The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Natsumi Hodaka

Houkago Teibou Nisshi: Finale Review and Whole-Series Recommendation

“Fresh cooked Arctic Char: mmm! Wow…that’s unbelievable. Right now, my editor is watching this and thinking, ‘Man, I wish I were there. Catching them Char, and eating them too’. Right Barry? Oh, that’s so good!” –Les Stroud, Survivorman

With summer in full swing, Yūki feels disinclined to go fishing on account of the warm weather, but Hina feels that since they’d come to the clubhouse, it’d be worthwhile to do something. Yūki decides that to keep it simple – they’ll go for the Horse Mackerel fry, and this time around, they’ll use fishing rods without reels. The experience is supposed to be quite different, and these low-cost rods have their own advantages, as well. Hina has fun, although things slow down towards the evening. However, Yūki convinces the girls to stick around for a bit longer, since the evening is when fish begin coming in to feed. Hina ends up catching an adult Horse Mackerel, and it turns out that this is what Yūki had been setting the club up for. The girls end up with a sizeable catch and go about preparing the fish for consumption, but Hina struggles to properly filet the larger Horse Mackerel. The next day, the girls set up a grill and sit down to enjoy their fish with Sayaka, who’d invited herself to the party. While fishing one day, Hina catches a spiney fish. Natsumi suggests she carefully returns it, since they are highly poisonous, but with Makoto’s instruction (at Yūki’s behest), Natsumi and Hina come around. After Hina has Whiting tempura for dinner one evening, she asks if the Breakwater Club can go fishing for Whiting next, but learns that they’ll need live bait to do so. Frightened at the prospect of using worms, Hina picks up artificial bait at the local shop instead, but spends the outing unable to catch anything. Yūki suggests to the dejected Hina that she look up the technique required when using artificial bait, since the others had taught her the way to use a rod when using live bait. As it turns out, Whiting are attracted by motion, and so, Hina’s been itching to try things out. While her first attempts are promising, a lack of fish prompts Hina to move to different spots to see what happens. While taking a break, Hina realises that the online guides she’s been following were for larger Whiting – lengthier bait corresponds to the smaller Whiting not being able to reach the hooks. After shortening the bait, Hina successfully catches her first Whiting. With their fish, the Breakwater Club prepare freshly-caught Whiting tempura. Yūki remarks that fishing is really about figuring things out for oneself, and a successful catch this is the reward of the activity. On the hottest day of summer, Hina and Natsumi decide to make a large stock of barley tea after the clubhouse runs out. Makoto notices that Hina and Natsumi have matching plushies. As it turns out, after their midterms ended, Natsumi visited Hina’s place so they could make plushies. When Makoto expresses an interest, Hina decides to show her how, and when Natsumi asks Hina about her interests in handicrafts, Hina replies that the time she’s spent with the Breakwater Club is fun precisely because of the people she gets to be with. All twelve episodes for Houkago Teibou Nisshi are now in the books, and despite an intermission brought about by the global health crisis, the anime remains immensely enjoyable and well-crafted.

Par the course for a slice-of-life series with an educational component, Houkago Teibou Nisshi introduces viewers to the nuances of fishing in detail: it is much more than the act of obtaining a fishing license, sticking bait on a hook and then whiling away an afternoon on a boat, as Westernised portrayals are wont to present the activity as. Through Hina’s inexperience and reluctance to come into contact with any insects, Houkago Teibou Nisshi showcases the varieties of fishing one can partake in using different techniques and equipment, illustrating just how varied fishing is even when one is unable to (or unwilling to) catch larger fish or use live bait. It becomes evident that fishing is very involved, but also very rewarding those who participate – in this manner, Houkago Teibou Nisshi speaks to the idea that activities in general are very accommodating, allowing individuals of all skill levels to have a good time, and also for beginners to pick things up at their own pace based on their comfort level. Despite her great fear of creepy-crawlies, Hina has come quite a ways since she met Yūki, developing an interest in fishing and even taking the initiative to go on her own trips to try out the things she’d learned from the others, as well as making suggestions for what to try and fish for next. While there are moments and days where Hina comes out disappointed, the Breakwater Club also help Hina learn the value of perseverance. Much as how Hina’s perseverance had allowed her to become proficient with handicrafts, taking the initiative to seek out new knowledge also helps Hina to improve her fishing. This is reiterated towards the series’ end, where Yūki encourages Hina to learn about how to make use of artificial bait works following a day of disappointment, and Hina at last finds success with her new-found knowledge. In conjunction with the fact that the Breakwater Club allow Hina to gradually step out of her comfort zone by selecting modes of fishing that do not frighten the daylights out of her, Hina comes to develop a great love for an activity that she never imagined she would participate in, and in doing so, Hina comes to cherish her foods to a much greater extent than before, appreciating the effort it takes to capture and prepare what ends up on her plate. She also realises that the Breakwater Club is fun precisely because she’s been able to hang out with people, whereas with Handicrafts, she’s always able to pursue it at her leisure, making fishing a superbly enjoyable and rewarding activity for her.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Houkago Teibou Nisshi is a very summer-like anime, and so, it is appropriate that its finale comes on the autumnal equinox; today marks the first day of autumn, and it’s a surprise to see summer pass by so quickly. This year’s been a bit of an unusual one, and present circumstances precluded any opportunity to travel into the mountains. However, there are more important things than travel, and I’ve been enjoying the beautiful summer weather of our area in alternative ways to do my part: this past week has been quite smokey on account of fires in the province over, but Sunday saw the skies clear up, making it perfect to take a walk under.

  • Pole fishing is the practise of using no-reel fishing rods to catch fish. Both Japan and the West have their own no-reel techniques: in the West, the extremely long poles allow fishermen to reach distant or difficult-to-reach spots with great precision. The Japanese counterpart, tenkara fishing, was developed independently. The idea is that simple equipment would allow fishermen to catch fish without worrying about their gear, and tenkara fishing became popular, since these simple poles were far less costly than conventional rods with reels. In Houkago Teibou Nisshi, Hina quickly adjusts to pole fishing and finds it enjoyable, being a different way of catching the Horse Mackerel Fry.

  • While pole fishing, the girls come across a variety of fish, including blackfish, red seabream and even a fine-patterned puffer (Takifugu poecilonotu). Hina finds herself enraptured by its small, rotund appearance. However, pufferfish are highly poisonous and difficult to prepare: the fine-patterned puffer contains the neurotoxin tetrodotoxin, which blocks sodium channels. Further to this, Natsumi explains that these fish will take bait from rods, snap hooks and cut lines. To prevent trouble from befalling her, Hina returns it back into the ocean.

  • As evening sets in, the Breakwater Club finds that they’d had a slower day. Natsumi had gotten bored and switched over to a more active form of fishing, but for Hina, the slower pacing of pole fishing suits her just fine. This attests to how different styles of fishing may appeal to different people. With nothing of note biting, the girls enjoy a peaceful sunset before preparing to head off. However, Yūki has another idea in mind: by evening, fish return into the tidal areas to feed, and so, it is during the evening that larger fish are the most active.

  • When Hina gets a bite on her line, she’s shocked at how ferocious the fish is. She extricates an adult Horse Mackerel from the waters, which comes across as a complete surprise to her. Encouraged by Hina’s success, Natsumi and the others follow suit and drop their lines in the water. The Horse Mackerel in Houkago Teibou Nisshi are specifically, the Japanese variety (Trachurus japonicus). These fish can reach lengths of half a metre, and the average size is roughly a foot. After Hina catches her first, she stops to admire it, showing how she’s come to find beauty in the ocean’s life.

  • After Hina makes the kill on the Horse Mackerel she’d caught, she loses focus of her surroundings upon seeing blood pour out of the fish. Natsumi remarks that since Hina’s not fainting anymore, she’s slowly getting used to things, although there are still moments that shock her. During this time, the others successfully catch Horse Mackerel of their own, and very soon, they have enough fish to prepare a meal with. Makoto subsequently walks Hina through the process of filleting a Horse Mackerel: after descaling the fish, one makes cuts underneath the pectoral fins on both sides to remove the head. Then, one makes cuts lengthwise along the top and bottom down to the tail, before making a cut along the ribs. In this way, three filets result, although Hina isn’t quite as deft as Makoto: her filets end up misshapen (but otherwise, still edible).

  • Makoto also introduces viewers to an alternate method, where after the head is removed, a lengthwise cut is made along the spine. Once the cuts are removed, the fish is ready to be soaked in a 1.71 ᴍ solution of salt water for half an hour, and finally, the fish is ready to be refrigerated overnight. Learning traditional methods for preserving fish can prevent a lot of food from going to waste, and Houkago Teibou Nisshi goes the extra mile in presenting this sort of thing: every step, from fishing to preparation, is shown, so viewers understand the processes and their context. While the girls look forwards to enjoying their Horse Mackerel on white rice the next day, they worry that Sayaka might show up and rain on their parade. In a cruel turn of events, Sayaka happens to be nearby and immediately discovers the girls making preparations for tomorrow.

  • Yūki’s rather displeased that their originally-peaceful lunch will be crashed, and instructs the others to get started as soon as possible so they can spend less time in the presence of a drunken Sayaka. However, Sayaka does appear to be mindful of the girls’ wishes, and refrains from getting hammered right off the start. While Makoto grills the fish, Sayaka reveals that she’s brought her smoker: in her spare time, Sayaka also appears to hunt, making use of snares and the like to catch game as large as boar and deer. She promises to treat the girls to some deer and boar at some point in the future.

  • It suddenly strikes me that a hunting anime, making use of basic implements like deadfalls and snares, to compound bows, crossbows and even firearms, would be worth watching were it to be done in the same style as Houkago Teibou Nisshi. Such a series would need to feature post-secondary aged students, since the minimum age to hunt in Japan is eighteen. However, some have suggested that this will never fly, simply because having university students would defeat the purpose of the high school girl genre. However, series that feature older characters have worked reasonably well before (e.g. New Game!, Sakura Quest and Shirobako). Back in Houkago Teibou Nisshi, Yūki’s fears do not come to pass, as Sayaka and the Breakwater Club sit down together for a peaceful lunch, bringing the tenth episode to a close.

  • While fishing, Hina and Natsumi come across a White-spotted Spinefoot (Siganus canaliculatus), a species of rabbitfish: Natsumi is swift to note that these fish have venomous spines and suggests that Hina (carefully) return it. Having eaten rabbitfish before, Natsumi finds the flavour to be overpowering: but Yūki is insistent that they keep it. Rabbitfish are indeed commercially farmed and used as food. Although consuming improperly prepared rabbitfish can result in hallucinations, they are widely-cultivated and have a more moderate flavour. Natsumi is unconvinced, and so, Yūki decides to send in the big guns after Hina releases it.

  • Les Stroud notes that there are three basic criteria as to judging whether or not something is safe for general consumption: whether something has bright colours, moves slowly and smells bad. It is sufficient to make the decision not to eat something if one of those traits are seen, and Natsumi remarks that the White-spotted Spinefoot Hina’d caught smells bad. However, Makoto is versed in preparing rabbitfish, and at Yūki’s request, steps in to show the pair how to properly prepare one when Hina catches a second White-spotted Spinefoot. It turns out that, after the spines are removed, the fish should be swiftly gutted so the organs’ chemicals do not leech into the flesh. Hina and Natsumi are surprised at how good the resulting sashimi tastes.

  • After enjoying whiting tempura for dinner, Hina becomes interested in catching whiting for herself and makes the suggestion at the Breakwater Club the next day. The Japanese Whiting (Sillago japonica) is locally known as kisu. A commercially-fished species in Japan, the Japanese Whiting is very popular in Japan, enjoyed as sushi or tempura, with its flaky texture and a subtle sweetness. If memory serves, Rin enjoys Whiting tempura as a part of her lunch during her solo outing in the Heya Camp△ OVA at a local restaurant en route to her campsite, attesting to the fish’s popularity in Japan. However, catching Japanese Whiting presents a different kind of challenge for Hina: although they’re not terribly large (reaching a maximum length of thirty centimetres), catching them is preferably done with live bait, such as ragworms.

  • Upon seeing these creepy-crawlies, Hina’s enthusiasm to go fishing for Whiting evaporates. Her scream is loud enough to bring the shopkeeper back inside to see what’s going on, and once he gets a measure of what’s going on, he recommends artificial bait to Hina. More durable than live bait, and reusable, artificial bait is also cleaner and easier to store. Their advantages are immediately apparent for Hina, who wishes she’d known about artificial bait sooner. When asked, Yūki remarks that she’s come to grow fond of watching Hina’s reactions, which are admittedly adorable. However, artificial bait also has a set of drawbacks, with the main one being that artificial lures require a bit more skill to use: fish aren’t as readily attracted to these compared to live bait.

  • Hina’s exchange with the shop keeper shows that she’s learning, becoming more familiar with the different sizes of hooks and other details required for a successful day. With their equipment and provisions ready, the Breakwater Club prepare to head out for a day of Whiting fishing. The club thus begins to head on over to Tsurugahama Beach, the same spot where they’d gone fishing for Flatheads back in the third episode. The observant reader will notice that Hina and the others are equipped with their automatic floatation belts. Since the events from the ninth episode, the girls wear these as a safety measure in the event they fall into the ocean.

  • In any other anime, the combination of a beautiful beach and summer weather would mean that swimsuits and a laid-back sort of day would be inevitable. However, Houkago Teibou Nisshi is in a different category, and beaches are simply another place to fish at. However, it does seem a waste to not frolic at least a little in the white sands and warm waters at Tsurugahama Beach before setting about their day’s feature activity. Looking back at this past summer, the weather most resembled what was seen in Houkago Teibou Nisshi during August: every weekend saw flawless skies, and I capitalised on this by exploring the area, visiting places that I’d never visited previously. Since September, the weather’s been passable, although the combination of shortening days and more overcast weather means that opportunity to enjoy pleasant weather will be on the decline.

  • Yūki provides Hina with a primer on how to draw in the Whiting using her rod, and having prepared her line, Hina is excited to begin catching Whiting. To catch Whiting, the line needs to be prepared so that the hooks don’t catch on the bottom. Armed with their live bait, Yūki, Makoto and Natsumi begin reeling in Whiting on short order. Encouraged, Hina sets about trying to catch Whiting of her own. Uncha However, after a full afternoon, Hina has nothing to show for her efforts. Makoto and Natsumi are itching to give Hina advice, but Yūki stands them down, explaining that this should serve as a learning experience for Hina: fishing doesn’t always end in success, and one of the luxaries of fishing for the Breakwater Club is that there is room to fail and learn.

  • In a survival situation, being shafted can be a huge demoraliser: on multiple occasions, Les Stroud had attempted to catch fish without proper gear for Survivorman and typically comes up short. For Hina, catching nothing on an outing is, fortunately, not a matter of life or death, but she remains too dejected to consider potential improvements as the day comes to an end. Yūki reluctantly steps in and gives Hina a hint, that she’d only shown her how to catch Whiting using live bait. Artificial bait has different properties than live bait, and therefore, it stands to reason that a different technique would be involved.

  • With this clue to go on, Hina spends the evening looking up how to properly use artificial bait for catching Whiting: lures often require a correct combination of line lengths, hook sizes, weights and colours, in conjunction with movement to convince the fish that the lure is real. Armed with this newfound knowledge, and seeing folks successfully catch fish with artificial bait online, Hina’s spirits are restored, and she’s ready to hit the beach again to catch the elusive Whiting. Here, I remark that the internet is an immensely powerful pool of knowledge available at one’s fingertips, but nothing is a match for field experience. The finale has Hina putting the suggestions online together with her own experiences; since the information people share online can also be dependent on their circumstances, preferences and equipment, I’ve always found that online resources act more as a hint, rather than a step-by-step solutions manual for problems.

  • A common enough case-in-point is when I search for information surrounding specific errors I encounter during iOS development. People online often report the same error, but under completely different circumstances, and the solutions they take towards solving the problem is probably for their specific use case. As such, after reading their solution, I assess what aspects of their solution are relevant to me, and then I decide whether or not I can attempt their solution as it is, or hand-pick parts of it to synthesise my own answers. In this way, I find that I solve a problem in a way that is much more appropriate for the problem I faced, rather than jury-rigging a solution that was meant for a different context.

  • This is something that Hina comes to realise during her second attempt. After spending the day psyched up to go fishing again, she notices that moving the rod in a convincing manner allows her to get nibbles, but something still isn’t quite right. When Hina decides to try a different spot, Natsumi spots a difference in how Hina is fishing. Hina’s come a long way from the first episodes, and she’s actively engaged in the process now, taking the initiative to learn more on her own. I imagine that Hina’s desire to pursue excellence, evident in how she approaches fishing, is also likely how she became so proficient with handicrafts.

  • After a lack of success, Natsumi decides to sit Hina down for a break, and during their conversation, Natsumi inquires as to how large the Whiting were that the various videos were using: she knows that small differences in circumstances means that what may work in a video may not work in reality, and soon, Hina has her answer: the bait she is using is attractive to the Whiting, but they’re also a little too large; Natsumi and the others had been catching smaller fish the day before. She decides to shorten the lures and gives things another go.

  • Hina manages to catch her first Whiting, having found the proper technique for enticing them to take the artificial bait and setting the length up such that the Whiting can actually get hooked. This is Hina’s largest triumph in Houkago Teibou Nisshi: up until now, Hina had been following the techniques that Yūki and the others have taught her, but with the Whiting, Hina needed to figure things out for herself (Yūki notes that the packaging already explains how to use them, and Hina could’ve saved herself the trouble by reading the attached instructions). Independent learning is very much a part of the world I am accustomed to: in software development, unique use cases mean that oftentimes, solutions and algorithms need to be adapted for whatever I am doing. However, resources remain immensely useful because they can set one down the right path, providing an idea of how one can start working something out. Hina warmly thanks Natsumi for having helped her, surprising the latter.

  • One of my favourite examples of this is the time where I was implementing a table view in Swift that needed to accommodate both a string search and section index scrolling simultaneously, but no tutorials existed for how to handle this particular function. I ended up using an algorithm to sort the items into a dictionary, and then applied the indexing on this to support the scroll. I then filtered the values of the dictionary for searching, but since the number of elements was constant and a smaller number, this was an acceptable solution. Today, I would probably create an array of objects instead and apply the filter on the array: while a dictionary offers O(1) search if the key is known, in that particular situation, the keys are not used in the search, so iterating over the values of the dictionary would yield a O(n) complexity, same as the array. In that case, the array of objects would be more readable and extensible. Back in Houkago Teibou Nisshi, the girls enjoy Whiting tempura of their own as the sun sets, and for Hina, this tempura is sure to be doubly delicious, since she’d caught most of it.

  • The final half of the finale is a bit of a breather: on a hot day, after Hina braves the sweltering club room to open the windows and air it out, the girls learn that their supply of barley tea is depleted. Japanese barley tea, mugicha (麦茶), is a staple in Japan during the summer, served cold to refresh drinkers. As Hina and Natsumi make enough to keep the clubhouse well-stocked, Makoto swings by and notices matching bag charms on Natsumi and Hina’s school bags.

  • A flashback follows, giving viewers a chance to see Hina showing Natsumi how to make plushies, as they’d promised to do so during the seventh episode. These plushies are of the Horse Mackerel, the first fish Hina catches, and to ensure Natsumi can keep up, they go with simpler plushies that don’t come apart. It’s a touching moment, and while Natsumi’s plushie doesn’t come out perfectly, it’s still serviceable, rather similar to how Hina’s preparation skills are a little rough: the gentle atmosphere suggests that with time, much as how Natsumi could improve at handicrafts, Hina can improve her fishing.

  • The Houkago Teibou Nisshi soundtrack also released today alongside the finale: it consists of forty-two tracks, thirty-eight of which are instrumental cues, and then four of the remaining songs are image songs, sung by each of Hina, Yūki, Makoto and Natsumi’s respective voice actresses. There is a great variety of moods conveyed by the incidental music, and to no one’s surprises, my favourite tracks are the songs that convey a hot summer’s day: 放課後ていぼう日誌-メインテ一マ- (Houkago Teibou Nisshi -Main Theme-), 釣りって、楽しい! (Fishing is Fun!) and 今日はなにを釣るんですか (What are we catching today?). The use of wind instruments and percussion in Houkago Teibou Nisshi‘s soundtrack gives it a warm, inviting sense reminiscent of both Yuyushiki and Non Non Biyori‘s incidental music.

  • While Yūki has no particular interest in making plushies, she immediately realises the depth of Hina’s skill and considers opening a stall at the local flea market. Given the quality of Hina’s handicrafts, Yūki believes they could command a good price. Hina sees through this plot immediately, and later, after seeing Hina’s handiwork, Natsumi wonders why Hina didn’t leave the Breakwater Club to do activities with the Handicrafts Club. The reason is two-fold: Hina’s come to love fishing with Natsumi, Yūki and Matoko, feeling handicrafts is something she can do whenever she’s got time.

  • The second reason is a bit more amusing; the handicrafts club is inexplicably all-male, and Hina had been dissuaded from joining as a result. I remark that in this final post for Houkago Teibou Nisshi, I’ve not done any location-hunting. This is because the last three episodes all happen in familiar turf, in and around Sashiki. While this means I don’t get to break out the Oculus Quest, drop myself off in Sashiki and look around for locations, it also reduces the amount of effort taken to write this post: one of the great joys about series like Houkago Teibou Nisshi is that I am looking up the real-world equivalents to what Hina and the others are doing, but this also takes a bit of time, as I strive to ensure that what I’ve got here is accurate for the readers.

  • When everything is said and done, Houkago Teibou Nisshi is a solid A+ (4.0 of 4.0, or 9.5 of 10): immensely enjoyable, informative and adorable, Houkago Teibou Nisshi certainly piqued my interest in fishing. Despite my having no prior experience in fishing, Houkago Teibou Nisshi properly walks viewers through the details. Houkago Teibou Nisshi stands out for utilising all its characters to provide a perspective of different skill levels. Hina doubtlessly stands in for folks like myself, who have not fished before. Natsumi and Yūki act as entry-level instructors who present the basics such that Hina knows what to do (and also to allow beginners to follow along), while Makoto acts as a guide for the experienced. Altogether, each of Hina, Natsumi, Yūki and Makoto represent a different level of skill, allowing all viewers to enjoy Houkago Teibou Nisshi.

  • It is a little sad to see Houkago Teibou Nisshi draw to a close with its final haikyu: “always look after the ocean”. Having a good slice-of-life series in a given season always brings a smile to my face, and I am rather fond of anime of this style. The next season where an anime of this calibre will grace viewers is in January 2021, when Yuru Camp△ returns with its second season. However, in the upcoming season, GochiUsa: BLOOM will be airing, filling the void that Houkago Teibou Nisshi leaves behind. The fall anime season looks to be extremely busy, and I have plans to do episodic reviews for GochiUsa: BLOOM, as well as Strike Witches: Road To Berlin. In addition, Kamisama ni Natta hi, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and Iwa Kakeru! Sport Climbing Girls also have my interest. It’s going to be interesting to see just how the next three months pan out, and in the meantime, I have both Halo 3: ODST and The Division 2‘s third manhunt season to unwind to during the brief intermission between the two seasons.

Acting as a balancing act between entertainment and informing viewers of the subtleties of fishing, Houkago Teibou Nisshi is an excellent series that is to fishing what Yama no Susume is to hiking, and what Yuru Camp△ is to camping. Simultaneously instructive and adorable, Houkago Teibou Nisshi shows how with the right instruction and encouragement, individuals of all backgrounds and experience levels can get into a new activity. Hina’s entry into fishing is gentle, and with ample instruction from each of Yūki, Makoto and Natsumi, viewers feel as though they’re right there with Hina as she learns the basics surrounding fishing, from picking the right rod and hook size, to preparing the bait needed and making the correct motions to draw in the fish of choice. It is clear that a great deal of attention was paid towards these minor details to create a compelling and accurate depiction of fishing; together with solid artwork and animation, as well as a warm, inviting soundtrack and a cast of lovable characters, Houkago Teibou Nisshi stands alongside the giants of its genre, being informative, cathartic and a fun series to watch. Such a series is one that could easily gain a continuation, but owing to flooding in the Kyushu region, where author Yasuyuki Kosaka resides, the Houkago Teibou Nisshi manga has gone on indefinite hiatus. Until Kosaka’s situation improves, it stands to reason that for the present, Houkago Teibou Nisshi will see another intermission. With this being said, Houkago Teibou Nisshi is an excellent series, and I am confident that once things look better for Kosaka, Houkago Teibou Nisshi will resume in all of its glory, with a second season becoming reality once there is enough material to adapt. When that occurs, I will certainly be returning to watch and write about this excellent series.

Houkago Teibou Nisshi: Review and Reflections At The ¾ mark

“We have enough Pym particles for one journey each, plus two test runs…one test run.” –Scott Lang, The Avengers: Endgame

On a lazy day, while Yūki is dozing away in the clubroom, Makoto explains the concept of light rock fishing to Hina and Natsumi. Yūki overhears them and decides that this should be their activity for the day, as she’s yearning for some Scorpionfish, which is supposed go great with miso soup. Makoto lends Hina her life-jacket, and Hina manages to catch something shortly after starting out. However, the girls notice that Makoto’s been a little antsy all day. As it turns out, Makoto had fallen into the ocean and very nearly drowned on her first fishing trip, and since then, she’s preferred wearing a life-jacket for safety’s sake, being quite unable to swim. Later, when Hina forgets to study for the upcoming midterms, she swings by Natsumi’s place to study with her, before sharing with Natsumi her love for handicrafts. On a rainy day, club activities are postponed until Yūki and Makoto reveal they’ve been keeping small rods for prawn fishing in the school infirmary. They head to a nearby bridge to fish for freshwater prawns, promising to save some for Sayaka, and although Hina’s initial lack of experience means she’s unsuccessful, Yūki shows her how to properly fish for them. At the end of the day, they have a reasonable haul: Makoto fries them up, and the girls enjoy them under the cool, rainy weather. Later, Sayaka has the Breakwater Club practise floating to ensure survival in an emergency, but Makoto’s fear of the water makes it difficult for her to pick up the techniques. Sayaka ends up introducing an emergency self-inflating waist belt, which assuages Makoto’s fear, but when Hina, Natsumi and Yūki give it a whirl, an irate Sayaka charges the girls for the cost of the compressed air cans. While fishing, Hina notices a heron with a fishing wire stuck to its leg and feels guilty about fishing. Yūki has the Breakwater Club help clear litter around their fishing spot. The next day, Yūki and Hina announce a plan to help the heron out; they manage to capture it and remove the wire. The next day, the heron reappears, having come to expect Hina to give it free food.

While Houkago Teibou Nisshi had been focused on fishing and its processes thus far, the anime has also begun delving into ancillary activities and know-how: fishing, preparing catches and enjoying said catches is fun, but there is a great deal that goes on behind the scenes, from fishermen’s unions to look after local aquatic populations, to health and safety, Houkago Teibou Nisshi is open about each aspect behind the Breakwater Club’s activities. The decidedly duller details are no less important: from ensuring one is able to float and keep safe should they fall into a body of water, or making certain that one leaves no detritus or litter behind from their activities to avoid having an adverse impact on wildlife, Houkago Teibou Nisshi indicates that there is always more to something than meets the eye, and that each activity has an accompanying set of responsibilities participants must uphold. In its ninth episode, Houkago Teibou Nisshi presents a safety and wildlife awareness video elegantly rolled into Hina, Natsumi, Yūki and Makoto’s story. Having established how much fun the girls have had thus far, Houkago Teibou Nisshi gently, but also firmly, reminds viewers that there is more to their activities that must be accounted for, and that in being aware of emergency procedure, safety measures and being respectful to the environment are essentials to fishing. When all of these are factored into one’s activities, one can fully enjoy fishing in a safe and responsible manner, ensuring that they minimise disruption to the environment and also maximise the fruits of their effort.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The seventh episode opens with Makoto getting rather excited about light rock fishing, a form of fishing with its origins in Japan where fishers use a specialised kind of rod and small lures to target smaller species that make their homes in rocks underwater. As Makoto falls into a reverie and begins rambling about the technical aspects of light rock fishing, Natsumi and Hina become a little confused, prompting Makoto to stop in embarrassment. Makoto’s resemblance to Azumanga Daioh’s Yomi Mizuhara and Sakaki is more apparent than before: tall and shy like Sakaki, Makoto also has Yomi’s facial appearance and is very level-headed, keeping Yūki in check.

  • Equipped with special fishing poles and tiny lures, Yūki has the girls fishing for Scorpaenidae (commonly known as scorpionfish), which are a family of marine fishes with many highly venomous species: coming into contact with the spines on a venomous species will be extremely painful, and care must be taken to handle them to prevent injury. To render the meat from a scorpionfish safe for consumption, venomous or not, the spines must be removed, and then the fish is cooked all the way through. Properly prepared, the flesh from a scorpionfish is said to be quite delicious, being said to resemble a cross between the flaky meat of a halibut and crab in texture, as well as a similar taste to Monkfish.

  • For Hina, the scorpionfish’s fear factor lies not in the fact that it is venomous or spiny, but because it has a highly frightening appearance. Seven episodes in, Hina’s fears still remain: this is to juxtapose the fact that while she’s acclimatising to fishing, there are still things she’s not quite ready for. It also serves one more purpose – watching Hina squeal in horror and be reduced to a trembling wreck is immensely adorable, adding a bit of comedy to Houkago Teibou Nisshi.

  • Because light rock fishing has Hina stand close to the breakwater’s edge, Makoto decides to lend Hina her life-jacket, and she also is seen frequently reminding Hina to not get so close. It is uncharacteristic for Makoto to be this jumpy, but this does foreshadow a bit of exposition for her later on in the episode. As the girls begin fishing, some of their lures become caught on the bottom, and in a moment reminiscent of The Avengers: Endgame, when Scott Lang is concerned about how the limited supply of Pym Particles limits everyone to one round trip each (plus two test runs), Yūki reminds both Natsumi and Hina that their supply of lures are limited, hence the need to be careful.

  • Hina once again demonstrates her uncommon talent for catching something once she gets the hang of the technique as she reels up a scorpionfish. Hina wonders how to unhook it, and the girls immediately show her the way owing to the presence of spines. The episode doesn’t go into how the Breakwater Club prepares their catch: given the fact that anime like these usually offer a reasonable picture of things, the fact that it was omitted is a sign to users that preparing a freshly-caught scorpionfish requires advanced skill. Consequently, I imagine that the task in Houkago Teibou Nisshi would fall to either Makoto or Yūki.

  • The seventh episode’s choice to explore Makoto’s background gives viewers a strong understanding of her personality and also reminds viewers that for her talents in fishing, she’s also got weaknesses of her own: after nearly drowning, Makoto became quite fearful of falling into water and as a result, isn’t a good swimmer. This is why she’s seen with a life-jacket whenever fishing, and why she’s so pensive during the course of the episode’s events. The girls make plans to get their own life-jackets for safety’s sake, but this looks like it’ll be a task for another time.

  • In excitement about fishing and her own handicrafts, Hina’s forgotten to study for the upcoming exams. Fortunately, Natsumi is on station to help her, and she suggests a study party at her place. Like Hinata, Natsumi might be energetic and carefree, but contrary to their appearances, both girls also surprisingly responsible and focused. Seeing these depths in a character is what makes slice-of-life series so enjoyable; rarely are people one-dimensional, and having an unexpected side to individuals both serves to remind viewers that the characters are complex beings, as well as drive humour where appropriate.

  • It turns out that Natsumi’s parents run a café of sorts – the model for their café is the Grill Kakashi, which is located about seven minutes southeast of the Nishi-Hitoyoshi Station on foot and sports a distinct pyramidal appearance. Locals compliment the restaurant on its ambience, solid menu and large portions, although their staff aren’t fluent in English, and service can be a bit slow. Hitoyoshi itself is twenty-four kilometres east southeast of Sakishi, so folks looking around that area won’t have any luck locating Natsumi’s home: given the path the girls take, one would imagine that Natsumi lives along the Yunoura River, and a search for Neapolitan restaurants in Sashiki finds that the Bistro Pazapa would be the nearest candidate as the location for where Natsumi’s house is.

  • After a morning’s worth of studying, Natsumi’s mother has the girls break for lunch, where they enjoy a Spaghetti Neapolitan. This dish is, like omurice, Japanese in origin, being a spaghetti pan-fried with onion, bell pepper and ketchup. From here, it can be topped with sausage, beef and cheese. The dish is a great option when tomato sauces with herbs and spices are not available: while ketchup and spaghetti don’t initially sound like they’d go well together, pan-frying causes the ketchup to take on a different texture and character. One of my variations of the dish is to add small beef meatballs and pineapple to the pasta.

  • Thanks to Natsumi, Hina’s feeling more confident about the maths exam, and the two decide to take a break. Here, Hina has a chance to share with Natsumi her hobby of handicrafts; she’s made a fish plushie that can open up to expose the plushie’s “entrails”, impressing Natsumi and inspiring her to give it a whirl, although she admits that what Hina’s made might be too complex for her to pick up out of the gates. It’s a gentle moment that allows the two to interact in an ordinary setting, and also shows that for their sparring, like Hinata and Aoi, Hina and Natsumi genuinely do care for one another, getting along like peas in a pod.

  • On a rainy day, the Breakwater Club decides to visit a clubroom closer to their school: Yūki had managed to convince Sayaka to allow them to store small fishing rods in the infirmary, as well as make use of the space as a meeting spot should weather make it difficult to travel to their usual clubroom. Although Sayaka objects to use of school facilities for such a purpose, Yūki is able to placate Sayaka with the promise of freshly-caught freshwater prawns.

  • As the girls set off for their prawn fishing spot, the typically-blue skies of Sashiki are overcast, moody and grey. The girls stop briefly by a 7-Eleven in Ashikita along Route 27, to pick up their fishing license so they can legally fish in the river. There are two 7-Elevens in Sashiki, and this particular 7-Eleven is located just down the way from Ashikita High School. While the skies and colour palette suggests a cooler day, experience indicates that even when overcast, it can still be pretty muggy and humid in Japan.

  • I believe this is the first time in Houkago Teibou Nisshi that the weather’s been rainy: up until now, the weather in Sashiki has been shown to be extremely pleasant, with blue skies and warm days. Kumamoto has a humid subtropical climate, and in May, averages around eleven rainy days. June and July are far rainer: despite only averaging fourteen rainy days, the area can receive up to 400 millimetres of rainfall during each month. As the girls walk along the roadside en route to their fishing spot, the rain begins to fall.

  • Under a bridge crossing the river, the Breakwater Club is reasonably well-protected from the elements, and here, they begin fishing for the freshwater prawns, specifically, the giant river prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii). These are one of the biggest freshwater prawns in the world, capable of reaching thirty centimetres in length and half a kilogram in weight. Native to the Indo-Pacific area, they were introduced to Japan, and the local fisherman’s union manages their population. The fishing license that Hina and the others purchase is a means of supporting the union and their duties in preserving the local aquatic populations, as well as maintain sustainable practises.

  • As the day wears on, the rainfall and misty weather brings back memories of my vacation to Taiwan some six-and-a-half years earlier. After arriving in the Taitung area, we stopped at a jade shop located in the Huadong Valley. It had been a cool and grey day, and a part of the tour included a visit to a warehouse where the jade blocks were stored. Rain began falling as the guide explained how jade was processed and carved, and even though it was only four in the afternoon, it was quite dark. Back home, rainy days are hardly ever this moody, and here, two girls from the same high school as Hina and the others hear a piteous scream emanating from the river below as they cross the bridge that the Breakwater Club is fishing under.

  • It turns out that Hina’s having absolutely no luck with catching anything: the prawns let go of the line after taking the bait, leaving Hina with nothing. Frustration mounts, and Hina throws a small, adorable tantrum. Each of Yūki, Natsumi and Makoto have their own measures for how long to keep the line in after a prawn’s grabbed on, giving Hina a bit of trouble as she struggles to strike a balance between pulling the line in and leaving it to entice the prawns.

  • Fortunately, with guidance from Yūki, Hina soon manages to reel a prawn in. However, when she taunts it, the prawn slips off back into the river. Yūki might be a lazy individual, but her knowledge of fishing and conveying this knowledge is unparalleled – it is with Yūki’s encouragement that Hina’s managed to pick up fishing so quickly which is no mean feat. Soon after, Hina manages to help catch several of the freshwater prawns, returns a prawn with a full clutch of eggs to keep the populations healthy, and Yūki calls it in, asking Sayaka for a ride back so they may prepare the prawns for enjoyment.

  • Makoto takes on the preparation and walks viewers through her favourite recipe. After rinsing the prawns in fresh water to remove any grit and sediment, she drops them into bowl of sake, which intoxicates them and calms them down. Subsequently, the prawns are placed in a bag with starch and shaken to thoroughly coat them. From here, they can be fried in oil (Makoto recommends 170ºC) to cook them, and then salt or lemon juice is added for taste. One thing I noticed is that Makoto is cooking the prawns directly, which results in the freshest experience possible, but I’ve always learnt to devein shrimp and prawns before cooking them.

  • This large “vein” is actually the intestinal tract, and for peace of mind, I prefer taking them out. With this being said, the vein can be left in a shrimp or prawn and consumed, having no adverse impact when eaten. Once everything is good to go, the girls sit down to enjoy fresh prawns, which is easily one of my favourite seafoods to eat. Hina is shown to be eating one, shells and all – deep-frying a prawn will render the shell crunchy and palatable. However, when boiled, they are much tougher to chew and usually are discarded: I typically suck on them to get the flavour out before setting them aside.

  • Sayaka objects to the idea of getting the Breakwater Club members annual licenses to fish in the river, since it’d be quite costly: Yūki attempts to persuade her otherwise, suggesting that with the licenses, Sayaka would be able to more or less have as much prawn as she’d like. Sayaka’s counter-proposal, that Yūki allow her to drink, leaves Yūki reconsidering. While this moment might be simply seen as Sayaka falling to her old habit of drinking, from another angle, this is Sayaka firmly saying no to the licenses in a very indirect, but effective manner. Although she might have an unhealthy fondness for alcohol, Sayaka is still the school nurse and has a responsibility to her students. Being able to decline the club’s request for annual licenses in this way, therefore, shows that Sayaka is rather clever and capable of dealing with her role as the Breakwater Club’s advisor.

  • Nowhere is Makoto’s fear of open water more apparent than when she’s asked to swim – she appears to have mild aquaphobia. Despite sporting a physique that suggests athleticism, Makoto is unable to swim, and the thought of being immersed in water without any flotation device terrifies her. However, since falling into the water is a real risk during fishing, it is imperative that the girls know basic water safety, and Sayaka is on hand to teach everyone the basics, having been a lifeguard during her university days.

  • Makoto’s aquaphobia brings to mind a training exercise that all Navy SEALS must take: rescuing a panicking individual who may very well drag them down, as well – the key to survival is to keep the distressed individual’s head above the water, and also find a way to restrict their limb motion, otherwise, one risks being dragged down. It goes without saying that using force to restrain the individual is out of the question. For folks unaccustomed to open water, the fear of drowning is very real, and water safety classes will always teach the back float, the most basic and important of skills. By going onto one’s back, one keeps their head above the water and can breathe. Coupled with the body’s natural tendency to float, one can therefore be assured of some safety as they await rescue.

  • When I was much younger, I took swimming lessons, and although I’ve not swam in quite some time, I still retain enough knowledge of the basics to hopefully survive should I fall into open water. However, even with basic water safety knowledge, it can be quite dangerous to fall into a body of water; lower temperatures can cause hypothermia. Because Makoto’s phobia limits what she can do, Sayaka decides to showcase another apparatus designed for emergency use – the self-inflating emergency waist belt, which uses a can of compressed carbon dioxide and automatically inflates on contact with water.

  • These low-profile devices are compact and effective: Makoto decides to give it a test after worrying that she’ll only be a burden to the others should anything happen, and upon hitting the pool, the device inflates, keeping her above the water. Typically, there’s a small seal that keeps the compressed air in its cylinder, and on contact with water, the seal dissolves, releasing the air into the chamber. More sophisticated self-inflating life-jackets may have a pressure gauge that monitors external pressure and will engage after a certain threshold. While Houkago Teibou Nisshi does not mention this, self-inflating life-jackets will also have valves for manual inflation in the event that the automatic inflation fails.

  • In excitement, the other girls hop into the water, as well, forgetting about Sayaka’s explicit request for them not to do so: each compressed air cylinder costs a hefty two thousand yen, so having Hina, Natsumi and Yūki discharging theirs means the Breakwater Club has now expended a total of eight thousand yen, six thousand of which were unnecessary. The girls end up remunerating Sayaka for the cost of the materials, and I admit that this was a little uncharacteristic of everyone to forget instructions given to them. The unnecessary expenditure of compressed air tanks, combined with Hina and Natsumi burning through fishing lures earlier, motivates the page quote.

  • While fishing, a heron ends up eating the fish that Hina had caught but was planning on releasing. Hina is initially angry, until she notices a bit of fishing wire, hook and missing toes on the heron. She is subsequently distraught, and the Breakwater Club spends the remainder of the day cleaning up the area, removing litter and detritus around the breakwater. However, the thought of the heron hurting keeps her awake into the night, and she finally phones Yūki, who has an idea on how to proceed.

  • With permission from the municipal government, the Breakwater Club decide to capture the heron and attempt to remove the fishing wire. While Hina may dislike animals and see them as opponents, she does care about their well-being, as well: Yūki and Makoto are on board with the plan, since the heron could be in a great deal of pain. Such a task is ordinarily reserved for municipal wildlife specialists, who have both the know-how and equipment for properly freeing wildlife from difficult situations: my go-to in the case of anything unusual surrounding wildlife, from injured large birds to encountering entire deer carcasses on the road, is to call the local government and have them handle things.

  • Houkago Teibou Nisshi chooses to have the girls do it themselves; doing things this way is not typically exactly recommended, since there’s always the risk of biological contamination when handling wildlife. This is why municipalities will recommend people contact them, as opposed to doing things themselves. With this being said, we can assume that Yūki, Natsumi and Makoto are somewhat familiar with handling these situations on account of them being accustomed to rural life, and it is easier from an animation perspective to have them do it, as opposed to designing new characters and having separate voice actors and actresses in the corresponding roles.

  • With a bit of luck on their side, the Breakwater Club succeeds in trapping the heron after Hina distracts it, and with her skill, Hina swiftly removes the wire, allowing the heron to finally fly freely without being encumbered by the fishing wire. She hopes that it’ll fly to better grounds, expecting to never see it again, but the next day, it returns, clearly expecting Hina to give her more fish. In a cruel twist, in helping the heron to remove the fishing wires, the girls may have also habituated the heron to humans, which presents a different set of problems – habituated wildlife are less likely to keep their distance with humans, resulting in increased confrontations and decreased survival.

  • Houkago Teibou Nisshi chooses to portray this as comedy, but for readers and viewers alike, I think it should go without saying that leaving the wildlife alone (and letting professionals handle major situations) is the best way to go. While I may have rattled off a list of things this final story portrays as being detrimental, this is in no way a strike against Houkago Teibou Nisshi, which remains excellent. Small details like these aren’t anywhere nearly sufficient to detract from the things that Houkago Teibou Nisshi does well, and having said this, my first post for September comes to a close.

Having now passed Houkago Teibou Nisshi‘s three-quarters mark, I find that the series has consistently delivered a solid experience in each of its episodes, striking a balance between educating viewers on different aspects of fishing, as well as advancing Hina’s growth and increasing familiarity with fishing. However, while Hina’s come to love fishing with her friends, fishing has by no means displaced her existing interests; Hina still loves the handicrafts, and her skills here have come in handy more than once for the Breakwater Club. Joining the Breakwater Club has simply allowed Hina to expand her horizons and also develop a very practical skill in fishing, showing how new experiences do not necessarily change a person completely, but rather, adds to one’s repertoire of existing skills and interests. The key here is to keep an open mind, and being in the company of skilled, like-minded individuals can do wonders in helping one maintain and cultivate their interest in new experiences. Entering the final quarter of Houkago Teibou Nisshi, it is clear that this anime will not disappoint, having firmly established that the series can strike a balance between exploring fishing, Hina’s growth and acclimatisation into the Breakwater Club’s activities and also creating an immensely cathartic atmosphere in each of its episodes. I am greatly looking forwards to seeing where Houkago Teibou Nisshi wraps up, as well as writing about this series once it has completed: this is an anime that has done everything right, having been immensely helpful in helping me to relax and find perspective each and every week.

Houkago Teibou Nisshi: Review and Reflections At The Halfway Point

“One thing I love to eat on fish, and not too many people save, is the liver. I find the liver and the heart, the tastiest part of the fish.” –Les Stroud

At low tide, Yūki decides to take the Breakwater Club out to the tidal flats to gather clams. Hina and Natsumi end up being stuck in the mud when they ignore Yūki’s warnings not to go out too far, and both end up falling into the mud. Despite this, the Breakwater Club finds a large number of Manila clams, and Hina even manages to score a hamaguri. They bring them back to the clubhouse, but Yūki and Makoto freeze in their tracks when they hear a car pull up – it’s Sayaka Kotani, the club advisor and school nurse. While she seems friendly enough, she breaks out the beer and winds up drunk: Yūki and Makoto lament that Sayaka’s managed to eat most of their catch, although Sayaka soon falls asleep, leaving the girls to grill up the remaining clams. As Hina prepares to enjoy the hamaguri, Sayaka somehow manages to eat it from Hina’s chopsticks, leaving her in shock. Later, the club go out to fish for horse mackerel fry again after picking up provisions from a local fishing supply store. With Makoto and Natsumi’s help, Hina learns how to properly gut the fish, realising it’s no different than removing the stuffing from a plushie. When Hina’s parents express a want to enjoy horse mackerel fry again, Hina decides to go out and fish using the tackle and hooks from home, but experiences no success. Natsumi drops by and explains that Hina’s been using the wrong size of hook and a fishing rod that’s a bit too stiff for the task. With Natsumi’s help, Hina is able to turn things around and ends the day exhausted, but with a sizeable haul. This is where Houkago Teibou Nisshi stands at the halfway point, where changes in Hina’s attitudes towards fishing are gradually shifting as a result of her experiences with the eccentric, but sincere and accepting members of the Breakwater Club.

The most rewarding payoff from watching Houkago Teibou Nisshi thus far is seen in Hina, who’s outlook on fishing is becoming increasingly positive, and whose fears are slowly replaced by a genuine curiosity and appreciation of fishing. With support and encouragement from her fellow club members, Hina begins to realise that despite seeming quite disparate, there are some commonalities between handicrafts and fishing – the suggestion that gutting a fish can be thought of as extracting stuffing from a plushie helps her to focus. Similarly, Hina’s become more confident about fishing now, having seen how it can bring about joy. When she decides to go fishing on her own, it shows that she’s developed enough knowledge to be confident in trying things out for herself. While Hina’s still inexperienced, that she’s beginning to take the initiative shows that despite her initial worries, she’s come to enjoy fishing. It is remarkably heartwarming to see this change, and I imagine that as Houkago Teibou Nisshi continues, Hina will continue to hone her craft, and over time, develop enough familiarity as to be not only comfortable, but confident in catching and preparing larger fish, as well. While the Breakwater Club is an unconventional one, it’s been shown that Hina’s in good company here, coming to really learn and appreciate the origins of her food more.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Houkago Teibou Nisshi is proving itself to be a remarkably enjoyable anime, both in providing a consistent and fun experience, as well as raising interesting discussion topics. I will be resuming with a much more conventional posting schedule for this series: the fourth episode was a bit of an exception because it’d been a while since I wrote about Houkago Teibou Nisshi, and I’d wished to emphasise that yes, I’d not forgotten about what would’ve been one of the highlights of the spring anime season.

  • Right out of the gates, Hina and Natsumi ignore Yūki’s warnings not to go too far into the flats and end up getting stuck in the mud, causing Hina to throw an adorable tantrum. Clam digging is a common recreational and commercial activity in coastal areas, and in Survivorman, Les Stroud ends up finding a large number of clams in the estuary of Tiburón Island. Stroud searches for clams in a fan-like pattern and replaces the sand behind him, while the girls dig in a more linear fashion, but both Stroud and Yūki advises clammers to be mindful of etiquette, restoring the mud so clams can grow comfortably without drying out and throwing back smaller clams to ensure the population can survive.

  • Natsumi only barely avoids falling into the mud by grabbing onto Hina, and in a moment reminiscent of Yama no Susume, where Hinata pulls Aoi’s skirt down, Natsumi winds up creating a near-miss for Hina. The two end up falling into the mud anyways, and now that they’re dirtied, Hina doesn’t seem to mind so much anymore. There are a few tricks to extricating oneself from being stuck: most guides recommend reaching down into the mud and then pulling up the toes or driving the toes further into the mud and lifting the heels up. This works because the mud creates a vacuum that the atmosphere presses against, and by introducing air underneath, the amount of vacuum (and corresponding pressure) is lessened, allowing for movement.

  • For Hina and Natsumi, they manage to extricate themselves in an unseen manner, with Hina setting aside her grievances upon hearing Yūki’s story about how some people previously needed to be airlifted out after getting stuck close to when the tides returned. It’s a very real danger, showing that Houkago Teibou Nisshi is aware of the dangers of some of their club activities entail. Fortunately for Hina and Natsumi, nothing of this sort happens, and the club have a fine time gather clams.

  • The girls end up with a respectable haul of Manila clams (Venerupis philippinarum) along with the lone hamaguri (Asian Hard Clam, Meretrix lusoria) that Hina’s found on her first try and allow them to rest overnight in a bucket of water in order to let them clear the sand out. The next morning, Hina finds the clams to have opened: the appendage sticking out is their foot, which is a muscle that allows the clams to burrow and embed themselves in the mud or sand.

  • Before Hina and the others can begin preparing the clams, a car pulls up, sending Makoto and Yūki into a panic. Hina and Natsumi wind up being a little surprised, since it’s “just” Sayaka Konati, the club advisor and school nurse. Sayaka is voiced by Ami Koshimizu (Charlotte E. Yeager of Strike Witches), and initially, she appears as the caring, competent club advisor who’s merely come in to check up on how things are going.

  • Thus, Yūki and Makoto’s reactions seem a little off initially – Yūki blows off Sayaka and attempts to get her to peace out, while Makoto lacks her usual composure and is evidently nervous. It’s saying something that Sayaka is able to intimidate even Makoto, who’s otherwise been quite stoic about things at the Breakwater Club – despite Makoto’s best efforts to keep the clams secret, Sayaka finds out anyways.

  • Hina and Natsumi aren’t too sure what’s going on and decide to invite Sayaka to hang out with them. Like the tidal flats, Yūki might disagree with the decision but allows Hina and Natsumi to do so. While it’s a subtle gesture, Yūki’s style is actually an immensely effective teacher in its own right; by letting Natsumi and Hina explore and make mistakes, the two learn much more quickly what not to do in the future.

  • Makoto prepares the clams by steaming them and soon, has enough for everyone to share. Clams have a gentle, briny taste and when cooked properly, are springy and pleasantly firm to the palette. A few years back, I had the fortune of getting fresh clams straight from the beach, and we steamed those right up for dinner, adding only a bit of soy sauce. Having grown up with Cantonese cuisine, there’s a special kind of soy sauce that I know as 蒸魚豉油 (jyutping zing1 jyu4 si6 jau4, literally “soy sauce (for) steamed fish”); this soy sauce has a slightly sharper taste than dark soy sauce and is perfect for seafood. A small amount of this soy sauce goes great with prawns, clams, mussels and oysters.

  • As it turns out, Sayaka rivals Minami Toba of Yuru Camp△ in being a seemingly mild-mannered instructor whose true self is characterised by an excessive love for alcohol. Like Minami, Sayaka is able to consume copious amounts of alcohol, but unlike Minami, who simply falls asleep, Sayaka is a mean drunk: she proceeds to intimidate Hina and Natsumi before attempting to make out with Yūki and Makoto. The choice to do this is strictly to create humour, although right out of the gates, Houkago Teibou Nisshi‘s Sayaka is rather more disruptive than Minami ever was in Yuru Camp△. Fortunately, Minami soon falls asleep, and Makoto reveals that she’d still left some clams around.

  • Despite Sayaka single-handedly demolishing the first batch on her own, the Breakwater Club now have a chance to enjoy more clams in peace. Makoto breaks out the grill, and Hina watches in happiness as the clams begin to sizzle and open up, indicating that they’re ready. This is the most visual indication that a clam is cooked all the way through, and when cooking clams, any clam that does not open should be discarded (they died before being cooked and are probably not safe to eat). On Tiburón Island, Les Stroud cooked his clams by directly inserting them into charcoal beside a fire, declaring them safe to eat once they opened.

  • While I’ve enjoyed freshly steamed clams before, I’ve never actually grilled them the way the Breakwater Club does here. Recipes indicate that clams can be cooked on direct medium heat and take roughly seven minutes to cook fully. Compared to steaming, the high heat imparts a distinct charred flavour that isn’t present in steaming the clams, but for me, steaming clams is a gentler way to preserve the original flavour of the meat.

  • Houkago Teibou Nisshi‘s soundtrack has a known release date now: September 23. With Miki Sakurai as the composer, the soundtrack will retail for 3300 Yen (about 40.95 CAD) and feature a mix of both incidental pieces, as well as vocal tracks. The tracklist remains unknown at this time, but it’s great to finally know when the music will become available – the soundtrack of Houkago Teibou Nisshi‘s been excellent, and really creates a summer-like feeling that also brings to mind the style of the Yuyushiki soundtrack, which I similarly enjoyed.

  • Since Hina found the hamaguri, she’s the one to eat it. However, Sayaka’s just woken and manages to eat it straight from Hina’s chopsticks, rendering Hina colourless in shock for the duration of the episode. One cannot help but feel bad for Hina, since she’d been really looking forwards to this, and I remark here that this sort of humour is of a variety that I am less than fond of if abused or overused; I’ve never really been a fan of situations where characters are made to suffer unnecessarily, and prefer comedy to be derived by other means.

  • By the halfway point in Houkago Teibou Nisshi, Hina’s feeling right at home with the Breakwater Club, which occasionally has the odd lazy day or two here and there. However, one club meeting is interrupted when Sayaka reappears: it turns out she has insufficient funds to even get dinner, likely having blown her money on alcohol, and turns to the girls for help. Yūki is reluctant to do so and only relents when Sayaka promises not to drink inside the club room. However, the club first requires supplies to go fishing.

  • This fishing supplies store is real, being a rendering of the Tenguya Fishing Tackle Shop in Sashiki: finding this one was straightforwards, since it’s located at the heart of Sashiki. Tenguya is a mere 700 metres from Sashiki station, across the road from the local government offices and adjacent to a Korean BBQ restaurant. In reality, Tenguya is indeed known for having an excellent selection of gear. Since Houkago Teibou Nisshi‘s manga began running, the store also sells copies of the manga.

  • The real-world owner of Tenguya is also friendly and knowledgeable, so customers do enjoy visiting the shop for supplies. In Houkago Teibou Nisshi, Natsumi picks up bait from the shop, and Hina wonders if the store is named after the owner’s appearance, only for him to challenge her to touch his dome and admire the smoothness. It appears that the shopkeeper knows Natsumi, and when they’d entered earlier, Natsumi warns Hina about the store for this reason.

  • By this point in time, Hina’s become more enthusiastic about fishing and also begins to pick up on nuances, such as the fact that Natsumis rocking a slightly different setup. It’s a far cry from the Hina who began Houkago Teibou Nisshi intent on doing more familiar club activities, and as the afternoon wears on, the Breakwater Club have no trouble filling a cooler full with the day’s catch.

  • Of course, since we’re merely at Houkago Teibou Nisshi‘s halfway point, Hina’s still uncomfortable around gutting a fish. Makoto provides Hina with clear instructions on how to go about preparing a Horse Mackerel Fry for cooking: first, one slides their fingers behind the gills and then gently follow the pectoral fins until the stomach and intestines are reached. These can then be pulled out, after which residual elements can be removed. In general, these can be discarded, although I think composting them is a better idea.

  • Hina is shocked at the prospect of gutting a fish, and after an unsuccessful attempt to escape, ends up learning that Makoto gets around it simply because it’s a part of the process. It is ultimately Yūki who suggests that Hina think of it as removing the stuffing from a stuffed animal for whatever work lies ahead. Hina ends up going into a reverie and removes all of the guts swiftly; despite forgetting the second step, she’s quite speedy, indicating that with the right perspective, seemingly completely unrelated hobbies share common skills.

  • While my urban background means that all of the fish I buy are usually prepared already, meaning that the fish heart and livers are usually removed, being discarded along with other parts of the fish. This is disappointing, since besides the bones, fins, digestive tract and stomach, almost all other parts of the fish are edible and highly nutritious. During his Arctic Tundra episode, Les Stroud describes the heart and liver as the tastiest part of the fish as he prepares four freshly-caught Arctic Char: being an experienced outdoorsman, Stroud has no trouble with preparing fish, contrasting Hina, who practically faints when she finds her hands covered in fish blood.

  • As it turns out, the Tsurugis have a fair amount of fishing gear, and on a long weekend, Hina decides to go fishing for more Horse Mackerel Fry when her parents express an interest in getting some for dinner. While Hina initially feels it to be a bit of a hassle, she ends up taking up the challenge. It’s a bit of a rare moment that shows Hina as being more bold than usual: she declares with confidence that being able to get enough for dinner shouldn’t be a problem and sets out to buy some bait.

