The Infinite Zenith

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Category Archives: Anime: Reflections

Yuru Camp△ Original Soundtrack set for release on March 21, 2018

“There is one thing I can still do with a broken arm. I can…play my harmonica.” –Les Stroud, Survivorman

It’s been a while since I’ve done a soundtrack-related post – the last one was for GochiUsa’s second season soundtrack, which ended up being an enjoyable listen. For this season, I introduce the Yuru Camp△ soundtrack; with its diverse array of instrumental motifs and incidental pieces that draw out the anime’s cathartic atmosphere, the soundtrack for Yuru Camp△ is one that I’ve been looking forwards to. The soundtrack becomes available for purchase one day after the Vernal Equinox, releasing just ahead of the finale, which will air on March 22. The album will retail for 3456 Yen (42.62 CAD), consists of two disks and totals 49 tracks. Interspersed with the incidental music will be nine drama performances, alongside the opening and ending themes.

  • The album artwork for Yuru Camp△ singularly captures the entire spirit and atmosphere of the entire anime: a warm friendship developed from a mutual interest in camping and the love of scenery under the beautiful landscapes afforded by night. One of the things about Yuru Camp△ that I was not anticipating was its focus on food and enjoyment of said food. While Nadeshiko’s particularly well-known for her reactions to food, it turns out that everyone in the main cast similarly enjoys their food at least to the same calibre as Adam Richman of Man v. Food.

I’ve translated the track names to English for ease-of-access: unsurprisingly, this blog’s readers are predominantly English-speaking, so it’s useful to have the English names for each of the tracks. As with my previous translations, I remark that my translations are done using a combination of my rudimentary familiarity with Japanese, a Japanese dictionary and where required, a Chinese dictionary. Consequently, not all of the translations are guaranteed to fully retain the original Japanese meaning. In the Yuru Camp△ soundtrack, I’ve opted to translate some tracks literally, while others, I’ve kept only the phonetics. For the track ドッタンバッタン, the katakana translates literally to “Dottanbattan”, which is an onomatopoeia that describes a chaotic situation, so I’ve opted to go with “Frenzy”. ワクパラ (“Wakupara”) similarly has no easy translation to English: I believe it’s a contraction of ワクワクパラダイス, which translates to “Exciting Paradise”, so this is what the English title is given as. I’ve gone with a simple phonetic translation for the track ハテナノナ. Finally, for the 野クルの時間 (“Field Time”) tracks, わちゃ (wa-cha) is an Osakan way of referring to “many people speaking to one another”. The closest English translation is conversation, and given the atmosphere in Yuru Camp△, I think “chit-chat” is probably the most appropriate. There are three of these tracks, each with different iterations of the phrase わちゃ, so in English, I’ve gone with a similar translation using variations of “chit-chat”.

Disk One

  1. ゆるキャン△のテーマ (Yuru Camp△Theme)
  2. オリジナルドラマ その1 (Original Drama Part 1)
  4. オリジナルドラマ その2(Original Drama Part 2)
  5. キャンプ場のテーマ~本栖湖~ (Campsite Theme ~Lake Motosu~)
  6. 野クルの時間(わちゃわちゃ!) (Field Time (Chit-chat!))
  7. ソロキャン△のすすめ (Solo Camp△Recommendation)
  8. ゆるやかな時間 (Laid-back time)
  9. オリジナルドラマ その3(Original Drama Part 3)
  10. キャンプ場のテーマ~麓~ (Campsite Theme ~Fumoto~)
  11. おしゃべりとマグカップ (Conversations and mugs)
  12. ごーいんぐマイウェイ (Going my way)
  13. 夜明けの深呼吸 (Deep breath at dawn)
  14. ワクパラ! (Exciting Paradise!)
  15. オリジナルドラマ その4(Original Drama Part 5)
  16. キャンプ場のテーマ~高ボッチ、イーストウッド~ (Campsite Theme ~Takabocchi, Pine Wood~)
  17. 野クルの時間(わちゃ…) (Field Time (Chat…))
  18. ごーいんぐユアウェイ (Going your way)
  19. ゆるりの掟 (Laid-back rules)
  20. たじたじのた (I knew it)
  21. オリジナルドラマ その5 (Original Drama Part 5)
  22. ふゆびより (弾きがたり ver.) (Fuyubiyori, Performance version)

Disk Two

  1. オリジナルドラマ その6 (Original Drama Part 6)
  2. キャンプ場のテーマ~四尾連湖~ (Campsite Theme ~Shibireko Lake~)
  3. キャンプ行こうよ! (Let’s go camping!)
  4. 富士川賛歌 (Fujikawa Hymn)
  5. ストレンジブルー (Strange Blue)
  6. 野クルの時間(わちゃわちゃわちゃっ!!)(Field Time (Chit-chat chit-chat!))
  7. へろりんぱ (Lenticular)
  8. オリジナルドラマ その7(Original Drama Part 7)
  9. キャンプ場のテーマ~陣馬形山~(Campsite Theme ~Mount Jimbagata~)
  10. 踊ろよフォークダンス (Let’s dance to that folk dance)
  11. うんちくかんちく (Punctuation)
  12. リトルクルーズ (Little cruise)
  13. ハテナノナ? (Hatenonona?)
  14. オリジナルドラマ その8 (Original Drama Part 8)
  15. キャンプ場のテーマ~朝霧高原~ (Campsite Theme ~Asagiri Plateau~)
  16. オリジナルドラマ その9 (Original Drama Part 9)
  17. ふゆびより (TV SIZE) (Fuyubiyori, TV version)
  18. ため息ひとつ (A single sigh)
  19. でこぼこんぐ (Bumpy)
  20. ドッタンバッタン (Frenzy)
  21. ハプニングー (Happening)
  22. どろどろばあ (Mushrooms)
  23. 南国ファンタジー (Southern Nation Fantasy)
  24. 万歳山頂 (Banzai Summit)
  25. キャンピングinボッシブル (Camping in possible)
  26. なでしこはかく語りき (Nadeshiko is speechless)
  27. しまりん団子のテーマ (Rin Shima’s Dumpling Theme)

  • The page quote comes from Les Stroud during the Plane Crash episode, where he was simulating a broken arm. Stroud rarely enters his survival situations without his harmonica; he reasons that being able to play music and do something to stave off boredom is highly important in a survival situation. Occasionally, he uses the harmonica to make enough aural indicators of his presence to drive off other animals, and sometimes, he plays the harmonica simply to celebrate a good meal. While the girls of Yuru Camp△ never play any music during their camping trips, as a post related to music, I figured that it would be to pick a quote from Stroud relevant to music.

I again stress that my translations are only approximations of what I think the English titles to be. With eleven of the twelve episodes to Yuru Camp△ in the books, I’ve found an immensely relaxing anime that has done much to provide warmth during this uncommonly snowy and lengthy winter. I do not think I am mistaken when I say that reception to Yuru Camp△ has been universally positive: simple in its thematic elements, Yuru Camp△‘s main strength is a staple of most enjoyable slice-of-life anime. In its execution, Yuru Camp△ presents the ordinary as exciting and showcases the joys of different perspectives by pouring an exceptional amount of detail into the settings and situations. I’ll be returning shortly after the finale to do a full discussion on all of the components that make Yuru Camp△ so enjoyable, and close things up by mentioning again that even after Yuru Camp△‘s finale airs, there’s still an OVA that will be released with the first BD version, detailing life at the Outdoors Activity Club prior to Nadeshiko’s arrival.

Terrible Anime Challenge: Sansha San’yō and The Making of Magic From The Ordinary

“Age appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.” –Francis Bacon

Yōko Nishikawa hails from a once well-to-do family whose fortunes fell when her father’s businesses succumbed to bankruptcy, leading her to live a frugal lifestyle. While eating lunch on her own, she encounters Futaba Odagiri and Teru Hayama, two of her classmates: Futaba has become lost while trying a shortcut, and Teru was pursuing a cat. This happenstance meeting allow the three individuals, unrelated in all manners save their sharing the kanji for ‘leaf’ in their names, to become friends, and over the course of Sansha San’yō (Three Leaves, Three Colours, or Tripartide Trefoil), Yōko, Futaba and Teru share in many misadventures with one another. From the rivalry between Teru and Serina Nishiyama, to the various antics of Yōko’s former staff (such as Sonobe Shino and Mitsugu Yamaji), the main cast’s interactions with an array of secondary characters to give the Sansha San’yō world a more colourful, lively feel; as the seasons pass by, Yōko comes to deeply appreciate her friendship with Teru and Futaba, accepting their eccentricities as she shares with them everyday life at school, working at a confectionary shop that Sonobe owns, relaxing during the summer and taking in the festivities of the Christmas season. Conveying the notion that friendships transcend creed and socio-economic status, Sansha San’yō‘s unusual set of characters come together to create a surprisingly enjoyable and amusing story that entertains audiences by creating the ridiculous out of the ordinary.

When placed with the likes of Flying Witch, Hai-Furi and Kuromukuro, the Spring 2016 season proved to be a very busy one, compounded by the fact that I was gearing up to finish my graduate thesis and attend two conferences to present my research. Anime like Anne Happy and Sansha San’yō, which prima facie look to be shows that might capture my interest, were quickly placed on the backburner. While Anne Happy proved somewhat disappointing, Sansha San’yō ended up being unexpectedly fun to watch. What is more unexpected about Sansha San’yō is the fact that its original manga run began in February 2003 – while the anime adaptation modernises the look and feel for each of the characters, the fact that Sansha San’yō dates back some fifteen years means that its brand of humour and characterisation is different than what might be seen from more modern 4-koma series. Each of Yōko, Teru and Futaba have distinct attributes that make them memorable; none of the characters conform to the archetypes that anime such as K-On! have set the groundwork for, and consequently, watching highly unique characters bounce off one another creates comedy that is refreshing to watch. The age of Sansha San’yō‘s source material makes it stand out from other 4-koma series (especially Anne Happy, which it aired alongside), and more impressively, the conversations and jokes in Sansha San’yō have withstood the test of time. Whether it be Yōko’s fall from grace and yearning to return to her old life, Futaba’s insatiable love for food or Teru’s haraguroi personality, the elements seen in Sansha San’yō are quite timeless and remain entertaining even after fifteen years.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • As a Terrible Anime Challenge post, this talk on Sansha San’yō features twenty images, and will not go into some scenes or elements in the same detail as a conventional post. Sansha San’yō‘s opening episodes are largely set in the quiet and inviting grounds of the school that Yōko attends, where her budget forces her to subsist on bread crusts as a lunch. A happenstance meeting allows Yōko to meet Futaba and Teru. While the source manga far predates the likes of Locodol, I cannot help but notice that Futaba and Teru are similar to Locodol‘s Nanako and Yukari in terms of appearance. Their personalities, however, are anything but. Yōko herself seems to have formed the basis for Anne Happy‘s Ruri, as well as GochiUsa‘s Rize and Sharo.

  • The story behind my experience in Sansha San’yō is that I took a look at the first episode, was somewhat interested by the setup, and then proceeded to forget about the show because I had my hands tied with Hai-Furi‘s first episode: the unexpected turn of events, in conjunction with deliberate misinformation about this anime, made it difficult for viewers and readers to differentiate who was stating facts and who was fabricating information for brownie points. Hai-Furi‘s conclusion and two subsequent OVAs later, things have settled down considerably, leaving the way clear for me to return to Sansha San’yō.

  • A former maid of the Nishikawa family, Shino Sonobe is a bit of an amusing character whose matter-of-fact deliveries and penchance for doing outrageous things drive comedy, exasperating Yōko and her friends to no end. However, she does end up offering Yōko a part-time position at her bakery, and Yōko comes to enjoy both being able to have an income, as well as interact with others to better gain a sense of how ordinary people might live.

  • One aspect that Sansha San’yō nails in its delivery is the fact that the characters, while each with their own unique features, are never overshadowed by them. Yōko might be from a wealthy background and retains her mannerisms, but is approachable and friendly. Teru might have a heart blacker than coal, but she’s only really malevolent when pushed. Futaba enjoys eating challenges, but also has the cooking skills to back up her love for food: when she surprises Teru and Yōko with this revelation, she also explains that it’d be bad news bears if she only knew how to eat, and here, helps Yōko cook Kobe beef, creating with the others a fantastic memory.

  • Serina Nishimiya is Futaba and Teru’s classmates, and engages in fierce competition for supremacy in all things academic with Teru. In spite of her efforts, she ends up on the losing side.Despite the feelings of animosity between Serina and Teru being mutual, the two share a love of small animals. Her dislike for Teru is exploited by Shino, who coerces her into working at her bakery, and in time, she and her friend, Asako Kondō, spend more time with Yōko and the others, even if they do not necessarily count one another as friends.

  • Without the additional premise of “misfortune” or “bad luck” driving things, Sansha San’yō is the more enjoyable of the two Manga Time Kirara Adaptations of the Spring 2016 season. Produced and animated by Doga Kobo, which worked on Yuru Yuri‘s first two seasons, both seasons of New Game! and Himōto! Umaru-chan, it is not particularly surprising that Sansha San’yō has high quality with its art and animation: the summer beach here is inviting, and the vivid blue colours do much to capture a mid-summer feel, when the days are long and suited for doing things of one’s choosing.

  • Sakura (Futaba’s cousin) and Yū Takezono square off here: the latter is from a family close to the Nishikawas, while the former has a remarkably detailed plan for life and openly makes her feelings for Yū known. They appear occasionally, but the point of this screenshot is not to highlight their interactions, which are infrequent. Instead, the point of this screenshot is so I don’t have to spend a thousand words explaining why Yōko is my favourite of the characters in Sansha San’yō.

  • Because Sansha San’yō is an older manga, elements of yuri are non-existent – it’s one more element that made the anime considerably more enjoyable. Bill Watterson elaborated in an interview that Calvin and Susie were written to have mutual crushes on one another in Calvin and Hobbes, but found that this was difficult to work in, so he eventually wrote the characters to bounce off one another instead, leading to stories that were more dynamic and entertaining. Sansha San’yō benefited from this approach, illustrating that yuri is not an end-all for slice-of-life anime.

  • The straightforwards approach of Sansha San’yō meant that this anime would’ve been quite difficult to write for had I chosen to blog about it back while it was still airing. Most period discussion on the anime dealt primarily with the interactions – character drive anime are typically quite rudimentary in their thematic elements, and the main enjoyment in watching them stems from watching stuff happen. This is why things like why Mitsugu’s providing only yogurt and puddings to Yōko is skated over in my discussions: as as systems-level kind of guy, I don’t have much patience for folks who dreg up minutiae because they feel the constant need to validate their intellect (or possibly, lack thereof).

  • In answering the above, a perfectly rational individual would surmise that either Yōko is fond of those particular products, or they’re what Mitsugu has the easiest time accessing. I remark that I’ve a disproportionate number of screenshots from the beach episode, and this is a consequence of not doing a full on review of the series. Here, Yōko speaks with Sasame Tsuji, sister of  Hajime Tsuji; she’s dissatisfied that Futaba keeps kicking her brother’s ass in food challenges, and is conflicted when she learns that Yōko happens to be friends with Futaba. Her desire for friendship wins out, and she will later spend more time with Yōko and the others as Sansha San’yō continues.

  • Time makes fools of everyone – while Teru and Serina might not admit it any more than Sasame, Yōko, Futaba and Teru’s increasing presence in their lives, and their corresponding increase in time spent together means that for all intents and purposes, a friendship of sorts begins to form. Here, Futaba gives Serina a ticket to a pet zoo so she may attend with Teru, and despite their hostilities, the two manage to run into one another at every turn, reflecting on the fact their love for kittens is mutual. Were it not for Serina’s attempts in goading Teru past the point of endurance, things might’ve gone smoothly; both characters exhibit flaws that preclude a cordial relationship with one another.

  • It’s rare to see Adam Richman’s equal in anime: Futaba’s appetite and enjoyment of food challenges is second to none, and she’s never seen suffering from the food walls that Adam Richman hits in Man v. Food where quantity challenges are involved. However, excessively spicy food will best her, whereas Richman is actually quite strong in all of his showings against spicy foods: save one challenge in Saratosa against the “Fire-in-your-Hole” wings, Richman has conquered every other challenge. After Futaba gets burned by ultra-hot curry, she realises that dialed back, the curry would be perfect for a culture festival event.

  • As Sansha San’yō wears on, I became acclimatized to the antics of Teru and Futaba. Initially, it was a bit unusual to see Yukari and Nanako look-alikes in this anime, but in time, I grew to greatly enjoy Sansha San’yō – this is the motivation for the page quote. I was motivated to pick up the anime again on a recommendation from one of my readers, and I’m happy to say that the further I got into the anime, the more I liked what I was seeing. I’m all smiles when watching Sansha San’yō, so a warm thank you to DerekL of Apprentice Mages for getting me back into this one is on order.

  • Futaba is often referred to as the Human Black Hole, and it is her suggestion that her class does a curry café. On the topic of black holes, renowned theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking passed away at the age of seventy six, coinciding with the birth date of Albert Einstein. His work on black holes was revolutionary, and he was one of the first to suppose that general relativity and quantum theory were connected in some way. I have Hawking’s A Briefer History of Time and The Universe in a Nutshell; both are fantastic and informative works that explain immensely complex topics in an approachable manner.

  • Christmas in Japan is quite different than what folks from North America and Europe would be accustomed to. Rather than emphasis on family and generosity, Christmas in Japan emphasises couples. Anime typically depicts it as a time of year when friends gather to share a meal together: the bucket of fried chicken on the table, and Futaba’s insistence on having fried chicken at Christmas is a callout to the fact that fried chicken, especially Kentucky Fried Chicken, is an immensely popular Christmas dinner in Japan. With its origins in a 1974 marketing campaign, it codified a Christmas tradition for everyone that has endured into the present.

  • In the eternal struggle between Serina and Teru, Teru always comes out on top. Their friends can only watch in amusement as things go down, and here, Serina is blown away by the fact that Teru’s birthday is on Christmas, feeling offended that celebrating Christmas is to implicitly celebrate Teru’s birthday, as well. As icing on the cake, Locodol‘s Yukari, whom I noted to share some similarities with Teru in appearance, also has a Christmas birthday, as well. I am positive that this bit of information did not cross my mind during my initial watching of Sansha San’yō.

  • While the snowfall is used purely for comedy’s sake in Sansha San’yō, there is nothing remotely amusing about the snow that has fallen in my area: with 43.3 cm of snow falling in the past month, we’ve broken a record of sorts, and after shovelling the snow, we’ve got piles of snow on the lawn deep enough for me to pull off what Shino’s got going here. One aspect of Sansha San’yō that I’ve got no screenshots of, but loved seeing, was Teru exploding in anger after Futaba visits her house and shouts out, inviting Teru out to chill, rather than using the doorbell.

  • A lot of sources translate the title 三者三葉 literally as “Three-person trefoil”, after the L. corniculatus, a flowering plant with a distinct three-leafed flower, but looking at the title more closely, “Three people, three leaves” is the better direct translation. In English, Sansha San’yō is known as “Three Leaves, Three Colours”, evidently after the fact that there are three main characters with the kanji 葉 in their name and that each of the girls has distinct personalities and traits, hence the colours. This is the best translation possible.

  • Discussions of Sansha San’yō have remained quite limited and concise: this is unsurprising, considering that from a big-picture perspective, the anime follows a tried and true convention presenting a story about friendship. Most of the anime’s joys come from, as Bill Watterson put it, watching the characters bounce off one another, and I personally find that it’s more than okay to enjoy shows such as these, even when not much conversation can be had about events within the aforementioned shows. To put things in perspective, discussions on Sansha San’yō at Tango-Victor-Tango, a place known for folks that count episode summaries as analysis and where people attempt to turn minor details into something of academic significance, stopped at episode eight.

