“When you acknowledge the integrity of your solitude, and settle into its mystery, your relationships with others take on a new warmth, adventure and wonder.” —John O’Donohue
The Christmas holidays approach, but things are presently very busy, with a pair of lab tours scheduled for the upcoming week, and besides the conference paper, I also need to implement a simulation of influenza infection, as well as add a new mechanism to the Giant Walkthrough Brain for AR. On top of that, there’s still the matter of Christmas shopping; consequently, I am most grateful that it’s Saturday, which means the tenth episode of GochiUsa has aired. This episode, Sharo and Rize are asked to help out with various clubs around their high school, learning in the process of an alumni who was somewhat of a polymath and was able to help out numerous clubs during her time as a student. Known only as Emerald, Rize and Sharo ask the sewing and blowdart clubs for help, eventually learning that said alumni was a student named Midori. The pieces fit together: when Aoyama is trying to evade her editor, who’s on her tail about a delayed submission, it’s inadvertently disclosed to Cocoa and Chino that Aoyama’s real name is Midori. Later, during her day off, Chino becomes engrossed in building a ship-in-a-bottle, and the others are busy with various things, leading Cocoa to become disappointed when no one’s available to spend the day with her. Dismayed that everyone readily takes up Rize’s invitation for an event, she declines a trip to the mountains and upon learning that Cocoa neglected to read her invitation, Chino does her best to convince Cocoa to join them.
Divided evenly into two sections with a short intermission, GochiUsa’s tenth episode first illustrates life at the prestigious academy that Rize and Sharo attend; it’s as Maya and the others have imagined, being a top-tier academy with the best gear. This part of the episode allows Rize and Sharo’s life at school to be depicted, and although Sharo’s feelings towards Rize have never been subtle, curiously enough, the two have not been given too much screen-time to show how they interact in Cocoa and the others’ absence. It turns out that, despite her admiration for Rize, Sharo herself is surprisingly capable in various things, and this does not go unnoticed: Rize compliments Sharo whenever she notices. As such, this first section shows that Rize and Sharo are definitely compatible as friends, giving an idea into how their days might go when they’re not working or hanging out. The episode’s second half quietly solves the mystery of who Emerald is, and transitions into Cocoa’s failed efforts to spend time with her friends on a day off. This provides Chino with yet another opportunity to express the side of her personality she’s normally hesitant of exhibiting: that she’s willing to act more akin to a little sister to coax Cocoa into coming with everyone illustrates just how much her outlook of Cocoa has changed since the beginning of GochiUsa. While Mocha may be viewed as the catalyst who accelerated Chino’s opening up to Cocoa, Chino had already shown signs of warming up to Cocoa back during the first season, illustrating the sort of impact that Cocoa imparts on the atmosphere in GochiUsa: it’s mentioned that Cocoa’s main contribution is that she’s able to make everything fun.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Up until now, only glimpses of Rize and Sharo’s school have been shown; this episode finally illustrates a bit more about life at said institute, showing that even in a town as quaint and small as theirs, there’s always something new to explore. Audiences have seen Cocoa and Chiya’s school, as well: it’s more similar to a Japanese high school relative to Rize and Sharo’s school, which may account for why events there aren’t often shown.
- Rize and Sharo’s school apparently have an equestrian and blow-dart club, and more curiously, Rize’s natural talents make her highly coveted amongst her peers, as they try to recruit her into their respective clubs. Above, I mention polymathy, which is derived off the Greek for “(having) learned much”: it refers to individuals who are highly skilled with a wide range of fields, from the intellectual and artistic to physical: they have the depth to go with breadth. It’s somewhat related to being a jack of all trades, master of none, where one is reasonably competent with many things but is not an expert at any one thing, and I’ve been told that I’m “周身刀，無張利” (lit. “knives all over, none of which are sharp”) for likewise being capable with most of the things I pick up, without ever excelling at any one.
- Sharo longs for Rize’s feelings to be reciprocated, and after demonstrating a hitherto hidden talent for blow-darts, Rize interlocks fingers with her in amazement, as she herself failed to nail any of the targets. Rize agrees to play against the club during their hunt for one “E”, an alumni who was a jack-of-all-trades and was said to have helped numerous clubs to succeed. As Sharo manages to win, the club’s member agrees to disclose that “E” was Midori, although who she is remains a mystery to Sharo and Rize.
