The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Tag Archives: Japanese Animation

Nekopara OVA Review and Reflection

“Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a function.” –Garrison Keillor

While unpacking in his new confectionery shop, La Soleil, Kashou Minaduki learns that Chocola and Vanilla, two of his family’s Nekos, have stowed away with him. Kashou is initially unwilling to let the two stay, but later relents and allows the two to remain with him upon seeing their determination. Kashou’s younger sister, Shigure, later visits with the other Nekos and remarks that for Chocola and Vanilla to work at La Soleil, Chocola and Vanilla will require a permit exam. Despite their initial difficulties, the two pass their exams, leading Kashou to bring Chocola and Vanilla to an amusement park and aquarium in celebration. When Kashou develops a fever from exhaustion later, Chocola and Vanilla try to reach a doctor’s clinic but forget to bring their bells with them. Kashou arrives and manages to sort things out before the authorities take them away. Later, Shigure decides to bring in the other Nekos to help out with work at La Soleil. With its origins in a series of visual novels, Nekopara‘s OVA was first announced in July 2016 in a crowd-funded project. Interest in an OVA became apparent when the crowd-funding campaign reached its goal within a day of launch, and the OVA itself was completed in November 2017. The OVA was scheduled for release on Boxing Day. During its fifty-minute run, the Nekopara OVA covers the first chapter of the visual novel (there are four in total), and for folks who’ve played through the game, one of the strongest aspects about the OVA is how faithful it is to the original.

At its core, Nekopara‘s OVA presents a gentle, heart-warming story about Kashou’s gradual acceptance of his Nekos in life at his confectionery shop and the misadventures that they share, along with their more tender moments. The OVA, and Nekopara itself, brings to mind the sort of antics seen in the animated series Nyanko Days. In both, anthropomorphic cats are present, with human-like traits and intellectual capacity. The similarities end here – whereas Nyanko Days is purely about the everyday lives of Yūko’s cats and features tiny Nyanko, the Neko of Nekopara are more similar to humans in stature to accommodate for the sort of narrative that Nekopara presents. With this in mind, the OVA is more family-friendly than the visual novel and therefore, more similar to Nyanko Days than its visual novel incarnation, preferring to focus on the adorable and amusing rather than the risque. However, because there is a male protagonist and human-like Nekos, as opposed to the kitten-like Nyanko, the OVA opens the floor to conventional jokes surrounding misunderstandings that are usually seen in romance-comedy anime. With this in mind, the OVA can be seen as either a fine addition into the Nekopara franchise for current fans of the visual novels, as well as being a bit of a barometer for the undecided to determine whether or not the Nekopara games are within the scope of their interests.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I suppose it would be fair to open with the remark that I’ve never actually seen “Neko” being used in plural as I have: in Japanese, we would probably say 猫たち (neko-tachi) to refer to cats in plural.  However, in this post, I will use it to refer to the cat-girls in plural for convenience’s sake. I’m not sure how exactly Nekos work from a evolutionary and biological perspective; they are human-like in anatomy save for their ears and tails, possess intelligence comparable to that of children and are omnivorous, but otherwise, their minds are cat-like. However, the documentation states that interbreeding between humans and Nekos are not possible, which technically should mean that Nekopara should be family-friendly through and through.

  • The protagonist, Kashou Minaduki, is a pâtissier who comes from a family of Japanese chefs and is distant with his parents for his interests. Resembling Itsuki Koizumi of The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, Kashou is the generic protagonist and is unremarkable. Chocola is the first of the Nekos seen in Nekopara: she is the more energetic and outgoing compared to her twin, Vanilla. The two Nekos are the youngest the Minaduki family has: Kashou and his sister found them around nine months ago, and they have been caring for the Nekos ever since.

  • One aspect about Nekopara‘s game form is that it makes use of 3D animated characters, in contrast to static 2D characters of traditional visual novels. As a result, there’s a slider for altering the modulus of rigidity in the game, which is utterly pointless: I bet that in Nekopara, elasticity is a pre-rendered animation rather than involving real-time physics calculations, so changing the settings with the aim of stress-testing a computer set up isn’t even worth it. With this in mind, if I should ever decide to buy Nekopara, I’m going to set the modulus of rigidity to zero: Chocola and Vanilla don’t exactly require any other setting, and soft-body dynamics is computationally expensive.

  • A miscommunication results in the delivery of additional hardware to La Soleil, and while a Herculean task seemingly awaits Kashou, Chocola and Vanilla lend their skills towards sorting out the boxes to find the ones containing Kashou’s orders in an efficient manner, leading to much happiness from the delivery lady.

  • While Kashou is initially not keen on keeping Chocola and Vanilla around, Chocola up front lets Kashou know that he means a great deal to both of them, recalling a story where he looked after the two and brought them to the hospital after the two fell ill from a combination of stress, cold and a weakened constitution. In a moving display of kindness that Kashou counts as common sense, Chocola and Vanilla would recover and became quite fond of Kashou, to the point of following him when he moves out to open La Soleil. It takes some negotiations, but Kashou eventually relents and allows the two to live with him.

  • Kashou reluctantly agrees to let Vanilla and Chocola help him out at La Soleil. They run into a strangely-attired customer later revealed to be Kashou’s younger sister. A capable Neko owner and elegant in her own manner, Shigure is responsible for training the family’s Nekos. In the OVA, she’s quite ordinary, although in the visual novel, it’s said that she holds unrequited feelings for Kashou, which doesn’t appear to be a rational narrative device considering what Nekopara is about.

  • From left to right, the other Nekos in Nekopara are Maple, Cinnamon, Azuki and Coconut (Shigure is in the middle, wearing the kamino). Each of the cats sports a bell that signifies their qualification to hold what Nekopara calls an “Independent Action Permit” (abbreviated IAP for short and not to be confused with the shorthand for “In App Purchase”), which allows a Neko to travel alone without human supervision. In order to have Chocola and Vanilla helping out at La Soleil, the two must also pass an examination to hold an IAP.

  • Nekos have a modified digestive system that allow them to enjoy cakes and tea along with food more consistent with what cats should be given. It should go without saying that Nekopara is the last place on earth one should go to learn about cats – cats have no sweet receptors and won’t enjoy sweets the same way humans would. Further, the presence of dairy products in cake can be cause digestive issues for cats, and theobromine in chocolate can be lethal. Of course, this would result in a dull visual novel.

  • Cinammon (to the right) is the third oldest of the Nekos and here, is seen giving Vanilla a crash course on flowers, somehow becoming turned on at the thought of reproduction. It brings to mind the jokes that I sat through as a high school student in biology, where my instructor remarked that only an ineffective instructor would be distracted by reproductive biology and said that from scientific perspective, there should be nothing particularly embarrassing as to how life works. Having said this, while I’m not particularly bothered by what would be considered indecent, there is a limit to what I can and can’t show on this blog in order to maintain the PG-13 rating.

  • N. cataria has a profound effect on Chocola and Vanilla, who are affected by the nepetalactone present. The compound, a two-ringed, ten carbon molecule, produces a relaxing effect in cats in conjunction with sleepiness and drooling. Nepetalactone has no impact on humans owing to physiological differences, so it stands to reason that Nekos likely have a different nervous system composition than humans despite their physical similarities. Curiously enough, nepetalactone doesn’t seem to affect a third of all cats, and this is apparently not Mendelian trait.

  • I have a feeling that the sustained application of science will outright ruin Nekopara: the origins of Nekos and the implications on technological levels in society would probably cause readers to count me a non-team player, a wet blanket. This is because if we could genetically engineer a species with human and cat-like traits as having near-human intelligence, it would imply that our medical knowledge is remarkably sophisticated. This would then raise the question of why things like FTL and fusion are not present in Nekopara. Hereafter, I’m going to do my best not to mention scientific elements in too much more details from here on out and return things to the OVA, where Chocola and Vanilla are shown to have successfully passed their IAP exam.

  • As a celebration, Kashou takes Chocola and Vanilla to an amusement park, which Chocola has expressed an interest in visiting. Most apparent in this scene is the level of detail and intricacy in both Chocola and Vanilla’s dresses. At the time of writing, the Nekopara OVA is only available on Steam to the wider world and retails for 34 CAD, which is only slightly less than the Nekopara bundle, which costs 36 CAD in the absence of a sale (for a scant 18 CAD, one can buy all four volumes of Nekopara on Steam during a sale).

  • Today’s been a bit of a more festive one: I spent most of it at a New Year’s Eve brunch. After driving the treacherous roads to get there, I settled down to the warmth of home-made Eggs Benedict, turkey bacon, potato pancakes and hash browns, plus the most impressive array of cookies, Nanamo Bars and other sweets I’ve seen in a while. Conversation during this brunch lasted into the late afternoon, during which the weather remained incredibly frigid (-29°C before windchill).

  • Once I got back home, it was very nearly evening, and I arrived just in time for my family’s annual 火鍋 (jyutping fo2 wo1, better known as “hot pot”, and folks familiar with anime will refer to it as nabe even though the Chinese version isn’t really thus). The combination of a warm soup with beef, lamb, chicken, shrimp, fresh scallops, squid, fish ballsbak choy, cabbage and lettuce, plus yi mein, is the perfect ward for the cold winter’s evening, and with dinner now done, it’s time to watch as the final hours of 2017 draw to a close.

  • After their outing to the aquarium, Kashou develops a fever that greatly concerns Chocola and Vanilla. Their understanding of human health being limited, they attempt to call for medical assistance upon seeing Kashou’s state, as opposed to letting him sleep it off. Typically, bed rest and hydration is the best initial means of dealing with a fever – medical attention is sought if the fever is very severe or persistent. After Kashou falls asleep, Chocola and Vanilla head into the night to reach a clinic.

  • While Nekopara may not have Makoto Shinkai or Kyoto Animation level visuals, the simple, clean artwork works in the OVA’s favour. I took a quick glance at the Steam system requirements for Nekopara‘s OVA, and they’re identical to K-On! The Movie, which is also available on Steam. The act of streaming videos is not a particularly demanding task: any dual core CPU, 2 GB of RAM, 500 MB of space (presumably to act as a cache) and a 12 Mbps connection will be sufficient for enjoying anime from Steam.

  • Shigure and the remaining Nekos decide to join the ranks of employees at La Soleil, much to Kashou’s surprise. This sets in motion the whacky antics that are seen in the remainder of Nekopara, and given the setup, I imagine that the OVA was largely intended to be a bit of promotion for newcomers such as myself as much as it is intended to entertain current fans of the game.

  • With the entire family of Nekos geared up and ready to help, the stage is set for later volumes of Nekopara, which deal with the antics surrounding Kashou as he acclimatises to Nekos working at his confectionary shop. As a kinetic novel, Nekopara has no branching decisions and can be seen as an electronic story of sorts. In a manner of speaking, the OVA and game are different interpretations of the same story, and if the OVA had been more extensive, I would likely prefer watching the OVA to playing the game.

  • From the perspective of those who’ve played Nekopara and subsequently watched the OVA, the OVA seems to have done a passable job of bringing Nekopara to life in the anime format. While not perfect, these individuals have found it entertaining. From my perspective, which is that of someone who’s seen the OVA and are wondering about the game, I think that the OVA could inspire some to pick up all four volumes of Nekopara and give things a whirl to see what happens at La Soleil after all of the Nekos come on board. However, for me, I have my own reasons for not buying Nekopara: for one, I feel that my Steam library has hit saturation, and there are simply no more games that I’m keen on checking out for the present.

  • The exterior of La Soleil is simple and clean, set in front of a backdrop of skyscrapers. It’s well designed and aesthetically pleasing, so I figured I would feature at least one screenshot of it during this discussion, which now comes to an end. This is my final talk for 2017, and I am going to spend the remaining few hours of the year taking it easy. Upcoming posts to kick off 2018 will include Wolfenstein II‘s Uberkommando and Episode Zero talks, the final impressions for Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter! and the final episode of Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Hero Chapter. I also have plans to write about Violet EvergardenYuru Camp and Slow Start in the upcoming season.

One of the more interesting elements in the OVA that the world that Kashou inhabits feels much more lively relative to the visual novel. This aspect is likely by design – in the visual novel, the absence of other inhabitants save mission-critical characters places greater emphasis on Kashou and his Nekos, as well as reducing the amount of resources spent drawing extras. However, the animated format has additional background characters to give the sense that there is a world beyond the characters players interact with. This is one of the strengths of the animated format confers for adapting visual novels: the worlds that characters live in can be made to feel a bit more alive. The OVA certainly has done a solid job of bringing Kashou’s world to life: while nothing groundbreaking or remarkable, the visual quality and artwork in the Nekopara are of a high standard, as are the aural elements. Overall, the Nekopara OVA succinctly captures the basics of Nekopara in a modestly entertaining fashion, and here, I remark that while the OVA was fun to watch, I’m not too sure if I will be adding Nekopara to a Steam library whose existing titles include DOOM, Half-Life 2 and Far Cry 4 in the foreseeable future: I prefer my games to involve über-micro, after all.

Girls’ Last Tour (Shōjo Shūmatsu Ryokō): Full Series Review and Recommendation

“Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.” —Henri Nouwen

Yuuri and Chito continue making their way through the derelict city, making use of their camera to capture different sights that they pass by. They stop at an apartment for a night and wonder what it would be like to have a home, listen to the sound of a rainfall and encounter a woman named Ishii, who has dreams of flying. Helping her in constructing an aircraft, Ishii shares with Yuuri and Chito about a facility where provisions are held, and while Ishii’s flight is unsuccessful, she parachutes to a lower level. Yuuri and Chito later reach this facility, where they use ingredients that they find to make new ratios. When driving through a vast graveyard, Yuuri discovers a radio, and later ascend a vast tower, where they find beer and proceed to get hammered. The girls explore an aquarium with a single fish, and encounter a robotic guardian. After swimming in its vast tanks, the girls rescue the fish by destroying a large construction robot attempting to dismantle the site. When Yuuri picks up music from her radio later, the two decide to find its source, and encounter a small creature that Yuuri dubs “The Cut”. They eventually reach a nuclear submarine carrying ICBMs, and view the full contents of the camera that Kanazawa had given them, learning more about humanity. The Cut’s comrades later arrive and explain that their purpose is to consume unstable energy sources. They depart, leaving Chito and Yuuri to continue on their journey. In the space of the nine episodes since I last wrote about Girls’ Last Tour, quite a bit has happened: their everyday experiences in travelling in the remains of civilisation lead Yuuri and Chito to encounter aspects of humanity that we find commonplace. Through their naïveté, Girls’ Last Tour offers a newfound perspective on things that we’ve come to take for granted, and in doing so, encourages its viewers to reflect back on what our civilisation truly entails.

While prima facie about Chito and Yuuri’s daily life as they explore a post-human world with the aim of surviving, Girls’ Last Tour ultimately speaks on what being human means. The conversations that Yuuri and Chito share, concise and simple in nature, as well as they entities they encounter, each serve to provide a unique perspective on the human species and its creations. The sum of these experiences creates Girls’ Last Tour‘s main theme, that humanity is intrinsically curious and creative once its basic needs are satisfied. Abraham Maslow’s theory on these aspects of human nature were first posted in 1937 and is summarised as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which supposes that once physiological and social needs are fulfilled, people will begin seeking the means of expressing itself, as well as looking for the means of moving beyond one’s boundaries. Girls’ Last Tour supposes that the world’s remaining humans have their basic and social needs satisfied to some level; Kanazawa and Ishii both are driven by the desire to create something and do something meaningful even when the remainder of civilisation has collapsed. In Kanzawa and his cartography skills, he represents the tendency for people to document discoveries. Ishii embodies the human drive for innovation. Similarly, Chito and Yuuri are interested in the remnants of the past civilisation, longing to understand more about it and record their own experiences; they are akin to children working out for themselves the workings of the world. Through the various characters in Girls’ Last Tour, the main notion seems to be that, regardless of what happens to our species, our natural drive to learn and create is an enduring trait. Provided that our needs can be satisfied, we will begin exploring new territory with the goal of finding purpose, regardless of how far our civilisation has advanced or regressed. In spite of being the only species on Earth to have had such an impact on the planet’s environment, and our seemingly insatiable appetite for conquest and destruction, Girls’ Last Tour offers to audiences the idea that some of our more appealing and constructive characteristics should not be forgotten, as they can endure and define our species more so than our current propensities.

The main appeal in Girls’ Last Tour therefore lies in this simple, yet profound message, and this particular message is conveyed in every aspect comprising the anime. While already having a strong narrative in its simple, yet thought-provoking conversations and a fantastically-depicted world, filled with relics of a long-derelict civilisation, Girls’ Last Tour has one more component in its execution that is worth mentioning. This is the incidental music: composed by Kenichiro Suehiro, the soundtrack for Girls’ Last Tour is a masterful addition to the anime. From the gentle pieces depicting the calm of everyday life while the girls explore the vast constructs of the past society in their Kettenkrad, to the choral songs that capture the majesty and wonder Chito and Yuuri must experience while gazing upon something new and wonderful, or the moodier pieces that accompany moments where the girls experience melancholy and sorrow as a result of their learnings, the soundtrack adds a new dimension to the anime that serves to reinforce its thematic elements. Each of the incidental pieces are slower in pace, suggesting that the flow of time itself has similarly slowed. The reduced pacing allows the girls to really take an introspective into things and explore their world at their own pace. Where encountered, happiness endures a little longer, and sorrow dissipates with a reduced haste. Through the music, Girls’ Last Tour encourages its audiences to take their time in considering what Chito and Yuuri are experiencing.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • If the point of humanity is to learn and grow, Girls’ Last Tour suggests that no matter how often our species suffers catastrophic loss to its population, people will nonetheless retain the core aspects of what makes us human. Our capacity to transmit and store information, through language and other forms of expression is the most sophisticated on this planet, and it is this ability that allowed civilisation to advance to the extent that it has.

  • While driving through the city, Chito becomes distracted and crashes into a statue of a thin cat. Girls’ Last Tour covers a variety of topics, and each episode deals with a range of topics. Religion is one of them; early societies used religion as the basis for their belief systems, codifying moral and social values together with an effort to explain natural phenomenon. Even though societies began moving towards the separation of religion from state and advanced scientific knowledge, religion remains a very powerful force in the world, as it reminds people that there are reasons beyond ourselves that motivate us to keep on living and do good.

  • It turns out that bright light emanates from a temple of sorts. After entering its cavernous, dark interior, Chito and Yuuri find a beautiful reflecting pool with lilypads and spend a moment here, considering what a god is. Throughout history, gods and deities have been described as benevolent and malevolent beings who looked over or sought to harm humanity; these beliefs unified people and eventually created a much more cohesive society, although as our grasp of the world improved, science eventually took over as we discovered how natural phenomenon occurred and in time, could be controlled.

  • Chito and Yuuri find an apartment while on their travels. They briefly fantasise about what they would furnish the apartment with, wondering what it’s like to have a house. The definition of a home is then covered; there is a fine separation between the two, and the prevailing line of thought is that a home is a place where one can return to. For Yuuri and Chito, the two are constantly mobile and therefore, do not have a single fixed place of residence, instead, moving from place to place. As the two discover, their home is simply where the other is.

  • For all of their conflicts, Yuuri and Chito genuinely care for one another. They occasionally find themselves in mortal peril as a result of either Yuuri’s carelessness or as a result of their limited understanding of their world, but overall, are spared any genuine harm simply on the virtue that this would stand contrary to what Girls’ Last Tour is about. Despite the anime’s seemingly basic premise, a great many topics are covered, and looking back, this is an anime that would have merited episodic coverage so that all of these topics could be adequately discussed.

  • One day, a heavy rainfall forces the girls to stop and rest. Chito begins reading, and Yuuri, ever the troublemaker, begins banging around on some nearby items with an iron rebar. The resulting cacophony causes her to stop, and the two subsequently enjoy the sound of rain falling on their surroundings, creating a music of its own. The sound of rain is immediately relaxing because of its consistent acoustic properties: a persistent and consistent sound masks out other sounds, and as humans are sensitive to sudden noises, the presence of another sound will dampen out the effects of sudden noises to help us relax.

  • There is a charm about Ishii’s character, both in design and mannerism, that I am very fond of. Voiced by Kotono Mitsuhishi (Gundam Build Fighters‘ Rinko Iori), Ishii’s ambition is to use old blueprints to construct a functional aircraft and reach the city’s highest levels. Chito and Yuuri first encounter her testing a scaled-down prototype of a plane, and she’s so engrossed that she neglects to notice a pole in her path, bumping into it.

  • When they encounter Ishii, their Kettenkrad has broken down, and so, the girls agree to help Ishii on her projected in exchange for her help in repairing their ride. One of the joys in Girls’ Last Tour is the introduction of other characters, both human and otherwise: while they’re only around temporarily, it adds a depth into the world to give the sense that things are not as empty as we might otherwise believe it to be.

  • The human drive for creativity and progress is something borne of our ability to transmit and store information in language. Once humans had a reliable way of passing on culture and survival knowledge (e.g. cooking and agriculture, as well as precedence in law and social organisation), we could spend less time hunting for food and worrying about security. Our minds then became free to create things, leading to the development of more sophisticated forms of self-expression and a curiosity to better understand our surroundings. Thus, when characters like Ishii and Kanazawa are shown, they’ve already addressed the basics, allowing them to find purpose in a world even where there seemingly is none, to create something meaningful in the time that is given to them.

  • After several days of preparation, Ishii is finally ready to take off. Her aircraft has a narrow fuselage and resembles the Lockheed U-2. However, it is powered by a propeller and has a large external fuel tank. The similarities to the U-2 means that Ishii’s aircraft would have a low weight and behave like a glider: it would be extremely difficult to handle. However, whether it be from deficiencies in the construction process or materials, Ishii’s aircraft breaks apart mid-flight, forcing her to parachute out and return to the lower levels.

  • Following Ishii’s suggestions lead Chito and Yuuri to a food processing facility, where they discover the raw ingredients to make their own provisions. I spent a portion of today helping out with Christmas Eve dinner, which consisted of a delicious prime rib au jus, garlic butterfly shrimp, a fully loaded baked potato with cheese, bacon and sour cream, and mixed vegetables. The smell of prime rib still lingers in the air, and we have two massive prime rib bones that will be enjoyed at a later date. We subsequently took a bit of a night drive to checkout the Christmas lights downtown and ended the evening with some cheesecake tarts.

