The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Yuru Camp△- Finale Review and Whole-Series Recommendation

“In the adventure known as life, there are those who live it vicariously, and enjoy the ride from the safety of an arm-chair, and that’s good. There are those who have a few chances to realise incredible and life-changing experiences; and though they don’t repeat them, they carry with them a growth and personal philosophy for the rest of their lives. And there are those for whom a taste, is never enough; for whom the lust of adventure, is nearly insatiable. And if you add to that the overwhelming desire to create, and to share, then you get where I reside. For the end of one adventure, only signifies the beginning of another.” –Les Stroud, Survivorman

Having overslept, Rin continues on to her destination at Jinbagatayama campsite. Detouring through a winding mountain path, she finds that her path is impeded by a construction sign. Sending Nadeshiko a photo of her predicament, Chiaki quickly ascertains that the road is likely traversable, having experienced the same situation before when construction crews left their signs behind. Rin continues on her journey and reaches Jinbagatayama. After checking in, she sets up camp amidst a very blustery evening and enjoys her dinner: a pan-fried pork bun and the hōjicha tea from a mountain climber Rin had met earlier. Settling in for the night, Rin sends a photo to Nadeshiko. Back at school, the Outdoors Activity Club gear up for their Christmas camping trip and invite Ena along. When their club activities catch the attention of instructor Minami Toba, the girls manage to rope her into being the Outdoor Activities Club’s advisor. Chiaki decides to try and invite Rin to accompany them, and while Rin initially declines, she recalls her interactions with the Outdoors Activity Club. In conjunction with Ena’s encouragement, Rin accepts the invitation. On the day of the camping trip, Rin arrives at the Asagiri Plateau shortly after Chiaki and Aoi, who’ve gone off for some ice cream. She explores the area and runs into Nadeshiko; the pair find Chiaki and Aoi, purchase firewood and make their way back to the campsite, where they begin cooking Christmas dinner with the Kobe beef that Aoi’s brought. The girls run out of gas, and Rin decides to buy some from a nearby shop. When she returns with the gas, the girls spend the evening watching movies before retiring. The next morning, Rin and Nadeshiko awaken early to prepare breakfast. As Chiaki, Aoi, Ena and Minami tuck in, the sun rises, bathing the land in light. New Year’s approaches, and the girls decide to give their clubroom a cleaning. Nadeshiko is still in search of a part time position, but things turn around when Ena asks if she’d be interested in helping deliver New Year cards. Some time later, Nadeshiko sets out on a solo camping trip, and with a beautiful day ahead, she runs into Rin, who is on a trip of her own.

At its core, Yuru Camp△ follows the progression of how a group of disparate individuals befriended one another through their mutual love of camping despite fundamental differences in their approaches. Rin’s camp is one of individualism and solitude; she prefers her solo adventures owing to the quiet and freedom that offers. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the approach that the Outdoor Activities Club takes. Nadeshiko, Chiaki and Aoi share their adventures together, and have one another to fall upon on if things turn out unexpectedly. As Yuru Camp△ continues, Rin begins encountering the unexpected in her adventures that threaten to derail her planned excursions, and in each instance, Nadeshiko and Chiaki have risen to the occasion to help her work out a solution. While solitude is conferred by solo camping, it also means that one must work out their own solutions in response to a challenge, whereas in company, one can solve a particular challenge as a group. Consequently, Rin begins to understand that camping together with friends has its merits, and begins opening up to individuals that she was initially cold towards. Taking small steps in inviting Nadeshiko out, Rin similarly appreciates Chiaki’s help when she finds a roadblock on a remote mountain road to her campsite. Her experiences lead her to accept an invitation from Chiaki to camp with the Outdoors Activity Club during Christmas. By the time of the Christmas camp, Rin has evidently accepted that camping in a group could have its merits. Her experiences with Nadeshiko, Ena, Chiaki and Aoi are overwhelmingly positive, and she learns that the trade-off for solitude is companionship. Having her friends around allows Rin to enjoy moments far more profoundly than on her own, as well as giving her support when she runs into difficulty. Similarly, when Nadeshiko runs out of burner fuel, Rin is on station to provide assistance. Through its presentation, Yuru Camp△‘s central message is that the main merit to being together with friends is precisely being able to provide and receive assistance; this particular aspect of friendship is invaluable, and the mutual concessions associated with companionship is one of the most crucial element in friendship.

When Yuru Camp△ began airing, I remarked in jest that the anime could be considered Survivorman The Anime. However, with all twelve episodes of Yuru Camp△ in the books, this statement is no longer a joke: moments of calm and amusement are interspersed with an explanation of the equipment and techniques that Rin and the others make use of throughout Yuru Camp△. From differentiating the different types of sleeping bags, to explaining the procedure for lighting a fire and why some methods need to be modified depending on the fuel used, from detailing the recipes for the different meals that Nadeshiko and the others prepare to concise but relevant remarks on efficiently setting up camp, Yuru Camp△ has evidently taken the time to investigate the processes required to set up a camp site and the attendant luxaries that Nadeshiko and her friends bring into the activity. The processes could easily be reproduced in the real world for folks who are camping. Yuru Camp△ takes a similar, if somewhat more high level, approach to the format that Les Stroud uses in Survivorman. Through his survival trips in remote corners of the world, Stroud explains the rationale behind each of his actions and also outlines to viewers the step-by-step process for activities such as lighting a fire, setting up a makeshift shelter or preparing water for drinking. His explanations have helped several individuals survive when they were caught in unfavourable situations: Chris Traverse of Gypsumville, Manitoba credits Les Stroud with having given him an idea of what to do when his snowmobile ran out of gas in a remote area. Stroud remarks that it’s humbling to learn that Survivorman has helped save lives. While the elements of Yuru Camp△ are focused on the fun of camping rather than surviving a life-or-death situation, one can nonetheless imagine that with its level of detail, Yuru Camp△ could help some campers get their gear together with less frustration. Having said this, I find that Yuru Camp△ has earned the right to be considered as Survivorman The Anime: the only thing Yuru Camp△ is missing is the “man” part of Survivorman, with a group of high school girls in place of a Canadian survival expert to run the show.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • There’s nothing like the rush of making one’s way to an objective when they’re off schedule, and by my admission, I’m guilty of pushing the limits for road speeds when the need arises. The tenth episode continues with Rin pushing towards her campsite, with concern written all over her face at the prospect of missing check-in. She stops briefly to pick up dinner before continuing on her journey.

  • When her route is blocked by a construction sign, Rin locks up, terrified at the prospect of being forced to go the long way around. She sends a message to Nadeshiko, and when Chiaki spots what’s going on, swiftly steps in to help Rin out. Rin’s irritation with Chiaki vanishes, and she subsequently proceeds to her campsite just in time for checking in. For this finale post, I’ve got the standard thirty screenshots; I originally imagined that there might’ve been more, but as it turns out, the casual pacing in Yuru Camp△ means that there are long moments spent looking at a scene unfolding, which both serves to reinforce the idea that there is merit to taking it easy and also makes it a bit easier to write for.

  • At the top of the plateau, Rin’s failure to secure her tent down leads it to blow away in the wind gusts, and she suffers when her gear blow in opposite directions. This particular aspect raised some eyebrows, but interactions of air currents with surface features can create localised cyclones where the wind moves in a circular manner, accounting for the phenomenon in Yuru Camp△. With this being said, I find that it is quite unnecessary to worry about aspects of realism in slice-of-life anime such as these.

  • While wishing she’d arrived sooner so she could explore, Rin enjoys her dinner and tea, taking in the night landscapes. Yuru Camp△ might not have the same attention to detail as seen in a given Kyoto Animation, P.A. Works or Makoto Shinkai production, but the visuals nonetheless are produced to a high standard. I’ve taken a look at the manga, and my local bookstores will be stocking the first few volumes of Yuru Camp△ in the upcoming months. The anime adaptation is highly faithful to the source material and brings the monochrome manga to life, adding colour alongside aural elements.

  • In exchange for the hōtō noodles, the Kagamiharas give Chiaki gyoza. It is explained that the Kagamiharas are from Hamamatsu, which is counted as the gyoza capital of Japan. Owing to the high wheat production and weather patterns in the area, gyoza are seen as the perfect food in being able to both warm during brisk winters and reinvigorate during the summer. Consequently, it’s the prefecture with the highest gyoza consumption, and the Kagamiharas are unsurprisingly fond of them.

  • Ena soon joins the Outdoor Activities Club’s activities; when Rin declines Chiaki’s invitation to join the Outdoor Activities Club in camping by Christmas, Ena manages to convince Rin to give it a shot, and here, the girls practise lighting a campfire on a stand on a brisk winter day. After Ena reveals that she’s rolling with a 4500 Yen sleeping bag, she invokes the envy of Nadeshiko, Chiaki and Aoi. It turns out that Ena’s father bought the sleeping bag on account of Ena’s sensitivity to the cold, feeling it’s worthwhile if Ena can spend more time with her friends. This gesture makes it clear that the Saitous, although never seen on screen, love Ena very much, which was a very welcome touch to Yuru Camp△.

  • When Minami notices the girls with a fire on campus grounds, she makes the reprimand them, only to learn that the Outdoor Activities Club has permission to partake in their activities. She reluctantly becomes the club’s advisor when Chiaki manages to convince her that most of their activities are self-directed and dependent on being outdoors, and later, Nadeshiko learns that Minami is the intoxicated lady she and Rin had run into at Lake Shibire.

  • Minami takes a post as a substitute instructor at Minobu High School and during working hours, looks a world apart from her hammered self. Her greatest enjoyment in life is to kick back with a drink in hand and gets smashed in no time at all, but also recovers surprisingly quickly from the after-effects. While sober, Minami is a quiet, reserved individual who occasionally offers the girls suggestions.

  • On the day of the Christmas camping trip, the girls meet at a campground on Asagiri Plateau, so-named for the fog that can roll in during the mornings. Chiaki and Aoi arrived the earliest, and after joyously rolling down a hill, decide to go exploring and settle down for some sweets at a nearby ice cream shop. Because it’s late where I am, I’m not going to bother pinning down the coordinates of the exact locations that Aoi and Chiaki visit. However, I will note that Asagiri Kogen is relatively close to a dairy farm, which translates with some of the freshest ice cream around, and that the presence of Fujisan Winery nearby would keep Minami happy.

