The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Manga

Harukana Receive Manga: Endgame Considerations and Whole-Series Reflection After Volumes Nine and Ten

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.” –Douglas Adams

Following their victory at the Okinawan championships, Haruka and Kanata prepare for the Valkyrie Cup, a national-level competition. Akari is surprised to run into another beach volleyball player who’s searching for a partner, and it turns out that this particular volleyball player is none other than Natsuki Fukami, a skilled player whose older sister, Mika, is writing a piece on Okinawan players to keep an eye on in the upcoming tournament. As it turns out, Mika is also a coach for the pro leagues, and she’s interested in bringing both Haruka and Kanata on board. While the pair mull over their decision, Akari also receives invitations to visit a new cafe in the area. To decide who gets to go, Haruka, Kanata, Emily and Claire compete with both their exam scores and then wager on the outcome of the summer beach volleyball tournament. To help Haruka and Kanata grow, Emily suggests that they switch up partners so they’re aware of how capable one another is. In the end, the results are inconclusive, and Akari ends up receiving enough invitations so everyone can visit. Meanwhile, Ayasa reminisces on how she met Narumi, and of the promise they’d made to one another. When the Valkyrie Cup begins in Ehime prefecture, Kanata and Haruka face off against several tough opponents, all of whom have their own reasons for participating. In gruelling matches, the pair manage to earn their victories and end up reaching the finals, where they square off against defending champions Narumi and Ayasa. During this match, Haruka and Kanata initially hold their own, but a change in Ayasa and Narumi’s style throws Haruka off. Having read her opponents to gain a sense of how they play, Haruka is shocked that this pair seems unreadable. Although they lose the first set, Kanata reassures Haruka to trust her own judgement, and the pair are able to tie the series. In the end, Ayasa and Narumi win their third consecutive title. Narumi later speaks to Kanata: although Kanata might’ve lost the finals, Narumi is relieved that she was able to find her way again. Because she and Ayasa are set to fly back soon, Narumi and Ayasa decide to play another match with Haruka and Kanata.

With Harukana Receive‘s manga fully completed, Kanata’s journey finally draws to a close: although she and Haruka are unable to defeat Ayasa and Narumi in the finals to claim the Valkyrie Cup, the journey the pair take to reach this point is ultimately what gives Kanata strength to stand of her own accord. Here in Harukana Receive, the journey is plainly more important than the destination, and while Kanata and Haruka still have a ways to go before they’re able to win, their learnings over the course of a year prove instrumental in helping Kanata rediscover her own love for beach volleyball. Throughout the manga’s second half, this is a topic that is returned to time and time again, and while the volleyball remains at the forefront of events, underlying Haruka and Kanata’s desire to win, both for themselves and those around them is a desire for Kanata to rise above the emotional barriers holding her back. In playing with different partners, Kanata learns that Haruka, although still a novice, is a competent player in her own right. Haruka similarly begins to have more faith in her own abilities and makes an honest effort to lean less on Kanata’s judgement calls, in time, coming to learn how to read other players and help devise a means of overcoming them. While Ayasa and Narumi are still out of reach, the sheer progress that Haruka and Kanata make in such a short time impresses even Ayasa. As such, losing in the finals to Ayasa and Narumi isn’t as large of a blow as it would otherwise be: the fact that Haruka and Kanata could trade with the defending champions shows Narumi and Ayasa that there isn’t anything to worry about anymore. Kanata has overcome the loss of her mother, and in accepting Haruka as a partner, she’s been able to find her own way forward again. This in turn gives both Narumi and Kanata the strength they need to finally speak with one another, face-to-face. In their conversation, there is gratitude and relief, reflection and apology. In this way, while Haruka and Kanata do not win or fulfil their promise to take home the title, they have exceeded expectations in being able to perform so well together, and so, readers are left with confidence that, now that all of the past dæmons are addressed, both Kanata and Haruka are ready to take on whatever the future throws at them together.

Additional Remarks

  • This is my first-ever shot at a manga discussion, and it becomes clear that there’s a reason why I typically don’t write about manga: I normally prefer to have screenshots so I can give context to the things I discuss. It’s a little trickier to take photographs from the manga I’ve bought, and the results leave much to be desired, so I wasn’t able to include screenshots for this. With this being said, I do believe that Harukana Receive ends in such a way as to be worthy of a full-scale post. A quick look around finds that there’s zero discussion on what happens from volume six onwards. The anime concluded with volume five, so it’s fair to say that this is probably the only place where one can read about what happens after the anime finished: I hope that this post, while not in my usual format, helps to answer the question, “how does Harukana Receive end?”

