“But I’m in a bind…I didn’t bring an umbrella.”
“One will be enough.”
-A conversation between Kyon and Haruhi Suzumiya, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, episode 28.
I can still recall the days when it rained while I was in high school. The hallways sounded different, as shoes squeaked noisily against the floor, water dripped from jackets in lockers and coat closets, and bright yellow “caution” signs were quickly unfolded, placed in strategic locations to prevent students from slipping. Above all, there was a scent, specific only to rainy days; that undeniable “school smell” amplified by musty raincoats, and wet rubber. Rainy days stood apart from the days that preceded them in the week, isolating themselves, causing sunny days to blend together in comparison.
Hand in hand with this power to isolate, rainy days often carry with them a level of introspection. Some days, when it rains, it feels as if time has slowed, or come to a gentle stop. Yuyushiki uses this feeling to its advantage, effectively separating its main cast of Yui, Yukari, and Yuzuko from the rest of the series for a moment of reflection before the series comes to an end in the following week.
In this way, Yuyushiki has the perfect penultimate episode.
Following a series of episodes with a focus on the tertiary cast, episodes 10 and 11 of Yuyushiki return to the initial group of Yui, Yukari, and Yuzuko, effectively book-ending the series where the viewer began (albeit informed by the various interactions between the main group and the secondary group of Chiho Aikawa, Kei Okano, and Fumi Hasegawa). Specifically, episode 11 isolates the main trio with a rainy day episode. Gone are the purple pastel hues that framed Yuyushiki for the majority of its run. As seen in the opening image, a soft white affects each scene in this episode, visually differentiating it from its counterparts.
“I just wondered, is it okay to decide what you want to be in the future so easily? . . . I never thought much about what I want to be in the future. Because if there’s something you have to do, you just have to do it, right? So, I always thought it was amazing when people decided their futures for themselves.”
-Yukari Hinata, Yuyushiki episode 11.
Within the episode itself, even the perpetually-energetic Yuzuko, for the most part, is more subdued as thoughts turn to an increase in schoolwork and what the girls will do following high school. These thoughts are framed by a conversation with Yoriko “Okaa-san-sensei” Matsumoto, who tells the girls that they will be adults soon. Additionally, Yukari has an incredibly introspective moment, where she explains her own duty to her family, and why she never thought of deciding her own future for herself. These thoughts could seemingly only come from a rainy day, when one is compelled to think just a bit differently than the endless stretch of sunny days, and life, that comes before and will follow after.
The subtlety of Yuyushiki gently prods not only its own characters, but the viewer, to reflect on passage of time, both of the characters themselves and the viewers’ own time with the series. This makes it far more effective than the much more permanent line drawn by series such as K-ON!! through the act of graduation. At the end of episode 11, the sun breaks through, the purple hues return, and episode 12 lies on the horizon as the end of the series. Much like the rest of Yuyushiki, the final episode is a joy to watch as it picks up right where the series started: with three girls having fun together in high school.