The Infinite Zenith

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Clash at Loum: Mobile Suit Gundam- The Origin Episode Five Reflection

“Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well-trained, well-equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.” —General Dwight D. Eisenhower

The opening stages of the One Year War begin when Zeon launches a surprise attack on Side 2, eliminating Hatte altogether, while Kycila leads task force in capturing the lunar cities of Granada and Von Braun. Amuro and his friends are caught attempting to sneak into a restricted area in Side 7, but Amuro is spared a beating when guards recognise him as the son of Tem Ray. After witnessing the massacre at Side 2, Ramba Ral refuses to participate in Operation British and becomes wanted for treason against Zeon. The Zeons continue with Operation British, dropping the coloney Island Iffish on Earth with the aim of destroying the Federations Jaburo Base, but the coloney break into three sections upon re-entry. The largest pieces impacts with Australia and the sum of the impact halves Earth’s population. Meanwhile, Sayla Mass has become a doctor, and while treating the injured from the political strife breaking out, she learns from a Zeon operative that Casaval is alive, piloting a red mobile suit and later sees him attacking a coloney, after she herself had helped fend off ruffians. While she manages to protect Eduardo Mass, he dies. With Operation British unsuccessful, Zeon launches another attack at Loum. Although their ships are routed by Federation Forces, their mobile suits allow them to even the odds in terms of fighting strength. Char himself steps out into battle, locating the main Federation fleet on short order after pushing his Zaku to its limits. The Origin‘s fifth instalment comes nearly a year after the fourth, and in it, the more horrific stages of the One Year War are illustrated, including the gassing of Island Iffish for the purpose of dropping it as a kinetic impactor. The Origin presents a different take on things than did Gundam Unicorn, but with its high animation quality, is able to capture the sort of devastation that characterises the One Year War, and also illustrate the processes, as well as individuals, behind Zeon’s atrocities.

In contrast with the earlier instalments, the fifth The Origin entry is more fragmented in design, portraying different aspects of the One Year War’s opening stages. From the early Zeon victories to their failed execution of Operation British, from Char’s verbal sparring with the Black Tri-Stars to watching Sayla Mass defend her adopted family and home, The Origin presents a series of war stories that show where everyone’s at since the events of the previous episode. The episode does not follow any one character in particular; in doing so, it is able to capture the scope of the One Year War. In this episode’s presentation, one also gains the impression that Zeon’s worst atrocities and actions were the consequence of Gihren’s decisions. Gihren has been counted as the Universal Century’s incarnation of Adolf Hitler, sharing Hitler’s Social Darwinism beliefs, as well as placing an undue amount of emphasis on Wunderwaffen. Gihren’s beliefs are extreme enough that his father, Degwin, denounces him: Degwin’s original ambitions had been to gain independence for and rule over Zeon, whereas Girhen sought to dominate and destroy the Federation entirely. The Origin evidently presents Gihren as having architected the suffering and deaths of billions; the lingering animosities and injustices indirectly lead to the formation of the Titans and precipitate the rise of three Neo Zeon factions following the downfall of Zeon.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I can’t believe it’s been ten months since I last wrote about The Origin, and for this post, we begin with the Zeon fleet engaging Federation forces. As the instigators, Zeon has the initiative in the One Year War’s early stages, rapidly gaining an edge over the Federation. Early space battles were characterised by long-range engagement between naval vessels. Originally, the Federation were lagging behind on their armaments and fired conventional rounds from their cannons, only upgrading to mega-particle cannons later in the war.

  • Along with the Magellan-class cruisers, The Salamis-class cruisers were the earliest space-faring vessels the Federation fielded, but by the time of the One Year War, they proved outdated: their weaker weapons and lighter armour made them ill-equipped to deal with Zeon battleships, and they were lost in great numbers. Magellan-class cruisers were better armed than the Salamis-class, but both vessels proved inadequate against mobile suits, leading the Federation to design spacecraft capable of housing their own mobile suits.

  • While audiences familiar with things like Cosmic Era and even Anno Domini would be more accustomed to seeing mobile suits equipped with directed energy weapons, Universal Century does not introduce beam weaponry until the RX-78 II. Prior to the Federation’s deployment of the first Gundam, mobile suits were essentially humanoid tanks, armed with scaled-up firearms that still proved exceptionally effective: the basic machine guns Zakus carry fire MBT-sized rounds at several hundred RPM and despite becoming ineffective later on in Gundam as technology advances, they certainly would have been sufficient to overwhelm whatever was available to the Federation when first deployed.

  • During the battles on the moon, Char himself is present, but while engaging Federation forces mid-combat, his thrusters fail to provide the propulsion that he needs. He nonetheless destroys Federation fighters engaging him before continuing with his mission. Char’s choice of red colouration is strictly a personal preference, making him immediately recognisable on the battlefield and earning him the ire of other Zeon soldiers, especially the Black Tri-Stars.

  • Zeon forces destroy the Hatte Colony Cylinder here during an operation. Colonies are fairly commonplace in the Universal Century and are separated into two categories – open colonies have windows and mirrors that allow sunlight in to mimic natural weather patterns, while close colonies were more inexpensive and could house double the number of residents. Industrial 7 in Gundam Unicorn is a closed colony. Despite their seeming fragility, the large size of colonies allow them to withstand a considerable amount of damage – colonies have a diameter of 6.4 kilometres and are typically 36 kilometres in length.

  • Ramba Ral watches as his forces assault the colony Hatte, encountering next to no resistance. He considers it a meaningless slaughter rather than war, and his experiences here shape his actions later on. While Zakus and early space-capable battleships are often presented as primitive and obsolete, enhanced by the limited animation of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the revisitation of the Universal Century with modern animation and artwork illustrate that for its time, the early weapons of both the Federation and Zeon are cutting edge.

  • Gihren Zabi is probably my least favourite of the characters for his facial features: he’s got all of the characteristics of an unlikeable 80s villain. With his exceptional brilliance and ability to sway a crowd, his resemblance to Adolf Hitler is probably deliberate, and here, he gives a speech about the need to eradicate enemies to Zeon. Having seen The Origin and read the history of the Universal Century, it is safe to attribute many of the worst events to him in some manner.

  • Amuro’s only appearance in the fifth episode of The Origin is when he and Kai Shinden, plus a couple of classmates, are caught trying to sneak into an area of Side 7 under construction. Some of the guards recognise Amuro as Tem’s son and jovially remark that if he wished to tour the area, he merely needed to ask for permission. They then proceed to beat the living daylights out of the others while Amuro looks on in disapproval.

  • When Dozle explains the plan behind Operation British, Ramba Ral has reached his limit and storms out of the meeting, feeling that war is not about maximising the enemy’s casualties. His refusal to carry out an order eventually lead the Zeons to count him a traitor, but in the fifth The Origin episode, his fate remains unknown. Dozle and the others continue the operation in his absence, mounting engines onto Island Iffish and prepare to guide it along a trajectory towards earth.

  • Inside the colony, a young man named Yūki promises to protect the inhabitants from Zeon invaders and spends his final moments with his girlfriend before she takes shelter. When Zeon introduces the nerve agent inside the colony, total casualties ensue, and Yūki himself dies slowly in the cold after expending the last of his energy trying to enter the shelter, after seeing the bodies of others caught outside. The nerve agent penetrates the interior of the shelter, killing all within, as well: officials were likely anticipating an invasion force rather than outright extermination.

  • When it becomes clear of what Zeon’s intentions with the depopulated colony are, Admiral Tianem leads the already depleted Federation fleet in a desperate bid to stop the colony from impacting with Earth. The full firepower of the remaining Federation ships are insufficient to destroy or even slow the colony, and the Federation fleet sustains further damage while trying to stop Island Iffish, engaging defending Zeon elements. It is not until the Zeons construct the first Colony Laser that there is a viable weapon of destroying objects the size of a colony all at once. The Titans would construct their own Colony Laser during the Gryps conflict, and in Gundam Unicorn, the Federation secretly commissioned the Gryps II laser.

  • One wonders if the UNSC Infinity’s CR-03 Series-8 MACs could deal enough damage to stop a colony, given an estimated yield of around 50 gigatons. The Zeon’s plan do not account for the forces of re-entry causing Island Iffish to break up in the atmosphere. While considerably less dense compared with a natural asteroid of similar dimensions, the sheer size of a colony could deal considerably damage nonetheless: the three fragments hit Australia, the Pacific Ocean and North America near Toronto, and the resulting damage from the impact, resultant cooling of the climate and seismic activity lead to immeasurable casualties.

  • Sora no Woto fans typically do not agree with my conclusion that the world’s state in the anime was caused by a human war, instead, insisting that global devastation was caused by an extraterrestrial avian species. Their theory is ill-justified and disintegrates when one asks about the species’ role on ecology and why their presence is not noticed in Sora no Woto. An event rivalling a colony drop in scale, following a protracted war, on the other hand, provides a much more plausible explanation, and the events of The Origin reinforce the idea that colony drop events can cause the sort of devastation that the folks in Sora no Woto must contend with.

  • The results of Operation British are vast Federation civilian casualties, with no damage done to Jaburo base whatsoever. Despite his insistence to continue the war, and his proclaimation that those who carried out Operation British are to be punished, Gihren offers no rebuttal when Degwin counters that responsibility of Operation British actually falls on him. I imagine that Gihren is referring to the subordinates who executed the plan, but ultimately, it would appear that for his sharp-mindedness, Gihren did not expect the colony to disintegrate during re-entry.

  • Dozle is easily the least disagreeable member of the Zabi family. Despite his bombastic nature, Dozle is surprisingly gentle. His loud rants quickly cause Mineva to wake up. He promises to make a world where children do not needlessly die in war and resolves to fight for Zeon in the hopes that a Zeon victory will allow such a dream to be realised. Mineva will later play an instrumental role in the Laplace Conflict during the events of Gundam Unicorn, and while I thoroughly enjoyed the OVAs, one of the elements that remained unaddressed is what eventually happens to Banagher, Mineva and Riddhe.

  • A doctor by this point in time, Sayla Mass is very dedicated towards her work, but when a Zeon operative reveals information to her about Casval, who’s taken the name Char Aznable by now, Sayla cannot help but be distracted from her duties. Her longing to meet Casval again does not appear to have wavered after all this time, although the rumours surrounding him lead her to wonder what he’s become since they went their separate ways following their mother’s passing.

