The Infinite Zenith

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

Category Archives: Tamayura

Tomorrow: Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~ (Graduation Photo) Movie, Finale Review and Reflection

“Sometimes, you just have to let go and embrace what you’ve become.” —Adam Jensen, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

The finale to Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~ is the culmination of Fū’s journey along the path of acceptance and her moving into the future, on a path that she’s chosen. Fū’s camera is repaired, and she participates in adventures with her friends, as well as preparing to write her entrance exam for her post-secondary institution of choice. After watching the first sunrise of a new year with Sayomi and the others, Fū makes clear her intentions to move to Tokyo to pursue a career in photography: Riho invites Fū to be her roommate should she pass her exam, and later, once the exams are done, Fū and the others make one final hike up Mount Asahi. Her old camera finally fails on this trip, although Natsume had dropped by a DSLR camera for Fū with the hope that she’ll put it to good use, and in April, Fū graduates with Kaoru, Norie and Maon. They go their separate ways after one final goodbye, and in Tokyo, Fū shows that she’s kept both the final photo from her father’s old camera, as well as the first photo from her new camera; both images capture the Tamayura phenomenon. Once the last of the credits have rolled, it’s quite difficult to pin down the precise aspects that make Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~‘s finale so compelling: perhaps in this episode, more than any other, I am reminded of my own experiences at present:

The finale to Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~ deals primarily with Fū as her journey of discovery and acceptance draws to a close. This journey is tangibly felt in her camera’s state: having accompanied Fū throughout her entire journey, her father’s camera is a symbol representing her past, as well as her resolute determination to make the most of the present and come to terms with what’s happened. These were the themes throughout Tamayura ~Hitotose~ and Tamayura ~More Aggressive~, with Fū rediscovering the joys of Takehara and gradual increasing sense of identity as she explores photography with her friends. This camera ultimately is a tangible reminder of Fū’s past, and while Fū’s come to accept her father’s passing, that her camera malfunctions is a sign that nothing truly lasts forever: having matured substantially since she arrived in Takehara, she’s nearing a point where she must step out and embrace her future. Although Fū cherishes the camera, its age means that Fū must retire it: it is fitting that its final image is one of her and her friends. Natsume later drops off a brand-new camera: a DSLR model, it is a professional tool, a world apart from her old Rollei 35S. Because Fū is serious about her future career, she accepts this upgrade, mirroring her willingness to now walk the path to a future that she has chosen, without regret or doubt.

Fū later learns that her examination results were quite good, and she is accepted into her first choice. Kaoru, Norie and Maon likewise follow their own paths forward; despite their doubts about being apart, they come to embrace their futures, knowing that they can always meet with one another again in the future. Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~ is centred around high school students entering post-secondary, but the feelings of hope and trepidation following graduation that Fū and the others experience are the same as those felt during a post-secondary convocation. Three years ago, I graduated from the university’s Bachelor of Health Sciences program, watching my friends walk across the stage and prepare themselves for pursuit of their dreams. I followed suit, deciding to take on a Master’s of Computer Science after learning that while I greatly enjoy the biological sciences and medical sciences, I wish to work in a field that allowed me to solve problems using the technology I’ve become so fond of. In this time, I’ve moved through the courses and research that a graduate degree entails, and presently, sit on the eve of the graduate defense. On one hand, I’m excited to finish this degree on the best possible note I can deliver, but on the other, I’m also a little nervous about what will happen next. This feeling is captured in whole within Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~, and through watching Fū, Kaoru, Norie and Maon walk their stage, I’m reminded that I myself will likely graduate in November (provided that I do not mess up during my defense examination). I remarked elsewhere with one of my readers that one of the greatest strengths in Tamayura is that its thematic elements and illustration of Fū’s journey can resonate with individuals of diverse backgrounds: everyone watching Tamayura might have their own experiences and stories, and some facets presented in Tamayura lead different people to recall different memories. This is rather difficult to accomplish, but the fact that Tamayura succeeds in doing so shows just how much heart and sincerity went into its writing.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • When I drafted the review for Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~‘s third installment back in March, I was on the eve of wrapping up my final academic term. Over the past few months, many things have happened, and it’s been outside of my comfort zone; I prefer order, but it’s been chaos all around as I juggle my thesis work and an internship position. This chaos hasn’t been bad, though, given that having new things to take on each day keeps things from falling into monotony.

  • Fū’s camera is repaired, but Maestro remarks that it’s unlikely he would be able to repair it again should the same component fail. Unlike the previous Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~ posts that I’ve written, this one has thirty images rather than the typical twenty, as there are more things to talk about. The page quote for this finale post comes from the most unlikely place: the upcoming Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Referring to Adam Jensen and his slow acceptance of augmentations, it could equally apply to Fū and her resolve to pursue a future of her choosing, as well as my own acceptance of my career choice.

  • Norie and the others enjoy red bean buns at Saihou-ji Temple in Takehara. As is fitting of a Tamayura episode, where I do a poutine challenge or equivalent food challenge of some sort, I stepped off-campus today and revisited the Vendome Café after faulty intel from the university translated in no food trucks actually being on campus. I ordered the Breakfast Poutine once more, and this time, with my constitution at full performance, I managed to finish this delicious behemoth of hash browns, ham, peppers, onions, cheese and Hollandaise sauce in full.

  • After giving things careful thought, Fū makes known her intentions to study in Tokyo to her mother and grandmother. While she was expecting a bit more resistance, both her mother and grandmother accept her decision, advising her to talk with Riho first about her decision and its impact. Fū also confides  in Chihiro: one of the more subtle but meaningful things in Tamayura were the subtle changes in each character’s actions, and during a phone call, Chihiro no longer bawls her eyes out wherever Fū and her father’s camera are involved.

  • With Fū set to graduate,  Takumi and Suzune are next in line to run the Photography Club. Here, they sort through photographs for the yearbook, and I am reminded of the times I spent in a yearbook design committee both during high school and my undergraduate careers. Reflecting on my propensity to fulfill a jack-of-all-trades role, I composed and took photographs, coordinated the different individuals working on the yearbooks and designed some of the layouts in both cases.

  • While on break from studying, Kanae visits Fū and the others. It strikes me that I’ve not written a final exam for two years now, with my last one being a physics exam back during April 2014. Instead, most of my exams are now oral or presentation-driven: I prefer these to multiple-choice exams because I have an opportunity to talk my way through a question and reason out an answer. While it’s been a while since I’ve done written exams, the skills I picked up during the MCAT are (hopefully) still largely intact, so I imagine I could still perform satisfactorily should the need arise.

  • Tamayura ~Hitotose~ and Tamayura ~More Aggressive~ featured the “We Exhibition”, showcasing the girls’ creations to the community to bring everyone closer together. With entrance exams looming, however, Norie, Kaoru, Maon and Fū decide to skip this year to focus on their studies. On New Year’s Eve, they wind down, but get the feeling that a relaxing New Year’s Eve is unlikely. Their fears come to pass when Sayomi appears and drags everyone on an evening hike.

  • Equipped with banners and high in spirits, the girls hike to the top of a hill to observe the first sunrise of the year, chanting that they will pass their exams for certain. It appears that Sayomi is driving a second generation Mazda 5, which is the vehicle I learnt to drive in. With a high maneuverability rating, the vehicle handles nicely but lacks engine power (which suits me fine: I don’t really enjoy speeding and prefer using handling to keep safe on the road). I hear the Mazda 5 line is being discontinued, but I do not see myself buying a hatchback as my first car.

  • As always, Sayomi’s adventures give Fū and her friends a chance to experience something memorable together: Fū takes pictures of the crowds gathered at the top of the hill. Her monologues show a great deal of insight into her character, and contrary to the worries of those around her, Fū shows that she is at peace with the world around her. Ayana Taketatsu (K-On!‘s Azu-nyan and Girls und Panzer Der Film‘s Alice Shimada) delivers a gentle voice to mirror Fū’s personality, in comparison to her typical role as tsundere characters.