  • Because it’s winter, I imagine that the nearby Paragliding School is closed, explaining why there aren’t any paragliders around in the skies. Despite being quite unrelated to the image here, I could not find anywhere else in the post to fit the revelation that the individual accompanying Minami camping earlier was in fact her younger sister rather than brother. Minami remarks that her sister is confused for a guy with a nontrivial frequency and that the two of them are familiar with camping since their parents loved camping. From my end, I found this a bit surprising, but I’m not going back to change the fact that I also failed to make the distinction, since that could be anybody’s mistake (especially considering that Rin and Nadeshiko did not notice anything until it was mentioned).

  • While waiting for the others to show up, Rin roasts a marshmallow with her gas stove and makes s’mores with Nadeshiko. A gas stove will certainly do the trick, although most people probably will think of campfires. This treat is especially popular in Canada and the United States, with the earliest incarnations being described in cookbooks dating back to the 1920s, when they were known as Graham Cracker Sandwiches. S’mores became known as such in the late 1930s, but regardless of their names, share the simple recipe of Graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate.

  • After meeting up with Chiaki and Aoi, Rin agrees to pay for the firewood by ways of thanks, and takes as much as she can back with her. However, her moped has limited storage, so she asks Chiaki to carry the remaining bundle with her.

  • Ena’s arrival is prefaced by the arrival of Chikuwa, Ena’s dog. Ena lets loose Chikuawa with sausage, and this leads Nadeshiko on a joyful run across the open fields of Asagiri Kogen. Her adventures are joined by some children, and sensing the fun of the moment, Chiaki breaks out a frisbee. The group subsequently spends a spirited afternoon playing frisbee with the children in the plains. The day grows late as the sun sets and evening descends upon the land.

  • I’ve chosen not to show the moment here, but Asagiri Kogen is the perfect spot to view Red Fuji, which occurs during the evening when the reddening light cast a crimson colour on the mountain. It’s beautiful, and the Japanese believe that seeing this sight is particularly lucky. Minami awakens from her alcohol-induced sleep, during which Nadeshiko and the others have wrapped her up with a range of blankets to keep her warm.

  • Aoi sets about preparing sukiyaki with the ingredients that she’d brought with her. A subtype of nabesukiyaki involves thinly-sliced beef cooked in mirin, soy sauce and sugar alongside tofu and leafy vegetables. Compared to other forms of nabesukiyaki is sweeter, and is the choice of meal that Aoi goes about making on her grandmother’s suggestion: it’s a dish that’s to be shared with others during the winter months.

  • If there was a prize for best smiles in an anime, then Yuru Camp△ would win hands down: Nadeshiko’s smiles are heartwarming to watch, and the smiles in Yuru Camp△ are generally very infectious. It is reasonable to say that the warmth of Yuru Camp△ contributed substantially to me getting through the early months of 2018: the start of a year is always the toughest for me, and this year’s been especially tricky at work. It’s been a difficult period, and in conversations, things are slowly starting to turn around now; having shows like Yuru Camp△ to watch have allowed me to kick back and regroup.

  • The portrayal of food and its attendent enjoyment is only second to outdoors activities in Yuru Camp△: the closest equivalents that come to mind when I see Nadeshiko reacting to her food are Man v. Food‘s Adam Richman and Survivorman‘s Les Stroud, both of whom have rather unique ways of expressing their enjoyment of a meal. Hot food on a cold night is especially delicious, and with winter not quite done with my corner of the world yet, I recall a hearty curry katsu on a bed of spaghetti, garnished with a fried pumpkin slice, that I had earlier this week. It’s been a while since I’ve had katsu, and curry katsu is the perfect balance of savoury, creamy and crunchy rolled into one.

  • As far as cooking goes, I’m versed in the basics, but one of my goals is to develop my own approach to cooking in the near future. With the first round of sukiyaki in the books, Aoi prepares round two, which is a tomato sukiyaki. In response to the rich flavours, which we viewers will simply have to imagine, Nadeshiko and Chiaki simply gush at the flavours, while Rin, Ena and Aoi quietly marvel at the flavour. Rin’s monologue shows that she’s no novice when it comes to food, and her descriptions are on par with Adam Richman’s approaches, explaining to audiences how the flavours complement and enhance one another in a very poetic manner.

  • While Nadeshiko is more than happy to put away more food (the prospect of cheese noodles excites her), the others are content to have a smaller portion as they begin to hit the food wall. To celebrate Christmas, the girls don Santa Claus attire, and even Rin gets in on the festivities. The girls begin running low on propane, and Nadeshiko breaks out into tears on this revelation. It melts my heart whenever Nadeshiko cries, and a part of the appeal about Yuru Camp△ is how endearing the characters are; they remind me of the vibe that GochiUsa‘s characters exuded.

  • In response to the lack of propane, Rin offers to go get some. She reflects on the day’s events and smiles, the surest sign that Rin’s perspective on group camping has come around since the start of Yuru Camp△. Whenever she’s wearing her glasses, Minami reminds me of Ah! My Goddess‘ Sora Hasegawa, one of the Motor Club’s members with similar glasses. I prefer Minami’s appearance sans glasses and a blood alcohol content high enough to put me on the floor: it’s no joke when I say that what Minami drinks in one sitting is probably enough to kill me per alcohol poisoning. While Rin’s off buying the propane, Nadeshiko imagines what things might be like ten years from now – her imagination remains quite plausible right up until she introduces the idea of a rocket-propelled tent.

  • I suppose you could say that such a notion is pretty in-tents. While winter camping in Japan looks quite cozy and comfortable as per the portrayal in Yuru Camp△, it turns out that Canadians are even hardier: guides for camping in Alberta by winter boldly state that a little cold (to the tune of -20ºC) is not a justification for not camping, and note that winter camping has its charms in that it offers quieter campsites. Keeping warm in a Real Canadian Winter™ requires sleeping bags similar to that of Ena’s, making use of ground covers, dressing in layers and one of the most effective tips that Les Stroud mentions, hitting the bathroom before sleeping – the body expends additional energy in keeping fluid in the bladder warm, which is energy better spent keeping the rest of the body warm. Considering the specific heat of water, this is nontrivial!

  • It was most welcoming to see the whole party together in Yuru Camp△‘s final two episodes, marking the culmination of an entire season’s set of experiences that lead Rin to enjoy camping in groups. While Yuru Camp△ might ostensibly be about Nadeshiko, the themes primarily deal with Rin and her gradual warming up to the idea of group camping on top of her existing enjoyment of camping alone. As the evening becomes night, the girls begin streaming videos on Chiaki’s tablet, doing the Yuru Camp△ equivalent of a Netflix night.

  • The next morning, Chiaki, Aoi, Ena and Minami awaken to find Rin and Nadeshiko preparing an all-Japanese breakfast. Here, I mention that the page quote, sourced from Les Stroud, best captures the different approaches to adventures that people take: quite simply, there are people who are okay with not doing too much, people who are profoundly moved by doing something, and people who love doing things all the time. I sit squarely in the middle category: like most Hobbits, I love the comforts of home, but will occasionally step into the wider world in search of adventure and come away from the adventure more learned than before. Rin and Nadeshiko are described by the last category, seeking new adventures and making the most of their youth.

  • While Rin and the others enjoy a brilliant sunrise under perfectly clear skies, I will comment on the soundtrack in a bit more detail since my last post, now that I’ve had a chance to listen to it in more detail. The music of Yuru Camp△ is phenomenal, capturing the different characters of each campsite and the camping hobby in general. From the whistling tunes that I’ve long associated with Canadian Tire (and outdoorsmanship) and the use of kazoos in the more light-hearted pieces, to the Celtic and Scottish inspired suites that serve as the themes for different campsites, and the gentle piece that describes Rin’s feelings towards solo camping, the soundtrack plays a major role in contributing to the unique atmosphere of Yuru Camp△.

  • This screenshot almost looks photorealistic: Yuru Camp△‘s art style adheres to the idea that less is more, expertly bringing out the experience that Nadeshiko and the others share to viewers behind a screen. I’ve heard that since Yuru Camp△‘s airing, camping rates have gone up in Japan as fans take to the different campsites around Mount Fuji with the aim of recreating Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club’s adventures. This is yet another example of how, far from being an unhealthy hobby, anime has the potential to inspire individuals to be open to new experiences. One of my personal examples of how anime led me to do something different is how I got into tea and coffee through Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?.

  • Nadeshiko struggles to find a part-time job nearby to help her fund her camping equipment, but her fortunes change when Ena contacts her with a position. I empathise with Nadeshiko’s situation entirely: hunting for work is a difficult process that can be considered a full-time job in its own right, and there are occasions where knowing the right people can make a significant difference. In Yuru Camp△‘s case, the stakes are a bit lessened, since Nadeshiko simply seeks to earn some disposable income, but when one reaches a point where they need to be financially stable, things can become more stressful. Consequently, I’m most thankful that there are shows like Yuru Camp△ that help us relax, put things in perspective and come out refreshed, ready to handle adversity again when a new day begins.

  • As greenery and life seep back into the world with the arrival of spring, it’s clear that things have come full swing since the first episode of Yuru Camp△: with her experience now, Nadeshiko tries her hand at solo camping and sets off for the shores of Lake Motosu, where she first met Rin. Rin’s experiences throughout Yuru Camp△ is equivalent to my partying up with random players to complete legendary missions in The Division, while Nadeshiko is the equivalent of someone trying to solo The Division‘s campaign having beaten it once and experienced the endgame with a group of friends at every step of the way. Both are completely unique experiences, and it’s logical to see Nadeshiko’s interest develop in experiencing things from Rin’s perspective.

  • Nadeshiko holds up the gas lamp (which looks like a Coleman model) that she’s brought along with her. Rocking a reasonably complete loadout, Nadeshiko looks like she’s done a good enough job at her workplace to have continued working there and so, has earned enough money to buy some reasonably good quality equipment of her own. It’s a subtle show that for her carefree spirits, Nadeshiko can be serious and focused when the situation calls for it, working hard to earn the things and goals that she desires.

