Finales: Maria, Yuri Kuma, Koufuku Graffiti

Maria the Virgin Witch finishes nicely, with me scratching my head.

Michael's got to go through Joseph AND Ezekiel, not that he can't.
Michael’s got to go through Joseph AND Ezekiel, not that he can’t.

The witches face off against Michael, in spite of Maria’s protests, and are easily beaten.  Then Michael gets to the important matter, what to do with Maria, who, by the way, hasn’t backed down an inch.  Neither has Joseph or Ezekiel.  Michael is confused by this loyalty, so he shows up on the ground and interviews everyone around who knows her.  Funny that the regular folk treat it like a normal thing while the monks freak out, Bernard so much so that he tries to strangle Michael … bad idea.  And it’s a shame, because he had become a crazy scholar, and the world needs more of them.  So, after Michael does what he should have done earlier, i.e., check out the scene on the ground, he decides to forgive Maria, even calling her part of the natural law on earth.  Off he goes, and everyone’s happy.

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I don’t know about the interviews.  Surely Michael ought to know how everyone feels already.  If not, it’s proof that the heavens are too distant from the world and have no business ruling it.  Of course, others, especially Viv, have said just that to him and it didn’t make a difference.  But there are other things that I can’t figure out, too.  If Maria is considered part of the natural law on earth, that means she wasn’t before.  Wouldn’t the heavens really hate having her and the other witches around?  Why didn’t they wipe then out a long time ago?  Maybe they can’t?  They’re not omnipotent?  Or maybe the main God is as distant from the angels as the angels are to us on earth.

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Frankly, I kind of wish the show had explored Bernard’s theories a bit farther; while I’m not a theological scholar or even close to one, I think I recognize Bernard’s line of thinking somewhere.  Too bad Micheal showing up kind of blew his theories out of the water.  No wonder he tried to strangle him.  And along more practical lines, is Maria going to marry Joseph, lose her virginity, and thus her powers?  I can’t imagine such a headstrong, flamboyant character settling down to being just a farmwife.  Well, I could go on forever with questions and speculations.  In that sense, the show was very successful.  I can’t speak for veracity, but it was interesting to take a Japanese take on western history, especially such a confusing time.  But the series also felt too busy, juggling too many theme and plot-balls in the air.  It was directed and paced well, but sometimes it felt like too much.  Still, not the usual anime series we see on TV, and I’m grateful for that.

 

Of course you do, Maria.
Of course you do, Maria.

Yuri Kuma Arashi‘s finale is so weird that I’m not going to bother with most of it.

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Basically, the reason Kureha was on trial by Judgemens was that she had wanted Ginko turned into a girl, so they couldn’t exclude her.  A sin of pride.  And by the end of the show she had seen the error of her ways, and instead wished to become a bear instead.  This takes some time to get to, as we have the current situation to sort of work out.  Ginko is facing a firing squad, saying she never loved Kureha, she just wanted to eat her, gao-gao, and Kureha seeing through her lies, while the girls with guns watch, aghast.  Not sure why, but her appeal breaks her handcuffs, and Kumalia herself floats down from the heavens.

Huh?  HUH?
Kumalia, finally we … Huh? HUH?

My brain broke a little there, but earlier Kureha had mentioned that Sumika had brought love back to her life.  Maybe that was the trigger.  Speaking of triggers, after the bears are reunited, the exclusion girls fire, and it’s a bit of a mystery after that.  Kureha and Ginko are presumably in some yuri-bear-la-la land, we see Lulu and that little prince alive, happily reading the storybook, and one of the exclusion girls walks out and befriends that bear whose name I forget.
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I suppose it’s a happy ending, but it feels like an ending that the afflicted tell each other to feel better about their situation.  “They’re together in heaven” and all that.   But the situation between humans and bears, or girls and girls, hasn’t changed one bit in that world.  Well, if the series was meant to be a statement about society’s attitudes to those “who stand out,” it carried other things with it, such as love, of course, and friendship and forgiveness.  Kunihiko Ikuhara likes to pack in as many images and themes as he can in his works, so to distill it to one theme feels wrong.  On the whole, this series felt like “Penguindrum-lite,” inevitable since it was only twelve episodes.  It feels slighter, fewer important characters and plotlines to follow, but with all the weird imagery you’d expect.  But, like Penguindrum, it tired me out by the end.  Twelve episodes is enough.

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After the theological riddles of Maria and the weird images of Yuri Kuma, it’s a relief to finish the season with its lightest yet most fattening show.  Koufuku Graffiti‘s finale is one of the livelier ones.  Ryou and Kirin right off the bat get accepted into the school they want, and that keeps things interesting for a few minutes.  Ryou’s memories of her grandma and the school she’s graduating from drag it down a bit, but Kirin shows up out of the blue and gets things moving again.  The main point to the story is that Kirin will be moving into Ryou’s home to go to high school, but nobody told Ryou.  It’s not a serious crisis; once she gets over the shock of it she’s happy with the idea.  As for the food, it’s yellowtail simmered in daikon radish, grandma’s specialty (granny’s picture keeps changing this episode), also more cutlet sandwiches (with shrimp), and when everyone comes to help Kirin move, we get Kirin’s mom’s famous veggie stir-fry, the only thing she can cook, and it’s as delicious as everything else, because they’re eating it together.  Lovely final moment.

You know the meal they're going to eat later is going to be delicious.
You know the meal they’re going to eat later is going to be delicious.

Nice series overall; it made me happy, which was the series’ only intent.  My only disappointment is that these two art-school girls aren’t moving to an apartment building across the street from the school, where they meet, well, you know.  Now that Hiro’s graduated, the other girls will need someone to cook for them.

One more of Kirin, in your face.
One more of Kirin, in your face.
And one more of Ryou, sort-of summing up the show for us.
And one more of Ryou, sort-of summing up the show for us.
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