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Suzume no Tojimari: A Reflection on the Preview and Remarks on Expectation Management

“Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection.” –Kim Collins

Suzume Iwato is a high school girl who lives in a small town in Kyūshū. After a harrowing dream one morning, she sets off for school, only to encounter a young man along the way. He explains that he’s looking for ruins, and Suzume points him towards an abandoned hot springs town located over the next valley. Intrigued by the man’s presence, Suzume decides to cut class and explore the ruins. Here, she finds a mysterious door that seemingly leads to a vast field under a star-filled sky. After opening it and becoming frustrated by her inability to pass through, Suzume encounters a stone cat that unexpectedly comes to life, and decides that this is enough adventure for one day. She returns to class just in time for lunch, but after a minor earthquake hits, Suzume is shocked to see what appears to be smoke from a fire. Perturbed that none of her classmates seem to be able to see the smoke, she decides to head back to the ruins. Here, she finds the man attempting to close the door: a malevolent energy is pouring through it, resisting his attempts to shut it. Suzume lends the man her strength, and this gives him enough time to summon a key that locks the door. This is about the gist of what happens in the first twelve minutes of Makoto Shinkai’s latest movie, which follows Suzume and the traveller, Sōta Munakata, as they travel across Japan to seal off the doors that appear across the nation, setting off a string of disasters. Along the way, Suzume’s experiences drive her own growth, giving her the strength for her to be herself. Suzume no Tojimari‘s themes appear to lie in managing the aftermath of calamity and how a human connection is instrumental in this process, similarly to how Your Name and Weathering With You had both incorporated a natural disaster piece into its story. However, standing in stark contrast with its predecessors, which were set in Tokyo, Suzume no Tojimari‘s setting is in southern Japan.

The change in location represents a shift in atmosphere, and in conjunction with the character design and a more visceral portrayal of the supernatural, Suzume no Tojimari appears to lean more towards the aesthetic that Children Who Chase Lost Voices took; Shinkai’s 2011 film had portrayed Asuna’s journey to Agartha, where she had learnt more about accepting death in a fantastical world that, while majestic, was also quite empty and devoid of life. In this way, Children Who Chase Lost Voices spoke to the price that defying the natural order commanded in a ambitious and visually stunning tale. Subsequently, Shinkai returned his stories into the real world, and while supernatural elements are present to subtly move the needle, his films following Children Who Chase Lost Voices have been decidedly more grounded in reality, establishing this by using a familiar environment in Tokyo to convey that the characters’ experiences came first and foremost. While this was especially effective in The Garden of Words and Your Name, by Weathering With You, the approach felt comparatively derivative. The choice to set Suzume no Tojimari in a rural setting thus creates the exciting possibility that Shinkai is once again testing new waters in his latest film; Suzume no Tojimari is stated to portray a journey around Japan, and in this way, this allows the art team to really showcase a variety of places and utilise them to convey emotions and thoughts in ways that Tokyo alone cannot. Consequently, there is much excitement in Suzume no Tojimari: incorporating learnings and successful approaches (i.e. a fantastical setting) from Children Who Chase Lost Voices into a story that has aspects from Your Name (older characters with more agency and a wider range of settings, with a moving story of separation and reunion) could produce a film that stands out from its predecessors.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Suzume no Tojimari began production in early 2020, and while production remained relatively in impacted by the global health crisis, the pandemic’s effect on society was integrated into the movie, which begins with Suzume experiencing a very visceral nightmare. From what the opening shows, Suzume lost her mother and is living with her aunt. The sharp contrast between the dream world and Suzume’s everyday life is pronounced, bringing to mind the opening scenes of Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness. With Multiverse of Madness as precedence, it becomes clear that the post-apocalyptic world Suzume dreams about will feature prominently.

  • For the time being, this preview portrays the normalcy in Suzume’s world: it is remarkably difficult to gauge a character from just a few minutes on screen, but she feels like a more confident version of Mitsuha whose life is unremarkable. On this morning, she rides her bike down to school with a smile on her face, and the road leading down this path offers a stunning view of the ocean. Her usual routine is interrupted when she spots a fellow on the road, and when she stops to speak to him, he explains that he’s looking for some ruins. The preview never names him, but he’s Sōta Munakata and bears a resemblance to Children Who Chase Lost Voices‘ Shun.

  • I’ve always felt that, of Shinkai’s movies, Children Who Chase Lost Voices is one of his most underappreciated films. While this movie represents a major departure from his usual style, it was able to convey its messages in an effective manner. Two common misconceptions surrounding Shinkai’s movies are that they’re at their best when endings are ambiguous and open, and that his films all suggest that loneliness is an inevitable part of life, and one can, at most, only hope to cope with it. These misconceptions stems from Anime News Network declaring that Five Centimetres per Second was about unrequited love and loneliness being “realistically” portrayed, since it had coincidentally lined up with their own writers’ belief that no amount of effort led to happiness.

