The Infinite Zenith

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Category Archives: Japanese Animation

We Are Wake Up, Girls!- Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter! First Episode Impressions

“In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us.” –Carl Sagan

Since WUG’s successful performance at the Idol Festival, where they displaced I-1 Club in a competition to become the national champions, difficult times forces even I-1 Club to close one of their venues. Without any performances, WUG’s exposure to the world is limited, and the girls have returned to their old duties of being local idols for various media outlets. To break them from this rut, Junko announces that WUG is to produce an album within the next six months and later secures a performance for them at Song Stage. When they gear up, they learn their old uniforms have decayed in condition: Yoshino fashions scrunchies for each and every member to remind them of their origins. At the performance venue, Mayu and the others run into the current I-1 unit, whose centre regards them with hostility. While Airi nearly causes a delay in their live performance by rushing back to retrieve her scrunchie, WUG nonetheless performs well and later, the others reassure Airi that superstition prior to performances is a natural thing, gently reminding her to be more mindful of professionalism at the same time. On the way back home, Junko announces to an exhausted Kōhei that she is planning a national tour for WUG. Meanwhile, a group of students produce fan-inspired versions of WUG’s performances, drawing the girls’ and Kōhei’s attention. It’s been a while since I’ve written about Wake Up, Girls!, with the last time being for the second movie Beyond The Bottom. A series that has held a special place in my heart, Wake Up, Girls! makes a triumphant return to the anime form, with this second season being produced by Millepensee, which collaborated with Ordet on the movies.

Ordet themselves worked with Tatsunoko Production on the first season, and while this first season was characterised by deficiencies in the animation, Wake Up, Girls! and its narrative proved quite enjoyable, inspiring to follow. The new animation style that Millepensee brings to the table is a balance between the old and new: the characters look and sound as they did during the movies and first anime season, but with more fluid animation, it feels as though they’ve been given new life. It is most welcoming to see Mayu, Minami, Yoshino, Nanami, Airi, Miyu and Kaya return in this new form: their first performance is a smooth one, with camera effects and movements that far surpass what was seen in earlier incarnations of Wake Up, Girls!. The improved animation, coupled with new directions of Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter! (New Chapter! from here on out for brevity), means that the second season is off to a fine start – Wake Up, Girls! has always added a healthy amount of realism into its story, and in spite of their successes, WUG has a ways to go in order to sustain their success in a market saturated with idols. By presenting plausible set-backs and challenges, it was remarkably satisfying to see how WUG overcame their tribulations, and New Chapter! appears to be continuing along this path, which corresponds with more surprises in this upcoming season.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • A quick memory test for myself: from left to right, we have Yoshino, Minami, Airi, Mayu, Nanami, Miyu and Kaya. One of the biggest challenges I face when writing for Wake Up, Girls! is recalling who’s who: Minami and Nanami share very similar romanised names, as do Mayu and Miyu. Their character designs have also been quite similar, but with Millepensee stepping up to the plate for animation in New Chapter!, the characters look a bit more distinct from one another without losing their basic designs seen in the anime and first season.

  • As the opening episode discussion, I’ve opted to go with the usual twenty screenshots, striking a balance between details and ease of writing on my end. Here, Junko reads about the declining I-1 Club in a newspaper article before addressing WUG. WUG’s president, Junko handles dealing with partners and associates, and despite her brash personality, she always manages to find ways of helping WUG get started with their goals. Kōhei is WUG’s manager and has the group’s interests at heart, having brought all seven idols together during the prequel movie.

  • WUG is based in Sendai of Miyagi Prefecture. With a population of just south of 1.1 million, Sendai is only a shade smaller than Calgary, which has a population of 1.2 million. Nonetheless, Sendai depicted as a “small” town in Wake Up, Girls!, compared to the likes of Tokyo. The area was damaged during the 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake, and I vaguely recall that the anime project was originally intended to recruit voice talent in the Sendai area and promote the region as a part of a recovery project.

  • Itsuka Atsugi, Otome Morishima and Ayumi Hayashi are three new characters in New Chapter! – their family names mirror those of their voice actors (Nanami Atsugi, Yūka Morishima and Yūka Morishima, respectively). Junior high students who’ve been inspired greatly by WUG, they’ve taken to doing their own performances and uploading them to YouTube. At the episode’s opening, Minami and the others dub over the performance while watching it, and Kōhei remarks that the appearance of fan videos are a sign that WUG’s having some tangible impact on its viewers in inspiring them.

  • After practise, Junko announces that she’s managed to get WUG a performance slot in the Song Stage programme, marking the group’s first live performance since the events of Beyond the Bottom. The girls are naturally excited and their first query is whether or not their old uniforms are in any shape to be utilised for their performance. However, their age (three-and-a-half years in real time) means that they’re frayed and otherwise don’t fit all that well, as Kaya quickly finds out.

  • When Miyu inquires further, Kaya suppresses all further discussion. The oldest member of WUG, Kaya, reminds me of Glasslip‘s Yanagi Takayama in appearance and even shares Yanagi’s hobby of jogging. As a result of her age, she’s looked to as the de facto second-in-command after Yoshino, and originally did not take her role in WUG too seriously, but her time with the group has led her to be much more devoted and passionate. By the events of New Chapter!, even Airi has improved to the point where she can keep up with Mayu and Yoshino.

  • Junko authorises new uniforms for the girls, to their excitement. In this first episode of New Chapter!, song producer Tasuku does not make an appearance. It is with his trying approach of management that leads WUG to improve dramatically, and while presenting an oft-indifferent air to the girls’ fates, he grows to respect their tenacity greatly, expressing disappointment whenever they fail and is genuinely happy when WUG’s performances are successful. Since the events of Beyond the Bottom, Junko’s gotten in touch with some old friends to help with writing and scoring music, so presumably, Tasuku will make fewer appearances this season.

  • The page quote for our return to Wake Up, Girls! comes from Carl Segan, renowned astronomer and astrophysicist. While Segan’s dealing with humanity and the need for our species to advance in order to survive catastrophes that could end our civilisation, the quote finds equal applicability in Wake Up, Girls!, where WUG must find ways of surviving and making themselves known before fading into irrecoverable obscurity, and that this process is something that the girls themselves must undertake, as they can reasonably expect no assistance from the outside.

  • Things fast-forwards to the day of departure, where Miyu is very nearly late for their train. The shinkansen line allows folks in Sendai to arrive in Tokyo in around two-and-a-half hours: the road distance is around 360 kilometers and would require a four hour journey by motor vehicle. The relative efficiency of the shinkansen means that one of the challenges I had while following Wake Up, Girls! was ascertaining whether WUG was in Tokyo, where most of their major performances are, or back home in Sendai.

  • Owing to the separation in airing, Wake Up, Girls! is probably the longest running anime I’ve followed outside of OVA series like Gundam Unicorn (four years) and Gundam: The Origin (three years by the time the finale releases): I began watching Wake Up, Girls! back in 2014, and only had the chance to write about the 2015 movies this year. Interest in this series has been generally low, and while folks consider it to be somewhat unrealistic and unenjoyable (hence the lack of discussion), I found the series to be a heartfelt one.

  • After finishing Wake Up, Girls!, I returned to the more idyllic approach that Locodol presented while working on the Giant Walkthrough Brain – Locodol never places Nanako and Yukari into difficult positions as Wake Up, Girls! does to WUG, rather similar to how working on the university project that was the Giant Walkthrough Brain felt a little more comfortable than working in industry at the time. Back in New Chapter!, Yoshino hands out scrunchies that she’s made from their old uniforms, allowing everyone to keep a small piece of their origins: the group’s marching band uniforms were first seen during the regional competition back during the first season of Wake Up, Girls!.

  • While not quite as apparent while animated, the static nature of screenshots mean that the differences in art style are much more noticeable. While folks have criticised Wake Up, Girls! original run for poor animation quality, the art aesthetic was quite distinct and contributed to the rough-around-the-edges-but-genuine nature of Wake Up, Girls!. The new art style is an improvement from its predecessor overall, and it’s much easier to differentiate between the characters now, but it will also take some getting used to.

  • Mayu and the others run into I-1 Club’s team on stage, whose centre meets them with a cold reception. While Wake Up, Girls! formally has no antagonist beyond the characters’ own doubts and internal challenges, the presence of I-1 does much to remind viewers that the business of being an idol is no doubt an unfriendly, competitive one. Despite being a veritable giant, they too are suffering, as their viewership declines forces their Sendai facility to be closed.

  • Airi risks delaying WUG’s live performance when she forgets her scrunchie back in the green room, but with the encouragement of her teammates, she retrieves it just in time to begin the show, where they perform the group’s now-signature “Seven Girls War”. Used as the first season’s opening theme, they’ve delivered fantastic performances of it throughout the anime’s run: in their first performance in New Chapter!, WUG is outfitted with new uniforms that appear much lighter and conducive of movement than their previous ones.

  • Some viewers are unaccustomed to the new character designs and miss the old ones; as I’ve remarked earlier, some time will probably be needed to get used to things. With this being said, one of the design elements that endured from the days of Tatsunoko Production and Ordet’s interpretation are the strangely-shaped smiles. On the whole, however, Millepensee has largely improved on the girls’ expressiveness in New Chapter! and their facial features seem much more natural, rather than forced.

  • Millepensee makes use of CG to animated WUG’s dance sequences – they’ve evidently made an effort to replicate the visual features of the conventional scenes and make a seamless transition, but the differences are still noticeable. I believe Tatsunoko Production and Ordet stuck with traditional animation during their dance sequences, and while video artefacts are visible in Millepensee’s, their execution allows for much more dynamic ranges of motion, synchronisation and camera movements to be present compared to their predecessors.

  • The end result is that the dances are actually quite fun to watch, really capturing the distance that WUG has come since their earliest performance on a December’s night in a park where the audience numbers could be counted on one’s fingers. While “Seven Girls War” is a fun song by all counts, one of the things that I look forwards to seeing in New Chapter! will be whether or not any new songs are introduced into the series.

  • Strictly speaking, while I personally enjoy Wake Up, Girls! and have positive things to say about the series, I understand that this anime is not for everyone for its execution. Further to this, IdolM@ster and Love Live! are much larger and better-known than Wake Up, Girls!, so it is perhaps not too much of a surprise that there is limited discussions of Wake Up, Girls! out there. For WUG, they are faced with rising out from obscurity in-show, and in the real world, Wake Up, Girls! deals with similar challenges: I’ve heard that Wake Up, Girls! initially did not perform particularly well in Japan, but once WUG began finding their feet, reception to the anime warmed.

  • Following their performance, Mayu and the others reassure a worried Airi about her decision to retrieve her scrunchie earlier at the risk of jeopardising the entire group’s performance. The team has had conflicts in the past with Airi, when Takusu forced the team to choose between dismissing Airi or becoming disbanded as a whole to test their resolve. Since then, WUG’s unity has remained unshakable, and the team will do what is necessary to ensure that everyone’s on the same page. When Mayu mentions superstitions for performers, I’m reminded of the rituals that players in the NHL and other professional athletes have prior to a game.

  • En route back to Sendai, Junko forcibly wakes up Kōhei and informs him of her plans to take WUG on a national tour to elevate their presence. My plans presently for New Chapter! will be to write about it after every three episodes. This brings my first talk in New Chapter! to an end, and in the very near future, I will be aiming to watch In A Corner of This World and write about it, along with Girls’ Last Tour.

One of the elements that I’ve noticed about Wake Up, Girls! is its relative obscurity in the English-speaking community – it’s a bit of an irony that Wake Up, Girls! is about overcoming obscurity in their world when in the real world, there’s been very little talk about the series in other blogs and discussion venues. While expectations for Wake Up, Girls! has always been low, and reception mixed at best, I found in Wake Up, Girls! an earnest series about a group of youth pursing their dreams and dealing with setbacks to the best of their abilities. This is why even three-and-a-half years following Wake Up, Girls! original run, I am quite keen to continue with the journey that Mayu and the others embark on in pursuit of their dreams. I will be writing about New Chapter! periodically this season, returning after every three episodes to consider what New Chapter! has covered, as well as where the series is headed. In addition, with the addition of three new characters in the form of students who are also fans of WUG, one of the possibilities include seeing whether or not they will interact directly with WUG at any point in New Chapter!‘s upcoming episodes.

A Photogrammetry Exercise in Kimi no Na wa (Your Name): Determining the location of Taki’s Apartment and a fly-through from Tokyo to Hida

“Where is Taki’s apartment located?”

This question was posed by one of our readers shortly after Your Name began screening in Japan, and at the time, information about the film, especially amongst the English language anime community, was limited. Consequently, when I received the question, I wondered if it were even possible to answer it accurately. For one, metro Tokyo is the world’s largest city, and even Tokyo Proper has a surface area of 2187.66 km² and a population of 13 617 445 as of 2016. By comparison, Calgary has a tenth of the population, and it’s already tricky enough to find things here — it took me ages to realise that Pure Pwnage‘s Lannagedon event was hosted at the Bowness Community Centre, for instance. However, the challenge was an intriguing one, and I began wondering how to go about solving it. When I recalled an episode of The Raccoons back in July, I felt that I had my answer: in the episode “Search and Rescue”, Bert Raccoon and Cedric Sneer go looking for a meteorite that lands on Jack Pine Island in the Evergreen Forest. Assuming that recovering the meteorite is a day trip, the two do not leave any information behind as to where they went, and when their raft floats off from the island, the two find themselves stranded. Despite the effort of their friends, who search the Evergreen Forest through the night for them, the two are not found until the next morning. After Lady Baden-Baden reveals that she saw the meteorite, Professor Smedley-Smythe is able to use triangulation to work out where the impactor landed, leading to Bert and Cedric’s rescue. The concept of triangulation is a reasonably simple one: if there are at least two known points, then the location of an unknown point can be determined by forming a triangle by means of the existing points. The version in The Raccoons is the simplest one: the baseline distance and angles are not used, as a map is available. However, slightly more involved forms allow for a distance to the unknown point to be determined provided that one knows the baseline distance between two observes and the relative angle of this baseline to their line of sight. In this exercise, I apply a variation of the technique, plus several landmarks in the Tokyo, to form the starting point for answering this question.

Locating Taki’s Apartment

  • Figure I: Taki viewing Tiamat’s fragment splitting up in the eastward direction. The Yoyogi Tower and Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building are highlighted in this image for clarity. All of the images in this post can be expanded for viewing at full resolution.

  • Figure II: A section of the Tokyo skyline seen in Your Name. Here, I’ve highlighted some of the buildings visible in the image. Landmarks with a red label were used in my preliminary estimates to narrow down which area Taki’s apartment is located in.

  • Figure III: Approximation of where the skyline in Figure II might be viewed from. Using the four landmarks and roughly their angles, the area one can begin looking for Taki’s apartment is highlighted in blue, enclosed by the sightlines. All of the map data in this discussion are sourced from Google Maps and have been modified to improve clarity.

From footage in Your Name, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and the nearby Yoyogi Building is visible from Taki’s apartment (Fig I). In the image, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is right of the Yoyogi building. Inspection of a map allows us to work out that Taki’s apartment must be east of these buildings. The second set of points we can use can be derived from the fact that Taki is seen leaving home with Tokyo’s skyline visible on the horizon (Fig II, Fig IV, Fig V, Fig VI, Fig VII). Visible in the frame’s left-hand-side is Akasaka Palace, accommodations for visiting state dignitaries. Tokyo Tower is also visible, along with the Embassy of Canada as the frame pans right. Thus, we can use Tokyo Tower and the Embassy of Canada as the first of the known points for our calculations: in the images, the Tokyo Tower is left of the Embassy of Canada, so we can reason out that the scene is taken from a point north of these buildings. The estimated sight lines allow us to constrain Taki’s apartment to an area in Shinanomachi, Wakaba, Yotsuyasakamachi (Fig III). These are densely-built up neighbourhoods, and while we’ve worked out roughly where Taki’s apartment could be, exploring the area bit-by-bit would still take a while. Fortunately, we have two more points that makes the calculations easier to approximate: Akasaka State Property is visible in the frame shown when Taki (Mitsuha) is looking over Tokyo. We use this to further constrain the possible region to an area west of the Akasaka State Property (Fig II). The second point is rather more subtle – there’s a small apartment complex called the Meiji Park Heights, and it is visible in the image’s lower right hand corner (Fig VII, VIII). This apartment is located southwest of Taki, so using the same technique and tracing backwards, we find a line that passes over a community centre north of the Chou Main Line (Fig IX).

  • Figure IV: Identifying buildings visible from the perspective seen in Your Name. When we zoom in to the area highlighted in Figure III and rotate the camera, we find a distinct set of landmarks not dissimilar to the buildings seen in Figure II. I use some of the more distinct skyscrapers in the image as comparisons.

  • Figure V: The equivalent spot from Figure IV in Your Name. Amongst the buildings I’ve looked at include the 43-story Park Court Akasaka: The Tower, a residential complex that was completed in 2009, the Sogetsu Concert Hall and the Embassy of Canada. The Embassy of Canada was chosen as a point primarily because of its distinct roof. This building was completed in 1991.

