“I am the youngest of four siblings, and we’re all so close. I don’t know where I would be without my brothers and sister. I secretly believe that my parents love me the most!” —Marissa Jaret Winokur
Mocha’s now officially joined the cast of GochiUsa; her arrival in town draws parallels with Cocoa, as she finds herself immersed in said town’s charms, in both its unique timber-frame buildings and the presence of feral rabbits in the city streets. Mocha encounters Aoyama before reaching Rabbit House, sporting a disguise to surprise Cocoa (as per Aoyama’s suggestion). However, Cocoa’s out looking for Mocha, so Mocha busies herself teaching Rize and Chino some of her own bread-baking techniques. When Cocoa returns, the two sisters reunite for the first time in a year: Cocoa tearfully remarks that her own role as an older sister has been usurped, but Mocha is impressed that Cocoa has matured since they’d last met. Mocha announces that she’s gotten authorisation to stay at Rabbit House for a few days, and spends the remainder of the evening catching up with Cocoa. Consequently, Mocha will be around for several episodes, spending more time with Cocoa and her friends.
This episode has been the moment audiences have been waiting for: played by Ai Kayano (Girls und Panzer‘s Saori Takebe and Tamayura: More Aggressive‘s Kanae Mitani are two of the roles I know her best for), Mocha conveys the air of an older sibling, someone who holds a substantial amount of experience in comparison to Cocoa. However, Mocha simultaneously shares Cocoa’s cheerful, bubbly personality. In an older discussion, I postulated that Mocha’s personality was aptly reflected by her naming; caffé mocha is essentially hot cocoa with a shot of espresso, combining the sweetness of a hot cocoa with the bite and maturity of a coffee. Similarly, Mocha comes across to Chino and the others as someone who’s easily more mature than Cocoa, giving off a sense of reliability and responsibility that Cocoa has not reached yet, but at the same time, Mocha is also distracted by cute things and greatly enjoys cuddling people. This clever personification of the difference between the two beverages also serves to illustrate two siblings who are quite similar to one another, rather like K-On!‘s Yui and Ui. These interactions are always so heart-warming to watch: my friends often remark that they nominally get along with their siblings, but in my experiences, I know that siblings can indeed be best friends, and GochiUsa reinforces this notion.
Screenshots and Commentary
- I originally had 64 screenshots for the fifth episode, and picking twenty for this post proved to be a challenge. Last week, I ended the post with Mocha sitting on the train, so this week, we’ll begin again with Mocha riding the train into town. She’s reading Aoyama’s “The Barista Who Turned Into a Rabbit”, a novel that Chino’s grandfather rated as being quite good, even if the son had a more substantial role.
- Like Cocoa, Mocha is partial towards rabbits and goes off mission after deciding to pursue a rabbit for the sole purpose of cuddling with one. While rabbits are fluffy and conducive for cuddling, my old training from my days as a health sciences student warns me that doing so with feral rabbits is unhygienic and may lead to illnesses: tularemia (rabbit fever) is one such disease, causing fever, headaches and other unpleasant symptoms, being caused by the Gram-negative bacteria Francisella tularensis. Of course, I’m not about to go full-throttle with health, and being fiction, there are definitely things that I can accept. So, we’ll suppose that all the rabbits in GochiUsa are as clean as can be 🙂
- Mocha’s delay does not go unnoticed, and so, Cocoa decides to go looking for her. She runs into Sharo and Chiya along the way: earlier, Chiya was attempting to scare Sharo with a story, but this fails, much to Chiya’s chagrin. Consequently, Chiya decides to go with the next best thing, informing Sharo that Anko was once again carried off by birds and is inbound in t-minus five seconds.
- Mocha runs into Aoyama at the park and share a conversation about the latter’s novel, although Mocha does not initially believe Aoyama to be “The Barista Who Turned Into a Rabbit”‘s author. It is Aoyama who suggests a disguise to Mocha for comedic value, suggesting that contrary to thoughts otherwise, Aoyama’s sense of humour is somewhat unusual. Mocha buys into it and fields a typical getup used by people who are sick.
- Tom Clancy and Mark Greany would both agree that Mocha’s field-craft is so inadequate that her cover would be blown almost instantaneously, although in GochiUsa, maintaining a low profile isn’t too serious of a matter. She’s scanning for signs of Cocoa here and comes across as a suspicious character for both Rize and Chino. After ordering a coffee and toast, she reveals her identity when the toast is found to be unsatisfactory. Rize immediately draws her sidearm, wondering if Mocha’s flour is some form of narcotic.
- The misunderstanding is soon cleared up, and Mocha introduces herself formally to Chino and Rize. I’m quite interested to see how Mocha will interact with Maya and Megu (if this should happen): they’ve been absent throughout this episode, but I can imagine that things will liven up once everyone gets together.
- Aside from her hair and figure, Mocha appears very similar to Cocoa. By this point in time, it becomes apparent that twenty screenshots is not sufficient to fully capture the joy in this episode, and my recommendation would simply be to watch the episode to enjoy it in all its glory: there are so many different moments that speak volumes about Mocha’s personality, and as mentioned earlier, her naming is quite consistent with what one might expect caffé mocha to feel like if personified.
