The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

Slow Loop: Review and Reflections After Three

“We never lose our loved ones. They accompany us; they don’t disappear from our lives. We are merely in different rooms.” –Paulo Coelho

On the first day of school, Koharu is disappointed to learn that she and Hiyori are going to be in different classes, while Hiyori is relieved she’s in the same class as Koi, a friend she’d known since pre-school. After classes end, Hiyori takes Koharu to the fishing shop Koi’s family owns, and picks up an all-in-one fishing kit here. The two later visit a lighthouse that Hiyori’s father had once taken her to, and here, Hiyori gifts the all-in-one fishing kit to Koharu. To get Koharu up to speed with fly fishing, Hiyori arranges for a fishing trip with Koi and her father: the latter is very fond of fishing to the point of occasionally forgetting about his family, and while Koharu is unable to catch anything, she is able to speak to Koi and encourages her to look out for Hiyori in her own way. Later, Hiyori learns that Koharu had lost her mother and younger brother in an accident, and despite having lived with one another for a few weeks, Koharu is a little distant with Hiyori’s mother. To this end, Koharu suggest going on a camping trip together with Koi’s family, too. Here, Hiyori realises that fishing of late’s been considerably more enjoyable, but struggles to find the words to thank Koharu, while Koharu catches her first-ever fish and savours it, before helping out with dinner. During the meal preparations, Koharu finds that she’s able to speak with Hiyori’s mother quite naturally, and Hiyori makes an attempt to know Koharu’s father better, as well. As the evening comes to a close, Koharu and Hiyori stargaze together. When Hiyori wonders if her father would recognise her as she is know, Koharu replies that so long as she smiles, things will be fine. Koharu herself grows excited about the prospect of returning to their campsite in the autumn, when the foliage is painted in hues of oranges and yellows. Here at Slow Loop‘s third episode, it is apparent that family will form the focus of this latest Manga Time Kirara adaptation, with fishing being a secondary aspect that gives the characters common ground to build shared experiences and memories from.

Both the second and third episodes provide exposition into how each of Koharu and Hiyori handled loss; Hiyori sought to understand her father better by continuing to fish, while Koharu pushes herself to be more outgoing and bring joy into the lives of those around her to the best of her ability. When these opposites meet, the end result is a sort of synergy: Hiyori is able to appreciate her father’s hobby more fully, while Koharu ends up being able to share her energy with someone. Unlike Tamayura, which presented things in a much slower and measured manner, Slow Loop‘s portrayal is considerably more spirited in nature; different people respond to loss and grief differently, and Slow Loop sets itself apart by showing viewers both the fact that people are quite resilient, but it is together that one is able to really take those difficult steps forward. The fact that Hiyori and Koharu share quite a bit in common (regarding their backgrounds) means that both are well-placed to help one another out, and I imagine that it is possible that there will come a point in Slow Loop where Hiyori will need to step up and encourage Koharu, as well. The idea of being there for one another, in both good times and the bad, is what makes a family: Koi makes this abundantly clear by saying that what a family outwardly appears to be isn’t the whole picture, and while Slow Loop‘s been quite gentle insofar, Koi’s remarks means that there will be points where Koharu and Hiyori encounter challenges, or even clash. However, in typical Manga Time Kirara spirit, whether it be through introspection or support from others (usually, a combination of both), the relationship that Koharu and Hiyori will come out all the stronger. With these directions in mind, Slow Loop has proven to be unexpectedly mature in its portrayal, and at this point in time, it is evident the series has what it takes to differentiate itself from its precursors.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Although Koharu isn’t in Hiyori’s class, she manages to hit it off with her classmates almost immediately. Hiyori, on the other hand, is glad to have ended up in the same class as her friend, Koi. The dramatic contrast in Hiyori and Koharu’s personalities are mirrored in their classroom arrangements; Koharu has no trouble with new people and appears to fit right in, while Hiyori is given a quieter setting where she’s able to be reassured by the fact she’s with someone she knows. After their first day of class, Hiyori decides to take Koharu around to some of the places she frequents.

  • As the daughter of a fishing fanatic, Koi works at a fishing store and is familiar with all of the gear that Hiyori could require in-field. Koi’s known Hiyori since pre-school, and consequently, Koi understands her quite well. Koi is voiced by Tomomi Mineuchi (Eiko Tokura of Slow Start Ilulu from Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid,  and GochiUsa‘s Kano), although in appearance and personality, she’s similar to Ano Natsu de Matteru‘s Remon Yamano or perhaps Please Teacher!‘s Ichigo Monino: all characters have a quiet but somewhat mischievous disposition.