  • The recent snowfall has meant that we will have a White Christmas tomorrow: I look forwards to a quiet day spent in the company of some books and possibly, some missions in The Division. My family tradition for Christmas has always been to spend the day at home relaxing, and if the weather permits, I might go for a bit of a walk in the winter wonderland. The forecast is projecting a colder day tomorrow, with a daily high of -19°C and a low of -25°C: the Canadian Winter is here in full force now, so said walk might not materialise if the weather proves too bitter even for me.

  • Amidst the large tombstones, Yuuri discovers a radio, while Chito wonders why societies remember their dead. Borne out of a desire to acknowledge and remember the lives of those before us, there is also a superstitious component in some cultures. For example, the Chinese believe that spirits of the deceased may return and will not find rest unless they are remembered. Our mortality is a major part of who we are as humans, and my experiences, coupled with my Chinese ancestry, means that I believe that we honour our ancestors by making the most of our lives and working hard to benefit, not harm, society.

  • Underage drinking is openly shown in Girls’ Last Tour: neither know what alcohol is, and when they find some, they down it quickly and get plastered. I recall with amusement a family Christmas party last year; the genetic predisposition that governs my reaction to alcohol is shared by everyone on that side of the family, and so, I will avoid drinking where possible. This year, wisdom meant no repeat of last year’s events, but the food (Lobster tails, Cornish game hens stuffed with sticky rice, rack of lamb, roast beef, wild rice and mixed vegetables) was superb. A snowfall had started mid-evening but had ended before the party ended.

  • The buzz and associated elation lead Chito and Yuuri to share a spirited dance under the moonlight. Besides the annual family Christmas party yesterday, I also went out to watch Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi before stopping for a light “lunch” (a half-serving of prime rib eggs Benedict at a nearby Denny’s). This is not a post on The Last Jedi, and I have no intentions of spoiling the movie for readers who’ve not seen it, but I can remark that the film, while fun in every way and a solid bit of escapism, is not a strong addition to the established Star Wars from a narrative perspective. Overall, I enjoyed it, but it’s eclipsed by the works of the extended universe, such as Timothy Zahn and his Thrawn trilogy.

  • In an aquarium, Yuuri and Chito discover an automated quadrupedal guardian, who prohibits them from eating the fish and also acts as a friendly guide, helping them make their way around the facility. Its presence is a reassuring one, helping the girls learn about how aquaculture was carried out. Despite being programmed to carry out its directives, the guardian also seems to demonstrate a limited capacity for cognition and expression of human emotions.

  • Girls’ Last Tour has a very distinct visual style in its characters compared to other anime and manga: the minimalistic and flat colour tones indicate that the focus in Girls’ Last Tour is not entirely on the characters alone, but rather, the sum of interactions between the girls’ and their environment. Compared to the flat tones and distinct faces on the characters, environments have a very gritty sense to them.

  • While having spent most of the episode day-dreaming about eating the last fish, Yuuri ultimately decides to save it when a large construction automaton begins dismantling the facility and the smaller caretaker fails in its negotiations with it. She plants explosives at the top of the automaton and Chito destroys it, allowing the facility and its single living inhabitant to continue living. Concepts of empathy are discussed in this episode, and while there’s a more technical definition of what empathy constitutes, at the simplest level, empathy is being able to understand what someone is feeling.

  • While searching for the source of the radio transmissions, Yuuri and Chito come across a vivid sunset that, in conjunction with the music, brings tears to Chito’s eyes. The stillness of the moment was quite moving, and the lengthening shadows of a sunset bring to mind the atmospherics of my office during the winter, when the last light of a late autumn’s day fills the space with a warm golden light. Despite having no prior experience with music, Chito intrinsically is saddened by the aural and visual properties of this moment; humans have an innate ability to characterise emotions taken audio and visual cues, hinting at a universal set of beliefs that are shared regardless of background or culture and further reinforcing that in spite of our differences, all humans are ultimately more similar than different.

  • After an excursion leads Yuuri and Chito to find a small cat-like creature capable of consuming bullets and shells, Yuuri decides to name it nuko (a mispronunciation of neko, but in English, could also be seen as “nuke”, foreshadowing its role). The English translation hilariously puts it as a “Cut”, and since it’s amusing, this is the spelling I’ve chosen to go with. Capable of shifting its shape to manipulate mechanical devices, The Cut communicates with radio signals and is a quick learner, as it’s soon able to articulate how it feels about things. The Cut is voiced by Kana Hanazawa (Yukari Yukino of The Garden of Words and Your Name).

  • Yuuri decides to swing from a clock that appears as an artistic installation. Cleverly integrated into Girls’ Last Tour narrative is the idea of time. For Chito and Yuuri, time is largely dictated in terms of their physiological requirements (i.e. food, water and sleep): they wonder what it is about the previously civilisations that would have required more precise timekeeping, mirroring the idea that modern society moves too quickly.

  • Yuuri’s carefree spirit and unbridled sense of curiosity leads her to throw a few switches in a humanoid war machine. After firing a rocket, she inadvertently fires an energy beam of vast destructive power, incinerating a section of the city and earning her a punch to the face from Chito. My prediction is that there were at least two wars: one that was fought with weapons equaling and surpassing what we’ve currently got. While destructive, enough of humanity survived and redeveloped, before a second war broke out. Using both weapons redeveloped following the first war (which reached World War Two-era levels) and the more advanced weapons they did not fully understand, humanity sustained heavier casualties as a result of using the older weapons without fully being aware of their effects. The two-war theory would explain why incredibly sophisticated automaton and directed energy weapons, plus modern 50-calibre rifles, coexist with World War Two-era tanks and rifles.

  • Another one of the joys in Girls’ Last Tour are the fanciful landscapes and the sheer scale of human constructs. While seemingly implausible and impractical, they act as a visual metaphor for how our civilisation’s complexity may appear to those without any prior knowledge about said civilisation. The increasing interdependence of intricate systems on one another underlies modern civilisation’s vulnerability to failure and also makes it difficult for one to have a comprehensive understanding of the system as a whole: contemporary education specialises us towards a specific role in society. For Yuuri and Chito, the function of the structures and installations they found form the topic of many conversations, and although they have a general idea of what something does, they do not know all of the the details; the choice to design these structures in an unusual manner is to convey this sense of wonder to audiences.

  • Colours have been quite minimal in Girls’ Last Tour, but when the camera Yuuri and Chito’s brought with them connects to the nuclear submarine’s central computer, it displays a plethora of colourful images from its previous owners. Chito and Yuuri look back on their own travels, gain an insight into Kanazawa’s journey and learn that he had a wife. Going back even further, Chito and Yuuri find a video from girls not much older than themselves, presenting their science project about self-replicating automaton. The Cut offers to operate the system, giving Chito and Yuuri access to memories they did not think would be possible.

  • The videos stored on the camera show humanity at its best and worst: from the simple act of a family sharing precious time together and students exploring their world, to the wars fought on what equate to the whims of politicians, Yuuri and Chito gain an insight into what being human means. We’re a species of contradictions, capable of both great good and incalculable evil: from devising ways of bringing clean water to folks in need and caring for those around us, to slaughtering members of our fellow species and desecrating our world, these acts define who we are, and it is a mark of progress when the good slowly becomes more prevalent than the evil.

  • The small Cut was adorable to behold in spite of its simplistic design, reminding audiences that actions can also influence what audiences count as endearing. Towards the end of Girls’ Last Tour, Yuuri encounters a larger Cut who subsequently eats her. Frightened with the prospect of being alone, Chito sets off in search for her, equipping a combat knife and Yuuri’s Arisaka Type 38. Despite all of her annoyances at Yuuri, this moment cements the fact that Chito greatly cares for Yuuri.

  • Unable to communicate with the smaller Cut, Chito decides to bring it with her, placing it on her head in the same way that Chino carries Tippy around in GochiUsa. By my admission, I only picked up Girls’ Last Tour because the premise initially was essentially “Yuyushiki meets Sora no Woto“, as well as for the fact that Inori Minase voiced Chito, which gave her a personality not unlike that of Chino’s. However, as the series progressed, it began exploring directions that I had not expected. Folks who’ve seen the manga will know where Girls’ Last Tour is headed, but the anime itself provides a new level of immersion that the manga’s format disallows.

  • As it turns out, the large Cut was only interested in Yuuri’s radio and communicates to Chito that they cannot digest organics. They explain their function to remove the accumulated unstable energy sources in the world: weapons hold a vast amount of potential energy that can be converted into other forms for destruction, so by neutralising this, the Cut’s species aim to dispose of the weapons in the world before moving on.

  • The Cuts thank Yuuri and Chito for returning the small Cut to them. They then take off into the skies for another destination while a brilliant shaft of sunlight breaks through, casting the land in a vivid glow. With the Cuts gone, Chito and Yuuri continue on with their everyday activities, but not before Chito admits that she cares for Yuuri. It’s a fantastic closing to the series, and I crossed the finish line earlier today.

  • Because we’re also very nearly finished with 2017, I would remark that Girls’ Last Tour and Sakura Quest were the two anime I enjoyed the most out of any of the shows that I’ve seen this year: Girls’ Last Tour earns a 9.5 of 10, an A+ for its surprisingly thought-provoking and cathartic execution, losing only a half-point to the fact that it could have been longer. This brings my post to an end, and I close by noting that I’ve got a pair of Wolfenstein II talks on the table, dealing with the Uberkommando and Episode Zero missions. I’m aiming to wrap these up before 2017 comes to an end. Other posts on the stack include a finale post for Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter!, but for now, it’s time to take it easy and enjoy the festivities. Merry Christmas, Readers!

Overall, Girls’ Last Tour proved to be an unexpected surprise; its simplicity belies an incredibly detailed and insightful perspective on human nature. The anime adaptation capitalises on the additional immersion that audio and motion confer to create a masterpiece of a work that genuinely captures the messages that Tsukumizu wished to present through the manga. It’s therefore unsurprising that my final verdict on Girls’ Last Tour will be a strong recommendation. Quite simply, the anime exceeded expectations: its striking balance between normalcy (evident in the antics of Chito and Yuuri) and insightfulness creates a distinct atmosphere that encourages introspection. Further to this, exceptional attention paid to the details in their world add an additional sense of immersion that captivates the viewers, and the slower pacing in Girls’ Last Tour, while possibly seen as a weakness by some, further serves to remind viewers to approach things with a much more relaxed, methodical mindset. It’s a complete change of pace from the world itself, where folks with a career might consider their existence to be akin to that of a rat race: repetitive, exhausting and unfulfilling. In a world where progress and efficiency are valued, Girls’ Last Tour illustrates that our learning and progress could stand to come at a more natural pace, as Yuuri and Chito do so. Relaxing and thought-provoking, Girls’ Last Tour presents an optimistic view of humanity, reminding its audiences that there isn’t anything intrinsically wrong with taking things at a slower pace to gain more from a moment than we are presently wont to doing.

Girls’ Last Tour (Shōjo Shūmatsu Ryokō): Review and Reflection After Three

“If one wants to talk about the end of the world, the apocalypse, you’re talking about the world itself. It’s not Southern California breaking into the sea. The story is global, and it requires that kind of approach.” –David Seltzer

In the aftermath of a devastating war, Chito and Yuuri are left to survive in the remains of human civilisation. At the series’ beginning, Chito and Yuuri navigate the bowels of a derelict factory, and manage to find an exit after Yuuri inadvertently begins sucking on Chito’s hand whilst sleeping, using the saliva to pick out a breeze in the air. When they return to the surface, they marvel at the brightness and set about finding supplies in a crashed bomber. Later, the girls seek refuge from a snowstorm and manage to find hot water, enjoying a bath in the process. Chitose grows angry when Yuuri burns one of the books that she’d collected to fuel their fire, and the next day, the girls cook a fish after encountering it while washing their clothing. Continuing on with their journey, Chito and Yuuri encounter cartographer Kanazawa while trying to figure out a way to reach the higher echelons of the great city. They locate an elevator and mid-journey, it begins tilting, causing Kanazawa to lose his maps. Yuuri manages to restore his spirits, and he resolves to continue making new maps, leaving the girls with his camera. Yuuri and Chito decide to make their way to the bright lights in the distance. Girls’ Last Tour is prima facie the union of Metro 2033 and Yuyushiki; in its premise, Girls’ Last Tour follows Chito and Yuuri’s adventures as they try to eke out existence in a world long after it was ravaged by an apocalyse of unknown nature. Intriguing, yet minimalist, Girls’ Last Tour‘s greatest strength at present is how the pacing really allows for their world to be explored. The stills of ruined cityscapes and abandoned facilities contribute to the storytelling with the same magnitude as does the dialogue between Chito and Yuuri.

While seemingly trivial in nature, reflecting on its source material being from a four-panel manga, the interactions between Chito and Yuuri seamlessly move from lighthearted conversation topics to more serious ones, such as the worth of existing in a world devoid of other people, what constitutes as war and trying to make sense of the artifacts that the older civilisation left behind. Gaps in their knowledge become apparent through their conversations, and through their general lack of familiarity with some aspects of the older civilisation and nature, Girls’ Last Tour suggests two notions. The first is that a complex society is one whose constructs can be non-trivial to understand: if humans were to vanish tomorrow, some of our more sophisticated contraptions would be very difficult to reverse engineer and replicate. Computers and contemporary medicine are examples of just how far we’ve come, requiring expertise in order to design, mass produce and distribute. This is the reason why fiction commonly depicts post-apocalyptic worlds as regressing: most technologies past the Industrial Revolution require specialised knowledge to replicate and engineer. The second point in Girls’ Last Tour is that human understanding of the physical and natural world comes from knowledge that is, proverbially, built on the shoulders of giants. With the giants gone, Chito and Yuuri can only rely on their own experiences and Chito’s limited reading ability to figure out the world around them. Things such as why the sky is blue or the origins of fish remain a mystery to them. By stripping away access to existing knowledge and learning, the very essence of our civilisation’s sophistication is removed. This forces Chito and Yuuri to learn by their own experiences, driving the day-to-day events that the constitute the manga.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Girls’ Last Tour is one of the most minimal anime I’ve seen in design and character count: in the first three episodes, there is only one other character introduced besides Chito (left) and Yuuri (right). Chito is the more serious and quiet of the two: she’s literate, a skilful mechanic and handles driving of the Kettenkrad. Yuuri is easygoing and versed with firing rifles. Yuuri is voiced by Yurika Kubo (Urara Meirocho‘s Koumei Yukimi and Rin Shiretoko of Hai-Furi): Kubo played a minor role as one of the female students in Yuyushiki. I’ve heard comparisons between Yuuri and GochiUsa‘s Cocoa Hoto and find that this one barely holds true.

  • Chito is voiced by Inori Minase, whom I best know for her role as GochiUsa‘s Chino Kafuu, and in Girls’ Last Tour, Minase’s delivery of Chito’s lines makes her sound very much like Chino. Indeed, Chito is very similar to Chino in manner, being soft-spoken and prefers the company of books. She’s also quick to be irritated by Yuuri’s antics – her mannerisms bring to mind Yuzuko’s role of Yuyushiki, and here, a vivid dream leads her to begin sucking on Chito’s hand. While initially annoyed, Chito works out how to escape the labyrinth they are navigating at the series’ beginning.

  • Food is a scarce resource, and leaving the factory leads Yuuri and Chito to indulge in a can of hot soup before resting under the stars: the bowels of the factory were sufficiently dark so that even the night sky is bright. Countless stars are visible, suggesting the absence of light pollution – my home town has replaced most of its street lamps in an effort to combat light pollution, the wasteful use of energy to illuminate our environments by night is said to degrade our health, has a noticeable impact on ecosystems and is considered a nuisance by astronomers. However, in a world without an intact civilisation, lighting is reduced and allows the girls a fantastic view of the night sky.

  • Yuuri operates the Arisaka Type 38, which is derived from the Type 30.Introduced in 1905, the Type 39 remained the main service rifle of Imperial Japanese forces until World War Two ended. Other pieces of World War Two-era technology include a Panzer III, but as even Chito lacks the know-how and desire to restore the Panzer III, Girls’ Last Tour is certainly not Girls und Panzer by any stretch, and after three episodes, it is also inappropriate to compare it to Sora no Woto given the vast differences in thematic elements. At the time of writing, no one’s taken to suggesting existentialism as the main theme in Girls’ Last Tour – I’m not fond of the notion that this can be used as a catch-all for describing themes in anime set in a post-apocalyptic world.

  • This moment captures the desolate surroundings awaiting Yuuri and Chito on the surface: the combination of derelict military equipment under a fresh winter’s snowfall. The soundtrack in Girls’ Last Tour is highly appropriate in capturing the atmosphere within the anime. I’m not familiar with Kenichiro Suehiro’s work, but his compositions in Girls’ Last Tour contribute substantially to the tones within the anime. I’ve got no figures on how many tracks and disks will be in the soundtrack, nor do I have any idea of how much the soundtrack will cost, but what is known is that the soundtrack will release on December 20.

  • Yuuri and Chito find a propeller-powered plane and decide to investigate. Chito’s height makes it difficult to board the aircraft, and she struggles until Yuuri helps her out. In this moment, Chito resembles Chino, and in a curious turn of events, Girls’ Last Tour is animated by White Fox, who had previously done the first and second seasons of GochiUsa; one might consider Chito merely to be a dark-haired version of Chino in a different environment.

  • It would appear that technology in Girls’ Last Tour encompass technology leading up to the end of World War Two: rotary machine guns remained in the prototype stage during World War Two, and the iconic M134 only appeared during the Vietnam War. While it is commonly depicted as a man-portable weapon in fiction, the weapon’s high firing rate and requirement of a power supply to rotate the barrels mean that the weapon cannot be used in such a manner, hence Chito’s decision to refuse Yuuri to bring the weapon along with them.

  • Aside from a cache of weapons, Chito also encounters rations and explosives, which will prove useful in aiding their survival. The girls’ search and scavenging for resources brings to mind the likes of the Metro video game series, where resource collection and management played a large part of the game. The idea of a snowy surface and numerous underground passages in Girls’ Last Tour are the reason why I draw the comparison between the anime and Metro; I received Metro: Last Light complementary with my GPU back when I built my current rig back in 2013 and have since gone back to play through Metro 2033. This is a series I have enjoyed, and so, I do have an eye on the upcoming Metro: Exodus.

  • Among the supplies found are a cache of chocolate bars. While chocolate drinks derived from Cocoa beans have been around since at least 1900 BC, modern chocolate comes from innovations made during the Industrial Revolution, and milk chocolate dates back to 1875. It is more than likely that by the events of Girls’ Last Tour that the means to mass produced chocolate no longer exist, making it a relic of an older age.

  • In a surprising turn of events, Yuuri holds Chito at gunpoint and answers a conversation topic from earlier, when the question of what war is was posed. At its core, warfare is conflict between two parties, motivated by scarcity of resources, ideological differences: warring actors usually engage in fighting with the aim of achieving some sort of benefit, and in the case of Girls’ Last Tour, fighting over a chocolate bar owing to its scarcity is a highly effective, if simplified, explanation of war: because Yuuri has the weapons here, she makes the calls, and if Chito had her own weapon, a stalemate would result, forcing the two to negotiate or else risk death to achieve their end goal. It’s a tense moment and a dramatic demonstration of an idea, but as I’ve heard that Girls’ Last Tour is laid-back in nature, one does not expect any violence to actually break out.

  • While Chito resembles Chino, it’s a little trickier to see Yuuri as Cocoa. When Yuuri takes the moment to scarf down the remaining chocolate, Chito kicks her ass (Chino’s never kicked Cocoa’s ass in GochiUsa, for one), causing the two to expend even more energy than anticipated. Even in such moments, the atmosphere in Girls’ Last Tour never strays far from a gentle calm. In the aftermath of their fight, Yuuri eats some snow to rehydrate, prompting Chito to do the same. Humans have long consumed snow or melted it into water, and while contaminants can make snow unsafe to eat, freshly-fallen snow is safe for consumption despite low levels of atmospheric pollutants and heavy metals. In Girls’ Last Tour, on the other hand, the absence of industry might mean cleaner air.

  • Amidst a fierce snowstorm, Yuuri and Chito seek shelter, finding themselves inside an old factory with running water. They’re operating the SdKfz 2 light tractor, more commonly known as a Kettengrad (“track motorcycle”). Widely used in World War Two by German forces, Kettengrads were first used in 1941 as service vehicles. The choice of a tracked vehicle allows the two to traverse steep terrain and haul more equipment. Chito remarks that their ride is special, but one of their constant challenges is keeping the vehicle fueled up.

  • After setting up their bath, Yuuri and Chito melt in the comfort of having hot water, a welcome respite from the cold outside. Similar to Yuyushiki, where the characters heads can deform to indicate their state of being, I’ve found that Girls’ Last Tour to be highly unconventional in its design, making the most of the post-apocalyptic world and the possibilities for exploration to  tell a highly unique and easygoing story.

  • There are folks who would argue that Girls’ Last Tour represents what the community commonly calls “wasted potential” in that there is an incredible world constructed in Girls’ Last Tour, and yet, the characters only are to go about their day-to-day adventures in favour of presenting to audiences an opportunity to learn more about the setting. In the case of Girls’ Last Tour, I would counter that the simplistic conversations and unexplored world present plenty of opportunity to reflect on our current society and its complexity: in particular, I feel that Girls’ Last Tour is a fantastic example of what impacts that specialised knowledge might have on our ability to recover from global scale disasters.

  • After their bath, Chito and Yuuri relax by a fire. The perspective of this image captures the sense of scale of the structures seen within Girls’ Last Tour: many of the structures that we presently take for granted, including stadiums, opera halls and other large-scale buildings, are the result of accumulated engineering knowledge. When this knowledge is lost, it must be re-discovered: a common theme in fiction is the presence of precursor civilisations that leave behind incredible artefacts, whether they be Halo‘s Forerunners or the Celestials in Star Wars. J.R.R. Tolkien does something similar in the Lord of the Rings legendarium, where the works created in the First Age far surpass anything in the Second Age, and where works of the Third Age are pale imitations of the works of the Second Age.

  • This seems contrary to civilisation as we know it, however: while architects and engineers of old have constructed structures of incredible sophistication and durability (the Pyramids of Giza, Great Wall of China and Forbidden City come to mind), the modern world has some incredible advances in transportation and communication that would seem like magic to ancient civilisations. The reason for our advances is precisely because we learned to record our knowledge, and in Girls’ Last Tour, Chito is fond of books precisely for this reason; she’s literate and regularly writes in her journal.

  • When Yuuri burns one of the books after being asked to add more fuel to their fire, Chito becomes very displeased, enough to do this to her. In reality, our skulls are certainly not able to be deformed in this manner without serious injury and death resulting, but in something like Girls’ Last Tour, this is apparently harmless. Yuuri spends a bit of time wondering if Chito is still angry with her, but Chito later replies that her journals are the most precious, being records of their own experiences.

  • The colour in Girls’ Last Tour is of a low saturation, with only a limited selection available in a scene’s palette at any given time. Colour combinations associated with growth and life are largely absent, and in its place are hues that reinforce the idea that mirror the desolate environments. In spite of this, the dynamics between Yuuri and Chito seem to offset the coldness in the environment: since Yuuri and Chito have one another, their journey becomes much less lonely. Les Stroud in Survivorman mentions that loneliness can be one of the biggest impediments to survival.

  • The second episode deals primarily with water: Yuuri and Chito encounter a reserviour of fresh meltwater here below a ruined dam. The amount of blue in this scene stands in contrast with the barren whites, grays and browns of earlier settings, suggesting that there still are beautiful places left in their world to discover and explore. After climbing down a flight of steps, the girls discover that the water is quite cool, and proceed slowly, with the aim of washing their clothes.

  • Uncertain about the currents, Chito dons a helmet for protection and ties herself to Yuuri, whose desire to explore leaves Chito in the water. I recall a scene in GochiUsa where Chino is pulled by the current in a fast-flowing river while trying to retrieve Cocoa’s hat, and Minase’s delivery of Chito’s dialogue is done very similarly. Yuuri wonders why the sky is blue here, and Chito erroneously responds that it’s a reflection of the ocean. The blue wavelength comes about due to Rayleigh scattering, and the properties of a nitrogen-oxygen gas mixture increases scattering of photons of a shorter, blue wavelength.

  • Occasionally, Les Stroud encounters animal remains on his survival journeys and capitalises on them, such as when he found a fish in Alaska; when Yuuri and Chito see the same, they set about cooking the fish. Les Stroud usually cooks his food to destroy any pathogens and parasites, although he remarks that it is possible to eat most things raw when in a survival situation. Conversely, meat that has been packaged and processed absolutely must be cooked to at least 60ºC to 75ºC, depending on the meat, to ensure it is safe for consumption. There’s a longstanding debate as to whether or not raw food or cooked food is better. While it is true that cooking will destroy some nutrients, cooking food preseves anti-oxidants such as K-On!!‘s lycopene and also was the reason that we evolved larger brains: cooking the food improved digestibility and releases nutrients, allowing us to spend less time eating.

  • H. sapiens‘ ability to cook means we don’t spend nine hours a day eating, leaving us to do other things, such as communicate and socialise. Back in Girls’ Last Tour, Yuuri and Chito take turns enjoying their freshly-cooked fish. I’m generally big on seafood, and fish is no exception: the slightly sweet flavour of fish goes well with soy sauce, green onions and ginger. After their meal, Chito and Yuuri wonder where fish come from: any primary student will immediately point at bodies of water as places to fish, although their question could also be interpreted from an evolutionary perspective.

  • If we were to answer the question this way, the earliest fish (organisms with gills and fins) date back to the Cambrian period. Of course, delving into too many details is beyond the scope of this discussion, so I return things to Girls’ Last Tour, where Chito and Yuuri rest after their meal under a brilliant blue sky. While the colours may be less saturated in the anime, the moments where the landscapes are highlighted really shine. In the quiet of this moment, I will take a moment to reflect on the fact that a year ago, well-known anime blogger Chizumatic kicked the bucket. I personally felt he was better suited for political blogging rather than anime blogging: his posts were jejune, unoriginal and uninformative, and it is therefore surprising that people can claim that readers “aren’t getting such insights anymore and the animeblogging has become poorer for that”, especially when one compares Chizumatic to the content that’s still available, such as what is presented here.

  • While trying to figure out a way across the chasm, Yuuri and Chito run into Kanazawa, who uses explosives to bring down a skyscraper to form a makeshift bridge. Yuuri immediately holds him at gunpoint, fearing hostile action. Their initial suspicions of him slowly evaporate once he presents his interest in cartography, and when he helps them get the Kettengrad up and over the building.

  • It is shown that the urban areas of Girls’ Last Tour are built in layers, similar to Hengsha from Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The result in Girls’ Last Tour are densely packed cities whose edges drop away into an abyss. Such a concept isn’t too implausible: as land become scarce, density must increase, and sufficiently advanced engineering will make it possible to layer cities on this manner, although there are also social implications of denying lower layers of a city access to light, meaning that wealthier residents will move to upper levels as they are built. Even in an environment without levels, such as in the ecumenopolis of Coruscant, super-tall buildings eventually block out light at lower levels.

  • With help from Kanazawa’s maps, the girls find a fuelling station and continue towards an elevator tower. Kanazawa remarks that a century ago, humans found themselves unable to operate the elevators and ended up rigging makeship elevators to the towers to ascend. The implications of this are that humanity once held a great civilisation that collapsed, and a newer, more primitive society formed subsequently but similarly collapsed.

  • On the ascent, the elevator stalls and tilts, leading Kanazawa to lose all of his painstakingly created maps. He falls into a depression, and with Chito’s acrophobia kicking in, it’s up to Yuuri to fix the elevator to get things rolling. Their ascent is marked by darkening skies leading to a beautiful sunset, and as they reach the top, the skies have darkened sufficiently for the street lamps to turn on. The sight is a beautiful one to behold, and it is this that the third episode’s final segment is named after. That the lights still come on suggest an area better maintained than the levels below.

  • In Traditional Chinese, street lamps are 街燈 (in Cantonese, gai1 dang1). The equivalent in Japanese is 街灯 (Gaitō). Most modern street lamps have a photocell that detects ambient light levels and will activate or shut off automatically. In my area, Cobra-head lamps used to be common, although in the early 2000s, they were replaced by full-cutoff street lamps. In the past year, the sodium-vapor lamps have since been replaced by energy-efficient LEDs, and these have been quite effective at lowering light pollution: the areas lit on the ground are brighter, but all around, it looks much darker, to the point where I can resolve some magnitude 2 and 3 stars without the help of binoculars.

  • Yuuri and Chito share a chocolate bar with Kanazawa, reassuring him and helping him realise that setbacks are not the end of the road – inspired by their example, he decides to create new maps on the new level they’ve arrived at and departs on a high note. I’m rather fond of his character; it would be nice if he returns in later episodes. Heading their separate ways, Chito and Yuuri decide to head towards a bright light in the distance.

  • I’m quite impressed with how Girls’ Last Tour has presented its world and characters insofar; its simple premise notwithstanding, the anime has offered no shortage of conversation topics. Just from this post alone, I’ve touched on topics as diverse as human evolution and cooking, development of culture through written language, warfare and even amateur astronomy. While expectations were not quite so high for Girls’ Last Tour to impress this season, after three episodes, it is clear that this anime’s a pleasant surprise that I will look forwards to watching every week.

Chito and Yuuri’s naïveté in Girls’ Last Tour do not preclude them from learning and figuring out their survival strategy, nor does it appear to slow down their ability to slowly work out answers to some of their questions. As such, while seemingly a disconnected series of adventures, Girls’ Last Tour nonetheless presents an adventure that’s worth following; as their experiences over time accumulate, Chito and Yuuri will end up drawing their own conclusions about the world that they live in and discover their own reasons to continue surviving. Moving ahead, folks familiar with the manga will know that Girls’ Last Tour remains within the realm of catharsis rather than exploring darker or more philosophical themes, and this is admittedly an appropriate direction – I’ve never been fond of fiction that forces its characters to needlessly suffer for the sake of half-heartedly discussing philosophy (or the community’s associated need to regard this as the apex of “good writing”). By choosing a more relaxing approach, Girls’ Last Tour will likely illustrate how its unique setting notwithstanding, Yuuri and Chito will nonetheless develop a routine and survival pattern that lets them make the most of their world, illustrating the strength of the human spirit and reminding viewers of our capacity for resilience during difficult times. There is one additional bonus: the anime’s soundtrack holds a cathartic and ethereal quality to it. The strength of the music in Girls’ Last Tour, composed by Kenichiro Suehiro, is comparable to the likes of Yuki Kajiura and Hiroyuki Sawano, doing much to add an additional dimension to Chito and Yuuri’s adventures.

New Game!!- Final Review and Reflections

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” —Benjamin Franklin

Tsubame is faced with challenges after presenting her mini-game, and is given additional features to implement, while Nene pushes on with her own assignment to build a physics game prototype. Impressed that Nene has satisfied the minimum requirements and went the extra mile, Umiko encourages Nene to continue exploring, assigning her to a debugging and testing role. Later, Rin and Kō share an evening together at the office. Later, Nene learns from Momiji that Tsubame’s determination to make it as a programmer stems from her background and a desire to step away from the family business. When Umiko and her team discover bugs in Tsubame’s work, Nene decides to help with the process and they manage to debug things fully before the deadline. The two reconcile and participate in a demonstration of the final product prior to shipping it. Rin becomes dismayed to learn that Kō has plans to leave Eagle Jump. After their promotional event, where Kō gives credit to Aoba for her role in making the artwork possible, she reveals to the company that she intends to leave for France to further her skills, inspired by Aoba’s drive to improve. On the day of departure, the entire art department, with Umiko, Nene and Tsubame, come to bid Kō farewell. When Eagle Jump’s latest title goes on sale, it is well-received, inspiring Aoba to continue working harder. This is the gist of what happens in New Game!!‘s final quarter; with a solid conclusion, the second season comes to a close. With its depiction of interpersonal and intrapersonal conflicts, New Game!! manages to differentiate itself from its first season, which had a heavier emphasis on comedy. This is in keeping with anime adaptations of Manga Time Kirara works: after establishment in the first season, the anime can take a new direction in allowing characters to explore a more diverse set of interactions to ensure that the continuation is novel.

In New Game!!, the overarching theme is improvement. Complacency leads to a lack of innovation, which is essential in an ever-shifting market, and as such, New Game!! aims to show the importance of striving to further one’s craft, whether it be through Aoba, whose determination to better her skills as an artist to have the same impact on customers that Kō had, or through Nene, who is constantly working to become a better programmer and pursue her dreams of working alongside Aoba someday. Through long hours, conversations with their seniors and taking a step back to keep the big picture in mind when things get tough, their spirits have a profound impact on those around them. Aoba, despite being the junior, inspires Kō to develop her skills and talents by travelling overseas to learn: watching Aoba’s persistence leads her to feel that she’s become complacent, and that Eagle Jump might no longer allow her to reach further. This constant drive of betterment is an admirable one, being a mindset that can create new opportunity, and through its combination of more serious moments with the light-hearted ones, New Game!! captures this particular message in a succinct and approachable manner. The second season certainly presents a more tangible idea than its predecessor, and on the whole, this was a fantastic series to watch for portraying the sort of journey people might take while pursuing their goals.

“I also dabble in empathy, and if you think you can even consider denying Tsubame with your sad, maladjusted caveman beliefs and a few seconds of conversation, you’re the reason this species is a failure, and it makes me angry!” —Rick Sanchez, Morty’s Mind-Blowers, Rick and Morty

A secondary theme in New Game!! is related to Tsubame and Nene: while Momoji and Aoba end up being friendly rivals early on, with Momiji becoming reluctantly admiring of Aoba’s work and work ethic, Tsubame is initially hostile to Nene. While Nene takes this as a sign to further her own skill in programming, the relationship between Nene and Tsubame take an immediate turn once Nene learns about Tsubame’s background, and when Tsubame fails in her assignment, Nene is more than understanding, reaching out to give her a hand. Tsubame, for her earlier perceptions of Nene, realises that Nene isn’t an enemy, and the two work together to complete a shared goal. By the end of New Game!!, the journey that these two share towards a common objective also allow them to better understand one another; they’re certainly on cordial terms, if not friends, by the finale. Through Nene and Tsubame, New Game!! shows one possible path in conflict resolution, as well as how situations make it necessary for people to work with one another for the team’s sake, and how in doing so, people can set aside personal differences to succeed together. The message here is consistent with the overall objectives and directions in New Game!!, reinforcing how working with an established group of characters and introducing a small number of new characters can give sequels an exciting new direction, allowing them to differentiate themselves from their predecessors. Consequently, when I hear assertions that Tsubame is somehow unfit to be an Eagle Jump employee or similar, I am inclined to dismiss these claims. One of the more blatant offenders has gone so far as to say that, in Nene’s place, they would “would have take adventage[sic] of the mistake and finish of [sic] destroy you”. The individual is plainly lacking in basic human decency and patience: this is most certainly not a team-oriented behaviour; to hire folks with this sort of attitude would be detrimental to the team and company, and it is unlikely people who act out these beliefs would find success. The quote above, sourced from Rick and Morty, mirrors my perspectives on such individuals. Conversely, what occurs in New Game!! is precisely in keeping with the themes the anime has sought to present: Nene puts aside her personal differences to help Tsubame out because it’s for the company’s benefit, and there’s the bonus of her reconciling with Tsubame in the process, reinforcing themes established within the second season.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The reality of things is that requirements continue to shift as a project advances, and it’s up to project managers and team leaders to determine how to best accommodate the changes without compromising the programmers. In New Game!!, such moments are intentionally played for humour, and one of the aspects about the second season that I particularly enjoyed was the frequent switches between more serious and relaxed moments. Overall, New Game!! retains the lighter tones of its predecessor, but expands upon character interactions and conflicts to keep things entertaining.

  • One of the things about New Game!! is that, while the anime itself is of a high standard and enjoyable on all counts, there are some parts of the community discussing the anime that hold themselves in too high of regards. In my previous New Game!! post, where I presented my thoughts on why Tsubame’s actions are appropriate from a narrative perspective, an individual countered that Tsubame should continue to be regarded as “worst girl” on virtue that their conflict was inconsistent with the themes in New Game!!. The individual further asserts that it’s possible for a few seconds to ruin an entire anime.

  • I’ve not heard from them since, but the events of New Game!! have shown that my assertions, not theirs, ended up being true. This demonstrates that New Game!!‘s writers understand how to go about presenting themes that span across a series; conversely, people who contend that “a few minutes (or even seconds) can potentially ruin a show” are narrow-minded to be making a judgement before the entire series of events is presented. Back in New Game!!, in exchange for a nabe at Yun’s place, Hajime gives her a toy sword for one of Yun’s siblings.

  • After hours, Aoba and Nene go out for dinner. The finale for New Game!! came out a little less than a week ago, but on my end, things have been quite busy. Between work, a growing cold, the Battlefield 1 BattleFest event and the Call of Duty: WWII Open Beta, there’s been precious little time to put a discussion together. However, I figured that I should probably roll mine out the gates so that I do not get inundated with incomplete drafts once October comes full-swing – while the Call of Duty: WWII Open Beta is running until October 2, I’ve found the Call of Duty-style mechanics and map design not to my liking compared to the approaches seen in Battlefield 1.

  • I’ll discuss my full thoughts on Call of Duty: WWII in a separate post. After everyone’s left, Rin and Kō share a moment together, with Kō giving Rin a gift under soft candlelight. Kō prepares to spend the night and begins stripping down, leading to much embarrassment from Rin when she sees Kō in her pantsu, but owing to my limited desire to make another 40-image post, I’ve omitted that moment from this discussion: this final impressions talk on New Game!! will have the standard of thirty images.

  • After palatable tensions lead Nene to work in the canteen, she runs into Momiji and Kō. It is here that she learns of Tsubame’s background; she’d taken up programming and is intent on excelling so she can find employment such that she is not relegated to taking up a post at the family inn. Nene understands the situation Tsubame is in, and all irritation with her evaporates. With this evaporation comes evaporation of all remarks from the individual in my comments earlier – I’m genuinely curious to hear their thoughts on developments.

  • Later, Nene is recalled to the office after Umiko learns that Tsubame’s work is riddled with bugs. Tsubame reveals that in the name of speed, she only tested more obvious cases, leaving boundary conditions untested. One of the more arrogant viewers have said “that was too newbie of a mistake for [them] to take when [they were] at Tsubame’s age”, and I find myself disappointed with some parts of the community again – the individual in question has no experience in programming or software development (akin to if I start talking about statically indeterminate structures despite having no engineering knowledge). Conversely, I feel that the reason why this occurs is because of Tsubame’s ego coming ahead of her judgement, done to advance the narrative rather than because Tsubame “deserved it”. In this moment, she realises the scope of what’s happened and fears the worst, that her career ends here.

  • Nene steps up to the plate and resolves to help Tsubame fix things; when Tsubame asks why Nene is doing this, Nene responds that while she did hate Tsubame, learning of her story and helping the team out is what prompts her decision. Ultimately, it is this moment that handily disproves assertions that “Tsubame is worst girl” or similar: she turns around and accepts Nene’s kindness, understanding that her own actions and decisions must be for the team’s, rather than her own, benefit. This growth from Tsubame contributes to the messages that New Game!! aims to convey.

  • With no time to lose, Umiko gives Nene and Tsubame their assignment. With their newfound resolve to work on the necessary fixes and plenty of Red Bull, they work late into the evening. It is here that I note that every developer and programmer has their own preferred stress-management measures for working under pressure. While my coworkers enjoy their Kurigs, I personally dislike coffee for its effects on my renal system and for the fact it makes me jittery long after the boost has allowed me to finish a task. Instead, I prefer a good tea and a ultra-sonic humidifier in my face to keep me refreshed. Red Bull is not an option for me, being a concoction of concentrated caffeine and sugar that would be akin to drinking coffee with worse side effects, and because I do not agree with their marketing methodology.

  • After much sweat and tears (this isn’t a war, so there’s no blood), Nene and Tsubame submit clean code with no bugs. The term is often thrown around by people whose expertise lie outside of the term, but strictly speaking, “bug free code” is code that does not exist and is not written. Instead, a good developer knows that any piece of non-trivial software, while never truly be bug-free, can and should be tested, updated and improved so that the end-user has a good experience. Nene and Tsubame will continue down this path of improvement as they continue to work together, and while Nene longs to become a developer, her role in software QA is no less important.

  • With ten days left to deployment, the entire art and programming team gather to test the deployment version of PECO out. In this moment, a lava lamp is visible; back when I was with the university, I brought in a lava lamp to act as decoration for my work area. I would stare at it while contemplating features or required bug fixes for the Giant Walkthrough Brain. The lamp inspired one of my colleagues to get a little USB-powered plasma globe.

  • Nene and Aoba watch during a demonstration of their final deployment version of PECO. I’ve not mentioned the game by name until now primarily because the nature of PECO has not been relevant to discussions; for completeness’ sake, PECO is an RPG where the goal is to infiltrate a world of plushies and liberate it from an evil sorceress, brutally ripping apart plushies with the same violence as the Doom Slayer does to Hell’s Dæmons, to gain their powers and blend in with the environment.

  • At a press conference, Kō is asked to take centre stage and recount her experiences with the art in the game. At Eagle Jump, it would appear that there is no dedicated department for handling the story and world-building of the game; we’ve seen each of Aoba, Hajime and the others contribute in their own way to the story within PECO. Is PECO the sort of game that I would buy and play? Aoba and the Eagle Jump team’s efforts notwithstanding, the answer is “maybe, during a sale”: PECO is not of the genre I typically enjoying playing, and to buy it at full price without understanding what the game entails is not how I typically roll.

  • During presentations such as E3, gameplay is typically demonstrated, but in New Game!!, none is shown. The E3 of this year was quite exciting: I’m most looking forwards to Wolfenstein II: The New ColossusFar Cry 5Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown and Metro: Exodus, and with the release date on Wolfenstein II coming this month, I’m looking forwards to seeing if the game is worth the price of admissions close to launch. I’ve seen some new footage as of late, and the game itself looks stunning.

  • The magic moment of Kō’s speech comes when she asks Aoba to join her on stage. Appreciative and understanding of the efforts that Aoba put in to make PECO happen, even though Aoba was never credited with the original ideas or allowed to submit promotional artwork for the game, Kō decides to express her thanks and acknowledge Aoba’s contributions in front of an audience. It’s the recognition that Kō feels Aoba deserves, and illustrates the extent that Kō cares for Aoba and her development as a professional character artist.

  • It is clever and appropriate that Aoba’s efforts come back in the finale to their fullest; many viewers felt vindicated after seeing this, as they’d felt shafted when publishers adamantly refused to have Aoba’s work or name mentioned anywhere, fearing that sales might take a hit if a new designer were to be named as in charge of the project. Of course, with the media aware of Aoba now, the market’s confidence in a game bearing Aoba’s name in the credits is slightly stronger, marking the beginning of growth in her career.

  • While New Game!! could have ended here and now, there is one more thing on the table: Kō had revealed to Rin her intents to leave Eagle Jump prior to their press conference. Looking back, Kō’s decision to have Hifumi act as team lead and giving Aoba a chance to drive character designs, were made to determine if her team could function on their own without her, indicating that Kō has been interested in pursuing a career elsewhere for some time. It’s the final conflict in New Game!!, disrupting the status quo and forces the entire art team to grow into Kō’s shoes, now that their leading talent has decided to seek new opportunities.

  • It turns out that Kō is leaving for a company in France. The name is not explicitly mentioned, but the one company where Kō can develop her skills further is Ubisoft, a veritable giant behind Tom Clancy branded games, as well as the Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed franchises. The sheer diversity of games they publish, plus the fact that they have their own in-house development team means that Kō is likely working with Ubisoft in Rennes, rather than for one of their subsidiaries. While visibly saddened by this announcement, Shizuku decides to drive things ahead and plans a combined launch-and-farewell party. In the final half of New Game!!‘s finale, the mood changes between the maudlin and irreverent at the drop of a hat: the sudden transitions can be a bit jarring and brings to mind Futurama‘s iHawk, who had an actual switch that allowed him to go from being saddened by warfare in one moment to cracking jokes the next.

