What was the last semester of your senior year in high school like? Was it a denouement, a very obvious closing of a chapter in your life? Or were things ramping up, a preparation for the next chapter of your life, or perhaps even a desperate grasp at making these last few months of school meaningful? Just Because! visits that time of life for four of its five main characters, including Eita, who is transferring into a new high school in his last semester. Each of the students seems to be headed different directions, but their paths are crossing in meaningful and maybe life-changing ways just before life forces them different directions.
Well, well, well. Each season, I’m forced to reconsider restarting my subscription to Amazon Strike; I’m likely to give in again after watching the first episode of Just Because. Glum and confusing at first, and featuring a strange isolation and echo in the voicing, the last half of the first episode makes a sharp turn and quickly brings the story together and hits an emotional high point, as we discover relationships between characters that seem to be without connection early on. Set in the form of a baseball match, the final few minutes hit as strong an emotional note as perhaps is possible in the opening episode of an anime series, but with craftiness and subtlety. There’s a realness here, even if the setup is contrived, and it extends to the characters, who are neither good nor bad; neither are they totally likeable nor fully annoying. I felt like I was peaking in on real life in episode one…or maybe real life as seen through a 90’s teen drama. Though that’s not a bad thing. Not at all.