Friday, 24 December 2010

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru - Episode 12 (Completed)

When you see Hotori Arashiyama using a hacksaw, you know that things aren't going to end well... mind you, even I wasn't expecting the chain of events which kicks off Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru's final episode to end this badly.

Anyhow, we're getting ahead of ourselves, as this piece of DIY "genius" involves Hotori combining a magnifying glass and a fountain pen - something which seems like the pinnacle of achievement to the star of the show, but like a horrible waste of time and resources to everyone else given that such devices already exist, while the fountain pen in question looks as though it was hardly cheap.  Never mind though Hotori... here, have a whistle to blow on.

With the realisation that she's just needlessly destroyed a perfectly good pen, and as she finds herself invited to see her uncle (the provider of said fountain pen) in the summer, Arashiyama needs to find a replacement and fast.  There is clearly only one way to go about fixing this dilemma - by winning a writing competition in a mystery magazine to win enough money to buy one.  Hotori immediately sets about writing her masterpiece, although I'm sure it goes without saying that her writing skills are approximately analogous to her inventing abilities.

Getting rejected in the initial round of this competition pales in comparison to what happens next however, as Hotori dies in an accident.  No, really, and apologies to the spoiler - she dies and goes to heaven.  Of course in the name of comedy we follow her journey, leaving room for some nice bits of social satire on what the Japanese segment of heaven would be like, and some outright jokes about what passes for entertainment up there.  On a whim the mood turns from light-hearted to depressing however as we get to zoom in on how much everyone from her parents onwards misses Hotori - it's a good job then that there's still a route back to the land of the living for her then.

While that unexpected turn for the final segment of the episode is the one that grabs you by the shoulders and shakes you in a "oops, my eyes seem to be a bit damp" kind of way, I can't really ignore the outright comedy that came before it - the comic timing and utilisation of the random production of a whistle to give to Hotori forced me to pause this episode just so that I could find time to breathe again, and Arashiyama's so-called detective novel was amusing in its own right.  It is, of course, that final segment that dominates this finale though, and what a brave and beautifully executed ending it was, never forgetting that this is a comedy at the end of it all while also playing with the viewer's emotions and managing to surprise us at the same time.  It is perhaps a cunning trick to remind the viewer that hey, without a second season of the anime Hotori Arashiyama will be dead to us too, never to return, but it was a well-played one regardless.

To be honest though, personally I didn't need such drastic measures to feel a measure of loss at the end of this series.  Sure, it was a slow starter and it loses its way when it delves into camp mystery stories, but it's quickly grown into one of (if not the) comedy highlights of the season - Hotori is an absolute comedy gem and one of my favourite characters of 2010 as a result, and when this show was hitting the right notes it leveraged both her and those around her to devastatingly humorous effect.  So please don't die Hotori; my week just won't be the same without your blowfish cheeks and astounding stupidity.

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