The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Christmas

Christmas Camp and Mount Fuji: A Yuru Camp△ Christmas

“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others.” —Bob Hope

Once the Outdoors Activity Club is fully established, they decide to camp together over the Christmas break. Meeting at the Asagiri Plateau, the girls set up camp, play with fellow campers. Once evening sets in, they don Santa outfits and prepare their evening meal. Rin heads off to purchase propane when they run out of gas and recalls Ena’s remarks about the joys of camping in groups. The girls spend the remainder of their evening watching shows on Chiaki’s tablet before turning in. Christmas is a magical time of year, characterised by spending time with family and friends, partaking in good food and great times. Traditionally, the word Christmas evokes imagery of a fresh snowfall, sipping hot chocolate by a fireplace and sledding. Yuru Camp△, however, has Rin and her friends celebrate their Christmas in a unique manner in a camp site on the plains adjacent to Mount Fuji. It seems quite far removed from the Christmas festivities that I am familiar with, but watching Nadeshiko and the others camp find that this is only a prima facie observation: as the sun sets and the girls begin preparing their Christmas dinner, it turns out there is a considerable overlap in what they do while camping, and what I traditionally do for Christmas. After working together to prepare dinner and decking themselves in Santa outfits to channel the holiday spirit, the girls savour a warm meal under the evening skies, before breaking out Chiaki’s subscription to the Japanese equivalent of Netflix. Their manner of celebration may differ, but at its heart, the girls are sharing time together, resulting in a treasured memory of Christmas that particularly stands out for Rin, who spends Christmas together with her friends doing something that she’s long loved – Christmas is a season of togetherness, and as such, I’ve found that so as long as people are together, the notion of a Christmas spirit will continue to endure.

The meaning of Christmas is two-fold: it is a winter celebration of Jesus Christ’ birth, and is a season to spend with family and friends. Although its precise origin is unclear, Christmas was not widely celebrated until the ninth century, and prior to the spread of Christmas, European nations with a pegan culture had long been celebrating the Winter Solstice. By the Middle Ages, Christmas festivities were much more common, and concerns about Christmas as an avenue for commercialism and excesses began arising. As early as the seventeenth century, Christmas was banned in England for resulting in drunkenness and rowdy citizens. In the early twentieth century, Coca-Cola modernised the image of Santa Claus and this led to the view that Christmas was a time of gifts, of materials. Charles M. Schultz’s A Charlie Brown Christmas captures this concern, having Charlie Brown discover the meaning of Christmas while those around him concern themselves with a big, commercial Christmas, filled with expensive gifts, cash and aluminium Christmas trees. While attempting to direct a play, he picks up a shaggy tree that his peers mocks. But, upon learning from Linus that the original meaning of Christmas is not forgotten, Charlie Brown attempts to give the tree another chance. His peers later reappear to properly give the little tree love, and their animosities set aside, perform Hark! The Herald Angels Sing together. In the years following, while it may certainly seem that commercialism and consumerism permeates the Christmas holidays (in Canada, retailers aggressively advertise for Christmas on November 12), the true meanings of Christmas have continued to endure; the holidays continue to be a time of goodwill and togetherness for people.

Screenshots and Additional Commentary

  • Consider this a Christmas gift from me to the readers; I’ve been incredibly busy for the past while, and my posting frequency has been dramatically reduced as a result, but Christmas Day means down time, a chance to sleep in and really rest up. This is my favourite Christmas gift: the chance to sleep in and wake up feeling really refreshed is incomparable. As such, I am sufficiently motivated to write a Christmas post for Yuru Camp△.

  • The last time I wrote about Yuru Camp△ was back during the summer, and I was unpleasantly surprised to learn that the Survival Camp OVA was not particularly well-received. OVAs are usually intended to deviate from the style and approach of a season proper, hence the differences, so to see people not accept this was rather off-putting. This year, I chose to go with a Yuru Camp△ Christmas talk because its portrayal of Christmas is as unique and enjoyable as that of Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?‘s Christmas.

