I apologize again for having to lump two episodes into one post. But you’re not here to read about why I’m late, so I’ll get straight to the action. Episode 22 is a whopper in terms of relationships. First, we have the obvious sinking of the Nanami ship. Being a long-running proponent of SorataxNanami, I’m a little sad to see it go. But at least Nanami left the romantic candidate scene with dignity. I could rage a little about how she let her very last chance to make her feelings clear to Sorata slip through her fingers again, but that wouldn’t accomplish anything. Nanami realized where Sorata’s heart lies, and was strong enough to let him go after Mashiro. Hats off to that classy lady. I’m sure her preventing Sorata from reaching Mashiro in time at such a critical moment would also earn her a lot of ire from most viewers, so everything works out well in the end, even if Nanami does get the short end of the stick a bit.
With Nanami finally (and officially) out of the way, the Mashiro ship sets sail with wind in its sails. Sorata’s outright confession to her in an attempt to prevent her from getting on the train was a very powerful and touching scene. For a moment there, I was actually slightly worried that Mashiro might very well leave for no other reason than Sorata’s pleas being drowned out by the passing train. Thankfully, it seems she heard enough of what truly matters, and despite the brief dramatic fake-out the show pulls, the Sakurasou gang remains intact. While Sorata’s feelings are made clear, however, Mashiro still hasn’t clearly stated her own romantic feelings towards him. Sure, she reveals that she also wants to stay with Sorata. But while the sentiments behind such a statement would be fairly transparent in reality, one can never be too sure in the realm of anime.
Moving on, episode 23 continues where episode 22 left off, with Mashiro, Nanami, and Sorata arriving in time for the graduation ceremony. It turns out Ryuunosuke and the senpais never gave up in spite of the failure of the petition, and both parties acted independently to raise awareness of and sympathy for the Sakurasou situation during graduation. Thanks to these combined efforts, with a surprisingly serious and rousing speech from Misaki, the faculty find themselves being seen as the antagonists by the entire student body. Throw in an impromptu vote instigated by the wily Chihiro-sensei, and the preservation of Sakurasou is a done deal. As Ryuunosuke comments, this is truly a very well thought-out, if not simple plan. The Sakurasou residents have earned every bit of their victory, as manipulative as it is when you think about it objectively.
I’d previously voiced my doubts and concerns about how well a “preservation” of Sakurasou would play out, but it looks like the show will be taking the route of brushing it aside. Which is all well, since going into the details of the actual safety of the building isn’t quite the point of the show. With Misaki and Jin moving on, it looks like the finale will focus primarily on Mashiro and Sorata’s relationship, and perhaps leave off with a traditional hotpot party welcoming some incoming freshmen to hit home Misaki’s words to Sorata.
Don’t be alarmed. I’m actually not going to talk about what I think is bad here, but rather what I’ve heard others complain about. I personally think Sakurasou is a great show. In fact, it might well be one of the best shows this season. Some others think otherwise though; and to my understanding, people who don’t like Sakurasou all too much cite how melodramatic it is. I understand that the show very obviously and purposefully tries to tug at your heartstrings, but this realization doesn’t make any of the developments any less legitimate and engaging. If you’re looking for extremely contrived and poorly done examples of drama, just go watch the Little Busters! anime. I originally held out hope that it would be better than everyone expected since people were giving it such a hard time. Now, I know better. But the kind of drama present in Sakurasou is a far-cry from the poorly executed stuff we see in LB! Primarily, Sakurasou spends a lot of time getting us very invested in the characters and their situations. Sure, some things may still turn us off (like Sorata being an ass and not learning his lesson the first time), but all in all, Sakurasou really draws us into the world of these crazy high schoolers and holds our attention. I say, if you can’t come to appreciate Sakurasou’s melodrama, then perhaps you shouldn’t be watching this genre of shows in the first place.
Also notable (and not bad) is the credits song in episode 23: Kyou no Hi wa Sayonara (Today is the Time for Goodbye). Apparently a traditional elementary school graduation song in Japan, my only previous experience with it was in Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0. Maybe it’s just the context from the respective sources, but I must say Sakurasou’s rendition feels more hopeful and even slightly uplifting while Eva’s version felt chillingly dissonant.