  • Char informs his mechanic of performance limitations in his Zaku and requests that the limiter be disabled here. He later spars verbally with the Black Tri-Stars, whose animosity for him are out in the open. While they are quite hostile towards Char, perceiving him as being present to steal their glory and receiving special treatment, the events at Loum will lead them to confer upon him begrudging respect. The Zeon forces begin amassing to take Loum, realising that the Federation will certainly respond, and despite the disparity in their numerical strength, the Zeons place their wagers on mobile suits as playing an instrumental role.

  • Freshly-outfitted Federation cruisers launch from underground sites. Special booster units are seen attached to them, allowing them to overcome escape velocity, speaking to the relatively primitive state of the Federation space fleet: in later Gundam instalments such as Gundam Unicorn, warships are able to exit the Earth’s atmosphere and return to space at will. The composition of this scene brings to mind a moment in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare where Captain Reyes takes control of the SDF Olympus Mons and sets course for Mars to exact revenge against the SDF fleet.

  • Zeon’s march to war drives their supporters to rally and clash with anti-Zeon parties, resulting in civil disturbances within the colonies as citizens become divided with respect to which side they should support. Because Loum is set to receive Federation support, Zeon’s leadership decide to eliminate Loum before the Federation can reinforce them and as such, is anticipating attack from Admiral Tianem’s forces at Loum.

  • The fifth instalment of The Origin reveals that Crowley Hamon is also an accomplished singer. After evicting agents working on Kycilia’s behalf, she performs a ballad that mirrors the increasingly grim and sorrowful mood that has gripped the Universal Century as Federation and Zeon forces continue their war. For a few moments in The Origin, the futility of war can be felt in Miyuki Sawashiro’s performance: she’s a capable singer and played Perrine H. Clostermann of Strike Witches, Masami Iwasawa in Angel Beats! and Sword Art Online‘s Shino Asada (aka. Sinon).

  • When ruffians begin attacking the nearby village in the Texas Colony and make their way to the Aznable Estate, Sayla picks up a lever-action rifle and begins firing, killing several ruffians in the process. Despite her objection to the fighting and violence between the Federation and Zeons, seeing all of the injured and wounded as being people, Sayla does not hesitate to fire on people who threaten those around her. Despite their older weapons, the residents of the Aznable Estate put up a fight and eventually manage to drive off the ruffians.

  • During the course of the night, Eduardo Mass dies from cardiac failure, likely brought on by the intensity of the combat. There’s little time to mourn his passing, as outside, the Zeon forces have engaged and destroyed the docks to a nearby colony. The surviving ruffians are consumed with fear when they realise they cannot return, only to find themselves at the hands of understandably angry residents.

  • As of late, one of my friends picked up the 1/144 System Weapons 007 revision package for the beam spear for Federation mobile suits, as well as the Sinanju’s Rocket Bazooka options. As I have an HGUC Sinanju, he gave me the parts to upgrade the Sinanju: I’ve found the Sinanju to be an excellent model all around for its detail and options, and I’ve also seen several different choices for the Rocket Bazooka. The 007 revision provides the original under-barrel attachment, as well as the means to convert the bazooka into a standalone weapon system, and even can be mounted onto the shield, allowing me to configure the Sinanju into the loadout it’s seen with in the fifth and sixth episodes of Gundam Unicorn.

  • Despite her furious resolve to survive and do what she can, Sayla’s desire to contact her brother’s fate drives much of her actions in Mobile Suit Gundam, where she later takes on a position on board White Base and becomes the backup pilot for the RX-78. She encounters him on several occasions, and later learns of his motivations to exact revenge on the Zabi family. This revelation shows that Char actually had very little interest in the Zeon cause, desiring advancement to better position himself for revenge. However, upon meeting Amuro Ray and losing Lalah Sune, Char’s quest for revenge against Amuro takes on a more personal tone.

  • The Zeon forces prepare for their attack on Tianem’s fleet, marking the opening of the Battle of Loum. One of the elements I’ve noticed in The Origin is that combat sequences are comparatively fewer relative to those of other Gundam series; The Origin places a much greater emphasis on the human elements of warfare and so, it is appropriate to be illustrating the sorts of things people experience in war. With this in mind, I’m hoping that the finale will have a bit more combat scenes, rather similar to how Gundam Unicorn was predominantly driven by stories of the people involved and presented a fantastic finale.

  • Degwin and Garma watch on as the Zeon forces begin engaging the Federation Fleet. The Origin’s animated incarnation appears to have dispensed with the Zeon’s attempts to drop a second colony onto Earth, and instead, opens with the Zeon forces engaging Tianem’s fleet as a distraction. Nuclear weapons are also absent, with all of the engagements being traditional ship-to-ship battles. When the Battle of Loum is mentioned, my mind immediately returns to the fuzzy, low-resolution image that belies the true scale and intensity of the ship-to-ship battles as seen in the high-resolution, crisp presentation in The Origin.

  • The Origin depicts the Federation as having an overwhelming edge over Zeon forces, and here, Tianem remarks on the necessity of stamping out Zeon as his forces decimate Dozle’s fleet. Both Zeon and the Federation have access to mega-particle cannons, which are explained to result from the fusion of Minovsky Particles in a high energy-environment. When properly contained by an I-field and propelled in a certain direction; compared to other directed-energy weapons, the mega-particles are much more powerful for their size, but the generators to compress and fuse Minovsky particles are themselves massive, being only appropriate for deployment on capital ship-sized platforms.

  • The RX-78 II was thus revolutionary for making effective use of an innovation called the E-cap. An energy capacitor, the E-cap holds Minovsky particles and fuse them to generate a mega-particle beam capable of destroying a mobile suit in a single shot, as Amuro discovers when sortieing in the RX-78 II for the first time. Because the high energy resulting from a beam rifle cannot be deflected by anti-beam coatings, mobile suits would come to rely on speed and I-fields to avoid destruction. Federation Mobile Suits adopted beam technology more quickly than their Zeon counterparts, although Zeon eventually catches up.

  • Char prepares for sortie in his distinct red Zaku. To reach the Federation fleet, he pushes the engines to their absolute limits, ignoring the system’s warning and gaining a lock before Federation vessels can detect and engage him with their CIWS. Subtle details in the thruster outputs, the keystrokes Char uses to disengage the limiters and warning indicators even as his targeting computer marks out Federation vessels made this scene particularly enjoyable to watch. With the hitherto unmatched power of a mobile suit, Char feels as though even God himself ought to bow down to him: for his exceptional skill as a pilot, Char is also unabashedly confident in his own ability.

  • It is here at Loum that Char becomes known as the Red Comet, and with this final screenshot, my talk on The Origin‘s fifth episode draws to a close. Superbly enjoyable to watch, I’ve found The Origin to be an excellent interpretation of the Universal Century, perfect for folks who enjoyed Gundam Unicorn and general fans of the Universal Century in providing a modernised, detailed view of Char’s story and the rise of Zeon. I note that this movie’s been around since September 2, but things have been busy, and I’ve only recently had the chance to really sit down and write about it. The conclusion of this post means that we’re very nearly done The Origin, which will close with the sixth episode, “The Rise of the Red Comet” in the upcoming May.

With the next and final chapter of The Origin releasing in May 2018, there remains a ways to go yet before we see the conclusion of The Origin, which deals with Char and his ascendancy in Zeon as the ace pilot. I’ve longed to see the Battle of Loum with modern animation, and the fifth instalment of The Origin does just this, showcasing the One Year War’s most infamous battles in fantastic detail. From the technical aspects of Zeon’s Musai-class compared against the Federation’s Salamis and Magellan-class vessels, to Char’s requests for removing the limiters on his Zaku and participation in some of the battles, The Origin continues in following the development of the hardware involved in fighting the wars, as well as the people fighting them. Of note was Ramba Ral’s refusal to participate in Operation British, reflecting that while the Zeons were undoubtedly an antagonistic entity, there remained at least a handful of reasonable individuals in Zeon. Ramba Ral’s role in The Origin differs greatly from what it was in the original Mobile Suit Gundam, where he was intended to represent an ordinary but devoted soldier whose death came about from the tragedy of conflict. The Origin takes numerous liberties with the narrative, but so far, things have remained consistent: ultimately, I am quite excited to see what the last chapter of The Origin will entail, and it would be most pleasant if Amuro Ray and the RX-78 II makes a combat appearance in the finale to fight Char and his Zaku II Custom.

An Early-Access Preview of Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka?- Dear My Sister

“Home, more than anything, means warmth and bed.” —Vivienne Westwood

Announced a year and a half ago, Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka? (GochiUsa for brevity) was to receive special episode taking the form of an OVA, titled Dear My Sister. Originally intended to release back in May of this year, the OVA was delayed and at present, is set to screen in over forty Japanese theatres come November 11. The cast who performed in GochiUsa‘s earlier television anime will return to reprise their roles in this OVA, but rather than White Fox, who handled the animation of the first and second seasons, the studio Production doA will step up to the plate for Dear My Sister. A newcomer with no other titles underneath their belt, it will be interesting to see whether or not Production doA will execute Dear My Sister with the same warmth and sincerity that White Fox had successfully captured in the anime’s televised run. Besides the OVA itself, the theme song will also release on November 11, while a character album will release this month ahead of the screenings. The latest trend does appear to be that specials for Manga Time Kirara anime are to be screened theatrically before being sold as home releases at a later time – Kiniro Mosiac‘s special, Pretty Days, only became available four months after the theatrical release, and being of a similar ilk, it is not unreasonable to imagine that Dear My Sister will only accessible to the world at large come March 2018, a considerable distance away from the present. I remark here that this post is structured similarly to my earlier preview posts, and below the twenty screenshots below, there will be a bit of an outline (constituting as spoilers) for what Dear My Sister will entail.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Two years ago, it was a pleasant Saturday morning, and I watched the opening episode to GochiUsa‘s second season before putting out a post about it in record time. I subsequently spent the rest of the day playing the Star Wars Battlefront open beta, and opened my journey in Crysis 3 after Thanksgiving Dinner. Four episodes into GochiUsa‘s second season, I did an episodic review, having decided that this was an anime that offered enough to talk about each and every episode. While not quite CLANNAD, GochiUsa has its own unique charms that make it an incredibly heartwarming anime to watch.

