What should have been a triumphant homecoming for at least some of the understudies of AKB0048 proved to be anything but in the show's penultimate episode, with Nagisa left mentally scarred by her parents plight while the entire concert on Lancastar is brought to a rapid and impromptu end by a massive DES attack.
Despite that huge show of force, the girls themselves are determined that the concert can't end like this, knowing full well what an early retreat might mean for the entertainment ban. However, it seems that nothing will persuade Tsubasa to risk the lives of any of the group members, be they understudies or otherwise, in the name of entertainment. It seems that this decision is about to be taken out of her hands by a familiar voice from above regardless though...
Thus, the show must go on, and AKB0048 return to Lancastar in perhaps the most dangerous but politically important place possible - right above the planet's detainment facility. Even though DES are ready to attack once again, it seems that they'll have less luck in halting the concert this time, as the group themselves show an unheard of power level that adds not only to their performance, but also their ability to fight back. Even Nagisa finds it within herself to recover from her earlier trauma and take a lead role in the solo song meant for her once she sees her parents safe and sound at the hastily reassembled concert. Mysterious goings-on abound as the concert comes towards its close, as Takamina secures her place as the group's head once again while other developments are less easily resolved; developments that it seems we'll be learning more about in 2013.
So, this is more of an au revoir than a goodbye for AKB0048 - I have to give this series some kudos for daring to be different and striking out in a very different direction than I expected, complete with some cheekily presented twists and turns to keep us on our toes early in the season. Conversely, its main plot also proved to be the show's downfall to some degree - the idea of an entertainment ban is fine, but to see it pursued so aggressively became increasingly ridiculous and hard to stomach the longer the series went on, especially when played with such a straight bat despite all of its "mic-sabres" and glowstick homing missiles. Throw a bunch of frequently overblown idol drama into that mix and you have a pretty mediocre series that shone occasionally (and this finale was probably the series at its absolute best in a lot of ways) but was a long way off attracting the attention of the kirara, let alone claiming the Centre Nova spot of the spring season. With the promise of depicting the notorious elections in whatever form this franchise takes next year though, chances are I'll be signing up for more of the same when the series returns, especially given the unanswered questions left frustratingly open by this finale.