  • Misconceptions like these are why I continue to say that people shouldn’t place so much stock in Anime News Network’s opinions of things; Shinkai’s stories, while scaled up to be more fantastical and dramatic, ultimately speak to lessons applicable in everyday life, and for better or worse, Anime News Network’s writers don’t exactly have the best track record of picking up on these elements. Thus, when Anime News Network publishes their Suzume no Tojimari review in the next few days, it goes without saying that it should most definitely be not taken at face value because the reviewer is unlikely to be actively looking out for Shinkai’s intentions.

  • I concede that any work of fiction is open to interpretation, but at least for me, it’s always important to understand the author’s intentions behind their work. When a reviewer decides their interpretation of a work supersedes even that of the author’s, and they’re writing to a publication that’s considered as reputable, this can have the potential to negatively impact a work for a long time after its screening. Returning to the example with Five Centimetres per Second, Anime News Network’s interpretations were copy-pasted to Wikipedia, claiming the film was about how people are powerless to shape their circumstances and must endure loneliness and separation as a result. Since Wikipedia is widely read, this became the de facto interpretation people accept of the film.

  • The companion novel and side stories both clarify that the problem Takaki faced was because he felt like everything was always outside his control, from him being forced to separate with Akari, to how his first job had punishing deadlines and occasionally, how management made his tasks more difficult. After he quits his first software job and goes freelance, he’s at peace: he’s most certainly not pining for Akari, but rather, was frustrated by a lack of agency. So, when he does the walk and thinks he encounters Akari again, he’s happy because he was able to fulfil his old promise and he knows it’s his call to now turn around and keep moving on in his life.

  • Because Shinkai clarifies his position through the companion novel and side stories, one can easily work out that Five Centimetres per Second does have a happy ending; it’s not a “happily ever after”, but for viewers, knowing that Takaki has found the agency in his life to take charge is an encouraging thought. Shinkai’s later movies follow a similar pattern; his characters might experience loneliness, but the idea that Shinkai wants to say that loneliness is all-consuming and final is untrue. Indeed, Your Name and Weathering With You both have happy endings, and assuming this trend holds true, Suzume no Tojimari will likely end on a similarly positive note.

  • Intrigued by the young man she’s met, Suzume ends up heading back up the hill for an abandoned onsen village. She runs into one of the buildings, and ends up calling out for the young man, only to wonder what on earth she’s doing. I don’t think Mitsuha ever wore such an expression on her face in Your Name; when Taki was inhabiting her body, Mitsuha became more expressive and bold, but as herself, Mitsuha was a bit more reserved. Strong, confident characters are a recent element in Shinkai’s movies, and I’ve found his works to be all the more enjoyable for it; his earliest works rendered female characters as sublime, abstract beings.

  • Until recently, the mysterious door in a derelict building was the only bit of imagery viewers had surrounding Suzume no Tojimari. Doors have been used extensively in literature to represent a transition, or a passage from one world to the next. More optimistic works have doors symbolising choice, while in a more restrictive scenario, doors also denote exclusion or boundaries. It’s still a little early to do an in-depth look at things, but the supernatural nature of these doors, coupled with the fact that they’re gateways to other worlds, and the fact that a malevolent energy originates from these worlds, I would hazard a guess that Shinkai is using doors to visually denote boundaries.

  • Owing to how they’re presented in Suzume no Tojimari, doors probably would suggest that Shinkai sees disaster as something that seems like it “only happens to someone else”, but once the boundaries are broken, and one finds themselves on the doorstep of calamity (pun intended), it can become remarkably difficult to prevent a bad situation from worsening. The first twelve minutes of Suzume no Tojimari speak to this process. When Suzume opens the door for the first time, she’s curious about the world the doorway seemingly leads to, for it is the same place she’d dreamt of earlier that day.

  • However, the door doesn’t allow her to pass through it, regardless of her efforts. When people read about disasters, it is similarly difficult to appreciate just how devastating and far-reaching the consequences are. Because these impacts can seem quite far removed from one’s everyday life, it’s easy to forget about them and go on with one’s life. Suzume ends up leaving the door open when she leaves the spot, confused both by the unusual phenomenon and a stone cat that unexpectedly appears and transmogrifies into a living form when Suzume picks it up.

  • As an experienced writer and producer, Shinkai doesn’t introduce elements unless they’re going to serve a purpose later down the line. After Suzume notices the stone statue at her feet and picks it up, she finds that it’s extremely cold to the touch, but it thaws in her hands shortly after and even comes to life. Cats and beings similar to cats are a common aspect of Shinkai’s works. Shinkai uses cats to act as guardians of sorts: She and Her Cat‘s Chobi falls in love with his owner and does his utmost to look after her, while in Children Who Chase Lost Voices, Mimi guides Asuna through Agartha until his life expires.

