The Infinite Zenith

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

Revisiting Sunny Chernobyl- One Shot, One Kill in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered

“The wind’s gettin’ a bit choppy. You can compensate for it, or you can wait it out, but he might leave before it dies down. It’s your call. Remember what I’ve taught you. Keep in mind variable humidity and wind speed along the bullet’s flight path. At this distance, you’ll also have to take the Coriolis Effect into account.” —Captain MacMillian

Camping out at the Polissya hotel, Price and MacMillian patiently wait for their mark to arrive over the course of three days while the clouds wheel overhead. Unlike the unfortunate tourists of Chernobyl Diaries, no mutants attack them during the course of their wait. When Zakhaev arrives, Price makes ready with the M82 Barrett, and with some advice from Captain MacMillian, he is prepared to place a shot at nearly nine hundred metres. After a few tense moments, Price fires, managing to blow off Zakhaev’s arm. Both Price and MacMillian are forced to flee after their position has been compromised, and they fight through Pripyat to reach the extraction point. MacMillian becomes injured by a helicopter, and Price carries him the rest of the way. When they reach the extraction point, Price and MacMillian hold out for their helicopter’s arrival and manage to escape. “One Shot, One Kill” is the second half of the Chernobyl missions, being the polar opposite of the first, being one loud, bombastic and long firefight to the extraction zone. While seemingly a return to the sort of gameplay that Call of Duty normally features, the level presents a surprise taking the form of MacMillian’s injury. Players must strategically place him down in the right spot, after which he will assist in taking out ultranationalists, and otherwise be mindful as they move towards the exfil. In its remastered incarnation, “One Shot, One Kill” is a visual treat: crumbling walls of abandoned apartment blocks, rusting playgrounds and mould-covered surfaces are rendered with contemporary techniques to really illustrate what a world without us could look like, as nature makes to reclaim areas once inhabited by man. Impressive as Modern Warfare‘s original incarnation was, the remastered version of “One Shot, One Kill” simply knocks the visuals out of the park, combining the gameplay of the original with graphics of the present age to give the level new dimensionality.

I reached “One Shot, One Kill” the day before the second midterm in my physics course, and upon seeing the statistics surrounding the shot I’m to make, my mind immediately wandered towards physics and two-dimensional kinematics. My MCAT course had also begun by this point: the MCAT is unlike other exams and requires more than a good grasp of the materials to best, demanding strategy and creative thinking. With my mind not too far from the impending physics midterm, I looked at the problem and supposed that it was to determine the amount of compensation needed to accurately hit Zakhaev from the stipulated distance given the distance and travel time. Since speed and accuracy are the name of the game in the MCAT, reading the question becomes critical: the time of flight is already given, so the horizontal distance becomes a distraction. Armed with the time alone, it is sufficient to work out how far the bullet will fall by means of the kinematic equation, d = v(i)·t + (a·t²)/2 and some assumptions (e.g. the bullet has no vertical velocity when leaving the muzzle, and that acceleration is the acceleration due to gravity). The resultant answer is 5.40 meters to three significant figures, and a skilled marksman can then utilise the markers on his optics to determine the amount of compensation required, taking into account the height of the vantage point they are shooting from and any wind effects. Since the MCAT, my exam-writing style has changed somewhat, and while I’ve not done a written exam for three years now, some of those skills remain in my mind.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Close inspection of the Chernobyl nuclear plant here shows the Sarcophagus being constructed: the mission is set in 1996, but the construction of the actual Sarcophagus itself finished in October 1986, a few months after the disaster. Designed to contain the radioactive materials and prevent most of it from escaping, engineers knew that it was only a temporary measure: two years after its completion, engineers remarked the structure would last at most three decades, and so, the New Safe Confinement was planned. The dome was moved over the old structure just this year, and the project is expected to finish construction later in 2017.

  • The construction cranes should have been gone by 1996, but I am reasonably forgiving of these elements in fiction. This is the same image as the first image one featured in my original Chernobyl Diaries post, with the only difference being that it’s from Modern Warfare Remastered. The amount of detail in the environment is so much greater than the original, and there is foliage and other clutter in the area where the transaction between Zakhaev and the ultranationalists are taking place. This is contrasted with the original Modern Warfare, which feels sterile by comparison. The statistics surrounding Price’s shot have remained unchanged, and this time, I nailed my shot on first try.

  • After their presence is detected, MacMillian and Price are forced to flee as a Hind fires on the hotel, destroying the first floor. I went through this mission a second time to pick up screenshots – there was an unusual bug that caused me to spawn in with the suppressed M21 rather than the standard one, which would have resulted in some unusual screenshots. While effective in terms of stopping power and only differing in aesthetics, it would have felt out place to feature the suppressed, camouflaged M21 in “One Shot, One Kill”, which is all about going loud.

  • The number of ultranationalists filling the air with hot lead means that it is wise to heed MacMillian’s suggestion to run rather than fight: there’s too many of them, and with the timer winding down to the exfiltration, making it to the extraction point becomes important. The amount of time differs depending on the difficulty setting, and typically, on my first play-through of any Call of Duty title, I go with normal difficulty.

  • The moody grey skies and desolate concrete apartment blocks bring to mind the aesthetics surrounding Hasima Island, just 15 klicks off the coast from Nagasaki. Once a coal mining town built of large concrete buildings to withstand typhoons, the island was abandoned after the coal reserves were depleted, and today, it’s a popular tourist destination. It’s one of the most famous haikyo in Japan, and as of 2009, is one of the few haikyo that one can legally access: for three hundred yen, guided tours of the island are offered, and there is infrastructure to keep visitors safe.

  • It is only during a scripted moment that a Hind can be shot down in “One Shot, One Kill”: besides using the M82’s 50-calibre rounds to punch through the cockpit earlier, here, rounds from the M21 apparently damage the engine, causing this one to explode and crash. Elsewhere in the game, dedicated anti-air weapons must be used to deal with Hinds. The crash causes MacMillian to become injured, necessitating that players carry him to the extraction point for the remainder of the mission.

  • While players are still equipped with the suppressed USP at the start of “One Shot, One Kill”, it is strongly recommended that one switches to any other weapon dropped by the ultranationalists so one can remain effective in close quarters: I usually go with the G3 battle rifle. Other weapons available include the AK-47, MP5, mini-Uzi, RPD and W1200 shotgun; the AK-47 and MP5 are solid choices, as well – the number of soldiers encountered means that a good automatic weapon will complement the M21 both during the spaces outdoors, as well as the narrower hallways inside the apartments.

  • A large number of ultranationalists will fast-rope from helicopters, and in Modern Warfare Remastered, there’s an achievement for shooting down a number of fast-roping soldiers before they hit the ground. “One Shot, One Kill” offers plenty of opportunity to unlock this achievement on account of the number of helicopters that appear, and the M21 is an excellent weapon for this task.

  • Moving through the apartment blocks brings to mind the level design characteristics of Half-Life 2, where the strategic placement of obstructions, whether it be piled furniture or rubble from collapsed sections of the building push players down a path. As with all of the assets in the remastered Modern Warfare, the addition of the appropriate amount of clutter to the interiors of the apartments perfectly captures the abandoned sense that improves upon the aesthetics seen in the original.

  • I’ve got no screenshots of me carrying MacMillian through the apartments following his injury; while most games become a bit of a challenge in having players survive, Modern Warfare chose to address this by having MacMillian retain his exceptional marksmanship. When a firefight is imminent, he will ask players to set him down, offer some advice (such as placing claymores strategically to down enemies) and provide support to the best of his ability.

  • After dropping by my old lab to visit and chat with another one of my friends today, who’s close to graduating, I attended a computer science convocation today, five years after posting my original Chernobyl Diaries post for “One Shot, One Kill”. My former supervisor is now the department head, and he was hosting was the first ever reception for a computer convocation. Things started out quiet, allowing me to catch up in some conversation with my supervisor about research and also partake in some of the food available (including Japanese-style fried chicken, broccoli-cheese balls and jalapeño-chicken sandwiches).

  • More people gathered to fill the room with conversation, and during the next hour-and-a-half, I caught up with friends who had graduated today. In a bit of irony, the skies darkened as the reception drew to a close, and a spirited, but ultimately short-lived thunderstorm blazed through the area in a manner reminiscent of the rainstorm that occurred during my graduation banquet four years ago and was one of the factors that contributed to the Great Flood of 2013. Coming through into the change facilities of a public pool, I am vividly reminded of the day following the second physics midterm. There had been a lecture and lab; after finishing my day’s review, I dropped into Modern Warfare and continued with my adventure. I had studied quite thoroughly for the second midterm, having botched the first one (there was a question about Yavin and the Death Star that I still vividly remember missing), although it was afternoon, and my inclination to study had waned.

  • This midterm marked a turning point in my physics course: although I had been quite ready to throw in the towel and survive (the Bachelor of Health Sciences program does not count summer courses in the GPA calculation for research scholarships or eligibility to enroll in the honours thesis course), I realised that I should put my nose down and get the most of the physics course as possible. I stand in the Azure pool here, overgrown and derelict in a beautiful sense. It’s obvious that the remastered Modern Warfare involved a great deal of effort to get the details right.

  • In my original post, I noted that Modern Warfare had taken some creative liberties with its level design and chronology: the Azure pool remained open until 1998, a full two years after the mission in 1996, and it certainly was not that close the the Pripyat amusement park (in the game, the Ferris wheel is visible right outside of the pool). Having said this, I am okay with this inaccuracy: this is not a sentiment shared by other fans, especially those of Tango-Victor-Tango.

  • The rusted out remains of the Ferris wheel and some amusement park structures are visible here, bringing to mind the abandoned Nara Dreamland, which was deserted in 2006 after forty-five years. Nara Dreamland is a favourite amongst urban explorers, but last October, the park was undergoing demolitions, as the Nara government had finally auctioned the site off to an Osaka company. By contrast, the Pripyat Amusement Park was intended to be opened in May in time for May Day festivities, but following the Chernobyl disaster, some reports state that it was opened briefly to allow children some cheer before evacuation began.