  • Viewers are given an introduction to the different types of lures: Koi classifies them into four groups (dry, nymphs, wet and streamers) based on the type of organism they’re supposed to mimic and correspondingly, the type of fish they’re intended to catch. Most guides I’ve found on a cursory search give three distinct categories, omitting the wet lure. Wet lures are stated to be a hybrid between streamers and nymphs: they float in the water, whereas dry lures sit on top of the water.

  • Although Koi’s name is evocative of the koi, a kind of Amur Carp, she explains that the kanji for her name is actually written as love (恋): it turns out on the day of her birth, her father had rushed off to fish, leaving her mother to give birth. Koi’s father is portrayed as being obsessed with fishing, and he often leaves Koi to run the store while he runs off to fish after her classes end for the day. This sort of behaviour has given some viewers trouble by making the show “unrealistic”, but for me, exaggerated traits are a signature part of Manga Time Kirara series.

  • The goal of characters like Koi and her father are to remind viewers that this is a world where both Koharu and Hiyori have experienced people in their corner. Since we are early in the series, the worth of people like Koi’s father won’t be immediately apparent, but as Slow Loop wears on, the additional expertise will become valuable. It turns out that Hiyori had wanted to pick up a special all-in-one fly fishing lure kit. The close interactions between Koi and Hiyori is such that Koi has a special name for Hiyori: “Yamahi”. This came from the fact there were two Yamakawas back during pre-school.

  • This revelation imparts a bit of jealousy in Koharu, who becomes a bit pouty after learning of this fact. Koharu continues to give off Cocoa vibes in Slow Loop, and like Cocoa, Koharu’s mood is quick to change: all jealousy evaporates when Hiyori reveals that she’d had one more destination in mind for their time together: a spot that she and her father had once visited together. Along the way, Koharu remarks on how it’s so nice that the ocean is within a stone’s throw. Koharu’s love for the ocean brings to mind Aoi and Chiaki’s response to the fact that Rin was sending so many ocean photos back to everyone in Yuru Camp△ – the ocean is especially beautiful to those who live in landlocked areas.

  • Different anime utilise different approaches when it comes to how they portray characters relative to their environments. Anime with simple backgrounds and characters that stand out indicate to viewers that the characters are the focus, while anime where the backgrounds are richly detailed remind viewers that the setting is also important; in offering something unique for the characters (such as the ocean’s bounty, or untamed natural beauty) to the extent where it can be considered a character in its own right. This was the case in anime like Yuru Camp△ and Houkago Teibou Nisshi. Here in Slow Loop, the latter seems to hold true.

  • Because the background is portrayed as being quite vibrant, it is significant to the story. I had indicated a few weeks earlier that that Slow Loop was set in Kanagawa: upon spotting this lighthouse, I turned my location hunting skills to use and did a query for all of the lighthouses in Kanagawa. This quickly allowed me to narrow the setting to Yokosuka, as this particular lighthouse is Kannonzaki Lighthouse. While not quite rural (Yokosuka has a population of 409 hundred thousand as of 2017), there is a corner of the city near the lighthouse that is a little less built-up. Knowing that Hiyori and Koharu live within walking distance of Kannonzaki Lighthouse makes location-hunting a little easier, and I just might return to do such a post in the future if Slow Loop presents enough places of interest.

  • It turns out that the all-in-one lure kit Hiyori bought was for Koharu, as a way of really welcoming her into the family and further kindle her interest in fly fishing. With her excitement still in full swing, Koharu accepts a chance to go fly fishing with Hiyori, Koi and her father. Koi’s father is all too happy to accept the chance to go out and fish, although Koi herself is less enthused by the excursion.

  • On the day of the fishing trip, Koi comes with an umbrella and is content to sit things out while her father, Hiyori and Koharu fish. It suddenly strikes me that Koharu’s got a very adorable-looking hat: it’s reminiscent of a lop-eared bunny, and coupled with the chibi art style, really accentuates the fact that Slow Loop, no matter how serious conversations might get, at the end of the day, such series are about finding the joys in life and putting a smile on viewers’ face.

  • Chibi moments like these serve to give every character more personality, and Slow Loop has utilised the transition between its normal art and chibi art to really convey how someone feels in a moment. Koharu is raring to get the party started; although she’s quite motivated and determined, poor form as a result of her still being new to fly fishing means she gets nothing.

  • On the other hand, with her experience, Hiyori begins picking fish up almost immediately. When Koharu finds herself skunked by the fly fishing, she stops to take a break and starts up a conversation with Koi. As it turns out, Koi had been worried about Hiyori ever since Hiyori’s father had passed away, but never felt it was her place to support and encourage Hiyori. Seeing Koharu come in so casually and lifting Hiyori’s spirits makes Koi wish that she’d done more for Hiyori.