  • I have the internet’s first and most comprehensive set of high resolution screenshots with this post: the lower resolution images on Pintrest and Tumblr have nothing against the quality here. It goes without saying that the trailer and manga will give away the entire narrative to Dear My Sister, so this post is essentially one large spoiler. To take a page from Kylo Ren, if you do not already know that Dear My Sister is set in the summer and deals with fireworks, then you should leave right now. Here, Cocoa and Chiya share a tearful farewell: despite leaving for only a week, Cocoa remarks that she’ll never forget the time she’s spent with everyone. The emotional tenour of the moment leads Maya and Megu to assume that Cocoa’s leaving for good.

  • For long-time readers of this blog, it’s no secret that I am very fond of rabbits. For me, watching GochiUsa is functionally identical to watching videos of baby bunnies frolicking about, relaxing and otherwise, doing things that baby bunnies do best. Since the availability of the home release to Dear My Sister won’t be known for a while, I imagine that the videos I linked do will have to suffice for the present. Dear My Sister skips over the first and second chapters of volume five, which sees the girls work on summer uniforms to seek relief from the summer heat and attempt a test of courage.

  • In Cocoa’s absence, Rize decides to whip Maya, Chino and Megu into shape. Rize’s fiery spirit causes Chino to recall Rize’s first days at Rabbit House. Beyond her tough exterior, Chino learns that Rize is friendly and approacheable. The third chapter also reveals that, if people think I am big on Tom Clancy, Battlefield and the like, I remark that I’ve got nothing on Rize. Her character seems to be tailored towards folks like myself as far as interests go.

  • Because GochiUsa is known for scrambling the order of things, there are some scenes seen in the Dear My Sister trailer that I cannot immediately place. When I did the preview for season two based on the manga some years back, I hit some of the stories covered and missed the others. As a result, knowing the manga, while yielding spoilers, won’t mean that one won’t be pleasantly surprised when watching Dear My Sister for the first time.

  • Maya and Megu are two of Chino’s friends from middle school; after meeting out of a curiosity when Chino mentions her wish to be a barista, they’ve since grown close with one another. Maya and Megu perfectly complement one another in terms of personality, and while their presence in the first season is limited, they appear with a greater frequency in season two, joining Cocoa and the others in their adventures.

  • A joke from GochiUsa‘s first season (corresponding with the manga’s third volume) makes a return: immediately after Cocoa leaves, Chino finds herself making iced cocoas, a nod to when Chino similarly became “Cocoa-sick” after Cocoa left to study with Chiya and Sharo, Chino similarly made a bunch of milk cocoas. It’s something that Chino is likely unwilling to openly to admit to the others, that in the absence of Cocoa, she misses the warmth and energy that Cocoa brings in.

  • Located deep in the mountains, the Hot Bakery is also Cocoa’s home. There is something particularly charming, even romantic, about a good eatery in a rural or small town setting, and one of the directions that GochiUsa has yet to take in its manga is to have Chino and the others visit the Hot Bakery.

  • Back home, Cocoa’s mother and Mocha both notice a degree of change in Cocoa; this stems from her spending time with the disciplined and focused Rize, Sharo’s unparalleled eye for sales in the name of saving money, and Chiya’s uncommon way of thinking. Friends certainly can have an impact on one another, bringing to mind cases where couples begin resembling one another in terms of facial expressions over time, and when dogs look like their owner.

  • In Chinese, bread is given as “麵包” (pinyin “miàn bāo”), which translates literally to “flour package”, describing the fact that bread minimally is a small parcel of flour and water cooked together to form a cohesive unit. The Japanese word for bread is “パン” (romanised “pan”) after the French pain. In English, “bread” is derived from Germanic languages, referring to the shape of baked bread as a unit or morsel, similar to the Chinese descriptor.

  • Mocha was a welcome addition to the cast in the second season, creating new dynamics amongst the existing characters that proved most enjoyable to watch. Some folks feel Mocha’s presence to overshadow the other characters, and while this is perhaps an exaggeration, the anime became noticeably quieter after Mocha returns home. I vividly recall the seventh episode of GochiUsa, released the same date that Girls und Panzer: Der Film premiered in Japanese theatres. The weather was pleasant, and I spent the morning shopping for deals at a nearby M&M Food Market.

  • If the trailers were indeed produced by Production doA, the art style has remained quite consistent from White Fox’s: here, Chino is not particularly enjoying the protracted farewells and asks Cocoa to set off with more expedience when Cocoa delays, asking the others to look after Chino for her. This frame is almost identical to the original manga, and having seen the trailer, I’m reasonably confident of Production doA’s ability to execute. One of the possible reasons why Dear My Sister was delayed could be the unexpected change in studios.

  • After recieving a request to make a delivery, Cocoa decides to take her bike, as town is a ways away. However, while Cocoa’s learned to ride a bike, Mocha’s taken things one step further and has gotten her introductory operator’s license, allowing her to drive a moped around. Essentially bikes with small engines, the requirements to operate one are not steep. Apparently, the naming is a portmanteau of “motor velocipede”, although I somehow always read it as the past tense of “mope”.

  • I don’t think Megu and Maya sharing a bath with Chino occurs within the same chapter, but the animated adaptation of GochiUsa has always presented a coherent, enjoyable flow of events despite the liberties it takes. The page quote deals with home this time: while the official GochiUsa website gives the plot as dealing with Chino asking her friends to watch the summer fireworks with her, the trailer suggests that Dear My Sister is going to be about more than just the fireworks, rather similar to how Pretty Days ended up being about more than Shinobu working hard to finish all of her tasks ahead of their class play at the school cultural festival.

  • The manga reveals that everyone’s gotten Cocoa-sick to some extent: Sharo starts speaking in a highly flowery, optimistic manner while meeting up with Rize, Chiya begins naming various food items after Cocoa, and Rize herself loses her cool after smiling the warmest smile ever, outright begging Cocoa to come back. One of the main themes of the second season was just how much of an impact Cocoa’s had on those around her, and even if it’s not quite the same as Yoshino Koharu had on Manoyama in Sakura, the second season’s strength really lay in illustrating the magic that a single individual can have.

  • In light of troubling events around the world as of late, I think that it’s important that people never lose sight of what’s important, doing what’s right for others and taking the time to step back and relax in a manner appropriate for them. This is the reason that I am particularly fond of GochiUsa and anime of its class: it helps me relax and take my mind off challenges from the real world: anime that engages too many neurons are not my cup of tea despite their narrative and technical excellence, and I further consider it a folly to take relaxing anime such as these too seriously.

  • One of the questions I’ve seen floating around on Reddit is the unusual syntax of “Dear My Sister”: in English, referring to one’s beloved takes the form “My Dear Sister”, but in this case, the title is intended to denote “Dear, My Sister”: the OVA is intended to act as a letter of sorts, and while the trailers do not show this, it is possible that the OVA could be presented in such a format. Armed with the manga and using Pretty Days as a precedent,

  • While modelled after Colmar, France, the town in GochiUsa also derives elements from Hungary from an architectural perspective, while elements of Japanese and German culture are quite prevalent, as well. To the best of my knowledge, Colmar does have a summer music festival, Festival international de musique classique de Colmar, but it’s not structured in the same manner as Japanese summer festivals – as per its name, the Colmar festival is a classical music festival. The town in GochiUsa is the ultimate combination of cultures, and it is with a mark of pride that I can say that I live somewhere where such cultural diversity is a given.

  • In Japan, I saw folks wearing yukata while visiting the Kinkakuji. Being modelled after the Japanese Yamato Nadeshiko, Chiya is seen wearing a yukata in the Deak My Sister trailer, and it is only in the likes of something like GochiUsa where one can have a Japanese-style summer festival amidst the Alsace area. In the manga, the summer festival ended up being quite short, but the biggest advantage about the animated medium is that things like fireworks and visuals of the town under festival lighting can be rendered in exceptional detail.

  • Like the quiet Saturday morning two years ago, the weather today is looking quite pleasant, although I’ve heard reports that things could darken later on. However, unlike last time, there are several differences: first, I will be heading off to lift weights in a few moments. Further, Thanksgiving dinner will be tomorrow evening. It goes without saying that I’m absolutely excited about Dear My Sister, but unless there’s an ARIA-level miracle, I won’t be watching or writing about this for quite some time. Thus, for the present, it’s time to get this day started, and here’s to hoping I can get some good experiences out of the beta today.

Dear My Sister will cover the third to sixth chapters from the fifth volume of GochiUsa: Cocoa is leaving town and spending a week with her family out in the mountains. While Chino appears unperturbed by Cocoa’s absence, in contrast with Chiya, who visibly misses her already, Chino unconsciously expresses her longing for Cocoa. To take their mind off things, Rize tasks Chino, Maya and Megu with cleaning up Rabbit House. Chino begins reminiscing when she first met Rize, and later, they work to patch up a stuffed rabbit that Rize had given to Chino when they’d first met. Back in the mountains, Cocoa is spending quality time with her mother and older sister, Mocha. She returns to find Rabbit House a very lively place, and later, Chino asks everyone to attend the summer festival with her. Before they can do so, they must help Aoyama finish her manuscript ahead of a deadline, only for her to accidentally spill coffee on it. Even though Cocoa’s forgotten to finish her summer assignments, the girls enjoy the summer festival to their fullest, culminating with the fireworks that Chino’s wished to bring everyone together to see. This is about the scope of what I imagine Dear My Sister will cover. There are other chapters in the fifth volume that remained uncovered, and a third season is not outside the realm of possibility, as well. However, before we reach that bridge, there is quite a distance separating the present from the point where I will have an opportunity to write about Dear My Sister. As such, it is appropriate for me to step off and enjoy this Thanksgiving Long Weekend – while Thanksgiving dinner might be happening tomorrow, this time, there’s going to be cheesecake.

