The Infinite Zenith

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Category Archives: Kiniro Mosaic

Hello! Kiniro Mosaic: Whole-series review and reflection

“Everything looks cute when it’s small.” —Cynthia Rowley

The adorable and immensely entertaining anime that is Hello! Kiniro Mosaic comes to an end after twelve episodes. Since the third episode, the anime has followed Alice and Shinobu’s life as second-year high school students. Outside of their studies, Alice and Shinobu experience an idyllic ever-day life. With Yoko, Aya and Karen, their adventures encompass a shopping trip with Isami to lift her spirits, participating in a trading quest inspired by The Straw Millionaire, Yoko’s attempt at conquering the Adam Richman Parfait Challenge and spending a day at the beach during the summer. Hello! Kiniro Mosaic also provides more insight into Karen and Alice’s friendship in a flashback to their time back in England, and the finale has Shinobu and Alice reunite after the latter spends a week in England with Karen. This is, in short, an anime that follows in the footsteps of numerous slice-of-life anime that preceded it. What allows Hello! Kiniro Mosaic to really stand out is the excellent capitalisation on the strong bonds between Alice and Shinobu, as well as Aya’s feelings for Yoko, and Karen’s boisterous presence to drive events forwards. However, the second season does not merely limit itself to the first season’s cast: Akari and Honoka add new dimensionality to the interactions within the second season, allowing for a new side to be shown to members of the old cast.

Hello! Kiniro Mosaic might be seen as the counterpart to Gochūmon wa Usagi Desu ka: both anime place an emphasis on transforming the mundane into the extraordinary, and both anime make extensive use of characters that are endearing to the viewers. There is a biological basis behind why this is so effective: I mentioned in a previous review (whose title and topic elude me) that cuteness in general is intended to encourage nurturing and child-caring tendencies in adults. These traits are desirable from an evolutionary standpoint, as adults who have a propensity towards cute things tend to pay more attention to their offspring and logically, would raise them effectively such that they survive. Thus, when viewers are watching anime like Kiniro Mosaic or Gochūmon wa Usagi Desu ka, the anime are designed in such a way as to invoke similar feelings: this is no different than watching baby bunnies eating a carrot. The natural predisposition to find enjoyment and tenderness in watching what is idiosyncratically referred to as “cute girls doing cute things”, accounts for why anime done with such an emphasis has continued to endure (despite the aesthetics’ prevalence).

Screenshots and Commentary

  • It’s good to see that the screenshots this time turned out with a much better colour saturation: the last Kiniro Mosaic talk I did featured screenshots that were oversaturated, and could not be corrected because my image host somehow skewed their colours on upload. Here, Shinobu and Yoko admire flowers in bloom; Alice’s flowers are late in blooming, leading to some concern.

  • Isami’s melancholy is implied to have stemmed from not spending as much time with Shinobu ever since Alice’s arrival, but noticing this, Yoko and company decide to take her on a shopping trip of sorts. A model and university student by the events of Hello! Kiniro Mosaic, Isami is depicted as elegant and cool, but also seems to have a more mischievous and idle side to her, as well.

  • I’m confident that this is the only blog that will ever mention Adam Richman’s Man v. Food in conjunction with Kiniro Mosaic; Yoko takes on a massive parfait that costs some 80 CAD, and the challenge conditions state that finishing it means the dessert will be on the house. The challenge is quite similar to the ice cream challenge in Man v. Food, which saw Adam take on the Kitchen Sink challenge. Unlike Yoko, who is utterly defeated by food, Adam wins his challenge at the 45 minute mark of the hour-long time limit.

  • In a flashback, Akari recounts how she first met Sakura. Despite being absentminded, Akari finds Sakura to be reliable and kind, as well. It turns out that Akari is younger than Sakura, and because of this, Sakura prefers that Akari does not refer to her as a senior, especially in front of the students, lest this gives her true age away.

  • Akari smiles after the flashback ends: most viewers out there regard smiles from seemingly-cold characters as a very rewarding thing to see, as it signifies that the characters have another side to them.

