Kami-Memo certainly is an odd little series. It has quite the on/off switch – the extremes not quite so maddening as HanaIro, but extreme nonetheless. I’ll say this much – when the show is good, It’s very good.
The context of this arc – which I assume will be the last one in the anime – is interesting in that it was apparently the first arc in the novels. I can understand why JC Staff decided not to open with this one, though it certainly would have started things off with a bang. I liked the first arc so no complaints there, but it did have the odd impact of making Ayaka seem oddly vestigial for the entire series, after seeming like quite an important character at first. I rather liked her, and was looking forward to seeing her get a turn in the spotlight. Little did I know.
Unfortunately I was spoiled about the big reveal in this episode, so I was pretty much looking for clues to something that hadn’t happened yet for most of the episode. Even so, it looked like a straightforward and interesting premise. Ayaka’s older brother, Toshi, shows up at the arcade at the end of ep 9. He’s obviously a junkie, coughing up a lung constantly and acting all surly and showing what bad drugs do to good kids (CBS cares). The NEET gang desperately tries to keep all knowledge of this from Ayaka, who’s either faking that she doesn’t know or shockingly naïve. When the meddlesome Narumi learns Toshi is taking a new designer drug called Angel Fix, he’s a bit disturbed. When Third hires Alice to investigate the trafficking of the drug in the area, Narumi reveals what he knows to the group and it’s decided that Toshi is probably dealing as well. The fact that his only friend appears to be a botany student doesn’t do anything to discourage this speculation.
All this proves to be something of a red herring, or at least an appetizer, because this last arc is clearly going to be about what happens at the very end, and why. Ayaka jumps (apparently) from the roof of the school building and (apparently) dies. Narumi certainly talks about her in the past tense in the preview, but I’ll withhold judgment for now – we all know how anime loves the dramatic coma. In any case, we don’t yet know whether she jumped or was pushed, and the why in either case. Fact is, she’s president of the gardening club, her brother is a drug dealer and the NEET misfits are studying botany textbooks. Coincidence? Anime hates coincidence as much as it loves comas. And then there’s the fact that Ayaka overheard the boys gossiping about how Toshi became a junkie. So there are lots of possible options here for what happened – guilt is the most obvious, but perhaps someone wanted to shut her up.
Again, it’s very interesting to think how this would have played differently if the anime had opened with this story. Much of the problem in the first half of the series was Narumi’s passiveness, and there are implications in the preview that he’s going to use this as a transformative event. Is it possible his character suffered and was passive for much longer here than in the novels because the Ayaka incident was moved to the end? She was an important character even here in that it was Ayaka who initially linked Narumi to Alice and the NEETs, but – not surprisingly – the anime never seemed to know what to do with her. Well, that’s all water under the bridge now – at least we should be in for an interesting conclusion to one of the most uneven series of the year.