The Infinite Zenith

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

SoniAni- Super Sonico The Animation: Star Rain and some personal introspection

“I will do a talk on The Pilot’s Love Song. But first, I must apologise.”
“Apologise for what?”
“For this.”
—Me, to the readers

While on a trip to discover inspiration for her lyrics, Sonico converses another woman on the way to her stopover in Niigata. She encounters a glassmaker in Tainai City while taking cover from the rain; the latter teaches her to make a little accessory. The next day, Sonico heads towards the local hot springs, meeting people and encountering many sights along the way. After checking into the hot springs and taking a dip, she tries to find her way to an observatory but gets lost in the woods. However, she manages to follow a raccoon to where the observatory is, becoming awed by the starlit sky.

  • This interruption to the usual program was a necessary one: twelve hours ago, I suddenly realised that this episode, despite its easy-going pacing, is probably the catalyst to one of the most important realisations I’ve had for a while as far as non-academic and non-career matters go.

  • I’ve now been driving around long enough to go for my full license. Once I learn how to merge safely, I will be ready for the exam and ready to hit the open roads.

  • One of the passengers on the bus shares macarons and conversation with Sonico. Back during the summer, one of my relatives gave me macarons and moose meat for providing some technical assistance. Sonico loves macarons, a confectionery that is popular in France and melts in the mouth. For me, I’m more of a main-dish person, but I admit that macarons are rather nice.

  • While the specifics behind the other woman’s story are never covered, it is reasonable to go about depicting things in this manner, reflecting on how we only know about the world around us and those close to us. Sonico’s sleep patterns are hugely amusing, and I do exhibit the tendency to sleep through alarms on occasion, although for the most part, my internal clock is quite effective at getting me up in the mornings.

  • To reach the farthest corners of my province, a car is necessary, since trains don’t exist and the Greyhounds only cover a limited amount of distance.

  • Despite my eternal longing to visit Japan, I’ve come to realise that the foothills outside of town are equally as beautiful as the Japanese countryside: I’ve had the opportunity to stop in small towns in the southern regions of the province under the mountains, and there is a sense of peace there not unlike the feeling I get from seeing imagery of rural Japan.

  • Sonico scampers off to find some cover after an unexpected rain storm. Right about at this point in the episode, I recalled that a friend in Japan shared some analogous experiences with Sonico. I’ll discuss that more in the actual paragraphs.

  • An open mind is what leads to the most fun: this was proven twice for me when I helped arrange two family vacations in the mountains, about an hour’s drive from the city. With me at the helm for planning, we explored rather than visit pre-determined objectives and those turned out to be some of the most fun vacations I’ve ever had.

  • A long time ago, I was at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York, and watched a live demonstration of glass blowing as part of the tour. However, my family decided against the purchase of glassware owing to how American customs handles luggage and packages. Sonico, on the other hand, crafts a small glass bead and doesn’t need to cross customs. To me, that glass bead represents the possibility of open ended-ness.

  • Sonico boards another bus to a hot springs after visiting the glass blower’s shop, revealing more beautiful depictions of the Japanese countryside. The unique setup in SoniAni presents the possibility for much creative freedom, and insofar, the show has explored a lot of topics, all of which have proven to be fun.

I don’t normally do single episode reviews mid-way into a season, and in fact, I was originally set to write the midway point review for The Pilot’s Love Song, but there was something about the seventh episode in SoniAni that particularly caught my attention. The episode itself wasn’t particularly substantial as far as comedy or story is concerned. However, as the episode progressed, the calming scenery, relative absence of dialogue and presence of subtle ambient sounds led me to recall a feeling I experienced while watching Tamayura ~More Aggressive~. This feeling was that, throughout my undergraduate career, I haven’t really been living; so focused was I on the future, that I completely forgot to really take things easy and go exploring. In “Star Rain”, Sonico travels about the distance of from my city to the Continental Divide on her own, with the aim of exploring for the sake of exploring. There’s no set objective and no central aim: Sonico discovers joys from the subtle things that can only be seen when the mind is content to go with the flow, seeing several para-gliders, learning (for presumably the first time) about glass-blowing, enjoys macarons with a fellow passenger and enjoys a brilliant star-lit sky after getting lost.

  • Matters associated with life are not always readily apparent, but rather, may take some time to figure out. I am a little late as far as figuring out how I find my happiness goes, but better to understand now, before the next step, where things will get busy, than it would be to figure out after I seek full-time employment. Granted, there’s nothing wrong with being busy, but I do have a tendency to forget to relax when I’m in the midst of my work.

