H2O definitely has one of the more unique endings for any eroge adaption. I’m still trying to sort my feelings out on it, because it wraps everything up while at the same time leaving one thinking “what the hell just happened?” I’ll just go through things blow by blow (not that I encourage anymore beating of Hayami). Massive ending spoilers ahead.
After Hirose’s heroic save of Hayami, it is discovered that he has actually reverted to an infantile state and has latched on to Hayami as his mother. The freudian interpretations here are endless. The evil old geezer also gets arrested by the police. This is the only time I have ever seen the police be useful in an anime. EVER. Hirose leaves the village with Hayami to return to the apartment he lived in with his mother, in the hope that it will trigger a return of his memories. One day in the city Hayami decides it’s time to force Hirose back to normal and tells him his mother would never of abandoned him. Conveniently, at this time a little kid chases a ball into the path of an oncoming train, and Hayami runs after the kid to save him. This jogs Hirose’s memory and he realized that his mother didn’t kill herself, but that she was saving a kid that day, too. Oh, and Hayami dies.
Hayami dying is the cruelest joke H2O could of played. This being anime I knew she couldn’t possibly be dead, but this being anime I knew she possibly could. So of course I’m confused the rest of the episode as everyone wears black but no one actually says she’s dead; and then there’s a time skip forward. Honata is the new elder, though she looks to hot to be any kind of elder. Hamaji married Maki, or at least I think that’s what was hinted at. Any way, the sexual relationship between a woman and a man who dresses like a woman is fun to think about. Hirose has returned to the village, become a bishounen, and is now building a windmill, cause we have to have one more windmill motif. Just as he finishes it a young girl called Otoha runs into him. Yes, it’s that Otoha, and she has a surprise for Hirose: Hayami revived from the dead! Yes, unlike most anime where the person you thought died was just healing for a long time, Hayami is physically resurrected. How appropriate that I watched this episode on Easter.
Hayami’s death is the most surprising point of the series, and it actually works really well. I didn’t realize how much I liked Hayami until a train hit her, so it solidifies my feelings for her and connects me that much more to the show. It works with the whole theme of the show, returning to the question of the first episode: when bad things happen where is God? This episode answers the question: God is always with you, you just have to believe. The death and resurrection of Hayami literally shows this, as she is revived for the faithful Hirose. One really has to wonder about all the religious undertones here, and again how ironic that it’s Easter. What I don’t like about Hayami’s death is that it’s exactly like Hirose’s mother. Of course, it drives the point home, but how many people get hit by trains in Japan? Is there some kind of national epidemic of rogue trains I should know about? So the death was good overall, I just don’t like the execution (no pun intended).
H2O really surprised me as a series. It doesn’t have stellar animation and the characters have a “been there” feeling to them, but there’s still a gentle warmth to them and everything just comes together perfectly. There’s a tense sense of drama that drives the show, and it never lets up. It doesn’t get bogged down, like many eroge adaptions, in trying to tell the game’s story, but takes the essentials of a good story and builds the anime around it. It helps a lot that there’s only three girls stories to tell, but also that the focus was always on Hayami. H2O reminds me a lot of Gift, in that both are low-key works that maintain a good sense of drama. H2O might also be the first ero-adaption I’ve actually managed to finish watching since Gift. I’m sorry ef, but not all the pretty animation in the world could get me to care about Chihiro. H2O is probably destined to be one of the forgotten ero-adaptions, overshadowed by the Clannad’s of the world. However, that doesn’t make it a subpar work at all. It’s a good drama, familiar to any anime fan yet at the same time holding its own surprises. Can’t ask for much more, or at least I won’t from my romance.
P.S. a final comment on why time skips are awesome: damn, Hamaji’s sister filled out nicely.