The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Longing: Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~ (Graduation Photo) Movie, Part Three Review and Reflection

“I think it’s like when you lose something so close to you, it’s like losing yourself.” ―Ava Dellaira, Love Letters to the Dead

It’s been another five months since I’ve done a Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~ review, and this time, the episode steps things up with respect to poignancy: it goes without saying that the remainder of this post is a spoiler-filled minefield, so if one does not wish to be spoiled, this is the best time to mash the “back” button. The second instalment featured Norie and Kaoru’s efforts to find their path into the future, and in this third episode, “Longing”, the episode is again divided into two halves. The first deals with Maon after she learns that her father is opposed to her taking over the family inn on top of her other aspirations. Deciding that she wants to talk things through properly and convince him otherwise, Maon and the others travel back to the inn. She overhears a conversation between her parents and fears that their inn is closing down owing to debt, setting her sights on an economics degree to help save the inn. However, it turns out that the inn is financially secure, but Maon nonetheless resolves to pursue economics on top of her other interests. Later, Fū considers her future while her camera is undergoing repairs. She runs into Natsume, who states that it is necessary for one to be supported by others whilst pursuing one’s dreams, and the subtle differences in Fū’s actions do not go unnoticed by her friends. At the Path of Longing festival, Kaoru and the others learn the truth: that Fū is worried about losing the things precious to her as everyone is preparing to move onwards into the future.

As with the second movie, the two acts in “Longing” is superbly executed. The narrative deals predominantly with topics that viewers will find relevant in their lives, either as something they’ve experienced or will soon experience. For Maon, her indecisiveness regarding what she would like to do with her life is one that’s familiar, and it’s shown that she’s adept with a wide variety of things. As such, she’s not sure which one of these is her calling. I see traces of myself mirrored in Maon in this regard: I had chosen the bioinformatics major of the Bachelor of Health Sciences program when applying for university precisely because at the time, I did not know whether I enjoyed biological sciences and medicine more, or computer sciences. Even after I finished my undergraduate degree, it took an extra year along a winding path to discover that my passions include simulation, UX, mobile development, client/customer specifications and project management, and since then, I’ve been in pursuit of a Master’s degree to cement my path as a developer (of some sort). It’s not always easy to pick the one thing that one would wish to pursue and make a career out of it, although once this is discovered, it becomes a matter of putting one’s all into turning this dream into a reality. So, when Maon finally has the chance to have a proper discussion with her parents, her own future becomes better illuminated, and they consent to support her as best they can. The second act in “Longing” is equally relatable, dealing with Fū’s fear of loss as everyone is preparing to step forwards. That her camera is undergoing repairs at this point in time is deliberate: Fū is always carrying the camera around, and being unable to photograph the events surrounding the Path of Longing festival reminds her that things can be lost to time. Without her camera, Fū suddenly realises that she most wishes to learn more about photography by being with Riho and also, that she treasures her friends above all else, fearing that they’ll be separated. This is mirrored quite early on, when Fū’s wish is to visit next year’s Path of Longing with everyone else. As people prepare to transition from one stage of their lives to their next, separation is a very natural aspect. I myself are experiencing just this at present; most of my friends have already become full-fledged members of societies, and it feels as though I’m left behind because I’d taken a little longer to find my calling and push towards pursuing it. Separation is immensely difficult: I miss not having people to talk to and hang out with. With that in mind, it was not unexpected to see Fū finally open up and admit her fear of losing those close to her: these feelings can be overwhelming.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Whereas the previous post was meant to be a light-hearted joke, this 667th post returns to my usual style. We open the discussion with an image of Takumi and Suzune capturing the Photography Club’s senior members deep in thought as Kaoru struggles with the prospects of going to the same university as Sayomi. As is typical of a Tamayura post, this discussion will feature the usual twenty images and their associated figure captions.

  • The prospects of careers is a decidedly challenging one, and this is one of the instances where we see Maon take a more determined stance concerning the capacity to choose her own future. After an open disagreement with her father while discussing career options with Dougou, Maon confides in her friends to see whether or not it would be possible to have another talk and sort things out.

  • Being the ever-faithful friends, Fū and the others accompany her back home. The girls are riding along the Takehara/Ōchō (Mitarai) ferry here, crossing over the Seto Inland Sea to reach Mitarai on Osaki-Shimojima Island.

  • Shortly after arriving at the Sakurada Inn, the girls settle in and decide to lend the Sakuradas a hand in helping with work in and around said inn. While Maon’s looking to speak with her father most, it turns out he’s fallen and injured his leg; moreover, he’s still unwilling to yield on his stance earlier, leaving Maon to wonder how to best initiate the discussions.

