The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Fuuri Watanuki

SoniAni- Super Sonico The Animation: Final Reflection

This is the greatest SoniAni review of all time.

Previously, I took a departure from the reflection typical format, introducing a single-episode review about my thoughts on the seventh episode. That was done because the episode was particularly special, and now, I return to provide my thoughts on the second half, as well as the entire season. From there on out, Sonico’s friends participate in solving a mystery of sorts, and help her manage a bewildering array of tasks at her university’s culture fair. Sonico herself has a few adventures when she finds a stray cat and helps a young girl named Ayaka discover the true meaning of Christmas, all the while helping the local shopping district stay in the black. As the year draws to a close with a concert, Sonico, Fuuri and Suzu perform a New Year’s Eve concert to reflect on everything that has occurred over the past year. One’s impression of SoniAni: Super Sonico The Animation is that it is a series about everything and nothing. It’s a series about Sonico’s life seen from a very optimistic, hopeful perspective, and perhaps now, more than ever, shows like these are most welcomed for being able to lift the spirits and bring a little joy into life.

  • A quasi-murder mystery awaits viewers after episode seven. Subtle details interact with clichés to add a certain amount of character to SoniAni: between the ‘detective traps’ and Suzu’s hair spontaneously assuming different forms,  this episode proved entertaining as viewers watch Suzu and company try to figure out what happened to Sonico.

  • What SoniAni excels best at is its ability to portray Sonico and her friends under an incredibly diverse range of settings: the ninth episode features a campus cultural festival that sees a series of cascading errors, in turn forcing Sonico to take on everything simultaneously.

  • I’m not kidding about what I say in the opening quote at the top of the page. Granted, I believe that humility is a virtue and that boastfulness is counterproductive, but in this case, there are legitimate grounds for making the bold claim that this is the greatest SoniAni review of all time. My justification for thus is that discussion elsewhere about SoniAni is surprisingly lacking or limited. Conversely, my discussions are more substantial on the virtue that they are graced by beautiful screenshots.

  • Of note was the bizarre fixation on Sonico’s headphones, which some individuals have dedicated paragraphs and hours to complaining about; from a rational perspective, the headphones are merely an aesthetic element, and thus, decrying such a trivial element so vehemently reflects on one of the unsavoury tendencies of the anime community, to get lost in the minutiae and lose sight of bigger picture.

  • It’s not even noon hour yet, and Sonico is exhausted from helping her café out and covering for another model. Fortunately, Suzu and Fuuri step up to the plate and, in essence, allow Sonico to split into three in a manner reminiscent of how Harry is moved to the Barrow in The Deathly Hallows.

  • Thanks to Suzu and Fuuri’s efforts, Sonico is able to assist everyone who requested her help, and the cultural festival ends up being a success. At my university, there are no cultural festivals, but open houses for new students are hosted every year; despite having graduated from my program, my presence is still occasionally requested such that there is additional help.

  • Sonico gives a presentation about whales as the day draws to an end, bringing to mind an event I participate in every so often. During the summers and throughout the academic year, there are programs that encourage interests in the computer sciences among high school students on campus, and I am involved, presenting some of my work to promote interest in an ever-changing, innovative field that is software development.

  • The reviews posted at MyAnimeList level several complaints against SoniAni, including excessive fanservice, pointless elements and poor music that “scorn the viewer’s intelligence with shoddy craftsmanship that is intentionally brash”. I can immediately pull some counterexamples from memory: the fanservice is surprisingly disciplined, and the music, though nothing awe-inspiring, enhances the series. The show helps intelligent viewers relax, and the craftsmanship is able to bring out such a laid-back atmosphere in the show. I conclude that those who feel the compulsion to complain about SoniAni probably have never really known what it is like to put in effort and work hard towards an objective.

  • Sonico has an affinity for kittens that ends up giving episode ten its primary focus. This episode was particularly light-hearted, and I’ve noted in my Someone’s Gaze talk that I have a fondness for small animals like bunnies, hamsters and kittens. This character may seem a little unusual for someone who spends downtime reading Tom Clancy novels and playing Battlefield 3, but it is a part of being multidisciplinary!

  • It turns out the “stray” munchkin cat Sonico finds was merely lost, and spends the episode trying to return to its mother. Despite some rough play between the munchkin and Sonico’s cats, the other cats come to the former’s rescue and saves it from a dog in a thrilling manner.