  • Before “One Shot, One Kill”‘s largest firefight begins, I will explain the post’s titles. Similar to how I’ve called the original posts Chernobyl Diaries, here, I’ve titled both of them “Revisiting Sunny Chernobyl” as a reference to Andrew Blackwell’s “Visit Sunny Chernobyl”, a fantastic book taking readers through the most polluted places in the world and enlightening readers on the sort of things man has done to the planet. My spin on the title was chosen because I’m returning to Modern Warfare‘s two best missions, playing through things again in the remastered version, and also because these missions are flat out overcast, moody, rather than sunny.

  • For the remainder of the June five years previously, I divided my time between physics and the MCAT preparation course. The end of the month drew near, and with it came the physics final. When I left the exam room that evening, I felt reasonably confident that I had done well, and I finally turned my full attention to the MCAT. The physics course ultimately helped me with the physical sciences component of the MCAT, as biochemistry proved useful for the biological sciences component, and while I did spend the entirety of my June at a desk while my friends were making the most of their summer research, the knowledge gained from this course, coupled with exam-taking skills conferred by the MCAT course, allowed me to score well on the MCAT and further left me with exam taking skills that positively impacted the remainder of my undergraduate degree.

  • One of the features I liked most about Modern Warfare Remastered was the way that some optics were rendered: zooming in on a target in games is typically rendered by lowering the field of view (FOV), and here, it’s a simple filter surrounding a circular area representing the scope to give the sense of depth-of-field while aiming down sights. Leaving the peripheries visible is a nice touch (older games black the area out), although some of the more sophisticated renderings will only change the FOV slightly, and instead, only magnify the area under the optics, leaving the rest of the screen visible.

  • The final firefight opens with Price setting MacMillian down in a covered area and then setting down some claymores. Once ultranationalists arrive, it’s non-stop combat right up until the friendly helicopter arrives. This battle is chaotic, being an intense experience, with ultranationalists sneaking in from the bumper cars, being dropped in by helicopters and otherwise rushing in from a distance. The M21 becomes incredibly useful here, and at the ranges I prefer to engage at, the G3 becomes my weapon of choice even though it shares the same ammunition pool as the M21 does.

  • At long last, helicopters ready to extract MacMillian and Price arrive, bringing this fantastic level to a close. There is one thing that I’ve not noted up until now: since Modern Warfare Remastered was made well after Modern Warfare 3, there’s an achievement for killing Makarov (Zakhaev’s driver). There’s a very specific way of doing this — players must shoot out Zakhaev first and then locate the vehicle Makarov is sitting in. As soon as Zakhaev is down, one should unload on Makarov’s vehicle, making certain not to take out Yuri, who is sitting in the backseat. Once this is done, the achievement will unlock, and the mission proceeds normally.

With these memories enduring even after a half-decade, for me, “One Shot, One Kill” and “All Ghillied Up” are more than just exceptional missions in a Call of Duty game that set the standard for modern military shooters; they represent a trip down memory lane and were the form of escapism that contributed to my making it through that summer, allowing me to blow off steam even when staring down numerous exams. The cinematic, immersive experience offered by Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare proved to be exactly what a busy mind needed, and since then, I’ve been a fan of Call of Duty‘s campaigns and set-pieces. These memories ultimately are the reason why I would consider Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare‘s Legacy Edition to be a worthwhile purchase; I am, in effect, buying back a re-imagined, remastered look back at the events of the summer five years ago. Although it may appear that I am recalling this summer through rose-coloured glasses, I note that vividly remember of all of the tribulations and effort it took to survive both physics and the MCAT. That Call of Duty offered the occasional break from these challenges simply affords it a favourable impression in my books, and with these recollections drawing to a close, I will be returning to my regular programming: in the near future, I will be writing about Infinite Warfare, which I’d finished shortly after returning from my vacation.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare- Final Review and Impressions

“Peace to the fallen.” –Honouring those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty

Upon reaching Earth and fighting to reach Riah, who’s escaped, Reyes’ plan fails when Riah bests him in one-on-one combat and commits suicide, signalling for a full-scale SDF invasion. Admiral Raines is killed when the Olympus Mons fires on the UNSA headquarters, and Reyes decides to board the Olympus Mons, fighting his way to the bridge and killing Admiral Kotch. Commandeering the Olympus Mons, Reyes and the Retribution launch a desperate attack on the SDF shipyard to disable their fleet and ship-making capability, although they crash on Mars surface before any real damage can be done to the shipyard. Rallying the survivors, Reyes commences a ground assault on the shipyard, and Salter gains access to an SDF Destroyer. E3N sacrifices himself to unlock its moorings, and Reyes activates its weapons, allowing Salter to destroy the shipyard. Reyes himself is ejected into the vacuum of space and dies from flying shrapnel, with the knowledge that their mission was successful. The UNSA honour their sacrifice in a ceremony, and its shown that Salter survived the assault with three other soldiers. Thus ends Infinite Warfare, my first ever Call of Duty title set fully in space, away from the modern warfare setting. Overall, the diversity of settings and weapons give this game a different feel from previous Call of Duty titles – the sum of these components come together to create a remarkably entertaining campaign whose biggest draw is simply being able to shoot things in space. However, Infinite Warfare is far from being a shooter devoid of a thematic element.

By the end of Infinite Warfare, the main thematic element is that sacrifice may be necessary to achieve a longer term victory even if the short term costs are high. Infinite Warfare presents this directly, bereft of any excess symbolism and other obfuscation. Quite simply, Reyes makes the ultimate sacrifice to cripple the SDF, knowing that he is giving up his life so that SATO and the UNSA can fight another day to keep the SDF at bay. This was a non-trivial decision, and the ending shows that it was the right decision: themes of sacrifice are quite common in anime, and one particularly noteworthy example is the contrast between Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Yūki Yūna is a Hero – there are some uninformed who believe that the former surpasses the latter on virtue of Madoka sacrificing her life to become a god for the sake of her world and Homura, whereas Yūna falls short of being a hero because the ending “undermines” her sacrifice. However, this is not true: both are heroes in their own right, prepared to give up their own well-being for the sake of others, but in the case of Madoka Magica, Madoka’s premature sacrifice allows Homura to undo everything she’s created. While a fine anime, Madoka Magica fails to account for when a sacrifice is appropriate: this is something that is explored more appropriately in Infinite Warfare. The stakes are laid out: if Reyes and the others are not ready to do what it takes, even giving up their lives if it comes down to it, to destroy the SDF shipyard, then only more casualties will follow. Salter continues channeling Reyes’ spirit, doing her best to bring him back alive, and Reyes himself does his utmost to complete his mission and survive. That Reyes dies at the end illustrates that fate is not always so kind, but it was not a death in vain. This is something that a great deal of anime fans fail to comprehend: heroics will involve sacrifice, but sacrifice need not be total, and dying in the line of duty needlessly can have far reaching consequences in the future. Reyes’ sacrifice is a calculated one, made on the basis of facts, and it is shown that he makes the right call, standing in contrast with Madoka, whose sacrifice only served to drive Homura to despair and ultimately undo everything Madoka had built out of a want to protect her.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • So here we are, at the final two missions of Infinite Warfare, where the pressure is on to find the means to defeat a seemingly technologically and definitely numerically superior enemy: it is definitely an interesting experience to be fighting against a faction said to surpassing the protagonists in capability, and there are points in the game that bring back recollections of some folks I’ve known who present themselves to be far more capable and accomplished on social media than is reality. However, social status in online platforms is really a paper tiger: hard work and humility are far more potent in the long term than likes, shares and re-tweets.

  • Thus, when playing through Infinite Warfare, it is a constant reminder that even against what looks to be unfavourable odds, what prevails is a constant amount of sustained effort and persistence. The SDF may look to be imposing, but Captain Reyes and his crew’s determination to get the job done allow them to dismantle the SDF leadership and war machine one component at a time. By this point in time, the SDF High Council is largely gone, along with most of their best soldiers, and it’s a race against time to find Riah.

  • The EBR-800 becomes superbly useful in the dark streets of Geneva when used in conjunction with drones and seeker droids, which automatically locate and neutralise enemies hidden in the ruined buildings. Its versatility in Infinite Warfare is such that the weapon is useful for most situations in a variety of ranges, owing to its ability to switch rapidly between a long-ranged shot and automatic fire for closer ranges.

  • I find a KBS Longbow here: the only bolt-action ballistic rifle available in the campaign, it is, on an per-shot basis, the most powerful and accurate long-range weapon, featuring high stopping power at the expense of firing rate and reload times. On my playthrough of Infinite Warfare, I did not manage to find all of the weapons available in the game, but I did manage to complete all of the side missions. On a future playthrough, this means I will have access to upgraded weapons, which could be useful for playing Infinite Warfare on higher difficulties.

  • Having said this, I’m not too sure if I will be looking to go through Infinite Warfare again – for one, the game occupies a non-trivial amount of hard drive space, and it’s a time commitment to go through again. I imagine that the most likely course of action is that I will uninstall Infinite Warfare in the near future for the purpose of saving disk space even in spite of my enjoyment for the game. Shortly after exiting the church, Reyes finds himself face to face with Riah, who handily defeats him in hand-to-hand combat before committing suicide, signalling for the SDF invasion to begin.

  • A window of opportunity opens up after the Olympus Mons appears: while it destroys the UNSA headquarters and causes Admiral Raines’ death, Reyes is determined to settle things between him and Admiral Kotch once and for all. He orders a Jackal to his position and flies towards the Olympus Mons under a distraction the Retribution creates, managing to board. It’s a fierce firefight once Reyes hits the hanger, although there is plenty of cover to make use of here. With patience and returning fire, the hanger is soon cleared, allowing Reyes and his team to move on.

  • As Reyes moves through the Olympus Mons, Kotch’s now-familiar visage graces screens, warning Reyes that his efforts are for naught. Reading through Infinite Warfare‘s excerpts on the SDF’s values and beliefs provides an unusual insight into their society. Even more militant than North Korea, the SDF are comically evil to an extent: so much of their way of thinking is ridiculous to the point of humour, although it could also serve as a warning about a society that is content to follow rather than take charge. The number of people out there who ardently accept beliefs and ideas expressed in social media is bewildering, and subscribing to extremist thought expressed by the unlearned is precisely what leads to an erosion of liberty.

  • Sprinting through collapsing sections of the Olympus Mons brings to mind the sort of chaos seen in a Portal 2 level; Kotch is scuttling sections of the ship in response to Reyes’ determination, but even this is not enough to stop Reyes and his soldiers. My belief in critical thinking and a healthy skepticism to information until it can be shown the information is credible drives how I take in news and information. While it’s the way of thinking that is encouraged, it also earned me some enemies of some classmates back during my time as a student – these individuals did not understand that I was opposing their ideas, rather than their person, and so, considered it a personal attack when I did not agree with them on things ranging from something as simple as how square brackets are used to more serious matters, such as whether or not it is feasible to involve all students in activism.

  • With so much time having passed since those days, I’m hoping that their grudges have long vanished – I know that I have no quarrel with them on account of how busy things are. Back in Infinite Warfare, upon learning that Kotch is in the bridge surrounded by robot soldiers, E3N hacks up the robots to fight for Reyes, and Reyes himself takes control of a robot to deal as much damage as possible before self-destructing in front of Kotch, fatally wounding him. I finished off Kotch before his last words, primarily because I was going for the “You know nothing” achievement.

  • After the Olympus Mons’ weapons come online, Reyes is given access to the F-SpAr and is set to target the Tharsis shipyard in the distance. Active SDF destroyers show up, and it’s finally time to give the SDF fleet a taste of their own medicine: it was a blast to wipe floor with the SDF destroyers, although for the short moment players have access to this awesome power, the Olympus Mons sustains heavy damage and is unable to use the F-SpAr against the shipyard.

  • The final battle at Mars has a little of everything, from fantastic set-pieces and space combat to boots-on-the-ground combat. Here, Reyes boards a Jackal with the goal of clearing the airspace around the Olympus Mons so that it can ram into the shipyard and cause enough damage to significantly lessen the SDF’s ability to construct new destroyers. I am tasked with taking on three SDF aces here and remark that, total completion of the main missions and side missions will naturally allow for the Royal Flush achievement to be unlocked (eliminate all SDF aces and captains).

  • While perhaps not quite as varied or innovative as the Titan-to-Titan combat of Titanfall 2, the Jackal sequences in Infinite Warfare were overall a thrill to play through, offering breaks in the campaign that serve to mix up the gameplay. To ensure things did not get stale during the side missions, I alternated between the Jackal Strike and Ship Infiltration operations; the main missions themselves offer a reasonable balance between flying and boots-on-the-ground combat. I nearly finish taking out the last SDF ace here and thought I had sustained excessive damage, but it turns out that Reyes’ crash is scripted, occurring as the Olympus Mons is forced to divert in order to avoid collision with the Retribution.

  • Following a crash-landing on the surface and the realisation that their initial attempt to destroy the shipyard has failed, Reyes rallies with his forces and motivates them to fight on, reasoning that either they live and cost the UNSA the future, or else risk their lives to ensure a future for the UNSA and SATO. This is a sacrifice that is reasoned through and thought out, making it one whose necessity becomes very clear. When starting the mission, I opted to go with the RAW equipped with a recharger that gave me unlimited ammunition, as well as the Trojan optic for quickly picking out enemies.

  • The value of a total sacrifice costing one’s life is ultimately determined by considering the outcomes of that sacrifice relative to the outcome of living to fight another day. In Madoka Magica, Madoka’s actions, while heroic and allowing her to help her friends find happiness, also bars her from intervening directly when Homura decides to change things. Hence, this was not a meaningful sacrifice, since its benefits in the long term were cancelled out by Homura’s actions. By comparison, Reyes and the Retribution make sacrifices knowing that they have an exceptional opportunity to damage the SDF military machine, and the outcome of this is a strategic victory for the UNSA.

  • After fighting to the shipyard’s orbital elevator station, Reyes and Salter, plus a few others, make the ascent to the shipyard while the Retribution’s crew remain on the ground to hold off the SDF. The combat is intense, and even with fire support from the Olympus Mons’ remaining weapons, it’s a difficult battle. Careful, controlled use of the RAW here allowed me to go through the mission without reloading the weapon, and it is with the fusion magazine attachment that energy weapons shine.

  • Besides the RAW, I also carried the F-SpAr torch throughout the final mission. Obscenely powerful, it’s a highly effectual means of beating the RC-8 combat drones. An upgrade to the C6 drones, the RC-8 deal massive amounts of damage and can absorb punishment, as they carry shields that can absorb incoming fire. Usually, it takes sustained firing in conjunction with grenades to bring them down, but heavy weapons make short work of them, hence my decision to hold onto the F-SpAr in case I encountered them.

  • This turned out to be a good idea, since in the corridors in the shipyard are filled with hostile elements. I encountered an RC-8 here and tossed shock grenades to stun it, hitting it with the F-SpAr while it was disabled to permanently remove the threat it posed. This past weekend has seen a recurrence of the events five years previously, as I played through Modern Warfare‘s “All Ghillied Up” after a fantastic dinner of pizza from one of the more famous pizza places in the area: their donair pizza and all-meat pizzas are delicious, having more toppings and a more flavourful crust than pizzas I’ve had previously. Today was a bit duller, as the cloud cover gave way to thunderstorms by evening, although I did manage to unlock the Chauchat Low Weight in Battlefield 1, the first of the assignment weapons for the “They Shall Not Pass” DLC.

  • I spent a total of ten hours in Infinite Warfare‘s campaign, discounting the extra hour-and-a-half I spent trying to get the game working on day one, and subsequently, the waits for the game to load. My computer, while powerful, encountered some difficulties in loading the game and some of the transitions were not seamless, but overall, ran the game at 1080p with 60 FPS on the highest settings. By this point in the game, I’m liberally using the gadgets available to fight the hordes of SDF soldiers and robots; looking back, the seeker bot and drones were my favourite options. The shield and hacking charges, while fun, were not used as frequently.

  • Salter suggests stealing an SDF destroyer to cause enough damage to the shipyard to put it out of commission permanently. While an armed destroyer is available, its weapons are offline and it is docked to the shipyard. In order to release the docking clamps, E3N offers to destroy a reactor powering the clamps, but can only do so by creating an explosion large enough to do so. E3N’s “death” was quite similar to BF-7274’s in Titanfall 2 in that both interact with a high energy source to disrupt and destroy it, and both moments result in a moving end for the robots in their respective games.

  • Reyes watches as the shipyard is destroyed, and despite Salter’s efforts to save him, Reyes does not make it: his helmet is shattered by debris, exposing him to the vacuum of space. In his final moments, Reyes dies knowing that his mission has succeeded. This brings my journey through Infinite Warfare to an end, two months after I started the campaign, and I had a fantastic time going through the game. The next Call of Duty title is a return to WWII, and is set to feature older game mechanics, such as health pick ups. I’m curious to see what it will look like, but at present, I have no plans to buy this title.

It may come as a surprise that I found the sacrifice in Infinite Warfare to be better executed than that of Madoka Magica – this stems from a worldview that people are worth significantly more alive than dead. Heroics is the willingness to do what is necessary and be selfless, to be prepared to make sacrifices for what one believes is correct, not the reckless, uncalculated self-sacrifice with the hope of making a difference. In fact, dying needlessly is unheroic, as it deprives the individual the ability to make a difference later on. Ultimately, the hate and doubt directed at Infinite Warfare was misguided and unnecessary – there’s a clear theme, solid gameplay and an impressive range of environments that come together to make the game’s campaign far more entertaining than expected. It was definitely a pleasant surprise, and I liked the way things played out because it was a logical progression of how the decision to make sacrifices is reached. Beyond these elements, the combination of boots-on-the-ground and Jackal combat in different parts of the solar system kept things fresh even if some of the mission ended up being quite similar to one another: the set-pieces in the game were stunning, and unique to the different locations reached. Overall, I would recommend Infinite Warfare for the campaign and zombies modes when the game is given a discount: the multiplayer is not particularly inspired, and the replay value is moderate, so one would not get their money’s worth should they buy Infinite Warfare at full price.

Revisiting Sunny Chernobyl- All Ghillied Up in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered

“Look at this place… fifty thousand people used to live in this city. Now it’s a ghost town… I’ve never seen anything like it.” —Captain MacMillian

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare‘s “All Ghillied Up” mission remains one of the most iconic missions in the history of first person shooters, offering a change of pace from the high-paced missions up until that point. Even now, it stands alongside the first Flood mission in Halo: Combat Evolved as being one of the most innovative and entertaining missions – players accompany Captain MacMillian on an assassination mission, sneaking through the dreary fields outside of Pripyat on an overcast day to reach a sniper’s perch. Long the way, they cautiously duck between convoys of heavily armed ultranationalists, engage lone guards and climb through the ruins of Pripyat, deserted and uninhabited since the Chernobyl accident. The unique combination of being very linear mission that offered a considerable amount of leeway for deviation from the script, fantastic moments conferred by close encounters with ultranationalist forces, a beautifully constructed level and atmospherics come together to create a very distinct aesthetic for “All Ghillied Up” that allowed its original incarnation to be counted as one of the most memorable missions even amongst modern shooters. However, in the remastered version of Modern Warfare, “All Ghillied Up” takes on a new life – the skies are a moody grey, overcast, and assets on the ground have been given a total overhaul. Grasses and trees are much richer in details than before, as are the buildings, whose walls exhibit aging and exposure to the elements far more sharply than the original. Upgraded volumetric lighting, particle effects and water reflections further bring this level to life, bringing “All Ghillied Up” into the present day. The mission loses none of its charm, and with its fresh coat of paint, conveys the atmospherics and tenour of “All Ghillied Up” even more profoundly than its original incarnation.