  • Because of how small Sashiki is, locating the areas that Hina visits isn’t terribly challenging: a brute-force approach in dropping in via something like Google Maps’ Street View and looking around is often enough to allow one to find the fishing spots and roads the Breakwater Club frequent. For instance, Hina can be seen biking across the bridge on route 56 here, heading southeast. This experience is augmented if one has a virtual reality headset: for me, ever since I picked up my complimentary Oculus Quest at F8 last year, I’ve been making extensive use of it to explore locations seen in anime, ranging from Yamanashi to Inao. The headset offers an unparalleled degree of immersion, and it feels like I’m actually standing in the location I’ve chosen to visit.

  • Tenguya’s owner recognises Hina from earlier and makes the perfect recommendation for her when she explains that she’s looking for bait to go sabiki fishing: a squeeze package of ready-to-use-bait, which also has the advantage of lasting longer because it’s sealed. While it’ll likely be more pricey than purchasing the raw ingredients, it’s a good choice for Hina, who probably doesn’t go fishing often enough to make full use of bait she prepares herself and is still adverse to getting her hands dirty.

  • Hina winds up fishing at a breakwater closer to her house: it’s near the Hakariishi Community Center, located about 1.1 kilometres away from Tenguya. Unlike her usual outings with the Breakwater Club, Hina is having no luck at all with her fishing: after loading her bait up and dropping the hook into the water, the fish approach and swim off almost immediately. The lone fish she does catch falls off, as well. Fortunately, Natsumi’s in the area, and she’s able to offer some advice.

  • As it turns out, Hina’s been using the wrong size of hook: the ones she’s got equipped are too large for the Horse Mackerel Fry, and what’s more, her fishing rod is too stiff, lacking the spring to pull in the fish. Natsumi thus decides to lend Hina her fishing rod, and in no time at all, Hina’s managed to catch a sizeable number of Horse Mackerel Fry. Realising the difference something as simple as swapping the hook sizes out, Hina wonders if she’s cut out for fishing, but Natsumi reassures her that this is quite normal, that every beginner learns the details over time with experience.

  • For Natsumi, the intricacies of fishing means that catching stuff also boils down to luck, and this is what makes it fun. Luck is, at least in my books, an event where a favourable outcome has a probability component (and correspondingly, skill is the ability to employ techniques or methods that increase the probability). While I’m less of a fan of luck-driven things, I yield that there is a certain thrill in it. Just yesterday, for instance, I watched the Calgary Flames return from a two goal deficit against the Dallas Stars. We ended up losing when Jamie Oleksiak put a goal away with forty seconds left, but it was gripping to see if the Flames might actually take the game back. Similarly, I went out early in the morning to check out the Perseids meteor shower, and while light pollution washed out most of the meteors, I ended up seeing five fireballs, which left an orange-white tail that lingered for a few seconds in the skies.

  • Compared to two decades ago, light pollution in my city has only increased, and even on a perfectly clear night, a bright white glow can be seen on the horizon. As such, with fainter meteors being washed out, it was very lucky that I saw those fireballs from the meteor shower. My copy of Harukana Receive‘s fifth manga volume also arrived yesterday, meaning that for the time being, I’m caught up with the series’ manga run. Back in Houkago Teibou Nisshi, despite her appearances, Natsumi is quite knowledgable, as well: Hina hopes to one day surprise Natsumi by reaching a similar level of competence. This brings my talk on Houkago Teibou Nisshi to an end – I will be returning in three weeks’ time to continue writing about this series, and the next two anime-related posts here will be for The Quintessential Quintuplets and The Rolling Girls.

Having now passed the halfway point of Houkago Teibou Nisshi, the anime’s shaping up to be a cathartic, if familiar one; the introduction of Sayaka Kotani evokes memories of Yuru Camp△‘s very own Minami Toba, who is similarly a beautiful and soft-spoken teacher concealing a penchant for drinking like a sailor. This archetype appears to be employed for comedy, and while an intoxicated teacher can break the calming, relaxing feel in their respective series, it also mixes things up – Yūki and Makoto have been the reliable seniors insofar, with their presence being reassuring to Hina, but when Sayaka appears, even those two are shaken up. This creates a richer characterisation of everyone in Houkago Teibou Nisshi, allowing more aspects of their personalities to be shown. Similarly, having a teacher with a motor vehicle also facilities for additional adventures: the Breakwater Club had previously biked or walked to local fishing areas, but as Hina becomes familiar with these, the story can drive her growth in new settings further away from home to create experiences memorable for both Hina and the viewers. As we enter the next quarter of Houkago Teibou Nisshi, I am quite excited to see what adventures await the Breakwater Club, as well as what marine life is on their list of things to catch and enjoy and perhaps, even see Hina become at least confident with seeing the entire process through to the end.

Houkago Teibou Nisshi: Eging, Episode Four Impressions and Returning to the Diary of Our Days at the Breakwater

“I’m forty percent back, baby!” –Bender Bending Rodriguez, Futurama

While the Breakwater Club clears away dinner after enjoying the flathead Hina had caught, Yūki convinces Hina to consider purchasing a jacket, which would allow her to participate in club activities regardless of the weather. The next day, the girls visit a fishing goods store, where Hina sees a hat she likes, but doesn’t have the funds to purchase both the hat and a jacket that catches her eye. Natsumi ends up gifting the hat to Hina. Excited to go fishing, Hina helps Natsumi and Yūki set up lures for eging (squid fishing) and then head to the breakwater once Makoto arrives. Natsumi teaches Hina how to move her lure in a convincing fashion, but loses her lure when it’s caught on something. Afternoon turns to evening, and ultimately, Makoto manages to catch a squid. As they reel it in, the squid sprays Hina with ink, and Makoto demonstrates how to swiftly kill the squid prior to consumption. Rather than disgusted, Hina feels it to be quite interesting to see how the squid changes colour, and partakes with the others in enjoying freshly-caught squid sashimi. Houkago Teibou Nisshi is now back, a full three months after the global health crisis and flooding in Japan delayed the series’ airing, and with the fourth episode in the books, this anime looks to be the perfect series to accompany a hot summer day and its blue skies.

Having now picked up a new jacket and hat, Hina is beginning to find herself more at home with Natsumi, Yūki and Makoto at the Breakwater Club. While the prospect of catching larger fish still intimidates her, Hina’s steadily acclimatising to the sights and sounds of picking up a fishing rod and preparing for a day on the breakwater. Her old hobbies also come in handy, allowing her to efficiently set up an egi (a prawn-shaped lure) for squid fishing, and with new gear, Hina’s become more enthusiastic about catching things. Similarly, after the shock of having to kill the flathead earlier, Hina’s also beginning to understand the importance of being decisive. After seeing Makoto kill the squid she’d caught, Hina comments that it’s a little sad, but also interesting to see the squid change colours on death. These subtle changes show that with time, Hina’s adjusting to the activities at the Breakwater Club, and as Houkago Teibou Nisshi continues, her old fears will likely be displaced by experience, as well as an attendant confidence. This sets the stage for Houkago Teibou Nisshi to explore different kinds of fishing and in doing so, provide a modicum of insight into the different sorts of things that can be caught in Japan.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I had originally been planning to wait until the sixth episode to write for Houkago Teibou Nisshi, but changed my mind because I wished to emphasise that no, I’d not forgotten about Hina and her entry into fishing. The fourth episode opens with Hina and Natsumi waiting in front of Sashiki station while Yūki lags behind. Sashiki Station is located along the Hisatsu Orange Railway line, which runs from Sendai Station in Kagoshima to Shin-Yatsushiro Station in Yatsushiro.

  • Here, the train passes by Umino-ura Station, located just shy of three kilometres north of Sashiki as the mole digs. As the train travels along the Hisatsu Orange line, Uminoura Bay can be seen in the distance. Having commented that Houkago Teibou Nisshi had a definitive summer vibe to it when the first three episodes aired, the turn of events means that I am going to end up watching this anime during the summer.

  • In order to buy a jacket, Hina’s asked for an advance on her allowance and is holding ten thousand yen (about 127.35 CAD at the time of writing). With this sum, Natsumi, Yūki and even Makoto joke that once Hina’s done, she ought to treat everyone to a spot of tea. However, my initial inclination was that Hina would like need a good portion of her money to buy her jacket: a women’s jacket goes for around 150-200 CAD depending on the brand and design at full price. Having a fishing jacket would allow Hina to fish in a greater variety of conditions, and this is probably why Yūki is so fond of her jacket.

  • Because Hina’s requirements for a jacket is that it has to be adorable, Natsumi suggests visiting the largest fishing supplies store in the area: the Yamamoto Fishing Gear Centre Main Store (山本釣具センター本店) in Kumamoto. Situated at 631-1 Honjomachi, Chuo Ward, the fishing store is located about sixty kilometres north of Sashiki. Ordinarily, such a distance could be covered within an hour by car, but I’d hazard a guess that the Breakwater Club would take the Hisatsu Orange line up to Yatsushiro Station and then transfer to the Kagoshima line. The store is located about 1.4 kilometres away from Kumamoto Station, which is where visitors would need to disembark.

  • Once inside the store, Hina is blown away by just how much stuff there is to take in. The excursion brings to mind the Outdoor Activities Club’s visit to Elk outdoor supplies in Yuru Camp△: both series share the commonality of a protagonist developing an interest for outdoor activities during its run, as well as a commitment to realism to the extent where curious viewers could explore the same places as seen in the anime. The real world Yamamoto Fishing Gear Centre has two floors of dedicated retail space for fishing supplies and equipment: the first floor deals primarily with rods, lures, tackles and other gear, while the second floor has clothing, jackets, hats and the like.

  • Houkago Teibou Nisshi is immaculate in its portrayal of real-world settings, and this was apparent even within the first three episodes that had aired back in April. It suddenly strikes me Sketchbook ~Full Colours~ is also set on Kyushū: located in Fukuoka, Sora and her Art Club lie about 140 kilometres to the north of the Breakwater Club. For me, this is about the distance between Calgary and Lake Louise, an iconic part of the Canadian Rockies: while I’m fond of visiting, in recent years, the crowd sizes have made it very difficult to find parking there. This year, it’s simply not a good idea to be out and about.

  • Initially, Hina is put off by many of the designs, but as it turns out, Yūki’s been looking at the mens’ wear. Natsumi frequently comments on how, despite Yūki can be immensely knowledgable on fishing-related clothing, has no sense of fashion. This brings to mind Yama no Susume‘s Kaede, who similarly loves shopping for outdoors wear but has a lack of interest for everyday clothing. Upon finding the women’s jackets, Hina finds a variety of jackets whose design appeals to her, but the price tag for some of the jackets far exceed what she can afford.

  • Makoto comments that a person of her stature would find it difficult to shop for a good jacket – Hina and Natsumi immediately jump to the conclusion that Makoto’s bust is the problem, but Makoto is referring to her height. This is one of the curses of being taller: finding clothing in one’s size can be tricky. I believe there are communities out there dedicated to cataloguing the woes that uncommonly tall, and uncommonly short people face, although it is always refreshing to see people talk about the flip-side of things: advantages that being tall or short confer.

  • Hina had intended to buy both a hat and a jacket on this particular excursion, but the prices preclude her from doing so. Even the more appealing jackets are pricey, but Hina later finds one that has a nice design and is on sale for half-off. While she’s torn, with guidance from Natsumi and the others, Hina decides to just buy the jacket owing to the discount and come back another time for the hat.

