The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Category Archives: Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?

Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?? ~Dear My Sister~ OVA: A Review and Full Recommendation

“YES! That’s how it feels! I’m just a huge fan of the sport.” —Loki, Thor Ragnarok

Cocoa leaves town to visit her family for a week and worries about being separated from the others. She settles in back home readily, and back at Rabbit House, Chino finds it difficult to adjust to life in Cocoa’s absence, making a large number of iced cocoas. When Megu and Maya come to visit, Rize decides to put Chino, Maya and Megu to work cleaning Rabbit House up. Chino recalls how she first met Rize: although she was initially intimidated by Rize’s disciplined, serious demeanour, Chino eventually warmed up to Rize as a reliable employee and friend. Back in the present, the girls finish cleaning up Rabbit House, and Rize gives them schedules to keep busy. After shopping, Chiya and Sharo run into Rize, who is feeling a little down about being too hard on Maya and Megu. The next day, things become lively for Chino once again when Maya, Megu, Chiya and Sharo drop by to visit; when Chino tells the story of how Rize hand-made her stuffed rabbit, the others ask Rize for their own, and embarrassed, Rize expresses that she wants Cocoa back. Chino later asks the others if they’re interested in visiting the local summer festival to watch the fireworks with her, and gets an overwhelmingly positive response. Back home, Cocoa helps Mocha and their mother out with the day-to-day operations of a bakery. With things going smoothly, Mocha and Cocoa set off to make a delivery in town. Mocha reveals that she has a moped license, upstaging Cocoa, and the two head into town together. The two sisters take time to catch up with one another, and it turns out that Cocoa’s having difficulty picking a career out. After teasing Cocoa, Mocha finds Cocoa giving her the cold shoulder, but this does not last long: the breakfast rush has begun. When their mother takes off for a local clinic get her wrist checked out, Mocha and Cocoa manage to keep things in check. That evening, the family look over the photos that Cocoa’s sent. At Rabbit House, Chiya reveals that she’s brought yukata for everyone ahead of the summer festival, and it turns out that Rize ended up making stuffed rabbits for everyone. A week passes in no time at all, and on the day she’s set to head back, she nearly oversleeps. On her way back to the bus station, Cocoa declares her intention to work in a career that lets her bring happiness to others. Cocoa arrives back in town by evening, reading one of Aoyama’s books. Chino and the others change into their yukata and head to the festival, where they partake in the various games and food stalls. Maya wonders how they’ll see the fireworks, and Chiya remarks that she knows a place. Cocoa makes it just as the fireworks begin, surprising everyone, and the girls enjoy the performance together. Cocoa is glad that she was able to make it in time and after she takes a photograph of everyone, Chino welcomes Cocoa back. In the post-credits scene, Chino gives Cocoa her very own hand-made stuffed rabbit that Rize had made.

This is the gist of what happens in Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?? ~Dear My Sister~ (Dear My Sister for brevity from here on out), an OVA that screened in Japanese cinema a shade more than a half-year ago. A continuation of GochiUsa‘s second season, Dear My Sister adapts three chapters from the fifth volume into an hour-long movie that wastes absolutely no time at all in dropping audiences back into the party with Cocoa, Chino, Rize, Chiya, Sharo, Maya, Megu and Mocha. GochiUsa‘s first season eased viewers into the world that Cocoa moved into, being a gentle romp through life, and the second season showed that Cocoa had matured in the company of new friends and experiences. The events of Dear My Sister presents things from the flip-side – Cocoa’s also had a nontrivial impact on her friends, as well. With her happy-go-lucky, optimistic and open-minded personality, the joy and energy that Cocoa brings with her is infectious. Thus, when she leaves for a week to spend time with family, her absence is immediately noticeable. Chino reverts to making iced cocoas, and Chiya buys a large number of cocoa bars. The cast feel that their world has become quieter, having grown accustomed to Cocoa’s presence, and it falls upon Rize to try and liven things up in Cocoa’s steed. Applying her own approach to keeping the others busy, Rize learns that fulfilling the role that Cocoa had is no cake walk – it’s exhausting to constantly be on the lookout for fun things. Dear My Sister aims to and succeeds in conveying the idea that extroverted, high-energy folks who can get along with most anyone can have an immense positive impact on their surroundings and moreover, this particular skill is not something that everyone can cultivate. Cocoa herself seems aware of this and so, when Mocha inquires about her future career choice, Cocoa replies that while she’s unsure of the specifics, she’s interested in jobs that let her make others happy: despite her air-headed appearances, Cocoa can be focused and determined as the situation requires. She’s evidently matured, and is someone that can be depended upon, even if she outwardly looks to be the sort of individual one is compelled to look after.

Besides providing a welcoming story that articulates the thematic aspects of GochiUsa‘s predecessors, Dear My Sister also represents a audio-visual treat for audiences. The first season had been handled by White Fox, and the second season saw a collaboration between Kinema Citrus and White Fox. Dear My Sister is produced by production doA, a newcomer on the block whose only other title is the psychological horror Magical Girl Site (which, readers will have to convince me to watch if they desire me to write about it); despite their lack of a track record, production doA has done a phenomenal job with Dear My Sister. The characters retain their physical characteristics from White Fox and Kinema Citrus’ adaptation, being as expressive and fluidly animated as they were before. Sweeping shots of the landscapes in Dear My Sister give more insight into the world that Cocoa and the others live in: the setting had been the single best aspect about the anime adaptations of both Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? seasons, creating a compelling, immersive world that might be thought of as a separate character. In Dear My Sister, overhead shots of the town that Rabbit House is located in show that it is not too far removed from the coast. When Cocoa travels home, she disembarks from a bus stop on a hillside that offers a view of a sea in the distance. Despite Cocoa describing her home as being located deep in the mountains, it also seems that the Hot Bakery is close to a seaside town, as well. Cocoa and Mocha travel to this town to deliver bread, and, reflecting on the differences in climate, the close-ups of the town show that some parts have Germanic buildings, while districts closer to the coast have Mediterranean-Spanish influence in its architecture, different than the timber-framed buildings previously seen in GochiUsa. This is an incredibly nice touch that illustrates the series’ dedication to creating spaces that serve to accentuate the immersion in GochiUsa.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The first several minutes of Dear My Sister is watching Cocoa cry while the remainder of her friends and the train station’s patrons look on, so if you have no strength to stomach this, then you should leave…right now. Similarly, this is your last chance to duck out if you’re not a fan of the various Marvel Cinematic Universe callbacks I will be making this post. Cocoa receives some herbal cookies from Sharo; this simple gesture is a subtle hint that despite her typically regarding Cocoa as somewhat of a nuisance, Sharo’s come around by the time of Dear My Sister. The trains of GochiUsa are the LNER Class A4 4468 Mallard, a British steam train that holds the distinction of being the world’s fastest with its top speed of 203 km/h.

  • Before we delve any further into this post, I remark that GochiUsa is an anime I enjoyed immensely; there is quite a bit to talk about, and after going through this OVA, I ended up a total of a hundred and twenty-five images. I’ve pared this gargantuan collection of screenshots down to a more “manageable” sixty for this post. Because this OVA runs for sixty minutes, three times the size of a standard episode, I have three times as many screenshots. Unlike Girls und Panzer: Das Finale, I am going to treat Dear My Sister like a movie and correspondingly, each of the screenshots can be expanded and viewed in 1080p glory: I say with full confidence that I have the internet’s first comprehensive review and collection of screenshots for this long-awaited OVA, and I imagine that this review will hold that position for a long, long time.

  • As Cocoa’s train leaves the station, the camera pans upwards, revealing the outskirts of town and in the distance, a large body of water. While the town in GochiUsa might be modelled after Colmar, FranceDear My Sister suggests that the setting of GochiUsa might not be on the same world or timeline as our own (in turn making a crossover with Kiniro Mosaic implausible, if not outright unfeasible). As the beautiful summer’s day unfolds, “Happiness Encore”, a warm and welcoming song that acts as Dear My Sister‘s opening, begins playing. Dear My Sister was advertised to have a very substantial singing component when it was first announced, although it is apparent that this isn’t the case: there are certainly a large number of songs around Dear My Sister, but this OVA only presents the opening song and ending songs.

  • It took me a while to warm up to GochiUsa‘s second season opening, “No Poi”, and by now, I find the song as enjoyable as I did the opening for season one (“Daydream Café”). “Happiness Encore” is very well-written, and I’ve immediately taken a liking to it. The soundtrack in Dear My Sister recycles incidental music from the TV series, but there are also fourteen new pieces of background music on the bonus disk included with the BD, twelve of which are used in Dear My Sister. Two tracks are instrumental variations of the opening and ending songs.

  • On the train, Cocoa runs into Aoyama, who is going to great lengths to evade her editor. Despite her efforts, Aoyama is eventually caught and hauled away, all the while attempting to drown out here editor’s remarks about impending deadlines. This exact same stunt was pulled in GochiUsa‘s second season, but it is no less funny for it: the inclusion of jokes for veterans to enjoy brings to mind the Marvel Cinematic Universe approach to things, and is the reason why I’ve opted to go with a quote from Thor Ragnarok. After the Hulk gives Thor a beatdown of the same variety that he’d given Loki in The Avengers during a ring fight, Loki reacts in jubilance. Viewers who’ve seen The Avengers will recall Loki getting knocked down a few pegs after the Hulk smashes him about, explaining his reluctance to remain when seeing the Hulk again. In my case, I found the line suited for describing the sense of loneliness and the transition from such the girls experience after Cocoa takes off, as well as aptly describing how it feels to finally be able to watch Dear My Sister.

  • Aoyama’s evasion efforts are impressive, but her editor’s ability to hunt down Aoyama are doubly so: she’s about as determined as John Clark in finding her target, following Aoyama onto the train. Her name is Rin Mate (真手 凛), and she is voiced by Juri Kimura. Rin is completely dedicated to her job of making sure that Aoyama meets her deadlines. While strict and unyielding when there’s work to be done, Rin relaxes after deadlines have passed. She’s said to be named after Mandheling Coffee, which has a complex and rich taste.

  • Back at Rabbit House, Chino is quieter than usual, and this is not unnoticed. With its runtime of an hour, Dear My Sister handles very much like a movie despite being classified as an OVA. In spite of this, some folks deemed it prudent to fly to Japan with the singular purpose of watching the movie, and one individual even pre-ordered their tickets to ensure a seat. I never did understand the rationale behind these actions, as the endeavour essentially drives the price of the screening ticket up to the cost of flights, accommodations and other travel expenses, but with that being said, Dear My Sister is sufficiently well-done so that it would have been worthwhile to pre-order tickets.

  • I found myself beyond impressed with the visual fidelity of Dear My Sister: the area surrounding Cocoa’s hometown overlooking what I believe to be the Mediterranean Sea. At these resolutions, the houses below can be seen in great detail – the buildings have a stucco siding and lack the timber-framing that previously dominated the architecture in GochiUsa: they have a distinctly Germanic style to them as seen in the town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

  • Dear My Sister excels in all areas from a visual standpoint; as Cocoa travels across a footbridge to reach her home, the crystal-clear water flowing below is so well-rendered that it is comparable to water effects in the Frostbite Engine or CryEngine. Volumetric lighting produces shafts of light through the forest, suggesting a shaded region with light rays passing through openings in the forest canopy. It is typical for anime to improve their visuals, and like Girls und Panzer: Das FinaleGochiUsa‘s solid artwork continued to improve over time. Subtle details like these, while often missed, help immerse viewers, and here, one gets the sense that Cocoa hails from somewhere very warm.

  • The warmth of a summer’s day can be felt even with a screen separating viewers from the events of Dear My Sister. I’ve noticed that there’s only one other review of the movie out there at present, although I happen to disagree with the claim that Dear My Sister is “nothing more but a bunch of only semi-related scenes that felt like one déjà vu after another”. The scenes are all related, transitioning from Cocoa’s return to life back home to Chino’s quiet days at Rabbit House. The OVA aimed to convey that Cocoa’s positive energy comes from her family, and that while she might not be as capable as Mocha, she has her own unique set of skills that brighten the others’ days.

  • Dear My Sister released on November 11 last year, during which I was still making my way through Wolfenstein: The New Colossus. By December, it had earned a total of 320 million Yen (3.8 million CAD) at the box office, with a box office total of 102 million Yen (1.2 million CAD) after its first weekend, considerably higher than Kiniro Mosaic: Pretty Days‘ 26 million Yen (around three hundred and eight thousand CAD) on its first weekend. The numbers suggest that GochiUsa is more favoured than Kiniro Moasic, and from a personal perspective, the setting is what gives GochiUsa a much more interesting feel compared to Kiniro Mosaic, which feels rather more conventional in its design.

  • When Cocoa gets home, she fancies herself surprising her mother and Mocha, but ends up being on the receiving end of a surprise, where Mocha and her mother dress up in Rabbit House-style uniforms and Tippy-shaped hats in an attempt to recreate the home that she’s grown accustomed to. It’s a tearful reunion, and without the burden of having to maintain an older-sister image, Cocoa immediately settles in and allows her mother and older sister to spoil her. It’s clear that mother and daughters are very much fond of surprising others, although because Cocoa is a rank novice by comparison, she usually finds herself being surprised.

  • The Hot Bakery is so remote that cellular service is nonexistent, and so, Mocha invites Cocoa to an old standby: the land line telephone. Because of our increasing movement towards mobile phones, I personally see very little incentive to buy a land line package, but there are some advantages that remain to the old ways. Land line phones have superior sound quality and because of their setup, allow emergency operators to immediately pinpoint one’s address should the need arise. However, as cellular connectivity services improve, I imagine it will only be a matter of time before the disparities in security and sound quality is closed.

  • Cocoa attempts to call Chino, but finds the line tied up. She’s using a cradle-style telephone here, whose design dates back to the 1890s. While the model in Dear My Sister is merely in the style of an older phone, the original cradle phones worked by means of connecting with an operator, who manipulated switches to connect calls together: phones with the ability to dial specific numbers did not come about until 1905. The combination of old-style designs with modern technology is very apparent in GochiUsa: things like feature phones exist alongside old-style homes and steam engines (most contemporary trains are electrically powered), creating a very unique world.

  • Chino begins absent-mindedly making a large number of iced cocoas, mirroring an incident during GochiUsa where Cocoa was out studying with Chiya and Sharo. Missing Cocoa causes Chino to make milk cocoas, and she relapses again. There are several modes of preparations for iced cocoas: the more common recipes recommend preparing a standard cocoa and then chilling the drink, adding ice cubes to create a cold drink. This ensures that the cocoa powder dissolves evenly. While this is going down, Megu and Maya speak of going on another Ciste Hunt, alluding to the one they did with Cocoa back in the second season.

  • To defeat the idleness and quiet that has gripped Rabbit House, Rize breaks out her inner drill sergeant and orders the girls to clean up Rabbit House. Rize’s militaristic spirits leads Chino to have a flashback about how she’d first met Rize: identical to Cocoa, who encounters Rize in naught but her underwear, Chino first encountered Rize while she was changing and found herself face-to-face with Rize’s model Glock. She recounts how Rize could be a bit intimidating, but was also quite friendly.

  • In most anime, when one walks in on a girl who’s changing, they can reasonably expect some furious blushing, shouts of 出て来 (romaji deteki, “get out!”) and possibly, the throwing of various objects to expedite said process. GochiUsa has Rize breaking the convention: she draws her model Glock 17 at all who see her while she’s changing. It’s a marked departure from other shows, but in its intended role of eliciting some laughs, Rize’s reactions work all the same.

  • The events of Dear My Sister show that despite her tough exterior, Rize is completely unequipped to deal with Megu and Maya. While this behaviour is not unexpected from Maya, who is the more energetic and mischievous of Chino’s friends, it was a bit surprising to see Megu participate, as well. This suggests that Megu’s become a little less shy, as well. It brings to mind the more rambunctious students that I’ve taught as an assistant teacher and while volunteering to teach children at my dōjō.

  • After spending a better part of two hours cleaning up Rabbit House, the café shows a newfound glitz and sparkle. Keeping busy has helped the girls take their mind off Cocoa’s absence. With their task finished, Rize has one more surprise for everyone; Maya and Megu are shocked that Rize’s gone to the lengths of creating schedules for them to follow. When Chino mentions that Rize has more stuffed rabbits similar to the one she gave Chino, Megu and Maya, also wanting one, ask Rize where it’s from.

  • As evening sets in, Rize wonders if she should’ve pushed Chino and the others so hard. While the most disciplined of the girls, Cocoa’s nonetheless had an impact on her: Rize is much more open about herself in Cocoa’s influence. With Cocoa gone, Rize returns to her old, tough-as-nails personality. I feel that Cocoa’s carefree nature and willingness to accept everyone encouraged Rize to be more true to herself in front of others; Rize’s love for the military and survival is very real, but she also uses it to hide the other side of her personality.

  • Different areas of town are shown in Dear My Sister. I bought the artbooks for both seasons (Memorial Blend and Miracle Blend) a few years ago; these provide unparalleled insights into how the world of GochiUsa was constructed, and at 2500 Yen apiece (nearly 30 CAD today, with the exchange rates), they’re not too unreasonable a purchase. I’ve amassed a small collection of artbooks to the shows that struck a chord with me, and having an official resource confers access to insights that one cannot get simply by watching a series.

  • While looking at her stuffed rabbit more closely, Chino notices that the stitching does not look machined, and there’s a lack of a manufacturer’s tag. In conjunction with Rize’s reaction when she’d given her the doll, and other subtle hints, Chino deduces that the rabbit was handmade. That Rize is learned in making stuffed animals by hand is yet another surprise that Dear My Sister introduces. This is the joy of slice-of-life anime: given enough time, the multi-dimensionality of the characters become apparent, making them more life-like.

  • Despite their innocence, Maya and Megu can be mischievous in their own manner: they frustrate Rize on occasion (to the maximum extent that such dynamics can occur in GochiUsa), and this is another noticeable difference between Rize and Cocoa. Rize is more strict, playing the bad cop to Cocoa’s good cop: Cocoa rolls with whatever Megu and Maya do. Rize consequently tires out more quickly when dealing with them because of a very similar principle to those seen in martial arts: rather than rigidity, martial arts emphasises fluidity.

  • After Chino reveals that her stuffed rabbit is handmade, Rize is completely shocked, and the revelation leads each of Maya, Megu, Sharo and Chiya to request their own. Embarrassed, and then flattered, we see a side of Rize that’s quite rare. The mixed emotions within her prove exhausting, and Rize soon longs for Cocoa to come back. Everyone expresses their missing Cocoa in different ways: Chiya buys a large number of Cocoa ingredients, Chino makes nothing but iced cocoas, and Rize seems to retreat back into her tough-as-nails shell. The differences that Cocoa introduce illustrates the impact she’s had on the others.

  • As the week progresses, the girls become increasingly lively and energetic; in a lull, Chino asks the others if they’re interested in attending a summer festival with her. She is met with enthusiastic affirmatives, setting in motion the events that Dear My Sister‘s trailers presented. Summer festivals are an international phenomenon, but vary greatly depending on the region. In North America, they take the form of music festivals, country fairs and fireworks performances: the long, warm days are very conducive towards outdoors activities. One of my favourite aspects about The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth™ is actually the variety of insanely delicious but unhealthy midway food, and while said Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth™ also has good fireworks, GlobalFest actually boasts the city’s best fireworks performance.

  • At home, Cocoa returns to her old life of baking bread for the family bakery. While Cocoa is noted for her baking skills (the others have remarked that it’s the one thing Cocoa can consistently and reliably do well), she’s still got a ways to go; Mocha’s bread is regarded as even better than Cocoa’s. The sisters help out the family bakery with great enthusiasm, and in a short period of time, bake enough bread to begin for the day’s customers. The Hot Bakery uses a brick oven, which allows for high temperatures to be reached because bricks can retain heat well. The end result is bread that bakes very quickly, which is perfect for a bakery with a high customer volume.

  • When a request for a delivery comes through, Cocoa and Mocha set out to fulfill it. Mocha surprises Cocoa with the revelation that she now has an operator’s license for a moped. Mopeds are surprisingly common in anime, and where I’m from, the basic learner’s license will allow one to operate them. While these vehicles are no doubt great during the summer as a convenient form of transportation, mopeds are rather limited and do nothing to keep one insulated from the elements, so they’re not too commonplace.

  • Mocha’s not particularly skilful with mechanical devices, but in time, she’s learned to master the art of riding a moped, even popping wheelies and totally shocking Cocoa, who comes away from her ride exhausted. I would like to think that my driving is not particularly deadly, although my home province is legendary in Canada for hosting the worst drivers. As far as road behaviours go, I’m a defensive driver, actively keeping an eye on my surroundings so I can anticipate the actions of other drivers. I don’t mind being cut off half as much I mind tailgaters, and I minimally tolerate tailgaters. My buttons are pressed when I encounter drivers who sound their horn because I’m waiting for a pedestrian to cross or vehicles with right of way to pass while making a right turn.

  • After Cocoa and Mocha deliver bread for a customer, they stop at a viewpoint overlooking the sea below, with a Spanish style building adjacent. Steam trains and cradle phones existing alongside cellular phones and modern rifles, small towns with old-style architecture and a world that’s quite pastoral, featuring many small towns, leads me to wonder if GochiUsa is the logical evolution of the world depicted in Sora no Woto. Takahiro and Rize’s father mention fighting together in a war of some sort: with the distinct mish-mash of Japanese and European cultures, anachronism in technology and a world with few major urban centres, there is merit to the idea that world of GochiUsa can be the result of social and technological advancement after the events of Sora no Woto, in which humanity manages to begin recovering again. This is a very optimistic outlook of things, and a view that not everyone may share – for one, such speculation would likely break down with some scrutiny.

  • Conversation between the sisters turn to catching up: Cocoa and Mocha’s father is a professor at a university, one of the brothers is a scientist of unknown discipline (likely in chemistry or biology), and the other is a lawyer. All three of them work in the city, which is why we’ve not seen them so far. Because of the diverse array of talents and interests in the family, Cocoa grew up seeing a plethora of options available. At her age, I was similar to Cocoa in this regard, being interested by a wide range of disciplines. As high school ended, I narrowed it down to health and computing, eventually being accepted by the university’s Bachelor of Health Sciences programme for an honours degree in bioinformatics.

  • Cocoa cannot settle on a career, feeling that she could be a barista, lawyer and novelist at the same time. Strictly speaking, this is not impossible – there are many incredibly talented people out there, so the probability of someone who’s done all three occupations, sometimes simultaneously, in their lives, is non-zero. Cocoa is also quite talented with numbers despite her appearances. While trying to work out a career, Cocoa remarks that she’s happy as long as she’s viewed as an older sister of sorts.

