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In a Pinch On Our First Voyage!- High School Fleet (Hai-Furi) First Episode Impressions and Review

“When the common soldiers are too strong and their officers too weak, the result is insubordination. When the officers are too strong and the common soldiers too weak, the result is collapse.” —Sun Tzu

Spring 2016’s High School Fleet! (Hai-Furi for brevity) was on my watchlist initially owing to the concept of exploring life in a world where dramatic tectonic activity submerged large portions of the world, leading humanity to create ocean-borne cities and a defense task force known as the Blue Mermaids to defend these installations. Akeno Misaki is an aspiring Blue Mermaid, and was assigned to be the captain for the destroyer Harekaze, a Kagerō-class destroyer (as per the official documentation, although historically, none of the Kagerō-class destroyers were named Harekaze). However, the vessel suffers from engine difficulties en route to the girls’ first class, and as a result, they are shelled by the Sarushima, an instructor vessel. After their attempts to communicate fail, the Harekaze is forced to launch a training torpedo and retreat, resulting in the Hazukaze being reported as having mutinied. For an anime whose promotional materials and first act presented the air of a series where naval warfare would be secondary to interpersonal interactions, Hai-Furi surprises viewers when the stakes are elevated with the girls’ instructors firing live ammunition at them for seemingly being late in the first episode. Thus, viewers immediately get the sense that Hai-Furi will be more serious than initial impressions, and with Girls und Panzer’s technical advisor and scriptwriter, Suzuki Takaaki and Yoshida Reiko, respectively, as staff, it’s apparent that Hai-Furi is likely to feature a substantial technical component. Without the safety features present in Girls und Panzer, the naval aspects of Hai-Furi imply that death could be a real factor, leaving characters to confront the realities associated with naval warfare.

Because attempting to determine Hai-Furi’s central thematic element one episode in would be considered folly by all individuals with the slightest familiarity with literary discussion, this first-episode talk will deal primarily with the projected consequences of Akeno’s actions and its implications on what subsequent episodes will deal with. While audiences will immediately be aware that Akeno issued the order on the basis of self-defence and moreover, opted to use a nonlethal approach, they are immediately aware that her actions are appropriate. However, their instructor has reported this as an instance of the naval equivalent of fragging (a term coined during the Vietnam War, referring to the deliberate or attempted killing of a fellow solider, such as a superior officer), and Command has branded the Harekaze as traitors. Following military process, the offenders can expect to be court-martialled, and as such, someone will need to bring them in. In Hai-Furi, it is not difficult to imagine that Akeno’s friend, Moeka China (captain of the Musashi), will be tasked with handling the Harekaze. Only armed with one episode’s of knowledge, it is not unreasonable to speculate that the next few episodes will deal with the Harekaze’s crew learning more about how to operate their vessel under Akeno’s command and in the process, grow closer together. This could set up for a final confrontation against the Musashi. While such a turn of events is plausible, the blue-on-blue would serve to undermine the Blue Mermaid’s mission statement (to serve and protect). Thus, after one episode, my curiosity is definitely elevated, and it will be quite interesting to see what directions Hai-Furi takes, as well as whether or not there are any surprises in store for audiences as the anime progresses.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Hai-Furi is an anime where the old co-exist with the new, and here, Akeno rides a jet-ski to her first day of classes under skies of deep blue. While I found the texture and lighting detail somewhat on the low end, especially with respect to water details, Hai-Furi is generally quite smooth with respect to animation and the incorporation of CG with hand-drawn elements is reasonably-handled.

  • Akeno and Mashiro meet for the first time after the two collide, and Mashiro slips on a banana peel, falling into the water. Complaints have been levelled at this seen for being extraneous, and while I’ve not seen the banana peel joke in anime with any frequency such that I can recall an example off the top of my head, the Mythbusters have shown that banana peels are not guaranteed to cause people to slip even if they can be slippery on a smooth surface (and the concrete pier, assuming it has the same coefficient of friction as concrete in reality, is presumably not smooth).

  • As one of the more surprising anime of the Spring 2016 season, there’s been no shortage of discussion about Hai-furi elsewhere, and one of the points that I will immediately note is the universal discrepancy in Akeno’s ship’s name. Spellings of the name give it as either Harukaze or Harekaze; there is a large difference, as the former is given as 春風 (lit. “Spring Wind”) and the latter would equate to 晴風 (lit. “Sunny wind”) in English. The official documentation gives 晴風, so Harekaze is what I’ll stick with.

  • Official documentation states that the Harekaze is part of the Kagerō-class destroyers, although no Harekaze was ever documented as a Kagerō-class (the Harekaze-class was commissioned after World War Two). The Kagerō-class consisted of nineteen destroyers that were built in the 1930s as improvements to the Asashio class. Sporting six 5-inch guns and eight torpedo tubes, the destroyers had a maximum surface speed of 35.5 knots (roughly 65km/h). During the course of the Second World War, eighteen of the nineteen Kagerō-class destroyers were lost in combat.

  • Akeno and Moeka share a moment together after the entrance ceremony, and it turns out that Mocha’s been made captain of the Musashi, the Yamato’s sister ship that was sunk during the Battle of Layte Gulf in October 1944. There is a noticeable absence of aircraft carriers in Hai-Furi, which feels illogical considering the sort of utility aircraft carriers can play in contemporary warfare. Having what are essentially ocean-borne landing strips would be a supremely useful utility in a world where landmass has been submerged, so the lack of carriers is puzzling.

  • Such a screenshot typifies the sort of atmosphere one could reasonably expect from Hai-Furi, although it’s a poorly kept secret that Hai-Furi is anything but conventional. Given that Hai-Furi is looking to visit a route more at home in a Tom Clancy novel, the expectations are that there will be a particular focus on naval tactics of the WWII-era, given that aircraft carriers have been absent so far.

  • My indolent propensities means that rather than counting all of the people in this image, I applied a computer visions technique to count the characters in this screenshot, yielding thirty-one characters. Like Girls und Panzer, there are a lot of characters to remember, but Hai-Furi gives no clear indicator of who’s who just yet. It is possible that the anime could take a Girls und Panzer approach and make each and every individual memorable by means of a defining characteristic (although admittedly, I still don’t know the names of all the Girls und Panzer characters from memory at present).

  • Here, Akeno asks her instructor as to whether or not she’s truly qualified of being a captain, to which the latter responds that it is satisfactory to follow whatever vision that Akeno’s got for what an ideal captain is like. Akeno’s reply mirrors Sun Tzu’s definition of a good commander: one who treats their subordinates as family, rewarding them and disciplining them as appropriate to ensure good cohesion.