  • Ever since watching Harukana Receive back in the summer of 2018, I found myself impressed with the series: I’m no beach volleyball player, but the anime had brought the sport to life in a way that was accessible, while wrapping a story of self-discovery and sportsmanship around it. After the anime ended, I learnt that the series had still been ongoing, and therefore became curious to check the manga out to see where Kanata and Haruka’s promise ended up. The end result was a fulfilling one: I’d gotten to the point where I was rooting for the pair in each match, and while I’d long known that Ayasa and Narumi represent the best of the best, I’d always hoped that grit and spirit would allow Haruka and Kanata the win.

  • However, even though Haruka and Kanata do not take the Valkyrie Cup, the amount of progress they’ve made in a year is impressive, enough to turn Ayasa’s head and even catch the attention of a former professional player turned coach. Harukana Receive‘s second half places a great deal of emphasis on the characters and provides hitherto unseen insight into how Narumi ended up so close to Ayasa. The focus on back stories meant that readers would become equally acquainted with the other characters’ experiences, in turn giving their raisons d’être more weight. This means that every match is an uphill battle, making them considerably more exciting. The advantage that the anime naturally has over the manga, then, is that it is able to convey the flow of each match better: the manga does an excellent job of showing the energy behind every play, but nothing is comparable to animating each scene and bringing it to life.

  • Although Akari had sat out competitions in the anime, Harukana Receive‘s manga has her training alongside Haruka, Kanata, Claire and Emily to the point where she ends up partnering up with someone and beginning her own journey towards playing beach volleyball. Along the way, new characters are introduced, and specifics behind Kanata’s mother are also shown. Further to this, Haruka’s mother also visits her in Okinawa, consenting to allow Haruka to choose her own future. While Harukana Receive has sports as its premise, the series is not a conventional sports story in that victory is secondary to personal growth. Themes of partners being like lovers are even more prominent in the second half, although I contend that it’s not a direct endorsement of romance. Instead, the idea here is that falling in love is broad enough of a metaphor to describe many situations in life, with partners in beach volleyball being one of them.

  • Having now finished the manga in full, questions inevitably turn towards whether or not a continuation is likely to occur. Considering that it’s been a shade under four years since Harukana Receive got an anime adaptation, I would suppose that anime-only viewers will not be seeing this series wrap up. Although an excellent all-around series, sales for Harukana Receive weren’t likely strong enough to warrant a second season to wrap things up. In spite of this, I found the journey to be well-written enough so that it deserved to be followed right through until the end: each volume costs 17 CAD, and I’ve been collecting Harukana Receive since the manga became available at my local bookstores in June 2019. Three years and 170 CAD later, I’ve got all ten volumes in my personal library, and with it, the complete experience. I don’t normally collect manga, so any series that I purchase to completion should speak volumes to how much I enjoyed it.

The ending to Harukana Receive is one that some number of the community would consider “realistic”: back when Girls und Panzer was airing, it was noted that the series would fail to deliver on its messages if Miho were allowed to win. However, what these individuals miss is that Girls und Panzer was about how Miho’s conviction in supporting those around her was enough to rally teammates to overcome all odds. By comparison, Harukana Receive‘s central focus in the manga’s second half lies with both Kanata striving to meet Narumi in a match to assague the latter’s worries for her, and Haruka learning to stand of her own accord as a beach volleyball player. The outcome of the finals, then, was never as important as what Haruka and Kanata learn as they train for the tournament and square off against players whose desire to win was no less than their own. All the while, Haruka and Kanata also learn that they have the opportunity to keep playing as a pair in the future; in order to make the most of such a future, Kanata and Haruka must first excise whatever dæmons that remain in their lives. Because this was the foe to overcome, the nationals suddenly become secondary, and Harukana Receive is therefore able to take a more “realistic” route. Had the manga been purely about a sports series, then it would have taken a more conventional route and have the pair win to show how finding the right team is essential towards achieving one’s goals. Because the themes in Harukana Receive are about how finding the right person can help one to accept their past and seize the future, victory was never the endgoal; Haruka and Kanata only needed to win the matches needed so the pair could face off against Ayasa and Narumi to show the latter that by now, Kanata’s recovered and capable of standing of her own accord, allowing Narumi to focus on being the best she can be, too. Harukana Receive thus concludes on a high note, and my four-year journey through this series comes to a close; although the outcomes were somewhat surprising, the series remains successful in conveying its themes.