  • Watching Cocoa be taken in by Mocha’s prank was particularly adorable: Mocha recalls back when they were children, Cocoa had aspirations in becoming a master of the mystic arts magician, but after Mocha deceived Cocoa by pretending to have turned into a rabbit, Cocoa was shocked enough to drop these goals. Unlike the other flashbacks seen in Dear My Sister, this moment is rendered in a non-traditional perspective, implying that the memory itself is a bit fuzzier (other flashbacks are merely less saturated) as a result of its distance from the present.

  • It’s an embarrassing memory for Cocoa, who puffs up her cheeks and pouts after being reminded. With this being said, there are some traces of the supernatural in GochiUsa, and the first season suggests that Cocoa might have been involved in why Chino’s grandfather had his consciousness transferred into Tippy’s body. Barring the presence of a Reality Stone, the precise mechanism for how this happened remains unknown, and besides Chino and Takahiro, the other characters remain unaware that this has occurred.

  • Cocoa and Mocha’s mother is voiced by Yuko Minaguchi (Kōko Yoshino née Ibuki of CLANNAD, and Akiko Minase of Kanon). She made a brief appearance in the finale of GochiUsa‘s second season, having a more substantial role in Dear My Sister. After Cocoa and Mocha get home, Cocoa’s in a sour mood – it turns out that even Cocoa can have a few moments where her happy-go-lucky disposition disappears, and Mocha is one of the few people who can make this happen. This is hardly surprising, since siblings know one another best, and also serves to augment the authenticity of Cocoa’s character.

  • There’s hardly any time to sulk around, since the breakfast crowd soon shows up, filling the small bakery with patrons. With their mother out for the count, Mocha’s exceptional efficiency comes into play here – she single-handedly manages everything, moving at three times the speed of the others to serve customers, manage transactions and even has time to speak with a little girl. When the crowds thin, Cocoa feels as though she’d just done a month’s worth of work: Rabbit House seems to be quiet as a coffeehouse, and the fact that it’s still in business suggests that its bar is doing well enough to keep the balance book in the black.

  • A quick glance at the calendar shows that it’s been four years since GochiUsa‘s first season aired. When I picked up GochiUsa, I was right in the middle of working on the Giant Walkthrough Brain project for my supervisor and Jay Ingram: in 2014, my most predominantly used language was C# and I worked largely with the Unity 4 engine. By the time GochiUsa‘s second season rolled around, I transitioned over to the Unreal Engine and wrote most of my code in C++. Time makes fools of us all: I now largely work with Swift 4.1 and iOS frameworks, although I occasionally dabble in Python and Java, as well as some SQL. Of course, if I were to blog about optionals, delegates and completion handlers, I would not begrudge the reader to find another place to read about anime. If you’re looking to learn about Swift and get into iOS programming, while yes, I could be of some assistance, there are more useful resources out there, like Ray Wenderlich, that would be more useful.

  • I still vividly recall the warm summer afternoons spent watching GochiUsa while on lunch break, and the splendid Thanksgiving morning that I took to review the first episode of the second season, before spending more or less the entire day playing the Star Wars Battlefront open beta. When I wrapped up GochiUsa‘s second season, I had nothing but good things to say about it. The first season is a solid A, a 9.0 of 10, and the second season is a 9.5 of 10 for an A+. I subsequently did a second reflection on the first season, which in retrospect, contributed to how I built the Giant Walkthrough Brain and then in the preview post for Dear My Sister, joked that one would probably need an ARIA-level miracle, such as the Time Stone, to watch this any earlier than the BD release date.

  • Cocoa channels her inner Nanako Usami here, recoiling in surprise and then pouting again when her mother reveals her arm was fine, and she’d been merely making a reason to get the two sisters together. While it might’ve been two-and-a-half years ago, I still recall mentioning that GochiUsa was a series that some could find it difficult to write for – giants like Random Curiosity did not feel they could find something to talk about in each episode, and episodic posts that did exist were quite underwhelming, being limited to reactions to the events seen on screen. My unusual take on things, on the other hand, allowed me to find something to discuss in each episode, and so, for its second season, I managed to do episodic reviews of a satisfactory standard.

  • While Chiya prepares yukata for everyone to wear for the festival, Rize’s hard at work making stuffed rabbits for everyone. By this point in time, Rabbit House has become very lively and joyous even in Cocoa’s absence: in doing their best to keep busy while Cocoa’s away, the girls learn to find joy in the ordinary, something that Cocoa excels at. I should mention here that, if one were to describe what watching Dear My Sister is like, I would liken the experience to hugging a large stuffed animal for an hour straight.

  • While Dear My Sister focuses on all of GochiUsa‘s characters the same way Pretty Days focused on Kiniro Mosaic‘s cast, both OVAs put their resident twin-tailed tsundere at the forefront of things. Besides sharing similarities in their appearance, Rize and Aya’s voices are both provided by Risa Taneda. Much like how Pretty Days gave Aya a bit of a chance to shine, Dear My Sister also gives viewers new insights into Rize’s character.

  • Mahou Shoujo Chino is a concept born from an April Fool’s joke that was very well-received, and eventually, Inori Minase performed a song about Magical Girl Chino. Dear My Sister takes things one step further, actually incorporating Magical Girl Chino into a dream that Cocoa has while staying with her family. This was a pleasant Easter Egg that the most diehard GochiUsa fans will find enjoyable, bringing to life what was intended to be a simple joke, and more casual viewers unfamiliar with the April Fool’s joke will still find this an adorable sequence.

  • Ever the doting elder sibling, Mocha is concerned when Cocoa wakes up with her head still in the clouds. While I’d like to say that my internal clock is infallible, there was an instance in recent memory where I overslept by forty minutes on a workday. I somehow managed to get my rear in gear and did my usual morning routine, making it to the office just in time for work. Days like these are (and will hopefully remain) the exception: most days, I awaken around ten minutes before my alarm is set to go off.

  • After oversleeping, Cocoa manages to get ready, and Mocha drives her to the bus station. Cocoa reveals that while she’s still undecided on a career, she wants to do something that makes others smile. Cocoa subsequently heads back to Rabbit House by train, and on her journey back, she reads one of Aoyama’s novels. Titled “Bakery Queen- Beloved Sisters’ Moving Story”, one must wonder how Aoyama manages to get her story ideas. It’s shown that she’s a capable writer and has numerous talents despite her propensity to ignore deadlines, so one can imagine her pulling some John Clark-level stunts to gain inspiration for her stories. This book is her latest work, and at the end, Cocoa sees a request from her mother and Mocha – get the book autographed.

  • With the month of June now in full swing, some hiking trails in nearby Kananaskis Provincial park are now open, and after a week of cool, misty and grey weather, the skies gave way to a warm day of sunshine today. The combination of good weather and open trails meant that I could take some time to really unwind in the mountains: I ascended the West Wind Pass trail, easily one of the more difficult hikes I’ve done, if only for the fact that the trail is adjacent to a deep ravine and despite this, is quite poorly marked. The path takes hikers to points where they need to hug a cliff sheer to pass, and also branches off in different directions without indication of whether or not it was a part of the trail, but despite these challenges, it was very invigorating and fun to climb up. Reaching the West Wind Pass itself, I was greeted by a vast, wind-swept clearing and a stunning view of the Spray Lakes reservoir some 390 metres below. The view was beautiful, but up here, the cold meant that we couldn’t stay for long, only stopping long enough to take some photographs, before turning around.

  • There are some deviations in Dear My Sister from the original manga: aside from some obvious additions, such as the inclusion of Mahou Shoujo Chino and Chino working out the courage to invite everyone to the fireworks festivals, there have also been some omissions, as well. Cocoa does not return to Rabbit House ahead of the festival to finish her assignments, and Aoyama does not run into the misfortunate of wrecking her manuscript. These differences are relatively minor and did not break the flow of events in Dear My Sister in any way.

  • The use of violets and pinks in the town by evening casts its buildings in hues that were previously unseen, creating a festive and ethereal, timeless sense quite similar to the choice of colours seen in Fireworks: Should We See Them From The Side or Bottom?. While poet T.S. Elliot uses the phrase “violet hour” in his famous poem, “The Waste Land”, repetition of this phrase is meant to suggest the melancholy of the end of a day and sunset. However, sunrise always follows, and so, Elliot is lamenting that relationships cycle endlessly between a joyful start and a sadness-filled closing. This is relevant to Fireworks, where Norimichi’s final attempt to be with Nazuna saw him share a conversation while the skies took on a pink-purple hue. In the case of Dear My Sister, the lighting is probably meant to indicate a sort of melancholy that Cocoa is not around.

  • Despite the violet hour’s implications, Dear My Sister presents the summer festival as a happy moment. While walking about, the girls take in the sights, sounds and smells, and Sharo demonstrates another aspect of her character. Spending time with the others have improved her confidence: when Rize asks if there’s anything she’d like as a prize after being drawn by a shooting game, Sharo recalls her own talents with blowdarts and so, challenges Rize to a showdown that the latter accepts.

  • At the festival, Megu demonstrates a hitherto unknown talent for winning at ring toss. These games, like casinos, are slightly rigged so that they favour the vendor’s gain, but for folks familiar with how they work, they are certainly winnable. Megu consistently wins in a ring toss game and earns a small collection of prizes here that she feels is a good set of souvenirs for Cocoa: we recall that Megu’s got a talent for spinning (which, by the way, is a good trick), and giving the rings a slight, level spin can help boost their accuracy: she applies the technique here to land consistent hits on the prizes.

  • A quick glance at the various folk in the background show that only Chiya, Megu, Chino, Maya, Sharo and Rize are wearing yukata, with everyone else wearing more conventional clothing. It stands to reason that elements of Japanese culture are uncommon where GochiUsa is set. The girls thus stand out quite a bit, about as much as one would stand out while wearing cowboy hat and boots to a Japanese festival, but the colours of the yukata and festival work very nicely together to create a scene that has not been seen in GochiUsa until now. Despite the predominantly French-German cultural aspects in GochiUsa, the inclusion of Japanese elements into a festival for Dear My Sister is integrated very smoothly without breaking immersion.

  • Sharo becomes the life of the party after eating coffee-flavoured shaved ice, speaking in a joyful and somewhat slurred manner while waving a small firework. It’s actually quite fun to see Sharo in this manner, and I do not believe I’ve mentioned this thus far: Sharo is voiced by Maaya Uchida, whom I know as Yuru Yuri‘s Mari, Rei Kuroki of Vividred Operation and Slow Start‘s very own Hiroe Hannen. Hard-working, frugal and practical, she’s also a character who deserves a bit more screen-time in GochiUsa.

  • The five kilometre hike to and from West Wind Pass took around two-and-three-quarters of an hour in total. Once the hike concluded, we returned to 514 Poutine, Canmore’s premiere poutine spot (previously known as La Belle Patate). Here, I ordered their deluxe poutine: it’s a blend of succulent chunks of Montréal Smoked Meat, bacon, sauteéd onions and mushrooms on top of their poutine. Every time I’ve visited, I am impressed with how flavourful and generous the helpings of the Montréal smoked meat is. Coupled with the smokiness of bacon, the sweetness of the onion and the plain fact that I love mushrooms, it’s the perfect poutine that quickly restored my energy. Their Spruce Beer Soda is also a fantastic accompaniment for lunch: with a distinct pine and slightly sweet flavour, it is superbly refreshing and perfect for after savouring a hearty poutine.