  • Mashiro was stated to have top-tier grades and is the deputy captain of the Harekaze, greatly resembling Strike Witches The Movie‘s Shizuka Hattori in manner and appearance (although Mashiro’s look of disgust here is legendary). Shizuka was bemoaned for being an uninteresting character, but I completely digress with that assessment: she was present to illustrate how Yoshika’s background as a civilian led her to carry out actions that, while in direct violation of military protocol, nonetheless contributed to the 501st’s successes.

  • I’ll be watching Hai-Furi to see just how faithfully the anime reproduces battleship doctrine: prior to the aircraft carrier’s success in WWII, battleships were meant to project power. Such vessels are typified by large calibre guns and heavy armour, travelling in a battlegroup where escort ships would  serve to act as reconnaissance units to locate the enemy. Once an enemy was found, the battleship would engage the enemy’s vessels and battleships in combat.

  • As a psychological weapon, battleships were only really effective up until the Battle of Midway, where it was shown that aircraft carriers, with their ability to project over-the-horizon force, would be the new capital ship during the remainder of and following World War Two. For me, the one engagement that illustrated the battleship’s obsolescence was during Operation Ten-Go: in April 1945, the Yamato, Japan’s mightiest battleship, was sunk by sustained attack from carrier-launched bombers and torpedo aircraft rather than another battleship.

  • While Mashiro gripes about her bad luck, I’m going to do a quick detour and shoot down a theory that erroneously states that a love triangle is brewing in Hai-Furi. For that, we look no further than Girls und Panzer, where the cast developed an iron-clad friendship with one another that remains quite far removed from yuri; given that Suzuki Takaaki and Yoshida Reiko are on board, the probability that a love triangle and dispute arising over such a love triangle will materialise in Hai-Furi is infinitesimally small (but, non-zero, since the manga may go down this route).

  • Seemingly for their tardiness, one of the instructors opens fire on the Harekaze without provocation, leading Akeno to order the Harekaze to take evasive maneuvers while attempting to communicate with their instructor. In the post mentioned above, I further remark that none of Mike, Moka or Shiro (and their English equivalents, “Spot”, “Mocha” and “White”) fall into the top hundred most popular names for cats in either English or more common Japanese cat names.

  • Mashiro attempts to stop the bombardment via negotiations, although the lack of a response from their instructor, plus the different aura the instructor is projecting, give the impression that something else is amiss. Whatever this is will likely be left as something to be answered in an upcoming episode. Continuing from the previous bullet, I counter-argue that the the girls’ nicknames are not likely to be intentionally inspired by popular names for cats, and that even if this held true, it would have no correlation with the purported love triangle that is almost never to become a part of the main narrative in Hai-Furi. So, the names are unlikely to have any relevance on the overall narrative, and it’s prudent to dispel such notions before they become widely accepted (again, unless the manga does otherwise, in which case, I will eat my hat).

  • The near-misses from the Sarushima only manage to jostle around the Harekaze, but some of the crew sustain minor injuries, and in the galley, the rice cooker sustains some superficial damage: although the mood is decidedly more serious at this point, the inclusion of such a moment may be to rein in the atmosphere somewhat by injecting some humour into the mix. Fortunately, it appears that only the surface is dented, and provided the cooker’s hull is not compromised, it will continue to function.

  • A live round misses the Harekaze by a narrow margin, and the girls speculate that the vessel firing on them, the Sarushima, is shooting to kill. An Independence-class littoral combat vessel (of the same type seen in Battlefield 4‘s Suez mission), ships of this class have a maximum speed of 44 knots (roughly 81 km/h) and are intended to patrol the littoral zone and is typically outfitted with a Bofors 57 mm gun. In Hai-Furi, however, they are inconsistently depicted as a consequence of shortfalls in animation. During its engagement with the Harekaze, the Sarushima is shown with the Mark 45, a five-inch gun with a firing rate of 20 RPM against the Bofors’ 200 RPM.

  • Concluding that the Harekaze needs to buy some time to continue radioing in to stop the bombardment, Akeno gives the order to fire an exercise torpedo at the Sarushima. Her decisiveness and resolve, in spite of a seemingly easy-going and klutzy aspects, is a familiar combination: right before the bombardment begins, she’s seen feeding Isoroku, a cat whose manner resembles that of Garfield and whose namesake was an admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy.

  • I’ve heard discussion stating that it’s impossible for a training torpedo, lacking a warhead, to punch through an Independence-class’ hull and cause said vessel to list on account lacking the kinetic energy to do so, suggesting the damage might be staged. The Independence-class is stated to have a lightweight aluminium construction of reduced durability in reality, but without confirmation of the exact numbers, computing whether or not the Sarushima could have sustained such damage in a quantitative manner is an exercise in futility.

  • In the engine room, the staff there begin stripping down as temperatures rise, so I’ve captured that moment here to fulfill my fanservice quota. On a more serious note, I am well aware of the fact that military-moé anime tend to draw a clientèle who are rather quick to point out the most minor of errors in all manner of discussions. I respect adherence to factual accuracy (in part accounting for why this post took forever to write), but nonetheless, I am still human and therefore, susceptible to error. As such, I appreciate those who take the time to point out the errors in my writing and will fix them on short order, but also remark that etiquette should not be forgotten.

  • Girls und Panzer illustrated a shot of Ooarai’s vast 7.6 kilometer-long carrier near the first episode’s closing, and Hai-Furi seems to be following in its stead; this here screenshot and the following moments illustrate the dramatic extent rising sea levels have had on civilisation, to the extent where vast floating cities have been constructed. Now that this beast of a first episode review is done (totalling 2573 words), I’ll be resuming regular programming shortly. At present, I’m wondering whether or not I should write about She and Her Cat: Everything Flows or the second Aria The Avvenire OVA first.

Introducing a narrative element into Hai-Furi that completely defies expectations was a risky manoeuver on Hai-Furi’s part, but by and large, it has definitely succeeded in capturing the audience’s interest: discussions and speculations have taken off, exploring an incredibly vast range of possibilities. One element stands out: insofar, there have been no complaints that Akeno bears a direct resemblance to Girls und Panzer’s Miho Nishizumi and Strike Witches’ Yoshika Miyafuji: in fact, Akeno has been praised for being a decisive, strategic-thinking commander whose desire to work well with others and protect the seas adds additional weight to her character. This reception is likely fuelled by the fact that Akeno’s character is a familiar and comforting one, especially in the face of adversity of this calibre; audiences have a stronger reassurance that Akeno will be able to find some way of extricating the Harekaze from their current situation because if she resembles Miho and Yoshika, then she’ll likely have a few aces to play. This is why the generic protagonist is not necessarily a detractor from an anime, and with this in mind, Hai-Furi has definitely surprised and impressed most viewers, myself included. This is a series that could be worth writing about on an episodic basis, and whether or not this becomes a reality will largely be determined by whether or not the next episode continues to deliver, as well as whether or not there is sufficient reader interest (i.e. comments from readers that result in interesting discussion).

