The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Noa Himesaka

You Never Let Us Down: Watashi ni Tenshi ga Maiorita! OVA Review and Reflection

“If your actions were to boomerang back on you instantly, would you still act the same?” –Alexandra Katehakis

When summer vacation arrives, Miyako reluctantly accompanies Hinata, Hana, Noa and her mother, Chizuru, out to the countryside for a camping trip by the lake. Despite Miyako’s objections, she eventually dons a swimsuit and enters the water to join the others. As the day draws to a close, Miyako ends up helping her mother to set up the tent and begins preparing dinner, before sitting down to make s’mores with the others. When night falls, a strange noise in the bush shocks the group: they find that it’s none other than Kōko, who was originally set to join them but got lost along the way. Kōko recalls her rather one-sided friendship with Miyako, and during Halloween, while Miyako becomes excited to see what costume Hana will wear, Kōko and Yū both appear: it turns out that Kōko’s been itching to have Miyako model her latest creation, and has even managed to convince Yū to help her in persuading Miyako to give things ago. When Hinata, Noa, Kanon and Koyori show up in costume, Miyako is thrilled with how adorable everyone looks. However, Hana is late, and she’s defined expectations by showing up in a rather grotesque costume. Miyako later recalls meeting Hinata after the latter had been born, and how quickly they bonded. With this, I’ve crossed the finish line for Wataten!‘s OVA, which was released with the BDs a few months after the series had concluded back in 2019. Although Wataten!‘s initial premise had raised more than a few eyebrows, the series would come to present an endearing story about how the right influences and experiences can push individuals out of their comfort zone and also temper some aspects of one’s personality so that they may better present themselves and their feelings towards others. In Wataten!, Miyako’s effort to pursue Hana ultimately leads her to lend her own skills and hobbies towards others beyond Hinata, whom she dotes on, and in doing so, Miyako becomes better-adjusted as a result. Wataten! originally left with Hana expressing that, while she’s still occasionally put off by Miyako’s actions, getting to know her better had shown Hana that Miyako’s intentions are genuine, and not something to trivially cast aside.

Wataten!‘s OVA is contingent on viewers having already seen the original televised run: there’s four distinct vignettes weaved together to give viewers a collection of stories that show how Miyako’s changed since Wataten!‘s beginning. It is plain that for Hinata, Miyako is willing to do most anything, and so, when Hinata expresses a desire for Miyako to get out more and experience life more fully, Miyako accompanies Hinata, only to find herself enjoying things more than she’d expected. However, there is another aspect that drives Miyako’s growth: she eventually meets Kōko properly and finds herself shocked at how Kōko views their friendship. From an external observer’s point of view, Kōko regards Miyako the same way Miyako originally sees Hana, going to great (even unhealthy) lengths to win their object of affection over. From the story’s standpoint, Kōko fulfils a very important role. By making Miyako uncomfortable, Kōko is able to show Miyako how difficult she’s making things for Hana. Realising this is what leads Miyako to dial back her emotion: although she still loves Hana very much, Miyako slowly begins to master her impulses so that she’s not frightening Hana away at every turn. Of course, what would really be valuable is if Miyako could express this towards Kōko, as well: like Miyako, Kōko is well-meaning and skillful in her own right, but common sense seems to be defeated by infatuation wherever Miyako is concerned. However, Kōko’s behaviours are not fixed in stone: Wataten! has shown how over time, characters will change for the better as a result of their shared experiences, and consequently, it is not inconceivable that even Kōko could learn to reign things back some to build a more meaningful friendship with Miyako, of the sort that she dreams of in her mind’s eye. Wataten!‘s flawed but loveable characters forms a majority of the series’ charm, making this journey of development particularly enjoyable, and because everyone is distinctly human, this corresponds to the possibility for further stories to be told. This fact is not lost on the writers: a film, Wataten!: Precious Friends will premiere in Japanese cinema later this year to advance things further.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Because there is a Wataten! movie, I determined that while I’ve got the opportunity now, I should wrap up my journey here before the film releases; I typically leave some time between finishing a series and the OVAs so I can return to them with a fresh set of eyes and determine whether or not the OVA is successful in capturing the same feeling the anime conveyed. The main drawback about my approach is that I have a tendency to procrastinate, and one risk about this is that I’d only realise I’d have an OVA to watch once the movie actually screens.

  • For Wataten!, the only thing I know of the release date is that it’s somewhere in the autumn, and given how anime films release, overseas viewers usually have an eight to eleven month long wait. As such, I’ll probably get to writing about the movie next September or so. Although I initially passed over Wataten! as a result of my schedule and struggled to regain my motivation in watching this series, I ended up doing so earlier this year. For my troubles, I was met with a series that proved surprisingly heartwarming and amusing despite its initial impressions.

  • Having said this, Wataten! getting a movie came as a bit of a surprise for me: the TV series had ended on an excellent note, and this OVA acts as an encore of sorts. From a thematic perspective, Wataten! had done a thorough job of portraying Miyako’s growth: she starts as someone who exudes questionable tones but, as a consequence of being open to new experiences, slowly acclimatises to interacting with others. The anime closed with Hana remarking that, while she still finds Miyako a little dubious at times, seeing her try so hard to be her best self has convinced Hana that they can be friends nonetheless.

  • Although she’d not brought a swimsuit and was intending on doing some photography, Noa and Chizuru both planned ahead: it turns out that Kōko has Miyako’s measurements on hand (and now that I think about it, Kōko feels like she’s into Miyako to a much greater extent than any of the stunts Miyako herself had pulled when trying to persuade Hana to cosplay), and both Noa and Chizuru had anticipated some resistance from Miyako, so they’d bought a swimsuit for her using this knowledge and even prepared a waterproof case for her camera.

