The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Hello! Kiniro Mosaic

Kiniro Mosaic: Pretty Days OVA- A Review and Full Recommendation

“Hey chief, you screwed up. There’s nothing in here.”
“Oh, it might appear empty, but the message is clear. Play Santa again, and I’ll kill you next year!”
— Bender and Robot Santa, “A Tale of Two Santas”, Futurama

Kiniro Mosaic: Pretty Days released back in November 12, 2016; it was only a week ago that it finally became available, and if this is the trend for OVAs, I imagine that the wait for the upcoming Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?? OVA could be a non-trivial one, as well. With preparations for the culture festival ongoing, Shinobu finds herself completely immersed in her class project, contributing both the script and her considerable talents as a seamstress to making costumes for everyone. Amidst the busy activities, Aya finds herself feeling distant from Shinobu, wondering if Shinobu is closer to Yoko, Alice and Karen for their own attributes. When Shinobu steps out with Isami, Aya begins to reminisce about the time she’d spent with Shinobu in middle school, where Yoko and Shinobu were struggling with examinations for high school. While on break one day, they take a walk and visit Moegi High SChool, where they run into Sakura and get a tour of the grounds. After guidance from Aya and much effort on Yoko and Shinobu’s part, the girls manage to make it into the same school; Aya herself had her sights set on a more prestiguous all-girls school, but decides to join Shinobu and Yoko at Moegi high when they are all accepted. Back in the present, the play itself hits a hitch when the student playing the princess is afflicted with the flu, forcing Aya to step in. Despite the play starting off on the wrong foot, the girls pull together and manage to improvise something with Shinobu’s help, turning the play into a success. In the aftermath, Aya is grateful to have chosen the same high school as Yoko and Shinobu. A touching story with the light-hearted, warming feel that Kiniro Mosaic excels at presenting, Pretty Days is a welcome return to a series characterised by a colourful group of characters whose life in high school is filled with hope, wonder and a never-ceasing sense of cheerfulness.

In its premise, Pretty Days is centered around Aya and her memories of middle school with Yoko and Shinobu. While she’s initially doubtful that her friendship with Shinobu is a strong one, Yoko recounts their pivotal moment in middle school when it was Aya who motivated the two to buckle down and study for their entrance examinations such that they could be admitted to the same school. Even when Aya receives an admissions offer from a more prestigious academy, she ultimately turns down their offer, suggesting the strength of their friendship with one another. Although such an action might be seen as a poor decision from a certain perspective, Pretty Days presents this as a heart-warming choice that underlines just how strongly Aya cares about her friends, if she’s willing to pick being with them over a high school that might help her with post-secondary admissions. In addition to a well-executed central narrative, Pretty Days also brings back all of the elements that made Kiniro Mosaic so entertaining, whether it be Shinobu’s gifting of “heart” to her friends, or her determination to ensure the success of their class play, exhibited when she goes to the length of improvising lines for Karen and Aya when their original play disintegrates after Karen completely forgets her lines. The end result is fifty minutes of comedy that captures the spirit of Kiniro Mosaic, being an indispensable watch for all audiences who’ve enjoyed Kiniro Mosaic. While folks entering sans familiarity with Kiniro Mosaic may find some elements in the OVA a bit unusual, the overall pacing and structure means that this OVA can still be quite enjoyable.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Owing to Shinobu’s tendency to not wake up on time in the mornings, the girls are forced to sprint the distance to their school, leaving Aya short of breath. It’s been quite some time since I’ve written anything about Kiniro Mosaic: the last time the likes of Aya, Yoko, Shinobu, Alice and Karen graced this blog, it was the middle of summer 2015, when I had turned my focus entirely towards building visualisations of biological spaces in the Unreal Engine. This OVA is a fifty-minute feature and as such, features thirty screenshots rather than the usual twenty.

  • After Yoko expresses a wish to see Aya on stage when everyone is discussing their roles in their classes’ respective activities, Aya grows a bit sulky and is seen here with the classic anime pouty face. Conversation drifts towards reminiscence, where Yoko recounts how Shinobu’s been excited about performances and events for as long as she can remember. This is the conversation that gets Aya thinking; she becomes a little envious of Yoko and Shinobu.

  • With the culture festival arriving rapidly, everyone heads over to Shinobu’s house to continue working on the costumes for their play. Alice and Karen have already arrived, modelling Shinobu’s old middle school uniform and Isami’s high school uniforms, respectively. One common criticism I often hear for anime such as Kiniro Mosaic are the fact that the characters’ voices are too squeaky, having the acoustic properties of ultrasound, taking the form of noise complaints. As it turns out, higher frequency sounds are easier to discern because our ears are not quite so effective at picking up lower frequency sounds.

  • While Shinobu may not be particularly studious, her talents as a seamstress are ridiculously high, and from an objective perspective, she’s much more likely to be at home in an occupation involving sewing and adjustments, as opposed to linguistics and diplomacy. With this in mind, my perspectives have changed dramatically since my time as a high school student: during this time, dreaming big is an asset, allowing youth to explore their options. However, as time wears on, reality also kicks in, and people gradually choose paths that strike a balance between what they enjoy doing and what they’re good at doing.

  • In this moment, the characters’ personalities are captured succinctly in what they’re doing: Shinobu is plainly very focused and into her tasks, while Alice and Aya help out as best they can. Karen and Yoko, by comparison, are totally slacking off. However, Shinobu is whisked off with Isami on an errand of sorts, and when Alice wonder about how everyone knows one another, it is Yoko who steps up to the plate and recounts the story of their time as middle school students.

  • After Shinobu and Yoko receive their latest test scores following an in-class exam, their spirits plummet when Aya lectures them about the importance of performance in helping them get into their high school of choice. The girls decide to take a walk, and it is here that they visit Moegi High School for the first time, running into instructor Sakura Karasuma (Satomi Satō, best known for being K-On!‘s Ritsu Tainaka, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?‘s Chiya Ujimatsu and Hyouka‘s Eru Chitanda). After some introductions, Sakura gives them a short tour of campus.

  • Despite their prospects appearing low, Sakura encourages the girls to work their hardest and even gives them a cheer that Aya finds embarrassing. One of Sakura’s strongest traits is that she can go to great lengths to help the students even if her actions can come across as embarrassing; her students find this endearing and consequently, place a great deal of faith in her, accounting for why she’s held in high regard by the student population.

  • In the Canadian education system, there are no entrance exams, and students moving from middle school to high school are placed based on their geographical location relative to the school. There are provincial standardised exams that students must take, which influence the courses they can take once in high school. With this in mind, while the education systems here are less competitive, once folks finish their education, things become much more difficult when it comes time to find an occupation (whereas in Japan and other parts of Asia, the education system is gruelling, but finding work becomes a little more straightforwards based on which institution one graduates from).

  • For the time being, I’m done my education – I’ve stared down countless exams throughout my post-secondary career. Of my conventional exams, the most difficult exam I’ve ever written was for my Organic Chemistry II and Data Structures II course during my second year, while the worst performance was for Introductory Biochemistry (which I only just passed). The best exam was my Physics II (Electricity and Magnetism), written when I was in fourth year, during which I was still considering medicine as a career path, and the fastest I’ve ever finished a final was ten minutes (where I ended up missing exactly one question).

  • These exams pale in comparison to the MCAT (2012), my undergraduate honours defense (2013) and my Master’s defense (2016): these exams took a considerable amount of time to prepare for, and of the three, the MCAT was probably the most challenging. I have vivid recollections of spending the summer of 2012 studying for the exam even though it’s been nearly five years since I wrote the MCAT. Back in Kiniro Mosaic, Aya steps into the summer sun to visit Yoko’s house, where they may continue studying for their own exams.

  • Friends are often depicted studying together in things like Kiniro Mosaic: I’m predominantly a lone wolf who prepares independently for exams, but for several courses during my undergraduate degree (most notably, organic chemistry) and the MCAT, I was fortunate to be in similar company. The advantage about studying together is that help is available; this might offer a different perspective towards a problem that makes it easier to solve, and if there are people in the group who are unsure about a concept, teaching them can also help one reinforce their own knowledge.

  • With that being said, I’ve never studied with friends at my place (or theirs) before: the environment of a library or quiet room is rather more conducive towards work – Yoko, Shinobu and Aya captialise on such a space to shore up their own knowledge. Clean and minimalistic, the artwork in Kiniro Mosaic is intended to keep the viewers’ focus on the characters; this is quite similar to the approach taken in Yuyushiki, and drives home the notion that Kiniro Mosaic is more about the characters than their setting.

  • During the New Year, Yoko, Aya and Shinobu pray for their success in examinations at a local Shrine, as well as for one another’s success. The Chinese have an equivalent saying as a form of New Years’ wish: “學業進步” (Mandarin pronunciation xué yè jìn bù, literally “improvement in [your] studies”), but no such equivalent prayer. Some elements in anime, such as praying at a Shrine for success in studies or love, bring to mind some of the pre-game rituals people, especially athletes, have prior to a major event or trial. Mine is to halt all revisions twenty four hours before an examination and do something completely unrelated, whether it be study something else or outright stop studying altogether.

  • The rationale for this is that, if I were to be in trouble for an exam, a day is likely not to make too much difference; in the typical case, I could also lose confidence as I encounter material that may or may not be outside the scope of the exam. By relaxing, I calm my mind and allow the material that already exists to be consolidated. This strategy is my own exam-writing technique and may not work for everyone. During the winter, Shinobu and Yoko run into Aya, who’d just passed the exam for her first choice. However, feeling that she might be giving up time with her friends, she also applies to Moegi High School.

  • Although the exam turned out to be slightly more difficult than even Aya had imagined, Yoko and Shinobu put in their best efforts. The exam leaves the two slightly dejected, and this time, it’s Aya who picks up the slack and suggests that everyone relaxes with something delicious. Following my MCAT in 2012, contrary to the suggestions from a friend to have ice cream, I went for a hearty dinner at a Chinese Bistro and then proceeded to sleep like I hadn’t slept all summer. While my ability to recall things is quite powerful, I cannot recall what I did the day after the MCAT.

  • When the results for Moegi High School are made known, Aya is offered admissions. Yoko and Shinobu are initially frightened to learn their results, but with Aya’s encouragement, the two find that they’ve also been accepted. While Aya is normally presented as a shy but disciplined, no-nonsense type of person who is quick to dismiss the others’ antics, Pretty Days makes it clear that she’s also got a more caring side to her, as well.

  • Ultimately, Aya turns down her acceptance offer to the more prestigious high school in favour of Moegi High, much to Yoko and Shinobu’s surprise. This attests to the strength of their friendship, and the moment also presents an opportunity to see everyone wearing the Moegi High uniform properly: in Kiniro Mosaic, only Shinobu wears her uniform properly Yoko dispenses with the outer jacket, while Aya wears a sweater over hers. Karen wears her uniform in a very casual fashion, while Alice has a pink Cardigan over hers.

  • Alice and Karen both find this to be a very moving story. Karen’s reaction is rather adorable, and Alice is outright crying at the journey. A cursory glance at the calendar on the wall suggests that it’s 2014: Kiniro Mosaic originally began its manga run in 2010, and the anime dates back to summer 2013, although I only picked up the anime one term into my graduate program in late 2014. Unlike most anime, which I procrastinate to an extent most folks would find ridiculous, I managed to finish Kiniro Mosaic just in time for the second season to start.

  • It turns out that Shinobu and Isami went on a cake run; after Shinobu returns allegedly bearing gifts, Alice and Karen become rather excited, only to wilt in disappointment when it turns out the gift is Shinobu’s love. This forms the motivation for the page quote, where Bender receives a similar “gift” from Robot Santa in one of the Futurama holiday specials. The Futurama incarnation is rather darker with respect to its comedy, standing in contrast with the lighter atmosphere conveyed in Kiniro Mosaic.

  • Shinobu plainly remembers all that Aya’s done for her, and even though she might spend more time with Alice and Karen, Shinobu has never forgotten just how important Aya is to her. Thus, while Alice and Karen might recoil at Shinobu’s “gift”, Aya is well aware that Shinobu is being serious and genuinely appreciates their friendship, leading to this moment here.

  • Isami reveals that a cake is also on the table as a gift, turning Alice and Karen’s mood around instantly. Isami is voiced by Yukari Tamura, whom I also know for her roles as Sakura Yoshino (Da Capo), Mai Kawasumi (Kanon), Mei Suonohara (CLANNAD), Tabane Shinonono (Infinite Stratos) and Remon Yamano (Ano Natsu De Matteru). It’s actually a bit of a surprise to see just how much anime I’ve watched over the past ten years, and in the near future, I’ve got a special post reviewing the Ah! My Goddess The Movie, which was my entry into anime. It’s a thrilling story, and I wish to do it justice, so that story will be explored in full once I kick that post off.

