The Infinite Zenith

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Category Archives: Anime: Reflections

Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?? ~Sing For You~ OVA: A Review and Full Recommendation, Plus a Preview of Season Three

“Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories. And the longer a song has existed in our lives, the more memories we have of it.” –Stevie Wonder

Cocoa and Rize’s quiet day at Rabbit House is interrupted when Maya and Megu carry a catatonic Chino in. As it turns out, Chino had been selected to perform the solo for her school’s choral concert. While Rize and Cocoa worry, Chino decides to go ahead with the performance and asks Rize to help her prepare for the part. Rize thus has Chino run through various exercises to boost her stamina, before giving her drills on voice training. It turns out that Chino’s inclination to perform the solo, despite her weakness in public speaking, was partly motivated by a desire to help Rabbit House become more popular. Later, Chiya hosts a karaoke night at Ama Usa An, and when Chino blanks out from nerves, Cocoa decides to encourage Sharo to perform. Under the influence of caffeine, Sharo delivers a spirited and energetic performance befitting of an idol. Chiya, on the other hand, performs an enka. The girls get fired up and sing for most of the evening, before having a short-lived fight as to which group Chino should sing for. Back at Rabbit House, Takahiro encourages Chino to simply perform her best and sing for those important to her. Chino looks at old photographs of her mother, who was once a Jazz singer in the same band that Takahiro and Rize’s father were in. Cocoa later sneaks off to prepare cheer implements for Chino with Chiya and Sharo. On the morning of the performance, Megu and Maya do their best to encourage a nervous Chino, whose spirits lift when she spots Cocoa and the others in the audience. She proceeds to deliver a performance that brings tears to Cocoa, Rize, Chiya and Sharo’s eyes. After the concert, she rushes off to Rabbit House to meet the others, only to find that the decorations Cocoa and the others had put up to root for her have only become gaudier and more outrageous. Later, Chino shares a moment with Tippy and expresses her happiness that things are so lively now, saying she enjoyed the concert. Announced a year ago, Sing For You is the second of the GochiUsa OVAs that saw a home release in late September and faithfully adapts the chapter eight of the fifth volume, bringing to life an arc that show’s Chino’s progression throughout GochiUsa. Sing For You runs for the length of a standard episode, but nonetheless has heart, successfully bringing the arc to life.

Character growth is the central strength in GochiUsa – the series made an impact with its unique setting, but over time, the characters became the centrepiece of the series. As Chino spends more time with Cocoa and her friends, she finds herself wishing she could one day smile and get along with others as well as Cocoa does. Gradually, Chino does become more outgoing, and while she may still find herself reluctant to partake in anything approaching that of a leading role in the performing arts, another part of her wants to take on the challenge and face them with a smile, the same way that Cocoa might. Sing For You thus comes to illustrate the extent of her growth: Chino takes the initiative to prepare for her solo in the concert, asking for Rize’s help and then coming to see that performing isn’t as difficult as she imagined. Further motivated by Takahiro’s words and her friends’ energy, Chino ultimately gives a highly moving song. Public performances and speaking is a skill that must be cultivated; only a quarter of people are naturally comfortable with public speaking, and Chino, who has been presented as taciturn and shy, does seem ill-prepared for the part. It is with stamina training, practising in a more familiar environment and encouragement from family and friends that allows her to overcome her initial fears – the sum of Chino’s training and support from those around her pay off in a big way in the end. Chino’s fears in Sing For You might be exaggerated for the sake of comedy, but her concerns are very much real, as are the methods that she uses to address her worries. For instance, I count myself as a weaker orator, which forms a part of the reason why I have remained in the realm of blogging as to reviewing anime in video format. However, while I may prefer writing to speaking, as a speaker, I have some experience, having given talks at conferences and defended a pair of thesis oral exams. My typical approach is unorthodox: my slideshows actually have no bullet-point text for me to read, and I write a script beforehand that I loosely follow when it comes time to give the presentation itself. The end result is that my presentations end up being more like improv conversations, and I am able to give a more fluid talk. This is helped by confidence in knowing my material, which allows me to recall both the contents of my talk and have faith in addressing any queries that follow. Like Chino discovers, there’s a method towards overcoming fear of public performance, and the results of taking this plunge can be quite rewarding.

When news of a GochiUsa OVA was announced, speculation suggested that music would be very much a major part of things. However, Dear My Sister did not have a substantial musical component, instead focusing on how Chino managed to summon the courage to invite everyone out to a summer festival and Cocoa’s return home for a visit with Mocha and her mother. Conversely, music is very prominent in Sing For You; despite its runtime being only a third of that of Dear My Sister, Sing For You features no fewer than five inset songs. Besides the choral piece Chino performs with her classmates, Sharo, Chiya, Cocoa and Rize sing a variety of songs in a karaoke party intended to help Chino practise, and the songs that Chino’s mother, Saki, performs, are also featured. From the elegant Jazz that Saki performs and Sharo’s delivery of an idol song, to Chiya’s enka, and even Cocoa’s nonsensical song about the joys of Rabbit House, music appears in many forms during the course of Sing For You, culminating in a gentle choral piece that showcases the cast’s versatility and talents for musical performance. Sing For You exemplifies the additional dimensionality that an animated adaptation can bring to a manga: whereas a manga leaves readers to imagine the songs being performed, anime can really bring different moments to life with movement and sound. The songs of GochiUsa are always lively, conveying a sense of joy and happiness that static images alone cannot convey. The end result is a large number of vocal pieces packed into a relatively short duration; while Sing For You might not have had the same opportunity for presenting visually impressive moments to viewers the same way Dear My Sister did with Cocoa’s hometown and the wood-framed town during a summer festival, it utilises aural elements in an incredibly effective manner that results in Sing For You being every bit as enjoyable as Dear My Sister. Coupled with the solid presentation of a relevant life lesson, Sing For You represents a triumphant inclusion in GochiUsa that I have no trouble recommending for anyone who enjoyed the first two seasons and the Dear My Sister OVA.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • It’s a peaceful day at Rabbit House for Rize and Cocoa, who are sufficiently bored so that they are swaying their heads in unison to ward off the dullness. One of the more subtle themes of GochiUsa is that while tranquility is good, liveliness is better. However, if things remained this peaceful for the duration of Sing For You, then there wouldn’t be much for me to write about. This is definitely not the case, and with the events resulting, I have forty screenshots in this post, which remains the first and only proper English-language talk on Sing For You out on the internet. The lack of discussion on Sing For You is surprising considering the warm reception GochiUsa was met with, although I imagine it’s only a matter of time before more people check out this OVA.

  • When Maya and Megu carry Chino into Rabbit House, Rize immediately supposes things resulted from enemy action, while Cocoa immediately fetches some coffee to revive Chino. Sing For You actually opens with a flashback to Chino’s childhood, when her mother, Saki, was still around: the manga drops readers straight to Rabbit House, while the OVA takes advantage of its run-time to create a more fleshed out and emotionally-powerful story.

  • As it turns out, Chino was merely shocked from having earned the part of soloist in her school’s choral performance, and accepted the role.  While she and the others consider turning it down, Chino decides to go through with it. Chino has long been presented as being uncomfortable with crowds and speaks in a gentle, quiet voice, so her decision to take on the solo role shows that a part of her does want to grow. It’s a subtle development that long-time viewers of GochiUsa will enjoy.

  • In order to prepare for the performance, Chino asks Rize to help train her. I’m not a voice actor or singer by trade, but I am roughly aware that being able to project one’s voice does take training well beyond vocal practise and breathing. Rize’s exercises, while seemingly extraneous, are intended to develop stamina and endurance. The bunny-hopping that she has Chino do, for instance, is actually an exercise my dōjō uses to train lower body strength, and while it wipes out the younger students, I’ve been doing them long enough to make them look easy for the white and green belts.

  • Whereas the manga only shows Chino as going through a few exercises, the OVA has Rize put Chino through exercises that would defeat almost the entire population save for professional athletes or individuals with extensive strength training. It is therefore unsurprising that Chino can’t actually complete the exercises, although I imagine that Rize is employing these means to push Chino further. The exaggerations also create a bit of visual humour.

  • Those favoured with a keen memory will recall that the riverside park where Rize drills Chino is where the girls had gone to practise for various sports competitions and the like previously. In anime set in the high school setting, sports and culture festivals are often featured, but aside from brief mentions, GochiUsa has not done any sports festivals the same way Azumanga Daioh and K-On! have as of yet. Looking ahead, it looks like that both a sports event and culture festival will be shown: I forecast that the culture festival will make into season three.

  • Rize compliments Chino on having a marked improvement in projecting her voice. This is a combination of the exercises that Chino’s done, and also from her overall improvement from the time that she’d first met Rize. In Dear My Sister, a flashback shows that Rize had previously worked with Chino to improve her voice using the same caffè latte caffè mocha cappuccino routine, and Dear My Sister transformed this into a spell when Cocoa dreamt about meeting Mahou Shoujo Chino. The shift in lighting here shows that Chino’s been training all day, attesting to both her determination and Rize’s grueling routines.

  • This year, we’re set to have Thanksgiving Dinner on Sunday: besides a turkey with stuffing as the centrepiece, ham with a dijon-mayonase sauce, grilled shrimps and roast cauliflower will be on the menu. The Thanksgiving long weekend has quickly grown to become a favourite of mine, being a time of rest, good food and family. The extra day off also affords me with additional time to sleep in and relax in general, although with the advance polling stations open for the Federal Election, I will have to exercise my responsibility as a citizen and go in to vote.

  • After a day’s training, Chino and Rize return to Rabbit House, only to find a sign up front with a hand-drawn Chino that advertises her role in the upcoming choral performance. Chino immediately concludes that this was Cocoa’s doing, and upon entering Rabbit House itself, she finds the interior of Rabbit House decked out in decorations to celebrate Chino’s solo role. It turns out that even Takahiro is in on things, having given Cocoa and the others permission to spruce things up a little.

