Bye bye, Akari; hello, plot. Yes, you heard right. As I’m sure pretty much all of you guessed correctly, this epi was all about the laying to rest of at least one ghost, before, mercifully, resurrecting another. Yes, it looks like that elusive main plot ain’t quite dead after all and this show might just be getting its mojo back…
Continuing on from last week’s epi, this one begins with a flashback of Akari playing happy families. Then, we get Uchida trying to get the lowdown on what’s up with the Scoobies, first from Ami, then from Maya. Sort of. For, just as he’s offering to help them, again, they are interrupted by an annoying shriek from the annoying one and his moment of distraction is rewarded with a knuckle sandwich. As the annoying one swiftly takes him away via her speeding car on a sort of date to cheer Uchida up, Maya and co. return to Akari’s daddy’s place, where they are eventually let in and hear the rest of Akari’s story. In short, we find out that she died due to a mixture of maternal physical abandonment, paternal emotional abandonment and, ultimately, due to exposure from waiting up all night for Santa, because her daddy had promised the previous, happier, winter that if she was a good girl Santa would come and visit her that year, despite having confusingly just told her that he doesn’t exist after all(!)…
After leaving the guilty father’s place, Maya and co. decide to throw an early Christmas party for Akari, complete with a visit from Santa. Meanwhile, Uchida is dropped off by the annoying one, where she is about to arrange a dinner date at her place, before they are interrupted by the Vice Principal, who makes a similar googly-eyed offer to Uchida. However, the cowardly time agent wriggles out of the brewing cat fight and rushes off to find Maya instead, realising from the V.P.’s words that she’s probably at her old house, which (we learned in the last epi) is due to be demolished the next day. There, Uchida does a better job of consoling Maya and pledges to lend a hand with their ghosthelping plans.
The next afternoon, the preparations are ready and Akari is persuaded to attend the party, where she is soon enjoying herself watching a magic show from Ami and Maya and juggling from Smile, playing twister with Kozue, and then being serenaded by JK and his keytar. And then Santa arrives, after a brief last minute substitution of Uchida by Akari’s daddy. After some touching words and hugs, Akari is soon happily sent on her way to a sparklier place. Later, the gang are sad but satisfied as they go home, and we realise that Uchida and Maya have slipped away to visit the, now demolished, house in which Maya grew up. There, Maya comes to the realisation that her own daddy, despite appearing to grow apart from her, actually really loved her after all, even building the Occult Academy all because she sort of once asked him to. After shedding a few tears while Uchida holds her hand, Maya then reaffirms her desire to find both her father’s killer and the Key and to save the world and blah blah blah as the new day dawns and the epi ends.
Firstly, what happened to little (or, rather, littler) Akari-chan from the last epi? I swear, she was younger and cuter looking. This time around, she seems to have undergone a growth spurt or had the size of her head reduced or both. Hmm. Amazing what the ditching of a red hooded duffle coat and the donning of an orange turtleneck can do to one’s figure, eh.
However, random adjustments to character designs aside, this epi ended pretty much how I think we all thought it would and, not including the major daww-factor at the end with Father Christmas (*boomboom!*), it was a rather pedestrian second part on the whole, I thought. Still, I guess the daww-factor was truly daww-worthy, and there were some nice moments with the Scoobies and some much needed character development for Maya. Not much character development, I grant you, but at least it was a kick up the backside of coasting-Maya in order to activate the firing-on-all-cylinders-Maya that promises to do something about that whole finding daddy’s murderer and stopping the imminent alien invasion thing.
Meanwhile, say what you like about him, but at least Uchida seems to be trying to reconnect with partner-Maya, but, being the naïve and yet lecherous man that he is, seems to be distracted at every turn. Purposefully, methinks. (That recurring, ill-timed ‘ABE-SENSEEEIII!!!’ is surely no coincidence anymore.) However, it was enjoyable seeing these two finally confront each other before the object of their dodgy affections decided to leg it:
As mentioned, most of the epi seems to be about mending the hearts of little girls estranged from the daddies. In this case, it makes sense to use Akari’s narrative as a way of highlighting Maya’s framing narrative and Maya’s hitherto unresolved, festering issues with her daddy and the occult. Except for the fact that they probably didn’t need to spend so much time, and so late in the series’ run of epis, to do so. Hopefully the final three epis won’t be too rushed in order to successfully tie up all the loose ends that are still flapping about all over the place.
I did enjoy the little party tricks during the whole let’s-all-cheer-up-the-little-ghosty-and-her-daddy montage. Especially JK’s keytar performance and Smile’s impressive juggling skills (I knew there’d be spanners involved again somewhere). I just hope that the last screencap isn’t symbolic of the ending of the show: i.e.: trying to juggle too many things in the air.
Whether or not the show can hold on to/ successfully execute all of its ideas, of course, remains to be seen.