Warning for SPOILERS and also because this review gets long because I get ranty. (Yes, I broke my hiatus briefly because of my anger)
Episodes 10 and 11 Summary:
In episode 10, we get some focus on Rinko and Nakajima, as well as on their relationship. Rinko visits Souta’s place and suddenly starts acting weird—proclaiming that she’ll cook lunch for everyone that day. Unfortunately, she’s unskilled so her cooking turns out bad. After Souta says some harsh words to her, Rinko runs off crying and Nakajima follows after her to make sure she’s okay. They both eventually reminisce about their teenage years. After she cheers up, she reveals to Nakajima and Souta that she’s becoming a mother soon.
The next day, Souta and Rinko visit their mother’s grave. Rinko feels anxiety about being a good mother, which prompts Poco to use his magical tanuki powers to show both Souta and Rinko a vision of their past when their mother was still alive. After this, Rinko gains the confidence to try becoming the best mother she can be to her future child.
In episode 11, Souta starts to seriously consider adopting Poco as his own child. Fortunately for Souta, he is getting some work as a freelancer. His latest job is to help livestream an annual festival within the town. Of course, Poco comes along for the festival too.
Everything in Souta’s life is going along pretty great. Unfortunately, trouble strikes when Poco’s momentarily distracted by some fireworks and lets his tail out in the midst of a large crowd…
Episode 10 was a pretty solid episode. I honestly wasn’t expecting Rinko and Nakajima to have so much character focus, but I suppose it makes sense given that the series is in the end-game now. What I liked the most about the relationship between these two characters is that they consider each other close friends/family. Even though Nakajima admitted that he did have a crush on Rinko, Nakajima seems to have gotten over it and doesn’t try to make Rinko feel bad about marrying another guy. And I mean, gosh; that’s just such a mature way of dealing with that sort of situation. I’ve seen far too many media (Western ones as well), where a guy just pines over a girl for years even after she’s married or whatever, and the “happy ending” is having the girl divorce/break up with her partner and hook up with the guy who pined over her. It’s just a really uncomfortable narrative overall, and I’m so glad Poco’s Udon World didn’t go that route.
I feel pretty neutral overall about Rinko’s pregnancy. As a plot point, I suppose it’s fitting given that the theme of this episode was about Rinko’s memories of her mother. What’s more surprising this episode is Poco’s sudden manifested powers. We’ve seen glimpses of this in past episodes, but this appears to be the first time where Poco was actually able to manipulate it to create a vision for people to see. The only gripe I have about this is that it feels kind of strange that the series waited until the third to last episode to finally show it off.
Episode 11 was also a pretty good episode, but it’s definitely one of the slower-paced ones. It’s obvious that episode 11 is the first part of a two-parter episode. Episode 11 also ends on a rather frustrating cliffhanger. Oh no, Poco’s true identity is busted and the damage seems almost irreversible!
Rewinding back a bit, I did like all the little flashbacks and inner monologues from Souta in this episode. And it’s important to note that they’re only occurring because Souta becomes serious about adopting and caring for Poco. …Which makes the cliffhanger at the end of this episode that much crueler. And, actually having finished this series and looking back on this episode from that perspective… I have to say that this sudden plot-twist is just really badly written. I really dislike the trope of there being some sudden forced drama in the second-to-last episode of a relatively relaxing slice-of-life anime. Poco’s Udon World went about it in the laziest way possible too. Poco usually reveals his tails and/or ears when he’s ill or tired. Here he just… accidentally shows his tail because he’s too entranced by fireworks? While it’s not that much out of character for Poco to let his guard down when he’s relaxed, the whole thing just feels forced—something put in for the sake of (unnecessary) drama.
Anyway, out of five, I give…
For episode 10:
For episode 11:
Episode 12 Summary:
After Poco accidentally shows his tail in the middle of the crowd, he runs away—remembering how Souta instructed (in a past episode) for him to run away if something like that should happen. Souta, fearful of losing Poco for good, runs after Poco and attempts to tell the tanuki boy that he’ll protect him no matter what. However, he trips and falls. Seeing this, Poco runs back to Souta and shows him some visions of the past using his magic powers.
