The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

Houkago Teibou Nisshi: Eging, Episode Four Impressions and Returning to the Diary of Our Days at the Breakwater

“I’m forty percent back, baby!” –Bender Bending Rodriguez, Futurama

While the Breakwater Club clears away dinner after enjoying the flathead Hina had caught, Yūki convinces Hina to consider purchasing a jacket, which would allow her to participate in club activities regardless of the weather. The next day, the girls visit a fishing goods store, where Hina sees a hat she likes, but doesn’t have the funds to purchase both the hat and a jacket that catches her eye. Natsumi ends up gifting the hat to Hina. Excited to go fishing, Hina helps Natsumi and Yūki set up lures for eging (squid fishing) and then head to the breakwater once Makoto arrives. Natsumi teaches Hina how to move her lure in a convincing fashion, but loses her lure when it’s caught on something. Afternoon turns to evening, and ultimately, Makoto manages to catch a squid. As they reel it in, the squid sprays Hina with ink, and Makoto demonstrates how to swiftly kill the squid prior to consumption. Rather than disgusted, Hina feels it to be quite interesting to see how the squid changes colour, and partakes with the others in enjoying freshly-caught squid sashimi. Houkago Teibou Nisshi is now back, a full three months after the global health crisis and flooding in Japan delayed the series’ airing, and with the fourth episode in the books, this anime looks to be the perfect series to accompany a hot summer day and its blue skies.

Having now picked up a new jacket and hat, Hina is beginning to find herself more at home with Natsumi, Yūki and Makoto at the Breakwater Club. While the prospect of catching larger fish still intimidates her, Hina’s steadily acclimatising to the sights and sounds of picking up a fishing rod and preparing for a day on the breakwater. Her old hobbies also come in handy, allowing her to efficiently set up an egi (a prawn-shaped lure) for squid fishing, and with new gear, Hina’s become more enthusiastic about catching things. Similarly, after the shock of having to kill the flathead earlier, Hina’s also beginning to understand the importance of being decisive. After seeing Makoto kill the squid she’d caught, Hina comments that it’s a little sad, but also interesting to see the squid change colours on death. These subtle changes show that with time, Hina’s adjusting to the activities at the Breakwater Club, and as Houkago Teibou Nisshi continues, her old fears will likely be displaced by experience, as well as an attendant confidence. This sets the stage for Houkago Teibou Nisshi to explore different kinds of fishing and in doing so, provide a modicum of insight into the different sorts of things that can be caught in Japan.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I had originally been planning to wait until the sixth episode to write for Houkago Teibou Nisshi, but changed my mind because I wished to emphasise that no, I’d not forgotten about Hina and her entry into fishing. The fourth episode opens with Hina and Natsumi waiting in front of Sashiki station while Yūki lags behind. Sashiki Station is located along the Hisatsu Orange Railway line, which runs from Sendai Station in Kagoshima to Shin-Yatsushiro Station in Yatsushiro.

  • Here, the train passes by Umino-ura Station, located just shy of three kilometres north of Sashiki as the mole digs. As the train travels along the Hisatsu Orange line, Uminoura Bay can be seen in the distance. Having commented that Houkago Teibou Nisshi had a definitive summer vibe to it when the first three episodes aired, the turn of events means that I am going to end up watching this anime during the summer.

  • In order to buy a jacket, Hina’s asked for an advance on her allowance and is holding ten thousand yen (about 127.35 CAD at the time of writing). With this sum, Natsumi, Yūki and even Makoto joke that once Hina’s done, she ought to treat everyone to a spot of tea. However, my initial inclination was that Hina would like need a good portion of her money to buy her jacket: a women’s jacket goes for around 150-200 CAD depending on the brand and design at full price. Having a fishing jacket would allow Hina to fish in a greater variety of conditions, and this is probably why Yūki is so fond of her jacket.

  • Because Hina’s requirements for a jacket is that it has to be adorable, Natsumi suggests visiting the largest fishing supplies store in the area: the Yamamoto Fishing Gear Centre Main Store (山本釣具センター本店) in Kumamoto. Situated at 631-1 Honjomachi, Chuo Ward, the fishing store is located about sixty kilometres north of Sashiki. Ordinarily, such a distance could be covered within an hour by car, but I’d hazard a guess that the Breakwater Club would take the Hisatsu Orange line up to Yatsushiro Station and then transfer to the Kagoshima line. The store is located about 1.4 kilometres away from Kumamoto Station, which is where visitors would need to disembark.

