WARNING: The following contains spoilers for RE-MAIN Episode 12, "C'mon, Let's Get Started," now streaming on Funimation.
What began as a story about Minato Kiyomizu trying to remember who he is before his car accident, became a tale about regaining his memories of his past self while changing for the better. RE-MAIN isn't without its shortcomings considering how long it took to get to the sports part of the anime, but one of its strengths has been its focus on Minato's journey. The finale combines all the best qualities about middle school Minato, such as his drive and leadership, with all the good things about post-accident Minato.
In RE-MAIN Episode 12, Minato dreams of his old water polo team. When he wakes up, Eitaro tells him that Rikka lost spectacularly to Shogakukan without having scored any points. Eitaro is just happy to be able to play against Shogakukan, but Minato insists none of that matters unless they win.
The game starts and Minato tries to score but gets blocked. Amihama's speed allows them to strengthen their defense considerably but Shogakukan forces Ejiri to commit a foul. While on their break, Ushimado is still disappointed at not being able to play as well as the others but Minato unexpectedly encourages him. He even admits to eating Babayaro's chocolates even though he had turned it down several times.
Despite his injury, Shogakukan player Momo begs his coach to let him play. He points out that Koki, one of Minato's former teammates, has been holding back since he's playing against a Minato who isn't in his prime. Keita admits he feels the same but if they don't give it their all, it wouldn't be fair to Minato or themselves. Seeing his brother play fires up Amihama, who is determined to beat Momo at swimming. However, he loses first possession of the ball to Momo. Within a few seconds, Momo scores Shogakukan's first goal.
Shogakukan's lead in the match increases and with only 37 seconds remaining in the last period, they're leading 15-0. Tensions are high with Yamanami exhausted and frustrated. Suddenly, Minato explodes and blames his team for holding him back, calling them useless before swimming away.
The game resumes and the combined teamwork of Jo and Babayaro prevents Momo from scoring another point. Amihama races against Momo and surges ahead to seize the ball and pass to Minato. Immediately, Minato turns with a shout, feinting. But Keita is ready for it: he has played with him for so long that he knows every trick up his teammate's sleeve.
Except, Minato doesn't shoot. He sends the ball to his right where Ushimado grabs it. Executing the Ushimado Shout, he shoots the ball straight into the goal. The Yamanami team may have lost the match overall, but that one point does more to boost their morale than winning the game would have because they scored as a team.
RE-MAIN's Season 1 finale would have been highly unrealistic if Yamanami had won a full water polo match against a powerhouse like Shogakukan. For once, Minato isn't angry for losing -- in fact, he couldn't be any happier. At the end of the match, he meets up with his old teammates and they laugh, promising to play each other again. The scene is highly reminiscent of Minato's dream.
By focusing on Ushi and Eitaro, the last two episodes of RE-MAIN have done a fantastic job of rounding out their character development. It's a little disappointing, however, that out of all the characters on the team who got some kind of spotlight, Babayaro, the half-Nigerian half-Japanese boy, got the short end of the stick. He's one-dimensional and we never explore who he is beyond being a very sweet character. Episode 12 closes out Minato's journey where he's no longer living in the past and now looks toward the future with his new team, setting his sights on their next goal: becoming Japan's #1 water polo team.