When I wrote the original “All Ghillied Up” post five years ago, I was well into my Newtonian Physics course and had just began my MCAT course. The film, Chernobyl Diaries, had also just been released, having premièred in theatres a few days earlier, on May 25. I had seen some trailers for the film and was intrigued by the premise: the film depicts a group of travellers doing an “extreme” tour of Pripyat before finding themselves stranded, at the mercy of an unknown force that relentlessly pursues them (which turn out to be escaped medical patients mutated by the radiation in-story). I was wondering if I should watch the film, and settled in playing through the Call of Duty missions owing to time constraints introduced by physics and the MCAT, recounting my own adventures through Chernobyl (in a manner of speaking). Five years since, I’ve had the opportunity to watch Chernobyl Diaries, and my impressions are that the film was largely unremarkable, delivering a thin plot and frequent jump scares that dampen the horror aspect of the film. While the film is nothing noteworthy in execution, one aspect I did enjoy was the presentation of Pripyat and its locations, especially when the travellers enter one of the old apartment blocks and later, the different facilities around Pripyat. In Modern Warfare, there are no hostile forces quite like those of Chernobyl Diaries, and the area is desolated save the ultranationalist soldiers. It’s decidedly less frightening and more melancholy, providing the perfect atmosphere that parallels what it felt like to be studying for Newtonian physics and an MCAT while my peers were enjoying summer weather and their research projects.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • In the remaster of Modern Warfare, the clouds in the sky and lighting are far more vivid in detail. Grasses and vegetation are much more realistic, and a bit of volumetric lighting can be seen in the image’s right hand side to the upper right, by the trees. Upon Modern Warfare Remastered‘s first announcement, my immediate thoughts were “what would a fully modernised ‘All Ghillied Up’ look like?” Here, we have our answer, and already, I am impressed.

  • Upgraded graphics confers upon “All Ghillied Up” in Modern Warfare Remastered a sense of immersion far surpassing the visuals of the original mission, and even though every moment is identical, down to the scripting, a fresh coat of paint makes the game feel like a whole new title. I spent far more time admiring the visuals than I should have, right down to the reflections in the M21’s optics. However, there’s not too much time to dawdle: there’s a mission to complete, after all!

  • Supposing the recollections from my first “Chernobyl Diaries” discussion to be correct, it was a bit of an overcast day when I wrote the original post similar to the skies seen around the church (ostensibly, I was supposed to be working on a physics assignment on equilibrium and forces). The remastered Modern Warfare depicts this area as having much darker skies, and while waiting for the Ultranationalist convoy to pass later on, lightning can be seen illuminating the clouds. It’s subtle and it’s easily missed, but it is a very nice touch: whenever the clouds get this dark where I live, a thunderstorm or some form of precipitation is imminent.

  • There’s a cache of Stinger missiles inside the church that can be used to shoot out the Russian Hind, although I’ve never actually tried to do so for myself as of now. Some folks have tried “All Ghillied Up” without adhering to the stealth components, and there’s a trick to besting the Hind; one needs to get off two shots in quick succession. The first shot will always miss, since the Hind will deploy flares, and retaliation is swift as it unleashes a barrage of rockets, leveling the church. If players can evade this and get a second shot off, the Hind will be destroyed, prompting MacMillian to remark that Price is now showing off.

  • Depending on one’s perspective, five years can be a lot of time, or it can be a little time. When I played through Modern Warfare for the first time, the game had been out for five years, and was showing its age slightly against period titles, such as Battlefield 3. However, in atmospherics, it was unparalleled, and looking through my old archives, I was so engrossed in Modern Warfare that I beat the game in just over a week.

  • I’m actually not too sure how I developed an interest in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, but it might have stemmed from seeing trailers for Chernobyl Diaries on television, subsequently looking up ghost stories surrounding Chernobyl and Pripyat and then coming across an article about ghostly voices of children in Modern Warfare at Tango-Victor-Tango. Closer inspection led me to learn more about the Pripyat missions, and once I found some YouTube footage, I felt that this was something I could enjoy playing. This would have been April, during which term was still on, and I was watching Angel Beats! while trying to do my best to stay afloat in biochemistry.

  • This is probably the tensest part of the mission, and I’ve died here more times than I’ve cared to keep track of because one of the ultranationalist soldiers stepped on me while I was still in the grass. MacMillian suggests anticipating their paths and keeping movement to a minimum, and with enough experience, it is possible to remember where the soldiers will go. While I love this mission, I’ve not yet memorised the soldiers’ scripted paths, so I usually make for the left and hide behind a tree until everyone’s gone.

  • What caught my eye in the trailer were shots of Pripyat covered in a fog, as well as the interiors of apartments and other buildings in Pripyat. While I had been interested in checking out the movie, a physics course and cold reception to the movie upon its release meant that my interest in the film waned. However, this year, I decided to give Chernobyl Diaries a spin just to see if the film was as poor as reception had presented it to be. Overall, I found that the narrative was a bit generic and the movie counting solely on jump scares to convey its horror moments meant that the fear soon gave way to wondering how the characters would react when they ran into trouble next. The fact that the source of the horror game from mutants also lessens the impact of each scare.

  • Having said that, there were some things the movie did reasonably well: the initial tour of Pripyat with Yuri and the initial fear conveyed by uncertainty as to what the cause of frights would be meant the film’s initial build-up was fun to watch. In particular, the moment with a fog covering Pripyat conveyed a perfect sense of suspense. By comparison, the best (and only other) horror movie I’ve seen was Dark Water, which scared me to no end because of both how the build-up was so well done, the fact that the specter’s physical appearance was quite unsettling and the implications the film imparts about human selfishness and cruelty long after the denouement was presented.

  • Even today, I’m still too much of a wuss to go back and re-watch Dark Water. By comparison, Chernobyl Diaries certainly is not scary, and perhaps if the mutants were in the open a bit more, in conjunction with at least a handful of survivors as opposed to total casualties, the film might be considered an adventure or survival film instead. Most of the deaths in Chernobyl Diaries were not too gruesome, minus Yuri’s: his abdominal cavity was torn open and mutilated by the mutants. Similarly, the presence of mutants rather than other supernatural entities meant that in theory, a good set of weapons could be sufficient to confer survival. Back in “All Ghillied Up”, I’ve reached the point where I must crawl under some parked vehicles. It’s a thrilling point in the mission, as suspenseful as waiting for the ultranationalist convoy to pass.

  • With this in mind, I contend that Chernobyl Diaries is not an equivalent experience to playing through Modern Warfare. Barring actually travelling to Pripyat, the remastered version of Modern Warfare is the most immersive experience of exploring Pripyat possible, and here, I’ve finally cleared all of the convoys and points in the game where there are large numbers of soldiers. There’s a lone sniper on the stairwell, but he can be dealt with quickly. Returning to my old post on “All Ghillied Up” will find a screenshot taken at the same location: the differences are dramatic.

  • In my original post, I only had ten images and focused predominantly on events after clearing the convoy. That post was written well before this blog became my preferred place to write: in 2012, I still maintained a website at Webs.com, where my reviews lived. By 2013, it became clear that the limitations of Webs.com (mainly with respect to maximum number of visitors possible and a difficult-to-use web interface) meant that I would slowly migrate here. After trying my hand at lengthier posts with Vividred Operation, I became accustomed to WordPress and have used it since.

  • Hence, readers who do choose to explore this site’s archive will find blog posts from 2011 and 2012 that deviate greatly from the way I currently do things. Posts take a considerably more substantial effort to write now, as opposed to being put together within the space of half an hour, and I often plan an outline for each post in my mind a few days or even weeks before putting fingers to keyboard.

  • Without the prospect of being shot at, “All Ghillied Up” takes on a different feel as Price and MacMillian wander through the deserted apartment blocks of Pripyat. Unlike Chernobyl Diaries, there are no mutants or large animals: players only encounter a wild dog that’s best left alone (killing it will result in a pack of dogs showing up, although it is possible and somewhat entertaining to extricate oneself from the situation). The absence of unknown enemies means that this short walk through Pripyat is a melancholic, moody one that brings to mind the dangers of knowledge and their consequences.

  • In my original post, I mention haikyo, a Japanese term for “ruins”. Having put some years between the present and when I last counted myself as a student, I can finally confess that I was never much of a student in my undergraduate studies until my fourth year, and one of the things I did instead of applying for summer scholarships or studying D vs L configuration of acyclic monosaccharides was browsing through old ruins in Japan. Since then, I’ve also found websites showcasing ruins of Russia, and more recently, Taiwan. The images are hauntingly beautiful, and there’s a strange appeal about derelict human constructs.

  • Here, I step into an abandoned room that appears to have once held a cafeteria; the remaster makes fantastic use of volumetric lighting and particles to give a dusty sense, while the peeling paint and detrius on the floors mirror the lack of a human presence. There are many hazards associated with exploring old ruins that images alone cannot capture: broken glass, asbestos, mold, crumbling infrastructure and feral animals, plus the ever-present risk of being detected and held for trespassing are very real threats that hang over the heads of urban explorers. Urban explorer Alexander Synaptic remarks that his preferred way of exploring haikyo is to start from the roof and work his way down, minimising the risk of detection.

  • Synaptic’s travels are largely focused in Taiwan, and while he does visit other locations, there are a host of excellent haikyo sites out there. Japan is where my interests were first piqued: I found an anime magazine showcasing the derelict roller coasters of Nara Dreamland, and since then, I’ve been drawn to reading about urban exploration.

  • Hearing ghostly voices of children’s shouts here is the only out-of-the-ordinary experience in “All Ghillied Up”, and it is here that Captain MacMillian’s quote is made, capturing the other-worldly feel surrounding the Chernobyl disaster. After the meltdown in 1986, liquidators stepped in to clean up and contain the spread of radioactive particles, while Pripyat’s citizens were given orders to evacuate. They were told only to bring necessities, as they would be coming back in a few days, but that never happened, hence the remnants of personal items in Pripyat.

  • A tragedy in every sense of the word, there have also been some rumours surrounding the Chernobyl disaster, ranging from the conspiracy theories to the downright supernatural. One of the most interesting is the “black bird” of Chernobyl, which was alleged to have been spotted in the days leading up to the disaster. Inducing horrific nightmares in those who’d spotted it, as well as causing said individuals to be the recipients of threatening phone calls, this “black bird” was seen hovering in the radioactive smoke after the disaster and was never seen again. Similar to the Mothman of Point Pleasant, this makes for a fantastic story until one realises that “black bird” sightings were only reported conveniently after things had concluded. My inner skeptic says that the myth was transplanted over to Pripyat as a derivative story, albeit a rather intriguing one.