  • Hina is all smiles when she leaves the store, but the sharp-eyed viewer will see Natsumi making a purchase of her own. As it turns out, this purchase was the hat that Hina had liked. On the train back home, Natsumi accidentally lets slip that the hat was totally not a bribe in an attempt to keep Hina in the Breakwater Club. Such moments speak to the type of dynamics in Houkago Teibou Nisshi, and more strongly than before, I see parallels between Yama no Susume‘s Aoi Yukimura and Hina. Similarly, Hinata Kuraue bears resemblance to Natsumi in terms of personality.

  • The next day, Hina arrives at the Breakwater Club’s headquarters decked out in her new coat and hat, rearing to go. It turns out that squid is on the list today, and owing to their diet, they require a different type of bait to catch. These bait resemble giant prawns and so, are called egi: the act of using them as bait, then, was turned into the episode name, eging. While Natsumi feels that Yūki’s managed to gull her and Hina into preparing the bait yet again, Hina takes advantage of this time to familiarise herself with things and ends up preparing things more neatly than Natsumi.

  • Once Makoto arrives, it’s off to the breakwater for squid fishing. Besides the Breakwater Club, Makoto is also a member of the student council. It suddenly strikes me that because her glasses are always opaque, Makoto’s eyes are never seen. This is an artistic choice that I don’t often see in an anime, and I think the last time I saw an anime with a character sporting opaque eyewear, it was in Azumanga Daioh: Yomi’s glasses would switch between revealing her eyes and concealing them depending on her mood.

  • With everyone present and geared up, Houkago Teibou Nisshi feels like it’s properly returned now: it’s been 98 days since episode three. This marks the longest wait I’ve personally experienced between a third and fourth episode, but I have no objections to Doga Kobo’s decision to delay the series’ airing. With the global health crisis still a serious problem, personal safety is critical, and it is imperative that people do whatever they can to stay healthy.

  • Today marks the second day of the heat warning in my area, as the thermometer climbed to a peak of 29°C: it’s projected to remain quite warm over the upcoming week, and in my region, there’s a week or two each year where it’s hot. However, this year, we’ve not had any days where it’s been hotter than 30°C as of yet, and typically, there are at least a handful of such days every year. I am rather fond of nice weather like this, and while today was a workday, I couldn’t help but feel the laziness that accompanies a beautiful summer day.

  • The exchanges between Hina and Natsumi are no different than those of Aoi and Hinata from Yama no Susume: both are fond of making snide remarks about the other. When Natsumi provides instruction on how to move the lure in order to bait the squid, Hina remarks that she actually sounds competent. The dynamics between Hina and Natsumi are always fun to watch: despite her appearances, Hina’s actually pretty sharp-tongued.

  • Because squid fishing entails bringing the lure along the seafloor, it’s quite easy to get it hooked on something, mistake it for a squid and then inadvertently lose the entire lure. Yūki’s got a few spares on hand, two per person, so that means Natsumi is down to her last lure. It brings to mind a moment in Avengers: Endgame, when Scott Lang accidentally engages his suit and consumes a vial of Pym patricles in the process, bringing their number of test runs down to one. It’s been a little more than a year since I watched Endgame, and even now, the film is as engaging to watch as ever.

  • During this pandemic, I’ve admittedly been trying (with limited success) to make some headway in my movie and anime backlog: I’ve knocked out a few series and films so far, including Greyhound, which I will need to write about ahead of Hai-Furi: The Movie‘s home release. Back in Houkago Teibou Nisshi, evening begins to set in, and the Breakwater Club’s been unsuccessful at catching anything thus far. However, Makoto soon spots a squid and with unerring skill, catches it.

  • As its defense mechanism in the water, the squid discharges its ink, and Hina takes a direct hit. Fortunately, Hina’s new coat is waterproof and can be cleaned quite easily. In water, the ink creates a dark cloud that obscures visibility, allowing the squid to create a distraction and beat a hasty exit from danger. When discharged directly from a squid, the ink is composed of melanin and mucous. However, when extracted from the ink sac, the ink contains no mucous and therefore, is suited for culinary usage.

  • Squid do, in fact, lose their colour immediately after being killed: their skin possess pigment-containing sacs called chromatophores, which are under the control of muscles. When these muscles contract, the chromatophores cover a larger surface area, creating a darker colouration on the squid. Ordinarily, these allow the squid to alter its colour and blend into an environment more readily. When the squid is killed, neurological activity ceases, and the muscles relax, causing the chromatophores to dilute and resulting in the loss of colour. This is why calamari, cuttlefish and squid have a white colour when seen in a store.

  • Squid sashimi is on the menu, and as the girls dig in, they comment that deep fried squid would also be nice. This brings my talk, the internet’s first on Houkago Teibou Nisshi‘s fourth episode, to a close, and with it, this is going to be my last post of July: I have a few drafts in the works for some of the anime movies that I’ve seen, and would like to focus my full attention towards those posts. I am greatly looking forwards to watching the remainder of Houkago Teibou Nisshi as it airs, and will return to write about it next once we’ve reached the halfway point.

Houkago Teibou Nisshi may not be a novel anime by any stretch, but insofar, the series has been successful in portraying the nuances of fishing. Since Hina is a novice, this gives the series a chance to explain, though Natsumi, Yūki and Makoto, the techniques behind how to prepare lures, cast a line and swiftly kill a catch to maximise freshness. The educational piece adds realism to Hina’s experiences, which, when coupled with the anime’s solid, artwork, a fantastic soundtrack and an interesting cast of characters whose interactions are charming, creates a cathartic series that encourages viewers to enjoy the moment. Slice-of-life anime with an increased emphasis on the technical details behind a particular discipline need to strike a balance between depicting the activities with an appropriate level of detail and advancing character growth: series such as Yuru Camp△, Koisuru Asteroid and Yama no Susume are instances where this balance has been achieved, resulting in an anime that viewers found agreeable. After four episodes, Houkago Teibou Nisshi looks to be headed down the same route, and I’m confident that viewers, independently of their personal experience in fishing, will find this series to be a superb accompaniment through the remainder of this summer season.

Houkago Teibou Nisshi: Review and Reflections After Three, Intermission at the First Quarter

“Fishing is boring, unless you catch an actual fish, and then it is disgusting.” –Dave Barry

Hina’s parents are surprised to learn that she’s joined the Breakwater Club, but her father mentions that the club’s been around since his time as a student. The next day, Hina is exhausted by PE class and barely makes it to the Breakwater Club’s clubroom. Here, they find Yūki lounging around: it turns out there’s a pile of reels that need untangling, and Hina demonstrates proficiency at untangling them. Natsumi then helps Hina clean up the reels’ interior and get them ready for use. Makoto arrives, reprimands Yūki for having delegated a task to Hina and Natsumi when she should’ve done it herself, and the girls then head out to practise casting. Hina inadvertently hits Natsumi a few times too many, but with the proper implements and some tips from Yūki, she manages to get the gist of casting. The girls later begin to fish for flathead: Hina learns how to set up soft lures on a hook and the technique for moving the lure to attract larger fish. Despite her fear of larger fish, and reeling in detritus from the ocean floor, Hina persists, eventually catching an impressive flathead. Yūki sets the task of killing and cleaning the flathead to Hina, saying that one must see the entire process through. Hina’s fear gets the better of her, so Makoto ends up preparing the fish for dinner. Hina finds freshly-caught fish doubly delicious for the fact that she’d caught it herself, although she still faints when Makoto offers her the flathead’s head to enjoy. This is about as far as we’re going into Houkago Teibou Nisshi for the present: on account of the current world health crisis, production has been indefinitely suspended and will resume once the outbreak is contained.

Continuing on in Hina’s journey into the Breakwater Club and fishing, Houkago Teibou Nisshi establishes that the series is going to be more than just having a line in the water: the entire process of fishing, from learning the right technique for casting and properly maintaining one’s equipment, to the duty of killing and preparing a fish for consumption, will be portrayed. Houkago Teibou Nisshi thus begins to show the importance of experiencing something in its entirety in order to appreciate the things around us, and now that an overview of fishing has been presented, with other members of the Breakwater Club stepping in to help Hina out and illustrate the processes at a coarse granularity, it follows that as Houkago Teibou Nisshi continues, Hina will be eased into things more gently to ensure she both understands what she’s doing, as well as acclimatise to things that she might consider frightening. Over time, these experiences will doubtlessly help Hina in several areas, most notably, her fear of insects and her comparatively poor physical condition. Of course, it is still early to be determining what themes and messages Houkago Teibour Nisshi has in store for viewers, but if the first quarter is indicative of what’s upcoming, then viewers can be reasonably assured of a series whose message is about the importance of the journey, with Hina’s experiences in fishing at its core.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • So far, Houkago Teibou Nisshi has given the impression that every day is sunny and beautiful in Sashiki, but a glance at climate charts shows that it rains a bit here during the summer: on average, half the days are rainy in June and July, and a third of the days see rain in August. Before I continue, I note that I’ve opted to spell the series’ title out without a macron: while I typically use macrons for Hepburn romanisations, it also makes it more difficult for a search engine to index, and moreover, most romanisations of the series’ title gives things as -ou rather than -ō, so the former would make it easier for people to find my talks.

  • Hina attends Kumamoto Kenritsu Ashikita High School, which is located 1.2 kilometres from Sashiki Station and a short six-minute walk from the Sashiki River. It’s the start of a new school year now, and in April, the Sashiki area gets around 10 days of rain: the Sashiki area is far wetter than anything I have back home, and their April remains wetter than the rainiest month where I am. Because Hina is starting a new year, I am aware that Houkago Teibou Nisshi opens in the spring, but the atmospherics in the anime feel more summer-like even now.

  • After an exhausting PE class, Hina looks forwards to lunch, and swaps out one of her fried horse mackerel fry for one of Natsumi’s namero, a seafood dish made of fish pounded into a disk shape and marinated with a combination of ginger and vinegar, then seared over a pan with spices and miso. Its unique combination of ingredients combine natural antiseptics together to keep the dish safe for eating, since namero was a fisherman’s food. Natsumi is enjoying the sanga-yaki version here, which is deep fried and allows the namero to keep its shape better.

  • After the days’ classes come to an end, Hina and Natsumi take a bit of a bike ride to reach the Breakwater Club’s building, a small shack located a ways from the school. They find Yūki lazing about without any inclination to do anything. As it turns out, she’s got a pile of tangled reels that are nigh-unusable. Demonstrating her talents for anything relate to strings, Hina wastes no time in getting things untangled. However, there are some reels that seem even beyond her skill.

  • Fortunately, Natsumi is on hand: she knows that the reels can be opened to pull the spool out, and this allows Hina to untangle the remainder. Besides this, Natsumi also oils up the components to ensure the reels can play their wire out smoothly. Before long, the reels are in excellent condition, ready to be used for fishing, and here, Makoto shows up. It turns out that these reels actually all belong to Yūki, who was too lazy to sort out her own gear.

  • As it turns out, Yūki is fond of abusing her seniority and in the previous year, had gulled Makoto into untangling and maintaining her gear. Despite her gentle disposition and voice, Makoto can be intimidating when the situation demands it. Houkago Teibou Nisshi seamlessly integrates comedic visual effects, such as Yūki taking on the features of a fox caught red-handed in the midst of wrong doing, which accentuates the sense that this anime is meant to be relaxing.

  • Hina ends up with a fishing rod of her own, and the girls thus decide to go give Hina a crash-course in casting a line. A sign in the clubroom refrigerator reads “Eat what you catch”, which seems to be the core tenant of the Breakwater Club. Hina’s poor fitness leave her lacking the confidence to fish well, and so, one of the routes that Houkago Teibou Nisshi will take is the gradual changes to Hina’s physical ability as she spends more times doing outdoor activities.

