“Every fisherman knows what it’s like to be skunked and to mutter under your breath with every cast, ‘come on, a bite. Just one. Just one hit.’ To be skunked when it’s your very survival, it’s hard to take.” —Les Stroud, Survivorman
After realising that they’ve forgotten to bring any food with them on their outing into the mountains (and being unable to communicate with their driver on account of bad cell reception), the girls decide to go fishing along the river. While the others catch fish after fish, Chino is frustrated that she’s unsuccessful, growing doubly so after managing to catch one only with Cocoa’s help. A gust of wind displaces the hat Cocoa had given her, and while trying to retrieve it, she winds up on an island, requiring Rize to rescue her. In the process, Chino finds that she was able to catch a fish after all. When Chiya and Megu return from foraging for wild edibles, the girls have a water fight. Later, Chino wakes up after a terrifying nightmare, and joins the others as they roast marshmallows under a starry sky, where they make wishes upon seeing meteors. In spite of their mishaps, the girls manage to turn a difficult situation around with their easygoing attitudes, in a way that even Les Stroud might approve of. This episode again reiterates the importance of having good fishing equipment, as well as the will to live: in this case, the girls’ spirits are simply so high they manage to make the most of everything and get by just fine. However, this isn’t a Survivorman talk, and as the episodes before it, this episode has one core element to it.
The eleventh episode deals predominantly with Chino’s experiences on her first outdoor trip with her friends: having no opportunity to do so previously, she finds that it’s quite eventful and enjoys it. Chino’s interactions with Cocoa represent the culmination of twenty-two episodes and more than a year’s worth of growth. Frequently mentioned as a beacon of joyfulness in GochiUsa, Cocoa’s contributions to Chino gradually opening up to her and the others becomes most apparent in this episode, as she finally consents to hold Cocoa’s hand, and through the amount of effort she puts in to retrieve Cocoa’s hat. It’s been quite the journey to reach this point, and in contrast to the first season, Chino relents more frequently, suggesting that this is a more accurate representation of Chino’s personality than what we normally see from her. That it takes someone like Cocoa to draw out this character implies that Cocoa’s presence in GochiUsa is nontrivial: she’s the force that disrupts the status quo and acts to bring people together. Besides the growing closeness between Chino and Cocoa, this episode also provides an opportunity for Megu and Chiya to spend time with one another, continuing on the second season’s propensity to mix up the interactions between the characters to create novel scenes and moments of comedy; the eleventh episode continues to deliver consistent measures of hilarity and adorableness.
Screenshots and Commentary
- This is the first episode that’s set outside of the small town. There are mountains near Colmar, France, but rather than the sharp-peaked mountains of GochiUsa, which resemble those of the Alps, the mountains in Colmar are a bit older, being more similar to the Appalachians of the Eastern United States. Because the settings in GochiUsa draw inspiration from so many real-world locations, it’s easier to classify as a fictional location.
- Consequently, for folks wondering why GochiUsa and Kiniro Mosaic might not gain a crossover, this is why. Cocoa remarks that this area resembles her home, which implies that the Hoto family resides deep within the mountains. The Hoto Bakery thus brings to mind the Lake Anges Teahouse, which is located 3.5 kilometers from the more famous Lake Louise and offers tea, sandwiches and soups in addition to a beautiful view of Lake Anges.
- En route to Rize’s cabin, the girls stop alongside a river to take in the mountain scenery. The first half of the episode is set along the river, and consequently, allows White Fox to showcase some of their skill in rendering water effects. Here, a still surface allows the river to mirror the landscapes above it, creating a pleasing effect.
- Upon arriving at the cabin, the girls express a desire to explore and relax, but Rize learns that their cooler was not packed properly. Lacking a phone signal in the mountains, Rize is unable to call their driver, and it appears that they’re now twenty klicks from home. Although such a distance is walkable, Chino becomes visibly shaken, so Rize, Cocoa and Sharo turn their efforts towards reassuring Chino that they’ll manage.
