The day before New Year’s Eve, the girls set up their second annual “We” Exhibition. They fall behind, but finish strong with help from Shimokamiyama, Dougou, and Yakusa. Kanae is sad about the fact that come next year she’ll have to focus on exams, and that she’ll have to leave the photography club. The next day, a large crowd awaits when the doors are open, and the exhibition is a resounding success. After ringing in the new year, Sayomi picks everyone up before dawn to see the sunrise by the seaside, where everyone yells out their hopes for the new year.
There were times during this episode when we were worried that Kanae was going to disappear in a wisp of vapor on the stroke of midnight, so apprehensive she was of the coming new year. Part of us wanted to jump into the tv screen, give her a shake and say “Honey…everything will be fine!” She’ll always remember the past year as the year she broke out of her shell, inspired and supported by Fuu and her friends. As Maestro says, Kanae and Fuu shaped each other in that year, and they also enriched each other’s love for photography, and life in general. We like how their year is documented in photos and exhibited in chronological order, so that anyone who cares to can see the progression of their friendship along with their growth as photographers.
When the bells chimed midnight, the new year began, Kanae was still there in one piece, albeit having closed the lens cap on her camera. The series pulls out all the stops for the tearful, heartwarming final scenes that take stock of the past year and all it meant to everyone. We especially liked the sweet “parent meeting” in which Potte’s mom and grandma and Maon’s folks marvel at how far their kids have come since deciding to move to Takehara. Sayomi shows up to make sure the girls don’t miss the first dawn. Kanae makes sure to savor her last moments with Potte as her president: when the sun rises, she’s aggressive and pulls her in for a big ol’ hug, thanking her for a wonderful year. Potte tears up and reciprocates, which makes everyone else tear up…including us. A bit.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Chihiro visits Takehara for the upcoming fireworks festival, which she and Potte promised to watch in yukatas from their secret base years ago. Chihiro meets Kanae and sees the photography club in action. Riho invites Potte and Kanae to participate in a museum exhibition with her. Potte tentatively agrees, wanting to take pictures specifically for the show. Sayomi takes everyone to a hilltop with a fine view of the fireworks, but everyone leaves Potte and Chihiro alone in the isolated spot, which they liken to a secret base. From there Potte snaps photos of the fireworks using a tripod.
It’s a rare and precious thing to be able to fulfill a deferred but not forgotten dream, even if it was a silly little idea cooked up between you and your childhood friend when you were just little pipsqueaks. But Potte (AKA Fuunyan) and Chihiro share a deep bond of friendship, and both wanted to see that shared dream come true. As it happens, the dream was fulfilled by happenstance: Kaoru’s adventurous sister happened to run into them and lure them into another deathmarch, which led them to the “base” they dreamed of. And it’s a lovely spot.
Potte may only be president of herself and Kanae, a painfully shy upperclassman, but Chihiro is still impressed by her presiding skills, and when she musters up the aggressive enough to accept Riho’s offer. We wouldn’t be surprised if the entire season runs by without another person joining the photography club, but that exhibition could be a very big deal for both Potte and Kanae. The show is a goal that could inspire them to create their best work yet, will give them exposure in that world, and boost their confidence. With old dreams fulfilled, it’s time to fulfill new ones.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
Sayomi, Kaoru, Norie, Maon and Potte take a road trip to Shioiri in Yokozuka, where Potte grew up. They meet up with her childhood friend Miyoshi Chihiro, who introduces them to her friend Tomo. They tour the city along the way to a festival to watch fireworks. Potte enters a sparkler contest, and remembers doing the same thing when she was younger as her dad watched. Just like then, she reaches the quarterfinals. When the fireworks start, she snaps a picture of her friends admiring them, starting a new page in her book of Shioiri memories.
An overarching theme of Tamayura’s OVAs and two TV series has been Potte’s healing process after the loss of someone irreplaceable in her life, both through photography and through making and having fun with her friends. This week, that process finally takes her back to the place where everything began; Shioiri. Getting there is no mean feat: roughly 500 miles and over nine hours of driving with Sayomi at the wheel of her recently-repaired Mazda Premacy (Kanae can’t come because let’s face it, that would be way too many characters in one place). Such a trek would’ve been an adventure in and of itself, but in a bold but ultimately logical move, Potte and the others sleep through most of it. For once, this was about the destination, not the journey.
Once they reach Yokozuka and Shioiri (and Sayomi nearly runs poor Chihiro over and drives into a wall), there’s this nice sense, that Potte has come home, and that it is indeed quite possible to have more than one home (she’s young, so she’s just realizing this). Then there’s Chihiro’s friend Tomo who everyone’s been waiting to meet. She’s terribly shy and quiet at first, but it doesn’t take long for Potte to trigger her obsessive “interrogation mode” (Touyama Nao is up to the task of expressing Tomo’s bubbly exuberance). Tomo and Chihiro owe their friendship to Potte & Co, who encouraged Chihiro last season, so this episode was a nice follow-up to that, as well as another link in Potte’s chain of healing.
Rating:7 (Very Good)