“Caring – about people, about things, about life – is an act of maturity.” —Tracy McMillan
After four episodes of GochiUsa, I conclude that there is probably something I could find to talk about in each episode. As a result of this and the readers’ support, I’m going to drop by weekly for episodic discussions for each episode. It’ll be my first effort at doing episodic reviews, so this is new ground for me: so I’ll take a leaf out of TheRadBrad’s page to say thank you so much for all of your support, and with that being said, let’s do this. The fourth episode opens with Cocoa and Chino’s friends having afternoon tea at a café. Maya and Megu look to their high school friends as role models, so when Cocoa orders a tea set for them, they spend a fair bit of the afternoon trying to see how Cocoa and the others go about eating it. Meanwhile, concerned that Chino, Maya and Megu are watching their every move, Cocoa and Chiya attempt to hold a conversation on more mature topics, such as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and String Theory. Rize tells Chino, Maya and Megu that teasets can be enjoyed in an ordinary fashion: unlike cutlery, there’s no specified order in using them. Later, Cocoa begins behaving in an unusual manner after receiving a letter from her older sister, and spends a morning trying to be more reliable before burning out. She recruits everyone else to help her out, eventually learning that she has matured over the past year. The next morning, Mocha’s train arrives in town.
GochiUsa has proven to have a surprisingly wide breadth with respect to what one can reasonably talk about, and it seems that the individual episodes have a pair of self-contained messages, conveniently and clearly divided into two sections. The first deals with notions of what it means to be mature: while Chino, Maya and Megu look to Cooca’s friends as role models, Cocoa and her friends feel the pressure of keeping up with expectations. Rize’s words with Chimame summarise the appropriate response: acting naturally with politeness is really all that’s required. There’s no need for pretense, since faking it can sometimes be extraordinarily difficult (as Chiya and Cocoa find out when they attempt to discuss the Theory of Relativity). Similarly, Tippy and Takaharo remark that maturity isn’t something that can easily be faked, which forms the basis for the episode’s second half. While Cocoa is trying her hardest to build habits that will impress her older sister, her efforts are unsuccessful simply because it’s not who she is. Conversely, Cocoa is able to demonstrate that she’s matured simply by doing what she ordinarily does: her aptitude as a barista has definitely improved since GochiUsa started.
Screenshots and Commentary
- I’m quite surprised I nailed the distribution of screenshots again for this post: there’s ten for the first half and ten for the second half. Cocoa is a rather sentimental individual and dissolves into tears after thoughts of graduation stray into her mind. After agreeing to come with Rize, Sharo and Chiya to another café to celebrate their entry into second year, Maya and Megu wonder if Cocoa is betraying Rabbit House.
- Located adjacent to one of the canals in their town, the café in question appears to be dedicated towards serving high tea, and the pleasant spring weather allows for the girls to enjoy their tea on the patio. While GochiUsa is modeled after Colmar, France, there’s no definitive indication as to where its actually set. This is reminiscent of Calvin and Hobbes, whose location is likewise simply not mentioned because it has little impact on the story itself.
- Thanks to anime like GochiUsa, I’ve found myself a lot more conducive towards various teas and coffees. During Tuesday tea with other graduate students, I’ve tried Darjeeling and all sorts of other teas, but my favourite remains a peppermint tea whose name eludes me. In general, I don’t drink coffee after noon because I appear to experience its effects after a six hours: my heart rate jumps, and I work faster, but drinking it at around three for tea means the effects won’t kick in until I’m about to turn in for the night.
- Cocoa orders a tea set for Megu, Maya and Chino. To the best of my knowledge, there’s no etiquette that guides which order the items are eaten, although logically, one would begin with the finger sandwiches, which are salty, and finish with the pastries up top, which are sweet. There’s a biological mechanism that causes the brain to desire sweet foods after consuming salty/savoury food: known as sensory specific satiety, it is an evolutionary trait that allowed humans to priorities eating foods with starches and proteins, then for variety’s sake, seek sweet things for nutritional balance.
