The Infinite Zenith

When life demands your A game, bring your A+ game

K-On! Movie Review

They have been waiting all this time. Time has stood still for them, but it will begin to flow again.

This review will complement the one on my website: it has a different set of pictures here and will be more or less a commentary of various, random thoughts I’ve had of the movie.  Thus, in order to see other screenshots, a visit to my website will be necessary. That said, I’ve posted a carbon copy of my review here for ease-of-access.

Personal Opinion

The K-On! Movie remains one of the most anticipated movies of 2011, although for logistical reasons, also holds the distinction of being one of the more anticipated movies of 2012. This is for a good reason: the movie essentially amplifies everything that made the TV series so successful and is, for the lack of a more suitable term, awesome. The entire plot (and its execution) in the K-On! is straightforward: Hokago Tea Time go to London and write a song for Azusa. The character dynamics, coupled with everyday events like going to an airport, exploring a foreign nation and playing things by ear, lend a considerable amount of comedy to the movie. Character dynamics have formed the bulk of the plot in the conventional TV series and continues to do so; indeed, the movie feels a lot like an extended TV episode. However, movies have a greater degree of freedom in setup with respect to context. In this case, the girls set out on a trip to London, England (not London, Ontario). While this is initially done as a pretext to conceal the fact that they are trying to get a gift for Azusa, the trip becomes reality. The majority of the movie is focussed on the girls exploring various aspects of London, and returns to Japan in the final act of the movie as they finalize their graduation gift for Azusa. Thus, the movie can be seen as being broken into three distinct acts: the prelude going to London, exploration of London and finally, the preparations to give Azusa her gift. Finally, the animation deserves special mention; while viewers have come to expect high quality work from KyoAni, the K-On! Movie is animated a step above its TV counterparts, featuring more innovative camera effects in addition to the subtleties and contributes to the sense that this really is a movie and not merely a 2-hour special; with sweeping angles, viewers are treated to a sense of immersiveness that even the TV series did not evoke.

The opening act is executed in the familiar manner viewers have come to expect from K-On! and is centred around the carefree atmosphere surrounding the girls as they both struggle to decide on a suitable gift for Azusa and prepare for their trip to London. Once the logistics are setup, they arrive at the airport and immediately set about doing ordinary things with the Hokago Tea Time flair. Thus, viewers will note their own amusement at watching Yui and Ritsu mess around with the moving walkways, and Mio’s overwhelming sense of awe at the sight of commercial aircraft. The flight to London is equally as enjoyable to watch, especially with respect to Yui and Azusa’s attempts at wielding English. However, things really pick up once the girls arrive in London. Their limited English does not prevent them from enjoying the scenery in London to the fullest extent possible. Their travels set to a montage, some may find this scene a little rushed, reflecting on the sense of time during a vacation in a foreign nation, capturing not only the excitement and unfamiliarity surrounding travel in an overseas nation, but also how much of a blur things seem to go when one is having a good time in general. With this pacing in mind, no attention is spared to the details of the landmarks and settings the girls visit. It is clear that the K-On! movie goes to great lengths to capture these emotions and ultimately succeeds; one of the more subtle elements involves the choice to request native British English speakers to take on the role of the British citizens. In the original theatrical film, their dialogue lacked subtitles. These scenes prove easy enough to understand for native English speakers, but those unfamiliar with the language will probably be just as lost as the girls (except Mio, who demonstrates a reasonable level of skill in comprehension) as they try to talk with hotel staff and restaurant management. The language barrier sets up for an unusual turn of events: performances in London venues. Despite the context shifting so dramatically (and being somewhat unrealistic), the girls rise to the occasions magnificently and put on spectacular performances. These lapses in reality remind the audience that the movie is indeed fiction and that out-of-this-world stuff is possible. In the movie’s context, it gives the girls an opportunity to perform in a foreign locale, while simultaneously reflecting how “Hokago Tea Time will always be Hokago Tea Time”.

The final act returns the girls to Japan and with it, an overlap between the movie and the TV series, presenting the same events from a different angle. From the TV series, we note that Yui is running late on the day of graduation, but the reason is not explicitly stated. The movie then tells us that Yui is, in fact, trying to finalise Tenshi ni Fureta yo. From a personal standpoint, the final act is reminiscient of software development in that it shows the viewers how song development progresses, as well as how sometimes, inspiration can stem from the most unusual of places. The analogy is that people end up seeing the final product in all its glory (as well as its flaws) without seeing how the product reached its final state. In seeing Yui, Ritsu, Mio and Mugi build this song, the extent of their feelings for Azusa become immediately clear and serves as the most natural, logical conclusion to the entire series. The K-On! Movie is ultimately successful for the same reasons that the TV series was so successful: it depicts a school trip in a polished, clean manner and accentuates the idea that the memories that an event has the potential to be arises not from the event itself, but rather, the people one participates in said event with. At this point in time, I can safely say that all the K-On! fans have already watched and enjoyed the movie, so no recommendations for them need to be made. However, the movie’s plot is sufficiently standalone and focussed such that first-time anime fans might find this to be a suitable gateway into anime.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The movie opens with Yui, Ritsu, Mio and Mugi emulating the Death Devils, and then proceeding to the closest thing we’ve seen to a fight. The act is lost moments later, and the girls resume their fluffy personalities shortly thereafter.

  • Yui states that she wants to do something big for Azusa, and wishes to keep it secret from her so it is a surprise. In this scene, Yui’s use of candies to mark a trail is surprisingly reminiscent to the Family Guy gag “ooh a piece of candy!”. The funny thing is,  Yui is one of the few people who might realistically fall for such a trick.

  • Yui questions Ui for any suggestions; the latter jokingly responds that staying an extra year will do the trick for Azusa.

  • In order to keep things concealed, the excuse is that their plan was really about a graduation trip somewhere. At this point in time, they have not set the location itself.

  • Classic K-On! style antics are the norm, as are facial expressions. In particular, Azusa appears to wear the Haruhi-chan-esque expression the most frequently in the movie, typically in displeasure at Yui’s actions.

  • This methodology proves to be a valid means of choosing a place to visit. When the trailer first aired on YouTube, the only way to find it was by typing out the hiragana. I decided that we couldn’t have that and posted an English titled trailer.

  • Despite being the most mature of all the girls, Mio nonetheless lapses into the occasional moment of emotion.

  • My website focussed on why the movie is awesome as a whole: this post serves to show off and discuss more subtle details that viewers might miss.

  • In reality, packing for a vacation is a pain in the lower backside. K-On! demonstrates its capacity to make something so mundane seem more interesting in this scene.

  • Air regulations dictate that instruments must be carried by a case with a rigid body in order to be checked in: guitars are too large to be carried as carry ons and must be checked in.

  • I’ve had complaints from at least one blogger about my promotion techniques: I contend that my methods are not illegal or immoral. For those interested in what happened, I posted a link to this particular article to ensure that readers of another blog could access screenshots. The original article lacked images whatsoever, so it would be beneficial to the viewers (who would be interested in screenshots) and for myself (increased traffic). From this outlook, since the original article would have views anyway, I hardly think my methods are immoral.