  • The ending of Tamayura ~More Aggressive~ had Fū, Kaoru, Norie and Maon share a tearful farewell with Kanae, who was graduating at the time. Under a similarly beautiful sunrise, Kanae wishes that they had more time together, and from my end, I’m amazed at how quickly these past few years have elapsed. It only seems like yesterday that I was watching Tamayura ~More Aggressive~ and learning to appreciate the subtle things in life again after a particularly difficult summer.

  • In contrast to the earlier movies, the finale illustrates the flow of time in a much more erratic manner, showing snapshots of Fū’s everyday experiences as she draws closer towards graduation. She stays over at Chihiro’s house while in Tokyo for her entrance examinations.

  • Fū begins her written exam here, and later takes an oral exam/interview component. I know the pressure associated with exams and interviews; for written exams, I tend to study for long periods until I feel confident with the material, while for the oral exams and interviews, I strive to speak more slowly and clearly than I normally would, taking the a bit of time to construct a reasonable answer without slowing things down.

  • Post-exams, Fū visits Riho at a café she’s working at and meets one of her colleagues. As it turns out, Riho appears to be uncommonly well-prepared to take Fū as a roommate: her apartment is quite close to Fū’s prospective university and has sufficient space for two.

  • Later, Chihiro and Fū share a conversation about how far things have come since they’d first met. It turns out that Chihiro is prone to tears for Fū’s sake, showing that she cares deeply for Fū. However, as Fū began finding her way, Chihiro finds herself crying with a reduced frequency, and Fū is grateful for her unwavering support after all this time.

  • The ticket with no destination was a major symbol throughout the whole of Tamayura, signifying that the destination might not always be known, but it’s the journey there that makes all the difference. Ergo, when Fū notes that there is a destination now, it would demonstrate that the journey that is Tamayura is drawing to a close for the viewers, as well as Fū, who sets her sights on a tangible objective in her future.

  • It turns out that everyone’s made it into their universities. It’s late June right now, and while my own exam is not more than five days away now, countless high school students are making use of the university facilities to prepare for the diploma exams. With university admission standards rising, more and more students are enrolled in preparation courses to score well on their exams.

  • Despite a harrowing ride in Sayomi’s Mazda 5, the girls set out to enjoy the hike at Mount Asahi. This is the spot that everyone first visited after Fū arrived in Takehara, and after they stop to take in the scenery, Fū decides to take some photographs.

  • While her camera yields one good shot, it croaks on the next: this marks the end of Fū’s treasured Rollei 35S, and her friends worry that Fū will grow depressed as a consequence. After confirming that it’s beyond repair at Maestro’s shop, her friends watch the scene with growing concern, almost as though they were bracing for an explosion of sorts.

  • While Fū’s dialogue does sound a little strained, she keeps a cool head about her and learns from Maestro that a package has arrived for her. It’s a Nikon-model DSLR camera: while Natsume figured he might resume photography, his schedule was not conducive, and he felt that Fū would be able to better utilise it.

  • DSLR stands for “Digital Single-Lens Reflex”: these cameras utilise a CCD chip as digital cameras, but have a lens system as opposed to the mirrorless systems seen in most digital cameras. They produce images without parallax, and their larger CCD chips reduce noise, making them more effective under low light conditions. Here, Fū looks through the camera’s operation manual.

  • The move from her old Rollei to a new Nikon is a substantial jump, although Fū breaks in the new camera with a subject she’s most comfortable with — she takes an ordinary shot of her friends and instructors.

  • Fū reminiscent about her time with her father, and it turns out that as a child, Fū was more selfish than she is. She misses deeply her father’s patience and kindness; after her father passed on, Fū became selfless. This transformation reminds me of Kincade’s remarks in Skyfall: after learning of his parents’ death, a young James Bond hide in the family home’s priest hole. Kincade notes that when Bond comes out, he was no longer a boy.

  • It’s a very profound change in both cases, and here, Tamae, Fū’s mother, wonders if she’s truly alright and whether or not she has been a good mother to Fū. Parenting is a remarkably tricky business, and in conversation, I’ve wondered how one learns to be an effective parent. Then I think that, as I am now, I’m probably not mature enough to be a parent just yet.

  • It’s an hour to the stroke of midnight, and here I am, trying to finish this post such that I have tomorrow clear to rehearse my defense presentation and construct a pair of coherent conference presentation that’s set to take place in a little more than a week. I am reasonably confident in presenting my work, but this time, I have the additional task of presenting a colleague’s work. I know the biology fairly well (it’s chemotaxis, which isn’t too bad), but the implementation, I’m less familiar with.

  • Fū walks across the stage for high school graduation here: Norie, Maon and Kaoru are also shown, although there are some moments that I feel to be inadequately conveyed by static images. In conjunction with trying to keep this post length manageable, I’ve decided to only illustrate Fū walking across the stage.

  • Graduation is a magical moment: for the first time I can recall in Tamayura (this is a series I’ve been following for five years), the Tamayura themselves show up outside of a photograph. Fū feels that her father would be quite proud of where she is now, and looking forwards to my own convocation, it’s going to be in November. So, I’ll get to experience the same ceremony I did when I finished my undergraduate degree, although this time, there won’t be a banquet after the fact.

  • As Fū leaves Takehara, her friends and instructors give her a spectacular farewell, wishing her the best in her studies. I watched sections of the finale at the Vendome Café while attempting the Breakfast Poutine challenge, parts on the train and the rest back at the lab: it was quite tricky to hold back the tears. I ordinarily do not find myself easily moved, so it was quite the achievement that Tamayura could bring out those emotions.

  • I’ve heard that those who do not find themselves moved to tears by Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashi~‘s finale must have the cold, mechanical heart of a robot. This finale was definitely moving, and in the epilogue, glimpses of post-secondary life for Norie, Kaoru, Maon and Kanae are seen. Takumi and Suzune now head the photography club and invite new members to join with great enthusiasm. It appears that everyone’s settling into their new lives, and again, I’ve opted not to show screenshots, since these moments are better watched.

  • Fū’s last image with the Rollei and first image with the Nikon are framed here: both have Tamayura, signifying that both moments capture happiness. I feel that this is a satisfying, rewarding conclusion to Tamayura and as such, do not expect that there will be any continuation. Further to this, the manga concluded its run back in March 2011, so there is no new content to adapt. In light of this, Tamayura comes to a close in an excellent spot.

  • With the help of Flower from AnimeSuki, this message reads “To all who have given Tamayura their love over the years — thank you.” The animators and writers may or may not know that their message transcends culture and nations: viewers from across the world, such as myself and the English-speaking fans at AnimeSuki, have also found great joy in watching this wonderfully crafted anime. With this, my final Tamayura post draws to a close.

My final verdict on the four Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~ movies is that they worth watching without question: each movie is immensely moving, capturing the seemingly contradictory emotions of excitement and trepidation for the future. The narrative is presented such that it allows the characters to grow and mature as naturally as people would in reality, and in conjunction with top-calibre production values from both a visual and aural sense, Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~ more than satisfactorily demonstrates that it is one of the top-tier healing anime, reminding its audience that the simple, subtle things in life are not to be underestimated or undervalued. In sending off all of the characters on a high note (everyone has settled into life as university students in the epilogue), the finale acts as a decisive, satisfying conclusion to Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~ and the Tamayura series as a whole: everyone’s decided on the path they will walk and have taken the critical first steps. As such, Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~ earns a strong recommendation from me without question. I note that Tamayura does not appear to be widely known, but for individuals who’ve not heard about it, it is well worth one’s while to watch (unless one has a strong aversion to slice-of-life anime in general). With Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~ now completed, the Tamayura series decisively comes to a close: as Fū and the others begin walking the path to their future, it’s high time I do the same, as well. All that stands between myself and this future is the toughest examination I’ve faced yet.

Longing: Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~ (Graduation Photo) Movie, Part Three Review and Reflection

“I think it’s like when you lose something so close to you, it’s like losing yourself.” ―Ava Dellaira, Love Letters to the Dead

It’s been another five months since I’ve done a Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~ review, and this time, the episode steps things up with respect to poignancy: it goes without saying that the remainder of this post is a spoiler-filled minefield, so if one does not wish to be spoiled, this is the best time to mash the “back” button. The second instalment featured Norie and Kaoru’s efforts to find their path into the future, and in this third episode, “Longing”, the episode is again divided into two halves. The first deals with Maon after she learns that her father is opposed to her taking over the family inn on top of her other aspirations. Deciding that she wants to talk things through properly and convince him otherwise, Maon and the others travel back to the inn. She overhears a conversation between her parents and fears that their inn is closing down owing to debt, setting her sights on an economics degree to help save the inn. However, it turns out that the inn is financially secure, but Maon nonetheless resolves to pursue economics on top of her other interests. Later, Fū considers her future while her camera is undergoing repairs. She runs into Natsume, who states that it is necessary for one to be supported by others whilst pursuing one’s dreams, and the subtle differences in Fū’s actions do not go unnoticed by her friends. At the Path of Longing festival, Kaoru and the others learn the truth: that Fū is worried about losing the things precious to her as everyone is preparing to move onwards into the future.

As with the second movie, the two acts in “Longing” is superbly executed. The narrative deals predominantly with topics that viewers will find relevant in their lives, either as something they’ve experienced or will soon experience. For Maon, her indecisiveness regarding what she would like to do with her life is one that’s familiar, and it’s shown that she’s adept with a wide variety of things. As such, she’s not sure which one of these is her calling. I see traces of myself mirrored in Maon in this regard: I had chosen the bioinformatics major of the Bachelor of Health Sciences program when applying for university precisely because at the time, I did not know whether I enjoyed biological sciences and medicine more, or computer sciences. Even after I finished my undergraduate degree, it took an extra year along a winding path to discover that my passions include simulation, UX, mobile development, client/customer specifications and project management, and since then, I’ve been in pursuit of a Master’s degree to cement my path as a developer (of some sort). It’s not always easy to pick the one thing that one would wish to pursue and make a career out of it, although once this is discovered, it becomes a matter of putting one’s all into turning this dream into a reality. So, when Maon finally has the chance to have a proper discussion with her parents, her own future becomes better illuminated, and they consent to support her as best they can. The second act in “Longing” is equally relatable, dealing with Fū’s fear of loss as everyone is preparing to step forwards. That her camera is undergoing repairs at this point in time is deliberate: Fū is always carrying the camera around, and being unable to photograph the events surrounding the Path of Longing festival reminds her that things can be lost to time. Without her camera, Fū suddenly realises that she most wishes to learn more about photography by being with Riho and also, that she treasures her friends above all else, fearing that they’ll be separated. This is mirrored quite early on, when Fū’s wish is to visit next year’s Path of Longing with everyone else. As people prepare to transition from one stage of their lives to their next, separation is a very natural aspect. I myself are experiencing just this at present; most of my friends have already become full-fledged members of societies, and it feels as though I’m left behind because I’d taken a little longer to find my calling and push towards pursuing it. Separation is immensely difficult: I miss not having people to talk to and hang out with. With that in mind, it was not unexpected to see Fū finally open up and admit her fear of losing those close to her: these feelings can be overwhelming.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Whereas the previous post was meant to be a light-hearted joke, this 667th post returns to my usual style. We open the discussion with an image of Takumi and Suzune capturing the Photography Club’s senior members deep in thought as Kaoru struggles with the prospects of going to the same university as Sayomi. As is typical of a Tamayura post, this discussion will feature the usual twenty images and their associated figure captions.

  • The prospects of careers is a decidedly challenging one, and this is one of the instances where we see Maon take a more determined stance concerning the capacity to choose her own future. After an open disagreement with her father while discussing career options with Dougou, Maon confides in her friends to see whether or not it would be possible to have another talk and sort things out.

  • Being the ever-faithful friends, Fū and the others accompany her back home. The girls are riding along the Takehara/Ōchō (Mitarai) ferry here, crossing over the Seto Inland Sea to reach Mitarai on Osaki-Shimojima Island.

  • Shortly after arriving at the Sakurada Inn, the girls settle in and decide to lend the Sakuradas a hand in helping with work in and around said inn. While Maon’s looking to speak with her father most, it turns out he’s fallen and injured his leg; moreover, he’s still unwilling to yield on his stance earlier, leaving Maon to wonder how to best initiate the discussions.

  • I’ve heard some comments that the animation and artwork quality in the third movie is somewhat below average, but for the most part, it’s still consistently good. The colours in Tamayura are far gentler than I am wont to see in other anime, but taken together, contribute substantially to the atmospherics and general notion that Tamayura is supposed to be calming rather than bold.

  • Par the course for how things in Tamayura roll, Maon’s friends convince her to have an open conversation with her parents. One of the main themes in Tamayura is the significance of having support from others during difficult times, and for everyone, whether it’s Norie, Kaoru, Maon or Fū, their support and compassion for one another means that they’re always there whenever one of them is feeling down. This support network is what helped Fū eventually accept Takehara and what’s happened.

  • While things were building up, the final revelation is somewhat anti-climatic: it turns out that the Sakurada Inn is in fact, booming and completely over-capacity this weekend, hence Maon’s parents considering asking for help to keep up with the influx of customers. Maon settles on economics on the wish to help her parents out, reflecting on her tendency to pick things up on the spur of a moment, but as they have always done, Maon’s parents will whole-heartedly support her in her endeavours.

  • Economics, finance and commerce are an excellent field for numerous reasons, and it is a field that I greatly respect: finance, business and marketing people are just as essential as anyone in STEM. After Maon decides to pursue a degree in economics, she wonders if she’ll be able to do on top of that psychology, philosophy, geography and even astronomy. Truly interested in everything, I share Maon’s sense of curiosity, and it was this reason why my own path has been somewhat crooked; it shows no sign of straightening out any time soon, if things play out the way I think they will. Thus, the first act comes to a happy conclusion, and Maon is set to pursue her future.

  • The third episode’s second act, on the other hand, is perhaps the most moving of all the Tamayura movies yet. Opening with Fū speaking with Maestro about her broken camera, Fū tries to remain strong as she is parted from something precious to her amidst the Path of Longing festival. Because of how solid the writing’s been, the second act is the most emotional section in Tamayura bar none.

  • As such, when Fū returns to speak with her friends later, they immediately notice that something’s off, and further to this, Fū begins spacing out: her friends seemingly grow distant, foreshadowing the precise nature of what is troubling her. Similarly, Fū’s simple wish to be with everyone again accentuates the doubt that’s in her heart. However, while what’s troubling Fū becomes clear even early on, how Fū expresses it keeps the audiences guessing.

  • Fū and Riho share a conversation about photography, where Riho and her photography instructor were caught trespassing, resulting in police involvement. Her story brings to mind a story that was recounted during the Mythbusters‘ “Reunion” episode” during the 2004 season, where police were called in while the crew was shooting out helium balloons with a BB gun, and the safety director had run up to the police with said BB gun, shouting that it was such. Riho’s story is not quite so dramatic, and was meant to provide an example of how powerful photography can be.

  • Kanae’s friends accompany her to Tamayura Café, along with Takumi and Suzune. It seems that Kanae’s joined Sayomi’s exploration club and, contrasting Kaoru and the others, seem unbothered by Sayomi’s antics. One of the running jokes throughout Tamayura involves the reactions of Fū and the others to Sayomi’s proposed adventures; while seemingly back-breaking, I’ve noted that each adventure has resulted in the characters maturing as a result of the experience, and more often than not, the memories far outweigh negative elements.

  • Just prior to sundown and the start of the Path of Longing festival, the preparations are very nearly complete, Kaoru suggests that Fū check on her camera’s status. The lighting is muted, and there’s a bit of desaturation in the lighting prior to the festival’s start. I note that a lot of my Tamayura posts tend to have an associated food story, and this one does not deviate from that pattern: dinner tonight was at a Chinese bistro, where we ordered a spaghetti on Russian-style beef flank, cheese-baked seafood rice, Hunan-style chicken noodles and lemon-grass wings.

  • Daylight saving also comes into effect later tonight: last time Natsume was around, I was feeling quite discontented that summer had ended so quickly. I think that my Tamayura ~More Aggressive~ post did not feature any screenshots of Natsume, so here we are. Returning to Takehara for the Path of Longing Festival, Natsume runs into Fū, and the two share a conversation. Despite his seemingly strict and gruff appearance, he cares for Fū; his years means he’s able to pick up on what’s bothering Fū and so, he suggests to her that it’s okay to rely on other people: even university students remain inexperienced for the challenges that lie ahead in life, so it’s important to have people’s support while pursuing one’s goals.

  • After Fū is late for a meetup, her friends grow concerned and call Chihiro, who knows Fū best of anyone. Chihiro’s remarks mirror that of Aragorn’s when Gandalf asks about whether or not Frodo and Sam are still making their way towards Mordor: she ultimately tells Kaoru to follow her instincts, and so, Kaoru decides to call Fū to see what’s happening. However, Fū arrives shortly thereafter, and it turns out she was merely wondering about while contemplating a few things, hence her delay.

  • With Fū back, the girls begin their evening at the festival. A short update on my end as this post draws to a close: I’m not sure if it was previously mentioned, but the first of my conference papers was accepted, and I’ll be attending this conference in France in nine days. I’ve been putting my nose to the grindstone to ensure that none of my research and coursework fall behind: since the Tom Clancy’s The Division beta ended, my full efforts have been directed at a term project that is relevant to my thesis work (two birds with one stone). Said project is very nearly done now (save a handful of optimisations that still need to be applied), and it would appear that managed to I compact a two-month term project into the space of three weeks.

  • The ever-welcome and familiar lighting accompanying the Path of Longing festival make a return, with a gentle candlelight illuminating the town while the sky takes on a blue hue. This mood evokes memories of Tamayura ~More Aggressive~‘s Path of Longing festival, during which Fū meetings Natsume for the first time, and he is challenged to find a criticism about Chimo’s okonomiyaki. On that note, Chimo’s voice actor, Miyu Matsuki, who passed away from complications arising from a Epstein-Barr virus infection in November 2015; it was a loss for the voice acting community, and the impacts were felt throughout the anime community.

  • Under the soft glow of the bamboo lanterns, Fū finally becomes overwhelmed with emotions and allows herself to cry into Kaoru’s shoulder after the latter asks about whether it’s true or not that Fū’s been missing Riho. The tears are as clear of an affirmation as any words, and the second act’s theme becomes profoundly clear after carefully building up to this moment. The last Path of Longing festival episode dates back to August 2013, and I crossed the finish line for Tamayura ~More Aggressive~ a few months later. Since then, so much has changed, although one thing that’s remained relatively consistent are the quality of the readers that come across this blog. Thanks, readers, for constantly motivating and inspiring me to put out posts even when I don’t wish to.

  • Thus, it is immensely reassuring to see Fū’s friends by her side during this time, attesting to the strength of their friendship. Feelings about leaving things behind to pursue the future is always on the minds of those making that transition, and in my experiences, the thing to do mid-transition is to never lose sight of one’s goal, while simultaneously maintaining contact with friends and mentors and making new friends in the process.

  • Thus, the third movie draws to a close to a beautiful song, Kore Kara (これから, lit. “From now on”, which I would translate, given the context, as “From here on out”) that Maaya Sakamoto performed. A ballad that speaks of parting ways, it fits perfectly with the atmospherics. As for the review to Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~‘s finale, I definitely will be returning to write that: it will have anywhere from 30 to 50 screenshots, given that it’ll be a sendoff for Tamayura. Finally, if and when I’m asked, as to whether or not I shed tears during this last scene, how’s “affirmative” for an answer?

Fū’s expressing these fears to her friends closes off “Longing”, and the next episode is set to air next month in Japanese cinemas: originally scheduled for release on February 20, it’s been pushed back to April 2 because the studio wished to better polish the finale and ensure that it was the proper send-off for the series. “Longing” ultimately serves as yet another solid installment to Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~, and by curious turn of fate, it appears that the events that occurring in each movie mirrors how I presently feel. With “Echoes”, I resolved to work towards becoming a more competitive iOS developer: since then, I’ve been working on my own app, and reading on some of the common core technologies that iOS apps use. Other opportunities are also appearing, and merit serious consideration, as well, so my background in simulation and modelling could become important. “Longing”, on the other hand, presents the prospects of the uncertainty associated with moving forwards: I’m within a quarter-year of finishing my Master’s program, and speaking freely, I’m downright terrified about what happens after I defend my thesis (but also excited, too). In being able to capture these feelings and present them in such moving manner, Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~ clearly demonstrates that the writers have put plenty of thought and honesty into crafting stories for each character. The situations that Norie, Kaoru, Maon and Fū encounter are immediately relatable, being fluidly presented to feel as real as though one were experiencing it themselves. The finale is on the horizon: titled “Tomorrow”, it will follow the events after this episode as the girls finally walk across the stage and graduate from high school, ending one journey to begin the next, and from the looks of things, after the girls have graduate from high school, it will be time for me to move on, as well.

Echoes: Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~ (Graduation Photo) Movie, Part Two Review and Reflection

“A career path is rarely a path at all. A more interesting life is usually a more crooked, winding path of missteps, luck and vigorous work. It is almost always a clumsy balance between the things you try to make happen and the things that happen to you.” —Tom Freston

Last time I did a talk about Tamayura, it was back in May; the gaps in the movies’ releases are nontrivial. To give an idea of how long ago this is, during May, I was porting my simulation from Unity to Unreal, so my Unreal project was largely a collection of meshes, incomplete Blueprints and a pile of notes summarizing how these parts were to fit together. Now, I’ve got complete processes, navigation, multiple simulation spaces that can pass messages to one another and an intuitive user interface for the Unreal simulation, plus a fully-realised Unity implementation of the same simulation with VR support; a lot has happened over the past five months, and  though there’s still quite a bit to do before my simulation is minimally viable, it is ever-pleasant to hear more about Tamayura. The second Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~ movie focuses on Norie and Kaoru, following their struggles in determining which careers they wish to pursue for the future. After her older brother, Masanori, challenges her dream of becoming an internationally-renowned patissiére, Norie decides to drop this route altogether. Fū and the others wish to give Norie one final opportunity to make sweets; to this end, they host a small party of sorts, and ultimately, Norie realizes that making sweets is precisely what she wished to do. The movie’s second half deals with Kaoru and her seeming lack of a well-defined career path. However, this changes when Chimo asks the girls to her help organise a wedding reception, and later, Kaoru encounters another wedding in Takehara. Moved by the wedding planner’s efforts, and after hearing Sayomi’s advice, Kaoru sets her sights on becoming a wedding planner to bring people together. Together with Fū, Norie and Maon, she helps Chimo with her wedding planning and later learn that her groom will be none other than Dougou.

Far more than the first movie, “Echoes” struck a resonant chord with me owing to its message about career paths and the future. It’s definitely a topic that lingers in the minds of high school students, and thoughts about what one’s future entails endure as one moves through post-secondary and even their careers. For Norie, her choice to quit making sweets is borne of an uncertainty about her own resolve: when her brother remarks on the profession’s challenges, Norie suddenly wonders if she’s committed to such a career. The truth of the matter is that any career will involve challenges, but for those who are genuinely passionate, they can and will find ways of overcoming these challenges. Through Fū and the others’ intervention, Norie comes to realise that yes, making sweets is precisely what she is passionate about, and after their “farewell”, Norie resolves to do what it takes to be a successful patissiére. Kaoru is impacted by a different problem: though she enjoys helping people, she initially does not really understand how to turn this interest into a viable career. Throughout Tamayura, she most frequently laments the fact that everyone else has a tangible dream (Fū’s photography, Norie’s sweets and Maon’s family business). This inadequacy leads her to organise the We Exhibition, and after spending the movie’s second half struggling to make a decision, she receives a spark when she sees a wedding planner in action. Kaoru’s enjoyment of event planning and organisation was already apparent through the We Exhibition, so it comes as little surprise that she draws inspiration from a wedding planner and subsequently aspires to follow this career path. For both Norie and Fū, unwavering support from their friends allows them to reach a choice they are satisfied with, suggesting that the future can become a little clearer with a bit of encouragement from one’s friends and family.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The mark of a strong friendship is where one is able to determine when their friends are not on their game, even when they’re insisting things are fine, so it follows that Kaoru, Fū and Maon are quite close to Norie, whose down when she decides to change her career goals after her brother bluntly tells her of the difficult path forwards.

  • Fū’s photography club is doing quite nicely, with Takumi and Suzune partaking in photography in and around Takehara. Musuko mentions that the photographs could place nicely in a tourism photo contest, and upon seeing Norie in one of the photographs, Fū wonders if Norie will give up her dream.

  • After classes, Norie speaks with Dougou about a change of heart in her career plans, and back at Café Tamayura, the others hear Kou compliment Norie’s cooking. I’m certain that numerous people have had their dreams challenged, criticised or even mocked before, but a part of that journey is to consider whether or not a dream is worth pursuing in spite of these problems. If a dream is worth pursing, then one would naturally be inclined to invest the effort to make it possible.

  • This is primarily why Norie is having such a difficult time considering the alternatives: quite simply, her passions do not lie anywhere other than in creating confectionaries, and as such, when her brother brings her some red bean buns to apologise, the buns’ creation remains on her mind against her will.

  • Kanae makes a return, remarking that she’s gotten her license to operate a moped. Where I’m from, all we need is a learner’s license (Class VII) to drive mopeds, with cars requiring a Class V. It’s been a few months since I’ve done my exit exam: in fact, said exam was back in May, when the first of the Tamayura movies had come out.

  • There’s something aesthetically pleasing about the angle and composition of this image. With Kanae’s arrival, the girls are reminded of the impact that Norie’s cooking, and decide to meddle by asking for a farewell party of sorts. Whether or not Fū was gambling on this to bring back Norie’s interest in sweets is ambiguous, but it was a pretty clever move.

  • That Norie agrees without hesitation strongly demonstrates that Norie’s heart is still yearning to follow her dreams of becoming a confectioner. With Kanae, Fū and the others fight off brain freeze to hastily finish off their shaved ices and contact her. This phenomenon, better known as sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia, results from the cold affecting the capillaries of the sinus that is thought to impact the nerves, resulting in a short-lived headache.

  • Upon arrival, Norie settles into her element and produces sweets that reminds each of her friends of the emotional value that her cooking has had on them. In addition to bringing sweetness into Fū and the others’ lives, certain of Norie’s sweets have emotional value that reminds the girls of what they had been doing while enjoying said sweets.

  • When her brother admits that Norie’s sweets are good, he also apologies and remarks that his workload partially contributed to his earlier words. University is like that, after the first month of classes, assignments, midterms and papers begin accumulating: it’s a firestorm from there until the exam period.

  • Viewers with an acute memory will have noticed that Norie looks rather different in “Echoes”: her hair is no longer styled in angled ponytails, and her figure’s also become more well-defined (I think that some are saying “stacked” is the term to use here, although the specifics are neither here nor there for the present discussion).

  • I’ve chosen the image distribution such that half of them depict the events in Norie’s story, and half to follow Kaoru’s story: the second movie is evenly split down the middle, and as soon as Norie resolves to continue making sweets, focus turns towards Kaoru as she struggles to figure out what she’d like to do for her future.

  • Of all the characters, Karol’s hobby of scent-making had been the least practical, and despite being the most level-headed of anyone, she’s also the one with the most uncertainty about her own future. I suppose one could go into chemical engineering or medicine if their interests was in the olfactorial system, but that would probably break the mood in Tamayura.

  • Chimo’s okonomiyaki features a brand-new flair as a result of her travels: she adds hamburger meat, bamboo shoots, beef tendons, potato salad and scallions to her latest creation, resulting in a okonomiyaki that is surprisingly tasty. I happened to watch the second movie while eating the Red Wagon Diner’s smoked meat hash, a delicious combination of Montréal smoked meat, potato, fried egg, mushroom, banana pepper and mushroom with a side of rye bread that I never grow tired of. Today progressed in an eerily similar fashion as it did exactly a year ago; I visited the food trucks after a presentation to some anatomy students about our lab’s anatomical software at the campus library’s visualisation studio. This year, though, I’m watching Tamayura rather than Sora no Method, and I’ve thankfully got no cold to fight off.

  • A wedding planner is able to convince a reluctant father to smile at his daughter’s wedding: this forms the magic moment for Kaoru, who begins to consider wedding planning as a possible career. It does take a spark for some to figure out what they’d like to do in life, but for others, their career goals are set plainly in stone. In my case, I’m quite similar to Kaoru in that I had been indecisive about my future even during my undergraduate program.

  • It was not until a year ago when I decisively settled on doing software development, and I’ve since come to understand that iOS development most fits my present interests. Here, Kaori reacts after Sayomi shares some advice with her and accidentally concludes that Kaori is considering marriage. With this misunderstanding cleared out shortly after, Sayomi offers some meaningful advice to Kaoru.

  • It’s 2015 and my heart still melts whenever I see moments like these. Viewers learn that Kaoru’s tendency to put others ahead of herself goes way back, seen when she resolves to leg the distance to Fū’s home to cheer her up. As her sister, it makes sense that Sayomi understands Kaoru’s personality deeply: knowing that Kaoru is highly determined to help someone once she receives a request, Sayomi suggests that wedding planning would be a suitable career for Kaoru because of the latter’s dedication towards seeing things through properly would ensure her clients are happy.

  • Armed with this new resolve, Kaoru proceeds to plan out Chimo’s wedding. It appears that they’re making use of Maon’s drawings (the concept art resembles her sketches from the OVA), and to make the wedding special, they’ve proposed a massive okonomiyaki in place of a traditional wedding cake, leading the girls to wonder if the groom will be okay with this arrangement.

  • After spending the entire half of the movie wondering who the groom is (with the girls feeling bad for Dougou), it turns out that Chimo is going to marry Dougou. Their feelings for one another have been subtly hinted at throughout Tamayura, and with four years having passed since ~Hitotose~, it’s a well-deserved, welcome outcome for those who were hoping that Chimo and Dougou would become a couple. The story behind this is rather incomplete, but given that Chimo and Dougou have known each other for quite some time, it’s definitely not implausible.

  • With her way forward now clear, Kaoru’s worries lessen: being the one in the cast who’s always wondering about her future, it’s rewarding to see her finally determine what her direction in life would be. Kaoru is regarded as someone who’s contributed significantly to Norie, Maon and Fū’s self-discovery (by organising the We Exhibition), and with a bit of nudging from Sayomi, she’s able to find an occupation that allows her to help others follow their path.

