Hell yeah! This episode was all kinds of awesome stuck together! Talk about a complete change of atmosphere.
The way this episode started out… out of all the things that the Japan Arc would be about, the last thing I expected was that the show would end in a high school setting. The OP… was so much different from what I expected and fitted these final six episodes so well. There’s a lot of chaos going on, and yet this episode has been more slice of live than this series has ever shown! That shows some awesome possibilities, and I know that Koichi Mashimo is going to be able to get the best out of this.
So basically, two years (!) have passed since the last episode. Reiji and Helen have travelled the world; they first came to the Philippines and now have moved into Japan half a year ago, and they’ve been pretending to be brother and sister, since it would have been a bit awkward if a teenaged couple suddenly moved in and started following classes. They’re also back again acting, like they did in one of the beginning episodes. Especially Reiji has gotten a lot better at it now.
But yeah, just about everything in this episode was perfectly executed. Reiji’s time spent with his potential girlfriend did exactly what it needed to do: show how he and Helen changed, and how they’ve come to live their lives now. It’s a perfect build-up, since we also got to know much more about them, and the setting which they moved into.
But the real moment of epic in this episode was obviously the point at which Cal shows herself. Typical of Bee-Train’s storytelling, but it works so incredibly well.
And to think that even in this episode, so close to the ending, there still are new background tunes being played, and they rock just as much as the rest of the soundtrack while at the same time being completely different in tone: the first arc had a really dark and melancholic soundtrack, the second arc was more upbeat and pimpin’, while right now we got more… colourful atmosphere, if that makes any sense. The soundtrack here has a lot more warmth than we’ve seen so far.
In any case, this is one of these rare series in which you can really see that the creators spent lots of time thinking of how to make it work in the absolute best way, and where it actually works out incredibly well. In 2009, I can only recall 3 other series which managed to do the same: Ristorante Paradiso, Tokyo Magnitude and Birdy the Mighty 2.
Rating: *** (Awesome)