  • In spite of Kō’s impending departure, she’s rather ill-prepared, leaving it to Rin to pick up after her. They’re celebrating at a nabe place here, bringing to mind the nabe place I visited in Kyoto back in May after touring the Kinkakuji. One of the challenges was sitting down on the floor to eat, and since my joints don’t move that way, seiza is out of the question for me, leaving me with the agura position instead. I imagine that here, Aoba and the others are sitting normally, since the restaurant has a sunken floor below the low table. I am much more familiar with conventional tables, if only for the fact that I can eat more while sitting upright: despite an insane cold, I was able to fully enjoy dinner last night at a restaurant I’d not visited for quite some time. Their dishes are seasoned and cooked well, incredibly flavourful and in large portions: we had 金沙蝦, duck in a savoury sauce, pea-shoots with abalone, fresh fish, one of the absolute best 小炒王 dishes I’ve ever had, 咕噜肉 and 乾燒伊麵.

  • After dinner concludes, half of the characters are hammered: Hajime is supporting Yun, and Christina has devolved into a drunken rant of sorts. Television as a whole depicts ours as a drinking society; I’ve noticed that beers come out pretty frequently in New Game!!, as well as in the likes of Sakura QuestFuturamaSimpsonsRick and Morty and the like. I’ve never really had any problems with avoiding drinks at social gatherings: the unique combination of being the designated driver and a biologically-valid explanation is sufficient to get people to understand why I don’t drink. Of course, there are exceptions: I won’t mind cracking a champaign, cuba libre or lemon daiquiri on special occasions.

  • Rin’s feelings and longing finally come out in full force; she tearfully asks Kō not to leave. From a certain perspective, it is possible to simply say that Rin’s very fond of Kō as a friend and is not mentally prepared to deal with a world where she’s not there to look after Kō. However, my perspective seems to be the minority; most folks find that Rin sees Kō in a romantic light. New Game!! certainly does seem to convey this through Rin’s reactions of jealousy and bashfulness where Kō is involved, but on my end, I’ve never been too concerned with this sort of thing because of its limited impact on the narrative as a whole.

  • There’s probably a detailed, technical explanation from an evolutionary biology perspective as to why male members of a mammalian species find female interactions to be more interesting; if it exists, I’ve not learned about it yet. Apparently, this pattern extends beyond H. sapiens, if the book “Fish That Fake Orgasms and Other Zoological Curiosities” is to be believed. However, to explore that would be going well outside of what is within the realm of what New Game!! is about, so I’ll return things to the point where Rin and Kō reach an understanding with the arrangements in the days coming.

  • To clasp hands as Rin and Kō are doing is probably a sign of trust: in Gōjū-ryū, there’s an arm lock technique that involves interlocking someone’s fingers in a similar position, with the result that any application of force can prove very persuasive. Our seniors joke that there’s hardly any application for the move, except when one might have an incapacitated opponent and no hand-cuffs on hand. Right when things between Kō and Rin begin to get a little more interesting, Shizuku and Christina march off into the night, shattering any mood that has accumulated during Rin and Kō’s conversation. Careful inspection of this screenshot will find that Rin is blushing through her hair somehow;

  • Aoba is rather similar to K-On!‘s Azusa Nakano in appearance and manner, as well as for being viewed as kitten-like in their presence. Unlike Azusa, Aoba is a bit more truthful about how she feels with respect to those around her. When running into Momiji the next day at work, Momiji coaxes out of Aoba that the latter has many unsaid things on her mind, once the waterworks start coming out when Aoba begins stroking Mozuku, and on the spur of the moment, decides to go to the airport to see Kō off.

  • One of the things about Japan and Hong Kong that I am particularly envious about is the extent and efficiency of their mass transit infrastructure. In Hong Kong, the Airport Express MTR line (機場快綫) makes it possible to go from Central out to the airport in no time at all, and I imagine that there are efficient train lines in Tokyo, as well. By comparison, the LRT line does not even reach the airport; folks travelling between the Core and the airport are dependent on a dedicated bus line, and the existing bus services only cover the city’s northern end. On the plus side, Calgary is not so obscenely large yet that travelling from one side of the city to the other requires more than an hour.

  • The last time I made mention of this was back during the Someone’s Gaze talk: four years may have elapsed since I wrote that post, and while I might be a bit more well-travelled now compared to my self of four years ago, my old assertion still holds true – airports really are places where tears may be shed for sadness surrounding a departure and happiness from a reunion. In New Game!!, it is the former, and despite her initial hesitancy, Aoba finally lets out how she feels about Kō. Conversely, all Momiji can think about is how Kō will order food once she’s in France.

  • Despite all of Kō’s shortcomings as a person, from her sloppy manner and casual attitude, Aoba has learned more from Kō over the past year than she’d ever anticipated and has come to see Kō as a role model. Aoba even takes a leaf from Tom Clancy’s playbook, calling Kō a “ばかやろう” out of frustration that she’s departing to fulfil her own dreams at the expense of leaving everyone behind. Moved by Aoba, Kō explains to Aoba that it is actually seeing Aoba’s ceaseless determination to improve that led her to decide to seek new pastures; while Kō’s enjoyed working at Eagle Jump greatly, seeing the same scenery means she’s reached a sort of plateau with respect to what she can improve upon as a character artist, and a completely different environment is likely what it will take for Kō to further her skills.

  • Some folks wonder why Kō has chosen France and western games, believing that working on Rainbow Six Siege or Far Cry character models might “ruin” her skill, but I argue that this is a suitable change of scenery, since some western elements can feed back into the anime art style and bolster Kō’s ability to work with different character designs. Western art is certainly not “dropped drastically in these recent 5-10 years” to the point where there’s “nothing to learn from them anymore”: the number of counterexamples are limitless, including the work that DICE and Machine Games produce. If anything, Western games are far more sophisticated from a mechanical and technical perspective than Japanese games, which tend to have more involved narratives and memorable art styles. I argue that both Japanese and Western games can learn from one another, taking advances and innovations to produce games that are increasingly enjoyable to experience.

  • The entire party shows up after Kō shares a final conversation with Aoba to see her off, and this departure is one of optimism, as everyone wishes Kō the best of luck in her new endeavours. It’s a fitting end to New Game!!, and with it, comes the ending of this post. It means I can go back to sleeping it off: the signs of a cold started on Thursday, but I figured it was minor right up until yesterday, when I began aching all around. I’m hoping that fluids and sleep will be sufficient to fight it off, but this cold’s been pretty strong, even closing off my airways. While being sick is unpleasant, I’m glad that I got sick now, as opposed to next week, which is Thanksgiving and when the Star Wars Battlefront II open beta is available.

  • I can’t believe it’s October already: my review of New Game! last year was posted in September. When New Game!‘s first season ended, I remarked that it was a fun series that was unexpectedly entertaining. The first season would probably earn a B+ on my grading system. The second season earns an A for taking a familiar concept and successfully treading new ground with it, strengthening the sort of themes that are conveyed throughout the anime. With both seasons in the books, my new verdict is that the first season is now worth watching because it sets the stage for the second.

With New Game!! over, I am going to miss watching Aoba, Nene and the others work towards their goals. However, one thing I definitely won’t miss will be the parts of the community that take the fun out of New Game!. On the whole, New Game!! proved to be very entertaining for crafting new character dynamics and exploring aspects of Eagle Jump that audiences did not see in the first season. It’s easy to recommend this anime for folks who enjoyed the first season; the second season does not disappoint in its execution. For those who’ve been on the fence about New Game! as a whole, the build-up in season one yields a payoff in the second season, and it is worthwhile to get acquainted with New Game!’s characters before dropping into the more thematically solid second season. I’ve read that New Game!! covers events right up until the sixth volume, which released a mere three months ago. With this in mind, a continuation of New Game!!, in the form of a third season, is unlikely to materialise until there’s more material to adapt. Having said this, there is a spin-off of volume five, which leads to the possibility of there being an OVA at some point in the future. For the time being, New Game!! ends on a high note, and it’s certainly been an enjoyable ride to see Aoba and the others work on games and continue growing as they move further in their careers.

New Game!!- Review and Reflection at the ¾ Mark

“Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.” ―Leo Tolstoy

Aoba and Umiko interview Nene for an interim programming position, while Christina tries to warm up to the character team after fearing that they must hate her for her decision with the key visual, but it turns out they’re not bothered. Two new interns, Momiji Mochizuki and Tsubame Narumi, join Eagle Jump: Momiji is a graphics artist and begins work with Aoba, while Tsubame is a programmer. The others decide to host a welcoming party for the newcomers, with the aim of helping Momiji becoming more familiar with the character team. Later, while talking to Nene about how she came to be a programmer, Tsubame’s opinion of Nene and Umiko is diminished when Nene reveals she picked up programming as a hobby out of curiosity, feeling that Nene’s a part of Eagle Jump only for her connections. Determined to earn her place at Eagle Jump, Nene resolves to improve her programming skills. Meanwhile, Hajime grows worried about her high school friends, Akki, learning of her interests in anime and games while on an outing with Yun and her siblings. After a heart-to-heart talk with Yun, where they share images of their high school selves to one another, Hajime decides to reveal the truth to her friend, only to find that her friend’s long known and is accepting of Hajime’s hobby, to her surprise. As we enter the final quarter of New Game!!, the second season certainly has taken steps away from the happy-go-lucky atmosphere of the first season, introducing new interpersonal dynamics amongst both old and new characters to liven things up around Eagle Jump. The latest additions to the staff include the competitive Momiji, who views Aoba as a rival after learning of her involvement in creating the designs for the company’s latest project, and the programmer Tsubame, whose remarks against Nene and Umiko have made some viewers very salty — individuals have felt Momiji and Tsubame to be quite unwelcome in New Game!!, although this is an position that I find ludicrous.

While dislike of these characters is perhaps only a natural reaction to two of the more hostile additions to New Game!!, I find that Momoji and Tsubame’s addition to the cast is a powerful one, serving to introduce conflict of a sort that previously has not been seen in New Game!! — early conflicts were resolved quite quickly because the old gaurd at Eagle Jump (including Aoba) have had a year to grow accustomed to one another and so, have learned how they best deal with challenges. However, Momoji and Tsubame are newcomers without any experience in company culture, hence their clashes with Aoba and the others. The rather heated discussion between Nene and Tsubame serves as a bit of a catalyst for hatred amongst viewers; most folks express disgust and disappointment with how Tsubame is quick to tear down Nene and Umiko after Nene casually remarks on her ties with Umiko and Aoba led her to Eagle Jump, and how she has no prior programming experience. However, I contend that Tsubame’s reaction, however inappropriate they were, is a natural one: people have a sense of pride when they’ve spent a considerable amount of time cultivating a skill. As such, when Tsubame learns that others can master those skills at a much quicker pace, it becomes a source of insecurity for her. In the absence of any knowledge about the actual journey Nene’s taken, Tsubame does jump the gun. However, this is surprisingly common; I have a friend who is a fantastic programmer, and folks (oftentimes, more senior developers or programmers) occasionally undermine him simply because they’re not appreciative of the fact that he’s very fact-driven and goes with better solutions based on hard numbers, rather than what experienced people have grown partial to, in order to build a system. One of the elements that New Game!! has not shown until now is that there are numerous unfavourable individuals in the real world. They can’t be ignored, removed or otherwise altered, so it is logical to work with (or around) them in the best capacity possible. Consequently, from a personal perspective, the inclusion of Tsubame and her remarks against Nene serve to strengthen New Game!!, showing that their universe is not merely a highly idealised depiction of reality, and that even in an all-girls environment, there can be conflicts. The true strength of New Game!! therefore comes from how the narrative presents Aoba, Nene and the others in helping their new hires develop the interpersonal skills to work in industry, as well as helping them adjust to life in the office.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I’ve given a few interviews previously for new hires and as I am relatively new in industry, I completely emphasise with Aoba, who remarks that she knows very little programming. However, this interview is more of a test to determine if Nene is a good fit at Eagle Jump. This post comes somewhat out of the blue; I was not expecting Tsubame’s conversation with Nene to ignite discussions of that scale, so I figured that I should step in and offer another perspective. As with all of my previous New Game!! posts, this one will feature twenty images and their accompanying figure captions.