  • This screenshot really shows the scope of the decorations, a consequence of Chino leaving Cocoa in charge wiht help from Megu and Maya. An exasperated Chino breaks out shouting, surprising everyone with the amplitude of her voice. Even when irate, Inori Minase’s delivery of Chino’s voice comes across as being incredibly adorable, and there have been multiple roles now where I hear Minase play a character and are immediately reminded of Chino.

  • Rize’s training improves Chino’s form, but her nerves remain weak, as she is easily embarrassed. Feeling that Chino’s technique is solid, Rize suggests singing in front of others. At Ama Usa An, Chiya hosts a kareoke party, and everyone’s invited. Chino is initially asked to take the stage, but even in front of her friends, she’s unable to summon up the courage to put an introduction together. While this is doubtlessly adorable, stage fright is a very real phenomenon. K-On!‘s Mio Akiyama is similarly affected, overcoming it over the course of the series with support from her friends.

  • While Ritsu suggested to Mio that she should imagine the audience as potatoes or similar, Cocoa suggests that Chino imagine her audience as bunnies to take her mind off things, but Chino feels this to be even more distracting. Aoyama inexplicably shows up, as well, although her editor, Rin, is noticeably absent from the proceedings. I’ve long felt that the characters of GochiUsa resemble rabbits in nature and mannerisms – this is a sentiment that others of the community also appear to share, and I think that with this in mind, it could be quite entertaining to write a mini-guide on rabbit temperaments as GochiUsa‘s third season draws nearer.

  • Because Chino is unable to perform, Cocoa decides to take her off the stage and provide an example of how one might perform. She gives Sharo a coffee and then sends her to the front lines, where Sharo takes on the demeanour and energy of an idol. Sharo’s been said to be affected differently depending on the blend of coffee that she drinks, with some blends making her as carefree as Cocoa, while other blends bring her to tears. Insofar, no correlation has been provided as to what coffees have what effect on Sharo.

  • For her song, Sharo performs Hi Hi High☆, a lively and upbeat song: Sing For You lives up to its name in that there is plenty of singing, and this is probably why the decision was made to adapt it as an OVA rather than a part of season three. GochiUsa typically has one inset song during its regular season, and while plenty of supplementary albums have been released over the past few years, dedicated songs for the anime is not something we’ve seen. The increased production time afforded by the OVA format means that more effort was directed towards the music, and the quality of the end product is quite apparent.

  • After Sharo’s performance ends, Chiya takes centre stage and performs an enka. Being a Japanese ballad, enka is the fusion of traditional Japanese music with modern elements, and while their popularity declined in the early nineties as J-pop began gaining traction, the style continues to endure. Musical styles tend to cycle in popularity, although I note that contemporary pop music is pedestrian, unoriginal and jejune to the point of being unlistenable – all modern pop artists sound the same and favour repetitive elements to maximise catchiness at the expense of telling a good story or creating a particular atmosphere.

  • The sort of music that I listen to is varied in nature, from the fluffy and adorable songs of GochiUsa and K-On! to DragonForce and Lord of the Rings soundtracks. All of them share the commonality of telling a story or evoking in my mind’s eye specific imagery. As such, I have no problem with the music that Petit Rabbits’ performs: it far outstrips the indie pop that is so widespread here, sounding a lot more genuine and having a great deal more heart than the manufactured drivel that dominates the music scene.

  • Rize, Sharo, Cocoa and Chiya end up stealing the show when their enthusiasm for singing takes over, and the girls end up fighting over which group Chino should sing for.  The original objective of helping Chino overcome her stage fright is quickly forgotten, showing just how quickly things can shift in GochiUsa. The changes never come across as being unexpected, but rather, happen quite naturally as a result of the girls’ propensity to live in the moment.

  • Takahiro imparts some wisdom to Chino: her mother was once also nervous prior to any performance, but Saki would always remind herself that her singing would bring joy to those who were in the audience. Sometimes, it is these moments from family, even more so than friends, that can profoundly shift one’s perspective. With the promise of performing for him, Chino resolves to simply go into the performance and give it her best.

  • Chino recalls memories of her mother when going through a photo album with her mother, who was a jazz performer with Takahiro and Rize’s father. GochiUsa presents the Kafuus and Tedezas as being quite close to one another: in the second season, a conversation between Takahiro and Rize’s father imply that they’d also been brothers-in-arms. This background has resulted in all sorts of fanciful speculation on the nature of GochiUsa‘s world, but upon scrutiny, these speculations only remain thus.

  • Chino remarks that Saki was actually a lot more flamboyant in mannerism, being rather similar to Cocoa at times. Cocoa also reveals to Cocoa that she had wanted to turn down the part, but hearing Takahiro’s words and remembering her mother’s singing inspires her to at least give it a whirl to make him happy. From a technical perspective, Inori Minase is an excellent singer, being able to bring a variety of songs to life, but GochiUsa‘s setup means that she and the other voice actresses only really get to show off their singing in the opening and ending sequences, as well as supplementary albums.

  • Cocoa can be heard singing a song of her own composition while she cleans, and later sings the song for Chino while they bathe, leading Chino to comment on the song’s odd lyrics. This song is titled “ラビットハウスへ行こうよ♪” のうた (The “Let’s Go To Rabbit House♪” Song) and is delivered with Ayane Sakura’s typical bubbly and joyful manner. While Chino may not particularly like it, Takahiro certainly does, singing it to his father’s annoyance.

  • Once Chino falls asleep to rest up for the big performance, Cocoa sneaks off into the night and heads for Sharo’s place. The backyard behind Rabbit House is rarely shown, being last shown in the second season’s seventh episode, where the girls manually wash the sheets and laundry after Rabbit House’s washing machine malfunctions. One of the biggest joys about GochiUsa is simply seeing the different locations in the series brought to life, and while much of the wood-framed town is based off Colmar, France, the anime also makes use of other locations in Europe (the pool, for instance, was based off the Széchenyi thermal bath in Hungary), as well as seamlessly weaving in original locations where needed.

  • An old aspect of GochiUsa returns as the girls prepare props to help cheer Chino on. Sharo fears that they won’t be able to finish everything in time for the morning, and finds herself exasperated when Cocoa and Chiya begin deviating from their tasks and consider increasingly irrelevant things that they could make for Chino. Around Cocoa and Chiya, Sharo shows more of her true personality, being very goal-oriented and proper, always looking to do things correctly and efficiently.

  • Thanksgiving long weekend last year saw me travel out to Salmon Arm to see the salmon run. This two-day trip gave me a much-needed respite: after reaching the Adams River and watching salmon swimming about in droves, we arrived in Vernon. The second day was a journey back home, and we stopped at D. Dutchman Dairy just outside of Sicamous for ice cream. The ice cream was good enough for us to return just this summer, and overall, this was a much-needed break from the chaos of work, which was so hectic that I was contacted while in Vernon with the expectation that I resolve a newly posted work item immediately.

  • It turns out the “bug” in question stemmed from the testers being on an outdated version of the project, and the latest version, a release candidate, had satisfactorily solved the issue. On the project in question, I wrapped up my tasks and did a submission to the App Store a week later. We’re actually nearing the one-year mark of that upload, and I am planning on writing about HBO’s Chernobyl, whose unnerving atmosphere, and themes about the cost of lies and complacency made the series a highly riveting one. Chernobyl seems far removed from the gentle atmosphere of GochiUsa, so for the present, I won’t go too much further into the details of this upcoming Chernobyl post.

  • The schools in GochiUsa have ornate European architectural designs and look like private academies. This is the middle school that Chino, Megu and Maya attend: while the location’s been visited on a handful of occasions, starting with the day that Cocoa and Chiya met, there’s been precious few opportunities to actually check out the interior. Like Dear My SisterSing For You is produced by Production doA; they’ve done a phenomenal job with the artwork and animation, to the point where the two OVAs since the second season actually look and feel far better than the TV series.

  • This has me excited to see what the third season will look like: at present, the only thing that is known of the third season is that it will come out somewhere in 2020. Back in Sing For You, I’ve opted to feature additional screenshots showcasing Chino’s school. It would appear that the performance is being held at a concert hall adjacent to the main campus: the students’ parents have already begun gathering.

  • The performance venue itself is a surprisingly impressive one, resembling a professional concert hall. My old elementary, middle and high schools certainly never had a stage as ornate and elegant as the one found at Chino’s school – it was only the facilities at the university that approached this in scale and grandeur. I’ve attended a handful of performances and events at the Faculty of Art’s halls.

  • While Chino’s quite nervous on the day of the event, Maya and Megu feel more relaxed and do their best to encourage Chino. They decide to hug Chino and imbibe her nerves before reassuring her that things will be fine, cracking a lighthearted joke in the process. Some of the girls’ classmates can be seen in the background: compared to Megu, Maya and Chino, they look rather more ordinary in design, giving the sense that Chino, Maya and Megu were intended to stand out from other students.

  • Upon seeing the crowd, Chino begins to freeze, but in the corner of her eye, she spots Cocoa, Rize, Chiya and Sharo, decked out in rather flashy garb. Seeing their ludicrous appearance but equally ardent desire to support her, Chino realises that delivering her best now would make them happy. In effect, Chino now sees the performance as a chance to do her best for Cocoa and Takahiro. The latter is also in the audience with Rize’s father, but despite wearing the same jackets as Cocoa and the others, they are a lot more subtle in appearance and don’t stand out as much.