  • The finale of Sansha San’yō has Shino recounting a vivid dream to Yōko and the others, before Yōko learns that her father has found new employment. While things begin turning around, Yōko laments that she has not changed too dramatically since meeting Teru and Futaba, but her friends disagree, feeling that the Yōko now is more sociable and connected with those around her, no longer encountering difficulties in conversing with people of a different background than herself. Because my upcoming posts for the second half of March should be well-known (or at least, easy to infer), I’ll wrap up this talk by considering my next Terrible Anime Challenge post, where I’ll be looking at Eromanga Sensei.

Unlike Anne Happy, which I would not recommend to viewers, my verdict on Sansha San’yō is quite different: this one is worth watching for the fact that the characters are distinct both within the context of Sansha San’yō, as well as when compared against newer 4-koma adaptations. While being quite conventional as far as thematic elements go, the main draw in Sansha San’yō are the characters and each of their unique personalities – unlike any modern archetypes, they are quite novel, setting Sansha San’yō apart from similar anime. From a technical perspective, Sansha San’yō is also respectable; with satisfactory animation, artwork and sound, it is nice to see an older manga given a modernised adaptation. While enjoyable for what it is, one lingering question is whether or not we could see more Sansha San’yō in the future: there is plenty of material to adapt, as the manga is still running, so a continuation’s viability will depend on sales of home releases and the studio’s interest. While nothing official has been announced yet, it appears that general interest in the series (Japanese viewers warmly received Sansha San’yō) and the animator’s response to this reception means that a sequel should not be ruled out. If such a continuation, either in the form of a second season or OVA, is to be reality, I would likely watch it, so in conjunction with everything else I’ve mentioned in this Terrible Anime Challenge, I would conclude that Sansha San’yō most certainly is not a terrible anime by any definition, only being granted this misnomer on account of the fact that I had a bit of difficulty getting into things when it first began airing back in the spring of 2016.

Slow Start: Review and Reflection at the ¾ Mark

“I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.” —Bilbo Baggins, Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien

On Eiko’s birthday, she receives a large number of hair-clips from the other students; instructor Kiyose asks Eiko to put them away, as they are unsightly and only gifts her a paperclip. Later, Kiyose finds herself face-to-face with Eiko at her apartment. It turns out that after getting hammered the previous evening, Eiko looked after her after Kiyose mistakes her for someone else. When she sees Kiyose wearing a unique-looking necklace at school, Eiko reveals to Hana that her hobby is creating accessories and expresses happiness that her crafts are being worn by others. When Hana is late for her duties, fellow classmate Nanae Takahashi reassures her that it’s alright. Hana reveals to her friends that she’s having trouble speaking with her classmates, and so, Tamate, Eiko and Kamuri introduces Hana to the others in her class. With summer approaching, the girls go shopping for swimsuits, and later, Hana musters the courage to speak with Nanae. Hana learns that Nanae is responsible for managing the school flower garden and promising to see the flowers bloom with her. On the day that the girls were scheduled to hit the beach, an unexpected rainstorm rolls in. Eiko and Kamuri suggest to a crying Hana and Tamate that they wear their swimsuits indoors, and invite Hiroe to join them when she drops by with lychees. Shion later reveals that she’s got tickets to a nearby pool at a hotel. While Hana learns to swim, Shion and Hiroe take a massage. Hana, Kamuri and Tamate forget a change of clothes, and Shion provides some questionable replacements for them.

Taking the time to delve into other aspects of Hana’s world outside of her concerns about the age gap that separates her from her friends (and the corresponding doubts), Slow Start has shifted largely to exploring more of Hana’s growth in interacting with other characters, as well as presenting more about the other characters. Time is spent following Eiko, whose dynamics with instructor Kiyose are interesting, to say the least, and who also opens up to Hana, indicating just how far their friendship has come since Slow Start‘s beginning. By showing the increasing extent that Hana’s friends trust her, Slow Start aims to set the stage for the, perhaps unsurprising, revelation that the age gap that Hana worries about simply is not an issue. Making an honest effort to support her friends, Hana also begins maturing when she seizes the initiative to learn more about her other classmates. It is therefore possible that there will come a point where Hana herself will develop the confidence to let Tamate, Eiko and Kamuri about her situation. Because of this progression, Slow Start has moved in a different direction: everyday misadventures are now the norm in Slow Start, with more humour being presented as the girls end up spending more time together. Slow Start is thus moving in a more familiar manner, dealing with the ordinary experiences for each of Hana, Eiko, Tamate and Kamuri, although unlike other Manga Time Kirara works, there is something that sets Slow Start apart from other works of its origin: in a manner of speaking, Slow Start resembles Hinako Note to some extent.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Slow Start submits that if anyone can pull off the multiple hair-pin look, it’d be Eiko. Unlike the Slow Start posts that I’ve written up until now, this one will feature thirty images as opposed to the usual twenty. This is not because there’s inherently more content to discuss in Slow Start‘s third quarter, but because there are some moments in the ninth episode that are worth sharing: very few discussions out there about Slow Start exist.

  • The very few discussions that exist primarily deal with the characters, whether they be Eiko’s growing feelings for Kiyose or Tamate’s fixation on wandering around without clothing, as well as episode summaries, but otherwise do not delve into anything more substantial. Early speculation supposed that Hana would quickly be forgotten in favour of the more colourful characters, similar to how Akari Akaza of Yuru Yuri was left behind, but considering the anime’s premise and theme, this was unlikely to ever be the case.

  • Eiko’s night with Kiyose is initially the subject of a bit of mystery, but through flashback, audiences learn that Eiko spent the night looking after Kiyose, who had a few drinks too many and ended up hammered as a result. Kiyose is generally quite cold towards Eiko, and having grown accustomed to being able to win over the hearts and minds of those around her, Eiko develops a bit of interest in trying to conquer Kiyose, as well.

  • Eiko’s thoughts reveal that she regards capturing the attention of those around her as a game of conquest, one in which she’s never lost until she’d met Kiyose, who manages to surprise her at every turn. I’ve heard some folks claim that the interactions between Kiyose and Eiko have resulted in Slow Start being banned in some areas, but having seen the contents of Slow Start up until now, there’s really nothing about Eiko and Kiyose, or the remainder of the cast and their stories, that make the series worth banning.

  • Back in Slow Start, Eiko’s heart skips a beat when she speaks with Kiyose about a necklace she’s wearing. Hana is completely out in the dark as to what’s going on, and Eiko decides to take her to a secret spot to share in what’s happening.

  • The secret turns out to be an innocuous one; Eiko’s simply fond of making crafts, and her mother sells them in her shop. It brought her great joy to see them being worn, but Eiko decides not to let Kiyose know that they’re of her making. Most of the seventh episode’s setup with Eiko is intended to provide viewers with an idea of who she is, and that despite having known Hana for the shortest period, she’s now familiar enough to share a secret with her. Having spoken with Hana now, Eiko feels a bit more comfortable with letting Kamuri and Tamate know, as well, hinting at Hana’s own path to letting her friends know of her situation.

  • The page quote for this Slow Start talk comes from The Fellowship of The Ring at Bilbo’s birthday party, where he announces that he knows half of his party’s attendees half as well as he’d like, and he likes less than half of them half as much as they deserve. The relevance of this line to Slow Start is found in Hana, who feels like she knows half of her class half as well as she’d like. I do not believe the other half of the statement really applies to Slow Start: this particular remark has caused a bit of confusion amongst the readers as well as the party-goers in The Fellowship of The Ring, but using a bit of logic, it could be taken to mean “of the half he does know well, he should like them a bit more”.

  • After she freezes in fright while trying to speak with Nanae, Hana voices her concerns to her friends; despite longing to try her hand at speaking with everyone at least once, Hana still feels a bit nervous. Thanks to Eiko and Tamate, Hana has a chance to properly introduce herself to everyone in her class, and during the course of lunch, speaks with her classmates. Each of Hana’s classmates are uniquely designed and likely have different voice actors: this is indicative of the effort that went into Slow Start.

  • Eiko speaks with Tsubaki, another classmate who is quiet and reserved. She has a profound love for salmon – a piece is just visible in this screenshot of her eating an onigiri. High in protein, with a distinct, oily flavour, salmon is delicious and can be prepared in a myriad of ways: my favourite is a baked salmon with a BBQ sauce glase and black peppers. Back in Slow Start, Tsubaki unexpectedly makes off with Tamate at breakneck speed, and no explanation is offered as to what prompts this. It’s a bit out of place, and with no context offered, one imagines that it’s done purely for comedic effect.

  • While Kiyose might be disinterested in her profession as a teacher and distant from her students, there are occasions where she offers sound advice. Here, she shares a few words with Hana, commenting on how she’s glad that Hana’s found her place with Tamate, Eiko and Kamuri and that she needn’t force herself to be more sociable so quickly. Kiyose gently encourages Hana to move at her own pace, a far cry from the trolling that she is wont to dispense on Eiko.

  • To the right is Nanae Takahashi, one of Hana’s classmates who is assigned to help her with the daily duties. Nanae’s voice actress is not published anywhere at the time of writing, but she’s voiced by Inori Minase (GochiUsa‘s Chino Kafuu, Chito of Girls’ Last Tour); aural characteristics from Chino’s voice are just noticeable when she speaks. While not much more of Nanae’s personality is presented in Slow Start, it stands to reason that she’s responsible and friendly. Besides being voiced by Chino, there is one other aspect about Nanae that stands out, and it would not be unwelcome to see her interacting with Hana and her friends with a greater frequency.

  • While Tamate is usually happy-go-lucky and boisterous, her disposition sours whenever asset size is brought to the table: unlike the others, Tamate is True Level. True Level refers to a hypothetical surface where every point on that surface is perpendicular to the direction of force due to gravity. In other words, it is a perfectly flat surface: in my colloquial usage, I’m accustomed to using it to describe something that is flawless owing to its usage in Rick and Morty, but in this case, Tamate’s True Level is not exactly a compliment.

  • Enjoying the shade under the warm sun, Tamate, Hana, Kamuri and Eiko’s thoughts turn towards summer and the attendant activities. However, everyone’s in need of new swimming attire, so the girls decide to hit a local shop and browse around for swimsuit. Prices seem to vary greatly depending on what one picks, and while anime like Locodol or Amanchu depict characters as being hesitant to buy new swimsuits on the basis of price, most anime will skate over the prices in favour of using the experience as an opportunity for the characters to try on swimsuits for the audience’s enjoyment.

