(THERE WILL BE SPOILERS)
I plan to actually review Kurenai sometime, but at the moment I don’t have the urge to type anything that long. Since I had already seen the first ten episodes, this post will almost completely be about the ending. I know it’s not fair to the rest of the show not to get talked about properly (I actually intended to do a post after ep 10 but the suspense was too much!) but whatever.
So, this show’s last few episodes played out almost just like the last few episodes of Red Garden, Kou Matsuo’s other masterpiece, but I can’t say I like the ending as much. Red Garden had a big ‘everyone get ready’ bit near the end before a huge, insanely epic battle, the death of nearly the entire fucking cast, and a weird, awesome, totally open ending. Kure-nai had a similar ‘get ready’ episode in the form of episode ten, an epic battle through all of episode eleven, and then a much more reasonable ending. Unlike anything else in Kure-nai, I actually had a problem with the technical element of these last few episodes. I thought episode ten was great, but it had the sort of climactic energy that made me want the show to hurry and majestically end. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED the epic battle. Shinkurou going solid snake, Yayoi’s classic showdown with the evil bitch, and anything involving Benika were really great. However, for a show this short, I don’t think it really works to have a battle that long, especially when it leads into the last 15 minutes of episode 12 being dialog. One of these two things should have been shorter, and then the rest filled in with more satisfying resolution. However, considering the fulfilling nature of every episode prior and the likely lack of anything else needing to be said, I am willing to forgive the series, as in all likelihood, the battle was extended to fit the show into twelve episodes. And since the entire battle was fucking AWESOME I can only bitch so much.
Content-wise I feel like this show may or may not have striven to end in the opposite manner of Red Garden, which definitely means that the ending someone prefers depends entirely on their own tastes. After all, if we ignore Red Garden’s glaring technical issues, the two shows are incredibly alike up until the ending. The difference is that where Red Garden had a purely romantic ending, Kure-nai had a purely realist ending.
Yeah, you might have liked to see Kure-nai and Murasaki run off into the sunset and live happily ever after, but that really doesn’t resolve anything. The ending leaves you full of unsureness, and I have a lot of respect for it in that regard. What always bothered me about happily aver after is that at the end of a conflict, every conflict henceforth is unspoken for. My total bane with romance stories is how often they involve the struggle of a couple and end with them being a couple – half the time when the credits roll I’m thinking ‘who’s to say they don’t break up in a year?’ Kure-nai doesn’t sugarcoat or bullshit you. You know things are going to be tough in their futures and you don’t know how things will eventually turn out. You can hope for the best, but there’s really no telling – it’s up to our own imagination.
While I hugely respect this kind of ending, though, I’m certainly no fan of it. I’m a romantic. I LOVED the ending of Red Garden. To me, the best ending a show can have is when everyone dies, and the main character (s) live forever. This can be twisted into tragedy, however when it’s happy, it’s the happiest. Pretty much every story I come up with ends with at least one of the main characters becoming immortal – it’s just a beautiful romantic concept. Harsh reality is harsh, and not something you always want out of your anime, especially when it is served up in a way that is almost non-dramatic.
Even with the awkward ending, though, Kure-nai is long and by far one of the best anime I’ve yet to see, and as mentioned below, the latest addition to my Ultimate Top Tier. Having already seen it two and a half times, I look forward to watching this over and over again into the future.