  • Returning to the 1024 by 768 screenshots in my original “All Ghillied Up” post (and even the 1920 by 1080 screenshots from last year), the differences between the original Modern Warfare and its remastered incarnation are dramatic. I noted that this mission would be more enjoyable than watching Chernobyl Diaries, and after five years, I’ve vindicated that particular claim.

It is quite evident that experiencing Pripyat through Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, although eclipsed by visiting Pripyat, is much more comprehensive and exciting an experience than watching Chernobyl Diaries. While the film is a linear adventure, players have more freedom in Modern Warfare – they can elect to follow MacMillian’s orders, which is the most efficient way to complete the mission, but should they be compromised or feel particularly adventurous, can go weapons loud. The game will uncharacteristically not punish the player; instead, MacMillian will either comment on the player’s inability to comprehend the definition of “stealth” or even remark that they’re showing off, should they succeed in using the M21 to fend off numerically superior enemies. It stands in stark contrast with the hand-holding seen in other missions. Already a fantastic mission in its original form, playing through “All Ghillied Up” in Modern Warfare Remastered is akin to playing a completely different game: grasses get pushed aside as players crawl through it, and cracks in the peeling paint are visible in the new version. It is an experience that very nearly commands the price of Modern Warfare Remastered (itself only available in the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Legacy Edition), being quite worth it for the fact that I could experience this wonderful mission again with a completely revitalised and renewed feeling.

Reflections on visiting the Land of the Rising Sun and Pearl of the Orient

“All right, okay, now we’re in the quiet safe room where none of the stuff that I bought from various shops can be lost in transit. Now, let’s look at all the stuff we got. We got a Kimi no na wa Official Visual Guide, that’s sixteen hundred yen. We got a Mount Fuji fridge magnet, that’s four hundred and eighty yen. We got, uh, a…some bells from the Hong Kong airport. Seventy Hong Kong dollars.” —Stealy, Rick and Morty

I’m back from my travels across the ocean to Japan and Hong Kong after two weeks; having returned for a week now, the effects of jet lag and a persistent cough picked up on the flight back are no longer felt, and the time is appropriate to do a short reflection at my travels through a section of Japan, which encompassed a journey from Tokyo to Osaka over a four-day period. It’s the first trip I’ve done in some time that did not involve my graduate work, and during the course of my travels, I noticed that time moved at a much more relaxing, casual pace than it does when I’m at work. After brief stay in Tokyo and an overnight at the Hotel Heritage Resort (where I had a fantastic evening dinner and soaked in the onsen) on the first day, we travelled to Mount Fuji and toured Oshino village nearby before ascending to the Fifth Station located on the side of the mountain for a closer look at Japan’s most famous mountain for day two. The day ended at the Ikenotaira Resort, located in the Kirigamine Highland. On the third day, after enjoying some fresh strawberries at the Enakyo Observatory overlooking the Kiso River, we strolled down the walk at Magome Village and sat down to a Japanese-style lunch before visiting Nagoya’s ​Atsuta Shrine. On the final day, Kyoto’s legendary Kinkakuji was first on the list of things to take in, followed by Nara’s ​Tōdai temple in the afternoon. The day concluded in Osaka, bringing the lightning tour of Japan to a close. Subsequently, I flew to Hong Kong and spent a week there with family, doing a self-guided tour by day and sitting down to dinner with relatives and family friends by night. It’s been a most pleasant experience, and by the end of things, I was quite ready to return to the True North Strong and begin working again.

The experience in Japan was a wondrous one, an opportunity to visit the Land of the Rising Sun for myself: it’s definitely a fine destination for visiting, striking a fine balance between modernity and history. Most of my travels saw me visit more traditional locations, such as Tokyo’s Meiji Jinju Shrine and Imperial Palace, but a glimpse of the Tokyo Skytree and drive through Tokyo’s metro area also showcased Japan’s urban aspects. Most of the trip was actually spent exploring historical and rural attractions: Magome and Oshino Village were located a ways from urban centers, offering a quiet respite from the hustle and bustle of the city that is a far cry from images of a busy, never-sleeping nation. I greatly enjoyed these places, where the pacing was calm and easygoing; it is one thing to see these things from behind a screen or written on a page, so to have experienced a diverse array of places and foods in Japan personally was most illuminating and enjoyable: besides Japanese snow crab, Kobe beef was also to be savoured. As with France last year, the Japan component of my vacation was also a humbling one: compared to Hong Kong, where I can get by moderately well on account of fluency in spoken Cantonese, my command of the Japanese language is not particularly good, so even though I can wield enough of the basics to order food and ask for directions, travelling in a foreign country serves as a constant reminder that the world is vast, and complex societies that have developed reflect on the sheer diversity on our planet. Overall, this vacation to Japan was superb in all ways, and while only scratching the surface of things, afforded me a chance to explore and experience a plethora of elements in Japan.

Image Gallery

  • Last I did a post featuring photographs with anime vectors superimposed was back for the Cancún ALIFE XV Conference last July, and this post will feature thirty images on top of the standard issue discussion. The vectors are deliberately placed, to liven up the images, although some images lack these vectors, since placing them would seem illogical. The photographs begin on the full first day in Tokyo: we had arrived in the early evening on the previous day and stayed close to the hotel, being exhausted from the flight and dissuaded from exploring the nearby plains on account of a shower. This image was taken from the open area besides the Imperial Palace in Tokyo’s Chiyoda district.

  • Driving into Tokyo from Narita, then visiting the Meiji Jinju Shrine and Imperial Palace took up most of the morning of the first day. We stopped by a nabe place that featured a hot pot already set up with cabbage, shiitake mushrooms and bean sprouts, with an egg, fried chicken and thinly-sliced beef strips and udon noodles. It was quite fun to cook the meats for myself, and lunch was a highly delicious affair. Following lunch, we spent some time in the Ginza district, browsing around the shops in the area.

  • The Wako building in the Ginza district is visible in this image, being dwarfed by the other developments along the road. The building was constructed in 1932, and I know it best from the film King Kong vs. Godzilla. It houses the Wako department store, selling fancier items like jewellery and designer clothing. I suddenly recall that I’ve yet to actually beat Go! Go! Nippon! – having visited Japan in person before finishing a simulated visit is perhaps one of the strongest reminders of just how big of a procrastinator I am when it comes to entertainment.

  • Owing to time constraints, we did not actually go inside the Tokyo Skytree, and instead, stopped on a promenade along the Sumida River about a klick and some away from the Skytree. The heavy cloud cover would have made it difficult to get a good view of Tokyo that day. With a height of 634 meters, it is the second tallest structure in the world, bested only by Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. While a broadcasting and communications tower for several Japanese television stations, there are also two observation decks, a larger capacity one at 350 meters and a smaller one at 450 meters. By comparison, Taipei 101’s observation deck is 391.8 meters above the surface, and the International Commerce Center in Hong Kong’s observation decks is 387.8 meters above the surface.

  • The Koganji temple is located around seven klicks ways from the Skytree as the mole digs in a shopping district. It is a popular destination, as the temple is a place where people can purify and heal minor ailments. On the fourth, fourteenth and twenty-fourth day of each month, a small festival is also held here. This image was captured facing south from the temple grounds.

  • On the second day, we headed for Mount Fuji, visiting three different locations that each offered a unique view of Japan’s most famous mountain. We began at the Fuji Bhuddist Temple in Gotemba: Mount Fuji is just across the way, and while that morning was beautiful, the mountain itself was enveloped in cloud, almost as though it was still preparing itself to be seen. Here, the views of the mountain would have been spectacular, although despite not being able to see the mountain itself, I nonetheless enjoyed the cool, fresh air here.

  • The main reason for why I’ve been able to document my travels over the past two years is because of my iPhone: the combination of a powerful camera and a good set of offline maps allowed me to chronicle every destination visited. I note that Google Maps does not provide offline areas in Japan owing to laws and regulations, so I went with Maps.me. Having good maps is essential to travel and takes away a bit of the guesswork in estimating where I am in relation to a destination, and in the aftermath of a vacation, also has the benefit of providing exceptionally precise recollections of where I went.

  • We made our way to Yamanakako shortly after, where we stopped at a yakiniku restaurant besides Lake Yamanaka for lunch. Plates of beef, chicken and pork awaited us, and I drank miso soup while waiting for my lunch to cook. There was a shared grill that we used to bring the meat to perfection, and I chose to grill the pork and chicken first, leaving the beef for last. I do love a good grill, and this lunch was as fun to eat as it was to cook.

  • Yamanakako is situated right beside Lake Yamanaka, and our stopping point was on the lake’s western shore, so I was not able to get any photographs of Mount Fuji and the lake. Largest of the Fuji lakes in surface area, it is also the shallowest and is a popular spot for water sports. In the moments after lunch, there was sufficient time to purchase some souvenirs, so I picked up a fridge magnet and was on my way.

  • Next on our destination was the village of Oshino, where we visited Shibokusa. The quiet and tranquil of the village gave way to a bit of a crowd as we neared the Nigoriike pool and sourvenir shop. I ordered an ice cream: the weather that day had remained quite pleasant and warm, hence my wish for something cool. In a bit of carelessness, I had forgotten my hat back home, but a good supply of sunscreen and mercifully cooler weather on the trip meant that this mistake was not too much of an issue.

  • While I was walking the streets of Shibokusa and marvelling at a water wheel driving a traditional mill, some folks in my social media feed were deep into the Kantai Collection Spring Event, fighting the impossible Random Number Generator in the hopes of besting the Abyssals and unlocking ships. From their remarks and those of other Kantai Collection players, the game seems to be more trouble than it’s worth (the setup alone requires a doctorate in computer science, from what I hear), so between Shimushu, get! or eating an ice cream in a peaceful village thirteen klicks from Mount Fuji, Mount Fuji would win every time.

  • Although the season for hanami has passed, some trees were still in blossom at Shibokusa. As this image attests, the area is quite popular amongst tourists, being a ways livelier than the quieter reaches of the village. One of the locals handed out some peanuts to us while we were walking en route to Shibokusa, and I immediately wondered that, had I chosen to eat the peanuts, where would the shells go? One of the challenges about Japan is the relative lack of trash cans: the broken window theory is offered as the reason why, suggesting that forcing people to hold onto their trash means a decreased inclination to throw refuse out at random.

