The Infinite Zenith

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Category Archives: Anime: Reflections

YuruYuri Ten: Tenth Anniversary OVA Review and Reflection

“Real love stories never have endings.” –Richard Bach

To commemorate YuruYuri‘s tenth anniversary for the manga’s release, Akari, Chinatsu, Yui and Kyōko of the Amusement Club decide to reminisce on events of the past ten years, but inadvertently end up including the prehistoric era. When Ayano and Chitose arrive, they decide to host a party celebrating ten years worth of manga. They decide to help set up decorations for the party, and Himawari decides to help Chinatsu bake some cookies for the party. Meanwhile, Akari and Chitose continue with the decorations after everyone’s left. The next day, the girls kick off celebrations, and play a variety of games. When Akari loses in a rock-paper-scissors variant several times in a row, she ends up passing out from exhaustion after being made to partake in the penalty. She dreams of the encouragement and support her friends have offered her, and after waking up, it turns out that they’d planned a second surprise: the tenth anniversary of YuruYuri happens to coincide with Akari’s birthday, and they’d planned this out for her, as well. In the post-credits scene, Akari wonders how Yui and Kyōko got the photos of her for the birthday slideshow, but Kyōko remarks it’s better not to know. With its combination of comedy and yuri situations, YuruYuri has remained quite consistent in providing good laughs for readers since it began running in 2008. The anime’s first season aired in 2011, and since then, there have been three seasons, plus a special OVA and a web mini-series. Following the life of Akari Akaza and the everyday antics at the Amusement Club, YuruYuri opens as a pure comedy, using its characters purely to drive moments that elicit a smile. However, as the seasons wore on, the series did begin showing a subtle shift as the characters matured. Rather than purely focusing on gags (often at Akari’s expense), YuruYuri began showing a more genuine, tender dynamic between everyone as they come to treasure the time spent together as students. Ayano slowly begins to take the initiative to spend more time with Kyōko. Sakurako demonstrates a more mature side to her personality. Akari becomes less prone to random ills. The sum of this showed that even when character dynamics in YuruYuri began shifting, the series lost none of its edge, and continued to entertain viwers while at once, adding new depth to the characters

By the time of YuruYuri Ten, the series has struck a masterful balance between the heart-warming moments and the hilarious moments. The OVA opens with an unexpected insertion into the prehistoric era, which sees the girls gather fish and wild edibles without any dialogue. This sudden shift in the environment reinforces the sense that YuruYuri is still able to create ludicrous moments for the characters to drive humour. The OVA shifts between more gentle moments where the characters spend time together in preparation for the coming party, whether it be Chinatsu learning to bake under Himawari’s watch (and somehow managing to create a monstrosity that isn’t fit for human eyes), or Akari and Chitose boosting the club room’s decorations. During the party, YuruYuri Ten appears to relapse into the series’ old ways when Akari constantly loses at rock-paper-scissors, but this segues smoothly into a dialogue about what Akari means to everyone. While the OVA could have performed a cruel joke on her in its ending, it concludes in a meaningful manner; per Kyōko’s promise, the OVA did indeed give Akari the focus that she was often denied in the series, showing that over time, people mature and learn as a result of their experiences and time spent together. This is the theme in YuruYuri, and while it is not apparent during the earlier seasons, over time, subtle differences in the characters show that viewers have been watching a very dynamic and changing cast whose adventures become worth following because they show that one’s present situation won’t necessarily always be thus, especially if it is unfavourable, and over time, it is encouraging to see everyone make the most of their time as students while improving their circumstances.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Ten years is a lot of time, and a lot has happened in the past decade. In fact, when YuruYuri first began running as a manga, I was still a secondary student, just getting into anime. When the anime began airing, I was an undergraduate student. That YuruYuri has found a way to keep the party going after all this time is nothing short of impressive, and while the anime might have slowed, the manga is still ongoing.

  • While many things have changed, some things also never change: YuruYuri Ten opens with the same hajimaru yo~! that the first and second seasons utilised. On the other hand, season three employed a much more conventional setup, starting each episode with the opening song. Seeing this introduction come back, together with Akari being interrupted, immediately sets the tone for the rest of the OVA.

  • The Palaeolithic segment of YuruYuri Ten brings to mind the antics of B.C. SpongeBob, which placed familiar characters in a prehistoric setting and similarly reduced the characters to short vocalisations. While B.C. SpongeBob was outright hilarious (it was made before the series degraded into the unintelligible drivel of the present), the YuruYuri Ten version is short, succint and adorable, showing the Amusement Club’s members working together to start a fire and prepare a meal.

  • The prehistoric segment draws to an end once Ayano and Chitose appear. While Kyōko and Akari are quite happy to see them, Chinatsu and Yui are embarassed to have been seen doing this sort of thing. The girls sit down to discuss what to do for the tenth anniversary of YuruYuri, and ultimately decide on a party. Ayano’s tsundere mannerisms have been dialed back during the OVA, but her uncommon talent for making bad puns remains, and she is one of the few people who can consistently make Yui laugh with said puns.

  • It’s quite rare that Himawari and Chinatsu spend time together: ever-driven to impress Yui and win her affections, Chinatsu decides to try her hand at baking cookies, but ends up creating a concotion not dissimilar to Bender’s cooking from Futurama. So appalling is this creation that the contents are blurred out, and from what is seen, Chinatsu’s cookies appear to contain swarms of things. Chinatsu asks Sakurako to try one, and it’s an indicator of how terrifying it is when even Himawari is worried about what will happen to Sakurako after.

  • While Sakurako may be more mature than she was at the start of YuruYuri, she’s still envious of Himawari’s bust and will not hesitate to make her displeasure known whenever something is against her favour. This reminds me somewhat of GochiUsa‘s second season, when an irate Sharo chases Chiya around after Chiya tries on her Fleur de Lapin costume and causes a button to pop off. Himawari’s look of embarrassment is priceless.

  • Subtly has never been YuruYuri‘s strong suit, and Chitose is fond of imagining her friends in various raunchy situations with one another. The dynamic between Ayano and Kyōko has been one that dates back all the way to the series’ beginning, and while Ayano is tsundere in these situations, Kyōko is blissfully unaware of Ayano’s feelings for her: she does all sorts of things that fluster Ayano in the series. YuruYuri Ten makes a call-back to this when Kyōko, seeing Ayano struggling to inflate a balloon, takes the same balloon and inflates it. Ayano blushes because of the implied kiss, but Kyōko is completely unaware of this.

  • After a day’s of work, the Amusement Club’s main room is properly decorated. If memory serves, Ayano met Kyōko while she’d been on a mission to eliminate the Amusement Club as a part of her student council president duties, but over time, came to tolerate and accept the club’s existence. At present, the Amusement Club is no longer a thorn in her side, and she participates with the aim of getting to know Kyōko better, planning to one day make a kokuhaku.

  • The next day, the Amusement Club’s party is under way, and opens with everyone sitting down to food. Chinatsu’s cookies end up scaring Yui, but beyond this, have no long-lasting impact on her health, suggesting they look much scarier than they taste. It is fortunate that such constructs are absent in reality: on top of providing sustenance, food exists to be enjoyed, and I’m always fond of a good meal. Yesterday, I returned to a Chinese bistro that’d I’d not visited in some years for their evening special, which is both tasty and inexpensive. On Saturdays, it’s a flank steak with Russian-style sauce on spaghetti, garnished with pumpkin and carrots.

  • Having seen the club room with the basic decorations, the special decorations Akari adds to it make things even flashier than before. The party starts out fairly relaxed, with much food and conversation, but this would admittedly make for a duller OVA. Once the last of the food is enjoyed and cleared away, the fun and games come out. This is where YuruYuri Ten gets knocked into twelfth gear. The wild antics of YuruYuri match those seen in Rick and Morty at times, and in fact, despite radically different premises and characters, Rick and Morty shares a great deal in common with YuruYuri, striking a balance between storytelling to drive home a certain message and providing no-holds-barred comedy.

  • To the uninitiated, there are two Yuis in this scene: Kyōko’s brought wigs for everyone and passes them out, allowing everyone to take on different appearances. This is a visual gag that is only possible because unlike a live-action work, the fact that hair only has one texture means that palette-swapping is trivially easy to accomplish. For the remainder of the OVA, I’ll only be showing some moments off, as they are best enjoyed in their original form.

  • I don’t recall Yui being quite so touchy about Kyōko’s antics in the original series: after the girls begin playing an imitation game, Yui grows angry and spins Kyōko round (like a record). Yui’s long been presented as the most level-headed of the bunch, and is usually the one who counteracts Kyōko’s wild personality. All of the characters in YuruYuri are likeable, but for me, Yui stands out from everyone for providing insight into how ordinary folk might react to the sorts of things in the series.

  • While soft-spoken and gentle for the most part, YuruYuri Ten also shows Chitose as becoming rather displeased with Kyōko during the imitation game. There’s actually a scene here that involves her overactive imagination painting an image of Kyōko looking after Ayano as a doctor: even in its shorter run, YuruYuri Ten manages to bring back many of the things that made YuruYuri particularly memorable, and while it’s been four years since I’ve watched YuruYuri‘s third season, my recollections of what made this series so hilarious came flooding back upon seeing the OVA.

  • Having taken a look around, I can say with confidence that this is the only complete discussion for YuruYuri Ten that exists on the internet that comes with screenshots. There aren’t any more substantial talks beyond reactions, and to the best of my knowledge, reception to YuruYuri Ten has been quite positive, being a trip down memory lane for most. I have also seen YuruYuri Ten being stylised as YuruYuri、. This is a pun on the fact that the enumeration comma (頓號, jyutping deon6 hou6, literally “pause mark”) in Japanese is pronounced ten.

  • It just wouldn’t be YuruYuri if Akari wasn’t made to suffer at least once: the rock-paper-scissors game that Kyōko suggests has losers act in a much more upbeat, high-energy level with each successive loss. The setup reminds me a little of the Tension Meter seen in Angel Beats!‘ OVA, and because Akari is intrinsically kind, she gets into the spirits and attempts to amp up the tension.

  • While it’s all fun and games initially, the others eventually grow nervous when Akari sustains several losses in a row. Something like this cannot be attributed to pure chance anymore, and as Akari’s efforts eventually has even Kyōko wondering when Akari will snap from being pushed too far. Eventually, Akari seemingly outputs enough energy to create a singularity and ends up in the void. Frightened and alone, she bursts into tears, but the spirit of her friends soon join her.

  • After ten years, YuruYuri has found its feet in being able to turn Akari’s suffering into something heartwarming. In the void, her friends remind her of all of the good she’s done and precious memories they’ve created during their time together. They wish her a happy birthday before Akari wakes up back in the club room. Rather than any Akira-level explanations, it is more plausible to suppose that as a result of having to become increasingly high tension, Akari passed out from exhaustion.

  • In the time that Akari is out, the other members of the Amusement Club prepare a cake and slide show to celebrate Akari’s birthday, as well as her contributions to everyone’s experiences despite being relegated into nonexistence in some cases. It was a bit of an unexpected but welcome twist: Akari’s birthday is given as July 24, which is when YuruYuri Reset began running, and the summer weather does seem to corroborate this, but this also creates a bit of an inconsistency in things, since YuruYuri‘s manga started its journey on June 18, 2008.

  • Of course, it is not my objective to pick apart minor inconsistencies like these, and I’ll let it slide since viewers ultimately end up with a fun return to YuruYuri. The OVA does everything well, capturing the full spirit of the original TV series over the course of its runtime, and as a result, I have no problem recommending this to anyone who enjoyed YuruYuri. 

  • In the post-credits, it turns out that the slideshow was made from photographs that Akari’s older sister, Akane had. Akane’s tendencies are questionable, and Kyōko worries about Akari finding out, so she simply opts not to tell Akari how they’d come to get the photographs. The Amusement Club then decides to figure out what their next activity should be, bringing the OVA to a close. This also brings my discussion to a close: we’re now nearing the end of November, and the only post on the plate is for Jon’s Creator Showcase.

Because the YuruYuri manga began its journey in 2008, 2019 technically is not the ten-year anniversary, and the OVA (along with this post) would be more appropriately labelled as being the eleventh anniversary. However, since the OVA was announced in 2018 as a celebratory project, the ten-year designation can be said to hold true. From what I’ve seen, production on YuruYuri Ten was delayed, and this is why the tenth anniversary special came to be a year later. Eleven years after the manga’s beginnings, and eight years since the anime adaptation first began running, YuruYuri has become a bit of a forgotten title: while reception to the series was quite positive, the reality is that the last YuruYuri finished running in 2015 with season three. Thus, the fact that YuruYuri received an OVA to celebrate its tenth anniversary at all is nothing short of miraculous, showing both the creators’ commitment to the series, as well as the fan’s dedication: the OVA was funded by a crowd-funding project that met its objectives in February 2019, and it was a few weeks ago when YuruYuri Ten released. Despite being produced by a different studio (Lay-duce handled this, whereas TYO Animations had done the earlier seasons), YuruYuri Ten retains all of the pacing, character designs and stylistic choices present in the series. Overall, the OVA is a welcome addition to the series, providing a reminder of a series that has done an excellent job of striking a balance between gag humour and meaningful character growth amongst the cast. YuruYuri Ten is therefore quite worth watching, bringing back many of the elements that made the TV series so enjoyable while simultaneously celebrating a well-deserved tenth anniversary.

Kandagawa Jet Girls: Review and Reflection At the Halfway Point

“If you take out the ‘team’ in teamwork, it’s just work. Now, who wants that?” –Matthew Woodring Stover

While Emily Orange and Jennifer Peach take an early lead in the race, Rin and Misa begin catching up, taking advantage of the Orcano’s handling to put Misa in a spot where she can snipe the Cuisine 2 at a critical juncture. Depriving Emily and Jennifer of their speed, Misa and Rin manage to win, and honouring the terms of their competition, Jennifer yields the yellow dolphin keychain to Misa, thanking them for an exhilarating race. Later, Rin and Misa begin training on their simulator, but the simulator malfunctions. Ruca decides it’s time to pick up new parts, and heads into town with Misa and Rin. Misa and Rin explore around, stopping at an idol café along the way. The next day, Misa struggles to ask for Rin’s phone number, and Rin accompanies Emily and Jennifer to a concert. After making a reservation for a slot to practise, Rin and Misa learn that they are to forfeit their slot to Hell’s Kitchen, a team from CS Production School known for their involvement in idol activities. Tsui and Tina Pan, of Hell’s Kitchen, anger Rin with their casual remarks about Misa’s skills, prompting her to challenge the pair to a showdown. However, Rin and Misa are soundly beaten. Later, Misa decides to take Rin to a different part of Asukasa, since their previous outing had been disrupted, and here, they run into Shinjuku Takadanobaba Girls School’s Manatsu Shiraishi and Yuzu Midorikawa. After the two mention Rin and Misa’s spanking at Hell’s Kitchen’s hands, Misa takes up a variety of challenges where they both get defeated. Emily and Jennifer appear later in the day and, after watching the final challenge, point out that Rin and Misa’s weakness is their lack of communication. Realising this, Misa and Rin finally exchange phone numbers and spend the remainder of an evening marveling in being able to text one another effortlessly.

Kandagawa Jet Girls might prima facie be counted as frivolous, an excuse to shamelessly promote the upcoming game of the same name and offer an unparalleled opportunity to show some skin, but beyond this is an unexpectedly coherent story. After Rin and Misa’s win over Unkai establishes the implicit strength of their friendship, the story turns towards showing that an implicit understanding and trust of one another won’t get them very far. This is hinted at in Misa’s inability to summon up the courage to ask for Rin’s number. While seemingly a trivial detail for comedy’s sake, this actually serves to show that even as far as fundamentals go, Misa is still too shy to speak with Rin. The race with Hell’s Kitchen establishes that the successful team is coordinated and synchronised with one another, able to act as a cohesive unit while on the water. While Rin demonstrates an innate talent for racing, and Misa has experience in shooting, their individual skills aren’t enough to win races. The introduction of Manatsu and Yuzu then reinforces that this lack of communication is what is holding Rin and Misa back as racers; even in trivial activities involving teams, Misa and Rin struggle because of the absence of teamwork. Jennifer and Emily note that the first step to establishing teamwork is communication of intent. Misa does end up realising this, and symbolically, takes the first step towards improvement by asking Rin for her number. It’s a subtle gesture, but by resolving this issue at the halfway point shows viewers that Rin and Misa are ready to move into their next steps as a racing team.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Six episodes into Kandagawa Jet Girls, I am finding this series far more enjoyable than initially anticipated. Its game-like setting becomes very apparent, and this is probably one of the reasons I find no shortage of things to talk about. Having dabbled in game design and development for my Master’s thesis, I am mindful of things like collision physics, mechanics, balance and interactivity: while Kandagawa Jet Girls is heavy on the T & A, my interest in games means I’m able to keep the conversation going.

  • My predictions turned out to be accurate: Emily’s preference for a shoulder-fired rocket favours destruction and area effects over precision. Emily and Jennifer are very much about style and flash, and their choice of area-of-effect munitions weapon coupled with a fast jet ski means they’re able to deal damage to unsuspecting teams very quickly. The tradeoff is that the Cuisine 2 seems less agile, and a heavy weapon means Emily has fewer shots to work with.

  • Rin’s apprehension soon turns to excitement once the race kicks in, and while she mistakenly activates her boost on a turn, costing them precious moments, Misa reassures Rin not to worry and focus. Misa’s ability to communicate with Rin during a race is rudimentary, to a much lesser extent than more experienced teams, but early on, it is enough to get Rin focused back on the race.

  • Tsui and Tina are seen watching the Kandagawa Jet Girls with interest during a break between their work as idols and sit rather closely together. I’ve heard that yuri elements are supposed to be a factor in Kandagawa Jet Girls, although insofar, I’ve felt that focusing on yuri itself in the series is secondary to understanding how that elements impacts the teams and their ability to work together. In other words, yuri is going to be solidly present, rather than being a “will they?” question – meaningful discussion thus assumes this to be a given and then focuses on the “so what?”.

  • In Kandagawa Jet Girls, the “so what?” of why yuri is present is simply how it impacts each team’s ability to perform. As the race between Unkai and the Kandagawa Jet Girls progresses, the former begin increasing their lead with skillful piloting and well-placed shots from their rocket. Jennifer and Emily had earlier requested a tunnel segment in their race to make things more fun, and while they have little trouble negotiating the turns of the tunnel, Rin is able to keep up with a combination of the Orcano’s manoeuvrability and her own talent.

  • Yuzu’s innuendo manages to embarrass Manatsu, as the two discuss the race between the Kandagawa Jet Girls and Unkai. While I’ve been focusing on character development and the relevance of game mechanics in driving the story, other writers have chosen to superciliously focus on (nonexistent) philosophical matters surrounding Kandagawa Jet Girls. Choya of Random Curiosity argues that Lacanian psychoanalysis is required to “get” Kandagawa Jet Girls, specifically, positing that the lack of males in the series, coupled with yuri relationships and various camera angles representing Lacan’s “gaze” means that the show’s values are rooted in psychology rather than story, pertaining to how the series should differ itself from other works of its genre.

  • This is quite untrue: Lacan’s style was to present his theories in a way as to make them unfalsifiable, and contemporaries regarded him as a “amusing and perfectly self-conscious charlatan” whose work amounted to nothing more than an “incoherent system of pseudo-scientific gibberish”. In the case of Kandagawa Jet Girls, Choya does readers no favours by referencing Lacan, and adds little to the discussion besides perhaps demonstrating a lack of understanding of psychology. The yuri elements are not the core focus of either the game or the anime, but instead, serve to reinforce the idea that the pilot and gunner work closely as a team to the point where they can be seen as a romantic couple.

  • In the realm of shows like Kandagawa Jet Girls, it is quite unnecessary to claim that one is watching it to see if it “[provides] some valuable enough content to fuel this conversation deeper to explore what about [this series] makes it both transformative and derivative of its contemporaries in the ecchi genre”. Shows of this sort do not invite discussions on philosophy or psychology, least of all those from methods that have been decisively demonstrated to be false. This is why I choose to focus on the characters’ growth and interactions within their setting; applying discredited philosophical theories does little to help others understand the characters’ beliefs, desires and intents.

  • Of late, the quality Random Curiosity’s articles surrounding the series that I end up writing about have declined, and I occasionally wonder if some of their writers’ hearts are really in the game to be writing about anything with a substantial slice-of-life or ecchi component in it. Back in Kandagawa Jet Girls, Rin collapses in exhaustion after the race concludes. A well-placed shot from Misa while the Cuisine 2 is airborne impacts it, dealing enough damage to cause it to power down. This leaves Rin and Misa free to win their race. This outcome was visible from a klick away; while Rin and Misa are still novices as a team, they had to win this race simply to show that victory is possible and allow Misa to win the yellow dolphin keychain that evidently signifies her commitment to Rin.

  • In the aftermath, Emily and Jennifer accept their loss and the other keychains Rin had gotten them. Despite losing, they are thrilled to have had fun racing Rin and Misa; good sportsmanship is an integral part of any anime featuring sports, and one aspect of Kandagawa Jet Girls that I will be keeping an eye on is how Rin and Misa deal with other racers in the aftermath of a given race. Such series typically emphasise sportsmanship and the development of friendships amongst rivals, which are more professional than personal in nature. This was actually what made Girls und Panzer and Harukana Receive worth watching, and this season’s Rifle is Beautiful is also doing a solid job of incorporating sportsmanship into things.

  • Kandagawa Jet Girls‘ fifth episode was actually delayed in production. On the first Tuesday of November, when my area was hit with a major snowstorm that tangled up traffic, I slogged through six inches of snow while hoofing it back home after work. Upon arriving home, I learnt that there was no Kandagawa Jet Girls episode to watch. This ended up being a blessing, as used the extra time to work on my post for Battlefield V‘s Pacific Theatre. Kandagawa Jet Girls is now a week later, and while this will push back my finale post into 2020, the impact on my schedule is otherwise minimal. I think Azur Lane suffered from a similar delay and is a week behind, as well.

  • Rin’s enjoyment of the arts is apparent, and she is quick to design a new logo for the Orcano, sharing it with the other club members during a meeting. For Fumika and Hina, as well as Yamada, the drawing is tantamount to a kokuhaku, although for me, this is a bit of a stretch: Rin’s drawing is merely of her and Misa as the logo. Try as I might, I can’t find any symbols in the drawing itself that might imply a declaration of love.

  • When the training rig breaks down, Ruca notes that the age of the hardware means that a trip to town is needed in order to secure the replacement parts. Ruca reminds me somewhat of Girls und Panzer‘s Alisa in appearance, and while seemingly cold and distant, Ruca is at her best when working on mechanical projects. Anything involving repairs puts a smile on her face, and on the whole, having Ruca in their corner means that audiences can be assured that Misa and Rin’s vehicle will always be in excellent shape, leaving the outcome of a race purely to them.

  • While Ruca searches for the appropriate components, she suggests that Misa and Rin take some time to relax. One recurring joke is that each and every one of Misa’s attempts to spend time alone with Rin is inexplicably ruined whenever others show up to the party. Jennifer and Emily appear shortly after when Rin stops to check out a café with idols, much to Misa’s annoyance. Misa is not particularly vocal about this, but expresses her irritation by playing with her hair.

  • I’ve heard that some folks express different tics when whenever faced with stress, anger, annoyance or boredom. Mine is picking at loose skin on my fingers whenever I’m nervous. It is here that Rin and Misa learn of Hell’s Kitchen, a team of two idols whose appearances belie uncommon skill at jet ski racing. With Rin clearly interested in checking out idols more closely, Jennifer and Emily invite her out to a concert the next day.

  • Misa wonders why it’s so hard for her to talk to Rin about getting her phone number, and when Rin leaves for said concert, she retreats to the balcony and sulks about here. Most viewers appear to have marked Misa’s hesitation as a relatively minor point with seemingly no significance beyond comedy, but the persistence of this particular topic and how it ties into the sixth episode shows that there’s actually a bit more depth than people give Kandagawa Jet Girls credit for.

  • I think every episode of Kandagawa Jet Girls features at least one such moment, and therefore, in the spirit of the anime, I will make it a point to feature at least a handful of these screenshots purely for the sake of consistency. I know readers don’t come here for that sort of thing, but it’s still fun to mix things up a little from time to time. Considering just how limited the discussion out there for Kandagawa Jet Girls is owing to folks dismissing the anime as being little more than fanservice with a weak narrative, this leaves the floor open for me to talk about whatever I choose with the series and perhaps even set the precedence for how one might go about talking about anime with a nontrivial fanservice component without resorting to psychoanalysis to keep their discussions engaging.

  • Prior to their first scheduled practise on the river, Rin remarks that she’s still going to push for a new logo on the Orcano, which currently is adjourned with Rin’s face as decoration. However, their discussion is interrupted when Misa’s phone rings; despite having a reservation, it turns out the two have been removed from their allocated time.

  • Having seen Tina and Tsui in the passing, having them interact with Misa and Rin for the first time does not leave viewers with a positive first impression of the pair: haughty and arrogant, they are quick to put down Misa and Rin as having won by sheer luck earlier against Unkai. The pair, known as Hell’s Kitchen, are probably Chinese in origin: the surname Pan (Poon in Cantonese) is rendered as 潘 and is the 37th most common family name in China. Tsui and Tina are mentioned to be strong racers who use their influence to gain the upper hand for training, and they manage to override Rin and Misa’s booking of the course.

  • While Rin is typically cheerful and easygoing, it seems that making fun of those around Rin is a quick way to get on her bad side, and Rin immediately challenges the two to a race with the intent of settling things. It marks the first time we’ve seen Rin angry, and this adds a more human side to her character: in fiction, individuals might be defined by their usual mannerisms, but watching them act in ways contrary to their typical personality and potentially learn from the resulting mistakes serves to make everyone more plausible.