- Thus, face with an all-to-common predicament of having no food in Survivorman, Cocoa, Sharo, Rize, Chino and Maya decide to go fishing, while Chiya and Megu hunt for wild edibles. There’s a chainsaw in the cabin, and in any other sort of setting, a horror would unfold as some unseen threat materialises to take down the characters, one at a time, but this is GochiUsa, and so, something like this is most certainly not going to happen.
- Despite having promised to help out, it turns out that Chino, Maya, Sharo and Cocoa have never actually fished before. Everyone is seen using bamboo poles here: these were popular from the 1870s up until the 1950s, during which fibreglass rods were introduced. Despite being quite uncommon, expert fishermen find that the rods are very smooth to use, and with proper maintenance, can last for several decades.
- For beginners, Sharo and Cocoa perform remarkably well, reeling in fish after fish from the river. While Cocoa proposes a contest of sorts to see who can catch the most, Sharo and the others are merely content to fish until they have adequate supplies. On the other hand, Maya decides that she’s fully experienced fishing after catching just one, and is content to relax in the shade while the others continue.
- It’s quite rare that Chiya and Megu spend time together: here, they’re gathering wild edibles, but because Megu and Chiya don’t seem to be too familiar with mushrooms, gather some wickedly poisonous ones. The general rule of thumb is to avoid mushrooms if uncertain about which species it is, since the poisonous varieties can be lethal or introduce serious illness if consumed. Consequently, the mushrooms they gather end up being forgotten.
- Somewhat envious of the others, Chino resolves to continue fishing until she gets a bite (forming the basis for the page quote, which was taken from the Tierra del Fuego episode of Survivorman). A sudden gust knocks her hat into the river, leading her on a short chase to retrieve it. In the previous episode, Cocoa had lent her said hat, and the lengths to which Chino goes to recover it is a reflection on how she presently views Cocoa.
- It’s absolutely adorable to watch Chino pursue the hat, in part because it’s so heart melting to see Chino get swept around by the river’s current, and upon reaching an islet, she realises she’s stranded. Thinking that Chino is signalling to them, Rize and Maya wave their arms, and eventually, Rize decides to swim over to check things out. It’s only later that Rize learns that Chino was stuck, and Cocoa plays the part of a proper older sibling her, reprimanding Chino that she’s more previous than the hat or a fish.
- While subtle, all of the characters in GochiUsa do mature and grow in convincing ways. Much as how Chino becomes more willing to be adored, Cocoa proves that she can be responsible, too. After Chiya and Megu return, a water fight breaks out. Calling on her 1337 ballet skills, Megu boldly creates a small waterspout in the river, spraying everyone simultaneously.
- After an eventful morning and a lunch of grilled fish, everyone lies down for a break in the early afternoon under the shade; even Rize remarks it’s okay to stop for a while to smell the roses. However, when Cocoa decides to photograph everyone, Sharo and Rize immediately go after her, and Chiya decides to snap her own photos, too. With Christmas less than a week away, I’m losing the inclination to work; my visualisation of influenza is largely complete, and all that’s left in 2015 is to wrap up a draft of the VRIC conference paper.
- Basking under the warmth of an afternoon sun eventually leads Chino to fall asleep, and, the seniors manages to get her into a sleeping bag. Thinking to prank her, Maya and Megu convince her that their cabin was assaulted by the undead. GochiUsa is not the first to employ the unusual combination of undead and moé: Gakko Gurashi‘s entire functional premise is based around thus, and tells a rather compelling story about the implications of extreme duress on a high school student’s mind.
- Maya and Megu manage to convince Chino that their seniors fell to the hordes of undead, and Megu fakes an infection, frightening Chino sufficiently to lead her to try and escape. It’s actually a little mean-spirited given what one is accustomed to seeing from GochiUsa, but it’s also quite amusing. The reference to ketchup is a clever callback to the first season, where Cocoa “died by ketchup” after being spurned by Chino when she’d accidentally burnt the latter while making pancakes.
