Note: So I binged through the rest of Just Because! and yeah, I’m just going to cover all six remaining episodes in one post. My original intention was to pace things more methodically but to be honest, I’ve been far too slow with my blogging this past Fall and I really need to get things done. I’d also hate to get in a situation where I’m juggling between the Fall backlog and whatever Winter 2018 throws at me. This is not what I ideally wanted to do but I don’t want to ditch coverage for Just Because! altogether. Hopefully, this wrap-up post will suffice. I’ll also write a general review in the near future.
Anyway, I think it is safe to say that this story survived whatever fiasco happened during production. I’ll admit that I am curious as to what exactly happened. Something clearly did happen because while I do like the overall aesthetic of this anime, a lot of shots did look really rough. It also didn’t help that a recap episode aired around the halfway point and that almost always suggests production problems. Regardless, it seems like the story was left unscathed and thank goodness for that because I really enjoyed how this show concluded.
Personally, I love the fact that neither major pairing in this anime hook up during high school. You have Eita and Mio choosing to hold off confessions until college and while Hazuki admits she’s interested in Haruto romantically, she requests that he asks her out until they’ve both adapted to their adult lives. In a sense, the romance is confirmed across the board but all the participants decide that it’s best to wait until the time is right. That kind of conclusion is a little unconventional for a teenage romance story but I really like the message Just Because! opted for. Having a boyfriend or girlfriend is certainly desirable during high school but truth be told, high school isn’t necessarily the best time for everyone to pursue romance. Eita and Mio clearly want to be together and the same goes for Haruto and Hazuki but all four of them realize that the timing just doesn’t work. For their relationships to work in the long run, they need to play the waiting game and they accept that’s how it’ll be.
I will admit that it is a little silly that Eita and Mio chose to take the entrance exams to each other’s choice of university. It’s a plot point in service to the two wanting to hook up at the right time and place but I did find the logic somewhat questionable. That might work for some couples but getting a good and affordable education should always be a higher priority than being able to easily see your romantic interest in person. It also boggles the mind that the two ultimately never knew what either of them was planning. Even if Mio wanted to keep her admission to Joei a secret from Eita, you’d think the latter would find out from her friends. And how convenient that Eita failed the entrance exam to Suizan because that would’ve seriously thrown a wrench at these two’s plans.
That said, I do really like that Mio’s hard work ultimately payed off. Her dedication to her studies was a vital part of her arc so seeing her succeed in that area was really satisfying. It also plays into the dynamic between Mio and Eita. The former helped the latter a lot in middle school and also calmed her down with her first entrance exam. The boy’s helped Mio many times in the past and her passing the Joei exam is a statement that this time, she’ll be there for him.
The second half of Just Because! is where Ena plays a more prominent role in the story and sure enough, there does end up being a love triangle involving her, Eita, and Mio. I was never really keen on the idea. As much as I like how Ena’s energetic brashness plays off of Eita’s nonchalant attitude, it was painfully obvious that Ena had absolutely no chance. Even the episode where the poor girl realizes her feelings seemed more interested in further developing Eita’s relationship with Mio. And by the time Eita does go out on a date with Ena, it was clear that his heart was already taken. To be honest, I get the sense that the love triangle was a means for Mio to fully recognize her feelings for Eita. Seeing him interact so closely with another girl clearly did the trick but it does feel cruel on the staff’s part to subject Ena to that kind of treatment.
To be fair, Ena dealt with her crush on Eita pretty darn well. The staff could’ve easily depict her into a heated fight with Mio but instead, Ena learns to accept that she was going to lose. I really like that she felt remorse for setting the wallpaper of Eita’s phone to a picture of her once Mio saw it. Even if she wants to beat Mio, she didn’t intend to be that manipulative and in the end, she just wants Eita to be happy. While she knew Eita passing the Suizan exam would mean he’ll be with Mio, she still went to various shrines to collect good luck charms for him. And while she knew she’d get rejected in the end, she still made a yearbook to give to Eita as a gift of friendship. It’s unfortunate that Ena gets the short end of the stick in this story but being a second year, she at least has time to figure this stuff out unlike the other characters.
The story of Just Because! is far from perfect but it largely shines with its depiction of the ambiguity and hardship that arises from the final days of high school as well as teenage romance. I’m also really glad that this kind of show came out, given the current anime market as well as the alleged production problems. You just don’t see too many anime offering this kind of take on adolescence and while I admit this show paced pretty slowly, I quite enjoyed the naturalistic atmosphere evoked by it. The animation probably got the brunt of whatever happened behind the scenes, but the story seemed to have survived the production so I’m at least glad for that.
- I was as thrown off as Eita was when Hazuki appeared in one scene with her hair cut. I really like how it makes her look more mature but sheesh, I legitimately didn’t recognize her at first.
- Mio and Hazuki ended up becoming pretty good pals. Their interactions practically mirror those between Eita and Haruto and it was fun seeing them talk about their concerns about their futures.
- It’s pretty clever that the picture Ena wins the competition with is just some random picture she threw into her submission and not the one she took of Eita. Evidently, photography is another subject Ena has one more year to figure out.
- I love that final callback to the ballgame between Eita and Haruto. How amusing that they’ve done it in the beginning, middle, and end of this story. I especially like that this game was to fulfill a bet that if Eita won, he would absolutely have to confess to Mio. It’s also interesting that the roles were reversed with Eita batting the home run. I saw that gesture as the two boys embracing the uncharted future.