  • Lake Motosu looks quite different than it did during Yuru Camp△‘s first episode, attesting to the dramatic changes that a shift in seasons may bring. I note here that if there was a single grievance I had about Yuru Camp△, it was that the airing date, being on Thursdays, is quite unconducive towards episodic reviews. This is a series that I could see myself writing about each week, but being on a weeknight would’ve made it challenging. Thursdays and Tuesdays have been quite busy this year, only lightening up as of late – I spent the Tuesdays and Thursdays of February training at the dōjō in preparation for my ni-dan exam, which I managed to pass.

  • Of course, it would be unfair (and unwise) to factor airing date into my final verdict for Yuru Camp△. This series earns an A+, a 9.5 of 1o for its delivery and presentation, as well as for having a fun cast of characters, losing points only because I find myself wishing there’d be a continuation beyond the OVA. Here, Nadeshiko runs off to greet Rin, who happens to be “solo” camping at Lake Motosu, and I conclude my Yuru Camp△ post by looking ahead into the future; March is quickly drawing to a close, and I’ve got plans to write about Slow Start, as well as A Place Further Than The Universe once their finales air. Before that, Girls und Panzer Das Finale‘s first episode will be available for viewing soon, so I’ll be writing about that on very short order.

At the end of Yuru Camp△‘s main run, I find an anime that is this season’s premiere title for catharsis. With its combination of warm character dynamics that are occasionally punctuated with some good old-fashioned comedy, a soundtrack that captures the excitement and calm of camping, and clean, expressive landscapes, Yuru Camp△ does a phenomenal job of depicting the ins and outs of camping amongst a group of friends who’ve come together thanks to their shared interest in taking the outdoors in a laid-back manner. With additional elements that help viewers familiarise themselves with camping, Yuru Camp△ is inviting and approachable – the deliberately slow pacing of the anime will likely be off-putting for viewers who are expecting greater intensity, but for others, it will be a welcome change of scenery from routine, allowing one time to slow down from the rush that life can be. Consequently, while I greatly enjoyed Yuru Camp△ and would give it a strong recommendation, I also acknowledge that the genre might not be for everyone; as a result, I would give Yuru Camp△ a strong recommendation for audiences who are looking for something relaxing, as well as for viewers who are long-time fans of the slice-of-life genre. For everyone else, this series is still worth watching if one is up for a more languid story whose aim is to help heal, rather than be thought provoking. With this being said, reception to Yuru Camp△ has been largely positive, and most viewers have also wondered whether or not a continuation is possible. Given that Yuru Camp△‘s manga is ongoing, and if sales for the home release are good, there’s no reason not to believe that Yuru Camp△ would not get a second season. I certainly would continue watching Yuru Camp△ with great interest should there be a continuation, and there’s an OVA upcoming that will give audiences one more story from Yuru Camp△ before things come to an end for the present.

Yuru Camp△ Original Soundtrack set for release on March 21, 2018

“There is one thing I can still do with a broken arm. I can…play my harmonica.” –Les Stroud, Survivorman

It’s been a while since I’ve done a soundtrack-related post – the last one was for GochiUsa’s second season soundtrack, which ended up being an enjoyable listen. For this season, I introduce the Yuru Camp△ soundtrack; with its diverse array of instrumental motifs and incidental pieces that draw out the anime’s cathartic atmosphere, the soundtrack for Yuru Camp△ is one that I’ve been looking forwards to. The soundtrack becomes available for purchase one day after the Vernal Equinox, releasing just ahead of the finale, which will air on March 22. The album will retail for 3456 Yen (42.62 CAD), consists of two disks and totals 49 tracks. Interspersed with the incidental music will be nine drama performances, alongside the opening and ending themes.

  • The album artwork for Yuru Camp△ singularly captures the entire spirit and atmosphere of the entire anime: a warm friendship developed from a mutual interest in camping and the love of scenery under the beautiful landscapes afforded by night. One of the things about Yuru Camp△ that I was not anticipating was its focus on food and enjoyment of said food. While Nadeshiko’s particularly well-known for her reactions to food, it turns out that everyone in the main cast similarly enjoys their food at least to the same calibre as Adam Richman of Man v. Food.

I’ve translated the track names to English for ease-of-access: unsurprisingly, this blog’s readers are predominantly English-speaking, so it’s useful to have the English names for each of the tracks. As with my previous translations, I remark that my translations are done using a combination of my rudimentary familiarity with Japanese, a Japanese dictionary and where required, a Chinese dictionary. Consequently, not all of the translations are guaranteed to fully retain the original Japanese meaning. In the Yuru Camp△ soundtrack, I’ve opted to translate some tracks literally, while others, I’ve kept only the phonetics. For the track ドッタンバッタン, the katakana translates literally to “Dottanbattan”, which is an onomatopoeia that describes a chaotic situation, so I’ve opted to go with “Frenzy”. ワクパラ (“Wakupara”) similarly has no easy translation to English: I believe it’s a contraction of ワクワクパラダイス, which translates to “Exciting Paradise”, so this is what the English title is given as. I’ve gone with a simple phonetic translation for the track ハテナノナ. Finally, for the 野クルの時間 (“Field Time”) tracks, わちゃ (wa-cha) is an Osakan way of referring to “many people speaking to one another”. The closest English translation is conversation, and given the atmosphere in Yuru Camp△, I think “chit-chat” is probably the most appropriate. There are three of these tracks, each with different iterations of the phrase わちゃ, so in English, I’ve gone with a similar translation using variations of “chit-chat”.

Disk One

  1. ゆるキャン△のテーマ (Yuru Camp△Theme)
  2. オリジナルドラマ その1 (Original Drama Part 1)
  4. オリジナルドラマ その2(Original Drama Part 2)
  5. キャンプ場のテーマ~本栖湖~ (Campsite Theme ~Lake Motosu~)
  6. 野クルの時間(わちゃわちゃ!) (Field Time (Chit-chat!))
  7. ソロキャン△のすすめ (Solo Camp△Recommendation)
  8. ゆるやかな時間 (Laid-back time)
  9. オリジナルドラマ その3(Original Drama Part 3)
  10. キャンプ場のテーマ~麓~ (Campsite Theme ~Fumoto~)
  11. おしゃべりとマグカップ (Conversations and mugs)
  12. ごーいんぐマイウェイ (Going my way)
  13. 夜明けの深呼吸 (Deep breath at dawn)
  14. ワクパラ! (Exciting Paradise!)
  15. オリジナルドラマ その4(Original Drama Part 5)
  16. キャンプ場のテーマ~高ボッチ、イーストウッド~ (Campsite Theme ~Takabocchi, Pine Wood~)
  17. 野クルの時間(わちゃ…) (Field Time (Chat…))
  18. ごーいんぐユアウェイ (Going your way)
  19. ゆるりの掟 (Laid-back rules)
  20. たじたじのた (I knew it)
  21. オリジナルドラマ その5 (Original Drama Part 5)
  22. ふゆびより (弾きがたり ver.) (Fuyubiyori, Performance version)

Disk Two

  1. オリジナルドラマ その6 (Original Drama Part 6)
  2. キャンプ場のテーマ~四尾連湖~ (Campsite Theme ~Shibireko Lake~)
  3. キャンプ行こうよ! (Let’s go camping!)
  4. 富士川賛歌 (Fujikawa Hymn)
  5. ストレンジブルー (Strange Blue)
  6. 野クルの時間(わちゃわちゃわちゃっ!!)(Field Time (Chit-chat chit-chat!))
  7. へろりんぱ (Lenticular)
  8. オリジナルドラマ その7(Original Drama Part 7)
  9. キャンプ場のテーマ~陣馬形山~(Campsite Theme ~Mount Jimbagata~)
  10. 踊ろよフォークダンス (Let’s dance to that folk dance)
  11. うんちくかんちく (Punctuation)
  12. リトルクルーズ (Little cruise)
  13. ハテナノナ? (Hatenonona?)
  14. オリジナルドラマ その8 (Original Drama Part 8)
  15. キャンプ場のテーマ~朝霧高原~ (Campsite Theme ~Asagiri Plateau~)
  16. オリジナルドラマ その9 (Original Drama Part 9)
  17. ふゆびより (TV SIZE) (Fuyubiyori, TV version)
  18. ため息ひとつ (A single sigh)
  19. でこぼこんぐ (Bumpy)
  20. ドッタンバッタン (Frenzy)
  21. ハプニングー (Happening)
  22. どろどろばあ (Mushrooms)
  23. 南国ファンタジー (Southern Nation Fantasy)
  24. 万歳山頂 (Banzai Summit)
  25. キャンピングinボッシブル (Camping in possible)
  26. なでしこはかく語りき (Nadeshiko is speechless)
  27. しまりん団子のテーマ (The Shimarin Dango Theme)

  • The page quote comes from Les Stroud during the Plane Crash episode, where he was simulating a broken arm. Stroud rarely enters his survival situations without his harmonica; he reasons that being able to play music and do something to stave off boredom is highly important in a survival situation. Occasionally, he uses the harmonica to make enough aural indicators of his presence to drive off other animals, and sometimes, he plays the harmonica simply to celebrate a good meal. While the girls of Yuru Camp△ never play any music during their camping trips, as a post related to music, I figured that it would be to pick a quote from Stroud relevant to music.

I again stress that my translations are only approximations of what I think the English titles to be. With eleven of the twelve episodes to Yuru Camp△ in the books, I’ve found an immensely relaxing anime that has done much to provide warmth during this uncommonly snowy and lengthy winter. I do not think I am mistaken when I say that reception to Yuru Camp△ has been universally positive: simple in its thematic elements, Yuru Camp△‘s main strength is a staple of most enjoyable slice-of-life anime. In its execution, Yuru Camp△ presents the ordinary as exciting and showcases the joys of different perspectives by pouring an exceptional amount of detail into the settings and situations. I’ll be returning shortly after the finale to do a full discussion on all of the components that make Yuru Camp△ so enjoyable, and close things up by mentioning again that even after Yuru Camp△‘s finale airs, there’s still an OVA that will be released with the first BD version, detailing life at the Outdoors Activity Club prior to Nadeshiko’s arrival.

