The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

Koisuru Asteroid: Review and reflection at the ¾ mark

“I keep the subject of my inquiry constantly before me, and wait till the first dawning opens gradually, by little and little, into a full and clear light.” –Sir Isaac Newton

While Mai is nervous about taking on the mantle of responsibility that accompanies being the Earth Science club’s president, Ao and Mira do their best to support her, helping out with an astronomy event for children. Mira, Moe and Megu manage to keep the children engaged, but Ao notices that one of the girls in the group seems aloof. She speaks with her and explains that the stars themselves provide insight into the past, drawing her curiosity. Later, Ao becomes sick, prompting Mira and Mai to pay her a visit. Mari and Mikage gear up for their entrance exams, and when Mari fails her first choice, Mai decides to apply for an Earth Science Olympiad examination. Despite failing the preliminaries, Mai is glad to have attended, having befriended another participant. Christmas approaches, and as a gift to their juniors, Mari and Mikage give Ao, Mira and Mai an album of their time spent together. During the New Year, Ao reveals to Mira that she’s set to move in March owing to her father’s work. When they share this news with the others, the others come to the suggestion that Ao should live with Mira; Misa is going to university come Spring, leaving a room open at Mira’s place, and this would allow the two to continue pursuit of their dream together. Ao and Mira’s parents agree to the proposed arrangement. During Valentines’ Day, Mikage gifts homemade chocolate to everyone as thanks, Mikage also encourages Moe to summon the courage to give proper chocolates to Misa, whom Moe had feelings for. When graduation arrives, the juniors gift parting mementos to both Mikage and Mari; the latter realises she’s had an excellent time as an Earth Science Club member. March soon arrives, and Ao moves in with Mira, but the two conflict when Mira goes through Ao’s belongings. The two reconcile, and with a new term under way, Ao and Mira begin recruiting for new members even as Mai protests that their club technically doesn’t have the permission to do so.

Three quarters of the way into Koisuru Asteroid, the series has ventured into a transition period as Mai takes over the Earth Sciences Club. This transition has been a bumpy one, a journey of discovery: Mai’s not particularly confident she’ll do a good job as the president, but with encouragement from the others, attends a children’s stargazing event. The photos coming back from this event turn out poorly, mirroring how transitions are rarely smooth: Mai has some large shoes to fill and cannot be reasonably expected to flawlessly perform her duties overnight. However, support from her friends means that Mai does begin seizing the initiative to be more effectual as a president, culminating in her taking an Earth Science Olympiad competition exam. While she fails, that Mai took charge and ended up befriending someone shows that, although challenges lie ahead, she’s better prepared to handle them, opening up to new people and experiences. This becomes especially important now that Mari and Mikage have graduated, as the club prepares to take on what appears to be two new recruits. The other aspect of Koisuru Asteroid that the third quarters covers is the unexpected curve-ball that Ao and Mira face to their promise: Ao’s moving comes at a difficult time, and while Ao is overwhelmed by fear of disrupting the club, her sharing it with Mira causes Mira to worry about not being more attentive to Ao’s situation. Of course, the solution that Ao and Mira find comes from reaching out to their fellow club members and those around them: the choice to have Ao lodge with Mira is a novel option that shows the importance of resourcefulness, and by exploring different options, a compromise that works for everyone is reached.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The third quarter of Koisuru Asteroid is much more focused on character development than the first half was; astronomy and geology takes a lesser priority as the club strives towards ensuring a smooth transition for Mai. While Mai drops the ball on a few occasions, support from Mikage and Mari help her to grow into a proper club president. We return after a minor delay: back in February following the halfway point, production issues led the seventh episode to be pushed back by a week. Theories abound as to why this is the case, but remain within the realm of speculation and are therefore, unrelated to my discussions.

  • Moe might not be an official member of the Earth Sciences club, but her presence is often enough that, for all intents and purposes, she’s a member in everything but name. After being blasted with the revelation that her special lunar pancakes were only worthy of a second place finish in the school festival, Moe strives to keep moving forwards to the best of her ability. Her presence in Koisuru Asteroid might initially be one of yuri, but she has her share of great ideas that help the club out.

