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Sayonara no Asa ni Yakusoku no Hana o Kazarō (Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms): A Review and Full Recommendation

“I would rather share one lifetime with you than face all the ages of this world alone.” —Arwen

Maquia is a member of the Iorph, an ancient race of beings with uncommonly long life. They spend their days weaving Hibiol, cloths that chronicle their history. However, the peace is broken when Mezarte, a neighbouring kingdom, attacks: many Iorph are killed, and Maquia’s friend, Leilia, is taken captive. Maquia herself is tangled in the Hibiol and hauled into the skies when one of the Mezarte’s flying mounts, Renato, succumbs to disease and goes berserk. She crashes into a forest and comes across an ambushed caravan, where she finds a baby in the arms of his mother. Maquia decides to take the baby in, naming him Ariel, and travels to a village where a woman named Mido takes them in. Meanwhile, Mezarte’s Renato begin dying off, and the king attempts to hold onto power by introducing Iorph blood into their kingdom; Leilia is forced into an arranged marriage with the prince of Mezarte. When Maquia learns of this, she travels to Mezarte with Ariel to try and save Leilia. Their rescue is unsuccessful, and Maquia moves to Dorail, where she takes on a job as a waitress. Ariel becomes a young man. Struggling with his identity, he rejects Maquia as his mother and joins Mezarte’s armed forces. Ariel marries Dita, while Krim, frustrated by the turn of events, kidnaps Maquia and convinces the other nations to declare war on Mezarte. During the invasion, Maquia stumbles upon Dita and Ariel’s home, where she helps Dita deliver her child. Krim confronts Leilia and is shot in the process, bleeding out. Leilia later sees her daughter before flying off with Maquia and the last Renato. In his old age, Maquia visits an elderly Ariel, who had lived a full life, and watches as he peacefully dies. She cries for the pain of the loss, but also feels that there was happiness in equal measure. Sayonara no Asa ni Yakusoku no Hana o Kazarō (Let’s Decorate the Promised Flowers in the Morning of Farewells, Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms in English and Sayoasa for brevity) is a P.A. Works film that was released in February of this year in Japan, marking the first original feature-length title that Mari Okada (who’d previously worked on The Anthem of the Heart) has directed.

During its run, Sayoasa explores notions of familial bonds, love and the passage of time in a high fantasy setting, making use of the Iorph’s longevity to convey the range of experiences that one might encounter in raising a child through Maquia’s perspective. Blessed with a long lifespan, Maquia’s chief, Racine, warns her about the risks of becoming attached to those with a shorter lifespan, but in spite of this warning, Maquia chooses to take in a baby and raise him as a mother would. Although initially lacking in experience, and always prone to tears, Maquia is shown to be doing her best. From happiness to sorrow, Maquia experiences the full spectrum of emotions present in life, a far cry from the static, isolated state of being the Iorph live in. Maquia learns that outside of her old world, things are constantly changing and do not stand still as she’d previously known: in raising Ariel, Maquia comes to appreciate everything from joy to despair, and that happiness can accompany pain, as well. This is contrary to Racine’s warnings early in the film, and in its presentation, Sayoasa suggests that it is precisely the coexistence of happiness and sorrow that constitute a life well-lived. While immortality (or extended life) is often considered to be a blessing when folks are asked about it, fiction often explores the idea that doing something meaningful with the time that one is given has a greater value than spending an eternity locked in tedium. J.R.R. Tolkien briefly touches on this through Arwen, who chooses a mortal life with Aragorn. Despite knowing the sorrow that Aragon’s mortality might bring her, she accepts this. By comparison, Tolkien’s Elves are portrayed as being tragic, who have become encumbered with watching life transition to death: Tolkien describes mortality as the “Gift of Men”, that a finite life and the rest following life is not a curse. To follow one’s heart in a finite life with its sorrows and joys is the path Arwen chooses. While Maquia might be confined to the realm of a long life, she will carry her experiences with her forever – the Iorph are not immortal like Tolkien’s Elves, but Maquia’s interactions with the outside world gives her a much fuller, richer experience than the status quo that she’d lived in previously.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The Iorph’s homeland is designed to convey a sense of bygone splendour, of a once-great civilisation whose time has passed: vast crumbling structures suggest a mighty society in decline, and furthering this feeling are the Iorph themselves, who spend their days chronicling their histories in cloth without much thought towards the outside world. One of the greatest challenges I encountered for this post was cutting down the number of screenshots down to thirty: there’s so much scenery that it was difficult to pick screenshots that showcase some of the artwork in Sayoasa and those that are relevant to the narrative.

  • Maquia is an orphan and is someone who fears loneliness; the chief of their clan advises Maquia that the only way to stave off pain is to avoid seeking out attachment. While a possible answer for avoiding pain, the reality is that neither happiness nor sorrow can exist in the absence of the other. This moment indicates that the Iorph have become a passive society, choosing to avoid trouble rather than confront it. Their ways create a sense of antiquity, which in turn provides audiences with a context for Maquia and her development throughout Sayoasa.

  • Unlike Tolkien’s Elves, who remain excellent craftsmen and healers, as well as being able serve as warriors, the Ioprh seem defenseless against aggressors. When the nation of Mezarte attack, it is unsurprising that the Iorph are overwhelmed. The Mezarte bring with them dragon-like mounts called Renato: a cursory glance suggests that they are named after the Latin name “Renatus”, which is “to be born again”, and are probably named to signify the rebirth of something glorious.

  • The diseased Renato flies off into the night skies after crashing through the temple housing the Hibiol weavings. In the chaos, a distressed Maquia is hauled along for the ride. This accident sets in motion the remainder of Sayoasa, and here, one can get a sense of scale of the landscapes in Sayoasa: there are moments where things look photo-realistic, attesting to the incredible visual quality within this film.

  • When Maquia comes to, she finds an infant in a tent, and decides to take him in. My initial impressions were that this caravan was probably attacked by the Mezarte forces en route to the Iorph, but regardless of who the perpetrators were, it is the moment where Maquia meets Ariel and decides to look after him. A fair portion of Sayoasa has Maquia struggle to understand what being a mother means, although her lack of knowledge is offset by a desire to preserve life.

  • After leaving the caravan with the infant in her arms, the sun breaks over the horizon, bathing the land in a warm light. The moment is magical to Maquia, who comes to associate the scent of an infant with that of the sun. After the terror of the night, sunrise indicates a new beginning. The prominent use of of yellows and oranges in this scene creates warmth: sunrises in different contexts hold different meanings, and usually, the combination of saturation and hues serve to communicate to audiences what that sunrise is meant to evoke.

  • Wandering through the countryside, Maquia eventually finds a cottage and meets Mido, who takes them in. She eventually names the infant Ariel, a Hebrew name meaning “Lion of God”. While a male name, English-speakers have used it as a female name, as well. Mido has two other children, Lang and Deol, who initially regard Maquia and Ariel as little more than a curiosity. However, as Maquia spends more time with Mido, Lang and Deol come to regard Maquia and Ariel as family, as well.

  • The passage of time in Sayoasa is quite ambiguous: were it not for a change in setting and Ariel’s aging, it would be quite difficult to tell the passage of time. The passage of time in The Fellowship of The Ring is something that Peter Jackson modified in his adaptation, being set in a much shorter time period. Tolkien originally had Frodo set out seventeen years after Bilbo’s 111st birthday, but in the movies, Frodo leaves within weeks of the party. The condensed timeline is likely intended to convey a sense of urgency, since Tolkien’s original text had the hobbits move at a much slower pace, one that would’ve slowed the movie experience.

  • Mido admits that being a mother is largely something that one must learn through experience, and despite her own difficulties, manages to get by. This moment allows Maquia to listen to Mido’s experiences and gain from them. Mido later dyes Maquia’s hair a light brown to match Ariel’s, helping conceal her identity as an Iorph: while Helm’s inhabitants are largely neutral towards them, their remarks also suggest that the Iorph might be regarded with some mistrust, or even hostility, because of their isolation from the world.

  • The pastoral setting in and around the village of Helm is reminiscent of The Shire, a verdant and peaceful location far removed from the worries of the world. Like Jackson’s adaptation of Lord of the RingsSayoasa makes extensive use of colours in the environment to clearly indicate the atmosphere. In Sayoasa, life and death are presented as natural events in life: Ariel’s first learning about death comes when the family dog passes away. Maquia is still green with respect to this, and she dissolves in tears, as well. Lang makes her promise to be stronger for Ariel’s sake.

  • Maquia is shown to care deeply for Ariel, and teaches him how to weave the Hibiol cloth, as well. Looking after Ariel, and helping out Mida, the seasons pass in this sleepy village. However, other children in the village, including Dita, find Ariel’s relationship with Maquia unusual and tease him for it. Dita later returns to apologise, but because of sudden news that Leilia is now entering an arranged marriage, Maquia leaves and heads for the capital to try and save her. She takes Ariel along, and Dita is unable to deliver her message.

  • On a vessel to the capital, Maquia encounters Krim. A male Iorph, Krim is voiced by Yūki Kaji (Hanasaku Iroha‘s Koichi Tanemura. Maquia is voiced by Manaka Iwami (Hotaru Hoshikawa in New Game!!), while Miyu Irino (Saji Crossroad of Gundam 00 and Amanchu Advance‘s Peter) provides Ariel’s voice. Some familiar names also return in Sayoasa: Racine is voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro (Strike Witches‘ Perinne H. Clostermann, Masami Iwasawa from Angel Beats! and Sword Art Online II‘s Sinon), Ai Kayano plays Leilia (Saori Takebe of Girls und Panzer, Mocha Hoto from GochiUsa and Chisaki Hiradaira from Nagi no Asukara), Dita is played by Yōko Hikasa (K-On!‘s Mio Akiyama), to name a new.

  • The capital of Mezarte is a beautiful city, resembling the Commonwealth of Athens’ capital from Break Blade. Fantastical settings in anime have always been of an exceptional calibre, and P.A. Works did a phenomenonal job in Sayoasa: it is a compliment when I say that the locations of Sayoasa are comparable to those of Peter Jackson’s Middle earth. The capital of Mezarte has the same glory as Minas Tirith, being a vast city built in a beautiful location.

  • Thirty screenshots is not enough of a space to capture every moment in Sayoasa, but in the interest of keeping the post of a manageable length, thirty screenshots is what I will have. Here, I’ve got one of the Renato, being used as a stead to carry Leilia during the day of her wedding. Krim and several other Iorph agents manage to infiltrate the processions and create a disruption, allowing Krim to take Leilia.

