The Infinite Zenith

Victory costs. Every time, you pay a little more.

That Babyish Little Child Vanishes Like a Soap Bubble: Seventh Episode Impressions and Review

“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.” —Bruce Lee

After their washing machine breaks down, Cocoa decides to wash everyone’s clothes by hand. Later, the girls have curry together at Sharo’s house, where, curious about Cocoa’s suggestion to lighten up, decides to act a little looser around her friends. With Mocha back home now, Cocoa’s presence is re-established within GochiUsa, to the extent where it was as though Mocha’s impact was “easy come, easy go”. With this being said, there are some subtle differences in Cocoa before and after Mocha’s visit; if it were not obvious before, Cocoa is more competent at her tasks, even though she is still prone to distraction at times. Consequently, it would appear that Mocha’s purpose in GochiUsa is to accentuate the character growth that Cocoa’s had ever since the beginning of season one: recall that she was quite carefree and air-headed when arriving at Rabbit House, but over the course of the past year, living with Chino and Rize has allowed her to mature. Though she’s still as easy-going as she was earlier, when the moment calls for it, Cocoa can be quite capable of getting things done for her friends. This sort of development is most welcome, demonstrating that generic characters with Cocoa’s tendencies (similar to K-On!’s Yui Hirasawa) can still grow in subtle ways, being much more than a static character for the shows they feature in.

Cocoa makes a return in this episode’s first half, but the second half easily belongs to Chino, where a different side to her character is illustrated. Having worked at Rabbit House since she was small, Chino says to Cocoa that most of her interactions with others were customers, leading her to speak in a more polite, formal manner than her friends. However, when she is able to relax, Chino takes an interest in the mundane, smiling when the air fills with soap bubbles while everyone is manually washing their clothes. Later, at Sharo’s house, Chino’s actions surprise most everyone: from the audience’s perspective, it was quite unusual (but again, not unwelcome) to see Chino behaving contrary to her usual self. This is the sort of advantage that a second season typically affords an anime: because audiences have existing expectations on how a character is likely to behave, it can be quite fun to see characters behaving in what might otherwise be considered as unexpected. In GochiUsa, this Chino is overwhelmingly adorable, and leads audiences to view the marked differences in personalities. This is effective mainly because it is true-to-life: people are multifaceted, and much more complex than they initially appear. Being able to capture this in fiction demonstrates the author’s commitment to their work, something that is definitely commendable.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • There’s been a lot of excitement about on the ‘net (especially Twitter) in the past 24 hours, given that Girls und Panzer Der Film just premièred in Japanese theatres. This is a film that’s been anticipated since it was announced and saw several delays; insofar, I’ve got no intel in when it’s actually going to be available as a home release. With that being said, I definitely plan on doing a post equal to the Gundam Unicorn finale in scale and scope once said home release does come out: I imagine that 75 images and a comprehensive discussion will be sufficient to articulate whether or not the film is a satisfactory instalment to Girls und Panzer as a whole.

  • I understand that readers are scouring this blog for any information concerning Girls und Panzer Der Film, but at present, any discussion on that will have to wait: I’m not omniscient, and my resourcefulness has its limits. That is to say, I’ll write about the movie properly once the home releases come out, and for now, return to GochiUsa (I wonder how many will have forgotten about GochiUsa in Girls und Panzer Der Film‘s wake). This episode marks a return to a calmer, slower pacing that the series is known for. Here, Chino is smiling in amazement as Cocoa’s efforts to hand-wash a large pile of laundry produces a large quantity of bubbles.

  • Ever-hapless whenever Cocoa and Chiya begin thinking on the same frequency, Sharo expresses frustrations when both agree to take one another on in a bubble-blowing contest, as they’ve begun deviating from their original objectives: Sharo is a practical and pragmatic character owing to her background, and instructs Cocoa on how to properly hand-wash clothing without damaging them.

  • Owing to their weight when wet, clothes can be quite difficult to wash by hand; this episode makes me immediately appreciate my washing machine by a few orders of magnitude. While washing machines are quite powerful, haphazardly loading a washing machine can cause it to jam. The best way to prevent this is to load the clothes in such that they’re oriented with the basket; when the spin cycle begins, nothing gets caught as easily to reduce the chance of a jam.

  • Scenes such as when the girls are washing some curtains with their feet, feel incredibly peaceful; this is the first time we’ve seen the backyard behind Rabbit House. It appears quite similar to the state of my backyard, since it’s quite devoid of backyard furniture and lacks healthy-looking grass. In Colmar, a quick look at the maps suggest that such backyards are uncommon, as most of the spaces behind buildings are occupied by other buildings. The odd backyard here and there usually is occupied by trees.

  • Chiya rigs one of the drinks to be a vegetable juice rather than a tea from Ama Usa An, to the other girls’ horror. I noted in the previous episode’s post that such a stunt is somewhat mean-spirited, and from Rize’s remarks, it’s unlikely that Chiya is doing this intentionally out of malice, instead, seeing it as a game of sorts. Assuming this to be the case, Chiya could easily be one of the more intimidating characters in GochiUsa.

  • Such juices aren’t intrinsically dangerous if they’re made from leafy vegetables, but their taste apparently leaves something to be desired, as Chiya finds out when her plan backfires. Apparently, vegetable juice is quite trendy and alleged to have “detox” properties, hence its popularity. Some studies have found that while vegetable juice can lower cholesterol and have some anti-oxidising properties, it’s not a miracle drink; it’s definitely not a substitute for exercise and good diet.

  • Sharo comments that her laundry is secured too well to be blown away by a strong wind, but back at Sharo’s house, undergarments presumably belonging to Sharo lands on Aoyama’s head. GochiUsa looks to be an adorable and fluffy show that might be equivalent to something like Little Bear, but the occasional inclusion of more mature jokes is a reminder that GochiUsa is intended for more mature audiences.

  • Chino recalls the uniforms that her mother had made in anticipation of her new friends. Their colour schemes appear to have foreshadowed the colours each of the characters sports: Chiya is associated with green, Cocoa with red, Chino with blue, Rize’s purple and Sharo’s yellow. It appears that the green and yellow variants were never finished, but it would be quite nice to see all of them in a later episode: these Rabbit House uniforms are quite nice. Later, Cocoa pulls an all-nighter to create Rabbit House Uniforms in the style that Chiya and Sharo have discussed, yielding some amusing results and reactions.

  • As evening falls, Cocoa and Chino run into Chiya and Sharo: the former’s plans to have saury are placed on hold in favour of curry, and by a strange twist of fate, some relatives dropped by today with some siu laap (燒臘); our original plans to have Portuguese roast chicken will be moved to tomorrow evening.

  • While Chino’s resemblance to Non Non Biyori‘s Renge been mentioned previously, nowhere else is it as apparent as this moment, when Chino attempts to speak in a more casual manner. It turns out that Chino’s mannerisms arise from her interactions with more customers, as opposed to peers, accounting for her polite tone.

  • Since last week, the C++ model of Michaelis-Menten kinetics in carbonic anhydrase II C is now done, and preliminary tests show that it yields roughly the same results as seen in the literature (I just need to find a more suitable KA value for consistency’s sake), meaning I’ve got a bit of free time to write now. With that being said, I was out this morning at a local meat shoppe, where they had samples of their in-house ballpark sausage, tomato-provolone rolls and pork pies. We were offered discounts on some products, and my appreciation of sales brings to mind Sharo’s own propensities.

  • Chino adds honey to the curry, and Rize later adds a bit of dark chocolate. The results are apparently quite good, with everyone finding the curry delicious. Owing to my shopping trip, this post was published a little later than usual: I did not begin drafting it until after a lunch of turkey pie and garlic bread with a glass of ginger ale. The time afforded by lunch allowed me to consider this episode’s contribution to GochiUsa, and I’ve learnt that, episodic posts are more challenging than my usual format, given that I must consider each episode’s contributions. However, they’ve also proven to be quite fun to write.

  • I love it when moé characters rest their heads on tables. Rize bought some chocolates to share, and apparently, some of them are filled with a bit of alcohol, causing Cocoa and Chino to a become little insane in the mainframe. I’m reminded of the box of chocolates one of my fellow graduate students brought in on Tuesday, when we were set to give a lab tour to prospective summer students. Earlier that evening, we sat down together with our supervisor and post-doc for dinner (I went with a delicious Buffalo burger with blue cheese, Frank’s hot sauce and smoked bacon).

  • The lab tour exemplifies my hectic schedule as a graduate student, accounting for why posts have not been coming out with any sort of frequency this month. On the plus side, I was able to swing by the bookstore and pick up the eighth volume of The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki manga on Tuesday, as well. Returning to GochiUsa, Chino reappears here, conveying the air of Cocoa’s vision of an ideal imouto. It’s surprisingly effective, and I was most impressed that Inori Minase was able to capture a hitherto unseen side Chino so well.

  • Cocoa and Chiya melt at the sight of this new Chino, although whether or not Chino’s actions are deliberate or an actual consequence of the alcohol in the chocolates remains speculation. Last week, someone was complaining about censorship on account of Mocha drinking milk rather than alcohol while crying her eyes out about Cocoa. That alcoholic chocolates are featured would blow away any misconceptions about censorship quite quickly.

  • Because I’ve already featured images of Rize blushing furiously before, I figured I’d include some of Chino, too. Chino denies that she was under any sort of influence and had been merely trolling the others. Liquor-filled chocolates usually contain so little alcohol that one would need to eat a few boxes to create the same buzz as would be achieved by drinking a few shots; given the evidence, I believe Chino’s claim, which also holds the implications that Chino can act adorable if she chooses to.

  • Both Chino and Cocoa have aversions with eating their vegetables, sufficiently so for Chino to call Cocoa onee-san in defiance of Rize’s complaints. Apparently, there are evolutionary factors at play here: some individuals have a gene that causes some vegetables to taste quite strongly and therefore unpleasant, and in general, most animals have evolved to interpret bitterness as a sign of toxicity to avoid ingesting certain plants.

  • The question of where all of the chocolates went is quickly answered, and Sharo flies in the air at Rize et al, wanting them to stay for a little longer. I’ve been keeping an ear on the background music in GochiUsa, and I heard a piano version of It’s Kilimanjaro playing in the episode. I’m looking forwards to the soundtrack for season two, as it features some new pieces for the atmosphere around Rabbit House, and I’m hoping it doesn’t come out six months after the finale’s aired.

We’re now definitively over the halfway point, and the scenery around Rabbit House is evocative of the early summer. I presently hedge my bets on at most one or two more episodes set during the summer, before the earth’s orbit and tilt leads to a gradual return to autumn and winter. During this time, the girls will probably have a chance to enjoy a summer day before getting ready to return to classes come autumn and acclimatise to life as second year students. In the manga, the girls spend some time together shopping for back-to-school supplies before classes start, and Chiya winds up in a different class than Cocoa, leading her to become quite lonely. Insofar, GochiUsa has consistently delivered excellent episodes: even in Mocha’s absence, things are as lively around Rabbit House as they’ve ever been, and it’ll be fun to see what everyday experiences await Chino, Cocoa, Rize, Sharo and Chiya as the chill creeps back into the air.

Wood-Framed Town Mission Complete: Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?? Impressions and Review at the halfway point

“I have siblings. And there are certain things I know that I can push their buttons. And they know they have certain things where they can push mine.” —Catherine Zeta-Jones

We’ve reached the halfway point of GochiUsa now; six weeks have passed since the first episode, so that should mean that I’m now six weeks further in my thesis work. My project’s multi-agent component is mostly complete, and I’m working on a proof-of-concept for the C++ elements to demonstrate that my model can be extended to act as a mathematical models. This work is quite tricky, and I’ve spent the past bit re-learning enzyme kinetics, so things have been incredibly busy. Therefore, I’m immensely pleased that GochiUsa has consistently delivered something I can relax to each and every week thus far. Today’s episode continues with Mocha’s adventures in town; after a bread making contest between Mocha and Cocoa results in a surplus of bread, the girls decide to go on a picnic, where they compete against one another in a rowing competition. Here, Cocoa reveals that she’s not fond of constantly losing to Mocha in most everything, and with some motivation from Sharo, she manages to pull ahead in the race, only to lose as Chiya goes ballistic in her quest to be cuddled by Mocha. The next day, Cocoa distances herself from Mocha to avoid appearing as a spoiled sibling in front of Chino, leading Mocha to become melancholy, and on Mocha’s last day in town, Cocoa and the others arrange a surprise party for her. Cocoa and Mocha bid one another farewell at the train station, and Mocha rides off into the sunset, remarking that Cocoa has indeed matured since they’d last met.

After the antics seen in the previous episode, GochiUsa brings Cocoa’s insecurities out into the open at the halfway point. Though veiled by a veneer of adorableness, the underlying message is plainly clear: that even amongst the siblings who get along well, there are cases where jealousy and doubt can pop out: Cocoa eternally feels that she’s walking in Mocha’s shadows and voices these concerns to Sharo during the rowing contest. Though comedy is achieved when Chiya and Rize win, that Cocoa manages to come out ahead of Mocha suggests that this is something that bothers her to quite an extent. Similarly, she’s also hesitant to indulge in being a younger sibling in front of Chino. These themes are quite common amongst siblings, and well-explored in this episode. While Cocoa may be a little jealous of how capable of Mocha is, it’s quite obvious that Cocoa never allows these feelings to take over; her efforts to spearhead Mocha’s surprise party demonstrates just this, and the two sisters part on a high note. Thus, this episode’s message is that amongst siblings, conflict is a natural aspect: the more critical component would be how said conflicts are resolved, and GochiUsa suggests that a solution lies with one’s friends. This in turn contributes to the ever-present theme in GochiUsa regarding friendship and how togetherness is imperative to solving problems.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • A flashback brings viewers to an older time, when Mocha and Cocoa were much younger; like most younger siblings, Cocoa imitates Mocha’s mannerisms and greatly admires her: the hair clips they share are a reminder of their closeness, and in the fourth episode, Cocoa’s choice to wear said hair clip on her right is a sign that she wishes to be more mature.

  • Cocoa is brought to her knees after realising she hasn’t awoken early enough to prepare breakfast. Mocha’s presence, in usurping everything Cocoa does, likely accounts for why Mocha doesn’t stick around for more than two episodes: though a fun character, I admit that it is a little saddening to see Cocoa bested at every turn. This soon turns into a duel of the bakers, and while the outcome of said contest is not known, it does set in motion the events seen after the title card.

  • I’ve not been on a picnic for upwards of ten years, and the last time I went, we brought seasoned chicken legs and BLT sandwiches. Picnics can be quite fun assuming the weather is good, but as other cartoons attest, the presence of foul weather and insect populations can quickly drive things downhill.

  • The weather in GochiUsa‘s town seems to be quite gentle, so picnic-humour (such as that seen in The New Woody Woodpecker Show) is absent. Russian Roulette with food is more peaceable than standard Russian Roulette, but nonetheless can be quite mean-spirited: Mocha mentions that one of her scones is spiked with mustard, leading Tippy to spew out his.

  • Swam-shaped padel-powered boats are an iconic sight, commonly associated with couples. Perhaps to prevent the misconception that GochiUsa is purely about that sort of thing, the girls partake in their contest with conventional rowboats.

  • This is probably the most amount of violence that will be present in GochiUsa; after Cocoa sinks into a melancholy when reminiscing about being bested in everything by Mocha, Sharo slaps some sense into her. It turns out that slapping someone really does work: this was shown in Mythbusters, and the action supposedly triggers the flight or flight response, reactivating pathways in the brain to promote faster reactions.

  • Cocoa bests Mocha in the boat race, but is herself defeated by Chiya, who is motivated by a desire to be  cuddled by Mocha. Subtle turns of events ensures that the mood in GochiUsa never becomes too serious, although the race’s outcome does seem to suggest that Cocoa probably could outperform Mocha in some areas, even if that’s not immediately apparent.

  • Cocoa rage-quits after sensing a ruse when Mocha offers to cook Hamburg steak for dinner. Mocha’s actions suggest that Cocoa was probably quite used to Mocha looking after her when they were younger. As an older sibling, I can definitely relate: Mocha brings to mind some of my own recollections where my parents ask me to let my brother look after himself sans my assistance.

  • Given that my earlier predictions about how Mocha would stay anywhere from two to four episodes, it turns out that the prediction landed on the lower bounds. I’m reading some complaints about how the English title for the previous episode was not appropriately translated, and while the title does seem a bit strange, it’s nothing worth losing sleep over. To properly convey the title’s meaning in English would necessitate a complete restructuring: I would give a proper translation as “I could tell with one bite that this bread isn’t chewy enough”.

  • Mocha drowns her sorrows in milk after Cocoa expresses a wish to bathe on her own; mentioned somewhere previously, Mocha’s weak point is Cocoa: she dotes on her and is unsettled whenever Cocoa demonstrates a desire to/signs of maturing. Mocha’s age is not revealed in the anime, but she is presumably in her late teens or early twenties. Unfortunately, her choice of milk over something a little more potent is not particularly helpful into yielding insight into her age, given that Mocha’s personality suggests that she’s unlikely to turn to alcohol when depressed.

  • Distraught that Cocoa is giving her the cold shoulder, Mocha decides to go for a stroll around town and enlists Rize to help her navigate. However, Rize’s spidey-sense-sense is tingling the entire way; after being cuddled in the previous episode, Rize has no intention of experiencing again and promptly escapes. However, here, Cocoa is presumably planning the surprise party for Mocha with Chino, Megu and Maya, hence her response.

  • It speaks volumes with respect to how much Rize fears Mocha’s cuddles when she hides behind Sharo: typically, it’s the other way around, with Sharo hiding behind Rize, and this difference does offer a pleasant new take on the two characters, suggesting there’s more depth to them than the first season initially depicts.

  • On her last day at Rabbit House, everyone throws a surprise party for Mocha. Cocoa is wearing a disguise to elevate excitement, but this disguise is quickly lost amidst the festivities: Cocoa says it’s “Kigumin”, the town mascot. Whether or not this holds true will be something left for the future, although it is equally possible that Cocoa is making this up to drive things forward. Either way, that is one spooky-looking mask Cocoa is wearing, and feels a little out of place in such a peaceful setting.

  • Mocha joins the ranks of Cocoa, Nanako and Fubuki after learning of the truth behold Cocoa’s distance. I’m writing this review on the new MacBook Pro: despite lacking the same tactile feeling as other keyboards, typing on the MacBook Pro has been very responsive: and I can type at full speed without worrying too much about spelling errors. It took a better half of this morning to finish loading the essentials (Xcode 7, Text Wrangler, Python 3.5 and the JDK 1.8) for development, as well as format an old hard drive for use as external storage. At present, all that’s left is to hook Xcode up with my Apple Developer ID and test out a simple Hello World App.

  • These activities is why today’s post is a little later than usual, but I’ll mention now that I will do my best to get posts out on Saturdays. The Twitter feed to the side will let readers know if any delays are to be expected. Returning back to GochiUsa, as the episodes progress, it would appear that Chino is becoming more appreciative of Cocoa, given Cocoa’s relationship with Mocha: Chino’s been said to be quite lonely at times, and though she outwardly remains neutral towards Cocoa’s attention, subtle moments show that Chino seems to be okay with Cocoa considering her to be a little sister.

  • Likely aware that Mocha is a fan of Aoyama’s novels, Cocoa invites Aoyama to the party, as well. Mocha is quite surprised to learn that the woman she met at the park is indeed Aoyama, and promptly asks the latter to autograph her rolling pin.

  • Rabbit House is a joyous place when it’s packed, and I’ve read some discussions elsewhere concerning the relatively small patronage at Rabbit House throughout most of GochiUsa. Mocha’s map from the previous episode might offer insight- Rabbit House is not located near the town centre, accounting for why fewer people are dropping by for coffee, although the fact that Takahiro has kept Rabbit House open since Chino’s grandfather established it suggests that business is satisfactory and for the sake of the events in GochiUsa, not shown on-screen.

  • As the sixth episode draws to a close, Cocoa and Mocha part ways at the train station by evening in a rather touching scene. The train station is comparatively small in size and appears to be a terminal station with only two tracks, implying that their town is quite small, as well. The trains themselves appear quite modern and electrically powered.

  • The opening and ending songs have now been released as albums, allowing for both to be heard in their entirety. While both songs are enjoyable to listen to, I find that “Daydream Café” seems to be a better opening song with respect to capturing the adorable, easygoing feelings that prevail in GochiUsa (compared to “No poi!”), and that “Takarabako Jet Coaster” would’ve made a solid song for the second season’s opening. Conversely, “Tokimeki Poporon♪” is a fun ending song that works as effectively as did “Poppin’ Jump♪”.

  • Like Cocoa and Chino, I wish that Mocha would have stuck around for at least another episode. This is not the end, though: it is quite possible that Mocha might return close to the end of GochiUsa to celebrate Christmas and/or New Years with Cocoa and the others.

Mocha’s time in GochiUsa is quite short; the consequence of this observation is a conflicting feeling. On one hand, Mocha’s presence is very noticeable in GochiUsa, overshadowing the other characters, but on the other, it would have been nice to have her explore more of the town with Cocoa and the others. In retrospect, her being around only for two episodes is not too surprising, provided that the episode’s title foreshadows Mocha would not be staying for too long. It’s reasonable to suppose that Mocha’s character intrinsically limits the possibilities of what can be done before things become repetitive, and with her having left for home, GochiUsa is probably going to feel much quieter come next week’s episode. In particular, how Cocoa will be doing post-Mocha is probably going to be of the greatest interest. With that being said, time stops for no-one, and I imagine that the next episode will be set either during the depths of summer, possibly involving Aoyama’s efforts to draft a new story and out of difficulty, attempts to draw inspiration from the girls’ daily lives. There will also be a focus on back to school as summer vacation comes to an end, and this leads me to wonder whether or not it is plausible for the series to conclude back in winter: we recall that the finale is set to air on Boxing Day, so another Christmas episode will be much-welcomed.

Artesia’s Sorrow: Mobile Suit Gundam- The Origin Episode Two Reflection

“Certainly, in taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy, but in passing it over, he is superior; for it is a prince’s part to pardon.” —Francis Bacon

It’s been some eight months since Blue-eyed Casval aired, and in this second episode, three years have passed since the events of the first episode. Casval and Artesia are adjusting to their new lives as Édouard and Sayla Mass, but when an assassination attempt leaves Jimba Ral dead, Don Teabolo Mass (their adoptive father) decides to take them to the Texas colony at Side Five to elude the Zeons. Here, they meet the Aznable family and also learn of Astraia’s death, an event that drives a wedge between Casval and Artesia. Eventually, Casval decides to leave Artesia and pursue a future with Char Aznable at the military academy. Back at Munzo, Ramba Ral consents to be a test pilot for a “mobile worker”, forerunner to the mobile suits later seen, at Dozle’s request. As the Zeons gear up for a war of independence against the Federation, Casval begins pursuing his own path, motivated by revenge against those who destroyed his family. This marks the last time that Casval and Artesia will see one another again before the One Year War begins. In comparison to what might be considered a typical aspect of Gundam, The Origin emphasises the human aspect of each of the characters, favouring conversations and moments that serve to shine more light on each character over grant combat scenes. In doing so, insight into how Char Aznable and Sayla Mass come into being is provided, illustrating that all stories must start from somewhere.

The Origin‘s second episode deals primarily with Casval and Artesia’s reactions to Astraia’s death. Casval takes this news particularly hard, despite not showing any significant outward emotion; this change is noticed by one of his headmasters, who remarks that Casval is quite intimidating. If there were any doubts, a brawl with one of the patrons at a saloon in the Texas colony seems to reinforce that the polite, friendly Casval is gone. A comparison may thus be drawn between Casval and Anakin Skywalker: both lose their mother and turn their emotions inwards, leading them to pursue revenge. Darth Vader and Char’s origins were never explored in both franchise’s first instalments (A New Hope and Mobile Suit Gundam, respectively), but even here, similarities in characterisation may be seen: resolute with taking revenge, Casval’s first step towards this end has him applying for the military academy, leaving Artesia behind. While most of the second episode is devoted to characterisation, there’s also a short section depicting a test of Zeon’s “mobile worker” prototype. The precusors of mobile suits are bulky, unwieldy but powerful, boasting enough armour to repel a Federation gun-tank’s firepower and the physical strength to defeat it. With Ramba Ral’s input, Zeon’s weapons programme is progressing rapidly, showing that they are determined to secure independence and eventual dominance over the ruling Earth Federation.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • In the three years that have passed since the first episode of The Origin, Artesia has matured quite a bit and is very vivacious, spending her time volunteering at a makeshift hospital not far from the Mass residence. Meanwhile, Casval studies history with Jimba Ral, although  his innate talent means that he has no trouble grasping the material and thus, allows his mind to wander during Jimba’s long-winded lectures about the Zabi family.

  • While I was quite tempted to do a shorter post with only twenty images, The Origin consists of sufficient material such that these posts can be accompanied by the full thirty images. I’m well aware that my posting has been quite sporadic and infrequent; my thesis project is now nearing completion, so I’m finding less and less spare time to watch shows, much less write about them as I’m directing more time towards implementing the last of the components to said project.

  • Proximity with infected patients means that Artesia herself falls ill. As an older brother, Casval cares greatly for Artesia and promises to keep an eye on her throughout the evening. Throughout this post, I will be referring to Casval and Artesia as their original names, rather than their aliases, Édouard and Sayla, for simplicity’s sake. From the third episode onwards, I will refer to Casval as Char Aznable, and Artesia as Sayla Mass.

  • In a letter to Astraia, Artesia remarks that nearly 50 lunar cycles have elapsed, and that halfway to the 100 mark, the number that Astraia promised before they’d be able to meet once again. Careful inspection of Artesia’s letters will show that they’re written in cursive English: though I do not write in cursive, I did learn how to do so during primary school. However, at present, handwriting is deteriorating: compared to the last generation, my handwriting is terrible, and worse yet, it’s considered “excellent” compared to the norm.

  • However, the evening calm is broken when a group of terrorists under the Zabi’s payroll break into the Mass residence and massacre everyone in sight, with the intent of taking out Jimba Ral, who was planning on a full-scale war against the Zabi family using his contacts at Anaheim Electronics, along with Casval and Artesia. With the exception of Dozle, the Zabi family is depicted as a power-hungry group, and in the three years since the first episode, they have consolidated control over Munzo.

  • In a scene straight out of what could be reasonably expected from a movie made in the 1930s, an assassin in Knight armour attacks Casval and Artesia. Casval eventually manages to beat the assassin in single combat and drives his own sword into the assassin’s visor.

  • Don Mass was able to escape an assassin when he fell out of a window: although injured, he manages to survive, and here, listens to Shu Yashima’s suggestions about moving to Texas Colony. Depicted as being very loving of Casval and Artesia, Don was friends with Zeon Daikun, hence his choice to adopt Casval and Artesia.

  • Mirai Yashima is Shu’s daughter and later becomes Captain Bright Noa’s wife. Like the first The Origin episode, this episode features plenty of cameo appearances for characters seen in the original Mobile Suit Gundam: what Gundam Unicorn did for mobile suits of the Universal Century, The Origin does for characters, serving as a welcome aspect for those who know the Universal Century well.

  • The Zabi family prepare for a public announcement, and the atmosphere surrounding Munzo plainly resembles that of Nazi Germany: the Zeon flag itself bears similar designs with those of the Third Reich’s, and it appears that Federation control here is generally diminishing, even if the Zabi family still allows them to maintain a presence here for the present.

  • After a Federation officer steals the microphone from Hamon, Ramba Ral engages all of the Federation soldiers in a fist fight, damaging half of the bar in the process. Dozle arrives to break up the fight and request Ramba Ral’s presence for a favour.