Her Smile And Flash Are Annoying: That’s My So-called Older Sister- Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?? First Episode Impressions and Review

Oh yeah! It’s HEADSHOT time!” —FPS_Doug, Pure Pwnage

As the second season to Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka??‘s title merely differs with the addition of a single question mark in its title. For brevity’s sake, I will continue to refer to the anime’s second season as GochiUsa. It’s a beautiful Saturday morning, and GochiUsa‘s first episode aired, marking a much-welcomed return to the gentle atmosphere surrounding this anime. Nearly a year has elapsed since Cocoa moved to Rabbit House to work as a waitress, and she’s quite eager to share her experiences with her family. To this end, she goes around town to photograph her friends, and while Chiya, Rize and Sharo don’t mind being photographed, Chino encounters considerable difficulty in smiling for Cocoa’s camera. Later, when Chiya and Ama Usa An are featured in a local magazine, alongside Sharo and Fleur de Lupin, Chino wonders if her presence isn’t doing enough to warm up the atmosphere around Rabbit House and grows melancholic. Takahiro Kafū shares a few words with Cooca about Chino, and to the latter’s surprise, Rabbit House is featured on a double-spread in the magazine’s next issue. Welcoming the news, Chino smiles. Cocoa sends her letter to her family, and later stumbles upon a picture frame Chino’s made.

The main draw about sequels of slice-of-life anime, such as GochiUsa, is that their pacing and design allows the anime to be inherently accessible to viewers. This first episode was spent depicting two seemingly trivial, mundane elements in the girls’ everyday lives, but nonetheless, manages to capture volumes about each girls’ personalities. Cocoa remains as easy-going as she did in the first season, and similarly, Chino is as shy and reserved as she had been earlier. This holds true for the airy Chiya, disciplined Rize and elegant Sharo. Thus, the characters’ identities and contributions to the dynamics in GochiUsa become immediately apparent, leaving new viewers with a solid impression of what aspects set each individual apart from one another. For veterans of GochiUsa, watching all of the characters go about their everyday lives will remind them of the things that made season one so enjoyable. This is partially why such anime are appreciated: they’re able to capture the interests of an audience who’ve never seen it before, while simultaneously presenting enough new material to keep the veterans entertained, and in this regard, GochiUsa‘s first episode of its second season succeeds in doing just this.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Twenty screenshots adjourn this here post. The episodes release at 0730 PDT, and I think this is the quickest I’ve ever written about an anime on launch day. In keeping with how I opened the GochiUsa season one post, which had Cocoa looking at the Rabbit House sign, here, I’ll open with Chino looking at the same sign after a trip to the local market for groceries. Judging from the character’s clothing, it’s late winter, probably in January or early February.

  • Cocoa’s camera, though unbranded, is a Sony DSC-W630 CyberShot. With a 16.1 megapixel chip, this older but highly compact camera is relatively inexpensive, producing images of reasonable quality for its price. It’s also got a good battery life, and images average around 6 MB individually. However, the camera is a little slow to process images when the flash is enabled. The pink models are quite real, and I am certain it’s a DSC-W630 because of the placement of the flash and auto-focus lamp (the little circle right of the flash), as well as the aperture’s design.

  • The notion of an overreaction to what might be perceived as an embarassing photograph is not new, but it’s always hilarious to see. Here, Rize reacts in horror after realising that she inadvertently made some cute poses for Cocoa, whose camera spree results from her wish to share details about life at Rabbit House with her friends.

  • Thus, this provides the context for what was seen during the trailer released a ways back. This post is predominately about the characters, and consequently, there aren’t any cityscape shots. With this being said, the cityscape in GochiUsa season two are as detailed and beautiful as they were in season one. The unique setting is one of the strongest elements that set GochiUsa apart from other slice-of-life anime, and makes it more memorable.

  • It feels that the colours of GochiUsa season two are a bit more saturated than they were in season one. This could be a consequence of the stream, but fortunately, the increased vividness doesn’t detract from the viewing experience. After visiting Chiya, Cocoa pays Sharo a visit next and voices her disappointment towards the degree of resilience Chino’s shown towards being photographed.

  • Rize wonders if tickling Chino will elicit a smile from her, but this ends up failing, with Rize remarking that something feels off about doing something like this to Chino. Insofar, it’s taken a fair degree of effort to get Chino on camera, but some individuals simply don’t like being photographed, and while the causes vary, it’s usually easiest to respect the individual’s wishes and simply not photograph them. While it’s adorable to watch everyone coax Chino out of her dislikes, this is an anime, so the rules of reality don’t apply.

  • Despite remaining as airy as ever, Chiya is able to strike some surprisingly bold poses: here, she and Cocoa carry out a comedy act of sorts that results in Rize unknowingly playing the role of the “sane man”. Strictly speaking, the DSC-W630 isn’t able to capture images that quickly if the flash is on, but given that GochiUsa isn’t an anime about photography, such an oversight is easy enough to forgive.

  • Cocoa et al.’s efforts are not in vain, and Chino eventually warms up enough to smile, being touched by how much her friends care about her. It’s easy enough for me to capture the images, but Cocoa seems to have less luck, with all of her images failing or becoming blurry. This forms the basis for the episode’s first half, motivating my use of the page quote, as Cocoa is really trying to capture an image of Chino’s smile.

  • Chiya mentioned that she was being interviewed for a magazine story earlier, and at present, everyone has an opportunity to read said magazine article. Fleur de Lapin is also featured, along with the Hoto Bakery (Cocoa’s skill at baking bread stems from the fact that she comes from a line of bakers), Aoyama’s food column and some images of Rize modelling dresses (a callback to the first season). It’s not too surprising that Aoyama does writing work outside of being a novelist, and there’s no denying that “Hungry Aoyama Gourmet Mountain” has a nice ring to it.

  • In search of a quiet place to relax, Aoyama arrives at Rabbit House. Compared to the other coffee houses in the area, Rabbit House does seem a little quiet. The café doubles as a bar by evening, serving alcoholic beverages such as the gin and tonic and the salty dog, amongst other things. Because the cast is predominately of a high school age, this side of Rabbit House is only seen on some occasions.

  • Chiya notices that Chino seems a little melancholy after reading all of the magazine articles and wondering about business at Rabbit House. The topic of magazine article reminds me of life at the LINDSAY Virtual Human Lab: while I’m usually busy with building simulations, media groups and the higher-ups at campus do occasionally show up to interview my PI (and I’m visible in some of the resulting videos/photographs). Naturally, I won’t link to them for security reasons.

  • Aoyama experiences an instance of catastrophic structural failure, when the chair she sits down on collapses. Initially brushing it off as a sign that Rabbit House has a rich history, she suddenly wonders if this is the Master’s punishment for her not working hard enough. During such moments, the screen takes on an unearthy hue, and in general, I choose not to feature these moments since they’re better watched, rather than read about.

