Haha! This series pulled it off! Mitsuko Kase really proves that she knows how to make a good series. She’s probably one of the very few female anime directors out there, most of her series are very under-appreciated, but you can really call me a fan of her. Especially when it comes to the endings, nine out of ten anime series simply fail to put an actually good and satisfying conclusion to their story, but she time and time again uses that ending to wrap up all of the hanging plot-lines, develop the main characters, AND pull in a few surprises here and there to boot while still staying true to the atmosphere of the rest of the series. There really aren’t many directors who also have consistently proven to do this.
So yeah, I don’t think I could have hoped for a better ending than this episode. I had to laugh at when they played the scene that showed up in last episode’s next episode preview: when watched in context with the actual events, it was much more humorous (Nicoletta basically out of nowhere slapped a plate of spaghetti over Claudio). Last episode’s preview made it look so dramatic, but in the actual episode it happened so fast that there was hardly any time to build up any tension, and instead the focus fell on Nicoletta, trying to get Isabella to understand to stop making Claudio suffer.
I really liked how the creators resolved Claudio’s issues with his former wife, which was very un-typical of anime. Usually, you’d build up and up, until the climax where characters confess their feelings and suddenly forget about all their problems, but here it was done very gradually. There wasn’t one point at which Claudio immediately forgot about his past. Instead, they just gradually became a couple over the episode: slowly, bit by bit Claudio was able to let go of his past, until eventually he returned his wedding ring. I wish more anime did this.
As a surprise, we also see more development for Olga. Her story was handled with a bit less subtlety, but I still liked it a lot. It really showed how much Nicoletta has grown over the past series: at the start of this series, you’d think that this show would be about a bitch-fight between an angry mother and daughter, but in this episode Nicoletta proved to be much more mature than her mother, and managed to convince her that she doesn’t mind the past anymore.
Overall, I’m glad to have followed this series. It was probably the most un-typical anime of the season, the drama was nearly always subtle and yet packed a punch. The ending wasn’t my favourite, but I would definitely label it among the top 5 of best endings I’ve seen in 2009 so far. The series also had the best character-designs for the past spring-season (in contrast to most people, I’m not yet a fan of Range Murata or Satoko Morikawa). It obviously wasn’t an epic series that had me on the edge of my seat, but it didn’t need to be: it used its time well and delivered a very enjoyable and relaxing series. I’m looking forward to what Noise has in store for us the upcoming season.
Rating: ** (Excellent)
Among my top 5 endings I’ve seen this year so far. (For those wondering, the others are Birdy the Mighty Decode, Michiko e Hatchin, Ride Back and Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae).