“As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” —Amy Poehler
This post is not a joke, and its contents are genuine: Utopia is a song that was featured in a short specially created for the True Tears x Hanasaku Iroha x Tari Tari Joint Festival Live Blu-ray, a recording of the musical performance featuring the voice actors from the three series. To celebrate this festival, P.A. Works produced a video that sets this song to scenes with the main characters from each anime, having a good old time. The video is only a minute and forty seconds in length, and was released on February 26, 2014. Back on April 13, 2013, eufonius, nano.RIPE, Sphere, AiRI and a few other artists participated in a joint concert at Maihama Amphitheater; tickets to the event cost 8000 Yen (roughly 83.20 CAD, or roughly 3.17 times the cost of a ticket to the Beakerhead performance of the Giant Walkthrough Brain). If memory serves, April 13 was the Saturday after I had finished my honours thesis defense; the post-defense euphoria meant I forgot there was such an event, and even after a year had passed, my thought strayed far from the joint festival concert, but recently, I learned that a special album was compiled, featuring choral and string versions of their respective series’ music, and with it, the minute-and-forty second long crossover video.
- Hanasaku Iroha takes place in Kanazawa, Ishikawa, and the short opens at a train station here. Like my previous post on short films, there are a disproportionate number of screenshots relative to the feature’s length, but that is because there is a lot of fantastic artwork that went into making it; each moment is different and worth sharing. Here, fifteen images provide a good idea of what the short is like.
- As far as I’m aware (and I did a thorough search before making this claim), I have what appears to be the internet’s largest collection of screenshots from Utopia. For the most part, the short is reasonably straightforwards to access, although on YouTube, only the short trailers exist. The song in this short, Nano.RIPE’s “Utopia”, is the final song in their “Namida no Ochiru Sokudo” album, which was released in January 2014, and is a love song of sorts, about the uncertainty of the future.
- Aiko Andou serves Imagawayaki at her family’s shop, a pastry that is filled with red bean paste, to Noe, Sawa and Nako while Hiromi and Minko help out. For the duration of this post, I’ve decided to feature images that show everyone together, although owing to constraints, I haven’t bothered stitching any images together with photoshop, and as such, some of the moments will not depict everyone.
- While Ohana and Nako look on, Noe, Konatsu, Sawa and Aiko have a pillow fight; Yuina, Hiromi and Wakana are content to enjoy a drink by the balcony. The short, despite its length, manages to capture everyone’s spirits as they appeared in their respective anime, and it was a thrill to see everyone again.
- Minko samples one of the dishes she’s made, much to Noe, Konatsu and Yuina’s disappointment; for the viewer, this moment winds up being simultaneously adorable and amusing. While such short scenes do not really permit for much discussion, beyond how watching this short made me recall the immensely enjoyable journey I experienced while watching each of True Tears, Hanasaku Iroha and Tari Tari.
- At Hanasaki Iroha‘s end, the Kissuiso was set to be closed after Sui decides that doing so would allow everyone to pursue their own dreams. This announcement motivated much of the conflict as the anime drew to a close, but ultimately, its staff consented to the decision. Hanasaku Iroha‘s main strength lay in making full use of its twenty-six episodes to flesh out all of the characters before introducing the main conflict in the series. With plenty of time to work with, the anime developed a solid story.
- While Nako teaches Noe and Minko some swimming techniques, Aiko and Konatsu explore the beach, and in the foreground, readers may enjoy the view behind Hiromi as she plays beach volleyball with Ohana(not visible) Sawa, Yuina and Wakana. I timed this moment such that it was just before Wakana serves the ball to Hiromi. Back during my time on the yearbook committee, one of the tips I was provided was to capture images of dynamic moments; this is one such instance.
- Remember how Taichi and Wien waved around badminton racquets during their final performance in Tari Tari? Careful inspection of this image finds them making another appearance, doing the very same move in the background. This crossover did not feature any of the male characters from True Tears or Hanasaku Iroha show up in Utopia, but Taichi and Wien’s presence, however minimal, is quite welcomed in a short dominated by their respective series’ female leads.
- Here is a shot of the three characters who are quite similar, and yet, very different. Each made their respective series significantly more enjoyable to watch. There are two other shorts that I’ve discussed in the past, both of which are from Makoto Shinkai: Someone’s Gaze and Cross Road. With a running time of six minutes and two minutes, respectively, the posts had twenty and ten images. Someone’s Gaze would thus average around one screenshot every eighteen seconds, while Cross Road averages one image every twelve seconds. With fifteen screenshots over a hundred seconds, I’m averaging around a screenshot per 6.67 seconds, making Utopia one of the films I took the most screenshots of relative to its running time.
- Each character from the featured anime seem to find themselves getting along remarkably well during their time on Enoshima’s beaches. While subtle, Utopia shows the girls with similar personalities getting along with one another and hanging out more together. I would love to see a full-length feature with everyone, although that probably won’t be a reality for the foreseeable future.
- I don’t reserve enough memory to recall last names, but because of the sort of impact that each of True Tears, Hanasaku Iroha and Tari Tari had, I can recall all of the characters by name now. Starting from Wakana (at twelve o’clock position), and moving clockwise, we have Hiromi, Nako, Aiko, Yuina, Noe, Sawa, Ohana, Konatsu and Minko. I vaguely recall saying that learning anime names takes me forever because I’m intrinsically bad with names, so the fact that I can remember everyone here is an achievement in and of itself.
- I imagine that fans of P.A. Works will greatly enjoy seeing Nako, Wakana, Sawa and Ohana in kimono during the same winter festival depicted in True Tears. An anime strictly about the complexity pertaining to that most complex of all human emotions, love, True Tears demonstrates that as far as relationships go, sometimes, it takes dating someone else other than one’s “person just for them” for them to realise where their true feelings lie.
- Hanasaku Iroha‘s Bonbori festival also makes a welcome return. Today was the Chinese Mid-Autumn festival, although given that forecasts (correctly) predicted snowfall, we celebrated during the weekend: there was moon cake and Blue Mountain coffee on Saturday while the skies were still clear, and yesterday, dinner included roast pigeon and lobster. Owing to the clouds’ thickness, the moon was not visible tonight, and I am glad to have seen the mid-autumn moon before the weather went south.
- The Joint Festival album, released a few months ago, is a two-disk album that features choral and string arrangements of the major theme songs in each of True Tears, Hanasaku Iroha and Tari Tari. It’s quite an enjoyable listen, and I especially enjoyed the choral version of “Reflectia”, as well as the string version of “Melody of the Heart”.
- As is convention, I’ll conclude the post by noting that today was the first day of my graduate studies, and I spent most of it doing literature review; there was only one class I had to attend, and owing to some unusual cold front action, some five centimeters of snow was dumped on the city. Tomorrow, I will attend a TA meeting to become familiarised with the grade entry software. Seeing all of the P.A. Works characters together revived a memory about why I enjoyed Tari Tari to the extent that I did, and appropriately, my next two posts will be about Tari Tari.
Discussion on Utopia is limited, as are the screenshots. This is the part where I step up to the plate, and although there’s only a hundred seconds of footage (rather than the ninety people are claiming), there is nonetheless something to talk about. The first thing about Utopia that comes to mind is just how well the characters seem to fit together: scenes of everyone enjoying imagawayaki at Aiko’s shop, staying at the Kissuiso Inn or hanging out on Enoshima’s beaches illustrate a group of high school girls unfettered by their doubts and worries from their respective anime series, each of which had a unique story and characters that made them remarkable. Despite its short length, Utopia captures the sense of fun everyone is having, and regardless of the locale, everyone appears to be getting along quite nicely. The fact that the character designs are similar over each of the series probably helped facilitate such a crossover, and this short’s only shortcoming is its short length. While it’s unlikely, I would definitely enjoy a crossover that featured everyone from True Tears, Hanasaku Iroha and Tari Tari. With this in mind, there does seem to be an extension to Tari Tari that will be included with the Blu-Ray Disk box when it releases on December 17. This seven-minute feature will feature a new song from the Shirahamazaka High School Choir Club, and the entire box set is projected to cost 28000 yen (290 CAD).