  • It turns out this favour is to test out the experimental weapon, “mobile worker”, a massive exosuit that fundamentally resembles The Matrix‘s APUs: with a massive claw arm and manipulators lacking dexterousness, these prototypes also have an open cockpit that offers a pilot with minimal protection. These scenes reinforce the idea that Zeon was the first to devise the concept of a humanoid combat platform, and their weapons are typified by fitting components within heavy armour.

  • Against the Federation Guntank, the prototype mobile worker’s armour can resist the machine gun fire without much difficulty, and its main shield can survive consecutive rounds from the Guntank’s main cannon. During testing, the Guntank is torn apart by the mobile worker’s claw arm, and this prototype already exhibits some of the features that will carry over to the Zaku line of mobile suits.

  • These past few days have been quite hectic, as I began implementing C++ blueprints for my simulation. I finished watching this second episode yesterday while enjoying a ginger beef poutine: the savoury cheese-and-gravy of the poutine, mixed with the tart, sweet sauces and crunch of the ginger beef made for an excellent, if somewhat unconventional poutine, and the day before, I was out and about, picking up a new MacBook Pro and iPhone 6 to aid my thesis work (I will be developing a variant of my simulation for iOS, and also am working to become more familiar with iOS app development in Swift 2.0). Short reviews of both devices will come out in due course, of course.

  • A young Amuro Ray is seen with his father, adding to the list of cameo appearances. Still a child, Amuro is playing with an early Haro: originally, Haro were custom-built by Amuro, but in The Origin, they appear to be commercially-available toys. This is the closest that Amuro and Char get in The Origin, as the latter is travelling with Don Mass and Artesia to their new home in Texas Colony.

  • The rationale for moving to Texas Colony at Side 5 was to demonstrate that the Deikun children posed no threat to the Zabi administration and would be willingly placing themselves in close proximity to Munzo. While not shown in this review, the second episode does show that space colonisation is quite mature, with large numbers of colony cylinders organised at the different Lagrange points.

  • Astraia’s health is in decline; she’s visibly aged since the first episode while imprisoned, and longs to see her children again. While technically a prisoner, Hamon gains permission to visit per as a result of Ramba Ral’s agreement to help Dozle out.

  • As another clever call-back to Mobile Suit Gundam, Ramba Ral’s mobile worker is painted blue, and he destroys a mobile worker another soldier is piloting during testing. With most of its sensors disabled, the testing comes to an end, and Rambal Ral remarks that the unit’s performance against another mobile worker is limited by its lack of dexterity, as well as the unsafe cockpit design. This feedback eventually leads to the design of an enclosed cockpit, and superior manipulators for the mobile suits.

  • I’ve become quite accustomed to demonstrating prototypes for my supervisor and the university’s higher-ups: over the past few months, we’ve had interviewers, camera crews and the Dean of Science visited our lab. While not quite ready as a thesis, I had a reasonable amount of content to demonstrate for these events.

  • As a developer, I value feedback, and always incorporate suggestions into the next version where applicable. This was the case with the Giant Walkthrough Brain, and last weekend, I spent most of Saturday making the Unity project more adaptable: because Jay Ingram’s presentations often undergo changes, I decided to write several wrappers to expose some parameters without compromising encapsulation elsewhere. The new changes make the project far more adaptable (and easy to adjust without inadvertently altering mission-critical functions).

  • Texas Colony apparently was planned as a Wild-West themed amusement park, reproducing the landscapes and town of this age. In my province, ranching and cattle are large industries, and we’re known throughout Canada for having the best beef around: I enjoy driving through the foothills in the south of the province because they evoke a very Wild-Western feeling.

  • To the left is the real Char Aznable. His similarity to Casval is stunning (this is precisely why I insist on referring to Casval as such until at least next time), differing only in the colour of their eyes. On Tuesday, I was at a networking event, and was surprised to learn from one of the attendees that there’s apparently someone on campus who looks quite similar to me, but is of the opposite gender.

  • Tensions ease immediately after Char and Casval meet: they’re shown to be getting along just fine, and several of the adults remark so, as well. While Casval is outwardly studious and friendly, he’s also got a darker side that seems to intimidate those around him.

  • Quill pens haven’t been widely used since the 1820s, when John Mitchell developed the fountain pen. Prior to this period, quills were widely used for manuscripts, and have been in use since the sixth century.

  • The mood of the moment changes dramatically when Casval arrives with news of Astraia’s death. This marks the turning point in the episode: while still quite dark with assassinations and the Zabi’s ever-increasing control over Munzo, the second episode of The Origin remained quite cheerful as Casval and Artesia settled into their lives under Don Mass’ care.

  • Casval decidedly evokes memories of Riddhe Marcenas; his limited reaction to Astraia’s death stands in contrast with those of Artesia, and ultimately, contributes to a change in his character and motivation that endures throughout the One Year War.

  • The Aznable family administers the Texas Colony, and later attempt to migrate to Zeon in UC 0079 while the Battle of Loum was raging. The shuttle they were on was, in a stroke of irony, destroyed by Casval, who will have assumed the identity of Char Aznable by this time, and when the dust settles, the entirety of Side 5 was destroyed.

  • Whereas other review sites declined to comment on this moment, Casval’s fight with another cowbow seems to be his taking out his frustrations. I’m actually not too sure if this fellow here is on Zeon’s payroll, but Casval’s immediate disapproval of him might be a very subtle hint of his low-level Newtype capacities manifesting. The fight was surprisingly one-sided, and Casval very nearly inflicts a fatal wound with the classic “nails through board” until Artesia intervenes and crys out at him to stop.

  • Char celebrates after he is accepted into the military academy. Char appears to be an idealist, readily agreeing with Zeon doctrine. Roger Aznable disapproves of Char’s decision, and Casval, who likely knows full well of what joining Zeon entails, keeps his opinions to himself.

  • While Artesia appeared to be recovering from Astraia’s death, Lucifer’s death and Casval’s decision to leave shortly after deal a double blow, lending itself to the episode’s title. From here on out, Casval and Artesia part ways. The next major Gundam  project in the works is Gundam: Thunderbolt: at present, I’m not following Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans, but the premise behind Thunderbolt is intriguing: set in UC 0079, concurrent with the Battle of Loum, it will depict the forgotten war at Thunderbolt sector, a boneyard of abandoned colonies and space vessels.

  • There’s no information on what Thunderbolt will entail, beyond a 15-second trailer boasting some Cowboy Bebob-style jazz music, and even for The Origin, all that’s known is that the next episode will be aired in Spring 2016. The ending song to this episode doesn’t quite capture me as Yu-Yu’s “The Stardust of the Hourglass”, but there were some interesting pieces of background music in the episode, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for the second soundtrack volume.

With the second episode now over, eyes now turn towards what will happen next in The Origin, as Casval experiences another assassination attempt that allows him to claim the identity of Char Aznable and eventually become Zeon’s most respected pilot. This upcoming third episode will likely depict Casval’s time at the academy, and renewed Zabi efforts to finish him; consequently, the third episode is something to look forwards to. The official description states that it will be titled “Dawn of Rebellion” and, in addition to the aforementioned plot points, also deal with the continuing mobile suit development and rising tensions between Zeon and the Federation. In continuing to build up the history in the Universal Century, The Origin continues in presenting a tangible story behind Char Aznable, and it will be interesting to see how he fits in with the events of the Universal Century’s history before the One Year War. The release date for the third episode has not been provided: a poster only yields that it will come out somewhere in Spring 2016. While this looks to be quite a ways away, I imagine that the time will disappear in the blink of an eye: there might be a wait, but I reassure readers that this won’t be a long wait.