  • Ultimately, Chino puts on a strong performance, singing with sincerity and joy. The song they perform is called 木もれび青春譜 (Hepburn kimore bi seishun fu, “Sun-dappled Youth”), a calming and poetic song about youth using nature as the metaphor. It’s quite unlike any of the spirited, upbeat songs that Petit Rabbit’s and Chimame-Tai sing. Sing For You definitely lives up to its title, which is well-chosen, being about Chino singing for those important to her. Dear My Sister was similarly named, referring to the letter that Mocha wrote to Cocoa.  GochiUsa cycles between its different characters to liven the series up, which contributes to the series incredible success.

  • Sing For You (and GochiUsa as a whole) is meant to be a gentle slice-of-life whose core message is showing how people gradually mature and develop from their time spent together through Cocoa, Chino, Chiya, Rize and Sharo. There is a misconception that shows like GochiUsa have a single lead character: some folks have erroneously assumed that Chino is GochiUsa‘s main protagonist whom people gravitate around, but the reality is that none of the characters can exist in a vacuum. Slice-of-life series depend on the sum of character interactions to make their message clear. Back in Sing For You, Chino’s singing is so moving that Tippy dissolves in tears.

  • Being set entirely in the wood-framed town, Sing For You might not have the same sweeping panoramas and Southern France architecture of Cocoa’s hometown, but it does take the time to showcase the town in great detail, indicating that irrespective of the location, DoA is committed to maintaining a very high visual quality. This is especially encouraging, considering that there is going to be a third season: Chino and the others’ adventures will continue to be rendered in a consistently beautiful world.

  • With the concert over, Chino rushes on home for Rabbit House, wondering what the others thought of her singing. The high saturation and depth of field’s focus on Chino is meant to show the elation of having finished something difficult, as well as finding enjoyment in the moment.  Chino now understands why Saki was so immersed in singing, realising that it’s the ability to deliver emotions with the power of voices; music is one of those things that transcends linguistic barriers, and for my part, even though my Japanese is rudimentary, the emotions and feelings that Japanese songs convey are as clear to me as any Cantonese or English song, even if I do not understand the lyrics.

  • In the aftermath of the performance, Chino is surprised that everyone’s gone ahead and begun planning on making Chino a star of sorts, having recorded her performance for posterity’s sake. Even Sharo gets into things, and seeing this drives Chino to yet another outburst, her third of the episode. This recurring joke shows viewers that despite her usual quiet nature, Chino can be quite noisy when provoked, which is another reminder that the characters of GochiUsa are much more than their base archetypes suggest.

  • While Chino and the others are sharing a noisy, rambunctious moment together, Takahiro relaxes in the quiet of his quarters, listening to a record of Saki’s singing. The jazzy, bossa-nova music that she performs is very similar to the coffeehouse music that I listen to whenever I work. Saki’s voice is provided by Nana Mizuki, a veteran voice actress with roles in a vast range of anime, films and games.

  • Saki’s ultimate fate in GochiUsa has not yet been explored within the anime: while her absence is especially noticeable now that we’ve seen the anime bring her to life, one must also commend Takahiro’s efforts in raising Chino despite the emotional challenges he faced. With Cocoa and the others present now, Takahiro must also be relieved that Chino’s found friends to share her youth with.

  • On a sunny day some time after the concert, Chino speaks with her grandfather, reflecting on how her friends and father helped her to really seize the role. Chino’s grandfather remarks that he rather enjoys things this way, and asks Chino to pass this along to Cocoa and the others. The ending of Sing For You has Chino be the happiest I’ve seen her in the whole of GochiUsa, and she’s in a blue dress and sitting near some yellow flowers similar to the one seen in the OVA’s opening.

  • Chino does look somewhat similar to CLANNAD‘s Kotomi Ichinose here, and she tells her mother that she’s got some wonderful friends before a gust of wind brings the OVA to a gentle close. This is Sing For You, which earns an A+ (9.5 of 10, or 4.0): like Dear My SisterSing For You is remarkably enjoyable and a welcome addition to GochiUsa. Besides a fun story about Chino overcoming her fear of performing in front of the crowd, Sing For You also bridges the gap between Dear My Sister and season three, giving fans something to watch and lessening the wait.

With Sing For You now in the books, I turn my attention towards the third season, which is scheduled for airing somewhere in 2020. The second season ended with volume four, and Dear My Sister covered the fifth volume’s second to fifth chapters. Recalling that Sing For You adapts the fifth volume’s seventh chapter, a third season will likely begin with the summer arc in volume five, which deals with the girls looking for ways to deal with the summer heat that ends in a test of courage, and everyone’s interest in Lapin, a popular character from a children’s show, after Sharo plays the character at Fleur de Lupin. The fifth volume also sees Chiya train with Rize so she can keep up for track and field day. After Chino’s concert, the girls visit a flea market in town and pick up magic tricks. Megu and Maya do orientations of the two high schools in town, with Maya struggling to decide where to go, and when Cocoa’s high school hosts their culture festival, Chiya is made the class president. Despite her worries, she successfully hosts a beer hall. Previously, one season encompassed two volumes of material, so season three will also adapt volume six’s materials. After Cocoa learns to play the accordion, Rize announces her intention to become an elementary school teacher, being inspired by Maya and Megu. The girls later must chase Aoyama through town as she attempts to elude her editor, Rin, and a deadline, before celebrating Halloween. As the colder weather sets in, the girls help Maya and Megu study, while Cocoa and Chiya deal with their roles with the student council. Volume six ends with the end of another year. Season three is therefore looking particularly lively, and while it is a bit early to be making a decision, I am considering doing an episodic discussion of the third season. While GochiUsa may prima facie appear to be an ordinary slice-of-life series, the unique combination of its setting and visceral animated adaptation means that the series has definitely provided plenty of topics worth considering and writing about. With this in mind, I am greatly looking forwards to season three and the chance to delve deeper into a world that has accompanied me for the past five years, providing consistently good laughs and a cathartic atmosphere that proved an effective tonic against the stresses of life.

Okaa-san Online: Whole-Series Review and Reflection

“A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take.” –Cardinal Meymillod

Masato Ōsuki is a high school student who is not particularly receptive towards Mamako, his mother, and her doting ways. When he is assigned to beta test a new full-immersion game, he grows keen on testing it until learning that not only was Mamako also invited, but starts her journey with stats that render him quite unnecessary in most of the fantasy-themed combat. After recruiting the reliable Porta to manage the party’s inventory and crafting, Mamako and Masato also reluctantly take the sage Wise into their group before being tasked with neutralising Wise’s mother, who decided to use her powers to manifest as a minor god and live in the way she could not in reality. When Masato’s group confronts her, Mamako manages to make her stand down, and helps Wise reconcile with her mother somewhat. Later, Masato, Wise and Porta decide to enroll in a school to earn skill points and a chance at better equipment. They encounter the combat priest Medhi and her overbearing mother – Medhi reveals her dissatisfaction at being made to do everything her mother asks of her: it turns out that Medhi’s mother simply wanted Medhi to be happy and was negatively influenced by one of the in-game items. The two depart on good terms when Medhi’s mother allows her to stay with Masato and the others. The group turns their attention towards dealing with Amante, an abberation in the game whose origins are unknown, but whose intents are to eliminate mothers from the game world. After helping a group of players and their mothers out, Masato and Mamako square off against Amante with Wise, Medhi and Porta, coming on top when Masato reaches the top of the tower that Amante had sought to finish and beat her to making a wish, bringing the threat that Amante posed to an end. This is Okaa-san Online (more formally known as Tsūjou Kōgeki ga Zentai Kōgeki de ni Kai Kōgeki no Okā-san wa Suki Desuka?, or Do You Love Your Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks?, both of which are titles too long to type), a curiosity of a series whose initial gimmick turned out to hold a much more meaningful and interesting story about the dynamics between children and their mothers.

Okaa-san Online‘s central theme is a very straightforwards – while Masato might be embarrassed to the point of frustration by Mamako’s actions, his experiences in seeing Wise and Medhi’s mothers and their corresponding action also forces him to realise that things could also be a lot worse. Over time, he comes to help mediate these differences, which leads Wise and Medhi to accept their mothers to a greater extent than they had previously, and also helps Masato resist Amante’s intents to wipe his party and bring ruin into their world. For Masato, his journey is accepting what Mamako does for him, and sharing his experiences to help others reach this point. The interactions between children and parents is a topic not often directly covered in anime, usually being a more subtle, secondary aspect. However, Okaa-san Online takes a more open approach to this: by deliberately making Mamako overpowered, Okaa-san Online suggests that parents can trivially solve problems that children struggle to address and show, in particular, that a mother’s skillset is incredibly diverse and varied. Over time, Masato does appreciate Mamako looking after him and his newfound friends, even if he is still dissatisfied with her ability to effortlessly remove all enemies in the game. The parallels to real life can be found quite easily; for instance, I’m not quite so adept at cooking and occasionally butcher something simple like curry by not adding enough water, but my mom’s able to salvage even this without giving it much thought. Of course, experience and persistence allow children to learn, and in time, we become consciously aware of what good parents can do, similarly to what Mamako does for Masato.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • My initial inclination to watch Okaa-san Online was motivated primarily by the fact that Ai Kayano was playing Mamako: I know her best as GochiUsa‘s Mocha Hoto, Girls und Panzer‘s Saori Takebe and Nagi no Asukara‘s Chisaki Hiradaira. In mannerisms, Mamako is most similar to Mocha and Ah! My Goddess‘ Belldandy: kind, attentive and skillful with a wide range of tasks, her only fault is that she still comes across as being air-headed and unaware of the situation Masato finds himself in.

  • The game that Masato and Mamako wind up in is a beta test of a MMORPG designed to help parents and children get closer to one another. The story skates over the technical aspects of how this game works – Masato is simply sucked into his computer at the story’s onset and is quite aware that he is in a game world. I imagine that, were such a game to exist in reality, much market research would need to be done to ensure role balance.