  • I’ve heard some comments that the animation and artwork quality in the third movie is somewhat below average, but for the most part, it’s still consistently good. The colours in Tamayura are far gentler than I am wont to see in other anime, but taken together, contribute substantially to the atmospherics and general notion that Tamayura is supposed to be calming rather than bold.

  • Par the course for how things in Tamayura roll, Maon’s friends convince her to have an open conversation with her parents. One of the main themes in Tamayura is the significance of having support from others during difficult times, and for everyone, whether it’s Norie, Kaoru, Maon or Fū, their support and compassion for one another means that they’re always there whenever one of them is feeling down. This support network is what helped Fū eventually accept Takehara and what’s happened.

  • While things were building up, the final revelation is somewhat anti-climatic: it turns out that the Sakurada Inn is in fact, booming and completely over-capacity this weekend, hence Maon’s parents considering asking for help to keep up with the influx of customers. Maon settles on economics on the wish to help her parents out, reflecting on her tendency to pick things up on the spur of a moment, but as they have always done, Maon’s parents will whole-heartedly support her in her endeavours.

  • Economics, finance and commerce are an excellent field for numerous reasons, and it is a field that I greatly respect: finance, business and marketing people are just as essential as anyone in STEM. After Maon decides to pursue a degree in economics, she wonders if she’ll be able to do on top of that psychology, philosophy, geography and even astronomy. Truly interested in everything, I share Maon’s sense of curiosity, and it was this reason why my own path has been somewhat crooked; it shows no sign of straightening out any time soon, if things play out the way I think they will. Thus, the first act comes to a happy conclusion, and Maon is set to pursue her future.

  • The third episode’s second act, on the other hand, is perhaps the most moving of all the Tamayura movies yet. Opening with Fū speaking with Maestro about her broken camera, Fū tries to remain strong as she is parted from something precious to her amidst the Path of Longing festival. Because of how solid the writing’s been, the second act is the most emotional section in Tamayura bar none.

  • As such, when Fū returns to speak with her friends later, they immediately notice that something’s off, and further to this, Fū begins spacing out: her friends seemingly grow distant, foreshadowing the precise nature of what is troubling her. Similarly, Fū’s simple wish to be with everyone again accentuates the doubt that’s in her heart. However, while what’s troubling Fū becomes clear even early on, how Fū expresses it keeps the audiences guessing.

  • Fū and Riho share a conversation about photography, where Riho and her photography instructor were caught trespassing, resulting in police involvement. Her story brings to mind a story that was recounted during the Mythbusters‘ “Reunion” episode” during the 2004 season, where police were called in while the crew was shooting out helium balloons with a BB gun, and the safety director had run up to the police with said BB gun, shouting that it was such. Riho’s story is not quite so dramatic, and was meant to provide an example of how powerful photography can be.

  • Kanae’s friends accompany her to Tamayura Café, along with Takumi and Suzune. It seems that Kanae’s joined Sayomi’s exploration club and, contrasting Kaoru and the others, seem unbothered by Sayomi’s antics. One of the running jokes throughout Tamayura involves the reactions of Fū and the others to Sayomi’s proposed adventures; while seemingly back-breaking, I’ve noted that each adventure has resulted in the characters maturing as a result of the experience, and more often than not, the memories far outweigh negative elements.

  • Just prior to sundown and the start of the Path of Longing festival, the preparations are very nearly complete, Kaoru suggests that Fū check on her camera’s status. The lighting is muted, and there’s a bit of desaturation in the lighting prior to the festival’s start. I note that a lot of my Tamayura posts tend to have an associated food story, and this one does not deviate from that pattern: dinner tonight was at a Chinese bistro, where we ordered a spaghetti on Russian-style beef flank, cheese-baked seafood rice, Hunan-style chicken noodles and lemon-grass wings.

  • Daylight saving also comes into effect later tonight: last time Natsume was around, I was feeling quite discontented that summer had ended so quickly. I think that my Tamayura ~More Aggressive~ post did not feature any screenshots of Natsume, so here we are. Returning to Takehara for the Path of Longing Festival, Natsume runs into Fū, and the two share a conversation. Despite his seemingly strict and gruff appearance, he cares for Fū; his years means he’s able to pick up on what’s bothering Fū and so, he suggests to her that it’s okay to rely on other people: even university students remain inexperienced for the challenges that lie ahead in life, so it’s important to have people’s support while pursuing one’s goals.