  • While Koi had been doing her best to be considerate, Koharu has no such context and is therefore able to act without treading around eggshells. Seeing the change in Hiyori once Koharu shows up is ultimately encouraging for Koi, who is able to take a step forwards, as well. To accentuate this, once Koi comes to realise that she can still be there for Hiyori in her own way, similarly to how Koharu’s brightened Hiyori’s world up, she puts her umbrella away and steps out of the shadows, into the light.

  • This sort of thing was common in Tamayura, where Fū’s friends worry about whether or not the smallest thing could cause Fū grief in the beginning. However, the combination of Fū’s own open-mindedness and her friends’ unwavering support means that Fū is able to not only stand of her own accord, but flourish, too. Slow Loop does seem to be going in this direction; because of the positive energy Koharu brings to the table, Hiyori’s become excited at having a fishing partner, someone to share in her (and by extension, her father’s) love of the ocean.

  • By having Koi come to see how Hiyori’s begun taking those same steps that Fū had, Slow Loop both sets in motion Hiyori’s growth, as well as removing one more obstacle that keeps Koi from being her true self. In a Manga Time Kirara series, this means that Koi will likely become more expressive, resulting in interactions between herself, Hiyori and Koharu that are more consistent with the gentle, fluffy and humourous tone that Manga Time Kirara works are best known for.

  • The biggest surprise in Slow Loop so far was learning that Koharu’s background is at least as tragic as that of Hiyori’s, but in spite of this, she’s able to put on a smile and brighten up Hiyori’s day anyways. I expect that this will be something left for future episodes: for now, Hiyori’s the person who’s growing, and as Hiyori becomes increasingly able to stand of her own accord, she’d be able to support Koharu on the days where she’s not at the top of her game. For now, however, Koharu is all smiles, and she’s able to reminisce about her family without becoming saddened.

  • Koharu understands that the process isn’t going to take place overnight, but because there’s a distance between herself and Hiyori’s mother, she longs to close that distance over time. Like Sayomi and Nadeshiko, Koharu believes that adventure is the key to this, and ends up booking a fishing/camping trip. Koi and her family are also invited, but Koi’s a little befuddled as to why they’re to partake even when they’re not family. However, Koi’s father immediately jumps on the chance, seeing it as another chance to go fishing.

  • Slow Loop‘s use of familiar elements initially can come across as being derivative, but the activity isn’t the star of the show here; even assuming this was to be the case, my discussions would veer towards the differences in how Slow Loop and Houkago Teibou Nisshi portray fishing; one key difference is that Houkago Teibou Nisshi purely has the girls fishing from the breakwater (shore fishing), and Slow Loop portrays boat fishing. For now, however, Hiyori must first get the boat into the water, and while she’s done it before, it was adorable to see her struggle with Koharu in the boat.

  • In the end, the pair end up over the lake despite Koharu’s inexperience with rowing. Boat fishing offers numerous advantages over fishing from land: for one, range is improved, and one can hit spots that are otherwise inaccessible on land. However, fishing from the shore has less setup and teardown. In Houkago Teibou Nisshi, Hina and the Breakwater Club fish from the shore exclusively because their home, Sashiki, is a fishing town: there’d be a lot of commercial boats on the water, making it difficult for the Breakwater Club to head out into open water. Conversely, Slow Loop has Hiyori and Koharu do a combination of both kinds of fishing, acting as a metaphor for how different approaches and tools both have their pluses and minuses.

  • While Hiyori and Koharu enjoy lunch, Hiyori (somewhat insensitively) brings up fishing superstitions that leave Koharu disappointed. Here, I will note that insofar, discussions on Slow Loop have been fairly limited: the larger blogs I visit don’t appear to be writing about this series. While I normally welcome discussions, especially for the hotter series, slice-of-life anime are something I’d prefer to watch in a vacuum: I’ve never received a satisfactory answer as to why people take these anime so seriously, and discussions inevitably devolve into attempts to psychoanalyse even the most minor of actions the characters take.

  • Far from reading between the lines, such discussions invariably miss the big-picture message the work was originally intended to go for. Attempts to bring topics like philosophy and psychology into Manga Time Kirara works is therefore of limited value at best, and I’ve found that characters’ interactions and intentions in these series should be taken at face value. Here, a sudden rainfall forces Koharu and Hiyori to take cover under some branches by the shore. Hiyori thinks to herself that of late, thanks to Koharu’s presence, fishing has become much more enjoyable: it’d taken Rin two full seasons of Yuru Camp△ to appreciate this, so to see Slow Loop not-so-slowly convey this to viewers is a clear indicator of where this series intends to go.

