The Infinite Zenith

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Stamp, Sleep, Study, Smile: Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? BLOOM Eighth Episode Impressions and Review

“Teachers have three loves: love of learning, love of learners, and the love of bringing the first two loves together.” –Scott Hayden

When Rize’s father laughs at her for having decided on becoming an elementary school teacher, Rize runs away from home. Takahiro agrees to have Rize stay at Rabbit House for a while as Rize and her father work things out. In the meantime, after Rize tells Cocoa and Chino of her aspirations, they decide to help her train for the role. Beyond duties like maintaining a schedule and encouraging students with her energy, Rize is also resourceful and creative, finding new ways to keep Chino and Cocoa motivated when they study. Later, the girls break up into small groups to prepare for their upcoming exams. As the day draws to a close, Rize takes Chino, Megu and Maya to the local pool, where Megu reveals she’s been a little worried about losing sight of Maya and Chino as they pursue their own futures. Upon returning to Rabbit House, Chiya, Cocoa and Sharo surprise Rize with a dinner party as thanks for everything she’s done for them. Happy, but exhausted, Rize falls asleep, and her father comes to pick her up. On the way back home, Rize’s father apologises to Rize after an awkward attempt at conversation and reveals he had been so overjoyed, he was tearing up. Father and daughter reconcile, and Rize gives her father a stamp in appreciation. If last week’s episode was about looking to answers from the past for how to face the future, this week’s episode is entirely about taking that step forwards and embracing a new journey, in addition to how one’s experiences play a strong role in influencing one’s own interests. Rize has found her calling in life as a result of the irreplaceable, priceless memories she’s had with Chino, Maya and Megu, feeling happiness in looking after them and organising things to ensure their success. As someone who takes joy in watching others succeed, Rize is presented as possessing the temperament and mindset of a teacher.

While this episode of BLOOM makes it openly known that Rize intends to pursue a career in education, GochiUsa has done a phenomenal job of setting things up and foreshadowing this decision. Throughout the entire series, small, seemingly trivial details have been presented that indicate Rize’s affinity for looking after children and instructing them. When she first meets Chino, she crafts her a stuffed rabbit and also goes about trying to help Chino speak more loudly: Rize is a disciplinarian who believes very much in rules and protocol, and isn’t afraid to impose this on her environment to ensure things go smoothly, but she also appreciates how to win people over. In the carrot-and-stick analogy, Rize shows people the stick but gives them the carrot, indicating she knows how to balance discipline and reward. Upon meeting Megu and Maya, Rize is swift to nickname them Chimame for brevity, showing she cares for those around her sufficiently to want to learn their names as soon as possible, and using a mnemonic to help her with this. After Cocoa leaves town to visit home in Dear My Sister, Rize helps to organise Chino, Maya and Megu’s days so they don’t fall to lethargy, tasking them with a heavy schedule and promising to make stuffed rabbits for them if they should stick to it. Rize helps Chino to train for her choral performance in Sing For You, and motivates Chiya to prepare for a school marathon earlier this season. Along the way, she finds ways to inspire and motivate those she works with. Altogether, GochiUsa has laid down the foundations for Rize’s career choice, and looking back at everything that’s happened in GochiUsa, Rize’s goals are admirable, well-chosen. This character growth, however, does not happen in a vacuum: Rize’s also long envied Cocoa for her ability to get along with most everyone, and seeing this side of Cocoa, in conjunction with advice from Tippy, helps Rize to understand that she can get along with others to in her own way. The discipline and order Rize possesses is balanced by a genuine love for those around her, and it is this that makes Rize suited to take on the role of an elementary teacher.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The previous episode was a hard one to top, but GochiUsa has never been a series to suffer from any inconsistency. Similarly to how the episode following Mocha’s departure was a quiet one, this week’s episode was comparatively less eventful. Neither are any less enjoyable, however, and this week opens with Rize giving Cocoa a rather unpleasant surprise in the morning by climbing on top of her and threatening her with CQC should she fail to get out of bed in a timely fashion.

  • As it turns out, Rize’s run away from home after sharing her ambitions with her father, only for him to laugh at her. For the time being, Rize stays at Rabbit House until things are settled. Rize’s father later asks Takahiro for help, noting that he’d always been a good negotiator. The key to negotiations is, unsurprisingly, to listen: Rize’s father is described as preferring to go loud in a situation, and this haste is probably what created the disagreement. Takahiro is indeed versed: he prefers to observe the girls rather than intervene directly, and allows everyone to try their hand in working out their own problems before determining if his help is needed.

  • When GochiUsa first began airing, Rize’s physical resemblance to Kiniro Mosaic‘s Aya Komichi was the subject of no small debate, exacerbated by the fact that Risa Taneda voices both Aya and Rize. These comparison quickly disappeared as GochiUsa continued, and on the topic of Kiniro Mosaic, after a special episode that was screened back in 2016, it looks like now, with the manga complete after a decade, the series is supposed to get a film. The release date is unknown, but I imagine that it’ll wrap up the manga’s story and pick up where Pretty Days ended off. Personally, I would’ve preferred a third season: anime films take an eternity to release, whereas TV series are available immediately.

  • Cocoa suggests some special training to help Rize prepare for the teaching profession, and I couldn’t help but smile: there is a very gentle form of dramatic irony, in which the audience knows something that the characters do not. Specifically, for viewers who have been following GochiUsa since the first season, Rize has given plenty of indicators that she’s well-suited for the role and therefore, not in any particular need for Cocoa’s training, which ends up being an excuse for Cocoa to skip out on the morning’s housework.

  • I would suppose that despite Rize’s disciplined and strong-willed personality, she yields very easily when Cocoa is around; she even agrees to take a short kip in the day per Cocoa’s suggestion, and is probably shocked that they’d actually been lying down before catching onto Cocoa’s antics. With Chimame, this rarely ever happens, so one can assume that as a teacher proper, Rize would have a solid handle on her students: there’s something special about Cocoa’s ability to cuddle with people that can’t be replicated anywhere else.

  • Once Cocoa’s ruse is discovered, Rize sets Cocoa and Chino with studying for their upcoming exams, rewarding the pair with stamps for completing problems. This had been a technique Rize had been using to motivate Chino and Chiya in earlier episodes, but in the moment, Rize’s forgotten and decides to stamp Cocoa directly on the forehead. A glance at the pages indicate that Cocoa and Rize are studying mathematics, which Chino appears to be weaker in (Cocoa has no trouble with math). It’s been a while since I’ve done anything with relations and expressions on their own, and in retrospect, my favourite part about mathematics has always been expressing systems in increasingly elegant ways.

  • Rize does have a very matronly feel to her this episode, and indeed, with a ponytail, resembles CLANNAD‘s Kyou Fujibayashi. Kyou ends up becoming Ushio’s teacher for kindergarten, and while Kyou is a shade more violent than Rize is, both share a forward, bold personality. After the day is done, Rize whips up a Neapolitan for dinner and promises dessert if Cocoa and Chino can finish their vegetables, a clever callback to the first season, where Cocoa and Chino both had vegetables they weren’t keen on eating.

  • As it turns out, spending so much time with Chino, Maya and Megu was the deciding factor in Rize choosing to become an elementary school instructor; while Rize is athletic and holds her own academically, making her suited for being a middle school and high school instructor, she finds joy in motivating children and watching them grow. There’s something immensely adorable about this decision, and it speaks to the fact that Chimame resemble elementary students more than middle school students.

  • Inspired by Rize, Cocoa attempts to host a study session for the sciences, but Chino comments that Cocoa’s explanations are difficult to understand. There’s a scene where a range of molecules can be seen behind Cocoa, and attesting to how my skills in chemistry have atrophied, I can’t readily identify the more complex molecules. Off the top of my head, water, molecular oxygen, molecular nitrogen, ammonia, chlorocyclohexane, methane, molecular hydrogen and isopropanol can be seen, along with a Rutherford model of the atom and several fictional compounds. There’s also what I’m guessing to be an incorrect representation of histidine: the diagram in the anime does not properly show the imidazole side chain as being aromatic, which results from electrostatic stability. The large molecule in the upper-right is an incorrect representation of Benzylpenicillin (or Penicillin G), a naturally occurring antibiotic: GochiUsa renders the benzyl group as a cyclohexane and mistakenly places hydronium groups in place of methyl groups, as well as missing the double bond in the carboxyl group, the distinct the sulfur and nitrogen of the five-membered thiazolidine are consistent with that of penicillin.

  • While these results means that BLOOM misses two of the molecules, it’s probably done to show that Cocoa might not be familiar with things like aromaticity. Fortunately, GochiUsa is not organic chemistry – gaps in Cocoa’s knowledge can be forgiven easily, and for the viewers, not knowing these compounds won’t have a tangible impact on one’s enjoyment of the series. As such, if anyone decides to create a “genius bonus” entry at Tango-Victor-Tango identifying the compounds, I am going to strike them from the page posthaste. Back in GochiUsa, a part of teaching is making things accessible and tangible for the students, and this is a skill that can be tricky to cultivate: for Cocoa, science and math come very naturally for her, and so, she’s never had to develop any tricks for recalling facts or synthesising information. It is often easy to forget this: Cocoa is very ditzy and does not appear to have a head for numbers, so in conjunction with the fact that GochiUsa rarely shows the girls being in school, Cocoa’s skills in the sciences and maths often come across as surprising to viewers.

  • For Megu and Chino, Cocoa still knows enough to help them along, and after finishing their sciences and maths, Chiya takes over for the humanities. They make enough progress so that Chiya decides to take a peek on Sharo next door, and surprisingly, they find Maya here. Despite being skillful academically, Maya is worried about the entrance exam and seeks out Sharo’s help, feeling that Sharo’s focus would make it easier for them to study in the absence of distractions. Sure enough, back in the day, I almost always studied alone, making the most progress when I understood systems and processes for myself. It was only in my undergrad where materials became tough enough so that I found it useful to have another perspective on things, but by grad school, I had hit my stride and could study on my own again.

  • After a hard day’s work, Rize takes Chimame to the local pool. We’ve not visited this pool since the first season in 2014, and while changing, Maya and Chino remark that Megu’s put on some weight in certain places, resulting in no small amount of envy: Rize has some cookies for each of Maya, Chino and Megu, but Megu initially turns them down as a result of Maya and Chino’s words, at least until Rize reassures her that a few sweets won’t be detrimental at all.

  • It is the case that simple sugars found in sweets can provide a small boost to cognitive function. The brain is the single most energy-consuming organ in the body, and simple sugars require very little additional energy to metabolise, converting the chemical potential energy stored in its bonds towards respiration. In a brain deprived of sugar, neurotransmitters function with decreasing efficacy. However, like all systems, there is too much of a good thing: sugars trigger a reward response in the brain as a result of our evolution favouring energy-rich foods (the less time one spends eating, the more time can be directed at other activities), and excessive sugars can damage the hippocampus’ ability to form memories as well as creating addictions. In moderation, however, the occasional sweet provides benefits.

  • While Maya longs to try her hand at chess, Chino is looking to swim. She and Maya decide on racing a little, and when Megu wishes to join, she sinks instantly after trying to catch up to the pair, requiring that Rize rescue her. This moment serves to indicate that Rize is in excellent condition, enough to look after student  with reliability, but it also sets in motion one of the lingering questions that always appears whenever discussions turn towards the future.

  • It turns out that Megu had been feeling a little left behind after seeing Maya and Chino pursue their futures so earnestly – this is a natural part of life as people reach a milestone, and one of the things I’ve always tried to keep in mind is that life is not a sprint, but rather, a marathon. It is not necessary to compare oneself to others because everyone’s circumstances are different, and so, the folks who look like they’re behind won’t always be on the backfoot. Focusing on one’s own progress is the way to go, and it appears that Megu’s definitely understood this.

  • For Rize, Megu, Chino and Maya, it’s been about a year since they last visited the pool together as a group. For us viewers, it’s closer to six-and-a-half years since the first season saw them doing this – when I first saw Rize keeping an eye in Chimame, it would’ve been during the summer of 2014. At the time, the Giant Walkthrough Brain project was underway, and I would watch GochiUsa during lunch breaks. This project turned out to be an unprecedented success, paving the way for my graduate thesis and professional interest in iOS development. GochiUsa did have an impact on how I implemented the Unity app powering the Giant Walkthrough Brain, and as such, the series holds a special place in my heart for this reason, on top of its excellent and moving life lessons.

  • Upon returning to Rabbit House, Cocoa, Sharo and Chiya confront Rize – because she’s done so much for everyone, the three have cooked a special homemade dinner for her, featuring things like a hearty meat’n’potatoes, fried chicken and Hamburg steak, rounded off with stir-fried bean sprouts. It’s a joyful evening for the group of friends, who have definitely shown their appreciation to all that Rize’s done for them. Of the characters, Rize’s often been seen as the most independent and capable of driving her own growth: she’s shown to always be taking the initiative to explore new directions, such as taking on roles in a play, or shopping for different clothes to experiment with her appearance, but it is ultimately with everyone’s influence that Rize comes to be comfortable with her identity, enjoying both military-related topics alongside things that teenaged girls find engaging.