  • The camping trip in the Wataten! OVA would suggest that while Miyako is more receptive towards hanging out than she had been previously, it still takes a nontrivial amount of effort to get her to do so. Hinata is particularly versed at coercing Miyako into doing things, and in retrospect, this is no similar than Miyako attempting to win Hana over with sweets. The joke here, then, is that despite being quite a ways older than Hinata and the others, Miyako is still child-like in some ways.

  • Back in Wataten!‘s OVA, Miyako ends up being dragged into the water, where she finally relents and joins the others. This outcome speaks to how everything can seem more imposing than it is, but once gets over that initial hurdle, it becomes easier to continue. For Miyako, now that she’s actually in the water, she’s able to relax a little and live in the moment, joining Hinata, Hana, and Noa in enjoying the lake water. The same holds true in reality; once the inertia of starting something is overcome, one will typically find it easier to get into things, whether it’s a new project or anime.

  • This particular camping site is located in a generic location: Wataten! is a series where the focus is on the characters, rather than the characters and their surroundings. In series that allow it, location hunts are an immensely enjoyable activity, allowing me to explore a setting and feel as though the events of a given work could’ve really happened. Conversely, in series that are set “somewhere in Japan”, the message I draw is that the characters are the sole stars in the show, and that the events of that story could happen anywhere and still succeed in conveying its themes.

  • As a safety measure, everyone’s donned life jackets to ensure they don’t sink in the lake: unlike beaches seen in other series, there are no lifeguards around, but fortunately, Hinata, Noa and Hana are well-behaved and keep close to shore. In this way, what started out as something she was disinterested in becomes a morning of bliss for Miyako, and in the OVA, it does feel as though the effort needed to persuade Miyako to participate was much less than what it’d been when Wataten! first started.

  • I first had their poutine when I was doing my open studies term. I vividly recall watching Tamayura ~More Aggressive~’s finale during a lunch break during mid-Autumn, and in fact,  The Fried Chicken Poutine is one of the simpler poutines on the list of poutines I’ve tried, but Waffles n’ Chix delivers such a good poutine that, when food trucks began regularly appearing on campus, I made it a point to have lunch there at least once a year. After entering graduate school, I remember enjoying this poutine again after a getting Unreal Engine set up for my thesis work, and again when I finished watching Gakkō Gurashi. According to the blog archives, they used to add a dash of maple syrup to their poutines, and while this practise stopped in 2015, their poutine remains top-tier, the perfect fuel for a busy, and productive day.

  • Back in Wataten!‘s OVA, while Hinata, Hana and Noa get dinner set up, Miyako and Chizuru pitch the tent before joining the others for dinner. Barbeque is a popular activity in Japan during summers, although anime portray skewers and thinner cuts of meat as being popular, whereas over here in Canada, barbeque means burgers, hot dogs, wings and whole steaks. I’m moderately competent with cooking, but grilling is an area I’d love to get into: there’s something immensely satisfying about the sizzle of meat on a fire, likely a consequence of our evolutionary origins.

  • It takes Chizuru a bit to light the coals, bringing to mind a similar moment from Yuru Camp△ when Rin struggled to get her binchotan fire going. While the others become worried after the third attempt, it turns out there’d been some fire starter floating around that greatly accelerates the process, and finally, the fire’s hot enough to cook on. Having watched Survivorman for as long as I have, in the absence of any additional fire-starting material like paper, my first inclination would be to gather dried leaves, punky wood, small twigs or pinecones to start the fire, and then add larger twigs or small branches to keep the fire going.

  • One returning joke from Wataten! is Hana’s propensity to butcher even the most basic of meal-prep: the slice of meat she lays on the grill crumples and falls through the grating into the fire, being burnt to a crisp in the process. Worried Hana will burn up their stockpile, Noa offers to lay the meat on the grill. Being bad with food has long been employed as a comedic device, there is a biological basis behind clumsiness: opposing dominance between one’s hands and eyes create a delay in spatial-visual perception, resulting in errors in coordination that manifest as clumsiness.

  • The TV series had presented Chizuru as being a little intimidating (she once tied Miyako to the ceiling for having spoiled the girls’ appetites), but as the anime continued, it becomes clear that she loves her children very much. Now that I think about it, Chizuru somewhat resembles OreGairu‘s Shizuka in appearance, and here, she introduces Hana, Hinata and Noa to the idea of toasting marshmallows over an open fire. This is a longstanding camping tradition that’s seen in virtually every portrayal of camping on television and in film; recalling this piqued my curiosity, and I found myself wondering how marshmallows came to be an indispensable part of camping.

  • As it turns out, marshmallows were originally intended as a medical supplement, with sap from the Marsh Mallow (Althaea officinalis) plant being mixed with white meringue and rose water to form a candy that could help soothe the throat and boost immune response. Because Marsh Mallow sap is difficult to gather, in the 1900s, confectioners eventually replaced the sap with corn syrup and gelatin, forming today’s marshmallows, and although the origins of marshmallow roasting is lost to time, it is thought to have coincided with when s’mores became popular. After Hana’s luck runs out when she overcooks her marshmallow on one side, causing it to fall off the stick, Chizuru gives Hana an alternative recipe that is less likely to fall.

  • The addition of a roasted marshmallow to crackers produces a ‘smore, and Hana digs in. Watching Hana eat has always been adorable: I liken it to watching rabbits eat, something that I also find immensely cathartic. From what I’ve read, adorable things resemble children and activate the brain’s amygdala, triggering a release of oxytocin, which helps defeat stress. The reason why this is hardwired into people is to promote looking after offspring, and moé anime have made a science of this: such series elicit the same sense of warmth as one might experience when watching videos of small animals.

