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.
Among some heavy cherry tree imagery and touching one-on-ones, Episode 12 of Kuzu no Honkai brought the series to an end. Of course, no one will live happily ever after, this is not a fairytale, but it is a story of two people who started their adventure as lonely and depressed and managed to end it stronger and more determined to grab life by the reins.
Japanese Title: 2人のストーリー
The narrative of Kuzu no Honkai made the right choice: it stayed away from any unnecessary drama and instead gave each of the characters proper closure. Not the ‘happily ever after’ closure that discards any possibility of further complications in their lives, but instead the ‘we’ll be alright’ closure that is closer to the series themes.
Also, I was expecting for the story to take the obvious path and pair Mugi and Hanabi. It would have been expected, and indeed I would have been very happy to see them together. But coupling the two protagonists would completely disregard the main force that drove the plot: these people, these fragile persons thirsty for love cling to each other out of fear. Having them pair now would be a mistake, a re-entry to the same vicious cycle that started Kuzu no Honkai.
Moca-chan is an independent young lady who is making her own clothes. Her catwalk performance was full of glamor. She has changed for the better, keeping true to her words to Hanabi: you have to do things for yourself.
Ecchan, in a moment of rebellion, cuts her hair. Essentially, she cut a thread that connected her to Hanabi and the romantic feelings, but she couldn’t cut the ties that were built during that amazing rain scene. They are friends. No, they are more than friends. They are human beings who understand each other. And that is never going to change.
Akane has also changed. I talked extensively in my review for Episode 11 about Akane’s change and how sincere kindness and acceptance can transform us from the inside out. Her behavior during the class event for the teachers’ wedding demonstrated her change in the sweetest of ways. Akane’s sociopathic behavior included a trait that came in handy: she always analyzed situations so she could best manipulate it. Now she used the same skill to deny Kanai-sensei from making an awkward situation even worse. It was not his place to go to a mourning Hanabi, who even if she accepted the wedding with a profound grace, still hurt. Instead, in a highly symbolic scene, Akane gives a rose from the ‘throwing banquet’ to Hanabi and with a never-seen-before kindness in her eyes tells her:
Next time make sure he doesn’t get stolen
The true stars of this show, however, were Hanabi and Mugi. We were all curious to see how the show would treat our two protagonists. After all, the episode’s title was referring to them. For many episodes, I assumed that in the end, Hanabi and Mugi would end up together. To be honest, up until that last sequence of statements, I felt that we were going for a kiss or a hug or a new promise that they will try to make this thing between them work. Instead, the series preferred to remain true to the one single theme it had since the beginning: real love is damn hard to find if it even exists.
I don’t want to…be apart
I don’t want to…let go anymore
I want to hold you
I don’t want things to end
Don’t let me go
I don’t want things to end
Ending Credits: You may call me crazy, but I’m really happy when a series properly ends. I felt the same way with Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, and I feel the same way with any series that does it. I hate loose ends, and I hate unnecessary cliffhangers. Most of all, I hate it when a favorite series is canceled before reaching a conclusion. But I’m never sad when a story reaches a proper end.
Sakura Trees: What great imagery. It tied so nice with the start of the Spring 2017 season! In Japan, the new school year starts in spring. The season is a metaphor for change, for new beginnings and new adventures. It is one of the most common symbolic elements in anime with the falling cherry tree petals having many symbolic meanings.
The time skips were not confusing but I felt that they robbed the episode from a flow that could have given us a more fulfilling ending. At least, the series didn’t resolve to more unnecessary drama. There was nothing dramatic about this final episode. Only a bunch of everyday people whose paths crossed in this story of love, betrayal, loneliness, and sometimes, even kindness.
Kuzu no Honkai ended in the most sincere way. The series remained true to the raw emotions that have been underlying its themes from the very beginning but delivered a safe and bittersweet ending to a story that was about life and the choices we make. I still have my objections when it comes to the notion of ‘true love’ but it’s not my place to discuss the validity of the show’s claims. Kuzu no Honkai was a good story. That’s all that matters.
Check out the rest of our final reviews for Winter 2017, and expect a series review pretty soon. Until then you can start reading our episodic anime reviews for Spring 2017!