  • It was a bit of a later lunch: we finished at two-thirty, and with more than half the day passed, we decided to do a simpler walk around the Quarry Lake area of Canmore. With negligible elevation gain, this walk was very relaxing and also allowed us to loosen off from the morning hike: Quarry Lake itself is only five minutes from the parking lot, and surrounding the area are a series of well-marked trails that line the grass fields beneath the mountains. Back in Dear My Sister, as the evening grows later, the girls begin making their way up to a secret spot for viewing the fireworks that Aoyama’s informed them of. An overhead view of the town by night can be seen from here, and while the town is quite large, it’s definitely not Colmar, France: inspection of maps show that no river runs through the actual city, whereas a river dividing the town in two is clearly seen here.

  • Despite being noticeably absent from the proceedings, Cocoa manages to meet up with Chino and the others right as the first firework flies into the night sky. While the others initially look to be reacting to the fireworks, prompting Cocoa to wonder if they’ve even noticed her, it soon becomes clear that everyone is in fact aware of Cocoa’s arrival, and warmly greet her. Rize and the others are somewhat surprised that Cocoa managed to find them, but it would seem that Cocoa returned to Rabbit House, spoke with Aoyama and then changed into her yukata before heading off to reunite with the others.

  • Many moons ago, when Mocha was shown downing milk in a beer mug, one individual wondered why GochiUsa would “censor” alcoholic beverages, but never received a satisfactory answer. While the fireworks progress, Aoyama and her editor share some beers, decisively showing that GochiUsa has no aversions to showing alcoholic drinks on screen. The alcoholic offerings from Takahiro’s bar is also quite visible, and he is shown preparing alcoholic drinks, as well. Quite simply, there is no censorship. I’ve previously remarked that Mocha took milk as a comfort drink for her personality and preferences – just because someone can legally drink does not mean that they will.

  • After Sharo sets off the lone firework, Cocoa determines that with the obscure location, that’s where everyone else must’ve been. There’s been a surprisingly limited amount of buzz out there for an OVA that’s been so long overdue: the original release was supposed to be May of last year, and this got pushed back to November. Normally, there’s a six-month gap between the theatrical opening date and BD releases, but the BDs were released eight months later this time around. It is a bit disappointing to see that so few are aware of this OVA, and while it is a bit of an achievement to hold what is the internet’s only Dear My Sister review, having this title also means that very few GochiUsa fans have had the chance to enjoy the OVA.

  • Dear My Sister marks the third series that I’ve written about of late that features fireworks: Fireworks and Amanchu! Advance also featured some stellar fireworks shows. Once reunited with the others, Megu gives Cocoa a rabbit mask that eerily resembles the rabbit mask seen in GochiUsa‘s second season, and subsequently spars with Rize about older sisters in a friendly manner. With the fireworks in full swing, the girls watch the fireworks performance. Throughout the scene, the fireworks are actually out of focus or otherwise not the subject of focus, reminding audiences that for Cocoa and the others, their friendships and bonds come first.

  • After struggling to express herself, Chino manages to overcome this and welcomes Cocoa back, as well. The ending song, “The World Has Become a Café”, is a fantastic ending song performed by all eight of the characters: both Petit Rabbits’ and Chimame-tai come together to form the unit Petit Rabbits’ With Beans, and the lyrics are joyful, spirited and upbeat, signalling the joy of having everyone together once again. It’s a happy ending to Dear My Sister, and at this point, one cannot begrudge me for including one more MCU-style reference to the table – there’s a post-credits sequence that, like those of MCU films, serve an important purpose.

  • We’re very nearly at the end of this post, and as this talk on Dear My Sister is likely to be my largest single post of the year, I figure it could be a fun way to wrap things up with some statistics about this post. With a total word count of some 8300 words, it’s definitely no slouch, but writing for the OVA was very enjoyable, as well. It turns out that Rize had also made a stuffed rabbit for Cocoa, as well. This brings my long-awaited, long-overdue talk on Dear My Sister to a conclusion, and for my final score, Dear My Sister has earned a 9.5 of 10, an A+; highly entertaining, Dear My Sister brings back everything that made the earlier seasons so enjoyable and introduces new character dynamics among a familiar group, while at once providing spectacular artwork, animation and music.

  • In short, I enjoyed Dear My Sister the same way I enjoyed Infinity War. With Dear My Sister decisively in the books, the immediate other post on the horizon will be for Amanchu! Advance now that we’ve hit the three-quarters mark. We’ve also entered the month of June now, so the spring anime series will be concluding quite soon. I will be writing for Amanchu! AdvanceComic Girls and Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online as their respective series close off. Finally, Battlefield 1 is running a “Road To Battlefield V” event, and I’ve yet to tell the story about how I got an Urban MDR in The Division – I will naturally be writing about both.

The long-awaited OVA to GochiUsa is finally in the books, and my final verdict is a strong recommendation. Dear My Sister brings back all of the aspects that made the originals so enjoyable to watch, capitalises on the summer weather to introduce a distinctly Japanese style of festival that suggests a highly multicultural area that Cocoa and her friends live in, explored another dimension of friendship that shows how interpersonal interactions go both ways, and upped the quality of artwork and animation in a series that already was technically superb. The masterful combination of all aspects result in an OVA that was worth the wait, and so, Dear My Sister is something that anyone who enjoyed GochiUsa will not want to miss. For folks who’ve yet to watch GochiUsa, I would count Dear My Sister as being similar to Avengers: Infinity War. Much like how various jokes and event references in Infinity War require some familiarity of previous movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (e.g. Loki echoing that they have a Hulk and Captain America’s “I am Steve Rogers” to Groot’s “I am Groot”, to name a few), Dear My Sister adapts chapters from volume five of the manga, and there are events and specific jokes that occurred in the seasons that require a bit more context to have the maximum impact (such as Aoyama being hauled off by her editor, or Chino’s unconscious making of iced cocoas). Both share the commonality of being quite enjoyable standalone, but are also clearly intended for audiences who’ve seen earlier instalments. With all this being said, Dear My Sister is an excellent adaptation of the chapters following the Ciste Hunt, and as the manga is ongoing, another season could be on the horizon. Having tested their mettle with Dear My Sister, I feel that if production doA were to be given the responsibility of creating a third season of GochiUsa, they would do a spectacular job. There certainly is enough material, and the series has had a strong reception. As such, I would imagine that a third season is a matter of when, rather than if, and this is an encouraging thought.

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

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

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

Screenshots and Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is The Order a Giant Walkthrough Brain?: On the use of setting to immerse users in virtual spaces

“An author knows his landscape best; he can stand around, smell the wind, get a feel for his place.” ―Tony Hillerman

The construction of neurosurgeon Joseph Bogen’s “Modest Proposal” for a Giant Walkthrough Brain museum into a special performance that was one part musical and one part science lecture during 2014 represented a pivotal milestone for game engine environments: built for the Beakerhead 2014 performances, the Giant Walkthrough Brain utilised the Unity game engine to present a virtual space that augmented Jay Ingram and his band’s performance. By providing 3D visualisations of the locations within the brain, audiences immediately connected with the different areas of the brain and their attendant stories, following figures in brain history ranging from Phineas Gage to Auguste Deter. By all counts, the Giant Walkthrough Brain was an absolute success. From Jay Ingram’s first performance at the Banff Center in July, to the flagship showings at Beakerhead and several subsequent performances, The Giant Walkthrough Brain opened to a sold-out audience. The software infrastructure designed for The Giant Walkthrough Brain would be utilised extensively in one of my colleague’s Master’s project, and principles would later be adopted towards my own thesis work. There is no denying that The Giant Walkthrough Brain has had an impact on a great number of individuals: it is a powerful example of applying computer science in a community setting through presenting scientific talks in an approachable manner. What is perhaps surprising, then, is that some of the design elements of The Giant Walkthrough Brain parallel those found in 2014’s Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? (GochiUsa for brevity). While a seemingly far-fetched comparison, there remains the fact that I directed the design development of the application and navigation tools that would eventually become integral towards building a virtual world that helped to guide audiences on a journey of discovery.

The element from GochiUsa that made its way into the Giant Walkthrough Brain that these two unrelated works share is the attention paid to details. In GochiUsa, I noted that the first season’s charm was primarily in its exceptional setting: the town Cocoa finds lodging and friendship in is modelled after Colmar of France, and the animators had taken great pains to ensure that the cityscapes were authentic. From the design of timber-frame buildings to cobblestone streets and gas lamps, the town of GochiUsa presents an idyllic environment for Cocoa and the others to explore. It creates a sense of immersion and uniqueness that really draws in viewers; in fact, the first season proved quite distinct from any slice-of-life anime I’d previously watched, and in retrospect, it is not unreasonable to say that the town in GochiUsa‘s first season was a living, breathing entity as prominent as any of the characters. It is not until the second season that the characters begin coming into the spotlight to present a tangible narrative, and consequently, when I finished watching GochiUsa, I began looking at the architectural and design elements that made the first season such a pleasure to watch and applied the principals towards displaying 3D spaces of a virtual brain. GochiUsa succeeded because of its commitment to a consistently authentic environment, and so, I strove to ensure that the tools and logic implemented into the Giant Walkthrough Brain was similarly consistent in creating an authentic guided museum tour. The pre-set paths were carefully placed to give the sense of walking along a walkway or taking an elevator. Transitions between different scales were scripted, reducing the abruptness of moving from the brain into a synapse where neurotransmitters could be seen. A minimap provided audiences with constant context of where in the brain a story happened, and I used Unity Pro’s powerful functions to construct a system that allowed The Giant Walkthrough Brain to double as a slideshow for both images and video. Much like how GochiUsa creates a compelling European town’s historical district, the end result for The Giant Walkthrough Brain was a visualisation tool that really enabled audiences to feel as though they were moving through a vast brain museum that Joseph Bogen had envisioned fifty years previously: seven consecutive sell-out performances speaks volumes about as to whether or not the learnings from GochiUsa were successfully applied to The Giant Walkthrough Brain.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • It’s been quite some time since I’ve written about GochiUsa, and three years now separates the present from when I started work on The Giant Walkthrough Brain. In my original post on GochiUsa, I did not discuss any major themes in the first season because quite frankly, there were no central messages or ideas the anime conveyed. This is not a bad thing by any stretch: what I found was a fantastic slice-of-life anime whose use of setting set it far apart from any shows in the genre that I’d previously seen. While conceptually similar to other anime of its type, the exquisite setting is ultimately what set GochiUsa apart.

  • One of the aspects about GochiUsa‘s first season is that unnecessary exposure is a lot more commonplace than the second season, and Cocoa’s first encounter with Rize is with the latter in her undergarments. She claims to be hiding from an unfamiliar individual, and the gun she’s wielding is a model Glock 17. Whether or not it was a real weapon was one of the biggest topics of discussion in the first season: if we go by French gun laws, Rize is wielding a model gun. While it is legal to own a weapon chambered for the 9 x 19mm Parabellum cartridge provided that the weapon’s magazine does not exceed 20 rounds, the wielder must be at least eighteen.

  • It may come as a surprise for folks that GochiUsa does have a few Hinako Note-like moments, such as when Rize images herself in a revealing outfit complete with mammary oscillation and subsequently is embarrassed by the thought. Revisiting GochiUsa means being able to look back on the different moments that characterised the first season, and finding more entertaining frames, such as this one. For the purposes of this post, I have thirty screenshots, each chosen to be different than those of my first discussion from three years ago.

  • Rize and Cocoa run into one another with increasing frequency when Cocoa tries to make her way to school, leading Rize to wonder if she’s entered the multiverse of Rick and Morty. During their respective commutes, the streets of the town are shown in loving detail, and it became quite obvious that the town itself was as much of a character as each of Cocoa, Rize and Chino.