  • When night falls, Chizuru falls asleep immediately, and the bushes suddenly begin rustling. Since this is Wataten! and not a horror flick, it turns out the source of this commotion is none other than Kōko, who was apparently invited along with everyone but got lost in the process. The OVA subsequently transitions to a flashback of what Kōko makes of her friendship with Miyako: even back in high school, Miyako had been introverted and stoic, but Kōko saw this as Miyako having an aloofness about her that made her particularly appealing. However, Kōko struggled to break the ice, and settled for following Miyako around.

  • The transition over to Halloween is smooth: one of the things I particularly liked about the Wataten! OVA is how the transitions between the vignettes were handled. After realising it’s Kōko who’d been given them a scare, the OVA portrays Kōko’s perception of her relationship with Miyako, and this ends with a scene of Kōko walking past Miyako’s house with Yū. In the present, the story returns to Miyako, who’s positively aglow with excitement at the thought of seeing Hana in a Halloween costume.

  • When the doorbell rings, however, it’s Yū and Kōko who show up. Yū was a very welcome part of Wataten! despite having made only a few appearances: she’s even younger than Hinata, Noa and Hana, and befitting of a child, brings with her an adorable aura that adds to Wataten!‘s already cuddly and warm atmosphere. It turns out Kōko’s brought Yū along as a secret weapon of sorts: there’s a cosplay she’d been wanting Miyako to model, and figured this would be the best way to convince Miyako without going to further measures.

  • Kōko herself is dressed as Wendy from Where’s Waldo: created in 1986 by Martin Handford at the behest of David Bennett, Where’s Waldo features intricate drawings that require players to locate the iconic character. Earlier iterations just featured Wally (Waldo in North America), but later books would feature lookalikes and additional characters to find. Over the years, Where’s Waldo challenges have become progressively difficult, and here in Wataten!, I imagine that this would be the easiest game of Where’s Waldo anyone would have the opportunity to play.

  • Thanks to Yū, Miyako reluctantly agrees to wear the costume that Kōko’s made for her. It’s a perfect fit, and also indicates to viewers that while Miyako wears a tracksuit which conceals her figure, she’s technically no slouch in appearances: it’s commented that if Miyako were to spend a little more time tending to her own appearances as she does on her cosplay and cooking, and go out more often, she’d probably turn a few heads, although her reaction suggests that she’s unlikely to be fond of this outcome.

  • Miyako’s look of mortification says it all; for me, more so than Hana’s initial cold attitudes towards Miyako, it’s Kōko that evokes the strongest change in Miyako. While Kōko is very overbearing and even resembles a yandere at times (albeit without the violent tendencies), when the chips are down, she genuinely looks up to Miyako and has stepped up to help Miyako out previously. Assuming one could accept that Kōko’s tendencies are probably here to stay, Kōko is a good person to have in one’s corner. With her desire to see Miyako wearing her outfit satisfied, Kōko and Yū take off, giving Miyako time to change back into her usual outfit.

  • Later, Hinata arrives along with Noa, Kanon and Koyori. In a turn of events, everyone’s dressed up precisely as Miyako had envisioned in her mind’s eye (with the key difference that Miyako had imagined Hana wearing all of the outfits). Halloween has always been a fun time to dress up and get candy: this tradition is one that I grew up with, and as a child, I went as a wizard. Once I hit secondary school, I kitted myself out in an old karate gi and went as a white belt for the in-school costume event. In university, I picked up a basic Stormtrooper costume, although I’ve never bought a blaster to go with said costume.

  • Trick-or-treating used to be quite popular in my old neighbourhood, but as the demographic aged, we’d received fewer and fewer visitors, until the global health crisis hit and we sat the event out. Having now moved, I’m not too sure how trick-or-treating works now that I’m not in a detached house. However, old traditions, namely watching both It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and Garfield’s Halloween Adventure, have endured. Regardless of whether the HOA’s rules allow for trick-or-treat or not, I do plan on picking up some KitKats (my go-to Halloween candy) and watching my favourite Halloween specials.

  • The joke’s on Miyako, who’s noticed that Hana’s late: the observant viewer will have noticed that including Miyako herself, all of the costumes that she’d imagined have now been shown, so whatever Hana’s brought to the table will be something else. The humour in this scene comes from the fact that viewers will be well aware of the fact that Miyako is expecting something adorable, but Hana will almost certainly defy expectations in some way. This comes to pass as soon as Hana shows up: while Hana herself may have captured Miyako’s heart, her definition of cute stands in stark contrast with the norm.

  • Viewers are thus left to take in the situation, and Wakaten!‘s OVA switches over to its final vignette, a flashback to how Miyako became close to Hinata. Even before Hinata was born, Miyako had been most excited to finally meet her younger sister: she’s holding a stuffed penguin in anticipation, and it’s clear that Miyako has probably asked Chizuru on how to properly hold a baby: the cradle hold is one of the easiest positions for infants, with one hand supporting the baby’s head and neck, and then the other hand supports the baby’s bottom to create a cradle of sorts.

  • From the very moment Miyako meets Hinata, she begins to realise that she’s important to Hinata: although Hinata had suddenly begun to cry, seeing Miyako soothes her, and she suddenly begins smiling. This is a sign that the sisters are closer than Miyako realises here; in this moment, Hinata’s smile is more of a reflexive smile, a response to a comforting situation, but a baby’s smile is still precious, and Miyako is immediately filled with joy to be holding Hinata. From this moment on, the sisters are as close as can be, bringing to mind the likes of K-On!‘s Yui and Ui, and GochiUsa‘s Mocha and Cocoa.

