The entire season of Maria Watches Over Us ~ Printemps is, at its core, about endings and beginnings. The end of each school year comes, respected and beloved elders move on to start a new phase of their lives, presumably to not look back upon their high school days except as fond memories. New students arrive who become equally beloved underclassmen and little sisters, and the whole cycle begins again.
In Volume 3, we spend some serious time investigating the somewhat bewildering relationship between Sei and Shimako, and follow Shimako through loss and gain until she completes the cycle, this time taking her position as older sister to Noriko. This volume was simply amazing as I rewatched it, knowing what I know now about Shimako, about her family and her issues. But the hero of the volume is, and forever will be Noriko, with her grounded outsider mentality and her ability to not be weighed down by the tradition of the rosary.
The final volume of the season plows through Yoshino and Rei’s relationship problems. Yoshino finds herself relying on old patterns of behavior, but Rei is not playing along. Again, in retrospect, the fact that Rei could and would fight this battle at all speaks volumes about how much improved she considers Yoshino’s health. Rei is often perceived to be the weak member of this couple, but it is she who forces the new phase for their relationship – and it is Rei who turns out to be the one who can face the truth of their dynamic head-on.
And finally in Volume 4, we reach the arc in which we watch Yumi as every happiness she thought she had is stripped from her. But, knowing that it is all crucial to her development – and her relationship with Sachiko – allows us to watch it with a measure of complacency.
In many ways, these two volumes are more about love and about the way love is both a burden and blessing, than any other episodes of the series. And they are about the fact that, as perfect and inviolable as we want our love to remain, if we are talking about being in love with other humans, things will inevitably change. Changing the way we love a person is not an admission of weakness – it’s an acknowledgement of strength and of the reality of the other person. (This is a theme that pops up over and over in the 3rd and 4th seasons, as well – and is the source of much confusion to fans world over, because fans, unlike the characters themselves, just *hate* to see things change. “What the hell happened to Sachiko?” was the single most common question I received when the third season came out. “She was a total bitch and now she’s so nice to Yumi.” Fans get confused easily by the growth and maturation of the characters. Now I see more “What the hell happened to Yoshino?” or “What the hell is up with Yumi and Touko?” because, of course early identification of a character as “a bitch” means that the fan has to jump through increasingly complex hoops to keep their worldview intact as the character and circumstances of their relationships change. When everyone in the series cares about Touko, its harder for you to hate her, so you hate her harder to compensate. ^_^;)
In short – what you think you saw in “Rainy Blue,” in “Yellow Rose Weather Advisory” and in “Tears of the Rosary” is not actually what you saw. Like Yumi, if you are looking too fixedly at the series and cannot see it for itself, you’re destined to be confused by it all. Whether you want it to or not, the series is about to radically alter. As it moves into the summer, then autumn, the characters will have changed. A lot.
It’s up to you whether your love for the characters can change along with them. Otherwise, you might as well pack it in. The series as you knew it, has ended. ^_^ If you’re willing to move on, join me next time for new beginnings, with the third season OVAs!
Art – 7
Story – 9
Characters – 9
Yuri – 4
Service – 1
Marimite Fan – 100
Overall – 9
The more I watch this series, the more I’m amazed at how *much* they managed to squeeze into the anime, and less annoyed at what they had to cut out. Although, I still hope we get an OVA for Shouko and Tsutako’s story.