  • This get-together is set in the private kitchen of Rabbit House: most events had previously been set outside in the main area, and so, this serves to remind viewers that this is a bit more of an intimate dinner, showing how close everyone’s gotten since GochiUsa‘s beginning. According to the official TV guidebook, Memorial Blend, the kitchen is located towards the back of Rabbit House on the second floor, and a quick glance at the floor plans the guidebook provides shows that there are a total of three bedrooms. As such, during her stay at Rabbit House, Rize must’ve shared a space with Cocoa.

  • While the others help to clean up, Rize falls asleep, having become exhausted after a full day’s worth of activities. When Cocoa makes to give Rize a stamp, she reawakens, similar to how Cocoa responds to the phrase onee-chan. Rize’s father has arrived to pick Rize up, and as they head home, there’s a bit of an awkward silence between the two. Motor vehicles have not been seen in GochiUsa with too much frequency, but since Rize’s father owns a car, viewers can finally ascertain that, since the car is a left-handed drive, the series is almost certainly set in France. The location of the wood-framed town in GochiUsa had always remained something of a mystery, and while the extended materials indicate the town was modelled on Colmar in France, the series mixes in German signage and Japanese currency. Ultimately, the location of GochiUsa isn’t as relevant as what such a unique setting does for the series.

  • When Rize’s father explains himself, it makes it clear that Rize’s path to the future is paved. This week’s episode is in the books, and I’ve got one more post lined up for this month on Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear. I went for a brief walk earlier this morning to take in the brisk air of a sunny late November morning, and this afternoon, the goal will be to put up our Christmas tree after polishing off a chicken pot pie and garlic bread. November’s passed by very quickly, and it’s now the final month of the first year to the new decade. Besides my episodic BLOOM and Road to Berlin posts, I plan on starting the month with posts for The Division 2‘s Schaeffer Manhunt, as well as Halo 4 once I’ve finished the game.

In an episode focused on Rize, BLOOM continues to explore the idea that meetings with others are important. For Rize, her meeting with Chino sets the stage for her to befriend Cocoa, Maya and Megu, as well, which has a tangible impact on her career choices. This is something that people can universally relate to: there are certain individuals in everyone’s lives that have made the present possible, and the future feasible. BLOOM thus indicates that those moments are worth treasuring, and no moment is too small to make memories out of. This week’s episode marks a return to the more down-to-earth setup that GochiUsa typically portrays, and while featuring no supernatural elements or uncommonly distinct scenery as last week’s Halloween episode had, the episode continues to be engaging and joyful to watch. GochiUsa masterfully combines the extraordinary and the mundane to do what very few slice-of-life series can do. In this way, BLOOM represents the progression of the moé genre towards a much more mature and meaningful direction: fluffy moé series have long been counted as being little more than cathartic entertainment or light-hearted comedy, but of late, it’s become apparent that such series utilise their setting to explore a variety of life lessons in a gentle, optimistic fashion. The goal of series like GochiUsa is no longer solely to make viewers laugh out loud or relax, but on top of this, consider important lessons in life. As the world continues hurtling along at a breakneck pace, there are times when these lessons are forgotten in our haste for progress: series like GochiUsa can remind viewers to take a step back and count our blessings, to be thankful for the things that we often take for granted.

2 responses to “Stamp, Sleep, Study, Smile: Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? BLOOM Eighth Episode Impressions and Review

  1. LuckyLaki December 3, 2020 at 07:33

    Rize is one of my favorite characters of the series, which is no easy task when every character is so likeable and well fleshed out! But this episode really summed up how dependable and motivating she’s been to her friends over the course of the series, training and guiding them through so much. She’s tough on the outside but truly caring! It’s a massive summation of her self realization and bonds with the others that she’s decided to become a teacher.

    I also found myself really relating to Megu in regards to fearing your friends are leaving you behind. It seems like the focused and coolheaded Chino and the bright and determined Maya are already at full speed to their futures, but Megu realizes that she’ll move at her pace and that’s always reassuring to learn.

    Like

    • infinitezenith December 5, 2020 at 21:48

      This episode did give the impression that of everyone, Megu’s probably been the least confident about what her future entails, and it felt like she’s attending the fancier of the high schools because that’s the school her mother went to, as well. It was therefore a nice touch to see Rize, Maya and Chino reassure Megu that she’s free to do things her own way, as a mark of their friendship.

      Similarly, for Rize, this was such a heartwarming episode: I think that GochiUsa had not been particularly subtle about Rize’s career choice, but seeing it firmly established was incredibly satisfying!

      Like

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