It's finally at an end, and to be honest, I'm pretty relieved. My feelings on this series progressed over time from enjoying it, to not knowing what I could actually say about in reviews, to being bored, to being out and out enraged, so it's admittedly somewhat nice to finish it off once and for all. Now I need never think about it again, and that's a sort of success story, in a way.
As Valentine's Day approaches, Naho's letter instructs her to give Kakeru her Valentine's Day chocolates and to tell him all of the things older Naho wishes she could have said before he died. As Naho struggles to get Kakeru to stick around for long enough to give him the chocolates, she becomes increasingly concerned. The next day, the gang prepares to intercept Kakeru, following the details in the letter about how he'll commit suicide -- only to discover that, as they have now changed the past, the letters no longer have accurate information about the time and place of Kakeru's death.
|You both look awfully peaky here.|
In all honesty, having watched this episode last night, I've already forgotten chunks of it. It just wasn't that memorable, and that's kind of a big problem for a final episode -- whether for good reasons or bad, a finale should stick in a viewer's mind for a fairly long time after the fact, given that it's almost always the culmination of weeks of story.
A few things stuck out in my mind, though -- for starters, we get the triumphant return of Ueda, in full moustache-twirling vaudeville villain mode. Her appearance is oddly jarring, given that she's not even been glimpsed for a fair few weeks, but absence makes the heart grow fonder, I suppose, so it was nice to see her for a few minutes, being generally mocking and evil and basically only being there to give Naho a moment where she actually stands up for herself.
|The incredibly callous futurepeople.|
(I probably shouldn't be so derisive about that, since I've wanted Naho to be proactive and stand up for herself for a while now.)
We get some future sections as well, but they're mostly committed to Hagita explaining that the best case scenario is that they create a parallel universe where Kakeru survives. I'd kind of assumed this was what they were all presuming was the case anyway, but the fact that it apparently wasn't is pretty alarming, since it means that they were all willing to sacrifice Naho and Suwa's infant child in exchange for Kakeru. Yes, granted, he would never have been conceived in the first place, but to their minds, it would be the same as killing him -- and as Azu remarks that there'd be nothing wrong with changing the timeline, and they all nod in agreement, nobody mentions that the changes to the timeline they propose would see that child never born. Naho and Suwa don't even mention it, and it's their kid!
The other big part of the episode is the gang all searching for Kakeru, hoping to find him before he commits suicide, before eventually arriving in time to watch him step in front of a van. The episode does a pretty good job of making this a pretty tense sequence, and there's even a few moments where it seems like Kakeru might not be okay after all.
He is, and in a slightly odd turn, the characters then all show him their letters, which seems like a -- pretty terrible idea to me? I know if I was feeling miserable or suicidal, the last thing I'd want is to find out that my only friends were having their actions dictated to them by letters, over the entirety of our friendship.
|Group hug! Hagita, what's up with your face.|
The series ends on a somewhat ambiguous note, cutting forward to a future where Naho and Suwa are married with a child, but never clarifying whether that's the alpha timeline's future, or the new timeline's future. Really, the only solid conclusion we get on that subplot is Suwa remarking that he hopes there's a timeline out there where he and Naho get married, and Naho saying that she also hopes this.
This series was always on slightly shaky ground, because its premise was fundamentally pretty flawed: You can't cure depression with friendship, and when you spend thirteen episodes explicitly linking the idea of saving someone from suicide with a romantic entanglement, you basically set up a situation where viewers are left to feel that Naho literally can't not be romantically attached to Kakeru, or he'll die. Add to that that Naho has spent the entire series being horrendously passive, and that the pacing of the series was often pretty poor, and you end up with something that is really just coasting by on high animation quality, nice music, and good voice acting.
It was somewhat disappointing, to say the least. Anyway, so that's Orange. Interesting, I guess, but kind of a mess.