  • It continues to impress me just how tasty a prime rib roast can be despite its simplicity of preparation: black pepper, salt, olive oil and oregano is rubbed generously onto the meat, which is then cooked for 25 minutes at 500ºF (260ºC). After 25 minutes, the heat is turned off, and the roast is then allowed to warm in the oven for two hours. Since Rin and the others don’t have access to a 2400 Watt power supply, making a roast on the plains of Mount Fuji is not feasible, and so, they make nabe with fancy meat that melts in the girls’ mouths..

  • For me, 打邊爐 (jyutping daa2 bin1 lou4, the Cantonese equivalent of nabe) is a New Year’s Eve tradition: this time year is typically quite cold, and there’s nothing like the rush of eating something hot on a chilly night. Unusually, this year’s been remarkably warm, and this is the first Brown Christmas I’ve seen in quite some time. It’s only -3ºC out there at the time of writing, and overcast; I’m hoping we could get some snowfall today.

  • If Christmas Eves are a time for food and company, then Christmas Day for me is a quiet day spent relaxing. After the exchange of gifts with family by morning, I spend the afternoon taking hikes, reading books or gaming; because it’s overcast right now, my inclination to walk has diminished, and I think that I will enjoy some of that tea I got with a good book or movie later…provided that I am not gaming.

  • The rush of eating too much is a familiar nemesis during the holidays: after the girls down their first pot, Aoi reveals that she’s also got a tomato broth and more meat. The girls reluctantly agree to continue with their Christmas dinner and eventually hit a food wall, although Nadeshiko is fine and is okay even when noodles are brought out. On my end, we still have the leftover prime rib beef bones from the prime rib, so tonight’s dinner will invariably include that.

  • Yuru Camp△ was one of the strongest slice-of-life anime of the past year, and was met with near-universal acclaim. Sales figures for the series were solid, so it is no surprise that second season and series of shorts was announced a ways back. With its occasional instructions for camping and a generally relaxing atmosphere, Yuru Camp△ took a familiar concept, applied it to camping and then showcased the joys of exploration very well, making it particularly standout.

  • Yuru Camp△‘s portrayal of Christmas is, like Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?‘s, a highly enjoyable and distinct one. Far from using the holiday as the basis for jokes or even fanservice, the story in both is tailored to say something specific about the Christmas spirit. Besides this, I admit that Yuru Camp△ made a fine choice for a blog post because I had a pile of screenshots that I never got to use in my earlier posts.

  • Even working on the basis that I would not duplicate screenshots, I had no difficulty in picking out the screenshots for this post: my approach for picking screenshots is to take far more than a post requires, and then from this set, trim it down to the moments I can find something to say something about.

  • After Rin returns from her trip to pick up additional propane, she returns to find the others speculating about the future. The use of space and lighting in this scene create a sense of warmth amongst the group and convey to viewers that the girls themselves represent light and warmth in an otherwise dark cold world. The night scenes of Yuru Camp△ are incredibly well done, and throughout the season, audiences are treated to spectacular night views.

  • One aspect of Yuru Camp△ that I am very fond of, but have to made a particular mention of, are the voices. Soft and gentle, they contribute to the relaxing tone of the series; for the most part, I have no objection to what are colloquially referred to as “squeaky anime voices”.

  • A classic question that is invariably asked around Christmas is whether or not one believes in Santa Claus. Santa Claus is a modernisation of Saint Nicolas, a wealthy bishop who was known for his generosity. However, after reforms, the concept fell out of popularity, even though gift-giving, especially to children, endured: Victorian writers rekindled interest in Saint Nicolas, and Clement Clarke Moore really sparked off the modern incarnation of Santa Claus that we know, with his 1823 poem “T’was The Night Before Christmas”.

  • Santa Claus as we know him, with his flying reindeer and ability to visit several billion households over the course of 24 hours, remains relegated to the realm of fantasy. Some engineers working for The City of Calgary’s department of building codes set out to mathematically indicate Santa’s existence is implausible assuming conformance with macroscopic physics (i.e. the speed Santa needs to move at to accomplish his feat would have him burn up into a carbon cinder before he finished visiting his third house), but of late, folks studying quantum mechanics suggest that this field might allow Santa to exist.

  • As the evening wears on, Nadeshiko and the others exchange their Santa outfits for something more comfortable amidst the falling evening temperatures: at the time of writing, the temperature at Asagiri Plateau also happens to be -3ºC; it can get quite chilly here in the winter, necessitating the proper gear in order for one to keep warm.

