It’s going to be hard for me not to wax poetical about how much I loved this show, but I’d really like to save that for the series review and confine myself to the final episode itself.
The writers managed to accomplish several things in this episode. They managed to bring back virtually every character we met over the first 11 episodes. They gave the finale a real “finale” feel by by injecting a major crisis, but left the door open to future continuation. They introduced a teaser character of a potential second season but tied her neatly into concluding this one. Best of all, the mingled the show’s classic humor with some of the same heart they displayed in the “Mini Ika Musume” chapter.
The first part was classic Ika comedy – a beach volleyball tournament with a 3D TV as first prize. This is a great vehicle to bring back all the major characters, but with Chizuru and her ridiculous skills recusing herself no one is a match for the Ika/Eiko team – mostly thanks to Ika’s tentacles. That is, until the lifeguard team of Gorou and Tatsuo. The girls manage to win the prize, but much to Ika’s disappointment just because a shrimp jumps off the screen doesn’t mean she can actually eat it.
This is where things take a serious turn, as Ika loses her ability to use her tentacles and flappy things. Turns out our squid girl is adapting to land, and losing her “unnecessary” abilities – or so the three MIT grads say. Ika is faced with a hard choice – retreat to the sea and try to recover her ability, or stay on land with her friends. She wants nothing more than to stay, but the reaction from the Aizawas and friends isn’t what she imagined – they encourage her to go back to the seas, assuming she’s just out for attention. But when she doesn’t come back, things get rather depressing. Time passes – almost a year – when Ika mysteriously reappears, her tentacles cut off along with her “Degeso”.
This is where things could have gotten a little maudlin in clumsier hands, but this moment was really handled well – openly sentimental as befits this show, but not over the top. Of course everyone welcomes Ika back with open arms. Ika thinks she’s trying to fit in, and adapting well, but Takeru’s heartfelt grief at the change in her speaks volumes. A mysterious stranger appears, telling Ika “you’re not alone”, and a crisis engineered by the three idiots puts Eiko’s life in danger. Faced with crisis, Ika’s tentacles and powers return, she saves Eiko, and all is right with the world.
The messages from all that might not have been subtle, but they were honest and affecting. As Ika says, if she’s convinced the people on land that they want her to stay, hasn’t her invasion been a success? It’s a good place to leave things if there’s no more anime produced – everyone is together and true to themselves. But that strange girl is hopefully a teaser of things to come – she’s a manga character and a fellow denizen of the deep, Kozue. Indeed, while it may not have been her literal meaning, as long as Ika is with the Aizawas she isn’t alone – she’s a part of their family now. And that’s a nice way to leave them, if leave them we must.