Originally, I began watching SoniAni: Super Sonico The Animation partly because I was curious to check out what such an anime would entail. As the mascot of Nitro+, speculation ran wild that the series would focus on excessive anatomy lessons and not merit any watching whatsoever. When the series itself came out, viewers were so focused on Sonico’s headphones that they completely ignored any other aspect of the show. Of course, SoniAni did rise above and beyond the call: each episode represents a self-contained mini-adventure for the viewers, flinging Sonico, Suzu and Fuuri into a variety of ordinary and extraordinary situations. Watching them work together and struggle togather gave this series character, and as such, almost contrary to all initial expectation, SoniAni provided a unique take on life lessons, suggesting that kindness and friendship is an indespensible ally wherever things go south.

  • SoniAni would have probably been more appropriately aired in the fall season and ended near Christmas: when this episode ended, I wished it was Christmas once more, but the fact is, it’s nearly April, and after exams, summer begins again. Christmas and New Year episodes feel out of place in the middle of the year.

  • This scene was particularly amusing: I am a gamer and therefore, can relate to the concept of health bars and vitality. One of the most hilarious aspect about Street Fighter II: The World Warrior is the idea of double damage. In some cases, a well timed attack will inflict twice the damage, and the player’s KO sound will actually finish playing before the health bar is completely drained.

  • Sonico’s grandmother demonstrates an admirable command of the English language: I finally caught on by the halfway point and realised that she’s voiced by Kikou Inoue, who provided the voice to Ah! My Goddess!‘s Belldandy.

  • The Christmas episode is centred around Sonico and her friends’ efforts to raise business at the local shopping district after profits drop when a department store opens. Despite lacking the same resources as the latter, the community association is able to use clever means in drawing in customers.

  • When I was younger, I read a short paper titled “Engineers take the fun out of Christmas”: basically, a group of engineers at the municipal building regulations department applied a collection of computations to show that, even with magic or other superhuman means, Santa Claus could not accomplish his feat of covering every house in the world to deliver gifts to good children. Witty but cynical, that short paper was incredibly amusing to read.

  • Ayaka discovers the true Christmas spirit when “Santa Claus” delivers her gift: that her family is together for Christmas.

  • The season concludes with a final concert from First Astronomical Velocity on New Year’s Eve. I personally would prefer such a concert in lieu of the ones I normally watch on New Year’s Eve, as First Astronomical Velocity somehow puts on a much more personal, heartfelt performance despite being a fictional band.

  • It is necessarily true that SoniAni (or all anime, for that matter) does not requires intellectual content to be meaningful. This is a position I have mentioned countless times earlier, and to that, I restate that if I like something, I don’t need to justify it using pseudo-intellectual means. Similarly, it is quite unnecessary to rage against something one doesn’t like using pseudo-intellectual means.

  • Sonico’s grandmother puts on an impressive show while Sonico is waiting for her guitar to be restrung after one of its strings fail mid-concert. One of the aspects about SoniAni that I found unusual was the fact that Sonico always seems to have an automatic safety net for when things go south, bringing to mind Master Chief John-117’s luck. From personal experience, I have to take the initiative of ensuring that I have all my safety nets because my luck isn’t that good.

  • This shot of the (more or less) fully assembled cast concludes my SoniAni post. Given that the soundtrack music does contribute to SoniAni‘s mood, I will be inclined to check it out. Some of the vocal songs are quite good, and there is one motif from the background music that I’ve  informally dubbed “Sonico’s theme” and will definitely to listen to in full.

At the end of the day, SoniAni: Super Sonico The Animation is something that definitely exceeded expectations, and I was quite pleased to have had something simple and light-hearted to look forwards to every week. For much of the first half, I found the series to be reasonably entertaining, but my opinion shifted into “will recommend” territory following the seventh episode. I would quite happily recommend SoniAni to viewers, not so much for the music or character designs, but rather, the gentle elements of benevolence and openess that permeates the entire series. SoniAni thus joins Tamayura and Non Non Biyori as excellent anime for unwinding after a difficult day, and as the future draws nearer, I am immensely thankful that these iyashikei (healing anime) are so readily available. When I watch shows like these, for a few moments, I am swept away into a more slowly-paced world, and my own worries lessen as I take a step back to relax.

SoniAni- Super Sonico The Animation: Halfway point reflection

“Where do we begin?”

