The Infinite Zenith

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The Real Life Camping Grounds and A Mystery Lake: An Armchair Journey of Yuru Camp△ Part Three

“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” –George A. Moore

While this is a Yuru Camp△ post, permit me to indulge in an anecdote completely unrelated to Yuru Camp△, whose relevance will become apparent once I finish. I refer to the mockumetary series Pure Pwnage, whose unusual take on gamer culture and unique sense of humour made the series a highly memorable, timeless satire of gaming. I’ve referred to Pure Pwnage here on several occasions and have even written about the movie, which premièred in 2016. In Pure Pwnage, I’ve found a surprising depth in the series for how it handled life lessons, and another aspect that stood out is that Pure Pwnage is all-Canadian. The series predominantly features locations in Toronto, but also makes some use of locations in Montreal, Hamilton and even Calgary. The biggest query on my mind was where in Calgary FPS_Doug’s most famous scenes were shot: the streetlights seen while Doug is driving around and explaining his backstory are only found in Calgary, and the neighbourhood looked very familiar. The precise location continued to elude me, but then I realised that I could make use of a unique-looking landmark to figure things out. While Doug is driving, he passes by a school with a green, conic roof. Armed with this bit of information, the knowledge that such a school did not exist in the quadrant I am most familiar with, and Google Maps’ 3D mode, I found out that the school is called Monsignor JS Smith School, and using some additional tricks, worked out where FPS_Doug’s most infamous moment occurred. One of Pure Pwnage‘s most iconic moments was filmed in Douglasdale, a community in southeast Calgary, and it turns out that this is probably why FPS_Doug is called Doug. How is this pertinent to Yuru Camp△, one asks? The knowledge of a few basic clues, some resourcefulness and a powerful tool has allowed me to work out some of the locations behind Rin and Nadeshiko’s camping trips: unlike the previous trips, these locations proved to be more challenging to find, and without these techniques, this third and (maybe) final armchair journey post would not exist.

  • While the skies may not match up entirely between the Yuru Camp△ images and the real-world equivalent, it is clear that Yuru Camp△ has captured the moody, brown landscapes of the Nagano hills by autumn, right down to details in the road signs. Unlike many of the previous locations, however, this stretch of open road was not easy to find, since there were no major landmarks to help determine where the route was. It turns out that this is Route 194, just north of the gas station where Rin waved to the traffic camera.

  • I will outline briefly the technique for how these lonely stretches of road are found here, and reiterate the process later – quite simply, it entails knowing roughly where Rin started, where Rin is going, and the fact that Yuru Camp△‘s attention to detail has led the girls to take the shortest path to their destinations. Taken together, this means that we can at least narrow down the route to one. Having a single path to follow means a brute force search of the spots seen in Yuru Camp△ is not as painful as it otherwise would be.

  • This is one of several paths up the mountain to the Yatsugatake-Chushin Kogen. In Japan, a Quasi-National Park is a park that is managed by nearby prefectures, rather than the federal government. Yatsugatake-Chushin Kogen is a quasi-national park designated as such in 1964, managed by the Nagano and Yamanashi prefecture governments, and has a surface area of close to forty thousand hectares: it encompasses several lava plateaus and is a popular site for skiing. The area’s volcanic origins mean that onsen are also found here.

  • Here, we are looking at an ordinary roadside turnout. According to Google Maps, Rin would’ve continued on into the mountains along route 194, turned onto route 199, and then made her way back down along route 142. She would then turn right onto the Shimo-Suwa-Okaya bypass, continued on until she reached the Takabochi Skyline route and then ascend upwards into the mountains again. The entire run is around 37.1 kilometres, and back home, this distance can be traveled in roughly a third of an hour on open road. However, the winding mountain roads and area traffic slow things down.

  • The sign here (高ボッチ鉱泉) to the Takabocchi Hot Springs indicates that it is around six kilometres out, and last I checked, this hot springs has been permanently closed. While there’s the misconception that it was closed for the season, the sign seen in Yuru Camp△ indicates that this closure is indeed permanent, otherwise, the sign would indicate that it was closed seasonally. One can empathise with Rin, who’s traveled for upwards of an hour and a half outside, where it is 2ºC: while this is warm for folks of the True North Strong™, I know that being outside for this long without proper outerwear can be quite chilly.

  • Rin busts some mad moves on her way down to the Takabocchi hot springs. Six more minutes further would have seen Rin arriving at Akanejyuku Hot Springs, which visitors report to be quite comfortable and relaxing. Akanejyuku is a ryokan, but their hot springs are open to the public; admissions for adults is 700 yen, although the site asks visitors to limit themselves to sticking around only an hour to respect the accommodations for the ryokan‘s guests. Like the hot springs at Banff, the site’s water temperature may fluctuate unexpectedly.