I Could Tell with One Bite That It’s Just a Normal Chewy: Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?? Fifth Episode Impressions and Review

“I am the youngest of four siblings, and we’re all so close. I don’t know where I would be without my brothers and sister. I secretly believe that my parents love me the most!” —Marissa Jaret Winokur

Mocha’s now officially joined the cast of GochiUsa; her arrival in town draws parallels with Cocoa, as she finds herself immersed in said town’s charms, in both its unique timber-frame buildings and the presence of feral rabbits in the city streets. Mocha encounters Aoyama before reaching Rabbit House, sporting a disguise to surprise Cocoa (as per Aoyama’s suggestion). However, Cocoa’s out looking for Mocha, so Mocha busies herself teaching Rize and Chino some of her own bread-baking techniques. When Cocoa returns, the two sisters reunite for the first time in a year: Cocoa tearfully remarks that her own role as an older sister has been usurped, but Mocha is impressed that Cocoa has matured since they’d last met. Mocha announces that she’s gotten authorisation to stay at Rabbit House for a few days, and spends the remainder of the evening catching up with Cocoa. Consequently, Mocha will be around for several episodes, spending more time with Cocoa and her friends.

This episode has been the moment audiences have been waiting for: played by Ai Kayano (Girls und Panzer‘s Saori Takebe and Tamayura: More Aggressive‘s Kanae Mitani are two of the roles I know her best for), Mocha conveys the air of an older sibling, someone who holds a substantial amount of experience in comparison to Cocoa. However, Mocha simultaneously shares Cocoa’s cheerful, bubbly personality. In an older discussion, I postulated that Mocha’s personality was aptly reflected by her naming; caffé mocha is essentially hot cocoa with a shot of espresso, combining the sweetness of a hot cocoa with the bite and maturity of a coffee. Similarly, Mocha comes across to Chino and the others as someone who’s easily more mature than Cocoa, giving off a sense of reliability and responsibility that Cocoa has not reached yet, but at the same time, Mocha is also distracted by cute things and greatly enjoys cuddling people. This clever personification of the difference between the two beverages also serves to illustrate two siblings who are quite similar to one another, rather like K-On!‘s Yui and Ui. These interactions are always so heart-warming to watch: my friends often remark that they nominally get along with their siblings, but in my experiences, I know that siblings can indeed be best friends, and GochiUsa reinforces this notion.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I originally had 64 screenshots for the fifth episode, and picking twenty for this post proved to be a challenge. Last week, I ended the post with Mocha sitting on the train, so this week, we’ll begin again with Mocha riding the train into town. She’s reading Aoyama’s “The Barista Who Turned Into a Rabbit”, a novel that Chino’s grandfather rated as being quite good, even if the son had a more substantial role.

  • Like Cocoa, Mocha is partial towards rabbits and goes off mission after deciding to pursue a rabbit for the sole purpose of cuddling with one. While rabbits are fluffy and conducive for cuddling, my old training from my days as a health sciences student warns me that doing so with feral rabbits is unhygienic and may lead to illnesses: tularemia (rabbit fever) is one such disease, causing fever, headaches and other unpleasant symptoms, being caused by the Gram-negative bacteria Francisella tularensis. Of course, I’m not about to go full-throttle with health, and being fiction, there are definitely things that I can accept. So, we’ll suppose that all the rabbits in GochiUsa are as clean as can be :)

  • Mocha’s delay does not go unnoticed, and so, Cocoa decides to go looking for her. She runs into Sharo and Chiya along the way: earlier, Chiya was attempting to scare Sharo with a story, but this fails, much to Chiya’s chagrin. Consequently, Chiya decides to go with the next best thing, informing Sharo that Anko was once again carried off by birds and is inbound in t-minus five seconds.

  • Mocha runs into Aoyama at the park and share a conversation about the latter’s novel, although Mocha does not initially believe Aoyama to be “The Barista Who Turned Into a Rabbit”‘s author. It is Aoyama who suggests a disguise to Mocha for comedic value, suggesting that contrary to thoughts otherwise, Aoyama’s sense of humour is somewhat unusual. Mocha buys into it and fields a typical getup used by people who are sick.

  • Tom Clancy and Mark Greany would both agree that Mocha’s field-craft is so inadequate that her cover would be blown almost instantaneously, although in GochiUsa, maintaining a low profile isn’t too serious of a matter. She’s scanning for signs of Cocoa here and comes across as a suspicious character for both Rize and Chino. After ordering a coffee and toast, she reveals her identity when the toast is found to be unsatisfactory. Rize immediately draws her sidearm, wondering if Mocha’s flour is some form of narcotic.

  • The misunderstanding is soon cleared up, and Mocha introduces herself formally to Chino and Rize.  I’m quite interested to see how Mocha will interact with Maya and Megu (if this should happen): they’ve been absent throughout this episode, but I can imagine that things will liven up once everyone gets together.

  • Aside from her hair and figure, Mocha appears very similar to Cocoa. By this point in time, it becomes apparent that twenty screenshots is not sufficient to fully capture the joy in this episode, and my recommendation would simply be to watch the episode to enjoy it in all its glory: there are so many different moments that speak volumes about Mocha’s personality, and as mentioned earlier, her naming is quite consistent with what one might expect caffé mocha to feel like if personified.

  • After the formalities are finished, Mocha proceeds to pet Chino and Rize. While Chino’s somewhat used to this as a consequence of Cocoa’s frequent indulgences, Rize is completely embarrassed; I’m reminded of K-On!‘s Mio Akiyama, who exhibited similar reactions to these situations.

  • Rize turns bright red after Mocha closes the distance, ignores her sidearm and holds her close. The colour results from the dilation of capillaries near the face’s surface in reflex to neural activity, allowing a greater volume of blood flow (and corresponding heat) to enter. Blushing is thought to have arisen from the evolutionary necessity for modesty, although the precise physiological and psychological mechanisms are quite complex, so delving further would be a topic outside the scope of this discussion.

  • After said hug is done, Rize trembles like a leaf in shock: clearly, Mocha…was the man. One wonders if this might be a subtle payback for what she did to Chino back during episode one, during which she tickled Chino to try and get the latter to smile.

  • Mocha’s “I’ll get it done” attitude left a lasting impression on Cocoa to the point where Cocoa longs to be an older sister herself. After having cuddled with every living being in Rabbit House, Mocha decides to go make some bread. Part of being skilled with something is to make something extraordinary out of something ordinary, and compared to Cocoa, Mocha’s craft is far more advanced: she’s able to bake a superior product with the same ingredients.