- I might be researching biological visualisation and have a computer science/health science background, but I love reading Steven Hawking’s books, so I have a rudimentary understanding of Relativity. Chiya and Cocoa attempt to talk about “grown-up” topics to impress Chino and the others, among which Special and General Relativity are featured. While Cocoa and Chiya don’t seem able to be differentiate between the two, I can provide a simplified distinction as follows:
- Special Relativity is a subset of General Relativity and does not include the effects of gravity in its description of space-time.
- General Relativity presents space-time as a curvature because of gravity.
- Anything more involved than that is well beyond the scope of this discussion, so I won’t cover it any further. Aoyama does seem to make more frequent appearances as of season two, dropping by to offer the girls help as they need it. I’m looking forwards to seeing whether or not she’ll have any episodes to herself, as well as how she’ll interact with Mocha once the latter makes a formal appearance in GochiUsa.
- It seems that the glass teapots are rather popular in GochiUsa, whereas in the Cantonese restaurants I frequent, teapots are composed of either metal or ceramics. I’m not quite sure how tea works in Great Britian or North America, but Cantonese culture allows opening the lid of a teapot halfway to indicate a request for a refill. I’m guessing that a clear teapot would allow servers to more visually ascertain whether or not a particular table’s tea would need refilling.
- After speaking with Rize about how to go about enjoying the tea set, it turns out that some tables have freed up, allowing everyone to sit together. Cocoa gets the short straw and finds herself situated the furthest from Chino and the others after her own suggestion of drawing lots for seating backfires on her. Overhearing Chiya and Cocoa’s conversation earlier, Chimame simultaneously asks about the distinction between Special and General Relativity. Apparently, “ちまめ” means “Blood blister”, and while some translations do give this as the official name, I think it’s a little unsuited for the air that Chino, Maya and Megu project. This does neatly account for why all three of them reject Rize’s nickname immediately back during the first season.
- My friends and I don’t visit cafés in our AO, as we prefer pubs instead, but there are a handful of locations that offering high tea for reasonable prices. Some of the ritziest places for high tea in the province are at the Fairmont Hotels: the Fairmont Palliser costs 37.50 CAD per person, and high tea at the Fairmont Banff Springs costs 42 CAD per person. This pales in comparison to some places in Great Britain, where some restaurants and hotel serving high tea require upwards of around 120 CAD per person and reservations to be made well in advance.
- After receiving a letter from Mocha, Cocoa’s insecurities get the better of her, leading to the behaviour change seen here. This episode finally clarifies the source of Cocoa’s so-called sister-complex: while those familiar with the manga would be well aware of how Cocoa’s tendencies came about, it is unreasonable to expect the anime-only viewers to know this ahead of time. For this reason, I stick solely to discussing the anime in an anime review, and only make occasional references to the source manga.
- While Tippy seems amused by Cocoa’s behaviour, Chino and Rize find themselves concerned. Chino even outright states that she prefers the normal Cocoa as the latter leads Aoyama by hand to her table.
- In an attempt to draw out Cocoa’s old self, Rize asks Chino to strap stuffed animals to herself to boost her adorableness. Said attempt fails, and ultimately, reminds me of the most unlikely thing possible: Rick’s actions during the first Rick and Morty episode, when he enters Morty’s math instructor’s mind to subconsciously convince him to give Morty better grades. While both shows excel at comedy, they represent polar opposites as far as atmosphere and writing go.
- Cocoa learns that the candle that burns twice as bright lasts half as long, and powers down after a full morning of keeping up with her act. She reveals that Mocha’s impending visit is prompting her want to show that she’s become a more reliable person. Rize initially wonders if a fever was the cause of Cocoa’s unusual behaviour: in the K-On! manga, fevers separately led Yui and Mio to act differently, so it’s not an unreasonable guess.
