That turned out to be a very nice little ending. It’s far less exciting than I expected, but it formed a very good conclusion to the series. Unlike the rest of this series, nothing was rushed about this episode at all.
So the plot of the bad guys was indeed to try and get the ghost of Yakumo’s father a real body. For that, they needed him in despair and that’s why all of his family members were killed. Miyuki Nanase indeed shot Gotou, as the final straw. The way in which things eventually got solved is a bit weird, yet interesting. It’s not like some deus ex machina suddenly makes the villains incompetent or stupid: their plan just failed. The reasons why exactly are a bit vague, but Yakumo simply refused to give into his despair.
In the end, the villains probably waited for too long to inhabit Yakumo’s body: it would have been much easier to drive him to despair while he was still a teenager (but then again, I think that Yakumo’s father was too much focused on acquiring an actually good vessel, and not a teen-aged one which I can somewhat understand). They tried to make him into a broken character, but in the end Gotou, Isshin and Haruka pulled him out of it. It’s cheesy, but this is one story where the power of friendship is actually quite acceptable to be the final twist. It could have been better, but it also definitely could have been worse.
I also really like that the creators really took their time for the epilogue. I’m not sure how Gotou wasn’t hit at a vital spot, but at least he does spend quite a bit of time at a hospital. Isshin however… actually died. It’s a great idea to base the epilogue of this series around his funeral, it’s a perfect way to close off the series.
Overall, Bee-Train’s series usually last for two seasons: that really gave them the opportunity to come with some really great plots and characters. With just 13 episodes however, Yakumo actually gave a very good attempt. It’s nowhere near Bee-Train’s best, I really noticed that while watching Madlax, but it’s still very good. I’m really thrilled for 2011: not only will Koichi Mashimo return, but he’s actually going to do a series of 39 episodes. I’m really glad that after 2010 that had so few series that dared to be long, 2011 finally is showing series again that go beyond 26 episodes.
Rating: ** (Excellent)