  • After an incident where Karen fell off a bridge’s ledge, Karen shouted out to Alice in mangled Japanese to catch her attention, and since then, Karen has regarded Alice as a hero to her. Here, the “i” below the “o” isn’t actually an “i”: in Japanese, “ー” is used to indicate that a particular sound is to be stretched

  • Aya’s shyness is an impediment that leads her to botch a phone call to Yoko; she’d intended to create a study schedule to help Yoko out, but one thing leads to another: after swapping clothes with Aya to see how the former may look in a skirt and accidentally spilling barley tea on Yoko while studying, Yoko ends up in her undergarments right as Kota and Mitsuki show up. The build-ups for the various scenes are well-executed in each episode, which is no small feat.

  • If I were to detail every amusing or noteworthy moment in Kiniro Mosaic, these posts would end up being behemoths rivaling the Gundam Unicorn: Over The Rainbow post in size. Thus, one of the challenges in making any blog post is to pick and choose moments that are conducive towards discussion, and I often go back to review a specific moment so that I might have something to say about it: here, after Shinobu jokingly suggests that she is going to dye her hair blonde, Alice reacts negatively.

  • Honoka Matsubara (right) is Karen’s classmate, and like Shinobu, loves blonde hair. She’s a member of the tennis club, and strikes a fast friendship with Karen. Her family owns a restaurant chain, and Honoka often gifts sweets to Karen, although it isn’t until season two that she summons the courage to talk to her.

  • While it’s not likely to happen, it would be quite nice to see Shinobu, Yoko and Aya pay a visit to England in an OVA; while Kiniro Mosaic is generally done in with simple artwork, the animators at Studio Gokumi seem to pay the ornate dresses more attention, and it does allow for some fanciful artwork of the characters in formal dresses that wouldn’t otherwise been seen elsewhere in the anime.

  • Shinobu’s talent as a seamstress is nothing short of impressive: she’s able to create elaborate dresses from scratch, and later repairs Mitsuki’s stuffed bear to perfect condition in seconds. One of the things that I find most entertaining in Kiniro Mosaic is Alice’s squeals, which are heart-melting and amusing at the same time.

  • In season one, Shinobu and company took a summer trip to the mountains; after much discussion, the group decides that this year, they can go to the beach. There’s a Mobile Suit Gundam reference in this episode: after getting a little too friendly with Yoko, Karen gets swatted, leading the latter to remark that “Not even my own father hit me!”. The dicussions at AnimeSuki picked this up, but I’m surprised that Tango-Victor-Tango’s viewers somehow missed this.

  • Aya and Yoko’s interactions manage to remain fresh throughout the entirety of Hello! Kiniro Mosaic, and as with Alice, watching Aya cry is at once hilarious and heart-melting. Rise Taneda plays Aya’s role exceptionally well, although Aya’s timid personality stands in stark contrast with her role as Gochūmon wa Usagi Desu ka‘s Rize Tezeda.

  • Sakura and Akari enjoy a day at the same beach that Shinobu at the others are visiting, and while most viewers were expecting their paths to cross, the decision to leave the two groups separate allows the story to maintain a more peaceful feeling.

  • I’m modestly surprised that I was able to find the time to push this post out today: the weekend did not feel like much of a weekend, as I spent the entirety of it building furniture. However, it was very satisfying to finish- most of the furniture was for my parents, although I was able to assemble a new desk chair for myself, as well. The furniture building was punctuated by a much-welcomed break for Dim Sum during lunch hour on Saturday, and while yesterday was cloudy, the weather had cleared up in the afternoon.

  • Honoka and Karen spend a relaxing day together: regarding the sentiment out there that the two’s friendship deserved more screen-time, I agree wholeheartedly. This season saw the start of a wonderful new friendship, and it’s likely that if there is a continuation, we could see Honoka become closer with Alice, Shinobu, Aya and Yoko, as well.

  • Honoka also has an uncanny talent to balance on balls. While seemingly frivolous, inclusion of this element adds another side to Honoka and cleverly reflects on the idea that all people have hidden depths to them, far more than is initially visible.

  • As the season draws to a close, Alice and Karen make a week-long trip to England. This segment in the anime makes the most explicit indications regarding the strength of Alice and Shinobu’s friendship. Here, Alice attempts to pack Shinobu such that the latter might accompany her to England, and in Alice’s absence, Shinobu falls into melancholy. Fortunately, Yoko and Aya step up to the plate to keep her company. Back in England, Karen also catches wind of Alice’s loneliness, and decides to film her own impersonation as Shinobu to keep Alice happy.