The Great Petersburg Strategy: Brave Witches OVA Review and Reflections

“I’m an unlucky charm…don’t go anywhere with me.” –Sophie Turner

After their arrival at the Petersburg base, Eila and Sanya find themselves kicked out of bed by Georgette, whose heart is intent on doing winter cleaning. Longing to visit the deserted streets of Petersburg with Sanya, Eila’s plans are dashed when Sanya is requested to discuss intelligence on the fronts. The next day, Eila runs into Waltrud and upon learning that Waltrud has set out to win Sanya’s heart, tries to stop her, only to burst into Sanya’s room while she’s changing. Alexsandra appears and defuses the situation, hauling Waltrud and Eila off so the latter can provide instruction for the other 502nd Witches. Sanya and Eila encounter Sadako on the third day while sneaking about base, trying to sneak out undetected to have a date together; Sadako acts in a manner contrary to her usual self and cuddles with Sanya while Eila tries in vain to stop her. As New Year’s Eve approaches, the girls begin preparing a special Russian dinner to celebrate. Learning that watching fireworks with someone special will bring them closer together, Eila decides to add fireworks to their celebration with the hope of becoming closer to Sanya, but Gundula denies Eila’s request for fireworks. Mid-dinner, a Neuroi attack prompts a section of the 502nd to sortie. Eila helps Hikari stabilise in flight before she, Sanya, Edytha engage the Neuroi in combat. They learn quickly that this Neuroi has tougher armour than bog-standard Neuroi, and despite their efforts the Neuroi breaks through their ranks. Owing to Eila’s precognition magic, she is able to foresee this and breaks off to intercept the Neuroi, destroying it. The resulting ceramic shards from the Neuroi give the impression of fireworks, allowing Eila to share a tender moment with Sanya. This is the gist of the Brave Witches OVA’s events, whose focus is predominantly on Sanya and Eila.

After the end of Strike Witches: Operation Victory Arrow, audiences were disappointed that Sanya and Eila were not given their own OVA – Operation Victory Arrow‘s final instalment dealt with Lynette and Perrine. While enjoyable, viewers were hoping to see more of the dynamics between Eila and Sanya, whose relationship has been of great interest to fans of Strike Witches. With this in mind, the Brave Witches OVA delivers this in spades: the OVA’s emphasis is on humour, providing a highly entertaining story about Eila’s efforts to spend time with Sanya, and despite her frequent failures, it is after the battle that Eila’s wish to watch fireworks with Sanya comes true, in manner of speaking. One of the great ironies of Strike Witches is that despite Eila’s powers for precognition, she’s unable to really find the opportunity to get closer to Sanya, being bested time and time again by the machinations of bad luck. However, like Strike Witches: The Sky That Connects Us, Eila is able to be there with Sanya in the most tender of moments, offsetting her usual bad luck and the comical situations she finds herself in while in pursuit of Sanya’s heart. The combination of hilarity and heart-warming moments in Eila’s efforts to court Sanya is what that makes their moments so enjoyable to watch: between Eila’s exasperation at how many of the 502nd is seemingly vying with her for Sanya’s attention and the lengths she is willing to go in order to do the same, the Brave Witches OVA ultimately ends up being the Eila and Sanya OVA that Strike Witches fans were looking for, being well worth the wait.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • My considerable prowess for Google-fu has not yielded any results, so I am very confident in saying that this is the internet’s first and only review of the Brave Witches OVA. As is the typical modus operandi, this post will feature thirty screenshots and a bit of a surprise that leads me to note that, if you’re at a workplace or place of learning, please do not scroll any further. I will open the post with Georgette brusquely awakening Eila and Sanya, declaring her intention to clean their room. Her enthusiasm brings to mind Yūna’s energy from Yūki Yūna is a Hero: she’s a far cry from her quiet, shy self seen in Brave Witches proper.

  • This is not particularly surprising a comparison; both Yūna and Georgette are voiced by Haruka Terui. The Brave Witches OVA is set in between the seventh and eighth episode, following the Christmas party that Nikka tries to prepare for Hikari, and before Eila and Sanya depart early during the eighth episode. For folks familiar with Strike Witches: The Sky That Connects us, the OVA is very similar to Eila and Sanya’s chapter in terms of composition.

  • Unlike the installations that Yoshika and the 501st reside in during Strike Witches and its second season, the Petersburg base is a little older and less well-maintained. Cracks are visible in the walls, and there’s a distinctly minimal personal effects or clutter in the girls’ rooms. Here, the play of light suggests an early morning, and Eila’s plans to bring Sanya out on a walk of the nearby city are promptly done away with when Edytha and Gundula ask Sanya to debrief them on the situation in other regions.

  • While the OVA’s only been available since August 25, there were theatrical screenings that preceded the release of the BD volumes containing the OVA back in May. I’ve seen at least one individual fly to Japan for the singular goal of watching the OVA. For me, that is an unreasonable use of money, since the cost of a flight would set me back by an average of 1300 CAD (and cheaper flights start at around 800 CAD). Even for folks situated in other parts of the world more conducive for travelling to Japan on short notice (e.g. from Manila, a flight starts at 400 CAD on average), it’s more economical to simply import the BDs even if the wait is longer.

  • While this OVA might deal predominantly with Sanya and Eila, there are other moments worth mentioning, including Georgette’s unexpected decision to use force in vacating Naoe from her spot to continue with her cleaning. Even if the feat itself is not particularly impressive considering what Witches can do when drawing upon their powers fully, when Georgette Hulks out and tosses Naoe from her spot, bed and all, the moment leads to all sorts of comedy.

  • While the original televised run of Brave Witches was marred by obvious CG elements, the BDs represent a considerable leap in visual quality. The OVA continues on with the quality present in the BDs, and here, a small book unearthed when Georgette moves Naoe’s bed is visible. It turns out to be titled “The Little Princess”, and Georgette remarks it’s a cute book uncharacteristic of the fare that Naoe is typically seen reading. I have a very diverse interest in books, ranging from the political thrillers of Tom Clancy to Steven Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time”.

  • Naoe’s ensuing reaction was a bloody riot, and second only to Eila, Naoe’s funny face moments in the OVA alone make it worth watching. Here, I will admit that the Brave Witches OVA arrived much sooner than expected, just in time for the long weekend. I also learned that Battlefield 1‘s In The Name of the Tsar DLC will become available to premium players on the fifth of September, which coincides with the conclusion of the Labor Day Long Weekend and when I did a talk for the Battlefield 1 beta last year.

  • The latest DLC is Russian-themed, and so, is a perfect opportunity to experience Brave Witches in the Frostbite Engine. I’ll be doing a few talks as I experience the DLC, but for the present, we return to Brave Witches, which pits Waltrud and Eila in a one-on-one. Both are formidable Witches when in the air, but on the ground away from their duties, their actions belie their prowess in the skies. After Eila runs into Waltrud, she quickly takes off to protect Sanya from Waltrud’s plans.

  • Eila and Waltrud burst into Sanya’s room, only to be surprised at the sight awaiting them. One must wonder where Waltrud got the bouquet of flowers from; such commodities cannot be inexpensive, and it is unlikely that the 502nd have a flower garden at their base. Even if this were the case, the Russian winter would preclude anything from growing. Having said this, the presence of fresh flowers is not a big deal, providing a bit of visual humour.

  • Earlier, I remarked that this post has images that are ill-suited for viewing at a workplace. This particular screenshot is not the pair I’m referring to; after initial surprise at having unexpected guests, Sanya’s reaction turns to one of embarrassment. I don’t think I’ve seen Sanya sport such an expression previously, and therein lies one of the joys of OVAs, allowing characters to demonstrate a side of their characters that would otherwise not be seen or feel out of place in the narrative proper.

  • When Alexsandra passes by, she manages to separate Eila and Waltrud, before turning to Sanya and noting that Sanya’s got a very pleasant presence that Alexsandra can relate to. This is hardly surprising, considering that both are from Orussia. After a short conversation, Alexsandra’s come to borrow Eila to help provide instruction for the 502nd’s other Witches, and knowing that Waltrud is likely to capitalise in Eila’s absence, hauls her away, as well.

  • Despite her precognition magic giving her a unique edge in battle by offering her a glimpse into the immediate future, not unlike that of a Newtype, Eila’s technical ability of a Witch is lacking: she’s very dependent on her ability to keep ahead of enemies in battle and therefore has had little incentive to develop teamwork and her mastery of shield projection. Consequently, she finds it very difficult to explain her tactics during combat: it somewhat brings to mind Randall Munroe’s “Thing Explainer”, a very clever book that explains how things work using the thousand most common English words – one of my favourites includes “tall road” for “bridge” and “up goer 5” for “Saturn V Rocket”.

  • Eila’s explanations leave the others befuddled; Hikari seems to derive the idea that combat is explosive and high paced, while Naoe is frustrated. Meanwhile, Waltrud does not even seem to care, enamoured by Eila herself. Alexsandra is disappointed at this turn of events, exasperated that Eila’s not of more help. I’ve not been a TA for quite some time now, but I imagine that I used to be reasonably clear as a TA. Beyond being known helping students, both in and outside of my own section on short notice, one of my favourite remarks from students is “speaks fluent English”.

  • Georgette, meanwhile, continues on her cleaning spree. It is largely through her efforts that the Petersburg base remain quite clean and inviting even in spite of its aging facilities. It’s actually a very nice touch to see chipped paint in walls exposing the brick underneath, giving the base a much older, worn feeling to it. However, older and having seen better days does not correspond with being a dank, unfriendly place to be: good lighting and cleanliness does wonders for making older buildings a cozy place to be.

  • Eila’s quest to take Sanya on a date in Petersburg fails completely even when she employs her magic to evade other members of the 502nd. In Brave Witches proper, Sadako is quite reserved – it’s an unexpected aspect of her character that audiences see in the OVA, as she hugs Sanya tightly, to Eila’s great displeasure. Her efforts to extricate Sanya from Sadako end in failure. It is here that some of Eila’s best “funny face” moments come to be.

  • Naoe and Edytha watch on as Sadako continues cuddling with Sanya in the presence of a highly riled-up Eila, implying in their conversation that Sadako’s done that to everyone else in the 502nd. As nearly eleven months have passed since I watched Brave Witches, I cannot quite remember of Sadako does something similar to Hikari: in the anime proper, I remember her as a capable cook who doubted her abilities as a Witch.

  • Not even the 502nd’s captains are safe from Georgette’s Need to Clean. After Georgette evicts them from Gundula’s office, Alexsandra and Gundula are left to enjoy their tea in peace, but in the cool of the hallway. While I wouldn’t quite go so far as to say I’d welcome a Russian winter right now, the temperature where I am hit a maximum of 32ºC. It’s quite the contrast from last year, where the weather was grey and overcast when I visited Drumheller.