  • So, the second of four Tamayura movies come to a close. I heard that the BluRay disks sold out at the theatre events, making it impossible to watch the movie shortly after it premiered. If this trend continues, I foresee that my review for next OVA will also be delayed by a few weeks. I’ll try to get a talk out as quickly as possible, but there won’t any guarantees. For now, we’ll take things one step at a time and so, the next talk coming out will deal with GochiUsa after the three-episode mark.

As the months between the present and my defense dwindles down, I find myself looking towards the future, wondering which career path I will be taking after I walk across the stage. As of late, the economic situation means that it’s much more difficult to find employment as a developer, which is a sufficient worry to keep me up at night. Watching Tamayura, curiously enough, alleviated some of that stress. After following both Norie and Karol’s situations, I fully empathise, and the lessons learnt here seem to have helped me reach a better decision about what I myself plan to do with my life after graduate school. Through Norie, I’m reminded to be tougher than my problems by finding new ways to create advantages for myself, and through Kaoru, I’m reminded to pick the subset of software development that I hold an edge in. To this end, I’ve set my sights on being an iOS developer, and I’ll improve my situation by designing and implementing several apps, as well as brushing up on complexity and software engineering theory over the next few months. Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~‘s second movie is able this level of introspection precisely because Norie and Kaoru’s stories were highly relatable, and well-written. Looking ahead to November 28, I’m excited to see what the third movie, dubbed “Adoration”, will encompass.

Signs: Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~ (Graduation Photo) Movie, Part One Review and Reflection

“I love photography, I love food, and I love traveling, and to put those three things together would just be the ultimate dream.” —Jamie Chung

It’s been quite some time since I’ve done a Tamayura review; the site’s archives say that the last time there was a Tamayura review was back in July, when the OVA came out. It’s been just a little less than a year since then; announced a month after the OVA was released, Graduation Photo is a four-part film that was shown in theatres, dealing with Fū, Norie, Kaoru and Maon’s final year of high school as they prepare to graduate and pursue their own career paths. The movie’s first part deals with the girls’ return to their final year, and the new members of Fū’s photography club: Takumi Shindou (a first year) and Suzune Maekawa (a second year) join the club, adding a new flair to things now that Kanae’s graduated. They provide a new dynamic to Fū’s club, given that Takumi’s focussed, technical perspective severs as a counterbalance to Fū and Kanae’s approach towards photography: whereas the latter view photography as a means of capturing the emotions of a moment, Takumi takes a more technical approach, believing that skill is able to produce excellent photos. Despite the different perspectives, Takumi and Suzune fit right in with the photography club, and soon, focus turns towards Fū’s contemplations concerning her future career path. Fū decides that her dream career would be one that combines photography with travel, provided that photos have the potential to link people’s hearts together. The first part of the movie also sheds more light on the Tamayura phenomenon, and how the photo of Fū’s father came to be. The final section of this movie deals with Fū learning about Riho’s plans to leave Takehara to open a gallery with one of her friends. Despite being agitated throughout the movie, a final conversation with Riho puts her at ease, and Fū resolves to wholeheartedly follow her career path.

The final instalment to Tamayura is appropriately one that deals with graduation from high school, and the journey that lies ahead. This is a relatively common theme in anime, one that is widely done because audiences can largely relate to the interface between high school and adulthood. However, Tamayura adds an additional facet to this story: it’s been three years since Fū’s moved back to Takehara, and in this town’s peaceful setting, with the support of all her friends, she’s gradually accepted her father’s passing and has learnt to find joy again. This appreciation of all the small things in life, whether it be the play of light on a sunset, the taste of Norie’s cooking, Maon’s stories or Kaoru’s dynamics with her sister and the journey she shares with everyone. With graduation now approaching, Fū’s got a repertoire of accomplishments under her belt, including successfully leading the Photography club as its president, and hosting two exhibitions to Takehara. However, the journey is only just beginning, and the approach of graduation signals the beginning of one journey as the old one draws to a close. Thus, the Graduation Photo movies follow a Fū whose experiences and friends have allowed her to gather the strength to follow the future that she feels is most appropriate for her.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Tamayura‘s OVAs first aired in September 2010, when I was beginning my second year of my undergraduate studies. I found out about the OVAs during the summer of 2011, and it’s been quite some time since I’ve watched them. Compared to the OVAs of five years ago, it’s obvious that Tamayura‘s become more polished in animation quality and fluidity, even during moments of comedy.

  • While unrelated to Tamayura‘s theme, the progression of animation quality and character design feels quite fitting: like Fū, the animators were working to find their footing during the OVAs, and having had five years to hone their craft, things simply look and feel a lot better as they improved. Quite similarly, Fū’s growth throughout the series has been a rewarding journey to follow, and in her final year of high school, the photography club gains two new members.

  • Takuni is rather more focused about photography and is very familiar with all of the technical aspects; she’s very analytical and desires greatly to learn the secret behind the Tamayura phenomenon, although the Tamayura, small light specks that appear in photos capturing moments of happiness, appear to be supernatural phenomenon, provided that even Fū herself cannot cause them to appear in her photography at will.

  • If the first movie is anything to go by, then it appears that each part of the movie is going to deal with a distinct story that meshes in with the entire part, and movie’s overarching storyline. The first movie’s first part illustrates how things are going with the new member’s induction into the Photography Club, and with Takuni’s spirited personality, it appears that this club is one that’s going to participate in more competitions than previously. While it initially feels like this is disrupting how things’ve been done previously, the pacing means that even Takuni yields to the overall atmosphere within Tamayura as the movie progresses.

  • Maon, Norie and Kaoru seem to sport slightly different appearances in the last installment in the Tamayura series: while it’s most noticeable with Kaoru and her new hairstyle (to signify change), both Norie and Maon also seem to carry themselves slightly differently, hinting at the subtle changes that accompany being in their final year of high school. These changes seem quite pronounced in-universe, and even Norie notices Kaoru’s lack of retorting to the former’s constant calling of the latter “Kao-tan”.

  • Familiar places, such as the Tamayura Café, make a welcome appearance. While there are definite differences with respect to the atmosphere in Graduation Photo, things like Norie’s rivalry with Komachi are still present. Things like these remind viewers of how the old cast interact with one another, and simultaneously illustrate to new audiences the sort of dynamics that one might reasonably expect from the characters within the series.

  • Whether Fū herself is aware of it or not, her own journey towards acceptance and moving on, and the photography she’s done, has inspired several people, including Kanae and Komachi, rather similar to how Riho acted as a role model for Fū during the 2010 OVAs. This kind of cycle of inspiration is a part of Tamayura, and the movie appears to be striving towards bringing things around a full circle to act as a final, satisfying send-off for what has become one of the best iyashikei around.

  • Fū, her mother and grandmother reminisce about the photo showcased at Maestro’s shop: depicting Fū’s father standing in a field surrounded by Tamayura, Fū’s told that she was initially disappointed with how the photo had turned out, but the photo’s composition itself is quite entrancing. Ultimately, it comes to represent the town’s confidence in Fū’s return, signifying everyone’s faith in waiting for her, and consequently, has a great deal of meaning for Takehara’s denizens.

  • Fū’s camera is her most precious treasure, and throughout the entire series, acts as a symbol for her acceptance of the past, making the most of the present and hope for the future. The film means that once an image is captured, all of the attributes in a moments, including the imperfections, are also imbued into the image; this can be seen as illustrating how Fū is able to accept the imperfections, as well as happiness, within a moment, again attesting to her growth after rediscovering her joy for photography.

  • Hoboro, Sayomi and Riho share a moment together under Takehara’s sunset. As the more mature characters in Tamayura, they offer Fū and the others advice and support as required, although for the most part, Sayomi’s adventures wind up being a source of dread for everyone: she’s managed to drive her Mazda 5 into a ditch in ~Hitotose~ and gets some air time in ~More Aggressive~. Despite these misadventures and their misgivings when Sayomi proposes such activities, Fū and the others wind up enjoying things nonetheless.

