After all that happened last week it was a probably necessary for Charlotte 12 to be a sort of healing episode. We watch Yuu slowly rehabilitate while at least one other ability user blames him for letting Kumagami die, the idiot. But it does place a sense of responsibility on Yuu and leads to his big plan to fix things, a ridiculous plan, but even so … Along the way we get to see some loose ends tied up. Misa says goodbye to her parents and to Yusa, and leaves (the two best scenes in the episode). And Yuu confesses to Nao.
And off he goes to take away everyone’s ability. No idea how he’s going to do that, and no one around him seems to know, either. But he considers it’s the only thing he can do, and wants to make sure the abilities can no longer take people away from each other. You could argue that people find other ways to hurt people all the time, but that’s not part of the show, I guess. My question: is this mission going to destroy him, even after they set up a romance with Nao if he succeeds? Is he going to sacrifice himself? While he seems of sound mind, he might have some residual guilt that drives him to it. Anyway, I’m interested to see how it will turn out, which is a good result for a penultimate episode.
Jitsu wa Watashi wa 12 bumbles toward a big finish next week using the one or two plot things available to it: Youko’s father and secret, and Aizawa’s third point of the love triangle. They set it up nicely enough. I was taken by surprise by the sight of big bat (father) flying Youko away even though we had gotten the foreshadowing before. In the time before that I was ready to strangle Aizawa for interfering, but at the same time I could understand her pain and confusion. And as it turns out it was more entertaining than the alternative: Asahi reaching the roof to find she had already given up and left. At least this way we get a giant bat, and Aizawa has a direct way to make amends.
Sore ga Seiyuu! 12 is not the finale, in spite of its big finish, closing credits over the concert, and lack of a preview. At least that’s what online sources say.
It moves predictably. Ichigo tries but can’t hide her ankle sprain from the other girls, but insists it will get better. After this week’s big celeb cameo speech (Yui Horie again, looking even frumpier than before. She must have a great sense of humor to allow the show to tease her like this).
Futaba puts her own, uninjured foot down and insists Ichigo tell the staff. Naturally, everyone pitches in with solutions for her to perform without straining the ankle, and all goes well. The concert almost sells out, too.
In a way I think it was a blessing, at least for Futaba, for Ichigo to injure herself. Instead of falling into her usual pre-show jitters, she instead has to concentrate on new choreography and getting Ichigo through the concert. Nothing like a minor crisis to take you mind off unimportant stuff. And so I managed to relax while they performed. The worst thing that would happen would be for Ichigo to hurt her foot again, and I suspect the audience of fanboys and girls would forgive her if they knew the truth anyway. But what about next week? Probably something lighter and sillier, more in line with the original comic, which is more of a series of anecdotes rather than a serious story anyway.
The final moments of Non Non Biyori: Repeat say something about what the show is about, and my expectations while watching it. After the closing credits they return to a shot of the characters sitting under the blossoming cherry tree, a shot they had given us just before. We wait for something to happen, someone to stand up or say something, but all we get are floating blossoms and the sound of the wind. Then the show switches to the clouds above, and we wait, and nothing happens. The scene fades away. And nothing could make me happier.
In fact, the whole episode felt slow, calm, and deliberate, moving at the pace of the countryside, maybe more than any other episode. Renge and Hotaru drop by the school, then everyone goes digging for bamboo shoots, which they prepare and eat. Then they kill time before the whole gang goes out to do hanami, cue the slow fade. The time-killing scene was a perfect example of a moment that would be deadly in some other show but feels, necessary (and amusing) in this one. First, it’s all the girls, then Komari and Hotaru decide to make tea. Renge runs after a butterfly and Natsumi follows. Now, no one’s in the picture. Suguru wanders in, looks around, wanders off. Finally, Komari and Hotaru return with drinks. Throughout, the camera hasn’t budged, as if was showing a moment of human life in the country the way a documentary would film a nest with birds.
The show was always at its best when it turned away from gag scenes and showed the characters interacting with the rural world around them. Not that the gag scenes were always weak, but they were inconsistent and things you could find in a lot of shows. I think in its second season, Non Non Biyori focused more on its strengths, and, curiously, I think I enjoyed the characters more. Renge didn’t need the help: she’s as great as she was in the first season, but this time I got to enjoy the others more, even Natsumi, who stopped being such a brat and became more of a wild tomboy with obvious affection for Renge. It makes me a little sad to see the series go, but I also wonder if any good would come from a third one? Well, why not? There’s still plenty of things in the country that they haven’t shown us.