“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” —Scott Adams
We’ve now reached the end of GochiUsa‘s third quarter, and as promised, I’ll now step in to provide some thoughts on how the anime has progressed after three episodes. The third episode focuses on Chino, Maya and Megu as they prepare for an artistic exhibition in their school, which encompasses a sketching and dancing component. The girls learn to appreciate their own unique drawing styles after some advice from Aoyama, and although Chino’s submission is quite bold, it does not perform too well in the contest. Later, Chino accompanies Megu and Maya in ballet lessons when they learn that she’s got no experience in dance. Cocoa and the others join their class, and although Chino’s dance recital only turns out moderately well, she resolves that she will do better next year. This episode takes additional time to characterise Maya and Megu, which is much welcomed: rather than being secondary characters, they’re gradually playing a larger role in GochiUsa and allowing the anime to explore different avenues for humour. This is a trend I’ve seen in the second seasons to many slice-of-life anime: once the base cast is solidly present, the anime is free to introduce new characters to mix things up. Consequently, the new dynamics from the remainder of GochiUsa will likely capitalise on new characters to create experiences that are refreshing, yet comfortingly familiar.
Three episodes in, we’re now well-settled into the season, and it’s plainly clear that the atmosphere in and around GochiUsa has not changed much since the first season. Episodes still have two well-defined sections, acting as a self-contained story in which to present a particular experience the girls have. As a result, the second season remains as heart-warming to watch as the first, although there does appear to be an increased emphasis on humour. Fine arts is the third episode’s topic, and the message from the first half seems to be one of irony: during the drawing section, Chino ultimately takes heart in Aoyama’s words about individuality, but her submission to a local art contest is unsuccessful because it failed to meet the submission criteria. On the other hand, the second half seems to have a more meaningful theme. After learning that she can’t dance well, Megu and Maya help Chino to the best of their ability. Chino’s effort to improve, and experience spent with her friends means that despite not performing as well as she would’ve liked in a dance recital, Chino now has the motivation and confidence to try again next year; she’s matured and is continuing to open up to her friends, showing just how far she’s come since the first season.
Screenshots and Commentary
- I’ve not done so, so here, I’ve decided to start the post off with a landscape screenshot that showcases the townscape of GochiUsa. So here we are for yet another talk on GochiUsa, and although I managed to find enough to talk about in the paragraphs, doing episodic reviews is somewhat taxing because this blog is pretty much a one-man show. As such, I’ll be returning to my typical manner of reviewing things for the remainder of GochiUsa and return next to do a talk after we reach the halfway point.
- I can understand why some anime blogs have chosen to eschew episodic reviews for GochiUsa: beyond “this was adorable”, it really can be a challenge to write about this anime unless one happens to have an incredible talent for being able to come up with discussion topics based on minutiae within the environment. The third episode is a unique spin on GochiUsa, putting the spotlight on Chimame (Chino, Maya and Megu, a shorthand Rize coined back during the first season), so most of the screenshots in the episode will be of them. I’ll continue referring to them as such for brevity’s sake.
- It was very refreshing to see the secondary characters take center stage, and here, Chimame admire a blooming flower. Signs of spring are appearing in this episode, with buds being seen on the trees, and greenery is making its way back into the landscape. In real life, the northern hemisphere is slowly preparing for winter as the leaves fall off the trees and grass begins to brown. Daylight is shortening, too, and soon, it will be time to wind back the clock an hour when Daylight Saving ends.
- The timing could very well mean that GochiUsa will end with a return to winter: the final episode is projected to release on December 26, so another Christmas episode will definitely be appreciated. Here, Cocoa cuddles with Maya and Megu, both of whom are more appreciative and admiring of Cocoa compared to Chino.
- It turns out that Chimame are strolling around town looking for subjects to draw for an arts contest. Cocoa points at a small rabbit as a possible candidate, and the rabbit urinates, leading Cocoa to feel that her work has been defiled. Though minor, this scene subtly reminds viewers that not all the things people admire are as pure as they might appear in the mind’s eye, and I’ll leave readers to make of that what they will.
- GochiUsa manages to turn something as simple as looking for something to draw into a mini-adventure that’s quite enjoyable in its own right. The search phase can be quite difficult, and while it’s a completely different discipline, I find that searching for literature for a research project or a section of a paper is similarly challenging, especially if the electronic copy is not available and the library does not have any paper copies.
- I took an arts class back in high school that introduced me to pencil sketching, and since then, I’ve done pencil sketches on the side when I’ve got a bit of spare time and not otherwise watching anime, writing about it, gaming, writing about that, hiking, lifting or reading. They turn out quite nicely, and the most rewarding part is bringing drawings from a series of lines to something recognisable.
- Megu’s drawings seem the most grounded in reality, while Maya’s drawings are heavily stylised. Chino seems to be a fan of Picasso and her drawings have some elements derived from Cubism, although trying to look any further isn’t in my best interest, provided that I lack the arts background to properly make a call. Here, Chimame swarm on Rize after the latter produces a stunningly realistic rendition of Tippy.
- Aoyama’s presence is most soothing; while she’s sometimes seen as a bit airheaded, she’s rather competent as a writer and also gives good advice. As the girls lament their artistic styles, Aoyama reminds the others that this individualism is important, for it makes each of them unique in their own right. There is no single “best” style, and quality simply comes from being able to refine one’s own style.
- Moved by Aoyama’s advice, Chino asks her to be a teacher. Voiced by Saori Hayami, Aoyama sounds nothing like Tari Tari‘s Sawa Okita or OreImo‘s Ayase Aragaki: depending on the voice actor and their character, sometimes, it’s relatively straightforwards to tell if it’s one particular actor (for instance, Kikuko Inoue). Inori Minase, who plays Chino, is a little more difficult to pick out in some of her other roles (she was Noel in Sora no Method and Aldnoah.Zero‘s Eddelrittuo).
- While Chimame are busy with their drawings, Cocoa arrives to serve some refreshments. Some have classified GochiUsa to be a work comedy owing to its setting at a coffeeshop, but a glance at the distribution of time spent actually working (as opposed to spending time together at different cafés) means that GochiUsa is a comedy/slice-of-life anime, and easily satisfies the definition for a iyashikei anime.
- The lesson of the story seems to be lost when Chino follows her individuality and submits an artwork that is not consistent with the style the contest requires, bringing to mind a problem that Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes encounters when he attempts to submit a posted splattered with spaghetti-sauce to mimic gibs, with the caption “Be careful or be roadkill’. In an interview, Bill Waterson said that Calvin’s imagination is perhaps a little too vivid, leading him to lose contests to Susie, who is more pragmatic.
- Maya is remarkably good at dancing and even moonwalks: of everyone, she’s the most boisterous. Megu is more reserved and shy, but it turns out she took ballet when she was younger. After an instrumental version of Daydream Café fails to motivate Megu and Chino into dance, Chino tries a slower orchestral piece that Megu automatically responds to. Chino suddenly realises she’s holding the group back for their dance choreography and recruits Megu to teach her dancing.
- To this end, they take some lessons at Megu’s place: despite having stopped performing owing to stage fright, Megu’s lost none of her edge and helps Chino improve. In time, they create a dance that follows a café theme, but this dance apparently is forgotten when Cocoa, Chiya, Rize and Sharo arrives.
- Megu’s mother is a ballet instructor and is seen on screen for the first time. The credits do not disclose her name, and mine ears do not deceive me: she’s voiced by Kikuko Inoue, one of my favourite voice actresses of all time who’s played Ah! My Goddess‘ Belldandy, Please Teacher‘s Mizuho Kazami and Chobits‘ Chitose Hibiya. With a particularly compassionate quality, her voice is suited for such roles, so this was not too surprising.
- The third episode has established some sort of record for the longest time that Chino is seen without Tippy resting on her head (on screen); instead, Tippy hangs with Cocoa, who here is suffering from a hip cramp after mirroring Chimame’s ballet moves. She’s come to deliver refreshments for them after seeing the effort they’re putting into helping Chino improve her dancing.
- While I can sketch and draw reasonably well, I can’t dance to save my life. Back during my time as a junior high student, I danced well enough to pass physical education, but years of disuse means those skills have vanished. I’m much more comfortable with kata, and I do vaguely recall doing a martial-arts inspired dance for physical education class during junior high. Strangely enough, I was better with slow-dancing.
- After Rize arrives and sees Cocoa learning ballet, she decides to partake, as well. Rize’s surprisingly skilled with a variety of things: she’s already seen to be quite capable in drawing and is able to perform some ballet moves well shortly after learning them. Unlike Kiniro Mosaic‘s Aya, Rize is very confident, and over the past while, I’ve seen some discussions where viewers were wishing for an animated crossover. Two logistical problems arise with a crossover: namely, Aya and Rize are both voiced by Rise Taneda, so having Aya and Rize interacting together could be amusing, and since this town is in an undisclosed location that merely resembles, but is never explicitly named to be Colmar, so how Shinbou and her friends get there could be a challenge. However, these could be brushed aside, and a crossover could be most entertaining to watch.
- As a result of her ballet lessons, Chino’s rather more graceful and confident now than she was before, marking a minor bit of character growth that is quite welcoming to behold. With this post now done, my next GochiUsa post will be made at the halfway point. The extra time I gain will be directed towards working on my thesis paper and the implementation of a mathematical library for my simulation. Most of the multi-agent modelling aspects are ready and only need testing, so November will go towards getting Visual Studio and learning enough C++ to implement ordinary differential equation solvers that work with Unreal’s Blueprints.
The biggest question on the audience’s mind is now likely to be how soon before Mocha makes an appearance. Before speculation resumes, it’s a good idea to delve into some background first: as the eldest sibling in the Hoto family, Mocha is dependable and prima facie has no flaws or weaknesses. In short, anything Cocoa can do, she simply does better. The manga also states that Cocoa’s mother is an excellent baker, and her father is a full professor at a university. Cocoa and Mocha also have two brothers, older than Cooca and younger than Mocha: one brother is aspiring to be a lawyer, and the other wishes to pursue an unspecified discipline in science. From the documentation, Mocha’s interactions with Cocoa, as well as Cocoa’s status as the youngest sibling, led the latter to develop a desire for her own little sister, which explains why Cocoa is so keen in naming Chino, Megu and Maya as her own little sisters. The cause-effect dynamics here are rather intricate, and consequently, Mocha’s visit is doubtlessly going to have a significant impact on the overall atmosphere in GochiUsa. For this reason, it’s likely that Mocha’s arc will require up to four episodes to adequately depict, and with next week’s episode titled “Cocoa-senpai’s Elegant Tea Party Tutorial”, I imagine that said episode could realistically be the point where Mocha is introduced. The title suggests that Cocoa is doing her best to appear mature, and this shift in mannerisms logically results from the stress of anticipating her sister’s arrival.