“I have siblings. And there are certain things I know that I can push their buttons. And they know they have certain things where they can push mine.” —Catherine Zeta-Jones
We’ve reached the halfway point of GochiUsa now; six weeks have passed since the first episode, so that should mean that I’m now six weeks further in my thesis work. My project’s multi-agent component is mostly complete, and I’m working on a proof-of-concept for the C++ elements to demonstrate that my model can be extended to act as a mathematical models. This work is quite tricky, and I’ve spent the past bit re-learning enzyme kinetics, so things have been incredibly busy. Therefore, I’m immensely pleased that GochiUsa has consistently delivered something I can relax to each and every week thus far. Today’s episode continues with Mocha’s adventures in town; after a bread making contest between Mocha and Cocoa results in a surplus of bread, the girls decide to go on a picnic, where they compete against one another in a rowing competition. Here, Cocoa reveals that she’s not fond of constantly losing to Mocha in most everything, and with some motivation from Sharo, she manages to pull ahead in the race, only to lose as Chiya goes ballistic in her quest to be cuddled by Mocha. The next day, Cocoa distances herself from Mocha to avoid appearing as a spoiled sibling in front of Chino, leading Mocha to become melancholy, and on Mocha’s last day in town, Cocoa and the others arrange a surprise party for her. Cocoa and Mocha bid one another farewell at the train station, and Mocha rides off into the sunset, remarking that Cocoa has indeed matured since they’d last met.
After the antics seen in the previous episode, GochiUsa brings Cocoa’s insecurities out into the open at the halfway point. Though veiled by a veneer of adorableness, the underlying message is plainly clear: that even amongst the siblings who get along well, there are cases where jealousy and doubt can pop out: Cocoa eternally feels that she’s walking in Mocha’s shadows and voices these concerns to Sharo during the rowing contest. Though comedy is achieved when Chiya and Rize win, that Cocoa manages to come out ahead of Mocha suggests that this is something that bothers her to quite an extent. Similarly, she’s also hesitant to indulge in being a younger sibling in front of Chino. These themes are quite common amongst siblings, and well-explored in this episode. While Cocoa may be a little jealous of how capable of Mocha is, it’s quite obvious that Cocoa never allows these feelings to take over; her efforts to spearhead Mocha’s surprise party demonstrates just this, and the two sisters part on a high note. Thus, this episode’s message is that amongst siblings, conflict is a natural aspect: the more critical component would be how said conflicts are resolved, and GochiUsa suggests that a solution lies with one’s friends. This in turn contributes to the ever-present theme in GochiUsa regarding friendship and how togetherness is imperative to solving problems.
Screenshots and Commentary
- A flashback brings viewers to an older time, when Mocha and Cocoa were much younger; like most younger siblings, Cocoa imitates Mocha’s mannerisms and greatly admires her: the hair clips they share are a reminder of their closeness, and in the fourth episode, Cocoa’s choice to wear said hair clip on her right is a sign that she wishes to be more mature.
- Cocoa is brought to her knees after realising she hasn’t awoken early enough to prepare breakfast. Mocha’s presence, in usurping everything Cocoa does, likely accounts for why Mocha doesn’t stick around for more than two episodes: though a fun character, I admit that it is a little saddening to see Cocoa bested at every turn. This soon turns into a duel of the bakers, and while the outcome of said contest is not known, it does set in motion the events seen after the title card.
- I’ve not been on a picnic for upwards of ten years, and the last time I went, we brought seasoned chicken legs and BLT sandwiches. Picnics can be quite fun assuming the weather is good, but as other cartoons attest, the presence of foul weather and insect populations can quickly drive things downhill.
- The weather in GochiUsa‘s town seems to be quite gentle, so picnic-humour (such as that seen in The New Woody Woodpecker Show) is absent. Russian Roulette with food is more peaceable than standard Russian Roulette, but nonetheless can be quite mean-spirited: Mocha mentions that one of her scones is spiked with mustard, leading Tippy to spew out his.
- Swam-shaped padel-powered boats are an iconic sight, commonly associated with couples. Perhaps to prevent the misconception that GochiUsa is purely about that sort of thing, the girls partake in their contest with conventional rowboats.
- This is probably the most amount of violence that will be present in GochiUsa; after Cocoa sinks into a melancholy when reminiscing about being bested in everything by Mocha, Sharo slaps some sense into her. It turns out that slapping someone really does work: this was shown in Mythbusters, and the action supposedly triggers the flight or flight response, reactivating pathways in the brain to promote faster reactions.
- Cocoa bests Mocha in the boat race, but is herself defeated by Chiya, who is motivated by a desire to be cuddled by Mocha. Subtle turns of events ensures that the mood in GochiUsa never becomes too serious, although the race’s outcome does seem to suggest that Cocoa probably could outperform Mocha in some areas, even if that’s not immediately apparent.
- Cocoa rage-quits after sensing a ruse when Mocha offers to cook Hamburg steak for dinner. Mocha’s actions suggest that Cocoa was probably quite used to Mocha looking after her when they were younger. As an older sibling, I can definitely relate: Mocha brings to mind some of my own recollections where my parents ask me to let my brother look after himself sans my assistance.
- Given that my earlier predictions about how Mocha would stay anywhere from two to four episodes, it turns out that the prediction landed on the lower bounds. I’m reading some complaints about how the English title for the previous episode was not appropriately translated, and while the title does seem a bit strange, it’s nothing worth losing sleep over. To properly convey the title’s meaning in English would necessitate a complete restructuring: I would give a proper translation as “I could tell with one bite that this bread isn’t chewy enough”.
