When you title your last episode 'Brilliant Finale,' you really have to make good on that.
What They Say:
With Byakuroku leading the way, Lieutenants Agemaki, Yoshinokazura, and Hanakiri and the half-spirits Susukihotaru, Bonbori, and Hozuki arrive Will the unconscious Zakuro remain in Omodaka's hands... The time of reckoning is at hand... A brilliant final episode to provide stirring and emotional closure!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With Zakuro's origins having been detailed and the arrival of Kei and the others from the Ministry of Spirit Affairs where she was being held, Otome Yokai Zakuro has arrived at its finale and it's dealing heavily with the threat presented by the spider creature that's now attacking Omodaka, proclaiming her love for her. It's interesting to see how Kei, even after realizing what Omodaka is, still treats him as a superior officer and does his best to defend him in the middle of the fight. The yokai is certainly on the creepy side as it attacks and the combined defenses and attacks by the humans and half spirits against it are truly fitting with what we've seen so far in the series. That subplot of having these different types of people working together hasn't been beaten over our heads so when we see it fully in action here, it feels like an appropriate but not over emphasized conclusion to it.
The return of Zakuro to the land of the awake helps get the episode really into gear though as her persistence and determination to protect those she considers her family to be paramount. It is unfortunately far too short of a sequence though considering what has been going on, but it's also appropriate that Zakuro is skilled enough to dispatch it easily enough and even more so with what's driving her to protect her friends and family. But even this victory is bittersweet as we see the finale fate that awaits Zakuro's mother, which not only impacts her greatly but also that of Omodaka who can't believe he's lost her at last. It's a really nicely done emotional moment as everything is collapsing around them, literally and figuratively.
With this being the last episode of the season, the show has a choice in how it wants to end. It could easily end big with the dramatic moments that we see with the end of Omodaka, something many series would do, or does it want to provide an epilogue. Thankfully, it spends just under half of the episode dealing with the epilogue material that shows a slightly lighter series of moments and a good bit of character relationship time spent as feelings are explored between some of them that shows some real growth potential. Though it may seem forced in a way because it is the end, fights like the one that they just had with the yokai are exactly the reason that people (and spirits) would be more forthcoming about their feelings. Seeing this natural exploration of it at the end here is just right since so much of the series has been about similar moments.
Otome Yokai Zakuro hits all the right notes here at the end, though I think they could have put the big event material in the previous episode and spent more time really fleshing out the character material here. The show goes big in the end, much like it has at key times earlier in the series, but also knows a lot of the appeal is in how the Spirit Affairs characters interact. Some of the relationships may be working out a bit too easily here at the end, but I'd rather be sent off with a better sense of hope and closure at this point like this than something that leaves it all uncertain. I've really enjoyed this series when I thought I wouldn't because the time period and material has been done quite often, but usually to comedic effect. Here, it's treated seriously but also focused heavily on the racism side and had a lot more realism to it overall. In the end, it proved far more charming and interesting than I would have guessed and left me with a big smile when thinking about it all.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.