  • The smiles in Yuru Camp△ are some of the most adorable I’ve seen in any slice-of-life anime, and believe you me, I have seen a non-trivial number of these shows, so I can make such a claim with confidence. Seeing these smiles is equivalent to hugging a large stuffed animal, and if it were not evident already, I have a fondness for all things adorable despite my profound love for first person shooters.

  • Christmas is a fantastic time to sit back and watch shows; Chiaki’s brought a tablet and subscription to a media services provider. As the evening winds down, the girls kick back and watch shows before turning in. A miniature Christmas tree adorns the table: traditional trees are eight to ten feet in height and take an entire morning to properly decorate, whereas the smaller, desktop-sized trees can be put together in under ten minutes. I plan on using these small trees for Christmas until such a time as I need a larger tree to house Christmas gifts under.

  • Nearing the end of this post, my mind turns towards wondering what a second season of Yuru Camp△ could entail; the first season was about Nadeshiko’s discovery of camping and its attendant joys, as well as Rin’s newfound perspective on group camping. One wonders where precisely a second season could go: the introduction of more members or new camping locations is likely to be the case.

  • Regardless of what a continuation entails, I would be more than happy to watch it: Yuru Camp△ was consistently relaxing and enjoyable throughout its run. With solid visuals and an excellent soundtrack, every element in Yuru Camp△‘s adaptation was able to bring the manga to life.

  • I’ve decided to wrap up with another angle of Rin and the others enjoying the sunrise by breakfast: this post has a “mere” twenty screenshots for ease of reading (and also because it’s faster to write). For all of my readers and visitors, Merry Christmas! I will be returning to wrap up The World in Colours before the end of the year, but until then, have a good one, and take it easy 🙂

Consequently, watching the girls of Yuru Camp△ celebrate Christmas in their own unique fashion, without expensive gifts or highly intricate parties; their best gift to one another is a memorable camping experience spent together with everyone for the first time. Having spent the majority of Yuru Camp△ trying to convince the solo camper Rin into the joys of group camping, Yuru Camp△ frames Rin’s acceptance of Nadeshiko’s invitation as the surest sign of change in her character. For Nadeshiko, this is a Christmas miracle of sorts, and so, creates an additional magic for Yuru Camp△, an already solid and enjoyable series. For me, camping on Christmas day with my friends seems quite difficult to fathom: my Christmases are characterised by spending the day with family and taking some down time from my usual obligations and responsibilities. Christmas Eves see a dinner with family, and the Christmas Day is about relaxing at home. There is one exception: four years ago, I spent Christmas Day on the observation deck at Taipei 101 overlooking the capital of Taiwan, and then Boxing Day was marked with a drive from the Monster Village to Kaohsuing City along the plains of Western Taiwan. While far removed from my usual hot chocolate and quiet mornings, that Christmas was still spent with family, doing something exciting; I imagine that since it is commonly accepted that Christmas is about togetherness and people, concerns about consumerism displacing the true meaning of Christmas are likely to not be as severe as some might be inclined to think. As long as there is this goodwill and togetherness, the meaning of Christmas will continue to endure into the future.

The Girl Dons a Red Coat and Drives a Team of Rabbits Across the Christmas Eve Night Sky: A Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? Christmas

“Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values.” —Thomas S. Monson

Though it aired a full half year (and six days, to be precise) before Christmas 2014, the eleventh episode of GochiUsa’s first season was set around Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, following the girls as they visited a Christmas market to purchase ornaments and plan out a Christmas Eve party after-hours. Though Christmas Eve turns out to be quite busy, with patrons lining up to try Rabbit House’s Christmas Pancake special, the girls are in fine spirits to continue with their party. Later that evening, Cocoa assumes the role of Santa Claus and clandestinely makes her way into Chino’s room to deliver some gifts, but winds up falling asleep by Chino’s bed in the process. The next morning, Chino is pleasantly surprised by what “Santa” had delivered during the course of the night. Filled with elaborately drawn scenes of Christmas around Rabbit House and its setting, the episode stood out as a king amongst kings: GochiUsa’s first season featured memorable episodes, but the Christmas episode was particularly unique, making use of the winter season to capture each of the characters in their element. Consequently, GochiUsa’s Christmas episode raises the bar for what one might reasonably expect from anime with an episode set during the winter holidays. While this could be seen as surprising, given GochiUsa’s relatively simple premise, there are elements that set GochiUsa’s Christmas episode above the rest.