  • For the duration of Okaa-san Online, Masato’s combat is only particularly effective against airborne opponents, while Mamako’s combat prowess have been enhanced to the point where she can do what seems impossible in-game. Her ability to use area-of-effect attacks that instantly eliminate enemy monsters is what lends itself to the series’ title: in Japanese, the series’ full name (通常攻撃が全体攻撃で二回攻撃のお母さんは好きですか?) is twenty-six characters long. The romanised version of this is seventy-three characters in length using Hepburn romanisation and seventy-eight characters if the long vowel sounds are spelt out rather than using macrons. In English, Do You Love Your Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks? has fifty-nine characters including the question mark.

  • Such a lengthy title would be a nightmare to type out and spell, so for convenience’s sake, I’ve opted to refer to the series by its short name, Okaa-san Online. Once Masato is consigned to his fate as being underpowered compared to Mamako, they begin finding a party. Porta is the first to join: a petite, pink-haired girl with a knack for inventory management and crafting, Mamako immediately takes a liking to her. The team then looks at Wise’s profile. While competent, Wise’s temper leads Masato to turn down her application. It turns out Wise had transformed herself into the application, and proceeds to lay down a physical beating on Masato.

  • Okaa-san Online was initially marked as a promising series after it started, but the second episode had more than one viewer wondering if the series would go down a more degenerate path. It is the case that Masato and Mamako get into some strange situations: they encounter one monster whose attack is a slime that destroys armour, and after a chaotic few moments, Mamako manages to eliminate it. While drawing some ire from viewers, I’ve felt that Masato’s reactions make it very clear that Okaa-san Online will not go in those directions.

  • Masato finds himself embarrassed beyond words when Mamako experiments with different loadouts, including one gear-set that leaves very little to the imagination. I never did get how games justify giving such sets the same defensive properties as full plate armour: in the titles I play, armour looks identical for male and female characters. On the matter of games, this weekend, I took the Ghost Recon: Breakpoint open beta for a whirl after learning about it, but found myself unimpressed overall: there will be no dedicated talk for Breakpoint. A snowfall had also slammed into the area, dropping upwards of 15 cm of snow over the past two days, and while this weekend’s been relaxing (I warmed up with fried chicken yesterday evening and spent much of the day taking it easy), one hopes that there will still be a milder autumn for October.

  • The first major challenge Masato’s party deals with is Wise’s mother, who went rogue after learning of her superior specs in the game world. Masami Shirase, one of the staff members who frequently appears to provide information and support, informs them that Wise’s mother is beginning to disrupt the beta testing itself, and so, the team sets out to stop her. Mamako manages to very nearly single-handedly rectify the situation, creating an opening that Masato uses to finish things off. In the aftermath, Masato and Mamako share a moment of joy at having helped Wise to reconcile somewhat.

  • Medhi’s arc is introduced next: after Masato, Wise and Porta decide to enroll at an academy to gain skill points, they encounter the combat healer Medhi, who is soft-spoken, friendly and also excels at most everything that she does. With a warm smile and shapely figure, Masato develops a minor crush on her and wonders if she’s the heroine of his story, although he quickly realises that Medhi’s got her own set of problems to deal with.

  • Both Medhi’s mother and Mamako mess with their respective offspring’s school life in strange ways: Medhi’s mother stacks the deck so Medhi can demonstrate her superior understanding of the game world to further her power, while Mamako is happy to don the outfits that students wear and blend in with them, to Masato’s embarrassment. Things reach a breaking point during the simulated culture festival: when Masato and the others try to befriend Medhi and encourage her to take her own path, her mother intervenes, leading Medhi to manifest as a dragon rivalling Smaug in destructive capabilities.

  • Mamako and Masato wind up resolving things, and it turns out that the equipment Medhi’s mother was given slowly corrupted her personality, amplifying that which was. Once this staff is destroyed, Medhi’s mother realises that her Tiger Parent approach was ineffectual and decides to immediately deactivate her blog on parenting. While she’d only wanted the best for Medhi, it came at the expense of her well-being. This approach of parenting is supposed to be common in Asian families, known as Kyōiku mama in Japan, and while a high pressure approach increases technical success in life, this has a mental toll on children.

  • Being Asian myself, I consider myself most lucky in that my parents took a more effective approach: they expected me to approach everything I did with a genuine effort, and then the results would be secondary to the effort taken. The end result was that I would find success in most places where I did my best, and where I was met with failure, I would learn to find another way. I therefore argue that the Tiger Parent approach is ineffectual, since it creates the illusion that failure is something that cannot be recovered from. Back in Okaa-san Online, the end result of Masato, Wise and Porta’s time in school is that Porta gets what she came for, while Wise and Masato get screwed by the RNG gods.

  • When it comes to luck in finding cool stuff for games, mine is strictly average, but application of effort, I’ve managed to turn things around in my favour on some occasions to reasonable success. In The Division, for instance, I did manage to acquire a complete Classified Striker’s Battlegear along with The House and Bullfrog thanks to a combination of spending time in the legendary missions and Dark Zone, plus luck with the RNG gods.

  • When informed that there’s a strange situation afoot, Mamako decides to form a guild after learning of what it would take to take a tower and reach the top, where a prize awaits successful players. They learn of one Amante’s plans to eliminate mothers from their world, a rather brazen desire that seems only one step removed from Thanos’ plan to wipe out half the life in the universe. Their initial efforts are met with resistance, as players have allied with Amante. Mamako’s approach towards defusing and understanding the situation results in a group of players who no longer wish to serve Amante.

  • Despite being a formidable villain in terms of raw power, Amante is very quickly reduced to a puddle of tears whenever Medhi comments on how her clumsiness will leave lasting damage on her figure. There is some truth in this: idiosyncrasies in Amante’s character leave her vulnerable to her own shortcomings despite her power, and because of this, audiences are never too sure as to how seriously they should take her.

  • Having helped the male players break free of Amante’s influence, their mothers decide to show up as well to help out. Because their approach is rather unique, the end up casually moving through the dungeons and even stop for a casual lunch break that throws off Amante’s game. The fun and games continue when Amante decides to compete, one-to-one with Mamako, in a range of household tasks like dishwashing and laundry. Mamako handily wipes floor with Amante’s ass owing to her superior experience with common tasks.

  • When a series of traps deprives the characters of their armour and forces them to fight in naught but their undergarmets, only Amante reacts with any degree of embarrassment. Medhi and Wise have both become accustomed to Masato seeing them sans clothes thanks to Mamako’s preference for discussing things in the onsen, and so, exhibit no reaction. Thanks to Masami’s intervention, the others are spared of this fate: ever fond of finessing shirase (知らせる, literally “to inform”) into her sentences as a bad pun on her surname, Masami appears at various points in Okaa-san Online to provide updates. She’s a rather amusing character for this reason, and I’ve become rather fond of how she speaks.

  • If I had to guess, Amante is probably an aberrant boss whose parameters were not finely tuned, allowing her to run wild and create chaos in the game world. Incomplete programming would then account for her contradictory personalities and clumsy nature. Stopping her thus becomes motivated by the need to prevent her from disconnecting or disabling the accounts that the mothers have, which would in turn defeat the purpose of the beta test’s goal of collecting data.

  • When Masato and company reach the top of the tower, they find that Amante’s already neutralised the boss monster here. They begin to engage Amante in combat but find her power overwhelming. In the end, it takes not force of arms, Masato’s recollections to distract Amante, and Mamako’s use of one of her own abilities to fry Amante. Deciding it is pointless to fight on, she runs off to the final section of the tower, where the special wish-granting podium is held. In order to beat Amante to the punch, Masato wishes for fresh eggs, recalling a prediction of Wise’s that ultimately turns it into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • I found that all of Okaa-san Online‘s characters were quite likable, and while the stakes were never too high, watching everyone learn and grow with one another made this series fun to watch. Between Wise’s tsundere personality, the adorable air that Porta has and the curious combination that is Medhi, it was entertaining to see how the characters bounce off one another. Okaa-san Online seems to escape the harem genre, as Masato’s mind is only ever really on not being embarrassed, and while he did join the game world with the aim of meeting someone, these thoughts are shelved once he begins learning more about the game.

  • Okaa-san Online was a very pleasant surprise, and earns a B+ grade (8.0 of 10, or 3.0 of 4). Despite being rough or protracted in some areas, as well as having modest visuals, the series does a remarkable job of bringing the characters and their adventures to life. With Okaa-san Online in the books, we now enter October and the fall season. I intend to watch Azure LaneRifle is Beautiful and Kandagawa Jet Girls, as well as write about them in some capacity. As well, I do have plans on watching and writing about Hensuki at some point in the future, and finally, I will be looking to wrap up Blend S soon for the next Terrible Anime Challenge.

Ultimately, despite Okaa-san Online‘s premise being ripe for presenting a certain brand of visual humour (and the first few episodes do in fact do this), Okaa-san Online turned out to be surprisingly enjoyable for its presentation of family dynamics using the isekai setup, a genre which has stagnated somewhat thanks to increasingly derivative stories being told and for a refreshing, honest perspective on parenthood’s challenges. While Okaa-san online may not go into the same level of detail as a parenthood guide or deal with every aspect of parenthood that parents go through, it manages to cover a few details, from parental irresponsibility to the Tiger Parent mindset and present plausible solutions towards these issues. The thematic elements in Okaa-san Online are respectable and solid overall, with the more dramatic moments being well-balanced with the comedy and situational irony. Even though the anime itself is not particularly noteworthy with its animation or art, the story and voice acting does give incentive for one to pick up the series. I would recommend this series to fans of the isekai genre, as well as those who are looking for something unexpected. Finally, while Okaa-san Online‘s anime adaptation may have ended for the present, the source light novel is still ongoing, and the possibility of a continuation will likely be contingent on how well the anime does with respect to sales. This is a fun series to watch, and I could see myself picking up a second season if one were to be made.

Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? Whole-series Review and Reflection

“He is not a dude. You’re a dude. This…this is a man. A handsome, muscular man.” –Drax The Destroyer, Avengers: Infinity War

Hibiki becomes accustomed to lifting weights at Silverman Gym and learns about exercises that can be done with machines during peak hours. When the summer arrives, the girls train on the beach after learning that swimming in the area is prohibited thanks to the presence of sharks. Later, Akemi is excited to compete against Hibiki in the school’s sports festival, but Hibiki is disqualified on a technicality. When Hibiki sets her sights on a home theatre system, she competes in an arm-wrestling tournament, handily defeating Russian competitor Gina Boyd. Excited at the prospect of a new rival, Gina transfers in to the same school as Hibiki and even does a home-stay with her. Gina registers herself, along with Hibiki, Akemi, Ayaka and even instructor Satomi for an idol competition. During a school trip, the girls discuss ways of hiking more efficiently, but Hibiki and Satomi get separated from the others. During the middle of a training session with Nazuzo, movie star Barnold Shortsinator arrives and greets Nazuzo, revealing that Nazuzo was one of his students. Barnold invites Nazuzo to a body-building competition and is impressed with Nazuzo’s victory. Christmas sees Hibiki and the others celebrate at the Silverman Gym, and the girls then visit a shrine that Nazuzo’s family runs for the New Year’s. The girls enter a talent show on Gina’s request and are later invited to a tropical island during spring to participate in another competition. While Hibiki loses in the competition to Akemi, she reveals that she’s had a great time working out with everyone and hopes to continue doing so in the future. With this, Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? comes to an end, taking with it a consistently hilarious and occasionally informative presentation on weight lifting.

Like Sounan Desu Ka?, Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? possesses a technical component that supplements a story of friendship and discovery. Both series are remarkably similar despite their different origins, providing useful information while at once, showing off the characters’ journey as they become more acquainted with their situation. In Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru?, the journey is weight lifting: once Hibiki finds the encouragement and motivation to exercise regularly, she discovers just how deep and fulfilling the world of fitness is. In the process, she begins to appreciate that fitness can take many forms, and that equipment is not always needed to get a good workout going. Ultimately, thanks to Akemi and Ayaka, Hibiki is motivated enough to regularly go to the gym, and is rewarded for her efforts with a weight that she can be happy with. In reality, lifting weights and fitness is not as glamorous or dramatic as Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? describes, but it is every bit as fulfilling: regularly making use of a gym and improving one’s fitness is to improve one’s cognitive functions and mental well-being, as well as providing a boost in confidence and durability. As Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? presents, the toughest part is starting: once Hibiki gets into things, she discovers an entire world within fitness to explore and learn about. Hibiki’s journey into weight lifting parallel my own, and while I’ve been lifting since I started university, Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? does provide some interesting suggestions that I’ve since tried and added to my own routine. For example, the so-called skull crushers are indeed more effective with the EZ bar, and I’ve been focusing on improving my form (no moving of the elbows and a controlled motion) since switching from the straight bar.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Endless blue skies and fluffy white clouds signify the beginning of summer. In any other anime, such weather would see the wistful longing to find love, or excitement at the possibility of new adventure, but in Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru?, it simply means warmer weather to visit the gym under. This is something I’m familiar with, and indeed, I’ve actually never had a gym be unavailable to me during the summer before. Hibiki and her friends have no such luck, as the Silverman Gym is closed for a brief time in the summer.

  • Akemi suggests that everyone hit the beaches to swim, and encounter Satomi while on the bus en route to the beach. Satomi’s very quickly become my favourite character in Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? for reasons that elude words, and despite her initial reluctance to lift with her students, she finds herself encountering Hibiki and her friends with increasing frequency, to the point where she begins fulfilling a similar role as a club advisor in other slice-of-life series.

  • The last time I saw exercises involving movement in sand in an anime, it was last year’s Harukana Receive. Here, Akemi suggests doing burpees in the sand: the uneven, shifting nature of the surface forces one to engage more muscles than if they were done on a solid surface. Standard burpees are already fairly challenging to do, being an exercise that engages the legs, glutes, core, chest, arms and back all at once. They drive the heart rate up, and I usually can only do a maximum of thirty straight before fatigue stops me from continuing.

  • Folks looking to get started with lifting weights should know that a gym membership is not a trivial expense and can have strange conditions attached to them, so a gym membership is an investment one must make use of frequently to optimise for gains and financial reasons. For my readers who work in an office building or live in a complex with an on-site gym, or those who are university students (whose fees usually include full access to facilities on campus), there’s really no excuse not to use them.

  • Naruzo’s ever-helpful muscle lessons will provide instructions on how to perform exercises with reasonable form, and having lifted for the past decade plus, I’ve developed enough experience to at least know when good form is being practised. It is always preferable to do an exercise with lighter weights and become acclimatised to good form than to pick a heavier weight. In most cases, poor form with a heavier weight will defeat the purpose of an exercise, and in the worst case, injury will almost certainly result.

  • Akemi has aversions to using machines, feeling to be impure, but as it turns out, machines provide stability that allows the body to really focus on certain muscle groups. At my gym, I typically use the lateral pull-downs and leg curl machines to supplement my usual exercises. Here, Satomi demonstrates the prone leg curl, where the proper technique is to draw one’s feet until they are nearly in contact with their glutes. While campus had a prone leg curl machine, my current gym only has a seated leg curl machine, which is supposed to be equivalent in terms of the muscle group they act on.

  • Between instructions on lifting, Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? also takes the time to show the scale and complexity of Silverman Gym: they are large enough to have their own swag and host events from time to time, such as prize draws. These elements are quite separate from weight lifting techniques and prevent Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? from being purely a series of instructional exercise videos, giving the characters’ world more depth and life to prevent it from feeling too empty.

  • I derive a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment from being exhausted after lifting weights. As it turns out, there’s a reason for this: when one is exercising, the stress on the body causes the release of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) and endorphins to suppress the stressors. These compounds result in a feeling of contentment and even euphoria, which explains the feeling of pleasure after working out.

  • The fanservice piece of Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? is about par the course for what one might expect from a series of its nature: closeup of the muscles being engaged by a certain activity are frequent, but these are only usually done in the Machio Muscle Lessons. Everywhere else, the show is very disciplined and does not go out of its way to show T n’ A, with the girls dressing appropriately for the gym environment with t-shirts or tank tops and shorts, plus a good pair of close-toed shoes.

  • Besides having the punching power to rival Captain America, Hibiki also possesses a hitherto hidden talent for arm wrestling: in practise, only Naruzo can best her, and she destroys Gina in a competition. The competitive and outgoing Gina subsequently decides to transfer to the same school as Hibiki to compete with her in the future, and in the process, they become friends. Gina is presented as being a Russian stereotype who lapses into her native tongue when excited, but her family name, Boyd, is actually Scottish in origin. She is voiced by Nao Toyama (Karen in Kiniro Mosaic, Kongou in Kantai Collection and many others).

  • The day after a workout, muscle soreness is very much a reality, and there is truth in the idea that light exercise can help remove this soreness: caused by tears in the muscle fibre, and a short bit of low-intensity cardio or stretching can help by increasing circulation, which speeds up the rate that amino acids (the building blocks of muscle fibres) can be pushed to the muscles and promote repair. I typically do extended walks up the nearby hill to achieve this gentle increase to circulation after leg days.

  • After Gina joins the main cast, Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? becomes a little wilder: the girls go on more random adventures that are only tangentially related to lifting weights, always finding some way to inject weight lifting into whatever activity they’re doing. It was unexpected and hilarious that Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? manages to work in an idol competition into the story, capitalising on the moment to showcase how ludicrous weight lifting can be under some cases.

  • Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? is no Yama no Susume, but it does take advantage of Hibiki and the others’ school trip to provide instruction on how to step during hiking to reduce energy loss. The information provided in Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? is largely correct, and the show can be used as a bit of a starting point for lifting weights, but there is no substitute like a personal trainer or a friend with experience. Rumour has reached my ears that some folks in Japan were inspired to take up weight lifting after watching Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru?, rather like how Yuru Camp△ encouraged people to camp, but unlike camping, weight lifting is a bit more serious to get into. Personally, if one were to be motivated by Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru?, I would recommend speaking to at least someone who knows what they’re doing, since the risk of injury is non-trivial.

  • When Barnold shows up, he’s initially presented as being highly intimidating, but actually sports a boisterous and friendly personality. Ayaka and Hibiki are major fans of his films and are overjoyed to meet him in person. After signing Naruzo up for a body-building competition, Barnold provides an explanation of how these competitions work and what sorts of things are judged. Body-building emphasises hypertrophy, or muscle growth, over strength and endurance: while being physically strong in their own right, body builders have different training regimens than those of an athlete.

  • One aspect that Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? touches lightly on is the possibility of injury if one is not careful: the skull-crusher is used as an example of what happens when one is over-enthusiastic about lifting weights, with Hibiki knocking herself in the cranium with the bar. The next day, she’s shown as being bandaged and is slightly out of it for her troubles. Audiences might get a bit of a cruel laugh at Hibiki’s expense, but in reality, much more serious injuries can result from improper technique: I’ve teared tendons my wrist before from lifting, and the worst injuries are those to the neck and back.

  • The events of Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? span over the course of a year, reaching into Christmas and New Year’s towards the end. When Ayaka, Hibiki, Satomi, Akemi and Gina fail to find a partner for Christmas, they decide to attend the Silverman Gym’s Christmas party, hoping to meet someone there. All of the guys who attend look normal, but turn out to be ridiculously muscular, discouraging the group. After the party, Satomi wonders what to do with the tickets to an amusement park, and ends up giving them to Akemi, who wanted to visit said amusement park with Naruzo so they could cosplay.