Terrible Anime Challenge: Sansha San’yō and The Making of Magic From The Ordinary

“Age appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.” –Francis Bacon

Yōko Nishikawa hails from a once well-to-do family whose fortunes fell when her father’s businesses succumbed to bankruptcy, leading her to live a frugal lifestyle. While eating lunch on her own, she encounters Futaba Odagiri and Teru Hayama, two of her classmates: Futaba has become lost while trying a shortcut, and Teru was pursuing a cat. This happenstance meeting allow the three individuals, unrelated in all manners save their sharing the kanji for ‘leaf’ in their names, to become friends, and over the course of Sansha San’yō (Three Leaves, Three Colours, or Tripartide Trefoil), Yōko, Futaba and Teru share in many misadventures with one another. From the rivalry between Teru and Serina Nishiyama, to the various antics of Yōko’s former staff (such as Sonobe Shino and Mitsugu Yamaji), the main cast’s interactions with an array of secondary characters to give the Sansha San’yō world a more colourful, lively feel; as the seasons pass by, Yōko comes to deeply appreciate her friendship with Teru and Futaba, accepting their eccentricities as she shares with them everyday life at school, working at a confectionary shop that Sonobe owns, relaxing during the summer and taking in the festivities of the Christmas season. Conveying the notion that friendships transcend creed and socio-economic status, Sansha San’yō‘s unusual set of characters come together to create a surprisingly enjoyable and amusing story that entertains audiences by creating the ridiculous out of the ordinary.

When placed with the likes of Flying Witch, Hai-Furi and Kuromukuro, the Spring 2016 season proved to be a very busy one, compounded by the fact that I was gearing up to finish my graduate thesis and attend two conferences to present my research. Anime like Anne Happy and Sansha San’yō, which prima facie look to be shows that might capture my interest, were quickly placed on the backburner. While Anne Happy proved somewhat disappointing, Sansha San’yō ended up being unexpectedly fun to watch. What is more unexpected about Sansha San’yō is the fact that its original manga run began in February 2003 – while the anime adaptation modernises the look and feel for each of the characters, the fact that Sansha San’yō dates back some fifteen years means that its brand of humour and characterisation is different than what might be seen from more modern 4-koma series. Each of Yōko, Teru and Futaba have distinct attributes that make them memorable; none of the characters conform to the archetypes that anime such as K-On! have set the groundwork for, and consequently, watching highly unique characters bounce off one another creates comedy that is refreshing to watch. The age of Sansha San’yō‘s source material makes it stand out from other 4-koma series (especially Anne Happy, which it aired alongside), and more impressively, the conversations and jokes in Sansha San’yō have withstood the test of time. Whether it be Yōko’s fall from grace and yearning to return to her old life, Futaba’s insatiable love for food or Teru’s haraguroi personality, the elements seen in Sansha San’yō are quite timeless and remain entertaining even after fifteen years.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • As a Terrible Anime Challenge post, this talk on Sansha San’yō features twenty images, and will not go into some scenes or elements in the same detail as a conventional post. Sansha San’yō‘s opening episodes are largely set in the quiet and inviting grounds of the school that Yōko attends, where her budget forces her to subsist on bread crusts as a lunch. A happenstance meeting allows Yōko to meet Futaba and Teru. While the source manga far predates the likes of Locodol, I cannot help but notice that Futaba and Teru are similar to Locodol‘s Nanako and Yukari in terms of appearance. Their personalities, however, are anything but. Yōko herself seems to have formed the basis for Anne Happy‘s Ruri, as well as GochiUsa‘s Rize and Sharo.

  • The story behind my experience in Sansha San’yō is that I took a look at the first episode, was somewhat interested by the setup, and then proceeded to forget about the show because I had my hands tied with Hai-Furi‘s first episode: the unexpected turn of events, in conjunction with deliberate misinformation about this anime, made it difficult for viewers and readers to differentiate who was stating facts and who was fabricating information for brownie points. Hai-Furi‘s conclusion and two subsequent OVAs later, things have settled down considerably, leaving the way clear for me to return to Sansha San’yō.

  • A former maid of the Nishikawa family, Shino Sonobe is a bit of an amusing character whose matter-of-fact deliveries and penchance for doing outrageous things drive comedy, exasperating Yōko and her friends to no end. However, she does end up offering Yōko a part-time position at her bakery, and Yōko comes to enjoy both being able to have an income, as well as interact with others to better gain a sense of how ordinary people might live.

  • One aspect that Sansha San’yō nails in its delivery is the fact that the characters, while each with their own unique features, are never overshadowed by them. Yōko might be from a wealthy background and retains her mannerisms, but is approachable and friendly. Teru might have a heart blacker than coal, but she’s only really malevolent when pushed. Futaba enjoys eating challenges, but also has the cooking skills to back up her love for food: when she surprises Teru and Yōko with this revelation, she also explains that it’d be bad news bears if she only knew how to eat, and here, helps Yōko cook Kobe beef, creating with the others a fantastic memory.

  • Serina Nishimiya is Futaba and Teru’s classmates, and engages in fierce competition for supremacy in all things academic with Teru. In spite of her efforts, she ends up on the losing side.Despite the feelings of animosity between Serina and Teru being mutual, the two share a love of small animals. Her dislike for Teru is exploited by Shino, who coerces her into working at her bakery, and in time, she and her friend, Asako Kondō, spend more time with Yōko and the others, even if they do not necessarily count one another as friends.

  • Without the additional premise of “misfortune” or “bad luck” driving things, Sansha San’yō is the more enjoyable of the two Manga Time Kirara Adaptations of the Spring 2016 season. Produced and animated by Doga Kobo, which worked on Yuru Yuri‘s first two seasons, both seasons of New Game! and Himōto! Umaru-chan, it is not particularly surprising that Sansha San’yō has high quality with its art and animation: the summer beach here is inviting, and the vivid blue colours do much to capture a mid-summer feel, when the days are long and suited for doing things of one’s choosing.

  • Sakura (Futaba’s cousin) and Yū Takezono square off here: the latter is from a family close to the Nishikawas, while the former has a remarkably detailed plan for life and openly makes her feelings for Yū known. They appear occasionally, but the point of this screenshot is not to highlight their interactions, which are infrequent. Instead, the point of this screenshot is so I don’t have to spend a thousand words explaining why Yōko is my favourite of the characters in Sansha San’yō.

  • Because Sansha San’yō is an older manga, elements of yuri are non-existent – it’s one more element that made the anime considerably more enjoyable. Bill Watterson elaborated in an interview that Calvin and Susie were written to have mutual crushes on one another in Calvin and Hobbes, but found that this was difficult to work in, so he eventually wrote the characters to bounce off one another instead, leading to stories that were more dynamic and entertaining. Sansha San’yō benefited from this approach, illustrating that yuri is not an end-all for slice-of-life anime.

  • The straightforwards approach of Sansha San’yō meant that this anime would’ve been quite difficult to write for had I chosen to blog about it back while it was still airing. Most period discussion on the anime dealt primarily with the interactions – character drive anime are typically quite rudimentary in their thematic elements, and the main enjoyment in watching them stems from watching stuff happen. This is why things like why Mitsugu’s providing only yogurt and puddings to Yōko is skated over in my discussions: as as systems-level kind of guy, I don’t have much patience for folks who dreg up minutiae because they feel the constant need to validate their intellect (or possibly, lack thereof).

  • In answering the above, a perfectly rational individual would surmise that either Yōko is fond of those particular products, or they’re what Mitsugu has the easiest time accessing. I remark that I’ve a disproportionate number of screenshots from the beach episode, and this is a consequence of not doing a full on review of the series. Here, Yōko speaks with Sasame Tsuji, sister of  Hajime Tsuji; she’s dissatisfied that Futaba keeps kicking her brother’s ass in food challenges, and is conflicted when she learns that Yōko happens to be friends with Futaba. Her desire for friendship wins out, and she will later spend more time with Yōko and the others as Sansha San’yō continues.

  • Time makes fools of everyone – while Teru and Serina might not admit it any more than Sasame, Yōko, Futaba and Teru’s increasing presence in their lives, and their corresponding increase in time spent together means that for all intents and purposes, a friendship of sorts begins to form. Here, Futaba gives Serina a ticket to a pet zoo so she may attend with Teru, and despite their hostilities, the two manage to run into one another at every turn, reflecting on the fact their love for kittens is mutual. Were it not for Serina’s attempts in goading Teru past the point of endurance, things might’ve gone smoothly; both characters exhibit flaws that preclude a cordial relationship with one another.

  • It’s rare to see Adam Richman’s equal in anime: Futaba’s appetite and enjoyment of food challenges is second to none, and she’s never seen suffering from the food walls that Adam Richman hits in Man v. Food where quantity challenges are involved. However, excessively spicy food will best her, whereas Richman is actually quite strong in all of his showings against spicy foods: save one challenge in Saratosa against the “Fire-in-your-Hole” wings, Richman has conquered every other challenge. After Futaba gets burned by ultra-hot curry, she realises that dialed back, the curry would be perfect for a culture festival event.

  • As Sansha San’yō wears on, I became acclimatized to the antics of Teru and Futaba. Initially, it was a bit unusual to see Yukari and Nanako look-alikes in this anime, but in time, I grew to greatly enjoy Sansha San’yō – this is the motivation for the page quote. I was motivated to pick up the anime again on a recommendation from one of my readers, and I’m happy to say that the further I got into the anime, the more I liked what I was seeing. I’m all smiles when watching Sansha San’yō, so a warm thank you to DerekL of Apprentice Mages for getting me back into this one is on order.

  • Futaba is often referred to as the Human Black Hole, and it is her suggestion that her class does a curry café. On the topic of black holes, renowned theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking passed away at the age of seventy six, coinciding with the birth date of Albert Einstein. His work on black holes was revolutionary, and he was one of the first to suppose that general relativity and quantum theory were connected in some way. I have Hawking’s A Briefer History of Time and The Universe in a Nutshell; both are fantastic and informative works that explain immensely complex topics in an approachable manner.

