Season 2 of TONIKAWA has been a slow burn, and the season finale, “In All the Times to Come, And Beyond,” burns slower than most final episodes. It’s more of a pause than an ending, continuing to hint at a lot but ultimately revealing little, and punting bigger developments downfield and into a presumed third season. While many of the positive aspects of the series are here—Nasa’s selflessness, Kaname and Tokiko shaking things up, and more—there’s a sense that after twelve episodes of buildup, this finale has under-delivered a bit on many people’s expectations. We’re going to have to trust the process and wait for the real payoff, whenever that may be.
Tokiko arguably has the most important role this week, as she continues to play matchmaker and nudge Nasa and Tsukasa closer together—basically, what she’s been doing since she was introduced. This time, she sets up an outdoor breakfast for Nasa and Tsukasa to share while everyone else is still asleep. It’s obvious she’s gone to great lengths to make this a perfect moment, meticulously selecting quality brands of bread, jam, butter, and even the toaster. All this, of course, confirms what we already knew: Tokiko has a heavy stake in Nasa and Tsukasa’s marriage and desperately wants it to succeed. But like the other episodes before it, “In All the Times to Come, And Beyond” ultimately stops short of answering why. It’s especially frustrating because Tsukasa, having woken up later than Nasa and Tokiko, interrupts them right when Tokiko is about to bring up a topic that’s obviously more serious than buttered toast.
To the episode’s credit, the situation with Tokiko gets a little weightier in the final act, even if it’s still mainly teasing future developments. The most important new clue comes in her flashback as she stares at the moon rock in her study. Seemingly on the night Tsukasa saved Nasa’s life, Tsukasa told Tokiko she would leave her in two years, because she’s found her “destiny,” and Tokiko has dedicated enough of her own life to her. Soon after this flashback, Tokiko collapses and is taken to a hospital, where Nasa finally gets to talk with her the next morning when she’s recovered. After Tokiko regretfully muses that she failed at “something I spent my entire life trying to do,” she offers a final message as she gives Nasa the moon rock: make Tsukasa happy.
This is a truly striking scene, brief as it is, and the presentation effectively conveys the gravity of the moment. Specific details, like Tokiko’s sudden youthful appearance as she delivers her message, and Nasa’s realization that making Tsukasa happy carries some great and secret significance he has yet to realize, give the exchange an almost otherworldly, even spiritual mood. But as far as why Tsukasa’s happiness is so important, to the point that Tokiko devoted her life to realizing it, or what Tsukasa’s connection to the moon rock might be? The audience, like Nasa himself, is still in the dark.
Otherwise, “In All the Times to Come, And Beyond” brings Nasa and Tsukasa’s time living at Kaname’s house to an end, as Nasa’s former landlord tells him his old apartment—the same one that burned down in season 1—has been rebuilt, and Nasa is welcome to come back. It’s a clever plot device because we’re given two instances of “the same, but different.” The apartment itself is in the exact location as before, and the rooms have the same layout, but they feature modern construction and better amenities. Likewise, Nasa and Tsukasa are moving back in, but they’ve also changed since season 1, especially as far as physical closeness goes.
Still, the episode also emphasizes the flip side: the more things change, the more they stay the same. Even though they’ll be moving, Tsukasa will still be working at Kaname’s bathhouse, and Nasa plans to use the upper room where they stayed as his office space. This development allows Kaname to make one final appearance, as she complains how lonely it will be without having Nasa and Tsukasa around to, er, “spy on” at night. But this also means Kaname will be showing up in future episodes, and considering how good she’s been as a comic foil this season, that only counts as good news.
So where do things stand after season 2 of TONIKAWA, and what did we accomplish? Nasa and Tsukasa have gotten a bit more comfortable with physical intimacy, although they’re still very skittish about it. Even their scene this week where Tsukasa teaches Nasa how to hug better shows they still have a long way to go, even if it’s an amusing moment. They’ve also inched a little out of their comfort zones, going on romantic trips and traveling, and even sleeping together in a large double bed. Several supporting players, especially Yanagi and Kaname, added a lot to the season, while others like Chitose, Ginga, and even Toast the cat felt notably underused.
And then there’s Tokiko, whose mysterious relationship with Tsukasa raises many questions about Tsukasa’s true nature, her age, her history, and why her happiness is so important. Considering how slowly this season has unfolded overall, and how it’s teased significant moments without ever revealing them, it’s easy to feel deflated that “In All the Times to Come, And Beyond” doesn’t end more forcefully. But if a future season can come through and deliver on all the setup we’ve seen this past spring, then TONIKAWA really would embody the old saying: “good things come to those who wait.”