  • Tsui and Tina’s preferred uniforms for racing have a distinctly Chinese style, further reinforcing their possible origins as being Chinese. Their craft, Les Soeurs SL, is a highly lightweight craft with superior manoeuvrability and acceleration compared to the Orcano. In exchange, it lacks the engine power for sustaining a high maximum speed. Tsui is the pilot, and Tina is the gunner: the latter wields a pair of pistols as her preferred weapon.

  • Dual pistols are impractical in a real setting, since they prevent one from aiming down sights and also slows down the reload time. In fiction, however, the approach is favoured for the cool factor, and dual weapons are typically used in martial arts: sai, tonfa and kama are weapons I’ve trained with in pairs. Typically, the choice to dual wield shows an inclination towards speed and agility over precision: dual pistols effectively double one’s rate of fire at the expense of accuracy, showing that Hell’s Kitchen is about picking up speed. I’m noticing a stylistic trend in Kandagawa Jet Girls where the pilots race with their mouths open in a smile. This has no impact on the narrative, but now that I’ve seen it, I doubt I’ll be able to un-see it.

  • While normally composed and emotionless, CS Production’s Shōko expresses warmth and admiration when describing Hell’s Kitchen: she and Aqua Manjō are the commentators who provide viewers with a running commentary of every race. Aqua is normally the bubbly and bright speaker, explaining the different techniques racers use, while Shōko is more of a quiet speaker and fills the audience in on the mechanical aspects of the race. Together, they act as a narrator to help viewers follow along during races.

  • Unlike previous races, Tsui and Tina offer no quarter – Rin and Misa are decimated during their race without much effort; the sixth episode deals almost entirely with what the Kandagawa Jet Girls lack compared to more experienced teams, with notions of synchronisation and team play being at the forefront of all discussion. Kandagawa Jet Girls thus pushes the idea that until Rin and Misa work out how to work together, they’ve got no chance of winning races whatsoever.

  • While Kandagawa Jet Girls places a great deal of emphasis on team work for its theme (hence the page quote), I wager that the game, once it’s launched, will have players controlling both the piloting and shooting aspects of the race, rather like how in almost all games, players can simultaneously drive a tank and fire its ordinance. In the game, then, teamwork goes out the window as players would be able to dominate races on sheer virtue of über-micro.

  • To take Rin’s mind off the race, Misa proposes that they visit Asakusa again. When they pass a spot where Rin had taken photos with others, she recalls the moment and decides to take a self-shot with Misa. Before they can complete the shot, the same girls who’d shown up in the first episode return, ruining Misa’s photo. It turns out they’re Manatsu and Yuzu of MKHU, Shinjuku Takadanobaba Girls School’s racing team. Misa takes offense to their presence, more irate that yet another chance to spend time with Rin was interrupted, and challenges them off to a showdown.

  • However, Manatsu and Yuzu have other ideas in mind: their idea of competition is various activities at a local water park. Their decision to not race is indicative of their personalities – despite their outward appearance, like Emily and Jennifer, Yuzu and Manatsu are friendly and quick to get along with others. From a narrative perspective, watching Rin and Misa be defeated in random trivial activities further reinforces that the two are most certainly not ready to race yet – if they cannot cooperate on even minor tasks to succeed, their odds of winning a race would be quite poor indeed.

  • Halfway into the season, Kandagawa Jet Girls has done a fine job of establishing jet ski racing, the major players and what the anime’s objectives are. However, Rin and Misa are nowhere near ready to take on Kaguya and Kuromaru yet, and with six episodes remaining, I imagine that now that Rin and Misa’s weaknesses have been defined, the series must show the two training together to master the fundamentals, and in the process, take on another team or two. Kandagawa Jet Girls‘ outcomes can come across as predictable, but overall, I’ve found this not to be a problem – the journey matters rather more than the destination.

  • Jennifer and Emily point out what has been increasingly apparent: without cooperation and communication, even something like a simple ball game sees the two falling. After the day comes to a close and the two leave the water park, Misa comforts Rin and then manages to ask for her phone number, signifying a first step towards improvement in communications. I expect that given the timing, the progress Rin and Misa make will probably be off-screen, implicit: with only six episodes left, including MKHU, there are three more teams to race against.

  • I have no qualms about saying that I am enjoying Kandagawa Jet Girls, and I’m interested in seeing where this series goes. I understand that this month, I’ve been much slower about blog posts: the next post I have lined up is Yuru Yuri Ten, a special OVA commemorating the series’ tenth anniversary, and then the remainder of my time this month will be split between making sure I do a passable job for hosting Jon’s Creator Showcase, as well as experiencing Battlefield V‘s Pacific Theatre content. Conversely, December does look like a month where I’ll have more blog posts lined up: besides doing posts for Kandagawa Jet GirlsAzur Lane and Rifle is Beautiful, I also have plans to write about Aobuta: The Movie, plus publish two special posts.

Like Harukana Receive, Kandagawa Jet Girls‘ focus on a sport driven by teams of two means that there is plenty of space to delve into teams at their most fundamental unit, and while Harukana Receive was rather more direct about the idea of pairs being synonymous with lovers, Kandagawa Jet Girls seems to be aiming for a similar setup through the other teams. In particular, Tsui and Tina are portrayed as being intimately close. Manatsu and Yuzu likewise regard one another as lovers might, with Yuzu’s innuendo-laden commentary embarassing even Manatsu at one point. Like any good relationship, communication is the first hurdle that Rin and Misa must overcome. By the series’ halfway point, issues affecting Rin and Misa are openly being addressed, and moreover, resolved at a smart pace to keep things engaging. Rin and Misa have the beginnings of a friendship, but there is still a distance that separates them despite Misa’s desire to be closer. Watching this distance close over time, and seeing the changes reflected in the pair’s racing as they encounter more teams en route to the goal of facing off against Kaguya and Kuromaru on the waters of the Kandagawa. Kandagawa Jet Girls‘ fanservice component has, surprisingly, not detracted from the overarching narrative, and this is a rather impressive feat considering that most stories of this nature appear to be held together by little more than duct tape and spirit: with incentive to root for Rin and Misa as they improve, I look forwards to seeing where the next quarter goes.

Finding Takaki’s Answers in Five Centimeters per Second: One More Side, or, Insights From a New Perspective

“Reality is brimming over with beautiful things, brilliant feelings. How many of them have I been missing?” –Takaki Tohno

Until now, the final act of Makoto Shinkai’s Five Centimeters per Second remained a bit of an enigma, leaving viewers with questions about Takaki Tohno and his ultimate fate. The animated film, which premièred in 2007, had three acts that detail a different stage of Takaki’s life, from the moment that he met Akari Shinohara and their falling in love, to when he moves back to Tokyo as an adult. The existing misconception is that since meeting Akari, Takaki had never been able to truly let go of her when they separated, and this in turn negatively impacted his ability to connect with those around him in the present, whether it be the athletic and cheerful Kanae Sumida, or Risa Mizuno, a lady he meets through work. The claim that “Takaki still longs for Akari to the detriment of his lifestyle” and that he is “unable to cope with his feelings for Akari” persist even after a decade has passed since its premièred. Five Centimeters per Second‘s third act does indeed show Takaki as being downcast and depressed, but one spring day, when he decides to take a walk under the morning sun to clear his mind from his tasks, he has a seemingly chance encounter with Akari. As he turns around to look back, a train passes through; once the train passes, Akari has gone, but Takaki merely smiles and continues with his walk. This dramatic contrast appears to contradict the gloom and misery that Takaki had experienced earlier, leaving viewers to wonder why a glimpse of Akari would be enough to undo the loneliness Takaki was suffering. While the film left many aspects ambiguous, creating a highly poignant message amongst viewers who incorrectly counted the film where “that actually resolving things was never the point”, supplementary materials, taking the form of two novels and one manga, provided an answer to these otherwise forgotten questions, where analysts and reviewers had originally been forced to conclude that the story’s outcome was “ambiguous”.

In particular, the novel One More Side is of great worth in helping to determine what Five Centimeters per Second sought to accomplish with its story. Originally published in 2011, and receiving an English language publication only in 2019, One More Side presents the Five Centimeters per Second story from different perspectives. The first act is told from Akari’s point of view, painting her as being quite shy and finding solace in Takaki’s kind and reliable company. The second act shows that Takaki was actually quite directionless during his time as a high school student and, while the film may not have shown it, he found himself wishing to be closer to Kanae. The third act shows how his past regrets only occasionally haunt him, and his inability to connect with others stems more from his personality of wanting to push forwards no matter the cost. At work, Takaki thus suffered through difficult deadlines and unyielding product managers who were unsympathetic to what his suggestions were. This placed a great deal of stress on Takaki, and ultimately led him to break up with Risa. Reading through these new perspectives, it becomes clear that Takaki is not pining for Akari per se, but rather, the melancholy he has stems from being unable to properly find his footing at work. These are subtle details that the film conveys through its use of colour: by the time Takaki becomes a freelance developer, the blues and grays dominating the palette are replaced with the brighter hues of spring, indicating his improved well-being. This comes with him finding the freedom to work at his own pacing and take control of life; Takaki hints throughout One More Side that he dislikes losing control of his situation, stemming from the fact that he’d moved numerous times as a child. His dissatisfaction with his old job thus came from lacking the control to make decisions for the better, and by becoming a freelance developer, being able to set his own hours, pacing and clients afford him with the control that he sought from life.

