by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 12 of
What a wild ride this show turned out to be! In Anime-Gataris, our heroes went from talking about anime to making anime to becoming anime and back again. But as Minoa wandered through an upside-down anime wonderland, I couldn't help wishing the anime would have gotten even weirder than it did. For the last couple episodes, it kept doubling down on an increasingly wacky and ambitious plot that I wondered how it could possibly conclude. But “Minoa, Katharsis” was less interested in getting weirder than it was in wrapping the show up on time. That's a noble goal to be sure, but it also resulted in extremely safe choices.
The door to the clubroom wasn't a Fourth Wall after all! Instead, it was a portal to the anime world, which has always existed parallel to real life. As Aurora clarifies, humans didn't create anime characters, they merely learned to depict them. The narrator's hasty commentary unceremoniously strikes down the guy with the beret (who I'm not ready to say is club advisor Gomon, even though there are visual similarities). The explanation doesn't make much sense, but that's clearly not the point. The purpose is to set up the topsy-turvy constraints of this anime world so it's ready for Minoa to explore. Minoa is almost crushed by an aggressive eyecatch card (which is an homage to Magic Knights Rayearth) and nearly consumed by a recap episode. Meanwhile, her friends and family don't care, adjusting perfectly to the anime world. (Interestingly, while Anime-Gataris usually comes up with fake almost-titles for most shows, Minoa's mom flat out names A Sister's All You Need. Perhaps it was a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of these two shows airing back to back, as possibly signaled by this official Anime-Gataris tweet.)
However, Minoa isn't as alone as she thinks. Since she so deeply treasured Katharsis as a child, the characters appear to help her out. (Note to self: make sure to enjoy anime with very strong characters in case I ever get trapped in the anime world.) It gets a bit confusing after that, as different versions of her friends both attempt to thwart and help her, but in the end, Minoa's own creation Robo-Arisu is there to save the day. The message here is clear and sweet—it's Minoa and her club's passion for anime that orchestrates their happy ending.
Or is it a happy ending? The episode concludes with a reboot of Anime-Gataris that tells the same story with several overt alterations—Minoa is an experienced anime fan before she even meets Arisu, Neko-Senpai is replaced by a cat-eared club president, and Nakano/Aurora is a character the club designs together. It's a haven for the anime chats from which the show gets its name, but it'll never be the same. It makes me wonder if there was a better solution in which Nakano and Neko-Senpai could have survived in the real world. Yui's careful wink at the conclusion makes me wonder if she's in on the whole drama, but that may only be my own wishful thinking for Anime-Gataris' to take a risk and wow the audience one last time rather than trying to tie everything up with a neat bow.
Anime-Gataris is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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