  • Christmas in Japan is quite different than what folks from North America and Europe would be accustomed to. Rather than emphasis on family and generosity, Christmas in Japan emphasises couples. Anime typically depicts it as a time of year when friends gather to share a meal together: the bucket of fried chicken on the table, and Futaba’s insistence on having fried chicken at Christmas is a callout to the fact that fried chicken, especially Kentucky Fried Chicken, is an immensely popular Christmas dinner in Japan. With its origins in a 1974 marketing campaign, it codified a Christmas tradition for everyone that has endured into the present.

  • In the eternal struggle between Serina and Teru, Teru always comes out on top. Their friends can only watch in amusement as things go down, and here, Serina is blown away by the fact that Teru’s birthday is on Christmas, feeling offended that celebrating Christmas is to implicitly celebrate Teru’s birthday, as well. As icing on the cake, Locodol‘s Yukari, whom I noted to share some similarities with Teru in appearance, also has a Christmas birthday, as well. I am positive that this bit of information did not cross my mind during my initial watching of Sansha San’yō.

  • While the snowfall is used purely for comedy’s sake in Sansha San’yō, there is nothing remotely amusing about the snow that has fallen in my area: with 43.3 cm of snow falling in the past month, we’ve broken a record of sorts, and after shovelling the snow, we’ve got piles of snow on the lawn deep enough for me to pull off what Shino’s got going here. One aspect of Sansha San’yō that I’ve got no screenshots of, but loved seeing, was Teru exploding in anger after Futaba visits her house and shouts out, inviting Teru out to chill, rather than using the doorbell.

  • A lot of sources translate the title 三者三葉 literally as “Three-person trefoil”, after the L. corniculatus, a flowering plant with a distinct three-leafed flower, but looking at the title more closely, “Three people, three leaves” is the better direct translation. In English, Sansha San’yō is known as “Three Leaves, Three Colours”, evidently after the fact that there are three main characters with the kanji 葉 in their name and that each of the girls has distinct personalities and traits, hence the colours. This is the best translation possible.

  • Discussions of Sansha San’yō have remained quite limited and concise: this is unsurprising, considering that from a big-picture perspective, the anime follows a tried and true convention presenting a story about friendship. Most of the anime’s joys come from, as Bill Watterson put it, watching the characters bounce off one another, and I personally find that it’s more than okay to enjoy shows such as these, even when not much conversation can be had about events within the aforementioned shows. To put things in perspective, discussions on Sansha San’yō at Tango-Victor-Tango, a place known for folks that count episode summaries as analysis and where people attempt to turn minor details into something of academic significance, stopped at episode eight.

  • The finale of Sansha San’yō has Shino recounting a vivid dream to Yōko and the others, before Yōko learns that her father has found new employment. While things begin turning around, Yōko laments that she has not changed too dramatically since meeting Teru and Futaba, but her friends disagree, feeling that the Yōko now is more sociable and connected with those around her, no longer encountering difficulties in conversing with people of a different background than herself. Because my upcoming posts for the second half of March should be well-known (or at least, easy to infer), I’ll wrap up this talk by considering my next Terrible Anime Challenge post, where I’ll be looking at Eromanga Sensei.

Unlike Anne Happy, which I would not recommend to viewers, my verdict on Sansha San’yō is quite different: this one is worth watching for the fact that the characters are distinct both within the context of Sansha San’yō, as well as when compared against newer 4-koma adaptations. While being quite conventional as far as thematic elements go, the main draw in Sansha San’yō are the characters and each of their unique personalities – unlike any modern archetypes, they are quite novel, setting Sansha San’yō apart from similar anime. From a technical perspective, Sansha San’yō is also respectable; with satisfactory animation, artwork and sound, it is nice to see an older manga given a modernised adaptation. While enjoyable for what it is, one lingering question is whether or not we could see more Sansha San’yō in the future: there is plenty of material to adapt, as the manga is still running, so a continuation’s viability will depend on sales of home releases and the studio’s interest. While nothing official has been announced yet, it appears that general interest in the series (Japanese viewers warmly received Sansha San’yō) and the animator’s response to this reception means that a sequel should not be ruled out. If such a continuation, either in the form of a second season or OVA, is to be reality, I would likely watch it, so in conjunction with everything else I’ve mentioned in this Terrible Anime Challenge, I would conclude that Sansha San’yō most certainly is not a terrible anime by any definition, only being granted this misnomer on account of the fact that I had a bit of difficulty getting into things when it first began airing back in the spring of 2016.

Far Cry 4: A Lesson on Patience and Applicability in Contemporary Movements

“If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.” –George Bernard Shaw

After pushing through into North Kyrat, Ajay liberates the remainder of the provinces and ultimately is made to choose to make Amita or Sabal the leader of the Golden Path. In my playthough, I ended up choosing Amita and shot Sabal. In a titanic assault on Pegan Min’s stronghold, the Golden Path are successful in toppling his regime. Finding Pagan Min, Ajay learns of his family history, and Min allows him to place his mother’s ashes inside a shrine. Min leaves on a helicopter, leaving Kyrat to Ajay. With Amita in control, Kyrat becomes a drug state. Had I opted to go with Sabal’s ending, he would have turned the nation into a theocracy. Regardless of which ending one chooses, the ramifications are less than optimal – this is the core lesson in Far Cry 4, that regime changes very nearly always have unforeseen consequences owing to the complexity of even the more disagreeable political systems. Far Cry 4 thus becomes a thought experiment to illustrate what might happen when one is given the means to destablise a regime and introduce change through force of arms, bypassing activism and protest in favour of violence. While Ajay is given enough background to make decisions and carry out his actions, the constraints result in Kyrat being oppressed by a new regime. In my case, having chosen Amita to lead the Golden Path, Kyrat’s citizens are now entangled in the production of narcotics, which will create problems for other nations, as well as internally. A leadership under Sabal would see oppression of at least a similar calibre to Pegan Min’s rule: given that we know what the outcomes are now, it might have been preferable to leave Pegan Min in control because at the very least, what to expect from his regime is known. At the end of Far Cry 4, the game succeeds in conveying the message that supporting a cause to bring about change, without full awareness of what that cause is trying to accomplish, may result in system equally or more undesirable than what was already present.

The events of Far Cry 4 provide players an opportunity to experience a war from the perspective of someone who has the capability to make a tangible impact, and the endings warn players that it is possible that, when folks supporting a cause achieve what they’d set out to accomplish, the end result may not be what they were expecting. The setting and thematic elements of Far Cry 4 give the impression that the game is another perspective of the Tibet 2008 uprisings, deliberately coinciding with the Beijing 2008 Summer Games. Ubisoft gives power to the player, acting as an external third party who is free to explore Kyrat as they will and do as they choose. By shifting power into the players’ hands, Far Cry 4 imagines a scenario where that the folks supportive of the complete and total removal of the Chinese presence in Tibet are given the means to do so. As players move through Kyrat and whittle away Pegan Min’s power, the authoritarian regime weakens and crumbles. However, the end result was rather undesirable: Kyrat’s residents end up trading one hell for another. Far Cry 4 thus suggests that, had the Tibet Uprising accomplished its goals of removing the Chinese presence, they might have encountered additional difficulties afterwards – there is no guarantee that the new leadership would bring about the change that people sought, and that a third party intervening may simply create more problems. The parallels bring to mind organisations that conducted a widespread campaign to promote an independent Tibet during the 2008, and through its narrative, Far Cry 4 implies that organisations or groups could be doing more harm than good, if they are not fully aware of the consequences of rapid change and nonetheless continue to push their agendas forward.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The Buzzsaw is a signature MG42 that has double the ammunition capacity of a standard MG42 with the extended magazine, and coupled with its pointpoint accuracy and high damage resulting from the 7.92×57mm Mauser rounds, the mere fact that I have the weapon means that for all intents and purposes, I’ve beaten Far Cry 4. The weapon will kill all enemies in less than three rounds, can rip ground vehicles and helicopters apart in seconds and even force the largest of wildlife to yield.

  • Unlocked after liberating all of the Belltowers, the Buzzsaw is so powerful that there is no game to play: Ajay can clear out entire outposts without ever reloading, and reinforcements sent to support Royal Guard soldiers become victims of the weapon. To balance the Buzzsaw out, it would have been more appropriate to give the weapon increased recoil so it cannot be fired for sustained periods of time on full automatic. This way, other LMGs could be given superior automatic fire accuracy and make them more useful.

  • Of course, things are what they are, and having the Buzzsaw made many missions trivially easy. Most of these screenshots for my second Far Cry 4 post date between late August and November of last year – I was pushing to finish Far Cry 4 towards the end of 2017 so I could begin Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus and The Division.

  • I previously mentioned that vegetation can be set ablaze with any incendiary weapon or even the repair tool. I recall an evening where I spent running around Kyrat, lighting up Royal Guard soldiers with the repair tool and setting them on fire for comedy. Repair tool kills have been something I’ve not made a point of getting since the days of Battlefield 3, where it was bloody hilarious to force a reaction from other players who were killed by the repair torch. In Battlefield 1, the Kolibri is the equivalent weapon for humiliating other players.

  • Here, I run with the Kriss Vector, one of my favourite weapons in The Division: I’ve outfitted the Vector with a similar configuration here that I felt I would most likely run with in The Division (at the time, I did not have The Division), mounting the medium range optics in conjunction with a suppressor. While a fun weapon to use against groups of lightly-armoured opponents, the Vector is stymied by a lower range, and is not as versatile as an assault rifle in Far Cry 4, so I did not run with the Vector with any great frequency during the main missions.

  • By this point in Far Cry 4, I accumulated enough cash to buy all of the weapons and their signature counterparts. Having good weapons makes the mid and late game a far cry from what things were at the beginning: while the basic AKM was a weak weapon with poor accuracy, having access to the full spectrum of guns in Far Cry 4 made the game much easier to play. Stealth operations became straightforwards to perform, and in a stand-up firefight, all enemies fell before the might of the Buzzsaw.