- Apparently, there is some faulty lighting and an insufficient number of beds in the cottage, leading the girls to rough it outside. While Rize’s feeling that the screwups might’ve detracted from everyone’s trip, it turns out that everyone had in fact, enjoyed it. Making use of the coffee maker that Takahiro had given her in the previous episode, Cocoa brews up a cup of Rabbit House’s in-house blend, reminding Chino of home.
- The girls decide to stay up a bit more and play a game of sorts, eventually just spinning around the campfire at 120 Hz until the circle decays and everyone, even Rize, flies asunder. The dance they propose here, the “Mayim Mayim”, is a Hebrew dance that was created in 1937 to celebrate the discovery of water. The episode’s title takes its name from the girls performing a simplified variant of the dance under starlight. Surprisingly, Chiya manages to land without any difficulty, and again, armed with her incredibly vast knowledge of ballet, Megu keeps on spinning. The game is reminiscent of the Chinese song “氹氹轉” (lit. “spinning round”), a song that I’m rather fond of, and was used as a joke in Sam Hui’s 最佳拍檔 (“Aces go Places”), where King Kong (Sam Hui) uses the song to trick the cops into letting him go.
- Upon seeing a shooting star, Chino makes a wish to continue to spend time with her friends. A second meteor prompts Cocoa to wish to surpass Mocha, Chiya to wish for Ama Usa An’s success and Sharo to yearn for consistently being able to put food on the table.
Metallically Ironically, Rize wishes punishment on the forces responsible for throwing so many wrenches into their trip, and back at Rabbit House, Rize’s father’s drink spills for no reason. That wishes should be spoken out loud is contrary to what I was told: that wishes should be kept to oneself.
- While having a friendly-spirited debate about whether or not the drink is on the house, Takahiro and Rize’s father challenge one another to a blow-dart contest, with Takahiro remarking that they’d once fought in the desert. Given the presence of cell phones and the characters’ approximate ages, I conclude that Takahiro must be referring to the Gulf War. It must be the middle of August at this point in time, given the number of shooting stars that are seen. The Perseids peak mid-August, and I recall seeing a fireball, plus six smaller shooting starts ovre the course of an hour when I last went to watch the meteor shower.
- On break, Aoyama hangs out in a veranda and sees a meteor of her own, prompting Tippy to wish for Chino and the others to have a grand time. Aoyama wishes for Chino’s grandfather to speak to her through Tippy, and Tippy promptly obliges. This episode was a little strange for the end credits, which did not feature the usual ending sequence and rock paper scissors game.
- I’ve got a Halo 2 LAN party to get to, so it’s about time for me to wrap up this post. Fortunately, this is not the end of the season; as the episode draws to a close, the others reverse the table on Cocoa, leading her into a panic (so, we can reasonably assume that the undead prank was one of Cocoa’s machinations). I’m wondering if Mocha might make a return in the next episode, and as the preview offers no insight as to what will happen, anything is go for next week’s finale. That’s pretty much it for this post; until next time, take it easy.
We’re now down to one episode remaining in GochiUsa’s second season, which means that next week will mark the end of the first series that I’ve done episodic posts about. It’s been quite surprising as to how quickly time flies by, and in the blink of an eye, an entire academic semester has passed by. In part owing to the respite that GochiUsa delivered each week, things never became too overwhelming or stressful. After a week’s of code implementation, publication and thesis work and other things associated with being a graduate student, it was most welcome to kick off the weekend with an episode of GochiUsa, relax and then resume working hard. Now that half of December over, Christmas will be here in less than a week; next week’s episode, titled “The Treasure is Your Decisive Moment”, is the finale and will be air on Boxing Day. I was in the mountains and gorges of Taroko National Park last year on Boxing Day, taking in the warm air and fish luncheons of Taiwan, but this year will be more conventional. The finale post will be a little lengthier than the episodic posts seen so far, as I will give my overall impressions of GochiUsa’s second season in addition to the episode’s contributions and if possible, a discussion of the soundtrack, as well. Consequently, the finale and whole-season review post will be tentatively set for publication on December 30, and before then, I will drop by on Christmas Day to talk briefly about how GochiUsa’s Christmas episode from the previous season seems to capture the spirit of Christmas more profoundly than most anime.