‘Tis the season finale and, to be perfectly honest, I don’t know if I should be sad or relieved. There was a lot left to be desired, but there were also flashes of the comedic brilliance that I most associate with this show present in abundance. In short: the comedy was great, but needs more plot and less cheese. In not as short: read on…
The Arakawa King game final eventually ends with Queen Maria on top and her dastardly decree is to make clothes for her sheep. [No, really.] After said sheep have been rounded up by the men, who do so on all fours wearing dog-collars. [Yes, you heard me.] A tad more enthusiastically, the girls assist in the clothes making, after which the whole gang decide to release their wishes into the stream [the paper is apparently bio-degradable]. During said wish-releasing, Ric wades bravely into the river all by himself to set free Nino’s tangled wish-paper and reaffirms his devotion and other cheesy stuff. Nino does an impression of the Mona Lisa in response, and we assume all is well again in Arakawaland. Cue the original ED and a montage of clips from both seasons and then everyone randomly cosplays as circus folks to round things off.
And so ends both the latter half of the two-parter introduced last week and the whole series thus far. Regarding the epi on it’s own, I thought that the fight between Sister and Maria was fairly impressive, if a tad drawn out, but the sheephearding was just odd, and finally the ending was pure cheese. However, seeing how they have clearly left things open for a possible third season (<em>no</em> sign of which has yet been announced), this was probably a decent event around which to end things, given the way the Battle Royale style set-up allowed us to see everyone both at their zaniest and, once the event was over, at the most quiet/ reflective.
As mentioned, the epi and the comedy was mainly centred around Maria kicking arse, but there were some nice, if brief, moments regarding her backstory and character development. I remember during season one, epi 9 when we had the Maria-Sister backstory followed by Hoshi’s backstory, I had wished more time had been devoted to the former rather than the latter. Now, I still wish that there had been more Maria screentime or at least more info about her drip-fed to us across the series as a whole. However, I accept that this might have lessened the impact of both yan-yan and dere-dere Maria. And what an impact it was:
Moving on from the yandere-ness. The final act was clearly supposed to highlight how much stronger Ric has now become and how much he has grown closer to Nino and co. Which would be fine if, er, he had. That is, apart from a few episodes in the middle of this series which lead to DAT HUG and the two of them drinking milk together on a couch, I can’t say I’ve seen Ric change all that much in this series. In fact, I think we’ve seen more of him in the shouty-screamo mode we saw him in the first half of season one, rather than as someone who should appear more used/ able to relate to the nutters around him now. On the other hand, I also accept that this might have lessened the comedic impact of many scenes by removing Ric-the-straight-man-overreacting-oh-so-hilariously-to-those-crazy-kids, but such scenes often, for me at least, were starting to smell a bit stale.
And not yet moving on from the stale-ness, how freaking cheesy was that final scene?! I don’t actually mind cheesiness (God knows I’m used to it given that my preferred anime is shoujo), but did we really need to hear Ric repeating that line about everyone being together forever and ever and ever? Especially having heard him say all that before at the end of the previous series and halfway through this one?? Well, at least their sunset-kissed selves looked pretty while all this cheese was going on. Or, rather, off.
Moving on from the cheese, and the fairly negative tone of this review so far. On the plus side, that fight scene was both exciting and entertaining as hell. The shots (pun intended), angles and lighting were great, not least of all when we saw Sister receiving Divine Guidance as well as during Maria’s deadly acrobatics. I also thought that the moment when Maria realised that Sister was fighting under a handicap was a nice touch, showing us that she’s not as omnipotent as she seems. Of course, her deadliest weapon is her tongue, so it made sense that she was then swift to focus on using the latter to secure victory.
Final thoughts on the series:
Well, if the last series was a bit of a thrill ride of Sister style proportions, then this one was more like a hall of mirrors. Full of flashes of brilliance (epis 1, 3, 4, 6, 10 and 11), some half-polished moments (epis 5, 7 and 8), and downright baffling at times (epi 2 and 9), but overall a glorious but messy cock-tease (randomly appearing phallic object pun intended). At the end of the day (sunset pun intended), the majority of these characters are wonderful and their antics have certainly kept me entertained over the last year, making me LOL more times than I can count. Therefore, to counteract my earlier moaning, it’s my turn to now face the riverbank and salute the following, in particular: the brilliant new OP and ED sequences; the many faces of Nino; the many pwned faces of Hoshi; P-Ko in shoujotastic mode; the Mayor in kimono mode; Sister and Takai in trap mode; Sister in Mr Motivator/ Terminator mode; the SS Amazoshi; and, of course, the SS Ric x Nino.
Aaand finally.. I salute you, all the readers and commenters who have put up with my fangirling and occasional raeging on these posts this season – always a pleasure m’ dears! Thanks for reading!