  • For amusement, here’s a scene from the movie that was pretty much the first thing shown in the trailer. It has led to an inordinate amount of art depicting Mugi with the classic pouty-face expression.

  • I realised that my discussions hardly concern the soundtracks for the movie. The truth is that the background music neatly supplements the scenes and events, but isn’t distinct enough to merit any recommendations. That said, I did pick up the soundtrack back in January: listening to a movie soundtrack often gives insights into the events in a movie.

  • Whenever I reserve plane tickets, I try to book tickets for the front of the aircraft. A quick search reveals that economy class seats to London by Japan Airlines will cost 2518 Canadian dollars per passenger per economy class seat. These figures are straight from TripAdvisor: the calculations on AnimeSuki are totally inaccurate, with one individual claiming that will cost 11470.77 USD per person. Another individual has claimed that it will cost 1300 USD per person. That is also inaccurate, being slightly under the prics posted at TripAdvisor.

  • I believe there is only one other scene in the movie where a character is depicted with wingdings overlapping with their eyes. On a 17 hour flight, two meals are covered in the cost of the plane tickets, along with various refreshments.

  • The Black cabs depicted in the movie are typically used by wealthier individuals and businessmen travelling between destinations. Again, I’m picking out details on AnimeSuki because they often report erroneous findings. One poster has claimed that it costs £8 (roughly 12.65 CAD) to travel a mile by taxi. This roughly converts to £12.8 (roughly 20.25 CAD) per kilometre. Such a rate is not unreasonable, since taxis usually have a flat rate, with additional kilometres costing an additional fee. Thus, if one travels a shorter distance, the fee will seemingly be more expensive.

  • There’s nothing like the rush of listening to English in the K-On! Movie; in the original theatrical screening, I noticed the audience react in bewilderment at the unsubtitled English dialogue. Then Mio translates on their behalf and the audience relaxed a little.

  • Mugi’s comprehension of English is surprisingly disappointing, considering that she travels frequently. On the other hand, Mio fares better but is too shy to use the language in its full power.

  • The K-On! Girls join Harry Potter in having travelled on the London Underground. Parts of the London Underground are built at a depth of 61m, far deeper than most subways in the world.

  • A comfortable pair of walking shoes is essential for vacations. When Azusa’s feet start hurting, the others kindly insist on getting her a new pair of shoes.

  • The girls put on a reasonable performance in a sushi bar despite being tired from a day’s worth of travels. Yui’s expectation that the performance would result in sushi is a fairly amusing one.

  • Ritsu greets a friend warmly: they are the Love Crisis and were originally slated to perform at the sushi bar’s opening.

  • Ui’s foresight is impressive as per usual. Les Stoud’s survival techniques may seem out of place in a foreign nation, but the mentality nonetheless holds true in that one should remain level-headed in light of unexpected twists.

  • Similar signs exist in Hong Kong; I’m used to looking left for oncoming traffic before crossing the road, and that habit carries over.

  • I’m fairly certain that these places exist in London. KyoAni is famous for replicating every detail of their anime’s settings: subtle things such as lights flickering on the London Underground C-stock and a well-rendered Southeastern Class 465 leaving Charing Cross give an impression of just how much effort went into the settings awesome.

  • Mio’s excitement towards all things London bring to light a side of her that is rarely seen in the TV series.

  • English speakers may laugh derisively at this scene; the sign on that container says “Dog Waste”. The moral here is not to stick your hand in any containers regardless of where you go.

  • At one point, Yui mentions that she wishes to write a song that captures the spirits of the Streets of London, a clever and subtle call-out to the song written by Ralph McTell and released as a single in 1974. Sam Hui does his own version of the song; I am a huge fan of Cantonese pop (it helps that it is my mother tongue) and have always been impressed with his songs.

  • Another subtle aspect of Mio’s personality makes a return in the movie from season one and is seen here being dragged to the London Eye.

  • The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel situated on the banks of the River Thames in London, England. The entire structure is 135 metres (443 ft) tall and the wheel has a diameter of 120 metres (394 ft). It was built in 1999 and is visited by over 3.5 million people annually.

  • I believe this is Borough Market, a wholesale and retail food market in Southwark, London, England. It is one of the largest food markets in London, and sells a large variety of foods from all over the world.

  • I’ll let viewers watch this scene for themselves to enjoy yet another endearing moment.

  • I read somewhere that anime blogs that do ‘episodic reviews’ are less favoured than those who do so-called ‘editorial reviews’. Granted, my posts are very much inspired by the former, when the internet was still young and only a handful of people had access to anime. That said, most people hesitate to download 1080p anime unless they have the hard disk storage for it. Therefore, the purpose of this blog still stands: to provide a place for people to see what the anime appears like at 1080p.

  • Detractors of my style will immediately argue that most anyone can download anime at 1080p. The key here is download: that assumes one has a reasonably powerful connection to actually do so, and then the hard disk space to store it. A blu-ray drive, paired with a tool like VLC allows one to extract screenshots efficiently without consuming hard disk space for the movie itself.

  • I can’t verify the accuracy of this claim, but it appears that sending Mugi’s keyboard from the Kyoto region to London, UK is almost $1800 USD, assuming Mugi uses UPS.

  • It is almost a little too convenient that there is a Japanese culture festival in London right as they visit, but highly beneficial for the story.

  • Yui’s hesitancy to plug Gitah into the amp results from an appliance exploding in her face earlier at the hotel, marking the most amount of explosions we’ll see in the movie. Yamanaka sensei makes a dramatic appearance here, having just arrived from Japan.

  • The London act concludes here. Personally, I found the length of the London act to be well-suited for the anime: the movie is not about what the girls do, but their present company as they experience adventure.

  • The remainder of the movie is dedicated to organising a performance for their graduating class and putting together the song for Azusa.

  • Uninformed critics have cited that music is too insignificant in K-On!, and that the songs are insincere, poorly produced and so on. Their opinions are merely thus, and should not dissuade anyone from seeing this film.

  • The return to Japan gives the remainder of the events an old, familiar feeling, much as how one typically feels when they return from vacation to another nation. I’m surprised that no one got jet lag: from a personal standpoint, the best solution to beating jet lag is to enforce a strict sleep schedule on return, then lift weights and eat normally.

  • This scene really resonated with me, as I watched Yui, Mio, Mugi and Ritsu shout on their school’s rooftops, reflecting on both their innermost feelings and carefree natures.

  • “Tenshi ni fureta yo” is the single most moving song sung by HTT, and for good reason: it was developed around the girls’ expression of their feelings and gratitude for all Azusa had done for their band.

  • I’ve pretty much exhausted everything I’ve wished to say about the movie at this point, and will be content to show you just one more screenshot.

  • All in all, the K-On! Movie is worth watching for every reason the TV Series is worth watching; the show is ultimately about how everything is special if the group of individuals one is with is special, regardless of what one is doing.