  • As the heir to the Hoto Bakery, Mocha’s skill as a baker is unmatched: her bread is so delicious it leaves tears in Rize and Chino’s eyes. In order for food to do that, usually, it must evoke a sufficiently emotional memory, rather similar to how specific smells can immediately allow individuals to recall long-forgotten memories. The sharp-eyed reader will have noticed that I’ve now got a separate category for Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?, given the volume of posts here about the anime.

  • Cocoa, Chiya and Sharo gaze wistfully into Rabbit House. Watching them in this state is quite melancholy; a closer look at Cocoa’s eyebrows is all that is needed to ascertain that she’s feeling quite sad. This is one of the aspects of anime I particularly like: characters’ eyebrows visibly denote their feelings and greatly contribute to expressing how someone is feeling even without any dialogue.

  • It’s actually quite heart-melting to watch Cocoa cry, but some motivation from Chiya and Sharo gives Cocoa the resolve to finally meet up with Mocha. Metallically Ironically, Chiya offers Cocoa the same suggestion concerning disguises, and Cocoa enters Rabbit House. Unlike Mocha, Cocoa is spotted almost immediately by Chino.

  • That both Mocha and Cocoa partake in a similar cheer, and resort to disguises to surprise one another, reflect on their similarities in personality: in both cases, their actions are influenced by those around them, and both take things in stride as they happen. The tensions accumulating throughout this episode arise from the fact that Cocoa is not present for a majority of the scenes, building up to a climax here.

  • The episode’s denouement thus comes after Cocoa allows her real emotions to come through: glad and relieved that Mocha made it, the two embrace. Cocoa still has some conflicting feelings: on one hand, she’s happy that Mocha’s here, but on the other, she also wishes to demonstrate that she’s matured.

  • The biggest joy in the fifth episode, then, is seeing Cocoa and Mocha together after Mocha’s announcement that she’ll be staying for a bit. While Tippy remarks that he was never informed, it turns out that Mocha got in touch with Takahiro in advance about accommodations, so everything checks out. Above is yet another scene that exemplifies Mocha and Cocoa’s similarities: both girls move about in the same way, surrounded by particle effects, when they’re particularly pleased with themselves.

  • I’m inclined to say that Cocoa looks a little like a rabbit here, as she offers Mocha a cup of coffee with an intricately drawn latte art. While rabbits do figure in GochiUsa, it is quite possible that the characters themselves might also be seen as rabbits for their carefree lives, lending itself to the anime (and originally, the manga’s) names.

  • Mocha authorises Chino and Cocoa to stay up the entire evening so they can catch up, but feeling that Cocoa and Mocha should spend some more time together, she goes to make coffee for everyone. Because coffee is so widely consumed in GochiUsa, I wonder if their coffee has similar properties to ours: drinking coffee at this hour would all but guarantee that one would stay up until around 0400, which is why I avoid coffee after 1400.

  • Realising the relationship between Cocoa and Mocha, Chino suddenly appreciates what it means to have siblings. Camera angles suggest that Chino is quite lonely, and there are several instances where she does express sadness when Cocoa is not around. Seeing the two sisters asleep, Chino decides to snuggle up with Cocoa. That’s pretty much it for this post, and next week, I’ll be dropping by with a talk for my impressions of GochiUsa‘s second season at the halfway point.

We’re nearing GochiUsa‘s halfway point now, and given Mocha’s presence in the opening song, she’ll presumably be around for anywhere from two to four episodes (five, tops). Her interactions with the others are adorable and immediately adds new dimension to GochiUsa, so I’m curious to see how this will play out in the upcoming episodes. On one hand, Cocoa admires Mocha, but she’s also somewhat jealous that Mocha is objectively more capable as an older sister. This conflict and its resolution could be the topic for an episode; if adapted, such a story would take GochiUsa down a new direction beyond a simple anime about life in a coffee house, demonstrating that slice-of-life anime seemingly about nothing can nonetheless provide environments to satisfactorily present a meaningful message about things like sibling interactions and friendship, to name a few. This emerging trend shows that moé anime in general have matured, balancing adorable moments with subtle but worthwhile life lessons, and it will be quite interesting to see what directions both GochiUsa and moé anime in general will be taking in the future.

YuruYuri Nachuyachumi! Review and Reflection

“There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.” —Erma Bombeck

I do not believe that I’ve written about YuruYuri here for quite some time, so this post will presumably break that streak I held. YuruYuri Nachuyachumi! (from here on out, simply referred to as the YuruYuri OVAs) follow Akari and the others during their summer vacation, as they partake on a camping trip, water fights, tell ghost stories, and look over their vacation photos. Later, both the amusement club and student council have separate sleepovers, with the amusement club trying to capture a photo of Kyouko while she’s sleeping, and Sakurako working her hardest to express appreciation towards Ayano. This is something that I should have watched during the summer, but one thing led to another, and so here I am, three months late to the party. With that being said, the YuruYuri OVAs were remarkably entertaining to watch.

Some three years have passed since I last watched YuruYuri, and this may have an impact on my recollections of it; at present, I find that in comparison with YuruYuri and YuruYuri♪♪, the YuruYuri OVAs take on a more reflective tone. The jokes are dialled back in comparison to the TV series, and there appears to be a greater emphasis on the characters interacting with one another as friends, rather than polar opposites. Yui seems less exasperated at Kyouko’s antics, and Ayano’s bashfulness around Kyouko isn’t as pronounced. Chinatsu isn’t so prone towards concocting lethal meals or frightening artworks, and Akari’s presence is not so frequently neglected. Similarly, Chitose indulges in fewer fantasies, while the vitriol between Himawari and Sakurako as lessened. While this might initially lead to the sense that YuruYuri‘s strongest attribute, its humour, is less effectual, the OVAs manage to show the characters in a different light. In particular, Sakurako’s desire to properly express gratitude towards Sakurako shows that, despite her typically immature actions, she’s matured somewhat, and consequently, the YuruYuri OVAs are a refreshing, laid-back take on a series otherwise characterised by its over-the-top comedy, offering a very rewarding and relaxing take on the Amusement Club and Student Council’s activities over the course of their summer vacation.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • We’re now in the depths of autumn now, and ever since Halloween ended, a cold weather pattern has made itself at home, bringing a chill into the wind. With Daylight Savings now over, the sun sets much earlier, and it already feels like winter is right on our doorsteps. It’s been three years since I last watched YuruYuri, and it’s quite pleasant to see all of the characters back together again for what will be presumably the last season of the anime. The OVA begins when a rice pot is discovered in the Amusement Club’s club room, motivating the girls to go on a camping trip.

  • I say “presumably” because anime about life in high school tend to only have three years’ worth of material to work with. Here, Chinatsu, Sakurako, Himawari and Akari enjoy beverages at what appears to be a coffee shop with a small library. One of my favourite places to hang out is a bookstore just a train station away from campus: it’s a bookstore with an attached coffeeshop, and I do love the smell of coffee accompanying me as I browse through the volumes.

  • While some elements of YuruYuri‘s first and second season do make their way into the OVA, for the most part, the jokes have been dialed back: Chinatsu is shown to have put together a delicious lunch that stands in stark comparison to the concoctions she was known for creating earlier. Likewise, while Kyoukou is as boisterous as ever, she doesn’t appear to cause any major trouble for anyone (her desire to photograph the Mirakurun doesn’t cause everyone to miss their train, for instance).