  • Karen and Alice bake pastries at the Cartelet residence in England. With this post nearly over, I turn my eye on what’s next, and it’s going to be busy. There are a handful of posts that will need to be written before we’re too far into July, including one of my overall experiences with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, my initial impressions of the Deus Ex: Mankind Divided E3 gameplay footage, and the concluding posts for both OreGairu Zoku and Hibike Euphonium. I’ll also need to watch and write about the Sabagebu! OVAs. This is going to be exacerbated by the fact that I’ve got a concert to attend tomorrow evening, and a movie on Friday…but I’ll make it work.

  • Alice, Karen and Shinobu joyfully reunite around halfway into the finale. As with the previous season, the finale ends proper once the main arc resolves, and the remainder of the episode is dedicated to a side story. This one follows Shinobu as she attempts to study for an English exam under Alice’s watchful eye, and although not quite as amusing as the one from the first season, was still entertaining to behold.

When everything is said and done, Hello! Kiniro Mosaic is ultimately a solid continuation to Kiniro Mosiac, taking advantage of familiar characters to explore their everyday lives in greater detail, and introducing new characters liven the atmosphere up. Here is a series that has settled into the unique situations and accompanying humour that is possible with Alice, Shinobu, Yoko, Aya and Karen, and although the setting might not be as unique as that in Gochūmon wa Usagi Desu ka, Hello! Kiniro Mosaic opts to play to each characters’ strengths to provide non-stop comedy, as well as more tender moments that illustrate just how deep everyone’s friendship with one another is. Hello! Kiniro Mosaic concludes as the students gear up for entrance exams in their third year of high school, so it’s quite possible that a third season will eventually be adapted. If we go by trends, then said third season will likely be premièred in Winter 2017, although in the absence of more concrete information, this date remains pure speculation.

Hello! Kiniro Mosaic: Reflection and review after three

“Good teachers know how to bring out the best in students.” —Charles Kuralt

The sequel to Kiniro Mosaic, Hello! Kiniro Mosaic marks a welcome return to the gentle, slow-paced humour that characterised the first season, which saw Alice and Shinobu resume their friendship after the latter’s homestay in England five years prior to the present. When the first season ended, Alice and Shinobu were advancing into their second year of high school, but were separated on virtue of being in different classes. The second season picks up right where the first left off; Aya, Shinobu and Karen have Akari Kuzehashi as their homeroom instructor, and owing to her strict, intimidating presence, are having a difficult time adjusting. Karen’s efforts eventually leads Akari to open up somewhat, and by episode three, Hello! Kiniro Mosaic has settled right with the pace of things, with Yoko’s younger siblings making an appearance and Alice expressing a desire to be with Poppy, her pet dog.

For most viewers familiar with Kiniro Mosaic, the first season concluded nearly two years ago, and it was only a few months ago where a second season had been given the go-ahead and announced. On my end, it’s only been two months since I finished the first season. Consequently, I still recall vividly what the first season was like; the second season is off to an exceptionally strong start, offering incredibly amusing situations that allow the characters to bounce off one another. It is quite reminiscent of Bill Waterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, where the jokes became consistently better as Waterson continued to tune his craft. Hello! Kiniro Mosaic does just this: all of the sheer ridiculousness of some of the situations, whether it’s Karen’s determination to befriend Akari, the antics that ensue when everyone tries to reproduce an authentic English High Tea experience or Alice’s desire for a pet indicate moments that were are well-polished, intended to be accessible for new viewers, while simultaneously reacquainting those familiar with the show through some of the more subtle moments that allow the audience to learn more about the characters.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Alright, we’re back to Kiniro Mosaic, and I’m commentating this while I watch, picking up where I left off, let’s do this. I’m feeling magical; I can complete this review…in roughly thirty seconds. For newcomers, Hello! Kiniro Mosaic is quite accessible, although watching the first season is recommended, since there are subtle call-backs to the first season that make the second season doubly enjoyable to watch.

  • The first few episodes deal predominantly with Akari, a new character who is the home economics instructor and also Aya, Karen and Shinobu’s homeroom instructor. Much of the humour in the episodes is dramatic in nature, with Karen mentioning Akari in a moderately unflattering light and subsequently learning that Akari happens to be standing right behind her.

  • While she’s actually quite kind-hearted and enjoys working with her students, Akari’s intimidating appearance causes her students to become quite distant as a result. Karen sees her as a tiger for her ferocity, and speculates that she’s even eaten students.

  • It comes across as somewhat unnerving in reality, and Kiniro Mosaic manages to turn Alice’s recording observations of Shinobu into something that’s endearing and entertaining. Not every anime can pull this off, but in the remarkably relaxed, carefree world that is Kiniro Mosaic, something like this is not unplausible.

  • Karen somehow manages to acquire a Sherlock-esque garb in her investigation to figure out Akari, and in the process, learns that Shinobu is also quite mysterious, as well. Together with Aya, Yoko and Alice, they follow Shinobu around to no avail, and later, Shinobu reveals that her wish to learn English and become an interpreter was brought on by a memory from her childhood, where she saw someone converse with a native English speaker.

  • While Karen is rather rambunctious, she’s also kind-hearted and is quick to befriend others. Her determination to get on good terms with Akari is quite endearing, and in fact, brings back memories of when I was an assistant instructor for kindergarten-aged children at a Chinese language school. It was there I realised the joys of piquing students’ enthusiasm for learning things.

  • Upon hearing Sakura’s suggestion about “squeezing something cute”, Yoko and even Aya gets in on it. Kiniro Mosaic is remarkably similar to GochiUsa with respect to atmospherics and pacing, despite their respective manga’s different authors. The time difference between Kiniro Mosaic‘s first and second seasons’ start points is 21 months, so assuming this trend to hold, GochiUsa‘s second season will probably air during Winter 2016.

  • Shinobu proposes that everyone gets together for afternoon tea, and after spending an afternoon just making the scones and biscuits, they’re forced to reschedule it. Afternoon tea has its origins in the 1840s amongst the British upper classes, and thus, can be said to be a relatively recent custom. A direct translation into my native tongue yields “yum cha” (飲茶), although rather than British staples, such as pastries and crumpets, dim sum is served instead. It’s one of my favourite events, and I’m especially fond of har gow.

  • Karen decides to give some of the additional cookies she’d made with the others to her classmates as thanks for offering her sweets previously. Karen’s ever-lively personality and openness lends Kiniro Mosaic a very energetic feel: prior to her arrival in the series, things felt much slower, more laid-back in pacing. Something similar is happening in The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan: now that Haruhi’s back, the show feels like it’s really picked up.

  • Despite knowing that happi coats don’t require measurements, Aya takes Yoko’s measurements anyways. Read directly in Chinese, 法被 has no meaning in Hanzi, but refer to the happi coats in Japanese kanji; these are typically worn during festivals and its phonetic similarity has led them to be referred to as “happy coats”, which Akari tries to make a joke out of.

  • While Shinobu may be under-performing as a student, her love of clothing means that she’s quite a seamstress, impressing Akari with her craftsmanship. On my edge, I tend to be similarly impressed with students who submit exceptionally well-done programs that satisfy the assignment criteria. These assignments are the easiest to mark, and I typically begin the marking procedure by separating assignments into two piles: the pile that outright works, and the pile where I give the assignment a closer look so they can be fairly evaluated.

  • After a conversation with Sakura, Akari gradually figures out how to interact with her students without scaring them. One of the things that students look for in an instructor is their approachability: ever since I took the position of being a TA, I strive to present myself as being available to help the students to the best of my ability. While this means my inbox typically fills up (even with emails from students in other sections), it is immensely rewarding to see students learn and grasp the material.

  • Naturally, I do not intimidate my students quite to the same extent that Akari does, and while I remind my students of important dates, since said students are undergraduates and adults, I expect that they are able to manage their own schedules and become aware of the deadlines.

  • This year for April Fools’ Day, I changed my relationship status on Facebook from what it normally is to “In a Relationship”. It was a remarkably effective prank, since numerous of my friends did in fact fall for it, but those who know me quite well would know that it’s unlikely that such a thing would happen on such short notice. I thought it was fairly amusing, until I found out about Matimi0’s April Fools’ joke, which deceived even me.

  • In fact, I would argue that those who read my blog and the accompanying image captions for each post would probably know me better than those who see my news feed on Facebook. This blog does act as an electronic diary of sorts, even if it is not quite as detailed as other online diaries. Apparently, dogs do not get along with Shinobu and bark in her presence.