  • Although Hiyori isn’t quite able to openly thank Koharu yet, the weather unexpectedly becomes pleasant again, and while Hiyori suggests returning to shore, she spots a few fish underneath the water. She seizes the moment and asks Koharu to ready her line while she prepares a lure. Earlier, Koi had set the condition that in order to partake in dinner with the others, each of Hiyori and Koharu needed to catch something. For Hiyori, this isn’t a problem, but Koharu is still a novice who has yet to catch anything. Feeling like she should return the favour to Koharu, Hiyori swiftly gears up.

  • In the end, Koharu is able to catch her first fish, following suggestions from Hiyori. This is a milestone moment for Koharu, who can now be said to be hooked on fly fishing. Unlike Hina, who’d outright fainted at the prospect of having to gut and clean a fresh catch, Koharu is much more accepting of the process, and again, this is an aspect to Slow Loop that differentiates it from other series of its lineage. It takes no small measure of subtlety to really appreciate slice-of-life series; for those unfamiliar with the genre, all slice-of-life series feel similar and are about “nothing”.

  • This couldn’t be further from the truth, and it does take a bit of open-mindedness to be open to what slice-of-life series are intended to convey. This is the reason why I am such a staunch defender of slice-of-life anime: these aren’t series that can be graded on conventional metrics, and their worth comes from whether or not they are able to present a meaningful message about life itself. Back in Slow Loop,. Koharu wonders if this fish’s experience is akin to being burnt at the stake. For a fluffy and cheerful individual, Koharu certainly has no qualms about speaking her mind, and this has led some to wonder if she’s quick to antagonise those around her for this.

  • I’d counter that in Manga Time Kirara series, character traits are exaggerated for comedy’s sake. If it is indeed necessary to explore this side of Koharu’s character later, then I will consider Koharu’s loose lips later on. Like the Breakwater Club’s doctrine in Houkago Teibou Nisshi (“eat what you catch”), Hiyori observes the idea that one should eat their catch to appreciate what goes into it. There’s a barbeque facility at the camp site, making it easy for Koharu to prepare her fish and eat it, as she says, as one would in a manga. The technique of eating fish this way is known as shioyaki, a practise that has been along for a very long time.

  • By evening, the families prepare to set up a hearty dinner. Thanks to Koharu, an acqua pazza soon takes shape. With the rainbow trout salted and grilled shioyaki-style, Koharu adds Manila clams and cherry tomatoes. Once the flavours get to know one another, the dish is done. The fact that Koharu is so knowledgable about cooking impresses Hiyori’s mother, who comments that Hiyori’s father had always been the cook, and after his passing, they’d gotten by on convenience store meals. In no time at all, cooking allows Hiyori’s mother and Koharu to bond.

  • The portrayal of camping in Slow Loop brings back memories of last year’s Yuru Camp△ 2: at this time last year, the third episode had just aired. Rin spent the day with Nadeshiko in Hamamatsu and explained her reasons for enjoying solo camping – Yuru Camp△ is one of those series where every episode offered something distinct to talk about, and I did episodic discussions for the second season during its airing. For Slow Loop, I’ve elected to write about it with my usual frequency (every three episodes). While World’s End Harem has proven interesting, the setup means that I might write a single post about it once it’s over – there’s a lot of moving parts right now with this one. On the other hand, Girls’ Frontline has been a bit of a disappointment insofar; the series has not established its characters well yet, and I’m not sure where this series intends to go.

  • Back in Slow Loop, seeing Koharu taking the initiative spurs Hiyori to do the same, and here, she offers a bowl of acqua pazza to Koharu’s father. After dinner’s done, Hiyori and Koharu decide to go star-gazing, where, away from the city lights, they’re able to spot Ursa Major in all of its glory, plus the Milky Way itself. While a stunning sight to behold, one reminiscent of how Ao and Mira had met in Koisuru Asteroid, a quick look around light pollution charts around Japan suggests that such gorgeous skies would be outside the realm of possibility nearest the larger cities.

  • It is under the vast night sky where Koharu explains how she’s able to put one foot in front of the other despite what’d happened in her past: keep smiling, because even though those around her might be gone, they’ll still be able to remember her smile from the other side. What Koharu means that her mother, and Hiyori’s father, would’ve wanted them to keep on moving forwards in their lives, to keep finding things to smiling about (i.e. make new memories). This is the sort of thing that Tamayura had particularly excelled at, and with Koi joining the group, I’m rather curious to see when Ichika, Futaba, Aiko, Niji and Tora enter the picture. In the meantime, speaking of enjoying family time, we’ve just picked up some Southern Fried Chicken and fries, and I’ve not sat down to a dinner of this sort since the New Year began, so it’s time to go ahead and enjoy this to the fullest extent possible on this unexpectedly warm but blustery winter’s night.

