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It's epic. What else can I say? Kanon 15 is up there with Melancholy IV, Shuffle! 19/21, AIR 11, maybe. Perhaps I'm biased a bit as it's my favorite character's arc, but to put it in an ambiguous way, Mai hits fast and hits hard. Both plot, and as you can see with the whole "action pose" thing, physically as well.That's another interesting thing about this arc as Kanon takes a turn for the action-y side during Mai's arc, showing that yes, KyoAni can do fast-paced motion in addition to snow, sunsets, and slow-motion taiyaki eating.It's really surprising how many good shots you can find when you pause the action, to be honest.Anyways, it's time to get this episode underway, as although there's not a large amount of spoilers per se, there is a large amount of Very Important Stuff - in addition to the occasional moe meltdown - in this episode that needs to be covered. (spoiler-safe through Kanon 15)So, for now, one more time: WAI FOR MAI~~~This episode starts off where so many others have ended (including the previous one), and that is at school, at night. Mai and Yuuichi are still fending off demon invasions, and if you've been keeping track, they slay the 3rd and 4th ones in quick, well-rendered fashion.This, if you've been counting like Yuuichi, leaves one demon. Right?Meanwhile, vaguely bad stuff happens to Mai as her skin begins to go all grey and stuff; this is a Bad Thing but it's not expanded on very much. Yuuichi guesses, and hits rather close to the mark in assuming that's it's a curse of the demons - but what he doesn't know is that she's hurting herself, because, since the demons are part of her, when she kills the demons, she is killing herself. Deep.Early break as Mai and Yuuichi take a rest from chasing after demons (since Mai's weakened), and we get both an amusing Mai line: "If you stay close to'll work as bait." which leads into the real adorable moment of the episode. Alright, moment(s). Excuse me while I go mop myself up.We also get more vague plot foreshadowing (to be revealed in circa 10 minutes), as Yuuichi mentions hide-and-seek, what the two of them used to do in their loli days (although I don't know which one of them, if any, remembers it), and we get another shot of the rice field. By now most viewers should be able to figure out that Mai's the girl in the rice field in the intro, not Nayuki. Right?Mai remembers, somewhat, I believe, when she talks cryptically about having a friend a long time ago, who, somehow, against all odds (not), was Yuuichi. Of course, he still doesn't remember it even though Mai is dropping hints the size of very large trucks.Anyway, the demon breaks the silence, as it attacks the two, returning us to our usual action sequences. It gets a bit out of hand for the two, as they fall off of increasingly implausible heights, with Mai hurling herself off the staircase at the demon (she misses).Yuuichi getting the floor taken out from under him (seems reminiscent of the Roa fight in Tsukihime) smashed out of a second-story window in glorious slow-motion (like a bad movie...)And yes, Mai, jumping, off the roof, with vaguely damaged legs, arms, and perhaps mind at this point. She seems to be a secret swimming diver by moonlight, as she does a bunch of twist and turns in the air and almost seems to invoke an image of Sailor Moon.Oh yeah, why is she jumping off the roof? To stab the demon to death. It's a bit of a precision maneuver as the demon is currently straddling Yuuichi in the same way Haruhi costume-rapes Mikuru (is that a law? to have a Haruhi reference in every post?), but somehow Mai gets the job done in an effective and not highly convenient way at all.Why look! All the demons are gone and we're not even halfway through the episode yet! Mai's arc sure was easy. Time for celebrating!Step 1: headbonk. That's a relatively new one for anime (when done on purpose anyway). Strange choice of affection relief, but I know couples at school who greet each other like this (and you thought that was only on The Simpsons) so it's cute.Step 2: Uh, cleaning the dirt (from, y'know, throwing yourself off roofs and staircases) from Mai's face. It's a shame that in any other anime, the two of them would be turning about the color of Mars right now. I think that'd be adorable to at least have a slight blush as in Kanon 12's ball scene.Step 3: Yoshinoya in the past tense! Wait, past tense? Oshi~Arc's still going kids, Mai's gone somewhere off to go, uh, defeat more demons, that's right. Someone forgot the rule of respawning...nice try Yuuichi, but you never get out of the woods that easily.Yuuichi runs into a proverbial brick wall as one of the demons confronts him directly, hurling him into a strange, closed-space like environment. If you think about it, it's the same principle for Mai as it is for, em, that other girl (c'mon, I shouldn't need to not-spoil it), as one would be led to believe that Mai creates the demons largely out of her own unrest.Oh