- Though yearning for another shot with the blow-darts, Sharo drags Rize away, saying that their mission is complete. The single ponytail suits Rize rather nicely: like Haruhi‘s Kyon, I’m rather fond of ponytails for reasons I can’t quite rationalise. I remark that in all of my GochiUsa posts, I’ve been romanising Sharo’s name with an “h” rather than as Syaro: “Syaro” is technically correct, as it’s what the official documentation states, but force of habit means I’ll continuing using my romanisation.
- This past week’s been quite busy: I attended a raclette party last Friday with some friends, then had an opportunity to watch 007 Spectre on Sunday after dim sum for lunch. It’s more formulaic in the sense of execution, and some transitions were a bit jagged, but on the whole, it was a fun movie that brought back elements from classic 007 films, including car gadgets, an intimidating henchman and Ernest Stavro Blofeld himself, complete with scar and a Turkish Angora.
- This week, I spent most of my time touching up my conference paper and began working on my influenza model. Around midweek, one of my colleagues had his PhD defense, and in the upcoming week, I have a pair of presentations to help with. Things are definitely gearing up even though the year’s ending, but I’ve also looked ahead and have tried to schedule things so that I can achieve a reasonable life-work balance: besides my thesis work, I aim to finish Life is Strange and Battlefield: Hardline before the year ends, as well as watch some movies and take the time to read H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine.
- The Blue Mountain coffee is something that I tried only because of GochiUsa, and in it, I found a earthy, nutty-flavoured coffee that goes quite well with egg tarts. I find myself amazed at the seemingly infinite array of coffees and teas that are available whenever I go to a café: I can tell different teas apart without too much difficulty, but with coffee, I’m more unfamiliar. While serving Aoyama, a frustrated individual enters Rabbit House.
- It turns out this is Aoyama’s editor, the same hapless kouhai who is ever-exasperated at Aoyama’s casual disregard for deadlines. She reveals that Aoyama’s given name is Midori, (緑, “Green”); audiences will immediately connect the pieces and realise that Aoyama is the jack-of-all-trades who once attended the same school as Rize and Sharo. Moreover, her editor would be the junior who kept Aoyama in the literature club.
- Unlike Aoyama, I can’t afford to be this casual about deadlines: it’s quite adorable of how Aoyama attempts to drown out her editors’ protests, pretending her problems don’t exist, but she’s soon dragged off into the sunset. In reality, deadlines exist because things need to happen in a timely fashion: once they’re done, they’re done. As a TA, I try to be lenient and, while I won’t allow students to submit assignments after a deadline, I will allow them to resubmit if any issues arise that prevent me from fairly grading them.
- This is me with a Gundam model kit, true story. Chino’s a huge fan of puzzles and individual activities, and has a bottle ship lined up for her day off. I build Gundam models, and over the summer, I assembled an HGUC RGM-89S Stark Jegan. There’s an MG 00 Raiser I have in storage right now: I bought it last December but never built it on account of being in Taiwan. I’m planning to build this during the winter break, and will hopefully finish before the New Year arrives.
- I don’t get very many days off, but when I do, I use them to both get a bit of work done and relax a bit. Working from home confers the advantage of a bleeding-fast computer for graphics and game engines, as well as shaving forty minutes off my commute, but I lack a second screen at home, and armed with my incredibly vast library of awesome games, also presents the possibility for distractions. The conflicting forces results in my getting enough work done to not feel guilty when I load up a game.
- It’s difficult to not feel bad for Cocoa when all of her friends remark that they’re busy: this happens to me on some occasions, and it can be quite disheartening, so when Cocoa finds that everyone is unavailable, I completely empathise. With that being said, it’s more a matter of bad luck more than anything: even I have coordinated several events with more than one attendee previously.
- Cocoa gives off a similar semblance as that of a baby rabbit under some circumstances. GochiUsa does feature actual rabbits, but I find that, given the character dynamics in the anime, watching this anime is equivalent to watching rabbits frolic on YouTube on the basis that both experiences are immensely cathartic. This is why I rarely have any criticisms about anime that fall under the “cute girls doing cute things” subgenre; if it succeeds in taking my mind off something stressful, then the anime has done its job.