  • It therefore stands to reason that the cat-like being Suzume finds here in Suzume no Tojimari will serve a similar role, although on their first meeting, Suzume is completely shocked and chucks it away in terror. As Shinkai’s films evolved, I’ve found that his female leads have become much more expressive and multi-dimensional. Mitsuha wore a far greater range of facial expressions and had more emotions than Five Centimetres per Second‘s Akari, and these characters become much more human as a result, making it easier to connect to their experiences.

  • When the scene pulls back to a wider shot of the door, the real-time lighting effects can be seen, and I find myself wondering if Shinkai’s team is using real-time ray-tracing in their animation to pull off some tricks, or if everything is done either by hand, or older rendering techniques; using ray-tracing would help in cutting down some work for 3D scenes, since things like shadows and light interactions with different surfaces would be handled by the computer in real time. For viewers, since everything ends up being a video, it is fortunate that all one needs is a decent video decoder to play back the result: I can only imagine the sort of discontent in the anime community if the requirements for watching a home release copy of Suzume no Tojimari was an RTX 3060 or 6600XT.

  • After an eventful morning, Suzume finally shows up at school. Seeing her interact with her friends shows that, like Taki and Mitsuha, Suzume has people in her corner, standing in contrast with Hodaka, who was a runaway and arrived in Tokyo alone. However, when Suzume spots something unusual outside, and her friends fail to see anything out of the ordinary, her friends begin to wonder if she’s alright. I imagine that interacting with the phenomenon may have made her aware of the impending disaster, and with the phenomenon becoming more prominent by the minute, Suzume runs off.

  • Suzume no Tojimari‘s soundtrack is jointly composed by RADWIMPS and Kazuma Jinnouchi: the latter had previously worked on the music in Ghost in the ShellRWBY and Star Wars: Visions. RADWIMPS’ compositions resemble the music they’d previously provided for Your Name and Weathering With You, whereas Jinnouchi’s pieces sound like they’d belong in a historical drama and at times, have aural elements that evoke memories of Yūki Yūna is a Hero. The contrast between the two styles creates a much richer collection of incidental music, capturing a wide range of emotions and feelings accompanying each scene.

  • The effects here in Suzume no Tojimari remind me a great deal of Agame from Misaki no Mayoiga; in that film there’d been a mythological component that was built out into the story, but it always did feel like a tangential piece until near the film’s climax. Here in Suzume no Tojimari, the idea of a supernatural force triggering calamities is introduced right out of the gates to emphasise that it has a much larger role here. However, without a bit more context, I would prefer to see how Suzume no Tojimari unfolds, rather than speculate on things made on assumptions drawn from this preview.

  • Upon returning to the abandoned structure at the heart of the old onsen village, Suzume finds Sōta there, doing his utmost to close the door that had opened. The moment is a perilous one and speaks to the stakes within this film; Your Name and Weathering With You had progressed more slowly, but Children Who Chase Lost Voices had Asuna experience danger early on in the film after she meets Shin and ends up coming face to face with a paramilitary force tasked with finding the entrance to Agartha. Because of how things have unfolded in Suzume no Tojimari‘s first twelve minutes, I am going to guess that Suzume no Tojimari will resemble Children Who Chase Lost Voices in some way.

  • Because I only have twelve minutes of insight, it’s hard to say whether or not Suzume no Tojimari will make extensive use of Japanese mythology. I’ve long felt that such aspects should only be present to enhance the viewer’s experience, and for folks who don’t have familiarity with these areas, a given work shouldn’t punish them. Not everyone agrees with this: AnimeSuki’s Verso Sciolto, for instance, believed that a deep knowledge of Japanese mythology, folklore and culture were needed to enjoy Shinkai’s movies, but ended up being wrong on all counts.

  • Owing to Shinkai’s past successes, I would imagine that publishers will want to keep Suzume no Tojimari in theatres for as long as possible. Both Your Name and Weathering With You saw their respective home releases come out a full eleven months after their theatrical première, so the next time I write about this film will be in October of next year. The twelve minute preview represents about ten percent of Suzume no Tojimari‘s full runtime, and while it, fortuitously, does not spoil any events late into the movie, acts as a fantastic way to give prospective viewers a glimpse of what’s upcoming and establish what’s about to go down. Readers have my word that I will, to the best of my ability, return to right about this movie once the home release becomes available.