  • Eiko seems to wear any swimsuit well and has no trouble picking one out. Eiko dismisses Tamate’s attempts to figure out if she’s wearing anything underneath while trying in various swimsuits, and at this point, I began wondering what became of my life, if I’d fallen to watching shows such as this. With this being said, it’s not as though the whole of Slow Start is like this, so it would be unfair to make any conclusions about the anime based merely on a few scenes. Ever-bashful, Hana is reluctant to show her friends, but they barge in and find that there’s nothing out of the ordinary.

  • Kamuri, meanwhile, has managed to find one to her liking, leaving Tamate, who tries on a variety of unusual (and impractical) swimsuits. While I find Tamate to be similar to Girls und Panzer‘s Yukari in mannerisms, there are key differences – Tamate is fond of things that stand out, while Yukari prefers practicality. While shopping for swimsuits with Miho and company, Yukari recommends a wetsuit of the same variety used by the SAS and Navy Seals, but ends up choosing a swimsuit with a military camouflage pattern.

  • While not shown here in this discussion, Hana grows a bit flustered and starts flailing her arms around, causing the others to imagine her as penguin-like. Similar to other anime of its class, Slow Start makes use of chibis and distinct visual cues to capture how a character is feeling. The next morning, Hana finds Nanae, who is tending to the school’s flower garden. Capitalising on the moment, Hana shares a conversation with her and agrees to view the flowers with Nanae once they begin blooming.

  • When a rainstorm forces the girls to discard their plan to hit the beach, Hana bursts into tears. It’s a bloody riot to see this happen, and audiences get the sense that  A bit of lateral thinking from Eiko and Kamuri sees the girls switch into their swimsuits, where they plan to spend the day at Hana’s. Eiko decides to capitalise on the moment to ask Hana a question related to their coursework, and here, Tamate becomes salty after she attempts to prank Eiko: it turns out that string is merely a joke and has no structural value. Later, Tamate becomes salty about being True Level, lending itself to the ninth episode’s unusual title.

  • When Hiroe shows up with a basket of lychees to share with the girls, she’s shocked to see everyone in their swimsuits. Eiko immediately seizes the moment to strip down Hiroe and give her a swimsuit of her own – the end result is something that Tamate enjoys gazing upon. I note here that I’ve seen enough anime and related media to roughly know what Tamate is talking about, whenever she starts mentioning events and flags, even if I myself are not versed in visual novels to any capacity.

  • I live in a completely different universe; events are actions that software recognise, and a flag is a boolean value that indicates a state that can either be true XOR false. These are used to handle conditions and can make code more readable/maintainable (as opposed to using nested conditionals). On closer inspection, boolean flags, in representing conditions, is likely what propagated into visual novel jargon, since they similarly are used to trigger specific events within the game. For the reader’s benefit, here is what Hana and the others are seeing.

  • After Hiroe gets past her initial embarrassment, she settles down with the others and share the fresh lychees. Kamuri soon starts using them as a euphemism for papilla mammaria, which have been mentioned in previous episodes, as well. Such topics seem far removed from the sort of thing that Hana is comfortable with, but she seems to roll with them as they occur. Here, the girls react in a variety of ways when Shion decides to drop by. After seeing everyone in their swimsuits, she peaces out, leading Hana to wonder what will happen next. A quick glance at everyone’s eyebrows immediately allows one to work out what each of Hiroe, Kamuri, Eiko, Hana and Tamate are feeling at this moment.

  • As it turns out, Shion’s merely headed off to change, and announces that she’s got tickets to a hotel’s swimming pool, which in turn corresponds with an opportunity for Hana to learn how to swim. When asked about the possibility of being seen outside, Shion responds that the three-second rule applies here: it’s a basketball phrase referring to a player’s positioning in the restricted area, and in the context of Slow Start, simply means that Shion did not linger for long outside.

  • While Hiroe attempts to take off, Shion invites her along to join the others, much to Hiroe’s embarrassment. As Hiroe finds herself roped into things, I’ll go on a tangent here and remark that I’ve unlocked all of the basic variants of the new weapons in Battlefield 1‘s Apocalypse DLC: the new lMG 08/18 is said to be a beast of a weapon that gives the Parabellum MG 14/17 a run for its money, and I’ve also set off on my quest to unlock the Howell Rifle’s sniper variant, which features a good set of optics for long-range shooting. In The Division, I’ve reached World Tier 5 and have a gear score of 275, a major upgrade from my starting gear score of 177 from two weeks back. I’ve managed to get a few exotics, as well – besides finishing exploration of Manhattan and finishing off the remaining side quests, I should also give resistance missions a whirl as time allows.

  • Thus, despite a day of rain shutting out any opportunity to swim in the ocean, Hana and her friends are able to enjoy swimming at the next best option. Hana’s evidently been excited about things, practising keeping her face underwater while bathing, hence her initial disappointment that their original trip to the beach was rained out. Going into this episode, I imagined that their antics would soon be broken up by sunshine, but Slow Start defied my expectations and took things in a different direction that ended up working quite nicely.

  • One of the main reasons why I’ve not gone swimming for quite some time is my aversion to chloramines, which result from the interaction between chlorine and various excretions. The smell lingers long after I’ve left the pool and for me, it’s quite unpleasant (although for some folks, it evokes summer imagery). In Jay Ingram’s The Science of Why II, one of the questions the book addresses is how much urine there is in a pool, and the answer is “too much”. Although urine is not pathogenic, it can cause irritation of skin and respiratory systems.

  • While Hana and the others swim, Shion and Hiroe get massages at a spa. It’s an opportunity for the two to share a conversation, and I’ll leave readers with yet another screenshot of Shion, who is enjoying the massage. I would feature a similar screenshot of Hiroe, but it was already tricky enough to pick the right screenshots for this post without going over the limit.

  • When Hana accidentally drops Eiko’s bracelet into the pool, she prepares to dive in to retrieve it, but gets stuck in a small inner tube before she can do anything else. Her friends extricate her from the situation, and Eiko expresses gratitude that Hana was thinking of them ahead of her own concerns, even if the inner tube would have prevented Hana from actually getting to the bottom of the pool. A small bit of trivia is that I used to be uncomfortable around deep water in pools until I familiarised myself with treading water and understood concepts of buoyancy.

  • I’m actually a bit surprised that there can be enough to talk about for a Slow Start post featuring thirty screenshots, especially considering that 46.67 percent of it is fanservice. The next Slow Start talk I write will deal with the series as a whole and will also have thirty screenshots, since I’ll be dealing with thematic elements and the like. I’ll be using that additional space to flesh out what my final impressions of the anime are in greater detail, so there will be more relevant screenshots and discussion than present in this here talk.

  • When Tamate and Hana realise they’d forgotten to bring a change of clothes, they exude a visibly gloomy aura. “Fortunately”, Shion is on station to provide assistance. While such an oversight is unlikely and perhaps laughable, we consider that everyone was quite excited for an opportunity to swim and in the heat of the moment, simply forgot. Eiko, on the other hand, is prepared and is spared the trouble of having to count on Shion’s replacements.

  • The gear that Shion’s brought is questionable, certainly not suitable for me to show here if I wish to stay in the search engine’s good graces. I’ll leave it to readers to watch the episode for themselves to see what I mean when I say this, and also ask why such impractical clothing even exists, when it is quite clear that such clothing looks very uncomfortable on top of being embarrassing.

  • This brings my Slow Start post to an end, right as the first weekend of March draws to a close. Looking ahead into March, the first few weeks are going to be exceptionally busy, so my posting schedule will be on hiatus until I sort these things out. Later this month, I will be returning to write about Slow Start‘s finale, as well as the finale for Yuru Camp△. On top of this, there will also be a post dealing with the final act of CLANNAD, alongside a special post for Girls und Panzer: Das Finale‘s first episode.

While Hinako Note and Slow Start have differing premises, both anime share an uncommonly shy protagonist whose goal is to improve her self-confidence. Both works also feature a noticeable emphasis on elements that are more suggestive in nature. In Hinako Note, I found it to be quite unnecessary, as it contributed little to the main narrative. In contrast, Slow Start seems to drive some of the girls’ conversations based around this sort of material; from pantsu to papilla mammaria, Tamate and Eiko do not shy away from bringing these topics out into open discussion. It comes across as a bit unusual, considering the initial premise of the anime (I personally found the anime to feel like GochiUsa right up until this sort of thing is mentioned), but now that such matters are more established in Slow Start, it is not unreasonable to suppose that Eiko and Tamate simply a bit more candid about what they talk about. While perhaps somewhat off-putting, it also drives the humour somewhat, providing something outrageous for Hana to react to; an exasperated Hana is bloody hilarious. Consequently, for Slow Start, mention and portrayal of risqué topics does not end up impeding the narrative, even if it can seem as out-of-place in the presence of characters like Hana and Kamuri; I certainly won’t hold it against Slow Start, since they’ve integrated this more seamlessly into the story than Hinako Note, and looking ahead, I’m curious to see what the remaining quarter has in store for viewers, as well as whether or not the thematic elements I’ve been speculating about are in fact what Slow Start was aiming to present to audiences.

Yuru Camp△: Review and Reflection at the ¾ Mark

“There’s no room for bravado when you’re alone in the bush.” –Les Stroud

After their arrival at Lake Shibire, Nadeshiko and Rin set up their tents, with Nadeshiko positively terrified of the legend of a bull spirit at the lake. Evening soon sets in, and the two begin preparing their dinner; Rin has difficulty igniting her coals, and Nadeshiko recruits assistance from a pair of fellow campers. With his suggestion, Rin is able to light a warm fire and prepares the chicken skewers, sharing some with the other two campers as thanks. In return, the camper and his sister provide Rin and Nadeshiko with jambalaya. Rin later runs into what appears to be the bull spirit and has the living daylights frightened out of her. Scared beyond all measure, she takes refuge inside Nadeshiko’s tent, but it turns out that this was merely the camper’s sister attempting to sober up. Back at school, exam season is in full swing, and procrastinating from her studies, Chiaki prepares a cooking set for use with hot food. She had earlier purchased a lacquered wooden bowl and skillet; using the school’s facilities, she removes the lacquer and seasons the skillet. After their examination period is over, Nadeshiko visits a local outdoors sporting equipment store with Chiaki and Aoi. On the eve of a camping trip with Rin, Nadeshiko falls ill and implores Rin to go on ahead without her; Rin decides to travel to a campsite in Ina, but finds that her shortest route is inaccessible. After speaking with some mountain climbers, she allows Nadeshiko to guide her travels, recalling her grandfather’s advice about how the most enjoyable trips can often arise from an open mind. While Chiaki visits Nadeshiko to give her a get-well gift and ends up cooking houtou for the entire Kagamihara family, Rin visits a temple, soaks in an onsen and enjoys a delicious katsu before oversleeping, much to her consternation.