  • I realise that this post comes a ways later than expected: I beat Far Cry 4 back in early November prior to starting my journey in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and remark that I actually began my journey in Far Cry 4 on Christmas Day in 2016. During Christmas Day of 2017, I pushed further into Wolfire’s Overgrowth, and finished the game; the campaign is a bit short but quite fun. The fighting mechanics are solid and satisfying, and having beat the Overgrowth campaign, I will aim to get a post out for the game at some point in the future.

  • After finishing all of the Longinus missions, players unlock the LK-1018, which can fire laser-guided rockets similar to the rocket launcher of Half-Life 2. More powerful and effective against air vehicles than the RPG, I ended up using this weapon only when free-roaming the world: on missions where my goal was simply to finish them, the Buzzsaw and AMR are superior anti-vehicle options.

  • I chose to write about Far Cry 4 now, rather than earlier because of the fact that we’re very nearly about to see Far Cry 5‘s release on March 27. Having taken a look at the system requirements, I’m a bit surprised that Far Cry 5 can in fact run on my current computer on acceptable settings – I’m a 1080p60 gamer, and this requires an Intel i5 clocked at 3.4 GHz, a GTX 970 and 8 GB of RAM. The requirements aren’t too steep at all, and I might just pick the title up as a summer shooter: history suggests that Far Cry 5 might just see a 20 percent discount during the summer sale.

  • For 56 CAD three months after the launch date, Far Cry 5 could be well worth the price of admissions if Far Cry 4 was anything to go by: overall, I put in 48 hours into Far Cry 4, and ended up with a 80 percent completion rate, so if I were to spend a few more hours, I could probably wholly do everything in the game. My metrics for determining whether or not a pricey Triple-A title is worth it is whether or not the game costs six dollars per hour or less, which is roughly what it costs to watch a movie.

  • The AMR (Anti-Materiel Rifle) is the ultimate single-action rifle in Far Cry 4: being the signature form of the Z93, the AMR inherits the exceptional damage and slow rate of fire of the Z93, while introducing a HEIAP (High-Explosive Incendiary/Armour Piercing) round that can make short work of anything. Vehicles explode when shot, while large game are so grievously damaged that skins cannot be recovered from them. The main downside to the AMR is that as a signature weapon, it cannot be outfitted with a suppressor, limiting its effectiveness in a long-range role.

  • I’m not particularly fond of shotguns in Far Cry 4, since they do not always guarantee a one-hit kill on enemies. However, there are some missions that require one to kill HVTs or wildlife with specific weapons, which encourages players to try new weapons and make use of novel strategies to make these weapons work. I normally pick off all of the guards in an area from afar, before attempting to finish off the HVTs using the required weapon.

  • There are a few points in Far Cry 4 where Ajay either falls under the influence or where the narrative slips into an alternative plane known as Shangri-La, a mythical land where the gameplay mechanics are completely different. They’re quite distinct and memorable for their unique designs, but overall, I did not end up playing through all of the Shangri-La missions, only doing enough of them to unlock all of the weapons.

  • In the end, the best long-range weapon is the semi-automatic SA-50, which, while having a lower damage per shot compared to the AMR, offers a much higher firing rate and can be customised. This means a suppressor can be added to the weapon, making it the perfect choice for clearing out fortresses and outposts without alerting anyone to my presence. Clearing outposts without being detected and without any alarms being set off provide experience bonuses, and while players initially must choose between defensive and offensive upgrades, completing the game will allow Ajay to unlock more or less everything.

  • With every available skill unlocked in Far Cry 4, Ajay can survive three times as much punishment, move faster, reload more efficiently, perform more powerful takedowns, carry more gear and so on. While Ajay was quite weak as Far Cry 4 begins, at the game’s conclusion, the skills, weapons and player familiarity with the perks allow Ajay to be a veritable one-man army. Even the superior Royal Guard of North Kyrat stand little chance against Ajay.

  • I’ve not been too fond of the bows for their projectile drop and low firing rates, so I never made extensive use of these weapons for stealth or hunting. By comparison, the automatic crossbow is easy to use, featuring a high projectile speed and firing rate: it is perfect for close-quarters stealth engagements with multiple targets and the ideal hunting weapon, swiftly dealing with wildlife without damaging their skins. Where stealth is necessary, the automatic crossbow is the top sidearm for the job, and I found myself switching to this from the M79.

  • While most of Kyrat has a verdant, vibrant landscape, some parts of North Kyrat have a more distinct feel to it, with browning vegetation that evokes a sense of autumn. It is here that Kyrat’s toughest enemies are faced, and I take a few moments to look back ten years ago today, which was when an anti-China rally was set to go forwards. Some of my classmates were ardently trying to encourage fellow students to participate in rallys downtown in front of the Chinese Consulate to protest the Chinese government’s response to events in Tibet during the 2008 Summer Games. I antagonised them by declining to participate, feeling that it was unreasonable to expect that immediate change was realistic, and that all actions required consideration to avoid the sort of thing that might arise in Far Cry 4.

  • The argument devolved very rapidly; while I attempted to present the arguments outlined in this post as the basis for why I would not commit to their protest, one of the individuals backing the other party immediately resorted to ad hominem attacks. Claiming that “some of the things [that I] have written are incorrect”, and that I “should only respond if [I] want to discuss issues respectfully towards [my] opponent”, they concluded with the demand that I “owe [them] an apology for being inconsiderate to [them]”. The unique situation in Tibet means that what they sought (an immediate and complete removal of the Chinese presence) may have potentially created new social problems that would have not benefited the people in the area: my mere suggestion that change should be slow if it is to persist was somehow offensive to them.

  • I stress that I am not opposed to the idea of human rights, nor do I hold that China is blameless, but rather, I oppose actions and organisations who are so focused on one goal that they neglect the bigger picture, and the fact that change must be gradual. In the decade that has passed, I remark that the Dalai Lama has stated that his goal to be what is called the Middle Way: rather than full independence, he calls for cooperation and coexistence, understanding that an extreme course of action will similarly have extreme recourse on the people. Slow, methodical change is evidently preferred. Consequently, I owe this individual no apology – it is not my responsibility to be concerned that their feelings are hurt because of the realisation they cannot contribute to a change within the span of their lifetime.

  • The individual above asserted that opposing them constituted as harassment, and so, can be seen as being the precursor to the modern-day virtue signallers, folks who play the victim or take offense on the behalf of other groups for the sake of improving their own image. This is an issue that has become more prevalent, and as of late, such groups have protested everything from video game journalism to democracy in Hong Kong as conducted by one Joshua Wong and his cronies. The former sparked a massive internet war that ended being of little consequence to those seeking to change the industry, and the latter, while ostensibly promoting democracy, created major disturbances in Hong Kong, blocking traffic and damaging property that undermined the movement’s credibility.

  • As a consequence, I believe that Marco Rubio’s nomination of Joshua Wong and the Umbrella Revolution’s participants for a Nobel Peace Prize to be, for the lack of a better word, a complete and utter mockery of what the Nobel Peace Prize to be about. The folks who participated in the Umbrella Revolution amount to little more than entitled youth who do not understand what hard work entitles. In the knowledge of the unreasonable real estate market in Hong Kong, which makes it difficult for Millennials to buy a house, it is understandable that there is dissent. However, throwing the equivalent of a tantrum, as people Yau Wai-ching did, is unacceptable. Her story is that she refused to take an oath that would have allowed her to join the Hong Kong legislature.Wai-ching showed willful disrespect towards the system and discarded a chance to potentially help her fellow Millennials out. These actions are contrary to what individuals deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize might do.

  • Positive change in society is built on the shoulders of the hard-working, not the vocal – activism and protesting has its limits compared to sustained hard work and a clear game plan, so I’ll leave the topic aside and return to Far Cry 4. Here is another segment of Far Cry 4 set in Shangri-La: as an ancient warrior, players only have access to an enchanted bow, but also gain a powerful tiger companion. Enemies take the form of mysterious spirits, and these missions allow players to learn more about the mythical aspects of Kyrat. I prefer these missions to the psychedelic, drug-fuelled chaos of the Yogi & Reggie missions, which gave me a headache in trying to complete them. Humourous characters they were, their impact on gameplay was much less enjoyable, and I only did enough of their missions to advance the story.

  • The Shangri-La missions are quite linear in nature, and end with players reaching large bell that they must cut free and allow to toll. The real-world location is a city of 130 000 people in Yunnan Province of China, but when the name is mentioned, James Hilton’s description of a paradise in his novel, Lost Horizon is what comes to mind. In his novel, Shangri-La is a Himalayan paradise far secluded from the world, where the residents were immortal and eternally happy.

  • A glance at some of the beautiful scenery up in the Tibetan Plateau, Sichuan and Yunnan will speak volumes as to why Hilton set his fictional paradise up here. From colourful pools of Huang Long, to the vast salt lakes in the most remote corners of Tibet, the landscape up here is beautiful beyond measure, and one of my dreams is to visit this part of the world for myself. Kyrat features none of these landscapes: its design is more similar to the terrain found in Bhutan, a small nation that reports a very high social development index and happiness despite its status as a least developed country.

  • I ended up choosing Amita’s path for fun: at the end of the day, one’s choice is not particularly relevant, and one of the things I’m wondering about Far Cry 5 is whether or not it will create a more impactful ending based on the decisions that players make. With this being said, the strengths in Far Cry seem to be the exploration component, so even if Far Cry 5 does not have a true user-chosen ending, I’m sure the game itself will be solid from a technical perspective.

  • We come to it at last: the final assault on Pegan Min’s fortress. There’s hardly a need for stealth here: equipping the loudest and most powerful weapons in the game, I accompanied the Golden Path on a full-scale siege of his fortress. With the Buzzsaw, AMR and LK-1018 in my inventory, I struck the facility with guns ablaze and very quickly cleared out all resistance without any difficulty. Golden Path forces will assist Ajay in his siege, but my superior firepower meant that this was quite unnecessary.

  • Far Cry 4‘s co-operative component and guns for hire: the latter can be called in to assist with operations to take on liberation of outposts and fortresses, but during my run of the game, I relied on neither to help out. While they could add a bit of amusement to the game, I prefer running missions without computer-controlled NPCs so I can fully control my approach towards completing an objective – there’s always a chance that they might break stealth and set off an alarm prematurely.