  • Looking back, I’ve never done anything quite with the atmosphere of a culture festival during my time as a secondary student, but in university, I’ve participated in many open house events, speaking with parents and prospective students about the health science program. During my final year of graduate studies, I also had the opportunity to participate in a special celebration for the university’s fifteenth anniversary, alongside a TEDx talk: while not quite as festive as a cultural festival, things were nonetheless quite enjoyable.

  • Sakura enjoys a corndog and candied apple here prior to the play’s start, much to Yoko’s surprise. Today, besides marking the beginning for this year’s Daylight Savings, also saw an afternoon outing to watch the critically-acclaimed Logan. Prior to the movie, I stopped at Opa’s for lunch: I admit I’ve never eaten at the one on campus in all of my time there as a student, so at my friend’s recommendation, I went with the lamb wrap and fries, as well as sharing a plate of fried calamari. After lunch was over, with another friend inbound, and the movie set for a few hours later, I dropped by BestBuy to pick up a new USB hub.

  • Logan, with its thematic elements and violence (though, not quite as violent as either Wolfenstein or DOOM), sits quite far removed from the likes of Kiniro Mosaic, being a direct and forward film that is to-the-point with the presentation of its narrative. I can say that Logan is worthy of the praise it has garnered, but as the movie is still a new one, and partially because this is a Kiniro Mosaic post, I won’t go into further details.

  • With encouragement from Alice and Yoko, Aya begins her performance, masterfully delivering her lines despite being drafted at the last possible moment to perform. Despite her aversions to publicity, Aya can be quite capable, and here, she embraces her role, giving audiences a chance to see a side of her personality hitherto unexplored. It is in this play where most of the artwork comes from, then: in the aftermath of the OVA’s theatrical release, Japanese artists generated a non-trivial amount of artwork.

  • In anime such as Kiniro Mosaic, unexpected setbacks are presented for the sake of comedy rather than for drama: Karen’s completely forgotten her lines and immediately falls back on her improvisational skills. Unsurprisingly, Aya is unable to keep up, and the entire play seems to be at jeopardy. This brings to mind the Giant Walkthrough Brain from several years back, where a thunderstorm knocked out the power mid-game during the show’s first performance at the Banff Centre. Jay Ingram and his band excel at improvisation, and the use of laptops meant that we didn’t skip a beat: the show transitioned smoothly back in once power were restored, and the first performance ended up being a great success.

  • With the play in peril, Shinobu activates her NT-D summons a blonde wig and begins writing new lines in response to Karen and Aya’s predicament. While typically air-headed and incapable as a student, Shinobu’s highly talented in other areas. Academics is not everything, and while education systems place a very strong emphasis on academic performance, I’ve found that, especially in graduate school, the learnings and take-away messages from a course far exceed one’s grade: the thing I value the most of my graduate school experiences isn’t the Unity or Unreal Engine, how to formally describe a multi-agent system or mine data, but rather, how to communicate effectively.

  • Thus, what was supposed to be a structured play quickly turns into a free-for-all musical that winds up being a great success. Pretty Days grossed a total of 26 million yen (around 300000 CAD) on its first weekend. The original news article announcing Pretty Days is a deliberately misleading one, reading that Pretty Days would be predominantly about Shinobu’s situation when Yoko and Aya notice that she’s been overextending herself for the culture festival. Giving nothing away about the OVA’s contents, this blurb turned out to be a blessing and contributes to the OVA’s impact.

  • The Pretty Days OVA reaches its conclusion, with Shinobu and her classmates receiving warm applause for their performance in spite of all of the setbacks they’ve encountered. With Pretty Days in the books, eyes now turn towards the Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? special. Titled “Dear My Sister”, the OVA was announced back during the Rabbit House Tea Party in 2016 and originally set to receive a limited theatrical screening in May this year – it is speculated to involve more music than seen in the anime proper. At present, it’s been delayed by production issues, and the updated release date remains unknown.

  • At present, even OVAs are receiving the anime movie release pattern, taking at upwards of a half-year to finally become available in the home release format now; the wait for these OVAs has become as long as those for movies, accounting for why Pretty Days, released in November 2016, is only being reviewed now. In spite of the waits, I will definitely be returning to do a talk on the Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? special once that is available, and for the present, regular programming resumes as I push towards the end of Sora no Woto.

