This article for Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! contains spoilers.
Is it predictable to say that Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!‘s final two episodes are a tour-de-force? Probably, but it’s no surprise this show is going out with a bang. It’s consistently been among the best series of the winter 2020 season. There was no way it was going to stop now.
The 11th episode opens with the Student Council’s final attempt to shut down the Eizouken, but this is not actually where the most important parts of the episode are spent. Instead, this is yet another one largely taken up by the girls exploring their town and looking for inspiration. That may sound like the series is repeating itself, but on the contrary, each one of these sequences has added a little more to Eizouken‘s world and story. The last is no exception.
Gym Class Heroes
As Midori tries to solve the fundamental problems behind her script; not knowing where the enemies are from or why they’re fighting the humans in the first place, she wanders about town. More than that, she reminisces on how she met Sayaka. As it turns out, in a very middle school fashion. If you’ve ever been paired up with someone you didn’t know for gym class, Midori knows your pain.
Sayaka and Midori end up becoming, well, not fast friends exactly, but something like it. The former takes the latter on a train for the first time in her life to run an errand. At the station, Sayaka parcels out some more of her trademark wisdom (rougher around the edges, given her age in the flashback). Midori hangs on one specific thing she says about “coexistence”. Sayaka’s point is pretty typically dour for her, but Midori spins it out into a thought about how necessary multiple perspectives and ways of seeing things are. This flashback, and the trip around town, help further inform her short.
As Above So Below
The plot that Midori eventually comes up with is actually quite complex. A tale about humanity diverging into land-dwelling humans and water-dwelling kappa. Keeping in touch through a prayer chime-shaped communication device which eventually breaks, they fall out of communication over generations, sparking a war. Of course, the short itself is about the end of that war. A kappa POW and his human counterpart repairing the chime and restoring peace to the world. It is about, as Midori puts it;
This is all well and good, and they finish the short. Then, it turns out, there’s a rather big problem. The soundtrack, composed weeks prior and under old directions, which now does not fit the mood of the short at all. Thus ends episode 11, and begins the finale.
The War of The Kappas
Their plans thrown out of whack, and with just a day left until Comet A, the Eizouken are in quite a tough spot. Midori’s plan is as radical as anything the tiny director has ever done. She rewrites the finale from scratch, removing a cheery dance scene to completely change the film’s tone. She argues against her own original vision; saying that the two sides would never reconcile so easily. After all, it’s hard for any two people to truly agree on anything. This being Eizouken, that idea is represented by a literal downpour of controversial topics that Midori rows through in a boat.
They have but a single night to completely re-animate the finale. Incredibly, they pull it off, though not without looking notably worse for wear.
Their hard work pays off. Eizouken ends with the Eizouken selling their entire stock of DVDs at Comet A. Well, it mostly ends there. The episode’s final 11 minutes are the UFO Wars short, in its entirety. The story is told entirely without dialogue and perfectly emulates what it seeks to. It feels for all the world like an authentic student film. Something like the early triumphs of a Studio Gainax or similar. I will refrain from posting many screencaps from it, as this sequence is possibly the highest point of the whole show, and spoiling it would be criminal.
It is important to note though, that they even got to animate the Eizouken’s logo like Midori wanted.
Thus ends the first truly great anime of the 2020s. Fitting too. Far from just taking place in the near future, Eizouken feels like the future. Watching this show, even through all the hard lessons, fills you with optimism. In times like these, what else can you ask for?