Additional Remarks

  • I vaguely remember one reader asking me if I had read One More Side a ways back, but at the time, I did not have access to this. So, when I’d learnt that One More Side was actually available at a local bookstore, I hastened to pick my copy up. The book, classified as a light novel, offers insight into Five Centimeters per Second that even the novel adaptation of the movie and manga do not possess: it is an essential read for anyone who wishes to get more out of their experience with Five Centimeters per Second. Spanning 240 pages, I bought One More Side a few days before midsummer’s eve along with the first two volumes of Harukana Receive‘s manga, and read through it over the past few months.

  • The biggest takeaway from One More Side‘s first act is that Akari was very much drawn to Takaki for his kindness and fondness for books. As a transfer student, Akari found herself unable to fit in with other students, and found solace with Takaki, who similarly found it tricky to relate to others. Their common interest in the sciences brought them together, and both had envisioned spending their time as middle school students together, although this was cut short, and Akari felt as badly as Takaki did about their helplessness in the situation. With the newfound information, I hope that folks looking for something like “5 Centimeters Per Second ending explained” or similar will find this post useful.

  • Besides the myths that Anime News Network perpetuates about Five Centimeters per Second that have made their way to Wikipedia and other tertiary sources, speculation at places like Tango-victor-tango can leave folks with conflicting, contradictory information. For instance, some fans at tango-victor-tango speculate that Akari’s parents were completely disapproving of Takaki. One More Side gives no indicator to suggest that this is true whatsoever, and instead, the reason for their lack of contact once Takaki moved to Tanegashima was simply because their lives were becoming busier to the point where sending mail no longer was practical.

  • In One More Side‘s second act, Takaki’s perspective is given in great detail; while the film presented him as seemingly in control of his life, which impresses Kanae, it turns out he’s about as lost as she is, but has a different way of showing it. The novel also confirms that the girl in his dreams is not Akari, but rather, an abstraction of someone he wants to be with; Takaki entertains thoughts that it would be nice if this were Kanae. With this, a long-standing question is addressed, and there’s one fewer ambiguity for folks to deal with. Takaki’s thoughts on Kanae are also provided in greater detail, and it suggests that he was actually hoping to get to know her better.

  • With everything said and done, One More Side is an indispensable read for anyone who enjoyed Five Centimeters per Second but felt shafted by the ending. The fact that there’s an official English translation now means that the story is more accessible overall. It’s taken twelve years for all of the pieces to fit into place, and One More Side provides the insights that fans deserve. This short post is now in the books, and I expect the next time I will be writing about Makoto Shinkai will be for Tenki no Ko, which released in July and for which the home release still remains unknown.

While Five Centimeters per Second is largely counted as a love story, it is more appropriate to approach it as a drama about life in general, and specifically, about control (or lack thereof) of one’s situation. The speed at which cherry blossoms fall, then, becomes not merely a metaphor about falling in love and falling out of love, but about how people’s fates are as transient and fragile as the cherry blossom, whose downward trajectories are stochastic and dependent on things like wind, which the cherry blossom petal itself is powerless to influence, much less control. Makoto Shinkai mentions this in other materials, adding credence to the idea that Five Centimeters per Second‘s theme is more broad than that of a love story. The ending scene where Takaki reaches reaches the train crossing on that spring day and encounters Akari, has a simple and profound explanation: Takaki smiles because he feels contentment at being able to fulfil his original promise to Akari. Their original promise, to see the cherry blossoms together again, is to be taken in a literal sense; viewers analysing the scene have over-scrutinised everything in Five Centimeters per Second and somehow ended up with the conclusion that seeing the cherry blossoms together was a poetic metaphor for getting married and spending their futures together. However, One More Side shows that Takaki’s memory is quite keen, and his smile comes from having satisfied their original promise, whereupon Takaki realises that he’d always had the initiative to take charge of his situation. The additional insights offered by One More Side allows audiences of Five Centimeters per Second to gain closure regarding Takaki, who unambiguously leaves the novel feeling happier, more content and ready to take on the future. In other words, after more than twelve years since Five Centimeters per Second premièred in Japanese cinema, the answer to whether or not Takaki got a happy ending is a resounding, decisive and well-deserved yes.

Kandagawa Jet Girls: Review and Reflection After Three

“Be fanatically positive and militantly optimistic. If something is not to your liking, change your liking.” ―Rick Steves

The race between Rin, Misa, Kaguya and Kuromaru begin. While Rin and Misa pull to an early lead, Kuromaru’s sharpshooting slows down the two long enough for Kaguya to take the lead. The commentators explain that jet ski racing is a sport of speed, with the water guns being intended to slow down competitors. The wetsuits that the competitors wear are designed to automatically disengaged after sustaining enough hits as a safety feature, and moreover, while Rin’s Orcano is a balanced jet ski with solid acceleration and manoeuvrability, Kaguya’s Tamakaze has a much greater stability and top speed, allowing it to dominate on straight tracks. Rin’s natural performance with a jet ski impresses Kaguya, who considers using the boost ability to win the race, but ultimately manages to win anyways thanks to Kuromaru’s marksmanship. Far from being disappointed at their loss, Rin is exhilarated and resolves to start a Jet Ski racing club at her high school. After convincing instructor Yamada to be their advisor, Rin attempts to recruit the required number of members to form an official club. She manages to recruit Hina, one of her classmates, to act as the club manager, and later, with Misa’s help, entices Ruca, a mechanical enthusiast, to participate on the promise that she’s allowed to maintain and customise the Orcano to her heart’s content. Her latest attempt to submit a club application is met with resistance until the student council president, Fumika, learns that Rin intends to compete against Kaguya again. With their club formed, Misa sets Rin out on a training regimen that the latter manages to keep up with, and as a reward, decides to show Misa around Tokyo. On the day of their date, the two become separated, and Rin runs into two foreign racers, Jennifer Peach and Emily Orange. They take Rin around, and later, after meeting up with Misa, Rin gives souvenirs to her newfound friends when Misa becomes enamoured with a keychain that Emily is eyeing. They decide to settle things with a jet ski race. A quarter of the way into Kandagawa Jet Girls, the series has done a passable job of rationalising the mechanics of jet ski racing, and further establishes the visual spectacle that the sport entails.

From a thematic perspective, Kandagawa Jet Girls appears to follow the tried-and-true route of placing an energetic, outgoing character together with a stoic, reserved individual. While Misa might not be particularly versed at speaking her mind, Rin’s optimism and energy convinces her that jet ski racing is intended to be enjoyed, and she finds herself drawn to Rin in spite of herself. When Rin asks her to join the jet ski racing club, she initially hesitated, but would quickly come around. Her reflections show that she once took the sport very seriously, and never regarded her competitors as friends. Feeling that the sport was too casual, she eventually left it, and seeing Rin’s spirits has begun imparting a change in her. Whereas Misa avoided jet ski racing earlier on, her commitment to Rin slowly begins manifesting as she becomes impressed with Rin’s devotion and spirits. This is why Misa becomes interested in picking the yellow dolphin keychain: Rin had possessed a blue dolphin earlier but wears a yellow wetsuit in races, whereas Misa wears a blue wetsuit. The dolphin thus comes to represent the idea that Rin must be complementary to her, and when this token is threatened, Misa decides to accept a challenge to win it both for herself, and for Rin. There is, in short, a surprising amount of character growth in Kandagawa Jet Girls, and the value of following this one through lies in seeing how Misa develops as she spends more time with Rin and the jet ski racing club. Like Azur Lane, Kandagawa Jet Girls will likely continue to show how the easygoing mood that accompanies Rin begins to help Misa comes to terms with her own views of the sport, which is expected to help Rin improve as a racer and also send the club down the path of allowing Rin to experience a race with Kaguya again.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Before we go any further, I remark that this Kandagawa Jet Girls post, and all future posts, will feature papilla mammaria to some capacity, so if that’s not to your liking, now is the perfect time to mash that back button or close this tab. I figure that I should at least feature these moments to keep things engaging for viewers, and remark that, considering how terse and serious discussions on Kandagawa Jet Girls everywhere else are, one should not begrudge me for trying to liven things up a little.

  • While Rin worries about Misa’s well being, an embarrassed Misa replies that she’s fine, and that Rin ought to focus more on the race. It turns out that the guns the shooters use are amped-up water guns with a limited ammunition reserve. When used against jet skis, they will slow a jet ski down somewhat. Consistent hits to the jet ski, or to critical areas, will cause noticeable performance losses.