Aside from camping itself, Yuru Camp△ has done much to present more on the personalities of each of the supporting characters, as well as continuing to explore knowledge in its run. Up until now, audiences have only seen Chiaki and Aoi’s personalities in the passing, but with a full episode dedicated towards their interactions at school, viewers gain more insight into both Chiaki and Rin. At the three-quarters mark, it is apparent that Chiaki is spirited and resourceful. Her engrossment with camping and know-how prove generally successful, and while she occasionally misses a step from excitement (such as forgetting to soak her newly de-lacquered bowl in vinegar to remove the residues), she’s able to make the most of her surroundings to prepare her equipment. The slow, methodical pace that Yuru Camp△ takes in presenting this process is instructive, and as such, Yuru Camp△ has proven to be surprisingly worthy of being counted as Survivorman The Anime. The additional time with Aoi also shows that despite her soft-spoken, gentle nature, she’s pragmatic and will not hesitate to set Chiaki straight if the need arises. This side of her personality comes from her having a younger sister. Between Chiaki’s resourcefulness and Aoi’s practical approach, they serve as a bit of a foil for Nadeshiko’s free spirit and also suggests that, despite what Rin might think now, the two will get along with Rin quite well as their paths cross. Exploring Chiaki and Aoi’s personalities thus set the stage for their eventual camping trip together – while Rin is unaware of this, audiences are being primed to expect what Rin will count as an unexpected, but welcome friendship with the remainder of the Outdoors Activity Club.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I wonder how many readers I lost and/or offended over the past half-month, what with the seemingly endless stream of posts about The Division and Battlefield 1. For those brave (or foolish) enough to have remained behind, you are rewarded with a return to what might constitute as standard fare for this blog: a talk on Yuru Camp△ now that we’re nine episodes in. I love the composition of this moment, as Nadeshiko and Rin make their way around the lake to their camp. The bright, welcoming light on the left, where their campsite is, stands in stark contrast to the foreboding dark of the right side.

  • The majestic autumn scenery is what I was aiming to showcase in my last post, but Rin and Nadeshiko only arrive in the sixth episode’s latter half. Rin gently teases Nadeshiko with the story of a bull spirit in the area, and suggests that she sleep earlier to avoid the wrath of the ghost. With their tents set up, Nadeshiko wonders about Rin’s tent, which has a different design to hers. Rin’s tent is a suspended type, whereas Nadeshiko rolls with a sleeve type. Yuru Camp△ explains that although the latter is more economical, with experience, the setup times for both tents are quite similar.

  • Rin’s brought white charcoal (備長炭, romaji binchō-tan) to use for her campfire; burning with a lower temperature than standard charcoal that allows it to last longer, the charcoal is also suited for cooking because it does not impart a sooty flavour into foods. Slow to ignite, Rin exhausts her fire-starter and is out of ideas, but Nadeshiko manages to bring in assistance from two campers she’d met earlier: an approachable gentleman and his sister, who’s fond of drinking herself into oblivion.

  • White charcoal can take upwards of half an hour to heat up to the point where it can be used to cook, and guides out there recommend what the gentleman has done: using another charcoal to provide the initial heat source is what’s needed to light white charcoal. Besides Rin’s grill, Nadeshiko had also brought her propane stove, allowing the two to prepare nabe on top of their yakiniku. While Rin tends to the grilling of meat, Nadeshiko sets up her nabe, and soon, dinner is ready.

  • As thanks, Rin and Nadeshiko bring some of their food over to share with the siblings. They receive some jumbalaya in return and savour the diverse flavours of their dinner under darkening skies. It turns out that the woman who’s smashed is actually an instructor at Minobu high school; one of the elements in anime such as Yuru Camp△ is that all characters who are introduced are introduced for a reason, playing some sort of role in the narrative. The older gentleman that Chiaki encountered while scouting locations for a future camping trip, for instance, happens to be Rin’s grandfather, a veteran camper who inspired Rin to take up the hobby.

  • Why is grilled meat as tasty and delicious as it is? The answer lies in something called the Maillard Reaction, a reaction between the constituent amino acids and long-chain carbohydrates in the meat that causes visible browning and a distinct, savoury flavour. From an evolutionary perspective, we developed a liking for this flavour because it is indicative of cooking, which increases the accessibility of nutrients within the food.

  • For each Yuru Camp△ post I’ve written so far, I’ve managed to feature at least one screenshot of the happy campers resting by a campfire during the night. This is not expected to change for the finale post. The finale, however, does not mark the end of Yuru Camp△: there’s an OVA that will release on March 28 accompanying the first BD/DVD volume. This special will follow the Outdoors Activity Club prior to Nadeshiko’s arrival.

  • The darkness causes Nadeshiko’s mind to wander back to the bull spirit, and she wishes to sleep beside Rin as a security measure. Rin remarks that her tent isn’t capable of accommodating two, and Nadeshiko returns to her own tent. Later, Rin makes for the bathroom, and in one of Yuru Camp△‘s most hilarious moments, finds herself face-to-face with a “ghost”. She bolts off and makes for Nadeshiko’s tent. I’ve deliberately chosen to leave out the screenshots and will encourage readers to check this moment out for themselves if they’ve not already done so. This moment also prompts the page quote from Les Stroud: in survival, bravado is not a priority compared to making it out alive, and for Rin, she learns that sometimes, it’s okay to swallow her pride.

  • Had Rin been camping solo, this certainly would not have been possible, and similarly, Rin would’ve likely continued to struggle lighting her charcoals earlier were it not for Nadeshiko’s bringing a fellow camper for help. Here, Yuru Camp△ shows that Rin is a very structured individual who does things by the book, but her weakness is not having the mindset to deal with unexpected situations. This is something that people of the ISTJ temperament face – the solution is to be more open-minded and deal with things as they come, rather than relying entirely on plans and backup plans. It thus becomes clear that Nadeshiko and Rin complement one another: Rin’s organisation and skill helps Nadeshiko get on track, while Nadeshiko’s open-mindedness and adaptiveness allows her to help Rin when the latter becomes stuck.

  • With her boundless energy and desire for experiences, Nadeshiko decides to take a boat back across the lake, waving in a spirited manner at Rin, who waves back. This camping trip is the point where Rin opens up to being with Nadeshiko, and while her words might not indicate thus, she’s definitely accepted Nadeshiko now, as seen in her smile. The scenery here is, again, top-notch: the water looks as detailed as it does in the Frostbite Engine, with its reflections and ripples.

  • To augment their camping experience, Chiaki’s brought a wooden bowl and cast-iron skillet; her excitement at putting them to use means she spends a bit of time preparing them in favour of studying for their upcoming exams. Aoi shows a hitherto unseen side to her personality here, reprimanding Chiaki and reminding her to hit the books. Aki Toyosaki’s characters, such as Yui Hirasawa, are usually quite absent-minded and carefree, but Aoi, like Hanasaku Iroha‘s Nako Oshimizu, is reliable and focused despite her soft-spoken demeanor.

  • The procedure outlined in Yuru Camp△ for seasoning a cast-iron skillet is accurately presented: seasoning is the process whereby a layer of oil is overlaid on top of the iron and heated. The heating process causes the oil to polymerise and bond to the iron, forming a natural layer that prevents sticking. The process requires three steps: after giving the skillet a cleaning to ensure there are no residues, a layer of oil is applied and heated. The process is then repeated to form a more substantial layer. Any unsaturated oil can be used: I’ve heard complaints that Chiaki’s choice of olive oil is uneconomical, but this is besides the point, as it still unsaturated. Saturated fats, such as lard or shortening, also work, but are trickier to apply.

  • While we may share a cruel laugh at both Aoi and Chiaki for burning themselves, the fact is that great care must be taken around heated elements: hot surfaces do not visibly indicate themselves as thus and exposes users to the risk of burns if caution is not exercised. The Survivorman aspects of Yuru Camp△ are impressive, and while some episodes focus more heavily on character growth, the series overall strikes a fine balance between characters and details. Back in Yuru Camp△, Aoi and Chiaki’s misfortunate does not last; their burns are very minor, and fall to the back of their minds as Ena arrives and discuss their new substitute instructor. Ena also expresses an interest in camping with the Outdoors Activity Club.

  • Exams are finally over, and Aoi’s done reasonably well, while Nadeshiko manages a satisfactory performance. Chiaki, on the other hand, squeaks by. With the winter break ahead, the girls decide to visit an outdoors sporting goods store in order to pick up sleeping pads: pricier ones can reach 150 CAD, but basic foam pads can go for as little as 25 CAD. Their advantage is as Rin stated – they prevent wear and tent on the tent floor and also provides insulation from the ground, which is especially important considering that the girls are camping in winter.

  • After arriving in Minobu, the girls walk through the main street and reach a warehouse: this is the Caribou shop that gives the eighth episode its name. I’ve taken a cursory look around, and to the  there’s no indicator that such a shop exists in the area. My best guess is that Caribou is probably based off another shop in a different location, but it is equally possible that I could simply not be looking hard enough.

  • Nadeshiko becomes enamoured with a small gas lamp, and after learning of the price from a clerk, decides not to buy it at the present: the one she eyes runs for 5000 Yen. She subsequently resolves to take up a part-time job to fund her activities and consents to take a picture of it while it’s lit. The interior of Caribou reminds me a great deal of Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s and even Canadian Tire: these shops form the bulk of where most of my outdoors equipment comes from, and it’s always fun to browse through these shops to see what they’ve got.