Through Poco’s powers, Souta sees visions of his father, as well as the accident that left him with a scar on his leg. Apparently Poco knew Souta many years ago, and took on a human form in the present day to repay Souta for kindness in the past. Through the visions, Souta finds out that his father really did accept and support his (Souta’s) decision to become a graphic designer. The visions also helps Souta come to terms with the relationship that he had with his father. Although Souta regrets not having appreciated his father’s presence more, he is finally able to move on and also realize how much he loves his hometown.
With his task finished, Poco disappears. Souta later learns from the head priest in the area that it takes an extraordinary amount of power for a tanuki to maintain a human form. And yet Poco did that for Souta’s sake. Although Souta is sad that Poco is no longer with him, he has still decided to stay in Kagawa.
And so, life goes on.
I’m going to be perfectly frank here: I HATED this ending. As an episode, this episode is fine. We actually get some resolution on just how Souta got his leg injury! It… turned out to be a lot more serious of an injury than I expected. And it also just happened to be related to Poco, which was something I also was not expecting. A few people claimed that all the flashbacks/visions (especially of Souta’s dad) were overly dramatic and unnecessary. On the one hand, I agree; but on the other hand… Souta has gone through so much crap already that he deserves at least this much, I think. And also I can definitely relate to that feeling of regret.
What I can’t forgive, however, is that ending. Even though it was foreshadowed throughout the series, I am still angry at the way that Poco’s Udon World ended. Why? First of all, Poco’s Udon World has always been an aggressively optimistic series. Yes, it dealt with some pretty somber subject matters, but it is also an anime where the message “everything will turn out okay” has always been strongly enforced. Which makes the ending feel extremely unfitting for the series.
Secondly, as I’ve already said up above; I dislike it when relatively happy slice-of-life series decide to throw in some sudden drama towards the end. Now, I do like bittersweet endings in anime if it is written well. Poco’s Udon World’s ending just felt forced. It just feels too easy. Instead of having Souta deal with the consequences of people finding out about Poco being a tanuki, let’s just make Poco disappear! Nevermind that having Poco inexplicably disappear in-universe would just make things more suspicious??? How the heck is Souta gonna explain THAT to people???
Also, I hate it when animes go the bittersweet ending route just for cheap drama and tears. Apparently this is an original ending made for the anime, as the manga is still ongoing. Which just makes me even more mad. Writing up drama for the sake of just having drama is a shitty move. This is why, as “sad” as the ending was, I didn’t tear up or feel much of anything during this episode. It was too obvious what the underlying motive of this episode was; which was just to make people sad. Come on series; at least be a little less blatant about it.
What makes it even worse is the after-credits scene where it’s hinted that Poco’s still around, just in tanuki form. SO WHY THE BIG DEAL ABOUT HIM DISAPPEARING, THEN???
The ending just left me feeling annoyed so out of five for this episode, I give:
Despite Poco’s cutesy antics, Poco’s Udon World is definitely an anime aimed at an older audience. The series deals with many situations that mostly adults would really understand—such as having to suddenly take care of a child, re-thinking your vision for your career, and having anxieties about your future. And yet, despite everything, Poco’s Udon World tells you that it’s okay—it’s okay to have these anxieties; and it’s normal that life will be full of unexpected and possibly uncomfortable situations. But even so, everything will turn out okay; and you’ll turn out okay. With so many anime nowadays taking the “grimdark” route, it’s rare to find an anime aimed at an older audience that is so unabashedly hopeful. And you know what? I’m thankful for that.
Poco’s Udon World doesn’t have a spectacularly amazing story, but it features very realistic scenarios and very realistic characters. (Well, I mean, apart from Poco obviously.) The art style is rather simplistic, but it fits the tone of the series well and also helps to keep the animation quality from dropping too dramatically.
My two main gripes about this series are in its slow-pacing and its ending. But even with how much I disliked the ending, I can’t outright hate this series. Poco’s Udon World is just too pure. It’ll be hard to recommend this series to people because it is a “slice-of-life” series in the truest sense. Nonetheless, I do hope more anime like this is produced, because goddammit real life is depressing enough as it is; and this anime helps to make life a little less painful.
Out of five, I give for the whole series: