“Oh yeah! It’s HEADSHOT time!” —FPS_Doug, Pure Pwnage
As the second season to Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka??‘s title merely differs with the addition of a single question mark in its title. For brevity’s sake, I will continue to refer to the anime’s second season as GochiUsa. It’s a beautiful Saturday morning, and GochiUsa‘s first episode aired, marking a much-welcomed return to the gentle atmosphere surrounding this anime. Nearly a year has elapsed since Cocoa moved to Rabbit House to work as a waitress, and she’s quite eager to share her experiences with her family. To this end, she goes around town to photograph her friends, and while Chiya, Rize and Sharo don’t mind being photographed, Chino encounters considerable difficulty in smiling for Cocoa’s camera. Later, when Chiya and Ama Usa An are featured in a local magazine, alongside Sharo and Fleur de Lupin, Chino wonders if her presence isn’t doing enough to warm up the atmosphere around Rabbit House and grows melancholic. Takahiro Kafū shares a few words with Cooca about Chino, and to the latter’s surprise, Rabbit House is featured on a double-spread in the magazine’s next issue. Welcoming the news, Chino smiles. Cocoa sends her letter to her family, and later stumbles upon a picture frame Chino’s made.
The main draw about sequels of slice-of-life anime, such as GochiUsa, is that their pacing and design allows the anime to be inherently accessible to viewers. This first episode was spent depicting two seemingly trivial, mundane elements in the girls’ everyday lives, but nonetheless, manages to capture volumes about each girls’ personalities. Cocoa remains as easy-going as she did in the first season, and similarly, Chino is as shy and reserved as she had been earlier. This holds true for the airy Chiya, disciplined Rize and elegant Sharo. Thus, the characters’ identities and contributions to the dynamics in GochiUsa become immediately apparent, leaving new viewers with a solid impression of what aspects set each individual apart from one another. For veterans of GochiUsa, watching all of the characters go about their everyday lives will remind them of the things that made season one so enjoyable. This is partially why such anime are appreciated: they’re able to capture the interests of an audience who’ve never seen it before, while simultaneously presenting enough new material to keep the veterans entertained, and in this regard, GochiUsa‘s first episode of its second season succeeds in doing just this.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Twenty screenshots adjourn this here post. The episodes release at 0730 PDT, and I think this is the quickest I’ve ever written about an anime on launch day. In keeping with how I opened the GochiUsa season one post, which had Cocoa looking at the Rabbit House sign, here, I’ll open with Chino looking at the same sign after a trip to the local market for groceries. Judging from the character’s clothing, it’s late winter, probably in January or early February.
- Cocoa’s camera, though unbranded, is a Sony DSC-W630 CyberShot. With a 16.1 megapixel chip, this older but highly compact camera is relatively inexpensive, producing images of reasonable quality for its price. It’s also got a good battery life, and images average around 6 MB individually. However, the camera is a little slow to process images when the flash is enabled. The pink models are quite real, and I am certain it’s a DSC-W630 because of the placement of the flash and auto-focus lamp (the little circle right of the flash), as well as the aperture’s design.
- The notion of an overreaction to what might be perceived as an embarassing photograph is not new, but it’s always hilarious to see. Here, Rize reacts in horror after realising that she inadvertently made some cute poses for Cocoa, whose camera spree results from her wish to share details about life at Rabbit House with her friends.
- Thus, this provides the context for what was seen during the trailer released a ways back. This post is predominately about the characters, and consequently, there aren’t any cityscape shots. With this being said, the cityscape in GochiUsa season two are as detailed and beautiful as they were in season one. The unique setting is one of the strongest elements that set GochiUsa apart from other slice-of-life anime, and makes it more memorable.
- It feels that the colours of GochiUsa season two are a bit more saturated than they were in season one. This could be a consequence of the stream, but fortunately, the increased vividness doesn’t detract from the viewing experience. After visiting Chiya, Cocoa pays Sharo a visit next and voices her disappointment towards the degree of resilience Chino’s shown towards being photographed.
- Rize wonders if tickling Chino will elicit a smile from her, but this ends up failing, with Rize remarking that something feels off about doing something like this to Chino. Insofar, it’s taken a fair degree of effort to get Chino on camera, but some individuals simply don’t like being photographed, and while the causes vary, it’s usually easiest to respect the individual’s wishes and simply not photograph them. While it’s adorable to watch everyone coax Chino out of her dislikes, this is an anime, so the rules of reality don’t apply.
- Despite remaining as airy as ever, Chiya is able to strike some surprisingly bold poses: here, she and Cocoa carry out a comedy act of sorts that results in Rize unknowingly playing the role of the “sane man”. Strictly speaking, the DSC-W630 isn’t able to capture images that quickly if the flash is on, but given that GochiUsa isn’t an anime about photography, such an oversight is easy enough to forgive.
- Cocoa et al.’s efforts are not in vain, and Chino eventually warms up enough to smile, being touched by how much her friends care about her. It’s easy enough for me to capture the images, but Cocoa seems to have less luck, with all of her images failing or becoming blurry. This forms the basis for the episode’s first half, motivating my use of the page quote, as Cocoa is really trying to capture an image of Chino’s smile.
- Chiya mentioned that she was being interviewed for a magazine story earlier, and at present, everyone has an opportunity to read said magazine article. Fleur de Lapin is also featured, along with the Hoto Bakery (Cocoa’s skill at baking bread stems from the fact that she comes from a line of bakers), Aoyama’s food column and some images of Rize modelling dresses (a callback to the first season). It’s not too surprising that Aoyama does writing work outside of being a novelist, and there’s no denying that “Hungry Aoyama Gourmet Mountain” has a nice ring to it.