With this being said, Slow Loop‘s incorporation of elements from other slice-of-life series, like Houkago Teibou Nishi, Yuru Camp△, Tamayura and Koisuru Asteroid means presenting to viewers a familiar experience. Whether or not this is a bad thing will depend on the individual: amongst the community, some folks contend that if something is “generic”, it counts as a strike against a given work. For me, this isn’t ever a problem: treading on previously explored territory allows an anime to quickly establish its premise, and this in turn provides more time to focus on what the work intended to convey. In other words, whether or not a work contains derivative elements is irrelevant to me: what matters is how well said work can deliver a relevant, meaningful message. Here in Slow Loop, Hiyori and Koharu’s dynamic had previously been seen in Yuru Camp△‘s Rin and Nadeshiko, while the events forming the backdrop for Slow Loop‘s story is similar to Tamayura‘s. Hence, viewers can reasonably expect that Slow Loop would be a story of opposite personalities coming together to drive individual growth. However, because the setup is quite distinct from those of Yuru Camp△ and Tamayura, Slow Loop provides an opportunity to show something neither of these works focused on: how the combination of Koharu’s cheerful, happy-go-lucky personality and Hiyori’s introspective, quiet traits complement the other in a way as to allow both characters to come to terms with their losses, support one another and ultimately, step forward together. I’ll admit that this was something I wasn’t expecting from Slow Loop based on its synopsis alone, but now that we’ve seen three episodes, I am looking forwards to seeing how this anime explores more challenging topics about handling loss and grief while at the same time, continuing to remind viewers to be appreciative of the smaller things in life, like sharing a meal with loved ones.

22 responses to “Slow Loop: Review and Reflections After Three

  1. Piglet the Grate January 22, 2022 at 03:37

    My primary fear of _Slow Loop_ ending in disappointment is that it will be like _Super Cub_ : the final episode of the cour *not* announcing Season 2. The lesser fear is the show turning into a weird _Eromanga Sensei_ type rom-com. Unlikely, but I can almost guarantee that the reviewer assigned by a certain website will try to “ship” Hiyori and Koharu, since she did the same for Fuuka and Kokuru in _Aquatope_ (that thankfully never happened). A more than sisterly relationship between Hiyori and Koharu would feel like a betrayal, but not to the extent of _Usagi Drop_ after the time skip (yuck).

    Derivative? At times _Slow Loop_ feels like an isekai where Rin and Nadeshiko from _Yuru CampΔ_ have been transformed into Hiyori and Koharu, respectively. The stargazing scene was particularly evocative. But there are enough differences that I call it as inspiration and not plagiarism.

    Liked by 1 person

    • infinitezenith January 23, 2022 at 22:12

      To be frank, I’m not too sure if Super Cub will get a second season: it certainly is deserving on the merits of its story and presentation, and seeing Koguma’s adventures continue with Shii and Reiko would be welcomed. However, I imagine that Japanese sales would determine if we’d get a continuation. As for Slow Loop, we’re early in the game, but I think on virtue of the fact that the manga is ongoing, there should be sufficient material for a continuation, provided that there is demand to show Connect that they can turn a profit with a second season.

      As far as where Slow Loop is headed, I am skeptical that things will go down a path of romance. The third episode showed that Koharu has a similar background as Hiyori, and this alone means there is plenty of room for the two to support one another as siblings would. I’m not sure where this other reviewer is coming from; the themes in Slow Loop clearly say romance is off the table, and I have a feeling this reviewer in question is going to be left a trifle disappointed when the series doesn’t go the way they imagined it would.

      Finally, you nailed it: “inspiration” is the word I’m looking for! Character archetypes, as I’ve probably mentioned in my other slice-of-life series, are meant to allow viewers to become immediately familiar with individuals so the story can spend less time giving them exposition and more time on the story at hand.

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  2. David Birr January 22, 2022 at 07:13

    “…the ocean is especially beautiful to those who live in landlocked areas.”

    I’ve been reading the Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear light novels – You’re to blame for that! (Thanks). This line reminded me that when Lord Cliff is negotiating to accept Mileela [as the light novels transliterate it] into Crimonia’s territory after Yuna creates the tunnel, the seaport’s elders have trouble grasping his assurance that there will be a large influx of tourists who’ll be thrilled to view the sea. He needs to repeat it at least twice, and bring up the comparison that they admit they’d like to visit Crimonia just to look around.

