The Infinite Zenith

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Category Archives: Japanese Animation

Anime and Real Life, The Intersection of Magic and Maturity on the Shores of Okinawa: An Oculus-Powered Armchair Journey of The Aquatope on White Sand

“If there is magic on this planet, it’s contained in water.” –Lorene Eisley

Readers may recall that a little less than a year ago, I’d hit the white sands of Okinawa’s beaches with the Oculus Quest and its Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC processor to find where Haruka and Kanata’s quest to become Japan’s top under-18 beach volleyball players took place. During this journey, I most enjoyed the fact that Harukana Receive took viewers to corners of Okinawa that locals would be familiar with. In The Aquatope on White Sand, after Fūka Miyazawa arrives in Okinawa on a spur of the moment, after deciding she needed to get away from things following her decision to quit the idol business, she immediately finds herself in a shopping district in downtown Naha. Fūka ends up meeting a fortune teller who tells her to go east, and after falling asleep near Hyakana Beach, she encounters Karin Kudaka, who recommends that Fūka check out the local aquarium near Nanjō. Here, Fūka has a fateful meeting with Kukuru Misakino; this chance meeting changes both girls’ lives forever, allowing them to pick themselves up from what the anime described as the ruins of shattered dreams. Like Harukana Receive, The Aquatope on White Sand focuses on locations that are a bit more out-of-the way to really convey a sense of authenticity, and during the series’ first half, Okinawa’s eastern coast is lovingly depicted, becoming as familiar and friendly as Fūka and Kukuru were. The region around Gama Gama is faithfully portrayed, although right from the start, it became clear that The Aquatope on White Sand was going to take liberties with locations – Gama Gama is located where Azama Sun Sun Beach stands, and a glance at satellite imagery finds no such aquarium at this spot. However, whereas The Aquatope on White Sand‘s first half portrayed Okinawa in such a way as to render viewers familiar with Kukuru’s home, the second half of the series placed a much greater emphasis on Kukuru and Fūka’s professional development as they work for the larger, better-funded and newer Tingarla Aquarium. The intensity of work displaces the wonders of Okinawa, and fewer locations were seen in this series’ second half; like Gama Gama, Tingarla is a fictional aquarium tailor-made for The Aquatope on White Sand. However, this hadn’t stopped me from keeping an eye on the locations in The Aquatope on White Sand – that the series continues to utilise real world locations speaks to the fact that both Fūka and Kukuru’s experiences are something with a basis on reality, something relatable. Since I’d already been familiar with Okinawa from previous location hunts, as well as the fact that Okinawa has 3D photogrammetry data, I continued on with my location hunt as the series progressed, and in the end, was able to find a few more locations of interest, far removed from the beaten trail that visitors normally tread when they visit Okinawa.

  • Being Japan’s equivalent of Hawaii, or Japan’s equivalent of Heinan, Okinawa is an oft-visited destination in anime: I’d previously done an Oculus Quest-powered location hunt for Harukana Receive, but will note that anime like Non Non BiyoriAzumanga DaiohPuraOre!, Ano Natsu De Matteru and countless others have also hit Okinawa’s tropical beaches and inviting waters during the summer. The Aquatope on White Sand returns things to Okinawa with its own unique spin of things, and utilises the wonderous sights of Okinawa for a new goal: to serve as the backdrop for two journeys of self-discovery and growth.

  • When The Aquatope on White Sand first began airing, P.A Works immediately established that the events would be set around Nanjō, Okinawa. This city has a population of 41000 and was established in 2006 from the merger of several villages in the Shimajiri District, together with the town of Sashiki. Located on the southeastern edge of Okinawa, Nanjō is due east of capital Naha. The fact that Nanjō is only fifty square kilometres meant I had a very manageable search area to work with, and after the first episode of The Aquatope on White Sand, I’d located the roads that Fūka had travelled along, starting with her walk here along Niraikanai Bridge.

  • Following Route 331 north allowed me to find the same spots The Aquatope on White Sand portrays throughout its earliest episodes, and while these are unremarkable in every way (they’re not exactly attractions or points of interest), they do showcase the level of attention paid to details in this anime. Although I had to imagine the tropical heat of Okinawa whilst using the Oculus Quest, every other detail was faithfully rendered, and I could imagine a lost Fūka wandering down the sidewalk along Route 331, wondering what the fortune teller’s advice from the previous day had meant.

  • As with the location hunt I’d done for The World in Colours, there are some spots in The Aquatope on White Sand where the Oculus Quest can’t reach simply because of constraints with Street View data: were one to have boots on the ground, they’d be able to simply walk up to a spot and grab a photo. However, Street View is still sufficiently comprehensive in Okinawa such that I had a reasonable time of finding everything: here, I locate the spots for one of the stills from the first episode’s beginning, which featured several frames of locations along Route 331.

  • A-Coop is a supermarket chain in Japan, and this particular A-Coop is one that visitors recommend: it stocks souvenirs as well as local Okinawan products like seasonings and sweets, selling them for reduced prices compared to more touristy shops in the area. This sort of thing wouldn’t be known to travellers who don’t wander off the beaten path, and it strikes me that, were I to visit Okinawa now, if I were looking for Okinawa specialties, A-Coops would not be a bad choice. I certainly wouldn’t have known about this had a not done a location hunt post, and this is one of the reasons why I’m so fond of location hunts (the effort to write about them notwithstanding).

  • A little further down the road is a post office, general store and travel agency: the travel agency occupies the same spot that Tsukimi’s family restaurant is located, and in the distance, the Minamishiroichi Sight Seeing Information Center can be seen. I’ve chosen not to include sites related to the characters, such as Tsukimi’s family restaurant and Gama Gama itself, because these were locations that were tailor-made for The Aquatope on White Sand. It is not uncommon for studios to modify locations to fit the anime’s story, and so, it goes without saying that folks looking to do a tour of The Aquatope on White Sand should not expect to find a cozy street-side eatery serving up Okinawan classics.

  • The building seen here is actually a coworking space called Agai Tida, which overlooks the Chinen Peninsula and offers a gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean. Despite its unassuming exterior, Agai Tida has a beautifully appointed interior. Coworking spaces are a relatively new construct that became popular in Europe during the mid-2000s, and in North America, became popular after Anca Mosoiu established a coworking space in the Bay Area. Presented as a chance for cross-discipline collaboration, coworking spaces allow different companies to share office space and utilities, as well as providing remote workers an office-like environment that working from home cannot provide. In my home town, coworking has seen limited success: my previous employer operated out of a coworking space owned by Aspen Properties, and I absolutely loved the environment the space provided.

  • In late 2019, WeWork had announced they had bought out a few floors in our building, including ours, forcing us to move to a smaller building a few blocks away. This building was removed from the hustle and bustle of downtown and had a lower occupancy, making it feel a little more isolated. However, at the global health crisis’ onset, we would ultimately give the space up and worked from home remotely to cut costs further. I’m no longer with this start-up, but having acclimatised to working from home, I’ve been able to adapt to my new position quite readily. Back in The Aquatope on White Sand, I’ve made a right turn off Route 331 down Shining Sun Road, which leads to Azuma Sun Sun Beach, home of Gama Gama Aquarium.

  • It turns out that the driftwood swing set seen in The Aquatope on White Sand is located at Azama Sun Sun Beach, and while it’s probably not the most exciting swing set in the world, there is an appeal about its aesthetic: it conveys a very lonely feeling that mirrors how this early on in The Aquatope on White Sand, Kukuru is completely alone in her endeavours to save Gama Gama Aquarium from closure. Looking back, I’d gone into The Aquatope on White Sand hoping that Gama Gama would be saved, since this was the magic of fiction, but the series ended up going above and beyond expectations in its portrayal of the transition to adulthood by showing how aspirations and dreams can be realised even if in the moment, it seems like there is no other way.

  • Azama Sun Sun Beach lies at the easternmost end of Nanjō, and its location means that compared to more well-known beaches in Okinawa, it is a ways less crowded. The beach offers basic services like showers and change rooms, in addition to tubing and paragliding. The shallow waters make this a suitable place to bring children, and there are a host of gazebos with picnic tables that are perfect for a day out, although visitors report that fees are charged for everything from parking to toilet paper and towels.

  • It is here, adjacent to the shores of Azama Sun Sun Beach, that Gama Gama Aquarium is located – it appears that the shallow waters east of the beach have been filled in to accommodate an aquarium, and moreover, in The Aquatope on White Sand, this aquarium’s been here for quite some time. Although Gama Gama itself is fictional, it is with some degree of irony that visitors looking to check Azama Sun Sun Beach for themselves will find it quite true to life in that Gama Gama was demolished during The Aquatope on White Sand‘s second half.

  • While looking around the Nanjō area to see if Gama Gama was indeed real during The Aquatope on White Sand‘s first few episodes, I employed 3D imagery to lend a hand to the search process, and in doing so, I came across a pair of wind turbines located a short ways away from Niraikanai Bridge. Fūka and Kukuru aren’t ever shown as coming up here themselves, but during the first episode’s opening moments, a wind turbine can be seen through the grass.

  • The first half of The Aquatope on White Sand offers the lion’s share of the anime’s real-world locations: by the second half, the focus is in Kukuru and Tingarla Aquarium. Tingarla Aquarium itself is fictional, set in an undisclosed location, and after the second half began, I did a naïve search for all aquariums in Okinawa to see if any of them could have inspired Tingarla. If memory serves, nothing came up: DMM Kariyushi Aquarium is the largest in Okinawa and is located at the heart of Naha, but inspection of its exhibits find that Tingarla is an order of magnitude more sophisticated. However, I ended up finding another aquarium at Aeon Mall Rycom, the mall that Haruka and Kanata went swimsuit shopping at. This in turn led me to find the spot where Kukuru and Fūka’s apartment is located. The Aquatope on White Sand has a rental complex on the site, whereas in reality, private residences fill the site.

  • Kukuru and Fūka’s apartment was probably the toughest spot to find in the whole of the location hunt. Like the tougher spots from The World in Colours, finding the apartments that Kukuru and Fūka reside at simply took a lot of hours looking at a lot of locations inside the Ouclus Quest, and in the end, I canvased both the build-up areas east and west of the mall. In the end, I found the apartments, located four kilometres away from Aeon Mall Rycom on foot. It would take around 40 minutes to walk, whereas The Aquatope on White Sand suggests that the apartment is no more than 15 minutes from Tingarla.

  • The pair of Shisa guarding the entry into Route 39 can be found near the Nippon Life Naha Building at the intersection between Routes 39 and 42. Things look a little glitzier in the real world than they do in The Aquatope on White Sand, but the combination of Shisa and palm trees indicates this is indeed the spot, even though there are minute differences between anime and reality. Unlike Fūka and Kukuru’s apartment, these spots were considerably easier to find; after her arrival, Fūka is limited to only a few modes of transportation and ends up at a shōtengai, so a quick search for these shopping districts returned Makisihi Public Market down Route 39.

  • From here, I was able to trace Fūka’s steps from the airport to Makisihi Public Market, a total walking distance of 4.6 kilometres if one travels along Route 331. The building here, behind Fūka, is the entrance to a store and office building of sorts. Adjacent to this is an ice cream shot, Blue Seal: if memory serves, this is where Fūka ends up grabbing an ice cream. Blue Seal was originally an American company that made ice cream for Americans in Okinawa, but by 1963, they served everyone and began integrating Okinawan flavours into their ice cream.

  • This is the entrance to Makisihi Public Market, known to locals as Naha’s Kitchen for its dazzling array of fresh vegetables, fruits, meat and fish. The market opened in 1972, and there’s a second floor with all manner of Okinawan eateries on the second floor. For visitors looking to have the most authentic Okinawan experience possible, Makisihi Public Market is the place to visit. It suddenly strikes me that, how these establishing shots were framed really serve to capture the melancholy in Fūka when she first set foot in Okinawa.

  • The incidental music in The Aquatope on White Sand absolutely captures this, and on the topic of the soundtrack, it released earlier today. Yoshiaki Dewa reprises his role from The World in Colour, incorporating the sanshin into songs that convey a sense of longing and sadness. In particular, the tracks that stood out most for me was Fūka’s theme, Sea Turtle Fūka and Farewell to Dolphins. The Fūka at The Aquatope on White Sand‘s end the difference between night and day, being more outgoing and confident. However, every journey began somewhere, and it is amidst one of the smaller shops at Makisihi Public Market where Fūka’s course changes forever, when she meets a fortune teller who sends her eastward, towards Gama Gama Aquarium.

  • Having already shown where Gama Gama is, I see no reason to go back, and instead, will present a shot of Naha’s skyline from Daiwa Roynet Hotel: this hotel opened in 2015 and combines clean facilities, attentive staff and an excellent location with reasonable rates. There’s a restaurant on the top floor that offers an unmatched view of Naha, visible here. From here, the Naha Terrace (another hotel, visible as the building with a stairwell outside) can be seen, as well as the Fuso Building (just above the large apartment complex) and the ocean itself.

  • The building that Kukuru and Tetsuji meet the wedding planner at actually does host a wedding-related company in reality: Bridal House Tutu. They’re located down Route 58, and specialise in wedding attire rental. Bridal House Tutu actually has locations throughout Japan, from Sapporo to Osaka, and besides Western-style dresses and tuxedoes, Bridal House Tutu also rents out traditional kimonos, too. Tutu has access to several venues in Okinawa, and it speaks to the realism in The Aquatope on White Sand that a similar company is looking to expand the variety of places it has available to customers.

  • Looking around, one finds the road Tetsuji and Kukuru stand alone prior to entering the building. Finding this location boiled down to a bit of luck; it was a shot in the dark as to whether or not I would actually be able to locate the building, and I ended up doing a search for a range of wedding-related topics to see if anything would stick. Similarly to Kukuru and Fūka’s apartment, it took a bit of searching using the Oculus Quest to find the location. Standing in contrast with the locations from The Aquatope on White Sand‘s first half, which were clustered around Nanjō’s eastern edge, the second half’s locations are scattered throughout Okinawa.

  • This spot, for instance, is located along the Hija River in Furugen, and again, was only found because I’d been looking around the shores of Kadena Air Base to see if there were any familiar spots. Given how everything is placed in The Aquatope on White Sand‘s second half, the series’ detractors might argue that the haphazard choice of locations mirror the shift in the story’s focus. Fortunately, it is usually the case that people who tear down anime don’t exactly have the sharpest of minds or the best understanding of literary analysis – no one has yet suggested that the locations of The Aquatope on White Sand parallel the quality of writing. Had this happened, I would counter that in the series’ second half, Kukuru’s focus is narrowed, mirroring how adults often lose sight of the world around them because of their singular devotion towards accomplishing their goals.

  • During my search for other aquariums around Okinawa that might’ve been the inspiration for Tingarla,  I came across Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. This aquarium opened in 1975 as a part of the World Expo, and is one of the largest aquariums in the world, being one of the few places that exhibit whale sharks and manta rays in its tanks. In 2002, the original expo facility was replaced by a larger, and more modern installation, leading attendance rates to increase nearly six times. General admissions for adults is 1880 Yen (20.90 CAD), and a glance at the map shows that Churaumi (“Beautiful Ocean”) is vast: besides the main building, the entire area is a park. The pavilion here, where Fūka, Kukuru and Karin often have lunch, is replicated faithfully. Unfortunately for proponents of realism, Churaumi is located some 65 kilometres away from where Kukuru and Fūka live: it is simply not walkable.

  • One location that was almost certainly tailor-made for The Aquatope on White Sand was the island Kukuru ends up visiting on her unsanctioned break, and a quick look at the topological data found nothing in Okinawa that resembled this island. Conversely, when Fūka returns home, she and Kaoru head down Route 58 just south of Nago. This particular bend in the road is located near Nuchigusui, a coastal restaurant with an impressive menu: visitors report fair prices and large portions for dishes, which are tried-and-true classics with an Okinawan twist. While The Aquatope on White Sand represents one of the more tricky location hunts I’ve ever done, right alongside The World in Colours, I’m glad to have taken the time to do a handful of comparisons between anime and real life: it definitively shows the effort that went into making both series captivating and compelling.

The Aquatope on White Sand presented a different set of challenges for location hunting compared to The World in Colours – the fact that The Aquatope on White Sand had utilised fictionalised spots in conjunction with real world locations, and this has made the process considerably more difficult. For instance, Kukuru and Fūka are shown to live within walking distance of Tingarla, but no landmarks near Tingarla are ever shown. Attempts to do a search of coastal areas comes up short; an aquarium of Tingarla’s size would be located in Naha, and in reality, the largest aquarium in Naha is DMM Kariyushi Aquarium, which is five klicks south of Naha Airport. However, the entire area is flat, and Tingarla is shown as being located near some cliffs. This led me to search for aquariums elsewhere in Okinawa, and although this approach allowed me to find Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, which is an established aquarium that does provide some of the inspiration for Tingarla, I was left with no more clues about things, since the nearest town, Nago, is twenty-two kilometres away by car, making it unlikely that Fūka and Kukuru would commute here on foot. Similarly, Rycom Aquarium, inside Aeon Mall Okinawa Rycom, is located too far inland to be an appropriate candidate. However, knowing that this did show up in the search led me to look around the area, and while it’s not particularly walkable, I did end up finding the area that inspired Fūka and Kukuru’s apartment. I was left to conclude that, while the major aquariums of The Aquatope on White Sand might be fictional, there remained a large number of places that inspired the places seen in the anime; the decision to retain some real world locations and create fictionalised spots speaks to how The Aquatope on White Sand is intended to tell a very specific story, and that there were moments where it was more appropriate to modify things a little so the anime was more effective in its intended aims. This aspect is a common part of fiction, and the fact that The Aquatope on White Sand took this route is to mirror the fact that realism isn’t a given anime’s objective. However, while the largest players in The Aquatope on White Sand might have no real world equivalent, numerous other spots in The Aquatope on White Sand are indeed real, speaking to the idea that the lessons this anime were aiming to convey have a basis in reality, as well. Having now gone through yet another location hunt set in Okinawa, home of my martial arts style (gōjū-ryū), I am left with the conclusion that, should I ever decide to travel to Okinawa in the future, I’d be able to do a three-in-one special: besides experiencing the touristy things that anime often depict, I’d also have a chance to walk the same beaches Haruka and Kanata vie for the beach volleyball championships in, as well as treading the same paths that Fūka and Kukuru take on their journey to becoming fully-fledged members of society. Such a trip is enticing, but as I’d noted in the location hunt for The World in Colours, any journey of this scale is going to have to wait a little while longer. Until the time is appropriate, however, I have access to a tool that will allow me to imitate the experience: Okinawa is only the opening of an app, and the flick of a wrist, away for me in the Oculus Quest.

86 EIGHTY-SIX: Review and Reflection, Plus A Brief Intermission After Twenty-One

“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” –Albert Schweitzer

Giad’s command forecast a massive Legion counterattack and Leftenant-Colonel Wenzel manages to reassemble Shinei’s squadmates into Nordlich Squadron. Frederica reveals that she is the last surviving member of the Giad Empire’s royal family, and that a member of her guard, Kiriya (who shares ancestry with Shinei), eventually became assimilated by the Legion. The overwhelming Legion assault threatens to overwhelm Giad’s defenses, but Nordlich Squadron successfully repels the Legion. With Legion threatening San Magnolia’s borders, Vladilena prepares to rally the remaining Colorata under her command, although San Magnolia is overrun and defeated. It turns out that the Legion have been making use of a massive artillery gun named the Morpho, and moreover, this weapon is controlled by the remnants of Kiriya’s spirits. Giad decides to send Nordlich in to handle this, and although Leftenant-Colonel Wenzel is incensed that Shinei and his team are to be assigned on a suicide mission, Shinei and the others accept their task, feeling death in combat to be preferable to cowering while others fought for them, as the San Magnolians did. Giad ends up deploying a prototype vehicle to get Shinei and his team close to the Morpho, although they learn that the Legion had left behind a decommissioned Morpho as a trap. While they are able to escape, the Giad forces take heavy losses. Shinei receives permission to continue pursuing Kiriya’s Morpho and are shocked to learn Frederica had accompanied them into battle. Before their final attack on the Morpho, Raiden implores Shinei to look after himself, and later, Frederica remarks that she’d like to see the ocean with everyone once the fighting ends. Kiriya’s Morpho proves to be a fearsome opponent, and each of Raiden, Theoto, Kurena and Anju become damaged during the fighting, leaving Shinei to take on the Morpho on his own. His magazine sustains damage, leaving him with a single round, but thanks to support fire from an unknown source, and Frederica imploring Kiriya to stand down, Shinei manages to strike the weak spot on Kiriya’s Morpho, destroying it. The Morpho subsequently engages a self-destruct mechanism that engulfs both Shinei and Frederica in its blast radius.

Whereas 86 EIGHTY-SIX‘s first half was divided between Vladilena’s command of the Undertaker unit, and Undertaker’s exploits in the war against the Legion, this second half is predominantly focused on Shinei’s remaining team and their return to the battlefield, as they fight alongside the Federacy of Giad to push back the Legion and put an end to the war. The shift in perspective is 86 EIGHTY-SIX‘s advantage. The first half had the advantage of showing the war from the San Magnolian perspective, and the disconnect created gave the distinct impression that save Vladilena and a small number of her circle, San Magnolia appears to care little for the war effort otherwise. Conversely, Giad, as a part of the political reform, is willing to deploy their own professional soldiers to the frontline and fight alongside Shinei’s group. This eliminates the need for the Handler/Processor dynamic and creates the impression of a society that is seeking to right past wrongs. From a narrative standpoint, the fact that Giad soldiers are willing to deploy to the frontlines results in a story that’s much more cohesive and focused. The entire focus of the second half, after Shinei, Raiden, Theoto, Anju and Kurena join the Giad forces, is to take down the Morpho, a massive railway gun with a four hundred kilometre range. This weapon poses a massive threat to Giad and the surviving nations, to the point where the other nations agree to an alliance in a bid to stop this weapon. The effort taken to destroy this weapon gave 86 EIGHTY-SIX a chance to really focus on Shinei and his team, to an extent that hadn’t been possible in the first season because perspective had constantly flipped between the harsh realities that Undertaker faced, and the idealism that Vladilena sought to try and bring to the table. In this way, it becomes clear that even among his team, Shinei is more disconnected from humanity than Theoto, Raiden, Anju and Kurena: he lives purely for the thrill of combat and feels no other purpose in life. Having established the extent to which Shinei’s sense of humanity is blunted, viewers thus gain insight into why he’s so effective in combat, and so reserved off the battlefield.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I originally hadn’t intended to write about 86 EIGHTY-SIX at this stage in the game, having fallen behind on things, and instead, was waiting for the finale to air so I could do a single post on things. However, making my way through things right through to the assault on the Morpho, 86 EIGHTY-SIX clicked for me, and I found myself greatly enjoying how this second half was progressing. While I get why the first half was formatted the way it was, the story I’d come to enjoy the most was always to do with the Colorata, and Shinei’s team, in particular.

  • Although the textual discussion would suggest that 86 EIGHTY-SIX is all-business, one aspect about the series I found helpful was the fact that there is an effort to remind viewers that the characters are human; here, Frederica wanders around the base half-awake, prompting Shinei to hand her off over to Anju so she can get dressed. 86 EIGHTY-SIX is somewhat unusual in that visual elements more common to comedy are occasionally employed; this is the show’s way of reminding viewers of the fact that even in the grimmest moments, gentler or more amusing moments remain.

  • Frederica provides much of these throughout 86 EIGHTY-SIXs second half. Her background is a bit of a tragic one: her entire family was eventually executed, and it was only thanks to Ernest Zimmerman that she was spared. It turns out that Zimmerman himself was a former Imperial Guard who ended up renouncing his background and fought for a democratic Giad. His actions may come across as suspicious, but ultimately, Zimmerman wants to build a country unencumbered by the failures of Imperial Giad, and in his personal life, raise a family in stead of the one he’d lost.

  • Together with a Giad military that has been shown to drill its soldiers as contemporary professional armed forces would, and one that utilises equipment designed with the operator’s safety in mind, I was left with the impression that Giad is a legitimate power with a genuine concern for the world. It therefore became much easier to trust that Giad’s desire to eliminate the Legion as genuine; the whole of the first half had Shinei and the others fighting for a uncaring and slovenly nation, so it was natural that both Shinei and the viewers had little reason to trust Giad initially.

  • However, the combination of seeing Giad’s professional armed forces in action, coupled with the Reginleif’s armour and defensive features, I became convinced that Giad is trustworthy. Eliminating this doubt allowed the story to focus on the sort of challenges that Shinei and the others face now that they’re fighting under a different flag. One aspect that some viewers found surprising was the fact the Reginleif’s secondary armaments were designated as using 12.7×99mm NATO (i.e. .50 BMG) rounds, but in 86 EIGHTY-SIX, there shouldn’t be a NATO equivalent (and as such, no STANAG 4383 clause). This particularly irked one viewer, “Lambdalith”, who suggested that A-1 “copied all the ammo list provided by their military consultant without removing the NATO rounds designation [and therefore] can be interpreted as a blooper of sorts”.

  • Others promptly stepped up and noted that this was likely done as a convenience feature so viewers wouldn’t have to learn new calibres. In this case, while it might’ve been a little easier to just refer to the rounds as “.50 BMG”, which is not a STANAG 4383 compliant designation, I imagine that “12.7×99mm NATO” was chosen simply because it looks cooler to viewers. I’ve never really understood the demand that works of fiction be completely free of gaffes (I’d argue that “Lambdalith” is calling out something minor such as this, in an attempt to sound more knowledgeable); the type of secondary ammunition the Reginleifs use don’t impact 86 EIGHTY-SIX‘s story in any way, so such comments add little to the discussion at hand. Here, Frederica peers into Shinei’s mind and learns he’s enjoying the chaos of battle the same way Kiriya once did.

  • Anime discussions have always varied in terms of quality, and generally speaking, the most meaningful discussions entail people who make an effort to listen to other sides of the coin, walking others through their thought process and where applicable, sharing their own related experience. Folks who focus on a dry, impersonal analysis as though they were writing an undergraduate term paper usually aren’t the most fun to converse with, which is why I do a combination of writing about pure outcomes in my paragraphs, before delving into assorted thoughts and commentary with the screenshots.

  • For 86 EIGHTY-SIX, I’ve (surprisingly) been able to keep clear of the overly-serious conversations out there, and this in turn has really allowed me to enjoy the series at my own pace: while I’d been skeptical of this series, being able to draw my own conclusions has led to a superb experience overall. As an example, the first half’s pacing was a little disjointed for me, but once I came to the conclusion it was meant precisely to show a disconnect, Vladilena’s presence became considerably more enjoyable. Cutting her from most of 86 EIGHTY-SIX‘s second half to focus on Shinei’s team gave the latter much more growth than was previously possible.

  • However, while Vladilena might’ve had a reduced presence, the destruction of San Magnolia in 86 EIGHTY-SIX‘s second half, coupled with the fact that she’s clearly a central character, means that her role isn’t over yet, and I look forwards to seeing what role she will play in the future. This sort of conclusion isn’t something I’d be able to reach were my thoughts to encompass opinions from elsewhere, and in retrospect, this is an approach that I should apply to slice-of-life series, which are often critiqued to an even harsher extent for reasons that elude me.

  • Once 86 EIGHTY-SIX has Shinei and the others settle into their duties as a part of Nordlich squadron, the series turns its entire attention towards the matter of the Morpho. The Legion offer many resistances to known countermeasures: their ability to jam communications and EMR signals means there is no effective satellite reconnaissance it is not possible to simply pinpoint the Morpho’s location and overwhelm its defenses with hypersonic cruise missiles or ballistic missiles outfitted with conventional warheads. Similarly, the Legion likely possess hardened electronics resilient to EMP effects. This leaves armies to deal with them head-on using ground forces within visual range.

  • Even this is a challenge, and although Shinei had been asked to conceal his ability to detect the Legion telepathically, there comes a point where he’s forced to bring this power out to help Giad’s military out. The idea of Newtype-like powers exists in 86 EIGHTY-SIX, although like its Universal Century counterpart, the precise origins or nature of these powers are never well-characterised. Whether or not this becomes an issue is largely dependent on a story’s demands: if the powers impact the outcome of an event in a tangible manner, then at the very least, its scope and limitations should be explored.

  • In 86 EIGHTY-SIX, that Shinei and Frederica possess such powers suggest to me that it would be worth exploring them further in future instalments. Throughout 86 EIGHTY-SIX, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well Frederica fits in with the story: she’s highly perceptive and demonstrates agency far exceeding what is typical of someone of her age, and moreover, rather than being a burden on the story, Frederica is able to ask the right questions and proves instrumental in pulling Shinei away from the brink. It helps that she’s also got the most funny-face moments of anyone in 86 EIGHTY-SIX‘s second half.

  • Giad’s assault on the Morpho is accompanied by support from neighbouring nations, who agree to cooperate on the grounds that the Morpho’s range is enough to pose a threat to any nation. This massive joint operations entails creating a massive distraction and making use of Nordlich team’s capabilities to close the distance. However, Giad is outwitted: the Morpho had previously been damaged in an earlier strike and was allowed to remain so it could act as a decoy for the real Morpho, which is illuminated by an ethereal blue light.

  • Kiriya’s spirit operates this Morpho, and while he answers to the entity known as “No Face”, Kiriya is brash and aggressive in his digitised form. It is clear that this Kiriya only retains the negative aspects of his old self. 86 EIGHTY-SIX choses to give Kiriya a face, both to indicate that Kiriya plainly remembers his old identity and to convey to viewers the sort of torture human minds experience as Legion; this aspect of 86 EIGHTY-SIX further emphasises that the Legion’s ability to use neural tissue as a CPU is not a pleasant experience for those who are captured, and the resulting Legion suffer continuously until they are destroyed. Once Nordlich figures out the presence of the real Morpho and prepare to attack it, No Face orders Kiriya to withdraw.

  • From this vantage point, the destructive power of the Morpho’s main 800 mm cannon can be seen: it completely obliterates an area appearing about six blocks across, with an initial crater width of around 100 metres, and the damage appears to show that the impact energy was transferred wholly into the ground.  Official documentation gives the Morpho’s muzzle velocity as eight kilometres per second, and eyeballing this to correspond with a force of around 0.2 kiloton (836 GJ, all transferred into the ground): it’s possible to work out that the Morpho’s 800 mm projectile is likely a slug with a mass of 26.1 tonnes. Assuming a density of 22.59 g/cm³ (similar to osmium) and a roughly cylindrical shape tapering at the head to a point, the projectile itself would need to be 114.92 metres long in order to have such a mass. This is greater than the Morpho’s length of 40.2 metres. Because Asakura is steadfast on the muzzle velocity being 8 km/s, and the fact that the Morpho’s ammunition clearly isn’t three times the length of its chassis, the only remaining explanation available is that the Morpho’s main gun is using ammunition that is significantly denser than any known metal.

  • If Asakura was open to an much higher muzzle velocity (say, 49.2 km/s, only a little faster than Halo‘s Mark II Light Coil guns, which accelerate a 600 tonne projectile to 30 km/s for a yield of 64.5 kt), it’d be possible to impart a similar about of damage with a tungsten slug that is a more reasonable 2 metres long. Having said this, my calculations are just for fun: unlike Lambdalith and the folks unfamiliar with Newtonian kinetic energy, I’ve no qualms if the numbers don’t check out, since they don’t affect the story. The Morpho’s main weakness is that it is primarily dependent on railway lines to travel, and after the Legion lose their element of surprise, No Face orders Kiriya back to Legion-held territory. This buys the Giad forces a bit of breathing room, and Shinei decides to continue pursuit even as the Giad forces retreat, reasoning that there’s no opportunity quite like this to take out a major Legion asset. Major railway guns are particularly vulnerable to attack from the air. However, the Legion face no such threat: the absence of air power in 86 EIGHTY-SIX is quite noticeable, being the consequence of the Legion’s use of Eintagsfliege (small butterfly-like units that flood the skies, blocking out EMR and capable of causing jet engines to flame out), and the Legion themselves only manufacture ground units owing to their original programming.

  • Unlike High School Fleet, the justification for why aircraft are largely absent in 86 EIGHTY-SIX is a reasonable one. I have noted before that as long as authors take the time to provide a plausible account for why their world is what it is, then an element can be accepted; where enjoyment of fiction is concerned, I’m of the mind that J.R.R. Tolkien’s concept of internal consistency applies to a given work. That is, if something is consistent with what is defined as being possible in a fictional universe, then one needn’t fall upon a suspension of disbelief for something, because the author has clearly laid out limits and rules.

  • This is why I tend to be fairly open minded about things that are otherwise dismissed as “unrealistic”: for instance, in The Aquatope on White Sand, some critics argue that Kukuru’s treatment at Tingarla is unrealistic because she is given far more leeway than would be expected for someone in her position in an equivalent company. However, The Aquatope on White Sand maintains internal consistency by establishing that Tingarla’s director is fairly open-minded, and as such, may have been made aware of Kukuru’s unexpected absence. His decision would override Tetsuji’s, so she isn’t reprimanded upon her return. Similarly, in 86 EIGHTY-SIX, the lack of air power owing to the Eintagsfliege’s presence is not far-fetched and forces combat to remain ground-based.

  • After Frederica stows away in Fido, Shinei and the others are forced to accept that she’s around. Although they’d rather she stay away from the frontlines, her presence does end up being instrumental to Shinei’s eventual success in taking down the Morpho. However, Shinei’s friends do worry greatly for his mental well-being: Raiden confronts him and demands that he stop fighting so recklessly; so long as they’re still alive and have one another, they can continue to help one another out. Despite being a captivating and gripping story, 86 EIGHTY-SIX has the same degree of subtlety as something like Gundam with respect to its themes.

  • That is to say, Gundam is very clear about its intended messages and will flatly present its ideas to viewers without obfuscating them. Other works will jump through hoops and layer in themes that require a bit of thinking to get: there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong way to approach fiction, and having studied works for classes a decade earlier, as well as consuming fiction for personal enjoyment, I’ve found that there are merits to both approaches; so long as a work actually conveys its theme, it has succeeded. With this in mind, I prefer dealing with thematic elements once a series has fully aired: although 86 EIGHTY-SIX has been quite plain in its aims, I acknowledge there is always the possibility that what is shown in the existing episodes could feed into something else once everything is done.

  • While Raiden shares a conversation with Shinei voicing his concerns on behalf of the others, Frederica and the others eavesdrop. It turns out that even now, Kurena still has feelings for Shinei. However, indicators will show that Kurena’s going to be in an unfortunate situation, and here, Frederica is reduced to a blubbering pile after Anju overhears her making a blithe remark about how with Vladilena seemingly out of the picture, Kurena might have a shot at things. Moments like these became increasingly rare as 86 EIGHTY-SIX wore on, but remain welcome, and I will note that while I’d initially found Frederica a little grating, she’s become an integral part of the team.

  • Upon gazing out over the open hinterlands at sunset, Frederica mentions that she’d like to see the ocean one day. The ocean’s vastness has held people spellbound for as long as human civilisation has existed, as imaginations of what lies on the shores across the ocean drove people towards exploration – Frederica’s longing to see the ocean might be seen as a wish to see what’s on the other side of this conflict. As it turns out, the Giadian Empire’s royal family and leaders were responsible for the Legion’s reign of terror: revolutionary forces (which Zimmerman had been a part of) had cornered the crumbling Imperial leadership, and in a final act of defiance, the Imperials transferred their consciousness into the Legion before issuing them with one final order to continue fighting.

  • However, even the Giadian Empire had devised a failsafe – any member of the Giadian Royal Family could deactivate the Legion. I imagine that Zimmerman might have suspected that it would be helpful to not fully destroy all traces of the old Empire, and the very fact that Frederica holds the master override to end the war once and for all means that so long as she’s alive, there is hope for ending this war swiftly and giving everyone a chance to gaze upon the ocean with their own eyes. Having seen what the remains of Shinei’s team has gone through, one cannot help but wish for a speedy end to their war, although this does lead to the question of what everyone’s looking to do once peace is attained.

  • In particular, Shinei remarks that he feels his only purpose is to fight, and since Shōrei had tried to kill him, he’d lost any particular desire to the point of wondering if he’s alive at times. A longstanding notion in fiction is that people are inherently without purpose, and responsibility of seeking out purpose falls upon the individual: Frederica suggests that purpose or not, as long as one has people in their corner, they can keep on living and find whatever their future holds, no matter how uncertain it is. Whether or not Shinei takes this to heart, there is truth to this statement, and it’s always encouraging to see works of fiction remind viewers of this fact: life is what one makes of it.

  • When the final operation does start, Shinei ends up with everyone electing to keep the Legion off Shinei’s back while he presses forwards: although they’d planned on fighting the Morpho together, a Legion onslaught causes Anju’s unit to fall off a cliff, and although she’s fine, she’s no longer able to follow the others into battle. Speaking to the Reginleif’s improved survivability over the San Magnolian Juggernauts, Anju herself is okay, and her Reginleif is still somewhat able to fight: Anju swaps out her 88 mm cannon for rocket artillery, making her useful against massed Legion forces.

  • Similarly, because Kurena has specialised her Reginleif for long-range combat, she decides to hang back and do what she can. To assist in sharpshooting, Kurena uses a VR headset in combat, which is linked to a smart optic that allows her to hit targets at range. A similar feature was found in Gundam 00‘s Dynames and Cherudim Gundams, which had a dedicated controller unit wired to special optics. I have heard arguments that mecha do not necessarily need this gear, since they could simply use an AI or similar to place long-range shots. However, the counterargument for this is simple: a given mecha would not be in sniping configuration all the time, and engaging this equipment changes the handling characteristics, allowing it to focus on long-range fire at the expense of something like mobility.

  • Again, the concept of internal consistency applies here: I’ve noticed that a lot of fans out there are quick to call out things for falling on “rule of cool” (in common terms, where something awe-inspiring or novel is selected over something more practical to create an impact amongst viewers), but for me, as long as internal consistency is maintained, gripes like these are inconsequential. In the end, even Raiden gets taken out of the fight; he promises to keep Frederica safe while Shinei forges ahead.

  • The twenty-first episode has Shinei engaging Kiriya’s Morpho alone; the episode itself aired on Christmas day, but I’d spent most of the day preparing Christmas dinner and reading through new books, so I didn’t even consider that a new episode of 86 EIGHTY-SIX would be airing. At the time, I thought that I’d fallen so far behind that it would be easier to let all of the episodes air before continuing from where I’d left off. As it turned out, production challenges meant that episodes were airing at two-week intervals, and moreover, there’d been two recap episodes. I realised I wasn’t as far behind as I first imaged, and so, decided to push forwards, just in time to present my thoughts on where I feel 86 EIGHTY-SIX stands a full month after the latest episode aired.

  • The Morpho possesses a fearsome array of point defense weapons, and together with the “arms”, even Shinei has difficulty getting close enough to do damage. In the end, Frederica threatens to kill herself if Kiriya doesn’t stand down, and this buys Shinei enough time to close the distance enough to board the Morpho, locate the weak spot and blast it to kingdom come. Kiriya passes on into death, no longer bound to the Legion, and viewers were left with a lengthy wait: the next episode is scheduled to broadcast on March 13.

  • As such, I will be returning in a few months to wrap up 86 EIGHTY-SIX‘s second part to deal with the messages I got out of 86 EIGHTY-SIX. While the series began on a rougher footing, once the characters and conflict was established, things have become much more engaging. I’d been sitting on the fence with 86 EIGHTY-SIX after its first part concluded, and had suggested that San Magnolia would face total annihilation if they didn’t get their game together. Having seen what’s happened now, it appears San Magnolia is no longer a concern (having been met with complete annihilation owing to their hedonistic and xenophobic ways), and this leaves the floor open for Asakura to focus purely on Shinei and whatever lies ahead between himself and Vladilena, which is admittedly something I am quite excited to see.

Having established the basis for Shienei’s character, 86 EIGHTY-SIX enters an intermission. Despite A-1 Pictures driving the series’ production, and the fact they’ve done a solid job of bringing 86 EIGHTY-SIX to life thus far, the Legion have presented the team with numerous challenges owing to their numbers and fluidity. Production issues in getting the Legion to appear as author had Toru Asakura envisioned them meant that the story will be delayed until March. However, at this point, the Morpho is defeated, removing one more threat to the allied forces, and this means there will be an opportunity yet to give Shinei and the others a denouement. Given where things end up, it is unlikely that 86 EIGHTY-SIX will end here: Vladilena’s story has not yet been resolved, and although San Magnolia now lies in ruin, the fact that she figures so prominently in the series means that she likely evacuated and survived the Legion’s assault. Vladilena and Shinei had first met in a very impersonal capacity but came to care for one another showed how Vladilena was able to bring out some of Shinei’s humanity, and how Shinei was a sign to Vladilena that her concerns were legitimate. As such, 86 EIGHTY-SIX‘s premise is built on the fact that the pair was able to support one another emotionally, and while reality often sees circumstance keep people apart, 86 EIGHTY-SIX is a story, a work of fiction and consequently, should able to tilt the odds such that Vladilena and Shinei do, in fact, end up meeting, in order to advance the idea that human connections are what lets people rediscover their purpose anew. In this way, while 86 EIGHTY-SIX is framed around a war, it would appear that Asakura’s intentions through this story had been to present a moving tale of how important being connected to others is, especially in a world where interpersonal relationships are becoming more impersonal. At this point in time, I have no idea what lies ahead of the second part’s eleventh episode, but I do know that it will be interesting to see where things end up.

Slow Loop: Review and Impressions After Three

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

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

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

Screenshots and Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anime and Real Life, Finding The Colours of Nagasaki: An Oculus-Powered Armchair Journey of Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara

“Without black, no colour has any depth. But if you mix black with everything, suddenly there’s shadow – no, not just shadow, but fullness. You’ve got to be willing to mix black into your palette if you want to create something that’s real.” –Amy Grant

Fireworks fill the sky of Nagasaki in August 2078 – it’s a beautiful evening, and the skyline below is barely recognisable from its 2018 counterpart. However, Hitomi Tsukishiro is about to head back sixty years with help from her grandmother, Kohaku. After Hitomi developed achromatopsia, she became unable to see the world in colours and fell into a depression. Kohaku believes her teenaged self will be able to help Hitomi find happiness anew and so, has opted to send her back in time using magic, a power which runs in the Tsukishiro family. When Hitomi opens her eyes, she finds herself in a world sixty years earlier. While nowhere nearly as well-developed as she knows it, Hitomi finds that the Nagasaki of 2018 is a bustling city of around four hundred thousand people. In this older time, Hitomi ends up befriending members of the photography and art club, along with her grandmother; sharing time with each of the younger Kohaku, Yuito, Asagi, Kurumi, Shō and Chigusa helps Hitomi to rediscover the magic in her life, allowing her to find colours in her world anew. It is in Nagasaki that the events of 2018’s Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara (The World in Colours from here on out) are set. Nagasaki sports the unfortunate distinction being one of two cities in the world to have ever been devastated by an atomic attack in 1945. On August 9, the plutonium bomb was detonated over the city, instantly killing some thirty-five thousand people. Nagasaki was slowly rebuilt after the Second World War. Reconstruction only really began a year after the bombings, with a particular emphasis on transforming the former military city into a centre of commercial ship-building, trade and fishing. By 1949, redevelopment accelerated with the passing of the Nagasaki International Culture City Reconstruction Law, and thanks to the efforts directed towards reconstruction, the Nagaski we know forms the backdrop for Hitomi’s own journey. It is here that magic and the mundane intertwine – in The World in Colours, the ability to control magic is a trait that women in the Tsukishiro family share, and Hitomi had shut her powers away after her mother had left the family. Unlike P.A. Works’ previous anime, The World in Colours places magic at the series forefront, treating it as another skill that can create joy for others, rather than something that brings about miracles. While Nagasaki isn’t a particularly magical city (being better known for its temples and museums), The World in Colours‘ commitment to realism means that the anime is able to tell a particularly compelling story: bringing Nagasaki to life means being able to convince viewers that magic is very much a reality, even if it cannot manifest as the phenomenon that Kohaku and Hitomi can master.

  • Because The World in Colours is a story filled with magic and witchcraft, it makes sense to open the post with a virtual visit to the Forest Witch Café, which forms the inspiration for the Tsukishiro magic shop that Hitomi lodges at. In reality, the Forest Witch Café is located some twenty-seven kilometres away from the heart of Nagasaki. The restaurant is named for its location in the forest. The owners take pride in using home-grown ingredients in their dishes: vegetables come straight from their garden, and their curry is a favourite amongst patrons.

  • A quick glance at Forest Witch Café’s menu finds a wonderful variety of dishes: their lunch special is only 1650 Yen, featuring a salad fresh from their garden and homemade chicken confit, soup, a choice of house curry or pasta and a dessert, plus coffee. This is only available with a reservation. For visitors looking to do dinner, courses start at 3500 Yen. Similarly, there’s also a handful of coffees and sweets available for those seeking a pit stop. Besides this delightful café, which forms the backdrop for the Tsukishiro magic shop, Forest Witch Café also does tarot fortune telling, as well. In real life, there’s also a small shop behind the café that sells Witch-themed trinkets and goods: Owing to its location, visitors will need to take a few buses or rent a car to reach this café, which, compared to the rest of the locations in this post, is quite out-of-the way.

  • In The World in Colours, the house behind the magic shop is where the Tsukishiros live. Hitomi has numerous memories of spending time with Kohaku here, and According to Kohaku’s grandmother, their house was built in 2017 (the same year my new place was built) Inspection of satellite imagery finds that the Tsukishiro residence looks nothing like its counterpart in The World in Colours, but this is unsurprising, since actual character residences are usually custom-designed to fit with the story’s requirements.

  • Back when The World in Colours was airing, the one location I had confidence in locating was Megami Bridge, a cable-stayed bridge that takes route 51 over Nagasaki Bay. Completed in 2005, the bridge’s main span is 480 metres in length, and is beautifully illuminated by nightfall. The World in Colours had the Magic-Photography-and-Art Club attempt to catch a ferry passing underneath for a unique photo, and while they fail, the evening is a memorable one, typifying the journey that this anime had sought to convey.

  • Being the only cable-stayed bridge in the immediate area, finding Megami Bridge alone didn’t offer me with much to write about. However, last September, I was looking to do a location hunt for The World in Colours after utilising the Oculus Quest to identify and share locations within the anime that I’d previously watched. The premise behind these location hunts is simple enough: I can’t put boots on the ground right now owing to the global health crisis, but Google Street View is extensive enough for me to visit mundane, ordinary spots such as these.

  • Armed with a combination of 3D photogrammetry data and full immersion offered by a powerful VR headset, I found that it was possible to locate things with a much greater confidence than before, since the VR environment allowed me to quickly look around and orient myself. BY comparison, using Street View on a desktop computer or tablet is more limiting. In this way, I was able to make progress in finding the same streets that Hitomi and Kohaku hit during their time together in The World in Colours: by looking around for landmarks, I was able to define a starting point. This spot, for instance, was located after I found Izumokinrin Park and began looking for landmarks like Ōura Elementary School, which is visible on the hill in the right hand side.

  • To start off such a journey, I began by using Google Maps’ 3D photogrammetry data to explore areas near Megami Bridge, and in a curious turn of fate, one location caught my eye: Mount Nabekanmuri Park. This is the spot Hitomi visits in 2078 during the finale, being the place she and Yuito shared thoughts together away from the more rowdy and energetic crowd that is the Magic-Photography-and-Arts Club. To my surprise, just across the valley is the spot where Yuito shares his drawings with a curious Hitomi: Izumokinrin Park. Closer inspection of the park finds the same pavilion and amphitheater that forms the site of where Kohaku performs the complex bit of magic to send Hitomi back into the future.

  • A search for high schools in the area, near Izumokinrin Park, finds exactly one candidate whose exterior matches the high school Hitomi and Kohaku attend perfectly: this is Nagasaki Minami High School, which is only a stone’s throw from Izumokinrin Park. True to reality, the school seen in The World in Colours has the same statue and clock near its front. The World in Colours shows the high school both as it appeared in 2018, as well as again in 2078 – the school itself was opened in 1961, so by the events of The World in Colours, the school would’ve likely undergone several renovations to remain in full operations even a full 117 years later.

  • Nagasaki Minami High School can be seen on the hill here:  tracing the path the Magic-Photography-Arts Club take, I was able to find this spot without too much trouble. I’m always fond of still like these: the mirror, railings, yellow house and utility pole in both the anime and real-life versions match up pretty closely. While such spots are easy enough to find after locating the landmark, The World in Colours presented me with another challenge. Kohaku and the others are fond of taking side routes down flights of stairs that line the hills of Nagasaki.

  • There are a lot of narrow streets in Nagasaki, and even more stairwells cutting up and down the steep slopes, but Google Street View doesn’t go down these paths, so the steps that everyone uses as shortcuts are something that I wasn’t able to replicate in my Oculus-powered travels – as one would reasonably expect, the Oculus Quest is not the magic bullet solution for replacing travel outright. However, owing to current circumstance, the ability to almost wander the streets of Nagasaki with the same freedom as I would in reality is a welcome one.

  • To my great surprise, the park that the Magic-Photography-and-Art Club visit during The World in Colours‘ sixth episode is actually within walking distance of their high school. This is Glover Garden, an open-air museum that showcases Nagasaki’s western-style buildings. The most famous of these is the Former Glover House, which belonged to Scottish merchant Thomas Glover, who would later play a role in overthrowing the Tokugawa Shogunate, kicking off the Meiji Restoration. Glover Garden most closely resembles Calgary’s Heritage Park in that many of the buildings here were relocated from other parts of the city, and there’s a 620 Yen admission fee to the site.

  • Yuito is shown to be working at the Jiyu-tei Café and Teahouse, which is located in Glover Garden’s grounds. Open from 0930 to 1715, Jiyu-tei Café and Teahouse is known for its ambience and Castella, a Japanese sponge cake that Nagasaki is particularly well-known for. According to their website, Jiyu-tei offers Castella sets with seasonal drinks, although they do have cake and ice cream on their menu, along with a solid selection of hot and iced teas and coffees. Visitors report friendly service and love the ambience: altogether, one would probably find this to be a fantastic place to take someone on a date.

  • It suddenly strikes me that as a result of location hunting for anime, and as a result of looking around town for restaurants, I’ve amassed a reasonable knowledge of places nearby, including those that could prove quite romantic. In Nagasaki, Glover Park seems like a great place for a first date. The bridge that Kohaku crosses near Nagasaki Seaside Park, on the other hand, is a little more mundane, being something seen en route to a date – there are actually a pair of these bridges, and the one Kohaku crosses is the further one from Route 499, whereas here, I’m only able to see the first of the bridges. This is a case of “close enough”, since I wasn’t able to find a way of getting closer, but fortunately, the bridges are similar enough so that readers should be convinced that P.A. Works also replicated this spot with their usual attention to detail.

  • This particular spot offers an unparalleled view of Nagasaki’s skyline: it is located near Ōura Elementary School, not more than a quarter-kilometre from the Glover Garden. The stunning nightscape reminds me a great deal of the hill where Stuttgart’s House R128 is located: this house is well-known for being a modernist home capable of fulfilling its energy requirements and possesses an open floor concept: the only closed rooms in the house are the bathrooms. I’ve long had a fascination with this style of living: the open concept exposes the house to nature, and by night, the Stuttgart cityscape can be seen.

  • When I first finished watching The World in Colours, I had no idea as to where the walkway that Kohaku was running along was located: I still recall how in a similar frame during one of my The World in Colours posts, I only remarked that the site looked photorealistic. This time around, because I had found numerous of the landmarks in Nagasaki for, I was able to determine that this walkway is a part of Glover Sky Road, which consists of a covered escalator similar to Central Mid-Level escalators in Hong Kong, which is the world’s longest outdoor covered escalator.

  • Glover Sky Road is the best way to reach Glover Garden if one were approaching from the east end, and this escalator system is something that locals also appreciate, making it much easier to get around: this project was built to increase accessibility in Nagasaki, and was the first of its kind in Nagasaki. Like Hong Kong’s Central Mid-Level Escalator, Glover Sky Road has since become something of a local attraction, offering visitors with a brilliant view of Nagasaki’s cityscape.

  • Here at the intersection where Hitomi and Yuito see one another off, the Former Mitsubishi No. 2 Dock House can be seen to the left. Featuring high ceilings, coal-fired fireplaces and large windows, this building was constructed in 1896 as a dormitory for sailors. In 1972, it was relocated to its current site, and presently houses an exhibit on Nagasaki’s shipyards; shipbuilding has been an integral part of Nagasaki’s economy, alongside heavy industry.

  • After Hitomi and Yuito part ways, Hitomi prepares to make her way down Glover Sky Road and return home. The Tsukishiro home and magic shop is a central location in The World in Colour, and were such a site to be real, it would certainly be worth visiting: the magic shop is filled with luminescent jars of star-sand that exude a gentle, calming glow, and the Tsukishiro residence is smartly designed. In particular, Hitomi and Kohaku’s rooms are separated by a circular opening, allowing the two to open up to one another without exposing themselves wholly, mirroring how Kohaku takes things with Hitomi one step at a time.

  • There’s also a skylight in the Tsukishiro residence that gives Hitomi a beautiful view of Nagsaki’s nightscape and harbour. Initially, this spot comes to act as a refuge of sorts for Hitomi, representing a distant vantage point that emphasises her removal from the world. As Hitomi grows closer to the Magic-Photography-Art Club, she begins to tread the streets of Nagasaki with the others, signifying a better connection to the world around her. Here, Yuito and Hitomi head down Ringer Street, adjacent to Ōura Elementary School.

  • This intersection is located down Oda-Kaigan Dori near Nagasaki Seaside Park. Owing to the lack of Street View coverage down here, I wasn’t able to capture the places where Hitomi and Shō visited together; while ostensibly for club activities, Shō had taken a liking to Hitomi and this was a bit of a date of sorts. Chigusa and Kurumi also spend time together here while Kurumi waits for her older sister to arrive. Despite lacking the imagery, given that The World in Colour faithfully renders things like the intersection, it is not inconceivable that P.A. Works would’ve taken the time to ensure the park in The World in Colours was true to its real-world counterpart, as well.

  • A little further down the road, the Nagasaki Harbour Medical Centre can be seen, along with line 5 of the Nagasaki Electric Tramway. The tramway has a lengthy history and was opened in 1915 and is the only tramway in Japan to have retained all of its original lines: despite an adult fare of 130 Yen, the company remains profitable, and The World in Colour has the Magic-Photography-Arts Club utilising public transit quite frequently, allowing me to follow it and locate other areas of interest.

  • One such spot is Oranda Bridge crossing a tributary of the Nakashima River, where Kohaku wonders if feelings for Yuito might be the cause of Hitomi’s colour vision intermittently returning. To the right, the Juhachiginko Head Office building can be seen, and the building on the left houses Gibraltar Life Insurance. The Nagasaki Electric Tramway Line 1 runs along this road, so following it using VR allowed me to find this spot. While other sites, such as Like a Fish in Water, utilise Japanese social media and bloggers from Hatena to do the heavy lifting for them, my location hunt posts depend entirely on the technology available to me.

  • As such, finding a spot entails locating landmarks, putting the Oculus Quest headset on and “walking” around until I locate the area of interest, based purely on my estimates of where something is using hints from the anime. The process is quite tiring, and in order to avoid eyestrain, I limit my sessions to a quarter-hour at a time. For this post, locations were a ways more obscure than usual, so it took a lot of wandering over a lot of hours to find everything, such as this spot in a quiet neighbourhood near Shiiko Park. Altogether, it took around 20 hours spaced out since September to actually locate enough spots of interest, which is why this post is only out now.

