Review | Fanfare of Adolescence (Episode 13: Into the Starting Gate!)
“The finale of Fanfare of Adolescence is a deeply satisfying and poignant conclusion to this amazing series.”
This is it. We have reached the end of Fanfare of Adolescence. This series started on April 2nd and since then, it has been an amazing twelve weeks. The first part was about Yu transitioning from an idol to a training horse jockey. Then, the second part focused on Shun during the internship. While the final two episodes are about the graduation. So, is this a satisfying season finale?
This episode really is a conclusion. It gives enough screentime to each of the character so we can properly say goodbye to them. Actually, it brings back everyone. And when I say everyone, it includes the team from the Sumeragi stables. Even Hayato comes back. We learn what he is doing now. And even if he has left the jockey school, he still intends to work with animals but in a different way. He shares a sweet scene with Sojiro. These two characters share an amazing chemistry.
Yu sees his former manager again and he is able to close unfinished business. It does reveal more about his past and it redeems Naoko who was mostly annoying before. Indeed, we understand why she was that way. Naoko raised Yu after his parents death. She had set him on a road and for her it was difficult to accept he wanted to do something else. But in the end, she loves him like her son and she does support him. I think it is a beautiful way to redeem this character.
Undoubtedly, this is a poignant episode. Because the whole time, you can feel it is the end of the journey. The important bonds between the characters are revisited one last time – Hayato and Sojiro share a scene together, same for Aki and Kota, and also Yu and Shun. Eri learns to be herself and not focus on what she represents. Amane is once again his usual self, he always stays true to himself.
After all, the end is just a new beginning. And this is exactly what this episode does. So yes, this is a goodbye but this is very much setting up a new beginning for the characters. Thus, it is the beautifully kind of poignant, not the sad one.
YU AND SHUN
Last week’s episode ended with Shun saying to Yu he had to tell him something. Obviously, I was very much excited to see that scene in the finale. And I have not been disappointed. Indeed, as I suspected Shun makes the choice not to become a jockey. He has two paths opening to him – working at the farm with horses or working as a trainer at the Sumeragi stables. He does not care about winning, he cares about spending time with the animals. And there is nothing better than these two choices for him. Like I said in my review of episode 9, Shun is a Makoto (from Free!) type of character. Characters like Shun are important as well. Because just like there are other ways to work in the swimming world than as a swimmer, there are other ways to work with horses than being a jockey.
Looking at the whole story now, I find it so beautiful that the two main lead characters end up choosing a different path while being together. Yu takes the path of a jockey while Shun takes another path. And that scene when Shun reveals his choice to Yu is without any doubt the most powerful scene of the series. Actually, the scene they share together in episode 11 is on the same level as well. They love each other so deeply and they are always here for each other. The words they exchange, Sawano’s score, the scenery everything is here to build up the emotion. It is a marvelous sight. This scene is the heart of the episode. Indeed, we do see pieces of it throughout the episode until it reaches its emotional height.
THE SEVENTH RACE
Unlike last week’s episode, the finale does not really focus on the races. In fact, what happens in the seventh race is not that important. Indeed, it is more about how the characters feel during that race and how it lifts their spirits for what comes next. It also feels like poetry that Shun and Yu both win the race. It is a compelling send-off for Shun’s final race. He shares this moment with his special someone. And it connects with that big scene that takes place throughout the episode. I am amazed at how they crafted this finale. I could not think of a better way to conclude the story.
THE FUTURE AWAITS
Do not turn off your TV during the credits. Firstly there’s the beautiful song ‘Move the Soul’ with a montage of different scenes from the series. Secondly, there is a post credits scene. This scene takes place after graduation. It gives us a look at what the characters are doing afterwards. And it only makes sense that the final seconds of this series are about Yu and Shun.
Even though, this episode concludes the story in a deeply satisfying way, it does leave the door open for more stories. The characters are at the beginning of their adulthood and career, which means there is a long road ahead of them. Everything is possible.
They even gave us a little tiny of the far future with the opening scene of the episode. It features Amane, Yu and Shun. There is no context to it, except that it seems like Amane is reuniting with the two leads. And going back to that scene, I noticed that Shun was still wearing Yu’s cap after all these years. It was a beautiful and meaningful detail to include. What they are wearing can also tell a lot about where they are in their lives at that time. Thus, I do hope that one day Lay Duce will revisit these characters and tell more of their stories.
The finale of Fanfare of Adolescence is a deeply satisfying and poignant conclusion to this amazing series. It has been a powerful journey for Yu and Shun as they figured out what they wanted to do. Throughout these thirteen episodes, I have laughed, cried, cheered. Undoubtedly, this is the best anime series of the year.
Fanfare of Adolescence is now streaming on Crunchyroll.
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Collectables Editor at Future Of The Force.
Star Wars and Marvel specialist, anime expert