SoniAni is this season’s light-hearted romp through a university student’s life: after barely making a concert between her modelling job and her friends’ transportation woes, Sonico visits Okinawa while on a photoshoot, reminisces about how she got into music with inspiration from a senior at her high school, spends time with a magazine editor asked to document her everyday life and experiences DayZ first-hand when an adipose-combating ointment leads to some unintended side effects. Everything that happens in an episode can be summarised in a few sentences, reflecting on how simplistic and relaxing this anime is.

  • To the best of my knowledge, there are no other sources of discussion or images for SoniAni out there: for the time being, my twenty screenshots of the series so far will probably be one of the few collections of SoniAni screenshots in existence.

  • The correct translation of the girls’ band, 第一宇宙速度 (Daiichi Uchū Sokudo), is “First Cosmic Velocity”, but producers (and everyone else) refer to the band as “First Astronomical Velocity”. The reasons for doing so are probably to minimise confusion with the scientific application of the first cosmic velocity unit: this is the minimum velocity with which a body must be launched to put it into a circular orbit around the Earth (ignoring drag forces and planetary rotation). The body will be bounded to the earth’s gravitational field in a circular orbit around the Earth, and the unit is equivalent to 28440 kilometers per hour.

  • The second and third cosmic velocities are respectively defined as the minimum velocity with which a body must be launch to overcome the Earth’s gravitational field (but remain bounded by the Sun’s gravitational, equal to 40320 kilometers per hour) and the minimum velocity that is necessary for a body to overcome the Earth’s and Sun’s gravitational fields (60012 kilometers per hour). Because the last figure captions were so educational, the above image ought to offset the seriousness.

  • Suzu recounts how she met Sonico: a long time ago, she ran into a nervous looking girl and enlisted her for First Astronomical Velocity. Suzu Fujimi is said to be witty and capable of extraordinary leadership, but is also quick to anger and skilled with Zangief’s combat-style.

  • “Shit, did you see that?” “Probably birds.” “Wait, I saw it too! Oh, there is something up there.” “Yeah, the bush moved, did you see it?” That exchange is from the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 mission “Heart of Darkness”. Even though the animation in SoniAni is standard-fare and looks about the same as most anime out there, there are occasions that lead me to double back and take a closer look: in this case, it looks like the trees outside look different compared to an image from earlier: they were deciduous trees and now they look coniferous. Sonico and her friends don’t find this notable here: she is intently writing down everything Fuuri wishes her to buy while in Okinawa.

  • The guy wearing the daemon mask is Kitamura, Sonico’s manager. He is never seen without the mask (much like how Sonico is never seen without her headphones), and is highly protective of Sonico, but also has a very kind nature; Kitamura’s presence brings to mind Graham Aker for one reason or another.

  • I have a feeling I am the only blog anywhere on the English-speaking side of the internet to have provided screenshots and a well-written summary of my thoughts on SoniAni so far. Other discussions are woefully short, incomplete or incoherent, lacking screenshots and structure. I think readers would prefer I keep to my present styles, rather than settle for less 😉

  • Owing to its proximity to China, Okinawan cuisine bears some similarity to Chinese and Southeast Asian styles, making extensive use of herbs and spices. Contrasting Japan, meat is far more common compared to seafood despite Okinawa’s proximity to the sea, with the latter being difficult to preserve in the climate.

  • Next to the Kyoto region and Hokkaido (for its rich history and seafood, respectively), I would love to visit Okinawa owing to its status as the birthplace of the Gōjū-ryū style. Known in English as the hard-soft style, Gōjū-ryū is characterised by a combination of graceful and powerful movements in its kata. It’s also one of the older branches of karatedo and has a small number of kata compared to the other branches.

  • Fuuri’s background is something that SoniAni has still not yet explored fully: some sources draw information from the visual novel to build Fuuri’s background, although given that the anime is built differently, elements from the visual novel may not be present in the anime. From a personal perspective, I hope that the anime is disjoint from the visual novel, since Fuuri’s background might be a little outrageous.

