Thanasis is a writer, professional geek, and assistant editor at MANGA.TOKYO. He started watching anime with the mecha shows of the 70s and hasn't stopped since. He loves JRPGs.
In the last episode of Fune wo Amu I made a comment about the way this anime handles time: Except for a few details, the passage of time is not clearly defined. The characters don’t change much and the viewer needs to rely on several hints to realize that years have passed since that first episode. Yet, a quote from Majime managed to justify that in my mind:
Dedicating your life to something frees you from the world, somehow.
As it seems, it frees you not only from the world, but from the clutches of time as well.
Japanese Title: 矜持
— ゼクシズ公式 (@zexcs_animation) December 15, 2016
The word from the last episode is still missing, and out of fear that more words may be missing, Majime hires a team of temps to go through the 4th draft from the beginning. Borrowing the theme from the episode’s title, Majime can’t let the dictionary be published with missing words. It’s a matter of pride. And that’s exactly why the whole episode plays like a 20-minute training montage with a few extra scenes that helped pace the story and set the mood.
The group of unnamed volunteers go through an intensive revision schedule that has them spent many nights in the office, eat and work together, and in the process become from just random temps to staff members who enjoyed every minute of the process. Their change of attitude towards the dictionary work was a combination of a need to see their efforts pay something in return and the contagious passion of the main staff members whose only concern is to see The Great Passage published as they envisioned it. The ‘training montage’ was reinforced by the main theme and a few flashback scenes that essentially recapped the events until now. In the end you could see the passion in the temps’eyes as they eagerly awaited as Majime, Kishibe, and Araki took turns in confirming that their work was finally done. I actually let a little cheer myself. And a second when I saw that the dictionary’s jacket will have the image of a boat on it.
Passion, however, cannot exist without pain. The trials that every artist (because Majime is an artist) is destined to go through were expressed beautifully in an allegorical scene that had Majime trying to stop the floating words from being sucked in by a black hole. What kept Majime from being sucked in the hole along with the words were the people in his life. We have already seen Majime turning from a failed sales assistant to a passionate dictionary editor. That road, though, was the one he was always destined to take. You many not believe in destiny (and neither do I to be honest) but the scene that showed Majime reading in his room was enough to make me at least acknowledge that our protagonist is exactly where he should have been. In a job he loves, with friends who share his passion, and a wife that’s more understanding than the majority of the people I know. After spending days at the derelict building they call an office, Majime returns home to his darling wife. A wife that knows exactly what he’s going through since she is a woman of passion herself. As they talk over dinner, they explore the notion that passion is stronger than time itself. I want to repeat the quote I wrote in the introduction: ‘Dedicating your life to something frees you from the world, somehow.’ Majime was referring to Matsumoto-sensei and how he seems not to have ages through all of these years. In a very tender moment, Kaguya and Majime share the same compliment to each other.
The anime made sure in the previous episodes that the viewers were prepared for the ending, but they have adored the expected with the unexpected. Matsumoto-sensei, that untiring editor who, even in the hospital, had his vocabulary blog with him, has left this world. I am guessing that he missed the published dictionary, but I may be wrong. In fact, I hope I’m wrong. Kaguya’s grandma has also passed away, as we see Majime praying to a mini home temple where a photograph of her smiling over her grandchildren stands. The last scenes of Matsumoto-sensei’s empty house conclude with an image of a toy Ferris wheel, a theme that perpetrates the whole series: ngonyama nengw’ enamabaal…
Kai: We knew that Nishioka had a plan for marketing the dictionary, but to be honest, seeing the little blue guy from the half-time segments as the new mascot from the dictionary was the last thing I expected. Great moment that gave the anime a contemporary feeling and the dictionary editing a modern touch.
Nishioka: I saw a ring on Nishioka’s finger. He is married. TO WHOM? (M-I-Y-O-S-H-I-!!!!! I HOPE.)
Beard: Either I miss the tiniest details or not many anime change the length of a characters facial hair to indicate the passing of time. Majime has really spent a lot of time in the office lately. We could tell by the beard.
— アニメ『舟を編む』放送中！ (@funewoamu_anime) December 15, 2016
Word of the Episode: Pride きょうじ 「矜持」
the quality or state of being proud
e.g. He had pride in his work.
Kappa: The Kappa that little Kai is referring to in the half-time segment are yokai demons found in traditional Japanese folklore. They are also known as kawatarou, komahiki, or kawako. The name is a combination of the words for river (kawa) and child (warawa or wappa) and in the ancient Japanese religion of Shintou they are considered to be water deities. They are usually depicted as hungry ogres.
Another great episode for Fune wo Amu. Slower than the rest, and without much action, but with a central theme and a bittersweet ending that will take us into the series finale with a sad smile on our faces.
I am tempted to start singing again. I hope that the last episode gives us a parting scene that will justify the series as one of the most worthy titles of the Fall 2016 season. It had no super moves, no extreme hurdles to jump, no monstrous antagonists, but it had a cast of lovable protagonists that believed in creating a boat that would help people sail the sea of communication.
NEXT TIME, Final Episode: Light (灯)
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