  • With this last vignette, the Wataten! OVA draws to a close, and I’m left in a position where I’m as caught up as can be for Wataten!. I don’t mind admitting that while Wataten! had been on my radar since I read the season previews back in 2019, my own doubts about the series after one episode and the fact that my schedule at the time had been quite overwhelming, so Wataten! ended up falling off my watchlist. I am glad to have picked the series up again; time and time again, I’ve found that whether they’re series on my own list, or from recommendations, I tend to enjoy most of the anime that I watch to completion.

  • Of late, I’ve finally begun my journey into Konobi (Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru! or This Art Club Has A Problem!, not to be confused with the currently-airing Kenobi): I started Konobi on recommendations from one of my readers, and although I can’t quite place when I received the recommendation, at the very least, I’m watching the show now. I’ll reserve my final thoughts on Konobi once I finish, but I can say that I’m thoroughly enjoying this series and will be writing about it in full once I cross the finish line. In other news, Battlefield 2042‘s finally got an update: titled “Zero Hour”, it will see the addition of a new map that I’m excited to try out.

  • Overall, I enjoyed Wataten!‘s OVA: this addition to the series doesn’t extend the thematic elements explored in the TV series, but instead, represents a chance to simply see the characters again before the film releases. Seeing how close Miyako and Hinata were ends up being a fitting way to enter the movie, and while I’ve no idea what the film will entail, experience suggests that Precious Friends will likely scale things up in Wataten! for the silver screen similarly to how Kiniro Mosaic: Thank You!! had. Time will tell where Wataten! goes with its movie, and while the release date is a ways off for us overseas viewers, I will aim to write about Precious Friends once it’s available.

While Wataten!‘s first episode may have started things on a rough footing for viewers, folks with the patience and maturity to continue the series would ultimately find it to be a heartwarming tale of how love pushes people to be their best selves. That a film is in production speaks to Wataten!‘s staying power: not every anime series will receive a theatrical adaptation, so the fact that Wataten! is getting a movie means that reception to the series in Japan has been positive. There’s hardly any controversy surrounding Wataten! in Japan, standing in sharp contrast with some reception of the series at some North American anime news outlets. Cultural differences are not responsible for this gap; Wataten! deals with how people handle and respond to falling in love, and while different cultures may approach things differently, the process is one that people can universally relate to. As such, if Wataten! had indeed been a sub-par portrayal of these topics, its reception in Japan would have been sufficiently poor so that no movie project would have been approved. The existence of a movie similarly speaks to the fact that this series was well-received in Japan, and moreover, viewers overseas have also spotted Wataten!‘s merits and joys. Because there is a movie, the conclusion is simple enough; reception to Wataten! is positive, and the initial flaws (largely a consequence of Miyako being completely unfamiliar with social convention) are swiftly overshadowed by what the series does well in its portrayal of how meeting Hana acts as a catalyst for Miyako to better herself and become more socially apt. Since Wataten! had been a story of showing how Miyako’s experiences become the agent for her growth, one wonders what would await viewers in Precious Friends. Without much more known about what the film will cover, one can reasonably surmise it’ll be a heartwarming and humourous story; I’m certainly excited to see what’s on the horizon. Given the film is estimated to hit Japanese cinema in the fall of this year, I estimate that overseas viewers, like myself, will have the chance to watch Precious Friends once the spring or summer of next year arrives.

Watashi ni Tenshi ga Maiorita!: Whole-series Review and Reflection

“If I got rid of my dæmons, I’d lose my angels.” –Tennessee Williams

When her younger sister, Hinata, invites a friend, Hana Shirozaki over to visit, Miyako Hoshino finds herself drawn to Hana’s adorable appearance and desires to have Hana cosplay. Although Hana initially finds Miyako off-putting, she quickly learns that Miyako is a skilful cook and makes food quite unlike anyone else, leading her to reluctantly play along with Miyako’s whims in exchange for sweets. Over time, Hinata befriends Noa Himesaka, who moves in next door, as well as the class representatives Koyori Tanemura and Kanon Konomori; they end up meeting Miyako, as well, and although Hinata’s admiration of Miyako has resulted in the whole of her class viewing Miyako as infallible, Koyori and Kanon come to realise that the real Miyako, whose crippling shyness leaves her inept with speaking with people she’s unfamiliar with, is as every bit as pleasant as Hinata describes. Later, Hana and Noa are both surprised that Miyako has other friends: Kōko Matsumoto had gone to the same school as Miyako and greatly admired her skill with a sewing needle, and since they’d entered post-secondary, has longed to know Miyako better, as well. Although Miyako only has vague memories of Kōko, she befriends her nonetheless despite the latter’s overbearing manner and begins to open up to those around her. Slowly, but surely, Miyako is able to begin stepping out of her shell and interact with a wider range of people. From taking Hinata and her friends to the summer festival, meeting Noa and Hana’s parents, who are happy Miyako had looked after them, accompanying Hana to buy some cream puffs, and even attending Hinata’s play, Miyako shares in experiences that help her to see herself in a more positive light – while Hana still finds Miyako a little creepy, she’s genuinely happy that Miyako’s been trying so hard for her sake, as well. This is Watashi ni Tenshi ga Maiorita! (An Angel Flew Down to Me!, or Wataten! for brevity!), an anime that aired at the very beginning of 2019. While this anime’s premise had initially made it a little difficult to get excited about, once I started the series, I found myself with yet another unexpectedly heartwarming and positive series which also speaks to the idea of how falling in love can bring out the best in people.