  • Georgette expresses her gratitude to Sanya for having helped her catch a mouse that was getting into their provisions, leading a jealous Sadako to remark that it’s taking her full self-restraint to not hug Sanya again. While Sanya might be a character in Strike Witches, for folks in China, Sanya (三亚) is the name of Heinan’s southernmost city. With a population of 685000, the city is known as China’s Florida, being a popular destination for its warm weather and pleasant beaches.

  • Sadako praises Sanya for her knowledge of Orussian cuisines; for their New Year’s Eve party, borscht (борщ-суп, a sour soup made from beets), pirozhki (пирожки, a fried bread with beef and vegetable filling), Olivier salad (Russian salad with potatoes, a variety of vegetables, apples and chicken), pelmeni (пельме́ни, dumplings with a meat or fish filling) and a dish known colloquially as “Herring under a fur coat” (Селёдка под шубой, or “dressed herring”) are on the menu. Dressed herring is very popular as a New Year’s Eve dish in Russia, being made of pickled herring topped with layers of layers of grated boiled vegetables (potatoes, carrots, beet roots), chopped onions, and mayonnaise. Now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever had Russian cuisine before.

  • When Edytha gives Sanya permission to use her caviar collection to make something for the New Year’s Eve party, Waltrud appears out of the blue and wantonly wastes it, this time by eating it directly, earning herself yet another beating from Edytha. This is a returning joke from Brave Witches, where Waltrud had previously destroyed Edytha’s caviar stock when supplies were running low amidst a fierce snowstorm. Enraged by the other’s efforts in stealing Sanya from her, Eila suddenly loses steam and decides to go with Nikka to the sauna on base.

  • In The Sky That Connects Us, Eila, Sanya and Nikka relax in a sauna, but they’re wearing towels: the OVA has them without any sort of clothing, and the last post I have an open screenshot of papilla mammaria was for Yosuha no Sora, which was not too long ago. After groping everyone, including Nikka, and remarking that she’s bored, Eila resigns herself to the fact that she might not get to spend any time with Sanya while they’re in Petersburg. However, Nikka notes that watching fireworks in the company of a special someone might push things along, re-energising Eila.

  • Steam certainly does not work this way in reality: Eila stands up and hops off, with the steam following her as she moves. However, if Brave Witches had dared to go the whole nine yards in this moment, I would have not featured the screenshot at all. While Nikka and Naoe watch Eila leave to make the proposal of including fireworks in the evening celebrations to Gundula, Hikari basks in a memory of her watching fireworks with Takami.

  • While a day trip out of town would be nice, the hotter temperatures today meant such a trip would be somewhat uncomfortable. In lieu of this, I figured it would be appropriate to visit the area mall instead: I’ve been looking to buy new running shoes to replace a pair from two years ago, as well as a new bag (my old backpack has been around since I was an undergraduate). This particular mall is a relatively new one and quite popular; it’s very busy during the Labour Day long weekend, and after enjoying New York Fries’ Premium Dog (which I added relish, onions, mustard, ketchup and hot sauce to) and their latest Beef Lovers’ poutine, I picked up the items I was looking to buy. After a day’s shopping, we then went out for dinner at a Chinese restaurant, which featured a chicken stir-fry, sa lai gwut (which I finally figured out the hanji for, being “沙拉骨”), crispy shrimps and vegetables.

  • It’s now evening, and although the weather is cooling down, a thick smoke is covering the area again. Back in Brave Witches, the 502nd settle down to dinner after Gundula gives a short New Year’s toast, resolving to work towards ending the Human-Neuroi War. The foods mentioned earlier are present, but as the girls begin to enjoy things, an alarm signals the arrival of a Neuroi. This turn of events is hardly unexpected: every Strike Witches episode and OVA previous feature Neuroi combat. Thus, it’s time to take off into the night and deal with the enemy.

  • Sanya’s magic allows her to project radio waves and act as a human AWACS, detecting hostile elements in the air even under the cover of darkness. With Hikari in tow, Sanya is reminded of Yoshika and their first night battle together, suggesting that they hold hands to avoid getting separated. Carrying the Fliegerhammer MRL into combat, Sanya provides heavy firepower useful for punching through the ceramic exterior of a Neuroi. This weapon is likely the logical development for the Fliegerfaust (“pilot fist”), a prototype German multi-barrel rocket launcher that was intended to act as a MANPAD, and shares similarity in appearance to the American M202 FLASH, a multiple-tube rocket launcher for firing incendiary projectiles.

  • The low light conditions of night combat causes Hikari to lose orientation and enter a spin, but Eila, who’d been surprisingly incapable of providing useful advice earlier, helps Hikari return to a stable flight pattern here. When the Witches begin engaging the Neuroi, they find its armour uncommonly tough, requiring multiple direct hits from Edytha and Sanya to begin even cracking the armour. Even after they expose the core, the Neuroi’s quick regeneration and subsequent boost of speed surprises the Witches – it punches through their lines on a beeline to their base.

  • However, this turns out to have been the distraction Eila needed: she was able to foresee this and already positioned herself to destroy the Neuroi. With several well-placed shots from her MG-42, the Neuroi disappears into a shower of luminescent crystals, filling the sky with a calm glow evocative of a single, impressive firework.

  • While Eila is disappointed that her wish of spending some time with Sanya while in Petersburg was seemingly not realised (she never does have the chance to explore the deserted city adjacent to their base during the time the two spend in Petersburg), and that there were no fireworks to speak of, Sanya notes that the Neuroi shards resemble fireworks, which suggests to Eila that she did get her wish after all. The two usher in a New Year hand-in-hand subsequently.

  • With the Neuroi threat eliminated, the OVA draws to a close and reminds audiences that the narrative resumes in episode eight. This also coincides to the near-end of this post: I was not expecting to finish the Brave Witches OVA this quickly, but all the same, it’s nice to get this talk out of the gates. I am, however, surprised at the lack of discussion (or even reaction) from the folks who’ve been long waiting for a Sanya and Eila OVA since Operation Victory Arrow ended with Arnhem Bridge two years ago  – that we did end up getting a Sanya and Eila OVA through Brave Witches is most certainly welcome.

  • I’ll close this post off with a screenshot of Sanya smiling, and looking into the future, the next post on the horizon will deal with Kantai Collection: The Movie. With Battlefield 1‘s In The Name of The Tsar not releasing until after the long weekend is over, I will take advantage of this time to watch the movie and write about it. The alternative is forgetting about this film after the DLC releases, and quite truthfully, that would result in certain death for any Kantai Collection: The Movie discussion that I would have otherwise have planned; DICE was not joking around when they said the In The Name of The Tsar DLC would be the biggest Battlefield update of all time. Besides the new maps, weapons and game modes, DICE has also made sweeping changes to the way LMGs, SMGs and self-loading rifles handle, as well as to conquest ticket bleed. The end results, which can be experienced in CTE, make Battlefield 1 feel a lot more similar to Battlefield 4 and Battlefield 3 in handling.

Overall, the Brave Witches OVA ended up being a romp through the chaos at the 502nd headquarters that emphasised humour, bringing to mind the setup for Strike Witches‘ second season. Brave Witches ended up being a more focused, narrative-driven presentation of the Strike Witches universe that demonstrated the franchise could cover ground beyond gratuitous pantsu moments: the narrative was squarely centred around Hikari’s journey towards becoming a full-fledged member of the 502nd, showcasing Neuroi that were legitimate threats in their operation and firepower. The TV series proper succeeded in doing so, spinning a much more focused story that allowed the characters to grow and shine. Consequently, the decision to return back to the comedy and lighter-hearted tones in an OVA was a well-made one, allowing the characters to be seen behaving in entertaining ways without compromising the emotional tenour of the TV series proper. I’ve not seen or heard any news about a continuation of Brave Witches, or if there will be focus on a new group of Witches in any sequels. Even with three seasons in total in addition to a film, the world of Strike Witches remains one that is rife with opportunity for exploration, and as such, any continued exploration of this world would be most welcome in my books.

The Story of Memories Made During the Promised Summer: Amanchu! OVA Review and Reflections

“I turned myself into a pickle, Morty! Boom! Big reveal; I’m a pickle! What do you think about that? I turned myself into a pickle! What are you just staring at me for, bro? I just turned myself into a pickle, Morty…here’s something that’s never happened before; I’m…a…pickle! I’M PICKLE RICK!!” –Rick Sanchez, Rick and Morty

Futaba’s best friends from middle school, Akane and Chizuru, stop by Izu to visit her and Hikari. They enjoy a tour of Izu with Hikari and her grandmother. Akane and Chizuru notice a profound change in Futaba, who has become more confident and expressive since they’d last met. She cites Hikari’s influence as being what introduced this transformation, leading Chizuru to begin wondering if Hikari’s taken Futaba from them. Later, Futaba invites Akane and Chizuru on guided diving. Akane pairs up with Futaba, leaving Chizuru to go with Hikari. Midway into their dive, water pressure induces pain in Chizuru’s ears, but with instruction from Hikari, she manages to clear up and continue; after realising the wonders of the ocean, Chizuru reveals she was a little jealous of Hikari, but having seen Hikari’s helpful and friendly nature, finds that Futaba’s met the perfect friend. They promise to visit again in the future. Released back in March, the Amanchu! OVA represents a welcome return to the tranquil, cathartic world that Futaba encounters after moving from Tokyo; like its predecessor, the OVA continues with themes of friendship and growth as a result of complimenting personalities: the bold Hikari encourages Futaba to open up and enjoy the present, while the more reserved Futaba reigns in Hikari some to prevent misunderstandings. Thus, when Akane and Chizuru were introduced, the girls find they can get along as well as any friends, even in spite of Chizuru’s initial reservations. Simple, concise and enjoyable, the Amanchu! OVA encapsulates the very same elements that made the original anime so enjoyable. In this OVA, there is an additional element that proved to be a remarkably pleasant surprise.