Houkago Tea Time’s Encore: Considering a third season for K-On!

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” —Seneca

It’s been four years to the day that the K-On! Movie was premièred in Japanese cinema, and since then, aside from the pair of manga volumes released to conclude the series, plus the movie’s home release, interest in the K-On! franchise has diminished. At present, Kyoto Animation has directed its attention towards other projects, and despite the presence of unverified rumours, there appear to be no indicators that K-On! could continue, making use of the University K-On! and Wakaba Girls’ stories to form the basis for a third season. Officially, however, there are no plans to continue K-On! into a third season: Naoko Yamada, K-On!‘s director, is presently working on a film for the manga, A Silent Voice, and will be involved in a range of projects beyond K-On!. Moreover, from a marketing perspective, a lack of K-On! is logical, given that the anime and related merchandise saturated the market at the height of K-On!‘s popularity. With the novelty gone, a continuation of K-On! is unlikely to be viable from a financial viewpoint, and consequently, Kyoto Animation probably will not be adapting the final two manga volumes into an anime. Moreover, from a plot perspective, the K-On! movie, which dealt with how “Tenshi ni Fureta Yo!” came into being, acted as a final swan song that reinforced the idea that the seniors in Houkago Tea Time are immensely grateful that Azusa decided to stick with their club. This forms the core element for K-On! as the girls near graduation and begin to realise the full extent of Azusa’s contributions to their club. In choosing to reinforce this message twice (once in the second season and again with the movie), K-On! emphasises the importance of appreciation amongst friends, suggesting that a continuation would probably diminish the strength of K-On!‘s central theme.

  • All of this post’s screenshots were taken from the K-On! Movie‘s bonus features, where Aki Toyosaki and the others visit Universal Studios Japan, finding a dedicated K-On! exhibit there. It’s rare that there’s an opportunity to see the voice actors themselves, as most often, I merely watch the anime and then review it based on its merits.

  • Thus, it’s quite refreshing to see the people behind the characters; the voice actors bring life to each of the characters, and in K-On!, each character’s iconic voice is ingrained with the show. Thus, when we’re discussing continuations, it is almost mandatory that the voice actors of old be brought back to provide the voices. This was the case for The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, and allowed the anime to feel quite similar to The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi despite being animated by a different studio.

  • The life-sized characters with their instruments are really something else, and the voice-actors find themselves impressed at the level of details that went into each model. K-On!, though not quite as widely-discussed now, was the true forerunner to most of the modern moé anime genre, as opposed to Haruhi: the latter made use of moé for comedy, but the high school club setting and using moé as a form of character interaction is more appropriately attributed to K-On!.

  • When the K-On! Movie was screening in Japanese theatres four years ago, I was just finishing the first term of my third undergraduate year, and busied myself with exam preparation. My excitement for the movie did not really begin until the home release was announced, and I was somewhat disappointed that it would be in the middle of MCAT season once the date was provided.

  • There was a seven month gap between the movie’s première and the home release, so I’m hoping that the wait for Girls und Panzer Der Film will be shorter, especially considering that the latter was a limited theatrical release.

Now that these practical elements have been considered, there remains the question: is K-On! meritorious of a third season, given the content present in these two manga volumes? The answer is a resounding “yes”, and there does exist a good justification that K-On! does deserve a third season, even if the number of practical constraints against it are numerous and well-reasoned. Before these justifications are explored, a short review of the history will be useful. The two manga volumes depicting events after Yui and the others graduate were published separately between April 2011 and June 2012: the segments of Yui, Ritsu, Mio and Mugi’s experiences in university were published in Manga Times Kirara, while Azusa’s time as the light music club’s new president was published in Manga Time Kirara Carat. Both manga volumes became available in English in 2013: the University volume was released in July 2013, and Azusa’s Wakaba Girls volume was released in October 2013. Both volumes are the size of one standard volume, and are structured in the same manner. Consequently, from a content perspective, there is enough material to occupy twenty-four episodes’ worth of time (twelve episodes per volume). Moreover, the animated adaptation could explore avenues inaccessible to the print medium, featuring new songs and concerts, and capture the feel for the new characters in ways that even the manga could not, giving audiences a glimpse into what’s happened to everyone following high school.