  • The last spot I’ll cover in this location hunt is the observation platform at Mount Nabekanmuri Park: because The World in Colours had Yuito and Hitomi visit an observation point where the Megami Bridge was visible, I ended up doing a search to see which places in Nagasaki would offer such a view. This was the spot I would use as a starting point for my location hunt using the Oculus Quest, and I decided to save it for last because the views up here are spectacular. Although the ascent can be a little difficult for some, visitors generally report that it is well worth it.

  • With this VR-powered location hunt in the books, I’m glad to have taken the effort of treading through The World in Colours‘ locations. While certainly all of the locations possible, being able to nonetheless see iconic spots in The World in Colours using the Oculus Quest and Wander, without having to board a plane and put boots on the ground, speaks volumes to what’s possible with this technology. With the location hunt for one of director Toshiya Shinohara’s signature anime in the books, I remark that I’ve got another location hunt coming up in under a week while I’m on a roll with finding places in anime.

The World in Colours represented a very unique challenge with respect to location hunting – previously, I’d used the Oculus Quest in rural areas with great success, but urban areas were intimidating because the sheer amount of streets and structures would make it considerably more difficult to locate points of interest. This is because when location hunting, I typically start with a landmark, and then use the characters’ preferred modes of transportation to determine where other sites are. If characters typically walk, I’ll know to determine which streets provide the easiest path to their next destination. Similarly, characters taking the train means seeking out their destination station and then exploring nearby areas. In rural areas, like those of Yamanashi, or smaller urban areas like Kawagoe, this isn’t a challenge because the search area is smaller. Google Maps has improved dramatically over the years, and an increasing amount of regions on Earth now have 3D data available, so using a combination of 3D photogrammetry data and the Oculus Quest is usually sufficient to pinpoint the spots seen in an anime. However, after a city becomes large enough, these techniques become more time-consuming, and limitations in map data also preclude certain areas from being visited. In The World in Colours, for instance, Hitomi and the others often take narrow stairwells connecting streets together, and these paths are simply inaccessible in the Oculus Quest. However, on the flipside, even in a city as large as Nagasaki, the old techniques still work: locating the park where Kohaku and the others prepared to send Hitomi back to 2078 was the breakthrough moment, and after this game-changer, I determined that most of the areas of interest would likely be walkable (i.e. within 3 kilometres). From this point onwards, I ended up identifying several key areas seen in the anime simply by strolling the streets using the Oculus Quest, and ultimately, I accumulated enough spots to do a discussion on the locations seen in The World in Colours. In this way, the combination of sophisticated technology, prior experience in location hunting and a little bit of patience has allowed me to identify the same spots that Hitomi visits with the Magic-Photography-and-Arts Club during her time in 2018. The end result is that, should I ever decide to plan a trip to Nagasaki in the future, I wouldn’t have much trouble in finding the locations to an anime that had deeply moved me when I’d first watched it. However, for the time being, any trip to Nagasaki (or Japan, for that matter) remains a hypothetical, and consequently, I am glad that we are at a point where it is possible to do the next best thing from the comfort of an armchair – walk the virtual streets of Nagasaki using the Oculus Quest.

Elf Yamada’s Love Song and Sagiri Izumi’s First Kiss: Eromanga Sensei OVA Review and Reflection

“I saw that you were perfect, and so I loved you. Then I saw that you were not perfect and I loved you even more.” –Angelita Lim

Masamune, Hana and Kunimitsu attend a celebratory event for Emily to thank those who’d supported her: Emily’s work was adapted into an anime. After Emily persuades Masamune to help her change into a new dress during the event, Emily’s brother and mother both show up. Emily’s mother disapproves of Masamune on the basis that he appears to be corrupting her, even though the reality was that Emily was the one who had made it look as though she were dating Masamune. Upon learning her mother is here to bring her home, the pair clash, and Emily storms off in anger. However, with a suggestion from Masamune, she ends up performing a musical during her speech at the event, convincing her mother to let her live on her own terms, and after the celebration wraps up, Emily and Masamune share a moment together after Emily makes her feelings known to him. Later, Masamune catches a cold after visiting Emily, and is unable to submit his manuscript ahead of a deadline. Sagiri decides to look after him. To this end, she sets foot outside of her room to fetch medicine for Masamune, do some housework and even manages to answer the door when Megumi and Tomoe show up. However, when Hana shows up and tries to break in, Sagiri confiscates the poster Hana had wished to give him. Sagiri ends up falling asleep and dreams about the past, but upon waking up, she gives Masamune a quick kiss before making him dinner. Masamune thanks Sagiri, noting her cooking is quite good, but Sagiri ends up catching Masamune’s cold. Masamune helps her out so she can rest and indicates he’s looking forwards to her recovery so that they can continue working together. The two Eromanga Sensei OVAs came out two years after the original series had aired, releasing on January 16, 2019, and while they do not advance the story in a significant way, nonetheless provides an opportunity for characters to break the status quo in ways that they were not seen doing in Eromanga Sensei proper.

In Eromanga Sensei, the death of Sagiri’s mother caused her to become withdrawn, but as Masamune becomes closer with Emily and Hana, rival authors and rivals for his affection, Sagiri also began stepping out of her shell. Similarly, Masamune himself had suffered the loss of a parent, as well, and turned to writing as a way of finding happiness anew. The journey seen throughout Eromanga Sensei had been about finding new happiness together through a shared pursuit, although the anime also ended up being a very gentle, cozy portrayal of this. At the end of Eromanga Sensei, beyond Masamune and Sagiri’s worlds becoming a ways more colourful, and rowdier, things nonetheless were preserved in a sort of status quo: Masamune is uncertain of the feelings he has for Sagiri, and while Sagiri has certainly accepted him and his friends, she still rarely ventured out of her room – instead, she usually accepts visitors instead and only attends events if Masamune streams it to her via Skype. This is where the Eromanga Sensei‘s OVAs excel. Masamune is given a chance to explore his feeling a little more freely after seeing Emily’s best side, and Sagiri’s concern for Masamune is sufficient for her to venture out of her room, culminating in her gaining the resolve to cook for him after he falls ill. These episodes do much to show that the events of Eromanga Sensei did much to nudge both characters forward and adds a minor degree of closure to a series that, while amusing, didn’t otherwise do much to move the needle during its original run. In this way, the OVAs are welcome additions to Eromanga Sensei: unlike most OVAs, which capitalise on looser restrictions to go all-out on titillation, the Eromanga Sensei OVAs instead opts to present more tender moments between the characters.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • According to the blog’s archives, the last time I wrote about Eromanga Sensei was back in April 2018. Back then, I approached this anime from the mental health perspective; the anime did give every impression that it would be ecchi oriented, and while a few episodes did indeed present viewers with this in abundance, I never felt it to be so blatant that it detracted from the anime. With this in mind, Eromanaga Sensei stands in the shadow of its predecessor; compared to OreImoEromanga Sensei felt a lot more muted and subdued.

  • Because it’s been almost four years since I last watched Eromanga Sensei, I’ve largely forgotten most of the events, and needed to do a quick refresher on things to get re-acquainted with the story. I had originally intended to watch and write about the OVAs when they’d come out in January three years earlier. At the time, there would’ve only been an eight-month gap between my finishing Eromanga Sensei and the OVAs, so I would’ve probably gotten back into the swing of things more quickly. I believe the reason why I ended up failing to do so was because after watching First Man, my interest in anime suddenly waned.

  • In fact, looking back at the archives, the only anime I wrote around during that timeframe was CLANNAD and Endro. Most of my extra time was spent in The Division, Battlefield V and Ace Combat 7. Once I’d settled into my games, and the afterglow from First Man wore off, I eased my way back into anime; I ended up watching Domestic Kanojo in April, and together with 501st Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, I found myself returning to my usual patterns. By then, however, thoughts of Eromanga Sensei had left my mind, and it wasn’t until recently, when I was going through my unwatched anime, that I found this Eromanga Sensei with two episodes left incomplete.

  • Entering the first of the Eromanga Sensei OVAs, I had no idea what to expect, but after seeing Emily persuade Masamune into helping her change dresses, and watching Emily attempt to evade her mother’s questions about what she’d been sending back home, memories did return to me: both Hana and Emily had been into Masamune, but Masamune had promptly shot down Hana. This left the floor open to Emily, who’d been very forward about how she feels about him: over the course of Eromanga Sensei, she spent a great deal of time with Masamune and fell in love with him more as a result.

  • These feelings lead to a disagreement between Emily and her mother, who feels that Masamune might not be the right person for her. Recalling how devoted her mother had been to her father, Emily storms off. One visual aspect that stands out is the fact that everyone in the Granger family appears to have an exaggerated form of Stahl’s Ear, a condition where there’s an additional cartilage layer that pushes the ear out and gives it a pointed shape. This appearance is what leads Emily to take the pseudonyms “Elf”, and Emily’s older brother brings to mind the likes of Thranduil from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

  • Because Masamune is kind by nature, he hears out Emily and suggest that she simply be forward with things. Unlike OreImo‘s Kyōsuke, who was persuaded to be more mundane by childhood friend Minami, Masamune is a ways more motivated, having turned to writing to get past feelings of grief and loss when his mother had passed away. The gaps in Kyōsuke and Masamune’s personalities mean that Eromanga Sensei and Oreimo  have a dramatically different atmosphere about them – on one hand, the characters in Eromanga Sensei are more likeable, but this also means that there’s less drama, and correspondingly, less of a chance to watch the characters manage their feelings.