  • Given such, I think that this is my last summer before things will gear up for the ultimate journey called “being a productive member of society”, I will take one final chance to explore the world that I may reach under my own resources. That world may be over an ocean, in the next province, or an hour’s bus ride from where i live.

  • An old Chinese proverb says that every journey begins with a single step. Accordingly, I will probably begin by exploring what lies in my backyard: there is the Telus Spark Science Centre, Heritage Park, Glenbow Museum and even a full-out provincial park right here in city limits, all of which can be reached either by my nearly-elite vehicle operating skills or city transit.

  • I am immensely grateful that, unlike our cousins up north, my town is rich in culture: besides the attractions mentioned above, there are also concerts. I resolve to definitely attend a Video Games Live Concert the next time they’re in town, and if that isn’t realised in five years, I’m almost certain I’ll able to travel to one.

  • The reason I was able to obtain enough content for twenty figure captions in this post was mainly because this post is largely a personal reflection for me, rather than a talk about SoniAni per se. This talk therefore ended up being one of those so-called “bucket lists” people make, except this one is smaller scale, and I hope to at least get half of it done before I prepare for the next stage of my education.

  • I love Sonico’s happy expression: it does bring back a sort of K-On!-esque feeling, as far as Yui is concerned. Of course, Sonico is somewhat analogous to Yui, except the former manages to be hyper-competent despite having nearly the same ditzy attributes found in the latter.

  • The animation in SoniAni is about standard fare, but like Upotte!!, landscapes are gorgeous. I assure readers that I will get my halfway point talk about The Pilot’s Love Song before the week is over, and beyond that, I should probably get around to talking about the Koi to Senkou to Chocolate OVA, Bioshock Infinite (which I had just beat recently), and the remainder of the Battlefield 3 campaign. Looking to the future, I’ll also do a talk on the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 multiplayer, how it handles compared to Battlefield 3 (that’s two separate posts) and a full, unbiased, fair reflection on Wake Up, Girls!. The timeline for this stuff: before March ends.

  • I have a feeling that this image will be considered to be “the most interesting image on this page”, hence my decision to include it here. For a series about Sonico, known her for physical attributes, SoniAni has proven to be remarkably disciplined, minimising the free anatomy lessons except where it serves to further the humour in a scene, and even then, a smart amount of restraint is exercised.

  • Sonico gets lost in the forest briefly after setting out to the observatory to enjoy some stargazing, and curiously enough (though perhaps unsurprisingly), I found similarities in the stories my friend has recounted over IM. There can be difficulties while traveling alone, but also great joy. I must remember to thank said friend for helping me remember that these small things in life are as important as getting publications out and winning grants.

  • While I haven’t stargazed properly for nearly ten years, a few nights ago, I saw the first Aurora Borealis I had seen in over seven years. The dancing curtains of green light filled the northern skies, periodically curling up into bright bands and unfurling to reach across the sky. The light show even formed a heart-shape for a few moments, and the coldness of the night was forgotten. I will note that Sonico is stargazing during the summer, and I can see Orion in one of the scenes: the Belt of Orion, Betelgeuse and Sirius can be seen. Japan is located in the northern hemisphere, so during the summer, these stars shouldn’t be visible.

Soncio’s experiences would prima facie appear trivial, although for me, this is simply not the case. “Star Rain” struck a resonant chord with me because I have a friend who is in Japan right now on an exchange program and has analogous experiences. While classes are off, said friend is enjoying travelling in a foreign nation; there is the opportunity to travel the road less traveled, to see the more subtle elements that would be missed via traditional tours, but also, encountering the occasional unplanned hiccough. Sonico’s reactions mirror those of my friend’s: in both cases, inconvenience is overcome with an open mind and a bit of luck. This also allows me to segue back to earlier: when I mentioned that I wasn’t really living, my life has largely consisted of writing research papers, implementing and testing physiology software, going to classes, studying, and gaming in my off time. This episode gently reminded me that there is definitely more to life than that: I live in a moderately large city close to the mountains. I suddenly realise there are many, many attractions that I haven’t visited in my city for over ten years. Should I exhaust these local attractions, travelling outside the city is as simple as a Greyhound ticket. For summer 2014, I resolve to visit more of the local attractions in town, and the latter can be done if time permits. Where do I stand on the episode? This is a personal reflection, and I justify taking the time to do a full-length talk on one episode because “Star Rain” managed to evoke something in me. This episode made me think, and although SoniAni might not have been the deepest or the best anime, the fact that this episode helped me towards understanding what I seek definitely counts for something.

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