems in episode twelve. That left us a dull scene where he had to explain what his problems were and everyone had to verify their friendship, especially Makoto. Then there was an even worse scene the night before finals where they basically recapped both seasons in a “Hey, remember when so-and-so …” style that had me consider fast-forwarding, something I almost never do. Well, they pulled out the nice ending, and I’ll say that, like K-ON!! and unlike Chuu2koi, they found reasons to make a season 2 necessary. Graduation is a nice built-in plot device, isn’t it? But I’m glad the series is over, time to give it a rest. Looking forward to Kyoani’s new show.

You're late, Hana!
You’re late, Hana!

Hanayamata 12, like Free!, sticks the landing. It felt a little odd. The girls were prepared to do the festival show without Hana, and there was a nice bit where Naru gives Machi a pep talk, and everyone else is surprised that it’s Naru giving the pep talk, how much she’s grown, etc, and it occurred to me that it might be appropriate for Hana NOT to be there. As they say, Hana might have started the yosakoi club, but it kept going and acquired new members mainly because of Naru. But I suppose that would be unfair to Hana, and the girls want to perform all together, and this is a show with happy, sappy overtones. So here comes Hana!


I could have done without the “will she make it?” business and the rushing about, but it did give a momentum to things when the music plays and Hana leaps onstage just when the music hits the chorus, well-timed! After that it was dancing, fireworks, and happy-happy, and I was sucked back into the series, for the first time in a while. Never mind all those invented dramas that came before it, or that Hana wasn’t the fairy she seemed to be … I wrote in my introduction to this series that it had cast spell on me that began when the OP hits the chorus and the girls start dancing. It turns out that it was the OP casting the spell. The story that came afterwards could get pretty dismal. But at least they put together a lovely final performance that lives up to that song. But I wonder if the series is casting about for another season. I hope not. It would be about as unnecessary as some other season twos I mentioned in this post. Let’s leave it as it is.


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