While the strength of Suzume no Tojimari‘s thematic elements and character growth remains to be seen (a twelve minute trailer isn’t enough to gain a measure of how well-written and cohesive the narrative is), the preview also shows that Shinkai’s craft remains impressive. Water remains a central motif in Shinkai’s films, and right out of the gates, is used to create a sense of surrealism, as well as showcase the improvements in real-time reflections. Ruins and abandonments provide a chance to illustrate overgrowth and decay of human constructs in vivid detail, in addition to demonstrating illumination effects like volumetric lighting and dynamic shadows. Shinkai’s films have developed a reputation for being visual spectacles that stand among some of the finest in the industry, and as the technology improves with his studio’s craft, Shinkai will be able to do more. The visual fidelity in his films is one of the main reasons why I’m so keen on Shinkai exploring a greater range of settings: having already established that Tokyo looks amazing with The Garden of Words, Your Name and Weathering With You, I’ve long been curious to see how other regions of Japan (and potentially, the world) would look if given the Makoto Shinkai treatment. The ceiling remains limitless, and on this note, it would be fantastic for Shinkai to return to the science fiction and thriller genres in a future work, as well. In the meantime, with Suzume no Tojimari‘s theatrical première in Japan, I expect that the film will see an international release in the new year. I do not anticipate watching it in local theatres owing to the fact that nine out of ten times, the screenings will be scheduled in way that’s inconvenient for myself, but once the home releases become available, I will definitely make an effort to watch the film and share my thoughts on it. This is estimated to be eleven months away, so in the meantime, I will be turning my attention to another anime film that recently released.

Tenki no Ko: Remarks on the new Makoto Shinkai Film announced for July 2019

“This is a story about a secret world only she and I know. That day, we changed the shape of the world forever.” –Movie Tagline

Amidst the runaway success of Kimi no Na Wa, Makoto Shinkai found himself staring at a towering white cumulonimbus, standing out against the vivid blue of a summer’s sky on a hot August day. The massive thunderhead’s flattened top resembled an island, and Shinkai thought, what if this was a world of its own? This is how Tenki no Ko (天気の子, Weathering With You in English, literally “Children of the Weather”) came into being: Makoto Shinkai’s latest film, Tenki no Ko follows Hodaka Morishima, a high school student who moves to Tokyo and finds that his finances are quickly consumed. He eventually takes up a position as a writer for an obscure and objectionable occult magazine. However, shortly after accepting this job, the weather in Tokyo becomes monotonously rainy. Amidst the endless activity in Tokyo, Hodaka encounters Hina Amano, an optimistic and dependable girl who lives with her brother. Beyond her cheerful manner lies her ability to clear the skies. At least, this is what the synopsis for Tenki no Ko is, and recently, a trailer was released, detailing the animation and artwork viewers can expect from Tenki no Ko. Standing in contrast with Shinkai’s previous works, which have colourful, vividly detailed and cheerful backgrounds, Tenki no Ko features much drearier, dilapidated settings in its trailer that resemble Hong Kong’s former Kowloon Walled City. Greys dominate the setting, which is covered with haphazard wiring, overgrowth and crumbling structures. Compared to the cleaner, cared-for settings of Kotonoha no Niwa and Kimi no Na Wa, Tenki no Ko conveys a more desolate setting, communicating ruin forgotten amongst a city’s endless drive for progress. However, shaft of golden light, breaking through gaps in the cloud, suggest an oasis of happiness surrounded by a sea of monotony, and so, in this trailer, Tenki no Ko hints that it is much more than being a mere film about youthful romance and fateful meetings.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The last time I wrote a preview for a Makoto Shinkai movie, it was three years ago, and I was entering the final term of my graduate studies. Kimi no Na Wa came out eight months later, and subsequently, it was an eleven month journey to the other side where I could finally watch and write about it. By comparison, Tenki no Ko‘s first trailer released precisely 100 days before its première date. It opens with closeups of details such as rain falling onto an umbrella, immediately setting the stage for what is to follow.

  • The choice of lighting, with greys, browns and tans dominating the Tokyo landscape, which is focused on older parts of the megalopolis, suggests that Tenki no Ko might be going in a slightly different direction. Each of Makoto Shinkai’s films stand out from one another despite being characterised by themes of distance, fateful encounters and the like; one possibility from the trailer is that themes of urban decay, abandonment and finding joy even among desolation come into play in Tenki no Ko. However, this scene also features a single shaft of light from the sun breaking through the clouds, suggesting that optimism and hope, also exist.

  • Hina maintains a small shrine on the roof of her building, which is evidently aging and overgrown with weeds. The scene feels more like something out of Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us, a book that longtime readers of this blog will have doubtlessly heard me reference multiple times. I am admittedly curious to see where the film will go with its direction, and the trailer does seem to set the tone for what kind of settings the movie will cover. However, I imagine that as we press further into the movie, more majestic and beautiful locations will also be seen.

  • The chaotic mass of pipes and wiring here remind me greatly of the Kowloon Walled City that existed in Hong Kong: after World War Two, there was a parcel of land in Hong Kong that officially belonged to China, but seeing as how the British and China would not accept administrative responsibility of the area, what was once a walled city and yamen turned into a site for the destitute. Since neither British nor Chinese law applied here, people escaped to the Walled City and constructed their own apartments and utilities. By 1990, the site was the most densely populated site in the world, with some 1.2 million inhabitants per square kilometre, and despite its fearsome reputation as a hotbed of crime, most of the residents lived their lives peacefully.