As is the modus operandi for OVA posts, one wonders if the OVA is the end-game, or merely a stepping stone for a continuation. Kiniro Mosaic performs reasonably well with respect to sales, and with the manga ongoing, it is possible that an animated adaptation depicting Shinobu and the others’ third year could come to fruition in the future, dealing with the girls as they finish their third year and move towards graduation. Nineteen months separated the first and second seasons, and by this trend, if Kiniro Mosaic is to receive a third season, it would likely be aired during the Winter 2018 anime season, just slightly less than a year from now. In comparison to my remarks that a second season of Yuyushiki, would be unlikely owing to how much time has elapsed since 2013, Kiniro Mosaic has already received its second season: the Pretty Days OVA comes at an intermediary point, so I am a bit more optimistic about the prospects of a third season. A continuation of Kiniro Mosaic would therefore be most welcome, acting as a conclusion of sorts to the series. Aside from graduation, a continuation could also open the possibility of Shinobu and her friends visiting England once more before they set off for whatever their futures have in store for them (with this being said, such an adventure might even be presented as a movie).

Hello! Kiniro Mosaic: Whole-series review and reflection

“Everything looks cute when it’s small.” —Cynthia Rowley

The adorable and immensely entertaining anime that is Hello! Kiniro Mosaic comes to an end after twelve episodes. Since the third episode, the anime has followed Alice and Shinobu’s life as second-year high school students. Outside of their studies, Alice and Shinobu experience an idyllic ever-day life. With Yoko, Aya and Karen, their adventures encompass a shopping trip with Isami to lift her spirits, participating in a trading quest inspired by The Straw Millionaire, Yoko’s attempt at conquering the Adam Richman Parfait Challenge and spending a day at the beach during the summer. Hello! Kiniro Mosaic also provides more insight into Karen and Alice’s friendship in a flashback to their time back in England, and the finale has Shinobu and Alice reunite after the latter spends a week in England with Karen. This is, in short, an anime that follows in the footsteps of numerous slice-of-life anime that preceded it. What allows Hello! Kiniro Mosaic to really stand out is the excellent capitalisation on the strong bonds between Alice and Shinobu, as well as Aya’s feelings for Yoko, and Karen’s boisterous presence to drive events forwards. However, the second season does not merely limit itself to the first season’s cast: Akari and Honoka add new dimensionality to the interactions within the second season, allowing for a new side to be shown to members of the old cast.

Hello! Kiniro Mosaic might be seen as the counterpart to Gochūmon wa Usagi Desu ka: both anime place an emphasis on transforming the mundane into the extraordinary, and both anime make extensive use of characters that are endearing to the viewers. There is a biological basis behind why this is so effective: I mentioned in a previous review (whose title and topic elude me) that cuteness in general is intended to encourage nurturing and child-caring tendencies in adults. These traits are desirable from an evolutionary standpoint, as adults who have a propensity towards cute things tend to pay more attention to their offspring and logically, would raise them effectively such that they survive. Thus, when viewers are watching anime like Kiniro Mosaic or Gochūmon wa Usagi Desu ka, the anime are designed in such a way as to invoke similar feelings: this is no different than watching baby bunnies eating a carrot. The natural predisposition to find enjoyment and tenderness in watching what is idiosyncratically referred to as “cute girls doing cute things”, accounts for why anime done with such an emphasis has continued to endure (despite the aesthetics’ prevalence).

Screenshots and Commentary

  • It’s good to see that the screenshots this time turned out with a much better colour saturation: the last Kiniro Mosaic talk I did featured screenshots that were oversaturated, and could not be corrected because my image host somehow skewed their colours on upload. Here, Shinobu and Yoko admire flowers in bloom; Alice’s flowers are late in blooming, leading to some concern.

  • Isami’s melancholy is implied to have stemmed from not spending as much time with Shinobu ever since Alice’s arrival, but noticing this, Yoko and company decide to take her on a shopping trip of sorts. A model and university student by the events of Hello! Kiniro Mosaic, Isami is depicted as elegant and cool, but also seems to have a more mischievous and idle side to her, as well.