  • The rescue is ultimately unsuccessful: when Maquia learns Leilia is pregnant, she hesitates, and decides to leave Leilia. Maquia and Krim go their separate ways here: while Maquia consents to leave Leilia (and in doing so, represents the choice to look to the future), Krim resolves to do what he can to save Leilia. The next time they meet, Krim will remark that Maquia’s life was one of general happiness, as she was able to experience a wide range of things, whereas Leilia became confined within the Mezarte capital after her child did not appear to display any Iorph characteristics.

  • The moody industrial town of Dorail is where Maquia and Ariel settle down next. Initial struggles cause Maquia to lash out at Ariel, but the two later reconcile. Maquia takes up a job as a waitress in a tavern, while Ariel begins working in the forges. In Dorial, vast industrial machines can be seen, covering the area in eternal gloom; it’s a far cry from the blue skies of the capital, and the open spaces in Helm.

  • As he grows older, Ariel becomes increasingly embarrassed by the notion that his coworkers have of him: Maquia outwardly resembles someone who is fifteen, and with Ariel at roughly the same age, some wonder if he and Maquia have eloped or similar. While working, Maquia encounters Lang at the tavern: he’s become a soldier for Mezarte and upon meeting Maquia, they spend time catching up.

  • The monarchy in Mezarte is presented as being ineffectual and weak: the rulers seem to place an undue emphasis on power and the symbols of power, at the expense of their nation. With the Renato dying off, and Leilia failing to bear any offspring with Iorph characteristics, Mezarte’s leadship grow desperate, indicating that their hold on the world wanes while other powers rise. Details like these, while never explicitly naming the state of the world, serve to nonetheless help with world-building, and Sayoasa‘s world is as intriguing as those seen in P.A. Works’ other titles.

  • For her perceived failures, Leilia becomes locked away and forbidden from seeing her child, driving her to despair. Forgotten and abandoned, Leilia’s only question is how her daughter, Medmel, is doing. The prince of Mezarte appears powerless to do anything about her situation, mirroring the nation’s own decay over time. This brings to mind Gondor and its decline over the ages: in its quest to recruit ancient powers to preserve their rule, the monarchy in Mezarte appears no different than the rulers of Gondor, who cared more for their past than their present.

  • Maquia is devastated when Ariel announces his intention to join the armed forces. Prior to leaving, Ariel encounters Lang and laments not being able to do more for Maquia, and when the time comes, the two part on uncertain terms. Maquia is taken by Krim here to an unknown location subsequently. When other nations begin mounting an assault, Krim leaves for the royal palace, and Maquia makes her way outside. During the combat sequences, the incidental music marks a shift to the motifs that Kenji Kawai is best known for, resembling the music from Gundam 00 and Ip Man.

  • When I first began watching Sayoasa, I had no idea that Kawai would be composing the music for the film: the motifs for the Iorph and Maquia are quite unlike anything that I’d previously heard from Kawai. However, I began recognising his signature style in some of the more melancholy pieces, and by the time the fighting in Mezartes began, there was little doubt in my mind that Kawai had composed the film’s soundtrack. Krim and Leilia had once been in a relationship, and when his efforts to bring Leilia back fails, he attempts to immolate them both. Krim sustains a fatal wound subsequently,

  • The invasion of Mezarte begins with a naval bombardment. While Mezarte might be a dying empire, with a decadent and ineffective leadership, audiences nonetheless feel compelled to back their armed forces because of the personal connection: both Lang and Ariel are fighting for their lives against the invading forces. At this point, soldiers on both sides have access to single-action rifles, but the close quarters forces combatants on both sides to rely on their bayonets. The fighting and death is interspersed with scenes of Maquia helping Dita give birth after the latter goes into labour.

  • When Ariel and Dita’s child is safe, Maquia finds Ariel on the battlefield with an injury. Years of concern and regret manifest here: Ariel is genuinely sorry for having left Maquia’s side so suddenly, and addresses her as mother once more.  The two reconcile and part ways: Ariel returns home to Dita and finds their child, while Maquia frees the remaining Renato and takes to the skies.

  • Leilia gains closure when she meets Medmel. Feeling as though she’s finally found peace, she jumps off the edge of the palace, and Maquia catches her. The two fly off on the Renato back to their homeland. I note that owing to release patterns, any search for the term “Maquia” will yield results for the film first, rather than for the district in Peru’s Requena province or a family-run inn in Pontevedra, Spain. While I’m early to the party as far as bloggers go, the film’s screening in theatres around North America mean no shortage of reviews for the film are available for reading.

  • Reviewers universally found Sayoasa a generally enjoyable film. Poignant and sentimental, the film is described as being imaginative and heart-melting, praised for its exceptional visuals and critiqued for leaving some items unresolved. In a rare instance, I am largely in agreement with existing reviews for Sayoasa, although personally, I enjoyed the film enough to give it a recommendation and be more generous with my scoring – I think that the film has earned its A grade (a nine of ten) for being very captivating and immersive in spite of its flaws.

  • Now that Daylight Savings has ended, this side of the world has darkened again, and the autumn has given way from the cool, sunny days to cold and wet days. I am someone whose disposition is impacted by the weather, and weather of late has resulted in greater melancholy and lethargy, as well as declining motivation. However, there are ways of combating this – under rainy skies today, I went out for dim sum at a local restaurant that has some of the best deep-fried squid this side of the city. Good food is a phenomenal tonic for the spirit, and despite the rest of today being rainy, I was in good enough spirits to write out this post, vacuum and push further in Destiny 2, which I got for free as a part of the promotion for the Foresaken expansion.

  • Sayoasa returns Maquia to the sleepy village of Helm, where an elderly Ariel passes away peacefully after a full life. Life and death is always a very tricky topic, and death inevitably brings sadness. In Chinese culture, death is accepted as a natural part of life, not to be feared, but also is something rarely discussed for fear of bringing about ill fortune. However, for Maquia, separation is still something that she finds difficult, and so, cries for his passing and the treasured memories they shared together.

  • I still recall hearing about Sayoasa during the midsummer of last year, watching beautiful trailer and reading that director Okada intended Sayoasa to be a film about human drama, meetings and departures that audiences can relate to. Catching only glimpses of the Iorph settlement and closeups in the film, I had no idea what the movie would entail. The movie released in Japan in February and became available in July across North America, and I was avoiding all spoilers. The Blu Rays became available in late October, allowing me to finally watch and write about the film.

  • Having spent the entirety of Sayoasa portraying the bonds between Maquia and Ariel, audiences can tangibly feel the sense of loss that Maquia experiences. The weather stands in stark contrast to Maquia’s sorrow – it is the same beautiful blue skies that she and Ariel have known. The choice to have Ariel’s death come on a beautiful day is a reminder that life and death are very natural parts of reality, and that for better or worse, things do continue on.

  • This post represents a small sample of the beautiful moments in Sayoasa, and for anyone who did end up reading all the way to this point, I remark that one might have wasted their time: Sayoasa is something to be experienced, rather than read about. If you’ve not done so already, kindly stop reading this post and go check the film out. I won’t be bothered: I’m more concerned about pushing my way through Destiny 2‘s campaign and debating whether or not Battlefield V is worth getting, especially considering that the Arras map looks almost identical to this screenshot. In blog news, I’ve fully migrated the site’s screenshots now, so there’s no worry about screenshots disappearing once Flickr actions their promise to delete old photos, and looking ahead into December, besides another instalment in CLANNAD ~After Story~, I will also be writing about The World in Colours and Anima Yell, the latter of which I’ve fallen quite far behind on.

From a narrative perspective, Sayoasa deals predominantly with a direct theme, in depicting the experiences one has over the course of a lifetime, and the complexities of the world around Maquia that she is made to adapt to. There are numerous secondary stories that are told in a broken pattern; like real life, it is not possible to know of every individual’s story in full, and that our impressions of others are constrained to what we see of them. The story thus stands well enough on its own: there’s enough going on to keep viewers engaged, but not enough to overwhelm them. Maquia herself is likeable as a lead character, stumbling through things she’s unfamiliar with, but also displaying enough resilience to adapt to her circumstances. The core of Sayoasa, already enjoyable, is augmented by P.A. Works’ exceptional visuals and the musical genius of Kenji Kawai. From the structures of the Iorph homeland, to beautiful countryside around Helm, the vast capital city’s majestic structures and the industrial gloom of Dorail, every location is rendered in incredible, life-like detail. Subtle elements, from the lighting to water effects, further enhance the strength of the artwork, immersing viewers into Maquia’s world. Meanwhile, Kawai’s music creates incidental music that genuinely captures the wistfulness and sorrow that permeates Sayoasa. In this film’s soundtrack is quite different from the bombastic tones that Kawai is best known for (e.g. Gundam 00, Ip Man, Higurashi: When They Cry and the live-action Death Note movies); use of strings and harps gives Sayoasa‘s music a very distinct feeling, capturing Maquia’s feelings. However, traces of Kawai’s style can be heard in the more dramatic pieces, such as when Maquia rescues Leilia after she reunites with her daughter, or during the combat sequences. Altogether, Sayoasa is a highly entertaining film that presents a message of what makes life worth living in a highly visceral, tangible manner; this is a movie I can easily recommend for viewers.

Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara (The World in Colours): Review and Reflections At The Halfway Point

“You cannot beat a river into submission; you have to surrender to its current, and use its power as your own.” –The Ancient One, Doctor Strange

Kohaku arrives back in Nagasaki from her travels abroad, and her classmates itch for her to demonstrate her magic. Kohaku asks Hitomi to aid her, creating an illusion resembling the English school she studied at. However, when Hitomi unconsciously injects her own magic into Kohaku’s spell, a steam train passes through and covers the classroom in smoke. While surprised to learn that Hitomi is her granddaughter, Kohaku nonetheless sets out to help Hitomi; she agrees to join the Photography and Arts Club, on the condition that it be rebranded as the Magic-Photograph-and-Arts Club. To give Hitomi a better sense of monochrome photography, the club decides to visit the school at night and photograph the Nagasaki cityscape. Later, Asagi is disappointed to learn that her feelings for Shō are not reciprocated when Kohaku tells her fortune, and when Yuito appears at the magic shop in search of something that might help him overcome a slump, Hitomi struggles to find something suitable. At Kohaku’s suggestion, she decides to craft her own star-sand for him. Later, Magic-Photograph-and-Arts Club gather to celebrate their status as a club, where Hitomi manages to give Yuito her star-sand. The club go on an outing for photography, and here, Hitomi manages to enter one of Yuito’s drawings, being frightened by a black figure attempting to capture the golden fish that she’d previously seen in his drawings. Upon reawakening, Hitomi tries to question Yuito about this, but he storms off. Speaking with her friends, she attempts to muster the courage to talk to him again. Hitomi and Kohaku find Yuito at Sanami Asakawa’s art exhibition. Sanami is Yuito’s senior and Yuito is seeking her counsel. When Hitomi spots Yuito, she runs off, but with encouragement from Kohaku, Yuito gives chase. He catches up to Hitomi and promises to draw something that he’ll show her when finished. Moved, Hitomi begins seeing the world in colour again.

That Hitomi recovers her ability to resolve colour again at The World in Colours‘ halfway point was somewhat unexpected, but is also unsurprising owing to P.A. Works’ propensity for advancing the narrative quickly. At this point in time, the explanation for why Yuito’s drawings alone are unique for Hitomi remain unexplored, and with her colour vision returning in full, audiences are expected to conclude that there is, without any doubt, something special about Yuito and his drawings. That she ended up in his house in the first episode, and sees her first bit of colour in his drawings, are indicators that Yuito is going to be instrumental in helping Hitomi find what she was seeking when returning to the world sixty years previously. At this point in time, however, what Hitomi is seeking has become more open-ended – I imagine that colour vision is ancillary to the root cause of why Hitomi lost her sense of colour to begin with. This root cause will doubtlessly be the underlying aspect of the episodes remaining in The World in Colours. For the time being, Kohaku’s arrival into The World in Colours has certainly given the anime new colour; forward, outgoing and a people-person, Kohaku disrupts the dynamic and creates newfound energy in the series to spur the characters forward. However, it is also shown that Kohaku is someone who is often caught up in the moment and does not stop to consider the consequences of her actions. She is, in short, the perfect foil to the reserved Hitomi, whose personality is dominated by reservation and reluctance. Much as how Kohaku pushes Hitomi out of her comfort zone, Hitomi’s slower approach to things could influence Kohaku to be more considerate before acting. With all of the major players on stage, The World in Colours has taken off, and halfway in, is providing a solid display thus far.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The visual aspect of The World in Colours are doubtlessly impressive, and present a very vivid image of Nagasaki that is as magical as the magic the Witches themselves produce. At its best, P.A. Works have created incredibly detailed worlds and environments that contribute much to the story-telling: like Kyoto Animation, CoMix Wave and Studio Ghibli, subtle details in lighting and colour are masterfully used to augment emotions conveyed by dialogue and sound.

  • Even at the halfway point, I am inclined to dismiss discussions of causality and any disruptions introduced by time travel for the simple fact that The World in Colours is not about time travel, but rather, uses time travel to accommodate the story. The World in Colours treats time travel similarly to H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, which sees the time traveler explore future societies and discover that class conflicts endured, as well as how faith in progress is a hubris present in humanity. How the time machine itself works in The Time Machine is secondary to its use in fleshing out these themes, and because time travel is not used again in The World in Colour, there is little reason to write a treatise on how it works here.

  • Upon returning, Kohaku gifts her classmates tea from her travels abroad, before proceeding to demonstrate some magic. While Kohaku’s magic is very much considered to be bombastic and even destructive, her classmates have an interest in its effects and gather in anticipation. Kohaku is shown to be in control of her magic, being able to use it with proficiency and conviction; this stands in contrast with Hitomi, who has less control and like the children with magical abilities, can produce magic unconsciously.

  • The World in Colours utilises a familiar mechanic to drive Hitomi’s development: while her time with the Photography and Arts Club could have introduced changes in how she approached things, this would have been a very gradual change. Kohaku, on the other hand, has the potential to introduce changes in a shorter time frame: this is an appropriate choice considering that The World in Colours only has thirteen episodes.

  • While Hitomi’s initial adjustments to contemporary society were noticeable, the series places a lesser emphasis on her inexperience with some present-day implements. Matt Groening’s Futurama initially had Phillip Fry doing the same, but the writers knew that the “fish out of water” jokes stemming from Fry’s immersion into a society a thousand years from now were limited. While amusing, Futurama really began excelling once it began exploring the eccentricities of a future world, and in later episodes, utilise the time separation to create very meaningful and moving stories.

  • By evening, the Photography and Arts Club return to the school to photograph the cityscape from the rooftop. Present-day Nagasaki is a lot more reserved and low-key than the portrayal of its cityscape sixty years into the future, creating a gentle, quite backdrop for the club’s activities. In its use of blue lighting, the cityscape that P.A. Works crafts ends up having both a ethereal and cold feeling, creating a sense of detachment and distance. It is both beautiful and wistful.

  • One of the longstanding challenges with night photography is that the lower lighting (and corresponding number of photons impacting the CCD chips in a camera) is that images can turn out to be quite noisy or blurry. The noise comes from the CCD chip: daytime photos do not have this issue because there is enough light coming into the camera so as not to require any amplification, but when it is dark, the chip will amplify the signals, which results in noise. This can be manually tuned in better cameras, and photography guides recommend lowering the ISO and increasing exposure to improve image quality for night photography.

  • Their journey is a simple one, but Kurumi ends up being scared stiff by the prospects of their school being haunted. While the others head up top, she insists on staying behind on the ground, and Chigusa accompanies her until Kohaku uses her magic to create a “ghost” that frightens the pair through the school, allowing everyone to bet together again. The moment is peaceful, and the club activities subsequently go into full swing afterwards.

  • Hitomi manages to cast a magical train into the night sky with her magic, creating a memorable moment for the others. It is apparent in this screenshot that there are a vast number of stars in the sky, and while creating a magical moment, P.A. Works’ choice to do so also comes at the cost to realism: light pollution charts show that on the Bortle Scale, Nagasaki is a 7-8. This corresponds with a grey sky by night, and magnitude 4 stars are the faintest stars that can be seen. In my area, substantial efforts have been made to curb light pollution, and we’ve gone from a Bortle Scale of 6 back to a 5 with the installation of ground-facing LED lights.

  • When Kohaku joins the Photography and Arts Club, she rebrands it the Magic-Photography-and-Arts Club, bringing to mind the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club of Tari Tari. Themes of self-discovery also make a return, and romance is subtly present, being a natural part of the characters rather than occupying the foreground. Here, a variation of Kanagawa-oki nami ura (“The Great Wave off Kanagawa”) can be seen in the clubroom: it’s a famous, immediately-recognisable painting created by Katsushika Hokusai as a part of his Thiry-Six Views of Mt. Fuji.

  • While I’m inclined to place my faith in sciences and the concrete, I admit that there can be a bit of fun in things like fortune-telling. For instance, looking through my Chinese horoscopes for this year, it was interesting to see how much actually holds true (although the real science behind a horoscope is that it’s vague enough so everything is technically true). In The World in Colours, Kohaku tells Asagi’s fortune pertaining romance and finds that Asagi’s luck is roughly equivalent to that of mine.

  • The different varieties of Star Sand look absolutely beautiful, and I would not begrudge anyone for wanting to keep a vial of Star Sand as a gentle light source of sorts. The properties of Star Sand are such that they can capture magic for later use, and depending on what magic is placed into the sand, the effects will vary. Here, Hitomi speaks to Kohaku’s grandmother, and is asked to look after the shop, and later encounters Yuito, who is seeking a Star Sand to motivate his drawing.

  • Ever the go-getter, Kohaku suggests that Hitomi create her own Star Sand. The circular opening in their rooms here is an interesting visual representation of connectivity: Hitomi and Kohaku peek through it from time to time to communicate with one another, and the opening in the wall is meant to signify that for the two, both are always right there for one another if need be.

  • Spurred on, Hitomi ends up giving Kohaku’s suggestion a go, and burns through several batches of Star Sand before succeeding in creating the Star Sand. Hitomi’s grasp of magic and Kohaku’s suggestions to her are mirrored in the page quote: her reluctance now appears to be her biggest limitation, and while Kohaku has not formally mentored Hitomi in magic, I imagine that spending time with Kohaku and the club members will help Hitomi build the confidence she needs to embrace her magic.

  • Looking back on the calendar, I’ve actually only got one other post for November, and we’re very nearly halfway into the month. During the Remembrance Day long weekend, I took advantage of the pleasant weather to take a hike in the nearby Grassi Lakes trail, which branches into an easy and difficult path. The difficult path takes one along a cliffside with a good view of Canmore below, but at this time of year, it’s also more dangerous, since the cold weather and streams create ice patches. However, the hike was worthwhile, and the Grassi Lakes themselves are beautiful.

  • We pushed further on up a rocky area towards Whitemans Pond, and then made the difficult descent back down to the trail-head. Per our usual custom, a Montréal Smoked Meat Poutine with bacon, mushrooms and sautéed onions at 514 Poutine followed: on a cool day after a hike, a hearty and flavourful poutine with a refreshing Spruce Beer is exactly what one needs to unwind after a walk. The remainder of the afternoon was spent doing a much easier walk along the spur line trail at the heart of Canmore, before heading back home and gearing up for a raclette party. Back in The World in Colours, Asagi and Hitomi look at the food Shō has brought, including fried chicken, katsu and fries: he deliberately chose so as a courtesy to Hitomi.

  • Hitomi expresses to Kohaku that she’d like to give Yuito the Star Sand she’d made, and Kohaku creates an opening, sending the two off to pick up drinks. Asagi later speaks with Kohaku about her feelings for Shō, admitting that she wanted to help Hitomi out because it she saw a bit of herself in Hitomi. Worried that a more outgoing Hitomi might captivate Shō, Asagi is conflicted by her friendship with Hitomi and a longing to have Shō see her as more than an ordinary friend.

  • Under a swift sunset, Hitomi gives Yuito the Star Sand, and he promises to give it a go. Hitomi reveals to Yuito that his drawings are special to her, and in this moment, the colours of Nagasaki are faded away, giving the scene a dream-like quality.

  • Asagi’s doubts are reinforced when she hears Shō speak of Hitomi and worrying about her ability to adapt to life sixty years before her time. Insofar, I’ve not seen any indicators that Shō has feelings for Hitomi; his concern and actions stem from worrying about her as a friend, although Asagi’s worries about losing Shō come to the foreground. She later speaks with Kohaku, who reminds her that fortunes are not absolute.

