Life’s Great Mysteries: Endings

So this is a topic that I’ve always found interesting. Before I go on, let me clarify that I mean endings in the sense of “ending a series”, not the songs at the end of an episode. What constitutes a good ending? Or are endings so bad that putting one in an anime is undesirable? Personally, I’m a huge fan of endings, and I have trouble watching things that have no foreseeable end (with notable exceptions like The World God Only Knows).

What do I look for in an ending? Well, I find that hard to say sometimes. I could make a list of the endings that I did and didn’t like, but I have trouble coming up with a category for them all. Granted, it’s hard to talk about specific endings without spoilers, so I’ll keep it general.

I’m a big fan of the “just as planned” ending (to clarify, an ending that turns out to be all part of the plan). I don’t really like harem endings. I’d much rather the main character just choose someone. I’m also not a huge fan of the ending that’s not really an ending (“it’s only the beginning”).

That last example brings me to a different point. What constitutes an ending? Plot resolution? Because if so, Bleach ended ages ago. No more episodes? Because then we fall into the trap of “just kidding! More episodes! Also, is the ending the last episode? The final episode could very well be an epilogue. So maybe the final confrontation is more appropriate. But then what about the shows that have multiple epilogue episodes after the final battle?

If anything, I think that the most important thing for an ending is that I don’t see it coming. That being said, I wouldn’t necessarily hate an ending just because I didn’t know what was going to happen (for example, love stories like Kanon). I think that most people would agree that seeing events unfold exactly like you pictured them to is a bit dull, so plot twists are usually pretty welcome.

Alternatively, maybe it’s not the ending, but the buildup to the ending that makes it great. Even if the ending was what you originally thought it would, maybe the journey to that ending was so convoluted that it made you doubt that prediction for a bit. Or maybe the ending came out of nowhere and gave meaning to everything in the buildup that you thought was so dull. I admit that I definitely like to see these sorts of things because unpredictable can become predictable after a while.

So there. I’ve made my case and I’ve made my query. What does everyone think? As before, feel free to point it out if you think I’m just rambling randomly. Hopefully I can keep this type of post steady. I’ve got some ideas, but who knows how well I’ll be about to articulate them. Tell me what you think…or else Fear will curse you.

On last thing: What was your favorite ending? (again, not music)

17 thoughts on “Life’s Great Mysteries: Endings”

  1. Wow, that’s a bunch of animes there ๐Ÿ™‚

    Endings are tricky. I think my preference changes with the setting and characters being laid out.

    For me, by default, I guess I prefer an ending where it shows the main characters living happily ever after till old age, with their children or legacy living on while they die of old age on the bed…toothless maybe ๐Ÿ˜€
    Ahh…I think Mutsuu Enryuu emulated that ending for me a fair bit since the anime would show the next generation and next generation…which I thought was interesting.

    Generally, endings that really made an impression on me are something like:
    1. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (boy lives his life based on his belief while holding on to his eternal love in his heart),
    2. Scrapped Princess (mysterious of their world solved…and pple continue to live their life their way),
    3. Lelouch (someone who remembers who Lelouch is and what he has attempted),
    4. Gundam 00 (corned by everything…living as a phantom).

    There are lots of interesting anime out there. I’m sure I have forgotten some of the interesting endings. But what comes to mind for now are the above ๐Ÿ˜€

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  2. Endings are definitely tricky, too predictable and the viewer gets bored, too “out-there/unforeseen” and the viewer will call foul and dislike it for not sitting well with the rest of the series. And then there’s the dreaded cliche ending, where everything just annoying works out (no real originality, is what I’m getting at). A bad ending can ruin a series, in my opinion. My prime example is Gundam 00, if you leave at the end of season 2, it’s a great series, but if you make the mistake of watching the movie, you’ll be sorely disappointed, again, in my opinion, that the conclusion didn’t follow a logical path to fruition, it’s just all of a sudden, here it is. Not even a real explanation to how it happened (I’m trying not to spoil, because I still like the series and the movie is at least worth considering, just so you know what happens).
    Harems have some of the most annoying endings, because they never really end, some don’t even pick a route, they just state this is where “the ‘story’ begins”, like the whole series was just some b.s. build-up to the rest of their lives (which don’t actually get specified).
    I guess it boils down to what you’re looking for in a series, if it’s plot, the ending is beyond crucial, and the build-up to it is included as well; if you just want comedy, the ending is just a way to pleasantly say to the viewer thanks for watching, here’s where we’re gonna leave the story (no plot to dwell on, no harm done to not develop the futures); anything else varies because, like you said, endings are tricky, sometimes it comes down the what the series has set up and where it’s trying to go. (Additional note, I try to avoid series with no set purpose, unless there isn’t supposed to be one, like Working!! or any other comedy)

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    1. Yeah…I know what you mean about Gundam 00…movie was a bit disappointing to say the least
      I feel like my opinion of the ending of a series is pretty important when I’m judging the series as a whole (music too…).

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          1. What’s even worse (like Gundam 00) is when the series, sometimes after multiple seasons, has a good ending, then you hear a movie is coming out. You get all pumped up, excited that the story will have a great big-screen ending…and then you want to cry because of the s*** they tried to pass off as an “ending”

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              1. Isn’t the current theme supposed to be about a new male character set in Europe? And they’ve been pushing back the release date for the past year it seems, it’s like confirmed speculation at this point as to whether they’ll even do it.

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  3. i love unexpected endings : >
    like those of your ending Lelouch…

    and simple ones too… yet so good
    Aria…
    ( First Visit here… its neat that your site looks good with all the whites )

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    1. Aria! that’s also a nice way to finish a series for real! Totally forgot about it! ๐Ÿ˜›

      (Blue is the color! Blue! Blue! Blue! Blue! Blue! Blue! Blue! Blue! Blue! Blue! Blue! Blue! :P)

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  4. Loled when you said Bleach ending years ago. I have a feeling that the creator is never going to end it. Although, here is my misguided thoughts on the matter.

    As for endings, everyone pretty much (Beldenotaku really) said what I was thinking. For most average series I seen (some without source material that is really expansive), they usual half-ass the end , since it will not warrant a second season anyway. On the other hand, directors tend to end more series open ended like, whether or not they have the source material, since it deepen the chance for another helping. Slice-Of-Life/Comedy series I.E: Ika Musume, Aria, Hidamari Sketch, etc are a few expectations to the rule where the ending really does not matter, since they constructed loose enough to gain another season and the endings are meant for that open-ended/no conflict needing resolution style. In some cases for more action/conflict based series, the endings really are dependent on the directors, material, and if they plan to make to do another season if permitted.

    In some ways, the endings are tricky to tackle, since it really is up to the studio as whole and what they have in mind for a particular series. Guess they just roll a dice and see what sticks.Better question, why the heck do some directors rewrite an adaption with a crappy end (I.E Omamori Himari, Real Bout High School, Asu no Yoichi etc). WTF indeed….

    As far as favorite ending: I hate all endings XD

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