  • I’m confident that this is the only blog that will ever mention Adam Richman’s Man v. Food in conjunction with Kiniro Mosaic; Yoko takes on a massive parfait that costs some 80 CAD, and the challenge conditions state that finishing it means the dessert will be on the house. The challenge is quite similar to the ice cream challenge in Man v. Food, which saw Adam take on the Kitchen Sink challenge. Unlike Yoko, who is utterly defeated by food, Adam wins his challenge at the 45 minute mark of the hour-long time limit.

  • In a flashback, Akari recounts how she first met Sakura. Despite being absentminded, Akari finds Sakura to be reliable and kind, as well. It turns out that Akari is younger than Sakura, and because of this, Sakura prefers that Akari does not refer to her as a senior, especially in front of the students, lest this gives her true age away.

  • Akari smiles after the flashback ends: most viewers out there regard smiles from seemingly-cold characters as a very rewarding thing to see, as it signifies that the characters have another side to them.

  • After an incident where Karen fell off a bridge’s ledge, Karen shouted out to Alice in mangled Japanese to catch her attention, and since then, Karen has regarded Alice as a hero to her. Here, the “i” below the “o” isn’t actually an “i”: in Japanese, “ー” is used to indicate that a particular sound is to be stretched

  • Aya’s shyness is an impediment that leads her to botch a phone call to Yoko; she’d intended to create a study schedule to help Yoko out, but one thing leads to another: after swapping clothes with Aya to see how the former may look in a skirt and accidentally spilling barley tea on Yoko while studying, Yoko ends up in her undergarments right as Kota and Mitsuki show up. The build-ups for the various scenes are well-executed in each episode, which is no small feat.

  • If I were to detail every amusing or noteworthy moment in Kiniro Mosaic, these posts would end up being behemoths rivaling the Gundam Unicorn: Over The Rainbow post in size. Thus, one of the challenges in making any blog post is to pick and choose moments that are conducive towards discussion, and I often go back to review a specific moment so that I might have something to say about it: here, after Shinobu jokingly suggests that she is going to dye her hair blonde, Alice reacts negatively.

  • Honoka Matsubara (right) is Karen’s classmate, and like Shinobu, loves blonde hair. She’s a member of the tennis club, and strikes a fast friendship with Karen. Her family owns a restaurant chain, and Honoka often gifts sweets to Karen, although it isn’t until season two that she summons the courage to talk to her.

  • While it’s not likely to happen, it would be quite nice to see Shinobu, Yoko and Aya pay a visit to England in an OVA; while Kiniro Mosaic is generally done in with simple artwork, the animators at Studio Gokumi seem to pay the ornate dresses more attention, and it does allow for some fanciful artwork of the characters in formal dresses that wouldn’t otherwise been seen elsewhere in the anime.

  • Shinobu’s talent as a seamstress is nothing short of impressive: she’s able to create elaborate dresses from scratch, and later repairs Mitsuki’s stuffed bear to perfect condition in seconds. One of the things that I find most entertaining in Kiniro Mosaic is Alice’s squeals, which are heart-melting and amusing at the same time.

  • In season one, Shinobu and company took a summer trip to the mountains; after much discussion, the group decides that this year, they can go to the beach. There’s a Mobile Suit Gundam reference in this episode: after getting a little too friendly with Yoko, Karen gets swatted, leading the latter to remark that “Not even my own father hit me!”. The dicussions at AnimeSuki picked this up, but I’m surprised that Tango-Victor-Tango’s viewers somehow missed this.

  • Aya and Yoko’s interactions manage to remain fresh throughout the entirety of Hello! Kiniro Mosaic, and as with Alice, watching Aya cry is at once hilarious and heart-melting. Rise Taneda plays Aya’s role exceptionally well, although Aya’s timid personality stands in stark contrast with her role as Gochūmon wa Usagi Desu ka‘s Rize Tezeda.

  • Sakura and Akari enjoy a day at the same beach that Shinobu at the others are visiting, and while most viewers were expecting their paths to cross, the decision to leave the two groups separate allows the story to maintain a more peaceful feeling.

  • I’m modestly surprised that I was able to find the time to push this post out today: the weekend did not feel like much of a weekend, as I spent the entirety of it building furniture. However, it was very satisfying to finish- most of the furniture was for my parents, although I was able to assemble a new desk chair for myself, as well. The furniture building was punctuated by a much-welcomed break for Dim Sum during lunch hour on Saturday, and while yesterday was cloudy, the weather had cleared up in the afternoon.

