Sorry to say that Tari Tari‘s final episode was everything we expected and nothing more. But I expected that, too.
After the morning prep scenes and rain-watching (I will always remember Miyamoto in her fish suit), we get the inevitable confrontation with the school board presidents and our plucky kids who just want to put on a show. It came out of some after-school juvenile drama, the evil president (so ridiculous he becomes a caricature), intervention by the principal (Did he lose his pension over this? The show never treated him as more than comic relief) who inadvertently pulls down the president’s trousers, and finally, rescue via the much stronger Takakura, who just happens to have brought her own chorus, and the wind ensemble along. The rain stops, too. Funny how that happens. The performance goes on and the camera to points to someone or another depending on the double-meaning of the song lyric. I won’t say that the whole thing is bad. We’ve spent too much time with the characters for these scenes not to have an effect, and the show does its usual good job of injecting little glances and sly lines to keep things buoyant, but it was completely predictable, cheesy even, even while the writing and directing enhanced the moments.
Plenty of time left for us to see the kids decide what they will do next and then see them do it. Sawa hasn’t given up on being a jockey yet, that was the most surprising bit. Otherwise, they graduate and do whatever they had intended to do. It’s satisfying and certainly less cliched than the first half, but it felt like something was missing. I watched it and had thoughts like “Oh, Wein sees Jan again. How nice.” In the end I think it’s because none of the characters really had an effect on me. That made everything that happened to them seem inconsequential. Plus, they added the school-closing bit which was so melodramatic that it partly negated the show’s slice-of-life plotting. Yes, there was plenty to like in this series. The direction and script were strong. It gave us little moments, details, that worked around the action, either to support it or to comment on it. It looked great. But PA Works always does that. They always give us a solid production; I expect nothing less from them. But Tari Tari was nothing more than that.
An example of what made Rinne no Lagrange a great show: during all the doubt and the light shows and the teeth gnashing about the fate of Earth, I was mostly worried about whether the girls would have to split up, and what Madoka would do next.
Okay, we had seen the big fight last episode so there wasn’t much suspense there, though the show tried tried very hard to make us worry. We had far too many little shots of various characters looking up at the evil-looking skies frowning, or if you’re Youko, talking about having faith in Madoka. Take us to that alien beach where the action is. When we finally get there, well, as I said, the battle was already over and the girls were wondering what would happen next. After that there’s a small bit where Madoka convinces Yurikano to return to our world, to face her feelings, whatever that means in this context, and then a triumphant return, and the series’ final cosmic light show with trippy music. I’m going to miss those. I especially liked the Vox-colored bubbles coming out of the sea, since those colors had a lot to do with the series’ art style as a whole.
After that, like in Tari Tari, it’s tying up the loose ends. I’m sort of glad we didn’t get to see Dizel back on Earth since he would have had to answer for a lot of deaths and there would be a lot of diplomatic immunity issues. He reconciles with Villa–again–on another planet. I’m not surprised that Yurikano return, but I was that we didn’t have a scene with her and the still-unconscious Villa. Well, Muginami had one; I suppose that was enough. Moid just disappears. Did the Rinne finally accept him? We’ll never know. As for Lan, I’m confused. What was she doing in that palace scene? I thought maybe she was being coronated and becoming the Empress of De Metrio, but then why was she back doing stuff with the other girls later?
Madoka’s future story is the most satisfying. She’s getting to go all around the Polyhedron (I won’t go into that miraculous change of orbit business) acting as a good-will ambassador, sort of an intergalactic Jersey Club. That sounds like something Madoka would both be good at and would love doing. Plus, she still gets to spend time on Kamogawa getting calls from galactic United Nations groups, eating her uncle’s lunches, and she gets to do it all with her BFF Lan and Muginami! Not to mention she can still fly her Vox. It’s the perfect ending for her, she gets it all, and she deserves it. They add one bit about the time she nearly drowned ten years ago, saying that the Vox picked her then, and suggesting that was her mother’s way of telling her to “Snap out of it.” Which was exactly what Midori had told her last week when she was despondent. Hmm …
Alas, this is the sort of show that probably won’t get another season. They’ve wrapped up everything too well. And I’m genuinely sad about that. I fell for this show late in the first season while wondering why I did. It’s doesn’t break any new ground, the story was kind of silly, and while I enjoyed the trippy art style and bits like the three chairs, the animation was not spectacular (the score, however, was often breathtaking). Yet I can’t think of another series that just ended that I will miss more. Its goals were modest compared to other series but all done incredibly well, and with a lightness that other mecha shows don’t even think of trying. Madoka was fun as hell to watch, and she was surrounded by characters, good and bad (or bad turning good) who each could carry a scene on their own. The direction was smart and funny; it had great comic timing. The tone could get dark, but it usually was light and colorful. The first season began in cold, grey January and made the season brighter, and now it ends with the weather turning colder and the days shorter. Unlike last Winter, however, I don’t think we’ll see a series that will pull me out of the blues like this one did.