- Professionals do not use ice packs to counteract fevers, as they do little more than provide temporary relief (and the cold could induce shivering, which would exacerbate the fever by elevating temperatures). I imagine that the ice pack here might be to help Cocoa after she’d fallen, although there aren’t any visible signs of a bruise, either. The last rational explanation for the ice pack is that its for comedic purposes.
- Seeing Cocoa in distress, Rize agrees to help her out in trying to become more mature. Chiya, Sharo, Maya and Megu later show up to assist: because of Cocoa’s inherent personality, everyone’s finding it quite difficult to push Cocoa to act more maturely.
- An afternoon passes fairly quickly at Rabbit House, and to thank everyone for their efforts, Cocoa serves everyone caffe lattes with milk art. Sharo notices that Cocoa’s craft has improved, and that she’s matured in her own way. A joke from the first season makes a return when Cocoa places Tippy into a large cup and declares it to be a 3D latte drawing. I’m now four weeks into my TA duties of supervising a Maker Space of sorts on campus, which, amongst other things, provides access to a 3D-printer. The space is a work-in-progress, but I imagine it to be widely used once more students learn of its existence.
- After hours, Sharo and Chiya share a conversation. Chiya is presumably working on names for new menu items, and Sharo remarks that Cocoa is not particularly well-suited to be an older sister because she lacks confidence in her own abilities. It’s afternoon where I am now, under moody, grey skies, and tonight is Hallow’s Eve. Our nieghbourhood’s quite quiet now, with fewer than eight people showing up. Back in its heyday, we had a fair number of trick-or-treaters (read “run out of candy to hand out, as people were coming as late as ten”): this was when I was in primary school.
- I’m quite glad that they’re taking advantage of some quieter moments to show these conversations between Tippy and Takahiro. I imagine that the precise mechanism behind how Chino’s grandfather ended up as Tippy will probably not be explored to preserve GochiUsa‘s atmosphere. As a result of the quiet, I’m going to try and debug a major bug in my simulation that’s causing Unreal Engine to freeze up before the afternoon is out, and spend the evening watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
- This is the moment everyone is waiting for: Mocha makes a formal appearance in GochiUsa. Holding a copy of Aoyama’s The Barista Who Became a Rabbit, she has no speaking lines this episode save for a joyful giggle, and the episode preview suggests that this is the sort of disruption to the status quo that will drive at least several of the upcoming episodes forwards. Said to be more adept than Cocoa in all the ways that matter, her single weakness is that she feels melancholic in Cocoa’s absence.
- The landscapes around this small town are consistent with those around Colmar, suggesting that at the very least, GochiUsa is set in France. This post is now over, setting the precedence for what the weekly posts will look like. I’ll do my best to ensure that other posts are not neglected: I imagine that the average GochiUsa post of this size will take around 120 minutes to complete. As mentioned in the previous post, Yuru Yuri‘s summer OVAs and Call of Duty: Black Ops are on the horizon.
While it’s not a particularly difficult prediction to have nailed, I’m still somewhat pleased that my speculation turned out to be correct. Mocha does indeed make a short appearance at the fourth episode’s end; the basis for this prediction was that introducing her at the very end, rather than in the beginning or middle of the episode, would build anticipation amongst the audience. Consequently, now that viewers have seen what sort of reaction Mocha invokes in Cocoa, and have caught a glimpse of Mocha, they’re inclined to tune in next week to see what really goes down. It’s a clever way of structuring a narrative to prompt excitement, and I definitely look forwards to seeing how Mocha interfaces with the remainder of the cast. This is an exercise left to next week, and with the fourth episode now finished, I’m switching up my blogging such that GochiUsa will receive episodic reviews. There’s definitely enough time for me to do this without interfering with my priorities (namely, my graduate thesis) and the other scheduled posts: besides the solid writing in GochiUsa providing an abundance of topics to discuss, I’ve become somewhat faster now, so posts aren’t as time-consuming to draft out.