- In search of a quiet place to relax, Aoyama arrives at Rabbit House. Compared to the other coffee houses in the area, Rabbit House does seem a little quiet. The café doubles as a bar by evening, serving alcoholic beverages such as the gin and tonic and the salty dog, amongst other things. Because the cast is predominately of a high school age, this side of Rabbit House is only seen on some occasions.
- Chiya notices that Chino seems a little melancholy after reading all of the magazine articles and wondering about business at Rabbit House. The topic of magazine article reminds me of life at the LINDSAY Virtual Human Lab: while I’m usually busy with building simulations, media groups and the higher-ups at campus do occasionally show up to interview my PI (and I’m visible in some of the resulting videos/photographs). Naturally, I won’t link to them for security reasons.
- Aoyama experiences an instance of catastrophic structural failure, when the chair she sits down on collapses. Initially brushing it off as a sign that Rabbit House has a rich history, she suddenly wonders if this is the Master’s punishment for her not working hard enough. During such moments, the screen takes on an unearthy hue, and in general, I choose not to feature these moments since they’re better watched, rather than read about.
- Chino laments the fact that Rabbit House is somewhat dilapidated: it’s been around for quite some time, and though GochiUsa lovingly makes use of audio and visuals renders it as being very clean and well-maintained, anime is inherently unable to represent olfactory aspects. So, I would imagine that Rabbit House, underneath the pleasant aroma of coffee, would also smell like an older wooden building.
- When Sharo learns that Cocoa was responsible for some of the seemingly-antiquated features at Rabbit House, she grows frustrated and chastises her. Earlier this week, I began watching the Yuru Yuri OVAs whilst enjoying a massively delicious pulled-pork poutine with a succulent helping of smoked pork and fried onions on top of thick cut fries, gravy and cheese curds. I wondered if I would finish quickly enough such that I could begin supervising a new workspace on campus.
- Maya confidently states that Rabbit House will also be featured in a magazine at some point in the future, and in a heartwarming moment reminiscent of a similar scene in the K-On! Movie, interview her with near-identical questions about relationships, before leading her on a short chase.
- The day draws to a close as golden beams of sun stream through the windows, and Takahiro thanks Cocoa for the day’s efforts before leaving a message with her to relay to Chino. Such moments show that there are hidden depths to Cocoa: she’s hardworking and precise when working, only maintaining a fluffy, energetic presence whenever Chino’s around.
- Earlier, Chino is seen tugging at her face to force a smile. When Cocoa arrives, she tries to lighten Chino’s spirit up with her own brand of ventriloquism. Humour derived from Tippy’s ability to talk as ventriloquism makes a return in the second season, although I do not see it as being likely that Cocoa or the others will learn about the truth behind Tippy’s state. This is most likely to maintain the status quo, as well: things could presumably get chaotic if Aoyama and the others learn that Tippy is a vessel for Chino’s grandfather’s spirit.
- It turns out that the message Takahiro had for Chino was that they would also be featured in a magazine, with a double-spread, no less. A glance at the magazine article (and those seen in previous scenes) strongly illustrates just how much effort went into the art and animation in GochiUsa, where attention is paid to even minor things like ripples in coffee as its being poured, or seeing the transparent reflections of characters in windows.
- The choice to show Cocoa preparing to mail a letter back to her family by evening demonstrates the quality of writing in GochiUsa: smaller plot elements make a return to yield closure for the episode. The fact that Cocoa is still using traditional mail, even with the presence of digital cameras and cell phones, obfuscates when and where the anime happens, but also serves to reinforce the notion that the setting in GochiUsa is relaxed and laid-back to the extent where people are perfectly willing to use snail-mail (in comparison to reality, where email, IM and SMS has led to ever-increasing demands for instantaneous responses).
- I’ll end the post off with Chino smiling as she looks at a picture frame that she’d made. I originally had forty images, and it was no small effort to pick the best twenty for discussions. With the first episode of GochiUsa‘s second season out and reviewed now, I’m going to return to Star Wars: Battlefront Beta and see if I can’t experience playing as Luke or Darth Vader, before enjoying Thanksgiving dinner, which will feature, amongst the usual turkey and stuffing, shrimp (I’m in Canada, hence the observance of Thanksgiving in October).
Looking ahead, GochiUsa is going to be something that I will look forwards to watching every week. The first season dealt with Chino and Cocoa gradually coming to learn more about one another to the extent where Chino’s icy façade towards Cocoa dissipates somewhat, and it’s logical to imagine that the second season will see this trend continue. The end result is a very-natural, credible relationship that never feels forced. However, the elephant in the room at present is Mocha’s upcoming presence in the remainder of GochiUsa‘s second season. Her presence is most likely to disrupt the status quo and consequently, we could see new sides to each character, thereby livening up the second season. Though she’s not yet made an appearance, I previously remarked that it would not be logical to be introduced after one episode: the first episode must aim to (re)establish the primary characters, and adding new characters right off the bat would take time away from doing so. Consequently, there are no issues with leaving Mocha’s introduction for a later episode. The episode preview actually yields very little in the way of what’s to come, so it is possible that Mocha could show up as early as next week’s episode. This is something that time will tell, and I will return after the third episode to provide my impressions of GochiUsa by the three-episode mark. For the present, there is no denying that this first episode was most enjoyable, and I look forwards to seeing what directions GochiUsa‘s second season (hitherto referred to as GochiUsa) will take.