  • Kanae graduated during the final episodes of ~More Aggressive~ and is a college student at present, majoring in astronomy. The first movie has an emphasis on what things are like post-secondary, and it appears that everyone’s got their own plans: as per the page quote, Fū’s aiming to be a photographer, Norie aspires to take the culinary arts, Maon wishes to major in literature, and Karou’s somewhat uncertain about what she’ll be looking for.

  • Fū, Takumi and Suzune partake in club activities as preparations for the year’s Bamboo festival commence. This is cut short when Takumi and Suzune mention that the overheard discussions about Riho’s plans to leave Takehara, news that agitates Fū. Tamayura excels at presenting moments that evoke emotions in the characters that cannot easily be explained in words, and

  • Chihiro and Tomo visit Takehara for the Bamboo festival; the movie brings back all of the characters from the previous seasons and allows them to interact with one another for the first time. We recall that Tomo is rather talkative and loves asking questions, to the point of intimidating those around her. I watched this movie last Thursday, nearly a month since the air date, and by stroke of coincidence, the Red Wagon Diner was on campus; it’s been quite some time since I’ve had their smoked meat hash, a delicious combination of potato covered in Montreal Smoked Meat, onions, mushrooms, peppers and cheese, topped with a pair of sunny-side up eggs and rye bread. The last time I enjoyed this was while reviewing Sora no Method with a cold, and it was just before my supervisor went on sabbatical.

  • Tomo seems to get along just fine with Takumi: whereas the former loves asking questions, the latter loves giving answers. I suddenly realise that my posting pattern’s been all over the place as of late, and this is a consequence of my settling into the summer, as research kicks up full-speed. Over the past week, I’ve been learning the ins and outs of the Unreal Engine, and have finally re-implemented most of the features from my Unity model. The next step will be to build a path interpolation mechanism and some prototype signalling pathways to demonstrate the reusability of my methods.

  • However, it’s not all business: I also had the opportunity to attend a Nerd Nite in my area, and on Friday, I had dinner at Big T’s BBQ; this year, I decided against visiting Otafest, and instead, decided to celebrate the successful implementation of several key elements of my simulation by having a full rack of St. Louis-style ribs with Maple Bourbon sauce, hush puppies and chili cheese fries. It was delicious, although in that food challenge, the hush puppies defeated me. Next time, I’ll probably go with steamed vegetables, or a half-rack.

  • Takumi appears to be adverse to being photographed, preferring to photograph, instead, and that leads to a rather amusing, though awkward, number of interactions between her and the parade’s viewers. On Sunday, I headed out on a day trip to the mountains, and although the morning was quite cloudy, the weather cleared up after an Angus burger lunch, and we took a hike on a quiet trail before returning home for a prime-rib dinner.

  • Kanae was coerced into fortune-telling at Sayomi’s hands, with Norie and Kaoru expressing disinterest in doing the same. While Fū’s got a propensity to append nano de (なので, lit “it is so”) to the end of her sentences, Kanae tends to say things twice especially when nervous, evoking Jacob Two Two’s speech patterns. I treat fortune-telling as good fun, but ultimately, unless it’s free, I tend to pass. Today, I spent a fair portion at IKEA: my ten-year-old desk lamp was cracking at the base, and I bought a new LED one. It illuminates a smaller area than my old halogen lamp, but has the region it lights is more luminous. Having arrived around the lunch hour, I had a hearty plate of fish and chips at IKEA’s cafe, as well; a year ago, I’d just come home from shopping, having purchased a new watch and proceeded to watch the finale of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn: time really flies.

  • After Fū and Riho share a conversation, the former learns that the latter was also feeling quite agitated about not being able to tell Fū that she’s planning on leaving Takehara to help a friend open a gallery. This conversation puts both Fū and Riho at ease, and Fū finds the resolve to go into a career that involves both photography and travel. It is respectable that Fū has found her career interests, being inspired by the desire to bring people together through photography. This has been something that Fū’s been impressed by since ~More Aggressive~, where she learns that photography has brought her closer with a couple who owns a bed and breakfast.

  • With this conflict resolved, the first movie draws to an end. It is relaxing in the same manner as its predecessors, although the movie does stand out on virtue of introducing new conflicts for the characters, and then managing to capitalise on the series’ overall calming atmosphere to lead the characters to a solution. The next movie is going to come out in August, and unlike this first movie, which I only reviewed a month-and-a-half after release, I’ll try to be more timely with the next one. With that being said, I believe that this here talk is still the most sizable collection of screenshots around at the time of writing.

  • Fū and company wave goodbye to Chihiro and Tomo, who are leaving Takehara for home. It’s an appropriate close to the movie and this post. At present, I’m largely caught up with the Spring 2015 anime, and will spend the next post talking about Wolfenstein: The New Order after half of the game was beaten. After that will come a talk on the Ano Natsu de Matteru OVA, and a reflection of The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan-chan at the ten-episode mark. Research is going to pick up, and I’ve got my advanced road exam coming up, so posting will resume after the exam concludes.

With the first part now over, part two (titled Hibike, translated as “Sounds” or “Echoes”) will see release late in August. I’m naturally looking forwards to this, having followed Tamayura since ~Hitotose~ was aired back in Fall 2011. While seemingly a calming slice-of-life anime, Tamayura as a whole weaves an uncommonly intricate story that deals with a variety of topics that are a part of life, and Graduation Photo is no different. Though a new installation in Tamayura, Graduation Photo act as a blend of the unfamiliar and familiar, bringing new characters in to liven up the inter-character dynamics while retaining largely the original casts’ defining features. Thus, Graduation Photo is reasonably accessible to those who’ve not seen Tamayura before, although all of the subtle aspects would be more appreciable for viewers that are completely caught up in the series. There’s a little more than three months before the next part is screened at theatres in Japan, which is ample time to watch the original four OVAs, ~Hitotose~, ~More Aggressive~ and all of the OVAs associated with their respective seasons.

A School Trip For Just One Day: Tamayura ~More Aggressive~ OVA Review

“We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.”  —Hilaire Belloc

Set between episode eight and nine of Tamayura ~More Aggressive~, this OVA was released a little more than a month ago and as per its title, depicts the girls’ one-day trop to Onomichi after Maon comes down with a fever, resulting in her missing the opportunity to go on a school trip to Okinawa with Fū and the others. When the girls pay her a visit once they return, Norie discovers a sketchbook that Maon was hoping to fill with memories of the school trip, and is moved to tears upon noticing that it is completely blank. Realising that Maon has also become upset over not being able to go, Fū suggests that everyone take her on another school trip just for them. The girls decide to go to Onomichi, where they participate in all the local tourist activities whilst Maon starts filling up her sketchbook. By the end of the day, Maon manages to completely fill in her sketchbook, thanking Norie for crying for her that time.

  • Tamayura ~More Aggressive~ was aired last summer, and I began watching it in September at a rate of roughly one episode per week, finishing in October. It’s been around a year since the series began, and the OVA has been out for quite a while, although I only got around to watching it recently (read, this post is hot off the presses).

  • The locations and activities the girls visit and partake in are typical Okinawa fare. The last anime I watched featuring Okinawa was Soni Ani: Super Sonico The Animation and before that, Azumanga Daioh.  The martial arts style I’ve trained in, Gōjūryū, also originates from Okinawa: as previously alluded to, Okinawa is better known for meats rather than fish. Before I move on to the next image, I would like to note that this beach scene is precisely what comes to mind when I hear Rie Tanaka’s “Midori no Mori”.

  • Those who have been reading this blog closely since around last year will have noted that I’ve mentioned about a lack of time to travel. However, I’ve since taken a step back:: as noted in a previous post, I think that a trip to Japan next summer would be viable and are planning towards making that a reality. The present challenge now is picking a destination, and whether to go with a tour group or do a backpack trip, complete with hostels and fumbling the language.