- After the formalities are finished, Mocha proceeds to pet Chino and Rize. While Chino’s somewhat used to this as a consequence of Cocoa’s frequent indulgences, Rize is completely embarrassed; I’m reminded of K-On!‘s Mio Akiyama, who exhibited similar reactions to these situations.
- Rize turns bright red after Mocha closes the distance, ignores her sidearm and holds her close. The colour results from the dilation of capillaries near the face’s surface in reflex to neural activity, allowing a greater volume of blood flow (and corresponding heat) to enter. Blushing is thought to have arisen from the evolutionary necessity for modesty, although the precise physiological and psychological mechanisms are quite complex, so delving further would be a topic outside the scope of this discussion.
- After said hug is done, Rize trembles like a leaf in shock: clearly, Mocha…was the man. One wonders if this might be a subtle payback for what she did to Chino back during episode one, during which she tickled Chino to try and get the latter to smile.
- Mocha’s “I’ll get it done” attitude left a lasting impression on Cocoa to the point where Cocoa longs to be an older sister herself. After having cuddled with every living being in Rabbit House, Mocha decides to go make some bread. Part of being skilled with something is to make something extraordinary out of something ordinary, and compared to Cocoa, Mocha’s craft is far more advanced: she’s able to bake a superior product with the same ingredients.
- As the heir to the Hoto Bakery, Mocha’s skill as a baker is unmatched: her bread is so delicious it leaves tears in Rize and Chino’s eyes. In order for food to do that, usually, it must evoke a sufficiently emotional memory, rather similar to how specific smells can immediately allow individuals to recall long-forgotten memories. The sharp-eyed reader will have noticed that I’ve now got a separate category for Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?, given the volume of posts here about the anime.
- Cocoa, Chiya and Sharo gaze wistfully into Rabbit House. Watching them in this state is quite melancholy; a closer look at Cocoa’s eyebrows is all that is needed to ascertain that she’s feeling quite sad. This is one of the aspects of anime I particularly like: characters’ eyebrows visibly denote their feelings and greatly contribute to expressing how someone is feeling even without any dialogue.
- It’s actually quite heart-melting to watch Cocoa cry, but some motivation from Chiya and Sharo gives Cocoa the resolve to finally meet up with Mocha.
Metallically Ironically, Chiya offers Cocoa the same suggestion concerning disguises, and Cocoa enters Rabbit House. Unlike Mocha, Cocoa is spotted almost immediately by Chino.
- That both Mocha and Cocoa partake in a similar cheer, and resort to disguises to surprise one another, reflect on their similarities in personality: in both cases, their actions are influenced by those around them, and both take things in stride as they happen. The tensions accumulating throughout this episode arise from the fact that Cocoa is not present for a majority of the scenes, building up to a climax here.
- The episode’s denouement thus comes after Cocoa allows her real emotions to come through: glad and relieved that Mocha made it, the two embrace. Cocoa still has some conflicting feelings: on one hand, she’s happy that Mocha’s here, but on the other, she also wishes to demonstrate that she’s matured.
- The biggest joy in the fifth episode, then, is seeing Cocoa and Mocha together after Mocha’s announcement that she’ll be staying for a bit. While Tippy remarks that he was never informed, it turns out that Mocha got in touch with Takahiro in advance about accommodations, so everything checks out. Above is yet another scene that exemplifies Mocha and Cocoa’s similarities: both girls move about in the same way, surrounded by particle effects, when they’re particularly pleased with themselves.
- I’m inclined to say that Cocoa looks a little like a rabbit here, as she offers Mocha a cup of coffee with an intricately drawn latte art. While rabbits do figure in GochiUsa, it is quite possible that the characters themselves might also be seen as rabbits for their carefree lives, lending itself to the anime (and originally, the manga’s) names.
- Mocha authorises Chino and Cocoa to stay up the entire evening so they can catch up, but feeling that Cocoa and Mocha should spend some more time together, she goes to make coffee for everyone. Because coffee is so widely consumed in GochiUsa, I wonder if their coffee has similar properties to ours: drinking coffee at this hour would all but guarantee that one would stay up until around 0400, which is why I avoid coffee after 1400.
- Realising the relationship between Cocoa and Mocha, Chino suddenly appreciates what it means to have siblings. Camera angles suggest that Chino is quite lonely, and there are several instances where she does express sadness when Cocoa is not around. Seeing the two sisters asleep, Chino decides to snuggle up with Cocoa. That’s pretty much it for this post, and next week, I’ll be dropping by with a talk for my impressions of GochiUsa‘s second season at the halfway point.
We’re nearing GochiUsa‘s halfway point now, and given Mocha’s presence in the opening song, she’ll presumably be around for anywhere from two to four episodes (five, tops). Her interactions with the others are adorable and immediately adds new dimension to GochiUsa, so I’m curious to see how this will play out in the upcoming episodes. On one hand, Cocoa admires Mocha, but she’s also somewhat jealous that Mocha is objectively more capable as an older sister. This conflict and its resolution could be the topic for an episode; if adapted, such a story would take GochiUsa down a new direction beyond a simple anime about life in a coffee house, demonstrating that slice-of-life anime seemingly about nothing can nonetheless provide environments to satisfactorily present a meaningful message about things like sibling interactions and friendship, to name a few. This emerging trend shows that moé anime in general have matured, balancing adorable moments with subtle but worthwhile life lessons, and it will be quite interesting to see what directions both GochiUsa and moé anime in general will be taking in the future.