  • As seen at Caribou, the amount of equipment one could potentially bring with them on an outdoors trip is limitless: Nadeshiko, Chiaki and Aoi spend an entire afternoon browsing around all of the different items available for purchase at Caribou. Folks bring different types of gear with them depending on the nature of their adventure. With this being said, Les Stroud has long stated in Survivorman that one could survive reasonably well with a multi-tool, hatchet, a pot, some string and a fishing tackle, with an optional harmonica to bolster one’s morale.

  • Chiaki, Nadeshiko and Aoi check out a screen-house on display: more basic variants can run for 90 CAD, with higher end designs costing 400 CAD. While unsuited for the sort of camping that the Outdoors Activity Club partake in, they are usually used for providing a bit of shelter for groups to relax under, and I’ve most frequently seen screen-houses being used by folks who are camping with an RV. RVs are not particularly popular in Japan owing to parking costs, but the open spaces of Hokkaido are more conducive for folks looking to have such trips in Japan.

  • After they pick up their sleeping pads, Aoi, Nadeshiko and Chiaki stop to buy some manju back in town, and enjoy them on a bench overlooking the Fuji River. This particular angle is roughly 271 meters from the truss bridge spanning the Fuji River. I note here that I’m well aware of Nadeshiko appearing in a Google Maps equivalent earlier in the episode, but I’ve chosen not to include this moment. Now is also a good time to mention that at some point in the future, I will be returning to do an Armchair Tour of the locations in Yuru Camp△.

  • Nadeshiko’s enjoyment of food knows no bounds, and she finishes off her manju without realising it. She subsequently dashes off to buy more for her family, with Aoi doing the same, leaving Chiaki to look after their stuff. It typifies Yuru Camp△‘s ability to draw out and depict in great detail the subtleties of moments that we often take for granted in life – I am fond of slice-of-life anime for this particular reason, since it’s a reminder to stop and smell the metaphorical roses when life itself is hectic and highly-paced.

  • When Nadeshiko falls ill on the eve of a camping trip with Rin during Christmas, she begs in to continue in her stead, and Rin decides to attempt another long-distance trip on her moped to Ina in Nagano, south of Lake Suwa. Her use of Google Maps leaves her face-to-face with a roadblock; the way is shut to preserve the natural surroundings from human impact. While viewers may laugh, it’s an important lesson not to rely entirely on mapping software and GPS, given that they may not always be fully accurate; while the online mapping tools, like Google Maps, have become incredibly sophisticated thanks to large data sets, one should still carry their wits about them and use common sense.

  • While the unexpected closure and prospect of travelling back down the mountain frustrates Rin, she decides to stop and take stock of her situation, buying a warm drink and sipping it before making her next move. She runs into some climbers, who share with her some hōjicha, a green tea unique in being prepared by being roasted in porcelain over charcoal rather than being steamed. This process imparts on the tea a sweeter flavour, and also reduces the caffeine content in the tea. The climber recommends this tea to Rin, as it provides her with a warm drink that won’t keep her awake.

  • After parting ways with the climbers, Rin takes in the view from a balcony behind the Tsuetsuki Teahouse, which affords her with a spectacular view of the valley below. Besides its free observation deck, the Tsuetsuki Teahouse is also known for serving excellent coffee. Throughout the episode, and Yuru Camp△ as a whole, SMS conversations between the various characters are interspersed into the show; messages normally do not convey how a character is feeling during a conversation, so Yuru Camp△ makes use of voices to accentuate the feelings of each member in a conversation. Nadeshiko spiritedly suggests navigating for Rin, and Rin soon notices that Nadeshiko’s tone has changed, working out that Chiaki’s come to visit Nadeshiko, as well.

  • While Nadeshiko is on the mend and wishes to join Rin, Sakura firmly declines, stating that Nadeshiko needs her rest. Later, Chiaki pays her a visit and bids her a speedy recovery, also bringing with her some hōtō noodles. With their origins in Yamanashi, hōtō noodles are stewed flat udon noodles with a much heartier quality than standard udon noodles. Nadeshiko is excited at the prospect of having authentic hōtō prepared by a Yamanashi native, and her anticipation is shared by both her father and mother. Feeling that she can no longer half-heartedly put something quick together for Nadeshiko, with her pride as a Yamanashi native at stake, Chiaki quickly looks up a recipe and gets to work.

  • While Chiaki is busy preparing hōtō for the Kagamiharas, Rin visits the Kozen-ji temple, best known for the Legend of Sotaro. She imagines it to be a temple dedicated to puppies, but is disappointed upon seeing a ferocious-looking depiction of Sotaro, the wolf spirit who defeats a monkey-like monster to save a lady from being sacrificed. While exploring the temple grounds, which is open to visitors free of charge, Rin encounters a sign that warns of bears and wolves: for her stoic nature and love of the outdoors, here is another mark that Rin is uncomfortable with wildlife.

  • Rin encounters dog-shaped souvenirs containing fortunes, and after a brief internal conflict as to whether or not she should buy one for 500 Yen, ends up caving. One element in this scene I found amusing was how the dogs seem to shift in angle as to appear to be staring at her. She ends up with average fortune, which is consistent with her travels: while Rin seems to run into her share of challenges, an open-mindedness allows her to nonetheless make the most of things.

  • The whole of the Kagamihara family enjoys the hōtō noodles that Chiaki puts together. Nadeshiko’s mother and father are introduced here, with her father being ill from the same cold that hit Nadeshiko. Both he and Nadeshiko’s mother are friendly folk who enjoy food the same way that Nadeshiko does. Sakura’s reaction troubles Chiaki until she reveals that she also enjoys the noodles immensely. Everyone in the family has brown hair, but Nadeshiko’s pink hair stands out: while some folks are troubled by this, armed with my knowledge of Mendelian genetics, we can work things out without much difficulty. Red hair is caused by the MC1R gene, and for the sake of discussion, we suppose that pink hair in anime works similarly to red hair. We let B represent the dominant gene for brown hair and b be the recessive gene for red/pink hair. Nadeshiko expresses the pink hair phenotype and has the bb phenotype; in a Punnett Square, we can work out that both Nadeshiko’s parents must be heterozygous Bb (otherwise, the recessive bb cannot be expressed). So, this simple test shows that there’s no funny business occuring, which should put some minds at ease.

  • After visiting Kozen-ji, Rin decides to soak in an onsen, before watching a minor scuffle between Chiaki and Nadeshiko unfold over what Rin should have for lunch. Rin decides to go for a katsu, and I’m left to wonder where exactly Rin has gone. A cursory glance around the area suggest she’s at the Nakayama Tranquil Hot Springs Inn, across the road from the Kozen-ji. If this is the case, Rin’s picked an excellent spot to visit: visitors report a beautiful outdoors hot springs and fantastic food.

  • Despite their distance, Chiaki and Nadeshiko’s communications with Rin act as a bit of a warm-up for Rin to become acclimatised to Chiaki’s presence, despite her initial annoyance with Chiaki for showing up. I imagine that Rin’s reluctance to join the Outdoors Activity Club is largely because of Chiaki; she seems more likely to get along with Aoi, but as with Nadeshiko before her, once Rin is accustomed to Chiaki over electronic communications, she will likely make a more honest effort to get to know her better, which sets the stage for the camping trip with everyone.

  • Rin dozes off after her lunch and has a rather unusual dream before awakening to realise she’s overslept after savouring her katsu. Like grilled meat, there is a joy about eating deep-fried food despite their health risks: the evolutionary reason for this is because deep-fried food has a very high fat content. Fat molecules in fatty foods enhance flavours and also stimulate our taste buds – our sense of taste favours fatty foods because in moderation, lipids are essential in neurological development. This is why after enjoying fried chicken, as I’ve done on this rather snowy Saturday (there’s a fresh 20 cm of snow on the ground outside right now), we feel particularly content, enough to want to close our eyes and rest – as Rin did, I’m going to end this post right here, right now.

Having spent a camping trip with Nadeshiko, Rin herself also demonstrates a surprising side to her personality – well accustomed to being on her own, her happenstance meeting with what appeared to be a yurei and subsequent retreat into Nadeshiko’s tent shows that she’s appreciative of being with someone else now, and sets in motion the slow change in Rin’s perspective. When she plans out a second camping trip with Nadeshiko, it’s a hint that she’s beginning to accept Nadeshiko as a friend; even when Nadeshiko falls ill, Rin decides to take a very Nadeshiko-like approach towards camping, taking things as they come. By asking Nadeshiko to drive her travels, Rin is attempting to both give Nadeshiko the sense that she’s there with Rin on her travels, as well as giving herself the sense that Nadeshiko is accompanying her with her energy. It’s a marked change from the start of Yuru Camp△, and with Ena planning on accompanying the Outdoors Activity Club on their next journey, the stage is set for each of the actors to converge on one more major camping trip that sees everyone together. Before that can happen, however, Rin’s current journey to Ina must continue, and it is clear that despite her going off-schedule, her newfound sense of open-mindedness will allow her to enjoy and make the most of her journey ahead. After nine episodes, Yuru Camp△ has not disappointed, and looks to finish strong with its remaining episodes: I’m definitely keeping a close eye on Yuru Camp△, which has served as this season’s go-to show for my catharsis.