  • Norie’s tears act as the turning point in the episode, and I found myself empathising with Norie and Maon. Apparently, individuals with a stronger empathy are more likely to experience similar emotions to those in their environment or from stimuli, which would account for why people may cry during particularly emotional moments in TV and movies.

  • As far as destinations in Japan go, I am inclined to do a tour that allows me to visit historical areas of Japan, especially the Kyoto region, or else do a food tour of Hokkaidō. It may come as a surprise, but despite my interest in anime, my intrigue for Japan lies largely within their historical elements and cuisine. As such, exploring locales such as the Ginkakuji and Nijō Castle, or enjoying Jingisukan and various seafoods would be more rewarding than going to a maid café in Akihabara.

  • Before this Japan trip, though, it’s passport-renewing time. Amusingly enough, my driver’s license is also about to expire. As it stands now, I’ll need to renew both, but since both require one other form of identification, if I renew one first, I’ll have to wait a while to renew the other while I wait for whichever one I renew first to arrive by mail. This means getting my driver’s license done first, since I don’t imagine I’ll need my passport until December.

  • As to why that is the case, I’ll presently keep that to myself and return the discussion to Tamayura. Chihiro and Tomo make a short appearance in the OVA, while Sayomi and the others do not make an appearance.

  • A sharp-eyed viewer will notice that, save one scenery image, every other image has more than one person in it. This is no coincidence; as an anime about people, I feel that screenshots with more people seem to capture Tamayura‘s spirit far better than would images having fewer people.

  • After Fū’s previous trip to Onomichi, the girls decide to stay in a Bed and Breakfast, albeit a different one than when Fuū had went last time. The previous one was styled after a Western home, with standard beds, but this one is more traditional and has futons instead.

  • In my final reflection, I noted that I was enjoying a poutine while watching the finale. Today, I decided to grab a poutine from the Smoke’s Poutinerie downstairs before returning to watch this episode later in the day. Contrasting the last one, which had fried chicken and maple syrup, this one has the traditional gravy and cheese, providing a welcome accompaniment to the episode. One would question the wisdom of having poutine on such a hot day (temperatures reached  32°C by afternoon before humidity), I am celebrating the successful implementation of a mini-map in the brain visualisation model.

The Tamayura ~More Aggressive~ OVA is a welcome addition to the series; as per its original run, the OVA is highly relaxing and heartwarming to watch. Travelling with friends lies at the OVA’s core, with the central idea being that it’s who one travels with, rather than where, that produces the most precious of memories. When Maon misses a school trip owing to fever, her friends step up to the plate and offer to help her create new memories where she had missed them before. Norie’s role comes across as particularly important: whereas she’s typically the ever-cheerful character, here, her emotions are brought out and show just how deeply she cares for Maon. Indeed, vacations and even short journeys are memorable precisely because of who one is accompanied by. Fū had previously visited Onomichi with Harumi Kawai and Riho in the TV series: with knowledge of the city, she helps Kanae plan out this trip. Over its course, the girls have a wonderful time, and viewers come out of the OVA with a sense of warmth and tranquility that Tamayura is known for. Throughout the entire series, the relaxed pacing and touching moments belie Tamayura’s core message that through adventure and open-mindedness, many memories are created, to be treasured.

  • The aforementioned mini-map took a few days to implement, since the algorithm was a little tricky to work with, but today, I finished the constraints and the map works as it should. This location is almost certainly real and could be recognised readily by those living in the area, reflecting on how much attention is paid to the backgrounds in Tamayura. Onomichi is located in the Hiroshima prefecture and has around 148000 people. Known for its temples and parks, the city faces the inland sea.

  • As of late, I’ve resumed my hobby of doing pencil sketches. A cursory check on most search engines finds that no one else has done a talk on the OVA. This would make my reflection as having one of the earliest collections of screenshots online.With that said, it is quite understandable why talks are rare: there isn’t much to talk about in a single OVA, and this “review” is really more of a personal reflection.

  • Onomichi is known for its ramen, which is a variation with a touch of fish paste in the stock, as well as chopped green onions and pork oil to accentuate taste. It is a popular local dish, and lines at shops can get quite long. I haven’t had ramen for quite some time now (probably since Tamayura ~More Aggressive~ ended), but was able to enjoy python, ostrich and kangaroo sliders at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth with several friends, followed by a Skyrail ride over the fairgrounds by nightfall. The night concluded with fireworks with a supermoon in the background, marking the first time I’ve seen a fireworks show since 2011.

  • Maon’s sketches capture all of the fun the girls experience during their day in Onomichi. Contrasting Renge’s sketches, Maon’s sketches are equally impressive, being colourful and convey the emotions of a moment with a gentle and polished art style, reflecting on her progress since she decided to pick up sketching (back in the TV series: I cannot quite recall which season).

  • After Fū mentions “Chain Mountain” as a point of local interest, Kanae suggests actually climbing it, evoking Sayomi’s enthusiasm for doing things. Despite having some reservations, Norie decides that ascending the hill would give them some physical activity and in turn, make dinner taste better, which convinces everyone to participate.

  • Kaori and Norie help Maon up the last steps of the climb, which takes roughly half an hour and is considered to be moderately strenuous. However, as I am wont to believe, the view at the very top is well worth the effort it takes to get there, and as noted long ago, there’s a location not too far from where I live that provides a beautiful overlook of the city’s northern edge. There’s a breeze up there on most days, and last week, I hiked up there with a friend to enjoy the scenery by evening.

  • Maon realises that she’s down to her last sketchbook page and thanks Norie for her tears, as well as everyone for making the sketchbook a tangible reminder of all the memories she’s shared with them on this short trip.

  • Two other girls are encountered at the hilltop; one of them initially feels that the climb was unfruitful, since no one else was expected to make it to the top, but are pleasantly surprised to find Fū and company already present. Plenty of photographs are taken on this short trip, but they feel secondary to the trip itself, and curiously enough, the images lack the namesake Tamayura, which appear in images of great sentimental value.

  • Cheese goes extremely well with fresh-baked bread and tea. As the girls set about relaxing, I’ll take a few moments to note that today, the air where I live had a distinctly Suzhou-Hangzhou quality to it, fueled in part by the high temperatures and the smoke from regional forest fires giving the sky an orange tinge: even at nine in the evening, temperatures remain a steady 29°C, and thundershowers are sweeping into the region.

  • Before turning in, Maon takes one last look at all of the drawings she’s created. As I’ve reached the end of this post, I’ve swept through to make sure things are ready before publishing. Tamayura stands near the top of its field as a slice-of-life anime, and I’ll close off by mentioning that in two days’ time, I will turn my sights towards a K-On! Movie talk as the two-year anniversary to the home release arrives.

Besides praising the OVA for reminding me about just how easygoing and sentimental Tamayura is, it may also be appropriate to speculate on what’s likely to happen for the future, as a special announcement is to be made on August 3. Whatever the announcement is, it’s important enough to warrant a 5400 Yen attendance cost and the attendance of six of the cast’s members. There’s a limit to what can be announced at this event: we’ve seen the girls go through first year of high school after Fū returns to Takehara in season one, and the second season has shown Fū taking the initiative to start a photography club, befriending Kanae and making plenty of new memories in the process. It would seem logical that this announcement will concern a continuation, either in the form of a movie or third season, that would deal with the excitement and melancholy associated with graduation. Kanae has already graduated, and now, it’s the girl’s turn to complete high school and move into the future. I am okay with either alternative: a movie would provide the space and scale that would allow Tamayura to explore unexplored frontier for the series, while a TV series would offer a more episodic depiction and permit for events to be explored with more detail. Both have their downsides, as well. A movie is much less accessible, and the wait would be more substantial, while a TV series may not fully capture the spirits that would be possible in a movie. Ultimately, though, whether the continuation be a movie or third season, one thing is for certain: it will be quite enjoyable to watch.