  • Chino laments the fact that Rabbit House is somewhat dilapidated: it’s been around for quite some time, and though GochiUsa lovingly makes use of audio and visuals renders it as being very clean and well-maintained, anime is inherently unable to represent olfactory aspects. So, I would imagine that Rabbit House, underneath the pleasant aroma of coffee, would also smell like an older wooden building.

  • When Sharo learns that Cocoa was responsible for some of the seemingly-antiquated features at Rabbit House, she grows frustrated and chastises her. Earlier this week, I began watching the Yuru Yuri OVAs whilst enjoying a massively delicious pulled-pork poutine with a succulent helping of smoked pork and fried onions on top of thick cut fries, gravy and cheese curds. I wondered if I would finish quickly enough such that I could begin supervising a new workspace on campus.

  • Maya confidently states that Rabbit House will also be featured in a magazine at some point in the future, and in a heartwarming moment reminiscent of a similar scene in the K-On! Movie, interview her with near-identical questions about relationships, before leading her on a short chase.

  • The day draws to a close as golden beams of sun stream through the windows, and Takahiro thanks Cocoa for the day’s efforts before leaving a message with her to relay to Chino. Such moments show that there are hidden depths to Cocoa: she’s hardworking and precise when working, only maintaining a fluffy, energetic presence whenever Chino’s around.

  • Earlier, Chino is seen tugging at her face to force a smile. When Cocoa arrives, she tries to lighten Chino’s spirit up with her own brand of ventriloquism. Humour derived from Tippy’s ability to talk as ventriloquism makes a return in the second season, although I do not see it as being likely that Cocoa or the others will learn about the truth behind Tippy’s state. This is most likely to maintain the status quo, as well: things could presumably get chaotic if Aoyama and the others learn that Tippy is a vessel for Chino’s grandfather’s spirit.

  • It turns out that the message Takahiro had for Chino was that they would also be featured in a magazine, with a double-spread, no less. A glance at the magazine article (and those seen in previous scenes) strongly illustrates just how much effort went into the art and animation in GochiUsa, where attention is paid to even minor things like ripples in coffee as its being poured, or seeing the transparent reflections of characters in windows.

  • The choice to show Cocoa preparing to mail a letter back to her family by evening demonstrates the quality of writing in GochiUsa: smaller plot elements make a return to yield closure for the episode. The fact that Cocoa is still using traditional mail, even with the presence of digital cameras and cell phones, obfuscates when and where the anime happens, but also serves to reinforce the notion that the setting in GochiUsa is relaxed and laid-back to the extent where people are perfectly willing to use snail-mail (in comparison to reality, where email, IM and SMS has led to ever-increasing demands for instantaneous responses).

  • I’ll end the post off with Chino smiling as she looks at a picture frame that she’d made. I originally had forty images, and it was no small effort to pick the best twenty for discussions. With the first episode of GochiUsa‘s second season out and reviewed now, I’m going to return to Star Wars: Battlefront Beta and see if I can’t experience playing as Luke or Darth Vader, before enjoying Thanksgiving dinner, which will feature, amongst the usual turkey and stuffing, shrimp (I’m in Canada, hence the observance of Thanksgiving in October).

Looking ahead, GochiUsa is going to be something that I will look forwards to watching every week. The first season dealt with Chino and Cocoa gradually coming to learn more about one another to the extent where Chino’s icy façade towards Cocoa dissipates somewhat, and it’s logical to imagine that the second season will see this trend continue. The end result is a very-natural, credible relationship that never feels forced. However, the elephant in the room at present is Mocha’s upcoming presence in the remainder of GochiUsa‘s second season. Her presence is most likely to disrupt the status quo and consequently, we could see new sides to each character, thereby livening up the second season. Though she’s not yet made an appearance, I previously remarked that it would not be logical to be introduced after one episode: the first episode must aim to (re)establish the primary characters, and adding new characters right off the bat would take time away from doing so. Consequently, there are no issues with leaving Mocha’s introduction for a later episode. The episode preview actually yields very little in the way of what’s to come, so it is possible that Mocha could show up as early as next week’s episode. This is something that time will tell, and I will return after the third episode to provide my impressions of GochiUsa by the three-episode mark. For the present, there is no denying that this first episode was most enjoyable, and I look forwards to seeing what directions GochiUsa‘s second season (hitherto referred to as GochiUsa) will take.

Hello! Kiniro Mosaic: Reflection and review after three

“Good teachers know how to bring out the best in students.” —Charles Kuralt

The sequel to Kiniro Mosaic, Hello! Kiniro Mosaic marks a welcome return to the gentle, slow-paced humour that characterised the first season, which saw Alice and Shinobu resume their friendship after the latter’s homestay in England five years prior to the present. When the first season ended, Alice and Shinobu were advancing into their second year of high school, but were separated on virtue of being in different classes. The second season picks up right where the first left off; Aya, Shinobu and Karen have Akari Kuzehashi as their homeroom instructor, and owing to her strict, intimidating presence, are having a difficult time adjusting. Karen’s efforts eventually leads Akari to open up somewhat, and by episode three, Hello! Kiniro Mosaic has settled right with the pace of things, with Yoko’s younger siblings making an appearance and Alice expressing a desire to be with Poppy, her pet dog.

For most viewers familiar with Kiniro Mosaic, the first season concluded nearly two years ago, and it was only a few months ago where a second season had been given the go-ahead and announced. On my end, it’s only been two months since I finished the first season. Consequently, I still recall vividly what the first season was like; the second season is off to an exceptionally strong start, offering incredibly amusing situations that allow the characters to bounce off one another. It is quite reminiscent of Bill Waterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, where the jokes became consistently better as Waterson continued to tune his craft. Hello! Kiniro Mosaic does just this: all of the sheer ridiculousness of some of the situations, whether it’s Karen’s determination to befriend Akari, the antics that ensue when everyone tries to reproduce an authentic English High Tea experience or Alice’s desire for a pet indicate moments that were are well-polished, intended to be accessible for new viewers, while simultaneously reacquainting those familiar with the show through some of the more subtle moments that allow the audience to learn more about the characters.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Alright, we’re back to Kiniro Mosaic, and I’m commentating this while I watch, picking up where I left off, let’s do this. I’m feeling magical; I can complete this review…in roughly thirty seconds. For newcomers, Hello! Kiniro Mosaic is quite accessible, although watching the first season is recommended, since there are subtle call-backs to the first season that make the second season doubly enjoyable to watch.

  • The first few episodes deal predominantly with Akari, a new character who is the home economics instructor and also Aya, Karen and Shinobu’s homeroom instructor. Much of the humour in the episodes is dramatic in nature, with Karen mentioning Akari in a moderately unflattering light and subsequently learning that Akari happens to be standing right behind her.

