The Infinite Zenith

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A Fluffle of Rabbits is Also Most Welcome: Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? BLOOM Review and Reflections At The Halfway Point

“I like the idea of being warm and secure. That’s what home should be. That you have a sense of warmth, security, love, and you love the things around you and surround yourself with beauty.” –Andre Leon Talley

With graduation photos rapidly approaching, Chino, Maya and Megu notice their classmates rocking new hairstyles. While they promise to keep things simple for their own photos, each of Megu, Maya and Chino can’t help but wonder if they should at least spruce up a little, since graduation photos will be a permanent record of things. Megu runs into Chiya, who is cutting Sharo’s hair, and when the two offer to give her a haircut, Chiya’s grandmother steps in and says she’s got a particular cut in mind for Megu. Meanwhile, Maya wonders what she can do, since having short hair limits her options, and wishes she could at least make her hair lie flat. Rize happens to be visiting the same store, and gives her a hairclip. Upon noticing Tippy sporting a rather dashing cut, Chino asks Cocoa to give her a haircut, but inadvertently causes Cocoa to mess up when she remarks that she might consider attending a different high school if Cocoa is always around. In the end, the haircuts still come out well enough, with Chino and Cocoa sporting the same style. Later, Rabbit House hosts an all-you-can-eat Bread Festival. Chino worries that the bread and pasta specials Cocoa and Rize has will overshadow Rabbit House’s coffee, but after Rin orders a special blend upon seeing Sharo’s look of bliss when drinking it, Chino realises that her coffee is doing well enough. Some children also watch Chino make latté art; as Chino becomes more comfortable around others, Cocoa and Rize feel that Chino’s beginning to open up. While cleaning up after the Bread Festival, Tippy points a feral rabbit out to Chino, who is able to pet it without said rabbit running off. At BLOOM‘s halfway point, GochiUsa‘s third season continues to advance personal growth amongst the characters, with this week’s focus being on Chino, whose personality has noticeably changed since earlier seasons as a result of Cocoa’s influence.

The sixth episode to BLOOM is split down the middle into two acts: the first follows Chimame as they prepare for graduation photos. While the three friends are inseparable, BLOOM chooses to have each of Megu, Maya and Chino prepare in their own way. Megu steps out of her comfort zone and decides to ask Chiya for a haircut, but ends up getting a special haircut from Chiya’s grandmother. Maya ends up getting a few pointers from Rize, who uses a hairclip to completely change the air that Maya conveys without a haircut, and in the process, manages to help Rize pick out something, too. Finally, Chino entrusts Cocoa to cut her hair, and despite a small mistake, winds up with something that works. Takahiro compliments Chino and Cocoa’s new haircuts, saying that Cocoa and Chino are beginning to resemble one another, and together with Chino’s attempts to cuddle with the stray rabbits around town earlier in the episode, plus the fact that Chino is beginning to be more receptive to being addressed as an older sister, BLOOM indicates to viewers that for better or worse, Chino is beginning to be more Cocoa-like; specifically, Chino is now more outgoing and expressive than before. While she may still have trouble in being honest with how she feels, the changes in Chino’s character are apparent. Similarly, in doing her utmost to earn Chino’s respect, Cocoa herself has become more reliable and capable than before, even if she is still prone to mistakes whenever worried or distracted. Through BLOOM‘s sixth episode, GochiUsa portrays characters as slowly changing over time, imbibing the traits of those around them while retaining the attributes that make everyone unique to remind viewers that people are impacted by the company they keep, but despite the influences of one’s friends and acquaintances, people will always have their own distinct personalities that make them stand out.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Previous seasons had shown that Chino does not seem to get along with other rabbits, whereas rabbits definitely enjoy Sharo’s presence even if she has mild leporiphobia. To this end, Chino attempts to cuddle rabbits when Sharo’s around, and finds that she’s successful. During the first season, Chino had been content to be with Tippy, but Cocoa’s presence eventually saw Chino develop a desire to see if she could pet the rabbits around town, as well. Right out of the gates, the episode lives up to its name: Chino and Sharo find themselves in a field with lots of bunnies as Chino tries to cuddle them the same way Cocoa does.

