“One thing I love to eat on fish, and not too many people save, is the liver. I find the liver and the heart, the tastiest part of the fish.” –Les Stroud
At low tide, Yūki decides to take the Breakwater Club out to the tidal flats to gather clams. Hina and Natsumi end up being stuck in the mud when they ignore Yūki’s warnings not to go out too far, and both end up falling into the mud. Despite this, the Breakwater Club finds a large number of Manila clams, and Hina even manages to score a hamaguri. They bring them back to the clubhouse, but Yūki and Makoto freeze in their tracks when they hear a car pull up – it’s Sayaka Kotani, the club advisor and school nurse. While she seems friendly enough, she breaks out the beer and winds up drunk: Yūki and Makoto lament that Sayaka’s managed to eat most of their catch, although Sayaka soon falls asleep, leaving the girls to grill up the remaining clams. As Hina prepares to enjoy the hamaguri, Sayaka somehow manages to eat it from Hina’s chopsticks, leaving her in shock. Later, the club go out to fish for horse mackerel fry again after picking up provisions from a local fishing supply store. With Makoto and Natsumi’s help, Hina learns how to properly gut the fish, realising it’s no different than removing the stuffing from a plushie. When Hina’s parents express a want to enjoy horse mackerel fry again, Hina decides to go out and fish using the tackle and hooks from home, but experiences no success. Natsumi drops by and explains that Hina’s been using the wrong size of hook and a fishing rod that’s a bit too stiff for the task. With Natsumi’s help, Hina is able to turn things around and ends the day exhausted, but with a sizeable haul. This is where Houkago Teibou Nisshi stands at the halfway point, where changes in Hina’s attitudes towards fishing are gradually shifting as a result of her experiences with the eccentric, but sincere and accepting members of the Breakwater Club.
The most rewarding payoff from watching Houkago Teibou Nisshi thus far is seen in Hina, who’s outlook on fishing is becoming increasingly positive, and whose fears are slowly replaced by a genuine curiosity and appreciation of fishing. With support and encouragement from her fellow club members, Hina begins to realise that despite seeming quite disparate, there are some commonalities between handicrafts and fishing – the suggestion that gutting a fish can be thought of as extracting stuffing from a plushie helps her to focus. Similarly, Hina’s become more confident about fishing now, having seen how it can bring about joy. When she decides to go fishing on her own, it shows that she’s developed enough knowledge to be confident in trying things out for herself. While Hina’s still inexperienced, that she’s beginning to take the initiative shows that despite her initial worries, she’s come to enjoy fishing. It is remarkably heartwarming to see this change, and I imagine that as Houkago Teibou Nisshi continues, Hina will continue to hone her craft, and over time, develop enough familiarity as to be not only comfortable, but confident in catching and preparing larger fish, as well. While the Breakwater Club is an unconventional one, it’s been shown that Hina’s in good company here, coming to really learn and appreciate the origins of her food more.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Houkago Teibou Nisshi is proving itself to be a remarkably enjoyable anime, both in providing a consistent and fun experience, as well as raising interesting discussion topics. I will be resuming with a much more conventional posting schedule for this series: the fourth episode was a bit of an exception because it’d been a while since I wrote about Houkago Teibou Nisshi, and I’d wished to emphasise that yes, I’d not forgotten about what would’ve been one of the highlights of the spring anime season.
- Right out of the gates, Hina and Natsumi ignore Yūki’s warnings not to go too far into the flats and end up getting stuck in the mud, causing Hina to throw an adorable tantrum. Clam digging is a common recreational and commercial activity in coastal areas, and in Survivorman, Les Stroud ends up finding a large number of clams in the estuary of Tiburón Island. Stroud searches for clams in a fan-like pattern and replaces the sand behind him, while the girls dig in a more linear fashion, but both Stroud and Yūki advises clammers to be mindful of etiquette, restoring the mud so clams can grow comfortably without drying out and throwing back smaller clams to ensure the population can survive.
- Natsumi only barely avoids falling into the mud by grabbing onto Hina, and in a moment reminiscent of Yama no Susume, where Hinata pulls Aoi’s skirt down, Natsumi winds up creating a near-miss for Hina. The two end up falling into the mud anyways, and now that they’re dirtied, Hina doesn’t seem to mind so much anymore. There are a few tricks to extricating oneself from being stuck: most guides recommend reaching down into the mud and then pulling up the toes or driving the toes further into the mud and lifting the heels up. This works because the mud creates a vacuum that the atmosphere presses against, and by introducing air underneath, the amount of vacuum (and corresponding pressure) is lessened, allowing for movement.