  • After visiting the shrine that Naruzi’s family runs, and praying for a happy new year, the girls enjoy grilled squid. Ikayaki, as it is known, is a delicious street food item that is prepared by grilling squid with soy sauce. It’s supposed to be rather healthy, and squid is also high in protein content, in addition to having a good amount of vitamin and minerals. The page quote for this talk on Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? is, like last time, also sourced from Infinity War.

  • At Gina’s insistence, the group participates in a talent show. The same sleazy-looking but well-meaning TV producer runs this, as well: he’d long expressed a desire to see something a bit more outrageous and found his wishes fulfilled twice over with Hibiki and her friends. Their antics during the talent show actually helps the TV studio’s ratings, contrary to his expectations, and the higher ups decide that they must have Hibiki and her friends return at some point in the future.

  • Gina is unaccustomed to the tropical heat and resorts to stripping down to cool off, to Hibiki and Ayaka’s displeasure. The last story presented in Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? involves the girls travelling to a southern island to participate in a fitness-related getaway, where Akemi and Hibiki hope to check out the men’s fitness talent show. This was, however, cancelled from a lack of participants, and instead, Hibiki and the others are roped into the female talent show instead. Ayaka and Gina are eliminated from the competition, but Akemi and Hibiki perform admirably, tying for first and where Akemi eventually wins because Hibiki had powered down from a lack of food.

  • Overall, Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? earns a grade of B+ (3.0 of 4, or 8 out of 10): while the series did deviate from the gym towards the end and became increasingly outlandish, it also stayed true to its core premise and tied everything together neatly with Hibiki explaining that being able to befriend Akemi and Gina through working out. For a series that could have purely counted on fanservice, Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? ended up taking a different route via visual and situational comedy to make itself stand out. With this post in the books, I

Instructive and funny, Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? act as a solid instalment that is part workout video, part comedy act. Between succinct explanations about how different exercises help the body, and over-the-top moments that defy reality, this series also pokes fun at its own execution at flow. Nazuzo’s Muscle Lessons punctuate the show at unexpected intervals, and the characters find themselves wondering why they’re doing things a certain way. Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? might be no narrative masterpiece, and there are numerous moments that one simply won’t be able to find in reality, but the series does provide a solid starting point for those wondering about what the first few steps to training might look like. I’ve heard that Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? has been behind the spate of Japanese fans (primarily male) from signing up for gym memberships to try out the things they’d seen in Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru?. This is quite admirable, but ultimately, unless one has consistent motivation to actually go to the gym, lapsing back into old habits is very much a reality. Folks looking to make a life-style change and regularly visit the gym will find it easier with two tricks: the first is to get a gym buddy who preferably has some experience, and the second is to lift with the goal of learning good form first. This is how I started, and like Hibiki, I started out lifting small weights and walking away sore the next day. I’ve come a rather long way from those early days. While I’m still a casual lifter by all definitions, a decade of training means that I am able to bench press more than my own body weight, and I am only sore for about a quarter-day after working out now. More importantly, I have the discipline to haul myself out of bed at five-thirty on the days that I do want to hit the gym. There are plenty of reasons to go to a gym, and as Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? shows, there are plenty of benefits as well of maintaining good fitness: the anime simply presents these gains in an approachable and amusing manner.

Girls und Panzer Das Finale Part Two: A Nine Minute Preview and Remarks on Release Patterns

“Delay always breeds danger; and to protract a great design is often to ruin it.” –Miguel de Cervantes

After Miho’s armoured column evacuates from the wooden bridge, they set up an ambush for BC Freedom’s tanks and push them towards a garden. Here, Mallard team causes chaos amongst BC Freedom’s tanks: after Saori had noticed that their Char B1 bis possessed the same turret as the Souma S35, Miho decides to give their tank a custom paint job and has Mallard sneak behind enemy lines to create instances of friendly fire. While BC Freedom can fight in a united manner under Marie’s command, Oshida and Andou’s animosity for one another ends up being exploited: the two wonder if there’s a traitor amongst them and disregard Ooarai, firing on one another instead. This is the short preview that has been presented for Girls und Panzer Das Finale‘s second act, which premièred in Japanese cinema back on June 15. Possessing a total runtime of 54 minutes, the second act will see the conclusion of Ooarai’s match with BC Freedom, whose outcome is foregone but where the journey to reach said outcome will still remain worthy of watching. With BC Freedom in the books, trailers show that part two will allow Miho a small break before their next match with Kinue Nishi and Chi-Ha Tan, where she spends some time at a Boko-themed amusement park with Alice. For folks, such as myself, who do not have the luxary of going to Japan to watch Das Finale‘s second act, this is about the most that is known for the present: a re-screening of both parts is scheduled for the Thanksgiving Long Weekend, and unlike Part One, whose home release date was announced a month after its première, no information has been provided as to when the home release for Part Two will be.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I will come back and do a proper talk on Das Finale Part Two once it’s actually available; for now, we’ll have a chance to look at the nine or so minutes of footage that mark the opening sixth of the second act. It seems logical to start by talking about Marie. From what little has been seen of her so far, Marie has a haughty personalty and places great store in her skill as a commander. While capable of convincing Andou and Oshida to cooperate, Marie seems to care little for tactics, leaving her subordinates to fight while she eats cake even in the midst of a battle.

  • Conversely, Miho is always shown to be fighting alongside her comrades, directing them from the frontlines and encouraging them to do their best irrespective of the outcome. The gap in leadership and camaraderie amongst Ooarai’s Panzerfahren team is one of the reasons why they’ve always found ways to win over their enemies: other commanders tend to be confident and distant from other members of their team, Miho’s taken the effort to learn about everyone that participates alongside herself.

  • As a result of Girls und Panzer‘s previous performances, it is reasonable to suppose that Ooarai will win this match against BC Freedom, as well. The excitement comes from watching the process that leads to Ooarai’s victory, and I am now confident that it will be Momo who scores the winning kill: from a technical perspective, the FT-17 is a World War One era tank that was revolutionary for its time, but its maximum armour thickness of 22 mm would have offered no protection against the Jagdpanzer 38’s 7.5 cm Pak 39 (L/48), which could punch through 106 mm of armour at ranges of under 100 m.

  • Even at two kilometres, the Pak 39 is rated as being able to defeat 64 mm of armour if the round had hit its mark: the FT-17 would be useless, and Marie’s choice of tank is both to reflect on her preference to let her teammates do the fighting in their World War II-era, more capable tanks, as well as give Momo a fighting chance. I would further suppose that Miho’s determination to see Momo successful would mean that she’d sacrifice herself to make this happen, and so, I see her giving the order that causes her own Panzer IV to be disabled, which clears a way for Momo to take (and make) the winning shot.

  • Having done all of the housework and whatnot, today’s actually been a rather quiet day. Lazy weekends are the perfect time to spend making ludicrous foods: I had some grass-fed beef patties from earlier this month, and the time had finally come to break them out and use them to make burgers. Per request, these burgers feel like they come straight out of Man v. Food: besides a double patty, the burger I made was topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, sautéed onions and a fried egg. A side of fries and a tall glass of soda rounded things out. It was incredibly fun to put together and even more enjoyable to eat: grass-fed beef has an earthier, lamb-like taste, and the meat itself is leaner.

  • It is not lost on me that almost seven years have now passed since Girls und Panzer first began airing. Its success was unprecedented, and no one initially expected the franchise to do as well as it did. The reason for Girls und Panzer‘s unique success lies in the series emphasis on sportsmanship, finds ways of making each of the characters likeable, and for the incredible attention paid to detail. Appealing to military buffs and moé fans alike, there’s something in Girls und Panzer for everyone.

  • Capitalising on BC Freedom’s internal instability and the fact that Mallard Team’s Char B1 bis has the same turret as the Souma S35, Miho cleverly exploits their opponent’s weaknesses to create in-fighting during the match. Where Yukari had been dismayed to learn that the internal conflict at BC Freedom might have been a ruse, it turns out she was actually on the money: it is through Marie’s mediation that Oshida and Andou are able to nominally cooperate, but this cooperation is a fragile one.

  • While Der Film counted on spectacle and a scaled-up experience from the first season, Das Finale places much more emphasis on the skill-based elements of Panzerfahren. We can therefore expect creative tactics and problem solving approaches in upcoming movies, one of the few things along with the enjoyment factor, that is a constant with Das Finale. As frustrating as it is to be unable to do little more than wait, I fail to see the logic in going to Japan to see a movie that I won’t be able to write about in my usual format.

  • When Das Finale‘s second act finally comes out for home release and my copy arrives, I will be doing a much more in-depth talk about things. I expect that once BC Freedom begins tearing itself apart, it’ll be a short ways to the end of the match, and then the remainder of the episode will deal with Miho’s date with Alice to the Boko amusement park, as well as Ooarai squaring off against Chi-Ha Tan for the first time as opponents. With this preview in the books, I’ll be writing about Dumbbell wa Nan Kilo Moteru? next.

More optimistic estimates for Das Finale‘s second part to have a home release will put the date as being in December 2019, supposing that the re-screenings also double as an announcement for the next release. Previously, I had made the assumption that there would be a three month gap between the theatrical screenings and the home release for Das Finale, with an average of eighteen months between the different acts. By these estimates, this month was when Part Two was supposed to be released in full. Since these were off, the future release pattern for Das Finale becomes much more challenging to forecast. While I appreciate the effort going into the production of Girls und Panzer Das Finale to ensure that each instalment is of a high standard, Actas is proving to be about as reliable as 343 Industries when it comes to release dates. Following Das Finale is a bit of a painful endeavour on account of these wait times, and I do apologise to my readers for the considerable delays encountered in writing about Das Finale. My ability to write about this six-part film series is entirely dependent on the home releases, as I aim to provide detailed discussions, with high-quality screenshots. While I could be financially irresponsible and fly myself out to Japan for the singular purpose of watching the film to provide a pure-text summary, I would be compromising the quality of my content by taking this route. This is the cost of quality, and I will resolve to get a proper talk on Das Finale‘s second act as soon as the home release is available, a talk that I hope readers will find satisfactory.