  • For having directed Hitomi towards using the high quality Star Sand, Kohaku lands herself in hot water and is made to clean up the ruined sand, suggesting that the sand itself can reused in some conditions and likely will have a weaker effect than using good quality sand.

  • A quick glance ahead into the future shows that The World in Colours‘ soundtrack will release on February 2, 2019 and retail for 15120 Yen (176 CAD at present exchange rates). The tracklist and number of tracks is not yet known, but the soundtrack is quite compelling and adds depth to an already impressive series. On the other hand, The World in Colours‘ opening and ending songs have been released for quite some time. Haruka to Miyuki’s “17-sai” is the opening song, and Yanagi Nagi performs the ending song, “Mimei no Kimi to Hakumei no Mahō”.

  • As Yuito’s artwork takes on increasing prominence in The World in Colours, some folks are beginning to wonder if artistic symbolism might be necessary to appreciate the anime in full. I would expect that even in the absence of a complete understanding, The World in Colours should remain quite comprehensible to viewers. Hopefully, any “analysis” akin to the sort seen during the days of Glasslip will not manifest: I’m getting to be a little old to be dispelling any untruths about shows of this sort from folks who excel at little more than purple prose.

  • If memory serves, Sakura Quest was as detailed and pleasing to the eyes to watch as The World in Colours, as was Hanasaku IrohaTari Tari, Nagi no Asukara and Angel Beats!. It suddenly strikes me that I’ve never actually done a proper review of Angel Beats! before, and when I stop to consider where this blog is headed for the future, a future that will likely see me rolling back posting frequency, I think it makes sense for me to go back and write about those series that really set the standard for what I’ve come to look for in series that I watch.

  • It was quite fun to see the Magic-Photography-and-Arts Club go on an excursion where they dress up in Victorian-style outfits for the camera. The whole club enjoys their outing, and it’s a chance to simply watch the club amidst their activities. A part of the joy in these clubs with more than one focus is that there’s always something new to be exploring. In my experience, being multidisciplinary means being able to apply problem-solving methodologies from one discipline into another to create novel, and sometimes even more effective solutions. In the case of anime, it means there is never a dull moment.

  • Asagi later returns to her preferred subjects for photography after the group disperses and pursues their own activities. Looking ahead into The World in Colour, I anticipate that while this series will not be quite as sincere as Tari Tari or as relatable as Sakura Quest, it will continue to strike that balance between the fantastical and ordinary, and in doing so, succeed in telling its story. In retrospect, Glasslip‘s limitation was not exploring and making use of the glass beads in a greater capacity: the penultimate episode’s focus on an alternate reality should have been replaced by a full episode dealing with the glass beads much earlier in the season to motivate their significance.

  • Hitomi finds Yuito drawing again, and this time, she manages to enter his drawing: a richly-coloured world that slowly transitions from a fantastical cityscape to a barren desert. Hitomi wonders what the meaning of the black shadow is, and when she recounts her thoughts to Yuito, Yuito grows angry and leaves, feeling that she is intruding into something private. Later that evening, a rainfall covers the area, mirroring the mood that Hitomi is in. I found the visuals to be very impressive. Whether it be the lens flare or reflection of light from wet surfaces, P.A. Works’ rainy scenes are particularly well done, having a photo-realistic quality to them.

  • While Hitomi is now saddened that Yuito is unhappy with her, Kohaku sees it differently; she tells Hitomi that fighting with friends is a natural occurrence and imagines that the two will patch things up in no time at all.  Kohaku astutely likens life to being like a hedgehog: these mammals are covered with defensive spines to prevent predation, and as pets, they can be tricky to care for. Kohaku mentions that they inadvertently hurt those who care for them, but this won’t change the fact that their owners love them.

  • Sanami Asakawa is Yuito’s senior, someone that Yuito looks up to and likely was someone who inspired Yuito to take up drawing. Lacking the inspiration to continue his own drawings, Yuito seeks her help to see what motivates her, and Sanami mentions that she’s nervous about the future, drawing only to stay focused. I know this feeling very well, and remark that some days, it commands one’s full efforts to take things one step at a time because of how uncertain the future is.

  • Upon seeing Hitomi, Yuito takes off after her, promising to draw something to show her. In this instant, Hitomi finally begins resolving the world in colour again. I’ve seen very little discussion on The World in Colours out there, and of those few, at least one has hastily concluded that the return of colour is meant to indicate that Hitomi is falling in love with Yuito. While it is the case that colour is used as a framing device, there is very little to otherwise suggest this is the case for now.

  • While I was doing my utmost to remain optimistic about Glasslip when its halfway point was reached, The World in Colour has had no trouble keeping me engaged and positive. For my readers, who’ve doubtlessly noticed the low post count here, things have been a little rough on my end to be scheduling posts with the same frequency that I once had, so I’m going to roll back my blogging so that I’ll write when I have the time to. With this being said, I am going to be writing about Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms (Sayonara no Asa ni Yakusoku no Hana o Kazarō, “Let’s Decorate the Promised Flowers in the Morning of Farewells” in English and Sayoasa for brevity) in full before November is out.

The World in Colours is another installment in a long line of titles from P.A. Works that inherit elements from its predecessors. In this case, The World in Colours draws from Tari Tari’s focus on the desire to discover oneself during a busy youth, and uses magic in a much more open manner than Glasslip, to accommodate its narrative. Having more visceral magic works to The World in Colours‘ favour – rather than standing in as a sometimes-obscure symbol of various meanings, the magic acts as a tool for influencing the narrative, both providing the unique setup that sent Hitomi back six decades, and also in driving the humour and drama within the series. Magic is regarded as just another discipline in The World in Colours, and so, while the precise nature of what Hitomi seeks might not have been explored yet, I could hazard a guess that The World in Colours is meant to tell a story of discovery and appreciation for one’s background, attained by way of a life-changing adventure with good company. Whether or not this holds true after all thirteen episodes is up for discussion; as more episodes are aired, the directions The World in Colours will take will become clearer. For the present, what is immediately clear is that The World in Colours has put up a top-tier visual and aural performance, adding additional incentive to keep up with and watch what is turning out to be an excellent offering: in more common terms, I showed up for the artwork and stayed for the story.

Walking Towards the Future, Discovering the Past: Revisiting Youhei and Misae’s Arcs in CLANNAD ~After Story~ At The Ten Year Anniversary

“Do not lose to the obstacles that you will meet in the future.” –Tomoya Okazaki

When Mei decides to stick around after Youhei shows no sign of having a concrete course of action following high school, Youhei attempts to find someone to pose as his girlfriend so Mei will stop worrying about him. He is unsuccessful until Sanae decides to help out, presenting herself as Nagisa’s sister. Sanae’s gentle and reliable demeanour causes Mei to continue worrying, and she reveals to Tomoya that the Youhei she remembers was once dependable and caring of those around her. She attempts to go out with Tomoya to draw old Youhei’s old nature, although Youhei seemingly remains unmoved. Youhei begins to withdraw from the others, and Tomoya learns that Youhei was once a soccer player who quit after hazing from more senior players. Mei wishes for Youhei to rejoin and agrees to pick up stray soccer balls as a result, but finds herself bullied by the soccer team. Youhei and Tomoya begin fighting the soccer team, causing their members to disperse. Emotions boil over – Youhei and Tomoya slug it out, stopping when Mei and Nagisa intervene. In the aftermath, Tomoya and Youhei, upon seeing their respective battered visages, recall how they’d first met and share a good laugh. Youhei is terrified to learn that Sanae is actually Nagisa’s mother, and flees from a violent Akio. Mei returns home, while Tomoya and Nagisa continue to spend time with Youhei. Autumn sets in, and with it, the Autumn Festival: while speaking with Misae, Tomoya dozes off. He learns that Misae met an unusual boy, Katsuki Shima, in her final year of high school. Despite being annoyed by his presence initially, Misae comes to spend more time with him after her heart is broken upon learning her crush has a girlfriend already. With his earnest attitude, Misae begins falling in love with him and invites him to the autumn festival. However, Katsuki learnt earlier that his existence is owed to the original Katsuki’s wish to be with Misae. On the night of the festival, Misae admits that she’s in love with Katsuki, and he dissolves into tears, knowing he won’t be able to fulfil his promise to her. Tomoya awakens, and attends the autumn festival. They run into Misae here, and Tomoya recounts Katsuki’s story to Misae, who realises that Katsuki is still with her after all this time.

By pushing Tomoya into considering his friends’ future and the pasts of those senior to him, ~After Story~ provides audiences with greater insight into the directions that Tomoya must take as time passes. In having him resort to putting on a façade to drive Youhei forwards, and eventually physically fighting him, Tomoya shows that while he prefers indirect action to motivate people, he is not afraid to get his hands dirty and be direct. A real friend is someone who is open and honest, even when what they say is not pleasant to listen to. A real friend similarly can listen to this and come away stronger for it. Thus, when Tomoya encourages Youhei to find focus in his future, the resulting fight and resolution does eventually have an impact on Youhei. In the immediate future, Youhei remains the source of comic relief, but subtle changes can be seen, as well. Besides the future, the past is also explored: listening to Katsuki’s story and recounting things to Misae shows that Tomoya is perceptive. He sees commonalities between the lessons and experiences of his seniors, and those of his own experiences. In this case, Tomoya understands what falling in love is like and the strength of these feelings, as well as what can happen when these feelings go unacknowledged. Acting on what he feels is right, Tomoya is able to help Misae attain closure when he learns Misae’s cat is actually Katsuki; in doing so, Tomoya also shows that he is aware of Kyou and Tomoyo’s feelings for him to some extent, further illustrating that despite his appearances, Tomoya is a complex, multi-dimensional character whose experiences, especially with Nagisa, have begin bringing back the side of him that genuinely represents his personality and beliefs. While seemingly unrelated to the main events in ~After Story~, Youhei and Misae’s stories serve to give Tomoya a chance to interact in a context where romance is not a possible outcome. His experiences in both show that regardless of who it is at the receiving end, Tomoya is ready to listen or fight his way to a solution.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • While I deal with Flickr’s upcoming plan to eliminate half the life in the universe everything except my thousand newest images, I still have a few posts that I can continue using Flickr for, such as this post for ~After Story~. Readers looking through my older posts may find the images to be a bit fuzzier than they were before: this was because I used a tool to quickly resize images and publish them to Imgur for hosting. Once I’m done the migration, I’ll consider different avenues or methods to host new screenshots.