  • With her plans to warm her bones in the onsen dashed, Rin returns up the way she came and stops in the wide open spaces of the Takabocchi highlands, which offer a sweeping view of the Japanese Alps to the northwest. Mount Fuji is also visible in the east when visibility is good. Between May and October, dairy cows also graze up here, although since it’s November by the time Rin visits, the grasslands are now quite empty.

  • The Yuru Camp△ incarnation of this field, with its cattle, seems a mirror of what I managed to find on Google Maps, and admittedly brings to mind “Bliss”, one of the most famous Windows wallpapers of all time. Featured as the default wallpaper for Windows XP, “Bliss” depicts an open field in California’s Sonoma County and was photographed by Charles O’Rear, but the site has changed considerably in the years since the photo was taken; there’s a wineyard up here now.

  • The combination of radio transmission towers and fog gives the area a distinctly Syphon Filter-like atmosphere: this series of third-person stealth shooters were released for the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 consoles of old, and when older graphics hardware meant that fog was widely used to conceal distant objects owing to limited draw distances. The towers at Takabocchi belong to NTT DoCoMo, a phone service provider whose name is a shorthand for the phrase “do communications over the mobile network” and also is phonetically similar to the phrase dokomo (どこも, “everywhere”).

  • From this entry, it’s a short 400-metre hike to the very top of Mount Takabocchi, which is 1664 metres above sea level. The ascent is actually not too arduous, as it’s quite flat up here, and, quite dejected by how her day’s turned out, Rin decides to climb up to the summit. It’s impossible not to feel bad for Rin, who wonders if it would’ve been easier to camp closer to home. Her first-ever long-range camping trip was met with a few disappointments, but from the viewers’ perspective, her day also had its high points, as well.

  • Whether it’s the sunset or midday, the view from Mount Takabocchi is spectacular. On Rin’s walk up to the summit, the dense clouds gradually give way, and she’s afforded with a spectacular view of Lake Suwa and the valley below. The density of particulates make it difficult to discern Mount Fuji from this spot, but Rin’s rewarded with a good view of Japan’s most famous stratovolcano, as well. I remark that Lake Suwa formed the inspiration for Itomori Lake in Your Name, and while I was in the area last, I was also actively avoiding spoilers about the movie.

  • As such, I did not make the connections when my travels took me close to Lake Suwa. Nonetheless, I enjoyed my travels considerably, and it was an added bonus that I did end up in the area that partially served to inspire Your Name‘s Itomori. We presently leave Lake Suwa behind and return to Hottarakashi Camping Ground, where Nadeshiko has decided to undertake a walk under the night skies. During her walk down from the campsite, she’s visibly frightened by the dark, but nonetheless persists in her walk and is rewarded for her troubles. Visible on the left is a fruit shop.

  • This viewpoint overlooking Yamanashi offers a stunning view to match the view that Rin’s got at Takabocchi; Yuru Camp△‘s deliberate choice to pick locations with beautiful night views and juxtapose Rin’s solo camping trip with Nadeshiko’s group camping with Chiaki and Aoi show that in spite of outward differences in their chosen approaches, both ways of camping have their merits and lead to a similar destination: a sense of wonder associated with the outdoors.

  • Rin’s travels come to an end with a visit to Suwa’s Takashima Castle and a proper soak in an onsen. The original castle was built in 1592, during the Edo period but was dismantled during the Meji Restoration. The current structure was the result of a reconstruction project that finished in 1970; the rebuilt castle is not entirely accurate to its original form, but it’s nonetheless a pleasant place to visit. Besides a museum, there’s also a park that provides a good view of cherry blossoms.

  • Nadeshiko accompanies Rin on her latest camping trip; after Rin expresses a desire to test her shiny new portable grill out, she invites Nadeshiko to come with her to Lake Shibire. This time, Rin and Nadeshiko receive a ride from Sakura. At the beginning of their journey, Sakura takes a route over Toyama Bridge on the Katakajima Bypass on her way to Iitomi, where the girls pick up provisions for their camping trip.

  • Google’s directions tool provides several possible routes to reach Lake Shibire: Sakura opts to take the slightly-longer but presumably more familiar Motosu-Michi route, which brings the girls by their high school. This particular stretch of road leads up to Lake Motosu, although rather than making a right onto route 412, Sakura continues along route 300 to their destination. From the concrete barriers to the retaining wall, Yuru Camp△ has lovingly illustrated the girls’ routes; at this point in the game, it is evident that intrepid adventurers can take the very same paths in Yuru Camp△, but further to this, one would likely need to rent a vehicle to begin trekking along some of these paths.