Throughout Wataten!, Miyako is presented as being introverted, easily flustered and prefers her own world to the company of others. Upon meeting Hana, Miyako’s interest in her manifests in a dubious fashion: Miyako attempts to win Hana over with sweets such that she can have someone wearing the costumes she’s made. However, while Miyako initially appears to be someone who lets their desires get the better of them, she’s actually very withdrawn and shy; prior to meeting Hana, Miyako’s day consisted of going to campus and then returning home to her hobbies, as well as doting on Hinata. As a result of being so absorbed in a very small world, Miyako’s confidence is nonexistent, and once Hana comes into her life, Miyako constantly fights her own doubts, and her wish to get to know Hana better. Things are exacerbated by the fact that Hinata is very fond of Miyako, to the point where she tells her classmates stories about Miyako that paint her in an unrealistically impressive light. The image that people have of Miyako stand in stark contrast with how Miyako perceives herself, and this is where Wataten! particularly excels. While people may look down on themselves and have a poor impression of who they are, especially when they are so focused and absorbed on their interests, they often fail to realise that they can still have a very tangible positive impact on those around them. Miyako worries about meeting Hinata’s classmates, fearing their disappointment upon seeing that the individual they’d come to admire is actually nowhere nearly as beautiful and talented as they’d imagined as a result of Hinata’s stories. Similarly, when Noa and Hana’s mothers come to visit, Miyako’s mind concludes they’re here to hear about her perversions. In reality, Miyako’s kindness and sincerity does end up earning the respect of Hinata’s classmates after the culture festival, when she’d offered to help them make enough costumes for everyone in their school play. Noa and Hana also gain some insight into the kind of person Miyako is when they visit her university, and run into Miyako’s instructor, who praises her work. Similarly, when Noa and Hana’s parents come to visit, whereas Miyako thought they’d take her to the woodshed for messing with their daughters, it actually turns out Miyako’s been a very effective babysitter, looking after their children. Life is a matter of perspective, and the things one might not be proud of, are actually assets from a certain point of view – although Miyako is not always aware of this, she’s certainly done much to brighten Hana, Noa, Koyori and Kanon’s days; it is therefore unsurprising that Hinata looks up to Miyako as much as she does. Miyako may see herself as an introvert who can’t even shop for clothes without losing her cool, but others see Miyako as someone who always goes the extra mile for those around her.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The fact that I finished Wataten! might come as a surprise to at least one reader: when I began this series, one individual wagered I’d rage-quit before I could pass the finish line. However, even as early as half an episode in, it became clear that Wataten! has its own unique charm, and while the premise initially comes across as off-putting, the series’ execution means that a different side of yuri is explored. Folks have asked why I never write about those elements in other shows with a predominantly (or all) female cast, and the answer is simple: if romance is secondary to the themes, I care about the themes first.

  • In Wataten!, the fuzzy feelings that manifest in Miyako when she first meets Hana can only be described as infatuation, and therefore, yuri does contribute to the theme in a nontrivial manner here. As such, it is something that I would take into account when considering the series. How things unfold between Miyako and Hana is quite standard for romance: love isn’t always reciprocated, and it takes a considerable amount of effort to win the party over. Early on, Hinata reveals that Hana’s weakness is sweets – after becoming unnerved by Miyako’s behaviour, Hinata hands Hana a pineapple bun, which relaxes her quite a bit.

  • Hana reminds me a great deal of both Madoka Magica‘s Homura Akemi, and GochiUsa‘s Chino Kafuu. In appearance, she’s a younger Homura and possesses the same stoic manner. Like Chino, she initially responds coldly to affection. However, Hana’s penchant for sweets is a bit of a weakness, and she reluctantly puts up with Miyako’s need to have her cosplay in exchange for homemade sweets from Miyako. From a certain point of view, Miyako is taking advantage of a child in ways that could be seen as illegal, but fortunately, this aspect of Wataten! is short-lived and minimal, certainly not enough to be a problem as the series continues.

  • Indeed, Hana is surprised that Miyako’s as capable with making sweets rivalling what’s sold in stores as far as quality goes, and this is what encourages Hana to come back over. That Miyako’s a deft hand with making sweets foreshadows her own skill-set: while Miyako lacks confidence, Wataten! makes it clear that she’s got positive traits, too. No one is more appreciative of this than Hinata, and I can imagine that, since Miyako dotes on Hinata, she must’ve picked up her skills through looking after Hinata. In exchange, Hinata adores Miyako and affectionately refers to her as Myaa-nee.

  • Once Noa joins the cast, Wataten! really enters high gear – this is when the series hits its stride, allowing the characters to bounce off one another in increasingly hilarious and endearing ways. Noa is introduced as the neighbour, and spots Miyako cosplaying. However, to Miayko’s great surprise, Noa isn’t judging her, but rather, is also a big fan of the show that Miyako had made the costume for.  That Miyako initially wilts and assumes the worst shows a lack of confidence in herself. On the flipside, both Hinata and Noa have plenty of confidence: Hinata is the one who encourages Miyako, and when Noa shows up, she brings energy to things, as well.

  • Unlike Mitsuboshi Colours, which felt distinctly like Chimame Corps’ Amazing Adventures, Wataten!‘s characters are unique in their own right. Having said this, several familiar names return to play each of Miyako, Hana, Hinata and Noa. Reina Ueda (Akane Shinjō of SSSS.Gridman, Bakuon!!‘s Hane Sakura, Hanayamata‘s Naru Sekiya, Shiori Shinomiya from Sakura Quest and Moe Suzuya of Koisuru Asteroid) is Miyako, while Maria Sashide (Koisuru Asteroid‘s Mai Inose) is Hana. Meanwhile, Akari Kitō plays Noa (Harukana Receive‘s Ai Tanahara, Seiun Sky of Uma Musume Pretty Derby and Machikado Mazoku‘s Momo Chiyoda).

