Island – Episode 12 [Holding Hands to Tomorrow] [Final Impression]
I wish that this final episode of Island was a special extended episode, just so we could have gotten all the nitty-gritty details on the series’ mechanics. Because seriously one twenty-five minute episode just does not do this show justice. TxT
Well, I knew from the title of this episode that there was likely going to be a happy ending for either Setsuna x Rinne or Setsuna x Kuon. However I just didn’t know in what capacity.
After seeing the picture of baby Rinne with her mother Kuon, and the handmade ring on Kuon’s finger, Setsuna decides to do some more investigating on his own before confronting Kuon.
He asks Rinne some questions about her mother and the ring her mother wears – or used to wear, Rinne says, until Setsuna showed up on Urashima. But why hide it? If Kuon is really Rinne from the future, wouldn’t she be looking forward to seeing Setsuna again? Then again I guess if she’s noticed that her daughter has fallen in love with Setsuna, then- blech I can’t even finish that thought.
Setsuna calls Momoka from a payphone on the island to see if she has some information about Kuon, and Momoka says that Karen’s mother had noticed that Kuon seems younger than her age.
When Setsuna returns to the Ohara mansion, he walks in on Rinne singing her song in the kitchen. Rinne says that she learned the song from her mother – and suddenly everything clicks into place. The lyrics are sung as if Kuon (really Rinne from the future) were talking to Setsuna.
Setsuna goes into what I’m guessing is the family basement (library?) and looks for Rinne’s father’s journals. The journal for the year Rinne was born, 1976, is missing; Setsuna finds it in a locked desk drawer. And here’s where everything comes to light. (Please gently correct me if I’ve misunderstood something.)
The man Rinne believed to be her father was married to a woman named Kuon, but at some point that year Kuon passed away. Due to the rivalry between the three main families on the island if news of Kuon’s death were to get out, chaos could ensue. So the original Kuon’s death was kept a secret.
Around this time a woman with short grey hair washed up on Urashima. She accidentally comes across Rinne’s father and his son Setsuna, the child he had with the mistress of the household (not Kuon). I’m assuming that because Setsuna was illegitimate he couldn’t be the successor. Knowing that if he set the woman free she could ruin his family, Rinne’s father more or less forced this woman to become the family maid and take on the name Kuon. She would replace his dead wife.
But there was a catch – this woman was pregnant and she’d lost her memory. Although Rinne’s father initially wanted the unknown woman to terminate her pregnancy, he later changed his mind. His mistress could not bear another child so he could take this child and pretend his “wife” had a baby. This baby was Rinne, the girl we meet at the beginning of Island.
However, this revelation complicates the whole situation. If Rinne from the future came to the past, and she had Setsuna had intimate relations before he traveled to the past…. Then Setsuna is Rinne’s father. He’s accidentally fallen in love with his daughter.
So before I continue further, this whole scene clears up several of the questions I had earlier in the season. First of all, there’s no blood relations between Rinne and the man she thought was her father. The first Setsuna turned out to be the illegimate son of her “father” and his mistress, and I’m guessing he grew up in the shack on the beach because his existence was supposed to be a secret; who knows what happened to the mistress over the years. Therefore the first and second Setsuna were two completely different people all along who just happened to share a name.
Secondly, Setsuna’s newfound relation to Rinne also explains why he always expressed reluctance to do anything other than hold her; on some instinctual level, he knew they couldn’t and shouldn’t be together. Setsuna wanted to protect Rinne because he felt the protective love that a parent feels towards their child, not a romantic love. Setsuna just couldn’t initially put his finger on the difference between the two.
Back in the present Rinne is confused and devastated. One day she and Setsuna are talking about being together and the next Setsuna is telling her that they’re related by blood. Rinne runs out of the house crying, passing Sara and Karen who are on their way to visit the Ohara household.
Setsuna sits the two girls down in the living room and explains to them that he came from the future in a time machine and that’s how he knew how to solve their problems. But just then Momoka arrives, having departed for Urashima after Setsuna called her apparently, and throws a wrench into Setsuna’s theory. (Get ready for the second big bombshell of the episode ~!)
In essence, Momoka says there’s no such thing as time travel. That’s right, one of the entire premises of the whole series just burned to ashes. (I guess if you want to get technical it was foreshadowed earlier in the series when Sara didn’t time travel on her birthday, but I didn’t think anything of it at the time.) Momoka says that the device that was found on Boryujima was not a time machine; rather it is a device made to stop time. Momoka points out that if Setsuna had traveled to the past from the future, shouldn’t there be another version of him in the room right now?
Instead, this is the very, VERY far future. Momoka’s theory is that time and civilizations tend to repeat themselves, and I gave Island a very odd look when this idea was presented. Really, the past repeated itself so identically that everyone looks exactly the same and everyone’s problems are exactly the same? Ok then. So if Setsuna went into a time stasis device and didn’t age, then he was in the device long enough that everyone got old and died, the oceans froze over and became ice and Never Island came into existence, and then everything thawed out and Urashima came into being again and everyone from the past was reborn. We’re talking tens of thousands of years, if not longer.
We see in an imagined memory from Setsuna that Rinne must have realized eventually that Setsuna was in a device that suspended time, not reversed it. So Rinne hiked through the snow and ice to what was previously Boryujima to find the other time stasis device, and she put herself into that one hoping to one day catch up to Setsuna.
