The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

Slow Loop: Review and Reflections At The ¾ Mark

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” –Voltaire

After Koi and Futaba participate at a study session at Hiyori and Koharu’s place, Futaba reveals that she’s been wanting to take her friend, Aoki, fishing, but worries that Aoki might not be into the pursuit. To this end, they end up visiting an amusement park that allows visitors to fish, and here, Futuba is surprised to learn that Aoki has no qualms about her interests in fishing whatsoever. Although the day has been fun, Koharu’s been yearning to do more fishing, so Ichika brings everyone out to the mountains for some stream fishing. Here, after realising that their parents don’t wear their wedding rings and never really had a formal event, Koharu and Hiyori decide to do their own celebratory dinner for their parents’ wedding using the fish Koharu had caught. Later, Koharu and Hiyori visit Hiyori’s maternal grandparents in the countryside. During one excursion, Koharu gets caught in a downpour and develops a cold. Hiyori decides to cook for Koharu. Koharu recovers, to her father’s relief, and by evening, Koharu watches the summer festival fireworks with Hiyori from the quiet of Hiyori’s grandparents’ place. As autumn sets in, Koharu develops a desire to go on a trip with Hiyori, and is disappointed when her father denies this request. After talking it over with Koi, Koharu creates a proposal and does her best to assuage her father’s concerns. Koharu’s father relents, admitting that he’d also been worried about Hiyori, as well. On the day of the trip, Koi, Hiyori and Koharu set out to their campsite, where Koharu ends up successfully catching fish, and points some other fishermen to a site she’d found fruitful. After enjoying their evening meal (salt-grilled fish and steamed fish with mayonnaise and mushrooms), they prepare to turn in for the evening. Hiyori falls asleep almost immediately, while Koharu hears a story from Koi about her father, and Hiyori’s father, had encountered a bear on one of their fishing trips. Koharu has trouble falling asleep, and the next morning, is surprised that Hiyori’s cooking. The three swing by an onsen before heading home to conclude their first trip together, and Koharu hopes there’ll be a chance to do more trips of this sort in the future.

Three-quarters of the way through Slow Loop, focus has been placed on appreciating the smaller moments of family and how they drive one’s growth; the wedding dinner that Koharu and Hiyori put on for their parents shows how both have accepted their parents’ remarriage and wish to celebrate things in their own way. This small gesture is nonetheless effective in reminding both parents that their children are fully supportive of this union, as well as expressing thanks for having given the two opportunity to grow and mature as a result of getting to know one another better. Similarly, when Koharu and Hiyori visit Hiyori’s grandparents, Hiyori notices that her mother is a lot more childish the presence of her parents, while viewers gain insight into what Koharu means to her father, especially after everything that had previously occurred. This is ultimately why Koharu’s father is so reluctant to allow Koharu to camp and travel on her own; although he later admits that he also wanted to accompany Koharu and Hiyori on adventures, it cannot be easy to watch Koharu longing to walk her own path, especially when there’s the lingering concern that trouble might befall her. However, this also gives Koharu and Hiyori a chance to show how far they’ve come: by organising an itinerary and arranging for communications, they are able to put Koharu’s father at ease by indicating how they intend to do things, and what contingencies they have in event of an emergency. Indeed, once this is set up, Koharu, Hiyori and Koi are able to take that step forwards together, allowing everyone to begin finding their own place in the world by exploring it at their own pace. Both Hiyori and Koharu have matured as a result of meeting one another, and despite the loss that both have experienced, are able to slowly, but surely, find joy in the world anew. Nine episodes in, Slow Loop has done a fantastic job of conveying this, all the while incorporating both humour and tender moments to bring Hiyori and Koharu’s journey to life.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • It’s now the heart of summer, and that means Slow Loop has entered the season of long, beautiful days punctuated by a need to wrap up summer assignments. While it’s a little tricky for Koharu to focus, some choice words from Koi fires Koharu up, enough for everyone to get through their work: it’s always heartwarming to see anime characters speaking English; their effort is commendable. Futaba’s shown up, as well, and she’s actually wondering how to best introduce her friend, Aiko, to fishing.

  • As it turns out, there’s a fishing-themed amusement park nearby: if I had to guess, this would be set near UWS Aquarium Underwater Space in Yokohama, which, in reality, is located by Yokohama Cosmoworld, an amusement park. By this point in Slow Loop, it is clear that attempting to do a location hunt is not a particularly meaningful exercise. Very little emphasis has been directed towards the setting, with Hiyori, Koharu, Koi, Futaba and Ichika’s adventures taking them to generic rivers, lakes and open ocean for their experiences.

  • The conclusion arising from how Slow Loop has chosen to portray its venues indicates this is a series where the characters come first and foremost, and that what messages Slow Loop seeks to convey are universal; setting an anime in a real-world location speaks to the series’ being rooted in a world that is intended to be familiar, but generising locations shifts the focus entirely over to the characters themselves. Here, Aiko tries her hand at fishing, and with some help, manages to catch something.

  • What Aiko enjoys most are the fried fish burgers they have for lunch, bringing back a memory of last year’s Yuru Camp△ 2; Rin and the others swung by a place called Ra-Maru during their excursion to the Izu Peninsula. Although Slow Loop does not render their fish burgers quite as lovingly, Aiko’s reaction to the burger speaks volumes to its taste; a good fish burger is made with a firm fish such as salmon or tuna (flakier fish will tend to fall apart), and preferably, is either grilled or baked rather than deep-fried. After lunch ends, the group heads into the aquarium area, where Aiko reveals she has absolutely no objection to Futaba’s love of fishing.

  • As it turns out, Futaba had tried to branch out and do the sorts of things Aiko enjoyed doing, worrying that she might lose Aiko if she’d express a want to go fishing. For Aiko, this isn’t a problem; it’s always heartwarming and instructive to see how children resolve their differences, and it is with a great deal of irony that I remark most children seem to have a better sense of how conflict resolution works relative to even adults. While children have correspondingly simpler problems to deal with, the way adults handle disagreement and conflict can be downright immature, as social media constantly remind us. Once Futaba’s worries are assuaged, she and Aiko decide to get souvenirs for those deal to them; seeing how mature Futaba is causes Ichika to cry, and suddenly, Koharu wonders why she’s not this close to Hiyori yet.

  • Being an older sibling myself, I can comment on how the dynamic will vary greatly: not all siblings will be like Futaba and Ichika, Cocoa and Mocha, or Yui and Ui. Instead, shared experiences, family circumstances and personality traits determine how close siblings will be. Koharu leaves the day happy, but feeling a little salty about having not done a whole lot of fishing, so Hiyori invites her over the mountains during Obon to do some proper fishing. In the meantime, the girls enjoy a day out in the a stream so Futaba and Ichika can try their hand at fly fishing.

  • For Koharu and the viewers’ benefit, Koi explains that this stream is one that is managed: staff periodically add fish to the stream so people can fish, and because it’s a stream, different techniques will be needed to be successful. After the girls break for watermelon, Futaba is excited to point out that Ichika’s been wearing the pendant since their previous outing, and Koharu notices that her parents don’t wear their wedding bands often. This leads Hiyori and Koharu to recall that they’d never had a formal wedding ceremony. Koharu decides to catch enough fish so they can do their own mini-celebration in lieu of something more formal.

  • In the end, Koharu nails it; she and Hiyori surprise their parents with a surprise celebration at home. Anime typically celebrate gestures like these: while they might not be as extravagant or intricate as an event put on by professionals, it’s the thought that counts. Having Ichika pony up for the roses also helps: a good bouquet starts at 40 CAD and can go for as much as a hundred dollars depending on how they’re arranged and how many roses there are, so two bouquets of the sort that Hiyori’s mother and Koharu’s father receive would require at least eighty dollars.