The main reason why GochiUsa’s Christmas episode is so remarkable is because, rather than using the Christmas season as a backdrop to frame certain events, the concepts underlying Christmas itself is captured within the episode. Most anime (for instance, CLANNAD: After Story, K-On!, Lucky Star, The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan and SoniAni) utilise Christmas as an opportunity to add a bit of festivity to their respective stories. Quite simply, Christmas is fit into the anime. Conversely, in GochiUsa, the episode is fit around Christmas. This is visible when, upon arriving at Rabbit House and seeing that Chino and the others are still inundated with customers, Chiya, Sharo, Maya and Megu lend a hand to help out. This progression fully captures what is known as the “true meaning of Christmas”; coined in the mid-nineteenth century, the phrase refers to selflessness, to bring happiness to others, and this is exactly what the girls are doing in helping Cocoa, Rize and Chino serve their customers (the latter themselves are spending their time to ensure that Rabbit House’s customers have a good time). However, although they are busy, the girls have an opportunity to be together in their work (and later, deservedly enjoy their own Christmas party). Up until the Christmas episode, the girls have not been seen working together; another significant aspect of Christmas is about being together regardless of what the event is, and on a busy Christmas Eve, the girls find joy in working hard together to serve their customers. That the story is able to draw from such distinctly Christmas-related themes is impressive, and while not quite as well known as Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol or Charles Schulz’s A Charlie Brown Christmas, GochiUsa nonetheless expresses what Christmas is about as effectively as these classics.

Additional Sceenshots and Commentary

  • This is the Christmas post that would have come out last year had I not been in Taiwan and Hong Kong during the winter holidays, and might also be a reasonable approximation of what a GochiUsa post for the first season would have looked like had I done an episodic review for the first season. The only difference is that there are thirty screenshots rather than the usual twenty, and that is a consequence of the episode featuring an above-average number of special moments to discuss.

  • Because this post is special, all of the images are in 1080p and available for viewing in full size; on that note, if you’re reading this on Christmas morning, I’d like to wish you Merry Christmas! Here, Cocoa and the others visit the local Christmas market while Chino is searching for ornaments to display at Rabbit House.

  • I mentioned this in the GochiUsa first season review, but there’s a store in Banff called The Spirit of Christmas. They sell all manners of Christmas ornaments, decorations, lights, nutcrackers and Christmas lighthouses; even during the middle of summer, the shop gives off an air of Christmas. For individuals seeking the Christmas spirit during the spring and summer, this shop is as close as it gets.

  • The Spirit of Christmas has over five thousand square feet of retail space and has been open for the past twenty-five years. It appears that the shop in GochiUsa is rather smaller, but nonetheless conveys a very warm and inviting atmosphere.

  • Cocoa and Rize discuss gift ideas for Chino while the latter is perusing the merchandise within the store. I’m noticing that as of late, going Christmas shopping for other has been most enjoyable: it’s fun to think of what gifts might be suitable for someone, being something they’d enjoy while conveying appreciation. I usually begin considering Christmas gifts for family and friends as early as October and will get my shopping done ahead of the holiday rush to avoid the associated stress of über-crowded malls.

  • Cocoa decides to gift Chino a music box, and decides to buy a spooky-looking rabbit for the gift exchange. I began learning how to properly wrap gifts two years ago when I began doing more Christmas shopping, and at present, though I am a little slow, I am minimally capable of wrapping rectangular gifts. Strangely-shaped packages remain beyond my skill level for the present.

  • Cocoa’s winter coat makes her resemble a snow angel. Her carefree, ever-cheerful spirit reminds me of the joyfulness that children express during the season for the winter weather, festivities and gifts. As people mature, happiness appears to become increasingly associated with being able to tangibly express appreciation and love for others: at that unique interface between childhood and adulthood, Cocoa radiates the happiness seen in children, while simultaneously demonstrating an adult’s maturity in considering how to best express her appreciation to Chino.