  • Par the course for series that are character-driven, Wataten! also introduces the dependable Kanon, and the unfortunate Koyori; Koyori brings to mind Hotori Bocchi‘s Aru, while Kanon reminds me of Slow Loop‘s Aiko in appearance, and K-On!‘s Ui Hirasawa in manner. The latter loves to be depended upon but her efforts usually backfire, while the former is reliable, competent and kind. During a home economics class, Koyori and Hana end up destroying their cookies, whereas Hinata, Noa and Kanon pull through. Amongst Hinata’s classmates, Miyako’s developed a reputation for being beautiful, intelligent and smart – Hinata is very fond of mentioning her older sister to her classmates, and one of the driving points is that Miyako constantly worries that she’s letting Hinata’s classmates down.

  • Thus, when Koyori and Kanon show up to visit, Miyako does her best to keep up, only to break down and admit that she’s nowhere nearly as wonderful as Hinata has suggested. Kanon does her best to comfort her, and as it turns out, meeting Miyako in person does allow them to appreciate why Hinata’s so fond of her. Here, Miyako is seen with her hair up in a rare moment: she’s usually quite reluctant to wear the outfits that she makes, so to see her don said outfits is a sign that Hinata and her friends are pushing her in the right direction. Similarly, for class, Hinata, Noa and Hana end up making a boardgame about Miyako, with the intention of pushing Miyako out of her comfort zone.

  • As it turns out, Miyako is a post-secondary student enrolled in fashion design, and moreover, she’s a solid student. Being in post-secondary, Miyako has a bit more spare time on her hands and therefore, is able to spend time with Hinata and her friends: high school students in Japan tend to participate in clubs, and even for me, I spent a fair number of days every week during my time as a high school student at school doing club activities (yearbook, model parliament and in my final year, graduation committee). Conversely, in university, I spent almost all of my free time doing research, but still had enough time left over to hang out with classmates at nearby pubs.

  • Curiosity leads Hinata, Noa and Hana to swing by campus. Here, they run into Kōko, a mature young woman who is kind enough to show them around campus. However, it turns out that Kōko is actually the splitting image of Miyako despite appearances – ever since she and Miyako had been in the same club in high school, Kōko had long admired Miyako’s handiwork and sought to befriend her, but was stymied by the fact that Miyako is incredibly shy. This creates a bit of a misunderstanding when Miyako finds out Kōko had been following her in secret, and ultimately, it is thanks to Hinata, Noa and Hana that Miyako overcomes this particular barrier.

  • While Wataten! does not have the most detailed visuals, or the most innovative animation, the artwork and animation quality is of a consistent manner, chosen to match the series’ tenour. There’s a watercolour like feel about backgrounds, speaking to the almost idyllic nature of this world. The characters themselves are feature a more solid palette, and this distinction subtly nudges viewers to focus their attention on the characters over their surroundings.

  • Kōko’s addition into Wataten! initially gives Miyako a taste of her own medicine, and she’s able to now understand how Hana feels whenever she pressures her into wearing something against her wishes. This helps Miyako to dial it back some and be more considerate towards Hana. Similarly to Miyako, Kōko’s desire to befriend Miyako is a bit heavy-handed, but her intentions are honest, and despite looking up to Miyako, her own craftsmanship and skill as a seamstress are solid, too: in the aftermath of Kōko swinging by with a maid outfit for Miyako to try out, Miyako comments Kōko’s work is of a very high standard and even beats out her own. Kōko would doubtlessly be thrilled to hear this, but she’s content to know Miyako’s willing to try it out.

  • The highlight in Wataten! was when Kōko steps up to explain that Miyako’s been looking after Noa and Hana in her stead – Miyako had been worried silly that Noa and Hana’s mother would see her in a poor light, but from a different perspective, Miyako’s been the responsible babysitter, keeping an eye on their children and keeping them occupied, away from trouble. Being able to present one’s activities as being beneficial and productive is a skill: in fact, this is essential to putting a good resume together. For instance, if one’s day-to-day work consists of putting together user interfaces in Storyboards and pulling their hair out because Autolayout Constraints can be a little fickle, then on their resume, they might describe this as “obtain user requirements and produce pixel-perfect graphical interfaces to maximise a pleasant user experience”. In this moment, Kōko shows that, like Miyako, she also has things to be proud of, even though her heart is set on befriending Miyako, similarly to how Miyako is actually quite talented despite thinking of herself as being otherwise.

  • While Wataten! has some solid thematic components, the series also excels in its comedic moments. Halfway through the series, to help Hinata become less clingy, Miyako uses the “do whatever I ask” card she’d saved from Hana and has Hinata endure five days without Miyako. Although Hinata initially seems unaffected, by the third day, she goes into withdrawal, and things become severe enough so that Noa dresses up as Miyako to keep Hinata from fading out entirely. This is effective, and Hinata is thankful for Noa’s efforts, although it does become clear that to her, there is no replacement for Miyako.

  • Miyako and Hinata’s mother, Chizuru, is often displeased with Miyako’s tendency to stay home when she’s got downtime; I rather relate to Miyako, since I am fond of curling up with a book or blowing stuff up in Battlefield when I’ve got a spare moment, although I imagine that in the not-so-distant future, I’ll be spending a lot more time going out on the simple virtue that I am moving to a more pedestrian-friendly part of town: there’s a host of wonderful restaurants and stores (including a bookstore and computer store) already within walking distance, and virtually everything of note is now a short trip away via mass transit. This is a far cry from my old address, where the only walkable amenities are a gas station, Subway and Dairy Queen: everything else is half an hour away on foot. While driving is not a problem, everything being closer incentivises me to go out much more.

