“As far as gifts go, you’re one of the best Christmas presents I’ve ever known! Happy Christmas Birthday!” —Christmas Birthday wishes
Nanako strives to make Yukari’s birthday, which falls on Christmas day, a great success. She goes shopping for a suitable birthday gift and then spends Christmas Eve with her friends Misato, Satsuki, and Shouko. They reminisce about how it has not even been a year since they met, and the others have a surprise for Nanako: a Santa costume with which to surprise Yukari with. Although Nanako winds up forgetting to bring her gift, Yukari nonetheless appreciates her coming over to celebrate her birthday, and they celebrate alongside everyone else the next morning. As a Christmas-themed OVA, this particular special is somewhat unusual in that it was released quite close to Christmas itself (being broadcast on Christmas Eve), but other than that, it’s a pleasant addition to Locodol. That there would be a second OVA has been known since June 2015, and in November, it was further announced that the OVA would have a Christmas theme. With Yukari’s birthday falling on Christmas Day itself, the OVA sets itself up to explore the situation arising from sharing one’s birthday with one of the biggest holidays of the year: it can lead to some challenges when it occurs in reality, and the Locodol OVA does a fantastic job of conveying how Nanako and her friends manage to make Yukari’s birthday immensely memorable, fun and festive for Yukari.
Par the course for Locodol, the Christmas OVA carries audiences slowly and steadily through Nanako’s journey towards crafting a fantastic birthday experience for Yukari, whether it’s finding the suitable gift for Yukari or the motivation to follow through with her friends’ suggestion about visiting Yukari on Christmas Eve to personally deliver said gift. In doing so, the OVA illustrates the extent of Yukari and Nanako’s friendship: Nanako places a much greater priority on Yukari’s birthday, and these feelings do not go unnoticed by Yukari, who tearfully thanks her for having come all this way to say happy birthday. While the OVA might be set during Christmas, and for all of the festivities seen in the episode, what’s at the forefront of everything is Nanako putting in her fullest efforts to express gratitude for Yukari, whom she feels has contributed to her own motivation to continue working as a local idol. It’s a warming message about the Christmas spirit; gifts, decorations and food are secondary to people, and the OVA succeeds in conveying this particular aspect about friendship to the audiences.
Screenshots and Commentary
- After a more controversial post about Girls und Panzer to kick off 2016 (nothing like a bit of controversy to get the blood flowing!), we’ll return the programming to a more incontrovertible anime: Locodol is decidedly less polarising and proved to be most enjoyable. This post will continue on in the pattern as those before it and feature twenty images; in response to queries about how long it takes me to write a post, the answer is “between 90 and 150 minutes” from starting with a blank page to hitting the publish button, encompassing drafting, editing, image gathering and commenting on the images.
- The Nagarekawa Girls’ latest Christmas performance proceeds quite smoothly, and it appears that Nanako’s matured to some extent, at least enough to say her name properly. However, her audience feels that her tendency to stutter and pronounce it as “Nanyako” has become something of a defining characteristic. After this initial performance, the Nagarekawa Girls meet up with their managers and Nanako is surprised to learn that Yukari’s birthday is so soon.
- Nanako’s friends, Misato, Satsuki, and Shouko, made only limited appearances during Locodol‘s main run, so it was quite pleasant to see that the OVA gives them a more substantial presence. It turns out that this group of friends formed as a result of Shouko’s antics during their first day of high school, and since then, this group’s become quite close. I have difficulty remembering Nanako’s friends outside of Nagarekawa Girls, so for my reference (as well as everyone else’s), Misato has black hair, Satsuki has blonde hair and Shouko has burgundy hair.
- While the dynamics between Yukari and Nanako are sufficiently noticeable by most everyone save Nanako, I do not feel that this can be correctly said to be the OVA’s primary thematic element; something like that would not be enough for a 24-minute long OVA. As such, for the folks at Tango-victor-tango, their analysis would not earn passing credit. To reiterate, the OVA’s main theme is that Nanako and Yukari’s friendship is a particularly strong one that eclipses Christmas itself.
- While out shopping for a suitable birthday gift for Yukari, Nanako wonders if it’ll be tougher to find something since Yukari appears to be the sort of person who’d look nice in most anything. She then encounters Yukari with family trying hats out, and suddenly begins to worry that she might accidentally get Yukari a duplicate gift. The end gift Nanako eventually purchases is not shown immediately, being left as a surprise for later.
- Released on Christmas Eve, the Locodol OVA presently holds the distinction for being the anime with the closest Christmas episode to Christmas Day itself. I did not watch it until yesterday on account of a rather packed holiday schedule: in between revising and fine-tuning my conference paper, I’ve finished building my MG 00 Raiser, attended the Zoo Lights, been out to see The Force Awakens, helped a family friend tune up their computer, and watched the Calgary Flames get thrashed by the LA Kings in the New Years’ Eve game.
- While Nanako and the others are celebrating Christmas Eve, Yukari is attending a family party. Yesterday, New Year’s Day, was quite quiet: I spent it fine-tuning the paper further and also pushed out the Girls und Panzer Der Film preview talk, before spending the evening with the extended family at hot pot. Aside from the usual lamb, chicken, beef, fish and vegetables, there was also a sort of skewered grilled, marinated squid that was so commonplace in Taiwan. Everything was absolutely delicious, and in the blink of an eye, two-and-a-half hours had flown by.
- Elsewhere, Saori is toasting with a coworker. Saori Nishifukai is noted for her similarities with Girls und Panzer‘s Saori Takebi; despite being voiced by different voice actors (Saori Nishifukai is voiced by Asami Shimoda, of Infinite Stratos‘ Huang Lingyin) and having different hair colours, their hair style and glasses are similar enough. The OVA’s focus on Nanako and Yukari means that Saori’s cloak-and-dagger tendencies to photograph the two do not make an appearance.