  • It’s been a while since I’ve written about ~After Story~, and last we left off, Tomoya had won a baseball game. Immediately, ~After Story~‘s first episode gaves off a melancholy vibe, and in doing so, sets the expectation that Youhei’s backstory has a similar weight as that of anyone else’s, even if he is the comic relief character. However, like CLANNAD has done previously, things open up with a humourous tone, allowing audiences to laugh as Youhei gets bested by his circumstances at every turn. Here, he runs afoul of Kyou after trying to get Ryou to pose as his girlfriend.

  • Ahead of Mei’s appearance, Youhei decides to find someone willing to pose as his girlfriend in a bid to convince Mei that all is well with the world. There are some that posit one has their game together if they are in a relationship; while it is true that a relationship can be indicative of maturity (it takes maturity to reach compromises, solve problems and work together), a hastily thrown-together relationship of the sort that Youhei is looking for here will lack the elements of a real relationship, and as such, audiences are left to wonder if Mei will see through Youhei’s ruse.

  • Making only brief appearances until now, Mei is the opposite of Youhei, being motivated, determined and attuned to the environment around her. Mei is voiced by Yukari Tamura, whom I know for her roles as Onegai Teacher‘s Ichigo Morino, Mai Kawasumi of Kanon, Remon Yamano from Ano Natsu de MatteruKiniro Mosaic‘s Isami Omiya and Rika Furude in Higurashi When They Cry (yes, I watched Higurashi some years ago). It’s stated that the Sunohara family resides in the inaka, so Mei’s travelling to visit Youhei is a big deal.

  • Sanae agrees to pose as Youhei’s “girlfriend”, and a part of the dramatic irony is wondering how long the ruse can be kept before Mei suspects something; after all, she’s very observant. However, for the most part, Mei seems unaware of anything out of the ordinary, attesting to Sanae’s ability to sell it and play the role of Nagisa’s “older sister”. I’m not sure how easy or hard it is to spot these things in real life, but in Tom Clancy’s Threat Vector, NOC Adam Yao is described as being able to play a second role convincingly to allay suspicion from those who would tail him.

  • When Mei sees Sanae, she worries that Sanae is the sort of person to dote on Youhei and inhibit his growth. One of the things that CLANNAD excels at over its predecessor, Kanon, is that even the comic relief character has a worthy backstory: Kanon‘s equivalent of Youhei, Jun Kitagawa, is relegated to a minor role and does not gain much development. In many ways, CLANNAD feels like the successor to Kanon, utilising very similar elements to tell a much more nuanced, compelling story by applying all of the learnings from Kanon.

  • While on their “date”, Mei calls Tomoya “onii-chan“, sending a chill up his spine. While used typically amongst siblings, women will occasionally use it to refer to older men in an endearing fashion, and given the application of honourifics in Japan, this is typically used only amongst people who are close, hence the embarrassment factor. Here, Mei manages to evoke an expression I don’t think we’ve seen from Tomoya up until this point in CLANNAD.

  • Kyou, Ryou and Kotomi run into Tomoya while he’s under the influence of Mei’s onii-chan, and the three run off in terror. The joy of the moment is quickly lost, but it is typical of CLANAND to create these one-off moments that lighten the mood up. Subsequently, Tomoya and Mei do the things that one might do on a date; Mei acts more akin to a younger sister than a date, and in retrospect, her mischievous mannerisms bring to mind those of GochiUsa‘s Maya. Such characters previously were not particularly noteworthy for me, but since GochiUsa, this feeling has dissipated, and I do find it fun to see what kind of dynamics that such characters bring to the table.

  • Exemplary use of lighting in CLANNAD continues into ~After Story~: when Mei reveals to Tomoya and Nagisa Youhei’s past as a soccer player, the lengthening shadows create a sense of hopelessness and distance. Application of colour in CLANNAD allows Kyoto Animation to convey emotions and feelings that dialogue and aural cues alone cannot, and with this in mind, Kyoto Animation does tend to rely more heavily on lighting in drama than in comedies: series like Violet Evergarden and Sound Euphonium similarly use time of day and weather patterns to accentuate a mood, while more comedic works like Amagi Brilliant Park and Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid tend to go with facial expressions to convey comedy.

  • Eventually, the decision is reached, that Youhei might need to rejoin the Soccer Team. It’s admittedly a short-sighted solution to a much bigger problem, and while we are a society that holds quitting is for losers, there does come a point where one can only endure so much before it becomes a better choice to seek different avenues. I would tend to argue that Youhei’s solution would not be to rediscover his interest in soccer, but to find another path to walk with conviction.

  • ~After Story~ paints this in a very blunt manner: the Soccer Club evidently does not want Youhei back, and they make it clear by setting a Sisyphean task for Mei. Seeing enough, Tomoya confronts the club’s leader, and when they begin bullying Mei openly, he makes to fight them. In CLANNAD, hostile characters have deliberately small, narrow eyes that make them immediately detestable. One admires Tomoya’s restraint in not engaging them immediately on the basis of appearances alone.

  • Youhei appears at the last, last second and opens the fight after the Soccer Club members begin bullying Mei physically. While often at the receiving end of a beating, Youhei and Tomoya manages to fend off the entire soccer team, causing them members to flee. The mechanics in CLANNAD are very inconsistent; Tomoyo can defeat entire gangs on her own, and Kyou’s capable of throwing books that punch through concrete, while Youhei can survive encounters with both without lasting damage. However, against the likes of the soccer club, real damage is caused.

  • The sense of melancholy at day’s end gives way to a rain shower: the dark skies and heavy rain mirrors the grim mood that Tomoya and Youhei both feel. Exhausted from their fight with the Soccer Club earlier, Tomoya and Youhei’s own fight shows their exhaustion, with each punch and throw exposing just how physically tired both combatants are at this point in time. However, driven on by their feelings, and sense of what is right, they exchange blows until Mei and Nagisa implore them to stop.

  • While seemingly pointless, Tomoya and Youhei’s fight serve to show the other the conviction each has in their respective beliefs, as well as the absurdity of their choices. While no more words are to be had here, it is implicit that Tomoya and Youhei come to an understanding here on both what needs to happen as the move ahead. They leave the soccer field battered and bruised, in the company of those who care about them.

  • The next day, under beautiful skies, Tomoya and Youhei realise the comedy of their situation and burst out laughing. Summed with their tacit agreement from the day before, it’s clear they’ve made up. The weather reflects this in full, and as the two share a laugh, Nagisa, Kotomi, Kyou and Ryou show up, clearly puzzled as to what’s going on. Much as how friendships between women can be a bit of an enigma for men, the way men interact with one another can similarly be confusing for women, as well.

  • To make it absolutely clear that a new status quo is reached, the question on everyone’s mind, of whether or not Youhei ever learns that Sanae is actually Nagisa’s mother, is answered at the end of Youhei’s arc. It is absolutely hilarious, resulting in Akio chasing down Youhei for having messed with his wife. Nagisa and Sanae are shocked, while Tomoya is busy laughing at Youhei’s predicament. With this, Youhei’s arc comes to an end, affirming Tomoya and Youhei’s friendship to audiences.

  • While it is important to look ahead and plot one’s course for the future, there are lessons from the past that can also be relevant. The contrast between future and past foreshadow the role that both will have in Tomoya’s life later down the line, but at present, these stories primarily serve to illustrate the way Tomoya handles his challenges and also further the sense of depth and connection present in CLANNAD that makes this series particularly memorable and timeless.

  • Before delving any further, Misae’s arc and story with Katsuki is entirely told in a dream, being detailed enough so that one could reasonably surmise that it is faithful to what Misae experienced. This story is recounted to Tomoya while he dozes off at Misae’s place, and because of how time perception in dreams work (as well as just how limited our understanding of dreams generally is), it is not implausible that Tomoya would have heard the entire story over the course of a 10-15 minute span.

  • Katsuki’s involvement is simple: he appears out of the blue to grant Misae one wish in exchange for having helped restore his spirits some years before, while he was recuperating in the hospital. Misae sees him as little more than a nuisance: when he learns that Misae holds feelings for one Igarashi, he tries to help her advance things along in fulfilment of his promise to her. However, Katsuki’s naïveté works against him.

  • Misae is this generation’s Kyou and Tomoyo rolled into one, having a bit of a temper and is quick to violence whenever annoyed. She also happens to be the student council president, and is best known for managing to encourage perfect attendance for a full week amongst her students. This similarity is likely deliberate, showing that while things change, there are also things that remain quite similar. I imagine that this is one of the things that teachers will appreciate – having taught cohort after cohort of students, similarities between different students will become apparent.

  • At Katsuki’s insistence, Misae attempts a kokuhaku to Igarashi, only to learn he already has a girlfriend. While she’s heartbroken, Katsuki is inconsolable, feeling that it is his fault for having brought pain to Misae. It takes a bit of convincing for Katsuki to lighten up, and it is also here that Misae opens up to Katsuki. While the day is ending, the colours of the scene are also richer, more saturated; audiences are left with the sense that even though something is ending, something new is beginning, as well.

  • Misae’s feelings for Katsuki emerge as the two spend more time together; while he might not be forward and confident, his gentle and kind mannerisms are his strong points. Fiction often has a second love be successful, and I know of a few stories in reality where folks became happy couples after one or both suffered recent heartbreak. I’m happy that people can find their promised people in this manner, but for me, romance and the prospect of finding someone special remains consigned to the realm of fiction. Since that event of four years previously, things simply have not been working.

  • One day, while waiting for Misae to finish her duties, Katsuki runs into Misae’s friends. They decide to pull off some fieldcraft with the aim of allowing Katsuki to see Misae while she’s on her student council work, and the result is quite amusing; he manages to pull off the disguise effectively and fools most everyone, save Misae.

  • ~After Story~ continues making use of blood reds and oranges in an environment filled with shadows to signify a particularly foreboding or difficult moment. One could guess what will happen even without dialogue owing to the colours. Here, Misae’s friends take him back home after he confesses to forgetting where he lived, and learn that Katsuki Shima had been deceased for quite some time. Katsuki learns here that the original was a young boy who’d died, and that the boy’s feelings had been strong enough to manifest in human form to pay back Katsuki’s gratitude to Misae.