  • Chizuru typically reprimands Miyako verbally, although there has been at least one occasion where she hangs Miyako from the ceiling in the same way that Futurama robots are “welded to the wall”. On this latest occasion, she simply has Miyako go out for clothes, and Hinata ends up tagging along to help Miyako out. They end up running into Noa and Hana, as well as Yū, Kōko’s younger sister. Because Kōko also has a puppy she calls Miyako, Yū immediately knows who Miyako is and treats her like a puppy. This scene was absolutely adorable: upon spotting Yū, Hinata wonders if she’s the older sister now. Once things are cleared up, everyone heads their separate ways: Miyako ends up picking up raw materials to make her own clothes, to her mother’s displeasure, while Kōko and Yū head home. Noa and Hana spend a bit more time together on their own.

  • I note that Chizuru looks somewhat like an older version of Kanojo Okarishimasu‘s Chizuru Mizuhara, and it’s not too much of a stretch to suppose that Kazuya ends up winning Chizuru over while finding his own path in life, with the only caveat being that Chizuru had desired to be an actress someday. Fan speculation is something I don’t ordinarily partake in or write about with much frequency, although it can be fun to ponder the what-ifs in fiction from time to time. Here, Chizuru shares with Hinata and Noa photographs of a younger Miyako, after a day where Noa and Hinata go on a mini-date of sorts to the movies.

  • Towards Wataten!‘s late game, interpersonal relationships amongst the characters have stablised to the point where Hana is comfortable in sleeping over, and Noa has now become an integral member of the group, as well. Moments of tenderness, humour and surprise bring everyone together, and these aspects are something I most appreciate from the anime I watch – there is considerable merit in living a normal life, and I believe that the reason why anime of all genres place an emphasis on what are known as slice-of-life moments – after the horrors and desolation of the Second World War, and then the rapid development of Japan into a modern world power, life in Japan had become very high paced, and so, entertainment focused on slower moments to remind people of the merits of taking the time to smell the roses, as it were.

  • If and when I’m asked, I generally prefer meals over sweets – a hearty meal leaves a sense of contentment, whereas deserts simply are a way to “fill up the corners”. A good curry omurice would particularly hit the spot, and to no one’s surprise, Miyako’s a strong cook, as well. Hinata pegs Miyako’s cooking as the best, and this sleepover, no one is disagreeing. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with sweets, and I’m okay with everything from cakes and doughnuts, to cookies, pastries and everything in between – I’ve never been a particularly picky eater and have a curiosity in trying things that give people the willies. According to what I recall from health sciences, picky eating is an instance of both nature (genetics) and nurture (upbringing) playing a role. Being Cantonese, I’ve had exposure to Cantonese cuisine, so things like pork blood and chicken feet are considered commonplace for me, and my genetics means that I don’t taste things quite the same as someone else would.

  • While I’m open to trying new foods, the one thing I am adamantly close-minded about are horror movies. I simply don’t enjoy these movies despite having a rudimentary understanding of how movies are filmed – an active imagination means things stick in my head long after I’ve seen them. A happy, pleasant movie leaves me relaxed, and I’m amped after watching things like The Avengers: Endgame. I am aware that a good rifle is often enough to deal with a crazed chainsaw murderer, and willpower negates the toughest onryō, but imagery is often difficult to flush from my mind, which begins going on tangents. The same thing that allows me to discuss a variety of topics for this blog leaves me overwhelmed after a horror movie ends (pondering the what-ifs or implications of what drives people to do what they do, and the fear that monsters exist in all of us, for instance). This is something I share with Hana, and although she tries to be brave about it, her actions speak otherwise. Miyako consents to stay with her until she falls asleep as a reassuring presence, marking one more instance where the true Miyako is shown.

  • While doing up everyone’s hair one day, Hana becomes curious to know why Miyako regards her differently than the others; Miyako tends to treat everyone like Hinata once she opens up to them, but around Hana, Miyako is a little more reserved and bashful. To viewers, the answer is quite plain: it was love at first sight for Miyako, and although she came on strong, to avoid troubling Hana, Miyako has since dialled it back. The changes that Hana bring about in Miyako are gradual, but still quite noticeable. It is through Hana that Wataten! conveys how falling in love can impact people, and moreover, that love can come from most anywhere. This is the general significance of yuri: it is an expression of open-mindedness and a willingness to accept that love can take many forms.

  • A tolerance of ideas and concepts from a broad spectrum is vital towards gaining a fuller understanding of others: in series where yuri is a core component, it is logical to consider how yuri is used to drive messages the author strives to convey. However, I continue to maintain that it is irrelevant to bring up yuri on the basis of what’s colloquially referred to as “shipping”, the practise of expressing a particular preference for fictional characters’ relationships. The reason why this sort of thing is irrelevant in other works, such as The Aquatope on White Sand‘s Fūka and Kukuru, is because the characters’ growth and experiences (in turn, affecting the themes) are not contingent on any learnings they gain from falling in love. Conversely, in something like Wataten!, what Miyako experiences is entirely dependent on her falling in love with Hana at first sight.

  • For some of my former readers, my disinterest in speculation surrounding hypothetical fictional relationships somehow is equivalent to dismissing yuri entirely as having no academic merit. This is a massive subjective leap in judgement on these individuals’ part: I find value in looking at yuri from a literary perspective, to see how it can tell stories and what it does differently compared to how relationships of different kinds unfold. Seeing story events provides insight into the author’s stances on things like yuri, and that in turn can speak volumes about a creator’s views on society. While I won’t begrudge or dissuade others for participating in the practise of discussing hypothetical fictional relationships of any kind, I find that exercises built purely around speculation, and whose outcome only yields wish fulfillment, is not academic in nature by definition.

