What Ends Well

Anime and ending is a tough topic, because in order to talk about it to people who speak English you have to first talk about eastern and western storytelling modes, just in case. But I can talk about something about endings that ought to be universal–or rather, the opposite of judging a book by the cover: judging a book by almost the entire thing except the very, very end.

I think there are a lot of wasted ink spilled on why it is okay to justify crapping on a show with only the first, second or all three of the first three episodes. To be honest I don’t care; fact remains you are making a call with just (at most) three episodes, and I’m hoping your wager is equally tempered with how you’re rolling your odds against the other 9 or whatever episodes that you haven’t seen yet. That’s not my business, anyway. However I think the equal if not much stronger argument can be made with the last, next-to-last, or three episodes from the end (or any 1-3 episodes in the middle, for that matter). Some shows, rather, really need to end on a strong note in order to have a shot at being “good.” I’m thinking we have at least a couple this season, for various reasons.

Take Another for starters. [I totally picked it first so I can avoid making another pun.] It is more or less a classic Hollywood-styled and paced horror anime. It’s also the kind of horror anime that wants to play the entire spectrum of happy and sad scares. Its final-destination-esqe deaths are one of the biggest booms. I can’t help but to compare it with Angel Beats. I think all the Angel Beats naysayers would have had a great time if the cast in that show actually died in those comedic ways. Too bad they were already dead.

Anyway. I think a show like Another really, really needs to end on a strong note. It’s that sort of poetic/thematic redemption that can make or break a show where it bankais on all the emotional chips it built up over the season. So it had to end well. Or else all that emotional ride comes crashing down, and people will leave the theater with a bad impression. I’d say it’s because this precise thing that made Shiki at all a bearable show (I didn’t think it was very good, except for the climax and the end), so I have high hopes, given how it’s written by the woman’s husband.

The other big one riding on the end is Lagrange ~ The Flower of Rin-ne. Technically Lag-Rin (or Kamojo or w/e) is a Fate/Zero-style hack–it is doing just the first half this season and I’m assuming it’ll get a break and resume in the summer. But for people to care about this show, it has to go all-in with this ending. This week’s build-up was beyond expectation in terms of quality, so hopefully we’ll go into the break with some positive feeling about this show, despite how it really tried to squander all that good will by its lackadaisical character development.

Not as dire as the previous two, but the romantic throwback Ano Natsu de Matteru also needs a very strong ending. The biggest reason why would be that it already has expended most of its chips; it may be safe to say the emotional climax has come and gone. What remains is largely people’s expired expectations. If it were to merely meet these low hanging fruits it would have made the show unremarkable on its own. But given how people lowered those expectations it is precisely the time to strike. It would be easy to surprise us with something clever when we’re least expecting it. I think a car chase is a good beginning to the end! Actually, given how close Natsumachi is to filmmaking in general, I’m not going to be surprised if it makes a real push at the end. It would be a pleasant thing.

Among these, however, the show that really, really needs a good ending is Guilty Crown. It hasn’t quite lost the audience it picked up from the very beginning, but it’s beginning to thin. We’ve had a good run of the show as a joke but if it can’t cap the dramatic climatic turns that this high-energy, high-budget formula has typically provided in times past, it will soon be forgotten. Maybe it’ll get as much creds as Star Driver?

As for what I’m watching…that might be it. Or at least I’ve come to expect these handful, for better or worse. I guess if a show is really dire I probably wouldn’t think a great ending could do much for it, so maybe there is something to be said about that.

7 Responses to “What Ends Well”

  • fencedude

    Among these, however, the show that really, really needs a good ending is Guilty Crown.

    Guilty Crown is good at only one thing, crushing the hopes of its audience.

    Side Note: Your comment system won’t let me comment unless I log in with my WordPress account, which is highly irritating.

  • DiGiKerot

    Huh, I guess WordPress has merged the Gravatar user database or something? I certainly don’t remember registering for a WP account, but it’s insisting the mail address is assigned to a WordPress account. Guess I’ll just use a different mailing address…

    I can’t really comment on any of the examples mentioned here as I’m either not watching them or am too far behind to know what the current state of play is (for various reasons, though mostly because there’s only legal recourse for watching one of them over here, and I’ve enough on my plate right now without jumping through hoops to watch other stuff). To be honest, I was kind of expecting this post to have been about Nisemonogatari, given it’s just closed out relatively strongly and had an arguably shaky road to it’s climax (I liked the show in aggregate, but it did rather try my patience at times). Guess not, though.

    Also, on the subject of Guilty Crown, I will point out that it’s coming from the writer behind My-HiME, which clearly had a highly satisfying ending that absolutely no-one had any complaints about.

  • testing_omo

    Thanks for reporting the login issue.

  • testing_omo

    It seems that I can leave a comment just by filling in the email and name fields. So i’m not sure why you had to log in.

  • DiGiKerot

    If you try and leave a comment using an e-mail address associated with a WordPress/Gravatar account, and you are not logged into WordPress, then it routes to a page asking you to do so and try again rather than posting a comment.

    Obviously, changing your e-mail address to one not associated with WP side-steps the issue (hence why I’m not leaving this with my usual address), but it’s certainly a little annoying.

  • testing_omo

    Thanks for the note. I did end up testing with an email not associated with WP/Gravatar. Yeah, I can see that being annoying. Yeah. I don’t really like wordpress.com. Yeah, I’m still trying to move.

    Random note of vanity: Congrats @DiGikerot for being the comment-er of comment #1000. I probably should stop talking so much about IM@S.

    As for Guilty Crown, I’ve been enjoying it, so if it can do something like Mai-Hime I would at least have to give it the tip of my hat.

  • omo

    Two down, two to go.
    Kamojo: great ending, perhaps the best ep in the series. Should make people remember the show fondly.
    GC: Hahaha, well, it wasn’t horrible.

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