  • Sakura takes route 414, a narrow mountain road that leads up to Lake Shibire. The guard rail and narrower road indicates that this spot is deeper in the mountains, ruling out the small valleys along the way, and so, just like that, we find our location. Again, the attention to detail in Yuru Camp△ is exceptional; inspection of the real-world and anime images find considerable similarities: the same power cables can be seen in the anime screenshot as in the image from Google Maps.

  • There is only one way up to Lake Shibire from route 414, and this is up route 409. Because route 414 is down a very narrow, winding road, one imagines it would be quite easy to miss important intersections, so it makes sense that signs indicating directions of places would be placed at said intersections to help motorists out. Thus, the sign and mirror seen here were found fairly quickly. I should note that if my links break for any reason, please let me know immediately, so I can set about replacing them!

  • As much fun as it sounds, the legend of the bull that Yuru Camp△‘s narrator explains is, unfortunately, bullshit; the lake’s name in kanji is 四尾, or “Four tails”. This is said to have originated from a legend where a four-tailed dragon god resides up here. Here is the same monolith that Rin passes by en route to their campground, although the photograph does not capture the autumnal beauty of Lake Shibire in its full glory. Here, I mention that other sources have considered Yuru Camp△‘s narrator as ‘mysterious’, but I think that the narrator is Rin’s grandfather. Encountered while Chiaki is hunting for camping spots, Rin’s grandfather is an expert camper and inspired Rin to take up camping: it is only logical that he is the one explaining to audiences what the campers are up to.

  • Nadeshiko takes a walk around Lake Shibire while Rin sets up the campfire. This particular camping trip proved to be quite entertaining for viewers: Nadeshiko’s fear of the dark means that she’s reluctant to be out and about after sunset, and she decides to make the most of things while it’s light out. Rin seems unperturbed by the dark, although when returning from the bathroom, encounters a “mysterious shadow” that she bolts from. Rin is so shaken that she decides to spend the remainder of the night in Nadeshiko’s tent, and while she does not outright say it to Nadeshiko, it’s clear that in this moment, Rin is glad that she was not camping solo.

  • Prior to the events of Yuru Camp△, Nadeshiko lived at the edge of Hamamatsu, a moderately-sized city with a population of nearly eight hundred thousand people. She mentions that she was close to Hamana Lake, so this is where I began searching. Because 3D buildings are available, it was possible to fly overhead and, even though I was applying a brute force search, it was moderately quick to locate this intersection by viewing the shoreline of the lake and then working out what landmarks below looked familiar.

  • From features seen in Yuru Camp△, I eventually found this spot, located on a bridge south of Lake Hamana, connecting an island where Nagisaen Camping Ground is located to a series of reclaimed islands. As a software developer, I believe in good documentation and good step-by-step instructions. While I am of the mind that ideas and information that is worth something should definitely be protected, simple or trivial things, such as a simple “indexed table view with a search bar” or locations of an anime are not meant to be kept behind lock-and-key.

  • Nadeshiko had long admired Mount Fuji from afar, and when her family moved to Nanbu, her first decision was to see Japan’s best mountain up close and personal. Nadeshiko recalls the drive to Nanbu from Hamamatsu, so to find this spot along Nadeshiko’s route, I decided to see how one would get from Hamamatsu to Nanbu. The returned results include the Tōmei Expressway and Shin-Tōmei Expressway, a divided highway, and the image from Yuru Camp△ depicts the freeway as cutting through a forested, mountainous area with an overpass visible in the distance. The Shin-Tōmei Expressway cuts through more forest, so I looked overhead for any intersecting routes, and eventually came across the one depicted in Yuru Camp△, which is near the Maoten Shrine. While Mount Fuji is visible from this point on a good day, it is nowhere near as prominent as seen in Yuru Camp△.

  • The remainder of the locations in this post are fortunately, not so obscure: we return to the valley where Nadeshiko and the others spend their everyday lives in Yuru Camp△ here. This is Minobu station, which has been in operation since 1920. The current building dates back to 1980, and the station averages around four hundred and fifty passengers daily. From Minobu Station and the surrounding town of Minobu, the locations that Chiaki, Aoi and Nadeshiko travel along to reach the Caribou outdoors shop are easily found along route 10.

  • This crosswalk is found adjacent to Minobu Station: we are looking at a liquor store and a restaurant. A little further down the road is the confectionery store where the girls buy manju. These are apparently so good that Nadeshiko and Aoi eat their way through theirs in a heartbeat, and rush off to buy more. In their conversation, Aoi, Chiaki and Nadeshiko wonder why the manju are overlooked amidst the other offerings in Minobu. However, since Yuru Camp△ aired, this particular shop has seen an increase in sales, and visitors find that true to what the girls experience, the manju are excellent.