  • The surest sign that Hana and Miyako have come a long way from their rough start at Wataten!‘s beginnings occurs when Hana allows Miyako to accompany her out to a local patisserie so she can try out their cream puffs. For the occasion, Miyako ends up wearing a dress that Kōko had made her and puts her hair up: while sporting a sullen appearance when she’s got her bangs covering one eye, Miyako actually does have an endearing character about her with her hair up. Although Miyako initially draws the attention of a police officer, Hana referring to her as onee-san assuages the officer’s worries, and the walk over to the patisserie is smooth. Hana is able to enjoy her cream puffs in the end and is happy that Miyako had gone out of her way to help her out.

  • With the culture festival fast approaching, Miyako offers to help Hinata’s class make the costumes for their class performance. Even for someone as skilled as Miyako, such an endeavour would be a lengthy one, so Hinata, Hana, Noa, Koyori, Kanon and Kōko also decide to help out, and in no time at all, there are enough costumes for every classmate in the play. Although Miyako might not be the role model Hinata painted her to be, by this point in time, it is evident that there is truth in what Hinata says, too.

  • On the day of the culture festival, Miyako shows up and gets pegged as a suspicious person: the teachers hold her in a classroom until Hinata shows up and vouches for her. Such incidents in reality would be troubling, but in anime like Wataten!, they’re passed off as comedic moments. The shame does come to pass, and while Miyako is mortified that something like this has happened, she does decide to go ahead and watch Hinata’s class play, anyways, having bought a video camera for the occasion.

  • Wataten! actually goes through the trouble of telling the play’s entire story in a more vivid, visceral form: rather than showing viewers the play and allowing one’s imagination to fill the rest in, the series brings the entire story to life. Unsurprisingly, the play tells of an angel who falls in love with a mortal and accepts a mortal life to be with her love, remained separated even as the mortal aged, but then came to meet her granddaughter instead, and is able to forge new memories as she discovers love anew. It’s very thoughtful for a class play and succinctly captures the idea of how patience is required to realise love, which is an integral part of Wataten!.

  • In the end, the class play is an unqualified success, and in the aftermath, Hinata’s classmates become curious to meet the Myaa-nee whom they’d heard so much about. To Miyako’s surprise, Hinata’s classmates are overjoyed to meet her; her skill as a seamstress live up to expectations, and everyone suggests that Miyako’s ordinary appearance is akin to how celebrities may adopt a more low-profile appearance while out in public. To help with things, Kōko and Yū act as a security detail to ensure the class remains ruly, and towards the end, even the teachers stop by to thank Miyako for everything she’s done.

  • To wrap the series up, Hana admits that she’s warmed up somewhat to Miyako, admiring that she’s been trying so hard for Hana’s sake. I had originally intended to write about Wataten! as a “Terrible Anime Challenge” post, but ultimately, my final impressions of this show were actually consistent with the community’s thoughts, and while I did procrastinate on watching Wataten! because the start of 2019 saw me starting a new position, which lead to my schedule becoming quite busy, I didn’t stop watching the series because its content was challenging to handle. As a result, this series simply became one that fallen under the radar owing to life circumstances.

  • For clarity, Wataten! is certainly not a terrible anime by any stretch, and I’d have no qualms issuing this series a B grade (3.0 of 4.0, or 7.5 of 10, for those who like number scores) – the series is fun, covers a side of falling in love which, despite the potential for trouble, manages to come out encouraging and friendly. With immensely lovable characters, Wataten! began a little more slowly and hit its stride mid-season, finding its footing once more of the cast were introduced. By the end of the series, viewers are left with the feeling that Miyako is in a position where she can continue to grow, making for a satisfactory close to an anime that proved unexpectedly fun. With this in the books, the only remaining post I have planned out is for the remaining part to Girls und Panzer for #AniTwitWatches: the next few days will be going to be exceedingly busy, and I anticipate needing every second I can spare.

During its run, Wataten! strives to convey that, while there is a limit on where love ends and obsession begins, pursuit of love in a sincere and honest fashion brings others into one’s life in such a way as to perceptibly change in circumstances. Meeting Hana, and hearing Hana’s blunt response to her advances pushes Miyako to re-evaluate herself – it becomes clear that brute-forcing things with sweets, while effective in some places, won’t bring Hana any closer. By talking to Hinata and Noa, and hearing their thoughts on things, Miyako becomes more aware of her own shortcomings; the board game project that Hinata does with Noa and Hana brings to light things that end up spurring Miyako to improve so that she can become closer to Hana. For instance, Hana absolutely loves sweets in general, but Miyako can’t even walk into a store and order sweets owing to her jitteriness. By spending time with Noa, Koyori, Kanon and even Kōko, Mikayo is pushed to pick up the dynamics and nuances of a conversation. Thus, when Hana ends up wanting some cream puffs, the Miyako that has these experiences under her belt is able to spend a day with Hana and get her the cream puffs she’d been longing to try. It speaks volumes to the kindness in this effort, that Hana remarks that she’s come to love the taste of the sweets that Miyako makes for her the most. That Miyako’s determination to pursue her heart has wrought such a profound change in her is ultimately what leads Hana to warm up to her – Wataten!‘s outcome might not be particularly decisive, but it does create the foundation for both improving things between Miyako and Hana, as well as pushing Miyako so that she can be more comfortable with social interactions while at the same time, remaining true to the pursuits (e.g. fashion) that make her happiest. This is where Wataten! excels – the series is enjoyable on merit of its characters, their interactions and gradual change over time, and together with consistent animation, artwork and sound, the final result is a spirited, adorable journey. The final question becomes whether or not we could receive a continuation to Wataten!: the manga is still ongoing, after all. The answer is actually a pleasant surprise: Wataten!: Precious Friends, a movie, is scheduled to première later this year, and the key visuals suggest a summer setting. No opening date has been announced as of yet, but it appears that the cast will reprise their role for the movie.