For the record, “The Little Match Girl” probably has the most depressing fairy tale (classical, modern or otherwise) ever spun by somebody. As I recall - - and it has been a very long time since I’ve last thought about it, to be real- - it’s one of those tragedies that doesn’t have much of a theme or a message aside from “Life sucks.” It’s like one of those earlier, scarier versions of “Little Red Riding Hood” that simply end with the wolf eating and/or raping Red Hood, and the simple, clear lessons that little girls simply shouldn’t ever walk in the woods alone or talk to strangers there. Life sucks. Deal with it, but also feel (artistically) sad about it at times.
OKAMISAN’s narrator admits up front that the Match Girl of this story has tenuous connection to the one in the old story. I don’t remember the Match Girl being a high school gold digger - - so there you go.
(While we’re on the subject, is she just looking for some strong guy to protect her from the mobsters? Because you’ve got to be a serious airheaded to expected a junior class scrub like this guy to be able to buy you pretty things.)
Instead, she serves the rather clever function of making Ryoko finally threatened about having to Ryoshi to herself, even though the dramatic ordeal leads to the now-expected non-consummation that ties off romances in like, 95%, of anime. I got a hoot out of how Ryoko’s character arc concludes with her admitting that she doesn’t know if she likes Ryoshi or not - - moving up from the outright loathing she’s exhibited to him throughout the show. It’s the ambiguous Japanese ending wrapped up in a commitment that’s about as meaningful as saving somebody's dating site profile so you can maybe send them a message later if you feel like it.
I was going to comment on how this seemed amusingly-anticlimactic to start a short, new conflict after the climax is over, but… well… the show pretty much blatantly presents this as cliffhanger for a yet-to-be-announced second series, so at least things have been left unresolved intentionally.
Watch this episode, "Okami-san and the Girl Who Doesn’t Sell Matches But Is Misfortunate Anyway” below and decide for yourself, then read my comments on the previous episode here.