  • Honoka and Karen spend a relaxing day together: regarding the sentiment out there that the two’s friendship deserved more screen-time, I agree wholeheartedly. This season saw the start of a wonderful new friendship, and it’s likely that if there is a continuation, we could see Honoka become closer with Alice, Shinobu, Aya and Yoko, as well.

  • Honoka also has an uncanny talent to balance on balls. While seemingly frivolous, inclusion of this element adds another side to Honoka and cleverly reflects on the idea that all people have hidden depths to them, far more than is initially visible.

  • As the season draws to a close, Alice and Karen make a week-long trip to England. This segment in the anime makes the most explicit indications regarding the strength of Alice and Shinobu’s friendship. Here, Alice attempts to pack Shinobu such that the latter might accompany her to England, and in Alice’s absence, Shinobu falls into melancholy. Fortunately, Yoko and Aya step up to the plate to keep her company. Back in England, Karen also catches wind of Alice’s loneliness, and decides to film her own impersonation as Shinobu to keep Alice happy.

  • Karen and Alice bake pastries at the Cartelet residence in England. With this post nearly over, I turn my eye on what’s next, and it’s going to be busy. There are a handful of posts that will need to be written before we’re too far into July, including one of my overall experiences with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, my initial impressions of the Deus Ex: Mankind Divided E3 gameplay footage, and the concluding posts for both OreGairu Zoku and Hibike Euphonium. I’ll also need to watch and write about the Sabagebu! OVAs. This is going to be exacerbated by the fact that I’ve got a concert to attend tomorrow evening, and a movie on Friday…but I’ll make it work.

  • Alice, Karen and Shinobu joyfully reunite around halfway into the finale. As with the previous season, the finale ends proper once the main arc resolves, and the remainder of the episode is dedicated to a side story. This one follows Shinobu as she attempts to study for an English exam under Alice’s watchful eye, and although not quite as amusing as the one from the first season, was still entertaining to behold.

When everything is said and done, Hello! Kiniro Mosaic is ultimately a solid continuation to Kiniro Mosiac, taking advantage of familiar characters to explore their everyday lives in greater detail, and introducing new characters liven the atmosphere up. Here is a series that has settled into the unique situations and accompanying humour that is possible with Alice, Shinobu, Yoko, Aya and Karen, and although the setting might not be as unique as that in Gochūmon wa Usagi Desu ka, Hello! Kiniro Mosaic opts to play to each characters’ strengths to provide non-stop comedy, as well as more tender moments that illustrate just how deep everyone’s friendship with one another is. Hello! Kiniro Mosaic concludes as the students gear up for entrance exams in their third year of high school, so it’s quite possible that a third season will eventually be adapted. If we go by trends, then said third season will likely be premièred in Winter 2017, although in the absence of more concrete information, this date remains pure speculation.

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.

Spring 2015 Anime

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” —Albert Einstein

They say that time flies when one is having fun, and two months into the winter academic term, I’ve finally gotten into the swing of things for the term’s schedule, which features far more evenings on campus than the previous term. Now that we’re onto the last week of February, we’re alsopast the halfway point for the Winter 2015 season. With the Vernal Equinox in less than a month, it’s would seem prudent to begin looking at what Spring 2015 has to offer with respect to anime. As noted in earlier posts, I’m barely managing to keep up with the Winter 2015 season, partly owing to my schedule and partly because there are several good anime, with ShirobakoIdolM@ster: Cinderella Girls, Kantai CollectionSaekano A,and Aldnoah.Zero amongst the list of things I’m watching. With the exception of IdolM@ster, I’m reasonably on top of all the shows and anticipate being able to get the final reflections out for each before April. This will be beneficial, since a cursory glance at the chart below suggests that Spring is going to be a busy season, with several interesting shows that catch my eye. However, before we go on to talk about the Spring 2015 anime, there is one special that released during the Winter 2015 block that I’ve yet to get around to watching: the Bokura Wa Minna Kawaisou OVA is something I’ve picked up and will be watching and discussing quite soon. There’s also the second Strike Witches Operation Victory Arrow OVA: dubbed Aege Kai no Megami (Goddess in the Aegean Sea), it’s set for release on March 13, and I will, as usual, have the internet’s first, best review for it.