  • The clouds around Mount Fuji had lifted somewhat by afternoon, and here, I caught a glimpse of the mountain before it was engulfed by clouds again. We had reached the end of the shops on the street and found ourselves looking into someone’s backyard at this point, hence the decision to turn back, revealing the mountain. Another aspect of Japan that I was unaccustomed to were the presence of toilet seats that seem more advanced than the seat of a fighter aircraft even in public facilities. Found at our hotels, I admit that heated toilet seats were quite nice, but I never bothered using their additional functions, which seem quite intimidating. By comparison, the toilets in Hong Kong were rather more familiar and straightforwards to use. One of the things I noticed while in Japan was the lack of soap dispensers in public restrooms: carrying a small bottle of hand sanitizer rectifies this.

  • The final destination for the second day was the Fifth Station, located 2400 meters above sea level. Being the highest point that climbers can begin making their ascent from, the site is home to some shops and restaurants, and the mountain itself is vividly visible. Up here, the conditions are rather different than the warm temperatures of the surrounding regions: there is a distinct chill in the air, and having a nice jacket makes it more comfortable to wander about here.

  • By the time we finished the descent Mount Fuji and travelled out to Ikenotaira Hotel, on the shores of Shirakaba Lake. While utterly exhausted, I was reawakened by the buffet dinner at the hotel. I enjoyed their tempura and snow crab to a great extent and did not partake in the onsen, preferring to hit the hay almost straightway. The next morning was the third day: I woke up early and walked out to the lake’s edge to capture this image, before exploring the resort connected to our hotel. It’s an older facility that bring to mind some of the haikyo I’ve seen, but is still well-maintained and comfortable.

  • There’s no anime character vector here because I took this photograph with my phone over the railing of the Enakyo Lookout point over the Kiso River, and it simply won’t make sense to obscure the image 😉 It was shaping up to be a warm day, and we puchased some strawberries from a vendor on the roadside, savouring their sweetness before moving on. There’s an amusement park, Enakyo Wonderland, adjacent to the observation point, and unlike the legendary Nara Dreamland, this one is still active: open most days from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM, admissions start at 1100 yen.

  • This house carries with it a very Takehara-like feel to it, overlooking Magome-juku. Forty-third of the Nakasendõ‘s sixty-nine stations that were located along the ancient road between Kyoto and Tokyo, Magome-juku’s old town is well preserved, featuring buildings from the eighteenth century. It was a thrill to walk down the town’s main road and take in all of the buildings, among them a water mill.

  • Mount Ena is just visible on the left-hand side of the image here, being partially covered by some trees. The walk through Magome-juku brought to mind Taiwan’s Jiufen Old Street, which I had visited back during 2014. Not quite as busy or crowded, but exuding an equal amount of atmosphere, it was a pleasant experience to be treading the a path that’s existing since the Edo period, and here, I reach a point in the street where Mount Ena is visible.

  • Upon reaching the bottom of the hill and the end of the walk, lunch was served in a bento form: picked daikon, vegetables, fish, fried chicken, Japanese omelettes and large, sweet red beans. We also had a bowl of freshly-prepared noodle soup accompanying lunch, and a recurring theme is that while portion sizes appear smaller in Japan, that’s an illusion. Finishing everything provides plenty of food energy and of course, is an adventure in and of itself.

  • By the time lunch ended, the skies had turned overcast, and I took a short walk around the area. During the course of this trip, I’ve spent more time in the inaka than I did in urban areas, and this was a wonderful surprise; the Japanese countryside has always held a certain draw for me, as I’ve taken a keen interest in the languid, slower-paced feeling from the rural areas conveyed by anime such as Please Teacher!Ano Natsu De MatteruNon Non BiyoriFlying Witch and Sakura Quest. Not quite as remote or empty as the Canadian Prairies, the inaka offer a sense of quiet while at the same time, give a warm, inviting sense that is absent when I drive through the parts of my provinces outside of any towns or hamlets.

  • Leaving Magome-juku, our next destination was Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya. A location steeped in history and interesting architecture, I have no photographs here to show because most of them were quite dark as a result of the large cypress trees in the park. There is a museum here housing upwards of four thousand Japanese artifacts, among them a dagger that is one of Japan’s National Treasures. With this location checked off, it was off to Gifu, where our hotel was. After checking in, I had ramen at a nearby shop: although the owners did not speak English, I spoke enough to place my order, a savoury, piping hot pork ramen. The restaurant shortly filled with Chinese tourists, and for a brief moment, it felt like I was in a Hong Kong noodle shop.

  • On our final full day in Japan, the first destination was the Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto. One of the city’s most famous landmarks, the building we see today is a reconstruction: after a monk torched the original in 1950, it was rebuilt in 1955 and given an extensive gold-leaf exterior that confers the temple’s distinct colour. Yui and her classmates visit the Kinkaku-ji in K-On!‘s second season, stopping to take photographs in the exact same spot that we visited, and whereas I bought a matcha ice cream to enjoy, K-On! has Yui and the others order a more traditional matcha desert and tea.

  • After lunch in a park whose location and name I can’t quite remember (that lunch was notable for being a nabe with tempura on the side, in addition to being the only place where we had to kneel rather than sit), we made our way to Nara Park and ended the day in Osaka. Spent from the travelling, we had omurice for dinner (I ordered the curry katsu omurice, which was delicious) and I browsed around at Tsutaya, a Japanese bookstore, coming upon a volume of Your Name. Our journey in Japan concluded here, and we left Osaka for Hong Kong at the Kansai International Airport, where I bought the Your Name Official Guidebook for a mere 1600 yen.

  • On the flight to Hong Kong from Osaka, our Cathay Pacific flight featured Your Name, so I watched that before dozing off on the flight. It was midnight when we arrived in Hong Kong, and on day one, we visited the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen museum in Central Hong Kong, before stopping by the Western market to window shop and have lunch. There’s a delightful bistro on the first floor that I ordered a prawn spaghetti from, and the day closed with a family dinner. The next day, Repulse Bay and Aberdeen were on the list of places to visit. Despite having went to Hong Kong previously, we’d only gone to Stanley, so this time, I figured it was time to try something different. Repulse Bay is rather quieter than Stanley, and has a beautiful beach that was featured in the first moments of Roman Tam’s “幾許風雨” music video.

  • While my trip in Hong Kong was largely oriented around spending time with family over there, we had plenty of time to go sightseeing because this time around, we were visiting during the regular season, during which everyone is working. I myself took two weeks off work for this vacation, and previously, one of my coworkers noted that leaving for any period of time meant coming back to what felt like a completely different company. While on vacation, I did keep an eye on things occasionally, so I was roughly in the loop for comings and goings, so I can’t say that coming back felt like too much of a shock. Here is a photograph of Hong Kong’s central district, where I rode the Hong Kong Observation Wheel and got a nice discount on admissions on account of it being the twentieth anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China.

  • While we did not ride any junks across Hong Kong Harbour, we did ride the Star Ferry over to Kowloon to walk the streets, and I spent an afternoon at the Tsim Sha Tsui Clocktower, the Avenue of Stars and iSquare adjacent to the infamous Chung King mansions. While there are three cross-harbour tunnels and the MTR linking Victoria Island to Kowloon, taking the Star Ferry from Central (or any ferry from North Point) has more character. Ferries are also a pleasant way of visiting Discovery Bay, a quiet resort town with a nice beach and mall. I’m a little envious of the quality of sandwiches that Hong Kong fast food joints make — their burgers are about as nice as the burgers I can get at pubs back home for a fraction of the price.

  • This is the Hong Kong Heritage Museum in Sha Tin, a city just north of Kowloon. There’s an indoor wet market at the far side of Sha Tin in Sunshine City Plaza; it’s one of the cleanest wet markets I’ve ever seen and has a very solid ambiance, bringing to mind locales from Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided: it’s filled with people browsing the stalls selling fresh cuts of fish, shellfish and squid, as well as siu laap and baozi. There’s a profound beauty in the cacophony, as folks order fish to take home and slurp noodles in streetside stalls.

  • Eating in Hong Kong represented a world of difference from Japan: whereas Japan was all about trying Japanese cuisine, Hong Kong wasn’t too different from home, although definitely delicious, to be sure. I went out for dim sum on two occasions, and had dinner at 嘉豪酒家 in Shau Kei Wan with family during some of the evenings. Cantonese food in Hong Kong is about the same as it is in Canada, so I’m familiar with what restaurants serve. There were some nights where we ate elsewhere: here, I’ve got a close-up of an Italian style seafood rice (scallops, mussels, calamari rings and a large prawn) at the Itamomo in Shau Kei Wan, and on another evening, I had a chicken-and-beef steak sizzling hot plate at Taikoo Shing Mall. During another evening, we had dinner at the Harbour Plaza Hotel, whose seafood buffet was simply fabulous. While being advertised as a seafood buffet, they had pork ribs, prime rib, rack of lamb, siu mei, chicken and veal in addition to whole fried crab, crayfish, large prawns, scallops and sushi. With family, we stayed from opening until closing, partaking in both the buffet and conversation as the skies grew dark.

  • The biological sciences building of Hong Kong University is visible here. This vacation was, for the lack of a better adjective, incredible, and looking back, I can understand why folks undergo a bit of a change after visiting Japan. While going to Japan did broaden my perspectives, fear not, I’m not going anywhere: it’s not sufficient to lead me to drop my career and attempt to move there. By comparison, Hong Kong feels like home, minus the exceptional humidity and crowds. With this last image, my reflections come to an end, and this means that it’s back to business as usual both in reality and at this blog: the upcoming Call of Duty posts won’t write themselves, and I’ve got an eye on Koe no Katachi, which I may write about later in June as time permits.