Courting Hope: Revisiting Kyou and Tomoyo’s Arc in CLANNAD At The Ten Year Anniversary

“If the results come true, it’s as if there’s only one future. If it fails, we can think that other futures exist…I want to believe that in our future, there are many possibilities waiting.” –Kyou Fujibayashi

With the drama club acquiring the requisite number of members, Tomoya and Nagisa focus next on securing a club advisor, but when they speak with Toshio Koumura, they learn that he’s already the advisor of the choral club. Nagisa decides to stand down after she discovers a letter warning her to back off, and Tomoya decides to visit Yukine. Youhei believes that a basketball game where Tomoya is victorious could get the choral Club to reconsider, but Tomoya refuses. When Youhei’s sister, Mei visits, she worries for him and cleans up his room. As she cannot stay with him, she lodges with the Furukawas, and later, Tomoya agrees to the basketball game. Kyou decides to participate, as well, and the choral Club are brought in to watch. Tomoya’s team is off to a strong start against their rookies, but the basketball team decides to switch in their starting line, who even the scores out. Tomoya manages to score the final basket when he is spurred on by Nagisa, and the choral club consents to share their advisor with them. The Student Council intervenes and states that such an arrangement is prohibited, and later, Nagisa collapses in school, forcing her to rest at home. In this time, Kyou tries to bring Tomoya closer to Ryou and ends up trapped in the equipment storage room with him. Later, Tomoya decides that, if Tomoyo were to become president of the Student Council, the drama club’s fate could be turned around. When he speaks to her after class one day, some thugs appear with the intent of fighting her; to prevent her chances from being jeopardised, Tomoya takes the blame and is suspended. Tomoyo, Kyou, Ryou and Kotomi visit him, and when he returns, he decides that the best way to help Tomoyo is to have her help out with various sports clubs. Tomoya learns of Tomoyo’s reason to become president; she wishes to preserve the sakura trees on the walk to school as a promise to her brother. Nagisa returns to classes and watches a tennis game with Tomoya: Tomoyo is participating, and during the match, Tomoya inadvertently shows his devotion to Nagisa when a stray ball strikes her. Kyou and Ryou are heartbroken with this revelation.

Initially starting his journey out of a selfish desire to stave off boredom during his monotonous days, Tomoya’s quest to revive the drama club sees him investing a considerable amount of effort into making things work. As CLANNAD progresses through its next arc, the source of his determination and persistence begins to shift: evident in Kotomi’s arc, Tomoya is driven by intrigue and a sense of duty to do right by those around him. When he finds himself making a basket during a match after hearing Nagisa’s voice, he begins to develop a greater interest in Nagisa, whom he has regarded as a friend until now. The two seemingly complement one another, and Nagisa’s absence further accentuates this sense of mystery. Tomoya begins to wonder how he feels about her, and while she remains at home, he sets about doing what he can for her. When Tomoya seeks Tomoyo to help out with resurrecting the drama club, he puts his fullest efforts into working out ways of boosting Tomoyo’s reputation amongst the students. He learns from Tomoyo that she wanted to save the sakura trees for her family’s sake, and here, it is significant that he learns of this late in the game: this is intentionally done to show that Tomoya’s efforts are entirely driven by Nagisa, rather than purely by a desire to help and drive off monotony. The extent of his efforts remain strong even without Tomoyo’s exposition to really illustrate who his efforts are for. In this arc’s final moments, where instinct kicks in during the tennis match, what Kyou and Tomoyo have suspected is confirmed: Tomoya’s fallen in love with Nagisa.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Toshio Koumura is an older instructor at Hikarizaka Private High School. Behind his understanding demeanor lies exceptional wisdom and experience: as a teacher, he is able to motivate even the most disinterested students into turning their lives around and is credited with turning unruly students into people who care about the world around them. At Hikarizaka, he acted as the drama club’s advisor previously, and noticing that Tomoya and Youhei seemed unusual, guided the two along a better path from behind the scenes.

  • A conflict arises when Nagisa learns that Koumura is already acting as advisor to the choral club; Rie Nishina vehemently opposes the proposal to share Koumura between the two clubs. It turns out that Rie was once a talented violinist who had suffered an accident that left her unable to properly grip a violin. With her hopes of performing abroad dashed, she fell into a depression, but Koumura encouraged her to find another path in singing. Since then, she’s helmed the choral club and has rediscovered her happiness, so when Tomoya and the others ask her to consider sharing Koumura’s time, her best friend feels that Tomoya is threatening to take away the dream that Rie had worked so hard to reassemble.

  • Nagisa has a difficult time believing that Rie and her friends could be behind the note left in her desk; ever willing to see the best in everyone, Nagisa is kind to a fault, and in CLANNAD, a different side of her personality begins appearing late in the game. Although normally quiet and reserved, Nagisa can become quite animated and determined when the situation calls for it.

  • When Youhei manages to call out Sugisaka, Rie’s friend responsible for the note, Nagisa steps between the two to defuse an impending physical beating and promises to listen to whatever Sugisaka says. It is here that Rie’s story is made known: Youhei dismisses it as a call for sympathy, but Nagisa is visibly moved and agrees to stand down, leaving Youhei frustrated. Youhei’s remarks, seemingly tactless, mirror the audience’s perspectives that many of CLANNAD‘s moments come from characters with uncommonly difficult or even tragic backgrounds.

  • Tomoya explains to Nagisa that Youhei’s strong reaction to her decision in standing down is a consequence of his own past: he was formerly a soccer player who was forced to quit after fighting with a senior. Recalling Tomoya’s background, Nagisa begins crying, and Tomoya comforts her, feeling it the right thing to do. The golden light of the early evening and volumetric lighting suggests to audiences that Tomoya is touched by how selfless Nagisa is, marking the beginning of his interest in her, but before anything can happen, Kyou shows up and tears Tomoya a new one for having allowed Nagisa to stand down.

  • When Youhei suggests taking the fight to the choral club, Tomoya mentions that the act would further sadden Nagisa: it’s another subtle sign that he’s concerned for her. Youhei decides to slack off, but Tomoya takes him to the reference room, where Yukine suggests a basketball game, and later, runs into Tomoyo, who is accosted by members of the judo club. He extricates her from the situation, and earns Tomoyo’s thanks. In the process, this incident is what allows Tomoya to devise his solution later, having heard from Tomoyo her goals of running for the Student Council presidency.

  • In a bold move, Tomoya takes Nagisa by the hand and brings her outside of campus to evade Youhei, who is quite enthusiastic about the idea of a basketball game to turn the choral club around. When Youhei catches up, Nagisa lies that she’s seeing Tomoya, hence their need for space. It’s noteworthy that this is the first thing that comes to her mind; she’s willing to risk embarrassment to cover for Tomoya. Once Tomoya gets over his initial shock, written all over his face, he is happy that Nagisa is willing to go to these lengths for him. In the awkward silence following, both Tomoya and Nagisa wonder how to best react, showing that the feelings are probably mutual, even if both are too bashful to be forward at this point in time.

  • Things are interrupted when Mei, Youhei’s younger sister, shows up to visit. Mei plays a much larger role in CLANNAD ~After Story~; in CLANNAD, she visits for a few days to check up on Youhei, whom she considers as a bit of a rogue element. After gifting him something he does not need, Mei helps him clear up his room. However, because of the dormitory rules, Mei cannot lodge with Youhei, so the Furukawas agree to have her stay over.

  • Source documents indicate that Nagisa was born in 1984, and Tomoya in 1985. In 1984, the MacIntosh computer was release to the market, and the Sino-British Joint Declaration was announced to outline what would happen when Hong Kong would be handed back to China in 1997. A year later, Calvin and Hobbes began running in newspapers, and Mikhail Gorbachev replaced Konstantin Chernenko as the leader of the Soviet Union. While the Furukawas share dinner with Tomoya and Mei, a glance around the Furukawa’s home suggest that the anime is set in an older time: the dates are closer to the start of the new millenium – mobile phones have yet to be common, and televisions are still of the old CRT type.

  • In a previous comment, I remark that Valentines’ Day is something I am largely neutral about. Last year, I wrote a thought experiment wondering what a hypothetical date with someone like Nagisa would be like, and concluded that it would be possible to make things work. I had planned on doing a similar talk about Miho Nishizumi, but as her Meyer-Briggs personality type is similarly consistent with Nagisa’s, such a talk would have been exceptionally boring, differing only on what a date with Miho might entail. I would lean towards a museum, and given my choices, I suppose it speaks volumes about the sort of personality I’m drawn to. It’s a bit of a surprise as to just how quickly a year’s elapsed: during that thought experiment, I also announced that I would be revisiting CLANNAD. With this series of post very nearly in the books, I look ahead to next year and wonder about how ~After Story~ should best be handled, provided that I’ve still time to write about it.

  • Kyou and Tomoya take great fun in trolling the living daylights out of Youhei when they discuss the organisational structure of their team of three; Kyou mentions the master-slave dynamic, and I’m certain she’s not referring to the cooperation concept that I implemented for a multi-agent rescue robot simulation for my project. The scene is meant to indicate that Tomoya gets along with Kyou rather nicely: for their differences, they share a similar sense of humour, and while Kyou does her best to set Tomoya up with Ryou, she comes to see Tomoya as someone she can count on, a far cry from her initial distaste in him.

  • The confrontation between Kyou and Tomoyo is hilarious – it’s the first time the two clash, and while there’s no physical violence, it’s amusing to see Kyou outmaneuvered when Tomoyo implies that Kyou might have feelings for Tomoya. It is during this arc that Kyou begins trying to put Tomoya into more situations with Ryou, with the aim of helping Ryou bolster her confidence, and as she spends more time with the two, Kyou herself begins to realise she’s in love with Tomoya. The outcome of this is covered quite separately in an OVA, and in CLANNAD proper, is addressed at the appropriate time. Similarly, Tomoya’s efforts in helping Tomoyo secure presidency of the student council leads her to see him differently, and this is also covered in an OVA.

  • When Tomoya, Youhei and Kyou begin making the junior players look bad, the basketball team bring their top line into play. The equivalent of bringing an NHL team’s first line to bear against junior players, it’s deliberately unfair, done to preserve the basketball team’s integrity, and their skill quickly evens things out. When the score reaches a tie, Tomoya manages to make a shot despite his bad shoulder after hearing Nagisa’s voice, allowing his team to take the win. This is yet another sign that Nagisa is Tomoya’s special person; I am reminded of my MCAT and the encouraging conversations I had prior to my exam. In the years following, I’ve since counted entirely on my own skill and experience to carry the day: there’s no one in my corner offering this sort of encouragement, so I fall back on myself to get by.

  • In the aftermath of the match, the basketball team captain compliments Tomoya on his hand-eye coordination and remarks that even with his injury, he might still be valuable as an asset. It seems, however, that this particular competition was unsanctioned, and when an instructor finds them, the players and entire audience make a break for it. Later, Mei remarks that in spite of Youhei’s minimal contributions to the game, she nonetheless respects him for having put forth the effort. She departs on a high note.

