Potte’s camera shutter breaks, so she has to surrender it to Maestro for repairs. She’s unable to take pictures of the Doll festival or with Kanae, who got into college and is back to taking pictures. The next day while Kaoru, Norie and Maon are off doing their own thing, Potte stays at home sorting her photos until her mom suggests they take a ride on her motorcycle. She takes Potte to Okunoshima and the spot where her dad proposed to her mom. There, her mom gives her a tearful thanks for being her daughter, and Potte thanks her in return. When they return home, the others are waiting for her. At Mitani’s commencement, Potte thanks her for joining the club and calling her president. Potte picks up her fixed camera, ready to take pictures during the Spring Break.
It’s something of a marvel that Potte’s old camera never had any problems before, but it’s an interesting move to shake things up by taking her camera away for most of the final episode. Her mom was never a photog, and when she sees that Potte’s just holed up in the house, she gets her out into the air to experience something without a camera for once; to see things with her naked eyes instead of through a viewfinder. In the last couple years, she’s seen her daughter grow an incredible amount and aggressively walk forward on her own two feet. She feels that both she and her daughter were ready to go to that spot where it all began: where her husband proposed, and led to the creation of the loving family that still endures and thrives even after his untimely passing.
Like last week as Kanae’s story was wrapped up and she gathered the courage to keep walking towards her future, this final episode was full of heartrending moments, and its characters aren’t afraid to tear up from the kindness of each others’ words towards one another. Throughout its run, this was a show that was full of love and its daily role in life. The love came in many forms, from Potte and Kanae’s love of photography, to the friends’ love of one another, to Norie and Komachi’s love of Kou, to Potte’s love of her father. The more she learned about the person he was and the live he lived, the more inspired she got to live up to his example. But as she’s a product of both dad and mom, Potte won’t necessarily live every great moment of her life to come through a viewfinder. Sometimes the camera breaks…and it’s okay.
Rating: 8 (Great)
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)
After sorting through their photos for the coming exhibition, Kanae suggests Potte and the group go on a photography tour. Maon suggests her home island of Oosakishimo, where her parents run an inn, and Kaoru suggests they all use the trip to get inspired for a second We Exhibition down the road. While on the trip, Kanae worries about not having a direction after graduation or a turning point to tell her which way to go and when, but after interacting with the girls and talking with Maon’s folks, she realizes her turning point was joining the photography club, and that she, like everyone else, will “cast off” to their future when the tides are right.
This week the upperclassman Kanae was the focus, as for the majority of the episode she is consumed with feelings of nostalgia and of remaining static and empty as everyone else whisks past her into the future. Of course, she’s worrying needlessly; she’s far too young to be worried about such things, but this is Kanae we’re talking about, who’s no stranger to overthinking things into oblivion. As fate would have it, the very name of the island she and the others visit to get their creative juices flowing provides her with the metaphor she’s wrestling with. She’s worried that the tide will never come for her, but it will; just not necessarily the same time as the others.
Each of the girls is into a craft that locks the past in a form we’ll always be able to sense, whether it’s Norie’s tastes, Kaoru’s smells, Maon’s sounds or Potte and Kanae’s pictures. But those things are only echos of a past we can’t go back to, and we can choose to regard them with fondness or remorse – or heck, both at the same time. Kanae was considering not graduating because it’s easier, safer, and less scary to rewind one’s life, and jump back into those pictures. But she knows that’s not the right way to go. Her tide will come, and the seas may not be calm, but as sure as the sun rises, they’ll take her where she needs to go.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
As the town prepares bamboo lanterns for the annual Walk of Longing, a high school friend of Potte’s father, Natsume Nozomu, pays a long put-off visit. He doesn’t mince words while criticizing Potte’s work. When she and Kanae bump into Shihomi while snapping pictures, she tells them she’s also endured her share of criticism, and encourages her to keep cultivating her love for photography. Potte, Kanae and the others have okonomiyaki at Hoboro’s with Nozomu. Later he tells Potte a little about what her dad was like in high school, and is glad he visited, and lets her take a parting photo of him.
This week is an interesting new exercise in subjecting Potte to perhaps the prickliest person she’s had to deal with all season, someone immune to her charms and seems determined to pop her pleasant little bubble, and Kanae’s along with it. He says what some of us may have been thinking all along: all she does is impulsively point and shoot at things, keeping her subjects right in the center, just like her dad. As a guy who has no qualms about dispensing with pleasantries and picking on his dead mate’s daughter, having missed his wedding, her birth, and his funeral. He also stopped taking photos, even though he was the one who inspired her dad in the first place.
So this guy’s just a pompous dick, right? Well, fortunately, the more we see him interact with Takehara and Potte, the more he softens and becomes (slightly) more likable. His other mate Hinomaru knows the sourpuss is just a front. Kanae talks a lot about how Potte’s heart races when taking photos, which leads to the hearts of the people who see them also racing, as if catching a wave. Nozomu admits that while Potte’s dad’s (and her) photos aren’t the most technically adventurous, he admits that they’re all “overflowing with love.” Enough that they, along with a nostalgic taste of okonomiyaki and a wistful tour of the Walk of Longing, touch his heart.
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)
Shimokamiyama-sensei informs Potte and Mitani of a sakura photography contest. They agree to enter and set out to snap photos, but all of the cherry trees they encounter have already shed most of their blossoms. They run into Kaoru’s sister Sayomi, who gathers everyone together for a trek up Mt. Asahi, home to a grand 250-year-old cherry tree in full bloom. Potte and Mitani snap up tons of photos, and even though Shimokamiyama got the deadline of the contest wrong, they still had fun.
Potte and Mitani Kanae may lack confidence in their photographic abilities while simultaneously revering one another. Mitani even credits Potte’s presence in her photo for winning the contest for her; she’s always been too nervous to take portraits of anyone, but something about Potte in that time and place affected Mitani so powerfully, she forgot to be shy or worry about failure and just snapped up a damn good picture.
As it turns out, there are many ways of being aggressive; perhaps no one is more aggressive than Sayomi, who wrangles everyone up for another one of her patented “death marches” that always pay off in the end. Not only does everyone end of having fun, but Mitani gets back that feeling she got when she snapped Potte; the ability to stop over-thinking everything, live in the moment, and not be afraid to document it. She’s even able to halt her tendency to delete photos that don’t come out perfectly. Part of being aggressive is not fearing failure and trusting in the world, and Mitani’s on her way.
Rating: 8 (Great)