  • Last season, we had Alice bursting into tears after a New Year’s Dream near the series’ end, although this time around, the wait for such a reaction was not quite so long. My posting schedule’s been thrown off by the fact that I’ve been remarkably busy over the past while: on Sunday, I attended brunch with my professor for multi-agent systems and classmates; the morning had been quite gloomy when I drove there. As I sat down to plates of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, a freshly made omelette, honey glazed ham, mini-steaks and chicken quesadillas, discussion turned to applications of multi-agent systems in real-world scenarios.

  • Discussions feel much more informal outside of the classroom, and after I finished cheesecake some time later, the weather had cleared out completely, leaving skies of blue and sunshine.  I spent the remainder of the day grading assignments. Back in Kiniro Mosaic, Alice has fallen from a strong desire to pet and play with Poppy again. Such visuals add a great deal of humour to the scenario.

  • Despite suggestions to pet Yoko in Poppy’s stead, Alice remarks that it’s different. Akari remarks that the students feel more similar to primary school students, and to an external observer, this is quite true. It’s only in anime where characters are able to act much younger than their ages would otherwise suggest, and the unique environment here allows this to be executed quite well.

  • Sakura goes to extreme lengths to help her students, even managing to mimick Poppy’s barking to resuscitate Alice. Today marked the end of my first year in graduate studies; I completed an oral exam for the multi-agent systems course and summarily received my grade to continue my perfect streak. Now that the summer’s practically here, I finally picked up the Wolfenstein bundle (The New Order and The Old Blood) and will be starting on that quite soon. As well, I’ll be concluding April with a post on Hibike! Euphonium and my impressions of the finale to Gundam Build Fighters Try.

  • Shinobu later makes a robotic dog for Alice to keep her company until she returns to England and sees Poppy again. Whatever lies ahead for Hello! Kiniro Mosaic will be something that I look forwards to seeing, as the academic term gives way to the summer. I anticipate that having humour of this calibre will be particularly helpful as I gear up to learn the Unreal Engine and begin my thesis in earnest.

Moving forwards, it appears that several new characters will be added to the line-up, offering the possibility of pushing new adventures and humour forwards. The second season’s off to a fine start: the first season was quite enjoyable to watch, but here, the situations seem to segue into one another very neatly, making each moment more enjoyable. If this trend holds for the remainder of the season, audiences will be left with a fantastic comedy that is sure to entertain in every moment. It’s been a while since I’ve watched a well-executed comedy; insofar, Hello! Kiniro Mosaic is something that’s very easy to recommend, and while this second season can be watched without having watched the first, there are some nuances that can only be understood if one’s watched the first season. We are still reasonably early into Hello! Kiniro Mosaic, so catching up before the fourth episode is not a particularly momentous undertaking.

Kiniro Mosaic: Whole-Series Review and Reflection

“In England, we have such good manners that if someone says something impolite, the police will get involved.” —Russell Brand

I’m now ready for Hello! Kiniro Mosaic, having officially finished the first season of Kiniro Mosaic. This anime thus joins the ranks of GochiUsa, Non Non Biyori, SoniAni, Tamayura and K-On! as Iyashike in my library, and when mentioned, I will remember this one for the unique sort of jokes that arise from Alice and Shinobu’s love for Japanese and English cultures, respectively. Alice quickly becomes accustomed to life in Japan with Shinobu, Aya and Yoko. Karen Kugo, Alice’s friend from England, also transfers to Shinobu and Alice’s school in the neighbouring class. After acclimatising to her new class and making new friends, Karen joins the others in sharing coursework and summer vacation, as well as a school culture festival and Christmas, together. As the series rolls to a end, the girls’ second year begins, and although they’re in different classes now, Shinobu reassures Alice that they’re still close togther.

Kiniro Mosaic tells a story about cultural differences, the perspective that people gain when they see aspects from said cultures, and that friendship is sufficient to transcend these differences. Kiniro Mosaic specifically deals with English and Japanese culture: Alice takes a great interest to all things Japanese, while Shinobu loves every aspect of British English culture. Their mutual respect and interest in the other’s background means that the two get along swimmingly, and are closer than any of the other characters in the series. While their friendship is close, Alice and Shinobu do not steal the spotlight from the other characters; whether it be Yoko’s forward, cheerful mannerisms, Aya’s shy, tsundere-like tendencies or Karen’s boisterous presence,  the unique combinations of personality allow for everyone to share the spotlight and have a solid contribution to the atmosphere for whatever they find themselves doing. Anime of the present tend to rely on familiar character archetypes, but by mixing up the different archetypes together, Kiniro Mosaic is able to capitalise on everyone to produce an endearing comedy.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • My killstreak for posts ended with the Spring 2015 anime preview: I posted on five consecutive days, but now that Reading Week’s over, it’s time to get back to work. Shortly after arriving in Japan, Alice brought along a Japanese-style doll and tried to find Shinobu by asking for a girl who looked like said doll.