  • The new K-On! manga volumes following the fourth depict life for Yui et al. at university, as well as Azusa’s new role as the light music club’s president. She gains new members and manages the band in her own way, finding that Ritsu’s methods do influence her own approaches.

  • Logistically, the biggest challenge with adapting the new manga volumes and bringing their stories to life will be finding voice actors for Akira, Ayame, Chiyo, Megumi, Nao, Sachi and Sumire, as well as writing new songs for everyone to perform.

  • Beyond logistical difficulties associated with production and the anime’s theme, the manga definitely deserves an adaptation, as there’s definitely enough good material to make for at least 12 episodes (six for each volume). With that being said, I don’t have too high of an expectations that such a project will become a reality.

  • While it would be quite nice to swing by Universal Studios Japan and check out the K-On! exhibits should I ever be in that region, I imagine that the exhibits are temporary and consequently, this bonus feature will probably be the one place where I do see the exhibits.

  • All in all, just because a series merits a continuation does not mean it is likely to gain one: this is presumably the likely case for K-On!, so for the present, we will set aside the topic of K-On!. Regular programming resumes on Saturday with the release of Gochuumon wa Usage Desu Ka??‘s ninth episode.

Ultimately, K-On! has enough material for a third season, and furthermore, has enough good material to make a third season worth watching. However, the ramifications of continuing an anime that’s clearly finished must be considered, and consequently, it is unlikely that K-On! will see a third season on the basis that Naoko Yamada has concluded the series on a high note with the movie. My rationale aside, whether or not a third season of K-On! will become a reality will be left to the future. A continuation would likely deviate from the themes seen in the TV series and movie, especially given that Houkago Tea Time is no longer together, and that Azusa is now leading her own light music band in her own manner. While a third season would definitely be fun to watch, it would also be quite difficult to write for: whereas the K-On! Movie never really faced challenges about its story (as some purport), a third season would definitely will face challenges in weaving a consistent narrative. If done as a single season with twenty-something episodes, the challenge lies in picking points to stop one story and resume the other, while two separate seasons would introduce logistical difficulties. Unless a reasonable solution can be reached, the unusual format for the final remaining volumes of K-On! represents the main barrier towards adapting K-On! for its third season. If these problems can be overcome, K-On!‘s third season could prove to be quite successful, enchanting old and new viewers alike with its combination of music, comedy and an ever-present message about how the people one is with, rather than their activities, makes all the difference in the world.

Enter The Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka? Season 2 Comiket 88 PV Trailer

“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” —Gloria Steinem

A month after being unveiled at Summer Comiket, the Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka? season two trailer has hit the airwaves. Besides setting the air date as October 10, 2015, it also showcases the opening song for the second season, a few moments from the second season and also unveils the long awaited character Mocha Hoto, who is named after the caffè mocha. As noted previously, each character is named after a café beverage in such a manner as to tell a story about what GochiUsa‘s author feels about each drink; mocha is a hot chocolate with a shot of espresso, so the drink might be seen as a more mature, adult version of hot chocolate. Despite the distinct espresso flavour, the drink remains true to its origins and will taste like a hot chocolate. It will be quite interesting to see how Mocha interacts with the rest of the cast, adding an additional dimension to a highly cathartic anime that will doubtlessly allow new avenues of humour and endearment to be explored.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I have ten screenshots here down from the thirty I have of the trailer, which came out earlier this morning. Clocking in at just over 120 seconds, that’s a lot of screenshots, so it was necessary to trim things down slightly.

  • As a trailer, it’s quite difficult to get the context of what’s going on here: Chiya and Cocoa appear to be taking a self-portrait. Once the season kicks off, that feeling of being lost soon wears off. The last anime I was anticipating to this level was Gundam 00‘s second season. Watching these, I was anticipating the 00 Gundam’s deployment the most, and also loved the short combat sequences between the A-Laws’ mobile suits and those of a then-unidentified faction’s (revealed to be Katharon).

  • Most of the fight scenes seen in Gundam 00 season two’s trailers are taken from the first three episodes. I imagine that most of the scenes in GochiUsa‘s trailer will also be from the first handful of episodes, most likely two or three. Now,  I know they’re called preview videos, or PVs, in Japan. While this is more intuitive, on this side of the ocean, we call them trailers owing to the fact that previews for upcoming things were originally shown at the tail end of a feature; this practise no longer applies, but the name stuck.