  • The moment that Chiya and Cocoa meet for the first time is adorable, as Chiya is trying to entice some wild rabbits with chestnut Yōkan, and Cocoa is cuddling with the rabbits hanging about. A couple of lop-eared rabbits can be seen in the upper center part of the image, and after learning that classes don’t start for another day, Cocoa and Chiya strike up a fast friendship. of everyone, Cocoa grows closest with Chiya the quickest, since they share similar outlooks on life.

  • Cocoa describes herself as having very little talents to speak of, but is reasonably skillful as a baker and has an eye for mental mathematics. With her newfound friend, Chiya, Cocoa, Chino and Rize spend a day baking bread and enjoying the results. Bread is said to be the only thing Cocoa can prepare properly, and while we’ve not seen her prepare other food items, one can surmise that she’s not exactly incapable to the point of creating lethal dishes.

  • Although refined and seemingly of regal background, Sharo is actually quite poor, living in a small wooden shack beside Chiya. Her being honest to the others about her background forms her internal conflict for a portion of GochiUsa, and when she finally comes forwards with the truth, it turns out that Rize and the others don’t mind at all, showing that everyone is friends with one another because they choose to be.

  • Here, Cocoa watches as the herbal tea leaves are steeped at the Fleur Lupin, French for “Flower Rabbit”, on invitation from Sharo. All of the cafés the girls work at have some relation with rabbits: “Rabbit House” is rather plain to spot, while Chiya’s Ama Usa An (甘兎庵) approximates to “Sweet Rabbit Cabin”. Throughout the town, rabbits can be seen this way and that: in my town, there aren’t any rabbits, but plenty of snowshoe hares (L. Americanus) roaming the streets, and it takes great care to ensure I don’t hit any while driving about.

  • While the town’s idyllic setting and older architecture in GochiUsa seemingly suggests a world set in an earlier time before the rise of modern technology, but the characters’ use of phones plants their time period as being similar to ours. Cocoa uses the Fujitsu F-01C, a feature phone that dates back to 2010, while Chino uses the Sony Xperia SP, a mid-range smartphone. Chiya rolls with the  Sharp Aquos Phone SL, a phone in the same class as Cocoa’s, while Sharo rocks a Honey Bee 201K, a rudimentary Android Smartphone. Rize has an iPhone 5, the most expensive of the lot and a device that can still hold its own even five year after its release.

  • Here, Chino and Sharo are shopping at a local supermarket. While I did an episodic review for GochiUsa‘s second season, this exercise came out of the blue when I realised that there was quite a bit to discuss and talk about during the second season. The result was my first-ever attempt at episodic reviews, and while immensely fun, it was only possible because my thesis project was progressing at an acceptable pace. Looking back, I’m actually not too sure if I would have been able to do a talk on GochiUsa‘s first season back during 2014, if only for the fact that most of my time was spent working on The Giant Walkthrough Brain.

  • GochiUsa‘s first season features numerous locations in town that showcase the area’s unique architecture: this is the local library that Chino and the others visit to study, as well as to find a book Chino’s been seeking. The diversity of locations in GochiUsa is nothing short of impressive, as are the details taken to render all of the structures: close inspection of this image will find that reflections of the sky are seen.

  • Rize and Chino share a short conversation about the latter’s doubts about performing well during a badminton mini-tournament at her school. It would appear that Chino is not particularly athletic and skillful with arts, as seen in her reservations about performing and drawing, but given her character, it stands to reason she’s pretty studious.

  • This is another instance of the beautiful architecture seen in GochiUsa: Cocoa and Chino overlook a ramp, and Cocoa contemplates the joys of having a bike here, while Chino’s imagination is rather more gloomy in outlook. As far as content goes, GochiUsa‘s first season has enough to talk about so that I could probably have done an episodic review if asked to revisit it, but my schedule in the three years since the first season has only become busier.

  • There’s a right way to pick up rabbits: they are quite fragile and start easily, so most suggestions involve gently using both hands to reduce the risk of frightening and injuring the rabbit. The preferred method is to place a hand underneath their chest and then gently lift their hindquarters, while here, Cocoa’s method is used for moving a rabbit short distances – their heads should always be above their hindquarters. That the rabbits of GochiUsa do not mind being picked up suggest they are very much acclimatised to a human presence; in general, rabbits do not like being picked up.

  • When I was working on The Giant Walkthrough Brain, I would watch GochiUsa during lunch hour, and this scene of Rize making a heart stands out to me – I still vividly remember watching this in a windowless player in iTunes while Unity and Monodevelop were open underneath. By this point in the summer, I had become quite comfortable with the Unity Engine and C#, having created the prototypes of almost all of the systems that we would utilise for The Giant Walkthrough Brain. The project was progressing very smoothly until a request came in to incorporate a slideshow with movies: back then, Unity could only handle static images in its free incarnation.

  • I ultimately received permission to upgrade to Unity Pro, and promptly implemented the movie playback functionality. Returning back to GochiUsa, Sharo has leporiphobia, a fear of rabbits, and befriended Rize after she’d saved Sharo from feral rabbits. Here, the rabbit who would later become known as Chuck Norris Wild Geese is resting on Sharo’s café’s fliers, causing her to beg for mercy. Rize arrives to help shoo the rabbit away.

  • Cocoa presents Sharo with a baby bunny to see if Sharo can lessen her fears slightly. Rize’s dome is just visible in this image: she’s still recoiling after a bug lands on her. Strictly speaking, the rabbit in this image is probably three to four weeks old: they’re small enough to rest comfortably on one’s palm, attesting to how small young rabbits are. My friend had two rabbits once, and when I’d met the first, she was roughly this size, but grew to full size in no time at all.

  • While imagining herself under the effects of coffee, Rize fires a Barrett M82A3 anti-materiel rifle. A recoil-operated, semi-automatic rifle firing 50-calibre rounds, the weapon is immediately recognisable by its distinct muzzle brake. There are bullpup versions of the M82, but the magazine of the rifle here has a conventional placement. Rize’s firing rate and stance suggests a semi-automatic firing mode: the M95 looks quite similar but is a bolt-action rifle.

  • If memory serves, I do not think it ever rained in GochiUsa during the second season. Weather remains generally pleasant in all of the episodes. By comparison, season one has a bit more diversity in weather, ranging from snowfall to rain. One detail that is subtly present in GochiUsa is the fact that the ground becomes increasingly reflective as the showers continue – this was done previously in Tari Tari, and is a subtle but clever touch, indicating that more water has fallen during the course of the showers.

  • Besides a library and swimming pool, GochiUsa‘s first season also brings Cocoa et al. to a movie theatre, where they watch “The Barista who Turned into a Rabbit”, a film adaptation of Aoyama’s novel. The older architectural choices of the theatre fit in with the timber-framed buildings in town, and also brings to mind some of the LEGO models of modular town buildings.

  • Regardless of where one goes in GochiUsa, timber-framed buildings dominate the architectural scene. The styles seen in GochiUsa are derived off those seen in the Alsace region, which have a strong German influence. Such buildings can be constructed relatively quickly, and the framing itself accommodates flexibility of interior walls and doors. However, preserving timber-framed building can be tricky, as the buildings may undergo deformations that make them difficult to maintain, and the wood itself can become infested with fungi, moulds or other pests.

  • Chino runs into Aoyama here after the latter misplaced her fountain pen and loses the motivation to continue writing. She subsequently takes up a post at Rabbit House as an interim job and provides advice for customers. In the background here, the leaves are taking on yellow-gold hues as autumn sets in, giving the town a new feeling. While most of the season is set in spring and summer, the arrival of autumn and winter adds additional depth to the anime: the second season is set during spring and summer, with only the first episode really being winter.

  • While this image without any context would not make much sense, Cocoa is helping Chino look for Aoyama’s fountain pen by evening. The warm orange glow is indicative of an autumn’s evening, when the air is cool and the days slowly grow short. Cocoa grows distracted chasing rabbits, but Tippy locates the pen. Numerous sources state that Cocoa is implied to be the reason why Chino’s grandfather’s spirit inhabit Tippy’s body, suggesting a supernatural cause not unlike that of Your Name, but beyond this, everything else in GochiUsa is quite ordinary.

  • The customers at the Ama Usa An seem bewildered as Chiya and Coca dance about in delight, underlining their friendship. I certainly would have no objection to seeing this happen at a sweets shop, myself, but owing to the culture here, such a display, however adorable it may be, would be very unlikely to witness. While Rabbit House employees, Cocoa, Rize and Chino have worked at Ama Usa An and Fleur Lupin to some capacity: Rize did so to earn some extra money to purchase a Father’s Day gift, while Chino does so as a part of her school’s curriculum.

  • In a stroke of luck, the artbook for GochiUsa‘s first season was restocked, and I hastened to order it online before stocks depleted once more. As with the second season’s instalment, the artbook is beautiful, filled with artwork of the different locations and even photographs of Colmar itself. Both artbooks are perfect companions for the anime, essential for all fans of the anime. They cost 2500 Yen apiece before shipping, but provide insights into the anime that genuinely demonstrates how much effort went into creating the world that Cocoa and the others live in.

  • I’ve chosen to skip over the Christmas episode of GochiUsa, having done a whole post on it two Christmases ago, but in this talk, I’ve also included some winter screenshots of the town covered in a light dusting of snow. Rolling through episodes one per day, every lunch hour, I finished GochiUsa on very short order and found an anime whose world was simply magical. It was influences from GochiUsa and its immersion that led me to translate Jay Ingram’s script into a more fluid adventure through the virtual brain: I wished for The Giant Walkthrough Brain amaze and immerse audiences the same way GochiUsa had done for me. Thus, the incarnation that went into the Banff Center Show was a modification that I made after deciding to take audiences through a more interesting route, and during a demonstration to Jay, he and my supervisor approved of it, making a minor request to time the route with the script.

  • In the end, The Giant Walkthrough Brain ended up being a great success: during our first showing, the power had gone out. There was a thunderstorm in Banff that evening, which was surprising considering that it was clear skies when we had sat down to dinner in the Banff Center’s canteen, a modern area with large glass windows that provide a beautiful view of the Bow River valley. Fortunately, the fact that The Giant Walkthrough Brain had been optimised to run on a 2013 MacBook Pro laptop, paired with Jay Ingram’s exceptional improvisational skills, meant the show progressed very smoothly.

  • Back in GochiUsa, Cocoa, Maya and Megu walk into the sunset after Cocoa helps them learn more about local cafés (even as her wallet takes a few hits) during the finale episode. After the Banff Center performance, I spent the August of three years ago further refining The Giant Walkthrough Brain. One of the biggest concerns I had was the fact that our next venue, the Telus Spark Science Center and its dome theatre, could present problems for our projection, but after learning the requirements were to accommodate a flat projection, the month was dedicated towards tuning the model, as well as adding new features and visuals. The Beakerhead shows were a massive success, selling out fully both nights.

  • Unlike Hinako’s friends, who totally prank her while she’s sick, Cocoa’s friends genuinely care for her when she catches a cold. We’re nearing the end of this post, and I’ll take a moment to say that, for folks who are curious, I am following Rick and Morty, and the third season’s second episode is bloody phenomenal, being hilarious and dark, as per Rick’s promise in his opening rant about their adventures. The biggest joy about Rick and Morty is its unique combination of over-the-top black comedy with quasi-scientific concepts that invite discussion; it’s similar to Futurama in a sense, but with a bit looser feel to it, and much more gratuitous violence. Unlike GochiUsaRick and Morty is certainly not for everyone.

