One of the things I love about the slice of life genre is that it does take its time: there’s plot, but sometimes, that gets placed as foundation for moments and episodes like this, little character studies that break down certain aspects of Jahy and Jingu’s fraught relationship as villainous hero and heroic villain, at least from Jahy’s perspective. That’s certainly what I found as I was retooling this review.
Truth be told, I wasn’t expecting Fuuka to be reunited with Kukuru this soon – I had envisioned spending an episode or two with her back in Tokyo before her return. Still, having her back this soon, but with her and Kukuru’s workplace roles flipped, is interesting. Fuuka and Kukuru are now competent young women, but as this episode shows, they clearly need each other’s support to grow in their careers.
Vrai, Peter, and Mercedez look back at a sequel-heavy 2021 Summer season!Chatty AF 148: 2021 Summer Wrap-up — Anime Feminist
There’s a sense of renewed momentum that begins with the OP and carries through the episode, signaling the start of a new phase in Kukuru’s life. She’s not yet who she needs to be, but she feels a lot more fully-formed than the young woman we encountered initially in the first cour.
If I had one complaint about this episode, it’s that I want more Saurva content. I mentioned waaaaaaaaaaay back in episode 4 that Saurva was one of my favorite characters, and potentially the best girl, because she’s just so relatably unlucky (who hasn’t experienced the mundane bathroom misfortunes of slipping on soap and getting half your shampoo used before you even get a pump in?) and the actual pitiful character in the series.
Long story long? No, but let’s expand on this because… well, this is a review. So… episode 8 is premised around one thing and one thing only: Jahy getting to take a bath that’s not in her “pathetic little tub”, which is a direct quote from the cold open and the most relatable mood if you’ve ever lived in Japan and had to clamber into an ofuro while being over five foot tall. And like so many of Jahy’s foibles, this means a true test of endurance as Jahy encounters all manner of trial and tribulation just to splish splash take a bath, which… expected, hilariously brutal, and so utterly relatable.
Episode 12 pulls all these fascinating plot threads together into a beautiful tapestry of a show that is quite frankly about the struggles of being an adult and desperately wanting to succeed, of wanting to be a good person and succeed. It was never about Kyoya getting married or getting new friends or even just, I don’t know, having a better life: it was about him becoming a better person. The Kyoya we’re leaving the show with is so different than the young man we met at the beginning, and that’s honestly for the better. I genuinely think Kyoya’s growth was quite organic, and while the magical realism of his time-traveling are fictional, they ultimately didn’t hamper what is a genuinely heartfelt story.
Kageki Shojo!! episode 13 is beautiful way to say goodbye, though it definitely leaves room to say hello once again. It’s got all the elements that make a solid episode: drama, character growth, and female friendship, and it all SLAPS, right up to the credits. Hats off to all the people who worked on this: the localization is gold, and leaves me hungry for the dub, whenever that drops.
Episode 12 is very much so the end of a cour. It’s a finale episode, marking the end of Gama Gama Aquarium and the end of childhood, in a way. There’s no more halcyon days for Kukuru, at least not within Gama Gama’s four walls. Her time there will, like so many things, become memories, potentially to propel her to work for Aquarium Tingaara, or even elsewhere in Okinawa, if she allows her the opportunity. Things are similarly up in the air for the rest of the younger cast: true, they have their aspirations, but… nothing is concrete by the time this episode finishes. Nothing is sure, and sometimes… that’s just how life really, truly is.
Despite Gama Gama’s sad fate, this episode doesn’t forget to sprinkle in a bit of comedy. There’s a really good scene where Kukuru consults fortune-telling in order to divine Gama Gama’s future. There’s also an entirely unfunny scene of Kai’s sister saying that he should get with Fuuka (because she’s a classic beauty), but then again, comedy is always subjective.