  • Shinobu is wont to wear some rather unusual outfits on her outings with friends, which take the form of the Gothic Lolita style.

  • Karen is introduced in episode three and speaks in broken Japanese with a rambunctious manner reminiscent of Kantai Collection‘s Kongou (this isn’t surprising, since they share the same voice actor). If we have to nit-pick about the English in Kiniro Mosaic, I’d say that Alice and Karen are lacking the British English accents. I personally find British, Scottish and Australian English to sound infinitely better than American/Canadian English; the latter sounds a little flat.

  • The oil-paper umbrella originates from China, entering Korea and then Japan during the Asuka period. Known as wagasa, these umbrellas became popular during the Edo period, and were ornately decorated with period art. They are associated with Japanese culture, with different colours being used by different customers (e.g. Geisha, dancers and actors use purple, pink and black umbrellas, respectively).

  • Isami is Shinobu’s older sister and is a fashion model who worries about Shinobu’s careless and absent-minded tendencies. She’s particularly fond of taking photographs of Shinobu and her friends.

  • Aya and GochiUsa‘s Rize are very nearly identical in terms of appearance, and as the Kiniro Mosaic manga predates the GochiUsa manga by nine months, one might suppose that Rize’s physical appearance was inspired by Aya’s. Crossover artwork frequently depict the two together, and save their hair colour, it’s quite difficult to tell the two apart.

  • Sakura Karasuma is an English teacher with a kind personality, but is also quite absent-minded as well, and often makes vague jokes whilst moving about in the school’s hallways. She’s well liked amongst the students, and although she understands that Shinobu’s command of English is weak, nonetheless tries to encourage Shinobu to pursue her dream of being an interpreter.

  • During a summer day, the entire party goes on a day trip to the mountains. Karen’s talent for catching fish leaves Alice in the dust; the latter had intended to try and impress Shinobu, but is resigned to eating the fish that Karen has caught. I’m almost certain that the cleaning aspect was carried out, but the anime had spared us the necessity of watching the process: in Survivorman, Les Stroud skips over the portions of cleaning out whatever fish and game he catches.

  • It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen anything to do with Yuyushiki, and I was pleasantly surprised to see it again. I believe that when I watched it last, I was working on a serialised computer model that allowed two simulations running on different computers to share information, and it was also the summer of Half Life 2Metro Last Light and Garden of Words. Kiniro Mosaic is run in Manga Time Kirara Max, a subset of Manga Time Kirara, which runs Yuyushiki and K-On!, hence the permissions to grant Yuyushiki a cameo appearance here.

  • Besides Shinobu, whose got some sort of hybrid kimono that integrates traditional and Western elements, Yoko, Aya, Alice and Karen all wear traditional kimono to their local summer festival.

  • After an evening of takoyaki and other Summer Festival foods, running into Sakura and lighting sparklers, the girls close the evening and episode off with a firework. It’s the quintessential summer experience, and one that I’ve seen in too many anime to name.

  • After masquerading as a mysterious guest, Isami blows her cover during the school festival when she aims her camera at Alice. Shinobu’s class does a hybrid cafe that combines Western and Japanese elements together, and despite Aya’s protests about donning a maid’s outfit, their class does a fine job.

  • Alice’s first culture festival turns out to be a wonderful experience, and despite the minor misunderstanding that arises when Shinobu forgets that it’s the anniversary of when they’d first met, Alice manages to gift a hair ribbon to Shinobu after the culture festival draws to a close.

  • For no reason at all, and occupying a precious slot reserved for screenshots, I will show off the pièce de résistance of Aya’s cooking: king crab. Crab is a food best enjoyed by handling it directly with one’s fingers. As skilled as I am with a fork and knife, nothing beats opening the crab shell and sucking out the succulent meat within. King crab is usually something I have during the New Year’s or during the summer, and for other events of the year, Dungeness Crab (Metacarcinus magister) cooked with ginger and green onion accompanies the dinner.