  • Officially, my journey in Far Cry 4 ended eleven months after I began the first steps to the campaign back on Christmas Day of 2016. Throughout the summer of 2017, I continued to play through the game with a non-trivial frequency and wondered why I did not play it sooner. For the most part, Far Cry 4 is superbly enjoyable – there are only a few repetitive elements. Besides the animal hunting missions, I was not a particular fan of the arena mode; I needed to reach rank ten to unlock the Bushman, the best assault rifle in the game, and after I finished this, I continued on my way with the campaign.

  • Destroying Pegan Min’s solid gold statue will bring the main campaign to an end. I chose to spare Pegan Min and sat down to dinner with him, listening to his final speech before he leaves Kyrat to Ajay. I’m well aware of the secret ending and will give it a go in the near future. With this post in the books, I’m going to look at doing posts for Wolfire’s Overgrowth and Sansha Sanyou for my Terrible Anime Challenge series before we reach the end of this month, which will see the Yuru Camp△ and Slow Start finales. My schedule over the next few weeks will be a bit chaotic, so posts will be written and published on a best efforts basis: I anticipate that things will settle out in April

From a gameplay perspective, Far Cry 4 proved to be remarkably entertaining, and a sobering theme aside, the game itself is actually quite light-hearted and humourous in nature. There is no shortage of activities to participate in within Far Cry 4, and the world of Kyrat is fun to explore, even if most of the map is repetitive in design. One of the most notable elements in Far Cry 4 is the fact that Pegan Min’s Royal Guard speak Cantonese; it was hilarious to hear enemies insult my family and demanding that I drop dead. The weapons in Far Cry 4 are also immensely satisfying to use – there is an impressive array of weapons Ajay can equip and use. While the gameplay is reasonably straightforwards, Far Cry 4 offers an incredible array of modifiers: from weapon customisation and skills, to syringes that impart benefits, Far Cry 4 allows players to approach any situation in any manner of their choosing. The world-building in Kyrat is also top-tier: from Shangri-La missions to random journal entries and design elements in the environment, Kyrat is highly immersive. All of these gameplay aspects, in conjunction with a narrative relevant to current events, makes Far Cry 4 both entertaining and thought-provoking. The game is very much worth the price of admissions, and also sets the stage for the upcoming Far Cry 5, which is set in Montana – although the core mechanics of Far Cry 5 look similar to those of Far Cry 4, I’m curious to see what a virtual Montana looks like, and the prospect of fighting off a fundamentalist doomsday cult is also enticing. Releasing later this month, I will be keeping an eye on Far Cry 5; if I can run the title, there is a chance that I may pick up Far Cry 5 as a title to experience during those days where the weather is not conducive towards being outside.

Slow Start: Review and Reflection at the ¾ Mark

“I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.” —Bilbo Baggins, Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien

On Eiko’s birthday, she receives a large number of hair-clips from the other students; instructor Kiyose asks Eiko to put them away, as they are unsightly and only gifts her a paperclip. Later, Kiyose finds herself face-to-face with Eiko at her apartment. It turns out that after getting hammered the previous evening, Eiko looked after her after Kiyose mistakes her for someone else. When she sees Kiyose wearing a unique-looking necklace at school, Eiko reveals to Hana that her hobby is creating accessories and expresses happiness that her crafts are being worn by others. When Hana is late for her duties, fellow classmate Nanae Takahashi reassures her that it’s alright. Hana reveals to her friends that she’s having trouble speaking with her classmates, and so, Tamate, Eiko and Kamuri introduces Hana to the others in her class. With summer approaching, the girls go shopping for swimsuits, and later, Hana musters the courage to speak with Nanae. Hana learns that Nanae is responsible for managing the school flower garden and promising to see the flowers bloom with her. On the day that the girls were scheduled to hit the beach, an unexpected rainstorm rolls in. Eiko and Kamuri suggest to a crying Hana and Tamate that they wear their swimsuits indoors, and invite Hiroe to join them when she drops by with lychees. Shion later reveals that she’s got tickets to a nearby pool at a hotel. While Hana learns to swim, Shion and Hiroe take a massage. Hana, Kamuri and Tamate forget a change of clothes, and Shion provides some questionable replacements for them.

Taking the time to delve into other aspects of Hana’s world outside of her concerns about the age gap that separates her from her friends (and the corresponding doubts), Slow Start has shifted largely to exploring more of Hana’s growth in interacting with other characters, as well as presenting more about the other characters. Time is spent following Eiko, whose dynamics with instructor Kiyose are interesting, to say the least, and who also opens up to Hana, indicating just how far their friendship has come since Slow Start‘s beginning. By showing the increasing extent that Hana’s friends trust her, Slow Start aims to set the stage for the, perhaps unsurprising, revelation that the age gap that Hana worries about simply is not an issue. Making an honest effort to support her friends, Hana also begins maturing when she seizes the initiative to learn more about her other classmates. It is therefore possible that there will come a point where Hana herself will develop the confidence to let Tamate, Eiko and Kamuri about her situation. Because of this progression, Slow Start has moved in a different direction: everyday misadventures are now the norm in Slow Start, with more humour being presented as the girls end up spending more time together. Slow Start is thus moving in a more familiar manner, dealing with the ordinary experiences for each of Hana, Eiko, Tamate and Kamuri, although unlike other Manga Time Kirara works, there is something that sets Slow Start apart from other works of its origin: in a manner of speaking, Slow Start resembles Hinako Note to some extent.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Slow Start submits that if anyone can pull off the multiple hair-pin look, it’d be Eiko. Unlike the Slow Start posts that I’ve written up until now, this one will feature thirty images as opposed to the usual twenty. This is not because there’s inherently more content to discuss in Slow Start‘s third quarter, but because there are some moments in the ninth episode that are worth sharing: very few discussions out there about Slow Start exist.

  • The very few discussions that exist primarily deal with the characters, whether they be Eiko’s growing feelings for Kiyose or Tamate’s fixation on wandering around without clothing, as well as episode summaries, but otherwise do not delve into anything more substantial. Early speculation supposed that Hana would quickly be forgotten in favour of the more colourful characters, similar to how Akari Akaza of Yuru Yuri was left behind, but considering the anime’s premise and theme, this was unlikely to ever be the case.

  • Eiko’s night with Kiyose is initially the subject of a bit of mystery, but through flashback, audiences learn that Eiko spent the night looking after Kiyose, who had a few drinks too many and ended up hammered as a result. Kiyose is generally quite cold towards Eiko, and having grown accustomed to being able to win over the hearts and minds of those around her, Eiko develops a bit of interest in trying to conquer Kiyose, as well.

  • Eiko’s thoughts reveal that she regards capturing the attention of those around her as a game of conquest, one in which she’s never lost until she’d met Kiyose, who manages to surprise her at every turn. I’ve heard some folks claim that the interactions between Kiyose and Eiko have resulted in Slow Start being banned in some areas, but having seen the contents of Slow Start up until now, there’s really nothing about Eiko and Kiyose, or the remainder of the cast and their stories, that make the series worth banning.

  • Back in Slow Start, Eiko’s heart skips a beat when she speaks with Kiyose about a necklace she’s wearing. Hana is completely out in the dark as to what’s going on, and Eiko decides to take her to a secret spot to share in what’s happening.

  • The secret turns out to be an innocuous one; Eiko’s simply fond of making crafts, and her mother sells them in her shop. It brought her great joy to see them being worn, but Eiko decides not to let Kiyose know that they’re of her making. Most of the seventh episode’s setup with Eiko is intended to provide viewers with an idea of who she is, and that despite having known Hana for the shortest period, she’s now familiar enough to share a secret with her. Having spoken with Hana now, Eiko feels a bit more comfortable with letting Kamuri and Tamate know, as well, hinting at Hana’s own path to letting her friends know of her situation.

  • The page quote for this Slow Start talk comes from The Fellowship of The Ring at Bilbo’s birthday party, where he announces that he knows half of his party’s attendees half as well as he’d like, and he likes less than half of them half as much as they deserve. The relevance of this line to Slow Start is found in Hana, who feels like she knows half of her class half as well as she’d like. I do not believe the other half of the statement really applies to Slow Start: this particular remark has caused a bit of confusion amongst the readers as well as the party-goers in The Fellowship of The Ring, but using a bit of logic, it could be taken to mean “of the half he does know well, he should like them a bit more”.

  • After she freezes in fright while trying to speak with Nanae, Hana voices her concerns to her friends; despite longing to try her hand at speaking with everyone at least once, Hana still feels a bit nervous. Thanks to Eiko and Tamate, Hana has a chance to properly introduce herself to everyone in her class, and during the course of lunch, speaks with her classmates. Each of Hana’s classmates are uniquely designed and likely have different voice actors: this is indicative of the effort that went into Slow Start.

  • Eiko speaks with Tsubaki, another classmate who is quiet and reserved. She has a profound love for salmon – a piece is just visible in this screenshot of her eating an onigiri. High in protein, with a distinct, oily flavour, salmon is delicious and can be prepared in a myriad of ways: my favourite is a baked salmon with a BBQ sauce glase and black peppers. Back in Slow Start, Tsubaki unexpectedly makes off with Tamate at breakneck speed, and no explanation is offered as to what prompts this. It’s a bit out of place, and with no context offered, one imagines that it’s done purely for comedic effect.

  • While Kiyose might be disinterested in her profession as a teacher and distant from her students, there are occasions where she offers sound advice. Here, she shares a few words with Hana, commenting on how she’s glad that Hana’s found her place with Tamate, Eiko and Kamuri and that she needn’t force herself to be more sociable so quickly. Kiyose gently encourages Hana to move at her own pace, a far cry from the trolling that she is wont to dispense on Eiko.

  • To the right is Nanae Takahashi, one of Hana’s classmates who is assigned to help her with the daily duties. Nanae’s voice actress is not published anywhere at the time of writing, but she’s voiced by Inori Minase (GochiUsa‘s Chino Kafuu, Chito of Girls’ Last Tour); aural characteristics from Chino’s voice are just noticeable when she speaks. While not much more of Nanae’s personality is presented in Slow Start, it stands to reason that she’s responsible and friendly. Besides being voiced by Chino, there is one other aspect about Nanae that stands out, and it would not be unwelcome to see her interacting with Hana and her friends with a greater frequency.

