The Infinite Zenith

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Category Archives: Koisuru Asteroid

Koisuru Asteroid: Review and Reflections At The Halfway Point

“That’s the key to new and good ideas; they come from having a very broad and multidisciplinary range of interests.” –Robin Chaseen

With summer break in full swing, instructor Yuki takes the girls to her grandparents’ place. While Mira and the others are initially surprised, it turns out that Yuki’s grandparents live near both Tsukuba Geological Museum and the JAXA Space Centre. While Mikage takes in the sights of the geological museum on day one, Mira takes a rock to be appraised by a palaeontologist, who finds that Mira’s “fossil” is a pseudo-fossil, formed by minerals crystallising into organic-looking dendrites. The girls visit JAXA the next day. Here, Mari takes in everything with an ardent fervour, while Mira and Ao inquire about programmes for discovering asteroids. Back at Yuki’s grandparent’s place, the girls stargaze, and Yuki reveals the existence of a contest where the winners could join an asteroid discovery program. The girls visit the Science Museum of Map and Survey for Mai, and Yuki recalls her own interests in astronomy. After the girls return home, Ao and Mira visit the beach with Suzu, who becomes jealous at Mira’s increasing closeness to Ao. Mira also spends a day with Mikage, attending a minerals exhibition. Mikage, being a third-year, is worried about her future. When term resumes, the Earth Sciences club encounters the newspaper club’s Sayuri Ibe and Ayano Usami, who’d come to take a look after the Earth Sciences club’s success with their newsletter. They end up determining what the Earth Sciences club should do for their culture festival exhibit: a themed-café showcasing various facets of astronomy and geology. While Mai and Mikage focus on obtaining a bore sample from their school grounds, Mira, Ao and Mari create a model solar system. Their café ends up being successful, and once the festival draws to a close, Mari and Mikage announce their intent to step down from a leadership role, handing the baton to a surprised Mai. At Koisuru Asteroid‘s halfway point, Mira and Ao have definitely closed the distance between one another since their reunion, and all of the Earth Science club’s members have begun to appreciate the merits and curiosities of both astronomy and geology. The series is, in short, very enjoyable after six episodes, although for the present, there does appear to be a delay, as the episode scheduled next is a recap episode.

Six episodes into Koisuru Asteroid, the series’ themes are beginning to materialise, being pushed to the forefront of what Mira and the others are doing during their time together as members of the Earth Sciences club. While the merger of the two clubs have indeed created a bit of a divide in the sense that Mira, Ao, Mari, Mikage and Mai must all balance one another’s interests, the union of the two seemingly unrelated fields has a very tangible benefit for everyone: while technical details and methodologies differ greatly between astronomy and geology, both fields offer unique approaches towards solving their problems. From a low-granularity perspective, the approaches that Mikage and Mai take towards geology can help Mira, Ao and Mari with their challenges, while the methods each of Mira, Ao and Mari use in astronomy can similarly be inspiring for Mai and Mikage. The synergy between different fields is commonly referred to as the multidisciplinary approach, and this method is particularly valuable because it combines the knowledge and skill-set from a variety of areas to approach problems that are multi-faceted and complex in nature. From an industry and academic perspective, this affords a team with the diverse array of perspectives and experience to tackle different aspects of a problem, while in Koisuru Asteroid, it means that the Earth Sciences club’s members can each appreciate what the other side has to offer. The culture festival in Koisuru Asteroid, then, is a culmination of the club’s multidisciplinary nature: this year’s showing is clearly a result of both the geology and astronomy students putting their heads together to put on their café, and it therefore stands to reason that, if the Earth Sciences club can pull together and make a successful event, as a club and a team, they are ready for whatever their next aspirations are.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Right out of the gates, I will note that Koisuru Asteroid has very quickly proven itself to be an excellent series; while not particularly novel with its setting, writing or execution, the anime succeeds in creating a very imaginative and enjoyable portrayal of two disciplines that are not always represented in anime. The girls open their travels to a part of Japan near Yuki’s grandparents’ place; Yuki’s chosen it because of the location’s proximity to several research institutes: Tsukuba is home to several scientific installations as a result of the Japanese government’s desire to create a dedicated space for research and development in 1963, both to relieve overcrowding in Tokyo facilities and to provide Japan the means of keeping up with Western scientific innovations and development.

  • The closest equivalent of the geology museum I have in my area is the Royal Tyrell Museum, and if I may, it is a superb museum for folks interested in geology and palaeontology. My most recent visit was a few years ago, after they’d discovered the “Hellboy” fossil, so-named for its distinct-looking plates. Even as an adult, there’s nothing quite like the joys of visiting a museum, and taking in all of the exhibits. It’s one thing to read about various things in books, but quite another to actually see them in person: Mikage certainly seems to think so and is just barely able to contain her excitement.

  • The girls subsequently speak with a palaeontologist regarding a rock Mira’s found. To Mira’s initial disappointment, this is merely a pseudofossil, which form from chemical processes creating distinct patterns, as opposed to true fossils, which form when minerals crystallise in cavities left behind by decayed organic matter or seep into hardier organic matter, such as bones, shells and teeth. Closer inspection, however, yields the fragment of a true fossil: while far too small to be resolved by the naked eye, it is visible in a microscope. Folks at Tango-Victor-Tango argue this is an instance of “reality ensues”, but I hardly see how this applies to Mira’s decision to bring in a curious-looking rock for appraisal.

  • The next day, the girls visit Mira, Ao and Mari’s destination of interest: JAXA’s Tsukuba Space Center. This installation is located in Tsukuba Science City in Ibaraki Prefecture, about 50 kilometres northeast of Tokyo as the mole digs and 20 kilometres away from Ooarai. The facility opened in 1972 and is involved with research on space exploration; Japanese astronauts train here, as well as at NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. The closest I’ve ever been to a proper Space Centre was the NASA Ames Research Centre, but there’s not a visitor centre per se, only a small gift shop on its edges. I visited last year, while down in Southern California for F8, the Facebook Developer Conference.

  • Faithful to its real-world counterpart, there’s a H-II Rocket at the facility’s front gates, and the girls attempt to touch it, feeling it’s their first step towards space travel. The laws of gravity prevent them from reaching the rocket’s main body. Early on in their time as members of the Earth Sciences club, the girls do not yet have a sense of camaraderie and don’t really consider lifting each other up to reach the rocket, but one of the core aspects of Koisuru Asteroids is watching the club grow closer together: this is a common theme in Manga Time Kirara works, and I anticipate that the club’s achievements will come precisely from this.

  • I’ve never been to a dedicated space museum of the same calibre as that of the Tsukuba Space Centre or NASA’s facilities, but I definitely understand the girls’ excitement to visit. Ao and Mira are moved to tears by an introductory video of space travel, and while this may seem far-fetched, the enormous achievements in space travel are awe-inspiring; fictional films like First Man and Apollo 13 instil a sense of vigour and amazement, and even the drier documentary style films at museums are always fun to watch. During the tour, Mari grows quiet, absorbed in her own thoughts about what it will take to join a space program.

  • Mira and Ao’s minds are on asteroid-searching, and a space centre is probably no place to ask it: the staff are more familiar with space travel and the feats of engineering involved, rather than astronomy and the tools astronomers use to study the heavens. However, in spite of this, the girls nonetheless get inspired to inquire about, and visiting the Tsukuba Space Centre reinforces the girls’ excitement and desire to fulfill their promise to one another. As the girls look around at the various exhibits, I find myself curious to visit a proper Space Centre and its museums, to see for myself the implements of space travel, as well as the Saturn V rockets, Apollo CM and LEM.

  • Unlike Mira, I’ve always been a bit more conservative at museum gift shops: while it is fun to browse around and see all of the cool stuff they have, I always derived the biggest joy from reading about space travel, astronomy and geology through books, rather than through building a model rocket or splitting my own geodes open. As such, when I was a child, I only ever got small items from gift shops, where things are overpriced anyways. Instead, I would save my funds for books relevant to the topic of interest: unlike the various souvenirs, books held their value, and I could always go back to them as reference.

  • After a barbeque, the girls enjoy the night sky: a full moon might be blotting out the stars, but with a good telescope, the lunar surface is thrown into sharp relief. Being the closest celestial body to Earth, the moon appears amazing in a telescope, and even with a good pair of binoculars, looking at the full moon can yield a surprising amount of detail. One commonly-asked question is whether or not one can see where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed. The Sea of Tranquility is visible during the full moon, being on the “mid-right hand side”, although it should be obvious that no Earth-based telescope can resolve the actual LEM.

  • Up until now, Mira had only used an alt-azimuth mounted telescope, which affords a telescope with two degrees of freedom with respect to rotation. The equatorial mount also offers two degrees of freedom in rotation, but unlike the alt-azimuth mount, the equatorial mount uses a declination axis that moves the telescope north and south. A right ascension (polar) axis then points the telescope east or west. By pointing the polar axis at the north celestial pole, the telescope becomes parallel with the earth’s rotational axis, and so, adjusting the polar axis will allow one to track objects much more easily: equatorial mounts are well-suited for astronomy. The concept of an equatorial mount can be a bit tricky (I know I had a bit of trouble visualising it when I first read about it), so I’ve linked to an animation that illustrates how an equatorial mount works.

  • Koisuru Asteroid presents the girls as being afforded a realistic night sky to look at: in most anime, the cast are afforded with a beautiful night sky with an SQM (Sky Quality Meter) of 22.00 mag./arc sec² (corresponding to a Class 1 on the Bortle Dark Sky Index, perfect conditions where magnitude 7.5 stars are visible). With this level of darkness, the sky is vividly filled with stars, and the Milky Way is brightly visible. Where Mira and her friends go, I imagine that the SQM is between 21.78 mag./arc sec² and 21.61 mag./arc sec² (between a Class 3 and 4): in a rural to rural-suburban transition, the naked eye limit is about magnitude 6.0 to 7.0, which is pretty good. With the moon out, however, this goes down, and fainter stars become harder to spot.

  • On the topic of realism, I’ve heard complaints coming from one “Kotomikun” that, with the revelation that it takes special equipment and techniques to do so, Mira and Ao’s desire to find an asteroid is highly “unrealistic”. This is unfounded, since Koisuru Asteroid also introduces a special contest that could give Ao and Mira such a chance: the narrative would accommodate this journey, and so, there is nothing remotely “unrealistic” about the two’s aspirations. The fact that Ao and Mira have such a clear goal is something to be envious for Mikage, whose biggest worry at present is wondering what she would do for her future.

  • Aside from more obvious reasons, I have a fondness for what are colloquially referred to as “beach episodes” in slice-of-life anime: placing the cast of a given show on a beach of white sand, azure-turquoise waters and a deep blue sky gives a series a chance to really show us what they’ve got with respect to visuals. For me, nothing is more relaxing than infinite skies of deep blue, and one can really feel the warmth and tranquility in these moments.

  • While the beautiful weather in Koisuru Asteroid is a far cry from the weather in southern Alberta, I have no complaints about the weather this year: after a bitterly cold week in January, this winter has been rather more mild, and so, when I went to a raclette party last night, it was only a little chilly, compared to last year, where it was -40°C. In this year’s raclette party, I had a chance to meet up with some old friends from high school and university that’d I’d not seen in over two years. Conversations and reminiscence dominated the evening as we enjoyed tortilla chips on home-made salsa, French bread cheese fondue, three different kinds of sausage, scallops, mushrooms and peppers grilled alongside brie and raclette cheese.

  • It strikes me that we’ve now been doing raclette for nearly a decade, and one joke we realised was that it took us ten years to figure out how to get the cheese for the fondue just right, but because we do them so infrequently, we’ll probably forget the next time. Back in Koisuru Asteroid, owing to the geology of the beach Mai and the others visit, the area is susceptible to rip tides. The diagram explains that the flow of currents into the bay creates an area where the water has nowhere to go but out, which creates these strong currents: because water is incompressible, the water pushed in has to go somewhere, and so, for their latest challenge, the girls risk losing Mira if they’re not careful.

  • When the girls see a jet ski ride, they decide to participate. By this point, the competition for Mira’s attention is all but gone, and the girls simply spend their time having fun to the best of their abilities. After everyone falls off the jet ski, they catch a breather by some strata: these rock layers are immeasurably valuable for geologists, giving insight into things like atmospheric composition and climate.

  • Whereas Mira immediately accepts an invitation to hang out and check out a mineral exhibition, the others are busy, leaving Mira alone with Mikage. At the exhibition, a variety of terrestrial minerals are showcased, and there is a geode demonstration. As well, they also sell small pieces of meteorites: Mira is shocked to learn that even a millimetre-wide fragment can go for ninety CAD. When she speaks with one of the vendors, her weak English leaves her lost, but fortunately, Mikage is able to step in and pick things up.

  • Mikage and Mira don’t particularly see eye-to-eye by Manga Time Kirara standards owing to their different interests, and the two tend to subtly undermine the other at times. However, by having the two spend a day together, this helps the two to understand one another better. One of the biggest joys of slice-of-life series is precisely this: being able to see combinations of characters spend time together helps to bring out a different side in them, and overall, strengthens the friendship within a group. Different character combinations also lend themselves to different jokes, which is precisely how series like GochiUsa and Kiniro Mosaic are able to keep things entertaining despite their simple premise.

  • When classes resume, Mira and Ao find the newspaper club’s president, Sayuri, and her friend, Ayano at their building. The two are in a bit of an awkward situation, and it’s clear that Sayuri is attempting to gain clandestine access to the Earth Science’s club’s club room by means of rappelling down in a strange fashion that is sure to be irksome for any special forces teams who are trained for such entries. As it turns out, Sayuri is jealous of the attention the Earth Sciences Club is getting and plans to extort them, but this backfires when Mari captures everything Sayuri’s said and turns the tables on her.

  • With the school culture festival coming up, the Earth Sciences club decides to cook up something special, an amalgamation of both the former geology and astronomy club’s exhibitions held together by baking Earth Science-themed items. Mikage and Mai decide to obtain a core sample to show the composition of the earth surrounding their school, while Mira, Ao and Mari do a model solar system. Initially, Mikage objects to this idea, arguing that the diverse array of exhibits will appear disorganised, but recalling her desire to find a path, consents to the plan, knowing that she should still do her best towards something meaningful.

  • Mikage and Mai use a home-made pile-driver as their gravity corer to obtain their sample, although it’s slow going. When Sayuri and Ayano recruit some friends from the baseball team, the coring goes much more quickly. The softer composition of the land surrounding their school makes this possible, and with some teamwork, the girls finally have their sample ready. Mikage becomes a little embarrassed that others were willing to help out, but she thanks the baseball team, Sayuri and Ayano all the same; despite her tough and confident exterior, Mikage is also a little unsure of herself at times, as well.

  • Yuki explains that it takes a bit of a good impulse to get the core out: some damage to the core is inevitable during the extraction process, so professional coring methods often entail cutting the core along with the tube it came in to preserve the integrity of the specimen, or else using a non-destructive technique to scan the sample without exposing its contents to the atmosphere (which would contaminate the sample and preclude an accurate assessment of its composition). In the absence of more sophisticated methods, Yuki decides to extract it the old fashioned way but ends up destroying the top layer, causing Mikage to burst into laughter.

  • Mari, Ao and Mira have a grand ol’ time painting the planets, placing a great deal of detail into the terrestrial planets and the moon. Ao begins to fear they’re running out of time, but as it turns out, the gas giants are easily painted owing to their cloud layers being relatively low in detail, and in no time at all, they’re done. Here, the translations put Mari as calling the moon a planet: the moon was only regarded as a planet in classical and medieval astronomy, and this is meant to show that Mari has a very romantic view of astronomy, being inspired by her grandmother to pursue a space-related career. But under modern definitions, because the moon does not orbit a stellar mass capable of thermonuclear reactions (i.e. a star), it is not a planet. I’ve heard a case made that a draft of the IAU 2006 definition of a planet could allow the moon to be classified as a planet, but this was on a technicality owing to the proposed definition of a double-planet system.

  • In the drafted IAU 2006 definition, a double-planet system is where both planets have similar mass and where the barycentre is roughly equidistant between the two bodies of that system. While it should be obvious that, because of the significant mass disparity between the earth and moon means the barycentre is not equidistant, the Earth and moon cannot be a double planet system, owing to tidal forces interacting between the Earth and moon, the moon’s distance to Earth changes (four billion years ago, the moon would’ve been massive, looming in the night skies), and there would come a point where the moon’s distance would push the barycentre of the Earth-moon system to an equidistant point, thereby allowing the moon to be counted a planet. This is a rough edge case arising from a technicality, and so, it is understandable that the definition was rejected. Back in Koisuru Asteroid, after the girls finish, they fail to notice Moe, who comes bearing baked goods. They promptly finish the food before Moe can ask them to help her fine-tune the recipes, and Moe scoops up Ao in a princess carry in exuberance afterwards when Ao hugs her for having read about the lunar cycle, while Mari photographs everything.

  • On the day of the event, it turns out that everyone’s decked out in maid outfits, as well. Koisuru Asteroid is very forward with its yuri elements, but this never interferes with the story at any point. Watching the girls get creative with their culture festival exhibit brings to mind both my fascination with science, and my own desire to see youth be more engaged in science; I participate in volunteering for science fairs precisely to encourage youth to continue pursuing science if it is something they enjoy, and the first of the science fairs are coming in just a shade over a week.

  • Like every instructor in earlier Manga Time Kirara works, Yuki has a freeloading, perverted side to her character, as well. Prior to the culture festival opening to the public, she swings by, samples all of Moe’s baked goods and inspects the maid uniforms to ensure they are of the “appropriate length”, before declaring that everything checks out and leaving the girls to run things. This teacher archetype is something I’ve come to accept as a part of anime, although I am curious to know where this particular set of traits originated. While strictly relegated to anime on account of it being illegal in almost all places, such a character type is present in anime primarily to drive humour.

  • When Ao’s attempt to explain their solar system model to a small child fails (the child wonders what the cloud-like ring around the solar system is, and Ao’s explanation ends up being too technical), Mira steps in to regain the child’s interest by giving her a piggyback ride. Science communication and engagement is a skill: Mira’s explanation fits perfectly with what a child should hear, and for readers, this cloud represents Kuiper Belt, composed of small icy bodies left over from the solar system’s formation. The choice to represent it as a cloud is an appropriate one, since the Kuiper Belt would, from a distance, could be counted a cloud of these planetesimals.

  • When Mira’s sister, Misa, shows up, Moe becomes bashful and flustered: she offers Misa the best item on their café’s menu, a moon-themed pancake with whipped cream to simulate the current moon phase. Misa is implied to be a rather technical individual, finding it difficult to describe things in non-quantitative terms. However, it should be clear that she greatly enjoys Moe’s pancakes. Besides Misa, Mira’s parents also visit, along with Moe’s younger sister, and even Ao’s mother.

  • When Ao’s mother decides to grab a photo of Ao in maid attire, Ao lets out an adorable cry of terror that surprises everyone – no one had expected Ao to ever sound like this. On the whole, the Earth Science Club’s culture festival café was a great success, having drawn in and engaged a sizeable crowd without resorting to the cheap tricks Mari had been forced to employ the previous year for the astronomy club. Thanks to everyone’s efforts, the geology club also got more exposure than they had the previous year. However, not everyone is fully happy with the café, a few of Mikage’s visitors seemed disappointed, and this could form the basis for a future story that will need to see resolution for.

  • Koisuru Asteroid conclude its first half with the surprise announcement that the seniors are stepping down from their position, transitioning things over to Mai. It is a bit of a shock for her, and I foresee that Mai will grow into the role with some help. Between this and Mikage’s own challenges in finding her future, we are positioned to see the third quarter sort out lingering questions before turning focus towards Ao and Mira’s promise. With this post in the books, I will turn my attention towards The Division 2, now that I’ve cleared all of the strongholds, and once I unlock the Type 11 in Battlefield V, I will also do a talk on where things currently stand with what has been a rather turbulent experience.

What we’ve seen in Koisuru Asteroid insofar has been very relaxing and uplifting to watch: if I were to be entirely truthful, this is the sort of series that I could see myself writing for in an episodic fashion, as there is no shortage of material to discuss. The girls’ excursions to a variety of museums brings back memories of my own trips to museums and the joys of viewing exhibits. My first memory of visiting a museum would be the local planetarium, but my favourite memory from my childhood was when my parents took me to the Royal Tyrell Museum some 140 kilometres east of Calgary: this is one of the best and most comprehensive palaeontology and geology museums in the area, located in the heart of the Alberta Badlands. Even in the obligatory beach episode, Koisuru Asteroid sneaks in a bit of information on riptides and how their occurrence can create strong currents that sweep people far from the shore. There is no shortage of material to consider and talk about: while nothing novel is presented in Koisuru Asteroid, the anime has done a phenomenal job of presenting my geology and astronomy reference books in an anime form. Therefore, there is no higher praise when I say that Koisuru Asteroid has the same magic as The Magic School Bus. Koisuru Asteroid differs considerably in that it has a very substantial yuri component (which is especially evident with Moe’s actions), but this is seamlessly integrated into the science communication aspects of the anime. With this combination, Koisuru Asteroid has been superbly enjoyable, and as we move into the third quarter, I imagine that some time will be spent on helping Mai acclimatise and become comfortable with her role as the Earth Science club’s president, before the series ventures into seeing how Ao and Mira begin their journey towards accomplishing their childhood promise.

Koisuru Asteroid: Review and Reflections After Three

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” –Isaac Asimov

Instructor Yuki’s plans to have a riverside outing are realised, and after spending the afternoon and early evening enjoying both barbeque and bread from the Suzuya Bakery, Mikage introduces Mira to the joys of rock collecting, only to be brought back to reality when the interesting rocks she’s gathered are too heavy to carry. When darkness sets in, the girls set up a refractor telescope and get acquainted with the night skies: Mari demonstrates how to properly configure the telescope, and then the girls get their first glimpse at Jupiter and four of its largest moons. When Mikage looks through the telescope, the skies have shifted from Earth’s rotation, so the telescope must be re-positioned to be pointing at Jupiter. The girls are just in time for a meteor shower, but after spotting a fireball, call it a night. Back at school, Mira struggles to come up with a suitable style for her newsletter publication, but after Ao asks her to provide illustrations for her, Mira realises that she can do a comic for her topic. The girls later unwind at a hot springs and learn that different types of hot springs have different properties. Later, Mira and Ao are revealed to have failed their exams (with Ao failing out of pure carelessness) and attempt to study for their make-up exams. Moe arrives and meets Misa, Mira’s older sister and the student council president. Mira and Ao pass their exams on their second run, and after finding themselves short of funds, decide to work at the Suzuya Bakery. On a quiet day, Mira and Ao run into Mai, who’s hanging out with Moe. After briefly tailing them and getting burned in the process, Mira and Ao learn that Mai’s into geolocation and cartography. She creates a small geocaching assignment for them, leading Mira, Ao and Moe to learn that Mai’s greatest treasure are her friends. Meanwhile, instructor Yuki speaks with Mari about plans for a summer outing. This is where Koisuru Asteroid stands after three episodes, striking a fine balance between the ordinary moments of everyday life and having Mira and Ao delve deeper into a club whose topic is broad and awaiting numerous adventures.

After three episodes, Koisuru Asteroid has fully established where it intends to go – the second and third episodes have shown that Earth Sciences is a topic that provides plenty of direction for the anime to explore, from rock hunting to stargazing, and so, the journey to Ao and Mira’s eventual dream of discovering their own asteroid means to be one filled with smaller milestones and treasured memories. This early in the game, Ao and Mira have looked through a telescope, but have yet to become familiar with observation techniques, equipment and subtleties. Instead, common everyday events are shown to indicate that while the technical aspects of Mira and Ao’s dream matter, so do the mundane things of everyday life. Koisuru Asteroid therefore does live up to its title, being part about a love of the extraordinary in the ordinary, and part about the technical skill necessary to realise a dream built on a promise. The first three episodes set the precedence for the remainder of the series, and from here on out, it is reasonable to expect that Ao and Mira will make strides in their journey towards their promise, while at the same time, really take the time to enjoy moments spent with Mari, Mikage, Mai and Moe. I therefore look forwards to seeing the series advance on both fronts: while the friendship elements are on a well-worn path and will conclude in a manner that is expected, the astronomy and geology piece that Koisuru Asteroid will take remains a bit of an intrigue. Seeing what tools and techniques Mira and Ao learn along the way will be equally as enjoyable to watch, and I am certain that viewers will come out of Koisuru Asteroid with a greater appreciation for the joys of the night sky, as well as the world around us.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The third episode introspective of Koisuru Asteroid comes precisely a week ahead of Chinese New Year, and so, we’re into the celebrations now. This year is going to be the Year of The Mouse, and preparations begin tomorrow as we make lo bak go, a delicious dish that is, at least in my family, a Chinese New Year’s tradition. Tonight, I had a rather extravagant seafood dinner with family: the menu included dishes like lobster with a rich cream, deep-fried stuffed crab claw, abalone and fish maw on snow-pea leaves, shark fin soup, scallops and snow pea bird’s nest, fresh fish, white-cut chicken and sticky rice, closed off with sweet yam Tong sui. Such a dinner was perfect for a cold evening such as this.

  • The weather right now couldn’t be further from the beautiful conditions of Koisuru Asteroid: this past week, the thermometer never once rose above -25ºC, and evenings where the external temperature dropped below -40ºC were not uncommon. Starting a car was a challenge, and the mere act of walking in the wind was painful. I’m admittedly used to this: an extra sweater, a heavier coat, a scarf, bomber hat and heavy gloves means that I can go about my business as usual, and when the temperatures do warm back up, something like -15ºC becomes something I count as comfortable.

  • With three episodes in the books, it suddenly strikes me that Mira resembles a combination of GochiUsa‘s Cocoa Hoto and Slow Start‘s Hana Ichinose, while Ao is Rize Tedeza, Kinro Mosaic‘s Aya Komichi and a few other familiar characters. Mira is voiced by Tomoyo Takayanagi, whose roles I’m not familiar with, and Ao is voiced by Megumi Yamaguchi (New Game!‘s Hifumi Takimoto). Here, Mira expresses disappointment that she’ll have to put some of her rocks back, but elects to keep a banded stone.

  • Of course, the real star of the show comes once darkness falls, and Mari sets up a refractor telescope. Of all the telescopes available for amateur astronomers, the achromatic refractor telescope is probably the most ubiquitous choice as an entry level scope. A good scope retails for about 300 to 400 dollars; these telescopes offer a good aperture size, stable tripods and good lenses. Anything below this usually is not worth the money, as the lenses may introduce unacceptable chromatic aberration, or the tripods are too unstable to yield a good image, and one with a smaller budget will do well with binoculars, which are surprisingly versatile and effective in backyard astronomy.

  • Koisuru Asteroid correctly details the steps taken to find an object of interest. At this point, we assume that Mari has already pointed the polar axis on the equatorial mount at the celestial pole, and then used the azimuth and altitude adjustments to precisely tune the telescope. From here, it’s a matter of finding an object using the finder scope: the girls start their journey by looking at Jupiter through the telescope: most novices begin their journey by looking for the planets and the moon, before learning techniques like star-hopping to locate more difficult-to-find entities.

  • When it’s Mikage’s turn to look through the telescope, she finds nothing through the main eyepiece. Mira displays an unexpectedly mischievous side to her when she remarks that maybe Mikage’s geology background has caused the telescope to scorn her (leaving Mikage to wonder if Mira is picking a fight), but this phenomenon arises as a result of the Earth’s rotation. Telescopes amplify the movement of the east-to-west motion of the sky, and so, at lower magnifications, object can drift from the centre of the view to the edge in as little as two minutes. Higher-magnification optics accentuate this, with objects drifting off centre in as little as 20 seconds. The girls wonder what solutions there are beyond realigning the telescope, and Mari mentions that a motor drive would be needed to automatically keep a telescope pointed at objects of interest. These motor drives run for north of 70 dollars.

  • The Earth Sciences club are shown to be using a Vixen-branded telescope: from the tube assembly, they’re using the A80Mf model, which runs for about 420 USD. With an 80mm aperture, 910 mm focal length and a focal ratio of f/11.4, the telescope also comes with a 6×30 finder scope with a 7º FOV. The telescope weighs 5.5 pounds and comes with essentially accessories like a dew shield (essential for keeping moisture off the main aperture, which in turn reduces image degradation). In practise, the A80Af easily fits Terence Dickinson’s description of a good beginner telescope. Vixen telescopes are manufactured in Japan, and in North America, Tele Vue markets them: Dickinson remarks that the Vixen brand is known for offering consistently good value.