Sounan Desu Ka? Whole-series Review and Reflection

“I’m so thirsty, I may have to drink my own urine…HA! Yeah, right.” –Les Stroud, Survivorman

Homare instructs Mutsu and Asuka on preparing a trap to catch rabbits, while at the same time, provides reassurance to Shion and asks her to help gather buried fish to keep her mind on something after Shion spots a passing ship. The girls later succeed in capturing a rabbit and manage to kill it, making a French-style rabbit dish with an island flair. Homare takes the girls with her in exploring the island and discover an abandoned house, as well as a sea-side hot springs. From weathering a lightning storm, to gathering honey together, Homare, Mutsu, Asuka and Shion gradually become closer: when Shion is washed out to sea while fishing, Homare decides to contradict her father’s advice about survival and search for Shion, bringing her back to a worried Asuka and Mutsu. Homare’s father later sets out in search for her. This is Sounan Desu Ka? at the endgame, which portrays temperate island survival à la Survivorman with high school girls in place of a grizzled, veteran outdoorsman. Despite the whacky premise, Sounan Desu Ka? works surprisingly well as an anime, bringing various survival elements together with humour and character growth. The end result is a series that brings twelve minutes of laughs each and every week that it aired, but the comedic and fanservice aspects of Sounan Desu Ka? are never distracting from the core of the show, which highlights the different techniques involved with survival. Over time, as Shion, Mutsu and Asuka accept the fact that they are on the island for long-term survival, they begin to adapt and learn from Homare, taking the initiative to do what Les Stroud described as “active survival”: the act of constantly being vigilant of one’s surroundings and making the most of whatever they have. From exploring the island for resources, to simply enjoying a soak in the hot springs, the girls’ actions are consistent with what Stroud counts as being critical in survival, specifically, having the will to live and also keeping busy to simultaneously ward off desolate thoughts and improve one’s situation whenever possible. Homare and the others may not do this as bluntly as Stroud does, but their actions clearly conform with what Stroud recommends.

Survivorman, being a reality series, lacks a narrative and theme the same way traditional stories do, and Sounan Desu Ka?, being similar save its medium and choice of characters, follows suit in that the message presented is secondary to the act of survival. However, Sounan Desu Ka? is not devoid of a message; over time, as Homare gets to know each of Asuka, Shion and Mutsu better, she gains a better understanding of their personalities and comes to figure out how to motivate each girl into surviving and improving their situation. Mutsu lacks the confidence to put her knowledge to use, Asuka is very bold and can get into trouble with her impulsiveness, while Shion comes from a wealthy background and is unaccustomed to doing things for herself. Over time, Homare provides situations for Mutsu to use her knowledge, tasks Asuka with duties that allow her to channel her energy and devises improvisations to give Shion some comforts of home while at the same time, giving her tasks that make her feel more useful to the group. In this way, Homare simultaneously bonds with the girls while improving their odds of survival drastically by increasing the group’s productivity. Whereas Les Stroud in Survivorman did his expeditions alone or with one another person, Homare shows the difficulties, but also benefits of group survival: she did initially have it difficult because she was surviving with three novices, but over time, as she provides instruction, the novices mature and come to be an asset. It is therefore unsurprising that Homare has also come to care for Mutsu, Asuka and Shion as friends, to the point where she is willing to disregard her father’s survival suggestion (“put yourself first”) in favour of keeping Shion safe, and by the end of Sounan Desu Ka?, the girls have very clearly adapted to life on the island, even if some of Homare’s survival methods remain a little outlandish for them at times.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Last time I wrote about Sounan Desu Ka?, it was late July, and I had been moderately amused with the series. Fast-forward to the present, and with the whole series under my belt, I can honestly say that this series was actually more fun than expected. Some of the survival tricks in the series are actually more akin to the sort of thing that Bear Grylls would do, being higher-risk in nature and flashier to watch, but on the whole, Sounan Desu Ka? is actually fairly down-to-earth.

  • Shion, Mutsu and Asuka start their journey as inexperienced survivalists whose actions and goals conflict with Homare’s. One aspect of Sounan Desu Ka? I greatly enjoyed was watching everyone mature as they spent time with Homare and became more open to doing what it takes to survive. Of everyone, Mutsu learns the most quickly, while Asuka comes in at a close second. Shion, on the other hand, hails from a wealthy family and is completely out of her element. One of Homare’s constant challenges is trying to strike a balance between survival and keeping Shion’s morale high, but Shion is definitely appreciative of Homare’s efforts.

  • Fish is an excellent survival food, and one of Les Stroud’s most mentioned tips for survival is to have a fishing tackle available. Relatively straightforward to catch and highly nutritious, fish provide a great balance of protein and lipids. In most cases, the only part of the fish that shouldn’t be eaten are the entrails; the liver and heart can definitely be eaten along with the flesh, and for larger fish, cutting the fillets out to let them air can help preserve them. The girls cook their fish over an open fire, which reduces the risk of infection from pathogens and parasites considerably: while fish can be eaten raw, cooking them eliminates these risks.

  • A major point of conflict in Sounan Desu Ka? is shown after the girls’ trap catches a rabbit: while Mutsu is the quickest of the girls to accept Homare’s survival advice, she’s also unable to kill the rabbit for food. Here, Asuka steps in to finish the job, resulting in fresh rabbit meat for everyone. Les Stroud almost always remarks on some variant on the phrase “I hate to kill any living thing. But in a survival situation, all life is fair game”, indicating that it is difficult to kill something for food, but this is a necessity in survival situations.

  • The girls prepare their rabbit differently than Les Stroud did in his “Plane Crash” episode: Homare suggests stripping the fur off, while Stroud uses a different trick that allows him to pull the fur off like a glove, creating a pelt that can be fashioned into something for later. Mutsu is immensely pleased with herself at having successfully prepared the rabbit, and Shion suggests preparing the rabbit using French methods, which would allow every part of the rabbit to be eaten.

  • The girls end up wrapping the rabbit meat in leaves and then using indirect heat to cook the rabbit. At the same time, they recycle the bones to make soup, and add leopard stems to add a bit of zest to the soup. Rabbits are generally not tricky to capture compared to other animals and offer a good bit of meat for the troubles it takes to catch it. However, because rabbit meat is so lean, a diet made of nothing but rabbit over long periods will result in protein poisoning. There is thankfully a countermeasure: if one were to eat the bones and internal organs of the rabbit, that will provide enough fat the body needs.

  • Homare has nothing to say about rabbit, but Asuka, Mutsu and Shion greatly enjoy it. I’ve had rabbit previously while at a very fancy buffet at the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel some years ago: the meat is reminiscent of chicken but earthier and gamier, as well as having a slightly tougher texture. After dinner, everyone (even Homare) lie down on the beach and take in the sunset. Despite its simpler animation and art style, Sounan Desu Ka? has a solid colour palette and makes use of things like lens flare and volumetric light scattering to enhance the visuals.

  • Wild edibles can be found growing around the island: Mutsu and Homare find Glehnia littoralis (beach silvertop), which is in the same genus as carrots and can be eaten. They’re typically used as a herb and are a good find, since they have anti-bacterial properties. In fact, they are used in Chinese medicine to treat coughs and headaches. While Shion and Asuka seem to want nothing more than to idle, Mutsu begins to appreciate what proactive survival is about: on Baffin Island, Les Stroud mentions that just because he’s managed to catch fish doesn’t mean he can’t forage for wild edibles, and subsequently goes on to find a hillside filled with plants that can be eaten or used to start fires.

  • One aspect about Sounan Desu Ka? that is apparent, and that some readers have also noticed, is that the island itself has predominantly deciduous vegetation despite possessing white-sands beaches. This is completely within the realm of realistic – such biomes are referred to as seasonal tropical forests (or moist deciduous forests), being slightly drier than tropical rainforests, but still possessing a considerable amount of deciduous coverage.

  • Shion finds a collapsed cabin, and while it’s unusable, Homare decides to scavenge for anything they might find useful. Discussions elsewhere have suggested that the island’s only been uninhabited for the past decade, but a glance through Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us, these estimates are wrong – an ordinary house with insulation and protection from the elements will last around fifty years without any maintenance or power to keep out the elements, but a makeshift cabin with corrugated metal roof panels and a basic wooden construction would be gone in under ten years. With the moist environment, termite and mould could bring a wooden shack down within five years.

  • After rummaging through the collapsed cabin, Homare finds a pair of garden shears and drools over them. She’s often seen doing this, which may seem baffling to the others, but making use of scavenged items is valuable for creating tools that aid survival. In his travels, Les Stroud always emphasises the importance of a sharp utility knife, which is indispensable in a survival situation for allowing one to cut through things and craft implements for survival – Homare does indeed craft a knife from the shears’ blade. A sharp knife is much safer to use than a dull knife, given that more force is needed to cut with a dull blade that increases the risk of injury.

  • When the girls see smoke rising from a far side of the island, they immediately rush off to investigate, and shout off into the distance in the hopes of getting in touch with any humans that may have created the smoke. They are only met with an echo, an aural cue that the girls are still completely alone on the island. At least one viewer wonders why an echo can occur in the area when there is not a geological feature to reflect sound waves back, but echoes actually do not automatically manifest even with the right geological features – distance to the object reflecting back the sound waves also matters, and one can simply surmise that cliff on the island has the right properties for an echo.