  • Because talking about benches is quite dull, I will deviate from what the screenshots above yield and discuss the Caribou outdoors store: in one of my reviews, I mentioned that looking around the area does not find such a store to exist. As it turns out, the actual store that Nadeshiko, Chiaki and Aoi visit is located in Hamamatsu. I imagine that like Glasslip, the change in location is intentionally so to facilitate the story: from the girls’ train station at Kai-Tokiwa to SWEN in Hamamatsu is a journey of at least three hours rather than the sixteen minutes it takes to get from Kai-Tokiwa to Minobu Station.

  • As we near the end of this third part of my Yuru Camp△ Armchair Journey mini-series, I will note that there might be a fourth part in the future as my schedule allows, but for now, readers will have at least three comprehensive parts to look through and explore. I will make a map available in the future, but for now, readers do have direct links to the Street View points for more obscure locations. For obvious locations like Minobu Station and its surroundings, I leave it to you, the reader, to explore around.

  • While landmarks such as Minobu Station and its surroundings are straightforwards to find, there are challenges encountered with more mundane, obscure locations. Fortunately, locating the last of these locations was not as tricky as finding that intersection in Hinamatsu: as we near the end of this post, we have one more ace-in-the-hole. Previously, we figured out where Rin and Nadeshiko’s school was, and judging from the lighting of the sky, it’s after school. So, the question then becomes “how does Nadeshiko get from school to Kai-Tokiwa Station?”, and knowing this, if we follow the shortest route from school to the train station, we have a relatively short walk that we can follow. Exploring this allows us to find the exact spot where Nadeshiko waves to a dog on a truck.

  • As we follow this route to its conclusion, we come across a bridge with a sign indicating that its maximum load is fourteen tonnes. It is here that Nadeshiko encounters a Google Street View vehicle, with its distinctive camera fixture. From the road sign and storefront, to the adjacent white apartment and street lamps, Yuru Camp△‘s attention to detail is visible again here. While her voice and message indicate excitement, Nadeshiko also seems a bit shocked that she’s encountered such an unusual vehicle here.

  • During the evening, Rin explores the area surrounding her school using a tablet. Google Maps was launched in 2005, and a mobile version for Android became available in 2008. The technology has come a very long way since then, and one of the features I make use of the most frequently is offline mode. This function is most useful when I’m in areas without a cell signal or WiFi, and today, Google Maps on tablets is immensely powerful, allowing me to explore areas in Street View as smoothly as I do on a desktop computer.

  • The surprise that Rin finds while exploring familiar streets is as much of a nice easter egg as the various Stan Lee cameos and the end credits sequences of MCU movies. The real world location is quite devoid of people, and I note here that while Yuru Camp△ is excellent in terms of details, they missed one thing in this Street View segment: Google routinely blurs out faces and license plates to preserve privacy. Nadeshiko’s face is not hidden here: while Google is reasonably thorough, they can sometimes miss things, and users are asked to report anything that they would like to be blurred. Of course, this is one case where realism is not of utmost importance: a blurred Nadeshiko would destroy the joke of running into her at this crosswalk.

The backroads Rin took to Mount Takabotchi, Nadeshiko and Rin’s ride to Lake Shibire, Nadeshiko’s flashbacks to Hanamatsu, and the Google Maps locations that sees Nadeshiko encountering Google’s Street View vehicle, were far more obscure than any of the locations I had previously kept track of. There are no distinguishable landmarks, street signs or other indicators of where some of these locations are. However, there is my accumulated knowledge of how Yuru Camp△ does things: two approaches were used to find the locations showcased in this final Yuru Camp△ Armchair Journey post. The first is that the anime sees the girls take the most efficient route to get from point A to point B, and so, given that we know what the optimal route is, we can trace this route and, following it, find things that are more obscure (such as the highway Nadeshiko recalls driving down while moving to Nanbu or the sign pointing to Lake Shibire). The second is that as long as the girls are on foot, we can explore nearby areas (within a one-kilometre radius) if their starting point is known. Nadeshiko’s viewpoint of Yamanashi and the hot spring Rin initially hoped to enjoy were found in this manner. The end result of this is that I find myself highly impressed with the attention to detail that Yuru Camp△ takes in depicting not just the techniques for camping, but also the journey and paths everyone takes to their destinations. By now, it’s become clear that the only way to really enjoy these locations is if one has home field advantage, or a considerable amount of vacation time on their hands – for everyone else, I again defer to the incredible capabilities that Google Maps has conferred upon us. Short of travelling to Japan in person, this tool has offered no shortage of exploration options that will serve to deepen the audiences’ appreciation of the effort that went into making Yuru Camp△. I close with the remark that, back in Pure Pwnage‘s first season’s eighth episode, Jeremy and Doug square off again DeathStriker6666 at LANageddon in Calgary. I immediately recognised the streets and hills as being in Calgary, but for the longest time, I wondered where the location was. After attending a Japanese festival at the Bowness Community Centre, I realised that the site was the one and the same for LANageddon, bringing an answer to yet another long-standing question I’ve had about Pure Pwnage. One thing’s for sure: I highly doubt that there exists anyone else out there who’ve had the audacity to mention Yuru Camp△ and Pure Pwnage in the same sentence, much less in the same blog post.

