With hindsight it seems obvious that Violet Evergarden, both the show and the character, would return to fighting to round off the series. It also comes as no surprise that the story will involve Violet struggling to reject the war and the death it causes while at the same time trying to protect people from a threat. In episode 12, doing this causes her to be more or less spat upon by both sides of the war. First it’s Diethard Bougainvillea, Gilbert’s brother and all-around petulant asshole, who accuses her of being nothing but a killing machine that can do nothing without orders, mocks her desire for peace, and most of all, hates her because she could not protect his brother. That last bit, blurted out near the end, almost made him tolerable. On the other hand it’s an enemy general and one soldier from last week, who don’t like her because she’s the enemy and also because she wants peace–they’re the generic enemy soldier types, all for war and destruction and contemptuous of anyone who isn’t.
Frankly, I would have made Violet use that knife she holds most of the time, but that’s the type of emotional manipulation the show wants to work on me. Good guys vs. bad guys, with Violet in the middle, claiming she doesn’t follow orders anymore, but saying that Gilbert’s last orders to her were “to live.” Interesting that she loses his pendant this episode … It leads to a striking moment at the end where she uses her abilities to not kill, warding off a bullet to save Diethard, who is gratifingly surprised. Where that event will lead to I don’t know, but the train’s still in the hands of the enemy, so there’s plenty of fighting to do.
Hakumei to Mikochi 11 happens on a train, too, but there isn’t any fighting or dark pasts to consider, just deciding the best place to fish. The train ride, when you think about it, is mundane, like many now except for the dining car, and the warm look of all that wood … I love all the different colors in this show. But I couldn’t get past the train itself, which ought to be about a foot high. Not to mention that fish. I know that a tiny hedgehog character catching that big fish is a gag, but I can’t help but wonder how fried yam man managed it.
Then in episode 12 we say goodbye, as the two ladies take a perilous trip to catch a glimpse of Hakumei’s old trade route gang and we get a flashback. While many of the episodes have made me wonder how things work in that world, my main question this time is more personal: how did Hakume and Mikochi first meet? How did they get so close? There is some unspoken worry from Mikochi that Hakumei might leave some day, but why she’s worried we’ll never know, unless the manga has that information. Or maybe we’ll get a season two.
This is a series that could easily do another season if it wanted. It had no story arc that led to a conclusion that would make what happens later an anticlimax. It was purely slice of life, and a season two could pick up those lives anywhere they wanted. I’d happily watch it. It was fun watching these tiny, slightly odd creatures going through their days, partly because they make a nice team, but also because of the rich and detailed fantasy world they lived in. There were strange and wonderful things all around them, little things like those orb teapots, or bigger, like the steam train, that conjure up nostalgia for an innocent past none of us actually experienced, along with living things, talking insects, really big (for that world) rodents, and bones that could be controlled with tambourines. I don’t know if I’d like to visit such a world, they wouldn’t let me in the city because of my height, after all, but I like to imagine that that it really exists. After an episode of Yuru Camp, I would think it’s the most charming show of the season, and I’d do the same after an episode of Hakumei to Mikochi. Since I watched the finale of the latter last, I declare Hakumei to Mikochi the winner, Yuru Camp a close second. I don’t know if the new season will be able to top either one.
Finally, Dagashi Kashi 2 wraps up, with a predictable and un-crazy episode 11 that has Kokonotsu finishing his manga, going to the review, getting skewered by the editor and about to return, depressed, with snow even delaying his train overnight. Fortunately the show chooses this moment to bring Hotaru back, but it’s too late to save this episode. But we get a good finale, Hotaru, after a bit of surprising sobriety while she listens to Kokonotsu’s despair, goes back to crazy mode and has one more candy to introduce (Mario Manga Gum actually looks pretty cool), and there’s a crazy final scene where we discover that Hotaru now wants Kokonotsu to join her company, not You, and that Beniyutaka from the konbini is Hotaru’s older brother, all leading to one of those running-away scenes while the credits roll.
Well, while this season had its moments, it suffered because of Hotaru’s absence, and so I can’t rate it as highly as the first one. Also, there were episodes where hardly any dagashi was featured. I guess if an aimless show (I don’t mean that as an insult) runs long enough the creators feel obliged to add plot and character background, and quite often it spoils the fun. Oh, well, it had Saya (though not enough), and they were able to briefly riff on convenience store work culture. And there’s still plenty they could do even if the series decides to return. But please, more Hotaru and Saya!