  • Once the guests of honour are seated, Koharu prepares dinner, and Hiyuori does the serving. Koharu prepares rainbow trout meunière with the fish she’d caught, and the main course she prepares is worthy of a high-end restaurant, right down to the presentation. The meal is well-received, and Koharu hugs her father, while Hiyori and her mother share a conversation about how far Koharu’s come in fishing since they’d met. Hiyori’s mother notes that Hiyori herself has also changed somewhat, to Hiyori’s embarrassment.

  • Dinner is rounded out with a homemade wedding cake. For Hiyori’s mother and Koharu’s father, this gesture shows that both their children have fully accepted, and embraced their union. It’s a very touching moment, one of the highlights in Slow Loop for showing how everyone’s getting to know one another better. By taking this step forwards and showing that both Koharu and Hiyori are happy with their parents re-marrying, Slow Loop eliminates a potential source of conflict and therefore, is able to focus on the lead characters’ own growth.

  • Hiyori makes good on her promise to take Koharu on a fishing trip during Obon, and they hang out at Hiyori’s grandparents’ place. Koharu is surprised to see a side of Hiyori’s mother she’d not previously seen, but is even more surprised there’s a cute side to Hiyori that she’d never known about: after Koharu casts her line, Hiyori imitates the fish’s C H O M P, causing Koharu to break out into laughter over just how adorable Hiyori can be.

  • Heartwarming moments and characters whose mannerisms evoke a sense of warm fuzziness is the order of business in Manga Time Kirara works – the four-koma manga that the anime are adapted from generally feature comedy, and this particular magazine has thus developed a reputation for featuring cute series driven by gag humour and punchlines. However, this reputation is actually not a full representation of what Manga Time Kirara works are about: underneath the humour, such series deal with a wide range of topics, from expressing gratitude for the people we come to take for granted (K-On!), embracing multidisciplinary approaches (Koisuru Asteroid) and appreciating diversity (Kiniro Mosaic), to rediscovering a love of something one had given up (Harukana Receive) and enjoying an activity in new ways one never thought possible (Yuru Camp△).

  • So far, Slow Loop has aimed to show how people become closer together as a result of their shared interests in something, as well as how one’s enthusiasm and devotion to their interests can create commonality that acts as the basis for helping people know one another better. Had Koharu not met Hiyori whilst the latter was fishing, she may have never had that initial spark: meeting Hiyori in her element leads Koharu to understand her better, and this is something that is common to all Manga Time Kirara series – fateful encounters have a habit of changing one’s life for the better, and it is with an open mind that people are able to embrace this and experience things they’d hitherto never thought possible.

  • For Koharu, who’d been exceptionally skilled with cooking, being able to fish means being able to become more connected with her food and Hiyori at the same time. Houkago Teibou Nisshi had actually touched upon this – the Breakwater Club’s motto is “eat what you catch”, and being able to see every step of the process, from catching a live animal, to preparing it for consumption would enhance one’s appreciation of what goes into making a meal. While I myself am no fisher or hunter, I watch enough How It’s Made-style shows to understand the effort that goes into food production.

  • While fishing, an unexpected shower catches Hiyori and Koharu unaware. Hiyori had brought her poncho, but Koharu had left hers behind, leading her to get soaked. It’s always heart-meltingly adorable and saddening when misfortune befall anime characters in this manner, and the ponchos remind me of a moment that occurred a few days ago while I was doing some packing – I’d found the rain poncho I’d brought with me to Japan after almost five years. I had thought I’d lost it after we returned, but it was buried under clothes in my old drawer. It is a little crazy to think that in the blink of an eye, a full five years has almost elapsed since my Japan trip back in May of 2017.

  • To commemorate this, I’ll be reminiscing about this through a post on Go! Go! Nippon!; while I found out about the game through a joke video a friend had been watching, the premise intrigued me enough so I bought the game, played through it, and then picked up both the 2015 and 2016 HD expansions, which add new content. Despite having beaten the game twice, I’ve never actually written about it, so timing it to coincide with the five-year mark since I travelled to Japan seems appropriate. Back in Slow Loop, Koharu’s developed a cold as a result of getting soaked. This occurrence is common in anime despite there being no scientific evidence that the chills causes a cold: the common cold results from a rhinovirus infection, and while colder weather can increase the risk of catching a cold, it does not cause the cold. Scientific accuracy notwithstanding, one cannot help but feel bad for Koharu in this moment.

  • Having praised Koharu for taking up fishing and becoming better connected to the meals she cooks, Hiyori has similarly matured over the course of Slow Loop; seeing Koharu in this state pushes Hiyori to ask her grandmother how to cook: she ends up using the fish Koharu had caught and a bit of miso to whip up a simple, but warming dish. That this is the first thing Hiyori has made without Koharu shows that bit by bit, she’s also matured as a result of meeting Koharu.

  • While fighting off her cold, Koharu dreams about a time in her past when she’d been hospitalised, and both her mother and younger brother was still around. Slow Loop has only hinted at the fact that despite her bubbly appearance and smiles, a bit of the past lingers in Koharu, and this led me to wonder if the series will go into a little more depth behind this part of her character: it is implied here that as a child, Koharu’s health wasn’t the best, and as a result, she hardly had any time to be with her family, so her loss would’ve been especially profound.

  • When Manga Time Kirara series introduce more serious moments, they’ve traditionally done so in such a way as to maturely address the matter without breaking the easy-going atmosphere. The net effect is that Manga Time Kirara allows for trickier topics to be presented in a gentler manner for viewers. As it was, a hint of melancholy can be detected in the atmosphere after she wakes up. However, Hiyori’s fish soup warms Koharu right up, and her father shows up, relieved that Koharu’s alright. Having lost his first wife and child earlier, it is understandable that Koharu’s father would want to make sure nothing’s happened to his daughter, as well.

  • As the evening wears on, and Koharu’s strength returns to her, she and Hiyori watch the fireworks from the back porch. Koharu feels bad at having made Hiyori miss the summer festival, but Hiyori is okay with the peace and quiet. In the moment, Hiyori addresses Koharu as onee-chan, which completely perks Koharu up the same way it would for GochiUsa‘s Cocoa. To drive home this point, Koharu is adamant on hearing a now-reluctant Hiyori say onee-chan again, reminiscent of how Cocoa has tried to get these words out of Chino on several points.

  • Some time after the summer draws to a close, Koharu “runs away” after her father flat out denies her request to go camping with Hiyori and Koi in the absence of adult supervision. Koharu’s father makes a valid point, one that Koi reinforces – to enjoy the privilege of such an experience requires a certain amount of responsibility. Slice-of-life anime particularly excel in combining the presentation of relevant life lessons with a side of humour (Koharu’s tantrum is adorable), and given the audience, I am inclined to say that these moments are for parents as much as they are youth.

  • To no one’s surprise, once Koharu shows her father that she’s thought things through properly, things turn around very quickly. Something similar had happened in Koisuru Asteroid, where Ao and Mira had worked hard to convince their parents that Ao should be allowed to live with Mira while they pursue their studies and aspirations together. Honesty is the best policy, and openly having a conversation about things worked out in Ao and Mira’s favour. In Slow Loop, the stakes are lower, but Koharu’s willingness to demonstrate her responsibility is another sign of growth, that her horizons are broadening, and with it, her readiness to do things in a responsible, measured manner.

  • Thus begins Koharu’s first-ever trip without her parents: Hiyori and Koi accompany her on this journey, which takes the girls to a comfortable campground complete with small cabins. Because the focus of Slow Loop is fishing, rather than Yuru Camp△‘s emphasis on outdoors techniques and bushcraft, the series chooses to swiftly handle shelter so more time can be spent on this series’ focus. The campground is shown to be a bit of a fancier one; while it’s not quite glamping (vernacular English: “fancy-ass camping”), the site has numerous amenities including a barbeque option.

