One enduring feature of Japanese storytelling is that, if there is ever to be a good ending, protagonists must appropriately suffer before it, and so must the viewers. Some shows can get very hard to watch. And not all endings are sweet.
I won’t name names, to protect people from spoilers, but I just finished one of the shows I have liked very much in recent times, and while the ending is not a “bad” one, the show spared no effort to create vast doubt about this until the last moment. Fortunately for my memories of the show, the ending was not a bad one, but the general point is worth commenting on.
From what I understand, in older times, Japanese stories had lots of suffering… and then bad endings. That was the dramatic element: tragedy as eternally destined, something to bring tears rather than a warm heart. But Japanese storytelling, too, has evolved over time.
Again, not all endings leave me with an ureshii feeling, but I’ll take what I can get.
(P.S. Heading reads, “That was quite a hardship.” – J)