  • Makoto is an expert with fishing and knows the techniques well, but like Koisuru Asteroid‘s Ao, does not have the same ability to convey this knowledge in an accessible manner for beginners. Her instructions for Hina are highly complicated; they appear better suited for someone who’s got some experience with fishing, know the terminology and theory and are looking to improve her technique.

  • The Breakwater Club’s facilities are located near the Tsurugiyamashuraku Community Centre: the building’s distinct red roof can be seen here, and looking around the area, it looks like the Breakwater Clubs’ club building is a derelict shack in real life with boarded-up windows. This is the closest I can bring readers using Google Street View, which shows the breakwater as it appears from the road, but a 360 photo allows readers to gain a sense of what standing on the breakwater feels like and shows the statue that Natsumi takes cover behind is, in fact, real. With the process I described in the opening post to Houkago Teibou Nisshi (which was, incidentally, taken from here and posted to a 4ch without credit), visitors should have a pretty straightforwards time in finding this spot.

  • By a combination of bad luck and worse technique, Hina somehow manages to get the hook caught on Natsumi’s skirt, bringing to mind a hilarious, if cruel moment from Yama no Susume where Hinata pulls down Aoi’s skirt by mistake after tripping. While the comparisons to Yama no Susume make it sound like Houkago Teibou Nisshi is a retreating of Yama no Susume with fishing, the reality is that the dynamic between Hina and Natsumi are rather different compared to Aoi and Hinata.

  • By comparison, Yūki’s explanation is much more accessible: dispensing with the specialised terminology, she takes a more direct route in explaining what Hina should be doing in her technique and introduces a shortcut for Hina to remember; since the fishing rod itself is flexible, a large arm motion is not needed to propel the line out far, and it’s more of a snapping motion. In this way, Yūki is Houkago Teibou Nisshi‘s Mira, able to take a technique and complex procedure and reduce it to simpler terms that Hina can get.

  • Once Hina gets the technique down, it’s a matter of aiming properly: her casting still somehow manages to find Natsumi even when the latter takes cover behind a small statue on the breakwater. Yūki’s reaction mirrors that of the viewer’s, but eventually devises a solution. By using a float, she plans to give Hina something to aim towards and decides to draw Natsumi’s likeness on it to play on the fact that Hina’s uncannily accurate about hitting Natsumi.

  • After Hina gets the hang of things, Natsumi decides to join in as well, and remarks that whenever fishing, she enjoys catching larger fish. By comparison, Hina is apprehensive about catching larger fish for fear of getting pulled into the water. Natsumi demonstrates her casting technique, and here, the Tsurugiyamashuraku Community Centre is visible in the background. A quick bit of Google-fu shows that Kumamoto Kenritsu Ashikita High School is about 5.6 kilometres from the Breakwater Club’s building, and I do not doubt that once the restrictions are lifted, fans of Houkago Teibou Nisshi will likely show up to the site, as they did for Yuru Camp△‘s Motosu High School, although whether or not this will convince the town turn the shack into a tourist attraction as Motosu High School did will remain to be seen.

  • After an afternoon spent practising casting, the sun begins to set, and it’s time to call it a day. Natsumi manages to catch a sea bass but promptly loses it after the fish slips off her hook: when Hina begins to express worry about large fish, Makoto’s mind goes into overdrive. She’s evidently fond of the Breakwater Club and desires for Hina to stay, so outside of her thoughts, she does her best to reassure Hina that it was probably a smaller, but energetic sea bass.

  • The girls decide that their next target will be catching Platycephalidae, a family of fish better known by their common name, flathead. However, when asked to produce a picture of one, Natsumi shows an image of a frilled shark instead as retaliation for smashing her repeatedly with the lure earlier. While aquatic life can appear frightening, for me, the most intimidating are Eunice aphroditois and any jawless fish of the order Petromyzontiformes – everything else looks pretty cool.

  • The next day, the Breakwater Club grabs all of the gear they need to go fishing for flathead. Flatheads broadly refer to a family of fish with distinct heads that spend most of their time on the seafloor in the sand, and while they can reach sizes of up to three metres, are more commonly 40-50 cm in length. Because of their preferred habitat, the Breakwater Club must go a ways away from their usual fishing spot to catch them: in order to transport their gear more easily, Yūki’s procured a pull-cart.

  • It suddenly strikes me that Makoto looks a great deal like my character in The Division 2: until recently, I ran with a full riot police outfit, but thanks to unlocking new high-end cosmetics, a special Division ball cap and emergency services glasses, I can definitely rock the Makoto Ōno look. Like my The Division 2 character, Makoto is in excellent physical condition and operates the fully-loaded pull-cart with ease, as well as effortlessly picking up Hina and Natsumi for transport.

  • With their gear loaded up properly, everyone is ready to roll and head towards their fishing site. The girls, save Natsumi, all wear hats to block out the sun: given how much time everyone spends outdoors, a good hat for providing shade is essential. One wonders if why Natsumi forgoes a hat might be covered in a later episode. As Houkago Teibou Nisshi progresses, the soundtrack continues to impress, and I’m more excited than ever to hear the wonderful music of this series. So far, there’s no news of the soundtrack, though.

  • The site that Yūki’s chosen to go fishing for flatheads is Tsurugahama Beach, located 1.1 kilometres north of their usual fishing grounds: it’s just south of the Kumamoto Prefectural Ashikita Youth Centre, which can be seen on the upper left-hand-side of the screenshot, and there is indeed a breakwater here. Tsurugahama Beach is a popular spot amongst locals, who love the sights and sounds: some locals count it as the best beach in all of Kyushu, citing its crystal clear waters as one of the best aspects about this beach.

  • Before she can begin fishing for flatheads, first, Hina must prepare her lures. This time, they’re using decoys as bait: these decoys are slid over the hook to mimic a real fish that will attract the flatheads. Like Koisuru AsteroidYuru Camp△ and Yama no SusumeHoukago Teibou Nisshi goes through the trouble of ensuring that the details are correct: just as any backyard astronomer will smile at the fact that Koisuru Asteroid knows its stuff about telescope setup, how Yuru Camp△ properly explains how to start a fire for campers and how Yama no Susume covers the proper technique for descending a trail, Houkago Teibou Nisshi is sufficiently well-researched so that for any viewer who fishes, they won’t be wincing in horror at missed details.

  • With some tutelage from Yūki, Hina learns how to move her fishing rod in such a way as to replicate the movements of a live fish, and also “see” where her lure is at it skims the bottom. Her technique gradually improves over the course of the afternoon, and one might say that Hina does have a natural disposition towards fishing despite her outward appearance: when Hina begins to pout at collecting yet more driftwood and seaweed, Yūki observes that Hina’s the type of person who is results-oriented.

  • After spending much of the afternoon pulling out seaweed and driftwood, Hina gets a bite on her line, and the prize is a lively one. Yūki immediately suggests that Hina pull the rod in and hold onto it firmly, then reel the flathead in at a steady pace. This is to mimic the movement of a smaller fish and ensure that the catch does not catch on to the fact it’s being pulled in (otherwise, it will let go of the line).

  • From a combination of her low physical strength and the fact that her technique isn’t all there yet, Hina immediately loses sight of Yūki’s suggestions and finds herself pulled out into the water. This is probably the tensest it’s been in all of Houkao Teibou Nisshi, and even in the most calming slice-of-life series, excitement and suspense from watching the characters and hoping for their best is something that gives the genre additional life.

  • The ferocity of the flathead is such that Hina is nearly pulled off the breakwater and into the water. Swift action from Makoto prevents this from happening, and in the aftermath, the flathead is reeled in. As Yūki mentions, Hina does seem to have a bit of luck in catching fish: Makoto, Natsumi and Yūki were not able to catch anything. Whereas Yūki prefers to stay in one spot, Natsumi and Makoto try moving around. According to fishing guides, whether one should move or stay put is dependent on several factors, such as tidal movement and fish feeding patterns.

  • Upon reeling the fish in, Hina bursts into tears while the others look on, and the sight of a crying Hina is so endearing that Yūki and Natsumi cannot help but laugh. In my last post on Houkago Teibou Nisshi, a reader wondered if I felt the series had any of the moé aesthetic common to the shows that I watch, and it looks like here, I’ve gotten my answer for them – Houkago Teibou Nisshi is definitely of the same category as something like Yama no Susume and Yuru Camp△, and Hina evokes the same feeling as does Yama no Susume‘s Aoi Yukimura.

  • Yūki raises the point that since Hina caught the fish, she must see things through to the end and kill the fish, as well. This moment, and Hina’s reluctance, lends itself to the chosen page quote. The Japanese have a technique, ikejime (活け締め), that minimises pain for the fish and preserves the quality of the meat: by inserting a knife blade into the hindbrain, behind and above the eye, severs the brain and connection to the spinal cord, preventing the fish from reflexively convulsing, which produces lactic acid and ammonia. This technique has since become more widespread, since it is both more humane for the fish and ensures the fish’s quality: as Yūki mentions, a swift and decisive cut is needed, and the fish will continue to suffer until the deed is done.

  • After the initial shock of killing the fish wears off, Hina enjoys the freshly-prepared flathead: Makoto’s prepared it both as sashimi and fried it. There really is nothing like fresh fish, but for folks like myself, who reside a thousand kilometres from the nearest ocean, I’ll do with the fish that one can pick up from the supermarket. Even then, with the proper preparation, fish is delicious, and one of my favourite dishes is the crab-topped salmon bake, which requires crab meat, mayonnaise, parmesan cheese and lemon juice. Most recipes recommend imitation crab meat, but real crab meat results in a tastier final result. After mixing together the latter and then evenly spreading it on top of the salmon, the entire thing is baked at 350ºF for around 25-30 minutes. The resultant dish is delicious, being hearty and zesty at the same time.

  • As a reward for catching the fish, Makoto offers Hina the fish head, which was made into a flavourful soup, but at the sight of the head, Hina faints. While it’s easy to pass this off as comedic, the scene also shows just how green Hina is to aquatic life, and there remains a considerable distance before she’ll be more comfortable with fishing as a whole. This is going to be the remainder of Houkago Teibou Nisshi, which I am looking greatly forwards to once the series continues airing. With this post in the books, I have a special topics post on Koisuru Asteroid upcoming as the one-month mark passes on the finale’s airing, as well as one final talk on KonoSuba: I will be dealing with the second OVA before finally advancing into the movie.

A quarter of the way into Houkago Teibou Nisshi, it becomes apparent that this the season’s premiere anime for relaxing: with its laid-back portrayal of the nuances of fishing, beautiful scenery and a wonderful soundtrack, Houkago Teibou Nisshi excels in helping viewers to slow down and smell the roses: it’s a story of self-discovery and also helps viewers to appreciate the sort of work that professional fishermen do. While fishing is a pastime for some, for most, our seafood is caught at a commercial scale by professionals, and for the most part, all that we need to do is prepare the fish in a manner of our choosing. As such, Houkago Teibou Nisshi reminds viewers that behind every fish is a story, where appreciation of this story helps us to become closer with the foods that we enjoy. This is about as far as I can go with Houkago Teibou Nisshi for the present – the series is on hiatus until the current pandemic begins to recede, and for now, it’ll be a waiting game. The delay of anime is the latest instance of just how far-reaching and damaging the coronavirus outbreak has been, and in times like these, adhering to recommendations from health experts and maintaining physical distance is advised if one seeks a swifter return to normalcy. I will be returning to talk about Houkago Teibou Nisshi in all my usual fervour once the time is appropriate to do so, and in the meantime, I hope that my readers are keeping healthy and safe.