Anime adaptations ending on a very inconclusive note is nothing new to me. The sad reality is that this is more often the norm than the exception. Even so, there’s something fitting that Adachi and Shimamura ends this way. After eleven episodes of this platonic tug of war, why should the last episode be any different?
Believe me, I was hoping for some major development to happen in this final outing. Adachi once more takes matters into her own hands by asking Shimamura if they could have a sleepover at the latter’s place. Surely, Adachi spending a whole night with her crush will amount to something. And you do have some intimate moments such as when Adachi almost kisses Shimamura in her sleep or when Shimamura allows her to rest on her arm for the night. But alas, all these moments amount to the same stalemate these two have been in for quite some time. The episode ends with Shimamura narrating how she’d like to spend the rest of her high school days with Adachi, which is reassuring but it doesn’t necessarily means she feels any different towards her friend.
It’s odd. I quite enjoyed my time with Adachi and Shimamura but now that it’s over, I can’t help but feel frustrated over its progression or lack thereof. I mean, how far has its titular pairing truly gone? There’s some growth with Adachi as she comes to accept her feelings towards another girl and grows more assertive. The only problem is that Adachi denies herself the opportunity to properly confess to Shimamura and actually advance their relationship to the next level (or at least try to). Admittedly, that’s a huge leap to take and it’s entirely possible that, deep down, Adachi knows there’s a good chance that Shimamura won’t reciprocate her feelings. Still, it would’ve been nice to see her try. If not Christmas or Valentine’s or even a simple sleepover, when will she ever find the opportunity to do so?
At the very least, I can at least say that Adachi has grown. That’s more than I can say about Shimamura, who seems to remain as rigid as ever in her, frankly, cynical views on affinity. I guess it says something that she wants to continue spending her time with Adachi. If there’s any relationship of hers that’s genuine, it’s definitely that one and there’s enough implication that Shimamura would feel disheartened if things between them fully fell apart. Even so, I’m not entirely convinced that Shimamura has changed or that she’s allowing herself to be with Adachi beyond the fact that she has no reason not to. Worse is how she keeps inadvertently spurring Adachi’s feelings. Considering her disinterest in a more serious relationship of any kind and the fact that she still hasn’t gotten a clue, I can’t help but feel a little bad for Adachi. If Shimamura won’t reciprocate Adachi’s feelings, I’d rather have her put the nail in the coffin than keep her friend’s hopes up. Hell, that would actually be fitting for this story, having it ends on a purely platonic note (probably wouldn’t go well with audiences though).
It’s not just the lack of progress between Adachi and Shimamura that irks me. Do Hino and Nagafuji hook up? What is the point of Tarumi? What is the point of Yashiro? Why hasn’t Shimamura re-dyed her hair yet? Just about every thread in this show ends unresolved and that’s made even worse by the little progress that has been made in each. And really, if any of this auxiliary stuff was cut out, would anything of value be lost? Not really. I suppose this is where a second season could come into play but there’s no announcement for one yet, so we’re left to gamble on the possibility of one happening. There’s also the original light novels but adaptations should always work entirely on their own.
There’s plenty to like with Adachi and Shimamura. The two titular characters are certainly an interesting pair, accompanied by some solid prose and direction. From a technical standpoint, this show is one of Tezuka Production’s best looking series to date. For a good chunk of Fall 2020, this was my favorite show to watch and it’s still overall one of the better shows I’ve seen this season and this year. But boy is there a lot of things left unresolved and that does hampers the experience for me.