  • Despite Koi’s skill in fishing, she lacks the same passion that Hiyori and Koharu do. While the others ready their lines, Koi sets up a portable brewing apparatus for making coffee and enjoys the quiet of this afternoon in her own manner. Koi’s preferences actually bring to mind my own; although I’ve a fondness for hiking in the mountains and strolling city parks, my preference is to curl up with a good book and a lavish beverage. Simple moments like these speak volumes about the characters far more effectively than dialogue alone can, and Koi’s choosing to enjoy some hand-made coffee shows her enjoyment of quieter activities.

  • After gearing up, Hiyori and Koharu head their separate ways to catch some fish. Hiyori is immediately successful and, after heading off to check up on Koharu, finds Koharu engrossed in a catch of her own. Koharu initially had limited success until recalling advice to go somewhere the fish might be, and after she does so, her game changes completely. This moment is significant because it represents Koharu drawing on past knowledge and her own decision-making to find success: doing something for oneself is the best way to learn, and Koharu’s using past lessons shows how far she’s come since Slow Loop began.

  • Having been around the block for the duration that I have, I confirm that the best way one can demonstrate a solid understanding of a given topic is to be able help others in their learning. Although Koharu’s still a novice, she is able to offer some other campers a tip on where the fish are: she’s filled with a smugness at having been helpful to others in the aftermath that Koi rapidly picks up on, but in Koharu’s defense, it does feel excellent to help people out.

  • Koi and Hiyori greatly enjoy the salt-grilled fish that they’d caught. This is a traditional Japanese way of preparing fish, and the salt is said to enhance the fish’s natural flavours while extracting extra water, which draws out the compounds that give a fish its distinct fishy character. Koi remarks this is the definitive way to enjoy fish – while Koharu disagrees and brings out a new recipe out to show Koi the merits of more elaborate cooking, I do find that to really enjoy seafood in its glory, simplicity is the best. Yesterday, a relative dropped off freshly caught mackerel. It was prudent to enjoy these fish as soon as possible, so the mackerel was prepared for tonight’s dinner; the only thing we needed to do (after cutting the fish up) was pan-fry it with a soy sauce called 蒸魚豉油 (jyutping zing1 jyu4 si6 jau4, literally “soy sauce for steamed fish).

  • I’ve found that what works best for fish depends on the fish: lighter, flakier fish like basa and cod are best prepared with seasoning as a part of a dish, while oily fish is flavourful on its own and only requires a few seasonings to bring out their best. For Koharu, she takes some of the fish, salts it for twenty minutes, then mixes mayonnaise and miso onto the fish. On aluminium foil, onions and butter, plus white-beech mushroom, are added. The fish is then wrapped in this foil and steamed on low heat for a quarter hour. Koharu’s creativity shows there is no shortage of ways to enjoy one’s food, and moreover, a little ingenuity can create culinary works of art without too much extra effort. This is actually a clever way of using leftovers: one example that comes to mind is reusing stir-fried beef from a previous evening’s dinner and mixing it into the current day’s vegetables to liven things up.

  • Both Koi and Hiyori hit the hay immediately, leaving Koharu a little bothered that no one’s staying up for swapping ghost stories or romantic escapades: amped up after the day’s events, Koharu finds it difficult to sleep, and Koi ends up telling a true story about her father and Hiyori’s father, who’d encountered a bear on one of their trips. With thoughts of bears roaming her mind, suddenly, every noise seems an order of magnitude scarier, leaving Koharu unable to sleep. She ends up clinging to Koi for the remainder of the night. The next morning, Koi and Koharu awaken to find Hiyori cooking breakfast. I’ve never been one for staying up late, so I empathise with Koi’s desire to catch some shuteye. With this, we are now nine episodes through Slow Loop, and I’ve definitely been enjoying what this series has brought to the table.