Deer Hunter 2014: A guide to platinum eagles, Dayong, Yellow River and Isle of Thule

“A wounded deer leaps the highest.” —Emily Dickinson

The last time I wrote about Deer Hunter 2014, it was April, and there was a pile of exams, plus an iOS presentation on the table. This was well before I beat Ace Combat: Assault Horizons and BioShock Infinite, and before the Mobile Suit: Gundam Unicorn finale came out. However, even though it’s been some three months since then, it appears that searches are still pouring in about Deer Hunter: 2014‘s platinum eagles and hidden regions. In fact, this post has been topping the charts for quite some time now on search engines, implying that people are still interested in the game. Thus, to help those who are still wondering about how all of this stuff works, I will go into greater depth as to how these things are unlocked. I will also remind readers that this talk specifically is intended for those running Deer Hunter: 2014 on iOS.

  • Before delving into  questions surrounding platinum eagles, I’ll take a few moments to consider the Dayong region, which definitely is one of the most spectacular regions to date: I find myself impressed with the scenery, which includes a verdant bamboo forest, autumn hills and a karst field by nightfall. Moving on to the actual discussion at hand, I imagine that the first question is what the platinum eagles are. They were introduced a while back, and are a special kind of currency used to purchase and upgrade special weapons, usually in the bow class.

  • How does one acquire platinum eagles? In the standard regions, there are bow and crossbow challenges that can be completed to accumulate platinum eagles. Completing missions in the standard regions also allow for rare hunts to be opened. Rare hunts yield platinum eagles, as well as some special items on occasions. In the hidden regions, the standard missions, trophy hunts and rare hunts give platinum eagles upon successful completion, while the contract hunts yield standard in-game money.

  • To unlock the hidden regions, once must acquire all of the map pieces. There are several ways to collect map pieces: finishing the bow and crossbow challenges, as well as rare hunts. In the case of the latter, rare hunts only occasionally yield map pieces, so a bit of patience is required to gather everything. There is no need to spend gold to recharge more quickly.

  • Once all of the map pieces are obtained, the maps will automatically unlock. Like the conventional regions, the trophy hunts for one region will need to be completed before the subsequent regions will unlock. These missions will occasionally require weapon upgrades before they can be attempted; said upgrades cost platinum eagles.

  • Those who find themselves short on platinum eagles should complete contract hunts to re-open the rare hunts. Be aware that the rare hunts can be completed in full, although there are sufficient rare hunts to allow for one to replenish their platinum eagles quite quickly.

  • The above should address all of the queries surrounding the platinum eagle currency. Now that I’ve unlocked the Isle of Thule, the mystical landscape of tundra evoke a Nordic feeling to it. There are fine details in some of the maps, one of which features a glowing stone with runes on it. These maps require bows to participate in, but those having trouble with the bow’s mechanics can equip a bow and then use their preferred weapons for the hunt.

  • Crossbows are heavier hitting and have less stealth compared to the bows, but the second crossbow is magazine-fed and comes with a default of an eight-round magazine. There was a bug in earlier iterations of the game where aiming down the sights was not possible because the scene was obstructed by the scope’s view model, but that appears to have been fixed now.

  • The aurora on some of the night missions is a particularly nice touch. At the time of writing, I have yet to finish the trophy hunts in this hidden region, mainly because I’ve been engrossed in Deus Ex: Human Revolutions. I anticipate having a talk on that out quite soon, and regular programming will resume shortly.

  • Ordinarily, I would not have included a talk on region 12, but I was offered a Rohman Shepherd for 89 gold. This is a gold-only weapon that ordinarily sells for 1200 gold (roughly 50.00 USD), and as a semi-automatic rifle, has an exceptional firing rate and short reload time. For those wondering, no, I did not spend anything to get at it. A substantial amount of progress can be made in Deer Hunter: 2014 without spending anything, although as I’ve been playing for a half-year now, I can attest that this game does require a fair amount of patience.

  • Having a semi-automatic rifle makes Deer Hunter 2014 a little too easy, and even though the weapon will become obsolete when region 13 comes out, it’s quite entertaining to have a high-powered weapon with a reasonably high firing rate and versatility that makes all missions trivially easy.

Thus ends another talk on Deer Hunter: 2014, which should answer all queries about the new hidden regions and platinum eagles. These can be unlocked without much difficulty, but it is a somewhat time-consuming process. Given Glu Games’ typical release pattern, it is quite reasonable to surmise that a future iteration of Deer Hunter could be released by October or so, which means that there will be at least two more new regions to be unlocked in the future. I am quite happy to take questions if I missed anything, but otherwise, it’s time for me to redirect my attention back to the summer 2014 anime and Deus Ex: Human Revolutions.

Futsū no Joshikōsei ga Locodol Yattemita: Review and Impressions After Three

As of 2013, tourism constitutes around 1 percent of Canada’s GDP, and this figure is expected to grow in the future. Canada is blessed with an incredibly diverse range of geographical features, ranging from the old growth rainforests in Western British Columbia, to the Rocky Mountains and East Coast; international visitors travel around Canada to experience these landscapes. Besides landscapes, there are also historical and cultural attractions to explore in Canada’s major cities. Canada probably won’t experience a tourism decline to the same magnitude as Nagarekawa, a problem that Nanako’s uncle, one of the municipal officers in the area, is tasked with figuring out how to rectify. He comes up with the notion of “Locodols”, or Local Idols,  thus beginning Futsū no Joshikōsei ga Locodol Yattemita ( lit. “Normal High School Girls Tried Being Local Idols”, abbreviated “Locodol” for short), which sees Nanako Usami’s participation in the Locodol program together with Yukari Kohinata.

  • I’m coming right out of a talk about how K-On! had a non-trivial influence on anime, and to drive that point home, I’ll kick off with a post about Locodol, which fits in with the artistic and stylistic choices that were so prevalent in K-On!. Besides music, the characters have a moé design to them, and their interactions are meant to give them an endearing feeling.

  • Unfortunately, at this stage in time, I only know the names of the Locodols, and as such, I have no idea who Nanako’s friends are. Nanako is characterised by her shyness at times, but when she’s got her mind on something, she can also be determined, as well.

  • Nanako’s mother and uncle are shown here: for the want of a swimsuit so she may attend the local swimming pool’s grand re-opening, Nanako agrees to help her uncle in promoting interest for the Nagarekawa region and kicks off the entire program.

  • Yukari is one year Nanako’s senior and takes an immediate liking to the latter; Yukari comes across as giving off a mature aura not dissimilar to Lucky Star‘s Miyuki Takara and Girls und Panzer‘s Hana Izusu, all of whom have an elegant air about them.

  • Despite getting stagefright and losing her place in a presentation quite easily, Nanako nonetheless manages to make the most of her debut performance. The two successfully captivate the pool’s attendees by singing Nagarekawa’s theme song. Compare and contrast this with Calgary’s theme song, which is one of the few cities I know of to actually have their own song.

  • Yukari and Nanako’s first performance also marks the beginning of a new friendship. Locodol is a four-panel manga that began in 2011, and as such, it is hardly any surprise that it has the feel of a laid-back, easygoing anime. In response to those who believe that moé anime are harmful to the industry, I would say that as long as the four-panel manga format exists, moé anime will exist.