  • The university sent out an email reminding staff that campus was to be closed at noon on Christmas Eve, so all staff have a half-day off; originally, I had been planning on using the half-day to get work done, but as I’ve been maintaining reasonable pacing, I was able to take the whole day off.

  • While handing out fliers to Fleur de Lupin on Christmas Eve, Sharo briefly imagines herself as The Little Match Girl, a Danish poem by Hans Christian Andersen about a poor girl who’s tasked with selling matches. Despite the bitterly cold conditions, she continues on pain of corporeal punishment, and eventually lights a match to keep herself warm. Though the ending is gut-wrenching, Andersen intended the story’s ending to be optimistic one, for in death, the girl’s suffering ceases.

  • GochiUsa‘s Christmas depicts various locations around town by night as the snow begins to fall. These scenes are very peaceful and show the extent that a particular place can change under different lighting and weather conditions.

  • Thus, there’s a bit of magic in seeing very familiar scenes transformed during the Silent Night; up until this point in GochiUsa, the town has largely been depicted by afternoon or evening during the spring and summer. It’s not often that an anime goes through the lengths of characterising distinct seasons, and I believe that besides GochiUsa, one of the best anime to profoundly capturing the seasons is Non Non Biyori.

  • Back at Rabbit House, Maya and Megu arrive early to find that it’s still fairly busy. They’re soon recruited to help out and do so with gusto. Cocoa, being Cocoa, finds herself struggling to stay on target once she sees the two dressed up and ready to roll for Christmas.

  • The Rabbit House Christmas Pancake special is a work of culinary art, composed of three pancakes stacked on top of one another, interspersed with layers of banana, strawberry, blueberry and whipped cream. Theres also a confectionary bunny up top (probably a pastry of some kind) and the entire creation is drizzled lightly in chocolate. Maya and Megu promise to get to work after trying one, and I remark that this pancake, if scaled up, would be worthy of a Man v. Food challenge.

  • Whereas Rabbit House is depicted to be generally quiet, it’s packed and full of life on Christmas Eve. I imagine that most of GochiUsa depicts the periods in between customers as a consequence of practical constraints (animating many moving entities can be costly) and to ensure the focus stays on the girls’ interactions.

  • I spent most of yesterday working on the Master Grade 00 Raiser, and consequently, my fingers hurt like a thousand needles, even after a much-welcomed chicken sandwich for lunch. The day before, I finished grading the iOS assignments with my supervisor, and was pleasantly surprised to see that most of the submissions were high-scoring. One team implemented an app for wait times at a restaurant, and I cannot help but wonder if Rabbit House could benefit from using this app: all they’d need is an iPad.

  • Once Sharo arrives, she despairs that she’s left one workplace to enter another. She subsequently enters the zone and begins delegating tasks to everyone, even Rize, resulting in a dramatic increase in efficiency, presumably because she most wishes to party with everyone else, and becomes willing to work harder to make their Christmas party happen sooner.

  • GochiUsa‘s first season primarily focused on making use of the setting to yield insight into Cocoa and the other girls’ lives in such a picturesque town, and consequently, everyone in the first season could be readily matched with an equivalent personality in K-On!. By season two, with the cast and setting well-established, GochiUsa capitalises on familiarity to begin exploring new directions, and consequently, the second season does feel distinctly different compared to season one.

  • Prima facie, how Cocoa’s Santa-themed party hat manages to stay on is a little bit of a puzzle, but it’s likely bound to her hairband, allowing said hat to rest at an unusual angle. I’ll drop by after the finale to GochiUsa‘s second season airs and do a full review on what the second season contributes to things. It’s actually quite substantial, and for an anime that’s about cute girls doing cute things, plenty of interesting new directions are explored.

  • I’ll save the actual review for after the finale comes out. A year ago, I was on a plane outbound for Hong Kong, and at this point in time, I think I was somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. The Taiwan/Hong Kong vacation last year was quite fun: it marks the first time I’ve traveled anywhere while on winter break, and Taiwan/Hong Kong was quite pleasant by winter. Far from being the icebox my relatives describe, it was pleasantly warm.

  • It was Christmas Day by the time our flight touched down in Taoyuan Airport, and after being whisked away to our hotel for a short sleep, we explored some of the sights in Taipei, including Taipei 101. The afternoon was spent driving through Taroko National Park, where we visited a Japanese-style town and spent the night at the Leader Hotel in the middle of the mountains. The next day, we traveled to the southern part of the island and stopped for an all-fish lunch at a restaurant underneath a massive bridge near the Yanchao district.