Pure Pwnage Teh Movie: Review and Reflection

“Maybe one day, I’ll inspire so many people to help so many other people suck less, there will be no suck left in the whole world.” —Jeremy, aka teh_pwnerer

With the occasional Pure Pwnage reference I make here and there in my other reviews, it should come as no surprise that I would take an interest to the Pure Pwnage film, dubbed Pure Pwnage Teh Movie: announced back in September 2012 and released in January 2016 (I was in Kelowna assisting with a The Giant Walkthrough Brain performance for UBC Okanagan the night the movie première back home), Pure Pwnage Teh Movie aspired to be the gamer movie that captured the spirit of gaming. Originally a web-based mockumentary on gamer culture, Pure Pwnage‘s earliest videos were characterised by over-the-top, hilarious takes on what life as a gamer is like: captured through Kyle (Geoff Lapire)’s perspective, Pure Pwnage follows the misadventures of Jeremy (Jarett Cale) and Doug (Joel Gardiner) as they interact with both the gaming and real worlds. A TV series was also created but was later cancelled: the web universe generally was met with greater acclaim, so in filming the movie, the creators decided to capture the spirit present in the web series as best as they could, and Pure Pwnage Teh Movie winds up meeting expectations: its been some ten years since Jeremy and Doug have last picked up a controller or pwned someone with a keyboard and mouse. Both are working, but when Kyle decides the time is ripe to produce a film and wishes to bring back the Jeremy and Doug of the web series, he finds out that Jeremy has settled in to life in the real world. However, not everything as it seems: it turns out that Jeremy’s been longing to do something beyond accounting. Rejoining the world of gaming, Jeremy’s surprised at how much games have changed in the past ten years. Things are more team-oriented now, and Jeremy must learn to be an effective team player. While he is able to lead a team to the world championship for a League of Legends tournament, Jeremy discovers that it’s ultimately not about winning, money or fame, but rather, it’s the spirit of friendship, cooperation and being true to oneself that truly matters.

Pure Pwnage Teh Movie rightfully earns its place as a comedy film about gamers: this movie is characterised by outrageous imagery and dialogue, whether it be Jeremy applying his über-micro towards working more effectively at his desk job or Doug smashing up a keyboard in frustration when he dies in Counter Strike: Global Offensive. The movie consistently delivers humour throughout its run, and fans who are familiar with Pure Pwnage will note that many of the elements that made Pure Pwnage‘s web series make a return in some from or another in Pure Pwnage Teh Movie (at one point, when Jeremy takes off, Doug chases after him but grabs a kitchen knife first, reasoning that “you run faster with a knife”). Similarly, in preparation for the competition, Jeremy decides that, given that the South Koreans are the greatest gamers on the planet, the only way he will reach their level of proficiency is to “breath the same air” and “eat the same food” as they do, dining on Korean cuisine and training as he imagines Koreans would. This particular aspect mirrors the legendary training scene during the web series where Jeremy trains under teh_masterer to further his skills after losing to a n00b. This is a movie that will bring smiles to gamers at all turns. While it is a fantastic caricature of gaming culture and non-gamers may find some of the jokes or references difficult to follow at times, but the film is reasonably friendly towards audiences as a whole, presenting a coherent story about Jeremy’s journey to understand what he really wants from life.