This is more than Setsuna can bear to hear and he rushes up to Kuon’s room to confront her at last. Rinne meanwhile is on the beach thinking over what Setsuna told her. Rinne flashes back to when she was a child and she asked her mother about her special ring.
Setsuna breaks down Kuon’s door, and Kuon explains that she was pregnant when she “crossed time”, meaning that there must have been some delay between when Setsuna entered his machine and “Kuon” made her way to the cave. (Also props to Island for indicating pregnancy without showing or even implying any sexy times.) Kuon was pregnant when she was in stasis, and her baby was moving within her womb when she awoke on Urashima. The movement from Kuon’s baby caused Kuon to slowly remember Setsuna and her memories of their time together, but where was he? Why wasn’t he on Urashima with her?
Kuon realized that Setsuna was still in stasis; for whatever reason, her machine woke her up too soon. So she bore her child with Setsuna and named her daughter after herself, raising their child alone while she waited. Kuon waited almost twenty-five years for Setsuna to awaken, so imagine her heartbreak when Kuon realized that Setsuna didn’t remember her. That’s why Kuon, despite being about the same as Setsuna in the past, looks a bit older; she’d had a twenty-plus year headstart on Setsuna.
Rinne has returned to the house by this point and overheard Kuon’s conversation with Setsuna. She tells her mother to take her name back and she will pick a different one. Rinne thanks both her mother and Setsuna for all the love they gave her. She wants them both to be together and be happy at last. She knows she will eventually find someone else to love one day.
Setsuna grabs a cloak off something in the bedroom and covers
Kuon Rinne with it while their daughter smiles and looks on. We see the past merge with the present momentarily and see the original Rinne and Setsuna say their vows to each other. Back in the present they kiss again, caught up in their love for each other as they continue where they left off in the past.
In a timeskip, we see that Setsuna and Rinne are finally married and everyone from the island is present. (Who is that hiding behind the tree?) As the credits roll we see Karen preparing to leave for university (yay Karen!!), Sara continuing with her usual caretaking of the island’s soot blight syndrome residents, and Karen’s friends are working at a local souvenir shop. Oh I guess the island’s opened itself back up to the mainland so there’s that.
Rinne rushes home to see her parents, who are either rebuilding or maybe maintaining the time stasis machine? She yells at them about something – it looks they’re about to miss their boat? Setsuna and Rinne leave on a cruise for their honeymoon, and the episode’s final words indicate that in their own way, Setsuna and Rinne from the legends have finally been reunited in love.
Story: This series is fucking awesome. There’s lots going on and Island always had me guessing what was going to happen next. Towards the end of the series I also appreciated that seemingly minor events from earlier in the series ended up having more significance than I thought they would (Natsumi and Karen’s research, Sara’s theories on time travel, etc). I had so many questions while watching and I really did have to watch until the very end to get them all answered. Plus when time travel and non-linear things are introduced into a story, it opens the plot up to possibilities that you can’t have in a typical linear story, so that made guessing the plot much more fun. ;D
There were some elements to the plot that I wish we got more information about, and it’s a series that I wish had more episodes. (Remember when anime used to be 20+ episodes?? I miss those days.) I’d have liked to know more about soot blight syndrome, the first Setsuna and Boryujima, but those are all minor complaints. I also wished Urashima’s ancient legends about Rinne and Setsuna factored more into the plot because in reality they really became important in name only by the end of the series.
Characters: As in many anime that are based on a visual novel, there is really only going to be one main love interest and so it’s unfortunately pretty routine that the other love interests take more of a backseat once the main romantic lead has been chosen. However I am not unhappy with how Sara and Karen were presented because Sara still re-emerged occasionally to help explain the time travel and Setsuna’s situation, and Karen I was just happy to see get her wish to get off Urashima. All three girls are pretty likeable but Rinne was my Best Girl from the beginning, so I’m glad she was Setsuna’s main interest (up until the last episode anyways xD blech).
I really have no major complaints about any of the characters. ^^;; Ok fine if I had to complain, Setsuna was a bit of a tool when he returned to Urashima the second time. And I wish we got to see more of Kuon, although given who her real identity was I can understand why she kept herself hidden.
Music and Animation: What I thought Island did that was really neat was that for the Never Island episodes, we got a new opening and ending theme. I have never seen another anime that has utilized that feature and I was a little impressed when I noticed the switch. I wasn’t as big a fan of those themes though, so I’m glad the Never Island arc was as short as it was. The main themes, “Eien no Hitotsu” and “Eternal Star”, were both fun and catchy and I really like both tunes.
As for the animation, again no complaints from me. Nothing derpy to whine about and I’m grateful for not having fanservice shoved in my face every episode.
Overall Thoughts: Island intrigued me from the get-go and it has been a hell of a season. Lots of questions, multiple mysteries combined with drama and romance kept me coming back for more. One of the bombshells dropped in the final episode was hinted at in the second-to-last episode and so its effects were slightly minimized. However the other big surprise caught me completely off guard and I think it’s really creative for Island to eliminate one of its premises at the very end of its run after stringing the viewer along with it up until that point.
From start to finish, Island was just FUN. I highly recommend this series. ^_^v
Final Score: 10/10
Author’s Note: … Wow, I wasn’t initially planning to write this long of a review, but I found that I needed to clarify everything for myself in order to properly understand this episode. If you’ve stuck with me this long, thanks for reading!