  • This is because the four-panel format is intended to convey a sense of comedy, rather like Alfonso Wong’s Old Master Q comics; the Old Master Q series were largely about humorous situations, but also occasionally gave social commentary on Hong Kong society between the 60s and 80s. Returning to Locodol, Yukari comments that their role as local idols might be better seen as community service, as they are working towards promoting awareness of the Nagarekawa region in addition to entertaining audiences.

  • One of the girls’ earliest assignments after performing at the pool’s re-opening is to review local cuisine; Nanako remarks that this could be fun and imagines herself with Yukari, reviewing upscale steak, before wondering about her relative lack of table manners. On the day of filming, she is shocked to learn that the vendor they’ll be reviewing first is someone she finds scary.

  • Despite her initial reservations, Nanako thoroughly enjoys the sweets the vendor makes, giving him an honest, glowing review and bringing to mind Minami’s (of Wake Up, Girls!) excitement wherever food is concerned.

  • Nanako pays Yukari a visit; because the latter’s never had friends visit before, she decides to go all out in making Nanako’s stay as enjoyable as possible. It is here that viewers find out that Yukari’s family has an affluent background, and during the course of the visit, enjoys conversation with Nanako.

As the first of the new reflections/review format, we consider what Locodol has done three episodes in, rather than immediately after the series starts, and at the end, decide if this is something I will continue following. Insofar, Nanako and Yukari have participated in some of the same things as WUG in Wake Up, Girls!, including reviewing local cusines and acting as the image for services in Nagarekawa. As an idol anime, Locodol plays things with a significantly more easy-going feel compared to Wake Up, Girls!: the latter presented a gritter take on the entertainment industry, but in Locodol, because Nanako’s uncle is the manager and director for tourism, the family and political connections means that Nanako and Yukari get to sing and dance at their own pace without the demands of a cut-throat industry. Thus, Locodol depicts none of the sleeze and challenges seen in Wake Up, Girls!, instead, falling back on comedy to drive things forwards. Between the comedy and propensity towards fanservice, Locodol manages to keep things interesting thus far.

  • This is the owner of the store from earlier; thanks to Nanako and Yukari, he’s seen a boost in business and is immensely thankful for their efforts. Strictly speaking, the concept of local idols would work rather nicely for small towns

  • Uogokoro-kun is introduced in the third episode as Nagarekawa’s mascot, designed to evoke the area’s vast water resources. Despite appearing a little off-putting at first, Uogokoro-kun soon grows on viewers. A problem with the voice module means that the individual in this suit will sound a little funny, but on their first appearance, Yukari manages to pass it off as a cold, giving the children a solid impression of both the idols and Uogokoro-kun.

  • It turns out that Uogokoro-kun’s operator is eighteen-year-old Yui Mikoze, who wishes to be an idol despite her fear of facing an audience. To this end, she prefers being in costume, entertaining audiences with her flips and later on, break-dancing.

  • Despite being older than Nanako, Yui feels that because she’s been an idol longer, Nanako is the senior, even though at school, Nanako regards Yui as the senior. Upon closer inspection, note the washing-out and light texturing in the backgrounds, and how the characters are coloured normally with a greater intensity. This style could be deliberate to place an emphasis on the characters, who are the stars of the show (as opposed to the scenery).

  • Nanako feels a little locked out of the loop after learning that they’ve now an official group name: “Nagarekawa Girls”. Originally set to be named “Nagarekawa Dynamite Girls”, it seems that Nanako’s uncle managed to talk his higher ups out of that to go with the simpler name. By this point in time, despite having performed at a few events, Nanako still seems a little uncomfortable with seeing her images over the local news.

  • Nanako’s friends do not see her as being an idol: in Japan, idols are manufactured stars who have some talent in music and performing arts, intended to act as good role models for their audiences. However, lacking a uniform and the kawaii personality, Nanako feels more like an ordinary high school student; this is the series’ full title, and I look forward to seeing what the girls perform in the future.

  • With a formal name and uniforms, Nagarekawa Girls finally begins to take shape: I will refer to them as such thence, since it beats typing out Yukari and Nanako’s names everytime; should the group grow, it will become even more cumbersome.

  • The dark conditions do not arise from a capturing fault on my part: on the day of their performance, it’s overcast, and shortly into the show, the rain hits, prompting the audience to take cover from the performance. It strikes me as a little strange, but Yukari, Yui and Nanako have had minimal practise. Despite this, they put on a solid performance that captivates the viewers, at least until rainfall.

  • Spurred on by the moment, Nanako strips to her swimsuit and does the same to Yukari; I’ve opted to choose the screenshots that are the most acceptable provided the blog’s aim to remain family-friendly, and as such, closeups of Yukari’s assets, however pleasing to the eye they might be, won’t typically be included. Readers wishing to see more of that sort of thing are always free to put in requests, and I’ll include more screenshots of such ;)

  • By rising to the occasion, Nanako turns their performance around and raises the audience’s spirits. Even while riding under the stress of being funded by taxpayer money, Nagarekawa Girls nonetheless exceed expectations. Thus ends this post: next up will be talks on Rail Wars! and Deer Hunter 2014, to be completed before the week ends. As it stands now, I’ve fallen quite far behind in the Summer 2014 anime, so I’ll prioritise getting a talk out for Rail Wars! first, since those are pretty rare. Sword Art Online II and Aldnoah.Zero are this season’s heavy hitters and are reasonably well-covered, so I’ll wait until the dust settles before offering my own thoughts on those series. The timeline for those will be early August, which will also see a talk on Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket.

After three episodes, it does not seem likely that the entertainment industry’s dark side will make an appearance here, so Locodol will probably fulfil the role that GochiUsa held for the Spring 2014 season, acting as a friendly, warm series that brings joy to those who are seeking such an anime. Of course, one must wonder what is likely to happen in the future: logically, the scale of the concerts will become greater, and as episode three already sees the inclusion of a new member, Yui Mikoze, it’s also likely that additional idols could join. However, as Yukari mentions, the small size of Nagarekawa Girls is its current advantage right now, giving the group a more closely-knit feeling to it. Moreover, insofar, despite their jobs, Yukari and Nanako still feel like ordinary high school students, so it’ll be quite interesting to see how they adapt to their roles as idols. For the present, though, I’m quite content to continue following Locodol and seeing where things go.

A Closer Look At the Spoiler-free K-On! Movie Review: Is the Film Still Relevant After Two Years?