- For Hina and Natsumi, they manage to extricate themselves in an unseen manner, with Hina setting aside her grievances upon hearing Yūki’s story about how some people previously needed to be airlifted out after getting stuck close to when the tides returned. It’s a very real danger, showing that Houkago Teibou Nisshi is aware of the dangers of some of their club activities entail. Fortunately for Hina and Natsumi, nothing of this sort happens, and the club have a fine time gather clams.
- The girls end up with a respectable haul of Manila clams (Venerupis philippinarum) along with the lone hamaguri (Asian Hard Clam, Meretrix lusoria) that Hina’s found on her first try and allow them to rest overnight in a bucket of water in order to let them clear the sand out. The next morning, Hina finds the clams to have opened: the appendage sticking out is their foot, which is a muscle that allows the clams to burrow and embed themselves in the mud or sand.
- Before Hina and the others can begin preparing the clams, a car pulls up, sending Makoto and Yūki into a panic. Hina and Natsumi wind up being a little surprised, since it’s “just” Sayaka Konati, the club advisor and school nurse. Sayaka is voiced by Ami Koshimizu (Charlotte E. Yeager of Strike Witches), and initially, she appears as the caring, competent club advisor who’s merely come in to check up on how things are going.
- Thus, Yūki and Makoto’s reactions seem a little off initially – Yūki blows off Sayaka and attempts to get her to peace out, while Makoto lacks her usual composure and is evidently nervous. It’s saying something that Sayaka is able to intimidate even Makoto, who’s otherwise been quite stoic about things at the Breakwater Club – despite Makoto’s best efforts to keep the clams secret, Sayaka finds out anyways.
- Hina and Natsumi aren’t too sure what’s going on and decide to invite Sayaka to hang out with them. Like the tidal flats, Yūki might disagree with the decision but allows Hina and Natsumi to do so. While it’s a subtle gesture, Yūki’s style is actually an immensely effective teacher in its own right; by letting Natsumi and Hina explore and make mistakes, the two learn much more quickly what not to do in the future.
- Makoto prepares the clams by steaming them and soon, has enough for everyone to share. Clams have a gentle, briny taste and when cooked properly, are springy and pleasantly firm to the palette. A few years back, I had the fortune of getting fresh clams straight from the beach, and we steamed those right up for dinner, adding only a bit of soy sauce. Having grown up with Cantonese cuisine, there’s a special kind of soy sauce that I know as 蒸魚豉油 (jyutping zing1 jyu4 si6 jau4, literally “soy sauce (for) steamed fish”); this soy sauce has a slightly sharper taste than dark soy sauce and is perfect for seafood. A small amount of this soy sauce goes great with prawns, clams, mussels and oysters.
- As it turns out, Sayaka rivals Minami Toba of Yuru Camp△ in being a seemingly mild-mannered instructor whose true self is characterised by an excessive love for alcohol. Like Minami, Sayaka is able to consume copious amounts of alcohol, but unlike Minami, who simply falls asleep, Sayaka is a mean drunk: she proceeds to intimidate Hina and Natsumi before attempting to make out with Yūki and Makoto. The choice to do this is strictly to create humour, although right out of the gates, Houkago Teibou Nisshi‘s Sayaka is rather more disruptive than Minami ever was in Yuru Camp△. Fortunately, Minami soon falls asleep, and Makoto reveals that she’d still left some clams around.
- Despite Sayaka single-handedly demolishing the first batch on her own, the Breakwater Club now have a chance to enjoy more clams in peace. Makoto breaks out the grill, and Hina watches in happiness as the clams begin to sizzle and open up, indicating that they’re ready. This is the most visual indication that a clam is cooked all the way through, and when cooking clams, any clam that does not open should be discarded (they died before being cooked and are probably not safe to eat). On Tiburón Island, Les Stroud cooked his clams by directly inserting them into charcoal beside a fire, declaring them safe to eat once they opened.
- While I’ve enjoyed freshly steamed clams before, I’ve never actually grilled them the way the Breakwater Club does here. Recipes indicate that clams can be cooked on direct medium heat and take roughly seven minutes to cook fully. Compared to steaming, the high heat imparts a distinct charred flavour that isn’t present in steaming the clams, but for me, steaming clams is a gentler way to preserve the original flavour of the meat.