  • While she’s actually quite kind-hearted and enjoys working with her students, Akari’s intimidating appearance causes her students to become quite distant as a result. Karen sees her as a tiger for her ferocity, and speculates that she’s even eaten students.

  • It comes across as somewhat unnerving in reality, and Kiniro Mosaic manages to turn Alice’s recording observations of Shinobu into something that’s endearing and entertaining. Not every anime can pull this off, but in the remarkably relaxed, carefree world that is Kiniro Mosaic, something like this is not unplausible.

  • Karen somehow manages to acquire a Sherlock-esque garb in her investigation to figure out Akari, and in the process, learns that Shinobu is also quite mysterious, as well. Together with Aya, Yoko and Alice, they follow Shinobu around to no avail, and later, Shinobu reveals that her wish to learn English and become an interpreter was brought on by a memory from her childhood, where she saw someone converse with a native English speaker.

  • While Karen is rather rambunctious, she’s also kind-hearted and is quick to befriend others. Her determination to get on good terms with Akari is quite endearing, and in fact, brings back memories of when I was an assistant instructor for kindergarten-aged children at a Chinese language school. It was there I realised the joys of piquing students’ enthusiasm for learning things.

  • Upon hearing Sakura’s suggestion about “squeezing something cute”, Yoko and even Aya gets in on it. Kiniro Mosaic is remarkably similar to GochiUsa with respect to atmospherics and pacing, despite their respective manga’s different authors. The time difference between Kiniro Mosaic‘s first and second seasons’ start points is 21 months, so assuming this trend to hold, GochiUsa‘s second season will probably air during Winter 2016.

  • Shinobu proposes that everyone gets together for afternoon tea, and after spending an afternoon just making the scones and biscuits, they’re forced to reschedule it. Afternoon tea has its origins in the 1840s amongst the British upper classes, and thus, can be said to be a relatively recent custom. A direct translation into my native tongue yields “yum cha” (飲茶), although rather than British staples, such as pastries and crumpets, dim sum is served instead. It’s one of my favourite events, and I’m especially fond of har gow.

  • Karen decides to give some of the additional cookies she’d made with the others to her classmates as thanks for offering her sweets previously. Karen’s ever-lively personality and openness lends Kiniro Mosaic a very energetic feel: prior to her arrival in the series, things felt much slower, more laid-back in pacing. Something similar is happening in The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan: now that Haruhi’s back, the show feels like it’s really picked up.

  • Despite knowing that happi coats don’t require measurements, Aya takes Yoko’s measurements anyways. Read directly in Chinese, 法被 has no meaning in Hanzi, but refer to the happi coats in Japanese kanji; these are typically worn during festivals and its phonetic similarity has led them to be referred to as “happy coats”, which Akari tries to make a joke out of.

  • While Shinobu may be under-performing as a student, her love of clothing means that she’s quite a seamstress, impressing Akari with her craftsmanship. On my edge, I tend to be similarly impressed with students who submit exceptionally well-done programs that satisfy the assignment criteria. These assignments are the easiest to mark, and I typically begin the marking procedure by separating assignments into two piles: the pile that outright works, and the pile where I give the assignment a closer look so they can be fairly evaluated.

  • After a conversation with Sakura, Akari gradually figures out how to interact with her students without scaring them. One of the things that students look for in an instructor is their approachability: ever since I took the position of being a TA, I strive to present myself as being available to help the students to the best of my ability. While this means my inbox typically fills up (even with emails from students in other sections), it is immensely rewarding to see students learn and grasp the material.

  • Naturally, I do not intimidate my students quite to the same extent that Akari does, and while I remind my students of important dates, since said students are undergraduates and adults, I expect that they are able to manage their own schedules and become aware of the deadlines.

  • This year for April Fools’ Day, I changed my relationship status on Facebook from what it normally is to “In a Relationship”. It was a remarkably effective prank, since numerous of my friends did in fact fall for it, but those who know me quite well would know that it’s unlikely that such a thing would happen on such short notice. I thought it was fairly amusing, until I found out about Matimi0’s April Fools’ joke, which deceived even me.

  • In fact, I would argue that those who read my blog and the accompanying image captions for each post would probably know me better than those who see my news feed on Facebook. This blog does act as an electronic diary of sorts, even if it is not quite as detailed as other online diaries. Apparently, dogs do not get along with Shinobu and bark in her presence.

  • Last season, we had Alice bursting into tears after a New Year’s Dream near the series’ end, although this time around, the wait for such a reaction was not quite so long. My posting schedule’s been thrown off by the fact that I’ve been remarkably busy over the past while: on Sunday, I attended brunch with my professor for multi-agent systems and classmates; the morning had been quite gloomy when I drove there. As I sat down to plates of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, a freshly made omelette, honey glazed ham, mini-steaks and chicken quesadillas, discussion turned to applications of multi-agent systems in real-world scenarios.

  • Discussions feel much more informal outside of the classroom, and after I finished cheesecake some time later, the weather had cleared out completely, leaving skies of blue and sunshine.  I spent the remainder of the day grading assignments. Back in Kiniro Mosaic, Alice has fallen from a strong desire to pet and play with Poppy again. Such visuals add a great deal of humour to the scenario.

  • Despite suggestions to pet Yoko in Poppy’s stead, Alice remarks that it’s different. Akari remarks that the students feel more similar to primary school students, and to an external observer, this is quite true. It’s only in anime where characters are able to act much younger than their ages would otherwise suggest, and the unique environment here allows this to be executed quite well.

  • Sakura goes to extreme lengths to help her students, even managing to mimick Poppy’s barking to resuscitate Alice. Today marked the end of my first year in graduate studies; I completed an oral exam for the multi-agent systems course and summarily received my grade to continue my perfect streak. Now that the summer’s practically here, I finally picked up the Wolfenstein bundle (The New Order and The Old Blood) and will be starting on that quite soon. As well, I’ll be concluding April with a post on Hibike! Euphonium and my impressions of the finale to Gundam Build Fighters Try.

  • Shinobu later makes a robotic dog for Alice to keep her company until she returns to England and sees Poppy again. Whatever lies ahead for Hello! Kiniro Mosaic will be something that I look forwards to seeing, as the academic term gives way to the summer. I anticipate that having humour of this calibre will be particularly helpful as I gear up to learn the Unreal Engine and begin my thesis in earnest.

Moving forwards, it appears that several new characters will be added to the line-up, offering the possibility of pushing new adventures and humour forwards. The second season’s off to a fine start: the first season was quite enjoyable to watch, but here, the situations seem to segue into one another very neatly, making each moment more enjoyable. If this trend holds for the remainder of the season, audiences will be left with a fantastic comedy that is sure to entertain in every moment. It’s been a while since I’ve watched a well-executed comedy; insofar, Hello! Kiniro Mosaic is something that’s very easy to recommend, and while this second season can be watched without having watched the first, there are some nuances that can only be understood if one’s watched the first season. We are still reasonably early into Hello! Kiniro Mosaic, so catching up before the fourth episode is not a particularly momentous undertaking.