  • If anyone’s actually interested in hearing more about Taiwan, you can find me on Facebook or Twitter. I’m going to return to GochiUsa for the present, where, after the last of the customers pay their bills and head off for the night, the girls are finally free to begin their Christmas party, opening off with a toast. I’ve never celebrated Christmas at my workplace before, mainly because it’s a research lab with expensive computers and fancy VR technologies.

  • The closest I’ve had to a workplace Christmas party was when I visited my supervisor’s home out in the mountains two weeks ago. I’m immensely grateful the weather remained quite pleasant: we’ve got a White Christmas this year on account of snow. I included this image because it’s yet another example of how much attention is paid to detail pertaining to food. The holidays are a time for rich foods, and Christmas dinner tonight is set to include an oven-roast, bacon-wrapped scallops, jumbo garlic shrimp and fully-loaded potatoes.

  • Sharo is impressed and somewhat bewildered at the impressive array of foods as Rize prepares to carve the Cornish game hen (it’s too small to be a turkey or even a chicken). On an unrelated note, the Hibike! Euhonium and Locodol OVAs released earlier yesterday, but owing to the holiday schedule, I’ll try to get the reviews for both of those out before we get too far into 2016.

  • Aoyama and Tippy share a moment together, watching the girls enjoy their evening. I was initially hoping that GochiUsa‘s second season would have returned to Christmas, but given that we’re apparently in the middle of summer, that’s definitely not going to happen.

  • As the evening wears on, snow begins falling again. Apparently, what constitutes a “White Christmas” has a very specific definition: Christmas Day must fall on a day where there is persistent (so, more than 5mm) snow on the ground, and a “Perfect Christmas” is a special kind of White Christmas where snow is also falling.

  • Closed for the night, the Christmas Market is deserted, illuminated only by the central tree. Coupled with the snowfall and gentle music, this scene captures the sense of what a proper”Silent Night” might feel like. In Cantonese, Christmas Eve is also referred to as “平安夜”, literally translating to “Peaceful night”: the world takes on a calm on Christmas Eve, and everywhere, children find themselves struggling to fall asleep for anticipation of Santa’s arrival.

  • I shared a discussion with my supervisor a few days ago over a peppermint Mocha (I’ve finally had Mocha’s namesake, it’s sweet like a cocoa but has the distinct edge with the espresso, so my claims stand), and 2016 is going to be quite eventful. We’re kicking off the year with a pair of presentations, then I’ll have to apply for a few more conferences and journals, consider 3D printing parts of my project for augmented reality, and as I’m enrolled in his biological computations course, I’ll have a chance to build a much more sophisticated influenza simulation. For the present, though, I’ll set aside all of my work and take it easy, then resume working on my conference paper once the weekend is over.

  • Cocoa’s longed to play the role of Santa, and as she comes from a family where she’s the youngest sibling, she’s likely not had the chance to do so, with Mocha taking the helm. Thus, when presented with a chance to gift something to Chino, she seizes the opportunity, moving quietly to ensure she does not wake Chino up in the process. It turns out that Takahiro has the same idea, although his execution is rather smoother.

  • The next morning finds Rabbit House under a light dusting of snow, enough to satisfy the criterion for a white Christmas. I’ll go off-mission for a little bit and recount a story in my childhood, where I figured out that “Santa’s” handwriting looked suspiciously familiar, and the following year, “Santa” suddenly switched formats, making use of a word-processed letter. Fortunately, Santa continued to visit thereafter.

  • This marks the end of my first-ever Christmas post, and if you’ve gotten this far, I’ll again wish you a Merry Christmas. I’d love to stick around, but there’s a host of things to do today. For one, I’d like to finish building the 0 Raiser and GN Sword III, then begin making use of a shiny new 4 TB hard drive. I’ll return to do a double-posting on December 30: one for the GochiUsa finale and one for Life is Strange.