- Mocha drowns her sorrows in milk after Cocoa expresses a wish to bathe on her own; mentioned somewhere previously, Mocha’s weak point is Cocoa: she dotes on her and is unsettled whenever Cocoa demonstrates a desire to/signs of maturing. Mocha’s age is not revealed in the anime, but she is presumably in her late teens or early twenties. Unfortunately, her choice of milk over something a little more potent is not particularly helpful into yielding insight into her age, given that Mocha’s personality suggests that she’s unlikely to turn to alcohol when depressed.
- Distraught that Cocoa is giving her the cold shoulder, Mocha decides to go for a stroll around town and enlists Rize to help her navigate. However, Rize’s spidey-sense-sense is tingling the entire way; after being cuddled in the previous episode, Rize has no intention of experiencing again and promptly escapes. However, here, Cocoa is presumably planning the surprise party for Mocha with Chino, Megu and Maya, hence her response.
- It speaks volumes with respect to how much Rize fears Mocha’s cuddles when she hides behind Sharo: typically, it’s the other way around, with Sharo hiding behind Rize, and this difference does offer a pleasant new take on the two characters, suggesting there’s more depth to them than the first season initially depicts.
- On her last day at Rabbit House, everyone throws a surprise party for Mocha. Cocoa is wearing a disguise to elevate excitement, but this disguise is quickly lost amidst the festivities: Cocoa says it’s “Kigumin”, the town mascot. Whether or not this holds true will be something left for the future, although it is equally possible that Cocoa is making this up to drive things forward. Either way, that is one spooky-looking mask Cocoa is wearing, and feels a little out of place in such a peaceful setting.
- Mocha joins the ranks of Cocoa, Nanako and Fubuki after learning of the truth behold Cocoa’s distance. I’m writing this review on the new MacBook Pro: despite lacking the same tactile feeling as other keyboards, typing on the MacBook Pro has been very responsive: and I can type at full speed without worrying too much about spelling errors. It took a better half of this morning to finish loading the essentials (Xcode 7, Text Wrangler, Python 3.5 and the JDK 1.8) for development, as well as format an old hard drive for use as external storage. At present, all that’s left is to hook Xcode up with my Apple Developer ID and test out a simple Hello World App.
- These activities is why today’s post is a little later than usual, but I’ll mention now that I will do my best to get posts out on Saturdays. The Twitter feed to the side will let readers know if any delays are to be expected. Returning back to GochiUsa, as the episodes progress, it would appear that Chino is becoming more appreciative of Cocoa, given Cocoa’s relationship with Mocha: Chino’s been said to be quite lonely at times, and though she outwardly remains neutral towards Cocoa’s attention, subtle moments show that Chino seems to be okay with Cocoa considering her to be a little sister.
- Likely aware that Mocha is a fan of Aoyama’s novels, Cocoa invites Aoyama to the party, as well. Mocha is quite surprised to learn that the woman she met at the park is indeed Aoyama, and promptly asks the latter to autograph her rolling pin.
- Rabbit House is a joyous place when it’s packed, and I’ve read some discussions elsewhere concerning the relatively small patronage at Rabbit House throughout most of GochiUsa. Mocha’s map from the previous episode might offer insight- Rabbit House is not located near the town centre, accounting for why fewer people are dropping by for coffee, although the fact that Takahiro has kept Rabbit House open since Chino’s grandfather established it suggests that business is satisfactory and for the sake of the events in GochiUsa, not shown on-screen.
- As the sixth episode draws to a close, Cocoa and Mocha part ways at the train station by evening in a rather touching scene. The train station is comparatively small in size and appears to be a terminal station with only two tracks, implying that their town is quite small, as well. The trains themselves appear quite modern and electrically powered.
- The opening and ending songs have now been released as albums, allowing for both to be heard in their entirety. While both songs are enjoyable to listen to, I find that “Daydream Café” seems to be a better opening song with respect to capturing the adorable, easygoing feelings that prevail in GochiUsa (compared to “No poi!”), and that “Takarabako Jet Coaster” would’ve made a solid song for the second season’s opening. Conversely, “Tokimeki Poporon♪” is a fun ending song that works as effectively as did “Poppin’ Jump♪”.
- Like Cocoa and Chino, I wish that Mocha would have stuck around for at least another episode. This is not the end, though: it is quite possible that Mocha might return close to the end of GochiUsa to celebrate Christmas and/or New Years with Cocoa and the others.
Mocha’s time in GochiUsa is quite short; the consequence of this observation is a conflicting feeling. On one hand, Mocha’s presence is very noticeable in GochiUsa, overshadowing the other characters, but on the other, it would have been nice to have her explore more of the town with Cocoa and the others. In retrospect, her being around only for two episodes is not too surprising, provided that the episode’s title foreshadows Mocha would not be staying for too long. It’s reasonable to suppose that Mocha’s character intrinsically limits the possibilities of what can be done before things become repetitive, and with her having left for home, GochiUsa is probably going to feel much quieter come next week’s episode. In particular, how Cocoa will be doing post-Mocha is probably going to be of the greatest interest. With that being said, time stops for no-one, and I imagine that the next episode will be set either during the depths of summer, possibly involving Aoyama’s efforts to draft a new story and out of difficulty, attempts to draw inspiration from the girls’ daily lives. There will also be a focus on back to school as summer vacation comes to an end, and this leads me to wonder whether or not it is plausible for the series to conclude back in winter: we recall that the finale is set to air on Boxing Day, so another Christmas episode will be much-welcomed.