  • The short synopsis presently provides next to nothing in the way of what’s going to happen in Tenki no Ko, rather like how the body switching of Kimi no Na Wa was only a primer for the movie’s main story – this leaves the film quite free to explore most anything, and for this, I am very excited to see where Tenki no Ko will head. Here, we have a closer look at Hina; she bears little resemblance to Shinkai’s earlier characters, and is voiced by Nana Mori. One of the chief drawbacks about Shinkai’s older works were that his female leads seemed to be ethereal, angelic beings of perfection; by the events of Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below, his female characters become more nuanced and human, giving viewers more incentive to root for them.

  • Vegetable animals are a part of the Obon Festival: they usually take the form of a a horse made from cucumber and an ox made out of eggplant. These animals symbolise transport for ancestral spirits that return them to the realm of spirits, and traditionally, were put outside one’s door on the first day of Obon with incense. The last time I saw Obon vegetable animals was in Sora no Woto‘s seventh episode, where Kanata explains customs from her area. Emphasis on this suggests that life and death might also be a component of Tenki no Ko.

  • I’ve long expressed my displeasure that there are some out there who view Makoto Shinkai’s films as a justification for pressing the idea that extensive knowledge of the Man’yōshū and other aspects of Classical Japanese literature and folklore is required to fully appreciate his films. During Kimi no Na Wa‘s run, one unscrupulous fellow continued to peddle this idea, all the while putting down others for not “getting” the film to the same level as they did. While it is true that Shinkai incorporates classical elements into his works, these merely serve as analogies and allegories that enhance the story if noticed; the story is in no way diminished if one chooses not to account for these elements.

  • Tenki no Ko remains early in its reveal, and I’ve not seen discussions go in this direction as of yet: personally, I am confident that this film will be quite enjoyable, irrespective of one’s prior knowledge in Classical Japanese literature and folklore. It suddenly strikes me that the trailer’s release is much closer to the film’s actual release than was Kimi no Na Wa‘s, and a part of me wishes that Tenki no Ko will be similarly structured and released as Kotonoha no Niwa: with a shorter runtime of 45 minutes, Kotonoha no Niwa released in May 31, 2013 and became available for home release on June 21, 2013. This made the film exceptionally accessible.

  • The trailer depicts Hina flying through the skies, far above the tops of the thunderheads, which are tinged with green to evoke imagery of islands in the skies: the scenery here is used in the promotional artwork for Tenki no Ko and, while not as iconic as Comet Tiamat’s trail in Kimi no Na Wa, remains quite distinct and grand in scale. The film’s soundtrack will be performed by RADWIMPS, who make a triumphant return after composing and performing the excellent soundtrack for Kimi no Na Wa: the theme song for Tenki no Ko is Ai ni Dekiru koto wa Mada Arukai (“Is there still anything that love can do?”).

  • I am certain I will enjoy this movie, and hope that it’ll see a shorter delay in the gap between the theatrical première. With this being said, I am certain that certain review sites, like Anime News Network. will unnecessarily waste resources to see this movie for the singular purpose of pushing out a review first. Until the rest of the world gets to see the movie, I suggest that reviews appearing at Anime News Network, and anywhere else, should not be regarded as a credible assessment of the film. I realise that I’ve been writing considerably less as of late, as well: real life obligations has meant that I’ve less time to write in general these days. Having said this, I am definitely going to be offering my thoughts on Tenki no Ko once it is available, and in the near future, I am also doing a talk on I Want to Eat Your Pancreas, a solid film whose home release became available earlier this month.

Entering Tenki no Ko, expectations are high for a visually stunning film – the trailer and Shinkai’s past works set the precedence for what audiences can expect. From the glint of light on raindrops to flaking paint, dense, unkempt vegetation on a building’s rooftop and the enigmatic world above the clouds, Tenki no Ko will undoubtedly impress with Shinkai’s signature artwork and animation. The story remains unknown right now, and here, I will enter with an open mind – I recall that with Kimi no Na Wa, I expressed a want to see reduced romance in favour of exploring growth. The film delivered this, in a manner of speaking, but with the benefit of hindsight, I ended up eating my words. Tenki no Ko represents a familiar setup for Shinkai, but with a different premise, I look forwards to seeing what new directions the film can explore, especially with rain and its associated themes making a return in conjunction with a bit of magic that manifests in Hina’s ability to stop the rain. While perhaps nowhere nearly as potent as the Infinity Gauntlet, I look forwards to seeing how this ability will impact her and Hodaka’s growth. Aside from a more open mind, I also enter the long wait for Tenki no Ko with the understanding that this film could take a similarly long time to become available for English-speakers: with a release date of July 19, Tenki no Ko will likely see a home release in June 2020, ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, if it sees a strong box office performance. This wait is going to be a tricky one, although now that I am entering with the preparedness to endure a long wait, I can pursue other things while spoilers for Tenki no Ko become more commonplace – the Halo: Master Chief Collection looks to be more than acceptable a means of enjoying myself while we wait for the film to become available, and you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be vociferously griping about my inability to watch this film while I melt through the Covenant, Flood and Forerunner Prometheans alike.