In Hong Kong, on the other hand, my wonder and amazement gave way to a sense of familiarity and belonging, being a world of difference from Japan. Although I am naturally most at home in Canada, my background means that if there were a place in the world that feels to me like a second home, Hong Kong would be it. Making my way around Hong Kong is remarkably straightforwards: the MTR allows one to reach almost anywhere in Hong Kong quickly, and on Victoria Island, a tram links the island’s eastern and western reaches together. Finding directions and ordering food is as straightforward as it is back home. The incredible contrast between Japan and Hong Kong was thus another aspect of this vacation I enjoyed greatly. Aside from visiting attractions in Hong Kong, such as the Observation Wheel in Central and the Antique Street in the mid-levels, I spent a considerable amount of time with family there, as well as browsing through their shopping centres. Dim Sum was invariably to be had when visiting family and friends, as were large evening meals, although there were some evenings where we dined out at smaller establishments, too. With this vacation now over, I leave feeling refreshed, a bit more learned, and will definitely anticipate a return trip at some point in the future. For the present, as a part of returning to my typical routine outside of writing Swift 3.1 code and architecting apps, I will be easing back into the swing of things for blogging, as well as reading through the various Your Name books I picked up, playing Battlefield 1 and generally making the most of what is shaping up to be a fabulous entry into yet another beautiful summer.

Kouko Nosa in a Pinch!?- High School Fleet (Hai-Furi) OVA Part Two Review and Reflection

“‘…and the sea will grant each man new hope, as sleep brings dreams of home.’ Christopher Columbus.”
“Welcome to the New World, Captain.”

— Captain Ramius and Jack Ryan, The Hunt For Red October

After relaying her concerns to Mashiro and Akeno, Kouko is tasked with gathering everyone in the Harekaze class for a general assembly. Rather than idling while waiting for the deadline, Kouko decides to initiate a petition to save the Harekaze, and sets out to find her classmates at their usual hangouts. From the conversations shared by the various classmates, all of the students are troubled by their purported situation and sign onto Kouko’s petition, which also doubles to restore her spirits. On the day before their sealed orders can be opened, the Harekaze’s crew put on a festival with the hope of raising more awareness to the cause with help from Moeka and Wilhelmina’s fellow classmates. Despite a slow start, the festival sees a large number of attendees who sign onto the petition. Their event is successful, with their petition gathering a large number of signatures, and on the morning the students are permitted to open their orders, the Harekaze’s crew learn that they are to remain together under Akeno’s command, operating the Okikaze, a new vessel outfitted with operational gear from the Harekaze. Principal Munetani remarks to Akeno that the vessel can be re-designated the Harekaze, and with their new home in order, Akeno sets sail on their next adventure together with her classmates. Thus, the second of the Hai-Furi OVAs comes to a close, wrapping up in a manner that was quite welcomed even if it was foreseeable.

In spite of the melancholy ending of its precursor, the second of the Hai-Furi OVAs manages to maintain a very cheerful atmosphere. Kouko’s fears from the previous OVA turned out to have been from confirmation bias, and my speculation turned out quite close to the actual events — I had suggested that teamwork could make up a large portion of the second OVA and would result in the crew working towards bringing back the Harekaze by repairing the original vessel. Although not true in its entirety (the original Harekaze is destined to be scrapped), the Harekaze is reborn and brought back in a manner of speaking. The events of the OVA continue to build on the thematic aspects seen in the TV series, and serve a twofold purpose. The strength of the bonds amongst the Harekaze’s crew allow them to now function quite cohesively, and their faith in Akeno as a captain only serves to augment their capability. Far from being the ship that was home to the misfits, the Harekaze’s students have proven time and time again that they can pull through together to get the job done. This is not diminished even with the revelation that the Harekaze’s crew would not be disbanded: the implications were that, petition or not, their exemplary actions are worthy of praise and noticed by their command. There was never any threat or risk that they would be disbanded; how the girls responded to circulating rumours merely serves to reiterate the points raised in Hai-Furi‘s original run.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I’ve been noticing a great deal of inbound searches for the second Hai-Furi OVA, so as stipulated, here I am writing the discussion for the second Hai-Furi OVA. Like the previous Hai-Furi OVA post, I will feature thirty screenshots fresh from the OVA, which released on BD on May 24. Despite Kouko’s entering the OVA with a subdued mood, it appears that a combination of a night’s sleep and a conversation with Mashiro, who promises to inform Akeno, lightens her up sufficiently so that she’s back up to her usual self.

  • Still inundated with paperwork, Akeno is given an update, and Mashiro reluctantly decides to help her finish. Armed with fresh resolve, she begins filling out the smaller forms at a faster pace. It’s been a shade under a week since I flew back home from Hong Kong now, and while time has resumed moving at breakneck pace since I returned to work, I was quite happy to take the vacation that I did; time flowed a little more slowly, allowing me to really enjoy the moment and take in the sights and sounds of a world away from home.

  • With a few days left until their sealed orders can be opened, Kouko shares a bold plan with Megumi and Tsugumi, intending to create a petition to convey the feelings that she and her classmates have regarding the Harekaze. Kouko references Tōgō’s actions from the Battle of Tsushima, where he ordered his fleet into a U-turn to take the same course as the Russian vessels they were engaging, at the same time preventing the Russians from launching broadside volleys. While the Japanese fleet sustained hits from the Russian ships, the Japanese gunners returned fire, hammering the Russian ships and managed to sink the Oslyabya, a Russian vessel.

  • At Tsushima, the Russians lost all of the battleships and suffered a loss that was quite shocking to the rest of the world. Kouko is referring to this battle here, to continue with a difficult course owing to the long-term outcome, and sets in motion the idea of a petition to save the Harekaze. The Battle of Tsushima was the turning point in the Russo-Japanese war and reaffirmed to the British that large caliber weapons would be instrumental to naval combat. This way of thinking precipitated the creation of larger battleships, and the belief in the battleship’s might endured until the Second World War.

  • I note that searching for the “Tougou Turn” as it appears is not too instructive: it turns up some music videos. Conversely, using “Tōgō” in place of “Tougou” brings up the Battle of Tsushima, which is more relevant to the discussion at hand. The gunnery team is initially open to the idea of a transfer to a different ship, relishing the idea of firing more powerful weapons, but their friendship with one another draw them back, coupled with the prospect of giving up having Akeno as a captain, lead them to reconsider. They sign Kouko’s petition.

  • A visit to the engineers results in additional signatures being added to Kouko’s petition. I’ve seen several forms of spelling for the character names around the ‘net – each character has a nickname, as well, and most venues for anime discussion prefer the nicknames because they are faster to type. Kouko is thus referred to as Coco. Having said this, I prefer referring to the characters by their given name: this did lead to some challenges earlier on, where I was mixing up Shima and Tama to be different people.

  • Elsewhere, Shima and Mei continue on with their own game. While Mei has consistently schooled Shima during the previous OVA and appears to be dominating the game here, Shima manages to turn the tables on her in a hilarious moment. I’m not sure if this was a budgetary constraint or a stylistic choice, but some of the backgrounds in the Hai-Furi OVAs appear to be done in the style of a watercolour painting. While there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this, it does appear a little out of place compared with the other backgrounds, which are more consistent in style.

  • While signing a petition certainly won’t alter one’s physical appearance or likely improve their grades, Kouko manages to inspire the Navigation team to sign the petition. They had been the most visibly shaken by the news in the previous episode: it took all of Kouko’s willpower to assuage their fears without bursting into tears herself, but here, the total of Kouko’s dialogue, music and lighting seem to be insinuating to audiences that their so-called dissolution might not be what it appears, and for a supposedly-serious situation, the Hai-Furi OVA’s second half is surprisingly laid-back in emotional tenour.

  • High spirits in spite of what appears to be sobering news dominates the second Hai-Furi OVA’s first half. In the time since the first half aired, I’ve been keeping an eye on the Hai-Furi official Twitter, where build-up to the OVAs have been presented every so often. Since the OVA aired, their channel has gone quiet, and I remark that discussions surrounding both OVAs have been surprisingly minimal, with only one claim that stands out: that the first OVA was “…probably weaker than any other episode of the main series”. Such remarks can only come from a mindset that OVAs are generally frivolous, and such a belief is incorrect especially for things like Girls und Panzer and Hai-Furi.

  • The rationale for my position, that OVAs can be enjoyable and offer insights into characters, is that OVAs that are light-hearted relative to their TV counterparts provide opportunity to explore another side of the characters to more fully flesh them out. Seeing characters out of their duties and observing their interactions in a more relaxed environment, if done properly (which Hai-Furi has) can also serve to reinforce thematic elements in a show. It is for this reason that I am so fond of OVAs, and here, the navigation team continue on their photoshoot with Machiko as their subject, although their ploy to draw the crowd’s interest is unsuccessful, prompting Kouko to move on.

  • Encountering Kaede near the harbour again, Kouko learns that Kaede was contemplating leaving briefly to attend an Opera Ball, a social event where debutantes present their eligibility for marriage. She has no plans to leave long-term, at least, not until her education is complete at age eighteen, meaning that Kouko’s assumptions in the previous episode are false. With more indicators that her concerns might not come to fruition, the overall tone in the OVA shifts subtly as Kouko continues on her quest.

  • Aspects of Kaede and her aristocratic background, represents a fine example of where an OVA is able to present aspects of characters the TV series itself is not able to. Similarly, we’ve seen very little of Tsugumi and Megumi in the series proper, so giving them a bit more screentime in the OVA allows audiences to appreciate that the Harekaze’s crew are a unique, diverse group. This is why it is not always appropriate to hastily dismiss OVAs, being the rationale for why I myself enjoy anime OVAs to the extent that I do. It is also here that I remark that Megumi looks a bit like Da Capo Second Season‘s Aisia, a magician-in-training whose resolute belief in magic being used for the good of all precipitates the events of Da Capo Second Season‘s later segments.

  • I finished watching Da Capo and Da Capo Second Season a year ago. While quite unremarkable with respect to story and concept in its anime incarnation, Da Capo and its second season did manage to nail the unusual atmosphere surrounding Hatsunejima. Similarly, I rather liked Nemu Asakura and Kotori Shirakawa. My interest in Da Capo came from me coming across a collection of CooRie songs a friend had sent me years ago, and I decided to see the anime that made use of Akatsuki ni Saku Uta as its ending song. I don’t see enough positives in Da Capo or its second season to recommend, hence the lack of a review. Back in Hai-Furi, Kouko encounter Minami, obtains her signature for their petition and learns that she enjoys the hover-board because it mimics the rise and fall of the sea.