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan: Precious Place, First Episode Review and Reflection

“It is nice finding that place where you can just go and relax.” —Moises Arias

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan has been something that’s been greatly anticipated for quite some time (since June 2013, if we’re keeping score), and with the first episode now out, it’s time to see whether or not The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan acts as a meaningful spin-off to the Suzumiya Haruhi franchise. This first episode deals with Yuki’s desire to do more club activities, and with Christmas approaching, she wishes to pull all the stops and have a celebration in their school’s clubroom with a turkey. The turkey proves to be a challenge, since no one in the shopping district sells them, and Tsuruya offers to give them a turkey if they consent to a contest with Mikuru; this soon devolves into a direct contest between Ryouko and Tsuruya. Later, Ryouko manages to obtain permission to use the clubroom for their party, and Yuki recalls how she’d first met Kyon. With the first of sixteen episodes done, it’s quite clear that The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan is not meant to evoke the same sense of grandeur that The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi did. Instead, this alternate universe presents a much more nostalgic, almost wistful environment that provides a pleasantly different pacing compared to the previous series in the franchise. Without any of the supernatural and science-fiction elements that made The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi so popular, The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan appears to be aiming to present a more low-key, cathartic anime for those whose curiosities were piqued by The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi.

While it’s still quite early to make a judgement, the first episode was very faithful to the manga series of the same name: I’ve been following The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan closely for quite some time, and its story about the awkward and tender relationship between Kyon and Yuki was remarkably heartwarming. The first episode captures glimpses of this, and although it may prima facie appear that nothing has happened, the manga does pick up and tie things together with a solid story. The anime so far seems to be adapting half a volume per episode, and eight volumes of the manga have been released, so assuming that The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan‘s anime maintains a similar level of consistency with the manga, the series will be able to traverse all eight volumes when it concludes in late June. Thus, while some viewers have already expressed that this may be a dull series compared to The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi if all it does is focus on Nagato’s eccentricities, the story will pick up by the sixth episode or so: it’s not going to be slow-paced slice-of-life all the way to the end, and some of the more comical elements, coupled with a slightly more serious arc will likely make an appearance. Consequently, those unfamiliar with the manga have little need to worry that “fluffiness and self-referential humour” are all that is going to comprise The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I’ve been watching anime for upwards of eight years now, and have done anime reviews for at least six of those eight years. However, I’ve never actually done a review for an anime where I had a priori knowledge because of the source manga. For The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, I’m as caught up in the manga as can be, and the first episode’s been very faithful to the manga.

  • Satelight’s approach provides a more minimalistic environment compared to how Kyoto Animation handled things. To put that in perspective, it’s the difference between low and ultra settings in a shooter. With this being said, the reduced details in the environment do not stop The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan from projecting the nostalgic feeling that the manga was able to convey.

  • The music in The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan is par for the course with the middle ground for what I was hoping to hear and what I was likely to hear: there are gentle classical songs for the more tender moments, and more typical pieces befitting of the light-hearted mood in a romance-comedy.

  • Elements from The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi-chan made their way into The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, including the increased presence of deformation, reliance on gag visuals and the casual disregard for physics. This is not an anime to be taken seriously, and

  • It’s almost been a year-and-a-half since the announcement was actually made in December 2013: when I first learnt about this anime, I predicted quite correctly that it would be a spring 2015 release. At the time, spring 2015 seemed a very long time into the future, and I would never have predicted that any of the stuff that happened in the past year would jhappen.

  • The most stabbing that Ryouko does in this universe is restricted to dinner preparation. She hums Hare Hare Yukai, the ending song for the first season. The song itself wasn’t particularly unique, but apparently, the dance was quite catchy for most and spread like a wildfire in terms of popularity. I prefer the orchestral version in The String Concert of Suzumiya Haruhi.

  • It’s quite nice that Yuki’s apartment retains a very familiar design, with things like the kotatsu, potted plant and stereo system being retained. However, compared to the design patterns in The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi, Yuki’s apartment features less exaggerated angles, warmer lighting, and wider windows to give the impression that this is an simple, yet inviting home reflective of this Yuki’s personality.

  • While Satelight may not have Kyoto Animation’s talent for creating detailed environments, their particular style and the resulting minimalist environments presents the advantage of shifting the focus onto the characters: anime with highly life-like worlds fully immerse their viewers and illustrate that their characters are very much a part of their world, which in turn demands better world building, something that Suzumiya Haruhi excelled at.

  • Conversely, by de-emphasising the setting, Nagato Yuki-chan attempts to steer the viewer’s attention to the characters themselves, allowing for Kyon and Yuki’s growing relationship to be followed. Unlike the manga, where Kyon sees a little less of Yuki after Ryouko tries to tug off her shirt, the anime pushes the envelope a little further: this subtly changes the context behind Kyon’s decision, suggesting that in this adaptation, Kyon retains more of his sharp tongue compared to the manga.

  • The lines in the anime follow quite closely with the manga, although hearing the original voice actors deliver them adds a bit of a depth to the anime that even the manga itself can’t capture. I make a mention of Minori Chihara’s performance later on, but to summarise it right here, it’s different, but quite fitting for this series, depicting a more childish Yuki.

  • The shopping district also makes a return: this is where Haruhi bought the props and equipment she needed for her movie back in The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi. It’s been almost four years since I bolted through The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi to watch The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi, and in that time, so much has happened. In the spirit of summer 2011, I am planning on going back and watching everything again, just for old times’ sake.

  • This here scene is an excellent case study of the minimalist backgrounds in The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan: the plates in the shop in the background appears to be a texture rather than a prop, and the characters do seem to pop out a little more, although careful use of colouring ensures that they’re shaded to match the lighting in the environment. This fine balance allows the viewer’s eye to be drawn to the characters as they converse.

  • Ryouko’s relationship with Yuki in The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan is depicted as being quite similar to that shared by a mother and daughter: Ryouko is quick to critique and help Yuki, also knowing exactly how to get Yuki to reveal the truth without too much effort. Because of their roles in The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, I’m going to have to get good at spelling all of the character’s names.

  • Mikuru and Tsuruya make a return in this first episode: they’re not even given introductions because the anime assumes viewers to already be familiar with The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, but for the newcomers, Mikuru is a soft-spoken girl and Tsuruya her best friend. Both largely retain their personalities from The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, and for one reason or another, have a Mikuru fan-club that Kyon unknowingly became a part of.