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    • infinitezenith January 23, 2022 at 22:13

      I remember Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear‘s portrayal of the ocean town, which was a welcomed addition to things: if memory serves, that was just over a year ago. However, owing to how busy my schedule is, I’ve not had a gander at the light novels, and instead, are stuck waiting for the second season, whose release date is unknown. Perhaps, if luck allows it, the scene you’ve read will be adapted 🙂

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      • David Birr February 6, 2022 at 07:42

        I’m also reading the manga. Kumanano has written purely-prose omake for each volume of this, and the latest to be published in the States is exceptionally meta: Yuna and friends have been watching the anime. Misa complains about how little screen time she got, while Shia gripes that there’s no merchandise at all of her. Yuna then reveals it’s confirmed there’ll be a second season, and gives a few vague hints to the girls about how much they’ll appear.

        Excerpt:
        “What about me, Miss Yuna?”
        I stared Fina right in the face. Right, Fina is going to have some things done to her by that person.
        “Fina, it’ll be tough, but do your best. If it’s painful, take this.” I passed some stomach medicine to Fina.
        “Huh? What are you talking about? What’s going to happen to me?”
        “You’re better off not knowing.”
        “M-M-Miss Yuna?!”

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        • infinitezenith February 7, 2022 at 22:14

          It suddenly hits me that it’s been a year and some since Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear‘s first season ended, and as far as I can tell, there’s no news of when the second season will actually become available to us. This series was a fun one, and I especially enjoyed how it presented the isekai genre without following a more conventional route. I certainly hope that Fina will get the appropriate amount of time in the second season: her contributions in the first were what shaped Yuna into who she is now; fingers crossed that at the very least, we’ll see her from time to time!

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  3. Michael E Kerpan January 22, 2022 at 09:48

    Since Tamayura is one of my (honorary) top 5 anime series, a series which can evoke the same sort of feelings as that show is tremendously welcome. I have a great appreciation for SoL (or any others, for that matter) that place their main characters in not just a richly detailed geographical setting — but in an equally rich social setting. Including parents, siblings, friends, neighbors, storekeepers, etc — in a way that we can feel joy with every encounter with each. Such shows strike me as incredibly rare — so I treasure every one that shows up.

    I strongly doubt that this show will feature any “teen romance” of any sort. Koi is jealous of Koharu not from romantic feelings — but because SHE has been (in effect) Hiyori’s “sister” for all these years — and she initially fears her special relationship might be supplanted. But it seems clear that Koharu’s charm did not take long to win Koi over to the notion that having two wonderful “sisters” might not be a bad thing after all.

    This show is part of my top 3 of the season — along with Police in a Pod (as overlooked as it is beautifully written and “acted”) and the 3rd season of Takagi-san (where Shodoshima is lovingly depicted — and the very slowly developing relationship of our main characters is utterly delightful). I don’t think I’ll have 10 or so “loved” shows (as in the last couple of seasons) — but I am hoping for 5 or 6 (and it is still possible). But I find it unimaginable for these top 3 to be supplanted — and they are sufficiently different from each other that I feel no need to rank them against each other competitively.

    I really don’t care much for the ultimately dismissive term CGDCT which is so often slapped on shows like Slow Loop. After all, the best of these shows involve so much more than “cute things”. What makes them worth seeing is that the characters are often doing things that are interesting (and which they pursue with vigor — even when they spend a lot of time drinking tea — or the like). And the shows typically involve quite a lot of deep feelings (including sadness) and focus on building and strengthening bonds with others (often beyond the scope of the principal characters).

    I come to SoL anime from a prior love of the sort of Japanese cinema that centered around ordinary people doing mostly ordinary things (and dealing with ordinary problems). Although most of these focused mostly on adults, in some cases they focused on children (including teens). So I really see this sort of anime as an integral part of Japanese culture stretching back almost a century. I really do think that it enhances my enjoyment to see them this way. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • folcwinepywackett9604 January 22, 2022 at 10:59

      Very much my history with SoL. I fell in love with Japanese movies after seeing “Alakazam the Great”. Most Japanese stories feature a large cast of characters like “The Tale of Genji” by Murasaki Shikibu. There are over 400 characters in that story! Samurai movies are certainly filled with action but most of the story is the characters in the Clan and their interactions with each other. There are so many characters in “Legend of the Galactic Heroes” one needs a player program to keep track. And the story is not afraid to kill off MC’s. “Chūshingura: Hana no Maki, Yuki no Maki”(1962) runs something like 4 hours and there is only the final fight scene at the end. Most of the story time is spent on the 47 Ronin and their relationships. Anyone who puts “Takagi-san…”(3) on their list is a true connoisseur of Japanese story time!

