My only real issue with this finale is that Kazura changed his opinion a bit too quickly too often. But really, this was a surprisingly good finale with a number of very interesting ideas put into it. On top of that, you could also see it play around with a number of very overused ending tropes.
The biggest surprise by far was the sudden death of Isao, but it’s also a brilliant move. There was no death speech, no overdramatic rise of tension before his death and most importantly: he died really fast here. It just shows how everyone can just die here, and that even though he was the main villain, his death doesn’t have to be over the top, or saved for the end.
Suddenly, the series turns into a rush operation to prevent the Japanese from getting their hands on the atomic bomb (how’s that for nationalism, huh?). Sakurai turns from this nice gentleman into someone desperate to get his own hands on that bomb, and to use it according to his own ideas. I actually loved it how the creators decided to solve that problem: with that blue-haired guy, who turned out to be a counter-spy. He had no backstory, but at the same time, there was a ton of spy activity at the time. It makes perfect sense for people to also have infiltrated the Japanese army. But really: his voice sounded just weird. Who was that voice actor?
In any case, the trope in which the villain dies, yet leaves some kind of projectile of doom behind that needs to be stopped. It’s been done before, but it’s the context here that makes the difference. Instead of a megablast of doom, we’ve got something very concrete that’s about to destroy a city: it’s something we can relate to much more than your average nuclear blast, because we know exactly what will happen if it goes off.
And there also is the ultimate cliche: our hero faces certain death after the climax finishes. It’s not certain whether he lived. The epilogue starts, and at the end we indeed see him back. This episode averted this in quite an interesting way by having first of all Kazura live, yet not show anything about him. Aoi meanwhile somehow failed to get out of the burning plane in the spur of the moment. I didn’t like how suddenly the creators made his powers extreme enough to be able to blast an atomic bomb into space (or at least hundreds of kilometers far into the sea), however, we never get to see him after that.
All we hear is a crappy violin, but that could have been anyone who was trying to cheer on the troops of soldiers, as they left for the upcoming war. Yes, this series decided to end with anything but a good ending. The war is still going to kill many people, and this series never got bigoted as to think that it could create a plot in which people wouldn’t end up suffering horribly throughout the next decade.
Overall this series would have benefited some more natural actors. However, the intention of the creators here was very good. It’s by far the most down to earth series in terms of character reactions: people cry when they lose a loved one, but there was hardly any overacting, and people remained surprisingly calm for anime, which tends to overreact even the slightest things. There were a number of very good voice actors, like Yukina for example. She pulled off a very convincing performance. Aoi meanwhile could have used more subtlety; his voice didn’t really suit the serious nature of the series. The Chinese girl is up for debate. Oh, she yelled, but girls her age who work at a restaurant… I can imagine them to need a loud voice.
Rating: ** (Excellent)