The Infinite Zenith

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Category Archives: Slow Loop

Slow Loop Finale Impressions, Whole-Series Review and Recommendation

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” –Kahlil Gibran

With their school’s culture festival in full swing, Koharu gloats about her fishing prowess and expresses a want to do something related to fishing. Their class ends up doing a haunted house featuring parasites encountered whilst fishing. Meanwhile, Hiyori and Koi’s class go with a more traditional cafe, where they plan on serving fish sandwiches. While speaking with Futaba, Hiyori learns that she’s worried about reading her essay in front of the entire school. She decides to invite Futaba out fishing with her, and seeing Hiyori attempt to prepare her own bait inspires her to give the essay-reading her best, too. Later, Hiyori and Koharu’s parents attend the culture festival. Hiyori’s father is repulsed by the parasites, but both of them enjoy the fish sandwiches from Koi and Hiyori’s class. Futaba and Aiko arrive too late for the fish sandwiches, but after Hiyori promises to go fishing with her, Aiko asks if she can join, too. This culminates in a girls’ camping trip: Hiyori and Koi’s mothers, along with Futaba, Miyano, also join Koharu, Hiyori, Koi, Futaba and Aiko. During this trip, Koi reassures Aiko that it is enough to spend time with Futaba to maintain their friendship, and the next morning, Koi and Hiyori reminisce about how a slip-of-the-tongue led to Hiyori’s mother tying the knot with Koharu’s father. Although Koi feels like she had been meddling in something outside her domain, Hiyori is grateful for this, as it allowed her to meet and become close to Koharu. While looking through some old photo albums, Koharu learns that Koi had once shown Hiyori how to tie fishing flies and asks her to do the same. During a fishing competition, Hiyori becomes excited to learn that first place is a giant plushie, and she ends up taking home the prize with her catch, while Koharu wants to catch a fish with the fly she’d tied. She succeeds, but accidentally drops her phone in the river. When Koharu’s birthday arrives, after Hiyori spots the gifts that Aiko, Futaba and Koi gift her, she becomes worried her gift (a photo album) would look plain by comparison and hesitates to give it to her. She is able to do so in the end, and the two spend an evening looking at their photos, before promising to go fishing together again soon. This is Slow Loop, the latest Manga Time Kirara series to receive an animated adaptation, and during its run, combines elements from several slice-of-life series to present a generally light-hearted and cheerful story of discovery, and taking a step forwards together with family.

The message that Slow Loop presents in its run is a familiar one: unified by a common interest and a new bond allows Koharu and Hiyori to become closer to one another and rediscover joy anew with one another. Although both had suffered loss in their lives, fate brings the two together and leads them to, as family, rise above their grief together. Along the way, both Koharu and Hiyori have plenty of support from those around them: whether it be the steadfast love from their parents, the wisdom that Koi brings to the table, or the youthful vigour surrounding Futaba and Aiko, Slow Loop indicates that the process of coming to terms with loss, and taking that difficult step forwards, is catalysed by good company, in conjunction with a healthy bit of patience. Living up to its name, Slow Loop slowly allows Koharu and Hiyori to know one another, slowly has the two learn from one another as they fish and cook together, and bit by bit, both mature as a result. Koharu learns to fly fish and becomes more honest about how she feels (where she’d previously masked her feelings with a smile, Koharu now openly expresses her thoughts on things), while Hiyori begins to develop basic understanding of cooking and becomes a little more outgoing (being able to speak with others and even hear out some of their problems). Altogether, the journey in Slow Loop presents a very optimistic outlook on how people can overcome great hurdles: together. In typical Manga Time Kirara manner, Slow Loop delivers a story that tends towards comedy and smiles over more introspective and contemplative moments; exaggerated facial expressions, punch-lines and use of humour remind people that with the right people in one’s corner, there is always new joy to find in the world, even in moments of great sadness. While Slow Loop might not be as focused as Tamayura, Houkago Teibou Nisshi or Yuru Camp△, the series does succeed in its stated goal, hinting at how fateful encounters and shared interests can propel people forwards. This anime ends up being a best-of-both-worlds, showcasing how different elements can come together and impact individuals in unforeseen, but beneficial, ways.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Last I wrote about Slow Loop, we’d left off with Koharu, Koi and Hiyori finishing up their first-ever trip together. After autumn arrives, their high school’s culture festival kicks into full swing, and while Hiyori and Koi’s class go with a wa-maid style café, Koharu’s class decides to go with something a little more unconventional: after her classmates learn of Koharu’s experience in fishing, they decide to do a haunted house-themed exhibit with the horrors of fishing. Before delving further, I will remark that Slow Loop‘s soundtrack actually released back in February, a full month before moving day.

  • The soundtrack has a surprisingly diverse range of incidental pieces, some of which resemble Koisuru Asteroid‘s songs, and my favourite songs are SLOW LOOP II, Kindness, and Koharu’s Kitchen. Back in Slow Loop proper, Koharu’s smugness at having some success in fishing brings to mind how Cocoa is whenever she’s praised: this is a classic Manga Time Kirara trait, but while it is quite destructive in reality when people act as though they’re more knowledgeable than they are (I can think of no finer example than discussions surrounding current events at a certain anime forum), anime tend to portray this as being more light-hearted.

  • Meanwhile, Futaba worries about being asked to read her composition in front of the entire school. Her friends are ultimately able to convince her to summon up the courage to do so, and this is helped by a day spent fishing with Hiyori: Hiyori needs to catch enough horse mackerel fry for the culture festival, and since fishing is how Hiyori has come to deal with stress, she imagines that giving Futaba a day at the breakwater might also help her to regroup.

  • As it turns out, Futaba is a deft hand with fishing and knows about techniques outside of fly fishing, sufficiently well as to guide Hiyori. She helps Hiyori to set up, but Hiyori begins to go outside her comfort zone by attempting to hook on live bait herself, after imagining Koharu mocking her in a manner not too dissimilar to what had happened in Yama no Susume, when Aoi would suppose Hinata was making fun of her behind her back and in turn, spurring her to venture outside of her comfort zone, as well. In no time at all, both end up with a successful catch. If memory serves, Houkago Teibou Nisshi had Hinata start out with Horse Mackerel Fry.

  • After seeing Hiyori venture into new directions, Futaba decides that she’ll put her best foot forwards, as well: she ends up reading her composition in front of her classmates without any trouble, and exceeds expectations. Sometimes, it takes that little push to send people through challenges, and Slow Loop indicates that this push can come from unexpected places. It was absolutely adorable to have these sorts of dynamics.

  • While Futaba reads her essay in front of the entire school, including Aiko, who’s happy that Futaba had gotten past her nerves, I recall a time more than a decade ago when I was invited to participate in my Chinese school’s recital competition. Despite my generally being terrible with public speaking at that time (I didn’t become a passable public speaker until later in my undergraduate programme, when I spent several courses learning to hone how to present), I managed to win second place in my year, and in fact, I still have the trophy from that time. These days, I tend to put a presentation together with an outline of what I wish to say, and then I improvise the rest, although one thing remains constant: I do not like to have wordy slides. This is to ensure the audience stays focused on what I have to say, as opposed to reading my slides.

  • On the day of the culture festival, Hiyori and Koharu’s parents swing by their school to check out what their children are working on. Being an integral part of the Japanese education system, anime feature them with great frequency, and what’s fun for viewers is seeing which elements said anime chooses to emphasise. This is why no matter how often culture festivals are portrayed in an anime, they never become tiring to watch, and in fact, seeing all of these events do create, amongst some viewers, a sense of nostalgia for what most English-speaking viewers have not experienced.

  • It turns out that Koharu’s class focused on parasites and other marine horrors: while some folks have wondered why Lophiiformes (anglerfish) are absent, the explanation is simple enough: Koharu finds that things that she might encounter on a day-to-day basis while fishing to be more frightening than life forms that are unlikely to be seen. Lophiiformes typically are found in the aphotic sections of the ocean, where sunlight does not reach, and as such, those fishing are unlikely to encounter them. Conversely, parasitic worms afflicting fish, or the Cymothoa exigua (common name, “Tongue-eating louse”), can be quite common.

  • Contrary to the little shop of horrors Koharu’s class have put together (and the attendant lack of visitors from their rather grotesque topic), Hiyori and Koi’s class do something that’s a lot more approachable, being a Japanese-style café with serving a special fish sandwich. Although Koharu’s father experiences a dulling in his appetite after viewing her exhibit, Koi’s cooking is good enough to turn things around for him. I’ve come around to Koi’s character: while she’d been a steadfast source of support for both Hiyori and Koharu throughout Slow Loop, taking things in the same way Remon and Ichigo do, she’s remarkably well-written and plays a crucial part in helping the others to step forwards. For me, bonus points go towards the fact that her eyes are a very pretty shade of amethyst.

  • As promised, Futaba and Aiko show up to visit Hiyori at their culture festival. Although they’re out of fish sandwiches now, Futaba has no qualms in going out fishing with Hiyori so they can catch more fish and make some sandwiches. Not wanting to miss out, Aiko wants to go, too. This promised is fulfilled shortly after, as Aiko joins Hiyori, Koi, Koharu and Futaba on a family trip of sorts. This time, Hiyori and Koi’s mothers, as well as Ichika and Miyano, also show up. That the entire cast has gathered for one final event is a reminder that Slow Loop‘s was fast approaching.

  • While Koharu might be excited about fishing, there are nuances that she still has yet to pick up. Fortunately, Koi is on hand to explain the differences between different gauges of fishing wire. This is a reminder of how there is always something to learn about a given field, and this is why I never suggest I am a “master” of something. For instance, with my recent computer build, having not built a new desktop in just a shade under nine years, the Non-Volatile Memory express (NVMe) standard has matured greatly. In 2013, 1.0e was released, but it was still quite expensive. Fast forward to the present, and we’re up to 2.0: these drives plug directly into the motherboard and offer up to 3.6 GB/s, nearly six times faster than my previous SSD, which used a SATA connection. I was therefore surprised when the technician indicated that I actually had a spare SATA bay available to me since the NVMe SSD plugged into the motherboard.

  • This time around, with 1 TB of storage for my OS, I don’t expect to run out of space as I had previously as a consequence of system files. Back in Slow Loop, Aiko shares a moment with Koi: since Koi grew up with three younger brothers, she’s accustomed to offering advice to those around her. When Aiko becomes worried that Futaba may leave her behind, Koi reassures her that owing to their bond, there isn’t a replacement for her so long as Aiko makes an effort to spend time with Futaba. Reassured, Aiko heads out to help Futaba net a fish. Such advice is reassuring to Aiko, accentuating the fact that Koi does much to improve the lives of those around her, and being an older sibling myself, I’m guilty of doing this to folks I know, too.

  • While Slow Loop doesn’t have the same visual quality of some of the top-tier slice-of-life series out there, and the series would require more skill than I’ve got to do location hunts for, overall, the background art and settings in Slow Loop are still very well done, sufficiently as to convey the aesthetic within each moment. I recall a time when prevailing sentiment against Koisuru Asteroid was that its background artwork and visual effects were “forgettable”. It is true that some anime do simplify their background art, but this is usually a deliberate choice, meant to focus the viewer’s attention on the characters, and as it is, both Koisuru Asteroid and Slow Loop have good artwork that conveys to viewers the sort of world their respective stories are set in.

  • Alongside with Koi, Futaba’s also become a favourite character of mine – she’s very enthusiastic about fishing and is more experienced than Hiyori, but at the same time, is troubled by the sorts of things that would bother a grade-schooler. The constant exchange, of give-and-take, between the older members of the cast, and the younger members, helps everyone to grow: the older members may learn things from younger members just as readily. Adding grade-schoolers and adults to Slow Loop brings to mind GochiUsa and Kiniro Mosaic, which similarly has the main cast interacting with both older and younger characters. While in school, people often are mindful of the ages of those around them, age stops being a significant factor in the real world.

  • By evening, although Koharu’s been unable to catch anything of note despite her earlier enthusiasm, her spirits return as she tasks Futaba and Aiko with helping out with the cooking. At this point in time in Slow Loop, the cast have been on several excursions outdoors, and at the penultimate episode, it becomes clear that this series draws elements from Tamayura (learning to rediscover joy in life after a loss), Yuru Camp△ (appreciating the great outdoors) and Houkago Teibou Nisshi (seeing the process of catching food from start to finish and being more mindful of the effort it takes to bring something to one’s plate). While folks have previously derided anime for being generic or similar, I comment that it is combinatorics that makes every anime unique.

  • To put things in perspective, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and a handful of elements, when placed together, create organic compounds with a myriad of properties, and whose interactions are sufficiently varied such that predicting the products of certain reactions is challenging even for experts. Slice-of-life anime is similar in this regard: although the core premise might be the same, how things unfold can be so varied that even if an anime draws elements from other series, the outcomes can be dramatically different. When I’d seen the key visuals for Slow Loop, I’d initially imagined that Aiko was Koi’s younger sister. This misconception endured until I read the cast list, upon which things became more clear to me.

  • While everyone enjoys an outdoors dinner with the freshly-caught fish and hot soup that Futaba and Aiko help to prepare, Koi reminds Koharu of never exaggerating the size of her catch, since it tends to become greatly exaggerated. Such life lessons are subtle, but this is one area where Manga Time Kirara series tend to be effective; discussing these sorts of things openly can become sanctimonious if not done correctly and irritate viewers, so things usually come down to how well a series can weave life lessons into its stories. Doing so through conversation is effective, and Koi is able to capture the idea of not hyperbolising things with a proverb I’m not familiar with.

  • The next morning, Koi and Hiyori share a conversation under a swift sunrise: as it turns out, Koi had long been worried about saying the wrong thing and overstepping. Before Hiyori’s mother had remarried, Koi had heard her mother speaking with Hiyori’s mother about such a possibility and imagined that it was a sure things, so she hastened to tell Hiyori, who in turn asked her mother. While it was the case that Hiyori’s mother was only considering such a route, hearing Hiyori’s enthusiasm for things accelerated her decision to move things ahead. Koi, however, had felt that she had ruined things for Hiyori. Being able to get this into the open helps Koi to learn that Hiyori sees things quite differently, and while Koi may occasionally see herself as immature, insensitive, it is the case that imperceptible actions can have dramatic outcomes.

  • This is something that Manga Time Kirara series also excels in conveying: small decisions can set off a chain of events that tangibly benefit those involved, and all it takes is an open mind to embrace these changes. The fact that Koi is doubting herself does speak to her own maturity; she’s wondering if she could have worded things differently, and this shows both a willingness to self-reflect, as well as weigh the consequences of her actions. With time, Koi will become more confident in helping those around her in life-related matters, to the same extent she is confident in helping Koharu with fishing terminology and technique.

  • After a beautiful sunrise, Koharu has also awoken and finds Koi and Hiyori sharing a conversation that Koi dubs a private one. Although mildly frustrated at not being in on things, Koharu joins the pair for breakfast: fresh salmon on a baguette. A long time ago, I wasn’t a fan of smoked salmon: I recall sharing this story elsewhere, but the combination of Survivorman and anime like Slow Loop have allowed me to come around; a few years ago, I decided to try a lox bagel from the Rocky Mountain Bagel Company and subsequently became receptive of smoked salmon. These days, I enjoy nigiri, too.

  • The finale opens with Hiyori recalling a time when Koi had offered to show her how to tie a fly, but, unable to make them as good as her father’s, begins to cry. It typifies the ability of anime to really emphasise just how adorable children are, and a few nights earlier, after I’d finished moving, my parents arrived. After a traditional dinner of char sui, crispy pork and chicken, they sat down and read through the first book I’d learnt to read on my own: Little Duck’s Moving Day. Being read the book aloud in Cantonese brought back some of my earliest memories of holding a book.

  • In the present day, Koharu becomes curious about the process, and Koi, who now can make commercial-grade ties, has no qualms in showing her how. Together with Hiyori, the three spend an afternoon tying flies. The terminology confuses Koharu, but the process is something she can go with. Through the course of an afternoon, Koharu makes a few ties she’s proud to use, and as it turns out, there’s a fishing competition which looks to give her the perfect opportunity to do so. I remark here that, while I will, over time, acclimatise to technical jargon, initially, I experience the same as Koharu. During university, I was always lost when my peers were talking about cAMP (cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate, a messenger molecule involved in a large number of biological pathways) or design patterns (reusable approaches towards creating organised, clean code, of which my favourites are MVVM and decorator, but for which the details are outside the scope of this discussion).

  • Befitting of a competition, there’s prizes to be won. The lower-tier prizes include new fishing gear from the shop Koi’s family runs, while second place is a Roomba. First place was a bit of a surprise: a full-sized plushie. While originally just a chance to get out and fish during the crisp autumn air, the plushie produces a motivated and determined Hiyori. Koharu initially struggles to catch anything, a result of her fly being unsuited for the current conditions, but because she’s not eying the prizes as Hiyori is, her goal is to successfully catch something with her own hand-made fly.

  • Hiyori is seen using techniques to really persuade the fish in, and manages to reel in a large trout that ends up being the game-winner. Spotting this, Koi goes in to assist with the net, and it’s an impressive moment that speaks to just how well Koi knows Hiyori, as well as fishing. For many viewers, Koi ended up being Slow Loop‘s MVP:  while she’s a static character who remains consistent throughout the series, her role is vital, acting as a reliable source of advice and support to both Koharu and Hiyori alike. Static characters are often frowned upon in writing, but this is only the case if a primary character is static.

  • Secondary characters can get away with being static because they’re either an opposing force, or because they’re a source of guidance, and there is a misconception that a static character is synonymous with a flat character (someone who isn’t particularly fleshed out). Koi certainly isn’t flat by any means: she may be a little more stoic and deadpan than Hiyori or Koharu, but this is in her favour, giving viewers the impression that Koi is dependable and solidly present. Small moments, such as her fist-bumping with Hiyori after a successful catch, serve to remind viewers that Koi is a very round individual, with a full spectrum of emotions.

  • Koharu, meanwhile, manages to catch a fish with the fly, and while it’s not as impressive of a specimen as the one Hiyori had caught, she had both done it on her own skill, and using the fly she’d created. Such a moment would definitely be photo-worthy, but unfortunately for Koharu, her smartphone also ends up taking a swim, rendering it little more than a several-hundred dollar glass, metal and plastic brick. Some smartphones are water-resistant and survive being dropped into a foot of water, but even with phones that aren’t rated with water-resistance, they may yet be able to survive depending on the make and model. For Koharu, her phone’s hit the end of its lifespan with this incident, and she ends up picking up a new one.

  • On Koharu’s birthday, Koi, Futaba and Aiko show up to celebrate: Koharu’s whipped up a delicious takikomi gohan, a pilaf-like dish where rice is cooked with other things. Besides the rainbow trout that Hiyori had caught, this particular dish also has carrots and enoki mushrooms. In the blink of an eye, the rice disappears. After their meal ends, Koi, Futaba and Aiko respectively gift a new apron and hairclips to Koharu, both of which were thoughtfully picked. Feeling somewhat insecure, Hiyori puts off giving Koharu her gift, a photo album. As Koi predicts, this causes Koharu to become quite pouty, and she ultimately expresses her displeasure openly.

  • As it turns out, Hiyori’s fears were completely unfounded, and once the pair reconcile, they head up to their room and begin sorting through their photos, deciding on which ones to put into it. Koharu’s photos also survived, since she’d enabled cloud backups, and here, I will remark that while my move was largely smooth, one of my hard drives did suffer a catastrophic failure while I was moving files from my old desktop to the new one. This meant the loss of my collection of rare Cantonese albums, all of my travel photos, and every last file, presentation and paper I had from high school up to, and including my graduate studies. It is some consolation that I can get my Cantonese music back, and that some of my travel photos are also backed up to cloud storage, but my old work is gone forever.

  • I personally see this as a sign: with the move, I am to take it that it’s time to leave the past where it is and embrace the fact that there’s a host of things I can, and will, need to tend to now. With this finale post on Slow Loop in the books, this is the first anime-related post I’ve written after the move, and the second post I’ve written on this new desktop. Before I wrap things up, the observant reader will have noticed Koharu and Hiyori’s parents peering in a crack in the door on their daughters, who’ve become as close as biological sisters can be. To viewers, then, this is a definitive way of showing that from here on out, Koharu and Hiyori have one another’s backs, reading to help and support the other should anything happen.

  • While Slow Loop never does venture into the more serious territory despite hinting at this on several occasions, overall, the anime still succeeds in conveying the message it had set out to present. For this reason, I am quite happy to recommend Slow Loop to slice-of-life fans who are curious to see what the intersection between Tamayura and Houkago Teibou Nisshi is: this series earns a grade of A- (3.7 of 4.0, or 8.5 of 10 for those who prefer the 10-point scale) for its portrayal of family and finding new joys in life, losing points only for leaving some elements unexplored. This is a relatively minor issue, and overall, I had a great deal of fun both watching, writing about and perusing thoughts from readers on this series.

Overall, the light-hearted approach Slow Loop takes towards portraying what one journey of recovery could look like ends up being one of its merits. These topics had previously been explored to an unparalleled extent through anime like Tamayura, which set a very high bar to overcome. Rather than attempt to excel where Tamayura had, Slow Loop instead utilises aspects from other series to show how, while the approach might be dramatically different, the outcomes are the same. Rather than taking photographs, Koharu and Hiyori fly fish in the serenity of mountain lakes and the vastness of the ocean. Away from the endless hustle and bustle of the cities, Koharu and Hiyori are given a more laid-back atmosphere to gather their thoughts. In this way, Slow Loop also indicates that recovery and growth is something that nature can help with: in this day and age, people are glued to their smartphones, and in difficult times, tend to withdraw into virtual spaces rather than connect with other people in a meaningful way. By removing the virtual aspects, both Koharu and Hiyori are compelled to face their feelings, doubts and concerns head-on. Nature, however, offers a gentle setting for this, spurring the characters to do so at their own pacing. The choice of activity, coupled with the fact that both Koharu and Hiyori had lost family, would therefore show that one means of gaining perspective and learning to take a step forwards entails becoming more connected with others, treasuring the bonds one has, and becoming more attuned with the land, to truly spot that life and death is a part of the natural order, and that honouring those who’ve come before simply means being respectful to the land, as well as living life in an honest, sincere and compassionate fashion. Despite being a slice-of-life comedy on the surface, Slow Loop‘s topic and choice of imagery creates a convincing argument for how people can overcome their own struggles if they have the right people with them, and if they take such incidents as an opportunity to step back and open themselves up to new experiences. Seemingly simple anime can have surprisingly meaningful themes to them, and Slow Loop is no exception to this: its twelve episode run may be characterised by comedy and heartwarming moments, as is expected of a Manga Time Kirara work, but beyond this is a touching message about what it means to truly live.

Slow Loop: Review and Reflections At The ¾ Mark

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” –Voltaire

After Koi and Futaba participate at a study session at Hiyori and Koharu’s place, Futaba reveals that she’s been wanting to take her friend, Aoki, fishing, but worries that Aoki might not be into the pursuit. To this end, they end up visiting an amusement park that allows visitors to fish, and here, Futuba is surprised to learn that Aoki has no qualms about her interests in fishing whatsoever. Although the day has been fun, Koharu’s been yearning to do more fishing, so Ichika brings everyone out to the mountains for some stream fishing. Here, after realising that their parents don’t wear their wedding rings and never really had a formal event, Koharu and Hiyori decide to do their own celebratory dinner for their parents’ wedding using the fish Koharu had caught. Later, Koharu and Hiyori visit Hiyori’s maternal grandparents in the countryside. During one excursion, Koharu gets caught in a downpour and develops a cold. Hiyori decides to cook for Koharu. Koharu recovers, to her father’s relief, and by evening, Koharu watches the summer festival fireworks with Hiyori from the quiet of Hiyori’s grandparents’ place. As autumn sets in, Koharu develops a desire to go on a trip with Hiyori, and is disappointed when her father denies this request. After talking it over with Koi, Koharu creates a proposal and does her best to assuage her father’s concerns. Koharu’s father relents, admitting that he’d also been worried about Hiyori, as well. On the day of the trip, Koi, Hiyori and Koharu set out to their campsite, where Koharu ends up successfully catching fish, and points some other fishermen to a site she’d found fruitful. After enjoying their evening meal (salt-grilled fish and steamed fish with mayonnaise and mushrooms), they prepare to turn in for the evening. Hiyori falls asleep almost immediately, while Koharu hears a story from Koi about her father, and Hiyori’s father, had encountered a bear on one of their fishing trips. Koharu has trouble falling asleep, and the next morning, is surprised that Hiyori’s cooking. The three swing by an onsen before heading home to conclude their first trip together, and Koharu hopes there’ll be a chance to do more trips of this sort in the future.

Three-quarters of the way through Slow Loop, focus has been placed on appreciating the smaller moments of family and how they drive one’s growth; the wedding dinner that Koharu and Hiyori put on for their parents shows how both have accepted their parents’ remarriage and wish to celebrate things in their own way. This small gesture is nonetheless effective in reminding both parents that their children are fully supportive of this union, as well as expressing thanks for having given the two opportunity to grow and mature as a result of getting to know one another better. Similarly, when Koharu and Hiyori visit Hiyori’s grandparents, Hiyori notices that her mother is a lot more childish the presence of her parents, while viewers gain insight into what Koharu means to her father, especially after everything that had previously occurred. This is ultimately why Koharu’s father is so reluctant to allow Koharu to camp and travel on her own; although he later admits that he also wanted to accompany Koharu and Hiyori on adventures, it cannot be easy to watch Koharu longing to walk her own path, especially when there’s the lingering concern that trouble might befall her. However, this also gives Koharu and Hiyori a chance to show how far they’ve come: by organising an itinerary and arranging for communications, they are able to put Koharu’s father at ease by indicating how they intend to do things, and what contingencies they have in event of an emergency. Indeed, once this is set up, Koharu, Hiyori and Koi are able to take that step forwards together, allowing everyone to begin finding their own place in the world by exploring it at their own pace. Both Hiyori and Koharu have matured as a result of meeting one another, and despite the loss that both have experienced, are able to slowly, but surely, find joy in the world anew. Nine episodes in, Slow Loop has done a fantastic job of conveying this, all the while incorporating both humour and tender moments to bring Hiyori and Koharu’s journey to life.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • It’s now the heart of summer, and that means Slow Loop has entered the season of long, beautiful days punctuated by a need to wrap up summer assignments. While it’s a little tricky for Koharu to focus, some choice words from Koi fires Koharu up, enough for everyone to get through their work: it’s always heartwarming to see anime characters speaking English; their effort is commendable. Futaba’s shown up, as well, and she’s actually wondering how to best introduce her friend, Aiko, to fishing.

  • As it turns out, there’s a fishing-themed amusement park nearby: if I had to guess, this would be set near UWS Aquarium Underwater Space in Yokohama, which, in reality, is located by Yokohama Cosmoworld, an amusement park. By this point in Slow Loop, it is clear that attempting to do a location hunt is not a particularly meaningful exercise. Very little emphasis has been directed towards the setting, with Hiyori, Koharu, Koi, Futaba and Ichika’s adventures taking them to generic rivers, lakes and open ocean for their experiences.

  • The conclusion arising from how Slow Loop has chosen to portray its venues indicates this is a series where the characters come first and foremost, and that what messages Slow Loop seeks to convey are universal; setting an anime in a real-world location speaks to the series’ being rooted in a world that is intended to be familiar, but generising locations shifts the focus entirely over to the characters themselves. Here, Aiko tries her hand at fishing, and with some help, manages to catch something.

  • What Aiko enjoys most are the fried fish burgers they have for lunch, bringing back a memory of last year’s Yuru Camp△ 2; Rin and the others swung by a place called Ra-Maru during their excursion to the Izu Peninsula. Although Slow Loop does not render their fish burgers quite as lovingly, Aiko’s reaction to the burger speaks volumes to its taste; a good fish burger is made with a firm fish such as salmon or tuna (flakier fish will tend to fall apart), and preferably, is either grilled or baked rather than deep-fried. After lunch ends, the group heads into the aquarium area, where Aiko reveals she has absolutely no objection to Futaba’s love of fishing.

  • As it turns out, Futaba had tried to branch out and do the sorts of things Aiko enjoyed doing, worrying that she might lose Aiko if she’d express a want to go fishing. For Aiko, this isn’t a problem; it’s always heartwarming and instructive to see how children resolve their differences, and it is with a great deal of irony that I remark most children seem to have a better sense of how conflict resolution works relative to even adults. While children have correspondingly simpler problems to deal with, the way adults handle disagreement and conflict can be downright immature, as social media constantly remind us. Once Futaba’s worries are assuaged, she and Aiko decide to get souvenirs for those deal to them; seeing how mature Futaba is causes Ichika to cry, and suddenly, Koharu wonders why she’s not this close to Hiyori yet.

  • Being an older sibling myself, I can comment on how the dynamic will vary greatly: not all siblings will be like Futaba and Ichika, Cocoa and Mocha, or Yui and Ui. Instead, shared experiences, family circumstances and personality traits determine how close siblings will be. Koharu leaves the day happy, but feeling a little salty about having not done a whole lot of fishing, so Hiyori invites her over the mountains during Obon to do some proper fishing. In the meantime, the girls enjoy a day out in the a stream so Futaba and Ichika can try their hand at fly fishing.

  • For Koharu and the viewers’ benefit, Koi explains that this stream is one that is managed: staff periodically add fish to the stream so people can fish, and because it’s a stream, different techniques will be needed to be successful. After the girls break for watermelon, Futaba is excited to point out that Ichika’s been wearing the pendant since their previous outing, and Koharu notices that her parents don’t wear their wedding bands often. This leads Hiyori and Koharu to recall that they’d never had a formal wedding ceremony. Koharu decides to catch enough fish so they can do their own mini-celebration in lieu of something more formal.

  • In the end, Koharu nails it; she and Hiyori surprise their parents with a surprise celebration at home. Anime typically celebrate gestures like these: while they might not be as extravagant or intricate as an event put on by professionals, it’s the thought that counts. Having Ichika pony up for the roses also helps: a good bouquet starts at 40 CAD and can go for as much as a hundred dollars depending on how they’re arranged and how many roses there are, so two bouquets of the sort that Hiyori’s mother and Koharu’s father receive would require at least eighty dollars.

  • Once the guests of honour are seated, Koharu prepares dinner, and Hiyuori does the serving. Koharu prepares rainbow trout meunière with the fish she’d caught, and the main course she prepares is worthy of a high-end restaurant, right down to the presentation. The meal is well-received, and Koharu hugs her father, while Hiyori and her mother share a conversation about how far Koharu’s come in fishing since they’d met. Hiyori’s mother notes that Hiyori herself has also changed somewhat, to Hiyori’s embarrassment.

  • Dinner is rounded out with a homemade wedding cake. For Hiyori’s mother and Koharu’s father, this gesture shows that both their children have fully accepted, and embraced their union. It’s a very touching moment, one of the highlights in Slow Loop for showing how everyone’s getting to know one another better. By taking this step forwards and showing that both Koharu and Hiyori are happy with their parents re-marrying, Slow Loop eliminates a potential source of conflict and therefore, is able to focus on the lead characters’ own growth.

  • Hiyori makes good on her promise to take Koharu on a fishing trip during Obon, and they hang out at Hiyori’s grandparents’ place. Koharu is surprised to see a side of Hiyori’s mother she’d not previously seen, but is even more surprised there’s a cute side to Hiyori that she’d never known about: after Koharu casts her line, Hiyori imitates the fish’s C H O M P, causing Koharu to break out into laughter over just how adorable Hiyori can be.

  • Heartwarming moments and characters whose mannerisms evoke a sense of warm fuzziness is the order of business in Manga Time Kirara works – the four-koma manga that the anime are adapted from generally feature comedy, and this particular magazine has thus developed a reputation for featuring cute series driven by gag humour and punchlines. However, this reputation is actually not a full representation of what Manga Time Kirara works are about: underneath the humour, such series deal with a wide range of topics, from expressing gratitude for the people we come to take for granted (K-On!), embracing multidisciplinary approaches (Koisuru Asteroid) and appreciating diversity (Kiniro Mosaic), to rediscovering a love of something one had given up (Harukana Receive) and enjoying an activity in new ways one never thought possible (Yuru Camp△).

  • So far, Slow Loop has aimed to show how people become closer together as a result of their shared interests in something, as well as how one’s enthusiasm and devotion to their interests can create commonality that acts as the basis for helping people know one another better. Had Koharu not met Hiyori whilst the latter was fishing, she may have never had that initial spark: meeting Hiyori in her element leads Koharu to understand her better, and this is something that is common to all Manga Time Kirara series – fateful encounters have a habit of changing one’s life for the better, and it is with an open mind that people are able to embrace this and experience things they’d hitherto never thought possible.

  • For Koharu, who’d been exceptionally skilled with cooking, being able to fish means being able to become more connected with her food and Hiyori at the same time. Houkago Teibou Nisshi had actually touched upon this – the Breakwater Club’s motto is “eat what you catch”, and being able to see every step of the process, from catching a live animal, to preparing it for consumption would enhance one’s appreciation of what goes into making a meal. While I myself am no fisher or hunter, I watch enough How It’s Made-style shows to understand the effort that goes into food production.

  • While fishing, an unexpected shower catches Hiyori and Koharu unaware. Hiyori had brought her poncho, but Koharu had left hers behind, leading her to get soaked. It’s always heart-meltingly adorable and saddening when misfortune befall anime characters in this manner, and the ponchos remind me of a moment that occurred a few days ago while I was doing some packing – I’d found the rain poncho I’d brought with me to Japan after almost five years. I had thought I’d lost it after we returned, but it was buried under clothes in my old drawer. It is a little crazy to think that in the blink of an eye, a full five years has almost elapsed since my Japan trip back in May of 2017.

  • To commemorate this, I’ll be reminiscing about this through a post on Go! Go! Nippon!; while I found out about the game through a joke video a friend had been watching, the premise intrigued me enough so I bought the game, played through it, and then picked up both the 2015 and 2016 HD expansions, which add new content. Despite having beaten the game twice, I’ve never actually written about it, so timing it to coincide with the five-year mark since I travelled to Japan seems appropriate. Back in Slow Loop, Koharu’s developed a cold as a result of getting soaked. This occurrence is common in anime despite there being no scientific evidence that the chills causes a cold: the common cold results from a rhinovirus infection, and while colder weather can increase the risk of catching a cold, it does not cause the cold. Scientific accuracy notwithstanding, one cannot help but feel bad for Koharu in this moment.

  • Having praised Koharu for taking up fishing and becoming better connected to the meals she cooks, Hiyori has similarly matured over the course of Slow Loop; seeing Koharu in this state pushes Hiyori to ask her grandmother how to cook: she ends up using the fish Koharu had caught and a bit of miso to whip up a simple, but warming dish. That this is the first thing Hiyori has made without Koharu shows that bit by bit, she’s also matured as a result of meeting Koharu.

  • While fighting off her cold, Koharu dreams about a time in her past when she’d been hospitalised, and both her mother and younger brother was still around. Slow Loop has only hinted at the fact that despite her bubbly appearance and smiles, a bit of the past lingers in Koharu, and this led me to wonder if the series will go into a little more depth behind this part of her character: it is implied here that as a child, Koharu’s health wasn’t the best, and as a result, she hardly had any time to be with her family, so her loss would’ve been especially profound.

  • When Manga Time Kirara series introduce more serious moments, they’ve traditionally done so in such a way as to maturely address the matter without breaking the easy-going atmosphere. The net effect is that Manga Time Kirara allows for trickier topics to be presented in a gentler manner for viewers. As it was, a hint of melancholy can be detected in the atmosphere after she wakes up. However, Hiyori’s fish soup warms Koharu right up, and her father shows up, relieved that Koharu’s alright. Having lost his first wife and child earlier, it is understandable that Koharu’s father would want to make sure nothing’s happened to his daughter, as well.

  • As the evening wears on, and Koharu’s strength returns to her, she and Hiyori watch the fireworks from the back porch. Koharu feels bad at having made Hiyori miss the summer festival, but Hiyori is okay with the peace and quiet. In the moment, Hiyori addresses Koharu as onee-chan, which completely perks Koharu up the same way it would for GochiUsa‘s Cocoa. To drive home this point, Koharu is adamant on hearing a now-reluctant Hiyori say onee-chan again, reminiscent of how Cocoa has tried to get these words out of Chino on several points.

  • Some time after the summer draws to a close, Koharu “runs away” after her father flat out denies her request to go camping with Hiyori and Koi in the absence of adult supervision. Koharu’s father makes a valid point, one that Koi reinforces – to enjoy the privilege of such an experience requires a certain amount of responsibility. Slice-of-life anime particularly excel in combining the presentation of relevant life lessons with a side of humour (Koharu’s tantrum is adorable), and given the audience, I am inclined to say that these moments are for parents as much as they are youth.

  • To no one’s surprise, once Koharu shows her father that she’s thought things through properly, things turn around very quickly. Something similar had happened in Koisuru Asteroid, where Ao and Mira had worked hard to convince their parents that Ao should be allowed to live with Mira while they pursue their studies and aspirations together. Honesty is the best policy, and openly having a conversation about things worked out in Ao and Mira’s favour. In Slow Loop, the stakes are lower, but Koharu’s willingness to demonstrate her responsibility is another sign of growth, that her horizons are broadening, and with it, her readiness to do things in a responsible, measured manner.

  • Thus begins Koharu’s first-ever trip without her parents: Hiyori and Koi accompany her on this journey, which takes the girls to a comfortable campground complete with small cabins. Because the focus of Slow Loop is fishing, rather than Yuru Camp△‘s emphasis on outdoors techniques and bushcraft, the series chooses to swiftly handle shelter so more time can be spent on this series’ focus. The campground is shown to be a bit of a fancier one; while it’s not quite glamping (vernacular English: “fancy-ass camping”), the site has numerous amenities including a barbeque option.

  • Despite Koi’s skill in fishing, she lacks the same passion that Hiyori and Koharu do. While the others ready their lines, Koi sets up a portable brewing apparatus for making coffee and enjoys the quiet of this afternoon in her own manner. Koi’s preferences actually bring to mind my own; although I’ve a fondness for hiking in the mountains and strolling city parks, my preference is to curl up with a good book and a lavish beverage. Simple moments like these speak volumes about the characters far more effectively than dialogue alone can, and Koi’s choosing to enjoy some hand-made coffee shows her enjoyment of quieter activities.

  • After gearing up, Hiyori and Koharu head their separate ways to catch some fish. Hiyori is immediately successful and, after heading off to check up on Koharu, finds Koharu engrossed in a catch of her own. Koharu initially had limited success until recalling advice to go somewhere the fish might be, and after she does so, her game changes completely. This moment is significant because it represents Koharu drawing on past knowledge and her own decision-making to find success: doing something for oneself is the best way to learn, and Koharu’s using past lessons shows how far she’s come since Slow Loop began.

  • Having been around the block for the duration that I have, I confirm that the best way one can demonstrate a solid understanding of a given topic is to be able help others in their learning. Although Koharu’s still a novice, she is able to offer some other campers a tip on where the fish are: she’s filled with a smugness at having been helpful to others in the aftermath that Koi rapidly picks up on, but in Koharu’s defense, it does feel excellent to help people out.

  • Koi and Hiyori greatly enjoy the salt-grilled fish that they’d caught. This is a traditional Japanese way of preparing fish, and the salt is said to enhance the fish’s natural flavours while extracting extra water, which draws out the compounds that give a fish its distinct fishy character. Koi remarks this is the definitive way to enjoy fish – while Koharu disagrees and brings out a new recipe out to show Koi the merits of more elaborate cooking, I do find that to really enjoy seafood in its glory, simplicity is the best. Yesterday, a relative dropped off freshly caught mackerel. It was prudent to enjoy these fish as soon as possible, so the mackerel was prepared for tonight’s dinner; the only thing we needed to do (after cutting the fish up) was pan-fry it with a soy sauce called 蒸魚豉油 (jyutping zing1 jyu4 si6 jau4, literally “soy sauce for steamed fish).

  • I’ve found that what works best for fish depends on the fish: lighter, flakier fish like basa and cod are best prepared with seasoning as a part of a dish, while oily fish is flavourful on its own and only requires a few seasonings to bring out their best. For Koharu, she takes some of the fish, salts it for twenty minutes, then mixes mayonnaise and miso onto the fish. On aluminium foil, onions and butter, plus white-beech mushroom, are added. The fish is then wrapped in this foil and steamed on low heat for a quarter hour. Koharu’s creativity shows there is no shortage of ways to enjoy one’s food, and moreover, a little ingenuity can create culinary works of art without too much extra effort. This is actually a clever way of using leftovers: one example that comes to mind is reusing stir-fried beef from a previous evening’s dinner and mixing it into the current day’s vegetables to liven things up.

  • Both Koi and Hiyori hit the hay immediately, leaving Koharu a little bothered that no one’s staying up for swapping ghost stories or romantic escapades: amped up after the day’s events, Koharu finds it difficult to sleep, and Koi ends up telling a true story about her father and Hiyori’s father, who’d encountered a bear on one of their trips. With thoughts of bears roaming her mind, suddenly, every noise seems an order of magnitude scarier, leaving Koharu unable to sleep. She ends up clinging to Koi for the remainder of the night. The next morning, Koi and Koharu awaken to find Hiyori cooking breakfast. I’ve never been one for staying up late, so I empathise with Koi’s desire to catch some shuteye. With this, we are now nine episodes through Slow Loop, and I’ve definitely been enjoying what this series has brought to the table.

  • I note that discussions elsewhere on this series has been limited – although absolutely adorable and presenting a wonderful story of growth through family, I find that it takes a certain mindset to really get into anime such as these. The reason why slice-of-life series, especially iyashikei anime, appeals to me is because they help me to living in the moment more: time flies, and entire days disappear when one is immersed in work. I’ve heard that perception of time accelerating comes from the lack of new experiences in one’s routine, which is why time passes more slowly when I’m travelling compared to when I’m working my way through a bug or doing housework. Watching slice-of-life anime helps me to slow things down and regroup, leaving me refreshed for my obligations, and on this note, with only three episodes left to Slow Loop, I am looking ahead to the spring season. Only two shows have my eye at this point in time: Machikado Mazoku 2-Chome and Magia Record‘s third season.

It may appear that Slow Loop has gone down a stereotypically-Manga Time Kirara route in its progression thus far; the episodes of the third quarter are purely focused on appreciating aspects of a family, whether it be expressing thanks, or looking out for one another. The lingering question of whether or not losses, and the attendant grief, have any impact on both Koharu and Hiyori appear to have been set aside for the time being, but Slow Loop also indicates, via flashbacks, that the topic remains one of relevance. As Slow Loop enters its final quarter, one does wonder if the series will introduce any surprises and cover more series topics such as being open with one’s feelings, and knowing that it’s perfectly okay to be sad once every now and then. Manga Time Kirara adaptations do have a track record of dealing with heavier matters during its final object, and while things can appear rushed because it’s condensed into the last two or three episodes, as Harukana Receive and Koisuru Asteroid had previously done, the method nonetheless remains viable because it allows a given anime to show how the joyful everyday moments intersect with more trying times, and how it is through the lessons learnt during the good times that one can weather bad times and come out the other end. Much as how Ao and Mira find a way to stay together while in pursuit of their goal to discover an asteroid, or Haruka and Kanata coming to terms with the fact that they must face off against their friends, Emily and Claire, in order for Kanata to fulfil her dream of reaching the national competition and showing to her old partner, Narumi, that she’d found her path anew, it is possible that Slow Loop may have one more surprise left in store for viewers in its final quarter. However, even if the series does not, this won’t stop it from being any less enjoyable; different authors approach a given topic differently, and the end result is an alternative perspective, a unique message about what they’d wish to say of a given matter.

Slow Loop: Review and Reflections at the Halfway Point

“Life is a journey with almost limitless detours.” –Ken Poirot

While fishing one day, Hiyori notices that Koharu is struggling to cast and offers to help her, but that only angers Koharu, who’d wanted to master the art of casting herself. She runs off to Koi’s shop and learns a little more about Hiyori, eventually deciding on some boots as a show to Hiyori that she loves fishing. Later, Hiyori gifts some candies to Koi on her birthday, and Koi looks forward to spending time with her mother: while her mother is out of town on work, she’s taken some time off to be with Koi. That evening, Koi celebrates her birthday with her family: her father’s caught a massive tuna for the occasion, and while Koi remains unhappy with her father’s tendency to spend more time fishing than with her, the evening turns out quite fun nonetheless. Here, Hiyori and Koharu meet Ichika and Futaba Fukumoto, daughters of a boating shop owner who’s on good terms with Koi’s father. When Koharu learns that boat rentals aren’t pricey, she suggests taking up part time work to earn some money. Koharu and Hiyori end up working at a maid cafe; Hiyori initially struggles as a server but ends up finding her footing, and later, while advertising outside, runs into Futaba, who’s worried that fishing isn’t a normal activity for girls. The question ends up weighing on Hiyori’s mind even as she and Koharu go boat fishing with Koi, her father and the Fukumotos. Futaba proves to be very knowledgeable on fishing and helps Hiyori handle the live bait. After a successful day on the water, everyone heads back over to Hiyori and Koharu’s place for a group dinner, and here, Futaba shares her story of how she’s distant from the other girls in her class because she prefers fishing and playing soccer with the boys. Hiyori reassures Futaba there’s nothing wrong with being who she is, and when they leave, Futaba looks forward to fishing with Hiyori and Koharu again. On a hot summer’s day, Koharu and Hiyori crash at Koi’s shop, where there’s air conditioning, and overhearing their conversation, Koi’s father decides to take them fishing for the common dolphinfish in a spot that’s considerably cooler. This time around, it is Koharu who manages to make a catch, and while Hiyori is disappointed, she brightens up after Ichika suggests taking the dolphinfish to an expert who can prepare it. This expert turns out to be Ichika’s friend, Miyano, and she works at a restaurant. Although Miyano is none too happy to see Ichika, she does consent to make some sashimi out of the dolphinfish for Hiyori, Koharu and Koi, who end up enjoying their meal greatly. On the way home, Koharu expresses a desire to continue catching fish because this experience had been so enjoyable. Here at Slow Loop‘s halfway point, things have settled into a pattern within the anime, giving the characters a chance to bounce off one another as they continue to fish together.

Slow Loop has lived up to its name insofar: having now put Koharu and Hiyori together, Slow Loop has proven to have moved at a slower pace, in choosing to take a few detours in order to ease the other characters into the story. Futaba and Ichika join Hiyori, Koharu and Koi on their excursions, and Slow Loop has paused to explore a topic that usually isn’t covered in other slice-of-life series with all-female leads. The matter of what is appropriate as a hobby for people of different genders ends up being presented: although Futaba is born into a family in the boating business and finds herself immediately at home with a fishing rod, peer pressure from her classmates creates a conflict in her. On one hand, she wants to continue doing the things she loves in the manner of her choosing, but at the same time, this creates a distance with her other classmates, who find it unusual that Futaba is spending so much time with boys and doing things that are seen as unlady-like. The topic of gender norms is a broad and challenging one: in the October 2017 issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, a review by Kristin Mmar et al. found that across societies, gender norms developed independently of culture and socio-economic statuses as a result of social pressures (e.g. customs), rather than genetic factors. Because these findings suggest that gender norms are value-laden construct, it follows that values can shift over time to reflect trends in a society. Slow Loop‘s portrayal of Futaba becoming confident in her enjoyment of fishing is therefore meant to present a modicum of insight as to how people can pursue the things they love: it is through support and encouragement from those around her that allows Futaba to determine that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with her enjoying fishing. This is admittedly a more positive and heartwarming portrayal of things (this is, after all, a Manga Time Kirara adaptation), but the messages do hold true nonetheless.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • While fishing, Hiyori and Koharu get into a bit of a disagreement after Hiyori expresses a wish to show Koharu how to properly cast, leading the latter to run off in frustration. Koharu ends up at Koi’s fishing shop, and after speaking with Koi, decides to make amends with Hiyori – Koi’s known Hiyori since childhood and as such is able to swiftly understand what bothers Hiyori. Hiyori and Koharu have only known one another briefly and have yet to have any major conflicts, but a part of family is working things through to the best of one’s abilities.

  • Because Koharu and Hiyori are still relatively new to one another, having a mediator like Koi around greatly accelerates things. Over time, Koharu and Hiyori would naturally come to know one another better, but because Slow Loop is a twelve episode series, it is understandable that things would be accelerated so more can be fit into the story. Thanks to Koi’s suggestion, Koharu decides to apologise to Hiyori and picks up a pair of boots as a gesture of her commitment to fishing, even though said rubber boots are a bit pricey.

  • While a fluffy and gentle series, Slow Loop makes use of imagery to remind viewers that Koharu and Hiyori’s lives are brightened considerably after they meet; conflict is an inevitable part of families and society as a whole, so what counts is how conflicts are resolved. One aspect that stood out to me came at the fourth episode’s opening, where Koharu has finished preparing dinner for two and sits down to dinner alone. Use of lighting and colour serve to emphasise Koharu’s feelings, even as her voice conceals how she’s doing her best to stay strong in the moment. Slow Loop has been all smiles so far, par the course of a Manga Time Kirara work, but it would be interesting to see if the characters can really open up to one another later down the line.

  • Using some of the fish that Hiyori had caught, Koharu prepares a delicious fried filet with shredded cabbage and grape tomatoes. To help Hiyori get comfortable with cooking, Koharu walks her through preparing tartar sauce. The Japanese have food down to a science: deep fried foods are usually served with shredded cabbage because the cabbage aids in digestion by slowing down the intake of fats from the fried food. From a culinary perspective, the crisp, fresh cabbage offsets the heavier flavours of the fried food. This is why coleslaw is so enjoyable with something like Kentucky-style fried chicken or deep-fried catfish: besides aiding digestion, the sour flavours breaks things up.

  • After doing some reading, it turns out that oil disposal is no longer a problem: letting the oil return to room temperature, then allowing it to congeal inside a container held in a freezer will result in something that can be composted in my area. As such, it is quite tempting to simply go and get a deep fryer (home kitchen fryers go for as little as 65 CAD). However, while deep fried foods are delicious, they are also unhealthy in large amounts, and an air fryer is more appropriate for my needs (we’ve successfully made sweet and sour pork with it previously). Anime often portrays deep frying by heating a skillet of oil on the stove and then immersing battered foods in it for frying, so this is a slightly more economic way to fry things without a dedicated appliance.

  • Hiyori demonstrates that it is indeed the thought that counts when it comes to gifts – for Koi’s birthday, Hiyori gifts to her a variety of grape-flavoured candies in a glass jar. Koharu is shocked to learn that this is why Hoyori had been giving her so much candy previously and suddenly regrets not getting Koi anything. For the occasion of Koi’s birthday, her mother’s returned to town – she’d been absent until now because she’s got a managerial role at a large company overseas, and during a birthday tea with her mother, Koi reminisces on how her father keeps screwing her over because of his obsession for fishing: it turns out that one year, her father had taken her out to a fishing trip during a thunderstorm and scared the bejesus out of her.

  • Koi’s story may seem quite exaggerated, but children are easily influenced by things around them, and these memories can linger for a long time. As a child, my parents would make Heinz beans as a quick dinner prior to grocery shopping trips, and back then, I was never fond of these beans, invariably resulting in delays. Even now, I can’t say I’m particularly fond of Heinz beans. As such, I’ve got no qualms with Koi’s stories being unrealistic, and in Slow Loop, Koi’s mother remarks that did cause a bit of a disagreement, but in the end, she and Koi’s father stuck together because he was so open to her career, allowing her to both advance her work and have a family.

  • For the occasion of Koi’s birthday, her father had gone all the way out to Okinawa and caught a massive tuna, inviting a large number of friends over in the process: it turns out that Koi’s father is somewhat known in the fishing community for being exceptionally skilled at what he does. Viewers with a mind less open than mine state that this isn’t enough to balance out his shortcomings, but I find this position untenable: again, Manga Time Kirara Series have a tendency to exaggerate things to create comedy, and at the end of the day, characters act in good faith, so it’s not helpful to try and approach discussion from the perspective that characters are incompetent. During the party, Koharu and Hiyori get to know Futaba and Ichika better: both are familiar with and enjoy fishing.

  • While I’ve always enjoyed fresh whole fish before, and previously was allowed to pick the eyes from a fish head, we primarily use fish heads in soup. It is possible to eat the heads and pick out the meat in there, although the textures can be off-putting if the head isn’t prepared correctly. While Koharu’s imagery, of likening it to offering the head of a foe to a leader, can come across as a bit vulgar, it actually does speak to the fact that his fishing obsession notwithstanding, Koi’s father does love her in his own way. During the party, Koharu and Hiyori learn that catching fish from a boat is costly, and Koi introduces them to a part-time job at a local café.

  • Like Koisuru Asteroid, Hiyori and Koharu end up working somewhere with maid outfits. However, Koharu’s talent for cooking means she’s assigned to the kitchen, while Hiyori becomes a server. The prevalence of Victorian-style maids in anime is something that I’d never really considered until now – it turns out that Japanese society and its pacing created a demand for something that Patrick W. Galbraith describes as “alternate intimacy”: the 1996 game Welcome to Pia Carrot!! was set in a cosplay café, and two years later, the first maid café opened to celebrate the game. Since then, the setup has been quite popular in anime.

  • While handing out flyers, Hiyori runs into Futaba and Aiko, who wonders why she’s not worried about being embarrassed to work in a maid café, before posing the question of whether or not fishing is something that girls should be doing. Before Hiyori can fully answer, Futaba runs off, leaving Hiyori confused. This ends up being a point of concern for Hiyori, who’s worried about Futaba’s perception of fishing. Later, Hiyori teaches Koharu how to cast with confidence, reminding me of an exercise were green belts are asked to practise their nunchaku near a wall to properly visualise how to move the handles.

  • Thanks to Ichika, Hiyori and Koharu have a chance to fish on a boat. Although Hiyori shares Hina’s fear of creepy-crawlies (ragworms, in this case), Futaba is on hand to help Hiyori get her rig set up. It has not gone unnoticed that of the Fukumoto sisters, the elder sister is Ichika, and the younger sister is Futaba. Although I am doubtful the names are chosen with any thematic significance, it is a nice touch. Koharu initially catches a rockfish, but once she gets a primer on the technique, manages to help with the catch. Koharu correctly remarks that fishing is a survival skill: Les Stroud has brought fishing tackle with him into Colorado and the Baffin Islands previously, making use of his gear to catch fish for survival.

  • In fact, Stroud has remarked in Secrets of Survival that his top survival food is fish. The boat fishing trip is short but enjoyable, and it is here that Futaba is shown as being quite fond of fishing in spite of her remarks the previous episode: knowledgeable and quick to help out, it is clear that her experience is quite extensive. That Futaba and Ichika end up becoming a part of the regular cast shows how a bit of open-mindedness can create chance encounters, and although Futaba and Ichika aren’t classmates, they are siblings, and therefore, may play a role later in helping Koharu and Ichika to learn even more about what family means.

  • Upon returning home, Koharu prepares to start dinner with the freshly-caught fish, and here, she shows Hiyori’s mother a simple recipe using the spine of a fish, which is otherwise discarded. Fried fish definitely has its perks, although being of Cantonese descent, I’m most familiar with steamed fish served with a heaping pile of spring onions, ginger and soy sauce. This recipe is simple, doesn’t involve frying (and therefore, is remarkably healthy), flavourful and works with a range of fish, including cod, perch, haddock and flounder.

  • The act of cooking brings both the Minagis and Yoshinagas together: while Koharu had been feeling visibly down at the thought of eating alone while her father worked long hours earlier, these scenes act as a juxtaposition to remind viewers of how different things are now, and how happy Koharu is to have been given a chance to enjoy ordinary life again. Slice-of-life anime celebrate the ordinary, and while not every reader will agree with this, I do believe that happiness is being able to live a life of normalcy, one of some certainty.

  • Koi’s twin younger brothers are named Niji and Tora: they’re a splitting image of Koi, who in turn resembles her father. At gatherings like these, the Yoshinagas are a happy family, although Koi remarks that there are all sorts of nuances that lead her to be colder towards her father. This is a reality amongst families, but on the flip-side, families come in all forms and manners. Manga Time Kirara series tend to present the more positive side of things, and I imagine that this is why their works are so polarising: they are counted as being saccharine and overly idealistic in their messages.

  • However, I would counterargue that these idyllic portrayals of life is about as authentic to the Japanese spirit as it gets, representing insight into what the Japanese consider to be their ideal life. Contrasting North American works, which are chock-full of fantastical adventures that mirrors a culture which respects the adventurous, Japanese slice-of-life works indicate a respect for normalcy and tranquility. Moments such as these, of two families sharing dinner together, are to be cherished.

  • The lingering question Futaba has finally comes into the open during dinner, and she tearfully admits that her female classmates think it strange that she’s into fishing and hanging out with the guys in her class. Even in this day and age, gender divides with respect to activities remain a challenge. I’ve never really had much concern for these things: people should be free to pursue interests as they see fit, and these boundaries are arbitrary constructs that simply have existed with society. This is something that’s been bothering Futaba, but thanks to Hiyori, she’s able to understand that there’s nothing strange at all about her enjoying more active activities like fishing and playing ball along the guys.

  • This message is swiftly dealt with in Slow Loop, acting as a reminder that activities are to be enjoyed universally. Women are just as capable as men are in things like fishing, much as how some men are exceptionally talented in handicrafts (as Houkago Teibou Nisshi demonstrates). Having now talked it out with Hiyori and Koharu, Futaba feels much better about her own interests: it is obvious that she greatly enjoys fishing, given her vast knowledge, but peer pressure had her second-guessing herself. Confidence is a major part of life, and one of the things that are taught universally is to be true to oneself.

  • Now that Futaba is reassured that enjoying fishing is perfectly natural, I would expect that she appear with increasing frequency throughout Slow Loop. It suddenly hits me that Slow Loop, like GochiUsa, is set outside the classroom, and unlike Houkago Teibou Nisshi or Yuru Camp△, Hiyori and Koharu fish for their own sake, rather than as a club activity. This reiterates the fact that Slow Loop is more family-oriented than other anime of its lineage, opening the floor to interactions and messages that school-oriented series would not be able to cover.

  • On the morning of their next fishing trip, Koi’s father gifts to Hiyori a brand-new, never-been-used rig. While Koi’s immediately on her father’s case about it, it turns out it had been a gift he’d intended to give Hiyori’s father, Shinya. For my Slow Loop posts, I’ve referred to the parents as such, and admittedly, this has made it a little tricky to talk about them, bringing to mind how Bill Watterson had never named Calvin’s mother and father in Calvin and Hobbes. Although this worked well enough for the story, it made it difficult for other adults to interact with Calvin’s parents. One such story has Uncle Max show up, but because he could never refer to Calvin’s parents by name, dialogue was trickier to write for, and Watterson would end up focusing purely on Calvin and his parents.

  • Despite a bumpier ride out to the ocean, Koharu is in fine spirits once the waters calm down, and she wanders out onto the deck under calm waters and sunny skies. The journey reminds me a bit of the Strait of Georgia separating Vancouver from Vancouver Island, where turbulent waters meant I would get seasick when crossing, whether it was on ferry, cruise ship or the Edgewater Fortune, a converted mine-sweeper that is now a commercial yacht. Once the oceans calm, it is indeed quite beautiful out here, although I have found that on a bobbing boat, focusing one’s attention to the horizon can help to alleviate sea sickness.

  • The family Exocoetidae refer to species of fish with wing-like fins that can leap out of the water and glide short distances, hence their common name, Flying Fish. Such fish favour warm and tropical waters, and unlike most fish, they possess an anatomy that allow them to leap out of the water and glide up to 50 metres at a time. In Japan, Flying Fish are dried and preserved for use in dashi, although they are also eaten. Their roe is utilised in sushi preparation, and while they’re orange, adding different ingredients can alter their colour.

  • Once the boat settles, Koi’s father gives Koharu a crash course in what to look for when catching their target of the day: Coryphaena hippurus, or, the common dolphinfish. More frequently referred to as the mahi-mahi owing to their strength, the common dolphinfish is characterised by their vivid colouration and size (reaching up to 13 kilograms). As a result, Koi’s father indicates that they will be using smaller fish as bait, and Koharu immediately takes to roleplaying with fishing. Although something like this seems trivial and would outwardly suggest that Koharu is simply fun-loving, being able to do things like this also shows that Koharu has an approach for livening things up.

  • During this particular fishing trip, Hiyori and Ichika have no joy in catching a dolphinfish of their own: Hiyori comes close, but her prize slips off the hook, back into the ocean. Conversely, Koharu ends up with the only catch of the day, and with both guidance and assistance from Koi and her father, they manage to net the fish and bring it on board. This is a pivotal moment for Koharu, being her largest catch to date.

  • The dolphinfish’s sheer size means Koharu is barely able to hold it up with one hand, and Koi jokingly remarks that its size is similar to that of a child. Koharu, who’d been pretending to be an undercover operator earlier, suddenly realises she’d been taken in. However, Koharu is all smiles upon returning to land, while Ichika and Hiyori are doom and gloom after Hiyori’s dolphin fish manages to escape. Slow Loop‘s the recreational fishing has proven to be quite different than what was seen in Houkago Teibou Nisshi at the halfway point: Hina and her friends stay on the breakwater to fish, go pick up new gear together and visit the beach to go clamming, whereas here in Slow Loop, Hiyori and Koharu have now gone boat fishing three times.

  • Both Houkago Teibou Nisshi and Slow Loop have commonalities in that both series provides insight into technique, explanation of the equipment used, and nuances associated with different kinds of fish. Both series also employ comedy in their own way to create compelling, likeable characters. Here, after the initial disappointment of not catching anything wears off, Ichika explains that dolphinfish require special preparations if they wish to enjoy it raw; the fish’s skin is covered in pathogens, and cooking the fish is enough to kill these pathogens. Slow Loop does not mention that ciguatera poisoning may also occur: dolphinfish may ingest toxin-producing algae while feeding, accumulating them within their bodies, and unfortunately, cooking does not destroy these toxins, which results in food poisoning when consumed.

  • Ichika knows of a friend who is versed in cooking, and as it turns out, said friend, Miyano, is a little cool towards Ichika because of the latter’s tendency to barge in and ask for favours. However, she is a trained cook and works at a local restaurant. After some convincing, Miyano prepares the dolphinfish into sashimi, adding grape tomatoes and bay leaves before drizzling on olive oil and balsamic vinegar. As the girls enjoy dolphinfish sashimia, Miyano explains that she’s also a hunter. Noticing that hunting season coincides with when fishing season is off (and vice versa), Hiyori begins to wonder if ancient people would’ve derived their sustenance off the seasons and mastered both land and sea to survive.

  • This is the sort of thing that Les Stroud would cover in his Survivorman: Beyond Survival series: indigenous peoples have had a long and storied history of living in harmony with the land, devising ingenious methods to not only survive where they lived, but also thrive. Enjoying particularly delicious food can inspire one to consider its origins, and earlier last week, during the Chinese New Year celebrations, I ended up with a second poon choi dinner; this one came from a different Chinese restaurant and thus, had different ingredients in it compared to the first one (featuring duck, fat choy and thinly sliced pork), but it was just as tasty. For the duration of last week, we ended up enjoying the poon choy and its leftovers after the Chinese New Year celebrations had ended.

  • Koi had also succeeded in catching a dolphinfish, and her younger brothers posed for a picture with the fish. Koharu feels that while it was fun, there was something about this particular triumph that feels muted, and promises to have an even more amazing experience in the future. Despite the decidedly gloomier story behind Koharu, it is admirable that her spirits are indefatigable. With this, we’ve hit Slow Loop‘s halfway point, and here, I will note that the series is solid even though it’s not quite as focused as something like Houkago Teibou Nisshi or Koisuru Asteroid: some lingering questions do remain, but understanding how Manga Time Kirara series, I am more than content to be patient and let things unfold as they do.

Covering different topics as a part of the journey is nothing novel to slice-of-life anime. Because of Slow Loop‘s choice of direction, some viewers have wondered why Slow Loop has seemingly stepped back from dealing with feelings of grief, acceptance and moving in between Hiyori and Koharu. The reality is that as a journey, life itself is unpredictable and uncertain: things won’t follow a linear path, and said path will be full of surprises. Tamayura had similarly done something of this sort, and it was through the unexpected where Fū had some of the most eye-opening experiences that led her to slowly open herself back up to the world and cherish the memories she had of her father. Tamayura hadn’t been particularly subtle about things (Fū often recounts memories of her father and how something in the present is helping her to heal), and while Slow Loop prima facie appears to be skipping over these elements, the anime continues to present moments where both Koharu and Hiyori reflect on the past, and on how different their respective worlds had become once they’d entered one another’s lives. The only difference is that Slow Loop takes on a more rambunctious, humour-driven approach to show how there is new joy in both Koharu and Hiyori’s world that the pair can help one another to grasp, while in Tamayura, Fū and the others go through a more introspective, thoughtful and gentle path towards healing. Manga Time Kirara series typically tend to place an emphasis on moments that are more humourous, and in the past, such series do tend to wander as more characters are introduced before returning focus to the story’s main themes towards the ending. As such, here at the halfway point, I’m not terribly concerned that Slow Loop will have forgotten its central objective, and remark that insofar, the series has certainly done a wonderful job of showing another side of fishing that was not covered in Houkago Teibou Nisshi while at the same time, detailing life lessons in a satisfactory manner. From the looks of it, there still remain a few characters who’ve yet to be introduced, and after this occurs, I’d expect that Slow Loop will focus on its main story in the final quarter.

Slow Loop: Review and Reflections After Three

“We never lose our loved ones. They accompany us; they don’t disappear from our lives. We are merely in different rooms.” –Paulo Coelho

On the first day of school, Koharu is disappointed to learn that she and Hiyori are going to be in different classes, while Hiyori is relieved she’s in the same class as Koi, a friend she’d known since pre-school. After classes end, Hiyori takes Koharu to the fishing shop Koi’s family owns, and picks up an all-in-one fishing kit here. The two later visit a lighthouse that Hiyori’s father had once taken her to, and here, Hiyori gifts the all-in-one fishing kit to Koharu. To get Koharu up to speed with fly fishing, Hiyori arranges for a fishing trip with Koi and her father: the latter is very fond of fishing to the point of occasionally forgetting about his family, and while Koharu is unable to catch anything, she is able to speak to Koi and encourages her to look out for Hiyori in her own way. Later, Hiyori learns that Koharu had lost her mother and younger brother in an accident, and despite having lived with one another for a few weeks, Koharu is a little distant with Hiyori’s mother. To this end, Koharu suggest going on a camping trip together with Koi’s family, too. Here, Hiyori realises that fishing of late’s been considerably more enjoyable, but struggles to find the words to thank Koharu, while Koharu catches her first-ever fish and savours it, before helping out with dinner. During the meal preparations, Koharu finds that she’s able to speak with Hiyori’s mother quite naturally, and Hiyori makes an attempt to know Koharu’s father better, as well. As the evening comes to a close, Koharu and Hiyori stargaze together. When Hiyori wonders if her father would recognise her as she is know, Koharu replies that so long as she smiles, things will be fine. Koharu herself grows excited about the prospect of returning to their campsite in the autumn, when the foliage is painted in hues of oranges and yellows. Here at Slow Loop‘s third episode, it is apparent that family will form the focus of this latest Manga Time Kirara adaptation, with fishing being a secondary aspect that gives the characters common ground to build shared experiences and memories from.

Both the second and third episodes provide exposition into how each of Koharu and Hiyori handled loss; Hiyori sought to understand her father better by continuing to fish, while Koharu pushes herself to be more outgoing and bring joy into the lives of those around her to the best of her ability. When these opposites meet, the end result is a sort of synergy: Hiyori is able to appreciate her father’s hobby more fully, while Koharu ends up being able to share her energy with someone. Unlike Tamayura, which presented things in a much slower and measured manner, Slow Loop‘s portrayal is considerably more spirited in nature; different people respond to loss and grief differently, and Slow Loop sets itself apart by showing viewers both the fact that people are quite resilient, but it is together that one is able to really take those difficult steps forward. The fact that Hiyori and Koharu share quite a bit in common (regarding their backgrounds) means that both are well-placed to help one another out, and I imagine that it is possible that there will come a point in Slow Loop where Hiyori will need to step up and encourage Koharu, as well. The idea of being there for one another, in both good times and the bad, is what makes a family: Koi makes this abundantly clear by saying that what a family outwardly appears to be isn’t the whole picture, and while Slow Loop‘s been quite gentle insofar, Koi’s remarks means that there will be points where Koharu and Hiyori encounter challenges, or even clash. However, in typical Manga Time Kirara spirit, whether it be through introspection or support from others (usually, a combination of both), the relationship that Koharu and Hiyori will come out all the stronger. With these directions in mind, Slow Loop has proven to be unexpectedly mature in its portrayal, and at this point in time, it is evident the series has what it takes to differentiate itself from its precursors.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Although Koharu isn’t in Hiyori’s class, she manages to hit it off with her classmates almost immediately. Hiyori, on the other hand, is glad to have ended up in the same class as her friend, Koi. The dramatic contrast in Hiyori and Koharu’s personalities are mirrored in their classroom arrangements; Koharu has no trouble with new people and appears to fit right in, while Hiyori is given a quieter setting where she’s able to be reassured by the fact she’s with someone she knows. After their first day of class, Hiyori decides to take Koharu around to some of the places she frequents.

  • As the daughter of a fishing fanatic, Koi works at a fishing store and is familiar with all of the gear that Hiyori could require in-field. Koi’s known Hiyori since pre-school, and consequently, Koi understands her quite well. Koi is voiced by Tomomi Mineuchi (Eiko Tokura of Slow Start Ilulu from Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid,  and GochiUsa‘s Kano), although in appearance and personality, she’s similar to Ano Natsu de Matteru‘s Remon Yamano or perhaps Please Teacher!‘s Ichigo Monino: all characters have a quiet but somewhat mischievous disposition.

  • Viewers are given an introduction to the different types of lures: Koi classifies them into four groups (dry, nymphs, wet and streamers) based on the type of organism they’re supposed to mimic and correspondingly, the type of fish they’re intended to catch. Most guides I’ve found on a cursory search give three distinct categories, omitting the wet lure. Wet lures are stated to be a hybrid between streamers and nymphs: they float in the water, whereas dry lures sit on top of the water.

  • Although Koi’s name is evocative of the koi, a kind of Amur Carp, she explains that the kanji for her name is actually written as love (恋): it turns out on the day of her birth, her father had rushed off to fish, leaving her mother to give birth. Koi’s father is portrayed as being obsessed with fishing, and he often leaves Koi to run the store while he runs off to fish after her classes end for the day. This sort of behaviour has given some viewers trouble by making the show “unrealistic”, but for me, exaggerated traits are a signature part of Manga Time Kirara series.

  • The goal of characters like Koi and her father are to remind viewers that this is a world where both Koharu and Hiyori have experienced people in their corner. Since we are early in the series, the worth of people like Koi’s father won’t be immediately apparent, but as Slow Loop wears on, the additional expertise will become valuable. It turns out that Hiyori had wanted to pick up a special all-in-one fly fishing lure kit. The close interactions between Koi and Hiyori is such that Koi has a special name for Hiyori: “Yamahi”. This came from the fact there were two Yamakawas back during pre-school.

  • This revelation imparts a bit of jealousy in Koharu, who becomes a bit pouty after learning of this fact. Koharu continues to give off Cocoa vibes in Slow Loop, and like Cocoa, Koharu’s mood is quick to change: all jealousy evaporates when Hiyori reveals that she’d had one more destination in mind for their time together: a spot that she and her father had once visited together. Along the way, Koharu remarks on how it’s so nice that the ocean is within a stone’s throw. Koharu’s love for the ocean brings to mind Aoi and Chiaki’s response to the fact that Rin was sending so many ocean photos back to everyone in Yuru Camp△ – the ocean is especially beautiful to those who live in landlocked areas.

  • Different anime utilise different approaches when it comes to how they portray characters relative to their environments. Anime with simple backgrounds and characters that stand out indicate to viewers that the characters are the focus, while anime where the backgrounds are richly detailed remind viewers that the setting is also important; in offering something unique for the characters (such as the ocean’s bounty, or untamed natural beauty) to the extent where it can be considered a character in its own right. This was the case in anime like Yuru Camp△ and Houkago Teibou Nisshi. Here in Slow Loop, the latter seems to hold true.

  • Because the background is portrayed as being quite vibrant, it is significant to the story. I had indicated a few weeks earlier that that Slow Loop was set in Kanagawa: upon spotting this lighthouse, I turned my location hunting skills to use and did a query for all of the lighthouses in Kanagawa. This quickly allowed me to narrow the setting to Yokosuka, as this particular lighthouse is Kannonzaki Lighthouse. While not quite rural (Yokosuka has a population of 409 hundred thousand as of 2017), there is a corner of the city near the lighthouse that is a little less built-up. Knowing that Hiyori and Koharu live within walking distance of Kannonzaki Lighthouse makes location-hunting a little easier, and I just might return to do such a post in the future if Slow Loop presents enough places of interest.

  • It turns out that the all-in-one lure kit Hiyori bought was for Koharu, as a way of really welcoming her into the family and further kindle her interest in fly fishing. With her excitement still in full swing, Koharu accepts a chance to go fly fishing with Hiyori, Koi and her father. Koi’s father is all too happy to accept the chance to go out and fish, although Koi herself is less enthused by the excursion.

  • On the day of the fishing trip, Koi comes with an umbrella and is content to sit things out while her father, Hiyori and Koharu fish. It suddenly strikes me that Koharu’s got a very adorable-looking hat: it’s reminiscent of a lop-eared bunny, and coupled with the chibi art style, really accentuates the fact that Slow Loop, no matter how serious conversations might get, at the end of the day, such series are about finding the joys in life and putting a smile on viewers’ face.

  • Chibi moments like these serve to give every character more personality, and Slow Loop has utilised the transition between its normal art and chibi art to really convey how someone feels in a moment. Koharu is raring to get the party started; although she’s quite motivated and determined, poor form as a result of her still being new to fly fishing means she gets nothing.

  • On the other hand, with her experience, Hiyori begins picking fish up almost immediately. When Koharu finds herself skunked by the fly fishing, she stops to take a break and starts up a conversation with Koi. As it turns out, Koi had been worried about Hiyori ever since Hiyori’s father had passed away, but never felt it was her place to support and encourage Hiyori. Seeing Koharu come in so casually and lifting Hiyori’s spirits makes Koi wish that she’d done more for Hiyori.

  • While Koi had been doing her best to be considerate, Koharu has no such context and is therefore able to act without treading around eggshells. Seeing the change in Hiyori once Koharu shows up is ultimately encouraging for Koi, who is able to take a step forwards, as well. To accentuate this, once Koi comes to realise that she can still be there for Hiyori in her own way, similarly to how Koharu’s brightened Hiyori’s world up, she puts her umbrella away and steps out of the shadows, into the light.

  • This sort of thing was common in Tamayura, where Fū’s friends worry about whether or not the smallest thing could cause Fū grief in the beginning. However, the combination of Fū’s own open-mindedness and her friends’ unwavering support means that Fū is able to not only stand of her own accord, but flourish, too. Slow Loop does seem to be going in this direction; because of the positive energy Koharu brings to the table, Hiyori’s become excited at having a fishing partner, someone to share in her (and by extension, her father’s) love of the ocean.

  • By having Koi come to see how Hiyori’s begun taking those same steps that Fū had, Slow Loop both sets in motion Hiyori’s growth, as well as removing one more obstacle that keeps Koi from being her true self. In a Manga Time Kirara series, this means that Koi will likely become more expressive, resulting in interactions between herself, Hiyori and Koharu that are more consistent with the gentle, fluffy and humourous tone that Manga Time Kirara works are best known for.

  • The biggest surprise in Slow Loop so far was learning that Koharu’s background is at least as tragic as that of Hiyori’s, but in spite of this, she’s able to put on a smile and brighten up Hiyori’s day anyways. I expect that this will be something left for future episodes: for now, Hiyori’s the person who’s growing, and as Hiyori becomes increasingly able to stand of her own accord, she’d be able to support Koharu on the days where she’s not at the top of her game. For now, however, Koharu is all smiles, and she’s able to reminisce about her family without becoming saddened.

  • Koharu understands that the process isn’t going to take place overnight, but because there’s a distance between herself and Hiyori’s mother, she longs to close that distance over time. Like Sayomi and Nadeshiko, Koharu believes that adventure is the key to this, and ends up booking a fishing/camping trip. Koi and her family are also invited, but Koi’s a little befuddled as to why they’re to partake even when they’re not family. However, Koi’s father immediately jumps on the chance, seeing it as another chance to go fishing.

  • Slow Loop‘s use of familiar elements initially can come across as being derivative, but the activity isn’t the star of the show here; even assuming this was to be the case, my discussions would veer towards the differences in how Slow Loop and Houkago Teibou Nisshi portray fishing; one key difference is that Houkago Teibou Nisshi purely has the girls fishing from the breakwater (shore fishing), and Slow Loop portrays boat fishing. For now, however, Hiyori must first get the boat into the water, and while she’s done it before, it was adorable to see her struggle with Koharu in the boat.

  • In the end, the pair end up over the lake despite Koharu’s inexperience with rowing. Boat fishing offers numerous advantages over fishing from land: for one, range is improved, and one can hit spots that are otherwise inaccessible on land. However, fishing from the shore has less setup and teardown. In Houkago Teibou Nisshi, Hina and the Breakwater Club fish from the shore exclusively because their home, Sashiki, is a fishing town: there’d be a lot of commercial boats on the water, making it difficult for the Breakwater Club to head out into open water. Conversely, Slow Loop has Hiyori and Koharu do a combination of both kinds of fishing, acting as a metaphor for how different approaches and tools both have their pluses and minuses.

  • While Hiyori and Koharu enjoy lunch, Hiyori (somewhat insensitively) brings up fishing superstitions that leave Koharu disappointed. Here, I will note that insofar, discussions on Slow Loop have been fairly limited: the larger blogs I visit don’t appear to be writing about this series. While I normally welcome discussions, especially for the hotter series, slice-of-life anime are something I’d prefer to watch in a vacuum: I’ve never received a satisfactory answer as to why people take these anime so seriously, and discussions inevitably devolve into attempts to psychoanalyse even the most minor of actions the characters take.

  • Far from reading between the lines, such discussions invariably miss the big-picture message the work was originally intended to go for. Attempts to bring topics like philosophy and psychology into Manga Time Kirara works is therefore of limited value at best, and I’ve found that characters’ interactions and intentions in these series should be taken at face value. Here, a sudden rainfall forces Koharu and Hiyori to take cover under some branches by the shore. Hiyori thinks to herself that of late, thanks to Koharu’s presence, fishing has become much more enjoyable: it’d taken Rin two full seasons of Yuru Camp△ to appreciate this, so to see Slow Loop not-so-slowly convey this to viewers is a clear indicator of where this series intends to go.

  • Although Hiyori isn’t quite able to openly thank Koharu yet, the weather unexpectedly becomes pleasant again, and while Hiyori suggests returning to shore, she spots a few fish underneath the water. She seizes the moment and asks Koharu to ready her line while she prepares a lure. Earlier, Koi had set the condition that in order to partake in dinner with the others, each of Hiyori and Koharu needed to catch something. For Hiyori, this isn’t a problem, but Koharu is still a novice who has yet to catch anything. Feeling like she should return the favour to Koharu, Hiyori swiftly gears up.

  • In the end, Koharu is able to catch her first fish, following suggestions from Hiyori. This is a milestone moment for Koharu, who can now be said to be hooked on fly fishing. Unlike Hina, who’d outright fainted at the prospect of having to gut and clean a fresh catch, Koharu is much more accepting of the process, and again, this is an aspect to Slow Loop that differentiates it from other series of its lineage. It takes no small measure of subtlety to really appreciate slice-of-life series; for those unfamiliar with the genre, all slice-of-life series feel similar and are about “nothing”.

  • This couldn’t be further from the truth, and it does take a bit of open-mindedness to be open to what slice-of-life series are intended to convey. This is the reason why I am such a staunch defender of slice-of-life anime: these aren’t series that can be graded on conventional metrics, and their worth comes from whether or not they are able to present a meaningful message about life itself. Back in Slow Loop,. Koharu wonders if this fish’s experience is akin to being burnt at the stake. For a fluffy and cheerful individual, Koharu certainly has no qualms about speaking her mind, and this has led some to wonder if she’s quick to antagonise those around her for this.

  • I’d counter that in Manga Time Kirara series, character traits are exaggerated for comedy’s sake. If it is indeed necessary to explore this side of Koharu’s character later, then I will consider Koharu’s loose lips later on. Like the Breakwater Club’s doctrine in Houkago Teibou Nisshi (“eat what you catch”), Hiyori observes the idea that one should eat their catch to appreciate what goes into it. There’s a barbeque facility at the camp site, making it easy for Koharu to prepare her fish and eat it, as she says, as one would in a manga. The technique of eating fish this way is known as shioyaki, a practise that has been along for a very long time.

  • By evening, the families prepare to set up a hearty dinner. Thanks to Koharu, an acqua pazza soon takes shape. With the rainbow trout salted and grilled shioyaki-style, Koharu adds Manila clams and cherry tomatoes. Once the flavours get to know one another, the dish is done. The fact that Koharu is so knowledgable about cooking impresses Hiyori’s mother, who comments that Hiyori’s father had always been the cook, and after his passing, they’d gotten by on convenience store meals. In no time at all, cooking allows Hiyori’s mother and Koharu to bond.

  • The portrayal of camping in Slow Loop brings back memories of last year’s Yuru Camp△ 2: at this time last year, the third episode had just aired. Rin spent the day with Nadeshiko in Hamamatsu and explained her reasons for enjoying solo camping – Yuru Camp△ is one of those series where every episode offered something distinct to talk about, and I did episodic discussions for the second season during its airing. For Slow Loop, I’ve elected to write about it with my usual frequency (every three episodes). While World’s End Harem has proven interesting, the setup means that I might write a single post about it once it’s over – there’s a lot of moving parts right now with this one. On the other hand, Girls’ Frontline has been a bit of a disappointment insofar; the series has not established its characters well yet, and I’m not sure where this series intends to go.

  • Back in Slow Loop, seeing Koharu taking the initiative spurs Hiyori to do the same, and here, she offers a bowl of acqua pazza to Koharu’s father. After dinner’s done, Hiyori and Koharu decide to go star-gazing, where, away from the city lights, they’re able to spot Ursa Major in all of its glory, plus the Milky Way itself. While a stunning sight to behold, one reminiscent of how Ao and Mira had met in Koisuru Asteroid, a quick look around light pollution charts around Japan suggests that such gorgeous skies would be outside the realm of possibility nearest the larger cities.

  • It is under the vast night sky where Koharu explains how she’s able to put one foot in front of the other despite what’d happened in her past: keep smiling, because even though those around her might be gone, they’ll still be able to remember her smile from the other side. What Koharu means that her mother, and Hiyori’s father, would’ve wanted them to keep on moving forwards in their lives, to keep finding things to smiling about (i.e. make new memories). This is the sort of thing that Tamayura had particularly excelled at, and with Koi joining the group, I’m rather curious to see when Ichika, Futaba, Aiko, Niji and Tora enter the picture. In the meantime, speaking of enjoying family time, we’ve just picked up some Southern Fried Chicken and fries, and I’ve not sat down to a dinner of this sort since the New Year began, so it’s time to go ahead and enjoy this to the fullest extent possible on this unexpectedly warm but blustery winter’s night.

With this being said, Slow Loop‘s incorporation of elements from other slice-of-life series, like Houkago Teibou Nishi, Yuru Camp△, Tamayura and Koisuru Asteroid means presenting to viewers a familiar experience. Whether or not this is a bad thing will depend on the individual: amongst the community, some folks contend that if something is “generic”, it counts as a strike against a given work. For me, this isn’t ever a problem: treading on previously explored territory allows an anime to quickly establish its premise, and this in turn provides more time to focus on what the work intended to convey. In other words, whether or not a work contains derivative elements is irrelevant to me: what matters is how well said work can deliver a relevant, meaningful message. Here in Slow Loop, Hiyori and Koharu’s dynamic had previously been seen in Yuru Camp△‘s Rin and Nadeshiko, while the events forming the backdrop for Slow Loop‘s story is similar to Tamayura‘s. Hence, viewers can reasonably expect that Slow Loop would be a story of opposite personalities coming together to drive individual growth. However, because the setup is quite distinct from those of Yuru Camp△ and Tamayura, Slow Loop provides an opportunity to show something neither of these works focused on: how the combination of Koharu’s cheerful, happy-go-lucky personality and Hiyori’s introspective, quiet traits complement the other in a way as to allow both characters to come to terms with their losses, support one another and ultimately, step forward together. I’ll admit that this was something I wasn’t expecting from Slow Loop based on its synopsis alone, but now that we’ve seen three episodes, I am looking forwards to seeing how this anime explores more challenging topics about handling loss and grief while at the same time, continuing to remind viewers to be appreciative of the smaller things in life, like sharing a meal with loved ones.

A Very Unique Girl: Slow Loop First Episode Impressions

“The great charm of fly-fishing is that we are always learning.” –Theodore Gordon

After her father had passed away from an illness three years earlier, Hiyori Yamakawa is a little worried about her stepfather and stepsister after learning her mother is going to remarry. To assuage her worries, Hiyori decides to take her mind off things by returning to the breakwater overlooking the ocean and do some fly fishing, which her father had taught her. She ends up running into Koharu Minagi at the breakwater: it’s Koharu’s first time seeing the ocean, and she’s even come in her swimsuit, intent on going for a swim. However, in March, the waters are still too frigid, and Hiyori ends up hooking Koharu to prevent her from taking a plunge. After introductions, Hiyori invites Koharu help her catch some fish and try some sashimi; the two quickly bond despite Hiyori not being good with meeting new people. To both Hiyori and Koharu’s surprise, it turns out that they’re now step-siblings. When Hiyori becomes a little uncomfortable with things back home and heads off to the breakwater, Koharu follows her, and Hiyori ends up providing instruction on how to fly fish. In return, Koharu whips up a zukedon for Hiyori using some older fish. The night before the new school year starts, Hiyori reassures Koharu it’s completely fine for her to be sleeping in Hiyori’s father’s old room, and she also promises properly teach Koharu on how to fish. On the first day of classes, Hiyori and Koharu head for school together to kick off their new year. With the arrival of the new anime season, Slow Loop is off to a flying start; this first episode wastes no time in introducing the characters, their backgrounds and setting up the fated encounter that brings Koharu and Hiyori together as family, all the while setting the stage that comes from enjoying the ocean’s bounty in a respectful and sustainable manner, much as Houkago Teibou Nisshi did before it a few years earlier.

Slow Loop differentiates itself from Houkago Teibou Nisshi in that this time around, Hiyori is still coming to terms with her father’s passing three years ago. Fishing becomes the activity that reassures her and connects her to her father. However, until Koharu arrives in her life, fly fishing is also a pursuit that Hiyori explores alone, and she’s initially limited only to one style of fishing. With Koharu’s genuine interest in learning more, bit by bit, Hiyori is pushed out of her comfort zone, and is prompted to explore new directions, as well. The setup in Slow Loop is reminiscent of Tamayura, where Fū Sawatari moved to Takehara to better learn the town her father had grown up in, and in doing so, Fū came to connect her father more closely. Here in Slow Loop, Hiyori is taciturn and reserved, fishes with only one technique and generally has trouble interacting with others. However, Koharu’s arrival acts as a catalyst to push her forwards, too: similarly to Fū, Hiyori is someone who can take initiative on her own, but when spurred on by friends, finds that her path to recovery and discovery is greatly accelerated by the new experiences that are only possible when one opens up their hearts to those around them. In this way, Slow Loop appears to be a Manga Time Kirara-style representation of Tamayura, being a bit more colourful and spirited (in contrast with the more measured and contemplative mood of Tamayura) portrayal of how fateful encounters can set people in new directions. After one episode, Slow Loop demonstrates that it has the makings of a consistent, if familiar series, and my interest in Slow Loop will be what unique messages are presented in its blend of elements from Houkago Teibou Nisshi and Tamayura, with character traits from other Manga Time Kirara series like Koisuru Asteroid.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I’ll kick things off with Hiyori fishing on her own at the pier; Hiyori is voiced by Rin Kusumi, a relatively new voice actress whose role in Slow Loop represents her first lead role. While it’s March when Slow Loop begins, the weather still feels considerably warmer than it is here in the Great White North thanks to the blues in both ocean and sky. Since 2022 started, the daily high hasn’t exceeded -20°C (although with wind chill, it’s closer to -40°C). Before getting too much further into this post, one of the things I’ll have to steel myself to do is not mistype Slow Loop and spell it as Slow Start, another Manga Time Kirara series I’d previously watched, enjoyed and written about. Manga Time Kirara is very much characterised by doing things slowly, methodically, a mindset that has numerous merits but, all too often, is forgotten in today’s world.