In spite of its prominent comedy aspects, Pure Pwnage has always managed to fit in life lessons into its seemingly frivolous narrative. The web series suggested that one must be willing to work hard in order to succeed (“it’s those people who are better than you that make you get better, you know? You gotta just put your nose down, you gotta work harder, you gotta train harder, you know? And you gotta think about that guy so, next time you meet, you’re gonna walk up to him and say ‘you know what? I’m gonna kick your ass!’, and then you do!”), be humble about one’s ability and never become complacent (“you don’t wanna be like all pro up in people’s faces, right, ‘cuz sometimes, you start thinking that you’re probably better than you actually are, and when that happens you start to lose focus, right? Next thing you know, you’re losing to a n00b”) or to be multi-disciplinary in order to adapt to different situations (“If one is to truly pwn, one must pwn in all games”). Pure Pwnage Teh Movie brings these subtle messages back in different forms. The one of major themes in the movie is that a team is only successful if its members cooperate: Jeremy, having played independently for such great lengths, is unfamiliar with working with his teammates to win, but with some tips from Doug, manages to be a better team player. Similarly, when Jeremy’s stubbornness nearly costs him the world championship, it’s Doug, understanding what friendship means, who returns to help Jeremy out. Overall, the main theme in Pure Pwnage is that happiness arises from being true to oneself: Jeremy is not truly happy with his job and returns to gaming, but when he goes pro, he realises that teamwork is a challenge for him. When given a chance to lead a team and sponsor a product, Jeremy decides that in the end, he merely wants to be true to himself, doing what he’s good at under his own terms. He tells Kyle that the film should happen on Kyle’s term’s (rather than the studio’s), and decides to play in the championships, because he wants to, not because he’s here to showcase a new piece of technology. In the end, this is the main message that Pure Pwnage Teh Movie truly seeks to convey: more often than not, people follow paths and careers because it’s what others want, losing sight of what they themselves want in the pursuit of satisfying someone else’s ideals. However, for those who are bold enough to remain faithful to themselves (and put in the effort to make their dreams a reality), the end results can be very gratifying. In Jeremy’s case, he wins the tournament with Doug’s help and goes on to use the winnings to start his own gaming school, where the goal is to make the world suck less and inspire others to do the same.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • This is my first time doing a full-sized review of a live action feature film in the blog’s entire history: the Skyfall review I wrote back in 2012 was smaller in scale and scope. Boasting thirty images, I encountered some difficulty in distilling out which moments to feature in the talk, since the entire movie, from start to finish, was one hell of a riot.

  • From the writers, the movie is a direct follow-up to the web series: by this point in time, both Doug and Jeremy have full-time employment at an unspecified firm. Jeremy is working s an accountant of some sort, and Doug seems to be involved in various jobs around the office, ranging from mail delivery to window cleaning (both tasks, he performs with the zeal of someone who is one with the first person shooter).

  • Jarett Cale admittedly resembles our current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, in physical appearance. Pure Pwnage Teh Movie is a Canadian-produced film, although through the movie, it should be clear that not all Canadians are hockey experts who live in igloos and eat copious amounts of maple syrup: here, Doug and Jeremy have bacon-and-kale salads for dinner while discussing technical tax terms that I have no understanding of. As Doug says, the bacon offsets the kale, making for a perfect (“strange” seems more appropriate, though) combination.

  • A parody of modern augmented reality devices, the XOBO is leaps and bounds further ahead than anything that currently exists: it’s supposedly able to read neural impulses and use those to control the UI. The closest we have at present is the Microsoft HoloLens, and my old research lab has acquired a device for development purposes. I’ve used the HoloLens, and it is an incredible experience.

  • Throughout the earlier scenes, Jeremy is taking an inordinate number of pills, and although their effects are never specified, it appears that they slow down Jeremy enough, allowing him to focus on the present. So, when Kyle takes the pills away, Jeremy suddenly realises that everything around him seems to suck, causing him to create a ruckus at his workplace and becomes fired in the process.

  • Jeremy and Doug later return to their old lifestyles and habits: here, they bring back the old RTS vs FPS debate while taking a stroll around the neighbourhood. In the web series, Jeremy and Doug have their differences with respect to which genre of game requires more skill. Jeremy argues that RTS requires more skill in demanding players keep track of multiple events and actions at once, while Doug contends that FPS is superior, boiling down to how well one knows the environment and tools needed for victory.

  • Anastasia (Miranda Plant) makes a few cameo appearances in the film here and there. In the web series, she briefly dated Jeremy but the two broke up near the finale. Jeremy and Anastasia appear on amicable terms in the movie and here, she remarks that Jeremy quitting his job might allow him to begin pursing the things he loves.

  • So, for the first little while, Jeremy and Doug spend their days playing games: a few modern titles, including Street Fighter IV and Counter Strike: Global Offensive make an appearance. Bringing back old memories of Doug smashing his keyboard in a rage after dying to lag, Doug tears up a keyboard after losing in CS:GO. Long accustomed to Doug’s outrageous actions, Jeremy calmly hands Doug a new keyboard.

  • Gaming in and of itself is a hobby, but there are professional competitions that result in payouts for participants who are successful. Jeremy is surprised to learn that competitions are team-based; this stands in contrast to his background as a gamer, as he is most comfortable with playing and winning on his own. This would suggest that Jeremy’s instructor, teh_masterer (a mysterious gamer clad in ninja attire), does not place particular value on teamwork and therefore did not cover it in Jeremy’s training during the web series.

  • Thus, while trying to recruit members for his team, Jeremy runs into considerable roadblocks and constantly tears down his teammates for not playing flawlessly to his standard. It’s ultimately Doug who provides Jeremy some suggestions and pointers for being a more effective leader. With this, Jeremy finally manages to work with his team and train with them in preparation for their first tournament.

  • I personally value self-sufficiency to a very high extent, but in my professional life, I understand the importance of good teamwork and communication: a large majority of humanity’s greatest achievements arise from the result of teamwork, and working independently (such as my graduate work) presents numerous obstacles that might be handled more effectively while working in a group of people.

  • This screenshot captures a sizeable crowd at one of the competitions: such crowds were never depicted in the web series, and the largest competition was the Lanageddon event held in Calgary’s Bowness Community Center during 2005. I visited the venue for myself a few summers ago during the Omatsuri festival (a redundancy, but that’s what it’s called), taking in some of the Japanese community’s cultural events and food in the area.

  • When Jeremy discovers that Kyle’s taken his pills (directly precipitating the movie’s events), he tears up the scrip and resolves to get his job back. This scene remains one of my favourite in the entire movie: Jeremy lectures Kyle on how his actions are for drama, prompting Kyle to go with it. Kyle suggests that Jeremy continue where it’s brighter, so Jeremy counters by moving to a darker spot. When Kyle says he’ll turn up the ISO, Jeremy retorts that he’ll turn down the ISO, even though this is not possible on his end.

  • ISO refers to the sensitivity of the image sensor, and turning it up results in camera gain, but as Jeremy predicts, his actions result in camera lose: it turns out that the movie’s gone overbudget, lost its main protagonist and failed to deliver the romance component. As a result, the company backing the film takes the rights to production and filming.

  • This is perhaps the only R-rated moment in the entire film, when Jeremy decides to expose himself on camera in protest that someone else is filming Pure Pwnage Teh Movie. The TV series had a few moments that were censored, while the web series was careful to ensure that everything remained 14A. I encountered some difficult in capturing screenshots for the movie because, unlike anime or games, there’s a great deal of motion blur, but I did manage to get a good spread of screenshots that capture some of the movie’s spirits.

  • Another director, Mike, is assigned to look after the movie.Here, Kyle and Mike fight over filming Jeremy, slinging insults at one another about notions of pedestrian and the F-stop. It turns out that Jeremy is not conducive to having someone else film him.

  • With some encouragement from Dave, and Jeremy’s background in accounting, Kyle agrees to Jeremy’s request that Pure Pwnage Teh Movie should not involved anything scripted, and simply, “just let stuff happen”.

  • With this new take on the movie, another aspect from the web series is brought back to life in Pure Pwnage Teh Movie: in the first season, Jeremy loses to a n00b and seeks teh_masterer for additional training. After succeeding in convincing teh_masterer that he is indeed ready, he trains in a variety of unorthodox ways, ranging from practising his micro in an empty room with nothing but a keyboard, jogging and executing shoryuken in real life, or eating rice with a Nintendo controller in a scene mirroring that seen in Kill Bill.

  • I love the shots of Jeremy walking down the streets of Toronto, showcasing the different areas of inner Toronto. Here, Jeremy steps into a Korean restaurant and explains that in order to best a Korean at video games, he must immerse himself in their ways. Scenes of him learning to eat (and eventually mastering) Korean food are interspersed with training scenes and Jeremy’s infamous monitor dance.

  • I watched Pure Pwnage Teh Movie on my flight back nearly two weeks ago, and found it to be the polar opposite of When Marnie Was There: whereas the latter is emotionally charged, Pure Pwnage Teh Movie delivers nonstop humour, and I could not stop smiling on my flight back home. Here, Jeremy attempts to figure out how to eat a beef and rice bowl with chopsticks: during the web series, Teh Masterer had Jeremy train by eating rice with a NES controller, and while Jeremy struggles initially, Teh Masterer pushes Jeremy to continue, stating that eating like a n00b will lead one to be pwned like a n00b. For me, chopsticks are a very intuitive means of eating, and I’ve no trouble picking up individual grains of rice with chopsticks.

  • Jeremy’s infamous victory dances are a critical part of Pure Pwnage, and it was most definitely welcome to see them (taking the form of Jeremy humping and spanking the monitor or controller of whatever device he’s using to pwn) make a return in the movie. I intend to upload a .gif of this happening somewhere and use it as my default response to whenever something hilarious happens (such as when a certain onee-sama got banned at an anime forum I frequent).

  • Like the web series, whether or not the training actually happens is left ambiguous: in the web series, Jeremy is found sleeping a most uncomfortable sleep on the floor after seemingly overcoming teh_masterer in a micro battle as the final phase of his training, and in the movie, he’s asleep at the keyboard at the internet café he’s training in. In both cases, I imagine that the training did indeed happens, since the sessions do appear to have a non-trivial impact on improving his performance.

  • Jeremy meets Charles, the CEO of the company behind the XOBO. A collected, laid-back businessman, he convinces Jeremy to be the face of XOBO and participate in the international competition. He assures that by backing XOBO’s branding, regardless of how the actual tournament ends, he will be paid handsomely for his troubles, and Jeremy agrees.