- Houkago Teibou Nisshi‘s soundtrack has a known release date now: September 23. With Miki Sakurai as the composer, the soundtrack will retail for 3300 Yen (about 40.95 CAD) and feature a mix of both incidental pieces, as well as vocal tracks. The tracklist remains unknown at this time, but it’s great to finally know when the music will become available – the soundtrack of Houkago Teibou Nisshi‘s been excellent, and really creates a summer-like feeling that also brings to mind the style of the Yuyushiki soundtrack, which I similarly enjoyed.
- Since Hina found the hamaguri, she’s the one to eat it. However, Sayaka’s just woken and manages to eat it straight from Hina’s chopsticks, rendering Hina colourless in shock for the duration of the episode. One cannot help but feel bad for Hina, since she’d been really looking forwards to this, and I remark here that this sort of humour is of a variety that I am less than fond of if abused or overused; I’ve never really been a fan of situations where characters are made to suffer unnecessarily, and prefer comedy to be derived by other means.
- By the halfway point in Houkago Teibou Nisshi, Hina’s feeling right at home with the Breakwater Club, which occasionally has the odd lazy day or two here and there. However, one club meeting is interrupted when Sayaka reappears: it turns out she has insufficient funds to even get dinner, likely having blown her money on alcohol, and turns to the girls for help. Yūki is reluctant to do so and only relents when Sayaka promises not to drink inside the club room. However, the club first requires supplies to go fishing.
- This fishing supplies store is real, being a rendering of the Tenguya Fishing Tackle Shop in Sashiki: finding this one was straightforwards, since it’s located at the heart of Sashiki. Tenguya is a mere 700 metres from Sashiki station, across the road from the local government offices and adjacent to a Korean BBQ restaurant. In reality, Tenguya is indeed known for having an excellent selection of gear. Since Houkago Teibou Nisshi‘s manga began running, the store also sells copies of the manga.
- The real-world owner of Tenguya is also friendly and knowledgeable, so customers do enjoy visiting the shop for supplies. In Houkago Teibou Nisshi, Natsumi picks up bait from the shop, and Hina wonders if the store is named after the owner’s appearance, only for him to challenge her to touch his dome and admire the smoothness. It appears that the shopkeeper knows Natsumi, and when they’d entered earlier, Natsumi warns Hina about the store for this reason.
- By this point in time, Hina’s become more enthusiastic about fishing and also begins to pick up on nuances, such as the fact that Natsumis rocking a slightly different setup. It’s a far cry from the Hina who began Houkago Teibou Nisshi intent on doing more familiar club activities, and as the afternoon wears on, the Breakwater Club have no trouble filling a cooler full with the day’s catch.
- Of course, since we’re merely at Houkago Teibou Nisshi‘s halfway point, Hina’s still uncomfortable around gutting a fish. Makoto provides Hina with clear instructions on how to go about preparing a Horse Mackerel Fry for cooking: first, one slides their fingers behind the gills and then gently follow the pectoral fins until the stomach and intestines are reached. These can then be pulled out, after which residual elements can be removed. In general, these can be discarded, although I think composting them is a better idea.
- Hina is shocked at the prospect of gutting a fish, and after an unsuccessful attempt to escape, ends up learning that Makoto gets around it simply because it’s a part of the process. It is ultimately Yūki who suggests that Hina think of it as removing the stuffing from a stuffed animal for whatever work lies ahead. Hina ends up going into a reverie and removes all of the guts swiftly; despite forgetting the second step, she’s quite speedy, indicating that with the right perspective, seemingly completely unrelated hobbies share common skills.
- While my urban background means that all of the fish I buy are usually prepared already, meaning that the fish heart and livers are usually removed, being discarded along with other parts of the fish. This is disappointing, since besides the bones, fins, digestive tract and stomach, almost all other parts of the fish are edible and highly nutritious. During his Arctic Tundra episode, Les Stroud describes the heart and liver as the tastiest part of the fish as he prepares four freshly-caught Arctic Char: being an experienced outdoorsman, Stroud has no trouble with preparing fish, contrasting Hina, who practically faints when she finds her hands covered in fish blood.
- As it turns out, the Tsurugis have a fair amount of fishing gear, and on a long weekend, Hina decides to go fishing for more Horse Mackerel Fry when her parents express an interest in getting some for dinner. While Hina initially feels it to be a bit of a hassle, she ends up taking up the challenge. It’s a bit of a rare moment that shows Hina as being more bold than usual: she declares with confidence that being able to get enough for dinner shouldn’t be a problem and sets out to buy some bait.