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    • infinitezenith January 23, 2022 at 22:23

      For me, slice-of-life is a genre that celebrates the mundane and the process; I’ve come to realise that this is what I look for most in my entertainment. Outside of anime, I favour television shows dealing with ordinary folks with a definitive skill and/or passion for something. Whether it’s Les Stroud’s Survivorman, Steven Rinella’s MeatEater or Discovery’s Mighty Ships, I’ve found shows like these show people in their element, showing us both the extent and limits of their knowledge. Slice-of-life anime similarly do this for me, hence my gravitation towards them.

      Every slice-of-life designated as a CGDCT series that has focused on the characters working on a concrete goal, whether it be to take better photographs, building games for a publisher, learning to compete in air rifle shooting, master Yosakoi, conquer Mount Fuji or discover an asteroid together, is a series I’ve enjoyed because of the fact that so much emphasis is placed on what happens outside of the learning. It is a little saddening that all people see are secondary school aged characters running around without a care in the world, as primary school students might without stopping to consider that learning is more than just theoretical and practical practise of a skill or idea: it also entails how one regroups and face setbacks in the process. Drinking tea happens to be one such approach 🙂

      Finally, regarding Police in a Pod and Takagi-san‘s third season, my current schedule is maxed out as it is. I’ve heard positive things about both, and in the case of the latter, I’ve actually yet to pick up the first season despite it being on my backlog since it first came out. For this season, it looks like I’m only able to keep up with writing for one series (i.e. Slow Loop) because I’ll be moving house soon, and the preparations has been quite intensive. Once I settle in and take stock, I’ll probably have a bit more time to continue watching the shows recommended to me!

      Like

      • Michael E Kerpan January 24, 2022 at 08:01

        Best wishes on your impending move. Even when I have looked forward to an impending move, I find the whole process of moving extremely unpleasant and stressful. So, I hope you have less trouble.

        As to Bisque Doll and Akebi… While Bisque Doll has some overt “naughty bits”, it has felt surprisingly wholesome overall — while Akebi, despite its overtly wholesome underlying story, feels disconcerting. In addition, I get a sense it is not at all well-grounded in reality — but rather is almost purely a work of male fantasy (using the story as an excuse for ogling middle school girls’ bodies). For instance, her grade school life strikes me as odd (well, actually, probably “impossible”). At first, when Akebi said she was always “the only student in her grade”, I imagined she was in the equivalent of a one room schoolhouse — as can be seen in other anime (and movies) — where children of various grades share the same classroom and teacher (my wife was actually in such a school, long ago in rural Wisconsin). But the series then shows she was actually in her own class by herself with her own teacher — with no sign of any children from other grades, even at recess. My sense is that things simply do not work this way in Japan. If she were really the only child left in the school, the school would have already been closed (and she would have needed to take a bus to a school several miles away). If there were other students, even younger or older, she would have been in classes with them (and had them as playmates at lunch and at recess). While Non no biyori may have had some unrealistic aspects, I see it as a true SoL, but I have a strong sense that Akebi may not qualify, that it is too disconnected with real life and too much wrapped up in fantasy masquerading as real life. We shall see…

        Liked by 1 person

        • infinitezenith January 26, 2022 at 21:52

          We’ve been immensely fortunate in our case to have secured a date, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a smooth experience. I’ll likely end up writing about how that went once the dust has settled.

          Regarding Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru, I hear this one’s taken a firm grip of the community right now, and one can hardly take a step without hearing about it. I’m going to let the dust settle before determining whether or not this one joins my watch-list.

          Akebi’s Sailor Uniform, on the other hand, is a casualty of my procrastination tendencies. I was hoping to start that one to see how it feels, but things are a little hectic right now, so I’ll get to it as time allows. The one-student classroom might be a convoluted metaphor for something, but having yet to see the series for myself, I won’t be able to say anything useful just yet.

          Like

  4. folcwinepywackett9604 January 22, 2022 at 11:22

    “Slow Loop” is very enjoyable and is certainly on my watchlist. I would also suggest this season that “Takagi-san” (3) is just a delight (we have a confession!), “My Dress-up Darling” is a very fun Fish out of Water Rom-Com and cuts across many standard anime tropes, i.e the Gyaru is not a mean bully, but a real sweet-heart who likes the nerd. But “Akebi’s Sailor Uniform” is really something special. Some of the same artists who worked on “Super Cub” are involved. Akebi does something with her lips “The Lip Balm” scene that defies even a definition. Extremely sensual and invokitive. But I could not explain what that means because I don’t even understand my reactions to it. There is an extremely beautiful, but strange hyper-pace to this story. Kinda like Renge and Shiori discussing the metaphysics of “what is really round”!!! Akebi has a very hyper-cube reflection back upon the girl’s school story line.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael E Kerpan January 22, 2022 at 12:38

      Bisque Doll (Dress Up Darling) and Akebi-chan are the next in line (along with Tokyo 24th Ward — provisionally). Bisque Doll is the surest bet — because I remain worried that the Akebi manga’s level of fan service gaze at middle-schoolers might manifest in the anime eventually.