Thus far, I feel that SoniAni is idealistic and hopeful: Sonico embodies the ideas of honest hard work and optimism, but she is also remarkably blasé about some of the questionable situations she’s put into, resolving to try her best in everything she does without giving the circumstances additional thought. While this naïveté is admirable and amusing, it also reminds me of Bruce Wayne’s exchange with Alfred in The Dark Knight Rises. After being asked about what he is to do when he encounters Bane, Bruce responds that “I’ll fight harder, I always have”. However, Alfred counters by telling Bruce to “Take a good look. His speed, his ferocity, his training! I see the power of belief.” When Bruce eventually fights Bane for the first time, he is completely outmatched. The lesson gained from this comparison (as far as its relevance to SoniAni) goes, is that Sonico’s willingness to work harder is simultaneously at odds with harsh reality, but may also belie her determination to get back up if she stumbles.

  • Sonico’s guitar is named “Daydream”, for being able to convey the stuff of dreams through music, and episode four is dedicated to its origins, as well as how Sonico herself got into music to begin with. This guitar belonged to a senior named Tomano, and was given to her by another precursor. She leaves for another country, giving this guitar to Sonico after the latter demonstrates a heartfelt desire to play rock music, and they part under grey skies.

  • I have not seen such a scene in an anime since the summer of 2012, when the K-On! Movie was released. While I’ve no experience with any instruments involved in light music, a long time ago, I was a clarinet player for my middle school’s concert band, and eventually taught myself to play the trumpet for the Jazz band, as well.

  • SoniAni turns out to be about a little of everything, never focusing on one aspect in Sonico’s life for more than an episode. This multidisciplinary aspect comes across as a little jarring for some, but from a personal end, it makes sense. People tend to do a variety of things as extracurricular activities or personal hobbies (assuming they don’t live on forums, of course).

  • I found this scene to be quite entertaining, watching two students discuss their thoughts of the latest magazine shoot with Sonico, who is seen hiding behind her guitar case here out of embarrassment.

  • The events of the fifth episode are set in motion when a magazine sends one of its staff, Sakaya, to do a feature on Sonico. Despite feeling it to be a chore, she takes the assignment.

  • I would note the different between a bar and a pub, but I’ve already done so for my introductory post to SoniAni. Recently, I found that the foolproof way to avoid drinking is to drive and offer to be a designated driver if need be. In the company of understanding friends, no one will provide any pressure to drink.

  • It turns out that Sonico majors in marine biology, a subset of the biological sciences that leads to a Bachelor of Science degree. Because I’m more than a thousand klicks to the nearest ocean, my university provides special facilities for those majoring in marine biology at the Western Canadian Universities Marine Sciences Society. How does the job market look for a marine biologist? Marine biologists can find occupations as a biological technician, ichthyologist, fishery biologist, marine mammalogist, microbiologist, systems analyst, or a mathematician.

  • Sayaka discovers that Sonico is just an ordinary girl with headphones: that’s why Sonico has such an optimistic outlook on life and why she’s willing to give everything her all. Through this project, Sayaka rediscovers her own dreams and thanks Sonico for helping her indirectly realise this.

  • The last time I was on a cruise ship, it was 2003 and the journey was a loop around the Inside Passage, which has a relatively cool, rainy climate. The suggested attire for the summer is a light jacket and T-shirt, contrasting the swim gear Suzu and Sonico are seen in here.

  • I’ve omitted the zombies simply because it’s a shock factor that is more entertaining when animated, rather than statically displayed as pictures. Speaking of zombies, I am tempted to buy the DayZ standalone game from Steam: it’s only thirty USD at the time of writing and offers a truly open world, where one’s only goal is to survive a zombie apocalypse by foraging for supplies and lasting as long as possible.

This talk isn’t supposed to be a psychoanalysis about Sonico given what we’ve seen in SoniAni, but an assessment of how the anime is faring at the midway point. The anime itself is solid: it distinctly feels like K-On! in places with the music and lighthearted nature of the band, as well as the absence of focus that gives the anime a very casual feeling. Sonico takes on Yui’s role as the lead guitarist and vocalist, Suzu shares characteristics with Mio and Sawa (for being the bassist and expressing an unhealthy interest in giving Sonico crazy outfits), and Fuuri is a hybrid between Ritsu and Mugi (she’s the drummer but also has a fluffy personality). The anime is part slice-of-life and part fanservice, but the inclusion of subtle elements, such as Sonico’s segues into modelling and music, add a bit of depth to her character. There isn’t really much more I can add to this discussion, and I imagine that the same will hold true for the second half, but one thing is certain: SoniAni is a suitable anime for warding off despair associated with the dark depths of winter, and as the anime draws to a close, spring will be upon us once again.