This surprise took the form of Erino Hazuki and Chiwa Saitō taking on the voices for Akane and Chizuru, respectively. Best known as ARIA‘s Akari Mizunashi and Aika S. Granzchesta, respectively, Hazuki and Saitō bring into Amanchu! a piece of ARIA that is captured in both their voices, mannerisms and even their appearances: Akane is evidently influenced by Akari, and Chizuru draws heavily from Aika. Amanchu! is quite fond of the chibi artstyle, with Hikari and Futaba taking on very distinct traits whenever rendered in such a form. This convention applies to Akane and Chizuru, as well: each character is quite similar to their chibi counterparts in ARIA. When I originally finished Amanchu!, I had not finished ARIA‘s three seasons, but having done so now, I can conclusively say that beyond being immensely relaxing and enjoyable in their own rights, ARIA and Amanchu! cannot be compared to one another from a thematic perspective. Having said this, there are definitely numerous similarities that the two series share, a result of both manga being written by Kozue Amano. Elements from ARIA make their way into Amanchu!, whether it be the solid presence of cats, a focus on the subtleties in life or the gentle music accompanying scenes (in the anime): nowhere else in Amanchu! are these influences as evident as they are in the OVA. Altogether, the Amanchu! OVA, in depicting a memorable summer event for Futaba and her friends, also crafts a wonderful anime that is well-suited for watching during the dog days of summer, when the weather is a trifle too hot for being outside.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • An immensely relaxing and satisfying anime to watch, Amanchu! was, along with New Game!‘s first season, one of the two anime I followed a summer ago. Since then, it would appear that writing two anime per season appears to be the upper bound for what I am able to commit the time to writing for this blog. Conceptualising and writing blog posts is a rather time-consuming process, and consequently, I have nothing but respect and amazement for the folks who manage to write consistently, sometimes even putting out several posts in a day.

  • While I certainly won’t be able to have that sort of output, I can definitely focus on the quality of individual posts. This is why posts are becoming larger as of late: OVAs and longer discussions of anime I am actively following usually have thirty images compared to the standard twenty of discussions dealing with an anime after three episodes and my older posts. This post on the Amanchu! OVA will feature thirty screenshots. Here, Futaba’s friends, Akane and Chizuru, arrive in Izu under pleasant summer skies.

  • Hikari’s excitement is palatable in all of the moments she’s present in, and while Akane rolls with things as they occur, Chizuru seems a little more uptight. This is not surprising, mirroring Akari and Aika’s respective personalities in ARIA. An anime about miracles, I also happened to play DOOM during the time that I began watching ARIA, so this blog is probably the only place that will dare posit that ARIA‘s Aqua is the consequence of the events seen in DOOM.

  • After introductions, Hikari’s grandmother drives the girls to their first destination during a tour of Izu, a restaurant in the area known for their quality. The girls are all smiles, and I’ve seen some discussions surrounding Chizuru’s semi-transparent jacket. If I had to guess, it’s either made with an uncommonly light material of sorts, perfect for hot summer days, or else is a rain jacket. Given the climate of Izu, the former seems more logical.

  • In shows like Futurama and Rick and Morty, food is depicted in a very basic manner: anime, on the other hand, is known for its exceptionally detailed depictions of food. If and when I’m asked, the only shows that can top out anime in making me wish to eat something would be an actual food show. Here, the girls look at an ebi furai (蝦フライ, “fried shrimp) in detail: popular in Nagoya, ebi furai differ from tempura in its preparation, being made with bread crumbs rather than a batter. Futaba and the others marvel at the amount of meat within and impressed the batter is quite thin. This is a useful metric for determining whether one is getting their value: some places will give the impression of impressive fried items by adding more batter or bread crumbs, but quality restaurants usually have thinner fried layers.

  • Closer inspection of this moment finds each of Chizuru, Akane, Futaba and Hikari with their distinct chibi appearances. We’re well familiar with Futaba and Hikari’s chibi forms, while Chizuru and Akane take on Aika and Akari’s appearances, respectively – Aika’s mouth takes on a cat-like form, while Akari’s face flattens out to become simple geometric shapes. I personally love them, as they serve as visual cues for when something unusual or ridiculous has happened, although some people find them to be ” just ugly and detract from everything else”.

  • Such remarks can only come from folks who do not appreciate the impact of visually representing emotions, and for the most part, such individuals are exceedingly rare; the prevailing opinion is that ARIA‘s chibi-forms add more to a moment, and personally, I’m rather fond of whenever Akari deforms. Returning to Amanchu!, while Izu is no Aqua, the quiet surroundings, vivid colours and seemingly-infinite wonders allows the areas to nonetheless give a similar sense as Aqua did. Overlooking the ocean, the cliffs create a sense of majesty.

  • One of the joys about anime such as Amanchu! is that whenever friends visit and are given a tour, they are invariably taken to places off the beaten track away from the crowds. Some spots, although well-known, can also be a little more involved to reach, such as Lake Louise and the Beehives, which is a moderate trail that offers hikers with a stunning view of Lake Louise from five hundred metres up, even when the entire region’s been smoked out from wildfires in neighbouring British Columbia. There’s more on this hike later.

  • Hikari’s grandmother is voiced by Kikuko Inoue of CLANNAD‘s Sanae Furukawa, Ah! My Goddess‘ Belldandy and Megu’s mother in GochiUsa. While her voice is generally very easy to pick out, as Hikari’s grandmother, Inoue is able to present an older-sounding voice that attests to her voice acting capacities. In Amanchu!, Hikari’s grandmother, Kino, runs the scuba-gear shop named Amanchu, from which the manga and anime derives its name.

  • Close inspection of the images will find that Akane is very similar in appearance to Akari: she even has Akari’s distinct sideburns, although they are not quite as long. Similarly, Chizuru has Aika’s shorter hair: after an accident causes her hair to be burnt during ARIA: The Natural. Aika subsequently sports short hair in expression of her confidence to be herself, and this is the hairstyle that I know Aika best for. Other trademark characteristics of Akari and Aika make their way into Akane and Chizuru’s dialogue, whether it be Akari’s “わーい” (waii~, or “yay!”) or Aika’s “禁止” (“kinshi”, or “not allowed!”).

  • While Futaba gazes into the distance, Hikari tosses Aria into the air. Akane and Chizuru remark that this Futaba is more confident and forward than they had previously known her. Chizuru’s conflicting internal feelings about Hikari bring to mind the sort of uncertainty and doubt that Aika faces as the heiress to Himeya. Noticeably absent in Amanchu! is an equivalent of Alice Carroll, whose personality is surprisingly similar to GochiUsa‘s Chino Kafuu. Like Chino, who becomes more open as a consequence of Cocoa’s influence, Alice warms up to Aika and Akari as ARIA progresses.

  • While on a rope bridge, Futaba asks Akane and Chizuru if they’re interested in taking a guided diving tour to experience the world that has so profoundly changed hers. Both readily agree, and Hikari makes to contact Mato. Because both Hikari and Futaba are now certified, Futaba feels confident in showing her friends the wonders of the ocean. Like numerous anime set under beautiful summer skies, the Amanchu! OVA confers a sense of longing, although here, the feeling stems from a yearning for adventure and making memories.

  • A sensation vertigo, brought on by the heights, causes Chizuru to lose her balance momentarily. She falls backwards, but Hikari manages to prevent any harm from coming to her, swiftly diving and using her arm to break Chizuru’s fall. This feeling stems from actions of the vestibular system, which is responsible for maintaining balance – heights and perception of instability can cause the system to activate in an attempt to return to a more stable posture, and when one is already stable, will actually induce a sense of motion that can contribute to anxiety. This is likely what’s happening with Chizuru, and I do not blame her; my legs become numb at great heights when looking down, and even in video games, jumping from heights causes me to experience a falling sensation despite my knowing full well that I am not in any immediate danger.

  • Amanchu! is mentioned to be set in Izu, which presumably refers to the Izu Peninsula just west of Tokyo. Specifically, the location is the eastern side of Izu, since the western side is more rugged and lacks a train station. A mountainous region home to around 470 000 people, the area’s geological activity corresponds to a large number of onsen in the area, as well as places where ocean gives way to sheer cliff faces. With this in mind, while Amanchu! could have done a hot springs episode owing to the geology, that the OVA chooses not to is a strong sign of the direction this series intends to take.

  • While Hikari’s friendship with Futaba is something she treasures greatly, Futaba has not forgotten her old friendships, either. Chizuru feels a little left behind, even envious, after seeing photographs of Futaba with Hikari and the diving club. Her doubts are not missed by the others, but like Aika, Chizuru tries to tough it out. It is therefore unsurprising that it takes a bit of support from her friends, old and new, to help Chizuru overcome these feelings, rather similar to how Aika can be dishonest about her feelings in ARIA and likewise required some coaxing to bring her feelings into the open.

  • The next day, Chizuru and Akane gear up in preparation for their dive. They meet Mato for the first time and are briefed on the very basics of diving. Some patrons of a beach-side café are visible here, with beers in hand, and I am reminded of the fact that I am susceptible to the effects of alcohol more strongly than my peers because of an acetaldehyde dehydrogenase problem. This runs in the family: my cousins and uncles report a similar problem, and from a populations perspective, affects around a third of people with an East Asian descent.

  • I’m now at that age where I’m closer to the instructors in age than I am the students – it’s that sweet spot where one is old enough to have a bit of liberty to come and go as they please, while still young enough to enjoy things in a (somewhat) carefree manner. Mato certainly seems to embody this spirit: she’s a responsible individual who can be quite strict, but also encourages her students to have fun and will not hesitate to participate with her students in more lighthearted moments.

  • The differences in Futaba at the start of Amanchu! and as she is by the OVA’s events are quite profound. It is here, close to Kino’s scuba shop that Futaba first encounters Hikari, and things have come full-circle: whereas the Futaba of the first episode was very much fixated on missing her old home and friends, the Futaba we see in the OVA is very comfortable with open-ocean diving at this poin, feeling right at home near the ocean, having come to love the seas for having helped her view the world in a new light.

  • While Akane and Chizuru familiarise themselves with diving, I capitalised on the weather to hike Lake Agnes and the Big Beehive today. These are some of Banff’s most well-known hikes, and while the skies were flooded with smoke, the hike itself turned out to be quite enjoyable: up to Lake Agnes and their famous teahouse, things remain quite easy. The trail only really becomes a bit more involved en route to Big Beehive; numerous switchbacks dominate the trail once past the rockfall.