Miporin no Etymology, and a preview of Girls und Panzer: Das Finale

“My chi is mad focused, yo.” —Tanker, Battlefield 3

This post is a double-feature — with the release of a new Girls und Panzer trailer for Girls und Panzer: Final Chapter, now appearing to be re-designated as Girls und Panzer: Das Finale, there is an opportunity to look at what Das Finale is looking to illustrate, as well as answer a long-standing question about Miho’s nickname, whose derivation and meaning has proven to be quite elusive. It is reasonably well-known that appending -rin to the end of someone’s name has an endearing quality to it, typically used by younger females to make something sound cuter. By this reasoning, Yukari becomes Yukarin, Kaori becomes Kaorin, et cetera. However, in Girls und Panzer, Saori refers to Miho as “Miporin”, and this seems to break the convention somewhat — porins are, after all, beta barrel proteins that cross membranes to act as a channel that molecules can diffuse across. Their large size allows molecules to freely move through them, including water, sugars and amino acids, and as an interesting aside, UC Berkley’s Hiroshi Nikaido is accredited with the discovery of and extensive research into porins, earning him the moniker “Porinologist”. While it might appear possible that Miho’s nickname stems from this unrelated field, the lack of intersection between Girls und Panzer and porin research means that there must be another explanation of how Miho’s nickname came about. As it turns out, the -ho (ほ) in Miho’s name has a rougher sound from a phonetic perspective, and applying the usual conversion, which would yield “Mihorin”, does not convey a sense of endearment. So, a modification using the handakuten (半濁点, lit. “half voicing mark”) is applied: ほ thus becomes ぽ, which in turns yields “Miporin” (みぽりん). As per its name, the handakuten creates a shorter sound that comes across as less harsh and results in a name that sounds more endearing. This is not unique to Miho: Shioho is similarly nicknamed “Shiporin” by Chiyo Shimada, her longtime friend and head of the Shimada School, and there’s a Japanese movie titled Miporin no ekubo (lit. “Miporin’s Dimple”). With this particular question about the origin and meaning behind Miho’s nickname addressed, we turn attention towards Girls und Panzer: Das Finale.

  • The title of this post is a play on words, albeit a very pathetic attempt at creating a clever title requiring some Japanese to pick up: if read from a purely English perspective, it would look very strange. For readers familiar with Japanese, the proper title for this post would be ”みぽりんの語源” (“Miporin no Gogen”, or “The etymology of Miporin”), but I figured that “etymology” is similar enough to “ekubo”, and since Google-Fu consistently turns up Miporin no Ekubo, I figured that I’d go for something in between.

  • Here’s a secret bit of trivia: Miho and Hana are my two most favourite characters from Girls und Panzer. Hana’s inherited the president’s position by the events of Das Finale, and here, a keyboard resembling Apple’s Magic Keyboard 2 can be seen on her desk. I’ve recently upgraded to a 2017 iMac at work to compile and build projects faster, finally allowing me to retire my early-2015 MacBook Pro from active service. The new machine’s been great, but I’m still getting used to the small size of the Magic Keyboard 2.

  • While the tank battles will certainly be a part of the attraction in Das Finale, the movie raised the bar considerably with the inclusion of late WWII-era armour to give Miho’s crew a credible challenge to best. I’ve long noted that strategy is probably a viable alternative to overwhelming technological and numerical superiority – a battle fought on strategy can be even more exciting to watch, and the Anzio OVA demonstrated this point effectively, providing a thrilling match for audiences despite the firepower advantage that Ooarai possesses.

  • The song in the trailer, “Long and Shining Road”, is performed by Miho, Saori, Hana, Mako and Yukari’s voice actors. The opening song is titled “Grand Symphony”; it will be used for the first three episodes will be performed by Sayaka Sasaki, who did the Anglerfish Dance, and Choucho will return in the final three episodes to perform the opening. Music has always been of a high quality in Girls und Panzer, so I look forwards to seeing how things will play out in Das Finale.

  • Besides some footage for Das Finale‘s first act, the latest footage also showcases gameplay from Girls und Panzer: Dream Tank Match, which is an upcoming game for the PS4. I’m hoping there will be a PC version, since I’ve longed to match wits against the Nishizumi and Shimada styles with my own take on things in a proper Girls und Panzer game and show that Sun Tzu’s approach, combined with my own über-micro, could school both fairly easily. Of course, I’m not sure how likely a PC version is, but if one does not materialise, at least I have additional Battlefield 1 DLC and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus to look forwards to.