- Because of how small Sashiki is, locating the areas that Hina visits isn’t terribly challenging: a brute-force approach in dropping in via something like Google Maps’ Street View and looking around is often enough to allow one to find the fishing spots and roads the Breakwater Club frequent. For instance, Hina can be seen biking across the bridge on route 56 here, heading southeast. This experience is augmented if one has a virtual reality headset: for me, ever since I picked up my complimentary Oculus Quest at F8 last year, I’ve been making extensive use of it to explore locations seen in anime, ranging from Yamanashi to Inao. The headset offers an unparalleled degree of immersion, and it feels like I’m actually standing in the location I’ve chosen to visit.
- Tenguya’s owner recognises Hina from earlier and makes the perfect recommendation for her when she explains that she’s looking for bait to go sabiki fishing: a squeeze package of ready-to-use-bait, which also has the advantage of lasting longer because it’s sealed. While it’ll likely be more pricey than purchasing the raw ingredients, it’s a good choice for Hina, who probably doesn’t go fishing often enough to make full use of bait she prepares herself and is still adverse to getting her hands dirty.
- Hina winds up fishing at a breakwater closer to her house: it’s near the Hakariishi Community Center, located about 1.1 kilometres away from Tenguya. Unlike her usual outings with the Breakwater Club, Hina is having no luck at all with her fishing: after loading her bait up and dropping the hook into the water, the fish approach and swim off almost immediately. The lone fish she does catch falls off, as well. Fortunately, Natsumi’s in the area, and she’s able to offer some advice.
- As it turns out, Hina’s been using the wrong size of hook: the ones she’s got equipped are too large for the Horse Mackerel Fry, and what’s more, her fishing rod is too stiff, lacking the spring to pull in the fish. Natsumi thus decides to lend Hina her fishing rod, and in no time at all, Hina’s managed to catch a sizeable number of Horse Mackerel Fry. Realising the difference something as simple as swapping the hook sizes out, Hina wonders if she’s cut out for fishing, but Natsumi reassures her that this is quite normal, that every beginner learns the details over time with experience.
- For Natsumi, the intricacies of fishing means that catching stuff also boils down to luck, and this is what makes it fun. Luck is, at least in my books, an event where a favourable outcome has a probability component (and correspondingly, skill is the ability to employ techniques or methods that increase the probability). While I’m less of a fan of luck-driven things, I yield that there is a certain thrill in it. Just yesterday, for instance, I watched the Calgary Flames return from a two goal deficit against the Dallas Stars. We ended up losing when Jamie Oleksiak put a goal away with forty seconds left, but it was gripping to see if the Flames might actually take the game back. Similarly, I went out early in the morning to check out the Perseids meteor shower, and while light pollution washed out most of the meteors, I ended up seeing five fireballs, which left an orange-white tail that lingered for a few seconds in the skies.
- Compared to two decades ago, light pollution in my city has only increased, and even on a perfectly clear night, a bright white glow can be seen on the horizon. As such, with fainter meteors being washed out, it was very lucky that I saw those fireballs from the meteor shower. My copy of Harukana Receive‘s fifth manga volume also arrived yesterday, meaning that for the time being, I’m caught up with the series’ manga run. Back in Houkago Teibou Nisshi, despite her appearances, Natsumi is quite knowledgable, as well: Hina hopes to one day surprise Natsumi by reaching a similar level of competence. This brings my talk on Houkago Teibou Nisshi to an end – I will be returning in three weeks’ time to continue writing about this series, and the next two anime-related posts here will be for The Quintessential Quintuplets and The Rolling Girls.
Having now passed the halfway point of Houkago Teibou Nisshi, the anime’s shaping up to be a cathartic, if familiar one; the introduction of Sayaka Kotani evokes memories of Yuru Camp△‘s very own Minami Toba, who is similarly a beautiful and soft-spoken teacher concealing a penchant for drinking like a sailor. This archetype appears to be employed for comedy, and while an intoxicated teacher can break the calming, relaxing feel in their respective series, it also mixes things up – Yūki and Makoto have been the reliable seniors insofar, with their presence being reassuring to Hina, but when Sayaka appears, even those two are shaken up. This creates a richer characterisation of everyone in Houkago Teibou Nisshi, allowing more aspects of their personalities to be shown. Similarly, having a teacher with a motor vehicle also facilities for additional adventures: the Breakwater Club had previously biked or walked to local fishing areas, but as Hina becomes familiar with these, the story can drive her growth in new settings further away from home to create experiences memorable for both Hina and the viewers. As we enter the next quarter of Houkago Teibou Nisshi, I am quite excited to see what adventures await the Breakwater Club, as well as what marine life is on their list of things to catch and enjoy and perhaps, even see Hina become at least confident with seeing the entire process through to the end.