  • Figure VI: Panning east from the perspective in Figure IV. When the camera pans right, other buildings become visible, including Tokyo Midtown, a mixed-use building that is, with its height of 248 meters (814 feet), the second-tallest in Tokyo. By comparison, Brookfield Place East of Calgary will have a completed height of 247 meters (810 feet). Other buildings highlighted for their visibility include the International Medical Welfare University Graduate School, Honda Welcome Plaza Aoyama and the TK Minami-Aoyama Building.

  • Figure VII: The equivalent spot from Figure IV in Your Name. With the number of familiar landmarks visible in Your Name, we can say that Taki’s apartment must be located close to the Akasaka Imperial Property. There is one final structure that is present when the camera pans, and this is the Meiji Park Heights, with its distinct roof and windows.

  • Figure VIII: A closer view of Meiji Park Heights. Despite its unassuming appearance from 3D imagery, the building houses spacious, luxury apartment units and is conveniently located to two train stations, as well as the Akasaka grounds. With two-bedroom units that have a total area of close to 1125 square feet (110.41 square meters), rentals start at 350000 Yen per month (3900 CAD), more than double that of an equivalent in Calgary (1500 CAD per month).

  • Figure IX: Using the Akasaka State Property and Meiji Park Heights to constrain the possible region of Taki’s apartment further. The Akasaka State Property was visible in Figure II, and together with the Meiji Park Heights, allow us to say that Taki’s apartment must be in a narrow area where both structures are visible. Using the sightlines running east-west, the possible location of Taki’s apartment can be searched for in the highlighted area.

We now have an area small enough so that we can start looking around manually, and immediately north of the community centre are some apartment complexes. We are left with several options: Taki lives in an apartment with an outdoor hallway, which allows us to eliminate a larger apartment nearby with windows facing south, as well as a green-roofed apartment (Fig X, XI). Adjacent to the green-roofed apartment is a slightly taller apartment, and while it has south-facing balconies, this is our candidate, located at the address 〒160-0011 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, Wakaba, 1 Chome-22-15. The building itself is called 離宮ハイム (Rikyū haimu), and from details in the film, Taki lives on the sixth floor. Despite the descrepancies in design, especially with respect to the placement of balconies and the angle of sunlight seen in the film, when we descend down for a closer look along a road, it becomes apparent that we’ve located Taki’s apartment. Details in the road he’s seen running along, both to school and to meet up with Miki for his date, line up with what is visible from the site’s real world location (Fig XII, XIII, XIV, XV). Without the use of too much trigonometry, we’ve found Taki’s apartment with some reasoning, a bit more guesswork and liberal use of Google Maps. I remark that a more precise and sophisticated technique can be applied here: because we have the heights of the Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, clever use of a clinometer and the screenshots can also allow one to approximate the distance to the buildings and determine where the screenshots are roughly located.

  • Figure X: Highlighting Taki’s apartment and the route he’s seen taking to school and on his date with Miki. Taki’s apartment is highlighted in blue, while the route we see him take is given in red. From exploring the area given in Figure IX, Taki’s apartment was located in the space of around two minutes.

  • Figure XI: Corridor outside of Taki’s aparment. Close inspection of the unit numbers find that Taki lives on the sixth floor, although his apartment has a covered corridor compared to the unit located in the real-world location. However, as the structure needs to be suited for plot-related elements, the discrepancies are readily accepted without much concern.

  • Figure XII: Street-level view looking south from the road leading from Taki’s apartment. Quite ordinary and unremarkable by any definition, it is possible to use Google Street View to approximate a small section of Taki’s route, and I imagine that folks in Tokyo familiar with the region can trace his path to school and the route he takes when meeting Miki for a date with total accuracy.

  • Figure XIII: The equivalent spot from Figure XII in Your Name. The extent to which details are reproduced are incredible: whether it be the placement of mirrors, the potted plants beside the apartment on the right, the vending machine or the skyline, we have a near-perfect reproduction within Your Name of the location.

  • Figure XIV: The road going down the hillside leading from Taki’s apartment. The real-world location is filled with shrubbery, with the skyline barely visible, whereas in Your Name, there is less vegetation that allows the skyline to be more clearly seen.

  • Figure XV: The equivalent spot from Figure XIV in Your Name. While I never visited this spot during my time in Tokyo back in May, the closest I got from Taki’s apartment and the Suga Shrine would have been around 2.6 klicks, when I visited the Meiji Jingu Garden. This was the first destination that was on my itinerary in Tokyo.

The Giant Flythough Kimi no Na Wa

During the opening credits to Your Name, there’s also a brief moment where the camera flies from Taki’s apartment in Tokyo, through the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, out to rural Japan and eventually, Itomori (Fig XVI). This is undoubtedly an impressive feat of animation and a visual treat to behold on its own, but there is a pleasant surprise to this, as well – if one were to project a line from Taki’s apartment in the heading as depicted in the film, they would end up in Hida, Gifu, passing over Lake Suwa along the way (Fig XVII, XVIII). In total, roughly 237 kilometers of distance separates the location of Taki’s apartment in Tokyo from Hida in the Gifu prefecture. While some might consider this a mere coincidence, the level of detail Makoto Shinkai and his team put into their art is nothing short of exceptional, so I imagine that this was a deliberate design in keeping with the thematic elements within the movie. Whereas Shinkai’s earlier themes were more about distance, Your Name deals predominantly with connections and how distances can be closed: the Chinese term “緣份” (pinyin: yuán fèn, “fate”) describes the movie neatly, as it appears that supernatural forces compel Taki and Mitsuha to meet. That their homes lie along the same line is a clever element added to the film, and while subtle, serves to reinforce notions that Taki and Mitsuha must meet in order to convey the thematic elements in the movie. With this in mind, it is likely that Shinkai and his team worked backwards, choosing the rural location and then corresponding it with a location in Tokyo; it is considerably more difficult to pick a rural location suitable for Mitsuha, whereas in Tokyo, the dense urban build-up means that Taki could have been placed anywhere in central Tokyo without any substantial impact to the narrative.

  • Figure XVI: Stills from the opening scene in Your Name depicting a fly-over from Taki’s apartment in Tokyo to Mitsuha’s house in Itomori. Starting from the roof of Taki’s apartment (1) and flying east over the Tokyo cityscape (2) towards the Tokyo Metropolitian Government Building (3), the camera moves through the gap between the two towers (4) out into rural Japan after a transition (5), eventually landing in Itomori (6).

  • Figure XVII: Approximation of the route covered by the route seen in the opening in the real world. The red path highlighted shows this: in the upper left, the route covered between Figure XVI’s (1), (2) and (3) are shown. The opening shortens things after (4) is reached. Curiously enough, the line intersects Suwa Lake before landing in the small town of Hida in Gifu. During my visit to Japan, we passed by Suwa Lake after leaving the Ikenotaira Hotel beside the shores of Shirakaba Lake en route to Nagoya and Gifu.

  • Figure XVIII: Overhead view of the entire route from Tokyo to Hida, Gifu, intersecting with Lake Suwa. The total distance separating Taki’s apartment from Suwa Lake is 154 kilometers, while the full distance from Hida to Tokyo as the mole digs is 243 kilometers. To put things in perspective, Red Deer to Calgary is a little less than 154 kilometers, while Edmonton and Calgary are separated by a distance of 270 kilometers.

Closing Remarks

An interesting point to note is that only 480 metres separates Taki’s old apartment from the Suga Shrine. This entire exercise only took around five minutes to complete, although the post itself took a ways longer to draft out: from exploring the areas by means of Google Maps’ Street View and 3D utilities, it becomes clear that, as with Suga Shrine, Your Name takes some creative liberties in recreating locales for the film but nonetheless retains considerable accuracy. That it is possible to apply a bit of triangulation and make use of a commonplace tool to precisely determine where the events of an anime film occur, is itself a testament to how far technology has come in recent years. Sophisticated techniques for obtaining stereographic data to create 3D maps has made photogrammetry, the process of using imagery for locating structures and objects, increasingly accessible to all users: Google has optimised their 3D maps so even computers with an Intel Iris GPU can view maps in 3D. Such tools make it effortless to figure out where one’s destinations are, what road layout and traffic controls lie along a hitherto unexplored route and gain a preview of what things look like on the ground at a location halfway across the world. With tools of this calibre, quickly ascertaining locations within anime becomes a much more straightforwards task, especially if one is familiar with a handful of landmarks in the area of interest. All of these sophisticated tools means that hopefully, I’ve adequately answered the question posed: when asked “where is Taki’s apartment located?”, I can suitably respond “〒160-0011 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, Wakaba, 1 Chome-22-15“. Back in The Raccoons, for Bert and Cedric, being lost on an island now simply means sending out a phone call and tagging their location to simplify the search and rescue process. Having said this, some lessons, such as informing others of their intended activities and destinations, continue to endure even if the technology we’ve presently got far outstrips anything that was available in 1989.

Clash at Loum: Mobile Suit Gundam- The Origin Episode Five Reflection

“Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well-trained, well-equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.” —General Dwight D. Eisenhower

The opening stages of the One Year War begin when Zeon launches a surprise attack on Side 2, eliminating Hatte altogether, while Kycila leads task force in capturing the lunar cities of Granada and Von Braun. Amuro and his friends are caught attempting to sneak into a restricted area in Side 7, but Amuro is spared a beating when guards recognise him as the son of Tem Ray. After witnessing the massacre at Side 2, Ramba Ral refuses to participate in Operation British and becomes wanted for treason against Zeon. The Zeons continue with Operation British, dropping the coloney Island Iffish on Earth with the aim of destroying the Federations Jaburo Base, but the coloney break into three sections upon re-entry. The largest pieces impacts with Australia and the sum of the impact halves Earth’s population. Meanwhile, Sayla Mass has become a doctor, and while treating the injured from the political strife breaking out, she learns from a Zeon operative that Casaval is alive, piloting a red mobile suit and later sees him attacking a coloney, after she herself had helped fend off ruffians. While she manages to protect Eduardo Mass, he dies. With Operation British unsuccessful, Zeon launches another attack at Loum. Although their ships are routed by Federation Forces, their mobile suits allow them to even the odds in terms of fighting strength. Char himself steps out into battle, locating the main Federation fleet on short order after pushing his Zaku to its limits. The Origin‘s fifth instalment comes nearly a year after the fourth, and in it, the more horrific stages of the One Year War are illustrated, including the gassing of Island Iffish for the purpose of dropping it as a kinetic impactor. The Origin presents a different take on things than did Gundam Unicorn, but with its high animation quality, is able to capture the sort of devastation that characterises the One Year War, and also illustrate the processes, as well as individuals, behind Zeon’s atrocities.

In contrast with the earlier instalments, the fifth The Origin entry is more fragmented in design, portraying different aspects of the One Year War’s opening stages. From the early Zeon victories to their failed execution of Operation British, from Char’s verbal sparring with the Black Tri-Stars to watching Sayla Mass defend her adopted family and home, The Origin presents a series of war stories that show where everyone’s at since the events of the previous episode. The episode does not follow any one character in particular; in doing so, it is able to capture the scope of the One Year War. In this episode’s presentation, one also gains the impression that Zeon’s worst atrocities and actions were the consequence of Gihren’s decisions. Gihren has been counted as the Universal Century’s incarnation of Adolf Hitler, sharing Hitler’s Social Darwinism beliefs, as well as placing an undue amount of emphasis on Wunderwaffen. Gihren’s beliefs are extreme enough that his father, Degwin, denounces him: Degwin’s original ambitions had been to gain independence for and rule over Zeon, whereas Girhen sought to dominate and destroy the Federation entirely. The Origin evidently presents Gihren as having architected the suffering and deaths of billions; the lingering animosities and injustices indirectly lead to the formation of the Titans and precipitate the rise of three Neo Zeon factions following the downfall of Zeon.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I can’t believe it’s been ten months since I last wrote about The Origin, and for this post, we begin with the Zeon fleet engaging Federation forces. As the instigators, Zeon has the initiative in the One Year War’s early stages, rapidly gaining an edge over the Federation. Early space battles were characterised by long-range engagement between naval vessels. Originally, the Federation were lagging behind on their armaments and fired conventional rounds from their cannons, only upgrading to mega-particle cannons later in the war.

  • Along with the Magellan-class cruisers, The Salamis-class cruisers were the earliest space-faring vessels the Federation fielded, but by the time of the One Year War, they proved outdated: their weaker weapons and lighter armour made them ill-equipped to deal with Zeon battleships, and they were lost in great numbers. Magellan-class cruisers were better armed than the Salamis-class, but both vessels proved inadequate against mobile suits, leading the Federation to design spacecraft capable of housing their own mobile suits.

  • While audiences familiar with things like Cosmic Era and even Anno Domini would be more accustomed to seeing mobile suits equipped with directed energy weapons, Universal Century does not introduce beam weaponry until the RX-78 II. Prior to the Federation’s deployment of the first Gundam, mobile suits were essentially humanoid tanks, armed with scaled-up firearms that still proved exceptionally effective: the basic machine guns Zakus carry fire MBT-sized rounds at several hundred RPM and despite becoming ineffective later on in Gundam as technology advances, they certainly would have been sufficient to overwhelm whatever was available to the Federation when first deployed.

  • During the battles on the moon, Char himself is present, but while engaging Federation forces mid-combat, his thrusters fail to provide the propulsion that he needs. He nonetheless destroys Federation fighters engaging him before continuing with his mission. Char’s choice of red colouration is strictly a personal preference, making him immediately recognisable on the battlefield and earning him the ire of other Zeon soldiers, especially the Black Tri-Stars.

  • Zeon forces destroy the Hatte Colony Cylinder here during an operation. Colonies are fairly commonplace in the Universal Century and are separated into two categories – open colonies have windows and mirrors that allow sunlight in to mimic natural weather patterns, while close colonies were more inexpensive and could house double the number of residents. Industrial 7 in Gundam Unicorn is a closed colony. Despite their seeming fragility, the large size of colonies allow them to withstand a considerable amount of damage – colonies have a diameter of 6.4 kilometres and are typically 36 kilometres in length.

  • Ramba Ral watches as his forces assault the colony Hatte, encountering next to no resistance. He considers it a meaningless slaughter rather than war, and his experiences here shape his actions later on. While Zakus and early space-capable battleships are often presented as primitive and obsolete, enhanced by the limited animation of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the revisitation of the Universal Century with modern animation and artwork illustrate that for its time, the early weapons of both the Federation and Zeon are cutting edge.

  • Gihren Zabi is probably my least favourite of the characters for his facial features: he’s got all of the characteristics of an unlikeable 80s villain. With his exceptional brilliance and ability to sway a crowd, his resemblance to Adolf Hitler is probably deliberate, and here, he gives a speech about the need to eradicate enemies to Zeon. Having seen The Origin and read the history of the Universal Century, it is safe to attribute many of the worst events to him in some manner.

  • Amuro’s only appearance in the fifth episode of The Origin is when he and Kai Shinden, plus a couple of classmates, are caught trying to sneak into an area of Side 7 under construction. Some of the guards recognise Amuro as Tem’s son and jovially remark that if he wished to tour the area, he merely needed to ask for permission. They then proceed to beat the living daylights out of the others while Amuro looks on in disapproval.

  • When Dozle explains the plan behind Operation British, Ramba Ral has reached his limit and storms out of the meeting, feeling that war is not about maximising the enemy’s casualties. His refusal to carry out an order eventually lead the Zeons to count him a traitor, but in the fifth The Origin episode, his fate remains unknown. Dozle and the others continue the operation in his absence, mounting engines onto Island Iffish and prepare to guide it along a trajectory towards earth.

  • Inside the colony, a young man named Yūki promises to protect the inhabitants from Zeon invaders and spends his final moments with his girlfriend before she takes shelter. When Zeon introduces the nerve agent inside the colony, total casualties ensue, and Yūki himself dies slowly in the cold after expending the last of his energy trying to enter the shelter, after seeing the bodies of others caught outside. The nerve agent penetrates the interior of the shelter, killing all within, as well: officials were likely anticipating an invasion force rather than outright extermination.

  • When it becomes clear of what Zeon’s intentions with the depopulated colony are, Admiral Tianem leads the already depleted Federation fleet in a desperate bid to stop the colony from impacting with Earth. The full firepower of the remaining Federation ships are insufficient to destroy or even slow the colony, and the Federation fleet sustains further damage while trying to stop Island Iffish, engaging defending Zeon elements. It is not until the Zeons construct the first Colony Laser that there is a viable weapon of destroying objects the size of a colony all at once. The Titans would construct their own Colony Laser during the Gryps conflict, and in Gundam Unicorn, the Federation secretly commissioned the Gryps II laser.

  • One wonders if the UNSC Infinity’s CR-03 Series-8 MACs could deal enough damage to stop a colony, given an estimated yield of around 50 gigatons. The Zeon’s plan do not account for the forces of re-entry causing Island Iffish to break up in the atmosphere. While considerably less dense compared with a natural asteroid of similar dimensions, the sheer size of a colony could deal considerably damage nonetheless: the three fragments hit Australia, the Pacific Ocean and North America near Toronto, and the resulting damage from the impact, resultant cooling of the climate and seismic activity lead to immeasurable casualties.

  • Sora no Woto fans typically do not agree with my conclusion that the world’s state in the anime was caused by a human war, instead, insisting that global devastation was caused by an extraterrestrial avian species. Their theory is ill-justified and disintegrates when one asks about the species’ role on ecology and why their presence is not noticed in Sora no Woto. An event rivalling a colony drop in scale, following a protracted war, on the other hand, provides a much more plausible explanation, and the events of The Origin reinforce the idea that colony drop events can cause the sort of devastation that the folks in Sora no Woto must contend with.

  • The results of Operation British are vast Federation civilian casualties, with no damage done to Jaburo base whatsoever. Despite his insistence to continue the war, and his proclaimation that those who carried out Operation British are to be punished, Gihren offers no rebuttal when Degwin counters that responsibility of Operation British actually falls on him. I imagine that Gihren is referring to the subordinates who executed the plan, but ultimately, it would appear that for his sharp-mindedness, Gihren did not expect the colony to disintegrate during re-entry.

  • Dozle is easily the least disagreeable member of the Zabi family. Despite his bombastic nature, Dozle is surprisingly gentle. His loud rants quickly cause Mineva to wake up. He promises to make a world where children do not needlessly die in war and resolves to fight for Zeon in the hopes that a Zeon victory will allow such a dream to be realised. Mineva will later play an instrumental role in the Laplace Conflict during the events of Gundam Unicorn, and while I thoroughly enjoyed the OVAs, one of the elements that remained unaddressed is what eventually happens to Banagher, Mineva and Riddhe.

  • A doctor by this point in time, Sayla Mass is very dedicated towards her work, but when a Zeon operative reveals information to her about Casval, who’s taken the name Char Aznable by now, Sayla cannot help but be distracted from her duties. Her longing to meet Casval again does not appear to have wavered after all this time, although the rumours surrounding him lead her to wonder what he’s become since they went their separate ways following their mother’s passing.

  • Char informs his mechanic of performance limitations in his Zaku and requests that the limiter be disabled here. He later spars verbally with the Black Tri-Stars, whose animosity for him are out in the open. While they are quite hostile towards Char, perceiving him as being present to steal their glory and receiving special treatment, the events at Loum will lead them to confer upon him begrudging respect. The Zeon forces begin amassing to take Loum, realising that the Federation will certainly respond, and despite the disparity in their numerical strength, the Zeons place their wagers on mobile suits as playing an instrumental role.

  • Freshly-outfitted Federation cruisers launch from underground sites. Special booster units are seen attached to them, allowing them to overcome escape velocity, speaking to the relatively primitive state of the Federation space fleet: in later Gundam instalments such as Gundam Unicorn, warships are able to exit the Earth’s atmosphere and return to space at will. The composition of this scene brings to mind a moment in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare where Captain Reyes takes control of the SDF Olympus Mons and sets course for Mars to exact revenge against the SDF fleet.

  • Zeon’s march to war drives their supporters to rally and clash with anti-Zeon parties, resulting in civil disturbances within the colonies as citizens become divided with respect to which side they should support. Because Loum is set to receive Federation support, Zeon’s leadership decide to eliminate Loum before the Federation can reinforce them and as such, is anticipating attack from Admiral Tianem’s forces at Loum.

  • The fifth instalment of The Origin reveals that Crowley Hamon is also an accomplished singer. After evicting agents working on Kycilia’s behalf, she performs a ballad that mirrors the increasingly grim and sorrowful mood that has gripped the Universal Century as Federation and Zeon forces continue their war. For a few moments in The Origin, the futility of war can be felt in Miyuki Sawashiro’s performance: she’s a capable singer and played Perrine H. Clostermann of Strike Witches, Masami Iwasawa in Angel Beats! and Sword Art Online‘s Shino Asada (aka. Sinon).

  • When ruffians begin attacking the nearby village in the Texas Colony and make their way to the Aznable Estate, Sayla picks up a lever-action rifle and begins firing, killing several ruffians in the process. Despite her objection to the fighting and violence between the Federation and Zeons, seeing all of the injured and wounded as being people, Sayla does not hesitate to fire on people who threaten those around her. Despite their older weapons, the residents of the Aznable Estate put up a fight and eventually manage to drive off the ruffians.

  • During the course of the night, Eduardo Mass dies from cardiac failure, likely brought on by the intensity of the combat. There’s little time to mourn his passing, as outside, the Zeon forces have engaged and destroyed the docks to a nearby colony. The surviving ruffians are consumed with fear when they realise they cannot return, only to find themselves at the hands of understandably angry residents.

  • As of late, one of my friends picked up the 1/144 System Weapons 007 revision package for the beam spear for Federation mobile suits, as well as the Sinanju’s Rocket Bazooka options. As I have an HGUC Sinanju, he gave me the parts to upgrade the Sinanju: I’ve found the Sinanju to be an excellent model all around for its detail and options, and I’ve also seen several different choices for the Rocket Bazooka. The 007 revision provides the original under-barrel attachment, as well as the means to convert the bazooka into a standalone weapon system, and even can be mounted onto the shield, allowing me to configure the Sinanju into the loadout it’s seen with in the fifth and sixth episodes of Gundam Unicorn.

  • Despite her furious resolve to survive and do what she can, Sayla’s desire to contact her brother’s fate drives much of her actions in Mobile Suit Gundam, where she later takes on a position on board White Base and becomes the backup pilot for the RX-78. She encounters him on several occasions, and later learns of his motivations to exact revenge on the Zabi family. This revelation shows that Char actually had very little interest in the Zeon cause, desiring advancement to better position himself for revenge. However, upon meeting Amuro Ray and losing Lalah Sune, Char’s quest for revenge against Amuro takes on a more personal tone.

  • The Zeon forces prepare for their attack on Tianem’s fleet, marking the opening of the Battle of Loum. One of the elements I’ve noticed in The Origin is that combat sequences are comparatively fewer relative to those of other Gundam series; The Origin places a much greater emphasis on the human elements of warfare and so, it is appropriate to be illustrating the sorts of things people experience in war. With this in mind, I’m hoping that the finale will have a bit more combat scenes, rather similar to how Gundam Unicorn was predominantly driven by stories of the people involved and presented a fantastic finale.

  • Degwin and Garma watch on as the Zeon forces begin engaging the Federation Fleet. The Origin’s animated incarnation appears to have dispensed with the Zeon’s attempts to drop a second colony onto Earth, and instead, opens with the Zeon forces engaging Tianem’s fleet as a distraction. Nuclear weapons are also absent, with all of the engagements being traditional ship-to-ship battles. When the Battle of Loum is mentioned, my mind immediately returns to the fuzzy, low-resolution image that belies the true scale and intensity of the ship-to-ship battles as seen in the high-resolution, crisp presentation in The Origin.

  • The Origin depicts the Federation as having an overwhelming edge over Zeon forces, and here, Tianem remarks on the necessity of stamping out Zeon as his forces decimate Dozle’s fleet. Both Zeon and the Federation have access to mega-particle cannons, which are explained to result from the fusion of Minovsky Particles in a high energy-environment. When properly contained by an I-field and propelled in a certain direction; compared to other directed-energy weapons, the mega-particles are much more powerful for their size, but the generators to compress and fuse Minovsky particles are themselves massive, being only appropriate for deployment on capital ship-sized platforms.

  • The RX-78 II was thus revolutionary for making effective use of an innovation called the E-cap. An energy capacitor, the E-cap holds Minovsky particles and fuse them to generate a mega-particle beam capable of destroying a mobile suit in a single shot, as Amuro discovers when sortieing in the RX-78 II for the first time. Because the high energy resulting from a beam rifle cannot be deflected by anti-beam coatings, mobile suits would come to rely on speed and I-fields to avoid destruction. Federation Mobile Suits adopted beam technology more quickly than their Zeon counterparts, although Zeon eventually catches up.

  • Char prepares for sortie in his distinct red Zaku. To reach the Federation fleet, he pushes the engines to their absolute limits, ignoring the system’s warning and gaining a lock before Federation vessels can detect and engage him with their CIWS. Subtle details in the thruster outputs, the keystrokes Char uses to disengage the limiters and warning indicators even as his targeting computer marks out Federation vessels made this scene particularly enjoyable to watch. With the hitherto unmatched power of a mobile suit, Char feels as though even God himself ought to bow down to him: for his exceptional skill as a pilot, Char is also unabashedly confident in his own ability.

  • It is here at Loum that Char becomes known as the Red Comet, and with this final screenshot, my talk on The Origin‘s fifth episode draws to a close. Superbly enjoyable to watch, I’ve found The Origin to be an excellent interpretation of the Universal Century, perfect for folks who enjoyed Gundam Unicorn and general fans of the Universal Century in providing a modernised, detailed view of Char’s story and the rise of Zeon. I note that this movie’s been around since September 2, but things have been busy, and I’ve only recently had the chance to really sit down and write about it. The conclusion of this post means that we’re very nearly done The Origin, which will close with the sixth episode, “The Rise of the Red Comet” in the upcoming May.

With the next and final chapter of The Origin releasing in May 2018, there remains a ways to go yet before we see the conclusion of The Origin, which deals with Char and his ascendancy in Zeon as the ace pilot. I’ve longed to see the Battle of Loum with modern animation, and the fifth instalment of The Origin does just this, showcasing the One Year War’s most infamous battles in fantastic detail. From the technical aspects of Zeon’s Musai-class compared against the Federation’s Salamis and Magellan-class vessels, to Char’s requests for removing the limiters on his Zaku and participation in some of the battles, The Origin continues in following the development of the hardware involved in fighting the wars, as well as the people fighting them. Of note was Ramba Ral’s refusal to participate in Operation British, reflecting that while the Zeons were undoubtedly an antagonistic entity, there remained at least a handful of reasonable individuals in Zeon. Ramba Ral’s role in The Origin differs greatly from what it was in the original Mobile Suit Gundam, where he was intended to represent an ordinary but devoted soldier whose death came about from the tragedy of conflict. The Origin takes numerous liberties with the narrative, but so far, things have remained consistent: ultimately, I am quite excited to see what the last chapter of The Origin will entail, and it would be most pleasant if Amuro Ray and the RX-78 II makes a combat appearance in the finale to fight Char and his Zaku II Custom.

An Early-Access Preview of Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka?- Dear My Sister

“Home, more than anything, means warmth and bed.” —Vivienne Westwood

Announced a year and a half ago, Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka? (GochiUsa for brevity) was to receive special episode taking the form of an OVA, titled Dear My Sister. Originally intended to release back in May of this year, the OVA was delayed and at present, is set to screen in over forty Japanese theatres come November 11. The cast who performed in GochiUsa‘s earlier television anime will return to reprise their roles in this OVA, but rather than White Fox, who handled the animation of the first and second seasons, the studio Production doA will step up to the plate for Dear My Sister. A newcomer with no other titles underneath their belt, it will be interesting to see whether or not Production doA will execute Dear My Sister with the same warmth and sincerity that White Fox had successfully captured in the anime’s televised run. Besides the OVA itself, the theme song will also release on November 11, while a character album will release this month ahead of the screenings. The latest trend does appear to be that specials for Manga Time Kirara anime are to be screened theatrically before being sold as home releases at a later time – Kiniro Mosiac‘s special, Pretty Days, only became available four months after the theatrical release, and being of a similar ilk, it is not unreasonable to imagine that Dear My Sister will only accessible to the world at large come March 2018, a considerable distance away from the present. I remark here that this post is structured similarly to my earlier preview posts, and below the twenty screenshots below, there will be a bit of an outline (constituting as spoilers) for what Dear My Sister will entail.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Two years ago, it was a pleasant Saturday morning, and I watched the opening episode to GochiUsa‘s second season before putting out a post about it in record time. I subsequently spent the rest of the day playing the Star Wars Battlefront open beta, and opened my journey in Crysis 3 after Thanksgiving Dinner. Four episodes into GochiUsa‘s second season, I did an episodic review, having decided that this was an anime that offered enough to talk about each and every episode. While not quite CLANNAD, GochiUsa has its own unique charms that make it an incredibly heartwarming anime to watch.

  • I have the internet’s first and most comprehensive set of high resolution screenshots with this post: the lower resolution images on Pintrest and Tumblr have nothing against the quality here. It goes without saying that the trailer and manga will give away the entire narrative to Dear My Sister, so this post is essentially one large spoiler. To take a page from Kylo Ren, if you do not already know that Dear My Sister is set in the summer and deals with fireworks, then you should leave right now. Here, Cocoa and Chiya share a tearful farewell: despite leaving for only a week, Cocoa remarks that she’ll never forget the time she’s spent with everyone. The emotional tenour of the moment leads Maya and Megu to assume that Cocoa’s leaving for good.

  • For long-time readers of this blog, it’s no secret that I am very fond of rabbits. For me, watching GochiUsa is functionally identical to watching videos of baby bunnies frolicking about, relaxing and otherwise, doing things that baby bunnies do best. Since the availability of the home release to Dear My Sister won’t be known for a while, I imagine that the videos I linked do will have to suffice for the present. Dear My Sister skips over the first and second chapters of volume five, which sees the girls work on summer uniforms to seek relief from the summer heat and attempt a test of courage.

  • In Cocoa’s absence, Rize decides to whip Maya, Chino and Megu into shape. Rize’s fiery spirit causes Chino to recall Rize’s first days at Rabbit House. Beyond her tough exterior, Chino learns that Rize is friendly and approacheable. The third chapter also reveals that, if people think I am big on Tom Clancy, Battlefield and the like, I remark that I’ve got nothing on Rize. Her character seems to be tailored towards folks like myself as far as interests go.

  • Because GochiUsa is known for scrambling the order of things, there are some scenes seen in the Dear My Sister trailer that I cannot immediately place. When I did the preview for season two based on the manga some years back, I hit some of the stories covered and missed the others. As a result, knowing the manga, while yielding spoilers, won’t mean that one won’t be pleasantly surprised when watching Dear My Sister for the first time.

  • Maya and Megu are two of Chino’s friends from middle school; after meeting out of a curiosity when Chino mentions her wish to be a barista, they’ve since grown close with one another. Maya and Megu perfectly complement one another in terms of personality, and while their presence in the first season is limited, they appear with a greater frequency in season two, joining Cocoa and the others in their adventures.

  • A joke from GochiUsa‘s first season (corresponding with the manga’s third volume) makes a return: immediately after Cocoa leaves, Chino finds herself making iced cocoas, a nod to when Chino similarly became “Cocoa-sick” after Cocoa left to study with Chiya and Sharo, Chino similarly made a bunch of milk cocoas. It’s something that Chino is likely unwilling to openly to admit to the others, that in the absence of Cocoa, she misses the warmth and energy that Cocoa brings in.

  • Located deep in the mountains, the Hot Bakery is also Cocoa’s home. There is something particularly charming, even romantic, about a good eatery in a rural or small town setting, and one of the directions that GochiUsa has yet to take in its manga is to have Chino and the others visit the Hot Bakery.

  • Back home, Cocoa’s mother and Mocha both notice a degree of change in Cocoa; this stems from her spending time with the disciplined and focused Rize, Sharo’s unparalleled eye for sales in the name of saving money, and Chiya’s uncommon way of thinking. Friends certainly can have an impact on one another, bringing to mind cases where couples begin resembling one another in terms of facial expressions over time, and when dogs look like their owner.

  • In Chinese, bread is given as “麵包” (pinyin “miàn bāo”), which translates literally to “flour package”, describing the fact that bread minimally is a small parcel of flour and water cooked together to form a cohesive unit. The Japanese word for bread is “パン” (romanised “pan”) after the French pain. In English, “bread” is derived from Germanic languages, referring to the shape of baked bread as a unit or morsel, similar to the Chinese descriptor.

  • Mocha was a welcome addition to the cast in the second season, creating new dynamics amongst the existing characters that proved most enjoyable to watch. Some folks feel Mocha’s presence to overshadow the other characters, and while this is perhaps an exaggeration, the anime became noticeably quieter after Mocha returns home. I vividly recall the seventh episode of GochiUsa, released the same date that Girls und Panzer: Der Film premiered in Japanese theatres. The weather was pleasant, and I spent the morning shopping for deals at a nearby M&M Food Market.

  • If the trailers were indeed produced by Production doA, the art style has remained quite consistent from White Fox’s: here, Chino is not particularly enjoying the protracted farewells and asks Cocoa to set off with more expedience when Cocoa delays, asking the others to look after Chino for her. This frame is almost identical to the original manga, and having seen the trailer, I’m reasonably confident of Production doA’s ability to execute. One of the possible reasons why Dear My Sister was delayed could be the unexpected change in studios.

  • After recieving a request to make a delivery, Cocoa decides to take her bike, as town is a ways away. However, while Cocoa’s learned to ride a bike, Mocha’s taken things one step further and has gotten her introductory operator’s license, allowing her to drive a moped around. Essentially bikes with small engines, the requirements to operate one are not steep. Apparently, the naming is a portmanteau of “motor velocipede”, although I somehow always read it as the past tense of “mope”.

  • I don’t think Megu and Maya sharing a bath with Chino occurs within the same chapter, but the animated adaptation of GochiUsa has always presented a coherent, enjoyable flow of events despite the liberties it takes. The page quote deals with home this time: while the official GochiUsa website gives the plot as dealing with Chino asking her friends to watch the summer fireworks with her, the trailer suggests that Dear My Sister is going to be about more than just the fireworks, rather similar to how Pretty Days ended up being about more than Shinobu working hard to finish all of her tasks ahead of their class play at the school cultural festival.

  • The manga reveals that everyone’s gotten Cocoa-sick to some extent: Sharo starts speaking in a highly flowery, optimistic manner while meeting up with Rize, Chiya begins naming various food items after Cocoa, and Rize herself loses her cool after smiling the warmest smile ever, outright begging Cocoa to come back. One of the main themes of the second season was just how much of an impact Cocoa’s had on those around her, and even if it’s not quite the same as Yoshino Koharu had on Manoyama in Sakura, the second season’s strength really lay in illustrating the magic that a single individual can have.

  • In light of troubling events around the world as of late, I think that it’s important that people never lose sight of what’s important, doing what’s right for others and taking the time to step back and relax in a manner appropriate for them. This is the reason that I am particularly fond of GochiUsa and anime of its class: it helps me relax and take my mind off challenges from the real world: anime that engages too many neurons are not my cup of tea despite their narrative and technical excellence, and I further consider it a folly to take relaxing anime such as these too seriously.

  • One of the questions I’ve seen floating around on Reddit is the unusual syntax of “Dear My Sister”: in English, referring to one’s beloved takes the form “My Dear Sister”, but in this case, the title is intended to denote “Dear, My Sister”: the OVA is intended to act as a letter of sorts, and while the trailers do not show this, it is possible that the OVA could be presented in such a format. Armed with the manga and using Pretty Days as a precedent,

  • While modelled after Colmar, France, the town in GochiUsa also derives elements from Hungary from an architectural perspective, while elements of Japanese and German culture are quite prevalent, as well. To the best of my knowledge, Colmar does have a summer music festival, Festival international de musique classique de Colmar, but it’s not structured in the same manner as Japanese summer festivals – as per its name, the Colmar festival is a classical music festival. The town in GochiUsa is the ultimate combination of cultures, and it is with a mark of pride that I can say that I live somewhere where such cultural diversity is a given.

  • In Japan, I saw folks wearing yukata while visiting the Kinkakuji. Being modelled after the Japanese Yamato Nadeshiko, Chiya is seen wearing a yukata in the Deak My Sister trailer, and it is only in the likes of something like GochiUsa where one can have a Japanese-style summer festival amidst the Alsace area. In the manga, the summer festival ended up being quite short, but the biggest advantage about the animated medium is that things like fireworks and visuals of the town under festival lighting can be rendered in exceptional detail.

  • Like the quiet Saturday morning two years ago, the weather today is looking quite pleasant, although I’ve heard reports that things could darken later on. However, unlike last time, there are several differences: first, I will be heading off to lift weights in a few moments. Further, Thanksgiving dinner will be tomorrow evening. It goes without saying that I’m absolutely excited about Dear My Sister, but unless there’s an ARIA-level miracle, I won’t be watching or writing about this for quite some time. Thus, for the present, it’s time to get this day started, and here’s to hoping I can get some good experiences out of the beta today.

Dear My Sister will cover the third to sixth chapters from the fifth volume of GochiUsa: Cocoa is leaving town and spending a week with her family out in the mountains. While Chino appears unperturbed by Cocoa’s absence, in contrast with Chiya, who visibly misses her already, Chino unconsciously expresses her longing for Cocoa. To take their mind off things, Rize tasks Chino, Maya and Megu with cleaning up Rabbit House. Chino begins reminiscing when she first met Rize, and later, they work to patch up a stuffed rabbit that Rize had given to Chino when they’d first met. Back in the mountains, Cocoa is spending quality time with her mother and older sister, Mocha. She returns to find Rabbit House a very lively place, and later, Chino asks everyone to attend the summer festival with her. Before they can do so, they must help Aoyama finish her manuscript ahead of a deadline, only for her to accidentally spill coffee on it. Even though Cocoa’s forgotten to finish her summer assignments, the girls enjoy the summer festival to their fullest, culminating with the fireworks that Chino’s wished to bring everyone together to see. This is about the scope of what I imagine Dear My Sister will cover. There are other chapters in the fifth volume that remained uncovered, and a third season is not outside the realm of possibility, as well. However, before we reach that bridge, there is quite a distance separating the present from the point where I will have an opportunity to write about Dear My Sister. As such, it is appropriate for me to step off and enjoy this Thanksgiving Long Weekend – while Thanksgiving dinner might be happening tomorrow, this time, there’s going to be cheesecake.

On The Hillside Path Where The Cherry Blossoms Flutter: Beginning The Journey in CLANNAD at the Ten Year Anniversary

“You think you’re living in color, until completely by chance you meet someone who changes your world, and suddenly everything is so alive, and everything inside you is awakened.” —Ab imo pectore

While CLANNAD officially had its ten year anniversary back in April 2014, a time I better recall for other matters, today marks the ten year milestone to when the anime adaptation of the visual novel began airing. The first episode follows Tomoya Okazaki, a delinquent who whiles away his days, skipping classes with Youhei Sunohara and resenting the relationship he has with his father. While wondering if his life could possibly change on the way to school one day, he runs into a girl speaking with herself. Speaking with her in greater detail during lunch, Tomoya learns that she’s Nagisa Furukawa, and her dream is to resurrect the high school’s drama club. She’s a year older than he is, and that an illness has kept her from attending the previous year. Later, he is invited over to dinner at the Furukawas, meeting Sanae and Akio. CLANNAD‘s ordinary-seeming start belies an anime so moving, the medium has not seen anything quite matching its calibre: the first episode eases viewers into the intricate world that is CLANNAD, introducing some of the major characters and helping audiences connect with them by means of humour. The establishment of characters, presentation of each of their stories and Tomoya’s kindheartedness creates a tangible emotional impact, and the sum of the elements in CLANNAD means that even now, very few anime can come close to moving its viewers quite to the same extent as CLANNAD.

CLANNAD‘s opening moments serve to establish the story’s direction, firmly setting down the foundation for the beginnings of Tomoya’s journey. The use of colour and lighting immediately informs viewers that for the longest time, Tomoya views the world in a dull monochrome; despite slacking off with Kouhei and cutting classes ostensibly for fun, Tomoya is not satisfied with his world, where existence itself is a monotony lacking any value. When ascending a familiar walk to school, he runs into Nagisa. As he talks to her and offers encouragement despite not fully understanding who she is, the world flashes into the warm colours of a spring morning. The vegetation becomes verdant and full of life, while the cherry blossoms lightly flutter about in a gentle shade of pink. This transition can only be described as a fateful meeting, the sort that I’ve longed to experience and have felt precisely once; falling in love is powerful enough to give the world a newfound dimensionality, and while Tomoya here finds Nagisa little more than a curious individual, it marks the beginning of an incredible journey of effort, love, sorrow and togetherness for Tomoya. Quite simply, if there was a way to describe what falling in love might feel like, then through CLANNAD‘s first moments, Kyoto Animation has wholly captured it, and with it, my very own journey in CLANNAD was initiated.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I might be minus one now after the events many years ago, but I’m still here and still doing what I do best. A part of strength is being able to look back on the more painful things and learn from them, rather than being consumed by them: reviewing CLANNAD is going to bring up some old memories for me, speaking to the strength of the narrative in both the visual novel and the game. For this post, I’ll stick to the manageable number of twenty screenshots, which is the norm for single-episode reviews.

  • The page quote comes from a former colleague and friend, describing falling in love as seeing the world properly for the first time. The metaphor certainly applies in CLANNAD; Tomoya’s world is flipped inside out and he begins appreciating it from a new perspective after meeting Nagisa, but unlike most narratives, CLANAND takes the time to develop the relationship between Nagisa and Tomoya. They begin with Tomoya interested in helping her out to stave off boredom, and the two eventually become friends before releasing the extent of their feelings for one another, finally becoming a couple.

  • The opening of CLANNAD is surprisingly similar to the first episode of The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi. I admit that I was not a fan of the series until I heard about The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi, and subsequently, I’m glad I took the time to watch it (even Endless Eight). Both Haruhi and CLANNAD open with a monochrome colour scheme that transitions to colour once their series’ respective protagonist meets the girl who changes their lives forever. The signs in Haruhi are rather more subtle, but strictly speaking, Kyon and Haruhi are very well-suited for one another: he’s practical and grounded, while she’s a creative visionary. Together, he is able to reign in her plans and make them a reality, while she forces him out of his comfort zone to experience more. Tomoya and Nagisa have a different, but equally rewarding dynamic.

  • Looking back, my experiences will likely tell me that this is the world’s finest example of confirmation bias: I began watching CLANNAD roughly at the same time my heart was being swayed, and it is more than likely CLANNAD acted as a catalyst of sorts for this. That’s enough reminiscing; it’s time to return to what’s happening in CLANNAD itself, and here is an after school scene as Tomoya makes to hang out with Youhei. The artwork and animation in CLANNAD far surpasses anything of its time, and Kyoto Animation’s craft generally is comparable to Makoto Shinkai, Studio Ghibli and P.A. Works’ best.