  • Suzumiya Haruhi‘s universe is remarkably complex, far more so with the light novels compared to the anime, featuring numerous characters and story arcs. Technically, the light novels are not even finished yet; Nagaru Tanigawa has created a series that is very difficult to both continue and end owing to the complexity of the stories. Consequently, the latest volumes were released back in 2011 that left the conclusion as an open ending, and was released four years after The Dissociation of Suzumiya Haruhi.

  • With due respect, a more complex story is not necessarily better: The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi‘s popularity did not stem from the light novels themselves, but rather, through Kyoto Animation’s adaptation of it, which featured exceptional production, animation, voice-acting and music. This breathed a new dimension into the world that Nagaru created, and while the animated adaptation was quite good, the complexity in Nagaru’s original novels means that future adaptations are quite unlikely.

  • The dynamics between Tsuruya and Ryouko are incredibly amusing to watch, their competitions end in a stalemate, and the two agree to compete again in the future. I look forwards to seeing their interactions in future episodes: the art style in the manga made it quite difficult to tell the two apart in earlier volumes, but Puyo’s since fine-tuned the character designs in the latest volumes, and of course, in the anime, Tsuruya and Ryouko’s hair colours allow them to be instantly differentiated from one another.

  • Back in their clubroom, Yuki’s plans for their Christmas party become quite grandiose: she wonders if a dress and multi-layer cake will be possible. Apparently, I’m not in the minority of individuals who have really enjoyed this first episode as it is, which is an encouraging sign. At the opposite end of the spectrum are the purists who view any spin-off as being sacrilegious to Suzumiya Haruhi: some have even compared The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan to Endless Eight, but ultimately, neither should have a bearing on whether or not I will enjoy this.

  • For those wondering why I have chose to omit mention of Haruhi herself from this discussion, the justification is that this first episode’s focus is on Yuki, so at the very least, talk on the first episode should focus on this series’ lead characters. Haruhi will make an appearance later on and play a larger role: Aya Hirano will be returning to provide Haruhi’s voice, and despite all of the controversies surrounding her, having her reprise her role as Haruhi was a proper decision.

  • That’s pretty much it for this talk: I’ll be blogging about The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan in four episode-intervals, given that this series is set to run for sixteen episodes. For brevity’s sake, future posts will refer to The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan simply as Nagato Yuki-chan. As for what’s upcoming, there will be the odd post or two before the after-three talks for Hello! Kiniro MosaicOreGairu Zoku and Hibike Euphonium coming out near the April’s end.

Even though I’ve been reading the manga since it came out, The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan‘s animated adaptation still presented some surprises to me, especially with regard to how Minori Chihara delivers Yuki’s lines. The voice cast from The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi reprise all of their roles, and while most of the other characters still feel as they did in The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, Yuki’s voice sounds younger. This higher pitch that suggests that The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan‘s Yuki is a touch less shy, more naïve and perhaps, cuter than even Yuki’s The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi‘s incarnation. It’s a little strange, but does not feel at all out of place in this universe. Moving forwards, the next episode will deal with the Christmas party itself. After one episode, between the atmospherics, the characters and the music, this has been quite consistent with what one might reasonably expected from the animated adaptation of The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan. It’s no blockbuster with enough references Freud to make a philosophy major blush, and it won’t promote discussions of the implications of Haruhi as a physical god, but this relaxed, gentle atmosphere, and the presence of comedy interspersed with the more tender moments between Kyon and Yuki will be sufficient a reason for watching this anime.

Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata: Fan Service of Love and Youth Review and Reflection

“Game developers know that people have more fun when they’re in large groups. They feel more fired up when the challenges are more epic.” —Jane McGonigal

The first episode to Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata (alternatively known as Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend or Saekano for brevity) cannot considered to be a proper introduction to Saekano, as it drops viewers off in the middle of the visual novel development cycle, during which Tomoya Aki, Megumi Kato, Eriri Spencer Sawamura, Utaha Kasumigaoka, and Michiru Hyodo (Tomoya’s cousin) going on a short trip of sorts to gain inspiration for the locations within their game. An in media res approach seems a little strange for an anime about a small team’s aspirations to make a visual novel, but on closer inspection, dropping viewers in into the midst of things and showcasing the characters as they are after they’ve gotten to know each other a little better through their project. Indeed, the episode emphasises free anatomy and a degree of good-natured ribbing between the characters, suggesting that while there is the possibility for the season to be filled with such, the show’s creators are deciding to get this stuff out of the way first so focus can be directed towards the actual process of assembling a team and building the visual novel itself.

While the first episode (technically the zeroth episode) does not offer very much in the way of letting the audience in on the visual novel process, the characters themselves possess the sort of dynamic that suggests their daily interactions are most amusing, and thus, Saekano appears to be striving to present a parody of most of the anime in the seraglio genre. Eriri and Utaha exhibit archetypes in their personality (tsundere and cold, aloof) of the types of characters this genre is known for, although Tomoya’s focus on creating a visual novel (and outspoken preference for two-dimensions) appears to be defying the sort of story-telling elements that anime of this sort is known for. I’ve heard in some discussions that Saekano is going to be a deconstruction of the harem genre, that the post-modernism will somehow take away from the narrative. This is a very dangerous assumption to make, given that it pre-supposes that Saekano is likely to be a disappointing anime. As noted earlier, Saekano is a parody of the genre, applying meta-humour to create dramatic irony where the characters understand the clichés in such anime, but lack the awareness to understand that they themselves demonstrate characteristics of the clichés that they criticise. In short, no, Saekano is not a deconstruction, nor is there any sign that it’s intended to be thus, and as the series moves forwards, I anticipate a series that will address some of the common elements seen in harem anime, while simultaneously driving humour by having the characters succumb to the very same traits they find irrational.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • This may be a fanservice episode and thus, features an above-average number of “interesting” screenshots (four of twenty), but the discussion will nonetheless remain relevant, starting with introductions for all of the characters in Blessing Software, the company that Tomoya starts with the aim of creating a visual novel for Comiket. We’ll start with Eriri Spencer Sawamura (left, glaring at Utaha for insulting her tastes in anime), who is Tomoya’s childhood friend and is most promising painter in the art club. She hides her otaku side and maintains the manner of a refined young lady at school. She is the illustrator for Blessing Software.

  • Michiru Hyodo is Tomoya’s cousin. Save her poor performance in academics, she is excels in most things but does not demonstrate a commitment to anything, besides singing her favorite songs and playing the guitar in the band “Icy Tail”. Michiru had a prejudice against otaku culture and wasn’t happy about Tomoya being an otaku until Tokino, Echika and Ranko told her they were all otaku. Michiru composes the music in the game by Blessing Software.

  • Utaha Kasumigaoka a young novelist in class 3C. Being the brightest student in the school, most of the students hold her in awe. She is in charge of writing the scenario for the game by Blessing Software, and she refers to Tomoya as “Mr. Ethical” after he declined her suggestion that he read the last volume of Koisuru Metronome before it was published.

