I realize I’m largely talking to myself at this point with Punchline – two straight posts without a comment tells the story. But I’m still liking it, somehow, and it is almost over – though not as almost over as I expected. It seems it will indeed be 12 episodes – and in fact, based on its premiere date Ranpo Kitan will be too, so perhaps NoitaminA has finally switched to a 12-episode allotment permanently (in one series seasons, anyway). So it feels like we’re getting a bonus episode, but that’s fine – I’d much rather blog a show I like that the readers don’t care that much about than one I dislike that they do.
The mysteries behind Punchline’s story are unusually opaque considering how late in the game we are, though I’d argue that’s because Uchikoshi is basically ignoring all convention and making shit up however he needs to. But as I said, I’m still liking the show, and it’s really because there’s something genuinely endearing about it. These are likeable characters and I really do still care what happens to them, and if a show is going to have any redeeming quality that’s not a bad one to have.
That’s why scenes like Yuuta and Mika (though it may be time to just go with Pike and Chiyoko now) commiserating on the rooftop can have real impact despite the inconsistencies of the plot. And it’s why the overall melancholy and even mournful tone of this episode is effective. There was a sense of reckoning going on here – Pike and Chiyoko with who they now are, both of them with what Guriko has become. There’s not a whole lot that’s original in the core constructs – a bunch of esper kids raised in captivity, a plot to wipe out most of humanity so a super race on their “ark” of elites can rule. That’s pretty standard-issue anime stuff. But the characters stand out, and that’s what makes the connection (and the outstanding character designs and facial animation don’t hurt either).
Guriko seems to have laid all her cards on the table at this point – she responded to her terrible childhood with bitterness and gave up hope for humanity. Chiranosuke professes to have given up hope for this Yuuta – and to have had hope for him in the first place – but I’m still convinced he’s seriously untrustworthy. Yuuta deciding to go off the grid and lay his own “third rail” despite being told he was doomed by Chiranosuke seems like the turning point for me, though the vibe unsettlingly suggests he’s going to try and sacrifice himself. I kind of hate stories where good characters have to do that to manage a good end because of what evil characters have done – but then I am still following Game of Thrones…