  • It turns out that, unable to bear the cold, instructor Yuki had retreated to her car to keep warm, and in the process, missed the lone fireball that the girls spot. Mari mentions that this is the Lyrid Meteor shower, which peaks in April with a maximum of five to twenty-five meteors per hour. Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through a trail of comet debris, which can persist for thousands of years after a comet has passed through the Earth’s orbit.

  • While Mira has much to say about her chosen topic for the Earth Science Club’s newsletter, she encounters considerable difficulty in putting these ideas onto paper, doubly so after Misa, her older sister, provides the feedback that her article on asteroids is very dense. When Ao asks Mira to provide her with an illustration for her article, Mira has a stroke of inspiration and decides to do a comic instead on the zodiac constellations.

  • The Earth Science club’s first publication is a resounding success, organically drawing the student body’s interest and attention after it is readied. This is the first of the achievements for the fledgling club, and while it might appear to be a small milestone, it marks the first time that the girls have come together and taken those first steps in making their activities more widely known. Scientific communication is an entire discipline on its own, and one challenge scientists face in their work is conveying the implications to a lay population. Being able to convey complex idea in simple, approachable terms is a skill, and this is something I always strive towards.

  • Misa is Mira’s older sister and is the student council president. Confident and reliable, Misa is voiced by Mai Fuchigami, whom I know best as Girls und Panzer‘s Miporin Nishizumi: Fuchigami portrays Misa with none of Miho’s traits, and in fact, Misa is perhaps more similar to Maho in terms of style. Both are a bit more reserved, but greatly support their younger siblings in their own way: some comics have shown Maho doting on Miho a little too much, and this is something I’d actually like to see presented in the Girls und Panzer series proper, since it is an incredibly heartwarming manner to behold.

  • It was a bit of a surprise that Koisuru Asteroid would feature an onsen this early in the game. This still of the onsen‘s front exemplifies the sort of art style used in Koisuru Asteroid: while nowhere near as intricate or detailed as something from Kyoto Animation or Makoto Shinkai, the colours are well-chosen to create a sense of invitation and warmth. Many series have been successful in doing more with less, and in series like Koisuru Asteroid, striking a balance with the environment details means that the world the characters live in is sufficiently detailed to be convincing, without taking the viewers’ attention away from their interactions.

  • Traditionally, onsen scenes are used as a means of fanservice, but in Koisuru Asteroid, the girls’ conversation turns towards the different kinds of mineral waters hot springs can have. A hot springs is defined as any natural source of water with temperatures exceeding 25ºC, and depending on the mineral content, the waters can have different properties. The sulfur springs of the Rocky Mountains can help improve skin hydration, and in British Columbia, there are also radium springs; bathing in their waters is said to help with digestion.

  • Hot springs are a geological feature associated with tectonic activity, where in ground water is heated by geothermal sources and retains its heat when pushed to the surface (as is the case in Japan), although natural heat from radioactive decay can also heat water. The temperature of the hot springs vary depending on how much heat the water picks up (or subsequently loses), and in my experience, having relaxed in the Heritage Resort’s onsen, where the temperatures appeared to be around 35ºC, this sets the threshold for the temperatures that I prefer.

  • After learning that instructor Yuki is a very dedicated instructor who’s still single, Mira gifts her a souvenir from their visit to her favourite onsen. The trope of a relatively youthful instructor with no partner is a commonplace one in slice-of-life series, and this is usually intentionally done so the instructor can spend more time with their students in their experiences. An married instructor, or someone who’s in a serious relationship wouldn’t be able to drive their students around or spend time with them on weekends quite to the same extent, so having a young, single instructor provides the maximum amount of flexibility for them within the story.

  • It turns out that Ao’s mother is a scientific illustrator, and produces drawings that Mira are very fond of. Here, the two are supposed to be studying for a make-up exam after failing: Mira must redo her physics and English exam, while Ao is retaking her math exam. Mira does not seem the studious type and so, this outcome is not terribly unexpected, but Ao failing an exam seemed unlikely, until at least Ao reveals to the viewer (and quite privately) that she failed her exam on the basis that she put down the wrong name after being distracted by stargazing the previous evening.

  • This brings to mind Brad Marchand’s latest shootout attempt: on January 13, after an overtime still saw the Boston Bruins deadlocked with the Philadelphia Flyers, on the fifth round, Marchand was brought out to shoot. He ended up overskating the puck, instantly forfeiting his shot and giving the Flyers a victory. Basically, carelessness can affect anyone at any level, and so, Ao’s mistake doesn’t seem all that implausible. I recall a similar story where during a social studies (the Canadian equivalent of history) exam, I had been going through my exam and accidentally missed one question, so all of my subsequent answers were one off. Because I did this towards the end of the exam, my overall grade was still passable, but it did come as a bit of a shock to me.

  • At this point in Mira’s high school career, she’s studying Newtonian one-dimensional kinematics and is having trouble recalling the equations. Moe suggests singing the equations out to remember them, and while it is true that a melody or mnemonic can be a good tool for remembering, there is no substitute for learning and remembering something quite like frequent exposure to the material. For me, doing more problems was how I learnt something, and I never relied on memory tricks. The equations that are brought up are for expressing the relationship between acceleration, time and distance: they’re relatively straightforwards and, I’ve used these expressions to characterise the flight path of the .50 calibre bullet in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare‘s “One Shot, One Kill” mission to satisfy myself that the numbers did indeed add up.

  • After Moe helps Mira to remember basic kinematics equations with a song, she also reveals that she knows Mira’s dirtiest secret. It turns out that Mira’s composed a girls’ romance manga with herself and Ao as the lead characters, and as Mira mentions, it’s something unfit for human eyes. Thus, while we viewers are left to share a laugh at Mira’s expense, the implications are that Mira’s mind is actually quite fertile when it comes to what she thinks of Ao.

  • Ao and Mira’s study session turns into a relaxed one when Moe arrives with cream puffs, and Misa follows. Moe seems to be enamoured with Misa’s composure and grace, but becomes jealous when Misa inspects Ao in greater detail. Later, Mira gives Misa the banded rock that she’d found during the barbeque, and Misa enshrines it, counting it a good-luck charm for her entrance exams. In the end, both Ao and Misa pass their makeup exams.

  • In order to help secure funds for club activities, Ao and Mira work at the Suzuya Bakery, in a moment that brings to mind Cocoa’s return to help her family bakery in Dear My Sister. Insofar, Koisuru Asteroid has provided no shortage of interesting topics in amateur astronomy and geology to cover, but the series has also created numerous setups to show Mira and Ao’s experiences outside of club activities. Discussions with folks who have some background in either have proven to be worthwhile, as I’m able to learn about different techniques and aspects of the hobby that make them enjoyable for different people.

  • While I’ve brought in a great deal of technical material into my talks on Koisuru Asteroid because the premise allows it, I note that I am doing my best to maintain intellectual humility, and so, I’ll note when I’m venturing into an area that may be outside of my knowledge. Knowing when to say “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure” is a sign of competence and skill, since it allows others to understand the extent of one’s knowledge and moreover, that they’re secure and open-minded enough to admit that they are willing to learn more. Not everyone thinks this way, though: for instance, Sam Curt, an old nemesis, has elected to focus on trivial minutiae in Koisuru Asteroid because they lack the background to lecture others on astronomy and geology. For Koisuru Asteroid, Sam Curt asserts that linguistic boundaries means that English-speakers will find the inclusion of astronomy in an Earth Sciences club would be counted as a “head-scratcher”, and that only those with a profound knowledge of Japanese high school curricula would understand why this is the case.

  • This is false: no viewer has had any problems with the semantics surrounding the two clubs’ merger. While it is true that astronomy is typically considered to be a subset of physics (astronomy is grouped with the physics department at my University, for instance), the field of astronomy can be divided into two broad categories: observational astronomy and astrophysics. The latter is about quantifying the behaviours and properties of celestial objects and phenomena, while the former is observing the physical and chemical properties of objects outside of the atmosphere. Because Earth Sciences is a broad discipline that focuses on Earth’s characteristics, observational astronomy can be considered a superset of Earth Sciences (or if that’s a stretch, at least tangentially related). It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to see the observing of celestial bodies and their properties as applying Earth Sciences to celestial bodies, so viewers can accept that the merger is one that makes sense from a matter of semantics without trouble.

  • Sam Curt’s approach in slice-of-life anime is not unique: even larger anime resources like Anime News Network have used this method when dealing with anime that have a technical component outside the realm of their knowledge. Not knowing the physical characteristics of the tanks or the fundamentals of ballistics have lead ANN’s writers to draft imaginary slights about Girls und Panzer Der Film in some of their talks, and with Hai-Furi The Movie hitting Japanese cinemas today, I am certain that ANN will almost certainly be writing about the film’s shortcomings and criticising the military-moé genre without an appreciation of the naval vessels and how their properties impact the plot, which would result in a review that was not written with the full picture. In other words, I am suggesting to readers that they take the ANN review of Hai-Furi The Movie with a grain of salt until the BDs come out, after which one has the chance to make their own judgement on the film. Naturally, I will be taking whoever writes their Hai-Furi The Movie review to school once I’ve got the opportunity to.

  • The page quote I’ve got, then, is both for folks like Sam Curt and ANN’s writers. Back in Koisuru Asteroid, on a quiet day, Ao and Mira meet up with the intention of visiting bookstores and stationary shops. However, both have their curiosities piqued when they run into an unlikely pairing: Moe and Mai are hanging out together, and Ao and Mira immediately become interested to know what’s going on. Their efforts to tail Mai and Moe fail: since Mira is actively communicating her actions, she’s leaving a trail of breadcrumbs that lead her to get busted in minutes. In anime, lack of OPSEC is always utilised for laughs, and I’ve no problems whenever this happens.

  • As it turns out, Mai is a big fan of cartography and geocaching-like activities, having fallen in love with the area when one of her friends created a map for her to find treasures with. Cartography and geolocation are tangentially related to geology and the Earth Sciences, so it is not terribly surprising that Mai joined up with the club: she states it was only recently that she really began to appreciate the nuances surrounding rocks. I’ve always been fond of maps: as a child, I would spend hours looking at the roadmaps my parents had, and wondered what it would be like to explore the paths marked out on said maps.

  • In my youth, I was interested in everything under the realm of the natural sciences, and while my career choices mean that my focus is now largely on software development and technology, I still retain an interest in the natural sciences and will read about them in my spare time. As such, shows like Koisuru Asteroid are immediately compelling for me precisely because it’s a bit of a reminder of my childhood, and the fact that I used to spend hours with my nose in a natural sciences book.

  • After Mira expresses an interest in going on a Ciste Hunt, Mai creates a map just for Ao, Mira and Moe. She initially finds it difficult to decide what treasure should be the prize at the end of the hunt, but with some reassurance from Mikage, figures it out. When classes end, Ao, Mira and Moe go on a short adventure through their school, finding the treasure on the back of the map that compelled Moe to join the geology club. The treasure turns out to be the photograph of Mai together with Moe, Mira and Ao. Moe immediately reacts warmly to the moment, and in general, her desire to take and preserve photographs of the others brings to mind the tendencies of numerous characters before her, whose traits were similarly comedic in nature.

  • Doing the ciste hunt with Mai’s maps brings each of Ao, Mira and Moe closer with Mai, who reminds me somewhat of Yama no Susume‘s Kokona in mannerisms. This means that it is not outside of the realm of possibility for Mikage and Mari to have their own experiences with Ao, Mira and Moe. I also feel that as Koisuru Asteroid wears on, Moe’s joining the Earth Sciences club could be a very real possibility, as well.

  • I’ve opted to bring the “after three” talk on Koisuru Asteroid to a close with this screenshot of a vivid spring day: the vast expanse of sky and focus on what’s above indicates that Koisuru Asteroid is only just getting started. I am admittedly disappointed on the general lack of discussion out there on Koisuru Asteroid: most viewers likely entered when yuri components appeared to be central, but since that’s been slower insofar, interest in the series has waned. For folks who are watching Koisuru Asteroid for more than just yuri, I will be writing about this series with increased frequency this season, and so, there will be at least one blog out there that will be covering this show to some capacity.

Manga Time Kirara adaptations are typically very familiar, even derivative, and so, while the characters and their dynamics are nothing I’ve not seen before, the choice of topic in astronomy and geology makes Koisuru Asteroid a curious series to follow. The series will provide plenty of small tidbits of information about both disciplines that add to the series’ enjoyment and also gently guide viewers along to ensure they are up to speed with what Ao and Mira do en route to discovery of an asteroid. With the combination of reacquainting myself with the Earth Sciences and a familiar set of interactions amongst the characters, Koisuru Asteroid offers a very comforting and relaxed series to take up each and every week. The reason I am so fond of these series, even where they do not (or cannot) innovate on the genre, is because they show how every discipline out there has its own intricacies. While such series may not always be entirely faithful or fully representative of its real-world counterpart, exploring the techniques and tools of the trade is a reminder that every discipline has its own challenges, reward and merit. Being able to see different disciplines means appreciating the effort and work people apply towards their own occupations and professions, and while slice-of-life anime may prima facie be a thinly-veiled excuse to see cute girls doing cute things, the reality is that they also provide an accessible portrayal of disciplines that one might otherwise pass over while in pursuit of their own objectives. Having this wider perspective leads to increased respect for folks in different fields, and may even offer one novel insights into their own areas of expertise.