  • Once inside the store, Hina is blown away by just how much stuff there is to take in. The excursion brings to mind the Outdoor Activities Club’s visit to Elk outdoor supplies in Yuru Camp△: both series share the commonality of a protagonist developing an interest for outdoor activities during its run, as well as a commitment to realism to the extent where curious viewers could explore the same places as seen in the anime. The real world Yamamoto Fishing Gear Centre has two floors of dedicated retail space for fishing supplies and equipment: the first floor deals primarily with rods, lures, tackles and other gear, while the second floor has clothing, jackets, hats and the like.

  • Houkago Teibou Nisshi is immaculate in its portrayal of real-world settings, and this was apparent even within the first three episodes that had aired back in April. It suddenly strikes me Sketchbook ~Full Colours~ is also set on Kyushū: located in Fukuoka, Sora and her Art Club lie about 140 kilometres to the north of the Breakwater Club. For me, this is about the distance between Calgary and Lake Louise, an iconic part of the Canadian Rockies: while I’m fond of visiting, in recent years, the crowd sizes have made it very difficult to find parking there. This year, it’s simply not a good idea to be out and about.

  • Initially, Hina is put off by many of the designs, but as it turns out, Yūki’s been looking at the mens’ wear. Natsumi frequently comments on how, despite Yūki can be immensely knowledgable on fishing-related clothing, has no sense of fashion. This brings to mind Yama no Susume‘s Kaede, who similarly loves shopping for outdoors wear but has a lack of interest for everyday clothing. Upon finding the women’s jackets, Hina finds a variety of jackets whose design appeals to her, but the price tag for some of the jackets far exceed what she can afford.

  • Makoto comments that a person of her stature would find it difficult to shop for a good jacket – Hina and Natsumi immediately jump to the conclusion that Makoto’s bust is the problem, but Makoto is referring to her height. This is one of the curses of being taller: finding clothing in one’s size can be tricky. I believe there are communities out there dedicated to cataloguing the woes that uncommonly tall, and uncommonly short people face, although it is always refreshing to see people talk about the flip-side of things: advantages that being tall or short confer.

  • Hina had intended to buy both a hat and a jacket on this particular excursion, but the prices preclude her from doing so. Even the more appealing jackets are pricey, but Hina later finds one that has a nice design and is on sale for half-off. While she’s torn, with guidance from Natsumi and the others, Hina decides to just buy the jacket owing to the discount and come back another time for the hat.

  • Hina is all smiles when she leaves the store, but the sharp-eyed viewer will see Natsumi making a purchase of her own. As it turns out, this purchase was the hat that Hina had liked. On the train back home, Natsumi accidentally lets slip that the hat was totally not a bribe in an attempt to keep Hina in the Breakwater Club. Such moments speak to the type of dynamics in Houkago Teibou Nisshi, and more strongly than before, I see parallels between Yama no Susume‘s Aoi Yukimura and Hina. Similarly, Hinata Kuraue bears resemblance to Natsumi in terms of personality.

  • The next day, Hina arrives at the Breakwater Club’s headquarters decked out in her new coat and hat, rearing to go. It turns out that squid is on the list today, and owing to their diet, they require a different type of bait to catch. These bait resemble giant prawns and so, are called egi: the act of using them as bait, then, was turned into the episode name, eging. While Natsumi feels that Yūki’s managed to gull her and Hina into preparing the bait yet again, Hina takes advantage of this time to familiarise herself with things and ends up preparing things more neatly than Natsumi.

  • Once Makoto arrives, it’s off to the breakwater for squid fishing. Besides the Breakwater Club, Makoto is also a member of the student council. It suddenly strikes me that because her glasses are always opaque, Makoto’s eyes are never seen. This is an artistic choice that I don’t often see in an anime, and I think the last time I saw an anime with a character sporting opaque eyewear, it was in Azumanga Daioh: Yomi’s glasses would switch between revealing her eyes and concealing them depending on her mood.

  • With everyone present and geared up, Houkago Teibou Nisshi feels like it’s properly returned now: it’s been 98 days since episode three. This marks the longest wait I’ve personally experienced between a third and fourth episode, but I have no objections to Doga Kobo’s decision to delay the series’ airing. With the global health crisis still a serious problem, personal safety is critical, and it is imperative that people do whatever they can to stay healthy.