  • After Fū is late for a meetup, her friends grow concerned and call Chihiro, who knows Fū best of anyone. Chihiro’s remarks mirror that of Aragorn’s when Gandalf asks about whether or not Frodo and Sam are still making their way towards Mordor: she ultimately tells Kaoru to follow her instincts, and so, Kaoru decides to call Fū to see what’s happening. However, Fū arrives shortly thereafter, and it turns out she was merely wondering about while contemplating a few things, hence her delay.

  • With Fū back, the girls begin their evening at the festival. A short update on my end as this post draws to a close: I’m not sure if it was previously mentioned, but the first of my conference papers was accepted, and I’ll be attending this conference in France in nine days. I’ve been putting my nose to the grindstone to ensure that none of my research and coursework fall behind: since the Tom Clancy’s The Division beta ended, my full efforts have been directed at a term project that is relevant to my thesis work (two birds with one stone). Said project is very nearly done now (save a handful of optimisations that still need to be applied), and it would appear that managed to I compact a two-month term project into the space of three weeks.

  • The ever-welcome and familiar lighting accompanying the Path of Longing festival make a return, with a gentle candlelight illuminating the town while the sky takes on a blue hue. This mood evokes memories of Tamayura ~More Aggressive~‘s Path of Longing festival, during which Fū meetings Natsume for the first time, and he is challenged to find a criticism about Chimo’s okonomiyaki. On that note, Chimo’s voice actor, Miyu Matsuki, who passed away from complications arising from a Epstein-Barr virus infection in November 2015; it was a loss for the voice acting community, and the impacts were felt throughout the anime community.

  • Under the soft glow of the bamboo lanterns, Fū finally becomes overwhelmed with emotions and allows herself to cry into Kaoru’s shoulder after the latter asks about whether it’s true or not that Fū’s been missing Riho. The tears are as clear of an affirmation as any words, and the second act’s theme becomes profoundly clear after carefully building up to this moment. The last Path of Longing festival episode dates back to August 2013, and I crossed the finish line for Tamayura ~More Aggressive~ a few months later. Since then, so much has changed, although one thing that’s remained relatively consistent are the quality of the readers that come across this blog. Thanks, readers, for constantly motivating and inspiring me to put out posts even when I don’t wish to.

  • Thus, it is immensely reassuring to see Fū’s friends by her side during this time, attesting to the strength of their friendship. Feelings about leaving things behind to pursue the future is always on the minds of those making that transition, and in my experiences, the thing to do mid-transition is to never lose sight of one’s goal, while simultaneously maintaining contact with friends and mentors and making new friends in the process.

  • Thus, the third movie draws to a close to a beautiful song, Kore Kara (これから, lit. “From now on”, which I would translate, given the context, as “From here on out”) that Maaya Sakamoto performed. A ballad that speaks of parting ways, it fits perfectly with the atmospherics. As for the review to Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~‘s finale, I definitely will be returning to write that: it will have anywhere from 30 to 50 screenshots, given that it’ll be a sendoff for Tamayura. Finally, if and when I’m asked, as to whether or not I shed tears during this last scene, how’s “affirmative” for an answer?

Fū’s expressing these fears to her friends closes off “Longing”, and the next episode is set to air next month in Japanese cinemas: originally scheduled for release on February 20, it’s been pushed back to April 2 because the studio wished to better polish the finale and ensure that it was the proper send-off for the series. “Longing” ultimately serves as yet another solid installment to Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~, and by curious turn of fate, it appears that the events that occurring in each movie mirrors how I presently feel. With “Echoes”, I resolved to work towards becoming a more competitive iOS developer: since then, I’ve been working on my own app, and reading on some of the common core technologies that iOS apps use. Other opportunities are also appearing, and merit serious consideration, as well, so my background in simulation and modelling could become important. “Longing”, on the other hand, presents the prospects of the uncertainty associated with moving forwards: I’m within a quarter-year of finishing my Master’s program, and speaking freely, I’m downright terrified about what happens after I defend my thesis (but also excited, too). In being able to capture these feelings and present them in such moving manner, Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~ clearly demonstrates that the writers have put plenty of thought and honesty into crafting stories for each character. The situations that Norie, Kaoru, Maon and Fū encounter are immediately relatable, being fluidly presented to feel as real as though one were experiencing it themselves. The finale is on the horizon: titled “Tomorrow”, it will follow the events after this episode as the girls finally walk across the stage and graduate from high school, ending one journey to begin the next, and from the looks of things, after the girls have graduate from high school, it will be time for me to move on, as well.

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