  • Amanchu!‘s original divers, Mato, Hikari and Futaba, gear up in preparations for taking Akane and Chizuru out into the ocean. On my end, there was no ocean, but rather, an enjoyable hike up five hundred metres total. We stopped briefly at Lake Agnes for a break, accosted by numerous Tamias minimus looking for free apples, before continuing on to the Big Beehive viewpoint. The hike from the Lake Agnes Teahouse starts out easy, but after clearing a rockfall, where Devil’s Thumb can be seen, there’s a series of switchbacks up the side of the mountain. It’s quite dusty and requires slow, methodical pacing, being moderately steep, but the climb is well worth it.

  • Once the top of the Big Beehive is reached, there’s a small trail there leading to an observation gazebo. This proved an immensely scenic locale for stopping for a quick bite (a ham and tomato sandwich), and afterwards, climbed towards the edge of the Big Beehive overlooking Lake Louise. From up here, the Chateau is tiny, with with Lake Louise Village and the Trans-Canada highway visible even on a smokey day. While the smoke may have prevented fantastic-looking photographs, it did keep the temperatures within a comfortable range. We would come back down to the Lake Agnes Teahouse for some tea (I bought a Chamomile; the cooler weather made the tea an appropriate choice), before taking on the hike back down to the Chateau for the drive home.

  • After making our way back into town, I sat down to a pleasant dinner at Shanghai Palace, which featured crispy chicken, salt-and-pepper calamari, vegetable dishes and a sweet and sour beef ribs dish I only know as sa lai gwut. Dinner is now over, the sun is setting, and it’s a time to relax for the evening: I’m totally exhausted. For the record, Shanghai Palace is one such restaurant with high quality fried meats. Back in Amanchu!, Hikari helps remind Chizuru about equalising the pressure accumulated in her ears when the latter panics. Here, Chiruzu learns that Hikari is genuinely caring for her friends, and when she subsequently makes to reach Futaba and Akane, who are further ahead, she begins spinning about.

  • With assistance from Hikari, Chizuru makes it to where the others are, and finally understands what about the ocean that lead to Futaba’s transformation, being surprised that light can penetrate the ocean and illuminate it to reveal a vast world normally hidden from sight. This is true to a certain extent: sunlight usually penetrates to around 200 meters in the water, and indeed, the deep reaches of the oceans below 1000 meters are pitch black.

  • Diving in the ocean was something that Futaba was slowly working towards in Amanchu! itself; some viewers felt that things were occurring a little too slowly, but I counter that the slow introduction towards diving has a two-fold purpose: the first is to emphasise that it takes time to coax Futaba out of her shell and become more adventurous, and the second is that by going over the basics at a slower pace also allows audiences to pick up on the details, which allows them to understand Futaba’s actions by the time she reaches a point where she’s ready for her certification exam.

  • Akane marvels at the sights underneath the ocean. Compared to Chizuru, she’s less uptight and more open-minded, mirroring the dynamics between Akari and Aika in ARIA. As the Amanchu! incarnation of Akari, Akane brings into Amanchu! a piece of ARIA; her personality’s largely remain unchanged accounting for why she has little development in the episode, and as mentioned earlier, having Erino Hazuki perform Akane’s voice is a particularly welcome decision. Similarly, Aika’s internal struggles in ARIA seem to have been ported over to Amanchu! in Chizuru.

  • Thanks to Hikari, what began on a rough footing for Chizuru turns into a magical moment for her as she takes in the sights and sounds of the ocean. The OVA perfectly captures the sum of everything that’s happened in Amanchu! and features almost as much diving as seen in the full run of original anime itself. Here, I remark that I am coming from the anime-only perspective and have not read the Amanchu! manga as of yet; this particular limitation is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, I can approach the anime from a naïf perspective, which frees me from bias and previous beliefs about the anime, but it also holds me back from speculating as to what will happen next, as I know the manga is always a few steps ahead of what I’ve seen.

  • All good things must come to an end, and as the Amanchu! OVA draws to a close, Futaba and Hikari bid Akane and Chizuru farewell, hoping that they will come visit again. On average, a train journey from Tokyo to Izu takes a hair under three hours, costing around 5400 Yen (64 CAD with present exchange rates) – such a journey, while not one to be taken on a whim, is one that shows that Futaba and her friends are not separated by insurmountable barriers of distance and cost.

  • Because I did not otherwise feature an adaquately large pool of moments where Akane takes on Akari’s trademark chibi expressions, I will now do so right before this posts closes fully. I cannot quite put my finger on why, but there is a character to the deformed appearance of Akari and Akane’s that is so endearing to behold. By now, I’ve become well-accustomed to Kozue Amano’s distinct style, so the appearance of chibi form character expressions in both Amanchu! and ARIA are no longer as surprising as when I first began watching Amanchu!.

  • One of the things I particularly liked as a small detail in Amanchu! is that characters blushing have diagonal lines drawn across their faces in addition to the distinct pink colour associated with blushing. Different anime approach rendering blushing differently, whether its subtle patches of pink on one’s face, a full-body transformation, or my personal favourite, an emissive blush that gives the sense that the individual in question is producing black-body radiation.

  • Akane pets Chizuru at the Amanchu! OVA’s closing; with this thirteeth screenshot and accompanying figure caption, the Amanchu! OVA I’d been longing to write about since March is finally in the books. We’re rapidly closing on the halfway point of August by now, and I’m also nearing the halfway point for Far Cry 4, meaning there might be a post coming out on that in the near future in addition to a talk for Brave Witches OVA. Finally, the page quote is completely irrelevant to Amanchu!; sourced from the latest Rick and Morty episode, it should be clear that I had a great deal of fun watching the third episode. I figured I should use the quote in one of my reviews before the next episode comes out tomorrow: many apologies in advance for f–king with Google’s search algorithms in advance! Finally, last weekend, I also watched Dunkirk: it’s a highly visceral depiction of the Dunkirk Evacuation in 1940 that I enjoyed most for the use of sound, non-linear storyline and suspense-building.

Looking ahead, Amanchu! is still presently running in manga form, and consequently, it would not be surprising if it were to receive a second season. I’ve heard from friends familiar with the manga that future volumes hold interesting events that are said to, and I quote: “[dovetail] back into the ARIA franchise in completely unexpected ways”. There is certainly quite a bit of content for a second season, and while I’ve heard very little about a continuation, any continuations of Amanchu! will be worth watching. For now, the Amanchu! OVA in the books, and I note that I’ve actually had plans to write about this for quite some time: the OVA itself was released back in March, although the opportunity to do so had not presented itself until now. With this being said, the OVA’s focus on the summer makes it a perfect accompaniment for the hottest days of the year: this year’s been much hotter than last year, with more days reaching above 30°C than last year’s comparatively paltry one day. While the sunshine and warmth have been a boon for folks seeking to make the most of the weather, it’s also meant wildfires and damaged crops; some rain would be nice in relieving the incredibly dry conditions all around. Returning to Amanchu!‘s OVA, I conclude by giving this OVA a strong recommendation for folks who enjoyed Amanchu!; it’s an essential addition to the series that was well worth viewers’ time.

My First Time on a Company Vacation: New Game! OVA Review and Reflection

“讀萬卷書不如行萬里路” —Chinese Proverb

Despite her initial fears about skiing during a company vacation, Aoba discovers that she enjoys skiing and overcomes her fear in the process. Meanwhile, Kō becomes sick and Rin looks after her. After a speedy recovery, Kō takes to drinking and goads Umiko into a drinking contest while Aoba and Hifumi relax in the onsen. The OVA for New Game! comes as a bonus for individuals who had bought each of the six home release volumes and submitted their proof-of-purchase stubs: despite early materials strongly suggesting that this would be a hot springs episode, the actual OVA turns out to be set at a ski resort, being a faithful adaptation of the manga’s story. Despite being a bonus episode set in the aftermath of Eagle Jump’s successful release, the simple tale of how Aoba manages to find enjoyment in something that she initially is initially apprehensive about serves as the episode’s message, acting as an analogue to her experiences with taking on a new job. Though doubtful, Aoba manages to find enjoyment in a new activity because of her interactions with her co-workers, as well as with her own resolve to make the most of things. Although simplistic, it’s a fitting element for the New Game! OVA that subtly mirrors the thematic elements seen in the anime proper. Fun, relaxing and fitting for New Game!, the OVA is something for all viewers who enjoyed New Game!, although folks should not be missing out on too much should they pass over the OVA.

The contents of the New Game! OVA bring to mind my own recent experiences. Having just returned from a two-week long vacation to Japan and Hong Kong, of which a week was spent in Japan, the time is also fresh to look back on my first-ever setting foot upon the Land of the Rising Sun; I do not quite feel up to the task of writing about this fantastic vacation just yet, primarily because so much was seen, done and eaten over the past two weeks. However, I will recount the second evening in Japan, during which the itinerary saw me visit the Hotel Heritage in Kumagaya. Set just a short ways outside of Tokyo, it’s located in a quiet area with beautiful scenery, although upon arrival, darkness had already settled over the land, hiding the landscape. After checking in, we sat down to an exquisitely prepared Japanese dinner: a personal-sized nabe with rich cuts of beef, katsu with shredded cabbage, sashimi and bento, along with snow crab. This was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and upon its conclusion, I soaked in the onsen. Despite living only an hour from the Banff Upper Hot Springs, I’ve never actually gone to a hot springs before, so this was a wonderful experience. I found the onsen empty upon arrival and had the bath to myself; after cleaning up, I stepped into the bath and marveled at the water’s warmth. After ten minutes, however, I began feeling light headed and exited to cool off. All in all, this was superlative, and I left with a sense of relaxation. These elements are seen in numerous anime, ranging from The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan and Urara Meirocho to K-On! and Yūki Yūna is a Hero: to have experienced the same first-hand is quite unlike merely watching from behind a screen, and it continues to impress me the extent that anime in the slice-of-life genre capture elements in Japan.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I’m back, baby! It’s been a shade over twenty days since my last post, and while it may have appeared that I unceremoniously stopped writing for my blog, the truth is that I was on vacation. Superbly enjoyable, I saw, hiked and ate my way through the trip in all of its glory. I mentioned earlier that I would be writing about the second Hai-Furi OVA, but the contents of the New Game! OVA were more closely aligned with my vacation experiences, so I figured that I would do a post that was one part anime discussion and one part a short discussion on my vacation.

