The number one question in every fan’s mind as we read each successive Maria-sama ga Miteru novel is…is this the last one? This can’t go on forever, can it? Well, no, it can’t go on forever, as much as we might wish it could. But as for the first question, I have no answer. As with the last several of the books in the series, the ending is written so that if we never got another one, this would be a fine place to end the series. However…however… Maria-sama ga Miteru ~ Farewell Bouquet (マリア様がみてる フェアウェル ブーケ) ends at the end of July of Yumi’s third year at Lillian Jogakuen High School. I just cannot believe that Konno-sensei will just end it here. She could, definitely. But there’s the Sports Festival, and the Culture Festival and Christmas, and New Year’s…and Valentine’s Day (and the half-day date contest)…and the chance/need for the 2nd-years to find souer and the elections…and then there’s graduation. I cannot imagine that we won’t be given the opportunity to end our time with Yumi and her friends with great wopping tears at graduation. I will not believe it.
We might, and I can’t promise we won’t. Japanese fans are asking the same question, mind you, and we won’t know until we see more chapters appear in Cobalt Shueisha. (Btw, according to the Cobalt website, the upcoming November issue, will include a Marimite section on the enclosed Drama CD.)
In the meantime, Konno-sensei is being mean and teasing us unmercifully, with novel titles like Hello Goodbye and Farewell Bouquet. I mean, really.
So the book begins with a teacher meeting up with a student on the school grounds and being taken to the Rose Mansion for some herb tea and a long chat. The teacher, Katori Maki-sensei, has been around for quite a few of the novels, and we’ve come to like her quite a bit.
The stories that fill the spaces between Maki-sensei’s time at the Rose Mansion are a pile of some really odd stories. In one, a student wants a teacher to be her onee-sama, and finds that she’s her big sister for real. In another a female art teacher is abruptly asked to make cookies by a male teacher who finds himself presented with cookies that look like, well, breasts. My favorite story includes a radically intelligent way to teach history to bored teen girls – imagine the clans and houses as a bunch of boy bands! Seriously, I thought that was genius.
But the real story, although it takes up the least space, is the story of why Maki-sensei is taking a leave of absence from school. And, ultimately, it’s Yumi that arranges for an impromptu, beautiful and topical herb bouquet from the Yamayurikai to Maki-sensei. This ribbon story includes cameos from all our principles.
I want to make sure I mention this: Maki-sensei has a whole scene in which she absolutely assures herself (and us) that she will not be quitting teaching, that she will be returning. I’m very glad that she was made to make that point. I’m really tired of anime/manga/games/novels clinging to the outdated and tired quitting work after getting married or pregnant thing. This is as 20th century in Japan as much as it is in the US.)
And last, the final chapter is a lovely interlude with Sachiko and Yumi enjoying tea together and a gentle admonishment that this moment in time is to be enjoyed for itself.
Another delightful book. If it is the last – and it could be – it was wonderful. Time to have a cup of herb tea and think about the best moments we’ve shared with the lovely ladies of Lillian. ^_^
Overall – 9