  • Because the blacks and reds give way to a gentler palette of evening colours, viewers immediately feel a sense that the revelation, while shocking in the moment, is something that isn’t meant to be taken as a game-ender. Misae’s friends attempt to reassure Katsuki here, and audiences familiar with Kanon will be reminded of Makoto’s arc, where Yuuichi similarly remembers that he’d once befriended a fox whose gratitude was strong enough to manifest in a human form for a time. This is a recurring theme, and suggests that Maeda considers love to transcend species, being something that is quite wonderful.

  • On the night of the autumn festival, Misae and Katsuki share a moment together: by now, Misae is in love with Katsuki, but Katsuki regrets being unable to reciprocate her feelings. Despite her promise to be with him forever, the magic that allowed him to retain a human form expires, and Katsuki vanishes. In spite of him returning to his original form, Katsuki’s feelings remain, and he manages to find Misae once again. From Misae’s perspective, it would be fate that the stray cat she encountered happens to be Katsuki.

  • I’ve long heard that the things one experiences in life, and the reason why they happen, remain an enigma. Supposedly, this is why some people go through many occupations and prospective partners before finding the right ones for them, while others seem to make their first choices work out of the gates. Fate and free will has long been a subject of debate, and with my experiences, I find that reality will present individuals with both. Others have characterised the relationship between free will and fate as being one where neither can exist without the other: fate creates a decision, and free will is consciously choosing which decision to take.

  • While it’s subtle, I wonder if Nagisa and Tomoya being together at the autumn festival could qualify as foreshadowing of what is to come; after all, Katsuki and Misae were separated here, reuniting again later. Tomoya decides to tell Misae of what his dream showed him and helps Misae reach closure at the very same festival where she discovered her love for Katsuki.

  • ~After Story~‘s opening arcs take a very similar approach as CLANNAD, although the focus has shifted towards world-building. Supernatural elements and everyday elements are explored to further humanise the characters – Maeda’s use of the supernatural is intended to provide a tangible explanation for why things in life happen the way that they do, attesting to how complex and mysterious life is. With these two arcs over, the next stage in ~After Story~ will deal with the balls of light and the world outside of school.

Besides building out Tomoya’s character further, ~After Story~ capitalises on its earlier episodes to further develop the other characters and the universe to build a truly well-thought out, captivating world. From a narrative perspective, having Tomoya deal with Youhei and reigniting Youhei’s motivation shows the strength of their friendship. Audiences now understand why Youhei and Tomoya remain friends in spite of Youhei’s flippant attitude and Tomoya’s penchant for pranking Youhei: their friendship holds weight after what audiences have seen, and we thus come to appreciate that in spite of the comedic, even idiotic interactions between the two, the reality is that Tomoya and Youhei do support one another when the moment calls for it. Similarly, exploring Misae’s story and introducing an element reminiscent of Makoto’s arc in Kanon reinforce that there is a supernatural component in CLANNAD. While the supernatural had always been subtly present in CLANNAD (and in Fuuki’s arc, not-so-subtle), that it is making a more noticeable appearance now means that there are forces at work in CLANNAD that should not be so quickly dismissed. The sum of these two stories in ~After Story~ thus act to set the expectation that every story Tomoya experiences have weight, and that it is the sum of his actions, in conjunction with the supernatural aspects of his world, that will come to impact and shape his future.

Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara (The World in Colours): Review and Reflections After Three, and Applying Lessons from Glasslip

“I once stood in your place, and I, too, was disrespectful. So, might I offer you some advice? Forget everything you think you know.” –Baron Mordo, Doctor Strange

Hitomi Tsukishiro is a high school girl who comes from a family of magicians. Suffering from achromatopsia as people important to her departed, Hitomi lost much of her enjoyment of the world around her and is perpetually alone. On the night of the summer fireworks, Kohaku, her grandmother, decides to send Hitomi back sixty years into the past so Hitomi can meet her younger self and learn about the colourful nature of youth. When Hitomi arrives in the world sixty years previously, she finds herself in Yuito Aoi’s house, and causes a minor ruckus when attempting to escape. She meets with Kohaku’s grandmother and mother, who runs a magic shop, and transfers into the same high school as Kohaku. While Kohaku is abroad, she meets Asagi Kazeno, Kurumi Kawai, Shō Yamabuki and Chigusa Fukasawa, members of the high school’s photography club. She also comes across Yuito for the first time while locating her jewel, she discovers that his artwork is vividly colourful and grows intrigued with him. While Hitomi attempts to hide her magic at school, her newfound friends express a willingness to accept her and manage to recruit her into the photography club. Meanwhile, Hitomi aims to improve her magic and show Yuito again. A journey of acceptance and self-discovery, Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara (From the Colour-Changing World’s Tomorrow, or The World in Colours for brevity) is the latest of P.A. Works’ projects. Featuring thirteen episodes, The World in Colours is off to a solid start in creating a sense of intrigue with its premise. As the lead, Hitomi struggles to connect with those around her, bringing to mind Wakana Sakai of Tari Tari, who was similarly distant until she met Konatsu and Sawa. Over time, Wakana became more expressive and warm, helping her friends around her while rediscovering her own love for music and overcoming her regrets in not giving her mother a proper farewell. While Hitomi’s story remains open for exploration in The World in Colours, her initial personality, and the small spark of friendship’s potential for development after three episode means that this anime is one that commands intrigue.

The last time P.A. Works dealt with a narrative set in a real world with magical elements was 2014’s Glasslip, which ended up being counted as a disaster for being unclear, incoherent and vague with its themes. At its core, Glasslip was intended to showcase the uncertainty of youthful love by suggesting that even with supernatural intervention, love is too complex to predict and will run its course naturally. However, ill execution caused the series to lose most of its viewers, and of those who insisted otherwise, numerous falsehoods were construed and propagated like wildfire. By comparison, The World in Colours is very clear from the onset as to what it intends to accomplish; by putting the reserved and stoic Hitomi with the boisterous and forward Kohaku, and with a supportive group of friends who genuinely care, The World in Colours demonstrates that about people first and foremost. Magic, only subtly present through the glass beads and “fragments of the future” in Glasslip, is very visible in The World in Colours – this deliberate choice is to make it clear that while some things can only begin with supernatural intervention, it is ultimately the people around her, and Hitomi’s own decisions, that will have a tangible outcome on her life and world-views. While still early in the season, there are signs that The World in Colours has definitely taken lessons learned from the debacle that was Glasslip and applied them here. Magic is much more prominent, and the characters’ way forward is much more visible. The expected outcome of this is a series whose message and corresponding enjoyment factor will be quite enjoyable: should the writing remain solid and consistent as The World in Colours continues running, I anticipate that viewers will find this series much more palatable than the likes of Glasslip.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Set in Nagasaki, Kyushu, The World in Colour presents the Nagasaki of 2078 as a vibrant, Hong Kong-like city. Indeed, anyone in Tsim Sha Tsui during either the New Year’s or National Day would be treated to a spectacular sight of fireworks over Hong Kong Harbour and Central. Hitomi, however, sees none of the hues that we do: she’s afflicted with achromatopsia, more commonly known as total colour blindness, and she describes it as something that occurred over time. While this is attributable to damage in the thalamus resulting from tumours, The World in Colour presents this as being a psychological response to stress.

  • Magic, however, is an integral part of The World in Colour, so we may suspend our disbelief and accept that, for all intents and purposes, Hitomi is an ordinary girl with some magical abilities and a lack of colour vision. Even within the anime’s first five minutes, the atmosphere is established with a variety of shots, from wide scenes of the summer festival, to close-ups of the glass planet ornaments a vendor is selling. While some feel that P.A. Works’ close-ups are intended to have symbolic meaning, it is more likely that these are used as establishing shots to convince audiences that there is depth in the world being presented.

  • Kohaku is Hitomi’s grandmother and a skilled Master of the Mystic Arts magician. Concerned for her granddaughter’s well-being, Kohaku meets up with a solitary Hitomi on a hill overlooking Nagasaki, where the fireworks is most visible. While Hitomi’s monologues has her frequently reassuring herself that she’s alright when alone, the reality is that no person is an island, and so, audiences are given that Hitomi is longing for company, but lacks the motivation to pursue it.

  • At the age of 77, Kohaku is an impressive magician comparable to the likes of Dr. Strange, if she is able to construct something that is quite similar to the Time Stone: time travel appears to strictly be a plot device in The World in Colour, and using powerful time spells seem to have no effect on causality as of yet. While fans of the specifics usually enjoy pouring over the implications of time travel on things like causality, works of fiction may alternatively use it simply to drive the narrative.

  • In the case of The World in Colour, Hitomi’s growth is more critical than the specifics of time travel, and as such, the anime has elected to abstract out the precise mechanisms. For the most part, the remainder of discussions currently on The World in Colour have not strayed into the realm of details: it is a good sign that the anime has made this clear to audiences. By comparison, Glasslip left in its wake numerous discussions where there was no clear consensus on that the series had been about.

  • After arriving in Nagasaki sixty years early, Hitomi finds herself trapped in Yuito’s room and hides to escape detection, before escaping through the window. Yuito’s peers notice this and immediately jump to the conclusion that she’s a hidden lover of sorts. Once she enters the open, she gazes upon the world sixty years previously and finds Nagasaki to be a quieter town where the scenery has remained largely the same as she knew it.

  • To put things in perspective, sixty years ago, the University of Calgary (back then, known as the University of Alberta, Calgary Campus, or UAC) was just undergoing construction, and there was around 200000 residents in Calgary. In Hong Kong, the population surged to two million as instability in China led people to immigrate, and after the Shek Kip Mei fire, the government mandated that residents be accommodated in high rise buildings. We are overlooking Nagasaki Bay here, and as P.A. Works is wont to do, this spot is based off a real location.

  • Hitomi is described as being dazzling to behold, and she stands out from other characters in The World in Colour, having violet-grey hair and eyes of gold. This is likely by design, to make her stand out in an environment that audiences are accustomed to, and while the world largely remains the same in customs, minor differences in technology result in Hitomi struggling to work locks, paper-based documents and cameras.

  • It is not surprising that the first group of people who run into and speak with Hitomi will come to play a much larger role in the series: running into members of the Photography and Art Club (the combined club brings back memories of Tari Tari‘s Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club), Hitomi learns that high school students of this age have different uniforms. While Kurumi comes across as a bit too enthusiastic for Hitomi, Asagi is much more considerate and notices that Hitomi’s scraped her knees.