- With her friends’ encouragement, Nanako heads out into the night to fulfil her role as Santa, even as snow begins to fall and the temperatures plummet. Given that Nagarekawa is located in the Chiba prefecture, it would have a humid subtropical climate: winters would be quite mild, and the average December temperature is a balmy 12 °C.
- Upon realising that she’s left Yukari’s gift back home and also neglected to bring her phone, Nanako turns to leave and slips on the stairs. The translation has Nanako say “this sucks” with respect to the situation, but I’m now sufficiently versed enough to hear simpler patterns, and Nanako’s “もういやだ” (electronic translators yield “I’m fed up”) approximates to the English phrases “enough already” or “it’s too much” in meaning.
- Nanako is the sort of character that evokes a sense of pity in viewers whenever misfortune befalls her, and consequently, the maternal aura Yukari conveys is perhaps exactly what is needed during times like these. Similarly, Nanako is able to convince Yukari to take things easy with her free spirits. For this reason, Yukari and Nanako’s personalities are seen as being compatible, lending additional weight to their friendship as both do their best to support the other.
- While Yukari is generally composed and mature, her actions occasionally belie a sense of loneliness: despite being from a wealthy background and quite good at everything she does, Yukari longs to spend time with her peers. After Nanako wishes her a happy birthday, she listens to the itinerary that Yukari has in mind, and spends the night. She realises the next day that she’d forgotten to let her parents know, but Yukari is a step ahead; foreseeing the evening, she’s already phoned ahead.
- I never take baths and always shower simply because the latter is faster and more sustainable. Since we’re rolling a Locodol post here, I’ll turn my attention to some related news: the album Futsuu no Joshikousei ga [Locodol] Yattemita. Music Collection ~Winter & Spring~ will be released on February 24 and will hopefully generate some interest. Neither ~Itsudemo Genki! Nana-chan to…~ or ~Nonbiriya no Yukari-san to…~, originally set to release on August 19, 2015, have been accessible, so I’ve still yet to listen to those songs in full.
- A gentle glow from the surrounding city is seen through the window as Nanako and Yukari toast, share cake and then watch a movie together. If we’re keeping count here, it means that from Nanako’s perspective, she’ll have had cake on four occasions over the course of the OVA, reflecting on the commonly-voiced concern about weight-gain over the course of the holidays. My countermeasure is to bundle up and go for a hike in the nearby park, which offers some interesting terrain to elevate heart rate and get the blood going.
- The Locodol OVA’s choice of imagery does evoke the closeness that couples share, although things are kept family-friendly throughout the OVA’s run. In fact, Locodol has done a fine job of adequately illustrating the closeness of their friendship without ever needing to step things up, and consequently, during the TV series’ run, this aspect never detracted from the main message.
- Misato, Shouko, Yui, Mirai and Satsuki meet one another outside of Yukari’s apartment, bearing the items that Nanako inadvertently left behind the previous evening. Their presence allows for Yukari’s birthday to be celebrated with a larger crowd, adding to the festivities.
- It turns out that Nanako’s gift for Yukari is a pair of new gloves, a thoughtful and practical gift. During Boxing Day, I was tempted to get some leather gloves that were on sale, but decided to go with a warmer pair out of practicality’s sake to replace an older pair. After a particularly eventful week leading up to the New Year, the New Year’s off to a quieter start, and this is exactly what I need for the present.
- That’s because in the upcoming week, the paper submission deadline, plus two separate lab tours will occupy my time alongside with the pre-semester TA meeting. My winter holidays end on Monday, and we’ll be off to a running start in the New Year; to keep abreast of things, I’ll need to bring my A-game to most everything I do this year.
- Yukari and Nanako sing for the others, and a quick glance at this post shows that we’re practically at the end. I remark that from here on out, there won’t be any more weekly GochiUsa posts for each Saturday, now that the anime’s come to a close. For 2016, I’ll be following a slightly different anime posting pattern, preferring to focus on OVAs and movies for the most part, and for TV series, I’ll do the two-post format for a maximum of two shows during any given season. Two new posting categories, “Anime Live” and “Terrible Anime Challenge” will also be created, and what these entail will be left as an exercise for a future post.
- A screenshot of Yukari and Nanako holding hands appears to be a fitting way to end off this post; with this post now over, I’ll be working towards pushing a talk for the Hibike! Euphonium OVA. As well, Glass no Hana to Kowasu Sekai will be releasing on January 16 for all to check out; despite being later than either Anthem of the Heart or Girls und Panzer Der Film, it looks like it’ll be the first of the major movies to get a review.
One aspect that seems unavoidable wherever a Locodol discussion is concerned is the nature of Yukari and Nanako’s friendship; if there were any doubts before, the OVA seems to give the impression that the two are a little more than just friends, even if they do not explicitly say so. Nanako’s friends seem to be aware and imply that Yukari is Nanako’s special someone, while audiences see for themselves that the two interact as a couple would. This particular element is usually intended for other purposes when included in an anime, but Locodol manages to wield it such that it contributes to the anime’s sense of warmth without overstepping the bounds for what is reasonable. As such, the second Locodol OVA is a noteworthy addition to the Locodol series, and with it being over, one must wonder whether or not a continuation is likely. The manga is still ongoing, so material likely won’t be a concern, and sales for Locodol appear solid from what I gather; my prediction is that a second season or movie might become tangible after a sufficient amount of material from the manga has been released. With that being said, even if no continuation is planned, Locodol would conclude on excellent terms.