  • Today marks the second day of the heat warning in my area, as the thermometer climbed to a peak of 29°C: it’s projected to remain quite warm over the upcoming week, and in my region, there’s a week or two each year where it’s hot. However, this year, we’ve not had any days where it’s been hotter than 30°C as of yet, and typically, there are at least a handful of such days every year. I am rather fond of nice weather like this, and while today was a workday, I couldn’t help but feel the laziness that accompanies a beautiful summer day.

  • The exchanges between Hina and Natsumi are no different than those of Aoi and Hinata from Yama no Susume: both are fond of making snide remarks about the other. When Natsumi provides instruction on how to move the lure in order to bait the squid, Hina remarks that she actually sounds competent. The dynamics between Hina and Natsumi are always fun to watch: despite her appearances, Hina’s actually pretty sharp-tongued.

  • Because squid fishing entails bringing the lure along the seafloor, it’s quite easy to get it hooked on something, mistake it for a squid and then inadvertently lose the entire lure. Yūki’s got a few spares on hand, two per person, so that means Natsumi is down to her last lure. It brings to mind a moment in Avengers: Endgame, when Scott Lang accidentally engages his suit and consumes a vial of Pym patricles in the process, bringing their number of test runs down to one. It’s been a little more than a year since I watched Endgame, and even now, the film is as engaging to watch as ever.

  • During this pandemic, I’ve admittedly been trying (with limited success) to make some headway in my movie and anime backlog: I’ve knocked out a few series and films so far, including Greyhound, which I will need to write about ahead of Hai-Furi: The Movie‘s home release. Back in Houkago Teibou Nisshi, evening begins to set in, and the Breakwater Club’s been unsuccessful at catching anything thus far. However, Makoto soon spots a squid and with unerring skill, catches it.

  • As its defense mechanism in the water, the squid discharges its ink, and Hina takes a direct hit. Fortunately, Hina’s new coat is waterproof and can be cleaned quite easily. In water, the ink creates a dark cloud that obscures visibility, allowing the squid to create a distraction and beat a hasty exit from danger. When discharged directly from a squid, the ink is composed of melanin and mucous. However, when extracted from the ink sac, the ink contains no mucous and therefore, is suited for culinary usage.

  • Squid do, in fact, lose their colour immediately after being killed: their skin possess pigment-containing sacs called chromatophores, which are under the control of muscles. When these muscles contract, the chromatophores cover a larger surface area, creating a darker colouration on the squid. Ordinarily, these allow the squid to alter its colour and blend into an environment more readily. When the squid is killed, neurological activity ceases, and the muscles relax, causing the chromatophores to dilute and resulting in the loss of colour. This is why calamari, cuttlefish and squid have a white colour when seen in a store.

  • Squid sashimi is on the menu, and as the girls dig in, they comment that deep fried squid would also be nice. This brings my talk, the internet’s first on Houkago Teibou Nisshi‘s fourth episode, to a close, and with it, this is going to be my last post of July: I have a few drafts in the works for some of the anime movies that I’ve seen, and would like to focus my full attention towards those posts. I am greatly looking forwards to watching the remainder of Houkago Teibou Nisshi as it airs, and will return to write about it next once we’ve reached the halfway point.

Houkago Teibou Nisshi may not be a novel anime by any stretch, but insofar, the series has been successful in portraying the nuances of fishing. Since Hina is a novice, this gives the series a chance to explain, though Natsumi, Yūki and Makoto, the techniques behind how to prepare lures, cast a line and swiftly kill a catch to maximise freshness. The educational piece adds realism to Hina’s experiences, which, when coupled with the anime’s solid, artwork, a fantastic soundtrack and an interesting cast of characters whose interactions are charming, creates a cathartic series that encourages viewers to enjoy the moment. Slice-of-life anime with an increased emphasis on the technical details behind a particular discipline need to strike a balance between depicting the activities with an appropriate level of detail and advancing character growth: series such as Yuru Camp△, Koisuru Asteroid and Yama no Susume are instances where this balance has been achieved, resulting in an anime that viewers found agreeable. After four episodes, Houkago Teibou Nisshi looks to be headed down the same route, and I’m confident that viewers, independently of their personal experience in fishing, will find this series to be a superb accompaniment through the remainder of this summer season.

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