      Liked by 1 person

      • folcwinepywackett9604 January 24, 2022 at 08:49

        I understand your point! Bisque Doll has obvious fan service like in your face level, but the Marin Gyaru character is so appealing, not just physically, but in her principles also, that she comes across as someone you would like to be friends with. The nerd Gojo tells her not to hang with him or she will get a bad rep, but she gets angry and says “why cannot I be friends with you?” This Marin character is taking many blogs and fan sites by storm “Best girl of the year, etc”
        On the other hand, Akebi-chan is very subtle, and there has been no obvious fan service, and yet it has at least in me a very strange affect which I tried to explain clumsily! I know that in ch 56 of the manga, the two girls talk about falling in love with each other, under the guise of the drama club, and yet the ending panel of 56 shows nothing more than a mountain and two mayflies mating! So yeah, the anime seems to be following the manga closely, and at three episodes per 10 manga chapters, will probably not reach at least to that point without a second season.
        I also wanted to mention that I took your suggestion about “Heike Monogatari” and it is indeed stunning. But I stopped during the Holiday season as I was not in the mood for a Greek Tragedy. The story of the Heike cannot be spoiled because from the very first episode, the anime itself is forecasting it’s own tragic ending with the two double eyes. I think Lent will be the best time to restart the Heike. Very beautiful and powerful work but one cannot escape their fate of those who live on as Heike Crabs.

        Like

        • folcwinepywackett9604 January 24, 2022 at 09:03

          Thank you for the Heike recommendation, and also Akebi-chan are High-Schoolers.

          Like

          • folcwinepywackett9604 January 24, 2022 at 09:11

            Best not to shoot one’s mouth off before the brain is in gear. You are right, they are Middle-schoolers in Akebi-chan. But they look and act like High School age. Middle school for me was Grammar School so I guess I am way out of touch being out to lunch.

            Like

          • Michael E Kerpan January 24, 2022 at 14:46

            It is worth reading the Royall Tyler translation of Heike Monogatari along with watching the anime. It adds a lot of material (and a different perspective at times). The original tale is really VERY Buddhist (and especially the ending).
            I am going to keep as open a mind on Akebi-chan as possible overall — but I will probably stick with my assessment that it is NOT a reality-based SoL — whatever it turns out to be.

            Liked by 1 person

            • folcwinepywackett9604 January 27, 2022 at 08:44

              I have placed the book on order and look forward to reading it. The name “Royall Tyler” seemed to be familiar and then realized that this translator also translated “The Tale of Genji” which I had read some 10 or 12 years ago. Thanks for the reference. Will let you know somehow when I finish both book and anime.

              Like

    • infinitezenith January 23, 2022 at 22:27

      Takagi-san‘s third season is on my radar: once I get off my procrastinating rear and clear a few more shows from my backlog, this one’s going next, since I’ve heard numerous positive things about this series. As for Akebi’s Sailor Uniform, I’ve actually been curious to watch this one, too: the premise is right up my alley. However, as I’ve noted to Michael E Kerpan, I’m on the cusp of moving house now, so things are a little busy. Once March passes, I’ll have a chance to settle in, and I’ll definitely keep these recommendations in mind. Similarly, on My Dress-up Darling, I’m going to let the dust settle after the move before taking it up. Again, I’ve heard good things about, so I would like to get to these shows eventually – I appreciate the recommendations!

      Liked by 1 person

      • folcwinepywackett9604 January 24, 2022 at 08:58

        Good luck on your house move! Moving is such a pain, and it gets worse as one gets older!! I am following your blog so when you settle back down and start writing again, I will be notified. Maintaining a blog is a lot of work!

        Liked by 1 person

        • infinitezenith January 26, 2022 at 21:57

          Thanks! Luckily, there isn’t a whole lot of stuff we have to move in terms of personal effects, and it’s mostly going to be furniture. I’m hoping the weather holds, so it’s not snowing on the day of. I’ll do my best to keep this place alive post-move, and will probably do a post on where this blog is headed after moving day 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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