Tower of God 12 turns out to be a typical penultimate episode, with the good side rallying, the bad side dying or retreating, and a seeming betrayal at the end, though with all the intrigue and minor politicking going on it’s hard to tell what is happening exactly. While Bam and Rachel continue to float along in their bubble, we see the various factions get their act together. The whole thing with Rak and the worms and pigs and whatnot, makes little sense at this point. Let’s just say that with Khun’s help they manage to turn the battle against whatever they were fighting thanks to an underground conduit the blond girl discovered last week. But it’s just a plot point. A more interesting situation goes on below. Endorsi looks like she’s about to kill Anaak, the fake princess, or bastard princess or whatever, but of course Endorsi intends nothing of the kind, and soon the mortally wounded girls are fighting back like they’re 100%. It takes more than a spear through the chest to slow down Anaak. It’s good for the plot, of course, but even better for their dysfunctional friendship. Then we have cavalry in the form of Yuri polishing off the sheep guy, affirming that Anaak has as much right to her title as anyone. That was rousing. Finally we have Bam’s great heroic moment, getting swallowed by the bull only to kill it from inside, and then the betrayal …
We still don’t know what’s going on with Rachel, why she’s so ambivalent towards Bam’s motivations, though it seems to mirror the betrayal Khun suffered at the hands of Maria long ago. Speaking of Khun, they bring up another wrinkle with his brother showing up, but frankly, the backstory has become the weak point of the series. The various misfit examinees coming together and defending one another, THAT’S the important thing.
As for the finale, there’s little to say about it in terms of the story. It’s basically Rachel’s backstory about Bam, and how she strikes a deal to kill him because, I suppose, he poses a threat to the current hierarchy, or the current administration. At the same time, she is dependent on Bam to get her to where she is, but she’s still gotta kill him at some point. It goes on a bit, but it was interesting to see Rachel’s colder, even cruel side, thinking herself indifferent to Bam, but allowing us glimpses of her weakness. Her ambition (not so see the stars but to BE a star) and her jealousy of Bam’s enormous power, conflict with the guilt of hurting someone who is devoted to her and has been nothing but nice to her for the whole series. She does the deed, but she allows herself some grief, too.
Naturally, Bam isn’t dead but is discovered in a Shinsu dome at the bottom and rescued by some princess or another. His motivations are less clear. He knows what Rachel did to her, but in a good change in his mindset, hardly mentions her at all while he mulls over his reason to keep climbing, settling on “the answers.” Meanwhile, everyone who took the test passes but is in grief over Bam’s supposed death, which maybe fuels Rachel’s self-anger as well. So everyone will keep climbing one way or the other. I don’t know if a season two has been announced, and I’m not sure I’ll watch it if it comes. It’s clear now that this is a very long series with lots of digressions, characters coming in and out, and endless tower levels to climb. I don’t like endless shows very much. However, what roped me into the series in the first place was none of the characters, but the style. The visuals were usually great to watch, the music often cosmic and orchestral but never overwhelming, though I liked it so much that I wouldn’t have minded if it did. In other words, this was a middling fantasy series with a great look, and maybe that will be enough when season two arrives, if it does.
As I expected, Kakushigo 12 makes little effort in telling crazy stories. Every time a character does go for comedy they’re quickly shut up by the others. Instead, we get the whole, slightly sordid story, some of it utterly unnecessary. Did they actually have to make Goto a bastard son? And that scene between the 18 year-old Hime and her newfound half-brother, did they have to make him a young kabuki actor? I understand that they wanted to show that Goto (and Hime) came from an artistic family, but I didn’t see the point of doing it that way. More acceptable was how Goto’s wife’s disappearance making the tabloids and ruining his career, forcing him to do odd jobs to make ends meet, until he was ironically crushed by a pallet full of manga. Of course that leads to him being in a coma for seven years, then waking up with amnesia, a plot twist that even the characters think is lame. Suddenly this sweet, funny show descends into bathos.
It’s redeemed somewhat by focusing on Hime. No one’s told him it’s the future now, or that girl standing before him is his grown daughter, and he seems so happy drawing that she can’t bear to tell him the truth, not realizing that Goto will only be truly happy when he sees her again. Once she does realize (by Goto telling her) it’s clear sailing until the end. She brings him his old manuscripts and he makes the realization, the music swells, and at the end of the series he’s back pitching new ideas to Tomaruin with nothing to hide. Oh, congrats to Rasuna to getting her own series.