  • The comedic aspects of CLANNAD means that the anime is immediately accessible for folks who were unfamiliar with the visual novel, and back in 2007, Steam would not have had it for sale, as it released in 2015. I picked up CLANNAD during a discount a ways back, but I’ve yet to actually open it and play it. I’ve heard it’s got fantastic replay value comparable to Skyrim and GTA V, but with the slew of awesome titles upcoming (Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus comes to mind), I don’t think there’s enough hours in the day to get everything in.

  • Although their interactions might suggest otherwise, Youhei Sunohara and Tomoya are best friends. Tomoya is particularly adept at deceiving Youhei or otherwise landing him in hot water for his own amusement, but when the moment calls for it, both Tomoya and Kouhei genuinely do care for one another. Here, Tomoya trolls members of the rugby team: of all the characters, Youhei defies biological and physical constraints with the greatest frequency. He is tossed around like a ragdoll but can take as much damage as the Doom Slayer.

  • After Ryou Fujibayashi attempts to read Tomoya’s fortune and succumbs to nerves, her more assertive twin sister, Kyou, appears. Both have feelings for Tomoya, but in the visual novel, players only have the option of playing Kyou’s route (and Tomoya ends up with Ryou if sub-optimal decisions are made). Some have considered Kyou to be a suitable match for Tomoya – supplementary materials and the progression of her route in the game tend to support this. Here’s a surprise for me: Kyou is voiced by Ryō Hirhashi, of Tamayura‘s Komachi Shinoda and Aria‘s very own Alice Caroll.

  • Voiced by Mai Nakahara of Higurashi: When They Cry‘s Rena Ryugu fame, Nagisa quickly became my favourite character on CLANNAD. Sweet, sensitive and gentle, her disposition happens to be what I would fancy about a person. In conjunction with commitment and trust, these attributes happen to be the very things that I value in a relationship.

  • This screenshot illustrates the transformations that have yet to occur: at this point in CLANNAD, Tomoya and Nagisa are quite unfamiliar with one another and refer to one another by their surnames, considering one another as little more than fellow students. One of my favourite moments in my undergraduate career was working on a project for Japanese class, only for one of my colleagues from health sciences to ask if I were in a relationship, as they’d seen us practising for a skit. At this point, I regarded the comment as little more than a light-hearted joke. Another colleague made a similar remark a year later, and leading me to wonder what would happen if I Reached into Infinity and see where things would take me.

  • Resolute, determined and forward, Tomoyo Sakagami has a well-known streak of violence and is shown to be capable of fighting as effectively as Donnie Yen. Despite this, her main goal is to become the student council president with the goal of saving the sakura trees that she longs to see with her family with the hopes of mending past ills. Early in CLANNAD, she’s present primarily to lay the ultra-beatdowns on Youhei for comedic effect. As impressive as her martial arts are, what is more impressive is Youhei’s resilience.

  • Nagisa’s wish to resurrect the drama club stems from a longstanding desire to act; long denied the opportunity as a result of her illness, Nagisa wishes to do something in her final year as a high school student. I’ve never been a particularly good actor, being very stoic in most situations that may elicit responses from those around me, but on the flipside, I’m okay with presentations and speaking to an extent, lending my unusual sense of humour to draw in audiences before proceeding with my main content.

  • Reaching into Infinity ended up causing a bit of hurt, but also imparted on me life experiences I’ll carry with me and value forever owing to their instructive value. With that being said, I do miss the warmth of a smile and words encouragement prior to undertaking something difficult: throughout CLANNAD, Nagisa and Tomoya constantly support one another even as they find themselves entangled within their own challenges, and for Tomoya, he always manages to make time to help Nagisa out with the drama club even as other characters require his attention.

  • Tomoya is voiced by Yūichi Nakamura (Gundam 00‘s Graham Aker), and the surname Okazaki brings to mind Okazaki fragments, which are formed on the lagging strand of DNA during replication. They were discovered in the 1960s in experiments on E. coli by Reiji and Tsuneko Okazaki along with their colleagues: in eukaryotes, the fragments are a few hundred base pairs in length, and later, DNA Ligase seals off the strand. My memories of biochemistry are strong: I finished my introductory biochemistry course shortly before beginning CLANNAD mere months before.

  • After running into Tomoya on the way home, Nagisa asks if he’s interested in having dinner with her family. Within nothing else to do in the evenings besides return home, Tomoya accepts. Shortly after I finished CLANNAD and its sequel, I wrote a combined review for the anime, delving into the thematic elements and covering briefly what aspects of the anime I felt to have made it worthwhile. During this time, I still primarily wrote to my website, with this blog being more of a support resource; it was not until later that I made the transition, accounting for why I have not covered CLANNAD to any extent here until now.

  • A long-running joke in CLANNAD is the fact that any criticisms (real or perceived) of Sanae Furukawa’s bread will immediately lead her to run off in tears, forcing Akio to run off after her and declare that said bread is in fact delicious, even if it is composed of uncommon or unusual ingredients. While done frequently enough to elicit the occasional laugh, this particular action is shown to serve another purpose later on.

  • Akio is very protective of his wife and daughter, to the point of threatening Tomoya physical harm with a baseball bat. However, all of this is done for comedy, and under his hot-blooded exterior, Akio is deeply caring about his family and those around him. During my original run of CLANNAD, I heard assertions that Akio was voiced by the same person who played G Gundam‘s Domon Kash, but that’s not true. One can hardly blame people for this assumption, as their personalities and spirits share commonalities.

  • The lighting inside the Furukawa residence is bright and inviting, standing against the dark, unkempt interior of the Okazaki residence. The contrast and normalcy in the Furukawa compels Tomoya to continue visiting even in light of Akio’s manner later in CLANNAD. Here, notice the Furukawa’s CRT television – such screens were widespread until the early 2000s, when LED screens began displacing them. One of the joys about the bulky CRT computer screens of old is demonstrated in the mockumentary Pure Pwnage.

  • Tonight is the Mid-Autumn Festival; as per Chinese custom, we celebrated with a fantastic dinner of chicken, roasted pork with crispy skin, shrimps and dong gu mushrooms. The weather’s been remarkably pleasant today, a far cry from Monday, when a snowfall and 90km/h winds hammered the area: it’s a full moon, and while it’s the perfect time to have a bit of mooncake, dinner proved to be superb, leaving no room for desert. Mooncake will therefore be partaken in the upcoming days leading up to Thanksgiving. While multi-yolk mooncakes are an indicator of better luck, I prefer my mooncake without the yolk.

  • This post ended up being a lot more introspective and personal than usual, which is saying something. In upcoming CLANNAD posts, I will aim to stay on mission and explore what each arc contributes to the story overall. It is a journey that will lead us into March 2018. I’m not sure if I’ll have the time to write about CLANNAD ~After Story~ in this manner, but this is something that will be addressed when the time comes.

  • Tomoya later sees Nagisa performing under a street lamp. In CLANNAD, the Illusionary World is presented with a non-trivial frequency; its significance in CLANNAD is that it forms the basis for Nagisa’s play, and in CLANNAD ~After Story~, it takes on a much greater significance. This brings the opening post of my CLANNAD revisitation to a close, and the fall anime season has finally begun. There are three shows on my radar right now: Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Hero ChapterWake Up! Girls Shin Shou and Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou. I am certain to write about Hero Chapter, and with the breathing room available from the blogging front, I have two special topics posts I will be looking to work on before this month is out.

CLANNAD would go on to impact my world view, particularly in matters of the heart and also led me the furtherest I’d been in a relationship. Of course, the real world is simultaneously more kind and more cruel than CLANNAD – my journey in matters of the heart closed a year later, during the visual novel’s ten year anniversary. However, CLANNAD itself remains perhaps the best anime series I’ve seen, and I’ve long felt that it’s time I went back through CLANNAD to explore what precisely made the anime the emotional powerhouse that it is. To this end, I’m going to be writing about CLANNAD in a retrospective format, similar to what I’ve done for Sora no Woto. However, because CLANNAD is a gargantuan series, spanning forty-nine episodes (forty-four of which constitute the actual story) over two season, I will not be revisiting CLANNAD on an episodic basis. Instead, I will explore each arc of CLANNAD. In this format, CLANNAD will have four posts excluding this one, one each for Fuko, Kotomi, Kyou and Ryou, and finally, Nagisa herself. I’ve not seen CLANNAD since I wrote the MCAT in 2012 – armed with five years more of life experience since then, I admit that I’m curious to see how my thoughts on this excellent anime have endured and shifted with the passage of time.