Two years have now elapsed since the K-On! Movie was released on DVD and Blu-ray, making it accessible for the first time to viewers. When the movie was originally screened in Japan, it was December 3, 2011, and at the time, the date for a home release was completely unknown. It was not until April 29, 2012, that the DVD/BD release would be announced, finally providing a concrete release date. Prior to this announcement, three reviews were published to the internet, and at the time, curious parties who felt that spoilers were not much of a concern would read these articles to gain a rough idea of what the K-On! Movie would be like. All of these early reviews take on a slightly different approach towards discussing the film, touching upon various parts of the film that made it worthwhile for the respective authors. These reviews were the sole sources of information about the K-On! Movie for nearly eight months, until the depths of summer 2012 arrived. The K-On! Movie was finally released, allowing viewers to watch the movie for themselves. I myself produced two different reviews of the movie, noting that the movie’s core message was that “everything is special if the group of individuals one is with is special, regardless of what one is doing“. When it was released, discussions were quickly ignited by excited fans. However, discussions became increasingly infrequent as time wore on, and by Winter 2014, it seemed that K-On! has fallen from all thought and knowledge. However, the K-On! Movie illustrates that, even if two years have indeed passed since the movie’s home release, there still are things that merit further discussion.

  • It’s the two-year anniversary of the K-On! Movie‘s home release now, although strictly speaking, the movie released on December 3, 2011 in Japanese theatres. This talk will be slightly different than my previous reviews: whereas the figure captions previously dealt with the movie itself, this time, I’ll do short commentaries of some things surrounding the K-On! Movie rather than talk about specific scenes in the movie.

  • The first thing that comes to mind is how viable it would be to travel to Japan to watch an anime movie. Shortly after the K-On! Movie was released, I read about how some individuals made a trip to Japan solely to watch the movie, or even moved there to get access to movies earlier.

  • The question that is subsequently raised would be whether or not would I have visited Japan to watch the movie on its premier. The answer to that is no: December is exam and term paper season, during which I need all of my time to finish things. I was just completing my Fall term for my third year at the time, and was busy with an agent-based Na+/K+-ATPase pump simulation, an introductory Japanese course, reporting on the effects of introducing point mutations into E. coli and several exams. Some may consider my priorities to be skewed, but work comes before anime without fail.

  • I am slightly disapproving about going to Japan for the sole purpose of watching an anime movie, as it would be tantamount to shelling out for a ticket equivalent to the total cost of transportation, accommodations and food in addition to the movie ticket itself (so, a movie ticket costing between one and two thousand dollars). Conversely, if I were to be in Japan for a vacation or visit when an anime movie releases, I might take the time to watch it, provided that it does not disrupt too much from time otherwise spent sightseeing or enjoying Japanese cuisine.

  • Given the popularity of K-On!, I am surprised that cinemas in Canada did not even consider screening the movie, but as of late, they are doing screenings for more anime. As mentioned in earlier discussions, I missed all of them, but if they decide to do what is right and screen the Girls und Panzer movie, I will make every effort possible to see it, even if it means sacrificing myself!

The general lack of interest in K-On! stems from several factors: after the movie was released, Kakifly’s final installments of the manga were published and closed off the story. It was clear that K-On! had reached its conclusion, and that Houkago Tea Time’s journeys into the future, whatever they may entail, are left as an exercise for the audience. However, there is no challenging the impact that K-On!‘s animated adaptation has had on the slice-of-life genre, and anime in general. While the “cute girls do cute things” sub-genre has existed since the early 2000s, and Kyoto Animation itself adapted Lucky Star, which had a similar atmosphere, K-On! held an appeal to the audience well beyond the typical demographics associated with anime. Through its presentation of a slow-paced, carefree lifestyle for its central characters, K-On! captured the viewers who wished to simply relax and be entertained. In both seasons, the central story is loosely coordinated by Yui Hirasawa’s half-hearted desire to join her high school’s light music club, and in the process, eventually discovers her own passion for music, as well as making a group of inseparable friends. The first season aired in 2009 and was so popular that a second season aired a year later with twice the episodes. When the second season drew to a close, several OVAs were released, showcasing Houkago Tea-Time’s desire to go abroad. They go through the passport application process and think of places to go, but as OVAs, nothing more came out of it until the K-On! Movie was announced.

  • The music in  K-On! is something I previously did not choose to discuss in great depth because, while adding to the show’s light and fluffy atmosphere, it wasn’t something that I originally felt as standing out as to deserve unique mention. It’s standard fare that’s pretty upbeat and fluffy (depending on the song’s origins), but upon closer inspection, the music speaks volumes about what K-On! is.

  • The movie soundtrack and vocals are a mix of old and new, reminding viewers that even though this is a movie, it’s still a movie about Houkago Tea-time. Of course, one could take things differently: there are old songs, so this is a movie about Houkago Tea-time, but there are also new songs that remind viewers that this is a movie that’s going to do something a little bit differently than the TV series.

  • There are a grand total of four major performances in the K-On! Movie, starting with an unexpected, hastily prepared-for presentation at the Sushi bar, a performance at the London Japanese Culture Fair with Yamanaka-sensei looking on, followed by a performance for their classmates back home, and lastly, an emotionally charged song for Azusa. Every subsequent performance becomes more intimate and personal in nature.

  • In general, opening songs in K-On! are performed by Aki Toyosaki, while ending songs are performed by Youko Hisaka. The latter produces songs that are more intense and passionate, reflecting on Mio’s desire to make music, while Toyosaki’s songs are fluffy and full of life, mirroring Yui’s easy-go-lucky approach to life. I particularly love the opening song, Ichiban no Ippai!, which has a light, springy feel to it that evokes Christmas morning. The inset song, Unmei wa Endless!, is set in the middle of the movie to a montage of the girls exploring London their own way. Fast-paced, this song gives the girls’ adventures a quick, fleeting feeling to it. While they have a great deal of fun, these moments also happen very quickly.

  • Much praise was voiced about the ending song, Singing!, for how well the sequences were animated, and for the song’s lyrical composition. With Hisaka’s passionate performance and lyrics that speak volumes about the Houkago Tea-Time’s adventures, the song also mentions how this act is coming to a close, and that Houkago Tea-Time will continue to forge into the future together. Singing! is said to summarise Houkago Tea-Time’s entire story quite nicely and act as the franchise’s main theme.

A feature film presents a unique set of challenges to its writers if said writers are moving from a TV series to the movie format. In an interview with director Naoko Yamada and producer Yoshihisa Nakayama, it turns out that “[they had] to make it special for a film, and more dynamic on a bigger scale” (Yoshihisa). When it comes to K-On!, a series characterised by its languid pacing and lack of significant conflict, it seems logical that the movie would likely have a similar pacing. In the end, the movie winds up with the same feel as the TV series. Yamada must therefore answer the question of coming up with something to give the movie a special feeling to it: this answer turns out to be illustrating the emotional journey the girls take towards finding and making a suitable graduation gift for Azusa, who has shared two years’ worth of memories with the older girls. It follows that, though it may be contrary to the promotional materials, London winds up being a secondary element in the film that forms one of the stepping stones towards the end-goal to make a memorable farewell. Viewers find that, in the movie, the girls disregard convention for travel and wind up having a good time in their own way, quite differently than the images typically conjured by mention of travel. This is precisely because the trip to London was, in actuality, a fabrication made to conceal the girls’ preparations towards Azusa’s gift: even as the girls travel London, their thoughts do not stray far from the gift. When Yui, Ritsu, Mio and Mugi actually see the trip through with Azusa, it is a reminder of the strength of their friendship, and together, planned or not, the girls have a good time, reflecting on their propensity towards ad hoc decisions and making the most of anything that happens. Azusa’s gift thus forms the movie’s entire focus, and it is this aspect that lends itself to how the movie was executed, including the pacing and artistic style.