  • While some folks consider the ending a little unusual, having Chino step into a snowy night to find medicine for Cocoa shows that despite her cold attitude towards Cocoa, she does care for her. It’s a subtle character growth that is further explored in the second season, and with this, my revisitation of GochiUsa comes to a close. Some posts upcoming in August, which is looking to be a much quieter month after the excitement that was Your Name, will be a talk on the Amanchu! OVA, and the Brave Witches OVA. Because of the unexpected depth and enjoyment Sakura Quest has provided after eighteen episodes, I will also be visiting this very shortly. Finally, Battlefield 1‘s Łupków Pass map will be released later this month in advance of In The Name of The Tsar, and having tried the map in CTE, I’m looking forwards to seeing how it will play out.

I originally concluded GochiUsa‘s first season was enjoyable for its portrayal of a calm, cheerful life in a European-style town but otherwise had very little to say about the characters and their experiences. In GochiUsa‘s first season, the setting ended up being the star of the show – it was not until the second season where the characters really began to shine. However, as the star of the first season, GochiUsa‘s intricate, consistently high-quality and authentic setting contributes substantially to the immersion that the first season was able to confer. As a slice-of-life anime, this set GochiUsa far apart from other shows of this genre that I’d seen previously, and it continued to hold my interest long after I finished the final episode a month before The Giant Walkthrough Brain’s opening night at the Banff Centre. The reason why GochiUsa is so successful is because its first season was able to capture the feeling of an old town consistently to create a place that is inviting and friendly. The Giant Walkthrough Brain likewise makes use of visuals in order to create a very specific image of the brain to maintain the audience’s attention. By fully capitalising on the visual elements to evoke a particular feeling or impression, both The Giant Walkthrough Brain and GochiUsa make the most of their respective formats to immerse audiences into another world – it is this immersion that my old supervisor aims to capture in biological visualisations, although I would imagine that Jay Ingram, his band, my colleagues and supervisor would be a bit surprised to learn that some of the design choices I imparted into The Giant Walkthrough Brain come from an anime with bunnies. I say surprised, but not displeased; these are very open-minded people, and I was able to cite Rick and Morty in my thesis, after all.

The Treasure is Your Decisive Moment: Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?? Finale Impressions and Whole-Series Review

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

All good things come to an end, and on Boxing Day, the last GochiUsa episode released. Their vacation over, it’s business as usual at Rabbit House, but Chino now has a fervent desire to take photographs of Cocoa and her friends. After a short-lived photo frenzy, Cocoa decides to continue working and while dusting an image, finds a treasure map of sorts. It turns out to be a “Ciste Map”, where participants utilise clues provided by said map to locate a hidden cache of treasure, and subsequently must provide a treasure of their own alongside of a new map to perpetuate the game. After learning that Cocoa’s never partaken before, Chino, Maya and Megu decide to join up with Cocoa; it turns out that such a treasure hunt is how Chino became friends with Maya and Megu. They eventually stumble across a hidden garden, and, with Cocoa too broad to fit through the small gap, Chino, Maya and Megu swap out their treasures. Later that evening, Chino reveals that her desire to take ordinary photos was motivated by Mocha’s request. Moved to tears by the truths that the two respectively bring out, Chino and Cocoa share their mutual appreciation for one another and embark in a pillow fight of sorts. With Maya and Megu, Chino later organises another Ciste Map for Cocoa and Rize, and back at the Hoto Bakery, Mocha reads letters from Cocoa and Chino. Last week’s episode felt distinctly like a finale, but as with life itself, there is no finale, allowing the series to continue for one more episode to really illustrate just how much has changed since Cocoa arrived more than a year ago. Having matured as a result of working at Rabbit House, Cocoa has also a nontrivial impact on those around her, bringing joyfulness and even change into the lives of her friends and co-workers.

Cocoa’s influence and gradual maturity therefore forms the main theme for all of both seasons of GochiUsa: though she’s rather airheaded and can be quite clumsy, her ceaseless spirit and energy brings people together. In doing so, she gradually becomes more dependable, more mature (even if she does not realise it). Were it not her friendship with Chino, Rize and Chiya, Sharo, Megu and Maya would not have entered the main group to share numerous adventures and experiences with one another, bringing everyone together for Christmas, inadvertently settling the rivalry between Ama Usa An and Rabbit House, and most significantly, acting as the driving force to open up Chino to the others, who has become more expressive with her emotions relative to the first season. While season one might have presented Cocoa as a seemingly-generic, energetic and happy-go-lucky sort of individual, the second season adds more depth to her, suggesting that she’s long desired to mature and become more capable through acting as an older sister for others. Moreover, she’s also prone to jealous streaks, but is resuscitated by her friends on all occasions (whom she had a hand in bringing together in the first place). Thus, the very bonds she builds both hurts and helps her to mirror the dynamics of friendship, helping her mature in the process, and this is where GochiUsa truly shines: people are complex, multi-dimensional beings, and GochiUsa allows its characters to fully experience the good and bad. Far from being static characters common to most slice-of-life anime, the characters of GochiUsa‘s second season feel alive and unique; the first season excelled in crafting a workplace comedy with its setting, and the second season makes use of this to explore more facets for each character.

Because the characters are reasonably familiar after the first season, GochiUsa‘s second season is able to waste no time in setting up various combinations of characters to see how their interactions play out. In doing so, rather than resulting in the same sort of end result that may arise, different opportunities for comedy are created by varying the groups up. Cocoa and Sharo is one such example; the latter ends up decking the former to motivate her after Cocoa laments falling behind her sister. Similarly, watching Megu and Chiya hunt for wild edibles together was quite entertaining, and Rize spends time with Maya to tail Aoyama. These are merely examples of the second season diversifying which combinations of characters form a part of the episode progression, allowing different personalities to bounce off one another and creating new opportunities for comedy that would otherwise not arise. Therefore, by season two, the town merely becomes the backdrop for all of these events to occur, and the focus becomes shifted towards the characters themselves. Seemingly-familiar characters gain new dimensionality, and far from being yet another generic anime about “cute girls doing cute things”, GochiUsa‘s second season is able to keep things novel and refreshing with each passing episode; at no point does the anime ever feel repetitive or stale.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • As the finale post, there will be thirty images here; I’ll use the figure captions to comment on both events within the episode, as well as make broad remarks about elements from GochiUsa as a whole. To kick things off, it’s been an incredible ride from start to finish: GochiUsa began during Thanksgiving and ended on Boxing Day, with each episode being an absolute delight to watch. Originally scheduled to come out tomorrow, I had a bit of time today to get the post out, and moreover, my copy of the OST’s arrived, allowing me to listen to it and learn which tracks correspond with the pieces of background music I enjoyed the most.

  • The finale appears to begin similarly enough to the first episode: this time, it’s Chino who’s photographing everything around her. Upon first glance, it appears as though Chino’s taking after Cocoa, who was photographing everything in sight during GochiUsa‘s first episode: this decision was probably deliberate, chosen to illustrate that for her mature and collected mannerisms, Chino can resemble Cocoa at times as a consequence of how much time they’ve spent together.

  • Some discussions erroneously state that the cameras are old-school, dating back from 2005. This is false, given that most cameras from 2005 have a bulkier frame. I have already identified the cameras as a Sony DSC-W630 Cybershot based on the aperture, flash and autofocus lamp placement during the first post; the cameras are not meant to evoke nostalgia, being present simply to allow the girls a means to photograph their friends and surroundings. As further evidence, the DSC-W630 Cybershot does come in blue.

  • As a clever callback to the eighth episode‘s recursive tailing, as Chino tries to photograph Tippy, Cocoa decides to photograph Chino. Rize then aims to photograph Cocoa, and Sharo photographs Rize. Chiya outdoes everyone, capturing the perfect shot with all four of her friends.

  • Besides the farewell party for Mocha, Rabbit House has remained quite quiet this season. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but the seemingly low patronship at Rabbit House seen in GochiUsa is probably a consequence of the anime deliberately choosing to depict more relaxed moments: rendering many patrons on-screen would doubtlessly be expensive from a technical side of things. It’s been remarked that Rabbit House normally isn’t crowded, but there probably is a sufficient number of patrons, given that Rabbit House has stuck around for a non-trivial period of time.

  • While dusting a frame, a map falls out. I remark that the puzzle that Chino and the others built during the previous season does not appear to be visible anywhere, so it’s quite likely that Takahiro rotates the decor every so often to keep things fresh at Rabbit House. Cocoa learns that most everyone has been on a Ciste Hunt and grows teary-eyed at the prospects of being left out, so Chino decides to bring Cocoa on the latter’s first-ever hunt.

  • The notion of a Ciste hunt became popular in Europe during 2007 and the rules are succinctly described in GochiUsa. A map is used to locate the treasure box, and upon finding it, one must take one item from the box, replacing it with one of their own. The word ciste is derived from Greek, referring to a basket used for ferry gifts to Gods, and cite hunts in the real-world are quite popular, with thousands of participants coordinating hunts using online communications.

  • The point of these hunts is the thrill of the chase, and the activity is functionally similar to Geocaching. Thus, that GochiUsa manages to distill out the core essence of a ciste hunt: that the journey matters more than the destination, is no surprise, although the anime takes things one step further and removes the electronic component, forcing the girls to carry out the activity using just their wits. Together with Megu and Maya, Chino and Cococa explore parts of their town that the audiences have never seen before.

  • The subject of numerous photographs and paintings, a door covered with vines is but one of the many hitherto unseen locations that Cocoa and the others encounter during their ciste hunt. There’s a special sort of magic about locations such as these; while browsing calendars for 2016, I came across a garden calendar that featured these doorways. I eventually went with a calendar featuring mountain paintings: there’s a mysticism to see traditional buildings from an older age under the mountains, and a part of me yearns for a simpler time, despite my own love for technology and sciences.

  • It turns out that Chino’s friendship with Maya and Megu result from a innocuous mistake, where Maya misinterprets “barista” as “ballista” on account of the phonetic similarities between the “r” and “l” sounds” and imagines Chino to be strong-willed, resembling an ancient missile launcher. They go on their first ciste hunt but eventually lose motivation, and it’s thanks to Cocoa that everyone’s excited to do another hunt.

  • I’ve remarked previously that each character’s namesake is related to their contributions towards GochiUsa: Maya and Megu were already friends before meeting Chino, and their friendship with Chino has helped the latter open up to some extent. Looking around some recipes, I’ve found that nutmeg can be used to spruce up both Jogamaya tea and Cappuccino, suggesting that the girls’ friendship forms a sort of synergy that’s helping each individual mature.

  • The GochiUsa season two soundtrack came out on Christmas Day, and my copy only arrived recently. I’ve had a chance to listen to it in full now, and it’s a fantastic complement to the anime. Like the first soundtrack, the music is quite diverse, ranging from distinctly French pieces that capture the regional spirit (木組みの街〜雪解けと春のはじまり and Rabbit’s Time), to gentle pieces like 大好きな笑顔 and おやすみ前のラテアート, which convey the sort of lightheartedness associated with Cocoa and the others. There’s also more tense music for when the girls grow anxious, or when Tippy mounts a one-rabbit assault on Ama Usa An (後ろに気をつけろ!! and 覚悟しろっ, respectively) The piano version of キリマンジャロだね turned out to be 可憐な乙女心, and it’s become one of my favourite tracks on the OST.

  • The clues on the map points to a small hole that Cocoa can’t fit through, and there is mention of Hobbits here. First conceptualised in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Hobbits are known for their short stature and fondness for comfort, but also their incredible resilience: Gandalf remarks in The Fellowship of the Ring that Hobbits are quite surprising despite his own knowledge of their customs and lifestyle. I imagine that the comparison is drawn for Chimame’s smaller size, allowing them to go where Cocoa cannot.