  • Whereas my post for Road to Berlin featured thirty screenshots, for this post on BLOOM, I’ve opted to go with the usual twenty. I could go for the extended format, and this sixth episode does offer quite a bit to talk about, but there is also value in keeping things concise for the readers’ sake – I actually have a second post coming out today on Hai-Furi: The Movie, and as such, will need a bit of time to write about that, as well. Besides Hai-Furi: The Movie, I’ll also need to turn my attention towards my MacOS machines. Yesterday evening, I ran the update that brings Big Sur to my iMac, and it seems to be fine after the update. I had noticed a bit of input delay earlier, but this no longer seems to be an issue. With this, it’s time to update my MacBook Pro, as well.

  • It’s been a few years since my last graduation photo – back in secondary school and during my undergrad, graduation photos were a big deal, and all of my classmates were very excited about things, comparing outfits, hair-styles and whatnot. By graduate school, however, my graduation photo was much more muted: during the week after I finished my defense, I visited a special session to get my photos taken, and that was about it. Such moments certainly seemed much more exciting when I was younger, and BLOOM is perhaps a reminder to viewers that things like graduation photos can create memories to be treasured.

  • Whether by chance or design, it seems that each of Maya, Megu and Chino get along with certain of their seniors the most swimmingly: Maya admires Rize and, Megu gets along best with Chiya, and whether or not Chino would care to admit it, the senior she’s come to look to most is Cocoa. With a friendly and warm personality, Megu’s character represents naïveté and innocence. Like Chiya, who has a natural talent for dodging things thrown at her, Megu has an uncommon physical talent – she is resilient to dizziness and acts very graceful as a result of her previous ballet training.

  • After seeing Chiya cutting Sharo’s hair, Megu approaches them and wonders if they’d be willing to cut her hair, as well. Chiya is all too happy to oblige, but remarks that she can only do straight bangs. Sharo can similarly do straight bangs only, and so, while they’re able to do haircuts well enough, straight bangs don’t seem to suit Megu. Fortunately, Chiya’s grandmother has some experience in this arena, remarking that she’d be able to properly get Megu set up with a proper haircut.

  • In anime and manga, ahoge (アホ毛, literally “stupid hair”) is a single tuft of hair that resists being combed down and is typically a visual indicator of someone who is either happy-go-lucky or inept. With her energetic, mischievous personality, Maya is portrayed with one, but for her graduation photo, she wishes that at the very least, she could keep it down: short hair doesn’t offer her many options. Maya runs into Rize at the hair accessories store while considering what she could do, and after Rize attempts to flatten Maya’s ahoge are unsuccessful, she gives Maya a hairclip that works rather well.

  • Rize and Maya subsequently browse through different hairclips, as Rize had been looking to try a new look, as well. Despite her seeming lack of interest in appearances, Maya seems to have a fair eye for things, suggesting that a purple hairclip would suit Rize and accentuate the maturity that she conveys. QR codes, likely leading to the manufacturer’s website in-universe, can be seen on the backs of the clips they try out. Curiosity led me to try and scan them, although they don’t lead anywhere and therefore were likely just added for authenticity. QR codes were originally created in Japan, and their patterns encode a specific string. I think that here in BLOOM, the hairclip packaging uses a 33×33 Version 4 QR code, which can encode up to 50 characters.

  • While preparing to trim her own hair, Chino notices Tippy as being uncommonly dapper, sorting a silky coat that far exceeds its usual fluffiness. Realising that she’s curious to see if Cocoa can trim her hair the same way she’s done for Tippy, she asks Cocoa to cut her hair, as well. Although surprised, Cocoa agrees: one of the lingering things from earlier seasons is that Cocoa has always been presented as being a little clumsy, and as such, even though viewers are aware that Cocoa has been increasingly reliable and mature over the course of GochiUsa, there remains the possibility that something could go wrong (usually in a humourous fashion) where she is involved.

  • This fear soon comes to pass: while Cocoa starts out by playing salon, when it comes down to it, Cocoa is able to do a reasonable enough job of things, at least until Chino asks her to be more serious, lest she decide to change her application for high schools. Cocoa is shocked and cuts off more of Chino’s bangs than she’d expected. On haircuts, in a curious turn of events, I just went last week, myself: the current health situation had made it difficult to get my hair cut, although fortunately, barbers are open now provided that proper precautionary measures are taken. In general, I prefer my hair short, since it tries faster after being washed. With this being said, there is one merit to longer hair during cooler seasons of the year: after a haircut, the briskness of a winter’s day is more noticeable.