  • The Harekaze’s crew put on a grandoise festival in order to raise awareness for their cause, and despite the amount of effort they’ve put in (even recruiting Moeka and Wilhelmina to assist), the day is off to a slow start with low attendee numbers. Disappointment reigns supreme, but things quickly turn around when Akeno shows up – the profound change in morale amongst the students is nothing short of remarkable.

  • Stepping into the open-air stage, Akeno and Moeka perform a live song that turns things around: although her role in the OVAs has been primarily restricted to dealing with paperwork while Kouko’s been out and about, she now carries with her the same presence as Miho of Girls und Panzer, as well as the great heroes from Lord of the Rings: when folks like Aragorn, Legolas or Gimli stepped onto the battlefield, characters and audiences alike knew that the situation would be well in hand as extraordinary folk went to work. The similarities between Miho and Akeno are noticeable: both are capable leaders who believe in leading by example, each motivated by an event in their past, and over time, earn the respect of their classmates with their actions.

  • Following the live concert performance, attendance at the festival skyrockets, and the Harekaze curry being sold is depleted. Other students step up to the plate and bring in supplies to make festival foods such as takoyaki and okonomiyaki, and all sorts of things, like, such as that. During my last day in Japan, at the Kansai International Airport, I had Botejyu’s seafood okonomiyaki – an authentic taste of Tamayura, it was absolutely delicious, featuring succulent prawns and cuttlefish in a flavourful batter, topped with a hearty sauce. I subsequently explored the airport’s shopping outlets and purchased the Kimi no na wa movie guide while waiting for baggage check-in to open.

  • It’s been a week since my final day in Hong Kong, which I spent shopping at Taikoo Shing Cityplaza. I came across Ian Lambot and Greg Girard “City of Darkness”, running for about 110 CAD. Tempted though I was to buy it, the book was very bulky and would have presented considerable challenges to bring in my carry-on. We stopped for lunch at a Pizza Hut at Cityplaza, ordering a Seafood pizza (scallops, prawns and pineapple toppings with a sausage-cheese crust), before continuing to explore Hong Kong University and Central. The evening was rounded out with a family dinner. At present day, a week after returning to routine, I enjoyed another family dinner at the T. Pot China Bistro much closer to home: the Cantonese cuisine back home is of the same standard of that in Hong Kong, being of an excellent quality. Elements inspired by Vietnamese, Thai and Canadian elements make their way into dishes here: our dinner tonight encompassed wonton soup, sweet and sour pork, roast crispy chicken, yi mein and shrimps in a savory sauce.

  • Back in Hai-Furi, Hiromi, Kouko and Maron admire a fireworks display rounding off their festival; despite a sluggish opening, combined efforts from everyone make the event an unqualified success. Numerous signatures are gathered as attendees visit to enjoy Akeno and Moeka’s singing, the curry and other festival foods. The effort the Harekaze’s crew places into the festival move the attendees, prompting them to sign Kouko’s petition, allowing them to accrue a large number of signatures.

  • Later that evening, Akeno, Mashiro and Kouko carry the signatures to their superior officers, resolute on illustrating that they do not wish to go separate ways with a crew that has accomplished so much during a crisis. The course of this meeting is not shown, although it is not unreasonable to suppose that their higher-ups will simply commend them on their resolve, tell them to leave the petition with them and that a decision will be reached in the morning, when everyone is finally cleared to open their sealed envelopes.

  • The skies are pleasant on this June day when everyone assembles. The atmosphere is tense as the Harekaze’s crew await the instructions allowing them to open their documents. While certainly not something I would recommend or personally do, there is a way to open adhesive-sealed envelopes in a reasonably difficult-to-trace manner. The process is quite simple and was used in Tom Clancy’s Threat Vector: place the envelope in a freezer for around an hour, and carefully cut at the interface where the sealant is with a sharp knife. Cooling makes the sealant brittle, allowing it to be cut without tearing the paper. Once the document is inspected, re-sealing the envelope is as simple as letting the envelope thaw.

  • When the order is issued, each of the Harekaze’s crew apprehensively open their letters, learning they are to be transferred to a new vessel. Seemingly confirming Kouko’s fears, it turns out that she, and everyone else present, is to be moving to the vessel Y-469. These are transfer orders as Wilhelmina had predicted, but far from what Kouko was expecting – everyone is moving together into a new vessel after the Harekaze was found to have sustained excessive damage, and as such, will be sticking together as a class. Principal Munetani and other members in command have found the Harekaze’s actions to be commendable, and impressed with their abilities as a team, permits them to stick together.

  • Kouko’s relief and happiness is written all over her expression here; it’s a beautiful sight to behold. Because the sealed envelopes had been printed and issued well before Kouko was aware of their existence, it would appear that the Harekaze’s crew were never in any risk of being separated from one another. A secondary theme in the Hai-Furi OVAs, then, is that there are occasions when fear of bad news drives individuals to worry needlessly, and that it might have been to simply wait for the news before making any decisions. With this being said, had Kouko acted as common sense might dictate, there would have been no Hai-Furi OVA to enjoy.

  • Designated Okikaze (literally “Flourishing Wind”), Akeno climbs into the bridge of the vessel Y-469 and finds Garfield Isoroku sitting on the instruments. She realises that all of the equipment is familiar, right down to the binoculars, compass, wheel and fire control systems: the other bridge crew marvel at this seeming miracle, as well, feeling as though they are reuniting with an old friend after a long separation.

  • Elsewhere on board the Y-469, the different crews make similar discoveries in that much of the Harekaze’s equipment seems to have been transferred wholesale onto the new vessel. From the engine room to navigation and everywhere in between, familiar traces of home are found. What the girls are feeling is probably best approximated with the real-world analogue of restoring a new iPad or iPhone to a backup after an accident that totals one’s older device. Thanks to iCloud backups, users can rapidly restore data and settings to new devices should they lose an older device, and in this day and age, our data’s value grows to be much more valuable than the physical device itself.

  • Mikan Irako, the Harekaze’s head cook, hugs her beloved rice cooker upon learning that it has been restored and placed in the Y-469’s galley. The rice cooker was one of the first items to be listed in the damage report, being dented during the skirmish in the first episode, and became the subject of no small discussion. I remarked that the rice cooker should still work, since its walls did not appear to be compromised, but discussions elsewhere were much lengthier. To see this reaction from Mikan is a reminder that Hai-Furi does pay attention to the details in its characters, and I smiled at this moment.

  • Outside, the weapons team admires their vessel’s 15 cm SK C/28, an upgrade from the 12.7 cm/50 Type 3 naval gun the Harekaze originally ran with. This weapon was originally fit to Fubuki-class destroyers, and on the note of Fubuki and destroyers, I’ve heard unverified rumours that KanColle: The Movie will see a home release on August 30. I felt that the anime, for all of its impressive visual effects and masterpiece of a soundtrack, did not compel me to try Kantai Collection or move me with its story. Having said that, I am still interested to see what the movie is like, and I might drop by to review this movie as time permits.

  • Back on the bridge, Principal Munetani explains that Y-469, Orikaze, was a new vessel laid down and intended to be an addition to the fleet, but in light of circumstances, they took the unfinished vessel and fitted its interior with equipment from the Harekaze. This course of action suggests that the original Harekaze’s internal structures must have sustained extensive damage beyond repair even if the hull appeared to have been damaged minimally. She allows Akeno to re-christian the Y-469 as the Harekaze, and if there is to be a continuation of Hai-Furi, I will refer to Y-469 as Harekaze II on account of all of the trials the original Harekaze went through.

  • In a cruel bit of irony, Moeka is taken aside for reprimand, having been involved with a matter she was unauthorised to deal with. One would imagine that the repercussions are not too severe in nature: its military setting and unexpected narrative direction notwithstanding, Hai-Furi is, at its best, a tale of human team spirit and cooperation. Something more severe would not be consistent with the message that Hai-Furi has aimed to send since its plot began to materialise in Hai-Furi‘s televised run.

  • In life, folks win some, and they lose some; today, Akeno and her friends win some, big time. Here, the bridge crew prepare to take the Harekaze II on a test run. This is the end of the two Hai-Furi OVAs, and my final verdict is that I enjoyed them, as they add a bit more to the characters that were not frequently seen during Hai-Furi itself. The OVAs are definitely worth watching for that reason, and a new Harekaze opens the possibility for new adventures. It seemed a shame to waste a finely-crafted world, and if Hai-Furi goes down the same route as Brave Witches, a continuation could prove worthwhile to watch.

  • In news quite unrelated to Hai-Furi, it turns out that my preorder for Your Name‘s novel incarnation, which was set for release on May 23, arrived on May 16, a full week before the release date. It speaks to Canada Post’s efficiency and just how on their game that Chapters-Indigo is for deliveries. As we move into the final few days of May, the biggest posts on the horizon will deal with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. I finished the game today, and will be looking to write a final impressions post on it, plus some reflections on Modern Warfare Remastered in the new future. As for anime-related posts, the largest planned post is a revisitation of Garden of Words: it will have been four years since I watched it, and I do wish to look at this film again before diving into a full-scale discussion of Your Name come July.

The second of two OVAs is now in the books, and was an enjoyable addition to Hai-Furi. I have remarked that the outcomes are predictable; there was never any doubt that Kouko and her classmates would be separated, especially with their previous role in saving the Musashi in mind. However, I place less emphasis on the outcome and more on the journey taken, so seeing the events of this second Hai-Furi OVA unfold and progress was most entertaining. More so than the first OVA, this OVA portrays the commitment and unity shared universally amongst the Harekaze’s crew. To see them take the initiative and, within legal bounds, do what they can to save their vessel was admirable. To see the entire crew unify and undergo a dramatic improvement in morale when Akeno appears was moving — this is the mark of a good leader, to be able to single-handedly lift spirits simply by making an appearance. Viewers are given an opportunity to see Akeno sing when she performs a song for her classmates and the festival’s attendees with Moeka. With all of these elements in mind, one must wonder about what a continuation could entail; a Tweet from the official Hai-Furi Twitter account strongly hints at a future project, stating that “Planning and policies for various projects are under way. Please look forward to it”. While we’ve heard little since then, having Hai-Furi go through a more involved narrative, possibly featuring a plot to destroy the Blue Mermaids, and the Harekaze’s involvement in thwarting this scheme, could definitely be something that I would be interested to watch.