  • A long range rifle, such as the one Kuromaru wields, would be advantageous for Kaguya and the Tamakaze: with a long acceleration time, the Tamakaze’s main edge lies in its mass. Once it picks up sufficient speed, it dominates on stretches of straight track, but until then, Kaguya is dependent on Kuromaru to snipe at a distance while the Tamakaze accelerates to maximum speed.

  • It is later revealed that Kaguya and Kuromaru are top-tier jet ski racers, having gone undefeated for quite some time. Per my forecast, they are Kandagawa Jet Girls‘ equivalent of Ayasa and Narumi, acting as a highly skilled opponent whose performance inspires the protagonists to pick up the sport. For Rin, she’s simply captivated at being able to square off against the best, and for Misa, she will come to support Rin as she recalls what made the sport fun for her, rather similar to the dynamic between Haruka and Kanata.

  • Despite not having any formal training or understanding of jet ski racing, Rin’s prior experience with operating jet skis and a natural talent for operating the Orcano allows her to surprise Kaguya during the race. Rin’s performance is actually such that Kaguya considers deploying her boost to win the race: Kaguya has prided herself on only used the boost on a handful of occasions, preferring to count on her skill to achieve victory. In this way, Kaguya is rather like myself: I tend not to deploy power-ups in games, saving them for situations where I might need them to extricate myself from a difficult situation.

  • Once Misa gets her head back in the game, she opens fire on Kaguya and Kuromaru with her MP5, getting even with Kuromaru and blowing off her entire wetsuit. PDWs typically are used in close quarters, where their compact size and firepower allow them to be effective. This choice of weapon suggests that Misa prefers engaging her opponents at close range to buy her driver space, which in turn would lend credence to the idea that Misa is someone who trusts her driver greatly and only uses her weapon where the race is close to give her team an edge.

  • Having the announcers explain the basics of the first race allowed me to quickly grasp what was happening, and this in turn created a more enjoyable experience where I could simply focus on the race and what the characters were doing, rather than speculate on how the characters’ actions at one point lead to the final outcome.

  • Overall, my previous experiences with weapon types and their roles in the context of a first-person shooter means that I will have plenty to say about what the different weapons and jet ski setups say about each of the teams that we will see in Kandagawa Jet Girls – while I count myself as being moderately familiar with the Pacific Theatre, Azur Lane does not appear to offer quite as much to talk about as Kandagawa Jet Girls. There’s also a game that’s supposed to release in January 2020, so gaming mechanics would likely be relevant to the anime, as well.

  • Kandagawa Jet Girls‘ game incarnation will initially release for PS4 and is developed by Marvelous, who’d previously done the Senran Kagura games. While no PC release has been scheduled yet, I would pick up the PC game if it became available, if only for the fact that I’d probably pick a semi-automatic rifle as my weapon of choice. Rin can be seen cooling off with a Dyson fan in the derelict shack that houses the Orcano. Like Haruka, Rin is completely okay with the outcome of their race with Kaguya and Kuromaru, having now experienced first-hand the excitement of a jet ski race.

  • Moments like this are why I’ve opted to stick with a larger post format of thirty screenshots for Kandagawa Jet Girls. The series’ unique combination of T & A, with surprisingly solid jet ski racing animation and a generally solid art quality means that the series is visually appealing, and there are many moments that I could share my thoughts on. Consequently, I have decided to pick up Kandagawa Jet Girls as the series to write about. This means that Rifle is Beautiful will be given the same review pattern as Azur Lane, and with the third episode coming out Sunday, I’ll be able to explore why this is in more detail.

  • Kaguya’s reactions further reinforce the idea that she’s competed against or with Misa previously: while she and Kuromaru had won their race, Kaguya can’t help but feel that had Rin chosen to activated her boost, the race’s outcome might have turned out to be quite different. Given the way Kandagawa Jet Girls is set up, I imagine that for the time being, Rin and Misa won’t be able to race Kaguya and Kuromaru for a while yet, since Rin is still evidently a novice in the sport.

  • Entranced by the prospect of operating the Orcano again, Rin decides to form the jet ski racing club at her high school. Whereas most anime show the protagonist starting with just under the requirement of five members, Kandagawa Jet Girls has Rin recruiting the advisor first. She approaches Yamada, who yields without too much difficulty, standing in sharp contrast with other series like K-On!, where finding members was the straightforward part.

  • Rin’s smile is reminiscent of Yuru Camp△‘s Nadeshiko, and it’s smiles like this that allow Rin to persuade those around her to be more optimistic. Right out of the gates, Rin was a character that I immediately took a liking to, and like Haruka from Harukana Receive, it seems like very little can dissuade Rin from a positive outlook on things. This optimism is likely to be instrumental as Kandagawa Jet Girls continues on.

  • Such moments attest to the fact that Kandagawa Jet Girls is meant to be regarded as an easygoing anime: so far, discussions on the series have remained limited to the fanservice, as well as the characters designs. The series’ reputation clearly precedes it, and folk have not really begun to look beyond the superficial aspects of Kandagawa Jet Girls to consider where the series could go.

  • As it turns out, Rin’s a bit of an artist, and she recounts the struggle she experiences in attempting to recruit new members through simplistic but adorable drawings. I imagine that Rin’s energy and status as a recent transfer student makes it difficult for her: she does not command much interest with the latter, and the former may intimidate the people she approaches. Misa’s posture suggests a disinterest, and the lighting here further shows the gap in personalities: Misa is in the shadows, while Rin sits in the light.

  • Rin is rather fond of Misa, and will not hesitate to hug her whenever the moment calls for it. It does lead to some moments that are more questionable when taken out of context, although insofar, Kandagawa Jet Girls has not delved into the realm of yuri: while Rin might be rather clingy, there’s nothing yet to indicate that her friendship with Misa is anything more than just a friendship.

  • While Rin initially has trouble securing the last member, the student council president, Fumika, decides to join Rin’s jet ski racing club. Her desire to see Kaguya defeated means that she likely has had some experience in jet ski racing before, or at least some sort of quarrel to settle with Kaguya. This turn of events was unexpectedly hilarious, and it will be curious to know what role Fumika will play in things later down the line.

  • As it turns out, Rin had never really considered if Misa had really wanted to join the jet ski racing club. However, compelled by Rin, Misa accepts Rin’s invitation, thus bringing the club to the required number of members. Rin thus holds the club’s first meeting, and sets the goal of getting the club to a point where they can begin competing in local races. Kandagawa Jet Girls‘ premise exists purely for the sake of showcasing anatomy, but despite this, has proven to be reasonably well-justified even after three episodes.

  • Of course, the good folks of tango-victor-tango have taken a different stance on Kandagawa Jet Girls and, in their typical manner, are quick to mark the series with the one-liner “ugly, boring, and has no grasp of how to properly integrate fanservice”, which appropriately describes the nature of the discussion’s participants: while I’ve not been an active member of their community for over five years, I still swing by to see what discussions are hosted there on the shows I follow to see what deficiencies they may sport.

  • I am generally not disappointed, and it seems like now, any semblance of critical thinking at tango-victor-tango is nonexistent, if their members think that one-liners constitute meaningful, analytical discussion or that having a large list of dropped anime increases their credibility. This is where the page quote comes from: I don’t particularly care for people who tear shows down and never seem to spend time with what they do like. Back in Kandagawa Jet Girls, Misa and Rin begin training their stamina as a part of their club activities. While Misa initially expected Rin to tire out from her regimen, Rin keeps up surprisingly well.

  • I know that this post comes a bit later than I’d like: while my typical weekday evenings entail coming home and chilling (which is when most of my blogging gets done), this past Thursday, I got a pair of tickets to the Flames game and therefore spent the evening cheering on the home team, who won in a thrilling 6-5 match over the Florida Panthers in a shootout. Before the game, I stopped by a Shawarma house near my workplace: they’re known for massive portions, and the wrap I had was absolutely loaded, being more beef shawarma, vegetables and hot sauce than wrap.

  • Thursday’s 6-5 victory marks the first time I’ve ever seen a shootout in person, and with this victory, we climb in the standings, although the fact that we gave up five goals means that defense needs to improve if we are to stand any chance in the playoffs. Back on the topic of Kandagawa Jet Girls and anime with a great deal of fanservice, it is not lost on me that it seems like all things ecchi are at the focus of undue discussion, with some arguing that anyone who accepts it will view detractors as endorsing censorship. I suppose it was only a matter of time before that crowd entered the space of anime, and with these rather irrelevant issues making their way into anime, I’ll do my best to steer clear of them and continue doing what I typically do.

  • While Misa might not be good with expressing herself, she does get credit for making an effort and chooses to spend time with Rin, taking her on a tour of Asakusa. Located in Taitō, Asakusa is particularly famous for the Sensō-ji temple and its massive gate, as well as for being home to numerous other shrines. Misa intends on taking Rin to a café with the unusual distinction of serving orange juice on tap, but the real-world Asakusa is also known for its street foods, including satsuma imo (sweet potatoes) and chikuwa kamaboko (grilled fish cakes).