Besides a particularly well-written theme about the meaning of Christmas, GochiUsa’s Christmas episode makes extensive use of artwork to enhance the sense of festivities in and around the town where there anime is set. The details that capture the Christmas season in the episode are astounding, from the individual stands and Christmas tree of the Christmas market, to the miniature light-up Christmas village models seen in a small shop Cocoa and the others visit. Despite the cold weather, the town itself feels warm and inviting. As the hours grow later, and the last of of parties draw to a close, a gentle snowfall blankets the town, turning familiar locations into a winter wonderland. All of this imagery allows GochiUsa to depict a Victorian Christmas, of an old-fashioned town covered in snow, and folks dressed in great coats carolling under a winter’s night. Such images of Christmas have continued to endure despite concerns that the holiday has become increasingly commercialised; this demonstrates that modern Christmas institutions notwithstanding, messages of togetherness and charity so central to Christmas have endured through the ages, and while GochiUsa might be an anime, its Christmas episode ultimately succeeds in expressing the author’s own thoughts on what the true meaning of Christmas is.

New York Fries and the MG Nu Gundam

The acquisition of the Master Grade Nu Gundam Ver. Ka. is a story that is worthy of its own post, albeit a short one. The day following a faculty Christmas party, a friend and I hit one of the hobby shops in the downtown core. It had only been five days since the release of the Nu Gundam, and I had settled on the kit as a Christmas gift of sorts. It had been a cloudy morning, and I was replaying “The Maw” in Halo before realising that I was to meet up with said friend for our excursion, which had become something of an annual Christmas break tradition. Because the kit was such a new release, I was not expecting the kit to have shipped so quickly, but upon arrival, I was pleasantly surprised, for there it was, being one of two in stock at the shop. The fact that it was in stock give me the opportunity to purchase the kit, and I would build it on Christmas Day, finishing two days later. My thoughts on this beast of a war machine can be found here.

  • Despite being called “New York Fries”, there are no locations in New York City, and in fact, New York Fries was founded in Brantford, Ontario by Jay Gould and his brother in 1983. The first time I went back in 2009, I had the classic fries with gravy.

  • New York Fries are distinct from other fries in their preparations, which utilise a three stage cooking process which is cited to maximise flavour and produce crispy, lightly golden french fries. The difference can be tasted, and this year I went with “The Works”, a fries dish topped with beef chili, sour cream, a cheese sauce, green onions and bacon. 

After I had purchased the model (my friend had picked the Real Grade Zeta Gundam), we made our way to The Core. Having been reopened since its renovations a year ago, entire area is revitalised and boasts more natural light owing to a massive skylight. The upper floors are occupied by the Devonian Gardens and a food court of sorts, with New York Fries being among them (yet another Christmas tradition, started when I purchased the HG 00 Raiser+GN Sword III). Following  a break here, we would make our way home as the sunset began. Thusly, I now have a glorious Gundam model that acts to recall this late December day following the conclusion of my penultimate term as an undergraduate student.

A Very Festive Team Fortress 2 Christmas

Team Fortress 2 was updated a few days ago to drop the naughty and nice crates, as per tradition (or at least, something that was first done last year). The previous year, I purchased keys for two nice crates to get my premium account, while this year, I purchased two keys to open naughty crates to get a festive grenade launcher and übersaw. and also traded two key-equivalents with a friend to obtain festive weapons, including the Festive Frontier Justice, Festive Buff Banner and Festive Ambassador.Nice crates drop seasonal hats, while naughty crates drop coveted festive weapons.

Festive weapons are a special class of weapons wrapped in blinking Christmas lights powered by a battery pack. The lights are green, yellow, and team-coloured, even though the backpack icons depict both red and blue colours being on a weapon at the same time. The visual additions are purely cosmetic changes and have no effect on gameplay. Festive items could only be found by unlocking Naughty Winter Crates and are available in both Unique and Strange quality, though the Strange versions are much rarer.

The festive weapons turned out to be a considerably better deal compared with the contents of the nice crates, which eventually become craftable. Conversely, festive weapons do not drop and can only be acquired via purchasing  a key and opening naughty crates. This year, Valve must’ve realised the value of Festive weapons and slowed down the drop rates on the naughty crates: I acquired my weapons through transactions with a friend. With blinking lights, I don’t mind that the festives I picked up aren’t strange: they really bring on the Christmas spirit in ways that the Spycicle and the Ornament Armament.