  • Nagisa, ever considerate of those around her, has given Tomoya (and audiences) very little insight into her background: when she falls ill for the first time in CLANNAD, audiences do not initially make too much of a deal about it, since occasional illness is a common enough occurrence. Nagisa’s absence, while seemingly insubstantial early on, imparts a noticeable change on Tomoya and his friends. He becomes sullen, while Kyou decides to spur Ryou on in pursuing a relationship with Tomoya, all the while concealing her own accumulated feelings for him. Here, Tomoya, Kyou, Ryou and Kotomi visit the Furukawas, who update them on Nagisa’s status.

  • It pains me to say that, even though I’d bought CLANNAD a year ago during a Steam Sale, I’ve yet to actually touch it. I’ve heard that the visual novel is tougher than Halo‘s Legendary difficulty, and even puts DOOM‘s ultra-nightmare setting to shame: one mistake will send Tomoya to Davy Jones’ locker. One of my readers recommends playing through CLANNAD with a guide, and I’ll probably have to do just this, since I have no intention of dying in a game that can trade blows with Wolfire’s Receiver in difficulty. The timeline for this particular endeavour will likely be when my gaming rig can no longer keep up with contemporary titles – with Far Cry 5Metro: Exodus and Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown coming out this year alongside a new Battlefield title, I think that my machine’s finally met its match.

  • I’m looking at the housing market at present, so things like a new gaming rig will have to wait until things settle down, and while my current computer might not be able to run the latest and greatest, I still have a backlog I’ll need to get through, so CLANNAD will definitely be on my list of games to get into. Back in CLANNAD The Anime™, Ryou recoils in embarrassment, complete with infrared emissions and even steam, from one of Kyou’s remarks.

  • The issue of sharing an advisor with the choral club is settled, but with the arrangements in violation of school rules, Tomoya begins putting his backing behind Tomoyo’s campaign to run for the presidency of the Student Council. In exchange, she begins visiting him and Youhei each morning to encourage their punctual arrival to school, as a part of her campaign. While Youhei is constantly trying to fight her and gets his arse handed to him each time, Tomoya treats her as he does everyone else and ends up sharing meaningful conversations with her.

  • While carrying some volleyballs, Kyou runs into Tomoya after classes. Yukine had earlier shown Tomoya a charm, feeling that his feelings for someone is bothering him. It’s surprisingly specific, and it is quite telling that the first person Tomoya thinks of Nagisa. However, in her absence, Tomoya picks Kyou, feeling that the charm’s improbability means that things are unlikely to happen. His choice mirrors prevailing thoughts on the best person for Tomoya, as some find that Kyou’s fiery personality would be a good match for Tomoya’s grounded and practical mindset.

  • The charm ends up putting Kyou and Tomoya inside the storage room. Yukine refers to her spella as a charm, and under J.K. Rowling’s definitions used in Harry Potter, a charm is a spell that alters the properties of an object without changing it fundamentally. While CLANAND largely remains the realm of realistic, there are supernatural elements present to advance the story: how much of it can be accounted for by hard science and how much of it is left to the realm of magic is not particularly relevant, since the strength of CLANNAD always lie within each arc creating a compelling story that immerses audiences into whatever Tomoya is dealing with.

  • Kyou reveals her reason for bringing Ryou and Tomoya together, although she’s also flattered by the fact that Tomoya decided to think of her for the charm. There are numerous conflicting emotions here, as Kyou begins to accept that she may have feelings for Tomoya, but before anything unsuitable for CLANNAD can occur, Tomoya recalls the countercurse that nullifies the charm. He manages to stay hidden and extricates himself from one of CLANNAD‘s most amusing situations.

  • Tomoyo is confronted with a large number of ruffians, and teachers arrive to drive them off. Tomoya subsequently shoulders the blame to ensure that Tomoyo’s record is not tarnished, taking a suspension from school in the process. Tomoyo begins to see Tomoya as someone who cares about her, and she continues visiting him every morning to ensure he awakens on time. However, in the grand scheme of things, helping Tomoyo out really was a means to an end, and Tomoya’s sights are set squarely on helping Nagisa resurrect the drama club.

  • The dramatic changes between the amusing and serious in CLANNAD were one of the reasons why I enjoyed it to the extent that I did: I find that it humanises the characters so that audiences can really empathise with them. Following Tomoya’s suspension, Kyou, Ryou, Tomoyo, Kotomi and even Fuuko visits him, bearing food. What happens next is a food challenge worthy of Adam Richman. However, outside of these moments, Nagisa’s absence is taking a toll on Tomoya, who becomes more silent and grim than before. Kyou and Ryou begin to notice this, as well, and while it cast doubts on whether or not Tomoya might return Ryou’s feelings, as well as Kyou’s unrequited love, Kyou continues holding onto hope. It’s a surprisingly painful place to be, as I can attest.

  • Tomoya’s suspension concludes before Nagisa recovers, and when he returns to school, he learns that the incident has torched off rumours that are harming her chances of becoming the president for the Student Council. In response, Tomoya devises an inspired solution: having long noticed how virtually all of the athletic clubs at Hikarizaka long to recruit her, he decides to have her perform against the athletic clubs, turning her considerable strengths and skill towards something constructive to illustrate her as being a well-adjusted individual worthy of being the Student Council president.

  • Subtle imagery in this scene remind audiences that even the aloof Tomoyo has her tender moments. Stories of this class, with their multiple female characters and lone male lead, often are frustrating to watch because the male protagonist is indecisive and lacks the sort of determined personality that would make them appealing to the female leads. In contrast, CLANNAD presents Tomoya Okazaki as a kind-hearted individual who, despite his cynical views of life, can and will put forth his genuine best when asked of him. In short, he is someone who earns the affection and interest of the female characters around him.

  • As the evening sets in, Tomoyo shares with Tomoya her story: her greatest desire is to make her younger brother happy again, after he fell into a river and nearly drowned as a consequence of trying to stave off their parents’ divorce. The incident left him injured, forced Tomoyo’s parents into re-evaluating their situation, and while things appear to have reached an equilibrium, Tomoyo’s brother had a request to see the sakura blossoms. With the plans to cut them down, Tomoyo feels that her ability to honour this promise is to reach a position where she can influence the decisions of those around her to preserve the things that remind her of what family means.

  • As the evening sets in, Tomoya and Tomoyo spend a quiet moment together on the hillside. By this point in time, it’s apparent that CLANNAD sets most of its most emotionally-charged moments during the evening, when the sun is setting. Casting the landscape in golds and reds long-wavelength light serve to suggest that that evenings, long-associated with endings and unwinding, are the time when people begin relaxing. With their normal vigilance dialed back, people begin opening up, and allow others to learn more about them. It is during the evenings that Tomoya learned of Fuuko’s condition, remembers his friendship with Kotomi, watches as Nagisa yields the drama club to the choral club and hears about Tomoyo’s family: this time of day begins to create a sense of melancholy in viewers.

  • The tennis match in CLANNAD is what I consider to be the turning point of the series: after numerous hints and subtle clues, it is here that the way in which the wind is blowing becomes apparent. Tomoyo and a male tennis player begin their match, and as it increases in intensity, a stray ball hits Nagisa in the ankle. The song “Over” can be heard playing in the background: the lyrics are upbeat and cheerful, suggesting a ceaseless sense of wonder about the surrounding world, as well as the gradual ending of things. It seems to be sung from Nagisa’s perspective.

  • Instinctively blocking the tennis player’s efforts to help, Tomoya helps Nagisa to the infirmary. In this single moment, Tomoya accomplishes a triple kill, shooting down Kyou, Ryou and Tomoyo in one action. While Ryou and Kyou’s reactions make it clear that they are hurt, Tomoyo’s also feeling it. Her reaction is a bit more subtle, and she gazes up at the sky in silence. Kotomi seems largely unaffected, and she looks more concerned for Kyou and Ryou. Having experienced this before, I’m confident in saying that time will eventually heal those wounds, and that it’s definitely okay to embrace the ensuing sadness: that one feels so strongly about the loss shows that they have experienced love.

  • This outcome is what motivates my page quote: Kyou generally is optimistic and believes that there will be another way even when things fail. The outcome of Kyou and Tomoyo’s arc is that Tomoyo succeeds in becoming the Student Council president. With her position, she’s able to accomplish what she’d set out to do and save the sakura trees on the hillside road leading up to their school. As appreciation for Tomoya’s efforts, she also allows for the unique arrangement between the choral club and drama club to exist. With the drama club’s future steady, CLANNAD enters its final act as Tomoya prepares to help Nagisa realise her dreams.

A common criticism directed at narratives featuring a prominent male lead and several female leads is that the story ends up nowhere, but CLANNAD does the opposite, providing audiences with subtle hints that foreshadow which direction Tomoya takes. The love that Tomoya develops for Nagisa is a natural progression, brought on by spending time with her. His initial goal of doing something with his time besides his usual routine transforms into intrigue, and when Nagisa falls ill, he comes to appreciate her quiet and gentle company to greater heights. Never forcibly advanced by the narrative, the development of Tomoya’s feelings proceeds at a plausible pace. Once Tomoya becomes aware of his feelings, and his friends find out, the consequences are similarly portrayed in a natural manner. Tomoyo had begun showing interest in Tomoya for his resolute determination in helping her, while Kyou had been trying to suppress her own long-standing feelings for Tomoya by hooking Ryou up with him. Both see their chances with Tomoya evaporate when Tomoya stands up to look after Nagisa; it speaks volumes to how well both Kyou and Tomoyo have come to know Tomoya, as well, when they’re able to understand who Tomoya’s feelings are directed at. From this simple gesture, CLANNAD decisively settles the heading its story is moving towards. Without lingering doubts to sow the seeds for conflict, the risk for a meandering narrative is struck down. CLANNAD is able to enter its final arc at full force, with the story’s goal clearly in mind, as Tomoya deals with the greatest challenge he’s faced since meeting Nagisa for the first time.