  • As the children’s stargazing event gets under way, Mari and Ao initially have trouble bringing order to the group of children. It takes Moe and Megu’s baked goods to settle everyone down, speaking to the nontrivial role that the Suzuya bakery has played in helping the Earth Sciences club. I’ve had experience in this field; being a ni-dan, I occasionally help teach younger children, and it can be difficult to get them settled down. In karate, each lesson opens with seiza (正座), and since our dōjo’s grand master trained with the Hong Kong Police Force, we start class by calling “Squad, Fall In”. All students know to settle down at this point.

  • As it turns out, once the children are quiet, they take great interest in listening to the facts that Mira presents, as well as taking turns looking at Saturn through the club’s telescope. Saturn is always a solid choice for children: the second largest planet in the solar system, it is characterised by its distinct ring system, the most complex of any planet in the solar system, and its composition of hydrogen means that it is the least-dense planet in the solar system. If a hypothetically large pool of water could be found, Saturn would float in it.

  • Besides Saturn, having a telescope also allows the children to look at the Andromeda Galaxy (Messier 31): this spiral galaxy is about 2.54±0.11 million light-years away and is thought to have twice as many stars as the Milky Way. A telescope is not required to view the Andromeda Galaxy: a good pair of binoculars can render the galaxy visible as a diffuse patch, but with a six-inch telescope, more details, like the galactic core and dust bands, can be resolved.

  • Haruka, the little girl who seemed so disinterested in astronomy, reveals that she’s not so good with people, and doesn’t really see the worth of stargazing. However, Ao manages to capture her interest when she ventures into the realm of the more technical: the vastness of the cosmos is such that photons, with a speed 299792458 m/s, takes years upon years to travel stellar distances. The light-year thus becomes a popular unit of measure for astronomical distances, and there is a bit of romanticism to the fact that the objects we see are as they appeared that light-distance ago. To put things in perspective, from a hypothetical planet in the Andromeda Galaxy, the light they see today would be as the Milky War appeared late in the Permian period.

  • The speed of light is why the age of the universe can be approximated: light from before that simply wouldn’t exist, and the universe hasn’t existed long enough for stars to fill it with light. If the universe had always been here, then irrespective of stellar distances, the night sky would be filled with stars in all directions, creating a white wall of light. This is where scientific communication becomes incredibly valuable, and Koisuru Asteroid shows that different level of details appeal to different individuals. An effective communicator can capture interest from all groups by adjusting the level of granularity: Mira’s suited for putting things in terms suited for a general audience (which is, incidentally the basis of the Giant Walkthrough Brain project), while Ao is capable of presenting more technical items for those interested.

  • When Ao catches a cold from staying outside for too long, Mira and Mai visit her. While discussions on Koisuru Asteroid have been scant, I vividly recall a question somewhere wondering how it’s possible to catch a cold over such a short period of time. The common cold is caused by rhinoviruses (lit. “nose virus”), and contrary to its name, is not caused by exposure to lower temperatures. There is an increased prevalence in the winter, but the correlation between cold temperatures and the common cold is still being investigated. It is thought that lower temperatures do is increase susceptibility to rhinovirus infection by increasing the ease of transmission, weaker immune responses from the cold weather and social factors. In Koisuru Asteroidhow Ao gets sick is irrelevant: some suggest that it’s meant to foreshadow Ao’s state of mind, although if true, the anime’s not conveyed this very effectively.

  • Mai is disappointed to learn that all of her photos from the children’s stargazing event turned out blurry, and that even the basic point-and-shoot digital cameras have some nuances in their operation: entry-level models do not have built-in image stabilisation and require a few moments to capture their image properly. However, it turns out that Mai’s technique is at fault: having acclimatised to using smartphone cameras, which have an even simpler operation. While smartphone cameras have become ubiquitous and have shifted consumer trends since the release of the iPhone 4 in 2010, they are unlikely to displace dedicated professional DSLR cameras.

  • It turns out that Mikage’s future is a little more certain, having passed the entrance examination and secured a recommendation for her post secondary school of choice, whereas Mari’s still in uncertain waters for the time being. Mai, Ao and Mira become disheartened when they learn of this, but as Mikage says, this is Mari’s fight to deal with. To take her mind off things, Mai decides to attempt an Earth Sciences Olympiad examination for the experience: these competitions are separate from a students’ curriculum and while they are time-consuming to study for, they also can help students refine their learning methods, improve confidence and cultivate reasoning skills.