  • It turns out that the team he will be playing with is the same team that he had won with in the local tournaments, and in the competition’s opening stages, they proceed to demolish all teams they go against on virtue of skill in League of Legends. I’m not sure how well I’d fare in League of Legends, myself, given that I’ve never been able to motivate myself to play the game and learn its mechanics closely. Like Doug, I prefer shooters.

  • Like Anthem of the Heart, it would be quite vapid if Jeremy and his team waltzed through the tournament without any drama: similar to how Takumi’s revelation that he does not see Jun in a romantic light threatens to derail their performance, Jeremy’s remarks about Shawn being “friendzoned”, leading Emma to leave the team. This particular aspect of social interactions is one that is remarkably complex and therefore, difficult to discuss in a single figure caption (or several), so I will not explore it in greater detail in this post.

  • The new XOBO is lighter than the older model, and Jeremy has an epiphany here, realising that after everything he’s seen, it’s not really about cool stuff or money bringing people together, but rather, it’s about people coming close to one another because they share a passion (for gaming, in this case). Understanding that he’s made a mistake, he accepts that he might lose the competition and proceeds to begin the final match against the South Koreans.

  • Disappointed at Jeremy’s decisions, Doug decides to leave the tournament and return home. However, he has a change of heart, and right as Jeremy’s team is about to fold, he returns to fight in Emma’s place. When Jeremy asks him why he’d made this decision, Doug replies it’s simply because they’re best friends. This marks another theme of the movie: friends don’t expect favours to be returned, but rather, are simply there for one another when things get difficult.

  • Their combined offensive allows Jeremy to win the tournament and the associated prize money, and in the process, Jeremy and Doug reconcile. This has been a longstanding theme throughout the web series, and to see it reinforced again in the film is a reminder that despite their differences in beliefs and preferences for games, Doug and Jeremy exemplify the sort of bond that best friends have with one another. Of course, it wouldn’t be Pure Pwnage without comedy: while the message here is profound in the aftermath of Jeremy’s triumph, the writers mange to work in another moment for laughs.

  • It turns out that Kyle forgot to load fresh batteries into his camera for the tournament and runs out, leaving Jeremy to explain what’s happened. In contrast with the Harekaze sinking for no apparent reason in Hai Furi‘s finalePure Pwnage Teh Movie appropriately uses an unexpected twist to further reinforce an idea: here, it’s that the movie is supposed to be comical in nature. With his prize money, Jeremy decides to open a gaming school and make the world suck just a little less. He’s also back together with Anastasia now, and remarks that many things also happen off-camera that didn’t make it into the film, mirroring reality.

  • As such, when the end credits begin to roll, I found Pure Pwnage Teh Movie to meet expectations for what I had been looking for in the movie: it brings back the elements that made the web series entertaining and scales the narrative up to work in a movie format. In fact, although this might be an “apples and oranges” comparison for some, I would tend to think that Pure Pwnage Teh Movie succeeds in presenting a larger story on the silver screen more effectively than Girls und Panzer Der Film did: unlike Girls und PanzerPure Pwnage Teh Movie manages to keep anticipation high and suspense palatable throughout its run, leading me to constantly ask myself “what will happen next?” Overall, this movie was superbly enjoyable, and I have no trouble recommending this film for gamers. For those wondering how this movie relates to those interested in anime, there is a model of Char’s Sazabi somewhere in the movie, and I’ll let interested viewers try and find it (hint: it’s not featured in any of the screenshots).

While it’s been more than ten years since Pure Pwnage first was posted to the internet, Pure Pwnage Teh Movie has lost none of its efficacy in both conveying a sense of humour, as well as integrating a rather compelling reminder about being true to oneself. It’s a film that I enjoyed immensely, bringing Pure Pwnage into the modern age, complete with Jeremy’s transition from an older gaming culture to one that’s more widespread and occurring at a greater scale. In Pure Pwnage Teh Movie, some of the moments served to remind me of why the old web series was such a phenomenal watch, while at other points, one must marvel at the scale at which some things happen, especially with regards to the tournaments themselves. The web series was done with a much smaller budget, at a much smaller scale, but the different tournaments and competitions in Pure Pwnage Teh Movie illustrate that the writers can effectively tell a bigger story with a bigger budget. In spite of this increase in scale, however, Pure Pwnage Teh Movie remains true to its own theme and true to its origins: it is a comedy about gamers, first and foremost, providing a humourous take on a hobby and community that’s only really begun to become more widely known. Pure Pwnage Teh Movie easily earns a strong recommend from me (I am a gamer and relate fully to all of the jokes), and even for audiences who are not gamers, this movie still earns a strong recommendation for being able to weave in a solid narrative and theme together with consistently good comedy.