  • I was a little surprised to learn that a different studio would be at the helm of producing the YuruYuri OVAs (and the third season), so well have they reproduced the style from earlier seasons. The only major difference appears to be the colour saturation, but even then, it’s very subtle. I imagine that either they have some of the artists and animators from the previous studio on board, or else their artists and animators must be fantastically skilled.

  • Another change from the YuruYuri TV series is that Sakurako seems to be much more likeable: she still retains her lazy personality, but it feels significantly more natural in the OVAs compared to the TV series. Here, she and Kyoukou cycle between arguing about different foods to get, and then suddenly agreeing on one another’s tastes. Despite the potential for a disaster, they wind up picking an excellent curry.

  • Consequently, without any major scenes of chaos or destruction, YuruYuri is able to present a rather heartwarming story about a group of friends on a camping trip. I’ve never gone camping proper myself before: the closest was with my junior high’s band at a campsite with cabins during band camp (we define camping to be roughing it under the stars with no running water).

  • Himawari and Sakurako’s relationship during the TV series felt more antagonistic than what one might expect two friends to reasonably share, and it is in the OVAs where the two’s friendship feels more realistic. Before I forget, the summer OVAs’ title Nachuyachumi (なちゅやちゅみ) is roughly equivalent to saying “Shummer Vacashun” in English. The mispronunciation holds several implications for YuruYuri, mainly that it’s supposed to be a comedy.

  • A test of courage allows the different pairs to bond: YuruYuri translates directly into “easygoing lily” in English, but “yuri” itself refers to a form of love amongst females. The precise definition and etymology is sufficiently complex to be considered worthy of academic study, although 1) for our purposes, I’ll consider “yuri” to be interactions amongst female friends where romantic overtones are clear and present to a much greater extent than a conventional friendship and 2) I do not believe that yuri is meritorious of academic study for the present, especially considering that research funding is limited and would be better spent elsewhere.

  • The animal-themed pajamas make a return in the camping trip, and although they might appear to be present for blatant fanservice, they also appear quite warm, making them well-suited for a night out in the mountains. Kyoukou’s tomato pajamas were referenced in Sabagebu!; Kayo wears them during an unexpected sleepover at Momoka’s place.

  • The first of the YuruYuri OVAs was quite long, clocking in at around 50 minutes and was released back in February, so that makes me around nine months late to the party. I did not even know that there would be an OVA series, but the OVAs are probably intended to raise interest in the third season. After the first OVA, the second and third were released in August and September, respectively. Both of these have a more conventional running length.

  • A water fight leaves Akari, Chinatsu, Kyoukou and Yui soaked. They stagger home to change and are mistaken as onryou, sparking some rather chilling ghost stories at school the next day. This water fight really gives the characters a chance to bounce off one another: a major aspect of slice-of-life is its depiction of joy in seemingly ordinary everyday events, and has certainly helped me appreciate the more mundane aspects of life, such as the play of sunlight on the grass during a sunrise while I wait for the bus.

  • After the excitement that was the camping trip, the remaining two OVAs seem to convey the sense of nostalgia associated with the end of summer, as the shadows creep back into the world and daylight shortens. Here, the girls look through photographs of their camping trip and decide to pay the student council a visit to share their photographs.

  • The ubiquitous nature of social media means that sharing photos in this manner is a lost art: very few people still print their photos, much less gather together afterwards to view them. Because I’m (ironically) somewhat old-fashioned, I still print out vacation photos and share them with family.

  • Yui, Chinatsu and Akari clandestinely plot revenge against Kyoukou after they learn that the latter had secretly photographed everyone as they slept: they resolve to push Kyoukou to exhaustion (itself a difficult task) and then photograph her.

  • Omelette rice is a distinctly Japanese dish: with origins in Tokyo’s Ginza district, it was influenced by Western-style cooking. Owing to Japanese rule in both nations, omelette rice is also a common dish in South Korea and Taiwan. I vaguely recall watching one of the OVAs while attempting to down a massive pulled-pork poutine a month ago, which is quite telling of my tendency to procrastinate as a blogger.

  • Quite separately, Sakurako and Himawari host a sleepover for Ayano and Chitose: after realising how kind Ayano’s been to her, Sakurako decides to reciprocate, and contrary to her usual self, she proves to be very thoughtful and attentive, managing to cook a delicious meal for Ayano and Chitose. Watching Sakurako doing these sorts of things was quite warming, and at times, she does remind me somewhat of Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?‘s Sharo Kirima.

  • After dinner, Yui, Chinatsu and Akari decide to partake in some video games to tire Kyoukou out, making use of their DSes to play an RPG of sorts. I’ve not been to a LAN party for four years now: most of my time hanging out with friends are for raclette, at pubs or bowling (as I will be partaking later this evening). This is mainly because all of us have drivers’ licenses and are able to get to pubs (or whatever venue said activities are held at) more easily.

  • One particularly memorable LAN party was set four years ago during mid-August. After my workday had ended, I arrived early and so, watched The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi on my iPad. After a thunderstorm inundated the area, my other friends began arriving, so we about grilling some burgers, before linking some Xboxes together for Halo Reach. We spent the remainder of the evening playing slayer on Reflection. The days of hooking up four Xboxes together for some 8 on 8 slayer are long past, but the memories are most pleasant.

  • Akari, Yui and Chinatsu try several methods to tire out Kyoukou, eventually settling on homework. Even then, it’s tough keeping Kyoukou asleep, but their efforts soon pay off. There’s actually a rather funny (but quick) Street Fighter II reference when Chinatsu decides to wrastle Kyoukou as part of their ploy: Kyoukou uses the hundred-hand slap, but is defeated by Chinatsu’s Sumo Headbutt (complete with E. Honda’s famous dosukoi).

  • With their collection complete, the OVA returns to the student council, who’ve had a fantastic time. Sakurako resolves to do this again at some point in the future, and the OVA ends with a preview of season three. A part of the fall 2015 line-up, I believe we’re around five episodes in: I’ll definitely be back to do an after-three review, and that should come out sometime next week. In the meantime, I’ll be watching and writing about Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka??‘s fifth episode tomorrow, so stay tuned!

I’ve yet to actually watch YuruYuri San☆Hai!, as I had resolved to at least finish this post before beginning my journey. With three years having elapsed since I watched any YuruYuri, I’m quite curious to see what it’s going to be like: TYO Animations (of Tamayura fame) is manning the helm for this third season and did a fantastic job with the OVAs (the first two seasons were done by Dogakobo, who also did Love Lab). I’ve heard that compared to previous iterations, YuruYuri San☆Hai!‘s colour scheme is less saturated, but with that being said, I’ve managed to somehow avoid spoilers and discussions on the third season so far. I’m quite interested to see if YuruYuri San☆Hai! will feel distinctly different to the first two seasons, and I imagine that I’ll be following a conventional posting schedule for this one (so, one review after three episodes, and one for the entire season if the series hasn’t been dropped).