by Nick Creamer,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Just Because! ?
As an unabashed member of Team Ena, this week's Just Because! was an absolute disaster. The episode was essentially constructed as one long visual parallel, contrasting Eita and Mio's journeys toward each of their entrance exams. As a dramatic conceit, it was an absolute success, one of the more tightly composed episodes of the show so far. As potential justification for Ena's romantic victory over Mio, it was basically the apocalypse.
More than anything else, what stuck out to me in this episode was Just Because!'s subtle but consistently effective musical cues. The show's main musical motif is a simple synth melody contrasted against a gentle rim pop sound, a light tapping that adds structure and a sense of building momentum to a melody that wavers between hopeful and resigned. That song feels like the show itself—slightly melancholy, fundamentally warm, and building ever so gently toward something bigger. Contrasted against Eita and Haruto offering friendly goodbyes, the overall effect felt like Just Because! in total, a fond goodbye and a glance toward whatever comes next.
That sense of the music leading the action carried through this episode's following scenes, where Mio and Eita both worked their hardest to not confess to each other. Mio's sister was forced to act as an unintentional negotiator, as her chance meeting with Eita resulted in both him and Mio reaffirming their dedication to not actually tell each other anything until after the exams. Mio's and Eita's infuriating attitude is a big part of why I fell so much on Ena's side in the first place, but for this episode, their synchronized hesitation definitely worked—particularly since Mio's absurd expressions facing her sister were one of the show's best comedy beats so far.
The mirroring of Mio and Eita locked fully into place the night before the exams, as the two of them each spent a moment staring out across the town toward the other. Just Because! has always drawn great dramatic mileage out of its sturdy sense of location, and this sequence felt like a final validation of how well the show has built up their Tokyo suburb as a living place. From the train sliding past in the distance to the wooded houses and sparse fields of the town proper, Mio and Eita's feelings have always been tied to this place, with its well-worn alleys and familiar convenience stores. Just Because! isn't just “teens figuring out love,” it's moments like this—two kids looking out over all the streets and sidewalks that divide them, treasuring these last moments in the place they know so well, the place they seem to be leaving behind.
A building violin-led melody followed Mio and Eita to their exams, contrasting shots shaping their journeys into a kind of shared conflict. I've never seen a show try and turn a college entrance exam into a big romantic turning point (well, I guess that was actually Love Hina's premise), but Just Because! did a stand-up job of that here, layering Mio and Eita's most emotionally charged conversations over them struggling to answer test questions. It was very in-character for these two that this climactic union would involve them sitting in entirely different towns, working quietly by themselves, trying to pass an exam they were only taking due to their refusal to actually communicate. Infuriating yes, but also in character.
In the end, it seemed like Mio, Eita, and even Ena all succeeded in their grand trials. This episode didn't really sell me on Mio and Eita being the pair that “deserve” to be together, but it was a smartly constructed episode all the same, and it certainly illustrated the depth of their feelings. The Ena ship may be sinking on the horizon, but Just Because! is still sailing gracefully to the finish.
Just Because! is currently streaming on Amazon's Anime Strike.
Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.
discuss this in the forum (84 posts) |