  • I’ve noticed that out there, reception to The World in Colour is quite mixed, with some folks immediately dismissing the series for its inclusion of magic and for generally not writing the show to their manner of liking; at least one individual claims that the first episode should have entirely been in monochrome to help audiences relate to Hitomi and that Kurumi and the others were introduced too early. I counter that introducing characters on early creates an expectation that they will be more relevant later on, and if one were so desperate as to watch an anime in monochrome, I suggest running After Effects or an equivalent tool on this anime before watching it.

  • Others hold it to be intriguing and meritorious of continued watching: P.A. Works has traditionally packed a great deal into their best works, tying all of the different aspects together under a single unifying theme. Angel Beats! was about acceptance of life, but also dealt with guilt, expectations, and a determination to move forwards, while Sakura Quest explored social issues facing small towns in Japan, but also followed Yoshino’s discoveries over the course of a year as she comes to embrace her role as Manoyama’s “Queen”. Tari Tari followed a group of disparate high school students who come together to make a big finish prior to graduation, but was also about how friendship played a role in helping Wakana come to terms with her past.

  • The interior of the magic shop is absolutely stunning, and I love the colours in the jars of magical powder on the back shelf. In The World in Colour, magic can be distilled into sand and then spread for a variety of effects, or else concentrated into an artifact. Masters of the Mystic Arts Magicians are able to channel their innate abilities and create these effects, or else capture them into sand. So far, with magic clearly being a part of The World in Colour and given adequate explanation, there is no question that it will be an integral part of the story, standing in contrast with Glasslip, where the “fragments of the future” were never sufficiently explored or utilised to drive things forward.

  • Existing “explanations” of Glasslip are woefully inadequate in providing a satisfactory account of why the story progressed in the manner that it did: there are two perspectives out there that claim to be this magic bullet. One argues that the show is about a longing for finding a home and that the chickens were critical, while another attempts to claim that wabi sabi is important in describing the transience of various feelings. Both are wrong, because the presence of the “fragments of the future” demands inclusion, and both perspectives choose to discard them. Glasslip was really about the uncertainty of love, characterised by visual distortion when viewing the future through glass beads, and meant to say that nothing ever is certain.

  • For Hitomi, the turning point that leads her to develop an interest in the world sixty years previously is when she speaks with Yuito for the first time while in search of her brooch, which contains a magical crystal and also acts as a Jarvis of sorts. When she glances at Yuito’s tablet, she is able to see colour again for the first time. The sight captivates her, and she longs to look upon it forever. That Hitomi can see the colours here suggests that her achromatopsia does not have a physiological basis, again reiterating that magic is very much at play in a world that is very similar and very different to our own.

  • After the visual spectacle of the first episode, The World in Colour returns to a more ordinary depiction of things, although even here, the artwork is certainly of a good quality. There is a distance between Yuito and Hitomi: the visuals in The World in Colour use both light and objects in the environment to clarify this, and this sets the expectation that as things progress, Hitomi will become closer to those in the Photography and Art Club. For now, she resembles Wakana: taciturn and struggling with her internal conflicts, appearing aloof to her peers.

  • As we hurtle through October, the days are beginning to shorten, although after the miserable weather throughout September that persisted into early October, we’ve had some pleasant weather now, and things have slowed down for the weekend, enough for me to sit down after a warm dinner of fried chicken and write my thousand-and-first post out during the calm of an Saturday evening. Here, Hitomi speaks with Kohaku’s family, who agree to look after her.

  • I would not mind if The World in Colour really is about taking the lessons of Glasslip to create a superior series. Back in The World in Colour, when word spreads that Hitomi is also a magician, her classmates are eager to see what she can do. Kohaku, a skilled magician, is infamous around campus for causing destruction with her magic, likely a sign of her outgoing personality, and so, her classmates come to be intimidated by her. On the other hand, the hesitant and reluctant Hitomi can only summon stars with her magic, disappointing her classmates.

  • P.A. Works draws upon very similar thematic elements in many of their anime, and some wonder how The World in Colour will differentiate itself from its predecessors, especially Glasslip, which was similarly set in the real world and incorporates supernatural aspects to a degree. Elements from Tari Tari are also quite visible, and it is not implausible to suppose that The World in Colour will likely follow the path Tari Tari used. If this is the case, then The World in Colour might be seen as a second shot at making an anime that Glasslip should have been, incorporating magic and everyday life into a story to suggest that magic or not, it is ultimately people that make the difference.

  • Out of the gates, I find that the Photography and Art Club’s photographers to be amicable, likable folk: Kurumi, Asagi and Chigusa are approachable and inviting, doing their best to convince Hitomi to join their club. While motivated by funds and a need for new members, their intrigue in Hitomi also translates to a concern for her, feeling that she might need a friend in her circumstances.

  • Yuito is rather unsociable and prefers drawing to hanging out with others. In a manner of speaking, he resembles the aloof and difficult-to-read Kakeru of Glasslip. P.A. Works occasionally reuses old characters’ appearances and personalities as the basis for some of their new characters: Tōko Fukami and Manaka Mukaido share commonalities, as do Yoshino Koharu and Aoi Miyamori, for instance. The end result of this decision, deliberate or not, is to create a character that viewers are familiar with, and for the most part, P.A. Works’ series have noteworthy, interesting characters, too.

  • When Yuito consents to allow Hitomi one more glimpse of his artwork, Hitomi takes it in and gazes on the colours with profound appreciation. All of this is set under a swift sunset, and the moment is free of visual clutter to indicate the liberating feeling she experiences when viewing colour. The friendship between Hitomi and Yuito will be an interesting one as it develops, although at this point in The World in Colour, where things go remain quite open.

  • While I am looking forwards to seeing where The World in Colour is going, I am not expecting a top-tier anime rivaling the likes of Angel Beats!Hanasaku IrohaTari TariShirobako or Sakura Quest in levels of impact. Of the lot, Angel Beats! stood out for creating complex characters whose circumstances and motivations were deeply moving, while Sakura Quest and Tari Tari both excel at covering a variety of thematic elements without ever diminishing their respective series’ main message. Wherever magic is involved, P.A. Works has fared a little less gracefully in the past, so for The World in Colour, I am going to have to see how the series unfolds before making any sort of judgement on it.

  • The main draw to The World in Colour right now is the prospect of watching Hitomi mature as she spends more time with the Photography and Art club, as well as the sort of (mis)adventures that will unfurl once Kohaku joins the party in full. Coupled with beautiful artwork, this is sufficient for me to stick around for the duration of the season.

  • Hitomi is introduced to the sort of photography the club does, and also does a painting while Yuito watches. Here, Yuito deduces that Hitomi has achromatopsia, seeing the bold and unusual colour choices she makes while painting. One of the items that is mentioned briefly is that the photographers in the club also do monochromatic photographs. While it’s only one remark, I imagine that once the others learn of Hitomi’s condition, they will begin doing more monochromatic photography to understand the world as Hitomi sees it.

  • In three episodes, the Photography and Art Club’s members are given some exposition. Kurumi is outgoing and practical-minded, Chigusa seems to be friendly but prone to being swept along by the club’s schemes, and Asagi is kind-hearted. The club’s leader, Shō, is confident and easy-going. Interacting amongst themselves, they can be a rowdy bunch, generating a great deal of positive energy already and slowly spur Hitomi to be more open. Because Kohaku’s unseen antics suggest she is even more boisterous than they are, I think that the Photography Club will end up being the midpoint between Hitomi and Kohaku, dialing back the latter’s wildness while driving Hitomi forwards.

  • For a photography demonstration, Kurumi has Hitomi walk across the pool as observers try to photograph her. While Hitomi uses the wrong vial of magical sand, her innate magical talents manifest and she is able to walk across the water surface. However, she is distracted and plunges into the pool. Yuito apologises on behalf of the group, but Hitomi is more worried about having troubled the others for not speaking up earlier.

  • Hitomi is given lodgings where Kohaku is staying and is afforded with a beautiful view of the night sky here. The Nagasaki of 2018 evidently has reduced light pollution compared to that of 2078, although this isn’t saying much: light pollution maps show the Nagasaki area as being very bright, and even accounting for localised variation, it is probably difficult to see many stars easily.

  • The next day, Hitomi appears to be avoiding the others, but is actually worried about meeting up with them for having caused them some trouble earlier. She finds them at the pool, where the Photography and Art Club are cleaning as a punishment for entering the water without authorisation. Hitomi decides to join them, feeling responsible for having set these events in motion, and when monochromatic photography is brought up, her interest is piqued. Coupled with a desire to learn more about Yuito’s drawings, she agrees to join the club.

  • When Hitomi joins the Photography and Art Club, an overjoyed Kurumi hugs her, eliciting the first real smile we’d seen out of Hitomi all season. The third episode is titled “No Rain, No rainbow”, which foreshadows that without challenge, there is no reward, either. Elsewhere, discussions have largely focused on aspects that The World in Colour will not cover, including the precise mechanic of how magic works, the hereditary traits of magic and whether or not causality will become a problem the same way Fry became his own grandfather in Futurama.

  • I am concerned with none of these things for the present: P.A. Works has traditionally introduced mechanics later in a series if they are relevant to the narrative, and discussions can be more complete if those items do end up being important. What is relevant, is that Kohaku is now returning from her travels abroad. Her stance suggests a very powerful character, someone who is bold and accustomed to doing her own thing without concern for others’ judgement. I am curious to see how she mixes things up once she meets Hitomi here; after three episodes, The World in Colour is shaping up to be an interesting series, so far showing much more promise than Glasslip did. This motivates the page quote, which is sourced from 2016’s Doctor Strange: while Glasslip comparisons are only natural, I would suggest not focusing too much on attempting to port the analysis from Glasslip over into The World in Colour and simply watch the series with a fresh outlook.

With its beautiful artwork, a captivating premise and the promise of a journey that will be quite unique in its own right, The World in Colours has definitely held my attention. P.A. Works has consistently produced series with exceptional artwork, rivalling the likes of Kyoto Animation in quality. At their best, P.A. Works creates masterpieces that use strong artwork and animation to bring fictional worlds to life: Angel Beats!, Hanasaku Iroha, Tari Tari and Sakura Quest stand P.A. Works’ strongest titles to date, telling compelling stories through their authenticity and emotional impact. The World in Colours is dealing with a range of elements, from magic to everyday life at school – life is rarely so straightforwards, and going ahead, the anime does have quite a bit to deal with. All of these elements, if balanced well with Hitomi’s growth, will contribute to creating a rich, detailed world for her to rediscover magic and its positives. I am looking forwards to what lies ahead for The World in Colours, and because there is be quite a bit to cover in conjunction with a general lack of interest (understandable, considering the mess Glasslip left in its wake), I am inclined to write about this one every three episodes to consider some of the more interesting points The World in Colours looks to bring out.