  • When the time for Emily’s speech arrives, she saunters onto the stage and discards the speech she’d written for the event, choosing to improvise instead. It turns out she’s decided to use the moment to properly convey how she feels to her mother, and after thanking everyone for supporting her all this way, she breaks out into song. Both of the Eromanga Sensei OVAs involve a musical performance from the female lead, livening them up considerably and giving both Akane Fujita (Sagiri) and Minami Takahashi (Emily) a chance to shine. I’m familiar with Minami’s roles as Kanna of Harukana Receive, El Condor Pasa from Uma Musume Pretty Derby, Lucoa from Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, and Machikado Mazoku‘s Lilith

  • I was all smiles during this musical performance, which sees even the security detail joining in with Emily as she sings her heart out. In the end, Emily’s mother is convinced that she’s being sincere about how she feels regarding Masamune, and consents to let her stay in Japan. Being an OVA, Emily’s story here is a satisfying and self-contained event which gives her an outcome that she’d long been hoping for – after the event concludes, she and Masamune share a private moment together, where Emily openly admits her feelings for Masamune. The question of who should initiate the kokuhaku is a topic of no small debate, and this is one of those scenarios where I’ll not that there isn’t a right answer.

  • There’s actually a lot of conflicting advice out there for how to kick things up a notch: some say to pull the trigger ASAP, while other people say to let things occur naturally. I myself have familiarity with five ways of how not to do it – if I were to liken things to a sniper, then on two cases, I waited too long, while the other three times, I pulled the trigger a little too early but missed. Dating is like a bolt-action rifle: there’s a finesse about it that takes time to learn, and every shot counts. Unlike a semi-automatic marksman rifle, there’s a delay between shots, since it takes time to chamber a new round into the barrel. One of these days, I’ll get it right, and I take consolation in people who a lot wiser than myself – dating and relationships is supposed to be like a parking lot. The parking lot will often be near full half the time, and it’s going to be a pain in the ass to find a space, but all one needs is one space.

  • With this in mind, I felt a great deal of warmth at watching this kokuhaku between Emily and Masamune: anime are often namby-pamby about who the male lead ends up with when there are multiple women in his life, and this leaves viewers with a feeling of hollowness. Overall, while I was a fan of Hana and felt Sagiri to work less well for Masamune, I do agree with the sentiment that Emily is probably the best person for Masamune. As such, this Eromanga Sensei OVA ended up delivering a conclusion that wound up being quite satisfying for me.

  • Whereas the first of the OVAs saw a fancy event, the second is a ways more mundane and has Sagiri looking after Masamune when he falls ill following a visit to Emily’s place. However, in this second OVA, the extent of Sagiri’s growth is shown; whereas she was shy, withdrawn and quite unable to do even the basics without Masamune’s help, here, Sagiri does her best to look after Masamune. There was always a lingering tension, since we’d not seen Sagiri do anything resembling housework until now.

  • However, there are many things that occur off-screen, and it is reasonable to suppose that Sagiri’s opening up to people around her also gives her more confidence to act. This is something that I am accepting of in anime: it is impractical to show every moment where characters are going about their business. However, not everyone follows this approach, and in shows where characters are able to perform far better than is expected given what is shown, some viewers count it as undeserving or implausible. K-On! was subject to this back in the day: Yui and the others are seen drinking tea and eating cake more often than they practise, but still manage to put on professional-grade performances at school concerts.

  • Much as how not every detail behind how Houkago Teatime operate is shown, not every last moment in Sagiri’s life is shown; instead, viewers must infer that it is with the presence of others that she slowly becomes able to find the strength to do things she wasn’t able to do before. Sagiri’s disposition means that she reminds me somewhat of GochiUsa‘s Chino Kafuu, and here, she wonders why Masamune doesn’t have any instant food on hand after deciding she’s not skilled enough to cook for him, and that ordering delivery would mean needing to handle the delivery person.

  • When Megumi and Tomoe come to visit, Sagiri is adamant about not letting anyone in. However, she does consent to hear them out upon learning that Tomoe’s swung by to deliver some assignments and a new book that Masamune had ordered. Of everyone, Tomoe is probably my favourite character; she has a good eye for books and is able to spot what might interest Masamune immediately. On the other hand, Megumi shows up for kicks, and the only reason why Sagiri doesn’t turf her is because Tomoe is around.

  • In any other post, I probably wouldn’t have consumed a dedicated screenshot for this moment: it turns out that Tomoe also has dropped off the latest volume of 86 EIGHTY-SIX for Masamune, and moreover, Sagiri’s taken an interest in this series. Back in 2019, five volumes of 86 EIGHTY-SIX had been released, and the fact that Eromanga Sensei was able to freely show it in such vivid detail, in retrospect, foreshadowed A-1 Pictures’ eventual adaptation of the series: both Eromanga Sensei and 86 EIGHTY-SIX are published by Dengeki Bunko, so there was no issue in referencing another work.

  • On the topic of 86 EIGHTY-SIX, I have plans to write about it once I’ve finished catching up to the twenty-first episode so I can cover off how I’ve felt about this second season. The final episodes will release in March, and I’ll write about themes then, but for now, it’s a good opportunity to write about some smaller aspects that have worked well for me so far. Back in Eromanga Sensei, whereas Sagiri had been thrilled about 86 EIGHTY-SIX, she’s less-than-impressed when Hana shows up and tries to break in, then attempts to give something to Masamune in an attempt to cheer him up. Earlier, Hana and Ayame share a conversation with Masamune after he calls in sick; Ayame is okay with moving his deadline up, while Hana immediately demands to know that he’s alright.

  • After dreaming about the past, Sagiri steals a kiss from Masamune, who’s still sleeping. This moment lends itself to the second OVA’s title, conveying a moment of tenderness. Throughout Eromanga Sensei, it is suggested that Sagiri is frustrated that Masamune does not return her feelings – for Masamune, he’s come to see Sagiri as a sister, and his only link to family. The setup in Eromanga Sensei had long been conducive for discussion of the importance of human connection, and in practise, the series is never a melancholy one – Masamune has plenty of people in his corner to support him, and in this way, he is able to support Sagiri, too.

  • To see Sagiri break out of her comfort zone and cook something for Masamune was a turning point in Sagiri’s character development: while she had doubtlessly grown throughout the course of Eromanga Sensei, this moment makes it clear that she’s beginning to see a world beyond the one she’d confined herself to since her mother had passed away. While Sagiri struggles with some of the cooking (she makes a small mess of things in a few places and here, leaves the water running), she perseveres, and for her troubles, she ends up successfully making an omurice for Masamune.

  • After a full day’s rest, Masamune’s fever has gone down, and he finds Sagiri’s cooking to be quite good. In a bit of irony, since she’d spent the full day with Masamune, Sagiri’s picked up the bug from him. However, Masamune is well enough now to look after her, and Sagiri bashfully thanks him for all he does; while she’s not too good with expressing her feelings throughout Eromanga Sensei, this moment indicates to viewers that the Sagiri here has come a very long way from when Masamune was trying to coax her out of her room, and steps like these will eventually quicken, allowing her to return to classes. For Masamune, he looks forward to working with Sagiri on whatever projects they have next, bringing the OVA to a close.

  • The Eromanga Sensei OVAs were a fun addition to the series, and according to my old post, I’d given the series a C+ after finishing: while it was satisfactory to watch, it wasn’t particularly novel, nor did it compel me to anticipate each upcoming episode with bated breath. Having said this, I am glad to have finally wrapped up the OVAs, which added a bit to both Emily and Sagiri’s characters in a positive manner, although with these OVAs in the books, I do not imagine that we will be getting any sort of continuation of this series in the future; it has been five years since the original series aired, and three years since the OVAs. Fortunately, things wraps up on a sufficiently conclusive manner so that a continuation is not strictly necessary.

The fact that I’m writing about the Eromanga Sensei OVAs a full three years after their release shows the extent to which I procrastinate when it comes to anime. To put things in perspective, I first wrote about Eromanga Sensei back in 2018 for a Terrible Anime Challenge post, and the anime itself had actually began airing during the spring of 2017; I was gearing up for my Japan trip back then, and had been avidly following P.A. Works’ Sakura Quest. When I finished my journey through Eromanga Sensei, it was about a year after the series had finished airing. I’d heard about the OVAs, and had been curious to see what they entailed, but circumstance led me to put them off. With both OVAs in the books, I can finally say, after some four years, that I’ve finished Eromanga Sensei to the maximum extent possible – while this was never a series that would change my world view or move me as other anime had, there’d been a gentle and easygoing aesthetic about Eromanga Sensei that made it stand apart from author Tsukasa Fushimi’s previous work, OreImo. Unlike the bolder and more well-known OreImo, Eromanga Sensei is a little more subdued and muted in comparison, lacking its predecessor’s notoriety and a story that pushed the boundaries for its portrayal of social norms. Instead, I ended up finding Eromanga Sensei to be an interesting portrayal of how creative focus is a viable, and healthy outlet for managing mental health issues like depression: both Sagiri and Masamune turn to creative work in order to channel their feelings, and in doing so, their worlds become more colourful for it. By sheer coincidence, their approaches bring them closer together in a way that they couldn’t have foreseen, accelerating their ability to rediscover happiness. While certainly not revolutionary by any means, Eromanga Sensei still ended up being a satisfactory experience, and watching the OVAs reminded me of the fact that each of the characters did have their unique charms which, together, made them a fun group to be around.