  • In the crowds of Asakusa, Rin becomes separated from Misa. Misa sits down and attempts to contact Rin, but since she does not have her number, this becomes a more difficult task. It is here that Misa’s past with jet ski racing is shown in a limited extent; it looks like Misa was once a try-hard, which alienated her from other competitors and presumably led her to quit competitions. I expect that this will be elaborated upon in more detail.

  • More cautious fans regard Kandagawa Jet Girls as a vessel for fanservice intended to promote the PS4 game, but as having a passable story and premise. This should be no surprise given its connection to Senran Kagura, and I remark that I am perhaps a lot more optimistic about this series than most viewers. My expectations for Kandagawa Jet Girls are relatively basic – I am looking for a colourful series set in a world whose characters’ journey is enjoyable.

  • Rin encounters Jennifer and Emily by chance after picking up a trinket belonging to Emily. These two students have a very exaggerated air about them, exhibiting the tendencies of stereotypical foreigners who’ve taken to some aspects of Japanese culture. Despite their gaudy manner, they appear friendly enough and immediately take to Rin, giving her a tour of the Asukasa area that Misa had intended to do.

  • I’ve not yet mentioned the soundtrack for Kandagawa Jet Girls yet: while the incidental music is able to convey the mood surrounding Rin’s everyday experiences and jet ski racing, it is nothing particularly remarkable, and similarly, the opening and ending songs have not been particularly standout. On the flip-side, Kandagawa Jet Girls does have above-average visuals. Despite some rough spots during the races, the artwork and animation is of a generally high quality and rather pleasing to watch.

  • Misa runs into Rin, Jennifer and Emily later, stopping at a small shop for drinks adjacent to a rail line. The Senran Kagura series is infamous for non-rigid body dynamics that won’t conform to any physical laws, and it appears that Kandagawa Jet Girls has inherited this trait: as Rin fights with Emily for the yellow dolphin keychain, passing trains cause oscillations that would be impossible in reality.

  • While Rin had been excited to board the Orcano and challenge Kaguya and Kuromaru, this race against Emily and Jennifer has Rin a little more nervous, since she’s squaring off against newfound friends. On one hand, Rin would rather not start things off with competition, but at the same time, she wants Misa to be happy, as well, putting her in a conundrum of sorts.

  • Emily and Jennifer use a jet ski of unknown properties, and Jennifer wields the water-gun equivalent of a shoulder-fired rocket launcher. These weapons are typically intended for anti-armour roles and can be surprised to be unwieldy, tricky but also devastatingly powerful if they connect, mirroring Jennifer and Emily’s flamboyant nature, and also hinting that these two might be risk-takers. With this post in the books, the only posts I have planned for the month are for Rifle is Beautiful and a Terrible Anime Challenge post for Blend S.

While the premise between Kandagawa Jet Girls and Azur Lane differ considerably, after three episodes, there is a possibility that the underlying themes could share some overlap. One would therefore reasonably expect that I cover both series in similar levels of detail. However, whereas I have elected not to cover Azur Lane in greater detail, I do intend on writing about Kandagawa Jet Girls at quarterly intervals. The reason for this decision boils down to the fact that Kandagawa Jet Girls has a much more focused, well-defined premise of jet ski racing, whose mechanics are simple to grasp, as well as the smaller character count: the large cast of Azur Lane meant that it took time for Enterprise to be established as the lead protagonist, while in Kandagawa Jet Girls, Misa and Rin are clearly the main characters the story revolves around. Kandagawa Jet Girls thus has a bit more of a solid ground for discussion, and in conjunction with the more blatant anatomical lessons the characters provide, this series seems to be rather more entertaining to write for. Consequently, pushing into the fall season, I am rather looking forwards to seeing both where Kandagawa Jet Girls goes, as well as seeing what boundaries I can push with my blogging, specially with respect to keeping the discussions fresh and meaningful even as I am given face-fulls of papilla mammaria with a consistent frequency.

The Kandagawa is Calling: Kandagawa Jet Girls First Episode Impressions

“To achieve anything in this game, you must be prepare to dabble in the boundary of disaster.” –Stirling Moss

Rin Namiki decides to move from the countryside to Asakusa Tokyo to pursue her dreams, transferring to Asakusa Girls’ High. Shortly after her arrival in Tokyo, she is taken aback at the crowds and very nearly forgets about registering at the dormitory that she will stay at during her time in Tokyo. When a thief makes off with her bag, Rin chases after him, running into Misa Aoi, who stops the thief cold in his tracks. When Rin finally makes it to the dormitory, she is surprised to learn that Misa is there, and moreover, that she will be roommates with Misa. The next day, Rin does her best to befriend Misa, who coldly rebuffs her. When one of Rin’s classmates asks her about jet skis, Rin reveals that she’s fond of riding jet skis. Later, Rin finds Misa fishing by a pier, and when students of Musashino Girls High School appear, claiming the pier and river to be their turf, Rin boldly accepts a challenge from Kaguya Shinjūin and Kuromaru Manpuku, two of the school’s racers. Misa later reveals that she has a jet ski dubbed the Orcano. On the day of the race, Rin and Misa take an early lead, but Kaguya and Kuromaru even things up when one of the latter’s shots blows off Misa’s skirt during the race. This is Kandagawa Jet Girls after one, an anime that was launched to promote a PlayStation 4 title of the same name. Produced with Senran Kagura‘s very own Kenichirō Takaki, this series has already begun showing elements that are common to Senran Kagura, featuring gratuitous closeups of the characters’ bodies and might be seen as using jet ski racing as a thinly-veiled attempt to wrap a story around what is ultimately an exercise in anatomy lessons. However, looking past these aspects, some familiar elements of sportsmanship and competition are also present: Kandagawa Jet Girls, being more or less a slice-of-life anime with sports components, could also deliver thematic elements common to such series, dealing with topics such as rivalry and personal improvement as Harukana Receive and Girls und Panzer did.

Kandagawa Jet Girls drops viewers straight into how Rin comes to take up jet ski racing, the sport that her mother once participated in as a professional competitor. The entire premise is built around jet ski racing, a sport that has become very widespread in Kandagawa Jet Girls. In order for viewers to follow along, the mechanics and rules of jet ski racing would need to be explained. So far, the particulars of jet ski racing have not yet been established to any major level of detail – while audiences know that racing involves a driver and gunner, victory conditions, penalties and other specifics have not been defined. This makes Rin and Misa’s race with Kaguya and Kuromaru rather more harrowing: besides not knowing the outcome of this race with any certainty, viewers also will not know what Rin and Misa must do during their race. While seemingly illogical, the choice to not outline how jet ski racing works has the effect of forcing the story to focus on the dynamic that builds up between the cheerful, impulsive Rin and stoic, reserved Misa. It is shown that Rin already has some experience with operating a jet ski and comes from a family background familiar with jet ski racing. Misa, on the other hand, is implied to have been a competitor in jet ski racing but dropped out for reasons unknown. As such, the characters’ meeting and Rin’s immediate choice to accept a challenge is meant to suggest that the characters, rather than the sport, form the core of Kandagawa Jet Girls; jet ski racing itself is merely a means to an end, and consequently, I expect that Kandagawa Jet Girls will deal with how Rin and Misa will develop as a team through training and competition, with a healthy dose of papilla mammaria and crotch close-ups to be the norm, if the first episode was anything to go by.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Rin and Misa are briefly shown as a full-fledged team at Kandagawa Jet Girls‘ beginning, which means that the series will be about the journey rather than the destination. Out of the gates, the series feels like an amalgamation of Senran Kagura‘s ecchi elements with Harukana Receive‘s partner setup, the high tech of Rinne no Lagrange and Sora no Woto‘s characters. That such a comparison is being made gives a hint as to how long around I’ve been in the anime blogging game for.

  • When Rin arrives in Tokyo, she’s immediately overwhelmed by the sights and sounds, promptly getting distracted from her goal of locating the dormitory that she will reside at while in high school and running into a variety of colourful characters, including other jet ski racers. She soon finds herself robbed by an unknown thief, and is remarkably slow on the uptake, reflecting on her rural background. However, despite a delayed reaction, Rin nonetheless manages to keep up with the thief, who is bewildered at her stamina.

  • Things turn around when Misa trips the thief, and subsequently proceeds to give him a death glare worthy of Mordor since her shins still smart from kicking her VR simulator earlier. It turns out that Rin’s bag is carrying a large stuffed dolphin that she’s is fond of, and she notes that she can’t sleep without it. I surmise that this particular stuffed dolphin is special to Rin because it’s a momento of her mother; the same dolphin is seen in Kandagawa Jet Girls‘ beginning scenes.