  • The page quote, a Chinese proverb, translates directly to “it is better to travel ten thousand miles than to read ten thousand books”, and my experiences in Japan definitely confirm this: it was something to watch in anime the sorts of things Japanese people do for recreation, but quite another to have actually experienced it for myself. As is the custom, this talk will feature twenty screenshots, although like the Non Non Biyori OVAs, the images are captured from a DV PAL source and so, are of a lower resolution than my usual posts. When fit into a 640 by 360 form, the fuzziness is minimised and the image quality becomes acceptable for a blog post.

  • The start of the New Game! OVA sees a raging snowstorm that blankets the land in white. I’ve seen more than my share of snow during the past winter, which had been a bitterly cold one, and in a bit of irony, a powerful low pressure system swept into Alberta today, bringing with it powerful wind gusts reaching 100 km/h and copious amounts of rain. It even snowed while I was at work. In Hong Kong, a Black Rain Advisory was issued earlier today, and news reports of waist-deep flooding in places like Shau Kei Wan have arisen.

  • Aoba savours the moment as she prepares to tuck in to breakfast. One of the things that I enjoy most about travelling and staying in larger hotels is the fact that breakfasts are quite large, featuring all manners of baked goods such as bread, croissants, muffins and pancakes, as well as eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, vegetables, fruits, cereal and yogurts. In general, having a good breakfast is essential for keeping energy up for the day, and this goes double for travelling, which can be quite exhausting on account of all the listed activities: I typically have continental breakfasts or something quick at home, since I need to roll off for work on short order.

  • However, when I travel, there is invariably the opportunity to eat what is known as an American-style breakfast: the combination of simple and complex sugars, plus proteins means being able to maintain reasonable energy throughout the day. Diverse selections available at breakfast buffets means that I will also pick fruits, as travelling means reduced availability of fresh fruits. Here at breakfast, Aoba remarks that she’s more inclined to relax at the hotel rather than go skiing with the others. Midway through breakfast, Aoba notices that Kō’s not touched her food, and it turns out she’s developed a minor fever.

  • Rin looks after Kō to ensure that the latter makes a speedy recovery, and here I am, in the aftermath of my vacation, rocking a sore throat and cough. My health remained solid through the trip, but on the flight back home across the Pacific, I noticed that I was feeling a bit drier than usual, and drinking water did little to alleviate the sand in my throat. A bit of sleep the day after proved helpful, although I’m still coughing at the time of writing. Having said that, my headache has vanished, and the jet lag seems to be abating. Being sick while on vacation is unpleasant, but Kō’s choice to rest will allow her to recover.

  • While preparing for their ski run, the art team runs into Umiko, who is outfitted in winter gear and enjoying some time practising survival game drills in the snow. Between the choice of joining Umiko or skiing, Aoba decides to bite the bullet and remain with her colleagues. I’ve only ever gone skiing once: back during January 2012, I visited the mountains with friends from the Health Sciences program. My friends plainly overestimated my ability, and after a single hour of basic training, they decided to take me out to the “beginner” hills.

  • While I managed to hold out and make it for most of the track, there was a steeper hill that I was quite unprepared to deal with. Poor technique and inexperience saw me fly down the hill; I eventually hit a bump, did a front flip and landed back-first in the snow, winded, stopping just meters from some trees. In New Game!, Aoba’s colleagues seem a little more understanding and give her a bit more time in basic training.

  • Owing to the hazards associated with flying down a slippery, snow-covered slope on two thin pieces of wood, folks tend to wear helmets when they ski where I come from, so it does come across as a bit strange that the characters of New Game! are seen without helmets whilst skiing (especially Aoba, who’s about as much of a novice at the trip’s beginning as I am now). I am content to overlook this, since in fiction, characters are not subject to the laws of physics quite as vigorously as people would in reality 😛

  • Aoba crafts a number of miniature snowmen throughout the course of the OVA, giving them numeric designations, subjecting them to “tortures” by bringing them into the warmth and sending one to Kō to wish her a speedy recovery. She’s also heard making some snow-related puns during the episode, something that Hifumi notices but fails to give comment on. This playful side of Aoba’s personality, though not commonly seen during New Game! proper, is not unexpected, given that she is still quite young.

  • Aoba’s friend, Nene, reacts to a message from Aoba while studying on campus. Closer inspection of this image shows a large number of sticky notes in Nene’s textbooks and notes — it’s a common technique to allow one quicker access to important materials, but during my time as a student, I preferred creating notes anew for finals. This was motivated by the fact that I would be forced to revisit all the materials again to distill out core concepts to build a summary, allowing me to better recall things. As it turns out, after two days, Aoba’s become rather more familiar with skiing and is able to traverse the basic slopes without much difficulty, keeping up with the others.

  • As the evening sun sets in, Aoba’s perspective on skiing has done a full one-eighty. An open mind and willingness to learn has allowed her to become sufficiently skilled in skiing to enjoy it, and it is this that forms the basis for the OVA’s theme. Typically, OVAs do not offer much in the way of an overarching idea owing to their short length, but in supplementing the events of an anime proper, they can offer additional insights into the characters’ beliefs and values. Sometimes, these insights can be quite surprising, which is why I enjoy looking at OVAs and seeing what new perspectives they can provide viewers with about characters in a given show.

  • Yun, Hajime and Aoba relax in the outdoor bath with Kō and Rin. At the Hotel Heritage, there were indoor and outdoor baths, although the outdoor bath was for mixed use and required purchase of a special swimsuit. That evening was modestly warm, certainly more comfortable than the sub-zero conditions of New Game!, but despite being of the True North Strong and correspondingly accustomed to cold, I could not bring myself to go outside out of fear that I would catch the chills. The indoor bath, on the other hand, allows for folks to bathe without any sort of bating attire.

  • I stepped into the indoor bath only after thoroughly cleaning myself; the day had, after all, included a lightning tour of Tokyo, and we’d been rained on at some points. The bath was surprisingly quiet, and save for two other fellows, I had the place to myself. Back home, I’m quite bashful about walking around without clothes despite being modestly fit (a reminder of social norms in North America), but at the onsen, those reservations disappeared pretty quickly. Any more information and this post will become R-rated, so I will leave readers with an aesthetically pleasing view of Hifumi resting in the onsen.

  • Having recovered from her cold, Kō is back in business and challenges Umiko to a drinking contest even as they order different dishes at the hotel restaurant, including sea urchin and sashimi, which Kō enjoys tremendously. While a Japanese delicacy, and a part of dinner during my stay at Hotel Heritage, I was still in the early stage of my vacation and had no intention of taking the risk, however minor, of contracting food-borne illnesses — being the wet blanket that I am, I dipped the sashimi into the nabe pot and soon had myself some cooked fish that tasted delicious, on top of giving the broth a bit of extra kick.

  • If there were to be a single image in this entire post that captures how I felt while immersed in the soothing warmth of the onsen, Aoba’s expression here would be it. The indoor bath at Hotel Heritage, compared to New Game! and most anime, differ greatly; the particle density is lower (i.e. less steam) and water details are much greater (the water is clear, having no obscuring properties). Having Frostbite or CryEngine-level visual effects in anime dealing with hot springs is typically reserved for BD releases, and with this in mind, while New Game! is certainly playing it safe in its OVA, I would not have minded seeing this OVA (and Hifumi) on ultra settings.

  • Whil Aoba plays with a snowman and simulates killing it, Hifumi partakes in some sake. I speak strictly for myself when I say that I would not have done this; I’m already pretty bad with alcohol, and after some ten minutes of sitting in the onsen, I was beginning to feel a little light-headed. Sake would have almost certainly kicked my ass, although Hifumi is plainly enjoying hers. Closer inspection of this image finds that Aoba’s snowman has become a pile of mush from prolonged exposure to the warmth, a clever touch; I now understand why folks are depicted drinking a glass of milk after leaving the onsen. Feeling thoroughly content but a little dizzy after my soak, I took a bottle of cold water after returning to my hotel room.

  • In this post, I have taken advantage of the events of the New Game! OVA to recount one of my experiences while on my trip to Japan. Naturally, there were numerous others, and this will be the subject of a future post (most likely, soon, before I forget everything) — it was a thrilling journey, and I wish to do it justice. Here, as we near the end of the post, I remark that discussion on the New Game! OVA has been surprisingly minimal: even Tango-Victor-Tango’s self-appointed 3D modelling and computer hardware experts seems to have little to say about the OVA. Having said that, I am certain that things will change, and discussions will grow more lively, in the very near future.

  • Umiko recovers from her drunkenness rather abruptly, all the while insisting that she’s fine, after having one drink too many following Kō’s challenge to up the ante and take on something more potent. Contrary to what might be imagined, I never feel left out when I am at a social gathering and choose a soft drink over something like a beer: for one, the taste is better, and with ever-conflicting research about whether or not alcohol has health benefits or increases the risk of cancer, I think that trading in my ale for a ginger ale isn’t all that bad.

  • The New Game! OVA is in the books, and this means I’m fully back, both to work and to routine. For the folks who were hoping for my demise, I must apologise, today is not it: coming on the horizon will be a talk on the second Hai-Furi OVA, which released today, and before May draws to a close, I will be aiming to wrap up Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Koe no Katachi is also out now, and I will be watching that as I make the time to. It feels great to return, and for folks who are wondering what else my vacation entailed, I will (probably) write about it in due course.

With the OVA finished, there is a second season of New Game! in the works, set for release in the summer 2017 anime season. Continuing on with where the first season left off, four new characters will be introduced. I enjoyed New Game!‘s first season for being able to capture the eccentricities of a game company’s artistic team; the anime exceeded expectations in being able to strike a balance between humour and character growth, as well as for integrating minor details to enhance the authenticity surrounding the 3D modelling and asset creation process. While I was less pleased with some aspects of the community for taking the anime a bit more seriously than warranted (driving discussions down a drier path, debating minutiae about whether or not Eagle Jump was using Dell computers, for instance), on the whole, New Game! itself was solid, and it is a most pleasant surprise to learn that a second season would be coming out so soon. For me, the anime does not need to be realistic to succeed, and so, looking ahead to the second season, I enter with an open mind and the expectation of more humour as the four new characters interact with the existing team.