  • Megumi Kato is Tomoya’s classmate; an ordinary girl with no distinctive character, she is a good-looking girl but otherwise, holds no defining characteristics. She knows little about otaku culture but never keeps Tomoya at arm’s length. Megumi is the model for Meguri, one of the main heroines of the game being produced by Blessing Software.

  • Location scouting is a necessary evil for game development, but it is also quite fun in its own right, providing the developers with an excuse to get out and explore. The end result of a proper outing is the inspiration for the game’s settings, and coupled with modern graphics engines, the effects can be quite stunning.

  • Saekano, on the other hand, is focusing on the development of a visual novel, and from a strictly semantics perspective, I do not consider a visual novel to be a game on the virtue that the user does not have a significant degree of freedom or control over the paths in the game. Even if a visual novel can have multiple endings, the structure only allows one to read the narrative and make selections. Consequently, a visual novel is a slightly more interactive electronic book.

  • I do not anticipate that many would agree with me, but my definition of a proper video game is a piece of software that permits users a degree of control over their in-game avatars (ranging from moving a tennis paddle around to creating entire worlds), has an objective of some kind and usually has a failure condition that causes the game to end. One might counter-argue that visual novels have an objective, but the truth is that players are expected to simply go through the narrative and read it as it happens. Similarly, while picking some choices in visual novels may lead to so-called “bad ends”, this is an ending in the game, rather than a failure condition (such as running out of health, failing to complete an objective, running out of resources, etc).

  • Thus, it is not necessary to consult the literature for citations on whether or not visual novels are games: under my definition, they lack the defining characteristics of a game and handle more like an elaborate electronic book with music, save options and branching storylines. With that being said, some visual novels are exceptionally well-done (CLANNAD, for instance) and definitely merit multiple readings.

  • Apparently, Michiru also enjoys performing suplexes on Tomoya and then pinning him down in some sort of fashion, while Megumi observes quietly in the distance. Earlier, Utaha attempts a “simulated” love confession on Tomoya, before being interrupted by Eriri. This opening episode appears to demonstrate that Utaha, Eriri and possibly Michiru have some sort of ongoing rivalry for Tomoya’s feelings, although whether or not this indeed holds true will be seen as the series proper progresses.

  • Pong is a real game, provided that it allows for player interaction, has a well-defined objective (score more than the CPU or your opponent) and has an ending condition (when ten points is reached). While Pong (1972) is hardly the first video game to have ever existed, it is one of the earliest successful video games and contributed greatly to the popularity of modern games. The earliest known video game (interactive) was built in the late 1940s: known as the “Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device”, this game was a missile simulator inspired by radar displays from World War II and timed users as they tried to shoot down missiles (each of the parameters, interactivity, a well-defined objective, and failure conditions are all satisfied).

  • The artwork in Saekano shifts occasionally to a different style, giving these scenes different colouration compared to what is typically seen elsewhere. It’s not particularly distracting, although I wonder if these scenes have any significance (for instance, in True Tears, scenes often transitioned to watercolours whenever a powerful emotion is being felt).

  • I’ll get around to introducing Tomoya in the next post on my impression of Saekano after three episodes: this opening episode has only seen Tomoya as the developer who’s gotten into some curious situations, and as such, his character isn’t truly explored yet. Conversely, the female characters’ personalities have been fleshed out through their interactions with one another and Tomoya.

  • Judging from Eriri and Michiru’s reactions to Utaha’s suggestion of doing “something” in solitude, I’d say that something interesting lies on the two’s minds. However, Tomoya is all business, and soon sets about sorting the day’s photos.

  • I make it a point to never work so late that I fall asleep in front of the computer, and in fact, I tend to call it an evening after eleven. The latest I’ve ever worked on an assignment were for my medical research methodologies, computer science and honours thesis courses. Recently, as a TA, I’ve noticed an inflow of emails during the night hours before an assignment’s deadline and constantly wonder why the questions don’t come the nights before.

  • However, Tomoya’s rest is rudely interrupted when the others barge into his room, incapacitate him and ask why he pushes them to the limits without any rewards. Since Tomoya is not the Batman, he has no means of escape, and despite giving an honest, focused answer consistent with what developers might say, the girls have other plans for him.

  • While Tomoya is monologuing about creating a polished final product, the other girls settle something in the background with a game of rock-paper-scissors, and Utaha manages to win. It’s implied that they’ve consumed alcoholic candies ahead of time, and judging from Utaha’s reaction, she’s into Tomoya (either that, or it’s the EtOH acting).

  • What Utaha does to Tomoya is left ambiguous, and it invokes this reaction in Eriri, whose expression screams envy. From my end, I didn’t see anything…ever and only hear Tomoya’s scream of absolute terror. The dialogue isn’t particularly helpful with respect to conveying what’s happening, either, but I guess it’s better that viewers don’t see what’s happening.

  • There’s a full season’s worth of risqué material packed into the space of twenty four minutes, and at the last moment, Megumi intervenes to spare Tomoya from certain humiliation. In regards to why posts have been infrequent, this has been because I’ve spent most of my time on my coursework, teaching and thesis work. After a brunch at Cora’s (having breakfast for lunch is quite entertaining) with friends today, I spoke with my supervisor, and it seems that my next goal after getting RNA translation working, is to create several signalling pathways for more content and begin considering how my software will work with the Oculus Rift and the CAVE.

  • Beyond the thesis, there’s also the matter of learning about agent-based systems for simulating robot rescues, finishing the marking of various assignments and preparing next week’s lesson plans. My schedule is plenty busy, but thanks to the respite offered by reading week, I’ve been able to make good progress on my work and catch up on enough anime to write about them.

  • I’m a fan of Megumi’s gentle voice: Kiyono Yasuno plays her, and to my knowledge, I’ve only seen one other anime she’s played a role in. This would be Tina Kobayakawa of Wake Up, Girls!, one of the members of the I-1 Club. I’ve now got a small marathon to pull off so I can reach the third episode; the talk for said episode will focus on the game-development aspects, especially in regard to the beginning. Future posts also include those for the Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou and Ano Natsu de Matteru OVAs, as well as the Expelled from Paradise movie.

As the first episode draws to a close, and the series proper begins, it’s logical to anticipate that the Saekano‘s first episode proper (namely, episode two) will deal with how Tomoya’s project begins, and how he manages to recruit Eriri, Utaha, Megumi and Michiru into his project. Even in this first episode, the character’s interactions suggest a team that is marginally holding together, although it is noteworthy that they’d gotten as far as this episode has portrayed. How they settle their differences and find value in Tomoya’s project, then cooperate towards creating a visual novel for publication at the Comiket, is a story I am quite curious to see. With the fanservice components depicted straight off the bat, this would (presumably) allow the remainder of Saekano to focus on these problems.