  • Rin is blown away by Misa’s appearance – the camera takes special care to highlight Misa’s features. She has characteristics of a bishōjo, standing in stark contrast with the decidedly more plain-looking Rin. Their introductions are cut short when Rin is distracted by a pair of jet ski racers practising in the river canal below. The combination of Misa’s dissatisfaction with the racing simulator and her cold reception to the racers suggests that she is not fond of the sport.

  • While Rin is fawning over the racers, Misa leaves. They encounter one another again later at the dormitory, and when Rin warmly greets Misa, the other residents squeal in excitement. As it turns out, Misa’s the only one at the dormitory who doesn’t have a roommate, and so, Rin is assigned to share a room with her, much to Misa’s displeasure.

  • The presence of T ‘n A in anime is something of a point of contention in the anime community. In general, I am not bothered by it when it does not interfere with the flow of the story. Rin and her short shorts here is one such example: while her pantsu might be visible, it’s not slowing down Kandagawa Jet Girls in any way. Conversely, if an anime takes the time to create scenarios that are low probability (such as face planting into someone’s chest from a collision), then that does detract from the flow somewhat.

  • The next day, Rin bothers Misa to no end, even following her to the bathroom on one occasion. Rin is presented as being more of a country bumpkin, unaccustomed to the high-tech and fast-paced world that is Tokyo. She also has a pronounced accent: official translations give her rendering of “cute” as “adorbs”, which viewers have taken kindly to. Rin’s voice is provided by Yū Sasahara, a relatively new voice actress whose first role as a lead character was Akari Amano of Tonari no Kyūketsuki-san.

  • With her open and cheerful personality, Rin quickly becomes closer to her classmates, one of whom feel that Rin’s bothered by something. While Rin generally puts on a smile for those around her, it seems that Misa’s cold reception has weighed on her mind. She reveals to her classmate that she used to use a jet ski to get between school and home, greatly enjoying the experience. Misa overhears the conversation and heads off.

  • Rin later finds Misa fishing at a dock and messes with her. While trying to strike a conversation with Misa about fishing, students from the Musashino Academy appear and ask the two to vacate the area. These students are possibly from the area of the same name, which is around twenty one kilometres away from Asakusa and the Sumida River. Misa promptly peaces out, clearly not wishing for a confrontation.

  • However, Rin, not familiar with anyone, confronts Kaguya and accepts her challenge to a jet ski race despite having no experience in a formal race. This is akin to Haruka challenging Ayasa and Narumi in Harukana Receive, not knowing that the pair were Japan’s top-ranked volleyball pair. In Kandagawa Jet Girls, Kaguya and Kuromaru’s stats as jet ski racers are not known, but give their smug attitudes, one must surmise they are of a reasonable calibre.

  • After accepting the challenge, Misa and Rin change into the attire required for racing in a small shack on the river that also housed Misa’s simulation rig. The separation seems to indicate that Misa dislikes the sport because of her performance in it. I believe this is the second time that I’ve featured papilla mammaria openly here: depth of field and blur meant that I decided to only feature one of Misa. When Rin is changing, it’s a little too blurry for a sharp screenshot, and I will have to rectify this later.

  • The suits for jet ski racing seem rather sophisticated, being capable of adjusting itself to the wearer’s morphology and zipping themselves automatically. Given what Kandagawa Jet Girls presents, I imagine the suits to be at least a little more advanced than Tony Stark’s earlier suits, which required stationary machinery in order to fit the suit: Stark’s later Iron Man suits are capable of assembling themselves dynamically, and the versions seen in Infinity War and later use nanomachines.

  • When Rin’s suit has trouble fitting itself to her chest, an irate Misa manually overrides it. Misa’s envy is not well-justified, since the character sheets give Rin’s specs as 89-56-80 to Misa’s 84-58-87. Conversely, the two racers from Musashino are clearly bigger than Rin: Kaguya is 96-59-89, and Kuromaru given as 111-70-97, making them the most full-figured of anyone in Kandagawa Jet Girls.

  • When the race starts, Misa responds to the trash talk from Kuromaru with the remark that they might be disappointed with the outcome of their race. Given Kuromaru and Kaguya’s determination to face off against Misa, one can surmise that Misa was once a great jet ski gunner who bested them at every turn, rather similar to Kanata Hiiga of Harukana Receive. Like Kanata, Misa ended up quitting her sport of choice from unknown reasons, and it is only with the introduction of an optimistic, won’t-take-no-for-an-answer character like Haruka and Rin to get them back into the game.

  • A bit of digging into supplementary materials finds that Kaguya and Kuromaru form Team Dress, with Kaguya being the driver and Kuromaru being the gunner. Said resources mention Kaguya as being from a wealthy background, while Kuromaru appears to have a bodyguard position and is trained in ninpō. The latter carries a long-range rifle for marksman shooting.

  • When the race begins, Rin appears quite unconcerned with winning, marvelling at the Orcano’s acceleration and handling. She and Misa take an early lead as Rin figures out the mechanics behind operating this jet ski, which is probably much higher performing than the smaller jet ski she’d previously used to get to school. The setup brings to mind both Gundam Unicorn, where Banagher is able to operate the Unicorn Gundam within minutes of getting into the cockpit, as well as A New Hope, where Luke finds the X-Wing’s flight controls to be similar to the T-16 Skyhopper and immediately acclimatises to the starfighter’s properties.

  • With Rin at the wheel, Misa is the gunner. Unlike Kuromaru, Misa uses a submachine gun style weapon modelled after the Heckler and Koch MP5-A3. Submachine guns and PDWs are smaller calibre weapons that form the gap between intermediate cartridge firing weapons and pistols: being more compact in nature, such weapons are lightweight, have controllable recoil and are relatively straightforwards to use. Misa thus appears to prefer close quarters engagements, and could hold the advantage over Kuromaru if the two teams are to remain in close range.

  • So far, I admit that I am enjoying Kandagawa Jet Girls, although a cursory search on Google finds that more biased sites have already gotten their perspectives onto the first page. In these reviews, it is claimed that the fanservice piece is “exhausting”. I wonder why folks would deliberately watch anime clearly outside of their interests with the goal of telling people not to watch it, as well as attempting to inject identity politics into things as justification why one should listen to such balderdash.

  • I’ll never tell readers what to think, and note that if Kandagawa Jet Girls is not up your alley, that is totally fine: there are plenty of other series out there that suit different tastes, after all. Back in Kandagawa Jet Girls, as Rin pulls ahead, Kuromaru aims for Misa’s backside, and after two shots, blows her shorts off. Again, why this is a mechanic has not yet been explored yet, and I am hoping that jet ski racing will be explained so viewers can follow along come later episodes.

  • After one episode, Kandagawa Jet Girls has me curious to see more about the jet ski racing, and while the animation is inconsistent in places, the world overall is rendered in a colourful manner. While I originally intended to write about Rifle is Beautiful, after watching the first episode, which aired yesterday, I conclude that at present, there isn’t enough material to do a first episode impressions on. The anime itself is still quite enjoyable, and I’m sure I’ll have thoughts on it after three episodes have passed.

As Kandagawa Jet Girls progresses, I imagine that more mechanics behind jet ski racing will be presented, making it easier to follow along in the races and root for Rin and Misa. The two lead characters, and their meeting, feel distinctly similar to how 2010’s Sora no Woto opened, with a cheerful and somewhat scatter-brained protagonist becoming enamoured in the sights and sounds of a new locale before coming across someone serious who knows the area and winds up making their acquaintance. Sora no Woto had Kanata become delayed by the Water Festival and encountering Rio, who turned out to be her superior officer with an initially cold personality. In Kandagawa Jet Girls, Rin takes on Kanata’s role: both sport an optimistic personality and possess an open mind, becoming easily distracted by things in their world. Arriving in Tokyo, she wastes no time in getting lost amongst the crowds and even loses her bag in the process, before running into Misa, who gets her out of a bind. Kanata had similarly been bailed out when Rio finds her drenched in the dyed water during the Water Festival, and pulled her aside for a bath and reprimand. In terms of appearances, Rin is a shapelier version of Kanata, and Misa shares Rio’s long, dark hair and severe expressions. The parallels between Kandagawa Jet Girls and Sora no Woto are, in short, quite striking – while the premise of jet ski racing might be new, seeing familiar characters means that I had no difficulty in feeling at home in Kandagawa Jet Girls. I am curious to see Rin and Misa develop and grow as Kandagawa Jet Girls continues: the anatomy lessons notwithstanding, Kandagawa Jet Girls is something that could end up being surprisingly enjoyable because of the combination of character growth, in conjunction with a vibrant and vividly depicted world. Of course, this is all speculation – for the time being, the outcome of Rin and Misa’s race with Kaguya and Kuromaru remains anyone’s guess and will continue come the second episode.