All in all a pretty good series with a slightly botched closing. These days I’m very selective about the shows I follow, but I stayed with this one until the end, well, okay, COVID-19 shut down some of the others, but I frankly don’t think I would have followed any of them for long. I like Kumeta Kouji’s work in general, especially his minimalist faces and how everyone is sort of smiling when they’re angry. Also, in spite of his weird stories and riffing on concepts, he seems to be a softy at heart, as shown by the legitimately sweet relationship between Goto and Hime. So I will probably keep watching whatever anime someone chooses to produce.
For Nami yo Kiitekure‘s finale I figured out that certain situations would get resolved, but I couldn’t think of any. This show is smart enough to know that life is ongoing, that nothing finishes easily, most things just continue. So very little happens with the characters. So what will they do with the final episode? How about a curveball? In the middle of Minare’s broadcast Hokkaido gets a 6.7 earthquake, complete with blackout.
It sounds kind of cheap, like a thing an author would do if they had no other ideas, but it also gives every character a chance to show off their strengths as everyone copes. Komoto is off checking transmitter stations. Nakahara and Makie (who, as a side, has started to do independent things, and pretty much confesses to Nakahara though he doesn’t get it) go to the restaurant to open a soup kitchen, with Takarada’s consent. Mizuho scrambles to get additional information on the earthquake while Mato directs traffic. In the middle of this, Minare stays on the air, long after her program is scheduled to end, a newbie in a crisis situation, giving news and relaying personal stories, all uplifting, to whoever is listening, which is just about everyone we’ve met in the show. One caller texts to tell her how reassuring it is to hear a familiar voice on the radio in a frightening situation, and there it is. Everyone is contributing in their own way. It’s a trial by fire for Minare, but no one, not us, not Mato, doubts her ability to carry on, but it’s not the focus. The focus is on everyone we’ve met. Finally, an hour later, Chishiro takes over for Minare and plays an old song about looking at the stars, which all the listeners do, a lovely scene that brings every character and passer-by together a little.
Well, how else do you finish a story that has no finish but to bring everyone together? The power will come back on eventually, people will get back to their lives. Mizuho will struggle to get her own show, Makie will learn independence and maybe win Nakahara’s heart, Takarada will grab butts, Mato and Chishiro will press on, and so will Minare, though she’ll no doubt stumble a lot as she does. It also feels a little unfair; since nothing is wrapped up it feels like we should get a continuation, but there’s no indication that there will be another season. But I dearly want one. Even if the stories are small and trivial and people only take baby steps in their lives, I want to see those steps. I understand that there will never be an end point for Minare, but I want to see her bumble through her life and rage on the air some more. I was hooked on this show from episode one, so raw Minare was and how visceral her on-air voice felt, and in the end she is the same, but finds herself able to help people just by being there on the radio. Lovely stuff. My favorite series of the season.
Finally, it’s goodbye to Hamefura, not the best series of the year, far from it, but one of those silly shows that was done too well to ignore. First we take care of the problem with Sirius, who is the bastard son of a noble and a maid, who’s memories were switched with a legitimate son, but, well, it’s complicated. All you need to know is that his real mother asking for revenge was a mind-plant, and what she really said was that she loved him. Catarina knows this, maybe because of the game, and it isn’t long before he lightens up and the dark power controlling him is dispelled. By “not long” I mean “too quickly.” It might take all of five minutes for him to completely return to the good side, and as Mary mutters, now there’s another rival for Catarina. The scene is redeemed by Catarina’s unflappability. She absolutely refuses to show any weakness, only confidence and affection. It’s the character’s main strength and always good to watch. After that is the final doom flag question, but we all know where the show is headed. Everyone decides they want to stay with Catarina–the “friendship ending” that was never mentioned before, and another one that Catarina apparently forgot. Oh well, no one said this show was great drama. I’m surprised that they remembered the toy snake.
It’s silly all right, but I looked forward to watching it every week. Catarina and her utter determination to succeed was the main reason, which leads me to a question: how much of it had to do with her impending doom and how much was the fact that she was a decent person who liked these people and wanted them to be happy? The fact that she had about seven years of emotional maturity on the others might bear into it as well. My answer is a little of each. In episode one, in the scene that made me fall for the series, Cat’s compassion for the lonely Keith was clear, but her getting to him by busting down the door with a fucking ax was fueled by her fear of doom flags. One more thing it did was demonstrate that Catarina was not going to take any of this shit lying down. She showed her strength early. A silly series needs only one strong character to work, and Catarina was certainly that. I was disappointed that the show did not play around with the doom flags more, Cat accidentally triggering other ones, convoluted schemes, etc, instead settling into a reverse harem with “Bakarina” at the center, a shipper’s dream. But again, Catarina’s presence was enough to keep everything afloat. I understand there will be a season 2. I wonder what they will do …