It Was Aight…
Hotaru Tachibana Versus Masamune Matsuoka
Finales are hard to do, and it’s even harder to make them effective. A good ending leaves a viewer, reader or gamer a lasting impression of an experience, may it be watching a show, reading a book or a playing videogame. There needs to be some sort of impact, whether it’s emotional or exciting. And whatever the ending is, it needs to leave the audiences feeling either satisfied or wanting for more, because the opposite causes groans, complaints and dissatisfaction.
Your audience has been hooked and has been with you from the beginning, the least you could do is not leave them hanging. An anime with a non-ending (or at least a bad ending) is like setting up a joke without a Punchline or pay off.
The ending to Aoharu X Kikanjuu’s first season (assuming that it’s going to be picked up for a 2nd season) wasn’t the worst ending I’ve ever encountered in an anime, but it did feel somewhat lacking. I’ve gotten over the fact and accept that this show was an over-the-top and overly melodramatic anime about people who shoot each other with airsoft guns. I enjoy it for what it is (for the most part) but that doesn’t mean that I still won’t look at it through a critical eye.
Most of this finale was good. It still had it’s comedic moments and though the final duel between Hotaru and Matsuoka was a little underwhelming, it did help build up an emotional finish. Most of it echoed the first episode, from the moment where Hotaru punched the door to the moment Matsuoka shot and easily beat Hotaru and to the moment where they eventually made up. I like all of that, it’s good and it worked for the most part. Would I have wanted a cooler finale with awesome survival game duels? Yes. Would it have made sense? No. So though I still kind of wanted more of the awesome showdowns I’ve come to love about this show, I was satisfied with this more intimate and personal duel.
Masamune Matsuoka’s Struggle
Speaking of things that are intimate and personal…
A good majority of this episode was devoted to Matsuoka’s personal struggles. It dealt with him slowly giving up and not wanting to play survival games anymore and it dealt with his fear of loss, which were all fine, but… and I know I might get hate for this, but Matsuoka’s just not that good of a character to me. Fangirls and fanboys might think that he’s hot and cute or whatever, but compared to Yukimura, Midori or even Fujimon, there’s just nothing about this guy that’s that interesting.
Which means that if you revolve a finale (or whole show) on the weakest part of your cast, the product as a whole might not be as satisfying. And yes, I do think that AxK did revolve around Matsuoka. Think about it!
How did Hotaru get forced into TGG? Because she was forced by Matsuoka.
Why did they want to go up against Hoshishiro? To satisfy Matsuoka.
Why did Hotaru feel extra depressed? Because Matsuoka.
Who does Yukimura follow to the ends of the earth? Matsuoka.
Matsuoka, Matsuoka, MATSUOKA!
Is he a bad character? No, I don’t think so, but he’s just really not that interesting. He has a goal, he has fears and he even has an arc, and in the end of the day, this one’s probably just my preference. For a Matsuoka fan, this ending might have been a better affair, but for those who are like me and didn’t enjoy his character too much, this episode might be a bit of a let down simply because you might not have cared as much about what was happening.
Now, I said that it was A BIT of a let down, because even though I’m not a big fan of Matsuoka, I did like his internal struggle. It didn’t make me like his character even more, but I thought that it worked at evolving his character. I understood and felt his fears and pain, and I ultimately liked how everything concluded.
From the back and forth with himself and to the exchanges he had with Hotaru, Matsuoka’s personal struggle worked and his final resolution was satisfying for his character.
Hotaru, next to Yukimura and Midori, have always been my favorite parts of this show. She’s cute, funny and a fun character to watch, especially in her bloodlust mode. Yes she’s a bit over the top, but she still had an enjoyable personality.
And I like that in this episode, she broke a bit. Not in the sense that she went crazy, but in the sense that she tore down her holier-than-thou sense of justice and admitted that she was selfish, that she doesn’t care if Matsuoka becomes happy and beats Hoshishiro with a new third member, all she cared about was being with her friends again and having a good time with them. When Hotaru said all that stuff, I was thrilled, I felt a shudder and in my head I kept thinking, “FUCK YEAH HOTARU TACHIBANA!”
The one thing that did leave me a tad disappointed was how Hotaru never got to tell Matsuoka and Yukimura the truth. I was curious and wanted to see their reactions, but I guess that’ll be saved for the next season… (again, assuming that we’re even going to get one—think BTOOOM!).
There was a little moment near the very end of the episode where Matsuoka swooned a bit and felt a little drumming in his heart. I’m more of a Hotaru x Yukimura guy (maybe even Hotaru x Midori), but I liked it. The one thing that I’ve always hated about anime (at least one’s led by a female protagonist) are the inexplicable romances. Like, you have two characters that have just met for the first time and all of a sudden they’re in love now, or one of them is.
I was waiting for that moment when any of the guys would fall for Hotaru, because you knew that it was going to happen. It’s not something you hope for, what you do hope for is that it doesn’t suck or feel forced, and this one didn’t suck or feel forced, so I kind of want to see more of where this goes.
Yukimura had a small role in this episode, but in every scene that he’s in I smiled a bit and thought of how funny and endearing his character was.
I liked Aoharu x Kikanjuu, but I’m not sure if I’m going to be recommending this to anyone. It felt like a friend was telling me a very disappointing story about a girl he took out on a date last night. The girl was funny, cute, pretty and smart. They had great chemistry and even had a bit of an adventure during the evening. And the whole time she kept on leading him on, made him think that something kinky might happen that evening… but when they got to her place, she said goodnight and gave him a peck on the cheek before leaving him outside.
It’s a good show, no doubt about that, but it’s going to have to be an acquired taste… I might do a full review just to really try and figure out who this might be recommended for, but right now, if you like hot guys and fun times in your anime, this one has definitely been great.
Score: 8/10 Great
- Hotaru vs. Matsuoka
- Hotaru Tachibana
- Hotaru X Matsuoka
- Matsuoka as the focus. (He’s just too weak of a character in comparison to the others.)