Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san – 12 (Fin) – A Gentle Nudge Past the Status Quo

The last episode of KJT starts with a long shot of Takagi looking over at Nishikata without trying to look like she’s looking. It’s the first time we’ve seen her since Nishikata unwittingly made her heart go dokidoki, and when we hear that the girls in class are on a letter-writing kick, it’s natural to assume Takagi would join in.

When Nishikata finds a love letter in his textbook, he does everything he can to keep that information from Takagi…right up until she tells him she put it there, she wants him to read it before school ends, because she wants his “answer” by then.

When Nishikata discovers the “love” letter is really just a written request to walk home together like they always do, Takagi gets the reaction she wanted. But in a way, it was a love letter, albeit a coded one: Nishikata’s reactions provide her nearly as much info as direct words.

Her ability to read him like a large-print book goes back to when they first met and spoke, back on their very first day of school. Nishikata is late, but not because he overslept. Takagi senses he wants to set the record straight, and her first words to her new desk neighbor are “you didn’t really oversleep, right?”

Later, Takagi is the one who’s late, giving Nishikata cover, but also sets up her first guessing game with Nishikata, correctly guessing he was late because he found her handkerchief and brought it to the staff room.

Nishikata (unaware that she was “Takagi-san” until just then) reacts in the over-the-top flustered manner we’re used to by now—only it’s the first time Takagi is watching it. From that day onward, she was hooked.

Back in the present, Nishikata receives bad news: there’s to be a seat rearrangement. Nishikata pretends it doesn’t bother him, but Takagi doesn’t hide her dispiritedness, which in turn makes Nishikata dispirited. The status quo is at stake!

Nishikata ends up joining someone else despondent over the rearrangement: Mano-chan, who was perfectly content next to her boyfriend Nakai-kun, and whose life is now essentially over. Then Nishikata loses his one chance to switch seats with Kimura-kun, and sinks into his new desk of despair beside Mano-chan.

Thankfully, things didn’t end there: through a number of seat switches, Mano and Nakai end up up front together, while Takagi returns to Nishikata’s side. Nishikata can barely hide his relief.

Then she asks what he wanted to say earlier, and he produces her handkerchief, which she used to bandage his knee a while back, and which also brought them together on the first day of school. Nishikata expresses his gratitude he was able to return it, and that they’re next to each other again; the feeling is mutual. For once, he says what he feels without worrying about being teased.

That night, while inspecting her hankie, a little note slips out, and suddenly Takagi is in the same position Nishikata is when he found the love letter in his book. It’s no confession, just a simple “Thank you”…but it’s another critical hit on Takagi, who plops onto the bed and buries her head in her pillow, giddy with delight.

It would be an understatement to say I’ll miss Takagi and Nishikata. Could I watch the duo grow closer and closer together as they enter high school, college, and eventually adulthood? You BETCHA. But since that’s sadly unlikely to happen, I have to be satisfied with the snippet of their lives that we got. And I am, very much so!

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Author: sesameacrylic

Zane Kalish is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

3 thoughts on “Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san – 12 (Fin) – A Gentle Nudge Past the Status Quo”

  1. This was quite the adorable little series if i do say so myself and one that i’ve grown a bit of an affection for over the weeks. i think people who watch Takagi-san and dismissed it for being “one-note”, seemed to have only been paying attention to its surface level narrative, which is actually selling the show very short. The gimmick of the show is the teasing and yes, that is one-note, but the show is not really about that and it doesn’t expect it’s viewers to think it’s only about a girl teasing the guy she’s crushing on.

    It’s the same mistake people make with magical girl shows in where the complaint is that the same shit happens every episode and therefore nothing happens with the plot or characters. In essence, the same conceit applies here: the repetitive nature of the show is only superficial. Takagi-san is all about the change the characters experience (regardless of them believing that their desire to preserve the status quo); you don’t have to be a manga reader or be spoiled of future events in order to see that.

    I get that a narrative tool can be a deal breaker for some, but if you give yourself time to understand how the tool is being used, particularly in this case, it allows for one to appreciate how the writing is using it to its benefit. The teasing is a vehicle/gimmick used by the writing to explore adolescent sensuality and the slow but natural fondness that develops between two people as they begin to unknowingly spend more and more time together. The sheer competence in which it handles the feeling of two people growing more and more comfortable with each other is the absolute essence of this show.

    It builds on its romantic couple by subtly and effectively showing their growth as friends and possibly something more rather than telling us. And as i’ve already alluded to, it’s doing all this through those “repetitive, trite gags.” It’s so simple yet methodical in how it approaches this. The teasing starts of being childish pranks, then as the characters are getting closer and learning a bit more about each other, it starts getting flirty. From there, it escalates into sensual flirtation. Before you as a viewer even realizes it, the kids are immersing themselves in each others routines and hanging out more often.

    From there, the teasing starts to feel more overtly romantic and the sensual tension between the two adolescents becomes more and more apparent, shaping the crux of their relationship going forward. In short, the show is about the journey of young love and experiencing those euphoric moments growing closer to the person you are crushing on. It’s about evoking the feeling of blissful, nostalgic reminiscing of a time in youth while highlighting the awkward, frustrating, yet rewarding moments that come with that youth. Takagi san is an example of the characters actions being contextualized by the situations they experience and how those experience emphasize aspects of their character; that people, is good character writing, regardless of its simplicity

    The episodic growth of the main couple’s familiarity and the way the series illustrates this without needing to orchestrating some grand, emotional, or melodramatic character moments or situation is utilized so well within the scope of the show’s premise. People tend to grow closer with one another without really realizing that they are or that their routine has become more and more inclusive of the other person. It’s this exact phenomenon we see happening between Takagi and Nishikata and it’s one that the show handles in a cleverly subtle way.

    I’ve heard some make the argument that if you want a romance between two middle school kids, to just go watch Tsuki ga Kirei instead; but once again, that misses the point of this series. Tsuki ga kirei was an idealized, although fairly accurate portrayal of the awkward euphoria of two middle school kids learning to convey their feelings and establish a romantic relationship while dealing with the challenges that arise from trying to convey one’s feelings. It was about surmounting the difficulties and barriers of communication, about learning and understanding the emotional perspective of your significant other and coordinating a relationship based on these tenets.

    Takagi-san is about observing and articulating the behaviors synonymous with adolescent growth, familiarity, and sensual closeness in young kids; exploring a time where kids just want to know what it feels like to be attracted to somebody and spend more time with them. Takagi is focused on one thing and tsuki ga kirei on another. Anyway, that’s my rant about Takagi san; hopefully people start to appreciate this series a bit more, even if they may not love it. This series has such a deep charm, one that people may miss if they only look at this show for its gimmick. I don’t expect to like this show, but calling it one-note does feel a bit undeserved.

    1. Thank you so much for your in-depth and eloquent analysis. You’re preaching to the choir. Young love is rarely treated as honestly and with as much care as Tsuki ga Kirei and now Takagi-san. I enjoyed both immensely, and your breaking-down of why Takagi-san is more than the surface gimmick only adds to that enjoyment.

      1. Thanks for the kind words; I had planned to write a whole essay breaking down how Takagi-san actually illustrates the exploration of sensuality through the behavior of its main duo but i felt like that would be overdoing it for a comment (as if this wasn’t already). Either way it’s good to see more people like you who really enjoyed this series and was able to immerse themselves into it past the surface-level gimmick

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