  • I’ve admittedly never done any competitions of any sort during my time as a student, although when I once held aspirations for medical school, I took the MCAT. Like Mai found, the exam was unlike anything I’d previously wrote, although my decision to take the MCAT was made months in advance, and I had adequate preparations; Mai failed her Olympiad, and while I ended up scoring a 35T on my MCAT (equivalent to a 517 today), medicine was a path I did not end up pursuing. In spite of the results, Mai’s taken away something from the experience, learning there are plenty of people out there who are excited about the material, and moreover, also proves to herself that even in difficult times, she can strike up conversations with others.

  • No Manga Time Kirara series would be complete without a Christmas episode, and Koisuru Asteroid takes a leaf from The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, having the girls host a nabe party in their clubroom. Thanks to the ancient circuitry in their building, simultaneously plugging in a hot plate and running the heater trips a breaker. Mai considers heating up rocks to use in cooking: while rocks have about half the heat capacity of water on average, their heat capacity is roughly 2.85 times better than that of air, so they can still hold onto heat for a good period of time, and traditionally, heated rocks have been used in cooking.

  • While Mai intends to find dacite as their rock of choice, Mira shoots this plan down and asks Ao for suggestions. Ao simply suggests using the heat from the hot plate to prepare the food and bundling up, so when Mikage and Mari arrive, they don thermal blankets. Mari takes an immediate liking to the gold blanket that Mira’s brought during their trip to JAXA during the summer: Mari likens it to being a man-made satellite: the blanket does resemble the Multi-layer insulation (MLI) on satellites, used to prevent thermal loss via radiation (in a vacuum, conduction and convection are not concerns compared to radiation).

  • When the girls try their nabe, it turns out to be much spicier than expected. It turns out that when Ao was told to add everything, she accidentally included all of the chili peppers, as well. I’m particularly fond of a hot hot pot, and will add chili peppers on top of chili oil to mine: hot pot is traditionally eaten in winter, and especially with a good amount of heat, it really warms one up on a cold day. Enjoyment of spicy foods is a consequence of capsaicin tolerance, and frequent exposure to this chemical, responsible for creating a sense of heat, eventually causes the body to produce less Substance P (a neurotransmitter) in response to heat.

  • In between dinner, the girls decide to stargaze on the roof. It is here that Mikage and Mari give to their juniors a photo album of all of the Earth Science Club’s best moments: Mari is a bit of a shutterbug and is very fond of photographing her fellow club members, so she’s accumulated a vast collection of images. With Mikage’s help in curating a collection of the best, an album of memories is born, moving the girls to tears.

  • I’ve heard whispers that on other anime sites well outside the realm of the places I visit for discussions, criticisms of Koisuru Asteroid have been very harsh, with people deriding the series for being mundane, niche and requiring a functional background in geology and astronomy to appreciate. The complaint that anime like Koisuru Asteroid offers “nothing new” is strictly a matter of opinion, and for me, one I am inclined to dismiss. Slice-of-life series are not made to explore entirely novel aspects of life, but to show the commonalities that different disciplines and activities share, as well as foster an appreciation for the more ordinary things in life.

  • As it stands, criticisms of Koisuru Asteroid are purely a subjective matter, and I suggest folks to make their own judgement rather than paying deference to the opinions of people whose backgrounds and aims might be radically different than one’s own. Back in Koisuru Asteroid proper, it turns out that something’s been bothering Ao for some time: her father’s occupation requires that their family moves frequently, and so, Ao is set to move somewhere else in March. Having reunited with Mira, Ao is reluctant to do so, but feels that she has no say in what her future will be.

  • Mira herself becomes melancholy in the aftermath of this news, feeling as though she’d been so wrapped up in her own world that she’s completely neglected to consider Ao’s feelings. As it stands, it takes the entire Earth Sciences club, plus two of the newspaper club’s members present to begin considering a viable course of action. Naturally, when Moe arrives and she learns of the news, she takes things the wrong way, and emotions take over.