  • My post streak continues with the Spring 2015 anime preview. This chart is not a complete version, but it does cover most of the anime projected for the Spring 2015 season. Just click on it to bring up a full-resolution copy. As per usual, I will be picking up and dropping shows as time and interests demand, although one thing should be obvious: I’m going to watch Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu in full without fail.

Such shows include Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu (The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki), Hello! Kiniro MosaicHibike! Emporium, Urawa no Usagi-chan, Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki (Knights of Sidonia: Battle for Planet Nine) and Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru Zoku (Oregairu Season 2). Right on the table, we have a show that I’ve long foreseen and have been greatly anticipating, this season’s go-to show for iyashikei, another Kyoto Animation anime that looks fun, and a science-fiction anime I watched last year. As well, anime’s Dark Knight makes a return as well, and with the second season speculated to be more romance-heavy, I’m curious to see which direction things will take. In addition, Tamayura ~Sotsugyou shashin~ will be airing as a movie on April 4. There are definitely several major titles in there, reflecting on the solid offerings of Spring 2015, and with six anime that I plan on following, one thing should be abundantly clear: given that this blog is a one-man show, attempting to blog six shows would be remarkably difficult nay impossible. Practicality dictates that I choose a handful of shows to blog. So…which anime should I talk about? I offer my assessments below: of the shows listed, these are the ones I’m presently looking to follow (and a brief justification of my choice). If there are specific shows that you, the readers, are looking for me to blog, just drop a comment below, and I will take that into consideration as to whether or not it makes the list of shows that will end up being written about here.

Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu

This is the long-awaited spin-off of The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, featuring Yuki as the main heroine. The story follows Yuki and Kyon, depicting their school life, club activities, colourful schoolmates, and the gradual beginnings of the romantic times that the two share together.

Disappearance of Nagato Yuki

  • The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan is something that I’ve read all the mangas to, and I’ve been waiting for quite some time to see this anime become a reality, well before any other anime fan expressed similar thoughts. According to the cast listings, the series’ original voice actors will make a return, and the studio Satelight will be animating the adaptation, rather than Kyoto Animation. This matters not: Satelight has a reasonably good record, and I’m sure the animation and artwork will be fine. I’m hoping that the soundtrack will take after the Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi in terms of quality, although given that this is probably to be a comedy, it’s likely that the music will be more conventional in terms of style. I will blog this series in the same manner as I have for Kantai Collection: there will be a talk after the first episode, and subsequently, after every five episodes (once episode five has aired) until the finale airs.

Hello! Kiniro Mosaic

In the first season of Kiniro Moasic, Alice Cartalet transferred into a Japanese high school to be with Shinobu Omiya after the two met during a home-stay visit. The two love everything about their friends’ respective cultures, with Shinobu being enamoured by all things English, and Alice is infatuated with the Japanese culture.

  • I’m within an episode of finishing the first season of Kiniro Mosaic, and this was a series that I greatly enjoyed. It’s quite similar to GochiUsa in terms of atmosphere, and relies more on cultural and linguistic intricacies to convey humour, as opposed to GochiUsa, which capitalised in the unique setting to present a lighthearted slice-of-life story that stood out from the others. This series will get two posts: one reflection after the three episode mark has passed, and one after the finale has aired. Both posts will be slightly larger than usual, featuring thirty images rather than twenty: I imagine that large anime blogs out there won’t be covering this, so I will step up to the plate, providing screenshots and interesting discussion on this anime that is exactly what readers deserve.

Hibike! Euphonium

The story follows of the Kitauji Music club, which used to always advance to national competitions. Ever since the adviser changed, though, it hasn’t advanced past the Kansai tournament. However, thanks to the newly appointed adviser’s strict instruction, the students are steadily improving. The club members’ daily lives are full of ups and downs including fights over solos and the decision resign club activities to focus on studies.

  • Kyoto Animation returns to the world of music with Hibike! Euphonium, featuring a brass band in place of a light music club. From the sounds of things, Hibike! Euphonium will be more focussed than K-On! was as far as music and directionality goes; this could wind up being a fun anime to follow, and with Kyoto Animation behind the wheel, things will look and sound nice for sure. Hibike! Euphonium will follow my standard posting schema of two posts: one reflection after the three episode mark has passed, and one after the finale has aired.