As the folks driving Girls und Panzer‘s trailers are quite seasoned, the latest trailers betray nothing about what Das Finale will entail. What is known, however, is that Hana, Saori and Yukari have inherited the mantle of being the student council’s President, Secretary and Vice-President, respectively, and that there will be French tanks in the first part. The preview also showcases the new song “Long and Shining” road. With the plate set for December, I imagine that more previews will come out between now and the release date. Moreover, the trailer footage is only for the first part of the six planned movies. The shift from “Final Chapter” to “Das Finale”, however, is quite telling: the Girls und Panzer franchise will conclude Miho’s story, bringing things to a conclusion, and if there will be additional instalments to Girls und Panzer, these will likely take the form of spin-off series. Whether or not these speculations hold any water remains to be seen, and for the present, the largest question on my mind will be the release patterns; these affect how efficiently I can write about them. It is evident that a release pattern similar to Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Washio Sumi Chapter will be very conducive towards timely reviews, whereas a Strike Witches: Operation Victory Arrow release pattern will be a bit more problemmatic on my end. Regardless of the manner that Girls und Panzer: Das Finale releases in, the conclusion of Das Finale might also mark a pivotal milestone for this blog, as I may gradually step away from writing in order to do other things with my time.

Your Name (Kimi no na wa) Home Release Set for July 26

“Anyways, this is a good movie. I was genuinely moved by the displays of courage and sacrifice in the name of what they felt was right. So Mitsuha and Taki can have their moment, I’ll give them that, because at the end of the day, you win some, and you lose some. And today, they are about to win some, big time! The Blu-Rays are about to come out, and we are about to take them on a test run! Believe! Believe that!” –Kylo Ren on the announcement

Update: The release date of July 26 has been officially announced as of May 10. 

I open with the remark that there has been no official announcement yet: this information is relatively recent, and its authenticity is unverified. Derived from a lower-resolution photograph of a promotional poster that was handed out with some stores accompanying purchases, it seems that Your Name will be available for purchase on July 26, 2017. Continuing with translation of the poster finds that there will be four tiers of the film available for purchase: the basic DVD will cost 3800 yen (46.56 CAD) and the standard edition BD will be 4800 yen (58.81 CAD). The special edition BD will include two bonus disks (likely containing the behind-the-scenes and other materials), plus a special booklet and artwork. This one will retail for 7800 yen (88.21 CAD). Finally, the ultimate collector’s edition BD will go for 12000 yen (147.02 CAD). The ultimate collector’s edition is notably less than the price of Battlefield 1: Ultimate Edition, which costs 165 CAD, and two dollars more than picking up Battlefield 1 and Battlefield 1 Premium Pass separately at current exchange rates: at the top-tier, consumers will get five disks in total (two for the movie, and three for behind-the-scenes features), plus a one-hundred page booklet and all-new visuals. Of note is the fact that there is going to be a 4K version: a resolution of 3840 × 2160 pixels, such a version of Your Name will look fabulous on screens ranging from 4K monitors to the iPad Pro tablets.

  • Unlike Girls und Panzer Der Film, as I’m no longer a student, I cannot spend a full day writing a larger review: that post took twelve hours over the course of a day to write, and taking a day off work for an anime movie review makes no sense. With this in mind, having seen the movie previously, I’ve got a very good idea of what to write about going into the projected BD release date: I will aim to have the review (likely eclipsing even Girls und Panzer Der Film‘s review and discussion in size) out on the same day that my copy of Your Name arrives.

This news comes five years after I learned of the K-On! Movie‘s release, which was also set to be in July. The three month timeframe between the announcement and actual release is consistent with the K-On! Movie, as well as Girls und Panzer Der Film (which was also announced roughly three months before release) both cases, so while the July 26 release date is presently unconfirmed, I imagine that official news will be appearing quite soon. Further to this, the soundtrack for Your Name released on July 26, 2016, a month before the movie itself premièred in Japanese theatres. Finally, I’ve heard that Your Name‘s theatrical run in Japan drew to a close last week. The sum of these observations point in a direction to support the authenticity of this news; should Your Name indeed be released on July 26, the wait for this movie, however arduous it has been for the past several months, will have been worth something. At the minimum, Your Name will not be as elusive as Half-Life 3 or Half-Life 2 Episode 3. It will be fantastic to be able to watch Your Name in proper HD on my own screens.

Your Name: Remarks about a future review

“Sometimes things aren’t clear right away. That’s where you need to be patient and persevere and see where things lead.” —Mary Pierce

Makoto Shinkai’s Kimi no na wa (the English title, Your Name, will be used from here on out) is one of 2016’s biggest anime movies; while its box office numbers are smaller than those of Finding Dory, Captain America: Civil War and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, the film’s sales have reached a total of 11.1 billion yen (roughly 111 million USD), putting it at nearly five times the total box office gross that Girls und Panzer Der Film made. The trailers hinted at a narrative involving exchange of conciousness between a Tokyo high school male student and a high school female student living in rural Japan. Your Name is inspired by the classical Heian work, Torikaebaya Monogatari, where two siblings possessed mannerisms are those of the opposite sex, as well as Nick Bantock’s Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence, in which the eponymous characters fall in love with one another after Griffin receives a post card from Sabine that changes his life forever. With a more compelling and immersive narrative than any of his previous films, Shinkai casts Your Name as a powerful story where themes of distance and longing are now interwoven with initiative and resolve. His characters take charge of their situation and are no longer passive observers; they actively make an effort towards altering their circumstances, resulting in a film that is rather more conclusive and satisfying, even if some elements are roughly presented.

