by Theron Martin,
The final episode of Punch Line is fittingly titled “Punch Line,” even though there is absolutely nothing about it that is a joke. It is, instead, the kind of ending that the series had to have, one that fits everything that has happened so far, leaves almost no loose ends, and yet still delivers a surprise or two along the way. It is both fully satisfying and a little melancholy, as not everyone comes out in One Piece – and I'm not including the bad guys in that.
As expected, Meika proved to have a defensive shield ready to thwart the missile/shell barrage while Ito nimbly dances around in the mecha, stomping various military equipment without actually (apparently) killing anyone. Meanwhile the possessed Rabura takes care of the Ws thanks to the invisibility suit, while Yuta and Mikatan rush to head off Guriko and the Qmay leader takes matters into his own hands. But Yuta and Mikatan arrive too late to stop Guriko from hacking up Meika, leading to a pitched Uberfied battle between Yuta and Guriko, during which Yuta learns that Guriko ended up the way she did because she was alone and thus didn't really have a choice but to accept the role she was being molded into. Meika pulls a Terminator-style revivification to, with Ito's help, finish the hacking job that will blow up the asteroid, while Rabura deals with the possessed U.S. military leader. Meanwhile, the Uberfied fight comes to a head when Mikatan intervenes despite the efforts of both of the others to keep her out of it. That's where the sad part comes in, as her Uberfying to stop the fight proves fatal (as expected). With three spirits but only two bodies, someone's not coming back.
The remarkable thing is that the series does not take the cheap way out here. Guriko tries to reclaim her body so that she will be the one that dies, but Yuta/Pine is not about to let her off that easy. Her punishment is going to be to continue to live alone, apart from the friends she desperately wanted to reunite with – in effect, a punishment arguably worse than death under the circumstances. Pine, meanwhile, fulfills his promise to Chiyoko by giving her body back to her. Technically he's still around after that, as his disembodied spirit pops up in the epilogue to explain that he's going to go back in time to fill in the other unexplained points (i.e., about Rabura being possessed as a child and the mysterious fax messages), but he is effectively gone.
That all took some guts to pull off, but it does make for some great epilogue scenes, including the great montage during the closer, which shows the surviving Korai House members not wasting the future that they have created for themselves. Seeing Yuta actually acting and trying to look like a girl is just weird, but the offering to Pine's spirit is fitting even if it is a little perverse. The business with the cat at the end certainly raises all kinds of speculation, but that will never be addressed, nor should it; this series wouldn't feel right without some ending mystery like that.
The one negative here is that the musical score throughout the episode is a bit of a letdown. It does not do an effective job of conveying the weight of the events, and so softens their full “punch.” Even so, the series closes out well, in a far more orderly fashion than where it started.
Punch Line is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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