  • I wonder if Maya and Megu will have a more substantial presence during the second season. Suited in their winter uniforms, it is possible that the second season could start out in winter, as this is where the first season ended, and if this is the case, a Christmas episode may not be likely.

  • The trailer shows that numerous elements that made the first season worth watching will make a return. Therefore, I imagine that GochiUsa‘s second season will be quite similar to Hello! Kiniro Mosaic in that, though it can be watched immediately without requiring some background from the first season, but would be more enjoyable if one did have some familiarity with the characters.

  • Conversely, Non Non Biyori Repeat remained quite accessible to first-time viewers because it is able to capitalise on a diverse range of moments to bring out each character’s personality, so even though some viewers may not have watched season one, things remain easy enough to follow.

  • The presence of snow on the ground, coupled with the winter attire, serves to corroborate the notion that the first few episodes will likely continue on from the first season. Regardless of whether or not there will be another Christmas episode (given that this time around, the anime will likely end near Christmas), I cannot wait to see what adventures Cocoa and the others will have.

  • It’s likely, and logical, to imagine that the characters’ personalities will remain largely unchanged from what we’re used to following the first season, but giving the characters subtle differences could also imply growth. Any dramatic changes, such as a more dangerous, even sexier-looking Chiya, would probably be applied as a comedic device.

  • Reminding me greatly of Angel Beats!‘ Kaede Tachibana (Tenshi), Chino is one of my favourite characters, for she represents how an ordinary person might react to Cocoa’s antics. Throughout GochiUsa, her attitudes toward Cocoa ranges from irritation to concern and even jealousy at times.

  • This is the moment that everyone’s been waiting for: to see Mocha in animated form. Cocoa’s older sister, the manga devotes a fair bit of time to her arrival and introduction. Logic would dictate that she appear after episode two, as the first episode would need to be dedicated towards setting up the environment and atmosphere for GochiUsa such that audiences know (or is reminded of) what life is like prior to Mocha’s arrival.

While GochiUsa might seem to be yet another addition to the seemingly-tired line of “cute girls doing cute things” subgenre of anime, it’s also been remarkably well-received in most echelons of the community. Most individuals I’ve heard from cite this as an anime where each episode is able to relax them, and that this is one of the most-anticipated anime of the upcoming Fall 2015 season. This means that expectations are fairly high, but the trailer illustrates that the old cast are reprising their roles from the first season (was there any doubt?). As well, the atmosphere in and around the town where GochiUsa is set remains as gentle as it had been in the first season, feeling as inviting and warm as it did previously. Consequently, though the authors at some larger anime blogs might disagree, GochiUsa is an anime meritorious of being regarded with high expectations:

A preview of Gochuumon wa usagi desu ka? season 2 through the manga

“Is your heart ready to hop? Even if I pretend to be lost in thought, come a little closer! I won’t let you know too easily; it’s a secret that I like you this much!” —Daydream Cafe, Petit Rabbits

Early in November, rumours that there would be a second season of Gochuumon wa usagi desu ka? began circulating on Twitter, complete with images and what appeared to be official media supporting this claim. At present, nothing official has been announced yet, and as such, whether or not there will be another installation of Gochuumon wa usagi desu ka? will remain as something for the future. This anime originally aired during Spring 2014, and was centered around Cocoa Hoto’s transfer into a classical town resembling modern-day Colmar, France. As is common to the moé subgenre, Gochuumon wa usagi desu ka? is characterised by a lack of story, and an emphasis on how there can be joy in even the most mundane aspects of everyday life, whether it be baking bread, making coffee cream art, a day at the pool, helping a writer out of a slump or Christmas shopping.  This trend was perpetuated back when K-On! was released, and while the more vehement viewers cite moé as the single detrimental aspect of the industry, the fact remains that such anime continue to be released season after season because they represent a break of sorts from the more focused anime a season may offer, helping people relax after a long day’s work. A second season has been announced, and while the airing dates are not known, that raises the question of what a second season will entail.

  • Contrasting the previous preview for Non Non Biyori, this one only has ten images because of the slightly more limited discussion I have to offer. The second season has been confirmed, although the precise season this will air in remains unknown at present.

  • The unique architecture in Gochuumon wa usagi desu ka? was one of the show’s main selling points, and it’s good to have an anime with a unique setting without the associated philosophical or societal aspects that often accompany what critics consider to be “intellectually stimulating” anime. I deal with “intellectually stimulating” constantly and would prefer anime that are about relaxing.

  • As with the previous ‘second season preview’, the actual speculations based on the manga’s contents are buffered by the ten images. Credit-free opening sequences allow one to fully enjoy the kind of animation quality within: perhaps I’ve got a bit of a bias, but I find that the opening songs and sequences to most Western animation are often underwhelming, contrasting the sheer diversity and detail in anime opening segments.

  • Curiously enough, at the last anime convention I attended, there was a screening of several episodes from Gochuumon wa usagi desu ka?. The room hosting this screening was empty save for two other people, while the other rooms were packed. There were no cosplayers attending as anyone from this anime, either. It is clear that interest in this anime is quite limited in my AO.

  • Consequently, it is not too much of a stretch that I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert on Gochuumon wa usagi desu ka? and other moé anime in my AO, as I’ve watched a sufficiently large number of them to be able to satisfactorily account for why they are appealing. Of course, the critics can say all they want, but at the end of the day, it’s what the individual likes, rather than what they say, that makes the difference.

  • The opening song, “Daydream Cafe”, is actually one of my favourite anime opening songs of all time for its upbeat mood. Quite similarly, Poppin’ Jump is an excellent song (and I especially love the Chino version of it): I frequently drive to campus with this playing on the radio.

  • This does lead to the question of the extent of my anime-related hobbies, and admittedly, while I do blog about it and have a non-trivial collection of anime merchandise, I nonetheless consider myself to be a moderate anime fan, having heard horror stories of some anime fans who’ve taken things too far and wound up isolating themselves from their friends. While these stories should be regarded with a grain of salt, they are not implausible.

  • In my experiences, the most extreme of anime fans are the individuals who somehow manage to keep up with more than ten shows every season (such as some folks from the anime forums at good ol’ tango victor tango). Quite personally, I’m not sure how this really works, especially since I end up falling behind every season.  I joke frequently to my friends that even if I’m behind on anime by an average of eight weeks, I am immensely thankful I am not eight weeks behind on the things that matter.

  • While these preview posts are fun to write and think about, they aren’t really meant to be taken seriously as guideposts for what any continuations will bring. With all of the false-positives springing up on social media, I find it’s easiest to not worry too much about what’s being said on social media, and instead, simply watch shows as they occur. The biggest anime I am looking forwards to in the future are The Disappearance of Nagatp Yuki-chan and the Girls und Panzer movie: with limited information, speculation is not a particularly useful exercise.

  • I’ve made some minor modifications to the release schedule: Infinite Stratos²: World Purge Hen is still upcoming, but the next post will deal with the Gochuumon wa usagi desu ka? soundtrack. We’ve got some concrete information on it, and I do look forwards to hearing the music that adds so much to the atmosphere in Gochuumon wa usagi desu ka?.

The manga is presently up to volume four, and it appears that Gochuumon wa usagi desu ka?‘s first season spans the first three volumes. These are estimates, but given that the events in the fourth volume and later do not appear in the TV series, it is quite reasonable to speculate that any sort of second season will begin here. Events will include Cocoa and Chino visiting Rize after the latter sprains her ankle. In visiting Rize’s home, the girls roleplay as maids and manage to have a good old time. Aoyama later encounters troubles with her writing, and attempts to write a story with Cocoa and her friends as protagonists. While everyone competes to be the main lead, their activities eventually inspire Aoyama to begin writing. Depending on pacing, there’s enough material her for around one to two episodes. Cocoa’s sister (a hitherto unintroduced character) also is set to make an appearance, prompting Cocoa to take on a more serious demeanor to show her sister that she’s matured. While waiting for Cocoa’s sister to show up, an unexpected character makes an appearance. After some mishaps and more comedy, it turns out this unexpected guest is Cocoa’s sister, who had disguised herself to make a more dramatic appearance and decides to stay for a few days. Because this spans a few volumes, this arc could cover anywhere from three to four episodes, and should it ever take an animated form, I would probably melt from the volume of adorable moments that is condensed into this space. The last chapter in volume four deals with back-to-school stuff, with Chiya feeling disappointed that Cocoa won’t be lonely even if they were in different classes, and after Rize, Chino and Sharyo go shopping for pencils, they run into Chiya, who recieved an ominous text from Cocoa. However, when Cocoa arrives, she makes up with Chiya on the spot, and everyone resumes their school year (this is at most one more episode). With the volume exhausted, the speculation ends here, and these predictions amount to around seven episodes at most. From a personal perspective, a second season will probably become a reality once the manga progresses forward a little more, but for the present, it’s still fun to guess at what future installments could hold: just from reading the manga, I would be quite happy to see an animated adaptation of these adventures.

A preview of Non Non Biyori season 2 through the manga

“The seasons dye the water, it shines in the colors of the rainbow. When I stopped to catch my breath, it disappeared; nndlessly pouring laughter, echoes like a song from far away.” —Nanairo Biyori (Rainbow-coloured weather), nano.RIPE

Announced back in April, it is not old news that Non Non Biyori is going to get a second season at some point in the future. Its first season was spent depicting the daily lives of Renge, Houtaru, Komaru and Natsumi in the peaceful, idyllic village of Asahigaoka in rural Japan. Over the course of twelve episodes and an OAD, viewers saw the kind of laid-back, easy-go-lucky life away from the hustle and bustle of urban areas: it is no surprise that Non Non Biyori (literally, “Non Non Weather”) is considered as an iyashikei anime, a subgenre of slice-of-life characterised by an exceptionally slow pace and an emphasis on the ordinary. There is a great deal of focus on landscapes, and calming musical pieces are liberally used to reinforce that things are going to happen slowly. As one of my favourite anime of the 2013 autumn season, it was quite welcoming to hear that Non Non Biyori was getting a second season. In my original reflection for the first season, I concluded the anime ended on a decisively positive note and did not speculate on whether or not a second season was a possibility. However, because the anime is an adaptation of an ongoing manga, a second season does not seem unreasonable: one imagines that the second season will follow the manga quite closely, so there is limited need to speculate on what will happen.

  • Exactly as the title says, I will be doing a talk on what is expected to happen in the second season of Non Non Biyori. Such a talk is by nature spoiler laden, so in the name of fairness, the spoilers are all located at the bottom at the page, and some fifteen images, plus their accompanying figure captions, act as a buffer between the top of the page and the spoilers at the bottom, given readers plenty of opportunity to hit the back button before they accidentally indulge in some spoilers.

  • From a personal perspective, spoilers aren’t that big of a deal to me because knowing what happens and seeing what happens for myself are two different things: my mind’s-eye is particularly weak when I’m listening to or reading someone’s description of what happens, so when I see something for myself after hearing about it, the impact remains.

  • With that said, I do respect the fact that other individuals do wish to see something for themselves without any a priori knowledge, hence why I’ve decided to leave all of the spoiler elements at the bottom, which can only be reached with a bit of scrolling. For individuals who do not mind the spoilers, what I’ve done is gone through the manga and summarised the major arcs that were accessible, then estimate how long each arc will roughly take.

  • All of the images in this post were taken from Non Non Biyori‘s opening sequence to the first season, and even though people do not necessarily like nano.RIPE, I personally found that it’s grown on me somewhat, and some of the songs that they perform are actually quite good: the opening song to Non Non Biyori is an upbeat, yet calming song that evokes memories of a hot, sunny summer’s day.

  • Renge actually reminds me somewhat of Is the Order a Rabbit?‘s Chino; this series, like Non Non Biyori, is relaxing to watch and remarkably amusing for similar reasons. It is also set in a unique location that lends itself to a particular style of depicting the characters’ lives, alongside all of the humour. I will probably come back at some point in the future to do a similar post and speculate upon what a second season to Is the Order a Rabbit? could entail.

  • The animation in anime opening sequences are remarkably nice, and while most viewers typically skip over them to get to the really good stuff (i.e. the anime itself), many opening scenes contain short segments that provide insights/clues as to what is likely to happen in an anime. Like some of Bill Waterson’s Calvin and Hobbes comics, the scenes in an anime opening are sufficiently well-crafted as to be able to tell a story on its own even without dialogue.

  • For Non Non Biyori, the opening suggests that the anime will predominately make use of the seasons to accentuate some of the things that this group of friends experiences as a year comes and goes. Nowhere in the anime do we actually see Natsumi, Hotaru, Renge and Komari wield umbrellas and don raincoats, but this short moment shows that this group of friends, though different in personality and manner, are also remarkably similar and get along very well through the choice of giving them different umbrellas (whose pattern reflects on their personalities) and the same raincoats.

  • Without any dialogue or narration, the imagery of Hotaru on a train with her gazing wistfully out the window gives viewers the impression that she is moving between places and longs for company. On a disjoint note, this weekend saw pub-style chicken wings and breaded coconut shrimp yesterday for dinner, and lunch today was to celebrate a housewarming party with family. It may not be Christmas, but the festivities are slowly starting to make their way into my schedule.

  • Natsumi is a carefree spirit who lives in the moment and according to her own terms: sitting in a tree and looking out to the horizons, the mood conjured by this moment suggests a character who can be boisterous and spontaneous, partaking in adventures as frequently so the opportunity presents itself.

  • On the other hand, Komari is portrayed as an individual who wishes to be adult-like, while retaining a more childish side to her. This is evidenced by this moment: her room is littered with stuffed animals, and she appears to be working on her assignments, showing that for her childish tendencies, she also knows what responsibility is, standing in stark contrast to Natsumi.

  • Renge hangs up a teru teru bōzu on a rainy day in the hopes the sun will return. An amulet with origins in the Edo period, these are typically made by children and showing Renge with one here is intended to outline that even though she’s only six and filled with naïveté, she’s also well aware of her surroundings and is quite wise for her age.

  • All of these impressions were gathered from just a seconds-long moment, illustrating just how effective visuals can be in painting a picture about a character. The Non Non Biyori opening also shows the girls playing in the snow by winter; near the end of the series’ run, two episodes were set during the winter.

  • Such a moment never appears in the anime, but it is quite endearing to behold, and provides yet another example of the fine animation and details that go into the opening sequences of anime in general. From here on out, I think that using creditless opening sequences to discuss and speculate on future seasons for an anime series might not be a bad idea. Such posts would probably take the form of this one to reduce spoilers.

  • By Spring, Sakura trees are in full blossom. It was actually quite surprising to learn that there are actually Sakura trees on campus, and this spring, I will see if it’s possible to partake in hanami on campus. This will come right before my personal trip to Japan in 2015 (at present, tentatively set for May), and ironically enough, though I am an anime fan through and through, I am visiting for their culture and historical elements. After this trip, I will have set foot in all of the major East Asian countries.

  • Spoilers lie below now, and if the reader is not predisposed to hating them, they may now begin reading through the things that happen in the Non Non Biyori manga. The events of the manga motivate the anime, so I imagine that once Non Non Biyori‘s second season comes out, this speculation should be quite accurate. Coming up within the next week will be a talk on Infinite Stratos²: World Purge Hen. It’s finally released now, and I’ve just begun watching it. As an OVA, the fanservice levels are off the charts, but there are things that merit discussing, so I will aim to have that post out as soon as possible.

Recalling that the OAD was about the preparations for the Okinawa trip, the manga continues on with Okinawa. The anime will start with the plane trip there, viewers will be treated to a spectacular depiction of the Okinawa islands under the summer sun and the classic antics we’ve grown to enjoy from the cast. The first three or four episodes will probably deal with the Okinawan beaches, cuisine and scuba-diving, bringing to mind the Okinawa trip in Azumanga Daioh. This arc will probably be three to four episodes long and close off on a touching moment with Renge (in the manga, she picks up a shell off the beach to commemorate her visit). Upon returning to Asahigaoka, the girls settle back into the languid summer weather, experimenting with their appearances and watching fireflies by night. The later chapters appear to have the girls playing with a smart phone and Komari reminiscing about her childhood when she stumbles across a stuffed bear she had. Despairing at its condition, she asks Hotaru to fix it and stumbles upon the latter’s vast collection of Komari plushies. The remaining summer episodes would likely cover around two to three episodes. By the second season’s halfway point, classes resume again and on the first day of classes, Kazuho is late. As a result, the girls play a variation of air hockey with triangular rulers to entertain themselves. Suguru steps in and demonstrates a high degree of skill, upping the intensity. Later, Renge decides to make herself into a teru teru bōzu to ward off the rain, but winds up frightening Komari instead. This material will probably constitute another episode. There is an extra manga chapter with the girls dressed in costumes and Hotaru having what appears to be a sleepover. The remainder of the second season, as per its predecessor, will likely deal with winter and a return to spring. This is about the upper limit for what I can access as far as the manga goes, and with these things to potentially happen in the second season, I look greatly forwards to seeing its release. At the time of writing, there’s been no news of when this second season will be released, but they say that patience is well-rewarded, and armed with a rough idea of what will constitute the second season, I am quite excited to see another season of Non Non Biyori.