  • I’ll now take a few moments to consider the post’s title: there is no doubting that K-On! left a large impression on anime, and in fact, after K-On!, several anime (most notably, Kokoro Connect and Tamako Market) have drawn inspiration from the character designs in K-On!. There are also a greater number of anime that now place an emphasis on the idea of “cute girls doing cute things”. K-On! has been criticised for dragging down the industry before, but while “dragging down” or even “damage and harm” might be a little excessive, the fact is that K-On! does have at least some impact and therefore, still is relevant as an anime.

  • As of late, two anime I’ve watched come to mind whenever I think of something that evokes the K-On!-esque feel to it, including GochiUsa and SoniAni, both of which can warm the heart on the right day as K-On! does, and are similar in composition, mood and pacing, lacking a centralised story and trading that off for glimpses into the character’s everyday lives.

  • Besides the “cute girls doing cute things” premise, another aspect from K-On! that have permeated other anime include a preference towards music. Following K-On!‘s success with in-show performances from the voice actors, other series began following suit and included musical performances to capitalise on what was hot. Angel Beats! is the first example that comes off the top of my head: here, the concerts act as little more than distractions to allow the SSS to conduct their missions, although strictly speaking, there are a host of other methods to allow a successful “Operation Tornado”. However, producers reason that fans sufficiently entertained by the music in the concerts are likely to buy the albums, which would improve profits, accounting for their inclusion.

  • As time wears on, while K-On!‘s role in all of this will be forgotten, the fact is that some of the trends in K-On!, whether it be the moé artistic style, plot and pacing or music, have made their way into other anime and shaped them into what they are. The reason for this is because this is the style that’s presently popular, although one cannot say that moé is “harming” the industry or “pandering” to viewers of a certain demographic.

  • Changes to an industry happen over a very long time, and whether or not moé is in the equation, the fact is that as long as there is a demand for anime of different kinds, anime of different kinds will be produced. There may come a day, far out there, when moé becomes less popular, and a lack of plot becomes a shackle, slowing down the story and reducing viewership. On such a day, I know there will be other anime willing to step up to the plate and entertain, and when that happens, I’m pretty sure that people will be entertained as long as they hold an open mind.

Besides making use of Azusa’s graduation gift as the catalyst to hold the film together and achieve the scale the producers were seeking, the K-On! Movie is also able to succeed in making the film “work as a stand-alone film, so you could enjoy it if you’ve never seen the TV series. But at the same time, it had to appeal to the fans of the series as well, so that’s the discussion that we had, and the direction we decided on” (Yoshihisa). Far from being a challenge the producers would have fought to maintain, accessibility was improved precisely because the movie’s dynamics and scale was handled by the graduation gift. This focus meant that the film could be of a much greater scope than anything from the TV series, and with a large scale achieved, the film is free to proceed as the TV series did in terms of pacing. This slower pace means that the girls’ personalities can be fleshed out, allowing newer viewers to get a feel for each of Yui, Ritsu, Mio, Mugi and Azusa’s personalities. Fans of the series, already familiar with the pacing, will be reminded of the elements that makes each character unique. In the end, one might go so far as to say that, in maintaining the pace from the TV series, the movie provides the writers with the liberty of depicting the characters going about their business. In doing so, they have allowed for enough time to be allocated towards showing off personalities for each character such that viewers get a sense of who everyone is, while simultaneously advancing the girls’ adventures in Japan and London without compromising the pacing.

  • Admittedly it was remarkably difficult to come up with figure captions for the images in this post, as I exhausted all of my commentary in last year’s re-visitation. In the final five images that decorate this post, I’ll briefly compare and contrast the differences between watching a movie in the theatre, and watching a movie at home, as well as the merits of each.

  • I’ll begin with the theatre-going experience, which yields a significantly larger screen and better sound quality, as well as that advantage of being able to watch it without much of a wait. Moreover, with few spoiler materials floating about, any impact the movie has will be amplified, making the experience even more memorable. Lastly, from a budget consideration, the average cost of watching a movie is roughly sixteen dollars, which is half that of a DVD.

  • Watching a movie at home at 1080p confers the benefits of not requiring a trip to the local cinema. For those with a sufficiently large screen and sound system, movies can be enjoyed in a reasonably high quality, while adding additional benefits of being able to pause the movie to go get snacks. While a home release is more expensive than a movie ticket, if a movie is worth purchasing, it’s probably worth watching several times, so the cost eventually pays for itself.

  • From a personal perspective, I prefer the theatre experience because it offers a considerably greater degree of immersion. For the duration of the movie’s running time, it feels as if I’m right there to watch things go down (doubly so since the advent of 3D movies), and there is a thrill about not knowing what happens next. However, solely for anime, all of my experiences have been home releases: besides the small matter of the impracticality to fly over the Pacific to watch an anime movie, it’s also nice to be able to pause and rewind to check out some details for any reviews I plan on drafting out.

  • Thus ends yet another K-On! post, which after two years, acts as an excellent and satisfying conclusion to the K-On! franchise in addition to bringing back a lot of memories for me around summer 2012. As it stands now, although the contents in this post was fun to think about and write, and the film retains all of its charm, K-On! discussions have lost their magic. I do not imagine that I will make another talk in a year’s time, so for the present, this will be the last K-On! post for the Infinite Mirai.

At the end of the day, the K-On! Movie makes the step up to the silver screen not by doing something grand from a visual or story perspective, but instead, focuses on genuine, honest feelings as the girls prepare their gift for Azusa. By allowing the pacing to remain as it was for the TV series, the film makes itself open to new viewers and long-time fans alike. It follows that every artistic and stylistic choice in the film would not stem from the challenges the production team faced, but rather, result from building the film around the idea of a heart-felt graduation gift. Moreover, the themes of friendships, adventure and memories are timeless; as such, the K-On! Movie is a film that will age well and continue entertaining future audiences for years to come with its light-hearted, gentle moods as the franchise’s pièce de résistance, representing a masterful balance between preserving the spirit of K-On! and scaling it up to create a worthy feature presentation for the silver screen. Things like these ultimately mean that, even if the K-On! Movie is not widely discussed, it has not lost any of its relevance as the pinnacle of both the K-On! franchise and as a standalone film.

An Interview With the Director and Producer of the K-On! Movie

Back in 2012, K-On!‘s director, Naoko Yamada, and one of the producers, Yoshihisa Nakayama, attended one of the screenings of the K-On! Movie in Glasgow, Scotland to introduce the film to its audience, and subsequently, participate in an interview session with the audience. As the series’ director (for both the TV series and film), Naoko has also been involved in storyboarding and animation. Through the interview, a thirty-minute session, key decisions and moments in the movie are elaborated upon, providing a greater understanding of the movie’s conception and design. The interview follows, just below the image.

