Graduations, goodbyes, and magical girls.
School is back in session, and there’s an announcement to be made. Liones and Nina are not going to be reprimanded. Liones will have to keep going to her after-school classes for self-awareness, but the whole incident may have gone down favorably for Nina. Commander Veronica wants to interview her after the graduation ceremony. As the teachers reveal this news to her, Yayoi and Karin eavesdrop. They are devastated and begin a half-hearted quest to convince her to stay. Liones takes the news the hardest as if her very soul was torn out of her. Each girl comes to terms with Nina’s leaving, and ultimately, they decide the one thing they need the most from her is to see who is the strongest. Mahiro and Yayoi challenge Nina to a tournament in the newly rebuilt training arena, and she takes them both on. A couple days later is the graduation ceremony, and all of the upperclassmen (upperclasswomen? upper-class girls?) say their goodbyes. As they do, all of the sakura trees that line the paths suddenly bloom. Nina realizes who is behind this and runs down the street, zipping right past Commander Veronica without a second thought. She bounds straight to Liones, who tranced with Rosa to cause the blooming. She reveals to her blond friend that she has no intention of leaving because all of her most precious friends are at the academy. After some tearful hugging, the two return to the dorm and return to the new normal.
Well, we knew this day would have to come. The show is over. I gotta say, this series has gotten some pretty mixed feelings from me. The writing, for most of the show, has felt like they didn’t really know where they were going. In the previous episode, they proved that they knew exactly what their game plan was, and it was a subtle plot line. So, how does the series wrap it all up? On the surface, it feels like it’s the same kind of ending you’d expect from a high school slice-of-life show. The character is given the chance to leave, but after getting close to everyone chooses to stay. But, as we’ve been shown, you can’t take this show on the surface level. As they head to the dorm, Liones and Nina hold hands. It’s an innocuous enough gesture, and one easily overlooked when talking about young girls. However, as soon as they are in the range of the other girls, Nina lets go and blushes. This touch has greater meaning to her, even though she tries hard to deny it. I’d like to be able to see the original Japanese a bit, just to figure out what words she’s using for “precious friends”. There seems to be a bit of ambiguity in there, as she claims she is applying it to all of the girls, but Liones comments that Nina really just means her.
Why do I bring all this up? It says volumes about the writing. There is far more said in the silence of the episode than in the noise, and they leave this hole for you to put your own interpretation into it. I mean, it’s never stated what their relationship is, but you know. Or do you? They confirmed in the previous episode that they had a love relationship between them, but what does that mean for them? We know… somewhat. But that is tainted to a degree by our suppositions. What we desperately want is for the episode to bring all of this hearsay, supposition, and connotations and bring it down to a crashing conclusion. One where Liones and Nina confirm exactly what is going on, and do something about it. I spent most of the episode wondering when the two of them were going to kiss, and this time with Nina initiating. We don’t get that. The closest we get is a hug and one that isn’t returned immediately either. Then, at the end, Liones jumps onto the Nina dog pile calling out “I love you”… Is that the confirmation we were looking for? Stupid English language using one word for eight million feelings. Again, what was it she said in Japanese? The English writing uses love, but literally every meaning of the word applies to the situation. The other girls all say they love Nina, but obviously, they don’t have this unspoken connection with her. What appears on the surface to be a cliche’d end to a meandering story is really the wake of a speedboat over a lake of subtext.
But, do I feel satisfied? Did the ending of this show make me feel like the story resolved? It did, literally, resolve in that Nina finally found the value of friends and stayed with them. It did take us to the end of the school year, which ends one phase of the characters’ lives. But with the core relationship left in this state, I’m left with a bit of a hole. I feel like they need to take one more step, a step to becoming this or that, but not this in-between. Until then, I don’t feel their story resolved. And that’s the truth in the art. No relationship is ever really resolved, even if both parties die. We all just spin around each other, tangled up in a beautiful dance of causality and self-actualization. We are always becoming, always changing, and never in a vacuum. With each partner we find in this ballroom of time, a bit of them is left with us and transfers onto others as we, in turn, affect them. Long after we are gone, those bits of us are still swirling with other people. Even when we resolve… we don’t resolve. I don’t know if that was what was intended here, but that is how it makes me feel. I don’t feel like it resolved their story, and that’s a strength in my eyes.
Yikes, I went on for a while there. Let’s talk about the animation. While the battle sequence between Nina, Mahiro, and Yayoi was visually impressive, there were tiny details in the rest of the episode that bugged me. Details like the gap between talking lips popping out instead of in. The effect of the trees blooming was a pretty standard swipe effect from what I could see, and could have had more detail to it. Or no detail. It would have been just as impactful for everyone to look up and see the trees in bloom without any such animation. Still, the artists put the effort where it counted: in the eyes. All of the characters were expressive and easy to connect with, primarily because of the multi-hued, multi-shined eyes that most of the girls have. When those start feeling feelings, you can tell.
That brings us to voice acting, which lacked much of the nuances and small choices I’ve gotten to enjoy in this series. With the exception of Yayoi’s backslide back into the obnoxious territory (I swear, this one rides on a razor’s edge), the voice actresses coasted into port without much of an issue. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as good as it has been. It was… good enough.
I give this episode eight sakura blossoms out of ten.