  • While Tamate is usually happy-go-lucky and boisterous, her disposition sours whenever asset size is brought to the table: unlike the others, Tamate is True Level. True Level refers to a hypothetical surface where every point on that surface is perpendicular to the direction of force due to gravity. In other words, it is a perfectly flat surface: in my colloquial usage, I’m accustomed to using it to describe something that is flawless owing to its usage in Rick and Morty, but in this case, Tamate’s True Level is not exactly a compliment.

  • Enjoying the shade under the warm sun, Tamate, Hana, Kamuri and Eiko’s thoughts turn towards summer and the attendant activities. However, everyone’s in need of new swimming attire, so the girls decide to hit a local shop and browse around for swimsuit. Prices seem to vary greatly depending on what one picks, and while anime like Locodol or Amanchu depict characters as being hesitant to buy new swimsuits on the basis of price, most anime will skate over the prices in favour of using the experience as an opportunity for the characters to try on swimsuits for the audience’s enjoyment.

  • Eiko seems to wear any swimsuit well and has no trouble picking one out. Eiko dismisses Tamate’s attempts to figure out if she’s wearing anything underneath while trying in various swimsuits, and at this point, I began wondering what became of my life, if I’d fallen to watching shows such as this. With this being said, it’s not as though the whole of Slow Start is like this, so it would be unfair to make any conclusions about the anime based merely on a few scenes. Ever-bashful, Hana is reluctant to show her friends, but they barge in and find that there’s nothing out of the ordinary.

  • Kamuri, meanwhile, has managed to find one to her liking, leaving Tamate, who tries on a variety of unusual (and impractical) swimsuits. While I find Tamate to be similar to Girls und Panzer‘s Yukari in mannerisms, there are key differences – Tamate is fond of things that stand out, while Yukari prefers practicality. While shopping for swimsuits with Miho and company, Yukari recommends a wetsuit of the same variety used by the SAS and Navy Seals, but ends up choosing a swimsuit with a military camouflage pattern.

  • While not shown here in this discussion, Hana grows a bit flustered and starts flailing her arms around, causing the others to imagine her as penguin-like. Similar to other anime of its class, Slow Start makes use of chibis and distinct visual cues to capture how a character is feeling. The next morning, Hana finds Nanae, who is tending to the school’s flower garden. Capitalising on the moment, Hana shares a conversation with her and agrees to view the flowers with Nanae once they begin blooming.

  • When a rainstorm forces the girls to discard their plan to hit the beach, Hana bursts into tears. It’s a bloody riot to see this happen, and audiences get the sense that  A bit of lateral thinking from Eiko and Kamuri sees the girls switch into their swimsuits, where they plan to spend the day at Hana’s. Eiko decides to capitalise on the moment to ask Hana a question related to their coursework, and here, Tamate becomes salty after she attempts to prank Eiko: it turns out that string is merely a joke and has no structural value. Later, Tamate becomes salty about being True Level, lending itself to the ninth episode’s unusual title.

  • When Hiroe shows up with a basket of lychees to share with the girls, she’s shocked to see everyone in their swimsuits. Eiko immediately seizes the moment to strip down Hiroe and give her a swimsuit of her own – the end result is something that Tamate enjoys gazing upon. I note here that I’ve seen enough anime and related media to roughly know what Tamate is talking about, whenever she starts mentioning events and flags, even if I myself are not versed in visual novels to any capacity.

  • I live in a completely different universe; events are actions that software recognise, and a flag is a boolean value that indicates a state that can either be true XOR false. These are used to handle conditions and can make code more readable/maintainable (as opposed to using nested conditionals). On closer inspection, boolean flags, in representing conditions, is likely what propagated into visual novel jargon, since they similarly are used to trigger specific events within the game. For the reader’s benefit, here is what Hana and the others are seeing.

  • After Hiroe gets past her initial embarrassment, she settles down with the others and share the fresh lychees. Kamuri soon starts using them as a euphemism for papilla mammaria, which have been mentioned in previous episodes, as well. Such topics seem far removed from the sort of thing that Hana is comfortable with, but she seems to roll with them as they occur. Here, the girls react in a variety of ways when Shion decides to drop by. After seeing everyone in their swimsuits, she peaces out, leading Hana to wonder what will happen next. A quick glance at everyone’s eyebrows immediately allows one to work out what each of Hiroe, Kamuri, Eiko, Hana and Tamate are feeling at this moment.

  • As it turns out, Shion’s merely headed off to change, and announces that she’s got tickets to a hotel’s swimming pool, which in turn corresponds with an opportunity for Hana to learn how to swim. When asked about the possibility of being seen outside, Shion responds that the three-second rule applies here: it’s a basketball phrase referring to a player’s positioning in the restricted area, and in the context of Slow Start, simply means that Shion did not linger for long outside.

  • While Hiroe attempts to take off, Shion invites her along to join the others, much to Hiroe’s embarrassment. As Hiroe finds herself roped into things, I’ll go on a tangent here and remark that I’ve unlocked all of the basic variants of the new weapons in Battlefield 1‘s Apocalypse DLC: the new lMG 08/18 is said to be a beast of a weapon that gives the Parabellum MG 14/17 a run for its money, and I’ve also set off on my quest to unlock the Howell Rifle’s sniper variant, which features a good set of optics for long-range shooting. In The Division, I’ve reached World Tier 5 and have a gear score of 275, a major upgrade from my starting gear score of 177 from two weeks back. I’ve managed to get a few exotics, as well – besides finishing exploration of Manhattan and finishing off the remaining side quests, I should also give resistance missions a whirl as time allows.

  • Thus, despite a day of rain shutting out any opportunity to swim in the ocean, Hana and her friends are able to enjoy swimming at the next best option. Hana’s evidently been excited about things, practising keeping her face underwater while bathing, hence her initial disappointment that their original trip to the beach was rained out. Going into this episode, I imagined that their antics would soon be broken up by sunshine, but Slow Start defied my expectations and took things in a different direction that ended up working quite nicely.

  • One of the main reasons why I’ve not gone swimming for quite some time is my aversion to chloramines, which result from the interaction between chlorine and various excretions. The smell lingers long after I’ve left the pool and for me, it’s quite unpleasant (although for some folks, it evokes summer imagery). In Jay Ingram’s The Science of Why II, one of the questions the book addresses is how much urine there is in a pool, and the answer is “too much”. Although urine is not pathogenic, it can cause irritation of skin and respiratory systems.

  • While Hana and the others swim, Shion and Hiroe get massages at a spa. It’s an opportunity for the two to share a conversation, and I’ll leave readers with yet another screenshot of Shion, who is enjoying the massage. I would feature a similar screenshot of Hiroe, but it was already tricky enough to pick the right screenshots for this post without going over the limit.

  • When Hana accidentally drops Eiko’s bracelet into the pool, she prepares to dive in to retrieve it, but gets stuck in a small inner tube before she can do anything else. Her friends extricate her from the situation, and Eiko expresses gratitude that Hana was thinking of them ahead of her own concerns, even if the inner tube would have prevented Hana from actually getting to the bottom of the pool. A small bit of trivia is that I used to be uncomfortable around deep water in pools until I familiarised myself with treading water and understood concepts of buoyancy.

  • I’m actually a bit surprised that there can be enough to talk about for a Slow Start post featuring thirty screenshots, especially considering that 46.67 percent of it is fanservice. The next Slow Start talk I write will deal with the series as a whole and will also have thirty screenshots, since I’ll be dealing with thematic elements and the like. I’ll be using that additional space to flesh out what my final impressions of the anime are in greater detail, so there will be more relevant screenshots and discussion than present in this here talk.

  • When Tamate and Hana realise they’d forgotten to bring a change of clothes, they exude a visibly gloomy aura. “Fortunately”, Shion is on station to provide assistance. While such an oversight is unlikely and perhaps laughable, we consider that everyone was quite excited for an opportunity to swim and in the heat of the moment, simply forgot. Eiko, on the other hand, is prepared and is spared the trouble of having to count on Shion’s replacements.

  • The gear that Shion’s brought is questionable, certainly not suitable for me to show here if I wish to stay in the search engine’s good graces. I’ll leave it to readers to watch the episode for themselves to see what I mean when I say this, and also ask why such impractical clothing even exists, when it is quite clear that such clothing looks very uncomfortable on top of being embarrassing.

  • This brings my Slow Start post to an end, right as the first weekend of March draws to a close. Looking ahead into March, the first few weeks are going to be exceptionally busy, so my posting schedule will be on hiatus until I sort these things out. Later this month, I will be returning to write about Slow Start‘s finale, as well as the finale for Yuru Camp△. On top of this, there will also be a post dealing with the final act of CLANNAD, alongside a special post for Girls und Panzer: Das Finale‘s first episode.

While Hinako Note and Slow Start have differing premises, both anime share an uncommonly shy protagonist whose goal is to improve her self-confidence. Both works also feature a noticeable emphasis on elements that are more suggestive in nature. In Hinako Note, I found it to be quite unnecessary, as it contributed little to the main narrative. In contrast, Slow Start seems to drive some of the girls’ conversations based around this sort of material; from pantsu to papilla mammaria, Tamate and Eiko do not shy away from bringing these topics out into open discussion. It comes across as a bit unusual, considering the initial premise of the anime (I personally found the anime to feel like GochiUsa right up until this sort of thing is mentioned), but now that such matters are more established in Slow Start, it is not unreasonable to suppose that Eiko and Tamate simply a bit more candid about what they talk about. While perhaps somewhat off-putting, it also drives the humour somewhat, providing something outrageous for Hana to react to; an exasperated Hana is bloody hilarious. Consequently, for Slow Start, mention and portrayal of risqué topics does not end up impeding the narrative, even if it can seem as out-of-place in the presence of characters like Hana and Kamuri; I certainly won’t hold it against Slow Start, since they’ve integrated this more seamlessly into the story than Hinako Note, and looking ahead, I’m curious to see what the remaining quarter has in store for viewers, as well as whether or not the thematic elements I’ve been speculating about are in fact what Slow Start was aiming to present to audiences.