  • The questions below are an approximate reconstruction of what the original questions were. For one reason or another, I could only find the text file that held the answers that Naoko and Yoshihisa gave during the course of the question and answer session on my local drive. I suspect that I had another version of it, but failed to copy it over last year when I was migrating computers a year ago. However, the questions themselves are less relevant than the answers Naoko and Yoshihisa provide: approximate reconstructions are more than sufficient for the purposes of this discussion.

Question One

Question: Was the decision to go to London inspired by an actual discussion at Kyoto Animation?

Answer (Naoko): No, that was Houkago Tea Time; they made every decision.

Question Two

Question: Two separate trips to London were made to do research for the film. What was done during these two different sessions?

Answer (Naoko): The first time we went, we were scenario hunting. So, we went to find out what the five girls from HTT would want to see, what they want to think, and what they’d want to do in London; and the second time, we went there to find the places where they would be put.

Question: Is it reasonable to say the staff were exploring London at a casual pace, and their experiences were transcribed into what is seen in the movie?

Answer (Naoko): I think that Yoshihisa-san and myself were trying to see things through the eyes of the girls of the band, so it wasn’t so much a case of going “Yoshihisa-san, write this down”, but I think we both knew what we were looking for, and that we were on the same wavelength.

Question Three

Question: Were there any experiences that you had in London that could not be included in the movie?

Answer (Naoko): Yeah, I tried Marmite thinking it was Nutela, it was in this cute little heart shaped tub, and thought it looked delicious…

Question Four

Question: Films generally have different considerations compared to TV series. What was handled differently for the K-On! movie compared to the TV series?

Answer (Yoshihisa): So much in terms of direction and instruction, but, I said to them that TV – anyone can watch it. But, for a film you have to go to the cinema and you have to pay money, so it has to be special – you have to make it special for a film, and more dynamic on a bigger scale.

Question Five

Question: Was the K-On! Movie intended for fans of the series, or for a more general audience?

Answer (Yoshihisa): K-On! was screened in Japan in the middle of the night, so we didn’t just want those to come: we wanted other people to come as well. But we wanted it to work as a stand-alone film, so you could enjoy it if you’ve never seen the TV series. But at the same time, it had to appeal to the fans of the series as well, so that’s the discussion that we had, and the direction we decided on.

Question Six

Question:  What are the demographics for K-On!‘s audience in Japan like?

Answer (Yoshihisa): For the timeslot that K-ON screens at, for normal core audience is age 20-35 females. But we with K-ON were aiming for a broader audience so younger people – teenagers, and also 20-35 female viewers, and I think we succeeded in making it appeal to a wider audience than just the people that usually watch that time slot.

Question Seven

Question:  How reflective are the movie’s events of reality? Specifically, are graduation trips common amongst female high school students in Japan?

Answer (Yoshihisa): It’s kinda half and half. I didn’t go on a graduation trip after high school, I went to Europe for the first time when I graduated from University. So I think they’re quite confident to leave from their home.

Question Eight

Question: With the characters graduating, K-On! looks like it’s approaching a conclusion of sorts. However, it feels like there would be hints of something more in the future, Have you considered whether or not the series would be continued, or is this the end for K-On!?

Answer (Naoko): We don’t have anything in mind at the moment for K-On!; this is quite a K-On!-like ending, and this is something you might have to ask Yoshihisa-san because it’s to do with the direction. But it doesn’t tend to end in a bang, it sort-of trails off as it did with the TV series, as well.

  • This post is intended to supplement my following talk on whether or not the K-On! Movie (and franchise as a whole) is still relevant two years after the movie’s been released. The short answer is yes, given that artistic elements ranging from character appearances, to pacing and atmosphere, and even the inclusion of music have carried forward, spurred on by their success in K-On!. While K-On! cannot be said to be the sole influence behind these trends, there is no doubt that K-On! has had at least some influence in shaping the trends we see in present-day anime.

With two years having elapsed since the movie’s home release (and some twenty months since the original screening), the Glasgow interview also provides a tangible citations for those seeking to understand more about the artistic designs within the K-On! Movie: a handful of discussions that came out within weeks of the film’s premier in Japan mention minor statements from Naoko in newspapers and Newtype magazine. Accessing either of these sources represent a substantial challenge, and as such, to help with my upcoming post, I have provided a copy of the interview on-site to simplify things and allow for near-immediate access to the relevant points in the interview.

A School Trip For Just One Day: Tamayura ~More Aggressive~ OVA Review

“We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.”  —Hilaire Belloc

Set between episode eight and nine of Tamayura ~More Aggressive~, this OVA was released a little more than a month ago and as per its title, depicts the girls’ one-day trop to Onomichi after Maon comes down with a fever, resulting in her missing the opportunity to go on a school trip to Okinawa with Fū and the others. When the girls pay her a visit once they return, Norie discovers a sketchbook that Maon was hoping to fill with memories of the school trip, and is moved to tears upon noticing that it is completely blank. Realising that Maon has also become upset over not being able to go, Fū suggests that everyone take her on another school trip just for them. The girls decide to go to Onomichi, where they participate in all the local tourist activities whilst Maon starts filling up her sketchbook. By the end of the day, Maon manages to completely fill in her sketchbook, thanking Norie for crying for her that time.

  • Tamayura ~More Aggressive~ was aired last summer, and I began watching it in September at a rate of roughly one episode per week, finishing in October. It’s been around a year since the series began, and the OVA has been out for quite a while, although I only got around to watching it recently (read, this post is hot off the presses).

  • The locations and activities the girls visit and partake in are typical Okinawa fare. The last anime I watched featuring Okinawa was Soni Ani: Super Sonico The Animation and before that, Azumanga Daioh.  The martial arts style I’ve trained in, Gōjūryū, also originates from Okinawa: as previously alluded to, Okinawa is better known for meats rather than fish. Before I move on to the next image, I would like to note that this beach scene is precisely what comes to mind when I hear Rie Tanaka’s “Midori no Mori”.

  • Those who have been reading this blog closely since around last year will have noted that I’ve mentioned about a lack of time to travel. However, I’ve since taken a step back:: as noted in a previous post, I think that a trip to Japan next summer would be viable and are planning towards making that a reality. The present challenge now is picking a destination, and whether to go with a tour group or do a backpack trip, complete with hostels and fumbling the language.

  • Norie’s tears act as the turning point in the episode, and I found myself empathising with Norie and Maon. Apparently, individuals with a stronger empathy are more likely to experience similar emotions to those in their environment or from stimuli, which would account for why people may cry during particularly emotional moments in TV and movies.

  • As far as destinations in Japan go, I am inclined to do a tour that allows me to visit historical areas of Japan, especially the Kyoto region, or else do a food tour of Hokkaidō. It may come as a surprise, but despite my interest in anime, my intrigue for Japan lies largely within their historical elements and cuisine. As such, exploring locales such as the Ginkakuji and Nijō Castle, or enjoying Jingisukan and various seafoods would be more rewarding than going to a maid café in Akihabara.

