Live from Japan and much delayed, I’m finally able to comment on the last episode of Hourou Musuko. Believe it or not my little ryokan in Magome has wi-fi, but naturally now that I have net access, I forgot my power cable. So I’ll save my series review for tomorrow.
It seems fitting that a series that only adapted roughly the middle third of this series should have an ending that really isn’t an ending. It was almost inevitable that this was going to be an open-ended conclusion, but it manages to touch all the bases and deliver an emotionally satisfying finale.
Some things surprised me here, but I’ll get to that in a minute. One thing I definitely walk away from this series feeling strongly is that there’s something wrong with Chiba. Sorry to all you fans – and I still think she’s a great character – but she’s not quite right. Her scene with Nitorin – smelling his hair, etc – was rather powerful but also a little disturbing. I firmly believe she’s constructed a fantasy around him that’s neither healthy, realistic or fair to him. He’s like a dress-up toy in her eyes, and her comments about how he’s “not special” fall right into that realm. Of course he is special, as Yoshino points out – but that’s just the difference between them. Chiba lives in a very inward-facing universe, even for an adolescent girl, and it makes her perpetually disappointed with the world. I fear for her future happiness, quite honestly.
As for Shu, he seems to be in a pretty good place. Yes, it turns out he’s been hiding in the nurse’s office all this time instead of attending class. But there’s the play, and a detente of sorts with Doi. Shu says he can’t quite figure out Doi, and he can join the club – I’m not sure at all where that one’s going. But Doi does genuinely seem to want to make amends with Shu, whatever his motivations, and Shu is a forgiving sort. And who figured Doi would have an ear for dialogue.
The surprising moment, for me, was when Shu “re-confessed” to Anna. It was an adorable scene and it really made me love Anna absurdly. She’s so earnest and full of self-doubt, and Shu’s words seemed to bring her to tears. Maybe there is a future there – it seems to cement the reality that whatever his taste in clothes, Shu likes girls and not boys. But I really expected him to end up with Yoshino, and who knows – he still might. But there was surprisingly little about their relationship in this last episode. She’s still pining for him but he seems truly over her romantically, at least for now. I’m skeptical. The one moment from the finale that didn’t fly with me was Mako-chan’s confession that he was jealous of Shu. It felt a bit tacked on – a false moment intended to give their relationship in the anime closure. But that’s a small quibble, really.
How very, very sad that this is over after only 11 eps – it’s such an amazing show, with so much story left to tell. There’s the manga for that, of course, but it was special seeing the way this series brought those characters to beautiful and moving life on screen. More on that tomorrow.