Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru ends, right when it was getting started.
We start with Shoutarou moping about, wanting to get in touch with Sakurako and getting no reply when he does. This leads to a flashback about when they first met, the middle-schooler Shoutarou moping about (he mopes about when not around Sakurako, I guess) and keeping an eye on that strange old house, being drawn into a mystery when a granny goes missing a couple times, because nothing is mundane in anime. In spite of the ridiculous answer to the mystery (that little girl did all that?) it’s satisfying enough. We see the beginning of Shoutarou’s complicated fascination with Sakurako. I have to admit that if I was a middle-school kid and I saw Sakurako in a white summer dress I’d be a little smitten, too. Then he gets a load of the morbid boiling bones and the discovery of a corpse and Sakurako’s delight, and we see the poor lad’s been twisted for life. Lucky him.
His forcing himself back into Sakurako’s life was nicely done. His speech used phrases and images from earlier in the episode in a form of summing up, and his final point makes a lot of sense. If knowing Sakurako puts him in danger, the safest place to be is under her care, right? And so they go off and prepare for nabbing this bad guy who’s been in the shadows up to now, except the season is over. Normally everything we’ve seen before would be preamble to the big confrontation, and for the show to end now feels more than anticlimatic. I haven’t heard anything about a second season yet. If people don’t buy the DVDs Sakurako and that villain are going to awfully pissed off.
Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Soutai is another series cut short and begging for another season. Not sure if it deserves one …
In the finale, Takeru has to decide whether to kill his sister or not. Since we already knew what his answer would be, the attempt to build suspense on the question fell flat. There was more suspense in whether he was actually alive or not. He was impaled, you remember, and the humvee overturned. But, yep, he was still in one piece in some lala-land with Lapis asking questions about how far he would go to achieve his goals, an obvious reference to Kiseki, and various obligation he has to Lapis herself. That part wasn’t bad, but my favorite bit was earlier when the … whatever-it-was was overwhelming everyone and Ohtori had just gotten a taste of smug bishie villain lines (the episode was full of them, each more cliche than the one before); she shrugs, says “Hey Vlad! Contract, okay?” The fact that Vlad likes her new motivations better was a nice touch.
Anyway, there’s a confusing ending where Takeru gives some dire pronouncements of doom and then rescues his sister and wasting (hopefully) a bishie villain without a lot of trouble. A bit of business between older people about story arcs we may never see, and the sun rises, the show ends, and we ponder was it worth it. No, not really. Straight magical academy filler. Nothing striking in the animation or art. A couple of interesting stories in it. They used the “carry half your burden” message far too much. But, unlike Sakurako-san, the series actually got somewhere before it finished. It just didn’t get to anywhere interesting.