  • Before this Japan trip, though, it’s passport-renewing time. Amusingly enough, my driver’s license is also about to expire. As it stands now, I’ll need to renew both, but since both require one other form of identification, if I renew one first, I’ll have to wait a while to renew the other while I wait for whichever one I renew first to arrive by mail. This means getting my driver’s license done first, since I don’t imagine I’ll need my passport until December.

  • As to why that is the case, I’ll presently keep that to myself and return the discussion to Tamayura. Chihiro and Tomo make a short appearance in the OVA, while Sayomi and the others do not make an appearance.

  • A sharp-eyed viewer will notice that, save one scenery image, every other image has more than one person in it. This is no coincidence; as an anime about people, I feel that screenshots with more people seem to capture Tamayura‘s spirit far better than would images having fewer people.

  • After Fū’s previous trip to Onomichi, the girls decide to stay in a Bed and Breakfast, albeit a different one than when Fuū had went last time. The previous one was styled after a Western home, with standard beds, but this one is more traditional and has futons instead.

  • In my final reflection, I noted that I was enjoying a poutine while watching the finale. Today, I decided to grab a poutine from the Smoke’s Poutinerie downstairs before returning to watch this episode later in the day. Contrasting the last one, which had fried chicken and maple syrup, this one has the traditional gravy and cheese, providing a welcome accompaniment to the episode. One would question the wisdom of having poutine on such a hot day (temperatures reached  32°C by afternoon before humidity), I am celebrating the successful implementation of a mini-map in the brain visualisation model.

The Tamayura ~More Aggressive~ OVA is a welcome addition to the series; as per its original run, the OVA is highly relaxing and heartwarming to watch. Travelling with friends lies at the OVA’s core, with the central idea being that it’s who one travels with, rather than where, that produces the most precious of memories. When Maon misses a school trip owing to fever, her friends step up to the plate and offer to help her create new memories where she had missed them before. Norie’s role comes across as particularly important: whereas she’s typically the ever-cheerful character, here, her emotions are brought out and show just how deeply she cares for Maon. Indeed, vacations and even short journeys are memorable precisely because of who one is accompanied by. Fū had previously visited Onomichi with Harumi Kawai and Riho in the TV series: with knowledge of the city, she helps Kanae plan out this trip. Over its course, the girls have a wonderful time, and viewers come out of the OVA with a sense of warmth and tranquility that Tamayura is known for. Throughout the entire series, the relaxed pacing and touching moments belie Tamayura’s core message that through adventure and open-mindedness, many memories are created, to be treasured.

  • The aforementioned mini-map took a few days to implement, since the algorithm was a little tricky to work with, but today, I finished the constraints and the map works as it should. This location is almost certainly real and could be recognised readily by those living in the area, reflecting on how much attention is paid to the backgrounds in Tamayura. Onomichi is located in the Hiroshima prefecture and has around 148000 people. Known for its temples and parks, the city faces the inland sea.

  • As of late, I’ve resumed my hobby of doing pencil sketches. A cursory check on most search engines finds that no one else has done a talk on the OVA. This would make my reflection as having one of the earliest collections of screenshots online.With that said, it is quite understandable why talks are rare: there isn’t much to talk about in a single OVA, and this “review” is really more of a personal reflection.

  • Onomichi is known for its ramen, which is a variation with a touch of fish paste in the stock, as well as chopped green onions and pork oil to accentuate taste. It is a popular local dish, and lines at shops can get quite long. I haven’t had ramen for quite some time now (probably since Tamayura ~More Aggressive~ ended), but was able to enjoy python, ostrich and kangaroo sliders at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth with several friends, followed by a Skyrail ride over the fairgrounds by nightfall. The night concluded with fireworks with a supermoon in the background, marking the first time I’ve seen a fireworks show since 2011.

  • Maon’s sketches capture all of the fun the girls experience during their day in Onomichi. Contrasting Renge’s sketches, Maon’s sketches are equally impressive, being colourful and convey the emotions of a moment with a gentle and polished art style, reflecting on her progress since she decided to pick up sketching (back in the TV series: I cannot quite recall which season).

  • After Fū mentions “Chain Mountain” as a point of local interest, Kanae suggests actually climbing it, evoking Sayomi’s enthusiasm for doing things. Despite having some reservations, Norie decides that ascending the hill would give them some physical activity and in turn, make dinner taste better, which convinces everyone to participate.

  • Kaori and Norie help Maon up the last steps of the climb, which takes roughly half an hour and is considered to be moderately strenuous. However, as I am wont to believe, the view at the very top is well worth the effort it takes to get there, and as noted long ago, there’s a location not too far from where I live that provides a beautiful overlook of the city’s northern edge. There’s a breeze up there on most days, and last week, I hiked up there with a friend to enjoy the scenery by evening.

  • Maon realises that she’s down to her last sketchbook page and thanks Norie for her tears, as well as everyone for making the sketchbook a tangible reminder of all the memories she’s shared with them on this short trip.

  • Two other girls are encountered at the hilltop; one of them initially feels that the climb was unfruitful, since no one else was expected to make it to the top, but are pleasantly surprised to find Fū and company already present. Plenty of photographs are taken on this short trip, but they feel secondary to the trip itself, and curiously enough, the images lack the namesake Tamayura, which appear in images of great sentimental value.

  • Cheese goes extremely well with fresh-baked bread and tea. As the girls set about relaxing, I’ll take a few moments to note that today, the air where I live had a distinctly Suzhou-Hangzhou quality to it, fueled in part by the high temperatures and the smoke from regional forest fires giving the sky an orange tinge: even at nine in the evening, temperatures remain a steady 29°C, and thundershowers are sweeping into the region.

  • Before turning in, Maon takes one last look at all of the drawings she’s created. As I’ve reached the end of this post, I’ve swept through to make sure things are ready before publishing. Tamayura stands near the top of its field as a slice-of-life anime, and I’ll close off by mentioning that in two days’ time, I will turn my sights towards a K-On! Movie talk as the two-year anniversary to the home release arrives.

Besides praising the OVA for reminding me about just how easygoing and sentimental Tamayura is, it may also be appropriate to speculate on what’s likely to happen for the future, as a special announcement is to be made on August 3. Whatever the announcement is, it’s important enough to warrant a 5400 Yen attendance cost and the attendance of six of the cast’s members. There’s a limit to what can be announced at this event: we’ve seen the girls go through first year of high school after Fū returns to Takehara in season one, and the second season has shown Fū taking the initiative to start a photography club, befriending Kanae and making plenty of new memories in the process. It would seem logical that this announcement will concern a continuation, either in the form of a movie or third season, that would deal with the excitement and melancholy associated with graduation. Kanae has already graduated, and now, it’s the girl’s turn to complete high school and move into the future. I am okay with either alternative: a movie would provide the space and scale that would allow Tamayura to explore unexplored frontier for the series, while a TV series would offer a more episodic depiction and permit for events to be explored with more detail. Both have their downsides, as well. A movie is much less accessible, and the wait would be more substantial, while a TV series may not fully capture the spirits that would be possible in a movie. Ultimately, though, whether the continuation be a movie or third season, one thing is for certain: it will be quite enjoyable to watch.