Their Promise: Koisuru Asteroid First Episode Impressions and Review

“I became an astronomer not to access the facts about the sky but to see and feel its majesty.” –David Levy

When she was camping as a child, Mira Konohata encountered Ao Manaka, who was stargazing. Thinking Ao to be a boy, Mira made a promise with her new friend: to eventually have a star named after Ao. Some years later, Mira enters high school and resolves to join the astronomy club so that she can fulfil her promise to Ao. However, thanks to dwindling numbers, the astronomy club and geology clubs were on the verge of being disbanded, and thus, were merged to form the Earth Sciences club. Mira meets club president Mari Morino, vice president Mikage Sakurai and senior Mai Inose, as well as a certain blue-haired girl – it turns out that Ao is attending the same school as Mira, and in the time that has passed, had not forgotten their promise. However, with the time that has passed, it’s an awkward reunion, with Mira and Ao struggling to find words to talk to one another. When Ao speaks with Moe, Mira’s childhood friend, she and Mira would go on to have a lengthy, enjoyable catching up under the stars. Later, when Mikage explains that the club’s limited activity resulted in a smaller budget, Mai suggests that the club starts by writing a newsletter to raise awareness of their activities and exploring some of the things they’re interested in. The girls come up with a name for their newsletter later that evening. Koisuru Asteroid (Asteroid in Love) is a four-panel manga serialised in Manga Time Kirara Carat and has been running since 2017. An anime adaptation was announced earlier last year, and as of now, holds the unique distinction of being the new decade’s first slice-of-life anime, as well as being the first Manga Time Kirara adaptation. Koisuru Asteroid (Asteroid in Love) thus has some large expectations to fulfil, but after one episode, the series is off to a solid start.

Out of the gates, Koisuru Asteroid has Mira establish her long term objective: the lofty goal of discovering a star and having it named after Ao. However, even the scaled-back goal of finding a new asteroid is a bit ambitious. Mira herself is named after Omicron Ceti, a variable red giant in the constellation Cetus, a sea monster. This red giant was the first variable star (a star whose magnitude, or brightness, fluctuates noticeably) to be discovered and has a regular period. Mira is also Latin for “wonderful”, which fits Mira’s bright and cheerful personality: befitting of a lead character in a Manga Time Kirara Work, Mira is optimistic, outgoing and driven, having spent the past few years catching up on astronomy so that she could help Ao fulfil their promise. Between Mira and Ao, the determination and excitement is certainly present, although at present, the Earth Sciences Club does have problems of its own: the discovery of asteroids is typically done by satellites equipped with sophisticated CCD chips, and it should be clear that the Earth Sciences Club is unlikely to have either the time or resources to commit towards anything approaching the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) or Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) programmes: LINEAR has already found upwards of 147132 objects, of which 19266 have been classified as near-Earth objects. To expect professional tools and techniques in something like Koisuru Asteroid is to be unreasonable, and so, as the series continues, one would expect the Earth Sciences Club to focus on first righting the club, and then acquiring the basic equipment, like a good refractor telescope (these are suited for observing the planets because they have a right-side-up image and reach thermal stability quickly). The journey towards finding an asteroid to name after Ao would therefore be presented as a gentle and fun one as Mira and Ao grows closer together during their time in the Earth Sciences Club, being as much about friendship as much as it is about the astronomy.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • When Mira and Ao meet, Mira’s on a camping trip with family and notices Ao staring up into the stars. Ao passes Mira her binoculars, likely a 7×21. These numbers are commonly used to describe two critical attributes about binoculars, and the first value is the magnification. The second value is the size of the objective lens in millimetres, which determines how much light enters the binoculars. Thus, a 7×21 pair of binoculars would have a magnification of 7x and an objective lens that’s 21 mm across. For astronomy, 7×35 is the most commonly used, and I run with a pair of Bushnell 10x50s.

  • The fateful meeting has Mira learn of a star that she shares her name with, and speaking volumes to her personality, she immediately resolves to rectify the fact that there are no stars named Ao. This moment sets in motion the remainder of Koisuru Asteroid. Discussion on the series is presently limited, and most folks have taken to the potential yuri driven aspects of Koisuru Asteroid over the astronomy in what little talk that I have been able to find.

  • On the first day of high school, Mira has her heart set on joining the Astronomy Club, but is devastated to learn that what had existed previously no longer is present: Mira’s love for astronomy is such that during this high school’s previous culture festival, she’d visited the Astronomy Club and was hyped up about joining. This turn of events is par the course for many club-oriented slice-of-life series, and the rationale for using this as a plot point is that it forces characters to get creative, in turn helping them get closer to one another.

  • Upon hearing Mira’s desire to join the astronomy club, instructor Yuki Endō takes Mira and Moe to the club room. It’s a bit of a walk to the clubroom, which is located in an older part of campus. Yuki happens to be the Earth Science club’s advisor, and out of the gates, she seems reliable enough: such advisors are actually a bit rare in anime, and in most series of this type, the advisor’s lack of motivation, laziness and other eccentricities are usually deliberate to encourage comedy. By having Yuki be more mature and dependable, it would suggest to viewers that they needn’t worry about the club’s logistics, leaving them free to focus on the students.

  • At the clubroom, Mira and Moe meet the Earth Sciences club’s members for the first time: this club is helmed by president Mari, who was the president of the former Astronomy Club, She’s accompanied by Mikage, who is the vice president and is the most senior member of the former geology club, and Mai, who had previously been a former geology club member. Mikage is initially pleased; as a member of the former geology club, she’s very much into rocks and minerals and worries that the astronomy club will displace any geology-related activities.

  • When Mira explains her reason for joining the astronomy club, that she’s here to fulfil a promise to someone important to her, she learns that the Ao she’d met long ago is in fact the same Ao who’s now present. It’s a bit of an awkward reunion for the two; fate has brought the two together, marking the start of a new journey that will form the bulk of Koisuru Asteroid‘s story. The outcomes might be easy to estimate, but what matters most is the journey.

  • Having now been reunited with Mira, Ao begins to dig out her old astronomy books. My old astronomy books are now more than twenty years old: I bought them after developing a nascent interest in the night sky from reading library books and wanted guides to astronomy of my own. I was nine at the time, and after picking up a pair of 10×25 binoculars, I began exploring the night sky using Terence Dickinson’s Nightwatch. Through the book’s star charts and tips for binocular astronomers, I capitalised on these new binoculars to look at the moon and nebulae. While my edition is now somewhat dated, being over twenty years old, the tips and tricks in the book remain relevant and useful.

  • I ended up picking up The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide (Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyers) a few years later, which helped me to explore more advanced techniques for binocular astronomy and also appreciate what’s known as naked eye astronomy: there are many astronomical events that don’t require any more equipment than our own eyes to enjoy. Koisuru Asteroid has yet to delve to far into this, so beyond introducing the books, I won’t go too much into details until the anime explores them. For the first episode, audiences are instead treated to character establishment, and when Moe balances a paper bag on Mira’s head, I’m reminded of videos where an owner puts a small object on their pet’s head to gently tease them.

  • After a failed evening where neither Ao or Mira were able to talk to one another via messaging, Mira and Ao attempt to apologise for their seemingly incompatible messaging styles. For me, I am rather similar to Ao in style when it comes to online communication, preferring to use complete sentences and proper grammar unless I am speaking with someone I am very familiar with. In that case, I then devolve into leet-speak and deliberate misspellings. Mira, on the other hand, uses a very casual and relaxed style in her online communications.

  • Moe previously remarks that she likes to make trouble for anyone who gets too close to Mira, but she has no problems with someone like Ao befriending Mira. Mira views Ao as a very mature, composed individual, feeling herself to lack grace. Seconds later, the egg falls from her sandwich, and she rushes off to clean up, leaving Ao alone with Moe. It is here that Ao reveals that her composure is probably an illusion, and that she is in fact, very shy about her choice of words.