  • Moe thus makes off with Ao from the club room at top speed, with Mira in the rear trying to restore order. It’s a moment of comedy in what is one of Koisuru Asteroid‘s more subdued moments, and while the presence of such moments are intended to remind viewers that things are most certainly not doom and gloom, some might argue that use of comedy creates a sharper divide when the mood turns serious, as in Peter Jackson’s interpretation of The Fellowship of The Ring: having Merry and Pippin stealing from Farmer Maggot, before prompting Frodo and Sam to tumble down a hill right before the Black Rider is encountered creates a much greater sense of fear, to have something so ominous and threatening in the Shire.

  • Misa eventually arrives to check up on Mira and the others, having returned from the student council with some of her belongings, creating yet another lighter moment. The unexpected news of Ao’s move came out of left field for me; most series don’t do this out of the blue, and indeed, it left viewers with much to speculate on what the outcome would be for Koisuru Asteroid. However, Misa offers a solution: she’s set to move out to attend post-secondary, freeing up a room that Ao might be able to take.

  • While Ao’s mother is initially reluctant, Mira’s parents are open to the idea, and after a tense conversation, a decision is reached: Ao will move in with Mira. The outcome is precisely why I did not bother thinking on things; Manga Time Kirara series are predictable in that events never progress in a manner that compromises the theme in the series. To separate Ao and Mira, while the plausible route, would also disrupt messages of promises and exploration. Such an outcome, that keeps Ao and Mira together, is then inevitable. While folks may count predictability as a bad thing, I personally care for it to a much lesser extent: the journey matters more than the destination.

  • When Mira and Ao visit Moe, they find that Moe’s distracted by something. Because of her upbeat and positive attitude, it can be difficult for viewers to know when Moe is serious or not about something – she’s generally free-spirited and messes with everyone, especially Ao, but a part of the ninth episode has her agonising over the fact that Misa is moving away and anxiously awaiting for messages from her. However, an unexpected request comes out of the blue from Mikage, prompting Moe to help out.

  • Mikage understands what her love for geology must look like to the others: when she approaches Moe in seeking some professional guidance on making a proper batch of Valentine’s chocolate for the Earth Sciences Club, she’s treated to a crash course from Moe on the intricacies of properly preparing chocolate, right down to what temperatures to melt the chocolate with after it’s been prepared and what duration of temperatures are needed to allow the chocolate to consistently re-solidify. The culinary arts might be deemed as arts, involving creativity and thoughtfulness, but the methodologies for making excellent food are as exacting as any science.

  • The end result are some nice chocolates that Mikage later give to the Earth Sciences club. The exercise allows Mikage and Moe to interact with one another without the others, and both share a headstrong personality that conceals a more sensitive side that makes it difficult for them to be forward with their feelings. Mikage and Moe end up calling the other out for this, and both become openly aware that this is something they’ll need to work on. While Mira burns through the chocolates at breakneck speed, Moe finds the courage to make her feelings for Misa known.

  • Graduation is soon upon Mikage and Mari: it’s a time of separation as the Earth Sciences club’s two most senior members part ways. Mari and Mikage recall when their club was first merged, things hadn’t started smoothly: Mikage and Mari were immediately at odds with one another, but with Mai, things stablised over time. It’s a time of farewells and new directions; Mira and Ao present their seniors with mementos from their time together to remind them of their time together, as well as new photos from the album they’d been given earlier.

  • Mai’s still a bit green when it comes to photography, and the group’s final photo together has Mai tripping en route into the photo. Such a photo, however, shows the true spirit of the Earth Sciences club as one step of their journey draws to a close, and I find that this transition was probably meant to help build a club that could continue developing into the future; having Mai, Ao and Mira become more senior members forces them to look after new members and continue the club in their own style even as they work towards fulfilling their own aspirations.

  • Because she’d been so focused on keeping the Earth Sciences club together, Mari wonders if she’d done anything in the Earth Sciences club of note. The photo album Mira and the others show her is tangible proof that yes, Mari did indeed have a good time as a member of their club. Time together also overcame the rift between Mari and Mikage: their friendship now is unshakable, genuine.