  • Before we dive any further into this post, I’ll explaining this post’s page quote: it’s sourced from Leo Tolstoy, a famous Russian author counted as one of the greatest writers of all time and refers to prevailing attitudes about New Game!!; while a large number of individuals seem to have it in their mind that Tsubame is in the wrong, it’s equally important to see things from another perspective. This is why I am not so hasty in dealing out judgement about her, nor will I dismiss all of the things in New Game!! that make it enjoyable simply because of one moment that seems inconsistent with the general tone seen previously in the anime.

  • While seemingly cold and strict at work, it turns out that Christina’s actually quite sensitive and shy, admitting to Shizuku that she was not comfortable at all with the decision she’d previously made to put Kō as the credited artist on the concept artwork.

  • While Shizuku might be a bit of a trickster who enjoys pranking her staff, she also has their best interests at heart, and so, arranges for Christina to meet up with the others, rigging her cat, Mozuku, to assist. The end result is that the character department and Christina become on more cordial terms with one another: Aoba isn’t particularly disappointed or resentful of their decisions, and her willingness to continue moving forward is perhaps one of the strongest aspects about her character.

  • The introduction of Tsubame and Momoji form the next disruption at Eagle Jump that alters the status quo. All stories worth partaking in involve a disruption to the status quo, which sets in motion the rising action. While New Game!! might be classified as a “cute girls doing cute things” anime, its biggest and best surprise is exploring territory that remains somewhat untried, especially with respect to drama, while simultaneously retaining comedic elements. The sum of this is that New Game!! is able to stand out from its predecessor.

  • Momoji and Tsubame share the same dynamics as Aoba and Nene: the former in both cases are artists, while the latter are programmers. The freshman, however, seem more serious about their chosen professions and have some experience with graphics work and programming, respectively, while Aoba and Nene are individuals who, while still finding their feet in the industry, genuinely love what they do and are shown to be ready to learn with the aim of improving. The differences between the two sets up the potential for conflict, and Momoji immediately opens by counting Aoba a rival.

  • Shizuku decides to simulate a Maid Café with Aoba, Yun and Hajime here to their surprise. I’m not sure how it is elsewhere, but I’m almost always eyeballs-deep in code at work, so I’m not particularly big on distractions that do not deal with work (meetings are fine, provided they are about requirements and deliverables). I’ve been counting Nene and Tsubame “programmers” throughout this post, rather than “developer”; while the terms are often used interchangeably, a “programmer” is someone who specialises in writing good code and have a thorough understanding of how to build a solution. Conversely, a “developer” is someone who devises solutions, puts the components of a system together, gathers requirements and when needed, writes code. For a developer, communication becomes much more important.

  • Developers are true generalists, and unlike programmers or computer scientists, don’t always live and breathe code. I count myself a developer because of these reasons: I’m not a particularly skilful programmer by any stretch, and enjoy designing systems the most. As evidenced by this blog, I don’t always write code in my spare time. Of course, at work, I’ve no qualms about diving into APIs, documentation, or even Stack Overflow, to learn more about what I might need to do about a task at hand. Back in New Game!!, Shizuku has a bit too much fun in photographing Aoba, Yun and Hajime in maid outfits, much to their collective embarrassment.

  • When Shizuku approves of Hajime’s maid “skills” ahead of Yun and Aoba, Yun grows irate, while Aoba is merely confused, speaking to Aoba’s innocence. Hajime’s smirk is actually quite entertaining. I’ve seen the question being posed of whether or not anyone’s worked with superiors who are like Shizuku, and I am immensely grateful that my answer is no. This element is strictly relegated to the realm of fiction: in reality, people are rather more on-topic and focussed when work is concerned.

  • After the struggle to find a suitable restaurant to welcome Momiji, the character team settles down for lunch at a conventional restaurant. One of the greatest questions I’ve got about New Game!! is why audiences are taking it so seriously, lumping real world experiences and even credentials into things when the anime (and its source manga) are meant to present a fictionalised story at a game company. Wind of folks arguing about differences between a college and vocational institute have not escaped my ears; this is trite and quite unrelated to New Game!! on the whole. To haul terms into Canadian terminology, a college is an institute that does not confer degrees, offering certificates or diplomas upon successful completion of a programme (technical schools are a subset of a college, usually offering job-specific training programmes). The rest of the world considers this a vocational school. In Canada, universities are accredited to give degrees at the Bachelor, Master’s and PhD levels – in the United States, colleges refer to institutes that can only confer Bachelor degrees, while a university is an institute that also offers post-graduate degrees. So, by Canadian definitions, the people on messages-boards can go take a hike: a college and vocational school are interchangeable north of the 49th parallel.

  • Momiji is seen with uncommonly large portion sizes, and here, holds an onigiri that she’s brought for lunch. Aoba and the others attempt to help her feel more at home by inviting her out to lunch, although they relent when they see Momiji with her own lunch. There is a reason why I bring my own lunch as opposed to eating out: my office is located in the middle of nowhere as far as being close to food options go, and a quick lunch means getting back to work faster.

  • Tsubame is a capable cook, and usually whips up dishes that Momiji enjoys even in the absence of a substantial protein source. The two are roommates, a common arrangement amongst post-secondary students who live a considerable distance from their institution. The academic term is starting again for students; while I’m no longer a student, the effects of back-to-school are not lost upon me: traffic has increased slightly, with more pedestrians out and about now.

  • At one point, Momiji addresses Aoba as “Suzumiya” rather than Suzukaze when making her rivalry known. Struggling between being impressed by Aoba’s work and longing to surpass Aoba, the source of Momiji’s competitiveness towards Aoba remains relatively unexplored. Going from what has been presented, I would hazard a guess that Momiji is not happy about Aoba’s style having an impact on Kō’s style.

  • While attending an event, Hajime decides to catch up with one of her high school friends, but is to embarrassed to mention that she works in the games development industry. It’s revealed that Hajime had long hair in the past, and in response to the query of which incarnation of Hajime I prefer, I’d have to say that shorter hair seems to be more fitting for her current character, even if she is more appealing with longer hair.

  • While promising not to laugh, Hajime nonetheless finds herself facing Yun’s exasperation after seeing a photograph of her during her time as a high school student. Back then, Yun had coke-bottle glasses and was quite shy. When she graduated, she sought to reinvent herself, explaining her present tastes in clothing and distinct style. I am immensely glad that optics technology have largely eliminated the need for such glasses, otherwise, things could be quite uncomfortable on my end.

  • We’ve gotten to the moment at last in this talk: while I’ve spent the paragraphs explaining why I won’t vilify Tsubame, this post only features a total of two screenshots from that scene, which goes to show just how little the moment figures in the grand scheme of things: the whole scene lasts about two and a half minutes, which constitutes 0.95 percent of the entire anime’s length). I wonder what reasoning folks have for how one percent of the runtime in an anime such as New Game!! can render the whole of it (and the episodes upcoming) a failure, especially when considering how no plot holes are introduced, no unnecessary plot twists occur and there’s not deus ex machina, either.

  • It just wouldn’t be a proper post without an angry face from Tsubame. I’ve never particularly felt threatened by people whose talents in programming far surpass my own, although amongst my friends, I’m probably the most similar to Nene: I started out with a Bachelor’s in Health Science because I was indecisive about my career path, and while I could keep up with computer science students with vastly more experience and skill than myself, I continued wondering if software would be my calling. It wasn’t until the Giant Walkthrough Brain where I realised software development was my cup of tea. Unlike Nene, however, I’m always aware that I’m usually lucky with respect to solving problems, and the more I learn, the more I realise just how little I know.

  • In the time since I started this post, at least one other individual out there is in the same page as myself, suggesting that I’m not alone in thinking that Tsubame’s reaction hardly merits her becoming the “worst girl” or rendering the whole of New Game!! unwatchable. In order to ease out of that discussion, I’ll return to a moment of Hifumi handing Momiji new character designs to work on. While steadily improving, she still becomes flustered whilst dealing with people, and Hifumi has become one of my favourite characters of New Game!!.

  • The ninth episode’s namesake comes from this particular moment, where Momiji walks around in naught but her pantsu following a shower, to Tsubame’s disapproval. It’s been quite hot around my parts this summer, but not quite hot enough for me to do the same (if only for the fact that I don’t like walking around sans clothing). Given the stance I’ve taken on what ground New Game!! has covered and where these developments could lead things, I would not be surprised if this post becomes quite controversial and earns me several slaps on the proverbial wrist.

  • Having said this,  it would be interesting to see further rationale behind people’s perspectives: I already know of their stance about Tsubame and the execution of that particular scene, but the question I bring to the table is “what experiences in your life drive your outlook?”. Such a discussion could be very illuminating and offer insight as to how different people approach interpersonal conflict, but in the meantime, Battlefield 1‘s In The Name of the Tsar is out, and it’s time to explore those snowy Eastern Front maps, if only to get away from the heat that lingers over my area.

With these elements in mind, New Game!! has continued to impress in its presentation of the ins-and-outs of game development; the additional conflicts (and the prospect of solving them in the remaining episodes) means that New Game!! has done a considerable bit more to discern and differentiate itself from the first season. From the audience’s perspective, this is welcome, giving the second season a considerably more meaningful message than if the writers had chosen retain the languid pacing of the first season. I definitely do not hate Tsubame, and my expectations entering the final episodes are precisely to see what path Aoba and the others take towards addressing this particular conflict. It is understandable that people make mistakes and speak their minds without understanding the big picture, but if this were the basis for people to escalate their conflicts or simply run away from their problems, there would be no progress at all to speak of. Within the context of New Game!! and the thematic elements of learning, cooperation and appreciation of one another that are presented, it is likely (and expected) that the final episodes will deal with making the new hires a part of Eagle Jump. Overcoming their challenges and resolving their conflict is consistent with the message that New Game!! strives to present, and to leave these elements unattended is in contradiction of the ideas New Game!! has provided audiences up until now. If and when I’m asked, I’m on Tsubame’s team because she’s a part of Eagle Jump (albeit a temporary part for the time being): a team is only as good as its weakest member, and if Tsubame is allowed to learn and grow to succeed, the team’s success together follows.