Before I jump into my reaction of [C]‘s final episode and the series as a whole, let me talk a bit about Inception.
In case some of my readers are hermits with an absolute disdain for Western cinema, Inception is a recent Christopher Nolan blockbuster. More importantly, it is a blockbuster with a relatively high concept: the nature of dreams, our subconscious, et al. As highfalutin as that sounds, however, Inception combined car chases, snow mobile chases, gun fights, rough and tumbling in a rotating hallway and more. The general public, for the most part, came away with high praises.
Not everyone agreed. Certain critics bemoaned Inception’s ‘summer action’-ness, if that makes sense. For a movie about esoteric concepts, Inception was no different from any other action thriller, albeit well-polished. Critics lambasted Nolan’s heavy use of exposition, for instance, in the first half of the movie, leaving little to the imagination. Critics found Inception’s dreamscapes inspiring and stoic. To put it bluntly, some people found it disappointing that Inception didn’t aim high enough.
Let me make this clear — I enjoyed Inception. The criticism mentioned above are all valid, but in the end, Inception was still a good movie. Having said that, I want to say that [C] faces a lot of the same problems as Inception. Like Inception, [C] explores an esoteric topic — as esoteric as the stock market, futures, and such can get — through a narrative. Like Inception, however, [C] utilizes action to get its point across. Like Inception, [C] spends much of its time mired in exposition. Whereas Inception still ended up as a fun summer blockbuster, however, [C] stumbles.
To some degree, we are talking apples and oranges. Inception is a Hollywood movie with a budget to the tune of 160 million dollars — certainly no chump change. [C], on the other hand, is a TV broadcast anime. This, however, is precisely the point. I can’t say with any certainty why [C] isn’t as good as it could have been, but it’s evident that the budget for the series was not very high. It was also clear that the story wasn’t given much time to flesh its details out despite devoting much of its time to exposition dumps.
Inception may not have aimed high, but thanks to its talented director and a ton of money, it is nevertheless a fun action movie. [C], with its many limitations, comes across as a poorly animated shounen with rushed character development and a muddled message about money. Without the chops to deliver thrilling action, [C] may have opted to aim higher, but then it runs the risk of boring its audience with its topic (or even worse, become weird for weird’s sake like Trapeze). Indeed, [C] is a high-potential show done in by virtue of its format.
Anyway, [C]’s finale plays out as expected. Kimimaro and Mikuni battle one another for Japan’s fate. Mysu and Q complement their Entres’ struggle with a battle of their own. Meanwhile, scenes of Japan in disarray are dispersed throughout the episode.
Continuing from where we left off last week, ‘C’ is boomeranging right back to Japan from the US. Oddly enough, the suits in the IMF can literally track ‘C’ progress as it makes its way across the Pacific as, naturally, a giant black C. Kimimaro and Mikuni trade philosophies, as do Msyu and Q, but if you’re planning to engage yourself in this tantalizing debate of “present versus future,” you may as well stop now. At the episode’s conclusion, Deus extracts itself directly from the machina to tell Kimimaro that everyone’s right!
Nevertheless, Msyu prevails in convincing Q that this struggle must stop! Without her support, Mikuni is as good as dead anyway as Kimimaro delivers the winning blow. If I don’t have much to say, well, what is there to say about a final boss fight? The problem with [C]’s “everyone’s right” cop-out is that Kimimaro’s victory ultimately feels cheap. In the end, he only had to “sacrifice” Msyu to save everyone’s future. Despite what you may have expected, reversing Mikuni’s action doesn’t come at the expense of the ‘present’ or whatever. This would have resulted in a truly bittersweet ending in which our hero must weigh the pros and cons. Instead, he only loses the love of a magical pixie girl so as such, it’s hard for me to really empathize with such a heroic sacrifice. The whole “present versus future” dichotomy was all for naught.
Reset button endings are never satisfying as they are gutless. In saving Japan’s future, the streets are green again. Instead of those dirty hobos, we get mothers and their children playing idyllically in the park. Kimimaro’s co-worker gets to go back to his menial convenience store job that he takes so much pride in. Even Sato was revived in the reset. In a struggle where nothing was lost, there was ultimately no struggle.
• In the end, Msyu gets to kiss Kimimaro ’cause her love for him grew 40x. Even then, the kiss occurs offscreen. What is so scary about anime characters locking lips? I mean, seriously, was this necessary?
According to Nyororuron, the Wikipedia entry for [C] thinks that Msyu is modeled after Kimimaro’s future daughter. Now, I ain’t saying y’all are wrong, but you realize this makes the kiss and romance throughout the series kinda creepy, right?
• The powerful Japanese yen, huh? What’s stranger — that or the American dollar becoming the official currency in Japan?
• I admit it: this episode was fun to watch. It’s not, however, because the final battle blew me away or anything. [C] has had problems sequencing together a single cohesive battle scene all season long. They never figured it out in time for the finale. The ‘QUALITY ANIMATION’ in this episode was the funniest thing I had recently seen in anime.
But seriously, what the hell is this thing?