  • In the end, after Chino also tries her hand at cutting Cocoa’s hair, she also makes a similar mistake. Both manage to smooth things out and end up sporting a similar appearance. When Takahiro points out how Chino and Cocoa resemble one another as a result of their hair, Chino smiles, realising that perhaps being seen as similar to Cocoa isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as Cocoa’s warm personality and ability to get along with most everyone is something she’s come to respect.

  • On the day of graduation photos, Megu, Maya and Chino return to find that they all sport tangibly different hairstyles despite their original promise of keeping things real earlier. This brings a close to the sixth episode’s first act: Chimame‘s experiences in updating their appearance hints at everyone growing older and yearning to try for a different style, hinting at the fact that the girls are going to graduate from middle school and begin high school soon. The milestone corresponds with a desire to look more mature, but at the same time, exploring this in the present creates one more treasured memory that each of Maya, Megu and Chino have with their friends.

  • The second half of the episode has Rabbit House preparing for an all-you-can-eat Bread Festival. As Cocoa, Rize and Chino go around town, handing out fliers to advertise for their event, they run into Sharo, Aoyama (who’s up to her usual lecherous ways) and even Rin. Rin initially only plans to attend the event if it works for her schedule, but upon hearing that Aoyama is definitely attending, Rin changes her mind immediately. Curiously enough, all-you-can-eat bread (パン食べ放題, Pan Tabehoudai) does appear to be a real thing: some restaurants in Tokyo offer bread buffets of sorts, featuring a range of different kinds of bread. A cursory search returns restaurants such as Buzz Garden, Barbara Marketplace 325 and Shimbashi Bakery have bread buffets, allowing one to experience Rabbit House’s Bread Festival for themselves if they felt so inclined.

  • While Rize and Cocoa have no trouble promoting the respective pasta and bread portion of the Bread Festival, Chino finds herself cut off whenever she makes to add mention of a special coffee blend. She is found sulking in a grass field nearby, and complains that Rabbit House is as much about coffee as it is about everything else. Chiya happens to be in the neighbourhood, and swaps out Wild Geese for Anko, upon which Chino immediately becomes gloomy. It turns out to have been an elaborate prank, which feels a little unexpected coming from Chino; such an act is more befitting of Cocoa.

  • With Rize openly stating that Chino’s become more Cocoa-like, and Sharo wondering if this means more work on their hands, BLOOM firmly establishes just how much of an influence Cocoa has had on Chino. Between their similar haircuts and characters openly noticing this, coupled with hints shown here and there about Chino beginning to understand why Cocoa insists on being referred to as “older sister”, BLOOM suggests that despite her usual quiet and stoic personality, she also wants to be seen as someone who is easy to get along with and reliable. As such, despite seeing herself as being different than Cocoa for most of GochiUsa, Chino begins to realise she and Cocoa are actually not so different.

  • On the day of the Bread Festival, Cocoa initially worries that no one will show up, and that her bread baking skills are inferior to Mocha’s. However, as the customers begin appearing, and Rabbit House livens up, it’s all hands on deck as the girls work hard to serve their customers and friends. Upon taking a special blend that Chino’s made for this event, Sharo is sent into coffee heaven, experiencing a gentle bliss quite unlike anything she’d had before. Sharo’s response to coffees varies depending on the blend: some coffees make her sad, others send her into over drive, and here, Chino’s coffee instills tranquility, sending Sharo into a blissful state.

  • The effects are such that Rin, who normally isn’t a fan of coffee, orders a cup, and upon trying it, compliments the balanced flavours. Coffee can be a bit strong depending on the brew, and having found a blend that works for people who aren’t large coffee drinkers, Chino is happy to consider adding this particular blend to the menu. Rin remarks that such a blend would certainly see her return to Rabbit House. Upon hearing this, the life fades from Aoyama’s eyes as she realises that her blissful days of evading Rin are potentially over.

  • In an episode where every moment is adorable and cuddly, the scene where Chino demonstrates making latté art for children was probably the warmest scene. After a small child notices Rin and expresses a wish to try the coffee, Chino recommends a hot cocoa instead. Having children be increasingly present in GochiUsa helps to put things in perspective: for most episodes, Chimame are the youngest of the characters, so to see even smaller children (and how Chino is becoming more comfortable in their presence) around gives the youngest main characters a chance to show off how much they’ve grown, as well.