- Earlier (i.e. where I mention Spectre), Rize was sending out some invitations for a mountain retreat. Today, I was invited to a Christmas party at my supervisor’s home out in the mountains and sat down to a delicious Trinidad-style lunch (flatbread with beef stew, prawns, pumpkin, eggplant and spinach), followed by tiramisu, fruit cups, and Turtle tea (a black tea with almond, sunflower, calendula petals, butterscotch chips and a hint of chocolate). It’s been quite some time since I’ve been there for a get-together, and this time, I was driving (previously, I got a ride with some of my colleagues at the lab). I took a wrong turn and wound up at a dead end, but was extricated by the Maps.me app, which allows users to preload maps onto their iPhone and use Core Location to map one’s location. Thanks to Maps.me, I was able to find my destination without any further difficulties.
- By the time I got back home, a heavy fog had rolled in, and it’s only thickened since, so I’m glad I left while there was still light. Back in GochiUsa, under the impression that she’s not invited and thus, unwanted, Cocoa rage-quits. The colours in this scene seem less saturated, more subdued probably as a consequence of the lighting: it’s early morning, and it appears that the sun’s light is probably being scattered by suspended water droplets. On a winter day in my city, the presence of ice crystals scatter the light so things become whiter, and on days where the air is dry, sunlight takes on a more golden hue.
- As of season two, GochiUsa‘s brought out Cocoa’s raspier, Bat-Bale voice on more than one occasion, typically, whenever she’s upset. It’s a new side to Cocoa’s character that we never saw from the first season, and so, while season one might present Cocoa as a happy-go-lucky, ever-cheerful girl who brightens up the environment around her, the second season accentuates the fact that Cocoa is also subject to jealousy owing to her experiences and consequently, becomes more plausible as a character.
- It takes a surprising amount of effort to coax Cocoa out, and ultimately, it’s Chino who manages to succeed, although how much of this can be attributed to Chino will be left as an exercise to the viewer: it is entirely possible that Cocoa was merely packing, her feelings of jealousy already forgotten when offered an opportunity for adventure with her friends, and that she’s merely buying enough time to finish packing.
- I neglected to mention this in the previous post, but the GochiUsa soundtrack for the second season will be releasing on Christmas Day, as it did last year. The cover art features the Hoto Bakery, and there are thirty-nine new tracks. I’ll be hopping on the translation of the track names in the near future; it’s become something of a tradition for me to translate the song names for the soundtracks that I look forwards to.
- Some audience members wonder why Cocoa is capable of solving crosswords as quickly as she does after she confiscates one from Chino, in the hopes of encouraging the latter to enjoy the outdoors more. Armed with my incredibly vast knowledge of history (or at least, sufficient knowledge of history to bring this up!), I draw a comparison between Cocoa and some of the cryptographers from Bletchley Park, the latter of whom were recruited based on the proficiency in solving exceptionally difficult crosswords. The rationale is that an efficient crossword solver must be capable of spotting patterns from clues quickly, which corresponded with spotting patterns in German Enigma transmissions. This ties in with Cocoa, whose been presented as being quite gifted with mathematics and pattern-finding. Consequently, there should be no surprises that Cocoa can nail crosswords with this level of efficiency.
- I’ll wrap this post up with a shot of the mountains, and remark that I’m presently 6-1-2-1 in my rock-paper-scissors: I played scissors and promptly tied Chino. Depending on the timing this week, I will aim to get a short impressions post on Kimi no Na Wa, Makoto Shinkai’s latest film (set for release in August 2016) and a talk on The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan‘s Pavane for a Dead Princess, exploring why that song might have been selected as Yuki’s leitmotif for the anime, in addition to the aforementioned translation of GochiUsa‘s second season OST.
The girls roll towards the mountains as the credits roll, so I’m wondering if the next episode will be the first time where we’ll get to see some of the areas surrounding the town in GochiUsa. If this is the case, it’ll be a fine opportunity to depict more of the outdoors: most of GochiUsa has been spent indoors, and reflecting this, Chino is very much an indoors-person, preferring her puzzles and models over outdoor activities. Spending time outside, doing summer activities is a fine way of capitalising on the warm summer weather, and consequently, such an episode could be quite nice. With that being said, if there was any ambiguity before, it is plainly still summer in GochiUsa, which ends my hopes to see another Christmas episode. Granted, it will be a little strange to see summer activities with Christmas approaching, but in the previous season of GochiUsa, I watched the Christmas episode shortly after Canada Day during the depths of summer, when the days are long and the weather warm. So, the disconnect is not too substantial, and either way, it will be interesting to see what next week’s episode, titled “Stardust Mayim Mayim”, will entail. I do not believe I have anything major planned for the upcoming Saturday, so posting should return to a more normal schedule for the upcoming, penultimate episode.