Yesterday I finished watching season 3, and I haven't been able to put it out of my mind since. I don't like that, it's just a high school romantic comedy after all. Hopefully writing a few lines about it will make that go away.
They really surprised my by committing to a definite conclusion. The way the story resolved, the way the love triangle resolved, was not unexpected in my opinion - what we got was what the story had been building up to, what had been telegraphed from the beginning. But given the ambiguous endings of the previous seasons and the often bittersweet conclusion to minor arcs, I didn't think they would play it completely straight in the end. Fully expected them to either leave the matter unresolved again, or end with everyone-losing-but-growing-from-the-experience. But they stuck the landing, and for all intents and purposes the story has concluded, the curtain has dropped. This too was made clear before the actual finale of course, with the repeated references to endings and conclusions in the dialogue, but that doesn't sink in until it has happened.
Maybe that's what's irking me - I've gone a couple of years living with this as something that promised to be forever unresolved, and now I'm faced with abrupt closure. I didn't want it to ever be really over.
Still, I have a gripe. Call it team-Yui sour grapes if you want. Story-wise, the love triangle obviously resolved as it "should" have, if it was to have any positive resolution at all. No need to go into the details of why that is, a blind man can see it. But it leaves a taste that's not just bittersweet but straight up bitter. What the story builds to is an unironic Hiki-Yukinon power couple. The culmination of their on-screen relationship consists of them coming together to do event management, which had become a bit of a repeating trope in the latter half of the series. The girlboss of the wealthy family wins, and acquires an utterly loyal and at least moderately competent future husband who will help her take over and run the family empire. We are expected to have sympathy for the rich girl; how terrible it is for her to be burdened with all these expectations and these exacting family members, and how much of a savior her future husband proves to be... Frankly I don't like it, and I don't have as much sympathy as the story would want me to. Fuck the rich and their problems.
This in contrast to the loser of the equation, the normie girl from a normie family whose demand / offer for a relationship was to normalize and domesticate Hiki (expressed explicitly as a list of wishes). Now on the one hand you can take this latter option, the demand to become essentially another, more normal person, as a betrayal of the "genuine" Hiki, asking him to live a lie. Yet, more so in season one than later, it is left unclear to what extent the weirdness and creepiness is what's genuine, or if it's learned / feigned to accommodate the loner existence. Maybe the relationship that won out really was the more unhealthy and less wholesome one, setting the protagonist up for a ruinous life of plots, schemes and hard work, in stead of a healthy family life.
Some scattered other observations. There was an obvious tonal and art shift after seasons one. We went from a (only marginally) romantic comedy, to a romantic drama with only occasional humorous interludes. I can't say it works perfectly, it's too noticeable for that, but it does work. Baited by the comedy, it leaves you trapped being invested in the characters once it moves to drama. Good job, show, you caught me.
One thing I can't figure out, something that I've seen in other shows too. Where are all the parents? There is not a single father in the entirety of the show iirc, or any other male authority figure for that matter. The only parents we do see are the mothers for the two legs of the love triangle, appropriately contrasted: one wholesome and supportive, the other essentially antagonistic and even sinister. For the protagonist, we see neither. I would appreciate it if someone could give a deeper interpretation here, beyond the observation that it is a reflection (or god forbid normalization) of the toxic Japanese corporate culture requiring workers to stay late. If there is an essay-length look at this I would love to read it.
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