  • 2020’s Houkago Teibou Nisshi proved to be superbly enjoyable, providing a combination of fishing information and slice-of-life antics in conjunction with messages of being respectful to marine ecology by not overfishing and not leaving any garbage after one’s finished. When Slow Loop was announced, I was admittedly curious: this one appeared to be more character driven than experience driven (such as Houkago Teibou Nisshi) owing to its premise, and as such, entering the first episode, I had no idea what to expect.

  • After Koharu chucks her clothes and prepares to dive into the ocean, Hiyori uses her line to catch Koharu’s attention. The latter ends up falling on her back and comes face-to-face with Hiyori, who blushes furiously. Koharu’s energy and enthusiasm brings to mind the likeness of Cocoa, Mira and Nadeshiko, all of whom have cheerful, extroverted and easy-go-lucky personalities. In appearance, Koharu is reminiscent of Blend S‘ Kaho, who was quite well-endowed and often wore her hair in twintails as a part of her work outfit. Koharu is voiced by Natsumi Hioka, whom I know best as Mitsuboshi Colours‘ Kotoha and Shii Eniwa from Super Cub.

  • The initial meeting between Koharu and Hiyori feels somewhat like the meeting between Nadeshiko and Rin during Yuru Camp△‘s first season: a happenstance occurrence that sets in motion the events for the remainder of the series. Such fateful encounters are a common literary device in Manga Time Kirara series, showing how friendships can come from the most unlikely of moments. Because of how Manga Time Kirara series are structured, they share many elements in common: folks looking for an all-new experience won’t find them with adaptations from Manga Time Kirara.

  • Instead, the joy in these series stems from their portrayal of how every journey is different, and therefore, worthwhile. After Hiyori shares some tea with Koharu, she invites Koharu to help her fish: while she casts her line, Koharu is to take the net and scoop the fish up. Even this early on, there’s a bit of chemistry between the two: like Nadeshiko and Rin, Mira and Ao, and Cocoa and Chino, the sharp contrast between Hiyori and Koharu’s personalities inevitably mean that the two will complement one another very well.

  • Right out of the gates, Slow Loop has Hiyori fishing for rockfish (Hepburn mebaru), which are of the genus Sebastes. There are 109 recognised species in this genre, and like Houkago Teibou Nisshi, the rockfish is portrayed as possessing poisonous spines that must be removed prior to consumption. This is done to show that Hiyori is no novice when it comes to fishing, but also shows how centuries of aquatic expertise means that humanity has learnt to make the most of what nature provides. Houkago Teibou Nisshi did the same, but in later episodes, once Hina had become more accustomed to fishing.

  • Looking back on the past few years, one of the most noticeable changes to my dietary preferences are that I now am a ways more comfortable eating raw fish than I’d been previously. I attribute this change to both Survivorman, as well as anime like Yuru Camp△ and Houkago Teibou Nisshi, which led me to become more open-minded about trying things. There’s a flavour and texture about sashimi and nigiri that is particularly appealing. Having said this, I still prefer my fish cooked thoroughly as a result of my background: 魚生 (jyutping yu4 saang1, literally “raw fish”) isn’t a popular part of Cantonese cuisine, and my favourite fish dishes usually see the fish steamed, then seasoned with a dash of soy sauce, ginger and scallion.

  • In moderation, though, raw fish is delicious, and after Hiyori prepares the fish, Koharu is immediately blown away by how fresh everything tastes. I believe that saltwater fish are slightly safer for raw consumption compared to freshwater fish, although in general, fish intended for use in sushi (nigiri) or sashimi is generally frozen first to kill any parasites: freezing causes ice crystals to form in the parasites’ cells, eventually rupturing them. It is not lost on me that the character designs in Slow Loop have a very GochiUsa-like feel to them.

  • As the sun begins setting, Hoyori remarks that she’s got to take off soon, since her mother’s getting remarried and they’re going to meet her future step-father, as well as his child. The moment Hoyori says this, it becomes clear that Koharu would say the same: that her father is getting remarried to someone who’s got a child, as well. This sort of thing might be seen as highly unrealistic, especially from a probability perspective, but such happenstance events are deliberate in stories to really drive home the idea that things like fateful encounters can exist and have a nontrivial impact on one’s life.

  • For me, predictability has never been an issue in anime for the same reason it’s never been an issue for whenever I watch Western films or television shows. This is because stories are intended to serve a specific function, whether it be to inform, persuade or entertain. As such, my goals when consuming a work is to determine what message the author has for me, and then, how well the journey towards those messages were portrayed. In Slow Loop, for instance, Maiko Uchino aims to present the idea of how being open-minded creates new experiences that help individuals to accept past losses, so now that Koharu and Hiyori are, in effect, sisters, what I am looking for most is to see how fishing and cooking will come together for the two, and what experiences they have together as a result.

  • With this being said, it is very reductionist to suppose that Slow Loop is purely about “found family in a group of misfits”, as one of Random Curiosity’s writers puts it: there’s more of a Tamayura-like vibe in Slow Loop in that both series presents the idea of becoming passionate and skilled about something as a means of better learning about loved ones who are no longer present. I will remark that it does take a certain mindset to write about slice-of-life series in a manner that’s interesting and meaningful for readers; reacting to things that occur isn’t something I find particularly valuable. Here, Hiyori recalls how her father’s old office is now Koharu’s room, and although Koharu’s father spots that this is bothering Hiyori somewhat, Hiyori herself is more conflicted than disapproving.

  • This is because the room would’ve represented her existing memories of her father; having Koharu move in would mean displacing those memories. On the flipside, however, having Koharu move in also means that while the present is displacing the past, the memories still remain. In this way, it’s a bit of a visual metaphor for having Hiyori take a step forward. After noticing Hiyori’s gone out, Koharu follows suit, and decides that now would be a great time to learn how to fly fish. Hiyori is a little befuddled by Koharu’s actions, wondering if she’s doing this to take her mind off things, or if she’s just curious. Past experience says that it’s likely a combination of both: characters like Koharu, Cocoa and Mira seem attuned to how those around them feel, and intuitively act in a way as to help them out.

  • While Hiyori notes that this day is windier than when they’d met, Koharu indicates that she’s like to at least try her hand at casting. Moments like these bring out Hiyori’s true self, and she immediately delves into the technical aspects of how to properly cast a fly fishing rod. The terminology overwhelms Koharu, but when Hiyori switches over to layman’s terms, Koharu comes around and begins to understand what Hiyori is getting at. In Houkago Teibou Nisshi, Hina suffers from a similar problem. As a beginner, she asks Makoto to help her out, but Makoto’s experience means she uses terms Hina is unfamiliar with. Conversely, Yūki’s explanations are far simpler, and in no time at all, Hina’s up and running. Being able to convey complex ideas to a novice is a mark of skill, and here in Slow Loop, having Hiyori being comfortable with both simplifies things somewhat for Koharu.

  • While Hiyori begins to wonder if Koharu’s wanting to learn fly fishing solely to take her mind off things back home, it turns out that Koharu had really just been about the fly fishing. However, this does give Hiyori a chance to clear her head, and seeing Koharu’s energy leads her to open up a little more – as they head home, Hiyori becomes comfortable calling Koharu by name, and learns that Koharu is two months older than she is.

  • For the time being, Slow Loop has made only the briefest of mentions regarding where its events take place: based on the name of the high school that Hiyori and Koharu attend, it’s somewhere in a hillier, coastal region of Kanagawa. This is speculative, of course, and I do wonder if a bit more information will be given with respect to where Slow Loop occurs come later episodes; I’d previously done a location hunt for Houkago Teibou Nisshi that wound up being very enjoyable, and it’d be phenomenal to bring the Oculus Quest back out of storage for another location hunt.

  • Although they didn’t catch anything, Koharu admits that she’d wanted to get at some fresh fish so she can cook: it turns out that Koharu is a skilled cook, and when Hiyori admits they have more fish than they know what to do with, including fish that’s no longer quite as optimal for sashimi, Koharu indicate she’s got a recipe up her sleeve that’s worth trying out. The difference in skills that each of Koharu and Hiyori possess creates a scenario where Hiyori will teach Koharu fishing, and over time, Koharu will impart her cooking knowledge on Hiyori, as well. The interplay between two different, but complementary skills will similarly help both to grow: as it turns out, Koharu’s not much of an outdoors person since she was afflicted with asthma when she was younger.

  • The recipe that Koharu has in mind isn’t particularly challenging: it’s a zukedon (marinated tuna bowl) that is prepared by adding equal measures of soy sauce, dashi and mirin to the fish, then throwing in some ground sesame seeds, adding this onto the rice and then topping with scallions to finish things off. Donburi is similar to the Cantonese 碟頭飯 (jyutping dip6 tau4 faan6, “topping on rice”), a simple dish with meat served on rice, and while there are countless varieties, my favourite is chicken curry or char sui with choy sum. Rice is incredibly versatile, and for dinner yesterday evening, I ended up having Hamamatsu-style unagi on rice. This eel was incredibly rich in flavour, being both savoury and piscine, and I now appreciate why Rin was overjoyed to try eel while with Nadeshiko during their time in Hamamatsu.

  • In the end, the resulting zukedon is delicious – Hiyori notes that it’s a little different than the ones her father used to make, and the ensuing conversation has Koharu shocked to learn that some fishes are actually at their best a few days after they’re caught. I have noticed that discussions elsewhere are very focused on Hiyori accepting her family name being changed from Yamakawa to Minagi, but this aspect is ultimately inconsequential – Hiyori herself is the sort of person who rolls with the punches and does her best to be accommodating; while Koharu and her father moving in is a big change, she’s not too bothered and even remarks shikata ga nai (仕方がない), a saying associated with accepting adversity in a dignified manner. Incidentally, the Chinese have a similar saying, 冇辦法 (jyutping mou5 baan6 faat3, literally “no other way”).

  • The reason why I’m less concerned about Hiyori accepting the family name change, despite its ties to her father, is because accepting this change equates to accepting the future, which in turn opens the anime to explore what lies ahead. Hiyori’s father remains important to her, but Koharu is the present and the future; I do not doubt that Hiyori’s father would’ve wanted her to find her own happiness anew, much as how Fū did indeed find her own way in Tamayura. As it was, Hiyori’s already looking forwards to figuring out some new fishing techniques that might be helpful for Koharu, whose enthusiasm to learn evokes a very Shimarin-like response from Hiyori, and this signifies that focusing on the minutiae is not too beneficial in a series like Slow Loop.

  • On the first day of term, Koharu gently pulls Hiyori forwards and hopes they’ll be in the same class together. Thus begins Slow Loop, and with the first of the anime now off to a fine start, I’ll remark here that I have plans to return and write about Slow Loop on a quarterly basis: discussion on shows like these are uncommon, and on some occasion, folks deem it necessary to bring in various aspects of psychology or sociology into such series where it is not needed. Manga Time Kirara series are, by definition, easygoing and approachable, so that a wide range of people can enjoy them: I hope to be able to convey this enjoyment as I journey through this one. Besides Slow Loop, I am also watching Girls’ Frontline and Shuumatsu no Harem this season. Once I have a measure of how these two shows are doing, I’ll make a more concrete decision as to whether or not I will be writing about them.

Before we delve too deeply into Slow Loop as more episodes air, it is logical to briefly mention the etymology behind this series’ title. Slow Loop‘s title is derived from a step during casting, during which one casts backwards, causing the line to form a loop. As Hiyori explains, casting forward and backward without dropping the fly into the water is called false casting. During this time, a loop is retained in the line: this process is done in preparation for the act of casting a line fully, and so, a “slow” loop therefore refers to the idea of taking as much time as needed to become ready for the next step forward. Slow Loop is appropriately named, and speaks to how for Hiyori, the path to acceptance and of thriving is one that she should take at her own pace. This is reminiscent of the advice that Maon’s father had given to Kanae in Tamayura ~More Aggressive~, when he’d suggested that everyone eventually casts off from the harbour, even though everyone does so only when they’re ready. As such, moving into Slow Loop‘s main story, it is evident that this is an anime that will combine the topic of fishing with self-discovery and acceptance while adding the Manga Time Kirara traits of adorable characters, bad jokes and warmth. On paper, this is a solid combination, so it goes without saying that Slow Loop is a series I am going to enjoy watching this season. Given the remarkably enjoyable experience Houkago Teibou Nisshi had imparted, and the unparalleled lessons seen in Tamayura, I am not holding Slow Loop to those same expectations – instead, the value in Slow Loop will come from how the story differentiates itself from those of its precursors.