I’ve been a fan of Trick for over a decade (I’m even working on a translation of one of the in universe books) as such I’ve written about it before, sometimes as small mentions (talking about the in universe books and my plans to translate them into English), and once as a kind of overview of the series. To find out about Trick as a whole, I would recommend starting with the overview.
The overview post contains a listing of the series as it was then (wow! that was back in 2011), which I’ll paste here too:
- Season 1
- Season 2
- Trick: The Movie
- Season 3
- Trick: The Special
- Trick: The Movie 2
- Trick: The Movie 3
- Trick: The Special 2
- Trick: The Special 3
- Trick The Movie: The Last Stage
Since then, another special and movie have been released (I’ve added them to the above list), and the movie was heavily marketed as being the final thing in the entire series.
When the final movie came out, I made the decision not to see it for as long as possible. This was because Trick is one of my favourite shows of all time (I should probably write a post with that list at some point… note to self), and I didn’t want to see it to the end meaning that I could go back and start it again whenever I wanted and it wouldn’t lose any of it’s… magic, I guess.
Last night I watched the final movie, after spending a few months re-watching everything to build up to it.
It should be obvious, but if you’re a Trick fan then the remainder of this post should be considered spoilers. If not, then parts of this wont make sense.
The Last Stage
So, the plot of The Last Stage revolves around Physics Professor Ueda Jiro and Stage Magician Yamada Naoko going to an isolated village in Malaysia, to expose the local Shaman as a fake.
They do this on behalf of a Trade corporation who want to farm the area for it’s rare plants. They’re joined by an executive from the company, one of the project leaders and a doctor. They also meet Yabe Kenzo and his Otaku lacky (I always just refer to him as Shibuya).
As I mentioned above, this movie was marketed as the final story in the series. This included a fourth-wall breaking trailer at the start of the final special (which was broadcast a few months before The Last Stage’s release) in which Hiroshi Abe and Nakama Yukie manipulate dolls of the characters that they portray, whilst telling the viewers to go see the movie and that it would be the final one.
Going into the movie, a lot of the older character points are reiterated to the viewer (or spelled out to new viewers):
- Yamada Naoko is a magician, and is a lot less successful than she thinks she is.
- Ueda Jiro is a flashy, over the top professor of Physics at Tokyo University and is more successful than he should be.
- Naoko’s Mother teaches calligraphy in Nagano (this scene has hints that the final film is not the last one in the series) and is from a long line of spiritualists.
- Naoko’s Father (who was a successful magician) was suddenly murdered, presumably by a spiritualist.
After that, it’s time for the plot to actually start.
There was a wonderful scene, set at a Water World like amusement park, which had quick references to out of universe (i.e. Real World) things, which then set up Naoko’s need to travel with Ueda.
The pair then fly off to Malaysia and travel to the isolated village. Along the way, Naoko meets up with Yabe (because a Trick movie without Yabe would be a strange beast indeed).
One of the things that was telegraphed during the final special was that Mother (from the very first episode of Trick) has a sister, who is also a spiritualist and is looking for the people who brought down her sister. This is kept up in The Last Stage, by some of the Malaysians making the same finger pose and chanting, “Okaaaasamaaaaaa” while looking a paintings of Mother, which are dotted around their isolated village.
The gags where really funny (as is always the case with Trick), and the puzzles/tricks were really well though out. That’s not to say that the puzzles/tricks in the earlier productions aren’t well thought out, but these ones were real head scratchers, reflecting Naoko’s ability to see through ore and more obtuse tricks.
Again, spoiler warning.
At the beginning of the movie
Wait! The beginning?! We’re talking about the end of the movie, right?
At the beginning of the movie, we’re told about Houdini’s quest to find a real spiritualist so that he could contact his dead mother (something we’re told about at the beginning of the previous special too), and while on his death bed he told his wife, “if there is an afterlife, then in one year I will find a way to contact you,” before he died.
At the end of the movie, Naoko sacrifices herself so that a Tunguska event like explosion can be averted and everyone can get away to safety. Before she does, she repeats to Ueda what Houdini said to his wife in the introduction animation.
One year after the explosion, we’re shown Ueda winning yet another award. He offers the money that he wins as a bounty for anyone who can prove that they are a real spiritualist and that there is a one week deadline, as a kind of mirroring of how the series started. We’re then shown Yabe and Shibya chilling in a hot tub, when they’re told to go investigate “a young woman who has washed up in the south shores, suffering from amnesia.” Yabe shrugs this off, and we’re propelled a week forward to the day of the deadline.
We’re taken to the waiting room by Ueda’s office. In the waiting room are all of the “spiritualists” who tried out before Naoko did back in the first episode, and Yabe’s original partner is in Ueda’s office, trying to prove that he knows where Yabe (who he calls “Anee”, which means Brother), by spinning Ueda’s globe and stopping it with his index finger. One by one, the spiritualists are sent away.
Naoko’s Mother turns up and tells Ueda that, “even if a person dies once or twice, they will always remain the same” before leaving.
Over the credits, which includes the original closing theme, we see Ueda pacing around in his office watching the clock, intersperced with clips of Naoko from season 1. Just as the clock is about to strike midnight
… I wont say exactly what happens, but it’s perfectly played out.
There wasn’t an explicit ending of the story (which links in with what Noako’s Mother’s students where writing at the beginning of the movie – “thanks for the support over the last 13 years. Maybe this isn’t the end?“), and going in to the final movie I was convinced that there never was going to be one.
Sure, we knew all along that Ueda and Naoko would get together (it’s kind of how TV works, and even Naoko’s mother knows how much Ueda wants to be with Naoko) so we don’t need to be told it, and subsequently wasn’t.
But the way it was done, left me speechless at the end. I watched that final post credits scene with baited breath. It’s a cliché, but I was literally on the edge of my seat (I nearly fell on my backside).
A fantastic end to a fantastic show.
…or is it the end? I’m sure those interested had already discussed it when it first came out, though.