  • While friendships can be strong, conflict is a natural part of things, as well: shortly after Ao moves in with Mira, Mira’s carefree nature clashes with the more structured approach that Ao takes. When Mira begins rooting through Ao’s stuff, and she finds an item Ao wasn’t ready to share yet, the two get into a minor disagreement. Misa assumes this is over the formation of the moon, and I will quickly note here that the Capture Hypothesis does not fully account for why stable isotopes between the Earth and Moon are identical, whereas the Giant Impact Hypothesis would account for the unique rotational properties, as well as the fact that the lunar surface was one vast magma ocean at one point. The Giant Impact Hypothesis supposes that the moon formed when a Mars-sized planet collided with Earth, and while this planet’s denser minerals sunk into the Earth, the resulting debris disk, composed of lighter material, coalesced into the Moon.

  • Misa speaks with Ao, and learns that things like these are inevitable. Once things cool down, Ao and Mira properly apologise to one another, and Ao reveals that she’d intended to give Mira a special mug on the day that she was set to move. As evening sets in, the two begin stargazing again, reminiscing on how they’d first met. The warming weather of March in Koisuru Asteroid is unlike what we’ve got back home, and yesterday evening, I had dinner at a local Cantonese restaurant. Dinner included wor-wonton soup with shrimp wontons (alongside brocoli, prawns, chicken and char siu), deep fried oysters with eggplant, crispy chicken, stir-fried pea shoots, almond-battered fish fillets, sweet and sour pork and a seafood yi mein, amongst other things. Dinner was delicious as usual, but it’s really hit home as to how hard the COVID-19 outbreak has hit Chinese restaurants in the area. Normally, this restaurant is packed with people on a Saturday, but yesterday, it was very quiet; there were only four other groups besides ourselves.

  • Thus, while it is strange for me to say so in a Koisuru Asteroid post, I want all of my readers, no matter where you may be in the world, to stay safe and healthy. These are trying times ahead, but respect for the sciences and resilience will allow us to outlast the COVID-19 outbreak. Back in Koisuru Asteroid, on the first day of the new year, Ao and Mira begin advertising the Earth Sciences Club, while Mai chases behind them. The episode closes with two potential recruits being shown, and with this, we’re now moving into the final segment of Koisuru Asteroid. I will be returning to write about the series as a whole once the finale airs at the month’s end. Now is also a good a time as any to mention that I will be writing about Heya Camp once all of the episodes air, and similarly, I am looking to do a review of Magia Record when it wraps up. Both posts are scheduled later this month, and in the meantime, things will be a little quieter here, so I will be exploring some other topics as time allows.

With nine episodes of Koisuru Asteroid in the books, the transition period for Mai has elapsed, and the unexpected surprise that threatened Ao and Mira’s dream appears to be resolved in full. The third quarter of Koisuru Asteroid proceeds at a much higher pace than the series had up until this point: the pacing feels inconsistent as the series attempts to fit as much of the character growth accompanying a transition in these three episodes as possible. While more time could’ve been spent on things, the resolution reached is not an unreasonable one, and paves the path for the final quarter of Koisuru Asteroid. As a series with its share of pleasant surprises, one does wonder how the series will go about presenting Ao and Mira’s path towards asteroid discovery. From a personal perspective, the most plausible approach that would allow the series to retain its atmosphere and pacing, while simultaneously providing the two the starting point, would be to have the two begin applying for, and being accepted into the asteroid competition that had been mentioned during the summer camp. During this time, Mira, Ao and Mai would also need to balance the addition of two new members into their club and take on the role of a senior. These small discoveries are just as critical to Koisuru Asteroid as Ao and Mira’s promise; one cannot begrudge the series for focusing on the characters, and in the realm of character growth, Koisuru Asteroid has done an admirable job. The only question that remains is what Ao and Mira will do to begin fulfilling that long-standing promise to one another, although one thing should be apparent: this will be an enjoyable and meaningful journey.

2 responses to “Koisuru Asteroid: Review and reflection at the ¾ mark

  1. Robert Black March 8, 2020 at 16:42

    Mira and Ao could get into the asteroid camp by the end of the series, and then do the camp as an OVA (or even a movie!). The show seems to be doing well enough to merit one of those.


    • infinitezenith March 8, 2020 at 17:21

      A movie would certainly be nice, giving all of the time needed to explore the asteroid camp in full and giving an uninterrupted flow for things 🙂 I think, however, we’re going to be waiting for a bit; there’s only three manga volumes right now, and a cursory glance shows that we’re probably caught up. Only time will tell, but seeing Mira and Ao reach their dreams would be immensely satisfying!


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