As this show draws closer to the end, I’m realizing that it maybe, just maybe, doing for childhood what Honey and Clover did for post-adolescence: portray its end with grace and tenderness.
This is particularly true for Kouichi. There is, of course, the theme of departing friends, where both Yumi and Mao are moving out–perhaps not out of his life altogether, but physical proximity counts for a great deal in real life. Mao is, at last, figuring out how to be emotionally honest and still make the right decision, which is a big step toward maturity. (I knew she was redeemable! Though she has a long way to go before she could ever match up to poor, trusting Kai’s maturity. Sigh…) The journey isn’t over for the other main love story, of course, as neither Sakino nor Erika have completely come to grips with everything yet–nor should they; if this is at all to be a realistic depiction of kids this age. But the trajectory of the plot thus far, and the lyrics of the ED, point to one theme: “moving on,” not without tears or regret, but still a moving on.
What cemented this for me was Mao’s returning the copy of “A Dog of Flanders“–without commentary, without dialogue, it is a simple reminder that the casual closeness that the two of them had growing up is no longer possible. I liked the way it was has essentially come full circle for him. He wouldn’t stop crying until she accepted the book, and now that she has returned it, so have his tears–though, undoubtedly, for different reasons. I think he is the kind of person who will get over it in due time, though, and perhaps it will bring him to the same realization that Mao, amazingly, has come to–“when you’re so close, you don’t realize what’s going on.” This lack of self-awareness is one of the things that fades with maturity, and usually it only comes when mistakes get made or shattering events occur in one’s life.
Everything here, of course, is the standard fare of the coming-of-age tale. It’s also very conventional in that these realizations are set primarily within romantic contexts. The delicacy and innocence with which it is handled is characteristic of this staff’s previous works, except the relatively sparing use of monologue and “significant lines” makes it feel at once lighter and freer, even when it is being relatively sad. (H&C could be quite gloomy at times, though brilliantly so–like the episode about the aborted beach outing.) Like Karekano, the last scenes of this story are going to center around a school festival, and hopefully we will get a proper ending this time! In some ways, that’s what this show is most reminiscent of, minus the Anno and Gainax factor.
A personal note. Recently, I formally left the church I was volunteering at for the past two years as video editor and camera operator, as I am in search of a required church internship; they didn’t have any suitable ones that my school would approve. I remember feeling so blessed and loved as the church film team literally laid hands on me and prayed for me, giving me lots of encourgement and cards and breakfast on my last day. I know the last farewell party for the departing Yumi isn’t really all that special, but I was moved by that scene, because I really think that that’s the way you should say goodbye to your friends. Yumi got to know that she was part of that little community of film geeks and budding romantics, kind of like how the film team said goodbye to me as I left for other opportunities and for the end of my own schooling. The people in Kimikiss are flawed, sometimes badly so–just like real people; but these earnest and innocent kids also really do try to take care of each other. It’s why the show feels at once believable and fantastic sometimes; why it feels like a little, almost-attainable slice of slightly higher life if childhood’s end were just a little sweeter.
But the time always comes for its end, and we are heading there now with this show.