  • Aya decides to invite everyone over for a sleepover when her friends learn that her parents are out. Aya is quite the opposite of Rize: while the latter is confident, disciplined and forward, Aya is quiet, although there are some situations where the former acts similarly to the latter (and vise-versa) in their respective animes.

  • I didn’t expect anime such as Kiniro Mosaic to produce much in the way of discussion, and for the most part, aside from reviews, discussion about Kiniro Mosaic tends to be short, sweet and to the point, expressing how the anime is able to leave a warm, favourable impression on its audiences. A second season was announced somewhere back during April 2014, and with the success this series has experienced, this is not surprising and much welcomed.

  • GochiUsa and Kiniro Mosaic take the audiences on a journey through the year, and despite being created by different authors, manage to be quite similar to one another in some regards. Quite personally, the European setting in GochiUsa, and the fact that I watched it first, makes it more memorable for me, but this is not to say that Kiniro Mosaic was unenjoyable.

  • It’s 2015, and moments such as these still melt my heart. After a New Year’s Dream, Alice speaks in nothing but English about her experiences back home in England, anxious about Shinobu losing interest in her because she was growing too accustomed to Japanese culture. Shinobu finds her own English completely outmatched, and after Alice tearfully reveals the truth, she reassures Alice that things will be fine.

  • By the start of their second year, Alice and Yoko are separated from Aya, Shinobu and Karen, leading to disappointment until Shinobu notes that their distance is trivial compared to the separation they had after Shinobu returned to Japan when her homestay period concluded. The second season will focus on how Aya and Alice grow accustomed to classes without their friends, and may even feature a group visit to Alice’s home.

  • The finale is a little unusual: the end credits roll about halfway into the episode, and the remainder of the time is spent on a dramatisation of Shinobu’s story, featuring her and Alice as princesses, Karen as a pirate, Aya as a mermaid and Yoko as a prince. It’s sufficiently moving as to garner an ovation from her classmates and even moves Aya to tears. Typically, the end of the post comes with speculation, although this time, this isn’t strictly necessary, as we know there is a second season.

While Kiniro Mosaic offers nothing new as a slice-of-life anime to quite the same extent as GochiUsa and its warm, European setting, it is able to rearrange enough of the character archetypes and premise into an anime that remains entertaining for fans of the slice-of-life moé genre. This is an anime where the artwork is relatively simple, emphasising the dynamics of yet another group of friends. The relatively minimal artwork means that the viewers are drawn towards the characters, reinforcing a common theme for slice-of-life anime: that it’s the people one spends time with, rather than where they are, that matter. I personally would’ve liked to have seen more content set during Shinobu’s homestay in England, and the segments in Japan feel like a well-worn path, frequently tread and familiar. However, with Sinobu, Alice, Yoko, Aya and Karen keeping things interesting, I’ll be following the second season as this Spring 2015’s Iyashike even though it’s almost certainly going to feature more of the same: as I’ve enunciated in many other posts about slice-of-life, the whole point of such anime is to sooth and entertain. If I want something with a solid story, I’ll re-read H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine.

Kiniro Mosaic: In Wonderland Review and Reflection

“It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.” ― P.D. James, A Taste for Death

Kiniro Mosaic, or “Golden Mosaic”, is is an anime that is remarkably similar to GochiUsa; it was a part of the summer 2013 lineup and follows Shinobu Omiya who had a homestay visit in England when she was ten. She spends time living with a British girl named Alice Cartalet, and while Alice initially has trouble getting along with Shinobu due to the language barrier, the two are soon peas in a pod. As Shinobu’s homestay comes to an end, Alice hopes that she will one day come to Japan. In the present day, Shinobu receives a letter from Alice that allegedly states that she is coming to Japan; it turns out that Alice has transferred to Shinobu’s school, thus beginning yet another slice-of-life comedy based off a four-panel manga. The first episode is largely a flashback and comes with letterboxing to indicate thus, and the story it tells is one of nostalgia, of how two friends first met.

  • I came across Kiniro Mosaic by pure chance: on some forum somewhere, someone had mistaken the announcement for Kiniro Mosaic‘s second season for an announcement for GochiUsa‘s second season. I suddenly realised that I had missed an anime that was right up my alley from Summer 2013, a summer characterised by graduation, floods, The Garden of WordsHalf-Life 2 (and making donations to the Red Cross for flood relief), Yuyushiki and Skyrim (which I’ve still yet to beat).