  • I note that discussions elsewhere on this series has been limited – although absolutely adorable and presenting a wonderful story of growth through family, I find that it takes a certain mindset to really get into anime such as these. The reason why slice-of-life series, especially iyashikei anime, appeals to me is because they help me to living in the moment more: time flies, and entire days disappear when one is immersed in work. I’ve heard that perception of time accelerating comes from the lack of new experiences in one’s routine, which is why time passes more slowly when I’m travelling compared to when I’m working my way through a bug or doing housework. Watching slice-of-life anime helps me to slow things down and regroup, leaving me refreshed for my obligations, and on this note, with only three episodes left to Slow Loop, I am looking ahead to the spring season. Only two shows have my eye at this point in time: Machikado Mazoku 2-Chome and Magia Record‘s third season.

It may appear that Slow Loop has gone down a stereotypically-Manga Time Kirara route in its progression thus far; the episodes of the third quarter are purely focused on appreciating aspects of a family, whether it be expressing thanks, or looking out for one another. The lingering question of whether or not losses, and the attendant grief, have any impact on both Koharu and Hiyori appear to have been set aside for the time being, but Slow Loop also indicates, via flashbacks, that the topic remains one of relevance. As Slow Loop enters its final quarter, one does wonder if the series will introduce any surprises and cover more series topics such as being open with one’s feelings, and knowing that it’s perfectly okay to be sad once every now and then. Manga Time Kirara adaptations do have a track record of dealing with heavier matters during its final object, and while things can appear rushed because it’s condensed into the last two or three episodes, as Harukana Receive and Koisuru Asteroid had previously done, the method nonetheless remains viable because it allows a given anime to show how the joyful everyday moments intersect with more trying times, and how it is through the lessons learnt during the good times that one can weather bad times and come out the other end. Much as how Ao and Mira find a way to stay together while in pursuit of their goal to discover an asteroid, or Haruka and Kanata coming to terms with the fact that they must face off against their friends, Emily and Claire, in order for Kanata to fulfil her dream of reaching the national competition and showing to her old partner, Narumi, that she’d found her path anew, it is possible that Slow Loop may have one more surprise left in store for viewers in its final quarter. However, even if the series does not, this won’t stop it from being any less enjoyable; different authors approach a given topic differently, and the end result is an alternative perspective, a unique message about what they’d wish to say of a given matter.

2 responses to “Slow Loop: Review and Reflections At The ¾ Mark

  1. Michael E Kerpan March 6, 2022 at 20:11

    While I love our main pair of (new) sisters, I frankly love Koi even more. For me, she is sort of the MVP of this series. In a way, she is a catalyst that helps the two sisters grow (and she grows with them, of course). I really appreciated her comment that while she was not all that crazy about fishing — she loved being around people who loved fishing (except when obsessively crazed, like her father). Perhaps because she has so many more family (and business) responsibilities than her friends, she seems much more mature. I love her reserved, but deeply caring disposition. In short, she is a large component (for me) in making this show special.

    As lovely as Koisuru asteroid is, this show feels more grounded in everyday life — in that respect it feels much more like Tamayura (a feeling that has continued since the very beginning). Also the synergy between Koi, Koharu and Hiyori feels very like that between the four close friends in Tamayura. All in all, this remains a thoroughly satisfactory series — and I expect it to stay that way. I really am delighted at the abundance of wonderful SoLs this season.


    • infinitezenith March 8, 2022 at 22:19

      You bring an astute observation to the table 🙂 There is a stability that Koi offers to both Hiyori and Koharu, helping the two to reconcile differences in the way they operate, looking after everyone so they stay on task and keep things in perspective. Now that I think about it, there isn’t a character like her in the other Manga Time Kirara series, so in this way, Koi is indeed very special.

      Slow Loop has done an excellent job of things, and the fact that living in the moment, while simultaneously being honest with oneself about the past and the attendant sadness, is present, does mean there are subtle Tamayura vibes. I don’t expect things to do a 180º at this point, and admittedly, Slow Loop is what’s been keeping me grounded during this very busy start to 2022 🙂 I anticipate that once things settle, I will need to go back and (slowly) make my way through all of the other slice of life series I’ve been sitting on this season!


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