yeah, and the demon looks like Loli Mai, because it is Loli Mai. Plot? Plot! Yuuichi finds himself in the rice field that's been shown quite a few times now, as Seven Years Yuuichi and Mai Mai (loli Mai, whatever) run around in the background.First off we get the plot of Mai, her mother, and her power. We get treated to an extended flashback sequence where Mai's mom sits around and tries to pretend she's not dying, for the sake of her daughter. Now, if you'll remember the rule of anime, it's that sick people always die, unless it's a One Episode Fever. The other rule, is that people in flashbacks that you don't see in the present usually die. So, there's no way Mai's mom would live?She does.There was a hint at it, where Sayuri talks about Mai living with her mom a few episodes ago, but I'm sure you weren't paying attention then. So you, like me, were set up for a predictably sad ending and then - Mai's power kicks in. Bang. That's hardcore stuff, healing powers like that.Also, a subtle hint of snowbunnies is introduced, as snowbunnies will be more important later on as well, although they won't have anywhere near the same meaning. Secondly, Mai isn't too bad with long hair, eh? Don't tell me you like ponytails too, Yuuichi. Gah.Strangely enough though, the conformist people of Japan dislike people with special powers, even those with the ability to save lives, and thus they cast Mai out, which is incredibly uncool.And so Yuuichi the loli savior comes into play, as he's mysteriously more accepting and friendly than every other person on the planet - perhaps because he's already been in contact with the mysterious (Fox Makoto), even if he doesn't know it yet. (note that they're play sword-fighting in the pic; some things never change...)See, even Yuuichi likes the power, even when Mai doesn't, comforting her and saying it'll come in handy. Strangely enough, it does, to the relief of viewers everywhere - you should know what I'm talking about.Except of course, Yuuichi leaves everybody, because he's a jerk, and so Mai cries (she's been behind on the tear quota, so she makes hard work to catch up) and begins to unwittingly create demons. From the pictures, it seems that the symbolic demons are the bulldozers which destroy the rice fields in favor of a school, but due to Mai's power the demons become real. I do wonder, how long they've been around, for Mai would have destroyed herself long ago at the rate which she was slaying demons on-camera.Unless, here's an interesting thought, it was only that she willed herself to get hurt, in order to have an excuse to lean on Yuuichi's shoulder or something, which would also explain why she seemed invulnerable later on when she jumped off the, y'know, roof. But that's just wishful thinking and really doesn't go with Mai's character at all.Yuuichi "gets it" now, understanding who Mai is and what he did to her in the past. Loli Mai shows up too, in a bit of a time paradox, or perhaps symbolism. Yuuichi has the Very Important Bunny Ears to give to Mai, to complete the circle (remember, he gave bunny ears to her seven years ago as well).Mai seems happy-ish, tearing up and thanking Yuuichi. And so, after some heavy plot, everything's happy and it's time to move on to the next arc! For real this time.You've watched the episode.You know what happens next.So why is it, even the third time through, watching this end scene gives me chills and shakes? Is it just as worse to know what happens next as it is to not know at all? (I know that sounds really depressing and all, but I am curious which one would have more of an impact.)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!It's beyond words to describe it, really, after all that, to see it "end" like that. Maybe because it's Kanon, and that since Makoto already bit it, it's very plausible to see Mai meet a Bad End as well. And if KyoAni really hated us, they would end the episode here, and not have the complete conclusion until next week.Luckily, they don't, and neither did Key:Mai saves herself, so to speak, as her Healing Touch (pardon the reference) closes her wound and keeps watchers from hurling their computers out our windows (I was ready to; even though I live on the first floor).For, if you look at Kanon closely, Makoto dying wasn't really a sad end, and as such it wasn't Mai's fate to die; rather, the theme in Kanon is more of conclusion, of having everything accomplished, of completing the puzzle. Makoto died, sure, but Makoto died happy, her time spent well. As such, it would be against the theme for Mai to kill herself; we're not in the realm of a true happy end for her yet - not when we just have everything figured out.Unfortunately, a lot of the remaining time for Mai, in regaining herself and returning to a normal life, is spent off screen as we turn to the next arc in episode 16; but Shiori herself isn't too bad of a character to follow up with, if I say so myself.-CCY for Mai?
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