  • The second season is set to air this spring, but I’ve still got a bit of time to watch this series. The first episode is set entirely in England, evoking memories of Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit and the idyllic depiction of rural England (probably the Lake District). Filled with greenery and quiet, the countryside stands in stark contrast to London, which was the main destination for K-On!‘s Houkago Tea Time during the movie.

  • Initially, Alice finds Shinobu frightening, but the two strike up a close friendship during the course of Shinobu’s stay. The dialogue is largely in English, and although Kiniro Mosaic chooses to go with native Japanese speakers to deliver the English lines (K-On! went the extra mile for their movie and had native British English speakers deliver the English dialogue for the London citizens), it is definitely syntactically correct and can be understood by native speakers without any difficulty.

  • Shinobu sits down to an English-style dinner featuring a Sunday roast, a meal that typically consists of roasted meat and potatoes with vegetables and gravy. It’s considered to be a less extravagant variant of Christmas dinner and contrary to its name, can be eaten any time of week, although traditionally, it is eaten on Sundays, and leftovers from the meals are used for other meals, such as for sandwich fillings and pies.

  • Shinobu gifts to Alice a hair ornament that the latter treasures greatly during her home-stay in England. Admittedly, I am a little surprised that Kiniro Mosaic somehow fell under my list of things to watch, considering that it’s a slice-of-life/comedy anime derived from a four-panel manga of the same name, although a look at the old archives shows that I did not watch many of the anime from Summer 2013 until Fall. However, being a year-and-a-half late to the party does not mean the show is any less enjoyable than it was when it first came out.

  • Alice and Shinobu enjoy afternoon tea outside in a large garden.Alice takes Shinobu in a stroll around the English countryside, a truly magical place with scenery quite unlike what I’m used to: where I come from, we have vast fields of gold under a blue sky, and majestic mountain ranges in the distance. The rolling hills and lakes of England thus seem quite unique to me and has made my list of places to eventually visit. On that note, I’ve decided to suspend my original plans to travel to Japan for practical reasons that take the form of a Master’s Thesis.

  • The soundtrack in Kiniro Mosaic is quite pleasant, rather like the GochiUsa soundtrack. The rationale for my decision is that I would very much like to make a substantial amount of progress in both my research project and the thesis paper itself such that I may publish to a conference before I graduate, and a weeks’ time could mean the difference between having a good project and a great project. I’m also considering travelling Europe (England, Scotland or Germany) rather than Japan, given that I’ve just returned from Taiwan a little more than a month ago, and that I’ve never set foot on the European continent before.

  • Thus, this summer, I will continue to work on my research and save any travelling for my graduation trip. Returning back to Kiniro Mosaic, the anime returns to the present-day, signified by the aspect ratio. The odds of something like this happening are probably slim, but Alice manages to transfer into Shinobu’s class. Five years since the home-stay, Shinobu’s English has not improved any, and as such, she found herself unable to read Alice’s letter properly, leading this moment to be quite surprising for her.

  • The setup is the inverse of what it was back during Shinobu’s homestay, with Alice now staying with her. Contrasting Shinobu, whose English skills are inadequate, Alice is able to converse fully in Japanese, having studied diligently in previous years owing to her love of Japanese culture. From a technical perspective, Alice’s Japanese proficiency far surpasses her English, a consequence of practical constraints, but this is a very subtle point that I’d figure I’d mention for fun.

  • The first episode to Kiniro Mosaic was really about setting the stage, and later on, the show’s other characters (Yoko, Aya and Karen) are introduced. I began watching Kiniro Mosaic just recently, but the anime has caught my attention, and I’ve been moving through it at a relatively brisk pace while waiting for other shows (Kantai Collection and Saekano): I anticipate finishing Kiniro Mosaic quite soon, just in time for the second season to begin.

Kiniro Mosaic is the latest slice-of-life to grace my library, and the first episode stands out for being set completely in rural England with Alice’s family. In keeping with the atmosphere, the British characters communicate in English to give the audience the impression that Shinobu is staying somewhere completely foreign. Compared to the K-On! Movie, where the characters’ interactions overrode any sense of foreignness, Shinobu has completely embraced English culture, illustrating how much of an impact the homestay program had on her. It’s quite rare for anime to do so, but this is quite welcoming, and with the first episode finished, the setting returns to Japan to explore what happens once Alice arrives.