  • As it turns out, the “smoke” was actually steam from an onsen. The island has seen signs of human habitation previously, as the girls have also encountered a stone pier in addition to the abandoned cabin. Similarly, the onsen itself also seems like it was built by people, since naturally occurring hot springs don’t have catchments to collect the water, which would simply flow back into the ocean. The differences in observations means that it’s going to be quite tricky to pinpoint when exactly the island’s previous inhabitants left, but doing so is an unnecessary exercise.

  • The presence of hot springs would imply that the island is located somewhere with geological activity, suggesting a Pacific island chain. The geothermal activity in the Pacific Ring of Fire is intense, and Japan has some of the nicest hot springs anywhere in the world. Having soaked in the onsen during my travels there, the hot springs in the Rocky Mountains closer to home are absolutely cold by comparison. The Upper Hot Springs in Banff average 37ºC to 40ºC, being just warm, and the hottest hot springs in my area is up in Jasper: the waters coming out of the Miette Hot Springs is 54ºC but then cooled to 40ºC.

  • When Homare and the others find a narrow crevice, Homare decides to jump down and see if it’s possible to retrieve a large rope down there after ascertaining it is safe to do so. She manages to inch herself back up using a trick that wouldn’t seem too out of place in Man versus Wild, but the mention of rope and its applications are decidedly more in line with Les Stroud’s mention that rope is a hugely useful tool in survival situations.

  • Rain can be a dampener in normal conditions for some folk, but in a survival situation, it can increase the risk of hypothermia or make traction worse. Typically, Stroud will do his best to wait out periods of adverse weather, keeping busy with activities that can be done from inside a shelter. One memorable episode of Survivorman has Stroud waiting for half a day in Baffin Island after the rain kicks in. He ultimately makes a simple oil lamp using whale blubber and a sock, but the weather became dangerous, forcing him to finish the week early.

  • Building a home-made lightning rod seems to be something more suited for Bear Grylls than Les Stroud: most survival guides simply recommend crouching down away from any isolated tall objects, but not lie down on the ground, rather than constructing anything makeshift to draw the lightning away from people. For the most part, keeping it simple is better: it should be evident that what happens in Sounan Desu Ka? is occasionally meant to elicit a smile rather than be employed as a viable survival strategy.

  • Earlier, Asuka was fried by a lightning bolt’s current conducting through the water. While the properties of pure water would suggest that it is a poor conductor, water is also a decent enough solvent that it can dissolve substances into ions, which have a charge and will conduct electricity. This is the justification for why being near water in a thunderstorm is a bad idea. After the storm ends, Asuka decides to enter the water again and gets stung by jellyfish. To the best of my knowledge, jellyfish stings inject a venom into their victims rather than act on any electrical means.

  • Under the blistering heat of a subtropical sun, the girls decide to make natural sunblock to stave off UV radiation using excretions from seaweed, but an accident results in their stock being dumped on Homare. Further up north, the bark from a birch tree can actually be used as a natural sunscreen. Mutsu is sporting some squid-ink based sunscreen: the melanin, which gives the ink a characteristic dark colour, is able to scatter or absorb UV radiation like in sunscreen and is also the agent that is present in skin in varying levels, resulting in different skin tones amongst people.

  • In the absence of any context, this screenshot will almost certainly cause problems. Hence, I’ll take a moment to explain what’s going down here: after Shion spills the seaweed extract onto Homare, Asuka decides to rub herself against Homare to pick up some of this sunscreen, feeling that it will otherwise go to waste. The ingredient in the extract with UV-blocking capabilities is mycosporine-like amino acid, a group of small molecules with a central cyclohexenone or cyclohexenimine ring. They’re amazing at absorbing 310 to 362 nm wavelengths and have been considered to be a more environmentally-friendly and healthy alternative to traditional sunscreen.

  • After stumbling upon bamboo poles on the island, the girls decide to bring it back to their camp, where they will fashion rafts out of them. Bamboo rafts have been around for quite some time: comparatively easy to build, lightweight and easy to control, they are the transportation of choice in parts of China.

  • After the girls find a bee hive embedded in a log on the island, Homare decides to risk stings to acquire some honey for everyone. It is here that Shion’s outlooks on Homare’s methods change, seeing that Homare is able to take a few stings without issue so everyone can have some honey. Honey is a rather unique food item: being composed of highly concentrated sugar with a very low water component, pure honey is an immensely effective anti-bacterial agent and can be kept for thousands of years without spoilage, provided that no impurities are present.

  • By this point in time, securing food is no longer an issue for the girls, who’ve been living on the island for at least several weeks. Spear fishing is a common and ancient means of fishing that dates back to prehistoric times, although modern methods are augmented with electric or mechanical spear guns. In Costa Rica, one of his earlier episodes, Les Stroud made use of a spear fashioned from a stick and a broken Bic Pen to catch fish. He is successful and enjoys his catch under moonlight.

  • The soundtrack for Sounan Desu Ka? is set to release on November 29, being bundled with the BD. No track information is available yet, and throughout Sounan Desu Ka?, I found the music to be merely ambiance, with the girls’ interactions being more engaging and noteworthy. With this being said, the opening song is actually rather fun to listen to: it is performed by the lead characters.

  • When Shion decides to try her hand at fishing, she is washed out into open ocean by the currents and throws a minor tantrum before landing on an island. Like Dumbbell wa Nan Kilo Moteru?, the art style in Sounan Desu Ka? shifts to convey a particular mood, with the uncanny style being used in moments of shock. More chibi features are used to suggest that audiences should feel bad for a character, and on this note, Sounan Desu Ka? has its moments where the viewers’ hearts will melt a little while watching the characters go about survival.

  • I featured this screenshot because it accurately captures Les Stroud’s remarks that no matter where he goes for his survival expeditions, there’s almost always going to be traces that humanity has left behind in an area, regardless of how remote it is. This speaks to the problems of waste disposal and production: thanks to careless habits, waste that is not properly dealt with is carried about by currents to the furthest corners of the world. It is for this reason that I am so fond of recycling and composting programs, since I am given some assurance that materials I don’t use are being re-used or returned to the earth.

  • Homare ultimately finds Shion on the rocky island, having used a rather implausible pole-vault to increase her vantage point just long enough to spot the remote island. Upon arrival, Shion is overjoyed to see Homare, but both are suffering from dehydration. With only putrid water from a bat-infested cave to use, Homare nonetheless decides to bring the water back with them. The symptoms of dehydration worsen, and Homare decides there’s only one option left on the table: the water they’d brought back is crawling with various pathogens and parasites, making it non-potable.

  • Homare decides there’s only one option left: they must uptake water through their colons. I’ve never heard of or seen this trick before, but using one’s mouth to transport the water itself would almost certainly introduce the risk of mouth infections from whatever is living in the water. However, being an anime, we will suppose that Homare is well-versed in things to at least reduce the risk to herself and Shion: the method of delivery reduces Shion to quivering mess, and Shion’s dignity takes a further hit when Homare asks her to transfer some water with the same method.

  • Ultimately, Shion and Homare make it back to the others safely before sunset, where they find a warm reception and scrumptious-looking dinner awaiting them. It’s a happy ending to Sounan Desu Ka?, and since the finale aired a few days ago, I’ve noticed an uptick in searches for Sounan Desu Ka?, as well as visits to the post I have for after three episodes. This indicated to me an elevated interest in reading about the series, so I opted to expedite writing for this post. I actually have some time off, so after using it to tend to some of the more time-intensive household tasks, I took a slower afternoon to enjoy a Spicy Habanero Burger and yam fries with Canada’s best root beer from a nearby fast-food joint. These burgers might be simple in their construction, but are delicious despite their simplicity, and the heat is immediately felt after the first bite, but is never overwhelming.

  • The weather today was quite variable, and I managed to take a short walk in the park nearby while it was still clear, before the skies turned overcast. When everything is said and done, Sounan Desu ka? scores an A- (8.5 out of 10, or 3.7 of 4): combining Survivorman with classic anime elements, for bringing humour and fanservice into the mix alongside survival knowledge, and for presenting plausible character development in its short runtime. It’s a fun anime to watch, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that Homare does indeed learn more about friendship, as evidenced in her decision to rescue Shion. With Sounan Desu Ka? in the books, I do plan on writing about Dumbbell wa Nan Kilo Moteru? before September is out to ensure I’ve covered all of the series I’d been actively following during the summer season.

Overall, despite its short length, Sounan Desu Ka? was remarkably enjoyable series that truly brings anime into the Survivorman realm. What makes series like these so entertaining is the fact that they provide survival information and also a general mindset towards survival that can be applicable towards real life. Like how Sun Tzu’s Art of War is not about waging war on other nations, survival isn’t just about being able to sustain oneself in the wilderness; mental toughness, adaptability and open-mindedness are key aspects towards life. Having a tough and focused mindset allows one to persevere through difficult times, and series like Survivorman and Sounan Desu Ka? show that a major piece of survival in general, is to have a plan, be flexible and also find the time to take it easy. For Les Stroud, he has a set of priorities he will always cover when surviving, makes use of everything he finds in the environment and will play the harmonica or whip up tea to spruce up his water when able. For Mutsu, Asuka and Shion, they follow Homare’s advice on survival, while Homare does her best to support everyone and keep their spirits high. Sounan Desu Ka? may not be the most revolutionary or meaningful anime crafted, but it does present survival in the anime setting well. I have no qualms about recommending this series to readers who are fans of Survivorman. While the fanservice aspect of Sounan Desu Ka?, unlike Survivorman, is rather more open, overall, it never distracts from the girls’ adventures, hence this verdict. Finally, I’ve heard that Sounan Desu Ka? has done rather well in Japan with respect to sales, and with the manga on-going, a continuation is not outside the realm of possibility.