  • Arriving in a secret garden of sorts, Chino, Maya and Megu find a treasure box located at the end of the plaza. Resembling the one seen in GochiUsai‘s opening sequence, it appears that this episode’s been foreshadowed since day one. However, given the complete lack of discussion or even recollection, it’s definitely fallen from the viewers’ minds since the first episode, only to return in a big way in the finale. This is why I remark that there could be hidden tidbits inside the opening sequences of anime; sometimes, the opening sequences offer insights into an anime in ways that viewers do not consider.

  • Amongst some various articles in the treasure box, a discount coupon and massage voucher can be found. The girls quickly pick their treasure and leave behind the items they’d brought with them, as they wish not to keep Cocoa waiting for too long.

  • In contrast to the first season, GochiUsa‘s second season completely dispenses with visual fanservice, instead, making use of a good balance of humour and more touching moments to drive the story forwards. Bloggers elsewhere have remarked that something like GochiUsa would be immensely difficult to write about because purportedly, nothing happens in anime such as these.

  • This holds true under some cases, and slice-of-life anime are often overlooked simply because typically, they lack a cohesive narrative from which literary analysis might be carried out. However, GochiUsa‘s second season in particular seems to manage just fine, subtly conveying a moral or lesson through the events in each character’s everyday life. Although it is presumptuous for me to say so, it takes an uncommonly keen eye to pick these elements out in an anime prima facie about “cute girls doing cute things” and write posts that are distinct from one another, to step away from any notions of saying the same thing too frequently.

  • With that being said, it’s more than acceptable if audiences can’t pick out the more subtle thematic elements from anime such as GochiUsa: although authors may have worked them in to impart a particular interpretation of life lessons, their intent is for the show to be relaxing overall. Thus, audiences can most certainly enjoy GochiUsa without thinking too deeply about what all of the girls’ actions and reactions entail. The photo here was taken back during the previous episode, and Cocoa has difficulty recognising that it’s her.

  • Although Chino never calls Cocoa onee-san of her own volition, it’s clear that by this point in time, the two have definitely become closer to what sisters as can be, having a minor fight of sorts when they misunderstand the other’s feelings. The conflicts on GochiUsa are always on a small scale, being readily solved within the space of minutes. On the note of it seeming difficult to effectively make episodic discussions for anime such as GochiUsa, I’ve found that the anime’s given no shortage of topics to discuss with each episode, and I’ve found myself referring to physics textbooks, Tom Clancy novels and even Survivorman in previous posts to augment discussions.

  • With the season now over, the reception in the places I frequent has been overwhelmingly positive: other viewers similarly remark that GochiUsa is a relaxing, fun anime that was over all too soon and also come to the conclusion that the characters themselves might be likened to rabbits. 2015 has been a solid year for anime such as GochiUsa (Hello! Kiniro Mosaic and Non Non Biyori Repeat come to mind, alongside the first two Tamayura: Graduation Photo movies).

  • At episode five’s end, the bar below is shaking from an unseen force that’s dislodging dust from the ceiling. It foreshadows the massive pillow/stuffed animal fight that Chino and Cocoa are having. Contrary to their relatively small stature, the effect implies either that the two can be quite rambunctious at times, or else, Rabbit House is an aging building, allowing for the girls’ activities to be noticed in the bar below.

  • It turns out that the reason why Chino was particularly keen on photographing things earlier was in response to a letter from Mocha requesting conventional photographs in and around Rabbit House: the photographs that Cocoa take tend to be more spruced up, and while fun, might not necessarily be the best representation of life at a coffee house. One of the strengths in GochiUsa is that details seemingly forgotten over the course of an episode are neatly incorporated into things at an appropriate time. Thus, nothing is left unanswered, yielding closure for things that do happen.

  • For those wondering, the reason this post did not come out on the day of the finale’s airing was because said airing coincided with Boxing Day: I got up bright and early so I could visit one of the larger malls in the area to pick up 2016 calendars on discount, along with a new three-piece suit for myself, new gloves, a toque and scarf. I also bought a hardcover on JSOC’s operational history for a third off. The next day, I spent most of the time working on the publication: we’re getting close now and merely need to trim some sections so it fits within the four-page limit, then attended my first-ever Zoo Lights. Then yesterday, I finally got around to watching Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

  • After enjoying the results of their own Ciste hunt, Maya, Chino and Megu decide to rig a new hunt for Cocoa and the others. They craft new maps and invite their senpai for a hunt that is not shown on-screen as thanks to Cocoa for having helped them complete their own hunt. The notion of Ciste hunting is remarkably fitting for an anime such as GochiUsa, as it reinforces the notion that moments are memorable because of who one is with, rather than anything material.

  • Aoyama and her editor are seen walking around the town’s streets. Although GochiUsa‘s second season places more empthasis on the characters rather than their environment, the town is still lovingly depicted. With all of the activities described earlier, there’s been very little time for blogging thus far, but today, I’ve had an opportunity to sit down and hammer out the posts. GochiUsa‘s second season marks my first attempt at doing episodic posts, and it definitely was a fun experience to figure out what each week’s episode was about and put that into words. While a little tiring, it was well worth it; I’ve a respect for anime blogs that do episodic reviews owing to the effort it takes to make them each week, and being able to experience that allows me a bit of insight into how larger blogs necessitate more than a single author.

  • The Hoto Bakery is seen again as GochiUsa draws to a close, and as per predictions, Mocha does indeed make another appearance in some form. A ways back, I came across a disagreement on whether or not Cocoa and Mocha’s last names were more appropriately romanised “Hot” or “Hoto”, with some less-informed individuals opting for the former in order to make obvious a pun. The preferred romanisation is “Hoto” on the sole virtue that the “o” sound in -to can be silent, so the pronunciation still allows for the pun to be kept. However, this way allows for the Kanji, 保登, to be retained: translating roughly to “always rising”, it would double as a metaphor for the Hoto family business of baking rising bread.

  • Careful inspection of Cocoa’s letters show that they were sent via air mail. This might serve to compound the mystery of where the Hoto family bakery actually is: it’s definitely deep in the mountains, sufficiently far away for Mocha to take the train to visit Cocoa, but that air mail is used suggests they’re either quite far away, or else Cocoa was merely itching to send her letters quickly.

  • Cocoa and Mocha’s mother is also shown on screen now, so the only person whose family hasn’t been shown is Sharo and Maya. Voiced by Yuuko Minaguchi (Kanon‘s Akiko Minase and CLANNAD‘s Kouko Ibuki), Cocoa’s mother is hitherto unnamed, but it was quite the pleasant surprise to see family for most of the characters in GochiUsa. So, seeing Sharo and Maya’s family on-screen might be left for a third season.

  • With this post nearing its conclusion, I remark that GochiUsa‘s second season has had a phenomenal run, bringing all of the elements that made the first season so enjoyable and finding new ways of elevating things to new heights. At present, the manga is still ongoing, so there’s definitely enough material for a continuation, and should sales for GochiUsa be strong, a third season will almost certainly be made at an unknown point in the future (although I stress that this is merely my own speculation).

  • Given that it was mentioned briefly that everyone was moving up a year back during the fourth episode, it is quite conceivable that Rize will be graduating soon, and a third season will follow Cocoa et al.’s journey towards their own graduation. If this is to be the case, then the third season might become a little more serious in nature as the girls figure out what they will be doing after high school ends, and for Chino’s friends, as they make the transition from middle school to high school. This could make for an interesting third season, although given that there is a manga, one could check that out to catch a glimpse of what a continuation will be like.

Consequently, GochiUsa is something that can be recommended quite easily to a diverse audience. Naturally, slice-of-life fans will find this to be most enjoyable, but GochiUsa is also an excellent accompaniment to the lives of anyone who’s quite busy, acting as a relaxing, cathartic countermeasure to the hustle of their daily lives. There are numerous anime, dubbed “iyashikei” (lit. “healing anime”), that strive to serve such a purpose, but amongst a crowd of technically excellent anime (K-On!, Tamayura, Kiniro Mosaic and Non Non Biyori), GochiUsa is able to find its place in the sun and distinguish itself from the others. Through its charming setting, life-like characters, high animation and artwork quality and a soundtrack with tracks to accompany a wide array of situations, GochiUsa masterfully makes use of each element to bring Cocoa and the girls’ world to life. Taken together with solid writing, GochiUsa earns a strong recommend: I cannot readily think of any strikes against GochiUsa that detract from it, hence my assessment. Looking forwards, the manga is still ongoing, and so, there is definitely a possibility for continuation if GochiUsa‘s sales in Japan are good. I imagine that any third season will likely follow a similar pattern as YuruYuri San☆Hai!, which was released three years after the second season but managed to similarly keep things sufficiently novel to impress audiences. For the present, though, GochiUsa comes to an end, and it was an incredible experience to watch and write about it.

The Girl Dons a Red Coat and Drives a Team of Rabbits Across the Christmas Eve Night Sky: A Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? Christmas

“Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values.” —Thomas S. Monson

Though it aired a full half year (and six days, to be precise) before Christmas 2014, the eleventh episode of GochiUsa’s first season was set around Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, following the girls as they visited a Christmas market to purchase ornaments and plan out a Christmas Eve party after-hours. Though Christmas Eve turns out to be quite busy, with patrons lining up to try Rabbit House’s Christmas Pancake special, the girls are in fine spirits to continue with their party. Later that evening, Cocoa assumes the role of Santa Claus and clandestinely makes her way into Chino’s room to deliver some gifts, but winds up falling asleep by Chino’s bed in the process. The next morning, Chino is pleasantly surprised by what “Santa” had delivered during the course of the night. Filled with elaborately drawn scenes of Christmas around Rabbit House and its setting, the episode stood out as a king amongst kings: GochiUsa’s first season featured memorable episodes, but the Christmas episode was particularly unique, making use of the winter season to capture each of the characters in their element. Consequently, GochiUsa’s Christmas episode raises the bar for what one might reasonably expect from anime with an episode set during the winter holidays. While this could be seen as surprising, given GochiUsa’s relatively simple premise, there are elements that set GochiUsa’s Christmas episode above the rest.

The main reason why GochiUsa’s Christmas episode is so remarkable is because, rather than using the Christmas season as a backdrop to frame certain events, the concepts underlying Christmas itself is captured within the episode. Most anime (for instance, CLANNAD: After Story, K-On!, Lucky Star, The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan and SoniAni) utilise Christmas as an opportunity to add a bit of festivity to their respective stories. Quite simply, Christmas is fit into the anime. Conversely, in GochiUsa, the episode is fit around Christmas. This is visible when, upon arriving at Rabbit House and seeing that Chino and the others are still inundated with customers, Chiya, Sharo, Maya and Megu lend a hand to help out. This progression fully captures what is known as the “true meaning of Christmas”; coined in the mid-nineteenth century, the phrase refers to selflessness, to bring happiness to others, and this is exactly what the girls are doing in helping Cocoa, Rize and Chino serve their customers (the latter themselves are spending their time to ensure that Rabbit House’s customers have a good time). However, although they are busy, the girls have an opportunity to be together in their work (and later, deservedly enjoy their own Christmas party). Up until the Christmas episode, the girls have not been seen working together; another significant aspect of Christmas is about being together regardless of what the event is, and on a busy Christmas Eve, the girls find joy in working hard together to serve their customers. That the story is able to draw from such distinctly Christmas-related themes is impressive, and while not quite as well known as Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol or Charles Schulz’s A Charlie Brown Christmas, GochiUsa nonetheless expresses what Christmas is about as effectively as these classics.

