What do you say about an episode where 21:47 minutes is wholly purposeless and often drudgery, all to get to the 13 seconds that actually matter? All I can do is ask more questions – like, why is it that Okada Mari series seem serially plagued by this syndrome of great episodes alternating with lousy ones? It’s one of the many things that make her the most frustrating writer in anime – if she simply sucked it would be simple, just don’t watch. But Okada Mari’s potential – and occasional realization of it – is the perfect shot on the 18th hole that keeps us coming back despite shanking it all over the course for the rest of the day.
It’s going to be impossible to write a long post here without repeating a bunch of stuff you’ve already heard, so this isn’t going to be a long post. I liked an entire episode dedicated to Miuna’s truly endless self-involved whining exactly as much as you’d expect I would. It doesn’t help that the one character from the original core that got second billing is the least-interesting, Tsumugu – whose character arc has left him alternating between moody staring and giving what sound like prepared speeches. What I wouldn’t give to see he and Kaname just go at each other bar-brawl style, no holds barred, anything goes – and finish with a tearful screaming of their real feelings (and no, not for each other).
The real problem is that I still see no real reason why Miuna exists as a main character in this story at all, apart from the most crass and cynical one. She’s been foisted upon the series as the lead through a series of contrived developments that offer nothing to the larger plot, and to the other characters’ development. What’s worse is that the whole issue of the global crisis seems to have been forgotten – tossed aside to make room for Miuna posing with pocky and crying watermelon-sized tears. Even if that storyline is picked up again now – which it almost has to be, surely – that doesn’t excuse abandoning it for half the final cour of the series.
Anyway, those final 13 seconds (if only they’d been the first 13 seconds) of the episode did happen, so I’ll hope against hope that Manaka’s return finally relegates Miuna to the realm of secondary characters where she belongs (about what Sayu is now would be just fine). It says something about just how bad Miuna is that she makes Manaka look like something from a Fitzgerald novel by comparison, but Manaka’s place in the story was earned through hard-fought development over the first cour. And Manaka did develop – she changed markedly for the better over the course of those 13 episodes. She’s indispensable to the resolution of Hikari’s arc and the global crisis storyline – and while I do care what happens with the KanaChiTsumugu triangle, those are the two threads that really matter in Nagiasu. All I can say is Manaka, good morning, good morning – good morning, good morning to you! Your eyes didn’t open a nanosecond too soon.