It must be said, Migi to Dari gave us what amounts to a perfect ending. In every sense, too – it wrapped up the story in a manner it deserved, and it paid tribute to Sano Nami is a very profound and moving way. I was wondering if and how Mankyuu (who both directed and wrote this adaptation) was going to do that. The manner he chose could not have been more fitting, and I won’t deny it hit me pretty hard. It was elegant and understated in a way I suspect she would have thoroughly approved of.
You well know by now my obsession with codas. They’re rare enough in anime, much less single-cour ones. But this entire episode was, effectively, a coda – a luxury afforded by having a 13th episode when most shows have 12 these days, I suppose. All the surrealism and absurdism and pure Dali-ism came to a head last week, and this finale was given over to the aftermath. There was a time skip – narrated by Akiyama-kun, no less – that had me wondering if Sano-sensei was too much the contrarian to give the boys the happy ending I wanted for them. But that was mostly a misdirection, so I needn’t have worried.
One also needn’t have worried about all that missed time, because those blanks were filled in admirably. The gist of it is that Dari (sporting a reminder of his traumatic experience) doesn’t see himself as worthy of coming into the light. He wants to keep Hitori in the picture, and let Migi bask in the glow of the Sonoyama’s pampering. Migi’s joy is his happiness, he says – but of course that makes Migi unhappy. Setting aside the question of whether the secret could even be kept from the Sonoyama’s at this point given how many people know, Hitori is not a secret life Migi wants to keep living when the old couple obviously has more than enough love (and cherry pie) to go around.
As it turns out it’s a moot point, because the Sonoyamas figured it out on their own anyway. Which is not all that surprising, when you think about it. They’re smarter than they let on and Migi and Dari are still a couple of children who were playing spy games. Yes, they are very different. Migi is sweet and childish and just wants to live a normal life; Dari thinks too much and can’t let anything go. It’s a classic “good boy/bad boy” scenario if you like, but that’s life. Siblings, even twins triplets, are their own person.
It’s fitting that it’s Christmas that both reveals their differences and provided the vehicle to end their subterfuge. Migi cleverly plays the game of believing in Santa to get more gifts, but when Mom and Dad put two of them under the tree, it’s clear the jig is up. Of course being a shadow isn’t what Dari really wants – he’s just not capable of articulating what he really wants like Migi can. One suspects that convincing himself he deserves to be happy will always be a struggle for Dari, but he’ll always have his brother pushing him to get over himself.
And then, the aforementioned timseskip. To 1993, which would make Hitori about 17. Maruta has turned into a bit of an ikemen, though still a beaver. Akiyama is bonding with Osamu over their shared love of birds. And Eiji, at last, is coming back to Origon Village – having served the lighter sentence Maruta’s video evidence managed to procure for him. Michan makes her first appearance of the episode (her second is the more memorable), Sali comes out of retirement, and first steps are taken to rebuilding Eiji’s relationship with his biological family.
Finally, the twist ending. And it’s that the brothers are splitting up. It’s on the best possible terms though – Dari is off to college, and Migi is staying behind to work on his avant-garde art (though truth be told, I think mostly just to hang out). The larger point is important – the time has come for Hitori to prove he can live without his alter ego. I have no doubt their experiment will show the boys that their connection is indeed stronger than distance, It is interesting, though, to speculate on which of them will struggle more with being separated from the other (I’m pretty confident about the answer myself).
If Fall 2023 has a theme, it’s under-appreciated gems. The big shows sucked a lot of the oxygen out of the room (and Kusuruiya and especially Frieren are indeed very good), but this season had a pod of series that deserved way more attention. Migi to Dari was entertaining start to finish, and often quite brilliant. No matter how crazy things got (and that’s pretty damn crazy), the internal logic of the plot held together and the characters stayed true to who they were. It’s a testament to good writing and direction that isn’t afraid to take risks, and has full commitment to the premise.
Sano Nami’s passing certainly imparts a bittersweet element to Migi to Dari. When this anime was greenlit the staff would almost certainly have had no reason to suspect Sano-sensei wouldn’t be around to see it. One senses that a great deal of commitment went in to making this show special as a tribute to her – when anime have that little bit of extra buy-in you can usually tell. How sad it is that this fabulously inventive and fearless creator was taken so young. But as a final artistic legacy, Migi to Dari honors her memory in glorious fashion, and everyone involved in making it happen should take pride in that.