Additional Sceenshots and Commentary

  • This is the Christmas post that would have come out last year had I not been in Taiwan and Hong Kong during the winter holidays, and might also be a reasonable approximation of what a GochiUsa post for the first season would have looked like had I done an episodic review for the first season. The only difference is that there are thirty screenshots rather than the usual twenty, and that is a consequence of the episode featuring an above-average number of special moments to discuss.

  • Because this post is special, all of the images are in 1080p and available for viewing in full size; on that note, if you’re reading this on Christmas morning, I’d like to wish you Merry Christmas! Here, Cocoa and the others visit the local Christmas market while Chino is searching for ornaments to display at Rabbit House.

  • I mentioned this in the GochiUsa first season review, but there’s a store in Banff called The Spirit of Christmas. They sell all manners of Christmas ornaments, decorations, lights, nutcrackers and Christmas lighthouses; even during the middle of summer, the shop gives off an air of Christmas. For individuals seeking the Christmas spirit during the spring and summer, this shop is as close as it gets.

  • The Spirit of Christmas has over five thousand square feet of retail space and has been open for the past twenty-five years. It appears that the shop in GochiUsa is rather smaller, but nonetheless conveys a very warm and inviting atmosphere.

  • Cocoa and Rize discuss gift ideas for Chino while the latter is perusing the merchandise within the store. I’m noticing that as of late, going Christmas shopping for other has been most enjoyable: it’s fun to think of what gifts might be suitable for someone, being something they’d enjoy while conveying appreciation. I usually begin considering Christmas gifts for family and friends as early as October and will get my shopping done ahead of the holiday rush to avoid the associated stress of über-crowded malls.

  • Cocoa decides to gift Chino a music box, and decides to buy a spooky-looking rabbit for the gift exchange. I began learning how to properly wrap gifts two years ago when I began doing more Christmas shopping, and at present, though I am a little slow, I am minimally capable of wrapping rectangular gifts. Strangely-shaped packages remain beyond my skill level for the present.

  • Cocoa’s winter coat makes her resemble a snow angel. Her carefree, ever-cheerful spirit reminds me of the joyfulness that children express during the season for the winter weather, festivities and gifts. As people mature, happiness appears to become increasingly associated with being able to tangibly express appreciation and love for others: at that unique interface between childhood and adulthood, Cocoa radiates the happiness seen in children, while simultaneously demonstrating an adult’s maturity in considering how to best express her appreciation to Chino.

  • The university sent out an email reminding staff that campus was to be closed at noon on Christmas Eve, so all staff have a half-day off; originally, I had been planning on using the half-day to get work done, but as I’ve been maintaining reasonable pacing, I was able to take the whole day off.

  • While handing out fliers to Fleur de Lupin on Christmas Eve, Sharo briefly imagines herself as The Little Match Girl, a Danish poem by Hans Christian Andersen about a poor girl who’s tasked with selling matches. Despite the bitterly cold conditions, she continues on pain of corporeal punishment, and eventually lights a match to keep herself warm. Though the ending is gut-wrenching, Andersen intended the story’s ending to be optimistic one, for in death, the girl’s suffering ceases.

  • GochiUsa‘s Christmas depicts various locations around town by night as the snow begins to fall. These scenes are very peaceful and show the extent that a particular place can change under different lighting and weather conditions.

  • Thus, there’s a bit of magic in seeing very familiar scenes transformed during the Silent Night; up until this point in GochiUsa, the town has largely been depicted by afternoon or evening during the spring and summer. It’s not often that an anime goes through the lengths of characterising distinct seasons, and I believe that besides GochiUsa, one of the best anime to profoundly capturing the seasons is Non Non Biyori.

  • Back at Rabbit House, Maya and Megu arrive early to find that it’s still fairly busy. They’re soon recruited to help out and do so with gusto. Cocoa, being Cocoa, finds herself struggling to stay on target once she sees the two dressed up and ready to roll for Christmas.

  • The Rabbit House Christmas Pancake special is a work of culinary art, composed of three pancakes stacked on top of one another, interspersed with layers of banana, strawberry, blueberry and whipped cream. Theres also a confectionary bunny up top (probably a pastry of some kind) and the entire creation is drizzled lightly in chocolate. Maya and Megu promise to get to work after trying one, and I remark that this pancake, if scaled up, would be worthy of a Man v. Food challenge.

  • Whereas Rabbit House is depicted to be generally quiet, it’s packed and full of life on Christmas Eve. I imagine that most of GochiUsa depicts the periods in between customers as a consequence of practical constraints (animating many moving entities can be costly) and to ensure the focus stays on the girls’ interactions.

  • I spent most of yesterday working on the Master Grade 00 Raiser, and consequently, my fingers hurt like a thousand needles, even after a much-welcomed chicken sandwich for lunch. The day before, I finished grading the iOS assignments with my supervisor, and was pleasantly surprised to see that most of the submissions were high-scoring. One team implemented an app for wait times at a restaurant, and I cannot help but wonder if Rabbit House could benefit from using this app: all they’d need is an iPad.

  • Once Sharo arrives, she despairs that she’s left one workplace to enter another. She subsequently enters the zone and begins delegating tasks to everyone, even Rize, resulting in a dramatic increase in efficiency, presumably because she most wishes to party with everyone else, and becomes willing to work harder to make their Christmas party happen sooner.

  • GochiUsa‘s first season primarily focused on making use of the setting to yield insight into Cocoa and the other girls’ lives in such a picturesque town, and consequently, everyone in the first season could be readily matched with an equivalent personality in K-On!. By season two, with the cast and setting well-established, GochiUsa capitalises on familiarity to begin exploring new directions, and consequently, the second season does feel distinctly different compared to season one.

  • Prima facie, how Cocoa’s Santa-themed party hat manages to stay on is a little bit of a puzzle, but it’s likely bound to her hairband, allowing said hat to rest at an unusual angle. I’ll drop by after the finale to GochiUsa‘s second season airs and do a full review on what the second season contributes to things. It’s actually quite substantial, and for an anime that’s about cute girls doing cute things, plenty of interesting new directions are explored.

  • I’ll save the actual review for after the finale comes out. A year ago, I was on a plane outbound for Hong Kong, and at this point in time, I think I was somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. The Taiwan/Hong Kong vacation last year was quite fun: it marks the first time I’ve traveled anywhere while on winter break, and Taiwan/Hong Kong was quite pleasant by winter. Far from being the icebox my relatives describe, it was pleasantly warm.

  • It was Christmas Day by the time our flight touched down in Taoyuan Airport, and after being whisked away to our hotel for a short sleep, we explored some of the sights in Taipei, including Taipei 101. The afternoon was spent driving through Taroko National Park, where we visited a Japanese-style town and spent the night at the Leader Hotel in the middle of the mountains. The next day, we traveled to the southern part of the island and stopped for an all-fish lunch at a restaurant underneath a massive bridge near the Yanchao district.

  • If anyone’s actually interested in hearing more about Taiwan, you can find me on Facebook or Twitter. I’m going to return to GochiUsa for the present, where, after the last of the customers pay their bills and head off for the night, the girls are finally free to begin their Christmas party, opening off with a toast. I’ve never celebrated Christmas at my workplace before, mainly because it’s a research lab with expensive computers and fancy VR technologies.

  • The closest I’ve had to a workplace Christmas party was when I visited my supervisor’s home out in the mountains two weeks ago. I’m immensely grateful the weather remained quite pleasant: we’ve got a White Christmas this year on account of snow. I included this image because it’s yet another example of how much attention is paid to detail pertaining to food. The holidays are a time for rich foods, and Christmas dinner tonight is set to include an oven-roast, bacon-wrapped scallops, jumbo garlic shrimp and fully-loaded potatoes.

  • Sharo is impressed and somewhat bewildered at the impressive array of foods as Rize prepares to carve the Cornish game hen (it’s too small to be a turkey or even a chicken). On an unrelated note, the Hibike! Euhonium and Locodol OVAs released earlier yesterday, but owing to the holiday schedule, I’ll try to get the reviews for both of those out before we get too far into 2016.

  • Aoyama and Tippy share a moment together, watching the girls enjoy their evening. I was initially hoping that GochiUsa‘s second season would have returned to Christmas, but given that we’re apparently in the middle of summer, that’s definitely not going to happen.

  • As the evening wears on, snow begins falling again. Apparently, what constitutes a “White Christmas” has a very specific definition: Christmas Day must fall on a day where there is persistent (so, more than 5mm) snow on the ground, and a “Perfect Christmas” is a special kind of White Christmas where snow is also falling.

  • Closed for the night, the Christmas Market is deserted, illuminated only by the central tree. Coupled with the snowfall and gentle music, this scene captures the sense of what a proper”Silent Night” might feel like. In Cantonese, Christmas Eve is also referred to as “平安夜”, literally translating to “Peaceful night”: the world takes on a calm on Christmas Eve, and everywhere, children find themselves struggling to fall asleep for anticipation of Santa’s arrival.

  • I shared a discussion with my supervisor a few days ago over a peppermint Mocha (I’ve finally had Mocha’s namesake, it’s sweet like a cocoa but has the distinct edge with the espresso, so my claims stand), and 2016 is going to be quite eventful. We’re kicking off the year with a pair of presentations, then I’ll have to apply for a few more conferences and journals, consider 3D printing parts of my project for augmented reality, and as I’m enrolled in his biological computations course, I’ll have a chance to build a much more sophisticated influenza simulation. For the present, though, I’ll set aside all of my work and take it easy, then resume working on my conference paper once the weekend is over.

  • Cocoa’s longed to play the role of Santa, and as she comes from a family where she’s the youngest sibling, she’s likely not had the chance to do so, with Mocha taking the helm. Thus, when presented with a chance to gift something to Chino, she seizes the opportunity, moving quietly to ensure she does not wake Chino up in the process. It turns out that Takahiro has the same idea, although his execution is rather smoother.

  • The next morning finds Rabbit House under a light dusting of snow, enough to satisfy the criterion for a white Christmas. I’ll go off-mission for a little bit and recount a story in my childhood, where I figured out that “Santa’s” handwriting looked suspiciously familiar, and the following year, “Santa” suddenly switched formats, making use of a word-processed letter. Fortunately, Santa continued to visit thereafter.

  • This marks the end of my first-ever Christmas post, and if you’ve gotten this far, I’ll again wish you a Merry Christmas. I’d love to stick around, but there’s a host of things to do today. For one, I’d like to finish building the 0 Raiser and GN Sword III, then begin making use of a shiny new 4 TB hard drive. I’ll return to do a double-posting on December 30: one for the GochiUsa finale and one for Life is Strange.

Besides a particularly well-written theme about the meaning of Christmas, GochiUsa’s Christmas episode makes extensive use of artwork to enhance the sense of festivities in and around the town where there anime is set. The details that capture the Christmas season in the episode are astounding, from the individual stands and Christmas tree of the Christmas market, to the miniature light-up Christmas village models seen in a small shop Cocoa and the others visit. Despite the cold weather, the town itself feels warm and inviting. As the hours grow later, and the last of of parties draw to a close, a gentle snowfall blankets the town, turning familiar locations into a winter wonderland. All of this imagery allows GochiUsa to depict a Victorian Christmas, of an old-fashioned town covered in snow, and folks dressed in great coats carolling under a winter’s night. Such images of Christmas have continued to endure despite concerns that the holiday has become increasingly commercialised; this demonstrates that modern Christmas institutions notwithstanding, messages of togetherness and charity so central to Christmas have endured through the ages, and while GochiUsa might be an anime, its Christmas episode ultimately succeeds in expressing the author’s own thoughts on what the true meaning of Christmas is.