  • The Bread Festival was a great success, and during its run, viewers do see that Rabbit House is at capacity, creating a much livelier atmosphere that reminds viewers that despite the frequent jokes about the fact that Takahiro’s bar surpasses the coffeehouse in terms of business, Rabbit House still has a loyal following and enough business to keep it going. Cocoa and Rize both notice Chino’s become more confident and address her as big sister, to her embarrassment. Granted, Chino has come a long way from the first episodes of GochiUsa, during which she had been very shy and quiet, but she’s still finding it difficult to be truthful about how she feels on occasion.

  • Stepping outside to give herself some quiet from Rize and Cocoa, Tippy mentions that Chino has changed, and brings her attention to a rabbit that’s appeared behind her, and she is able to pet the rabbit without it running away. This simple act succinctly summarises what the episode had intended to accomplish: Chino is very different now than she had been when GochiUsa began, and as such, she graduates from middle school and spends less time with Maya and Megu, viewers can be confident that Chino is on a better footing and able to begin her journey of befriending new people.

  • I’ll conclude this post with Chino smiling; originally, such moments were rare, but I imagine that they will be more common as BLOOM enters its second half. This brings my reflections of BLOOM at its halfway point to a close. It goes without saying that I am very much enjoying this series, which offers much more to viewers than just fluffy and adorable moments. With this week’s post done, it’s time to switch gears and turn my attention to writing about Hai-Furi: The Movie. I should have the post done by this evening for readers to check out.

Autumn is now in full swing in BLOOM, and following a Bread Festival intended to warm everyone up, it is clear that winter is fast approaching for Chino and the others. While thoughts of graduation in spring, and new beginnings are never too far from the characters’ minds, the time between the present and this milestone is still a ways off: because GochiUsa has always been about appreciating the moment, I imagine that with the remaining half to the series, BLOOM will strike a balance between making the most of the present (through the adorable, fluffy moments the series is known for) and subtly making mention of the future as the characters begin preparing for the next steps in their lives. Amidst all this, however, there is never a sense of melancholy or longing for days past. Chino and the others are equally as excited about the future as they are happy in the present, and BLOOM excels in conveying that this balance results in being able to create treasured memories with the now, as well as being prepared for tomorrow. As it stands, BLOOM has been the strongest, thematically, of all the GochiUsa seasons insofar, warming the hearts and mind of viewers each and every week it’s been airing. While Mocha’s absence is noticeable, the fact that BLOOM is able to keep its momentum going and sustain such an engaging story even without Mocha, serves to show that GochiUsa is not a series where any one character carries the show, but rather, it is the sum of the characters’ interactions and adventures that keep things fresh every week. Entering the second half of BLOOM, it should be no surprise that viewers will be in for a treat, and furthermore, it should be no surprise that BLOOM will continue to be surprising for all of the right reasons.

2 responses to “A Fluffle of Rabbits is Also Most Welcome: Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? BLOOM Review and Reflections At The Halfway Point

  1. LuckyLaki November 16, 2020 at 15:54

    This week’s episode was a Chino-centric one and it was a darn good one! She’s really coming out of her shell and becoming more expressive in comparison to the start of the series, I absolutely love how her character is growing.

    Not only is Chino’s development apparent but I’m seeing that Cocoa herself is also having a subtle arc. While still prone to ditziness, she’s increasingly showing how genuinely warm and earnest she is to help others and the other characters are even taking more appreciation of it this season. She herself even realized that she doesn’t need to change if Chino is becoming like her, and if she can become reliable in her own genuine way she won’t have to copy Mocha. Being comfortable with the best version of yourself that you can truthfully offer is such a great message.

    Like

    • infinitezenith November 17, 2020 at 21:25

      I’m positive Cocoa will have more chances to shine in future episodes, as well: she’s shown to be competent in a range of things beyond bread-making, and this episode, the fact that she is able to groom Tippy well and give proper haircuts (at least, until distracted) shows that her ditzy appearances notwithstanding, Cocoa is rather reliable and has her own way of doing things. Because this is a bigger part of the season, it’s likely we’ll get to see this again very soon.

      For Chino, one subtle thing I’ve noticed is that she’s shouting a lot more than she did before. While not quite to the same extent as the other characters, who can become very noisy (Chino’s still quiet by comparison), that she’s allowing herself to experience a broader spectrum of emotions really is a positive. Altogether, I’m guessing that BLOOM is going to leave viewers off on the note that both Cocoa and Chino are well-equipped to handle their futures, no matter where this third season ends!

      Like

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