  • Kimi no na wa will hitherto be known as Your Name for easier typing. In this short preview review, I utilise screenshots obtained from the trailers, hence their quality, although I’m rather excited to see how sharp screenshots will look in full 1080p. Makoto Shinkai’s films look amazing in full quality, and since The Place Promised In Our Early Days, I’ve aimed to watch his films at the best possible quality to really take in all of the visual elements.

  • Makoto Shinkai’s interior environments are incredibly detailed and give a very lived-in feeling: the trend continues into Your Name, with Taki’s room filled with clutter appropriate for that of a high school student. His iPhone 6 is visible here, and throughout the movie, he uses the LINE app for communications. A Japanese platform for instant messaging and VOIP conversations, I prefer to use Skype only because all of my contacts, save one, use Skype.

  • Mitsuha expresses total frustration at the monotony in her life, shouting out that she wishes to respawn as a “handsome Tokyo boy” with the expectation that life could be more exciting. The movie juxtaposes this with her experiences as Taki, who leads a busy life. On top of being a student, he works part time at an Italian restaurant. On the topic of respawning, I’m still early to be thinking about that sort of thing, but should respawns be real, I’d probably like a chance to live in the Japanese countryside.

  • Notions of conscious transfer and body-swapping remains (thankfully) confined to the realm of fiction for the present: if someone were to swap places with me for a day, the kind of chaos it would cause would be immense. Because such a transfer is impossible, people strongly identify individuals based on their appearance as much as their personalities, so an exchange of any sort would result in an identity crisis of sorts.

  • In Your Name, Makoto Shinkai takes his animation to the next level: where Taki is in Mitsuha’s place, he gropes Mitsuha and results in Mitsuha’s younger sister growing suspicious. Later, during a basketball game, Taki executes a move that Mitusha would unlikely carry out, and the camera angles illustrate that non-rigid physics in Your Name are also well-tended to, standing in contrast with his previous films.

  • One of the elements I will need to consider for the figure captions in the full review is how to refer to the characters while they’re swapped, without resulting in any sort of confusion. The notation will probably resolve itself, and with no known release date for the BDs, I imagine there will be plenty of time to figure out how I will structure said review. The soundtrack, performed by RADWIMPS, is a reasonably enjoyable listen; I found myself enjoying the violin and piano pieces much more than the lyrical performances.

  • The vocal songs interspersed throughout Your Name are a bit different than the sort of music I enjoy, although they do add some impact to the film. I will aim to keep spoilers in this review to an absolute minimum, especially in light of how difficult it will be to access this movie in some places. Intel has been lacking, and besides the fact that Funimation’s licensed Your Name, dates and locations for North American screenings of this movie simply don’t exist.

  • A vast field in the top of a caldera is one of the locales in Your Name. The scale of the landscape is reminiscent of the finis terra of Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below, and while Your Name is ostensibly set in the real world, there are enough supernatural elements for the film to be classified as a fantasy, as well. The trailers have done a fantastic job of making it known that body switching is plays a substantial role in Your Name, although the movie itself uses this as one of many elements to deliver a multi-dimensional story.

  • Besides figuring out how to best present a talk on the themes in Your Name, I will also take advantage of the (presently) unknown time between now and the home release to eyeball whether or not the effects of an impact event is reasonably depicted in Your Name. I’m normally quite lax when it comes to accuracy in anime, but because Makoto Shinkai’s visuals are particularly good, I hold higher expectations; if the visuals correspond at least somewhat plausibly with real world observations, I will be satisfied.

  • As with Girls und Panzer Der Film, I will do my best to let readers know when a home release becomes a reality. With this post now done, and the fall season under way, I will tend to the Non Non Biyori Repeat OVA before Brave Witches kicks off.

Your Name is a moving and engaging film that features an optimistic theme; deriving a combination of elements from Five Centimeters per Second, Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below and The Garden of Words, Your Name tells a tale of separation as a smaller component in a much larger series of events. Driven by a desire to reach closure of some sort, Shinkai has his characters sieze the initiative rather than resigning themselves to what could have been in Your Name. The end result is an immensely meaningful conclusion to Your Name, and consequently, it is unsurprising that the film has performed as observed in the box office. At present, no information is available on when the home release is coming out, but I definitely will be doing a full review of the movie once the home release becomes available: like Girls und Panzer Der Film, it will be a larger talk with anywhere from sixty to ninety screenshots. Experience has found that such a post will take anywhere from nine to twelve hours to write, but this time, with the movie’s contents fresh on my mind, I’ll be able to distribute that time over a greater period, meaning that writing such a post will mean less exhaustion on my end.