  • Moe reassures Ao to be herself and that the dream she shares with Mira will eventually allow the gap between her and Mira to be closed. I was particularly fond of this rooftop scene here, as it gives Moe and Ao time to speak away from the hustle and bustle of the classroom. In addition, the vastness of the sky and its deep blue hue acts as a very subtle metaphor: it creates a feeling of new possibility and hope.

  • Later that evening, Ao picks up her phone and decides to call Mira. Verbal conversations are different than textual ones, with cues like tonal shifts and speed of speech having a major impact on how words and phrases are interpreted. After a slower start, Ao hits her stride when she begins talking about planet-gazing. Mira’s spent the past several years catching up and getting acquainted with astronomy, so by this point in time, she’s got the basics down and is able to keep the conversation with Ao going.

  • This is the part where I get to break out my background as an amateur astronomer: the brightest object visible in this screenshot is Mercury, which is often counted a moderate challenge to sight. Appearing only around 28° from the sun and at its brightest at 10° to 15° above the horizon, Mercury has an estimated apparent magnitude of anywhere from -2.48 to +7.25. The apparent magnitude describes how bright something is to the naked eye, and measurements can vary wildly amongst even individuals. Ao characterises Mercury as being -4, which would peg it as being equivalent to Venus in brightness. By comparison, a full moon is -13, and the naked eye limit is around +6 to +7.

  • Being a Manga Time Kirara work, Koisuru Asteroid may potentially see discussions split into two distinct buckets; there are those who are content to discuss the story and character dynamics, while others seem to have an unusual fixation on the technical details. For instance, since Mercury’s apparent magnitude is -2.48 at brightest, there are some who would then spend an entire forum post at Tango-victor-tango claiming that the authors did not do their research, then treat the rest of the readers to a long seminar by quizzing other people on how magnitude works. At present, the individuals who are fond of dredging up technical questions to quiz other forum-goers and show off their own “intellect” are nowhere to be seen. Back in Koisuru Asteroid, an elated Mira is very happy to have connected properly with Ao via a phone call during the past evening.

  • Discussion at Tango-victor-tango regarding Koisuru Asteroid is limited to one individual stating that while the club activities are “boring”, the dynamics between the characters drive things forward: many of the others have already dismissed the series as being “weak”. On first glance, Koisuru Asteroid does not seem to be a series that stands apart from others in its direction, themes and even characters. However, the presence of astronomy, coupled with my own background and experience in amateur astronomy, means that I am confident in saying that I could offer some interesting discussions and provide interesting tidbits on amateur astronomy that folks at Tango-victor-tango, or anime forums, won’t be able to supply.

  • The Earth Science club’s first activity as a club is to determine how to mitigate the issues that plagued the previous year’s astronomy and geology clubs. The latter had been shafted at the culture festival from a lack of interest, while the former resorted to below-the-belt tactics to draw people in. Mai decides that one way to kick-start things is with a newsletter, which would allow the Earth Science club to increase their visibility and show their fellow students what the club does in their activities. Topics for articles are actually easy to come by, although the girls struggle to come up with a suitable name for their newsletter.

  • Towards the end of the first episode, we have a fantastic moment of all the characters heading off to a restaurant after a long day’s worth of classes and club activities. From left to right, we have Mai, Mikage, Mira, Ao and Mari: only an episode in, I’ve already learnt the names of all the critical players. I’m greatly looking forwards to seeing where Koisuru Asteroid is headed, and I imagine that it will lean more towards the character development side rather than the technical details of astronomy. To be honest, this suits me just fine: while it will be fun to make occasional mention of astronomy and its intricacies to keep my posts fresh, my goal for anime, first and foremost, is to enjoy and appreciate the journey characters go through.

  • Over burgers, the club agrees on a publication name for their newsletter: Kirakira (Sparkle). Ao chose the name, and since both the stars and minerals glitter, it is a fitting one that everyone takes to. I note here that some may think me hypocritical to say that I abhor mention of technical details in relaxing slice-of-life series like Koisuru Asteroid, and then proceed to mention those exact things in my post. I clarify that my intention is to keep my posts refreshing to read, and inclusion of things like binocular aperture properties, or what apparent magnitude is, is so that readers can come away having gained new knowledge. The individuals that I see less favourably are those who see themselves as a lecturer and draw upon knowledge to intimidate or impress, rather than enlighten, or else are too indolent to read about something they do not understand.

  • Mikage, being a former geology club member, is determined to make Mira, Ao and Mari see the worth of geology: she greatly resembles Anima Yell!‘s Hanawa Ushiku in mannerisms and appearance. She’s very focused on her club activities, and knowing this means that the Earth Science club can be assured of some progress through the series’ run. With the first episode in the books, I’ve immediately taken a liking to all of the characters, so what Koisuru Asteroid‘s focus will be in the future will be how the Earth Science club’s members get closer to one another and what they gain from their time together. Instructor Yuki already has planned a barbeque for the upcoming weekend, foreshadowing a booked schedule for Mira and the others.

  • As the day draws to a close, Mira and Ao share another conversation together, with Mira expressing gratitude for being able to stargaze and talk again in the present. Ao is gazing out at Orion, one of the most famous and brightest constellations in the sky. With its distinct “belt” of three stars, Mintaka (leftmost, a binary star), Alnilam (blue supergiant) and Alnitak (rightmost, in a triple star system), it is immediately recognisable in the skies and is visible between the late autumn and late winter months in the northern hemisphere. This brings my first anime-related post for 2020 to a close. The new anime season is off to a solid start; besides Koisuru Asteroid, I’m also going to be following and writing about Magia Record and Heya Camp△.

While Koisuru Asteroid is a Manga Time Kirara adaptation and therefore, will share thematic elements and messages similar to other series of its lineage, the focus on amateur astronomy means that this anime is one I’ve immediately taken a liking to. There’s a bit of a personal story behind this, and it may perhaps be a surprise when I say that I’m an amateur astronomer myself. My journey began when I was eight; I got Terence Dickinson’s Skywatch, a beginner’s guide to amateur astronomy, along with a pair of 10×25 binoculars for my birthday, and I still remember pointing those binoculars at the moon for the first time, marvelling at the maria and other lunar features on the moon in hitherto unseen detail. Since then, I’ve made use of binoculars as my workhorse to stargazed to find planets, famous constellations, and nebula in the night skies. I’ve also seen aurora, many total lunar eclipses, a handful of meteor showers (and even a fireball) and a pair of partial solar eclipses. My love for stargazing and astronomy comes from the fact that the hobby is relatively straightforward at the entry-level, and that the stars in the night skies really drives home how vast the universe is. As such, with amateur astronomy being something I still partake in from time to time, Koisuru Asteroid offers a place to both see a fictionalised portrayal of astronomy and its joys that I’m curious to see. Because of the presence of astronomy in Koisuru Asteroid, I presently have plans to write about it at quarterly intervals for the remainder of the season, so that I can continue to offer readers both my thoughts on the anime, as well as provide enjoyable (and useful) information about amateur astronomy and my experiences with stargazing. In particular, I look forwards to seeing how the journey of exploring the night skies to fulfil a long-standing promise will bring Mira and Ao together.