A Milestone at the Seven Year Anniversary and An Introspection At A Thousand Posts

“Not only are bloggers suckers for the remarkable, so are the people who read blogs.” —Seth Godin

Unlike earlier anniversary posts, today, the shortage of things to say this time around is not an issue. On a cold, grey October evening seven years previously, I published the first post to Infinite Mirai. At this time, this blog was intended to supplement a much older website that I had written to previously, but with my increasing familiarity with WordPress and its features, I began using WordPress in a much greater capacity, finally retiring my old website and transitioning here full-time. Seven years since then, this blog has certainly lasted much longer than was initially anticipated, and exactly six months ago, reached the one million views milestone. Today, at the seven year mark, Infinite Mirai reaches another milestone: I have now written and published a thousand posts, as well. A thousand of anything is a nontrivial number: with a thousand dollars, one could have 235 coffees at Starbucks, buy 33 hard cover novels, 12 triple-A games or go out for a nice steak dinner every day of the week for three consecutive weeks. 1000 square kilometers is enough to comfortably fit the entirety of my home town, and 1000 kilometers is roughly the distance between Calgary and Vancouver. For bloggers, a thousand posts represents a serious commitment to their topic of choice and a profound love for writing: on the journey to a thousand posts, there are no shortages of learnings. The first learning is that any post takes some time to conceptualise and write out: on average, my posts now average around 3500 words, up from 1120 when I began utilising WordPress more frequently. Each post takes two to three hours to write, and with the site metrics, I roughly average 1000 views per post. I do not write with a predefined frequency or schedule, and I almost never use the WordPress editor directly because there’s always a risk that my browser crashes, I accidentally hit the back button or unintentionally refresh the page. A thousand posts later, I can reasonably say I’ve learned a thousand things, as well, ten of which I will share here as the summary of something called 日积月累 (jyutping jat6 zik1 jyut6 leoi6), which means “to accumulate gradually” in my tongue.

The biggest learning, however, is that the readers deserve full credit for allowing this blog to reach such a milestone. It is a joy to writing for people who will read the content and come away from it with a positive experience. The current WordPress anime community is simply put, a very positive, inviting one and I am very grateful to be a part of it. Every blogger takes their own unique approach towards writing: from my lengthy discussions to the more concise, focused talks other bloggers publish, there is no shortage of insight, friendly discussion and appreciation for different perspectives among the community. Looking back, the main reason why this blog has endured seven years is because for me, writing about anime and games, then injecting small remarks about my life (and my attendant thoughts) is no different than maintaining a journal for mental health. When I was much younger, I kept journals for school assignments and also to improve my English (contrary to expectation, English is not my native language); this practise fell away by the time I reached secondary school, but with the advent of my anime hobby and increasing stresses associated with life, I’ve found blogging to be an immensely cathartic experience, helping me keep things in perspective and also keep my blessings in mind. Thus, at the seven year mark, rather than say that I’m not sure as to whether or not I will continue blogging, wisdom would suggest that I will continue to blog as long as I find it useful and enjoyable, even if things are now sufficiently uncertain so that I can say with certainty that my frequency will be reduced in the foreseeable future. For taking the time to read this blog, and doubly so for putting up with the very unusual way that I run things here, I offer a big thank you to all of my readers for keeping things exciting and fresh.

Ten Lessons After Seven Years and One Thousand Posts

  • The biggest challenge all bloggers will face is getting the views when they are starting out. A new blog is not indexed in Google, will have no followers initially and must exist in the shadow of other blogs writing about similar topics. However, this should not be an impediment for bloggers: don’t worry about traffic and focus on getting content, as well as developing your voice and style. When I opened my blog seven years ago, I averaged 9 views a day and rounded out 2011 with 828 views. The year after, I saw a gradual increase in traffic, from 19 views a day to 188 views a day. However, when I really began focusing on writing here, traffic increased to around 300 views per day. Time and exposure will increase visibility.

  • Finding interesting subjects to write about is another impediment bloggers of all experience levels and disciplines face. With the relative ease of posting one’s thoughts, being original can be very tricky, as someone might have already expressed your thoughts precisely as you envisioned them. In the realm of anime, for instance, reacting to events in episodes and writing about one’s feelings is an admittedly dull and tired way of writing. I tend to focus on big picture elements and their relevance to reality, especially in relation to my own experiences and beliefs. Because of this personal element, my voice becomes different enough to be noticeable.

  • Blogging regularly and consistently is essential to keep readers returning for more, but so is good quality content. Similarly, mixing things up also can draw in readers: I typically do series reviews and discussions in a standardised paragraph and commentary format, but occasionally, there are some topics that allow me to break the mold. These special posts have done very well because they are distinct and offer unique content that occasionally draws attention from folks on Reddit, Quora or even Wikipedia, who link here and bring traffic with them. My favourite examples of exotic posts include one where I do a discussion on the size of the school ships in Girls und Panzer, as well as my location hunt posts.

  • It takes good planning to blog well. A lot of folks tend to follow a schedule and promise to blog on certain days of the week, but during slower times, don’t have anything they feel that they can share. I operate in a different space, writing only when I have things to talk about: when an idea comes to mind, I usually run through it in my head for a few days, then draft out a concept. If I can return to the draft later and still see where I was going, then the topic was worth writing about and will be turned into a full scale post. This applies to a majority of my posts, although there are cases that for topics fresh on my mind, or those that I am particularly connected with, I will be able to write those much more quickly.

  • Another discovery I’ve made is that the anime blogging community in its current form is very supportive and approachable. When I began, the likes of Behind the Nihon Review, Anime History and Dark Mirage dominated the anime blogging community, flooding it with purple prose-filled posts about the shortcomings of every show under the sun and putting down all who disagreed with them. These days, largely thanks to the tools available, more people have joined the realm of anime blogging and with it, positive attitudes have prevailed. As such, don’t be afraid to reach out to other bloggers and ask them for feedback on your content, or to discuss with them ideas you may not agree with. We are a friendly group open to different ideas, a far cry from the juggernauts of old.

  • Understand why you wish to maintain a blog: blogging can be a professional occupation, and even in its hobby form, can still be very time-consuming and demanding. If there’s a good reason that you are writing for, whether it is to simply share your thoughts, or because you are writing for folks important to you, or like myself, it’s a release from the challenges of life, then your inclination will be to continue using the blog to communicate with and share with others.

  • Don’t do controversy: fighting flame wars is stressful and counterproductive, even if it brings in traffic. I typically do not stray into the realm of controversy, and where I have opinions on things where I align with one side, I tend to be subtle about it (such as on the infamous journalism ethics in video games culture war some years back), or else I will address both sides of the argument (such as in things like Sword Art Online). Stressful blogging is a deterrent for putting out more content, and so, I personally prefer maintaining positivity where I can to ensure that I am always happy to come back to writing for this blog.

  • I’ve mentioned on several occasions that I blog when I feel it appropriate, rather than according to a set schedule. Writing when I have something to say always progresses more easily than if I struggle with a topic, and on days where I have no inclination to write, I am not likely to put out anything useful for the readers. It is similarly okay to take breaks from blogging without guilt.

  • In an age where common courtesy and civility is rare, I nonetheless strive to be polite to all of my readers, encouraging folks to disagree with me and also to think for themselves. Being polite to readers will encourage readers to return: the point of a blog is not to lay down one’s views as the only views, but to present one’s views as one of many. Having good discussions with other readers is always a big plus and may even lead to ideas for more posts. I admit that I am not always adhering to this, occasionally drawing on outrageous perspectives as topics for my posts to shoot down (e.g. Mythbusting in Your Name) and calling out random folks from across the ‘net for their perspectives on a series.

  • My ultimate learning is to be yourself, which I previously mentioned in my Million Views milestone. A lot of bloggers wonder what approach they must take to run a successful blog, and I’ve noticed that a successful blogger is someone who is concise, focused, polite and above all else, true to themselves. They write with their own voice, choice of words, on the topics they enjoy writing about, in the manner of their choosing. While it is important to consider one’s target audience, ultimately, readers will stick with the blogs that stand out. For me, this means making random wisecracks about the Marvel Cinematic Universe in posts about beach volleyball, compare history’s greatest survivalists to a group of high school girls who love camping and finding similarities between my favourite NHL team and a series about girls who ride tanks as a sport. It means occasionally thinking about food when I’m supposed to be writing about anime, and disappointing viewers when I write about how to have a good time in The Division or Battlefield when viewers would much rather read about pantsu in Strike Witches. Sorry, folks, but one does not keep a blog for seven years by being inconsistent: having a well-established style means it is easier to write things down, and perhaps I might reach the two thousand post mark at some point with my current approaches.

At the seven year mark and one thousand posts, I now have 1.1 million views and some 1750 comments. Akismet has blocked nearly 40000 spam comments, and I’ve got around 1.9 million words in total across the thousand posts. With these numbers in mind, “where is Infinite Mirai headed in the future?” is the questions readers invariably ask. To this, I have no definite answer: life is mutating, unpredictable and ever-changing, and circumstances always arise to both accommodate and reduce blogging. Having said this, because of the beneficial aspects of writing for me (for one, it keeps my mind focused and also helps me hone my writing), I am going to be sticking around even if I write with reduced and more erratic frequency. My focus predominantly deals with slice-of-life series, anything telling a particularly noteworthy story about life lessons and the oft-maligned military moé genre, as well as various video games I’ve experienced, and this will not be changing in the future. I still have plans to write about Girls und Panzer Das Finale, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?’s third season, Strike Witches‘ Road to Berlin and the Hai-Furi movie, for instance. Battlefield V, Metro: Exodus and DOOM Eternal also look to offer some interesting points of discussion. With the community’s support and encouragement, I will be continuing my journeys and see where things take me. I’d like to thank everyone again — you readers and fellow bloggers mean the world to me, and whether you’re a regular who shows up whenever new content is published, or if you’re here by chance because my idiosyncrasies tend to mess up search engines, your readership is precisely what keeps things going here.